Belfast, September 1860
What is "right" and "wrong?" The question involves more thought than a person at first would suppose. We often hear persons using this expression, this or that is right or wrong. When asked to define the word wrong, they use some comparison admitted by some old superstitious opinion, all without any authority. All persons claiming to be Christians always appeal to the Bible for the proof of all goodness, believing that the Bible is the foundation of all truth. I am willing to abide by the decision of this great book, believing it is the best authority to decide all questions in dispute, but I am not willing to take any person's opinion on a subject where he cannot show any wisdom above his followers; only that he has read and studied more than his neighbors. The Bible is in the hands of the people, just as much as the science of mathematics is in the hands of the people, and all will admit that this wisdom is known by its works. So it is with the Bible. The Bible is in the hands of the people, and they will give their verdict, just according to the evidence that is placed before them.
Now what idea does the Bible give us in regard to right and wrong? All will admit that God has no use for such a word as right, for he never made anything wrong. So he is not the author of right and wrong; for when he had made all things and finished them, he pronounced them good; so that there was no wrong at any time. "But there was not a man to till the ground," so that right and wrong commenced after the formation of man; and good and evil was of man, not of God. To create evil was to deviate from good, so that right and wrong were the invention of man; for one man cannot make right and wrong, there must be two to be in opposition to each other. The natural man knows no right and wrong, for he is but little above the brute creation. The brutes cannot do wrong, according to their organization, for "might is right" with them. The natural man is on the same platform with the brute; neither is responsible for their acts, but both are governed by two powers superior to themselves. These powers are might and science. Might is law; science is sympathy or charity or a knowledge of both. Science is not expected from the brute; so that they, being ignorant of science, are held in subjection. Man, who is a little above the brutes, shows his wisdom or power in the same way that the brutes do, by enslaving his fellow man. All of this is the natural man and belongs to this world. It does not come under any law, except the law of might. It has never heard of science in its acts. Man is made up of these two characters, might and science; so that all laws to the natural man are arbitrary and overbearing; but as might or law is right, man must submit. Although he may see the error, he cannot correct the evil.
Now what is right and wrong, and how came such a standard in the world, and is it needed for the happiness of man? This was the question in the days of Jesus. He called these two powers the law and the gospel. The law was might, and the gospel was Christ or science; so that what the law failed to do was left for science to accomplish. Science or Christ in Jesus entered into the world of might and introduced a higher law that put an end to the law of might.
I will now show how naturally the idea of right and wrong came into the world. As man and beast were in the world together, the beast, having more physical strength than man, would overpower him, unless the strength of the beast were counteracted by some shrewdness of man for his protection. So in the course of human progression, it became necessary for man to establish some sort of agreement that would bind them together for the protection of their lives. This agreement, if made in good faith, with the full knowledge of the good that would follow, and admitted by all, was the introduction of the wisdom of God into the hearts of all those who acknowledged it good. Now to them this was binding, for it produced a chemical change that made man different from the beast. Thus they introduced the wisdom of God into man and called it right; and to vary from this agreement was wrong. This was the origin of right and wrong. This agreement contained no law, for it was of God. It contained no punishment, for it knew no fear.
As wisdom in man is science, it is progression; so that the development of this wisdom is progression. As man progressed, it would not be strange for him to violate this agreement; which violation was not a violation of law, but a breach of honor. They were a law to themselves. But other men were not bound to their agreement; so as people multiplied, it became necessary, so they thought, to introduce laws. As laws have penalties, they are burdens to all who are under the law. So as the law entered, the love of God or science grew cold. At last the wisdom of man took the place of science, and science was not known in the hearts of men. Then man set up a standard of right and wrong, according to his wisdom; and attached a penalty to each act, according to his best judgment. To disobey the laws that man set up, they had to suffer the penalties.
Now as the world became populated, the laws took cognizance of the people's acts, and as they knew no law, to them these laws were arbitrary and overbearing, and they murmured, for they had no voice in the making of the laws. Thus man invented the words right and wrong. This wisdom has been kept up and has been placed in the hands of the priests and doctors. They bind on the people their opinions and call them laws of God, and to disobey them is a sin. These laws have placed man in bondage and kept him ignorant of himself. God never made a law. Might is right with the beast, and when man wants to govern his fellow men, he has just as much right to do it as any other beast. Both are under no law but man's; and if they are sincere, they have no more feeling than any other brute, and it becomes the duty of science to make some law for its own safety, until a higher law can be introduced within their hearts that will teach them that action and reaction are equal, and to injure another, we injure ourselves; to teach them that man and beast are born equal and that the natural man has no preeminence over the brute, but all were of the dust and must return to the dust again.
So man, when he was first introduced into the world, was on a level with the brute; and as a tree is known by its fruits, so is man known by his acts. Now science has proved to all persons understanding it that the true wisdom or science is progression, and to oppose progression is to oppose science. As disease is an enemy to truth or science, it is a hard master, and the sick person is a slave, and while I pity the sick person or slave, I detest the law which holds them in bondage. I would not destroy the evil by killing the master, but persuade the sick not to believe in him, as Jesus did when he told the people to do all that the law compelled them to do, but not to believe in the doctrines. For their doctrines are of this world's opinions and are not binding on strangers. And to admit them as truth is to acknowledge their punishments just.
There are two kinds of punishments. Everyone is either punished by the laws of agreement or the condemnation of their own free will. I will now try to separate these two agreements or laws; for all laws are made by man, and in all I say, I do not allude to God at all. For God is not known in the natural man, while the scientific man is a part of God; and to talk about God is to talk about something you do not know, while to talk science is God. Now science talks or applies itself to the errors of the world. Error talks about itself and talks about God or science as a stranger or a being to whom they pay tribute. So they think it is necessary for the happiness of mankind to keep up a sort of form or ceremony to promote his kingdom. Therefore, certain laws are established, accompanied with penalties "for the good of the community." These laws were for those who were strangers, while those who agreed to the contract and understood it were free.
I will give you one illustration of the truth of this contract called law, and show where the injustice is. Suppose that the state of Maine should vote that murder was wrong and pray that the legislature should abolish the law for murder. The legislature comes together and takes up the petition, giving it a thorough investigation. It comes to the conclusion to send it to the petitioners to see if they, in their wisdom, are prepared to adopt it as their rule of action. Here is the contract:
"We, the science of God, or the representatives of him and you, after a full and deliberate investigation of the wisdom of this world, have come to the conclusion that the time has arrived when man shall throw off this old law of this world and substitute a higher and better law that shall be set up in everyone's heart, to do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.
Therefore, we, as well as you, do hereby agree and bind ourselves, not strangers, but ourselves, the people of Maine, that we will respect each other as far as your petition goes; and call science to witness that, if we violate this contract, we shall be judged guilty of one of the most disgraceful acts ever done by man. This law shall be placed in the forehead of all those who come into this contract, and the punishment for murder, according to this act, shall not be binding on anyone who signs or comes into this agreement.
So that everyone who commits murder, according to this act, is judged of himself and the world as a murderer; having forfeited all claims to honor, and is looked upon as a murderer and outcast by the world and by the signers of this contract. The old law shall be kept in force for strangers or persons coming among us, but we shall not be punished by the old law of this world. All persons who see fit to murder one of the signers of this contract shall be punished as a murderer and shall be delivered up to the authority of the old laws, to be dealt with according to their laws.
But if a murder is committed by one of the signers of this contract, he shall not be punished by the old law. But if he escapes from the State or is protected by strangers, his name shall be published to all the world as a murderer and outcast from the state of Maine and, of course, is liable to the laws of any other state; and his membership shall not be introduced as proof of good character."
— Belfast, Sep., 1860
P. P. Quimby