« ÎnapoiContinuă »
what was his prayer for those who pierced his flesh with the cold steel and pressed the vinegar and gall to the lips which had spoken the deliverance of humanity?“Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The grandest sermon, the holiest prayer and benediction ever uttered by mortal or immortal lips; for in a few short words is compressed the doctrine of universal love-of mercy infinite.
Should you, Father, seek to-day to muster recruits to war with idolatry, with purpose to convert, or exterminate with weapons of fire and sword, your victims to be men, women, and children born and unborn, how long would it take you to recruit a regiment even in Catholic countries ? My dear Father, you would, at the end of your efforts, constitute your whole army, from high private to commander-in-chief, and, solitary and alone, like the king of France, minus the forty thousand men, you would march up the hill and so come down again. Yet in this age, when missionaries are a redundancy and education almost as free as the air we breathe, it would seem more just to punish idol-worship with death, than when black ignorance overspread the earth, and the moral sense slumbered in the human breast in germinal obscurity.
Do not say to those who advocate liberty of conscience that they plead for the right to do wrong; though they hold. that there are thoughts and acts for which man is not accountable to man.
Neither refer us to the insane-we are not addressing that class; nor to those erratic spirits who confound liberty with license. The boundary line which divides them we may not be able to define with absolute exactness, but when license appears as the counterfeit of liberty, the educated common sense of the world protests. Human liberty is a science, and one of the greatest thinkers of the age has devoted a volume to its exposition. The subject as related to a
moral science and civil law, like all other important questions, is worthy the profoundest thought, and is not susceptible of hasty solution. As man advances in the scale of enlightenment, so do his ideas of personal liberty become more clear. But “the right to think error" being denied him, the wheels of human progress must stop. Who that ever thought has not thought error? Who does not know that from the beginning of his career man has been compelled to grope his way through darkness, learning little by little the mysteries of the universe around him, and of his own being and responsibilities; gathering in his “pan
pan” a thousand grains of the sands of error to one nugget of truth, and now compelled to sift and wash! Yet, says the Father, God gives us not the liberty to think error!
REPLY TO CHAPTER X.
Father Lambert's Dignified Headings-Human Ignorance and Divine Pity
Sinful Ignorance— Wars of Persecution-Exterminating the Heathen, The Father's Advice to “ Brain" the Insanţs of Savages.
The first thing that engages attention in our review of Chapter X. is its chaste and dignified headings: “Some gush;" "Methods of warfare; " " Check," etc. “
When vulgarity of expression is indulged, it is more respectful to readers to refer than quote.
In the following words Mr. Ingersoll raises the point that an infinitely merciful God must pity the misfortunes of his children and forgive an ignorance which is “invincible:”
Ingersoll.—“ I insist that if there is an infinitely good and wise God, he beholds with pity the misfortunes of his children.”
Lambert.—“I insist on the same; but we must distinguish between misfortune and crime, misfortune and wickedness."
Ingersoll.—“I insist that such a God would know the mists, the clouds, the darkness, enveloping the human mind.”
Lambert.—“He does know, and takes into account these disadvantages in dealing with his creatures.”
In regard to the distinction between the misfortune and the sinfulness of ignorance—and there is such a distinction—will the Father point it out clearly and definitely, so that we may know its ear-marks for all time? If he will, he will confer a
great benefit on humanity. I would cast no wanton reflection on creed, nor practice under a creed; but, as matter of history, and as having a direct bearing on this interesting question, will ask: What of Catholic persecutions in the past ? Were they right or wrong? If wrong, were those who persecuted, whether pope, prince, or priest, wicked, or were they not ? Wicked, we say, in one sense and to some degree, yet to a great extent the victims of a horrible delusion. Of course the exigencies of theology require that broken fragments should be soldered together--that excuses be made for wrongs unspeakable; for it will not do to surrender the doctrine of infallibility. It is the keystone of the Catholic arch, yet at what a sacrifice sustained! Faith in the theological world is exalted above works. Behold the creeds of Christendom! How much is said of belief; how comparatively little of practice. How tolerant the church to those—if they subscribe to dogmatic teachings—who do ill, or neglect opportunities of performing those acts which the laws of justice and charity require; how denunciatory of those, however exemplary in conduct, who dare to utter a dissent from doctrines formulated by self-constituted authority. And note, a special hierarchy, as the keeper of the individual conscience, is to dictate what we may and may not believe, and decide what is and what is not sinless ignorance. Because ecclesiastics think they know, all men must accede to their teachings, under the penalty of eternal damnation. We are told that ignorance should be commiserated but crime punished. True; but consider the subject-matter of the controversy. Was that a crime in the heathen worthy of death, which was passed over as a “venal” sin among the people with whom God was in daily intercourse as guide and instructor ?
It is not forgotten that the Jews were “punished,” but note God's long forbearance with them, and the comparative severity of their punishment.
“And David commanded his young men, and they slew them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them up over the pool of Hebron ” (2 Sam. iv. 12). The same David who rewarded them who smote the “lame and blind” among the Jebusites (2 Sam. v. 8); and who, in pious glee, in a state of almost perfect nudity,“ danced before the Lord with all his might" (2 Sam. vi. 14-20).
The Father talks much of blasphemy. As used by him the word is misleading, and is dust to the eyes of common sense, as well as an incentive to moral cowardice. Do I blaspheme, because in my estimate I exalt God above the Father's conception of him ?
In justification of wars of conquest and of extermination, Father Lambert says: “Mr. Black defended what you (Ingersoll) call the atrocities of the Jews recorded in the Old Testament, on the principle recognized by all peoples and nations, pagan philosophers and Christian apostles, that the right to exist implies the right to repel the opposing force that threatens destruction. If enemies come to conquer, a nation has a right to conquer them; if they give no quarter, they have a right to none; if the death of the whole population be their purpose, it is right to defeat it by putting them all to the sword if necessary. These principles are self-evident, and are recognized by all the nations, and practised by all except Christian nations; and if the latter do not practise them, it is because the benign influence of Christianity has refined the sentiments and softened the harsher features of man's nature, in which, however, something of the savage and the ghoul always remains."
Here we have a false implication as to fact, followed by damaging confessions—confessions, indeed, ruinous to the cause the Father defends. He says: “The right to exist implies the right to repel the invading force that threatens