"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
The great work had been accomplished, the world, the sun, and moon, and all the hosts of heaven were finished; the earth was clothed in green, the seas were filled with life, the cattle wandered by the brooks--insects with painted wings were in the happy air, Adam and Eve were making each other's acquaintance, and God was resting from his work. He was contemplating the accomplishments of a week.
Because he rested on that day he sanctified it, and for that reason and for that alone, it was by the Jews considered a holy day. If he only rested on that day, there ought to be some account of what he did the following Monday. Did he rest on that day? What did he do after he got rested? Has he done anything in the way of creation since Saturday evening of the first week?
It is now claimed by the "scientific" Christians that the "days" of creation were not ordinary days of twenty-four hours each, but immensely long periods of time. If they are right, then how long was the seventh day? Was that, too, a geologic period covering thousands of ages? That cannot be, because Adam and Eve were created the Saturday evening before, and according to the Bible that was about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago. I cannot state the time exactly, because there have been as many as one hundred and forty different opinions given by learned Biblical students as to the time between the creation of the world and the birth of Christ. We are quite certain, however, that, according to the Bible, it is not more than six thousand years since the creation of Adam. From this it would appear that the seventh day was not a geologic epoch, but was in fact a period of less than six thousand years, and probably of only twenty-four hours. The theologians who "answer" these things may take their choice. If they take the ground that the "days" were periods of twenty-four hours, then geology will force them to throw away the whole account. If on the other hand, they admit that the days were vast "periods" then the sacredness of the Sabbath must be given up.
There is found in the Bible no intimation that there was the least difference in the days. They are all spoken of in the same way. It may be replied that our translation is incorrect. If this is so, then only those who understand Hebrew, have had a revelation from God, and all the rest have been deceived.
How is it possible to sanctify a space of time? Is rest holier than labor? If there is any difference between days, ought not that to be considered best in which the most useful labor has been performed?
Of all the superstitions of mankind, this insanity about the "sacred Sabbath" is the most absurd. The idea of feeling it a duty to be solemn and sad one-seventh of the time! To think that we can please an infinite being by staying in some dark and somber room, instead of walking in the perfumed fields! Why should God hate to see a man happy? Why should it excite his wrath to see a family in the woods, by some babbling stream, talking, laughing and loving? Nature works on that "sacred" day. The earth turns, the rivers run, the trees grow, buds burst into flower, and birds fill the air with song. Why should we look sad, and think about death, and hear about hell? Why should that day be filled with gloom instead of joy?
A poor mechanic, working all the week in dust and noise, needs a day of rest and joy, a day to visit stream and wood--a day to live with wife and child; a day in which to laugh at care, and gather hope and strength for toils to come. And his weary wife needs a breath of sunny air, away from street and wall, amid the hills or by the margin of the sea, where she can sit and prattle with her babe, and fill with happy dreams the long, glad day.
The "Sabbath" was born of asceticism, hatred of human joy, fanaticism, ignorance, egotism of priests and the cowardice of the people. This day, for thousands of years, has been dedicated to superstition, to the dissemination of mistakes, and the establishment of falsehoods. Every freethinker, as a matter of duty, should violate this day. He should assert his independence, and do all within his power to wrest the Sabbath from the gloomy church and give it back to liberty and joy. Freethinkers should make the Sabbath a day of mirth and music; a day to spend with wife and child--a day of games, and books, and dreams--a day to put fresh flowers above our sleeping dead--a day of memory and hope, of love and rest.
Why should we in this age of the world be dominated by the dead? Why should barbarian Jews who went down to death and dust three thousand years ago, control the living world? Why should we care for the superstition of men who began the Sabbath by paring their nails, "beginning at the fourth finger, then going to the second, then to the fifth, then to the third, and ending with the thumb?" How pleasing to God this must have been. The Jews were very careful of these nail parings. They who threw them upon the ground were wicked, because Satan used them to work evil upon the earth. They believed that upon the Sabbath, souls were allowed to leave purgatory and cool their burning souls in water. Fires were neither allowed to be kindled nor extinguished, and upon that day it was a sin to bind up wounds. "The lame might use a staff, but the blind could not." So strict was the Sabbath kept, that at one time "if a Jew on a journey was overtaken by the "sacred day" in a wood, or on the highway, no matter where, nor under what circumstances, he must sit down "and there remain" until the day was gone. "If he fell down in the dirt, there he was compelled to stay until the day was done." For violating the Sabbath, the punishment was death, for nothing short of the offender's blood could satisfy the wrath of God. There are, in the Old Testament, two reasons given for abstaining from labor on the Sabbath:--the resting of God, and the redemption of the Jews from the bondage of Egypt.
Since the establishment of the Christian religion, the day has been changed, and Christians do not regard the day as holy upon which God actually rested, and which he sanctioned. The Christian Sabbath, or the "Lord's day" was legally established by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead.
It is not easy to see where Christians got the right to disregard the direct command of God, to labor on the day he sanctified, and keep as sacred, a day upon which he commanded men to labor. The Sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of the Christian.
Let us throw away these superstitions and take the higher, nobler ground, that every day should be rendered sacred by some loving act, by increasing the happiness of man, giving birth to noble thoughts, putting in the path of toil some flower of joy, helping the unfortunate, lifting the fallen, dispelling gloom, destroying prejudice, defending the helpless and filling homes with light and love.
It must not be forgotten that there are two accounts of the creation in Genesis. The first account stops with the third verse of the second chapter. The chapters have been improperly divided. In the original Hebrew the Pentateuch was neither divided into chapters nor verses. There was not even any system of punctuation. It was written wholly with consonants, without vowels, and without any marks, dots, or lines to indicate them.
These accounts are materially different, and both cannot be true. Let us see wherein they differ.
The second account of the creation begins with the fourth verse of the second chapter, and is as follows"
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it to grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
"But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
"And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.
"The name of the first is Pison; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
"And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
"And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
"And the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the forth river is Euphrates.
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him Into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
"And the Lord God said" It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and bought them unto Adam to see what he would call them and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for him.
"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.
"And Adam said" This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
ORDER OF CREATION IN THE FIRST ACCOUNT:
1. The heaven and the earth, and light were made.
2. The firmament was constructed and the waters divided.
3. The waters gathered into seas--and then came dry land, grass, herbs and fruit trees.
4. The sun and moon. He made the stars also.
5. Fishes, fowls, and great whales.
6. Beasts, cattle, every creeping thing, man and woman.
ORDER OF CREATION IN THE SECOND ACCOUNT:
1. The heavens and the earth.
2. A mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
3. Created a man out of dust, by the name of Adam.
4. Planted a garden eastward in Eden, and put the man in it.
5. Created the beasts and fowls.
6. Created a woman out of one of the man's ribs.
In the second account, man was made before the beasts and fowls. If this is true, the first account is false. And if the theologians of our time are correct in their view that the Mosaic day means thousands of ages, then, according to the second account, Adam existed millions of years before Eve was formed. He must have lived one Mosaic day before there were any trees, and another Mosaic day before the beasts and fowls were created. Will some kind clergymen tell us upon what kind of food Adam subsisted during these immense periods?
In the second account a man is made, and the fact that he was without a helpmeet did not occur to the Lord God until a couple "of vast periods" afterwards. The Lord God suddenly coming to a appreciation of the situation said, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an helpmeet for him."
Now, after concluding to make "an helpmeet" for Adam, what did the Lord God do? Did he at once proceed to make a woman? No. What did he do? He made the beasts, and tried to induce Adam to take one of them for "an helpmeet." If I am incorrect, read the following account, and tell me what it means;
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him."
Unless the Lord God was looking for an help meet for Adam, why did he cause the animals to pass before him . And why did he, after the menagerie had passed by, pathetically exclaim, "But for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him"?
It seems that Adam saw nothing that struck his fancy. The fairest ape, the sprightliest chimpanzee; the loveliest baboon, the most bewitching orangoutang, the most fascinating gorilla failed to touch with love's sweet pain, poor Adam's lonely heart. Let us rejoice that this was so. Had he fallen in "love" then, there never would have been a Freethinker in this world.
Dr. Adam Clarke, speaking of this remarkable proceeding says:--"God caused the animals to pass before Adam to show him that no creature yet formed could make him a suitable companion; that Adam was convinced that none of these animals could be a suitable companion for him, and that therefore he must continue in a state that was not good (celibacy) unless he became a further debtor to the bounty of his maker, for among all the animals which he had formed, there was not a helpmeet for Adam."
Upon this same subject, Dr. Scott informs us "that it was not conducive to the happiness of the man to remain without the consoling society, and endearment of tender friendship, nor consistent with the end of his creation to be without marriage by which the earth might be replenished and worshipers and servants raised up to render him praise and glory. Adam seems to have been vastly better acquainted by intuition or revelation with the distinct properties of every creature than the most sagacious observer since the fall of man.
"Upon this review of the animals, not one was found in outward form his counterpart, nor one suited to engage his affections, participate in his enjoyments, or associate with him in the worship of God."
Dr. Matthew Henry admits that "God brought all the animals together to see if there was a suitable match for Adam in any of the numerous families of the inferior creatures, but there was none. They were all looked over, but Adam could not be matched among them all. Therefore God created a new thing to be a helpmeet for him."
Failing to satisfy Adam, with any of the inferior animals, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall "upon him" and while in this sleep took out one of Adam's ribs and "closed up the flesh instead thereof." And out of this rib, the Lord God made a woman, and brought her to the man.
Was the Lord God compelled to take a part of the man because he had used up all the original "nothing" out of which the universe was made? Is it possible for any sane and intelligent man to believe this story? Must a man be born a second time before this account seems reasonable?
Imagine the Lord God with a bone in his hand with which to start a woman, trying to make up his mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette!
Just at this point it may be proper for me to warn all persons from laughing at or making light of any stories found in the "Holy Bible." When you come to die, every laugh will be a thorn in your pillow. At that solemn moment, as you look back upon the records of your life, no matter how many men you may have wrecked and ruined; no matter how many women you have deceived and deserted, all that can be forgiven; but if you remember then that you have laughed at even one story in God's "sacred book" you will see though the gathering shadows of death the forked tongues of devils, and the leering eyes of fiends.
These stories must be believed, or the work of regeneration can never be commenced. No matter how well you act your part, live as honestly as you may, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, divide your last farthing with the poor, and you are simply traveling the broad road that leads inevitably to eternal death, unless at the same time you implicitly believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.
Let me show you the result of unbelief. Let us suppose, for a moment, that we are at the Day of Judgment, listening to the trial of souls as they arrive. The Recording Secretary, or whoever does the cross-examining, says to a soul:
Where are you from?
I am from the Earth.
What kind of a man were you?
Well, I don't like to talk about myself. I suppose you can tell by looking at your books.
No, sir. You must tell what kind of a man you were.
Well, I was what you might call a first-rate fellow. I loved my wife and children. My home was my heaven. My fireside was a paradise to me. To sit there and see the lights and shadows fall upon the faces of those I loved, was to me a perfect joy.
How did you treat your family?
I never said an unkind word. I never caused my wife, nor one of my children, a moment's pain.
Did you pay your debts?
I did not owe a dollar when I died, and left enough to pay my funeral expenses, and to keep the fierce wolf of want from the door of those I loved.
Did you belong to any church?
No, sir. They were too narrow, pinched and bigoted for me, I never thought that I could be very happy if other folks were damned.
Did you believe in eternal punishment?
Well, no. I always thought that God could get his revenge in far less time.
Did you believe the rib story?
Do you mean the Adam and Eve business?
Yes! Did you believe that?
To tell you the God's truth, that was just a little more than I could swallow.
Away with him to hell!
Where are you from?
I am from the world too.
Did you belong to any church?
Yes, sir, and to the Young Men's Christian Association besides.
What was your business?
Cashier in a Savings Bank.
Did you ever run away with any money?
Where I came from, a witness could not be compelled to criminate himself.
The law is different here. Answer the question. Did you run away with any money?
One hundred thousand dollars.
Did you take anything else with you?
Well, what else?
I took my neighbor's wife--we sang together in the choir.
Did you have a wife and children of your own?
And you deserted them?
Yes, sir, but such was my confidence in God that I believed he would take care of them.
Have you heard of them since?
Did you believe in the rib story?
Bless your soul, of course I did. A thousand times I regretted that there were no harder stories in the Bible, so that I could have shown my wealth of faith.
Do you believe the rib story yet?
Yes, with all my heart.
Give him a harp!
Well, as I was saying, God made a woman from Adam's rib. Of course, I do not know exactly how this was done, but when he got the woman finished, he presented her to Adam. He liked her, and they commenced house-keeping in the celebrated Garden of Eden.
Must we, in order to be good, gentle and loving in our lives, believe that the creation of woman was a second thought? That Jehovah really endeavored to induce Adam to take one of the lower animals as an helpmeet for him? After all, is it not possible to live honest and courageous lives without believing these fables? It is said that from Mount Sinai God gave, amid thunderings and lightnings, ten commandments for the guidance of mankind; and yet among them is not found--"Thou shalt believe the Bible."