September 7, 1899
NO STATE, or government, ever yet became religious without doing harm both to religion and to the rights of the people. No state can profess one religion without being against some other religion.
THE serpent of falsehood will always choose paradise is the place from which to do his speaking, when he can get into it. We cannot accept unguardedly any statement, no matter with how much truth and goodness it is associated, without running grave risk of deception.
THE antediluvians remained unconcerned on the eve of the day deluge, taking no steps to save themselves from the coming catastrophe; and their mistake has been repeated by men in every age since that time. It is being repeated by many to-day. It is being made by you, if you are engrossed with pleasure-seeking and the service of self. That pathway always ends in an unpleasant surprise.
THERE are many places in this country—one at least in every State—where a model community exists, so far as it is in the power of law to produce such a community; places where the inhabitants never get drunk, never steal, never commit adultery; where the great majority go to church, and all observe Sunday. Those places are the State penitentiaries. And when people advocate a scheme of reforming society by law, as so many are now doing, it devolves upon them to show what power there is in law to maintain society on a higher moral level that prevails in the penitentiaries.
THE object of law is to protect man in the enjoyment of their rights. It protects man from one another; it guards each one against encroachment by the others. But it can protect no man against himself—against evil in his own heart. It cannot keep him from doing wrong. And therefore human law cannot undertake to prohibit wrongdoing, as such. It prohibits the wrong-doing when, and only when, that would invade another’s rights. All men have the opportunity to do wrong—they must have it in order to develop character. And there to be judged, and condemned or justified, not now, but at the end of the world; not here, but at the bar of God, and by the law of God. Any human law, therefore, which prohibits a thing merely because it is wrong, or is deemed so, is contrary to the purpose of God, and can work only evil as long as it exists.