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"Every plant that my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up."
A fiction merely; something people saw
THE LORD JESUS.
WILLIAMS AND NORGATE,
14, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON;
101. f. 372
As this book is intended not so much for scholars as the general public, I have not attempted more than a series of readable sketches. The same consideration has led me to adopt the autobiographical form, which, with the supposition of an intelligent companion, gives me some of the advantages of a conversational style. Only in the large portion of the work devoted to the Scriptures have I, without departing from a popular manner, aimed at a certain degree of completeness. To handle adequately all the grave topics of this comprehensive theme would require a library instead of a volume. Having aimed at nothing less than to deal a blow at Traditionalism, Sacerdotalism and Satanism, which reciprocally evoke and support each other, and which, in a brood of superstitions, have inflicted on our race many of the direst evils under which it has suffered, I have simply pursued such a method as seemed to me most likely to conduce to my object. I may have missed my mark, but I shall pass the rest of my days in deeper satisfaction for having shot the arrow. And this observation leads me to say that personal considerations have exercised an influence in determining me to compose the book. My childhood and early youth were haunted by cruel phantasms which had their source in the gross superstition I now assail. Having a nervous temperament, and moving in a circle in which belief in
ghosts and other imaginary beings was all but universal, I contracted fears and alarms which agitated and tortured me for many years, so that even the first days of my manhood were beclouded by their dark and spectral shadows. I have reason to believe that even in the more cultured classes of society many a nursery is still beset and worried by similar harpies, nor will the young be brought up in the pure and serene light of God's own lovely world until belief in the devil is banished for ever from the haunts of men.
I experienced in my boyhood acute pain from devilism in another shape. My father, a kind, intelligent and simpleminded man, had inherited a rigid Calvinism, by which he was almost driven to suicide. As his eldest child, I shared his inmost thoughts, and learnt how he had been tormented with the fear of hell, not being able, like some, to persuade himself that he was one of the few favourites of heaven. Happily for me, as well as for him, his earnest nature threw off the galling yoke just before I began to turn my thoughts to religious matters: yet my memory has ever retained a vivid sense of his perils and sufferings. The terrific system is now past the meridian of life, but similar fears and dangers will last as long as Satan endures as a personal reality. The stronghold of Satan is the Bible, yet Satanism is not a Biblical growth. This I take no small pains to shew, if only because I respect and love the Bible, and because I find in the Biblical religion, as represented by Jesus, the great hope of humanity. My efforts to eliminate Satan from the Bible, if successful, will owe the result to the exegetical resources supplied by what I may term the new science of The History of Religion, which is gradually undermining many a theological falsity, while spreading the light of God's Fatherly Providence over the