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REPLY TO LAMBERT.
REPLY TO REV. LAMBERT's “ INTRODUCTORY."
Indecorous Language of Mr. Ingersoll-Father Lambert's Vulgar and Abusive
Methods—“ Physician, Heal Thyself”—The Promise to “Grant Nothing and to take Nothing for Granted,” followed by the Substitution of Assertion for Proof—“Glib little Whiffets,” and “ Smirched Character."
In his “Introductory,” Father Lambert takes Mr. Ingersoll to task for having perpetrated gibe and jest, while complaining that his opponent had treated him with personal disrespect.
Lambert.-"You may outrage Christian sentiment, you may laugh and burlesque Moses and Christ, but you must be genteel, and polite, and nice when you speak of Mr. Ingersoll.”
Does the Father not see that in the discussion carried on between Judge Black and Mr. Ingersoll, the Christian religion, and neither Mr. Black nor Mr. Ingersoll, was on trial? Moses -or whoever wrote the five books attributed to him—was also in the polemic “dock,” with the leader of the American Bar, as the New York Herald ranked Judge Black (and we do not question this high estimate of his legal ability), for his counsel, and Col. Ingersoll as counter-advocate and accuser.
The people of the universe composed the jury. Let not an appeal to outraged “Christian sentiment” estop free, fair, and full investigation. We need not fear error “when truth is left free to combat it.” How could Mr. In
How could Mr. Ingersoll defend his positions at all if handicapped by a sentiment he deems spurious, and without shocking the feelings of those whose "sentiments" have been ingrained into their soul's soul? If he dispute the authority of the Catholic Church he shocks Catholic sentiment; if the doctrines of Calvin he outrages Presbyterian sentiment. Yet this may be done, vigorously done, without the least reflection on the character or sincerity of an opponent. But if the example be so pernicious, why does the Father follow it and even outstrip his adversary in a race so ignoble ?
Lambert.—“Mr. Ingersoll found the legitimate field of wit and drollery preoccupied by Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, and others, with whom he could not compete. He sought new fields and, with a reckless audacity, selects that which the civilized world has always held sacred—Religion.”
We ask, what religion? Whose religion? Religion in the abstract or some particular form of faith? If religion per se be a sacred thing, why should the Christian propagandist lay rude hands upon the heathen's idol, or defame the religions of Zoroaster, Gautama, and Confucius-religions ennobled by many sound doctrines and pure moral precepts? What right have we, logical or otherwise, in an argument with a dissenter, to assume our own religion as true--to elevate ourselves on theological stilts and imperiously demand a deference for our faith that is equally due to every creed which is honestly professed by intelligent men ? Negation is often entitled to as much respect as affirmation. In regard to theological questions the chances in its favor are as a thousand to one; for we are assured that there can be but one true religion. If so, all others are spurious and false. Blame not the traveller who, in this interminable wilderness of beliefs, hesitates, and doubts, and distrusts his guide, while confident voices from every side
assure him that he is being led on to certain ruin. faith,” says the guide. “Whose faith ?” asks the pilgrim. "My faith, My faith, MY FAITH," answer a thousand voices, with ever increasing emphasis. What can he do? He has but one alternative: either to use his own judgment with the aid of the best light he can obtain, or submit to be lead through darkness, he knows not where.
Lambert.-"All this time while he has been combining the professions of the philosopher, the humorist, and the ghoul, he has talked sweetly of delicacy, refinement, sentiment, feeling, honor bright, etc. All this time he has delighted in tearing, and wounding, and lacerating the hearts, and faith, and feelings of those by whose tolerance he is permitted to outrage the common sense and sentiment of Christendom.”
We ask, is a faith, which is worth being preserved, liable to be torn, and wounded, and lacerated by some one who doubts, and by doubting damns himself? Oh! tender, brittle, fickle faith!
Again, are the hearts of the faithful lacerated by the gospel of love, which affirms that a God of justice and mercy infinite never could have justified slavery or polygamy—the butchery of children, nor the consignment of captive maidens to a brutal soldiery ? Or, is the doctrine of an eternal hell so sweet and savory that its negation wounds and discomfits the hosts of Israel? May we not, without profanity, hope
? that between parent and child, husband and wife, there is no eternal barrier-between loving souls no spanless chasm? By such hopes are fond hearts rent in twain and Christian sentiment defiled ?
You say it is by the “tolerance” of those whose feelings he outrages that he is permitted to speak his thoughts. No, Father, though a vile tyranny has popularized the words, there is no such thing as “religious toleration."
I worship the God of my choice, or none at all, if I like, not by tolerance but by right-a right inherent, inalienable ; and, though not conferred, yet guaranteed us by our noble national and state constitutions. I know full well if theology could issue its mandates unrebuked by law that the scenes of past ages would be re-enacted. We rejoice in our deliverance from the bondage of superstition and its inquisitorial torments; but in the exercise of our liberty we enjoy only our rights, grudgingly accorded—but all our own.
If, as alleged, Mr. Ingersoll has advanced nothing new and his arguments are borrowed from Paine, Bolingbroke and others, why has such a bevy of writers, priests and preachers, essayed replies to his writings and lectures ?
Please do not tell us what Celsus, Porphyry and Julian have said-names very unfamiliar to the popular ear-but redeem your pledge, granting “nothing, and taking nothing for granted.” Having thus promised, in the next paragraph you speak of the "proofs of Christianity to be found in the writings of the great Christian philosophers and theologians," and you affirm that they never have been successfully answered. Perhaps not; but it seems that you have taken something for granted at the outset, and have substituted assertion for proof. You indeed say, "it is not Christianity that is on trial but Mr. Ingersoll's article,” but forget not that that article necessarily involves the authenticity and credibility of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and the intelligent investigator will desire to read, not a bald assertion that Mr. Ingersoll has been or can be refuted, but the refutation itself. But, in truth, are there no new issues raised in the present which were unknown to the past? Were those ancient men, Anaximander, Epicurus, Lucretius, or the more modern writers, such as Hobbes, Bolingbroke and Paine, acquainted with the discoveries of modern science, such as the great antiquity of prehistoric man, his progress from a barbarous state to higher and still higher grades of civilization; or the negation, even by Christian geologists, of a universal deluge ? Astronomy, geology, philology, paleontology and comparative anatomy have recently opened up rich treasuries of scientific fact which have a direct bearing upon the plenary inspiration of Scripture, and which Christian apologists cannot afford to ignore.
Yet the easiest way to gain a logical victory, in the eyes of the unthinking many, is to insist that an opponent is wanting in originality and has been answered successfully, away back in the world's history, by men of unpronounceable names, and of whom only the scholarly few have either read or heard. This cheap method of disputation is not suited to the requirements of the present age. But after centuries of repetition of effete dogmas, supported by arguments corroded by antique rust, does it become theologians to cavil about a want of originality in those who controvert their teachings?
Notwithstanding your promise to "analyze with careful scrutiny every statement he adduces, every inference he draws,” you have failed to give even a fair synopsis of the arguments you attempt to confute.
But why indulge in wanton abuse? Why employ epithets vile ? Foul words give no weight to statement; no point to argument.
If, indeed, you have, as you claim, exterminated your adversary; if you have“ smirched his character” beyond rehabilitation, let pity constrain you, Reverend Sir, from further exercise of the severity of your wrath. Rather let your anger be stirred against the "glib little whiffets of his shallow school," while he, dejected and dismayed, sulks in his tent.