The Congregational Church has not outgrown the doctrine of "original sin." We are told that:
"Our first parents, by disobedience, fell under the condemnation of God, and that all men are so alienated from God that there is no salvation from guilt and power of sin except through God's redeeming power."
Is there an intelligent man or woman now in the world who believes in the Garden of Eden story? If you find any man who believes it, strike his forehead and you will hear an echo. Something is for rent. Does any intelligent man now believe that God made man of dust, and woman of a rib, and put them in a garden, and put a tree in the midst of it? Was there not room outside of the garden to put his tree, if he did not want people to eat his apples?
If I did not want a man to eat my fruit, I would not put him in my orchard.
Does anybody now believe in the story of the serpent? I pity any man or woman who, in this nineteenth century, believes in that childish fable. Why did Adam and Eve disobey? Why, they were tempted. By whom? The devil. Who made the devil? God. What did God make him for? Why did he not tell Adam and Eve about this serpent? Why did he not watch the devil, instead of watching Adam and Eve? Instead of turning them out, why did he not keep him from getting in? Why did he not have his flood first, and drown the devil, before he made a man and woman.
And yet, people who call themselves intelligent--professors in colleges and presidents of venerable institutions--teach children and young men and women that the Garden of Eden story is an absolute historical fact. I defy any man to think of a more childish thing. This God, waiting around Eden--knowing all the while what would happen--having made them on purpose so that it would happen, then does what? Holds all of us responsible, and we were not there. Here is a representative before the constituency had been born. Before I am bound by a representative I want a chance to vote for or against him; and if I had been there, and known all the circumstances, I should have voted "No!" And yet, I am held responsible.
"Sin and death entered the world."
According to this, just as soon as Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, God began to contrive ways by which he could destroy the lives of his children. He invented all the diseases--all the fevers and coughs and colds--all the pains and plagues and pestilences--all the aches and agonies, the malaria and spores; so that when we take a breath of air we admit into our lungs unseen assassins; and, fearing that some might live too long, even under such circumstances, God invented the earthquake and volcano, the cyclone and lightning, animalcules to infest the heart and brain. so small that no eye can detect--no instrument reach. This was all owing to the disobedience of Adam and Eve!
In His infinite goodness, God invented rheumatism and gout and dyspepsia, cancers and neuralgia, and is still inventing new diseases. Not only this, but he decreed the pangs of mothers, and that by the gates of love and life should crouch the dragons of death and pain. Fearing that some might, by accident, live too long, he planted poisonous vines and herbs that looked like food. He caught the serpents he had made and gave them fangs and curious organs, ingeniously devised to distill and deposit the deadly drop. He changed the nature of the beasts, that they might feed on human flesh. He cursed a world, and tainted every spring and source of joy. He poisoned every breath of air; corrupted even light, that it might bear disease on every ray; tainted every drop of blood in human veins; touched every nerve, that it might bear the double fruit of pain and joy; decreed all accidents and mistakes that maim and hurt and kill, and set the snares of life-long grief, baited with present pleasure,--with a moment's joy. Then and there he foreknew and foreordained all human tears. And yet all this is but the prelude, the introduction, to the infinite revenge of the good God. Increase and multiply all human griefs until the mind has reached imagination's farthest verge, then add eternity to time, and you may faintly tell, but never can conceive, the infinite horrors of this doctrine called "The Fall of Man."