Dick and I, Chapter 5, 19th Century Unpublished Book by S. B. McKenney

Dick and I

Dick and I by Samuel Bartow McKenney

This manuscript was written before 1881 by Samuel Bartow McKenney. In the transcription I’ve not changed spellings or punctuation unless I absolutely must for coherence. There were no periods in the manuscript and I have added those. My thanks to Allan McKenney for sending this along.

Chapter V

——–In religion
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it, and approve it with a text.
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.

Merchant of Venice

So it is and the same thirst
For something high and pure, above
This withering world, which, from the first
Makes me drink deep of womans love
As the one joy to Heaven most near
Of all our hearts can meet with here.

Moore’s Aleiphron

Alas the rarity of Christian Charity under the sun
Hood

“Aw, what a, aw really splendid common Mistah Hughes preached
today. Aw, don’t you think so Miss Hope?” said Mr. Phineas Smythe.
Mr. Smythe was one of the persons who find it impossible to
articulate the english.

“I could not say, Mr. Smythe, as I was not present.”

“Aw. Beg pardon. You missed a great treat and Miss Hope it was
really delightful.”

“What part,” asked Viva Joyce, “delighted you most Mr. Smythe?
Account of the worship of the brazen Calf or the conversation of
the animal Balaam rode?”

“Aw, really,” said Smythe leveling his eye glass at her. “I – aw –
cound not say which pawt – I -aw – preferred.”

“The sermon was a very able one,” said Adams, “and one by which we
all might profit. We seldom hear so fine a discourse here,” he
continued loud enough for Mr. Hughes to hear who was now
approaching.

“Thank you Mr. Adams,” said the rector. “Praise from so competent a
Judge is appreciated as it deserves. I hope all present have
considered well the subject ‘Chose ye this day when ye shall
serve’ and decided like Joshua these friends,” he continued turning
towards Rashboy and my self, “I trust have made the same wise
choice. Have you chosen gentlemen whom ye shall serve?”

“I have sir,” replied Rashboy.

“Whom?”

“Those who may be benefitted most by my service — mankind.”

The rector regarded this almost sternley for a moment ere he
replied.

“And have you considered sir that you will not be benefitted by

13

such service; that in the end you will lose your soul unless you
serve God in spirit and truth.”

“A service,” replied Rashboy, “that is prompted soley through selfish
motives and for benefits that are to accrue only to ones self I
apprehend is a sorry service at the best and will benefit neither
God nor man.”

“My young friend will you tell me how there can be any selfishness
in serving the Most High God.”

“Does your serving God benefit him in anyway?”

“Certainly not. God is all powerful and cannot be benefit by the
works of men.”

“Then why do you serve him?”

“We are commanded to serve God and bear Him.”

“And if you do not?”

“We are lost.”

“And if you do?”

“We are saved.”

“Then whom do you benefit by serving God?”

“We obey Gods commands and save our souls.”

“Exactly you work for selfish ends.”

“But we are commanded by God to bring sinners to repentance and if
we serve God truly we will save others as well as ourselves.”

“Where you labor to serve others, if you do not do it simply to
save your own Souls you bring yourself, on the same basis as
myself, but if you endeavor to save others simply to save your own
souls you work for selfish ends.”

“Mr. Rashboy we should not bring in question the fitness of the
direct commands of God. It is for him to order and for us to obey.”

“But sir suppose my reason and nature rebells at what you claim to
know the direct commands of God.”

“We are by nature sinful and must bring our reason in subjection
to Gods word — the Holy Bible.”

“Ay,” replied Dick. “Bring it in subjection to Gods word but without
my reason how am I to tell which is Gods word. The Mohammeden tells
me that the Koran is Gods word. The Bramin tells me that the
Baghavat Geeta is Gods word and the Guebers or Fire worshippers
will tell you that this Lenda Vesta are the word of God written by
the divine Drmudz [sic] through his prophet Toroaster [sic]. There are others
who will tell you that the record of Gods works is spread out
before us daily in the great book of nature wherein we all might
read would we but learn the language in which it is written. The

– 14 –

geologist finds a record of his deeds in characters that have
stood the rack of a million years. The astronomer reads of him in
the myrads of worlds that wander darkling in the eternal space and
every new star that is brought under the range of his telescope
tells its story of the greatness of God. The Botanist and
Naturalist read from different pages of the same God. Without my
reason how am I to distinguish among all thousand different faiths
the true one since they all conflict. How I ask without my reason
am I to tell what is the word of God?”

“This Holy Book is gods word sir,” said the rector laying his hand
upon the Bible.

“I have your word for it sir as likewise I have the Mohammidans in
saying that the same of the Koran what proof is there besides (—–)
assertion that you are right?”

“Mr. Rashboy, I am disappointed in you and if you will allow me to
speak plainly, you must indeed be very ignorant to be compelled to
ask what proves that the Bible is the word of God.”

A supressed laugh here followed in which all joined except the
Blanchards, Mr Hughes and myself and Miss Irene who appeared to be
pained at her fathers rudness.

“Aw, ignorant,” giggled Smythe. “Aw – really – ”

“Oh dear!” whispered the deacons wife loud enough for all to hear.
“Oh dear! He must be an infidel! How dreadful!”

“I really am ignorant,” said Rashboy calmly, “but since the proof I
asked is so apparent will you be kind enough to instruct me and
tell me what it is.”

“What! Proof that the Holy Bible is the word of God,” exclaimed the
rector in a voice of thunder as he sprang to his feet, “what proof
sir. Proof so plain that a wayfaring man though a fool need not
err therein. It is proof within its self. Every word of its sacred
pages proclaims its truth and ( —– ) origin. It is to that Book
sir that we owe our prosperity and civilization both as
individuals and as a nation. It has withstood the words of hell
born infidel for hundreds of years and will stand for thousands of
years to come. When will you find a book to equal it? Where is
there a word between the lids of that Holy Book that is not devine
and true? Where is your heathen Bible that offers you the
salvation this one does or teaches of as kind as loving and as
merciful a God as this old Book? Answer me Sir.”

“I will with pleasure,” said Rashboy, “and if you will listen to me
with as much patience as I have to you with interest I shall feel
thankful. I am Sir, neither infidel nor scoffer but and pleas God
always shall be an ernest seeker after truth. If a man present to
you a note or mortgage incurrs the payment of a few hundred
dollars how carefully you examine every word and sentence to
discover if it be genuine or spurious. How much more carefully
should you examine the writing of that book since on its veracity
you claim, depends our future ( —- ) or woe forever. Let me
examine it then not scoffingly but seriously – believing that if it
is of God and is truth all of mans reasoning that he can sin —– to
to bear against it instead of destroying will cause it to be more

– 25 –

fully established. On the first page we read an account of the
creation (Gen 1) God it seems labored five days in creating this
earth and devoted only one day to the manufacture of the sun moon
and stars. All those countless millions of worlds that fill the
unfathonable infinity of space were told were made simply for
lights for the earth. Denton very pertinently asks what God was
doing through all the eternity of the past before these wonders
were created; which by the way has only been about six thousand
years. Would the gentlemen be kind enough to answer it before I
proceed further?”

“Your question is blaspemous sir,” replied the rector, “and does not concern us in the least.”

“Excuse me Sir the question does concern us as we are seeking for the truth.
It is certainly not an unimportent curosity to wish to know what
our God was doing before he had any worlds or any people to govern.
But I will pass on. We are told man was created, the being for
whom all these worlds were made. That he was free to do
whatsoever he chose save that he eat not of the tree of knowledge,
which by the way was and still is very pleasant tasting fruit.
But alas he did eat of the forbidden fruit and by so doing brought
sin and death misery into the world. Why did God forbid man to eat
of the tree of knowledge. Why has he given his reason and
intellegence and forbidden him to cultivate or use them.
Furthermore since God is all wise he knew that man would partake of
the tree of forbidden fruit. And since he is infinite in goodness
and mercy why did he create a being when he knew he should curse
him. (Gen 3 7 to 20) ‘Blessed is the ground for thy sake in sorrow
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: Thorns also, and
thistles shall it bring forth to thee and then shalt eat the herbs
of the field In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread.’ God
knew that he would impose this curse on Adam before he created him
for this book says (Is 48-30) ‘I have declared the former things
from the beginning and they went forth out of —- mouth and I
showed them.’ Not alone on Adam and Eve did the curse fall but the
thousands of unborn children that were yet to people the earth
were doomed to toil and death for something they could not help.
ls that just?”

“Adam was a free agent and ought to have obeyed Gods command and
let the fruit alone” replied the rector.

“And how about the people unborn were they free moral agents too
and if Adam was free God knew he would eat the fruit and God was
to blaim for it for he made him himself and gave him —- and —-
and passion (Job). What one present having a family of beloved
children would set before them tempting fruits steeped in deadly
pain if you knew they would eat the fruit and die. (Mat 7-9 to 11)
‘If ye being God knew how to give gifts unto your children how
much more shall your father who is in Heaven give Gods good gifts to
(another?)’ ask him. Man told that the lord put a flaming sword
around the tree of life for fear Adam and Eve might eat of that
and they would then have had him in a pretty pickle. Since he is
so good and merciful why did he not put the flaiming sword around
the other tree the tree of death in the first place instead of
shutting off from his creations the only ( —– ) they had left by
putting it round the tree of life. But to proceed: We read that
after ten generations mankind became wicked — will you tell me Mr.
Hughs in what their wickedness consisted since no law had been

– 26 –

given and we are told in Romens 4 and 15 that where there is no
law there is no transgression.”

Mr. Hughes vouchsafed no answer and Dick read from Gen 6-6. ‘It
repenteth the Lord that he made man and it grieveth him at his
heart. And the Lord said I will destroy man whom I have created
both man and beast and the creeping things and the fowls of the
air for it repenteth me that I have made them.

“Should you read in any other book than the bible of a being who is
reputed to be all wise who had made such a bungling job of his
work who failed on every hand in having them as he wished who got
sorry that he had created them at all and finally ended by hurling
man beast and fowl into eternity by one fell swoop — I say should
you read of such a diety in any other book but the Bible you would
throw the book down in disgust.

“After the deluge had passed and Noah had disembarked from the Ark
we are told that he offered up a burnt offering and as the fumes
of scorching bush and burning blood arose your bible says (Gen
VIII 21) ‘The Lord smelled a sweet savor and the Lord said in his
mind – I will not again curse the ground any more for thy sake’.”

“Oh dear what a dreadful man,” croacked Mrs. Whipple.
“Aw – really – I – aw —-”

“One more instance. Mr. Hughes in answer to your question and I am
done. One more instance of the boasting Justice and mercy of the
God of the Bible. I refer to the slaughter of the first born in
Egypt.

“Plagues had been sent up on the Egyptians without numbar and (Ex
3-20) ‘The Lord hardened Phoroahs heart that he might stretch out
his hand and smite Egypt.’ And for the misdeeds of this king this
one man whose heart God had hardened thousands upon thousands of
little children were sacraficed. Let me read you a few verses from
the twelfth chapter of Ex. ‘And it came to pass at midnight the
Lord smote all the first born in the land of Egypt from the first
born of Pharaoh who sat on the throne to the first born of the
captive that was in the dungon and the first born of all the
cattle. And there was a great cry in Egypt for there was not a
house where there was not one dead.’ There stood the poor widow
with clasped hands by the bedside of her only son; that son to
whom she fondly looked for solace and comfort in her old age,
stood and watched the poor boy as he vainly stretched out his cold
hand for help toward his mother. Watched with bated breath the
film of death come over those glazed eyes that were turned so
piteously towards his mother. Watched her last earthly comfort
pass away into the dim realms of the misty lands of shadows. Let
us leave her alone with her dead and pass on.

“There was the silent choking grief of the father the wild wail of
the stricken mother as they stood helplessly by and gazed on the
suffering and death struggles of their bright child. Saw the
palor of death creep into the cheeks that were rosett with the
hues of health but a few hours before and saw the death dew
sitting under those clustering ( —– ). The little form that had
been so full of promise and happiness to them; the little arms that
were wont to entwine their necks in a loving embrace when the good

– 27 –

nights were given was now suffering in death and well might the
mother exclaim, ‘What hath he done, My unweaned son to move Jehovahs
wrath?’

“And your loving murderouse God come out with his hands steaming
and reeking with the blood of innocents and willingly exclaims, ‘I
am a God of war.’ This is the God you tell me I must serve and
love with my whole heart mind and strength or be damned. I had
rather be damned a thousand fold than debase my nature by loving
such a monster.”

“So had I,” exclaimed Irene Hughs her eyes flashing with the
intensity of her excitment and obhorrance.

“Silence girl,” exclaimed her father who had been pacing the floor
like an enraged lion. “I had rather see you dead than like that
double dyed infidel yonder.

“Sir,” he continued leaning toward Rashboy, “A man that will
blaspheme God as you have done today deserves death.
Such a man should not be allowed to remain at
large and influence others.”

“I have said nothing against the supreme being. On the contrary I
revere him too much to believe him the supreme diety spoken of in
the Bible,” replied Rashboy.

“To breathe the same air with such as you were contaminating,”
exclaimed the enraged minister. “Come Girl,” he contenued ( —– )
his daughter “Let us go home.”

“Alas the rarity of Christian Charity under the sun,” replied Irene.
“You called on the gentleman for his opinion and now condemed him
because he gave it.”

“I do not comdemn him for stating his opinion but for holding such
opinions and daring to speak of God as he has done.”

“Do not leave the field in possession of your enemy,” said Mr.
Blanchard smiling, “or he will look as though you were defeated.
Besides it is your duty to wrestle with all sorts of disbelief and
establish the true faith.”

“It is strange,” said Rashboy quietly, “that Christians the followers
of that Christ who they claim brought a religeon of love and
Charity should be the most mechanel of all people under the sun
and insist not only in damning a man, for his disbelief, hereafter
but would sacrafice him here were it possible. You have endeavored
to show how the Bible has benefitted mankind how it is the great
civilizer and has brought Peace on Earth and good will toward men.
Christ himself says in Mathew 34 & et, ‘Think not I send peace on earth;
I came not to send peace but a Sword. For I am come to set a man at variance
against his father and the daughter against her mother and the daughter in law
against the mother in law’.”

“I tell you sir,” exclaimed the rector turning upon him, “that your
life would not be safe today were it not for that bible. You would
be liable to be murdered at any time.”

“And would be as it is,” said Dick laughing, “had the Christians
there sway. If I may judge from what one of their ministers said a
few moments since.”

– 28 –

“Where is there a book that has done as much toward civilizing the
world tell me that?”

“There was a time during the middle ages when the Church ruled all
the Civilized(?) nations of Europe and since it had absolute power
it had vast opportunity of doing good – Mark the legend.

“Then,” says Ingersole, ‘the sword of the church was unsheathed and
the world was at the mercy of ignorant and infuriated priests
whose eyes feasted on the agonies they inflicted. Acting as they
believed or pretended to believe under the command of God!
Stimulated by the hope of infinite reward in another world haling
herectics with every drop of their vestial blood savage beyond
conception these infamous smiats in a kind of frenzied joy, leaped
upon the helpless victims of their age. They crushed their bones
in iron boots; tore their (—–) flesh with iron hooks and
pincers cut off their lips and eyelids; pulled out their nails and
into the bleeding quick thrust needles; tore out their organs;
extinguished their eyes; stretched them upon racks flayed them
alive; crucified them with their heads downward; exposed them to
wild beasts; burned them at the stake; mocked their cries and
groans; ravished their wives; robbed their children and then
prayed God to finish the holy work in hell. Millions upon millions
were sacraficed upon the alters of bigatry. The Catholics burned
the Lutherans. The Lutheran burned the Catholics. The episcopalian
tortured the Presbyterian and the Presbyterian‘tortured the
Episcopalian. Every denomination killed all it could of every
other and each Christian felt in duty bound to exterminate every
other Christian who denied the smallest practice of his creed.
They have imprisoned and murdered each other and the wives and
children of each other. In the name of God every possible curse
has been committed. Every conceivable outrage has been perpetrated.
Brave men tender and loving women beautiful girls and prattling
babes have been exterminated in the name of Jesus Christ.

“For more than fifty generations the church has carried the black
flag. Her vengence has been measured only by her power. During all
these years of infancy no herectic has ever been forgiven.

“With the heart of a fiend she has hated with the clutch of
averice she has grasped with the jaws of a dragon she had
devoured; petitless as famine merciless as fire with the
conscience of a serpent. Such is the history of the Church of God
Such is your civilizer.

“And you ask me what has done as much toward bettering the
condition of many as the book from which all their black hearted
fiends recind sanction and instruction for their murderers.

“The day will come,” said the rector solomnly, “when your are laid
upon a bed of death when you like Paine will recount all this and
die forsaken by God and dispised by man.”

“How many ministers have I heard say, without a thing to warrant
the assertion, that, Paine died forsaken by God and man. Where they
get their foundation for such statements I have never been able to
learn since all history on the subject state the reverse. But
suppose Paine had died. So what then was there not another who
when in the agony of death was upon him turned his glazing eyes to
Heaven and exclaimed, ‘My God! MY God! why hast thou forsaken me?'”

– 29 –

The dinner bell put a stop to further discussion and I was not
sorry for I greatly feared Rashboy was making enemies by
expressing his views so fearlessly and plainly.

“Mr. Nathans will you give your arm to my daughter Hope. Mr Rashboy
please show that you entertain no anamosity to your late
antagonist by taking his daughter down to dinner. Mr Etheridge I
see hes already appropriated my younger daughter. Mr Adams please
take charge of Miss Mayer and Smythe I resign you to the tender
mercies of Miss Joyce. Mrs Whipple permit me to act as your
escort,” said the gallent old gentleman and thus we all descended
to the dinning room and soon found our selves seated to a
substancial dinner.

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