KING AND BRADLAUGH DEBATE - PART 12
SIX NIGHTS' DISCUSSION
DAVID KING AND CHARLES BRADLAUGH
FROM "The Interpreter" 1909.
IS CHRISTIANITY OF DIVINE ORIGIN?
Thursday, 29th September, 1870.
MR. KING'S THIRD REPLY
MR. KING: - It might perhaps meet Mr. Bradlaugh's difficulty with regard to the Papal territory, if I ask what territory it was of that which was handed over through the agency of Garibaldi which was not under the influence of the papacy, and, therefore, Papal as I have described? But, if it were proved that, in this particular, Mr. King had made a mistake - that he had made a statement with regard to that territory that could not be sustained - then, according to Mr. Bradlaugh, there is one brick out of the fabric, and the whole thing falls. Indeed! Nothing of the kind! It would, then simply come to this - that a certain territory was thought capable of a certain designation, which turns out inapplicable. What a tremendous business to have called for so much attention! But mark, we have given you the prediction, showing that the persecuting power was to continue in that little horn kingdom for at least 1260 years; that that persecuting power was to be destroyed in a certain way; that there was to be a gradual consuming; and you see it has continued to the present time, so that whether the reference with regard to Papal territory is correct or not, is, so far as the argument is concerned, of no importance whatever. You have the fact, that that persecuting power did extend over a period of 1260 years; that it was brought into a state of captivity by the first Napoleon, but was allowed to resuscitate to a considerable extent, and has been wasting away till now, when it is no longer in a position to persecute the people of God. You know that that is established, and my opponent, it seems, does not intend to grapple with these facts. He has ignored every point in the fulfilment of prophecy. Let him endeavour to show that these things have not been accomplished. Let him endeavour to show that the prediction did not exist before the events by which it was fulfilled! He cannot, because taking whatever date you please with regard to the Septuagint, and bringing it down through the time of the apostles, even then, the great bulk of the fulfilment of the prophecy comes down nearly to our own door.
The comparison between Mormonism and Christianity is brought up again, and you are told that I ignore the leading features in the case, namely, the comparative number in a given time. Well, I answer by what I have read from Pliny, that the numbers of Christians were then so great that the temples of the larger cities and smaller towns had been almost, if not entirely, deserted. Have the temples, the places of worship in London, or New York, or other great cities, or those of smaller towns in England, been deserted in consequence of the progress of Mormonism? If he can show this kind of thing in the history of Mormonism, he will meet the requirements of the case, but not till then. But even had the progress of Mormonism been equal to that of Christianity, what then? The mere matter of progress will not answer the case. You will have to demonstrate that the attendant circumstances were equal, and you find, and I have proved to you, that they are vastly different.
Now, returning to the New Testament, I have to observe that Christ's own words indicated that there would be gathered under the Christian name very much that has no affinity with His church and doctrine. The grain of mustard seed became a great tree, and the birds of the air took shelter in its branches. Even Secularists in the National Reformer, quoted the other night, understood the parable to relate to those in the Apostate Church who prey upon and plunder the people. But the Epistles to the Thessalonians and to Timothy, mark this out, not merely in a general way, but by specifying remarkable particulars, quite beyond the range of human foresight. Only a few verses can we stay to notice. But those few foretell exactly what now prevails. So that when Secularists point to priestly wrongs and robbery and to other anti-Christianism, existent under a profession of Christianity, they but show that the apostolic prophecies are completely fulfilled, and that instead of these conditions making against the truth of Christianity, Christianity could not be true had they not been realized.
But let us read, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." 2 Thess. 2:3-8. Turning to 1 Tim. 4:1, we read: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." Then in 2 Tim. 3:1, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away."
Here then we have foretold a dire apostacy from Christianity, specifying the most unlikely results. The apostacy was not to consist in an avowed falling back to Judaism or Heathenism, but to be in the setting up, under the Christian name, a vast unchristian institution, which would reverse great principles of Christianity, and establish a despotism that would exalt itself above all that were called God - whether kings and rulers (who were so called), or the deified souls of heathens. You will perceive that the description of selfishness and lust, in the letter to Timothy, is not applied to the world, but to the professing and apostate church, which we have already contemplated in its work of changing times and laws and persecuting saints. And surely the fulfilment is complete.
"Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats" has its accomplishment in the forced celibacy of the clergy, contrary to Scripture, which says the bishop "must be the husband of one wife." That this apostate Christianity is characterized by a "form of godliness without the power," precisely as predicted, infidels avow.
Then as to the "Doctrine of Devils." It is foretold that in the apostate church, the doctrine of devils would prevail. But was there any root in the doctrine of Christ out of which it could fairly grow? Certainly not. But the very opposite - so much so that it could not prevail without reversing great principles of the Christian faith. Still this doctrine has been grafted in, and the fact is the more remarkable when you remember that the very existence of the prediction, in the hands of those who gave it admission, rendered its introduction more difficult and wonderful. But what is this doctrine? According to the theology of the Gentiles there were middle powers between the sovereign gods and men. Plato says, "Every demon is a middle being between God and Mortal Man." He also says, "God is not approached by Man, but all the commerce and intercourse between the gods and men is by the mediation of demons." He also intimates that the demons convey the supplications of man to the gods.
Now, any approach to this doctrine strikes at the very root of Christianity, which rests upon the assumption that Christ is the ONLY MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. Yet Paul foretold that this utterly repugnant doctrine of heathenism would prevail in the so-called Church. And so it was, for Constantine (and others after him) sought to retain the power of the Christian name while they were dressing up their shams and imposing upon the people heathen superstitions. Accordingly Eusebius quotes and approves the doctrine of Plato, and compares the Saints and Martyrs with the demons of the Gentiles, and counts them worthy of the same honour. Theodoret speaks of applying them as to the Divine Men, and beseeching them to become intercessors for us to God. Thus was the worship of demons revived in the Church of the apostacy.
As the worship is the same, so it was performed with the same ceremonies. The burning of incense; sprinkling of holy water; lighting lamps and candles in broad daylight before the altars; votive offerings and rich presents as attestation of miraculous cures and deliverance from danger; canonization or deification of deceased worthies; assigning provinces, or prefectures, to departed heroes and saints; worshipping and adoring the dead in their sepulchres, shrines and relics; consecrating and bowing down to images; attributing miraculous powers and virtues to idols; carrying images and relics in procession; flagellations at solemn seasons, under the notion of penance; making a sanctuary of temples and churches; religious orders and fraternities of priests; imposing of celibacy and vows of chastity on both sexes - all these, and many more rites and ceremonies, are equally parts of Pagan and Papal superstition.
Nay, the very same temples, altars and images, which once were consecrated to Jupiter and other demons, are now re-consecrated to the Virgin Mary and other Saints. In short, almost the whole of Paganism is concerted and applied to Popery; the one is manifestly formed upon the same plan and principles as the other, so there is not only conformity, but also uniformity in the worship of Ancient and Modern, of Heathen and Papal Rome.
Had we time to supplement these texts with others from the Book of Revelation, other not less remarkable features of this apostacy would appear as distinctly foretold, but we have adduced enough to show that to the Spirit, which dictated the Epistles of the New Testament, the future was as fully open as the past. [Applause].
MR. BRADLAUGH'S FOURTH REPLY
MR. BRADLAUGH: - It was not my difficulty as to the Papal territory. He made it himself. He instanced the handing over of Papal territory by Garibaldi to Victor Emmanuel, and he has not been manly enough to tell you in his last speech whether he abandons it. If he made a mistake why does he not admit it, and if he knows what he stated to be truth why does not he explain it? He says that Mr. Bradlaugh was not justified in assuming that he has gained this point, and why does not he attack the others? One falsehood at a time. Is it insisted upon as truth? When that trick is admitted as fairly demolished, then I will go to another. And I say that either Mr. King knew that his statement was true or he did not; and bear in mind it was made in a written statement; it was not an unguarded thing uttered in debate, but a carefully written statement, forming part of the proof of this prophecy.
Then when he is challenged three times as to his argument about the Mohammedans - another reckless statement - he leaves it utterly unnoticed, although reading a lot of rotten stuff to fill up the time, and although there were other matters which he had to meet.
Then he gives us another of his illustrations. He says, show me the temples in England that have been affected by Mormonism, as the temples were affected in the time of Pliny, by Christianity, and then I will admit that there is something in it. That is what I am going to do.
MR. KING:- Thank you.
MR. BRADLAUGH: - You needn't thank me; you will have nothing to thank me for before I have done. In quoting from Pliny I fear he had not the advantage of consulting Pliny, directly. He introduced after the word "temples" the words "of larger cities and smaller towns" as having been deserted. These words do not occur in the English nor in the Latin text, nor in relation to the desertion of the temples in this passage. And as to the desertion of churches in this country, why, it is actually printed in the newspapers of today that in many parts of Wales the churches are deserted and falling to pieces. In the Liverpool Mercury of this morning two or three instances are mentioned in which there are only five, six, or seven people attending the services, and in which the parishioners are afraid of the churches tumbling over their heads. I don't care about that as an illustration, but I know that all through England - I don't know from what cause - the clergy are asking why the working classes do not go to churches and chapels, so that there in England even the temples are deserted.
MR. KING:- Have the people become Mormons?
MR. BRADLAUGH: - Mr. King wants a lesson in decency, which I will give him if he interrupts me again. He knows through what books it is traced to exist - traced to exist coupled with the very heresies of which he is speaking. Celibacy is said by Mr. King to be opposed to Christianity, but in 1 Cor. 7:32, we find it written: "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife." "So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well, but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better." I do not care to point out that the author contradicts himself - it is enough for me that he contradicts Mr. King.
Mr. King has given us no explanation that can be satisfactory as to the Papal territory, and I may readily be excused for referring to that matter, considering that Garibaldi wrote to thank me specially for the assistance I gave him in it. In asked if, in dealing with this matter, he has taken up a dignified position, why did not he say that he had made a slip of the tongue? Why did he leave it till the third night?
Again I ask him for the non-existent "particular document," and challenge him to produce it. Why does he not produce it, or say that he cannot? I make slips sometimes, and apologise for them the moment they are shown to me. Any man may make a slip, but no man who is honest tries to evade it after he is tackled with it. Take, for example, the quotation from the Koran. That was a slip made in a set speech; but has it been acknowledged? Why evade it? And in the question of Papal territory he made a speech which might, under other circumstances, have misled you; and I ask you whether Christianity can be of Divine origin when its last result is an advocate who cannot adhere to the truth in support of it?
I leave that and go to an illustration which seems to me conclusive against Christianity, and you will notice that Mr. King's time has not enabled him to deal with one of the scriptural illustrations I have given. His time allows him to go on reading papers, but it is too short to answer infidel arguments. In Acts 7:40, we find: "Make us gods to go before us, for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him." On turning to Exodus what do we find? We find that while God and Moses were on the mount, Aaron made a golden calf at the request of the Israelites, and that they worshipped it. I will read the language which God addressed to the people on that occasion as clear proof that this book is not of Divine origin. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said: These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses: I have seen this people, and, behold! it is a stiff-necked people. Now, therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said: Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say: For mischief did He bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth. Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people. And then the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto His people."
Now, I say it is utterly impossible that that book can be of Divine origin which represents the Jews as surprising God in the mountains by their desertion of the worship down below; it is impossible that that book can be of Divine origin which represents the immutable Deity getting into a passion because His people so deserted, and saying to Moses: "Let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them." I say that that book cannot be of Divine origin which represents Moses, not as appealing to law and justice, but saying to Him: "Think what Egypt will say about you," which represents the unchangeable God as repenting of the evil he thought to do. Now, I have submitted a case as to the origin of Christianity from the book itself. I will not trouble to deal with matters as my opponent has done only, I submit, for the purpose of wasting time in this debate and keeping in a certain countenance with ultra-Protestants who otherwise would be disgusted at his manifest heresy.
We have got it alleged now that Jesus did come to save all mankind from the consequences of Adam's sin, although Mr. King has preferred to read a written paper in answer to the question. What is the good of Christianity at all if we are all saved, and can go about doing good because it is good and making the best of this life whether there is another or not? He did not trouble to answer that, but he read to us so that the reporter might take his words down without regard to whether they had any force in this debate or not. If this is all, it is a wretched thing that this debate ever took place at all.
I am free to confess that the chairman was right when he asked us to refrain from anything like warmth in this discussion, but did he know what has gone about round this town as to the paper tiger who dare not meet this man? [Laughter and cheers]. David is coming out to kill this Goliath. What a pretty David! [Laughter]. Where's his sling? What was his sling? The Papal territory theory, which, when he tried to throw it, doubled up and fell on his own head. This is Mr. King's own case - not mine; and I put it to you whether, under the circumstances, some warmth may not be excusable in this debate.
Mr. King chose to wind up the debate last night with some remarks about the question of starvation, and he put it as a wise and good doctrine to starve secular advocates because they only speak for money, and that they could starve them out. Now, I have come here tonight refusing to take one-halfpenny from my committee, and I ask Mr. King whether it is not true that he has written to his committee asking them to make a collection for him, and telling them that he was ready to receive it. It would be no argument in a debate like this, but it is an argument when we are told that for nine nights a man living by his pen is brought here to be starved. Fortunately I can earn enough in the daytime, for my tongue and pen have not yet so lost their wit, but that I can keep in sufficient cue to meet a dozen such Davids when they come out with their slings. David went out and killed a lion and a bear, and took them both by the beard, and smote them and slew them; but this David will find that the paws of the one and the grip of the other will be more than he can grapple with. [Applause].
MR. KING: - It is not true that I wrote to my Committee to make a collection.
MR. BRADLAUGH: - I ask Mr. Martin to produce the letter in which it was so stated.
MR. Martin rose to deny having received such letter, but was deemed not in order by the Umpire.
DAVID KING INDEX