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Robert Ingersoll Talmage Interviews Talmage Interview 2

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Talmage Interview 2

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Por. Why, man, what's the matter? Don't tear your hair.

Sir Hugh. I have been beaten in a discussion, overwhelmed and

Por. Why don't you call your adversary a fool?

Sir Hugh. My God! I forgot it!

QUESTION. I want to ask you a few questions about the second
sermon of Mr. Talmage; have you read it, and what do you think of

ANSWER. The text taken by the reverend gentleman is an insult,
and was probably intended as such: "The fool hath said in his
heart, there is no God." Mr. Talmage seeks to apply this text to
any one who denies that the Jehovah of the Jews was and is the
infinite and eternal Creator of all. He is perfectly satisfied that
any man who differs with him on this question is a "fool," and he
has the Christian forbearance and kindness to say so. I presume he
is honest in this opinion, and no doubt regards Bruno, Spinoza and
Humboldt as driveling imbeciles. He entertains the same opinion of
some of the greatest, wisest and best of Greece and Rome.

No man is fitted to reason upon this question who has not the
intelligence to see the difficulties in all theories. No man has
yet evolved a theory that satisfactorily accounts for all that is.
No matter what his opinion may be, he is beset by a thousand
difficulties, and innumerable things insist upon an explanation.
The best that any man can do is to take that theory which to his
mind presents the lowest difficulties. Mr. Talmage has been
educated in a certain way -- has a brain of a certain quantity,
quality and form -- and accepts, in spite it may be, of himself, a
certain theory. Others, formed differently, having lived under
different circumstances, cannot accept the Talmagian view, and
thereupon he denounces them as fools. In this he follows the
example of David the murderer; of David, who advised one of his
children to assassinate another; of David, whose last words were
those of hate and crime. Mr. Talmage insists that it takes no
especial brain to reason out a "design" in Nature, and in a moment
afterward says that "when the world slew Jesus, it showed what it
would do with the eternal God, if once it could get its hands on
Him." Why should a God of infinite wisdom create people who would
gladly murder their Creator? Was there any particular "design" in

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that? Does the existence of such people conclusively prove the
existence of a good Designer? It seems to me -- and I take it that
my thought is natural, as I have only been born once -- that an
infinitely wise and good God would naturally create good people,
and if he has not, certainly the fault is his. The God of Mr.
Talmage knew, when he created Guiteau, that he would assassinate
Garfield. Why did he create him? Did he want Garfield assassinated?
Will somebody be kind enough to show the "design" in this
transaction? Is it possible to see "design" in earthquakes, in
volcanoes, in pestilence, in famine, in ruthless and relentless
war? Can we find "design" in the fact that every animal lives upon
some other -- that every drop of every sea is a battlefield where
the strong devour the weak? Over the precipice of cruelty rolls a
perpetual Niagara of blood. Is there "design" in this? Why should
a good God people a world with men capable of burning their fellow-
men -- and capable of burning the greatest and best? Why does a
good God permit these things? It is said of Christ that he was
infinitely kind and generous, infinitely merciful, because when on
earth he cured the sick, the lame and blind. Has he not as much
power now as he had then? If he was and is the God of all worlds,
why does he not now give back to the widow her son? Why does he
withhold light from the eyes of the blind? And why does one who had
the power miraculously to feed thousands, allow millions to die for
want of food? Did Christ only have pity when he was part human? Are
we indebted for his kindness to the flesh that clothed his spirit?
Where is he now? Where has he been through all the centuries of
slavery and crime? If this universe was "designed," then all that
happens was "designed." If a man constructs an engine, the boiler
of which explodes, we say either that he did not know the strength
of his materials, or that he was reckless of human life. If an
infinite being should construct a weak or imperfect machine, he
must be held accountable for all that happens. He cannot be
permitted to say that he did not know the strength of the
materials. He is directly and absolutely responsible. So, if this
world was designed by a being of infinite power and wisdom, he is
responsible for the result of that design. My position is this: I
do not know. But there are so many objections to the personal-God
theory, that it is impossible for me to accept it. I prefer to say
that the universe is all the God there is. I prefer to make no
being responsible. I prefer to say: If the naked are clothed, man
must clothe them; if the hungry are fed, man must feed them. I
prefer to rely upon human endeavor, upon human intelligence, upon
the heart and brain of man. There is no evidence that God has ever
interfered in the affairs of man. The hand of earth is stretched
uselessly toward heaven. From the clouds there comes no help. In
vain the shipwrecked cry to God. In vain the imprisoned ask for
liberty and light -- the world moves on, and the heavens are deaf
and dumb and blind. The frost freezes, the fire burns, slander
smites, the wrong triumphs, the good suffer, and prayer dies upon
the lips of faith.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage charges you with being "the champion
blasphemer of America" -- what do you understand blasphemy to be?

ANSWER. Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon
common sense. Whoever investigates a religion as he would any
department of science, is called a blasphemer. Whoever contradicts

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a priest, whoever has the impudence to use his own reason, whoever
is brave enough to express his honest thought, is a blasphemer in
the eyes of the religionist. When a missionary speaks slightingly
of the wooden god of a savage, the savage regards him as a
blasphemer. To laugh at the pretensions of Mohammed in
Constantinople is blasphemy. To say in St. Petersburg that Mohammed
was a prophet of God is also blasphemy. There was a time when to
acknowledge the divinity of Christ in Jerusalem was blasphemy. To
deny his divinity is now blasphemy in New York. Blasphemy is to a
considerable extent a geographical question. It depends not only on
what you say, but where you are when you say it. Blasphemy is what
the old calls the new, -- what last year's leaf says to this year's
bud. The founder of every religion was a blasphemer. The Jews so
regarded Christ, and the Athenians had the same opinion of
Socrates. Catholics have always looked upon Protestants as
blasphemers, and Protestants have always held the same generous
opinion of Catholics. To deny that Mary is the Mother of God is
blasphemy. To say that she is the Mother of God is blasphemy. Some
savages think that a dried snake skin stuffed with leaves is
sacred, and he who thinks otherwise is a blasphemer. It was once
blasphemy to laugh at Diana, of the Ephesians. Many people think
that it is blasphemous to tell your real opinion of the Jewish
Jehovah. Others imagine that words can he printed upon paper, and
the paper bound into a book covered with sheepskin, and that the
book is sacred, and that to question its sacredness is blasphemy.
Blasphemy is also a crime against God, but nothing can be more
absurd than a crime against God. If God is infinite, you cannot
injure him. You cannot commit a crime against any being that you
cannot injure. Of course, the infinite cannot be injured. Man is a
conditioned being. By changing his conditions, his surroundings,
you can injure him; but if God is infinite, he is conditionless. If
he is conditionless, he cannot by any possibility be injured. You
can neither increase, nor decrease, the well-being of the infinite.
Consequently, a crime against God is a demonstrated impossibility.
The cry of blasphemy means only that the argument of the blasphemer
cannot be answered. The sleight-of-hand performer, when some one
tries to raise the curtain behind which he operates, cries
"blasphemer!" The priest, finding that he has been attacked by
common sense, -- by a fact, -- resorts to the same cry. Blasphemy
is the black flag of theology, and it means: No argument and no
quarter! It is an appeal to prejudice, to passions, to ignorance.
It is the last reason of a defeated priest. Blasphemy marks the
point where argument stops and slander begins. In old times, it was
the signal for throwing stones, for gathering fagots and for
tearing flesh; now it means falsehood and calumny.

QUESTION. Then you think that there is no such thing as the
crime of blasphemy, and that no such offence can be committed?

ANSWER. Any one who knowingly speaks in favor of injustice is
a blasphemer. Whoever wishes to destroy liberty of thought, -- the
honest expression of ideas, -- is a blasphemer. Whoever is willing
to malign his neighbor, simply because he differs with him upon a
subject about which neither of them knows anything for certain, is
a blasphemer. If a crime can be committed against God, he commits
it who imputes to God the commission of crime. The man who says
that God ordered the assassination of women and babes, that he gave

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maidens to satisfy the lust of soldiers. that he enslaved his own
children, -- that man is a blasphemer. In my Judgment, it would be
far better to deny the existence of God entirely. It seems to me
that every man ought to give his honest opinion. No man should
suppose that any infinite God requires him to tell as truth that
which he knows nothing about.

Mr. Talmage, in order to make a point against infidelity,
states from his pulpit that I am in favor of poisoning the minds of
children by the circulation of immoral books. The statement is
entirely false. He ought to have known that I withdrew from the
Liberal League upon the very question whether the law should be
repealed or modified. I favored a modification of that law, so that
books and papers could not be thrown from the mails simply because
they were "infidel."

I was and am in favor of the destruction of every immoral book
in the world. I was and am in favor, not only of the law against
the circulation of such filth, but want it executed to the letter
in every State of this Union. Long before he made that statement,
I had introduced a resolution to that effect, and supported the
resolution in a speech. Not withstanding these facts, hundreds of
clergymen have made haste to tell the exact opposite of the truth.
This they have done in the name of Christianity, under the pretence
of pleasing their God. In my judgment, it is far better to tell
your honest opinions, even upon the subject of theology, than to
knowingly tell a falsehood about a fellow-man. Mr. Talmage may have
been ignorant of the truth. He may have been misled by other
ministers, and for his benefit I make this explanation. I wanted
the laws modified so that bigotry could not interfere with the
literature of intelligence; but I did not want, in any way, to
shield the writers or publishers of immoral books. Upon this
subject I used, at the last meeting of the Liberal League that I
attended. the following language:

"But there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi, yes,
wider than the Atlantic, wider than all oceans, between the
literature of immorality and the literature of free thought. One is
a crawling, slimy lizard, and the other an angel with wings of
light. Let us draw this distinction. Let us understand ourselves.
Do not make the wholesale statement that all these laws ought to be
repealed. They ought not to be repealed. Some of them are good, and
the law against sending instruments of vice through the mails is
good. The law against sending obscene pictures and books is good.
The law against sending bogus diplomas through the mails, to allow
a lot of ignorant hyenas to prey upon the sick people of the world,
is a good law. The law against rascals who are getting up bogus
lotteries, and sending their circulares in the mails is a good law.
You know, as well as I, that there are certain books not fit to go
through the mails. You know that. You know there are certain
pictures not fit to be transmitted, not fit to be delivered to any
human being. When these books and pictures come into the control of
the United States, I say, burn them up! And when any man has been
indicted who has been trying to make money by pandering to the
lowest passions in the human breast, then I say, prosecute him! let
the law take its course."

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I can hardly convince myself that when Mr. Talmage made the
charge, he was acquainted with the facts. It seems incredible that
any man, pretending to be governed by the law of common honesty,
could make a charge like this knowing it to be untrue. Under no
circumstances. would I charge Mr. Talmage with being an infamous
man. unless the evidence was complete and overwhelming. Even then,
I should hesitate long before making the charge. The side I take on
theological questions does not render a reason to slander or
calumny a necessity. If Mr. Talmage is an honorable man, he will
take back the statement he has made. Even if there is a God, I
hardly think that he will reward one of his children for maligning
another; and to one who has told falsehoods about "infidels," that
having been his only venue, I doubt whether he will say: "Well done
good and faithful servant."

QUESTION. What have you to say to the charge that you are
endeavoring to "assassinate God," and that you are "far worse than
the man who attempts to kill his father, or his mother, or his
sister, or his brother"?

ANSWER. Well, I think that is about as reasonable as anything
he says. No one wishes, so far as I know, to assassinate God. The
idea of assassinating an infinite being is of course infinitely
absurd. One would think Mr. Talmage had lost his reason! And yet
this man stands at the head of the Presbyterian clergy. It is far
this reason that I answer him. He is the only Presbyterian minister
in the United States, so far as I know, able to draw an audience.
He is, without doubt. the leader of that denomination. He is
orthodox and conservative. He believes implicitly in the "Five
Points" of Calvin, and says nothing simply for the purpose of
attracting attention. He believes that God damns a man for his own
glory; that he sends babes to hell to establish his mercy, and that
he filled the world with disease and crime simply to demonstrate
his wisdom. He believes that billions of years before the earth
was, God had made up his mind as to the exact number that he would
eternally damn, and had counted his saints. This doctrine he calls
"glad tidings of great joy." He really believes that every man who
is true to himself is waging war against God; that every infidel is
a rebel; that every Freethinker is a traitor. and that only those
are good subjects who have joined the Presbyterian Church, know the
Shorter Catechism by heart, and subscribe liberally toward lifting
the mortgage on the Brooklyn Tabernacle. All the rest are
endeavoring to assassinate God, plotting the murder of the Holy
Ghost, and applauding the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ. If
Mr. Talmage is correct in his views as to the power and wisdom of
God, I imagine that his enemies at last will be overthrown, that
the assassins and murderers will not succeed, and that the
Infinite, with Mr. Talmage's assistance, will finally triumph. If
there is an infinite God, certainly he ought to have made man grand
enough to have and express an opinion of his own. Is it possible
that God can be gratified with the applause of moral cowards? Does
he seek to enhance his glory by receiving the adulation of cringing
slaves? Is God satisfied with the adoration of the frightened?

QUESTION. You notice that Mr. Talmage finds nearly all the
inventions of modern times mentioned in the Bible?

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ANSWER. Yes; Mr. Talmage has made an exceedingly important
discovery. I admit that I am somewhat amazed at the wisdom of the
ancients. This discovery has been made just in the nick of time.
Millions of people were losing their respect for the Old Testament.
They were beginning to think that there was some discrepancy
between the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel and the latest
developments in physical science. Thousands of preachers were
telling their flocks that the Bible is not a scientific book; that
Joshua was not an inspired astronomer, that God never enlightened
Moses about geology, and that Ezekiel did not understand the entire
art of cookery. These admissions caused some young people to
suspect that the Bible, after all, was not inspired; that the
prophets of antiquity did not know as much as the discoverers of
to-day. The Bible was falling into disrepute. Mr. Talmage has
rushed to the rescue. He shows, and shows conclusively as anything
can be shown from the Bible. that Job understood all the laws of
light thousands of years before Newton lived; that he anticipated
the discoveries of Descartes. Huxley and Tyndall; that he was
familiar with the telegraph and telephone; that Morse, Bell and
Edison simply put his discoveries in successful operation; that
Nahum was, in fact, a master-mechanic; that he understood perfectly
the modern railway and described it so accurately that Trevethick,
Foster and Stephenson had no difficulty in constructing a
locomotive. He also has discovered that Job was well acquainted
with the trade winds, and understood the mysterious currents, tides
and pulses of the sea; that Lieutenant Maury was a plagiarist; that
Humboldt was simply a biblical student. He finds that Isaiah and
Solomon were far in advance of Galileo, Morse, Meyer and Watt. This
is a discovery wholly unexpected to me. If Mr. Talmage is right, I
am satisfied the Bible is an inspired book. If it shall turn out
that Joshua was superior to Laplace, that Moses knew more about
geology than Humboldt, that Job as a scientist was the superior of
Kepler, that Isaiah knew more than Copernicus, and that even the
minor prophets excelled the inventors and discoverers of our time
-- then I will admit that infidelity must become speechless
forever. Until I read this sermon, I had never even suspected that
the inventions of modern times were known to the ancient Jews. I
never supposed that Nahum knew the least thing about railroads,
that Job would have known a telegraph if he had seen it. I never
supposed that Joshua comprehended: the three laws of Kepler. Of
course I have not read the Old Testament with as much care as some
other people have, and when I did read it, I was not looking for
inventions and discoveries. I had been told often that the Bible
was no authority upon scientific questions, that I was lulled into
a state of lethargy. What is amazing to me is, that so many men did
read it without getting the slightest hint of the smallest
invention. To think that the Jews read that book for hundreds and
hundreds of years, and went to their graves without the slightest
notion of astronomy, or geology, of railroads, telegraphs,
steamboats! And then to think that the early fathers made it the
study of their lives and died without inventing anything! I am
astonished that Mr.Talmage himself does not figure in the records
of the Patent Office. I cannot account for this, except upon the
supposition that he is too honest to infringe on the Patents of the
patriarchs. After this, I shall read the Old Testament with more

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QUESTION. Do you see that Mr. Talmage endeavors to convict you
of great ignorance in not knowing that the word translated "rib"
should have been translated "side," and that Eve, after all, was
not made out of a rib, but out of Adam's side?

ANSWER. I may have been misled by taking the Bible as it is
translated. The Bible account is simply this: "And the Lord God
caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept. And he took
one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the
rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman, and
brought her unto the man. And Adam said: This is now bone of my
bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because
she was taken out of man." If Mr. Talmage is right, then the
account should be as follows: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep
to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his sides, and
closed up the flesh instead thereof and the side which the Lord God
had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said: This is now side of my side, and flesh of my flesh."
I do not see that the story is made any better by using the word
"side" instead of "rib." It would be just as hard for God to make
a woman out of a man's side as out of a rib. Mr. Talmage ought not
to question the power of God to make a woman out of a bone, and he
must recollect that the less the material the greater the miracle.

There are two accounts of the creation of man in Genesis, the
first being in the twenty-first verse of the first chapter and the
second being in the twenty-first and twenty-second verses of the
second chapter.

According to the second account, "God formed man of the dust
of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."
And after this God planted a garden eastward in Eden and put the
man in this garden. After this, "He made every tree to grow that
was good for food and pleasant to the sight," and, in addition,
"the tree of life ln the midst of the garden," beside "the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil." And he "put the man in the garden
to dress it and keep it," telling him that he might eat of
everything he saw except of "the tree of the knowledge of good and

After this, God having noticed that it "was not good for man
to be alone, formed out of the ground every beast of the field,
every fowl of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he
would call them, and Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl
of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was
not found an helpmeet for him."

We are not told how Adam learned the language, or how he
understood what God said. I can hardly believe that any man can be
created with the knowledge of a language. Education cannot he ready
made and stuffed into a brain. Each person must learn a language
for himself. Yet in this account we find a language ready made for
man's use. And not only was man enabled to speak, but a serpent
also has the power of speech, and the woman holds a conversation
with this animal and with her husband; and yet no account is given
of how any language was learned. God is described as walking in the
garden in the cool of the day, speaking like a man -- holding

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conversations with the man and woman, and occasionally addressing
the serpent.

ln the nursery rhymes of the world there is nothing more
childish than this "inspired" account of the creation of man and

The early fathers of the church held that woman was inferior
to man, because man was not made for woman, but woman for man;
because Adam was made first and Eve afterward. They had not the
gallantry of Robert Burns, who accounted for the beauty of woman
from the fact that God practiced on man first, and then gave woman
the benefit of his experience. Think, in this age of the world of
a well-educated, intelligent gentleman telling his little child
that about six thousand years ago a mysterious being called God
made the world out of his "omnipotence;" then made a man out of
some dust which he is supposed to have molded into form; that he
put this man in a garden for the purpose of keeping the trees
trimmed; that after a little while he noticed that the man seemed
lonesome, not particularly happy, almost homesick; that then it
occurred to this God, that it would be a good thing for the man to
have some company, somebody to help him trim the trees, to talk to
him and cheer him up on rainy days; that, thereupon, this God
caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, took a knife. or a long,
sharp piece of "omnipotence," and took out one of the man's sides,
or a rib, and of that made a woman; that then this man and woman
got along real well till a snake got into the garden and induced
the woman to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
that the woman got the man to take a bite; that afterwards both of
them were detected by God, who was walking around in the cool of
the evening, and thereupon they were turned out of the garden, lest
they should put forth their hands and eat of the tree of life, and
live forever.

This foolish story has been regarded as the sacred, inspired
truth; as an account substantially written by God himself; and
thousands and millions of people have supposed it necessary to
believe this childish falsehood, in order to save their souls.
Nothing more laughable can be found in the fairy tales and
folk-lore of savages. Yet this is defended by the leading
Presbyterian divine, and those who fail to believe in the truth of
this story are called "brazen faced fools," "deicides," and

By this story woman in all Christian countries was degraded.
She was considered too impure to preach the gospel, too impure to
distribute the sacramental bread, too impure to hand about the
sacred wine, too impure to step within the "holy of holies," in the
Catholic Churches, too impure to be touched by a priest. Unmarried
men were considered purer than husbands and fathers. Nuns were
regarded as superior to mothers, a monastery holier than a home, a
nunnery nearer sacred than the cradle. And through all these years
it has been thought better to love God than to love man, better to
love God than to love your wife and children, better to worship an
imaginary deity than to help your fellow-men.

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I regard the rights of men and women equal. In Love's fair
realm, husband and wife are king and queen, sceptered and crowned
alike, and seated on the self-same throne.

QUESTION. Do you still insist that the Old Testament upholds
polygamy? Mr. Talmage denies this charge, and shows how terribly
God punished those who were not satisfied with one wife.

ANSWER. I see nothing in what Mr. Talmage has said calculated
to change my opinion. It has been admitted by thousands of
theologians that the Old Testament upholds polygamy. Mr. Talmage is
among the first to deny it. It will not do to say that David was
punished for the crime of polygamy or concubinage. He was "a man
after God's own heart." He was made a king. He was a successful
general, and his blood is said to have flowed in the veins of God.
Solomon was, according to the account, enriched with wisdom above
all human beings. Was that a punishment for having had so many
wives? Was Abraham pursued by the Justice of God because of the
crime against Hagar, or for the crime against his own wife? The
verse quoted by Mr. Talmage to show that God was opposed to
polygamy, namely, the eighteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter of
Leviticus, cannot by any ingenuity be tortured into a command
against polygamy. The most that can be possibly said of it is, that
you shall not marry the sister of your wife, while your wife is
living. Yet this passage is quoted by Mr. Talmage as "a thunder of
prohibition against having more than one wife." In the twentieth
chapter of Leviticus it is enacted: "That if a man take a wife and
her mother they shall be burned with fire." A commandment like this
shows that he might take his wife and somebody else's mother. These
passages have nothing to do with polygamy. They show whom you may
marry, not how many; and there is not in Leviticus a solitary word
against polygamy -- not one. Nor is there such a word in Genesis,
nor Exodus, nor in the entire Pentateuch -- not one word. These
books are filled with the most minute directions about killing
sheep, and goats and doves; about making clothes for priests, about
fashioning tongs and snuffers; and yet, they contain not one word
against polygamy. It never occurred to the inspired writers that
polygamy was a crime. Polygamy was accepted as a matter of course.
Women were simple property.

Mr. Talmage, however, insists that, although God was against
polygamy, he permitted it, and at the same time threw his moral
influence against it. Upon this subject he says: "No doubt God
permitted polygamy to continue for sometime, just as he permits
murder and arson, theft and gambling to-day to continue, although
he is against them." If God is the author of the Ten Commandments,
he prohibited murder and theft, but he said nothing about polygamy.
If he was so terribly against that crime, why did he forget to
mention it? Was there not room enough on the tables of stone for
just one word on this subject? Had he no time to give a commandment
against slavery? Mr. Talmage of course insists that God had to deal
with these things gradually, his idea being that if God had made a
commandment against them all at once, the Jews would have had
nothing more to do with him.

For instance: if we wanted to break cannibals of eating
missionaries, we should not tell them all at once that it was
wrong, that it was wicked, to eat missionaries raw; we should

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induce them first to cook the missionaries, and gradually wean them
from raw flesh. This would be the first great step. We would stew
the missionaries, and after a time Put a little mutton in the stew,
not enough to excite the suspicion of the cannibal, but just enough
to get him in the habit of eating mutton without knowing it. Day
after day we would put in more mutton and less missionary, until
finally, the cannibal would be perfectly satisfied with clear
mutton. Then we would tell him that it was wrong to eat missionary.
After the cannibal got so that he liked mutton, and cared nothing
for missionary, then it would be safe to have a law upon the
subject. Mr. Talmage insists that polygamy cannot exist among
people who believe the Bible. In this he is mistaken. The Mormons
all believe the Bible. There is not a single polygamist in Utah who
does not insist upon the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments.
The Rev. Mr. Newman, a kind of peripatetic consular theologian,
once had a discussion, I believe, with Elder Orson Pratt, at Salt
Lake City, upon the question of polygamy. It is sufficient to say
of this discussion that it is now circulated by the Mormons as a
campaign document. The elder overwhelmed the parson. Passages of
Scripture in favor of polygamy were quoted by the hundred. The
lives of all the patriarchs were brought forward, and poor parson
Newman was driven from the field. The truth is, the Jews at that
time were much like our forefathers. They were barbarians, and many
of their laws were unjust and cruel. Polygamy was the right of all;
practiced, as a matter of fact, by the rich and powerful, and the
rich and powerful were envied by the poor. In such esteem did the
ancient Jews hold polygamy, that the number of Solomon's wives was
given, simply to enhance his glory. My own opinion is, that Solomon
had very few wives, and that polygamy was not general in Palestine.
The country was too poor, and Solomon, all his glory was hardly
able to support one wife. He was a poor barbarian king with a
limited revenue, with a poor soil, with a sparse population,
without art, without science and without power. He sustained about
the same relation to other kings that Delaware does to other
States. Mr. Talmage says that God persecuted Solomon, and yet, if
he will turn to the twenty-second chapter of First Chronicles, he
will find what God promised to Solomon. God, speaking to David,
says: "Behold a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of
rest, and I will give him rest from his enemies around about; for
his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto
Israel in his days. He shall build a house in my name, and he shall
be my son and I will be his father, and I will establish the throne
of his kingdom over Israel forever." Did God keep his promise?

So he tells us that David was persecuted by God, on account of
his offenses, and yet I find in the twenty-eighth verse of the
twenty-ninth chapter of First Chronicles, the following account of
the death of David: "And he died in a good old age, full of days,
riches and honor." Is this true?

QUESTION. What have you to say to the charge that you were
mistaken in the number of years that the Hebrews were in Egypt? Mr.
Talmage says that they were there 430 years, instead of 215 years.

ANSWER. If you will read the third chapter of Galatians,
sixteenth and seventeenth verses, you will find that it was 430
years from the time God made the promise to Abraham to the giving

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of the law from Mount Sinai. The Hebrews did not go to Egypt for
215 years after the promise was made to Abraham and consequently
did not remain in Egypt more than 215 years. If Galatians is true,
I am right.

Strange that Mr. Talmage should belittle the miracles. The
trouble with this defender of the faith is that he cares nothing
for facts. He makes the strangest statements, and cares the least
for proof, of any man I know. I can account for what he says of me
only upon the supposition that he has not read my lectures. He may
have been misled by the pirated editions. Persons have stolen my
lectures, printed the same ones under various names, and filled
them with mistakes and things I never said. Mr. C. P. Farell of
Washington, is my only authorized publisher yet Mr. Talmage prefers
to answer the mistakes of literary thieves, and charge their
ignorance to me.

QUESTION. Did you ever attack the character of Queen Victoria,
or did you draw any parallel between her and George Eliot,
calculated to depreciate the reputation of the Queen?

ANSWER. I never said a word against victoria. The fact is, I
am not acquainted with her -- never met her in my life, and know
but little of her. I never happened to see her "in plain clothes,
reading the Bible to the poor in the lane," -- neither did I ever
hear her sing. I most cheerfully admit that her reputation is good
in the neighborhood where she resides. In one of my lectures I drew
a parallel between George Eliot and Victoria. I was showing the
difference between a woman who had won her position in the world of
thought, and one who was queen by chance. This is what I said: "It
no longer satisfies the ambition of a great man to be a king or
emperor. The last Napoleon was not satisfied with being the Emperor
of the French. He was not satisfied with having a circlet of gold
about his head -- he wanted some evidence that he had something of
value in his head. So he wrote the life of Julius Caesar that he
might become a member of the French Academy. The emperors. the
kings, the popes, no longer tower above their fellows. Compare King
William with the philosopher Haeckel. The king is one of the
'anointed of the Most High' -- they claim -- one upon whose head
has been poured the divine petroleum of authority. Compare this
king with Haeckel, who towers an intellectual Colossus above the
crowned mediocrity. Compare George Eliot with Queen Victoria. The
queen is clothed in garments given her by blind fortune and
unreasoning chance, while George Eliot wears robes of glory, woven
in the loom of her own genius. The world is beginning to pay homage
to intellect, to genius, to heart."

I said not one word against Queen Victoria, and did not intend
to even intimate that she was not an excellent woman, wife and
mother. I was simply trying to show that the world was getting
great enough to place a genius above an accidental queen. Mr.
Talmage, true to the fawning, cringing spirit of orthodoxy, lauds
the living queen and cruelly maligns the genius dead. He digs open
the grave of George Eliot and tries to stain the sacred dust of one
who was the greatest woman England has produced. He calls her "an
adulteress." He attacks her because she was an atheist -- because
she abhorred Jehovah, denied the inspiration of the Bible, denied

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


the dogma of eternal pain, and with all her heart despised the
Presbyterian creed. He hates her because she was great and brave
and free -- because she lived without "faith" and died without fear
-- because she dared to give her honest thought, and grandly bore
the taunts and slanders of the Christian world.

George Eliot tenderly carried in her heart the burdens of our
race. She looked through pity's tears upon the faults and frailties
of mankind. She knew the springs and seeds of thought and deed, and
saw, with cloudless eyes, through all the winding ways of greed,
ambition and deceit, where folly vainly plucks with thorn-pierced
hands the fading flowers of selfish joy -- the highway of eternal
right. Whatever her relations may have been -- no matter what I
think, or others say, or how much all regret the one mistake in all
her self-denying, loving life -- I feel and know that in the court
where her own conscience sat as judge, she stood acquitted -- pure
as light and stainless as a star.

How appropriate here, with some slight change, the wondrously
poetic and pathetic words of Laertes at Ophelia's grave:

Leave her in the earth;

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh

May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,

A ministering angel shall this woman be,

When thou liest howling!

I have no words with which to tell my loathing for a man who
violates a noble woman's grave.

QUESTION. Do you think that the spirit in which Mr. Talmage
reviews your lectures is in accordance with the teachings of

ANSWER. I think that he talks like a true Presbyterian. If you
will read the arguments of Calvin against the doctrines of Castalio
and Servetus, you will see that Mr. Talmage follows closely in the
footsteps of the founder of his church. Castalio was such a wicked
and abandoned wretch, that he taught the innocence of honest error.
He insisted that God would not eternally damn a man for being
honestly mistaken. For the utterance of such blasphemous
sentiments, abhorrent to every Christian mind, Calvin called him "a
dog of Satan, and a child of hell." In short, he used the usual
arguments. Castalio was banished, and died in exile. In the case of
Servetus, after all the epithets had been exhausted, an appeal was
made to the stake, and the blasphemous wretch was burned to ashes.

If you will read the life of John Knox, you will find that Mr.
Talmage is as orthodox in his methods of dealing with infidels, as
he is in his creed. In my opinion, he would gladly treat
unbelievers now, as the Puritans did the Quakers, as the
Episcopalians did the Presbyterians, as the Presbyterians did the
Baptists, and as the Catholics have treated all heretics. Of

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course, all these sects will settle their differences in heaven. In
the next world, they will laugh at the crimes they committed in

The course pursued by Mr. Talmage is consistent. The pulpit
cannot afford to abandon the weapons of falsehood and defamation.
Candor sows the seeds of doubt. Fairness is weakness. The only way
to successfully uphold the religion of universal love, is to
denounce all Freethinkers as blasphemers, adulterers, and
criminals. No matter how generous they may appear to be, no matter
how fairly they may deal with their fellow-men, rest assured that
they are actuated by the lowest and basest motives. Infidels who
outwardly live honest and virtuous lives, are inwardly vicious,
virulent and vile. After all, morality is only a veneering. God is
not deceived with the varnish of good works. We know that the
natural man is totally depraved, and that until he has been
regenerated by the spirit of God, he is utterly incapable of a good
action. The generosity of the unbeliever is, in fact, avarice. His
honesty is only a form of larceny. His love is only hatred. No
matter how sincerely he may love his wife, -- how devoted he may be
to his children, -- no matter how ready he may be to sacrifice even
his life for the good of mankind, God looking into his very heart,
finds it only a den of hissing snakes, a lair of wild, ferocious
beasts, a cage of unclean birds.

The idea that God will save a man simply because he is honest
and generous, is almost too preposterous for serious refutation. No
man should rely upon his own goodness. He should plead the virtue
of another. God, in his infinite justice, damns a good man on his
own merits, and saves a bad man on the merits of another. The
repentant murderer will be an angel of light, while his honest and
unoffending victim will be a fiend in hell.

A little while ago, a ship, disabled, was blown about the
Atlantic for eighty days. Everything had been eaten. Nothing
remained but bare decks and hunger. The crew consisted of Captain
Kruger and nine others. For nine days, nothing had been eaten. The
captain, taking a revolver in his hand, said: "Mates, some one must
die for the rest. I am willing to sacrifice myself for you." One of
his comrades grasped his hand, and implored him to wait one more
day. The next morning, a sail was seen upon the horizon, and the
dying men were rescued.

To an ordinary man, -- to one guided by the light of reason,
-- it is perfectly clear that Captain Kruger was about to do an
infinitely generous action. Yet Mr. Talmage will tell us that if
that captain was not a Christian, and if he had sent the bullet
crashing through his brain in order that his comrades might eat his
body, and live to reach their wives and homes, -- his soul, from
that ship, would have gone, by dark and tortuous ways, down to the
prison of eternal pain.

Is it possible that Christ would eternally damn a man for
doing exactly what Christ would have done, had he been infinitely
generous, under the same circumstances? Is not self-denial in a man
as praiseworthy as in a God? Should a God be worshiped, and a man
be damned, for the same action?

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


According to Mr.Talmage, every soldier who fought for our
country in the Revolutionary war, who was not a Christian, is now
in hell. Every soldier, not a Christian, who carried the flag of
his country to victory -- either upon the land or sea, in the war
of 1812, is now in hell. Every soldier, not a Christian, who fought
for the preservation of this Union, -- to break the chains of
slavery -- to free four millions of people keep the whip from the
naked back -- every man who did this -- every one who died at
Andersonville and Libby, dreaming that his death would help make
the lives of others worth living, is now a lost and wretched soul.
These men are now in the prison of God, -- a prison in which the
cruelties of Libby and Andersonville would be regarded as mercies,
in which famine would be a joy.

****     ****

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful,
scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of
suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the
Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and
religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so
that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts
and information for today. If you have such books please contact
us, we need to give them back to America.

****     ****

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
all rights reserved

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201