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may find lodgment in its upward course. This is “small talk," and used only to show the dignity of a philosopher and divine who forces us, by parallel comparison, to show that priestly arguments are lighter than “ the stuff which dreams are made of."

Issue is also taken on the definition of law. Perhaps one has not yet been framed which is not liable to justly adverse criticism.

Blackstone defines law as a rule of action, and as applying to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. I might define natural law, in its general sense, as a governing principle or force. Yet I do not believe the common sense of the world will remain suspended, while Blackstone, Ingersoll, the good priest, and my humble self contend about a word which all rational men understand, but which no one may be able to define with entire exactness.

But, pray, consider the definition of the laws of nature as recorded in the “Notes."

Lambert.-" The laws of nature, then, as commonly understood, are the uniform action of natural forces expressed in words.

So we are to infer that if men were speechless, and could not by writing express natural forces in words, the laws of nature would be non est, and the universe plunged in chaos ! The good priest has only confounded law with our conceptions of it, as "expressed in words."

Hamlet, it would seem, was not amiss in his answer to Polonius. What do you read, my lord?” “Words, words, words." A pot-pie might be defined as a composite of dough, meat, butter, pepper and salt, expressed in words. The poor mute most forego the delicious repast.

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CHAPTER IV.

REPLY TO CHAPTER III.

The Black Flag—More Metaphysics—" Pure Act”-Can we Know that God

Exists ?—Difference between Knowledge, Belief and Opinion—Human Ignorance—The Right to Express an Honest Opinion – The Modesty of ScienceMoral Right and Legal Right-Martyrs to Truth; the Debt we Owe Them.

The Father, in his “touch of metaphysics,” his“ tail-piece," etc.—choice diction for a priest; but so he heads his chapter -reminds us of the Scotchman's definition of metaphysics. "When,” said he, a man talks that to another which the other man don't understand and he don't understand himself, that is metaphysics.”

Our Father at the outset hoisted the black flag. He would neither give nor take quarter. Nothing was to be taken for granted on either side. Let us see how well the promise has been kept.

Ingersoll.—“To put God back of the universe compels us to admit that there was a time when nothing existed except God.”

Lambert.—“It compels us to admit nothing of the kind. The eternal God can place an eternal act. His creative act could, therefore, be co-eternal with his being. The end of the act—that is, creation could be co-extensive with the eternal act, and therefore eternal. To deny this is to affirm that there could be a moment when the eternal and omnipotent God could not act, which is contrary to Christian teaching."

But what you call “ Christian teaching" is the very thing

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in controversy. What right have you to assume the point in dispute as true? This is not only taking something, but everything, for granted. But you say, “the eternal God can place an eternal act.” Reader, what is the placing of an eternal act? It is a conundrum, which we give up and pass to you.

“To put God back of the universe" is certainly to affirm that in time or order of being he antedates the universe. If this be not so, what becomes of the dogma that God created matter “out of nothing ?” Can you conceive of such a creative act, without a time or point in infinite duration when it was performed ? Try it.

We are told in the “Notes” that, “before creation was, time was not.” This as poetry may pass, but as a fact it is inconceivable. But if true, how do we know it to be true? We are also informed that reason teaches that the universe could have been created from all eternity. Whose reason? What grounds have you for saying that reason teaches such an incomprehensible proposition ? Create means to make, to bring into being. How, then, can anything be made or brought into being “from all eternity ?” To say that God could create anything the existence of which was co-eternal with his own being, is to affirm the possibility of God having created himself. It is said that God is self-existent, but never has theology been plunged in the delirium of nonsense so far as to affirm that God was his own creator. But if it be true that the universe was always created, it must have existed “ from the beginning.” That is, there never was a time when it was not. Precisely what Mr. Ingersoll asserts. How pleasant it is to see extremes meet! to behold the good Father and Mr. Ingersoll, as in this case, clasp each other in logical embrace. “We may be happy yet."

We are told that “God is pure act, the source of origin of

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all activity and life.” How there can be “pure act,” or any other act without an actor, is another riddle to which we succumb.

When the Father says that “ Kant held that we can have absolute certainty of nothing; which is equivnlent to a denial of both God and the universe" (the italics are ours), we dissent. Uncertainty is neither affirmation nor denial.

Lambert.-"We know not God absolutely, but we know certainly that he is."

I do not deny his existence, but can we know that he exists? Bishop Alexander Campbell, who, if not the founder, was the "head-light" of that church of worthy people known as 'Christians” or “ Disciples,” of whom Judge Black said, “ I never stood before as great a man,” said : Knowledge comes to us through the senses; belief from evidence presented to the mind; opinions are the result of our reasonings.” I quote from the memory of readings of thirty years ago, and though I may not do entire justice to the language of the grand old Christian warrior, I feel certain that I faithfully reflect his meaning.

If, then, knowledge comes to us through the senses, unless there be a sixth sense, how can we know that God is, even though to us our belief be the equivalent of knowledge?

Ingersoll.—“What we know of the infinite is almost infinitely limited; but little as we know, all have an equal right to give their honest thought.”

Lambert.—“ Has any man the right, common sense being the judge, to talk about that of which his knowledge is almost infinitely limited ?"

Yes; but in return we inquire, is not the knowledge of every one, yea, the combined knowledge of all men of all time, almost infinitely limited” in regard to that infinity which is above, below and around us? Infinity! we name thee, but

know thee not. With thine all-comprehensive expanse, thy circling worlds, and blazing suns, and microscopic wonders, and mysteries of life and spirit, how little, infinitely little, can we know of thee at best! Newton with his peerless intellect, after a lifetime of devotion to science, in view of what he knew as compared with the great unknown, likened himself to a child standing by the margin of the sea and toying with the pebbles upon the beach. This bespoke the modesty of true science. Let theology imitate its humility if it desire to gain or retain the confidence of thinking men. But because Newton confessedly knew so little, should he not have spoken at all? Shall only those speak who arrogate to themselves the perfection of knowledge? If so, the miracle of old shall repeat and multiply itself, and asses shall speak while wise men remain silent.

Lambert.—“All may have an equal right to give their honest thoughts, but none have the right to give their honest thoughts on all subjects and under all circumstances."

Certainly not; and no one has claimed such a right. But wly does the Father blend things which have with things which have not been said, and then give a sweeping denunciation of the “pool ?" Why tie a live man to a corpse, and, because the corpse should be buried, dump the living and the dead in a common grave? Why does the Father lead his thousands of readers, who never have and never will read Ingersoll, to believe that he has uttered words and sentiments which he has never said nor thought? Is truth so weak that it is necessary for its advocates to defend it by false implications, which charity and politeness alone constrain us from calling wanton? Again

Lambert.—“The honesty of a thought does not give weight, or importance, or truth to it."

No one has affirmed that the honesty of a thought makes

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