As I was saying, jealousy is the key; all
through his history it is present and prominent. It is the blood and bone of his disposition, it is the basis of his character. How small a thing can wreck his composure and disorder his judgement if it touches the raw of his jealousy! And nothing warms up this trait so quickly and so surely and so exaggeratedly as a suspicion that some competition with the god-Trust is impending. The fear that if Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge they would "be as gods" so fired his jealousy that his reason was affected, and he could not treat those poor creatures either fairly or charitably, or even refrain from dealing cruelly and criminally with their blameless posterity.
To this day his reason has never
recovered from that shock; a wild nightmare of vengefulness has possessed him ever since, and he has almost bankrupted his native ingenuities in inventing pains and miseries and humiliations and heartbreaks wherewith to embitter the brief lives of Adam's descendants. Think of the diseases he has contrived for them! They are multitudinous; no book can name them all. And each one is a trap, set for an innocent victim.
The human being is a machine. An
automatic machine. It is composed of thousands of complex and delicate mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously and perfectly, in accordance with laws devised for their governance, and over which the man himself has no authority, no mastership, no control. For each one of these thousands of mechanisms the Creator has planned an enemy, whose office is to harass it, pester it, persecute it, damage it, afflict it with pains, and miseries, and ultimate destruction. Not one has been overlooked.
From cradle to grave these enemies are
always at work; they know no rest, night or day. They are an army: an organized army; a besieging army; an assaulting army; an army that is alert, watchful, eager, merciless; an army that never relents, never grants a truce.
It moves by squad, by company, by
battalion, by regiment, by brigade, by division, by army corps; upon occasion it masses its parts and moves upon mankind with its whole strength. It is the Creator's Grand Army, and he is the Commander-in-Chief. Along its battlefront its grisly banners wave their legends in the face of the sun: Disaster, Disease, and the rest....
It is wonderful, the thorough and
comprehensive study which the Creator devoted to the great work of
making man miserable. I have said he devised a special affliction-agent
for each and every detail of man's structure, overlooking not a single
one, and I said the truth. Many poor people have to go barefoot, because
they cannot afford shoes. The Creator saw his opportunity. I will remark, in passing, that he always has his eye on the poor. Nine-tenths of his disease-inventions were intended for the poor, and they get them. The well-to-do get only what is left over. Do not suspect me of speaking unheedfully, for it is not so: the vast bulk of the Creator's affliction-inventions are specially designed for the persecution of the poor. You could guess this by the fact that one of the pulpit's finest and commonest names for the Creator is "The Friend of the Poor." Under no circumstances does the pulpit ever pay the Creator a compliment that has a vestige of truth in it. The poor's most implacable and unwearying enemy is their Father in Heaven. The poor's only real friend is their fellow man. He is sorry for them, he pities them, and he shows it by his deeds. He does much to relieve their distresses; and in every case their Father in Heaven gets the credit of it.
Just so with diseases. If science
exterminates a disease which has been working for God, it is God that gets the credit, and all the pulpits break into grateful advertising-raptures and call attention to how good he is! Yes, he has done it. Perhaps he has waited a thousand years before doing it. That is nothing; the pulpit says he was thinking about it all the time. When exasperated men rise up and sweep away an age-long tyranny and set a nation free, the first thing the delighted pulpit does is to advertise it as God's work, and invite the people to get down on their knees and pour out their thanks to him for it. And the pulpit says with admiring emotion, "Let tyrants understand that the Eye that never sleeps is upon them; and let them remember that the Lord our God will not always be patient, but will loose the whirlwinds of his wrath upon them in his appointed day."
They forget to mention that he is the
slowest mover in the universe; that his Eye that never sleeps, might as well, since it takes it a century to see what any other eye would see in a week; that in all history there is not an instance where he thought of a noble deed first, but always thought of it just a little after somebody else had thought of it and done it. He arrives then, and annexes the dividend....
I will tell you a pleasant
tale which has in it a touch of pathos. A man got religion,
and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new
estate. The priest said, "Imitate our Father in Heaven,
learn to be like him." The man studied his Bible diligently
and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers
for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked
his wife into falling downstairs, and she broke her back and
became a paralytic for life; he betrayed his brother into
the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed
him in the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms,
another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea;
he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her
into her teens deaf, dumb, and blind for life; and after
helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his
doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him.
Then he reported to the priest, who said that that was no
way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked
wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject
and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way.
Man is without any doubt the most
interesting fool there is....
For instance, he concedes that God made
man. Made him without man's desire of privity.
This seems to plainly and indisputably
make God, and God alone, responsible for man's acts. But man denies this.
He concedes that God has made the angels
perfect, without blemish, and immune from pain and death, and that he could have been similarly kind to man if he had wanted to, but denies that he was under any moral obligation to do it.
He concedes that man has no moral right
to visit the child of his begetting with wanton cruelties, painful diseases and death, but refuses to limit God's privileges in this sort with the children of his begetting.
The Bible and man's statutes forbid
murder, adultery, fornication, lying, treachery, robbery, oppression and other crimes, but contend that God is free of these laws and has a right to break them when he will....
The two Testaments are interesting, each
in its own way. The Old one gives us a picture of these people's Deity as he was before he got religion, the other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterward. The Old Testament is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The New one in Salvation. Salvation by fire.
The first time the Deity came down to
earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.
Life was not a valuable gift, but death
was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs -- the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man's best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.
In time, the Deity perceived that death
was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.
The Deity pondered this
matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as
soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his
mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and
Now here is a curious
thing. It is believed by everybody that while he was in
heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel;
but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name
Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before:
that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful,
forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and
a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took
its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised
hell and proclaimed it!
Which is to say, that as
the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times
crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh,
incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at
the very worst in those old days!...
And Israel abode in Shittim, and the
people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all
the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the Sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
Does that look fair to you? It does not
appear that the "heads of the people" got any of the adultery, yet it is they that are hanged, instead of "the people."
If it was fair and right in that day it
would be fair and right today, for the pulpit maintains that God's justice is eternal and unchangeable;
also that he is the Fountain of Morals, and that his morals are eternal
and unchangeable. Very well, then, we must believe that if the people of
New York should begin to commit whoredom with the daughters of New
Jersey, it would be fair and right to set up a gallows in front of the
city hall and hang the mayor and the sheriff and the judges and the
archbishop on it, although they did not get any of it. It does not
look right to me.
Moreover, you may be quite sure of one
thing: it couldn't happen. These people would not allow it. They are better than their Bible. Nothing would happen here, except some lawsuits, for damages, if the incident couldn't be hushed up; and even down South they would not proceed against persons who did not get any of it; they would get a rope and hunt for the correspondents, and if they couldn't find them they would lynch a nigger....
The heaviest punishment of
all was meted out to persons who could not by any
possibility have deserved so horrible a fate -- the 32,000
virgins. Their naked privacies were probed, to make sure
that they still possessed the hymen unruptured; after this
humiliation they were sent away from the land that had been
their home, to be sold into slavery; the worst of slaveries
and the shamefulest, the slavery of prostitution;
bed-slavery, to excite lust, and satisfy it with their
bodies; slavery to any buyer, be he gentleman or be he a
coarse and filthy ruffian.