In the times of the Bible—men believed that animals sometimes used human language

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In the times of the Bible—men believed that animals sometimes used human language

In olden times—in the times of the Bible—men believed that animals sometimes used human language, and that beasts were wiser than their masters. I’m not now going to question that belief, but still I don’t think that nowadays one-half of us would take the word of a horse on any important subject. You must remember, however, that it took an ass to know an angel at first sight in Balaam’s time. Balaam never suspected that there was an angel in his path until that ass told him! In those days, on a little matter like that, the word of any beast seemed to be taken as good evidence.

But let a mule jam his rider’s foot against a wall, nowadays, and then lie down under him, and there is not one man in ten who would associate that fact in his mind with the presence of an angel. I suppose, however, there wasn’t as much known about mules then as there is now; and most asses were of a more pious turn of mind.

I don’t suppose there is one intelligent man in this city who believes that story, and yet he is not a good Christian if he questions it.

Show me a locality where actual belief—where old time orthodoxy—is looked upon as a requisite of good citizenship and standing in society, and you will show me a place where intellectual development and rapid progress have died or gone to sleep!

The most ignorant and backward parts of this great country, the localities where Congress is asking for better and more secular schools to be established as a means of safety to the state, are situated in the very States where orthodoxy holds absolute sway. In those states a man is looked upon as a very dangerous character if he questions the accuracy of that story about those three hot-house plants, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Yes, the people of that pious region would be afraid of a man who was wicked enough to laugh at that yarn; and yet do you believe there is a man in this city who could make you believe it? And you don’t look dangerous either; and I don’t think that I do.

It seems that when they used to run ashore for big scare-stories, they just poked up the fire and went into the blastfurnace business—here and hereafter. But—seeing that a furnace—a real one—heated seven times hotter than it takes to melt iron, did not injure those three tropical innocents—did not even singe their eye-brows—it does look a little as if we should stand a pretty fair show with the spiritual fuel they now promise us hereafter. Still I must say I don’t believe I should like the climate.

Speaking of Bible arguments, I must tell you of a new one I heard recently. A gentleman acquaintance of mine asked a colored woman, who had applied to him for money to help build a colored people’s church, whether she thought God was black or white. She replied that the Bible implied that he was black—that it said, “And His wool shall be whiter than snow;” and that white men don’t have wool!

Men, Women, and Gods
And Other Lectures
by Helen H. Gardener