Historical Reprints Religion Martyrdom of Man

Martyrdom of Man

Martyrdom of Man
Catalog # SKU1484
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Winwood Reade
 
$19.95
Quantity

Description

The
Martyrdom of Man


By Winwood Reade


A day will come when the European God of the nineteenth century will be classed with the gods of Olympus and the Nile; when surplices and sacramental plate will be exhibited in museums; when nurses will relate to children the legends of the Christian mythology as they now tell them fairy tales.

Excerpt:

Even with Christians of comparatively blameless lives their religion is injurious. It causes a waste of moral force. There are passionate desires of virtue, yearnings for the good, which descend from time to time like a holy spirit upon all cultivated minds, and from which, strange as it may seem, not even free-thinkers are excluded. When such an impulse animates the godless man he expends it in the service of mankind; the Christian wastes it on the air; he fasts, he watches, and he prays. And what is the object of all his petitions and salaams? He will tell you that he is trying to save his soul. But the strangest feature in the case is this.

He not only thinks that it is prudent and wise on his part to improve his prospects of happiness in a future state; he considers it the noblest of all virtues. But there is no great merit in taking care of one's own interests whether it be in this world or the next. The man who leads a truly religious life in order to go to heaven is not more to be admired than the man who leads a regular and industrious life in order to make a fortune in the city; and the man who endeavours to secure a celestial inheritance by going to church, and by reading chapters in the Bible, and by having family prayers, and by saying grace in falsetto with eyes hypocritically closed, is not above the level of those who fawn and flatter at Oriental courts in order to obtain a monopoly or an appointment.

A day will come when the current belief in property after death (for is not existence property, and the dearest property of all? ) will be accounted a strange and selfish idea, just as we smile at the savage chief who believes that his gentility will be continued in the world beneath the ground, and that he will there be attended by his concubines and slaves. A day will come when mankind will be as the Family of the Forest, which lived faithfully within itself according to the Golden Rule in order that it might not die.

But Love not Fear will unite the human race.

The world will become a heavenly Commune to which men will bring the inmost treasures of their hearts, in which they will reserve for themselves not even a hope, not even the shadow of a joy, but will give up all for all mankind. With one faith, with one desire, they will labour together in the Sacred Cause--the extinction of disease, the extinction of sin, the perfection of genius, the perfection of love, the invention of immortality, the exploration of the infinite, and the conquest of creation.

You blessed ones who shall inherit that future age of which we can only dream; you pure and radiant beings who shall succeed us on the earth; when you turn back your eyes on us poor savages, grubbing in the ground for our daily bread, eating flesh and blood, dwelling in vile bodies which degrade us every day to a level with the beasts, tortured by pains, and by animal propensities, buried in gloomy superstitions, ignorant of Nature which yet holds us in her bonds; when you read of us in books, when you think of what we are, and compare us with yourselves, remember that it is to us you owe the foundation of your happiness and grandeur, to us who now in our libraries and laboratories and star-towers and dissecting-rooms and work- shops are preparing the materials of the human growth.

And as for ourselves, if we are sometimes inclined to regret that our lot is cast in these unhappy days, let us remember how much more fortunate we are than those who lived before us a few centuries ago. The working man enjoys more luxuries to-day than did the King of England in the Anglo-Saxon times; and at his command are intellectual delights, which but a little while ago the most learned in the land could not obtain. All this we owe to the labours of other men. Let us therefore remember them with gratitude; let us follow their glorious example by adding something new to the knowledge of mankind; let us pay to the future the debt which we owe to the past.

It is incorrect to say "theology is not a progressive science. " The worship of ancestral ghosts, the worship of pagan deities, the worship of a single god, are successive periods of progress in the science of Divinity. And in the history of that science, as in the history of all others, a curious fact may be observed. Those who overthrow an established system are compelled to attack its founders, and to show that their method was unsound, that their reasoning was fallacious, that their experiments were incomplete. And yet the men who create the revolution are made in the likeness of the men whose doctrines they subvert. The system of Ptolemy was supplanted by the system of Copernicus, yet Copernicus was the Ptolemy of the sixteenth century.

In the same manner, we who assail the Christian faith are the true successors of the early Christians, above whom we are raised by the progress, of eighteen hundred years. As they preached against gods that were made of stone, so we preach against gods that are made of ideas. As they were called atheists and blasphemers so are we. And is our task more difficult than theirs? We have not, it is true, the same stimulants to offer. We cannot threaten that the world is about to be destroyed; we cannot bribe our converts with a heaven, we cannot make them tremble with a hell. But though our religion appears too pure, too unselfish for mankind, it is not really so, for we live in a noble and enlightened age. At the time of the Romans and the Greeks the Christian faith was the highest to which the common people could attain.

A faith such as that of the Stoics and the Sadducees could only be embraced by cultivated minds, and culture was then confined to a chosen few. But now knowledge, freedom, and prosperity are covering the earth; for three centuries past, human virtue has been steadily increasing, and mankind is prepared to receive a higher faith. But in order to build we must first destroy. Not only the Syrian superstition must be attacked, but also the belief in a personal God, which engenders a slavish and oriental condition of the mind; and the belief in a posthumous reward which engenders a selfish and solitary condition of the heart. These beliefs are, therefore, injurious to human nature. They lower its dignity; they arrest its development; they isolate its affections.

We shall not deny that many beautiful sentiments are often mingled with the faith in a personal Deity, and with the hopes of happiness in a future state; yet we maintain that, however refined they may appear, they are selfish at the core, and that if removed they will be replaced by sentiments of a nobler and a purer kind. They cannot be removed without some disturbance and distress; yet the sorrows thus caused are salutary and sublime. The supreme and mysterious Power by whom the universe has been created, and by whom it has been appointed to run its course under fixed and invariable law; that awful One to whom it is profanity to pray, of whom it is idle and irreverent to argue and debate, of whom we should never presume to think save with humility and awe; that Unknown God has ordained that mankind should be elevated by misfortune, and that happiness should grow out of misery and pain.

I give to universal history a strange but true title--The Martyrdom of Man. In each generation the human race has been tortured that their children might profit by their woes. Our own prosperity is founded on the agonies of the past. Is it therefore unjust that we also should suffer for the benefit of those who are to come? Famine, pestilence, and war are no longer essential for the advancement of the human race. But a season of mental anguish is at hand, and through this we must pass in order that our posterity may rise. The soul must be sacrificed; the hope in immortality must die. A sweet and charming illusion must be taken from the human race, as youth and beauty vanish never to return.


Softcover, 5" x 8", 400+ pages

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