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PART TWO. — RELIGION.

 

“Yea, the time cometh, that whomsoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service.” — Gospel according to John, xvi. 2.

“Let him be ANATHEMA . . . who shall say that human Sciences ought to be pursued in such a spirit of freedom that one may be allowed to hold as true their assertions even when opposed to revealed doctrines.” — Ecumenical Council of 1870.

GLOUC. — The Church! Where is it?” — King Henry VI., Act i., Sc. 1. IN the United States of America, sixty thousand (60,428) men are paid salaries to teach the Science of God and His relations to His creatures.

These men contract to impart to us the knowledge which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of our Creator; His laws and government; the doctrines we are to believe and the duties we are to practice. Five thousand (5,141) of them, with the prospect of 1273 theological students to help them in time, teach this science according to a formula prescribed by the Bishop of Rome, to five million people. Fifty-five thousand (55,287) local and travelling ministers, representing fifteen different denominations, each contradicting the other upon more or less vital theololical questions, instruct, in their respective doctrines, thirty-three million (33,500,000) other persons. Many of these teach according to the canons of the cis-Atlantic branch of an establishment which acknowledges a daughter of the late Duke of Kent as its spiritual

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head. There are many hundred thousand Jews; some thousands of Orientals of all kinds; and a very few who belong to the Greek Church. A man at Salt Lake City, with nineteen wives and more than one hundred children and grandchildren, is the supreme spiritual ruler over ninety thousand people, who believe that he is in frequent intercourse with the gods — for the Mormons are Polytheists as well as Polygamists, and their chief god is represented as living in a planet they call Colob.

The God of the Unitarians is a bachelor; the Deity of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, and the other orthodox Protestant sects a spouseless Father with one Son, who is identical with Himself. In the attempt to outvie each other in the erection of their sixty-two thousand and odd churches, prayer-houses, and meeting-halls, in which to teach these conflicting theological doctrines, $354,485,581 have been spent. The value of the Protestant parsonages alone, in which are sheltered the disputants and their families, is roughly calculated to approximate $54,115,297. Sixteen million (16,179,387) dollars, are, moreover, contributed every year for current expenses of the Protestant denominations only. One Presbyterian church in New York cost a round million; a Catholic altar alone, one-fourth as much!

We will not mention the multitude of smaller sects, communities, and extravagantly original little heresies in this country which spring up one year to die out the next, like so many spores of fungi after a rainy day. We will not even stop to consider the alleged millions of Spiritualists; for the majority lack the courage to break away from their respective religious denominations. These are the back-door Nicodemuses.

And now, with Pilate, let us inquire, What is truth? Where is it to be searched for amid this multitude of warring sects? Each claims to be based upon divine revelation, and each to have the keys of the celestial gates. Is either in possession of this rare truth? Or, must we exclaim with the Buddhist philosopher, “There is but one truth on earth, and it is unchangeable: and this is — that there is no truth on it!”

Though we have no disposition whatever to trench upon the ground that has been so exhaustively gleaned by those learned scholars who have shown that every Christian dogma has its origin in a heathen rite, still the facts which they have exhumed, since the enfranchisement of science, will lose nothing by repetition. Besides, we propose to examine these facts from a different and perhaps rather novel point of view: that of the old philosophies as esoterically understood. These we have barely glanced at in our first volume. We will use them as the standard by which to compare Christian dogmas and miracles with the doctrines and phenomena of ancient magic, and the modern “New Dispensation,” as Spiritualism is called by its votaries. Since the materialists deny the phenom-

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