“Receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

So wrote the great apostle nearly two thousand years ago; and surely in these latter days, when Satan seems visibly loosed upon earth, the words have a special and dreadful significance even for us who— thanks be to God for His unspeakable mercy!— are washed in the blood of the Lamb and freed from the chains of death— and of hell.

Surely this terrible history is a true Sign of the Times. We walk in the last days, and all the abominations spoken of by the apostle are freely practised in our midst. Nay! they are even the boast and the defence of that spectre of evil, Socialism.

The awful drama which the unhappy wretch who penned these horrible utterances has to unfold is alas! too common. Its study may be useful to us as showing the logical outcome of Atheism and Free Love.

For the former, death; for the latter, the death-in-life of a frightful, loathsome, shameful disease.

“Receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

It may seem almost incredible to many of us, perhaps safely established in our comfortable cures, among a simple and Godfearing people, that any man should have been found to pen the disgusting blasphemies, the revolting obscenities, which defile these pages.

Nor can it be denied that a certain power of expression, even at times a certain felicity of phrasing— always, indeed, a profound dramatic feeling— is to be found in these poems. Alas! that we should be compelled to write the words! That an art essentially spiritual, an art dignified by the great names of Gascoigne Mackie, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, George Herbert, should here be prostituted to such “ignoble use”. Truly the corruption of the best is the lowest— corruptio optimi pessima. Nor can one gleam of Hope, even in the infinite mercy of our loving Father, tinge with gold the leprous gloom of our outlook.

These clouds without water have no silver lining.

The unhappy man need not have feared that the poor servants of God would claim him as repentant, though surely we would all have shed the last drop of our blood to bring him to the grace of God. Alas! it was not to be.

The devilish precautions of this human fiend excluded all such possibilities. He died as he had lived, no doubt. Alas! no doubt.

Where is now that spotted soul? There is but one appalling answer to the question. In the “place prepared for the devil and his angels”; for “he that believeth not is condemned already.”

Not even in that modern evasion, the plea of insanity, can we find any hope. Nothing is clearer than that these wretched victims of Satan were in full possession of their faculties to the last moment.

Surely the maniacal violence of their unhallowed lust and hate is no ground for pity but for reprobation. When our blessed Lord was on earth He made no excuses for those who were possessed of devils. He took this simply as a fact— and He healed them.

It is only the shocking atheism and materialism of modern science that, in an insane endeavour to whittle away the miracles of our blessed Saviour, has sought to include “possession” in the category of disease.

Our Lord had no doubts as to the reality of demoniacal possession; why should we, His humble servants, truckle to the Christless cant of an atheistical profession?

The facts of this shocking case are familiar enough in the drawing-rooms of the West End.

Both the characters in the story were persons of considerable education and position.

On this account, and because a statement of the truth (however guarded) would have compromised persons of high rank, and was in any case too disgusting to publish in the press, the tragedy has not— one is glad to say in these days of yellow prurience— become matter for public comment.

But the wife of the man, driven to drink and prostitution by the inhuman cruelty of his mistress— this modern worse than Lucrezia Borgia or Mdme de Brinvilliers— and the fiancé of the girl betrayed and ruined by her machinations, still haunt the purlieus of the Strand, the one an unfortunate of the lowest order, the other a loafer and parasite upon the ghouls that traffic in human flesh and shame.

Thus we see evil reproducing itself, spreading like an incurable cancer throughout society from one germ of infidelity and unhallowed lust.

I may perhaps be blamed for publishing, even in this limited measure, such filthy and blasphemous orgies of human speech (save the mark) but I am firmly resolved (and I believe that I have the blessing of God on my work) to awake my fellow-workers in the great vineyard to the facts of modern existence.

Unblushing, the old Serpent rears its crest to the sky; unashamed, the Beast and the Scarlet Woman chant the blasphemous litanies of their fornication.

Surely the cup of their abominations is nigh full!

Surely we who await the Advent of our blessed Lord are emboldened to trust that this frenzy of wickedness is a sure sign of the last days; that He will shortly come— whose fan is in His hand, wherewith He shall thoroughly purge His floor— and take us His saints— however failing and humble we may be— to be with Him in His glory for ever and ever, while those who have rejected Him burn in eternal torment, with wailing and gnashing of teeth, in that Lake of Fire and Brimstone from which— thank God!— He in his infinite mercy hath delivered us.

But until that happy day we are bound to work on silently and strenuously in His service.

May the perusal of these atrocious words enlighten us as to the very present influence of Satan in this world— naked and unashamed.

May it show us the full horror of the Enemy with whom we are bound to fight; may it reveal his dispositions, so that under our great Captain we may again and again win the Victory.

It is my prayerful hope that He who turns evil to good may indeed use to His glory even this terrible and wicked book.

It has cost me much to read it; to meditate on it has been a terrible shame and trial; to issue it, much against my own poor human judgment, in obedience to His will, has been a still harder task; were it permitted me to ask a recompense, I would ask none but that of His divine blessing upon my fellow-labourers in His great field.