My Path to Atheismby Annie Besant
SOME time ago a Clergyman was proving to me by arguments many and strong that hell was
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SOME time ago a Clergyman was proving to me by arguments many and strong that hell was right, necessary and just; that it brought glory to God and good to man; that the holiness of God required it as a preventive, and the justice of God exacted it as a penalty, of sin. I listened quietly till all was over and silence fell on the reverend denunciator; he ceased, satisfied with his arguments, triumphant in the consciousness that they were crushing and unassailable. But my eyes were fixed on the fair scene without the library window, on the sacrament of earth, the visible sign of the invisible beauty, and the contrast between God's works and the Church's speech came strongly upon me. And all I found to say in answer came in a few words: "If I had not heard you mention the name of God, I should have thought you were speaking of the Devil." The words, dropped softly and meditatively, had a startling effect. Horror at the blasphemy, indignation at the unexpected result of laboured argument, struggled against a dawning feeling that there must be something wrong in a conception which laid itself open to such a blow; the short answer told more powerfully than half an hour's reasoning.
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