FROM "The Interpreter" 1909.


Friday, 30th September, 1870.


MR. BRADLAUGH: - His contention is that we must interpret this Book as we would the last romance, or any other. Jesus said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel." Why are you not to interpret other texts in accordance with that? Why twist all these texts into harmony with some others that Mr. King refers to? He has never ventured to show the harmony. He says the text, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," did not mean properly everybody; it only meant the people to whom the apostles were commissioned to preach. Very well, then, if it didn't apply to us, what's the use of preaching the Gospel to us at all?

Mr. King says that the Prayer Book is my favourite book. It is not. You rather find that the Bible is my favourite book - I have given you a great deal more of it in this debate than he has - [laughter] - and I only take the Articles because they are those of the Church established by Act of Parliament. They are not my favourites; I am trying to get rid of them; and to talk of infidel tricks because I refer to them is an impertinence from the man who has challenged me to this debate. If you take out a pop-gun to meet an Armstrong gun which gives twenty shots per minute, and have to run, can you complain and cry "What a shame!" [Interruption]. I did not ask you to bring your pop-gun; you challenged me. [Cheers and hisses].

Mr. King says I alleged that Christ prohibited marriage. I never did. I read to you from 1 Cor. 7:38, "So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better." That is all I read to you, and without comment, and I did not say one word about Christ having anything to do with it.

Mr. King says with regard to Mormonism that I utterly failed. He put it that the rapid progress of Christianity is a miracle and a proof that religion is of Divine origin; and said, show me the numbers in the same time and then there will be something in the argument. Then he read a passage out of Pliny to show the increase in numbers. Then I alleged that Mormons had left Britain, and that in Wales churches were deserted, and that is all I said about it.

But then Mr. King says that he does not say that all the alleged miracles believed by people are to be accepted, but only such as are believed at the time, and have the same criteria as we have in the miracles of Christianity. Why, who believed them? The people among whom they worked always denied them. You cannot show any record to the contrary. I ask then whether all this miracle story does not fall down in the same way.

Then he says I have admitted the case with regard to Mohammedanism. I have not. He has not ventured to give a passage from the Koran at all. All he says is, that Mohammed made converts by his army. That is inconsistent, for he must have had an army in some fashion collected, account for it as he may; and I do protest that it is utterly undignified to treat the matter in this way. If I had forced on this discussion for nine nights, he might have complained that I was piling too numerous objections, but he has announced himself as a David going forth, with sling and stone to slay Goliath, but his stone is not big enough, nor his sling strong enough, and altogether it is the wretchedest attempt imaginable.

Now, what has he submitted as proof that Christianity is of Divine origin? I submit only a plea for admission of Mr. King's right to read his speeches. He says those written speeches are his affirmations. Of what? Of matters foreign to the subject in hand - a lot of twaddle about everything in general and nothing in particular. There have been great complaints, occupying minutes after minutes, about objections which there was not time to answer, and yet time has been wasted by a wretched assertion of facts without arguments, or of arguments without facts, to prove them.

Where is that particular document which I told him did not exist, and which he has not had the manhood to say he made a slip in pretending to quote from? How am I to deal with one who conducts an argument like this? Who, having been challenged a third time as to the words he put into Pliny's letter, did not admit that he had made a blunder. Why did he not do this fairly and honestly? Is this an advocate of truth who quibbles with it against infidel advocates? At least if he is the advocate of truth he should be true, and noble and grand. But am I to take it as a proof of the Divine origin of Christianity, that after 1800 years of its existence God has only been able to commission an advocate like this, who has challenged me up and down the land, who talks about the difficulty of catching me before you kill me. [Hisses and cheers].

If it were an ordinary man, if any fair minister of the town had met me in consequence of challenges in this town, and had to plead his unacquaintance with the general principles of debate, I should not have complained, but here is a man who says that he has the printed debate of Mr. Bradlaugh before him, and could have read the answers to his questions from them, and I say he could not, because they are not there, and he knows they are not. [Interruption].

This is the veriest trifling. Is this the messenger of love and truth - of God's salvation to human kind - who trifles with this doctrine, who tricks with that, and who cannot let you know honestly and fairly what he really thinks about it, and does not know that it is a matter of heterodoxy we have to discuss. What does he tell you as to the parable of Lazarus? Did he venture to deal with that? No. He complains that he had not time, and takes up the time in complaining which he ought to have dealt with it. I can give him at least 200 other points to consider, but he has not grappled with these.

Oh, yes, he says it is possible there might be three days and three nights between Christ's burial and the time He rose from the grave, and if there is a mere possibility of it why I must be right, and he is wrong, and this is the style in which we are to discuss whether or not Christianity is of Divine origin. There is a mere possibility in its favour. A mere possibility! And this from one who talked about infidel tricks, and who announced that he would put a stop to this kind of thing in debate!

This is the man who introduced Greek into his first speech, and when challenged with it, steered clear off, although his great learning has been paraded about the country. I have no learning; I am a self-taught advocate; any little power I have has been won by hard strife and struggling; but if once I could bring myself to believe that it was not dishonourable to suppress a fact in dealing with an argument, to invent a statement in order to hide the consequences of defeat, I would abandon the conflict altogether. [Cheers]. At least if there be no penalty of shame in the advocate, if every Christian chooses to step back instead of answering face to face, at least let us be truthful and brave to the cause we have in hand, and when we learn to be otherwise we will go to Mr. King and enrol ourselves on his side. [Cheers, hisses and interruption].

One moment more, and I have done. I know that for tonight this debate is approaching its close, and I don't disguise to you that I have ventured upon it reluctantly. I am never reluctant to meet a brave, good man whom I have learnt to respect, but I knew that my opponent was neither brave nor true before I met him, and knew the work to be done; and if there is five more nights of this painful duty to be done I tell you frankly that I shall feel it my duty to nail down as many lies as I can, so that at the least the clergy who sit behind Mr. King shall be ashamed of the advocate to whom they have entrusted their cause. [Cheers and disapprobation].


MR. KING: - I rather expect there will be some nailing down of lies, and you will soon see on which side it takes place. I understand there is a determination, if possible, to break up this discussion at the end of the four nights, and to set aside the other five. Mr. Bradlaugh knows why he introduces mere personal matters, which have nothing to do with the question. I should like to know why he forced on us, three or four times, the statement about my starving him out. What has this to do with the question, Is Christianity of Divine origin? And I should like to know why he, last night, in demanding of Mr. Martin a letter which did not exist, put before you a most daring lie. [Cheers]. I should like to know that.

Then we have the old complaint that I have not talked upon all the topics he has crowded in. Now his complaint relates to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. If I had referred to that of course he would have complained that I did not occupy the time with some other of his numerous stock; because, as I have said, it takes ten times as long to reply to as to state these objections. This is but a repetition of the trick. But you understand it now. [Cheers and Laughter].

Then he says, that I complain that he presents more objections than I could answer in the time. But why does he not answer the statement I made on that point? I put it thus: Give a person who is as perfectly competent to answer them as he is to put them; let that person talk as rapidly as any man can talk, and he could not answer them, on an average, in less time than ten minutes each, and, therefore, the objections alone would take up more than the whole time allotted me in the two nights, so that I could not by any possibility enter into a statement of my own arguments. Now, that is the real position of the case. Nothing is more easy than to make statements which cannot be taken up in the time.

But I began at the beginning. I took up his statement as to the limitation of the Saviour's mission, the miracles, and the marriage question, and he at once complains that I have not referred to the others. He supposes, and of course that settles the case, that Christ came not but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that He did not go but to them. But He took care to send others into the wide world. He was sent to them and more than that - take the history of the planting of the church, and it will be evident that not for years after the final commission of the apostles did they understand that the Gentiles were to have the gospel preached unto them - not only until Christ's death, but for a considerable time after, those apostles, who had the world-wide commission confided to them, confined their labours only to the Jews. And when in time the Gentiles were to be introduced into the Church, and Peter by revelation was directed to the house of Cornelius, the Church was not prepared for the change, and it had to be made manifest that God received not only the Jew but the Gentile, and that in the matter of faith he is, unquestionably, no respecter of persons.

Mr. Bradlaugh says that I made a mistake in attributing to Pliny words that I have been unwilling to acknowledge as wrong. The way he put it you could but suppose that I had put in words Pliny had not written. [Hear, hear from Mr. Bradlaugh]. But the words "larger cities and smaller towns" are Pliny's, and the reference to the temples is Pliny's also, and, therefore, though by leaving out an unnecessary portion of the quotation (to save time) the words are thrown a little closer together, the sense is not in the slightest degree changed. Pliny does, unquestionably, intimate that the temples were deserted; that the Christians had spread not only into the great cities but into the towns and open places.

I have one short matter to refer to in continuation of the argument as to the prophecies of Daniel. In chapter 8 we read that Daniel in a vision saw a Ram, with two tall horns. In interpreting the vision the angel said, "The ram having two horns denotes the Kings of Media and Persia." He saw also a he-goat come up from the west, having a notable horn between his eyes. The interpretation is given thus - "The rough goat is the King of Greece and the great horn is the first king." Then Daniel saw the goat break the horns of the ram, and the ram was powerless and stamped upon by the goat and the goat waxed great and strong. After this the great horn of the goat was broken and there came up in its place four notable horns towards the four winds (or quarters) of heaven. Thus far we have the overthrow of the Medo-Persian empire, and the subsequent wide supremacy of Greece, under Alexander the Great.

Concerning the four horns the angel said - "Now that horn being broken whereas four stood up in place of it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nations but not in his power." And so it was. Alexander and all his family were cut off, and the governors of provinces usurped the title of kings. These were afterwards reduced to four, so that the four notable horns represented Greece, Thrace, Syria and Egypt. So far, then, the prophetic vision is completely fulfilled.

Next Daniel saw a little horn come out of one of the four and it waxed exceeding great. Now as there is a little horn in the preceding chapter some may suppose that the two are identical. But not so, for the one came up among the ten horns of the beast-symbol, whereas the other comes up out of one of the four horns of the goat, which was the symbol of Greece. The seat of the dominion of the eleventh horn has always been in Western Europe, over which Alexander's empire never extended. The two horns, then, are totally different - one has long been the curse of Western Europe and the other of Western Asia - one is the Papal power and the other the Mohammedan. In order that this may be clear we notice several items in the prophetic description:-

1. As to locality - Mohammedanism has its rise in Arabia. According to Rollin, on the division of the Greek empire among the four kings (or horns) Ptolemy had Egypt, Libya, Arabia and Palestine. The little horn or Mohammedan power then answers (as to the locality of its origin) the requirement of the prophecy.

2. It also meets the requirement as to time. It was not to arise till the latter period of the fourfold division.

3. It was to prosper largely and destroy wonderfully. Its feeble beginning, vast enlargement and tremendous destruction and subjugation of multitudes are the fulfilment.

4. It was to wax great towards the South, and the East, and the pleasant land (Jerusalem). The Map of the Saracenic Empire shows that its conquests were largely in that direction.

5. It was to be skilled in understanding dark sentences. The Arabians have always been noted for parable and enigma. The Koran abounds in the dark parabolical forms of the East.

6. It was to exalt itself against the Prince of Princes. This is a Scriptural designation of Christ, and His followers, in large districts, were persecuted by Mohammedanism.

7. It was to prosper much through craft. And Gibbon testifies that it was so. It was to destroy many by peace. The terms generally proposed to the vanquished were death, tribute, or peace on condition of embracing the faith. Thousands accepted the last alternative to their disgrace and ruin.

These are only a part of the remarkable items of this prophecy; and thus we find the predictions of the little horn, or Mohammedan power, accomplished after more than six centuries of the Christian Era had passed away. It was to be of long duration and it still exists, waiting the time when it shall expire without hands - it is now dwindling away as these words indicate - the eyes of Europe are on the sick and dying man.

Here, then, we have a matter about which there need be no contention as to the date of the existence of the book containing the prophecy, for the prophecy brings us down to the establishment of a vast system of falsehood which commenced centuries after the Christian Era, which answers to the description, and still continues as foretold by the prophecy.

Then with regard to three days and three nights, I urged upon Mr. Bradlaugh that all that is necessary to show, so far as the argument is concerned, is, that the Sabbath referred to is not necessarily the Seventh-day Sabbath. If it may be another Sabbath, then, most unquestionably, his argument falls to the ground. I urged further (and he has taken no notice) that special Sabbaths are referred to, not only in the Gospels, but elsewhere. John also referred to a special Sabbath which required a special preparation day. We read that this Sabbath was a high day - terms which do not apply to the ordinary Seventh-day Sabbath. So then, as the matter now rests, he is not able logically to affirm that the Sabbath referred to must have been the Seventh-day Sabbath.

He says I have introduced Greek. I simply introduced one Greek word, and I have not taken it back. My opponent has never said that the word was improperly applied; he has not said, and he dare not say, that I wrongly used the word. I used it rightly, and in place of an English word, and I told him why I did so. I said there were two Greek words translated by one English word, and I used the one which most distinctly expressed the fiery punishment called hell. He would now make you believe, if he could, that I introduced something I did not understand, and that because he noticed it I withdrew the whole matter. I affirm that I am perfectly correct in my use of ge-enna. I defy him to say to the contrary, and I charge him with seeking to deceive you, at my expense, by his utterly false representation of the case. [Applause]