Cui bono is the question repeatedly put to the proselytising Atheist by this modern antique class of persons, who cannot see the utility of destroying the vital principle of all religions. But if that principle is false, no sane man can doubt the expediency of proving it so. Falsehood may be useful to individuals, but cannot tend to the moral and political advancement of nations.
Ranters, Wesleyans, and other Nonconformists were regarded as heretics. A religious test was practised, and those who openly avowed their dissent from the established form of worship were frankly told that there was a strong aversion to having that manner of person about the place, and that any attempt at proselytising would be met by immediate expulsion.
In England alone the proselytising spirit is strong, and every parish subscribes liberally to missionary funds in order that labourers in the vineyard may not be wanting, and that the ends of the earth may know the tidings of joy.
Had Froude said nothing at dinners, or on platforms, he might have exercised far more influence behind the scenes. But he was an enthusiast for Federation by means of a South African Conference, and he made a proselytising tour through the Colony. The Dutch welcomed him because he acknowledged their rights.
All eating is a kind of proselytising a kind of dogmatising a maintaining that the eater's way of looking at things is better than the eatee's. We convert the food, or try to do so, to our own way of thinking, and, when it sticks to its own opinion and refuses to be converted, we say it disagrees with us.
In the first place it is certain both that Voltaire's opinions upon those matters were fixed, and that his proselytising habits had begun, long before he came to England. There is curious evidence of this in an anonymous letter, preserved among the archives of the Bastille, and addressed to the head of the police at the time of Voltaire's imprisonment.
But now the hunt was up; priest and soldier were in full cry for my conversion; and the Work of the Propagation of the Faith, for which the people of Cheylard subscribed forty-eight francs ten centimes during 1877, was being gallantly pursued against myself. It was an odd but most effective proselytising.
The appointment, made and accepted without the slightest prejudice to his aggressive spiritual designs and work, at once opened Calcutta itself for the first time to the English proselytising of natives, and supplied Carey with the only means yet lacking for the translation of the Scriptures into all the languages of the farther East.
No longer must he give ear to the far-flung call proclaiming from lofty minarets the unity of God and the Prophet's mission or its cheery, swinging reiteration as the dead are carried to the magenna or "gate of Heaven." Do proselytising missionaries in the Islamic field ever sit down and think what they are really trying to do?
Being supported by little or no genuine religious fanaticism or proselytising ardour, they made few Protestants except in the upper orders, where many conformed in order to keep their land or to enter professions; but they drove nearly all the best and most energetic Catholics to the Continent; they discouraged industry; closed the door of knowledge; taught the people to look upon law as something hostile to religion; introduced division and immorality into families by the rewards they offered to apostasy; and condemned the whole country to poverty and impotence by fatally depressing the great majority of its people.