The Lectures

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday, January 27) the Majestic Theatre, which seats nearly two thousand persons, was filled with people who had come to listen to a lecture by Carol Norton of New York, given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of this city. The audience was not only large, but very attentive, and listened closely to all that was said. Before and after the lecture there was appropriate music by an orchestra made up partly of members of the church.

Mr. Norton was introduced by Hon. Alfred C. Coxe of Utica, United States District Judge, who said:—

It is possible that some of you may wonder why I am here. I wish to say at the outset, for the benefit of those who are not acquainted with me, that I am not a Christian Scientist. My presence can be accounted for in two ways: First, a wish to please the valued friends who requested me to introduce the lecturer, and, second, a desire to re-affirm and re-assert my unfaltering faith in the God-given right of freedom of speech. You remember that when the religion which, in one form or another, is now accepted by every civilized nation, was first promulgated at Ephesus, at Antioch, and at Rome, the men who taught the new creed of love and pity and self-denial were thrown to the lions in the amphitheatres and were used as torches to light the orgies of pagan emperors. Centuries rolled away, a religion other than that of the meed and lowly Galilean became the religion of the powerful, and obedience to its precepts, as they were interpreted by authority, was enforced by fire and sword. At last the great truth was evolved from fifteen centuries of bloodshed that man is endowed with the inalienable right to worship his Maker according to the dictates of his own conscience. Free thought and free speech are the foundation stones on which this republic rests, and yet I sometimes think that we have forgotten the fearful struggles for religious liberty which sent our forefathers across the sea. True, there is no longer resort to the fagot and the rack, but the old intolerance, the old bigotry, the old brutality are constantly manifesting themselves. Within the recollection of men still living, speakers have been mobbed in this city for demouncing the crime of salvery, and within a few months in a neighboring state disciples of an apparently harmless creed were driven from the city and threatened with death should they return. As an American citizen I protest now and always against the least interference with the right of free discussion. He who proposes to change the existing order of things has at best a thorny path to tread, and the least we can do is to give him an attentive and respectful hearing. Every age on him who strays from its broad and beaten ways pours its sevenfold trial.

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Scientific Christianity
February 14, 1901

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