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release its treasures, sometime I shall claim my own.'
He regarded the question of Job, "If a man die, shall he live again ?” the everlasting interrogatory.
A Supreme Being, Ingalls seemed to admit, but of what order, nature, degree, glory, he did not affirm. “Faith in a Supreme Being,” he said, "in immortality and the compensations of eternity conduces powerfully to social order by enabling men to endure with composure the injustice of this world in the hope of reparation in that which is to come.'
The position finally assumed by Ingalls was due somewhat to a revulsion from the harsh theology of Calvin, at one time so deeply rooted in New England. He was to some extent disciple of Carlyle, though he could never have been prevailed upon to admit it, and life became a matter of wonder and increasing mystery. “After all,'' he wrote his father, “whether well or ill, the longest life is but a brief pulsation, like the momentary flash of a firefly in a garden at night: and whether its transitory torch is to be extinguished forever or to be relighted and burn eternally, we hope and dream, but know not."
In the contemplation of immortality and the inscrutable mystery of human life Ingalls said that:
Our appearance here is not voluntary. We are sent to this planet on some mysterious errand without being consulted in advance. Many of us would not have come had the opportunity to decline, with thanks, been presented.
To multitudes life is an inconceivable insult and injury, an intolerable affront; torture and wretchedness indescribable from poverty, disease, grief, Fortune's slings and arrows; wrongs deliberately inflicted by some unknown malignant power, as Job was tormented by the devil, with the consent of God, just to try him, till at last the troubled patriarch cursed the day he was born.
Worst of all, we are sent here under sentence of death. The most grievous and humiliating punishment man can inflict upon the criminal is death.
Human tribunals give the malefactor a chance. His crime must be proved. He can put in his defense. He can appear by attorney and plead and take appeal. But we are all condemned to death beforehand. The accusation and the accuser are unknown. An inexorable verdict has been pronounced and recorded in the secret councils of the skies. We are neither confronted with the witness nor allowed a day in court. From the hour of birth we are beset by invulnerable and invisible enemies, the pestilence that walketh in darkness and the destruction that wasteth at noonday. Fatal germs, immortal bacilli, heavensent microbes, inhabit the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, poisoning where they fly and infecting where they repose.
Science continually discloses malevolent agencies, hitherto undetected, which we vainly try to extirpate, or to build frail and feeble barriers against their depredations.
Theology complacently announces that for the majority of the human race this tough world is the prelude to an eternity in hell.
Nature, like a witness in contempt, stands mute. Science returns from the remotest excursions, shakes its head, and, smiling, puts the question by. Christ contented Himself with a few vague and unsatisfactory generalities.
The evidence of a superintending moral purpose and design in the affairs of men are faint and few. The wicked prosper, the good suffer. The problems of sin, pain, and evil are insoluble. Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation, making the innocent suffer for the offences of the guilty, is
an unjust and cruel law that ought to be repealed. Civilization has long since rejected the principle from human jurisprudence. Even treason, the highest crime known to its code, no longer works corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
Unless man is immortal, the moral universe, so far as he is concerned, disappears altogether. If he does not survive the grave, it makes no difference to him whether there be God or devil, or heaven or hell. And it must be not only a survival, but a continuity of consciousness as well, if the evil are to be punished and the good rewarded hereafter.
Ingalls believed mankind was making progress in the science of religion — in the science of godmaking. He knew what every priest is anxious that his parishioner shall never know that the term "religion” is of universal application, and that it embraces the crude incantations and deceptions of the Medicine Man as well as the tenets of Christianity. Savage practices no more condemn the one than do refined cruelties and polished amenities establish the other:
There was a profound truth in the declaration of Voltaire, that if there was no God, it would be necessary for man to invent one. God is indispensable [to man). As the race advances, it clothes God with higher attributes and dignifies Him with more lofty functions. The gloomy and inexorable God of the Puritans has disappeared. He has been succeeded by a Supreme Being of infinite mercy, tenderness, and goodness; a ruler, a law-maker, subject to limitations and restraints imposed by His own perfections.
Opposition to Christianity, or any other religion, is no indication of infidelity, he argued, “but rather the strongest evidence of the religious spirit of the times,
the hunger and thirst for knowledge about what can never be known".
So impenetrable did he regard the veil which hides the future that he expected another Christ and new revelations. But even these will prove insufficient and unsatisfactory, as have all others, for in this field alone has no progress been made, as witness his belief declared in his estimate of the book of Job:
The book of Job is the oldest, and in my judgment, the highest production of the human intellect. It is especially interesting because it shows that humanity at the dawn of history was engaged in considering the same problems that perplex us now — immortality, the existence of evil,