On page 30 in Cole’s book on Hobbies, he says:
My principal hobbies have been — 1st, The studying of the various religions of mankind; 2nd, The starting and running a peculiar institution called a Book Arcade; 3rd, Preparing and publishing “Much-in-little” books for the people; 4th, Publishing and distributing essays and medals on “the Oneness of Man and the Federation of the whole World.”
The cover of his first religious publication published in 1866 is shown at left – Cole’s Information for the People on the Religions of the World – To be completed in about 20 Parts. The present Number contains Parts 1 and 2. It was prepared and published at the same time as Cole was just starting his bookselling business (see Turnley Chapter 7 and Broinowski Chapter 5). The base of this first publication shows Cole was planning eleven parts containing a rather significant number of pages – 990.
Three ..pdfs of this publication are available:
A. A copy from the private collection of Pearl Cole, annotated by Cole. The 26 page 34MB file is available here.
B. A copy digitised from the SLV. The 27 page 9MB file is available here. The extra page included here, which is missing from the Pearl Cole copy, is the separately-inserted chart of Population of the World Divided into Religious Sects.
C. A copy digitised from the NLA, and includes a colour cover, plus some blank pages making the 63MB file 33 pages long. It is available here.
His next publication, as shown below left, is The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul Part I: Book I – Miraculous History of Jesus. Book II – Jesus and Paul both Honest Visionaries dated 1867. It is interesting to note that Cole claims the group authorship of EDWIC ***, C.W., M.L.D.A., &c. Cole never explained why he claimed joint authorship or his own anonymity, but he gives a hint to the fact he was the only author in the dedication on the following page:
To the Rational Christian of All Denominations This Humble Attempt to Delineate the Real Character of Jesus and Paul is Respectfully Dedicated by the Author.
Two .pdfs of this publication are available:
A. From the SLV, a 3.4MB 77 page file available here.
B. A transcript of the publication including the blue cover as below. The 54 page 2MB file is available here.
These publications caused Cole much condemnation from the public and the churches, but as was his wont, he persisted with his portrayal of religion being subject to the same analysis as any part of life, and expressed his concern that people should keep an open mind, when the following, year 1868, still under the anonymous EDWIC *** but this time without co-authors, Unlimited Mental Freedom Necessary to the Welfare of Man: An Essay Respectfully Addressed to Thoughtful Men. The front cover appears below right.
The back cover of this publication claims that:
Will be published July 20th  Part II of The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul, Price 1s.; by post 1s. 6d. Also, will be ready July 20th, Vol I, containing Parts I and II, of the above work, complete in itself, being an unusual review of the Miraculous History of Jesus. Octavo, cloth, price 3s. 6d.; by post 4s. 6d. Sold by E. W. Cole, 8 Eastern Market, And All Booksellers.
The only known copy of The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul Part II is part of a publication bequeathed to the NLA who’s ex-libris page says Free thought and radical collection bequeathed to the National Library of Australia by Harry Hastings Pearce. Although professionally printed, it is rather strangely assembled and includes three sets of page numbering:
A. Heading pages for The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul
B. A Discourse in Defence of Mental Freedom (pages I – XXIV) (Unlimited Mental Freedom, as above, but with a new title)
C. Contents Pages for The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul (pages V – VIII)
D. The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul – Part I. (Chapters I – VII, pages 3 – 74)
E. The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul – Part II. (Chapters VIII – XVI, pages 75 – 172)
F. To The Reader (single sheet) This has been transcribed and is available as a 2 page .pdf here.
G. Appendix I – Cole’s Information for the People – A Sketch of the Religious Sects of all Nations (pages 1 – 13)
H. Appendix II – Cole’s Information for the People – A Sketch of the Sacred Scriptures of all Nations (pages 15 – 28)
The full 247 page, 44 MB publication from the NLA (nla.obj-2343138632) is available as a .pdf here.
Part F, appearing as page 212 of the 247 page NLA .pdf, is perhaps the clearest indication of Cole’s rationalist view of religion:
We firmly believe that if a number of untutored children were set down in an uninhabited land where they could obtain sustenance, but were entirely isolated from the world, and allowed to multiply and form a new community, that a religion would spontaneously spring up amongst them as a necessary human product – that in the course of many generations consequent on the use of their perceptive and reflective faculties, a faith would grow up in such a community very like those at present existing upon earth, and shewing like them the signs of human virtues, human passions, human hopes and fears, human prejudices, and particularly human egotisms. And we believe that the sooner this great fact – that the religious opinions of mankind are simply, one and all, emanations from the mind of man – is universally realised, and things are allowed to stand on their proper footing, are called by their proper names, and a fair, intelligent start made towards forming a well-considered, clearly-grounded, universal faith in which all humanity can join, the better for the unity, the peace and progress of the world. For ourselves, so firmly do we feel convinced of this, that while we have breath we are determined, regardless of fear or favour, to do the utmost that in us lies to assist in demonstrating this idea, and impressing it upon the minds of men as the object of all others most worthy of their consideration.
Cole’s next publication is shown below left, dated around 1869, An Essay on the Deluge. After some preliminary comments, Cole says …we cannot believe in the Noachian deluge; and the reasons why we cannot, and to which we now respectfully invite his calm impartial attention are as follows:– The following 31 pages go into a point-by-point analysis of the facts to support his assertion.
A 33 page 306KB .pdf transcript of An Essay on the Deluge is available here.
This is followed by a second subject on pages 35 – 48: Attitude of the Clergy Towards Science.
Below right, is Cole’s next foray into the world of religion with his talk on Spiritualism – a paper before the Melbourne Free Discussion Society, on Sunday evening, July 9th 1871. In his typical rationalist approach he starts the second paragraph on the opening page saying: ... if it [spiritualism] is true, it must be placed upon the scientific basis its adherents claim for it, but if it is false it must be proved so and then relegated to the superstitious past, from whence it sprang.
The Selected Works of EW Cole Part III (474 page, 127MB NLA .pdf available here) includes at item 12. God is Truth (below left) followed by God and the Universe (pages 453-6 of .pdf) and as item 7. Religions of the World (below right) on pages 211-4.
Among papers held by Cole’s daughter, Pearl Adelia, is the following, handwritten in pages of a diary dated March, 1896. The untitled work is written partly in afrikaans and partly in english, and translated, edited and given the title The Dissatisfied Man, the text appears underneath. A 2-page, 3MB .pdf of the images below are available here, and a transcript of the text below as a 26KB single page .pdf is available here.
Once upon a time there was a man. And he worked at knocking great pieces of stone out of a huge rock. He worked hard and the money he got was very little. He was not satisfied.
And he said: ‘If I were rich, then I could rest on a couch with pillows of red silk’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’.
And the man was rich and he rested on a couch and the pillows were made of red silk.
And the king of that country passed by with many people on horseback and the king had a golden crown on his head. The rich man was not satisfied and he said: ‘I want to be King’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’ and then he was King.
And the sun shone severely and burned the grass and the sun shone on the face of the King who became angry and said: ‘The sun is stronger than me – I want to be the sun’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’. And he was the sun. And he sent his rays to the right side and to the left side and up and down and burnt the grass and the earth.
Then a cloud appeared and the cloud came between the earth and the sun and the cloud was so dense that the sun’s rays could not go through. And the sun became angry and said: ‘The cloud is stronger than me – I want to be the cloud’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’ and he became the cloud.
And the cloud made big drops that fell onto the earth. The drops became great sheets of rain that formed streams over the land. And the rivers rose and flooded the land taking with it men and cattle and houses.
And the water came to a great rock and the rock would not move and the water struck the rock but the rock stood fast and the cloud was angry and said: ‘The rock is stronger than me. I want to be the rock’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’. And he became the rock.
And there came a man with a hammer and chisel and a crowbar and the man knocked great pieces of stone out of the rock.
And the rock was angry and said: ‘The man is stronger than me. I want to be the man’.
And an angel came out of heaven and said: ‘What you want will happen’.
And he became the man and he knocked great pieces of stone out of the rock.
And he worked hard and the money he got was very little. But he was satisfied.
In 1910, Cole’s youngest daughter, Ivy Diamond, continued the family tradition of book publishing and compiled Golden Gleanings, or texts that have Helped. In her preface, Ivy says:
This volume contains 1,146 of the most happifying short texts, quoted in the Bible; besides the 114 texts which were selected by popular vote, in answer to the question, “What biblical verse influenced your life most?” These little texts – which are printed one on a page – have done an immense amount of good by their loving, hope-giving advice and counsel, and in publishing them in this form, I feel sure some weary, worn souls will find in them hope for the future, and happiness during their brief stay on this planet. They have helped others; brothers and sisters, they will help you too. IVY. D. COLE.
The 240 page book has been digitised by the NLA and the 59MB .pdf file can be accessed here.
The cover above left is a second edition of In Defence of Mental Freedom published in 1917, following the first edition published 49 years earlier in 1868. At right is an imprinted book The Orbs of Heaven by O. M. Mitchell ‘Edited by E. W. Cole’. Cole wrote the preface describing The present volume contains four of the most interesting and instructive of the lectures delivered by Ormsby McKnight Mitchell, the eminent American Astronomer, and published by him under the title of “The Orbs of Heaven.”
A 100 MB, 127 page .pdf of The Orbs of Heaven is available here.