Mr. BRADLAUGH: I have elected not to occupy your time beyond ten o’clock in allowing Mr. Roberts to proceed with his prepared speech, and shall, I think, be able to limit myself to eight minutes, if allowed to proceed free from interruption. First, I regret that Mr. Roberts, in his written finale, should have said that he has produced contemporary evidence. It is not true, as Mr. Roberts has said, that my tactics were directed to irrelevant matters, for had they been irrelevant, I should not have introduced them. I regret that he only relied upon titles and names; and the report will bear me out that he said he had the books here, and that I challenged their production. He says my position is that the New Testament may be true for anything I know to the contrary. On the contrary, I have given contradictions which show it cannot be true. I regret also that Mr. Roberts should have referred again to the challenge thrown out last night. I had been taught to regard him as the representative of an earnest body of men and women, but I must refuse to accept a second challenge from a man who is incompetent to make out the case he has undertaken to establish. Mr. Roberts says I ought to put it to you that this book is a forgery and a lie, or accept it. Surely I have taken pains to explain to you that I regard the Bible as I do the religious books of every people in the world–none of them entire forgeries, none of them entire lies; all of them the growth of different ages; all of them with a little truth. I have studied them, and if I cannot receive them, it is only because my reason does not permit of my doing so. I am not the best man that could be put forward against them; but I hope you will do me the justice of allowing that whatever may be our differences, I gave a full and a fair hearing to whatever was advanced in their favour, and as full an answer as I am able to give, and so it shall be every time a cause is entrusted to my charge.
I have now the pleasant duty to perform to ask you to pass a vote of thanks to the gentleman, who with so much good temper and so much firmness, has presided over these debates. With this I am sure Mr. Roberts will agree.
Mr. ROBERTS: I second the motion, only regretting that Mr. Bradlaugh and myself cannot agree on higher things. I feel pleasure in joining in this proposition because I believe the good temper and impartial conduct of the chairman has greatly tended to the success and dignity of the debate. I might add as a reason for the vote what may not be known to all, that the chairman has postponed his summer holidays in order to attend to the unsummerlike duty he had undertaken, to preside over this debate.
The resolution was carried with acclamation.
The CHAIRMAN in responding to the vote, said he had listened with great interest to the debate, and had learnt some things from it. There had been some warmth on each side, but not more than might have been expected on such a subject with such earnestness of conviction on each side. He considered that the disputants were both wrong and both right, and if the audience would only come next Sunday to the Chapel where he preached (loud and prolonged laughter), he would try to show them the way in which these things should be looked at.
The meeting then separated.