Starting around 1800, an enthusiastic and very eccentric preacher began touring the US, often on horseback, attracting large crowds with his declamatory style and bizarre appearance. Unkempt, far from clean, he yelled and postured, flattered, fascinated and challenged.
Lorenzo Dow died in 1834, and in 1836 his writings were published as Reflections on the Love of God. During his many speeches he had made a point of attacking clergymen who drew attention to the inconsistencies and contradictions within the Bible. This argument appeared in his writings as:
… those who preached it up to make the Bible clash and contradict itself, by preaching something like this: ‘You can and you can’t-You shall and you shan’t-You will and you won’t -And you’ll be damned if you do- And you’ll be damned if you don’t -‘
It is possible that Lorenzo Dow may have influenced the usage of other similar expressions like ‘Between a rock and a hard place’, ‘Between the devil and the deep blue sea’ and ‘A no-win situation’.