KING AND BRADLAUGH DEBATE - PART 16
SIX NIGHTS' DISCUSSION
DAVID KING AND CHARLES BRADLAUGH
FROM "The Interpreter" 1909.
IS CHRISTIANITY OF DIVINE ORIGIN?
Friday, 30th September, 1870.
MR. BRADLAUGH'S THIRD REPLY
MR. BRADLAUGH: - As this is to be my concluding speech, bear with me while I go through it. Mr. King says I have challenged him with writing a letter which does not exist. Mr. King is a perfect master of language. I did not allege that it now exists. I alleged that it did exist, and I am told that it was read at a meeting of the joint committee. That is all that I allege about it.
Then Mr. King puts it to you, that if he had taken ten minutes to each objection he could not have answered them all. I repeat that you should not have challenged me to this discussion, boasting that you would drive me clean off the field, when you knew that you would have to plead for mercy on the ground that you hadn't time. It is perfectly true that I did not want the four nights' discussion - that I don't want the five that are to come; but it is also perfectly true that I shall be in my place, and I daresay, fulfil my duty as I always have done. It does not become me to boast as if I had met a great man, but against a small one boasting would be stupid impertinence. [Laughter].
Then Mr. King says that the portion of Pliny was of no importance. Why not have at once admitted it instead of giving me all this trouble. I only ask you to be truthful and candid. Mr. King referred to Daniel, and as I shall have no other speech I must deal with it now. Chapter 8 says nothing about an angel interpreting, and I ask our friend for the verse.
MR. KING:- The 15th and 16th verses give you the name Gabriel.
MR. BRADLAUGH: - It is not true, and I'll read it to you. "And it came to pass, when I, even Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision." There is no evidence that Gabriel was an angel any more than Daniel. It was a common name of men since Noah, and except for the purpose of showing authority for the interpretation there was no reason for putting it in; and even if it were so he has made a misrepresentation, because there is not the slightest proof, nor does the text show it even, that Gabriel talked at all. There is nothing whatever to connect Gabriel with the angel. It is perfectly true that in other parts Michael and Gabriel are connected with the angels, but it is not true that Gabriel is spoken of as an angel; it is mere looseness to try to give authority to the text - a looseness which has characterized this matter all through.
What does Mr. King contend? He contends that there is proof of what? Proof of prophecy. It is utterly impossible to make out a case consistent with Mohammedanism. It is perfectly impossible, for the kingdom of Media and Persia was not existing when the book of Daniel was written.
Mr. King says that Christ said He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel, but he says He sent others. Did He? He said himself, "Go ye not to the Gentiles," etc., and it was only after He was dead that He said "Go to every nation, and preach to every creature." I object utterly to such unfair quibbling with the truth.
Then Mr. King says, I have talked about his using a Greek word; was there anything wrong in using it? He says that in the Common Version there are two words translated in the same way, and surely you should not be misled because I took the Greek word. But what did I ask - where did he get the Greek word from? How dare he go to any other book. Did he go to the printed Greek text? And in his next speech he referred to some particular document, and I said there is no particular document, and he has not produced it. I don't know whether it is right or dignified to waste one further word to the other side, but I shall do my duty and address myself in the way which I have during the four nights been dealing with these questions.
The first question is, "What is Christianity?" The second , "Is Christianity of Divine origin?" I went to the Bible to show you what Christianity is. I took text after text, passage after passage. I went through the whole history of Jesus from beginning to end to show whether or not it is of Divine origin. I very carefully quoted text after text from the Bible. It is not urged that I misquoted, or that one of my arguments was unfounded, and all that is alleged is that I was guilty of a trick in crowding in a number of matters that could not be answered in the time.
That were a a very good reason if he had not challenged me in this debate. Mr. King does not profess to be surprised. He even said that he had the printed debates, and had counted so many objections in a given time, and therefore he ought to have been prepared to meet me here, and he ought not to have misled a number of Christian people to come to hear a number of infidel objections which he knew he would not be able to answer. If I engaged in this debate for any special reason it was, because if I entered into it Christians would come to hear me whom I could not get to come to hear me in any other way.
I know that the principles of infidelity once heard cannot be forgotten, and I bring this propaganda before you with advantage, not simply estimated by my powers of speech, but by that weakness which is a defence to plead with you for my cause. I know you young men hear these objections to Bible morality and the history of Jesus who would never hear them under other circumstances, and if I am glad at all that such men as Mr. King should speak about it, it is because a brave man, as many Christian men are, with their bravery will hide the deficiencies of their text, while an opponent like Mr. King will add to the deficiencies of the text by defective advocacy.
There is not one thing to cover the other, and people cannot help seeing it. If the people hear a man of courage and bravery - a man whose arduous life commands respect, then those who listen to his arguments are carried away by the largeness of the man, but when plausible arguments and paltry conduct are combined with something between a whine and a cry, no one can be impressed with the dignity connected with it. We seek truth, and we want men to meet us bravely, truly, and gallantly. We don't want you to accept our belief unless you think you are choosing the right because it is right, the true because it is true, the brave because it is brave.
I wish we had a better advocate here tonight. I have been an humble advocate for twenty years, but I wish we could command on our side more of that trained eloquence which Christian colleges give, the trained polish which Christian advocates possess; but with only the rough earnestness of truth, unskilled, taunted with the absence of virtue, reviled, and treated with contumely, we can hold our own, and when we meet libels face to face the proclaimers thereof whine out that we have crowded in more castigation than they can bear. I never feared a brave, true man, but I knew before I came that Mr. King was neither. [Applause and hisses].
MR. KING'S FOURTH REPLY
MR. KING: - Gabriel, you are informed, as an angel, was only introduced to give authority to the interpretation. The introduction of Gabriel gave no special authority to the interpretation. It matters not if the interpretation presented were Daniel's own. It matters not whether it comes from an angel or from one who professedly, to say the least, is there before us as a messenger from God.
With regard to the letter, Mr Bradlaugh says it was in existence, and it was read to the joint committee. Such a letter never was in existence, and was never read to any committee. [Hear, hear]. I affirm that there was never any letter in existence, containing that which he stated here last evening. [Hear]. The whole of the letters are in existence now. They have been before my Chairman tonight, and he was here tonight to tell you what they contain, but the Umpire ruled that the matter could not be introduced. They contain nothing like the statement of Mr. Bradlaugh, and the letters stand there as evidence of his slander. [Applause].
Then it was said that I have been boasting that I would drive Mr. Bradlaugh from the platform. I never made any boast of the kind. This assertion is merely one of the lies he intended to nail down. I believe no man living could drive Mr. Bradlaugh from the platform, because he would brave out any amount of infamy. More than that, I never said that he was afraid to meet me in this hall, and I have no doubt there are hundreds here who distinctly heard what I said. [A voice: You said he wouldn't meet you]. I said he was not willing to enter upon an arrangement for such a debate as would give time and opportunity for fully and fairly grappling with the matter we should have to take in hand. I said distinctly, that Mr. Bradlaugh had no fear of meeting me, as a man, but that he did not want to deal with the question from my standpoint and would not if he could avoid it.
Again with regard to the matter of the challenge, I do not think it is a bad thing to challenge to discussion. Sometimes a great deal of good comes of it, and I should not hesitate to challenge a man with that object. But with regard to this matter I was not the challenger. His friends rose in this hall, and challenged me to meet him. [Cheers]. I stated in answer, that though not desirous of meeting Mr. Bradlaugh, I was willing to meet him. There was considerable commotion, and as various efforts had been made to bring Mr. Bradlaugh into an arrangement I said to them when they intimated that they would procure his attendance, that I remembered the receipt in Mrs. Glass's cookery book, "Catch your hare before you pot it." That I said on the ground that he had commenced negotiation and dropped it again and again, as his own paper will show, and therefore, I supposed he might do the same in this instance.
When, in the correspondence in the Blackburn Times, it was stated that I pretended to be desirous of meeting Mr. Bradlaugh, I wrote to that paper and corrected the statement, thus advertizing that I was not desirous of so doing, but that I was merely willing. The proposals for discussion with Mr. Bradlaugh have come from the Secularists' side of the house, and not from me. The first was persistently pushed upon me in Birmingham after my debate with Gordon, which debate was not of my seeking. Deputations from the Secularists came to my house and urged me again and again to meet Mr. Gordon. I had given no previous challenge to him. Finally I consented upon condition that he should have no part of the proceeds (not even travelling expenses), but that the money go to the Hospital. In that discussion Mr. Gordon was completely defeated, as Secularists admit, and it was under the influence of that defeat that a second deputation came to my residence calling upon me to meet a stronger and better advocate - Mr. Bradlaugh.
I replied that I had no wish for further debate, no desire to meet Mr. Bradlaugh. But I could not get them to take "No" for an answer. At last I yielded to their importunity, and said, "Well, I do not challenge Mr. Bradlaugh, and will not suffer you to say that I propose to meet him. But if he, through you, challenge me I will not refuse, providing that the money terms are the same as with Mr. Gordon; that Mr. Bradlaugh and myself have no part of the proceeds." They subsequently reported an invitation from Mr. Bradlaugh on those terms, and our correspondence arose out of that. But he dropped himself out of it.
At Darwen (out of my lecture there this discussion has arisen) I gave no challenge to Mr. Bradlaugh, but was again publicly challenged by the Secularists sending to the platform a written invitation to debate with Mr. Bradlaugh. Here, subsequently, I gave no challenge in my lectures to debate with him, and had not the most remote desire to meet him in Bury, as I greatly preferred, if we met at all, that the debate take place in Birmingham or Manchester. But here, in this Hall, the proposal to debate with him was publicly put to me by the Secularists. Now what think you of the infamy of the man who after all this, represents me as challenging him to debate in Bury - hunting him, dragging him here, and so on, when I am the hunted party, and he has come because his own friends would not let him escape. I am no professional infidel hunter, and would have gone my own way had they let me alone in the matter of challenging. Still I am glad we have met, and the inconvenient effects of this debate Mr. Bradlaugh will find following him beyond his expectations.
Then he tells you that I whine over the results. I have not whined. Mr. Bradlaugh has been saying things as false and as hard as he could utter, but I have neither cared or seemed to care on that account. He is madly savage because he cannot move me from my own calm and deliberate course. I do not whine. I have uttered no complaint at his brutal personalities. If they please him they do not hurt me.
But he knows what it is to whine. He remembers the chastisement administered to him by Brewin Grant, when he whined like a whipped hound. Why, in that debate, he talked against using personalities, lectured Mr. Grant on the need of gravity, seriousness, and becoming language. He became so meek and demure that one might have taken him for a methodist preacher of the olden time. [Laughter]. I neither whine at, or complain of, the treatment he has given me (personally). Indeed I rather like it, because I am to publish the debate, and it will then appear that I have given argument upon argument, and have been met only with trickery and the lowest abuse.
He says that it is nothing to answer objections. I admit that it is quite easy to answer his questions. Nothing now is wanting but time, and that I cannot make. I give the full half of my time to his speeches, and I will neither be enticed nor driven to shut out my own proper arguments on the other side, how ever much he may rave. I have taken up the most important of his alleged discrepancies, to the extent the time allows, and I have destroyed each one I have grappled with. You may take that as evidence of the fate the others would have met, had time allowed. It is then not from defect on my part that I have not answered them, but, by computation of time, I showed that a speaker even more rapid than himself, doing nothing else during the time allotted him in the discussion, could not go over the whole of his points; and if any man will tell me that objections of that kind, such as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, can be answered in less than ten minutes each, including time for rejoinder, I say that man is speaking unthinkingly.
He says I should not have come here if I could not answer them. I say that no man could answer half of them in the time allotted, and whichever half he left behind, he would certainly be met with "Oh, he could not touch them." [Applause]. I should not come here, then, because I cannot do what no man can possibly do. But there is one thing I can do, and though I make no boast of driving him off the platform, I can take care that this trick shall be well understood, and that it shall not be long before the possibility of arranging a debate, without terms which shall exclude this miserable trick, shall no longer exist. [Hear, hear].
But the fact is that money is at the bottom of the whole business, and Mr. Bradlaugh is dreadfully savage about the money aspect. [Hear, hear from Mr. Bradlaugh]. But as I said before, I put myself in the same boat with him, in regard to money. [Hear, hear]. I said simply on that occasion, as I do now, Secularists, I advise you not to pay Christians to advocate Christianity, and to Christians do not pay Secularists to teach Secularism. I said, let Secularists pay their own lecturers and let Christians pay their own preachers; and, therefore, what I proposed is this, that neither he nor I should have anything out of the proceeds of these gatherings, save our travelling expenses, but let my friends compensate me and his friends compensate him, if they please so to do, or let both be left without compensation; but at all events let each party deal with its own money. He tells us of his being put in a starving position, but my own relation to the matter is precisely the same as his. It is that which I wish every man to be placed in who comes forth in the position which I occupy, and which he occupies, in reference to this matter.
Then I think that I have considerable cause to complain that the arguments and the evidence I have submitted have not been grappled with - have scarcely been touched. My opponent has gone over his objections, and has occupied much time in pushing in matters that I had not time to deal with, whereas he ought to have dealt with my arguments on the fulfilment of prophecy, and to have shown you that they were foundationless. He made no attempt to do this. He has simply dealt in negations of a worthless character, and that is generally the infidel ways of dealing with an argument which cannot be answered.
I have simply to say in conclusion that I am satisfied with the general bearing of the audience, and also with the attention we have received. The Umpire referred to some matters in connection with myself. I have just this remark to make on one single point. I consider that he should have stopped Mr. Bradlaugh on several occasions, when he introduced questions foreign to the debate (as the starving question). I don't know what right he had to bring that matter into a discussion upon the Divine origin of Christianity. But I am quite satisfied that as the Umpire did not stop him, it was not because of intentional unfairness, and I repeat that we are indebted to him for the service he has rendered, and I trust that when we meet again, we may have the favour of his presence. [Applause].
DAVID KING INDEX