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Paganism In Christianity





Our assertion that that which is called Christianity is nothing more
than the religion of Paganism, we consider to have been fully verified.
We have found among the heathen, centuries before the time of Christ
Jesus, the belief in an incarnate God born of a virgin; his previous
existence in heaven; the celestial signs at the time of his birth; the
rejoicing in heaven; the adoration by the magi and shepherds; the
offerings of precious substances to the divine child; the slaughter of
the innocents; the presentation at the temple; the temptation by the
devil; the performing of miracles; the crucifixion by enemies; and the
death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. We have also found the
belief that this incarnate God was from all eternity; that he was the
Creator of the world, and that he is to be Judge of the dead at the last
day. We have also seen the practice of Baptism, and the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper or Eucharist, added to the belief in a Triune God,
consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Let us now compare the
Christian creed with ancient Pagan belief.

Christian Creed.

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:

Ancient Pagan Belief.

1. I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and
earth:[384:1]

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, Our Lord.

2. And in his only Son, our Lord.[384:2]

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin
Mary.[384:3]

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.

4. Suffered under (whom it might be), was crucified, dead, and
buried.[384:4]

5. He descended into Hell;

5. He descended into Hell;[385:1]

6. The third day he rose again from the dead;

6. The third day he rose again from the dead;[385:2]

7. He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the
Father Almighty;

7. He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of
God the Father Almighty;[385:3]

8. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

8. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the
dead.[385:4]

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost;

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost;[385:5]

10. The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints;

10. The Holy Catholic Church,[385:6] the Communion of Saints;

11. The forgiveness of sins;

11. The forgiveness of sins;[385:7]

12. The resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

12. The resurrection of the body; and the life
everlasting.[385:8]

The above is the so-called "Apostles' Creed," as it now stands in the
book of common prayer of the United Church of England and Ireland, as by
law established.

It is affirmed by Ambrose, that:

"The twelve apostles, as skilled artificers, assembled
together, and made a key by their common advice, that is, the
Creed, by which the darkness of the devil is disclosed, that
the light of Christ may appear."

Others fable that every Apostle inserted an article, by which the Creed
is divided into twelve articles.

The earliest account of its origin we have from Ruffinus, an historical
compiler and traditionist of the fourth century, but not in the form
in which it is known at present, it having been added to since that
time. The most important addition is that which affirms that Jesus
descended into hell, which has been added since A. D. 600.[385:9]

Beside what we have already seen, the ancient Pagans had many beliefs
and ceremonies which are to be found among the Christians. One of these
is the story of "The War in Heaven."

The New Testament version is as follows:

"There was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels, and
prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in
heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent,
called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world,
he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out
with him."[386:1]

The cause of the revolt, it is said, was that Satan, who was then an
angel, desired to be as great as God. The writer of Isaiah, xiv. 13, 14,
is supposed to refer to it when he says:

"Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I
will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also
upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the North;
I will ascend before the heights of the clouds; I will be like
the Most High."

The Catholic theory of the fall of the angels is as follows:

"In the beginning, before the creation of heaven and earth,
God made the angels, free intelligences, and free wills, out
of his love He made them, that they might be eternally happy.
And that their happiness might be complete, he gave them the
perfection of a created nature, that is, he gave them freedom.
But happiness is only attained by the free will agreeing in
its freedom to accord with the will of God. Some of the angels
by an act of free will obeyed the will of God, and in such
obedience found perfect happiness. Other angels, by an act of
free will, rebelled against the will of God, and in such
disobedience found misery."[386:2]

They were driven out of heaven, after having a combat with the obedient
angels, and cast into hell. The writer of second Peter alludes to it
in saying that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down
into hell.[386:3]

The writer of Jude also alludes to it in saying:

"The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their
own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under
darkness unto the judgment of the great day."[386:4]

According to the Talmudists, Satan, whose proper name is Sammael, was
one of the Seraphim of heaven, with six wings.

"He was not driven out of heaven until after he had led Adam
and Eve into sin; then Sammael and his host were precipitated
out of the place of bliss, with God's curse to weigh them
down. In the struggle between Michael and Sammael, the falling
Seraph caught the wings of Michael, and tried to drag him down
with him, but God saved him, when Michael derived his
name,--the Rescued."[386:5]

Sammael was formerly chief among the angels of God, and now he is
prince among devils. His name is derived from Simme, which means, to
blind and deceive. He stands on the left side of men. He goes by various
names; such as "The Old Serpent," "The Unclean Spirit," "Satan,"
"Leviathan," and sometimes also "Asael."[387:1]

According to Hindoo mythology, there is a legion of evil spirits
called Rakshasas, who are governed by a prince named Ravana. These
Rakshasas are continually aiming to do injury to mankind, and are the
same who fought desperate battles with Indra, and his Spirits of
Light. They would have taken his paradise by storm, and subverted the
whole order of the universe, if Brahma had not sent Vishnou to
circumvent their plans.

In the Aitareya-brahmana (Hindoo) written, according to Prof. Monier
Williams, seven or eight centuries B. C., we have the following legend:

"The gods and demons were engaged in warfare.
The evil demons, like to mighty kings,
Made these worlds castles; then they formed the earth
Into an iron citadel, the air
Into a silver fortress, and the sky
Into a fort of gold. Whereat the gods
Said to each other, 'Frame me other worlds
In opposition to these fortresses.'
Then they constructed sacrificial places,
Where they performed a triple burnt oblation.
By the first sacrifice they drove the demons
Out of their earthly fortress, by the second
Out of the air, and by the third oblation
Out of the sky. Thus were the evil spirits
Chased by the gods in triumph from the worlds."[387:2]

The ancient Egyptians were familiar with the tale of the war in
heaven; and the legend of the revolt against the god Ra, the Heavenly
Father, and his destruction of the revolters, was discovered by M.
Naville in one of the tombs at Biban-el-moluk.[387:3]

The same story is to be found among the ancient Persian legends, and
is related as follows:

"Ahriman, the devil, was not created evil by the eternal one,
but he became evil by revolting against his will. This revolt
resulted in a 'war in heaven.' In this war the Iveds (good
angels) fought against the Divs (rebellious ones) headed by
Ahriman, and flung the conquered into Douzahk or
hell."[387:4]

An extract from the Persian Zend-avesta reads as follows:

"Ahriman interrupted the order of the universe, raised an
army against Ormuzd, and having maintained a fight against
him during ninety days, was at length vanquished by Honover,
the divine Word."[388:1]

The Assyrians had an account of a war in heaven, which was like that
described in the book of Enoch and the Revelation.[388:2]

This legend was also to be found among the ancient Greeks, in the
struggle of the Titans against Jupiter. Titan and all his rebellious
host were cast out of heaven, and imprisoned in the dark abyss.[388:3]

Among the legends of the ancient Mexicans was found this same story of
the war in heaven, and the downfall of the rebellious angels.[388:4]

"The natives of the Caroline Islands (in the North Pacific Ocean),
related that one of the inferior gods, named Merogrog, was driven by
the other gods out of heaven."[388:5]

We see, therefore, that this also was an almost universal legend.

The belief in a future life was almost universal among nations of
antiquity. The Hindoos have believed from time immemorial that man has
an invisible body within the material body; that is, a soul.

Among the ancient Egyptians the same belief was to be found. All the
dead, both men and women, were spoken of as "Osiriana;" by which they
intended to signify "gone to Osiris."

Their belief in One Supreme Being, and the immortality of the soul, must
have been very ancient; for on a monument, which dates ages before
Abraham is said to have lived, is found this epitaph: "May thy soul
attain to the Creator of all mankind." Sculptures and paintings in these
grand receptacles of the dead, as translated by Champollion, represent
the deceased ushered into the world of spirits by funeral deities, who
announce, "A soul arrived in Amenti."[388:6]

The Hindoo idea of a subtile invisible body within the material body,
reappeared in the description of Greek poets. They represented the
constitution of man as consisting of three principles: the soul, the
invisible body, and the material body. The invisible body they called
the ghost or shade, and considered it as the material portion of the
soul. At death, the soul, clothed in this subtile body, went to enjoy
paradise for a season, or suffer in hell till its sins were expiated.
This paradise was called the "Elysian Fields," and the hell was called
Tartarus.

The paradise, some supposed to be a part of the lower world, some placed
them in a middle zone in the air, some in the moon, and others in
far-off isles in the ocean. There shone more glorious sun and stars than
illuminated this world. The day was always serene, the air forever pure,
and a soft, celestial light clothed all things in transfigured beauty.
Majestic groves, verdant meadows, and blooming gardens varied the
landscape. The river Eridanus flowed through winding banks fringed with
laurel. On its borders lived heroes who had died for their country,
priests who had led a pure life, artists who had embodied genuine beauty
in their work, and poets who had never degraded their muse with subjects
unworthy of Apollo. There each one renewed the pleasures in which he
formerly delighted. Orpheus, in long white robes, made enrapturing music
on his lyre, while others danced and sang. The husband rejoined his
beloved wife; old friendships were renewed, the poet repeated his
verses, and the charioteer managed his horses.

Some souls wandered in vast forests between Tartarus and Elysium, not
good enough for one, or bad enough for the other. Some were purified
from their sins by exposure to searching winds, others by being
submerged in deep waters, others by passing through intense fires. After
a long period of probation and suffering, many of them gained the
Elysian Fields. This belief is handed down to our day in the Roman
Catholic idea of Purgatory.

A belief in the existence of the soul after death was indicated in all
periods of history of the world, by the fact that man was always
accustomed to address prayers to the spirits of their ancestors.[389:1]

These heavens and hells where men abode after death, vary, in
different countries, according to the likes and dislikes of each nation.

All the Teutonic nations held to a fixed Elysium and a hell, where the
valiant and the just were rewarded, and where the cowardly and the
wicked suffered punishment. As all nations have made a god, and that god
has resembled the persons who made it, so have all nations made a
heaven, and that heaven corresponds to the fancies of the people who
have created it.

In the prose Edda there is a description of the joys of Valhalla (the
Hall of the Chosen), which states that: "All men who have fallen in
fight since the beginning of the world are gone to Odin (the Supreme
God), in Valhalla." A mighty band of men are there, "and every day, as
soon as they have dressed themselves, they ride out into the court (or
field), and there fight until they cut each other into pieces. This is
their pastime, but when the meal-tide approaches, they remount their
steeds, and return to drink in Valhalla. As it is said (in
Vafthrudnis-mal):

'The Einherjar all
On Odin's plain
Hew daily each other,
While chosen the slain are.
From the frey they then ride,
And drink ale with the AEsir.'"[390:1]

This description of the palace of Odin is a natural picture of the
manners of the ancient Scandinavians and Germans. Prompted by the wants
of their climate, and the impulse of their own temperament, they formed
to themselves a delicious paradise in their own way; where they were to
eat and drink, and fight. The women, to whom they assigned a place
there, were introduced for no other purpose but to fill their cups.

The Mohammedan paradise differs from this. Women there, are for man's
pleasure. The day is always serene, the air forever pure, and a soft
celestial light clothes all things in transfigured beauty. Majestic
groves, verdant meadows, and blooming gardens vary the landscape. There,
in radiant halls, dwell the departed, ever blooming and beautiful, ever
laughing and gay.

The American Indian calculates upon finding successful chases after wild
animals, verdant plains, and no winter, as the characteristics of his
"future life."

The red Indian, when told by a missionary that in the "promised land"
they would neither eat, drink, hunt, nor marry a wife, contemptuously
replied, that instead of wishing to go there, he should deem his
residence in such a place as the greatest possible calamity. Many not
only rejected such a destiny for themselves, but were indignant at the
attempt to decoy their children into such a comfortless region.

All nations of the earth have had their heavens. As Moore observes:

"A heaven, too, ye must have, ye lords of dust--
A splendid paradise, poor souls, ye must:
That prophet ill sustains his holy call
Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all.
Vain things! as lust or vanity inspires,
The heaven of each is but what each desires."

Heaven was born of the sky,[391:1] and nurtured by cunning priests,
who made man a coward and a slave.

Hell was built by priests, and nurtured by the fears and servile
fancies of man during the ages when dungeons of torture were a
recognized part of every government, and when God was supposed to be an
infinite tyrant, with infinite resources of vengeance.

The devil is an imaginary being, invented by primitive man to account
for the existence of evil, and relieve God of his responsibility. The
famous Hindoo Rakshasas of our Aryan ancestors--the dark and evil
clouds personified--are the originals of all devils. The cloudy shape
has assumed a thousand different forms, horrible or grotesque and
ludicrous, to suit the changing fancies of the ages.

But strange as it may appear, the god of one nation became the devil of
another.

The rock of Behistun, the sculptured chronicle of the glories of Darius,
king of Persia, situated on the western frontier of Media, on the
high-road from Babylon to the eastward, was used as a "holy of holies."
It was named Bagistane--"the place of the Baga"--referring to
Ormuzd, chief of the Bagas. When examined with the lenses of linguistic
science, the "Bogie" or "Bug-a-boo" or "Bugbear" of nursery lore,
turns out to be identical with the Slavonic "Bog" and the "Baga" of
the cuneiform inscriptions, both of which are names of the Supreme
Being. It is found also in the old Aryan "Bhaga," who is described in
a commentary of the Rig-Veda as the lord of life, the giver of bread,
and the bringer of happiness. Thus, the same name which, to the Vedic
poet, to the Persian of the time of Xerxes, and to the modern Russian,
suggests the supreme majesty of deity, is in English associated with an
ugly and ludicrous fiend. Another striking illustration is to be found
in the word devil itself. When traced back to its primitive source, it
is found to be a name of the Supreme Being.[391:2]

The ancients had a great number of festival days, many of which are
handed down to the present time, and are to be found in Christianity.

We have already seen that the 25th of December was almost a universal
festival among the ancients; so it is the same with the spring
festivals, when days of fasting are observed.

The Hindoos hold a festival, called Siva-ratri, in honor of Siva,
about the middle or end of February. A strict fast is observed during
the day. They have also a festival in April, when a strict fast is kept
by some.[392:1]

At the spring equinox most nations of antiquity set apart a day to
implore the blessings of their god, or gods, on the fruits of the earth.
At the autumnal equinox, they offered the fruits of the harvest, and
returned thanks. In China, these religious solemnities are called
"Festivals of gratitude to Tien."[392:2] The last named corresponds to
our "Thanksgiving" celebration.

One of the most considerable festivals held by the ancient
Scandinavians was the spring celebration. This was held in honor of
Odin, at the beginning of spring, in order to welcome in that pleasant
season, and to obtain of their god happy success in their projected
expeditions.

Another festival was held toward the autumn equinox, when they were
accustomed to kill all their cattle in good condition, and lay in a
store of provision for the winter. This festival was also attended with
religious ceremonies, when Odin, the supreme god, was thanked for what
he had given them, by having his altar loaded with the fruits of their
crops, and the choicest products of the earth.[392:3]

There was a grand celebration in Egypt, called the "Feast of Lamps,"
held at Sais, in honor of the goddess Neith. Those who did not attend
the ceremony, as well as those who did, burned lamps before their houses
all night, filled with oil and salt: thus all Egypt was illuminated. It
was deemed a great irreverence to the goddess for any one to omit this
ceremony.[392:4]

The Hindoos also held a festival in honor of the goddesses Lakshmi and
Bhavanti, called "The feast of Lamps."[392:5] This festival has been
handed down to the present time in what is called "Candlemas day," or
the purification of the Virgin Mary.

The most celebrated Pagan festival held by modern Christians is that
known as "Sunday," or the "Lord's day."

All the principal nations of antiquity kept the seventh day of the
week as a "holy day," just as the ancient Israelites did. This was owing
to the fact that they consecrated the days of the week to the Sun, the
Moon, and the five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The seventh day was sacred to Saturn from time immemorial. Homer and
Hesiod call it the "Holy Day."[393:1] The people generally visited the
temples of the gods, on that day, and offered up their prayers and
supplications.[393:2] The Acadians, thousands of years ago, kept holy
the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of each month as Salum (rest), on which
certain works were forbidden.[393:3] The Arabs anciently worshiped
Saturn under the name of Hobal. In his hands he held seven arrows,
symbols of the planets that preside over the seven days of the
week.[393:4] The Egyptians assigned a day of the week to the sun,
moon, and five planets, and the number seven was held there in great
reverence.[393:5]

The planet Saturn very early became the chief deity of Semitic
religion. Moses consecrated the number seven to him.[393:6]

In the old conception, which finds expression in the Decalogue in
Deuteronomy (v. 15), the Sabbath has a purely theocratic significance,
and is intended to remind the Hebrews of their miraculous deliverance
from the land of Egypt and bondage. When the story of Creation was
borrowed from the Babylonians, the celebration of the Sabbath was
established on entirely new grounds (Ex. xx. 11), for we find it is
because the "Creator," after his six days of work, rested on the
seventh, that the day should be kept holy.

The Assyrians kept this day holy. Mr. George Smith says:

"In the year 1869, I discovered among other things a curious
religious calendar of the Assyrians, in which every month is
divided into four weeks, and the seventh days or
'Sabbaths,' are marked out as days on which no work should
be undertaken."[393:7]

The ancient Scandinavians consecrated one day in the week to their
Supreme God, Odin or Wodin.[393:8] Even at the present time we call
this day Odin's-day.[393:9]

The question now arises, how was the great festival day changed from
the seventh--Saturn's day--to the first--Sun-day--among the
Christians?

"If we go back to the founding of the church, we find that the most
marked feature of that age, so far as the church itself is concerned, is
the grand division between the 'Jewish faction,' as it was called, and
the followers of Paul. This division was so deep, so marked, so
characteristic, that it has left its traces all through the New
Testament itself. It was one of the grand aspects of the time, and the
point on which they were divided was simply this: the followers of
Peter, those who adhered to the teachings of the central church in
Jerusalem, held that all Christians, both converted Jews and Gentiles,
were under obligation to keep the Mosaic law, ordinances, and
traditions. That is, a Christian, according to their definition, was
first a Jew; Christianity was something added to that, not something
taking the place of it.

"We find this controversy raging violently all through the early
churches, and splitting them into factions, so that they were the
occasion of prayer and counsel. Paul took the ground distinctly that
Christianity, while it might be spiritually the lineal successor of
Judaism, was not Judaism; and that he who became a Christian, whether a
converted Jew or Gentile, was under no obligation whatever to keep the
Jewish law, so far as it was separate from practical matters of life and
character. We find this intimated in the writings of Paul; for we have
to go to the New Testament for the origin of that which, we find,
existed immediately after the New Testament was written. Paul says: 'One
man esteemeth one day above another: another man esteemeth every day
alike' (Rom. xiv. 5-9). He leaves it an open question; they can do as
they please. Then: 'Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I
am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain' (Gal. iv.
10, 11). And if you will note this Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, you
will find that the whole purpose of his writing it was to protest
against what he believed to be the viciousness of the Judaizing
influences. That is, he says: 'I have come to preach to you the perfect
truth, that Christ hath made us free; and you are going back and taking
upon yourselves this yoke of bondage. My labor is being thrown away; my
efforts have been in vain.' Then he says, in his celebrated Epistle to
the Colossians, that has never yet been explained away or met: 'Let no
man therefore judge you any more in meat, or in drink, or in respect of
an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days' (Col. ii. 16,
17), distinctly abrogating the binding authority of the Sabbath on the
Christian church. So that, if Paul's word anywhere means anything--if
his authority is to be taken as of binding force on any point
whatever--then Paul is to be regarded as authoritatively and distinctly
abrogating the Sabbath, and declaring that it is no longer binding on
the Christian church."[395:1]

This breach in the early church, this controversy, resulted at last in
Paul's going up to Jerusalem "to meet James and the representatives of
the Jerusalem church, to see if they could find any common platform of
agreement--if they could come together so that they could work with
mutual respect and without any further bickering. What is the platform
that they met upon? It was distinctly understood that those who wished
to keep up the observance of Judaism should do so; and the church at
Jerusalem gave Paul this grand freedom, substantially saying to him: 'Go
back to your missionary work, found churches, and teach them that they
are perfectly free in regard to all Mosaic and Jewish observances, save
only these four: Abstain from pollutions of idols, from fornication,
from things strangled, and from blood."[395:2]

The point to which our attention is forcibly drawn is, that the question
of Sabbath-keeping is one of those that is left out. The point that Paul
had been fighting for was conceded by the central church at Jerusalem,
and he was to go out thenceforth free, so far as that was concerned, in
his teaching of the churches that he should found.

There is no mention of the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, as binding in the
New Testament. What, then, was the actual condition of affairs? What did
the churches do in the first three hundred years of their existence?
Why, they did just what Paul and the Jerusalem church had agreed upon.
Those who wished to keep the Jewish Sabbath did so; and those who did
not wish to, did not do so. This is seen from the fact that Justin
Martyr, a Christian Father who flourished about A. D. 140, did not
observe the day. In his "Dialogue" with Typho, the Jew reproaches the
Christians for not keeping the "Sabbath." Justin admits the charge by
saying:

"Do you not see that the Elements keep no Sabbaths and are
never idle? Continue as you were created. If there was no need
of circumcision before Abraham's time, and no need of the
Sabbath, of festivals and oblations, before the time of Moses,
neither of them are necessary after the coming of Christ. If
any among you is guilty of perjury, fraud, or other crimes,
let him cease from them and repent, and he will have kept
the kind of Sabbath pleasing to God."

There was no binding authority then, among the Christians, as to
whether they should keep the first or the seventh day of the week holy,
or not, until the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor.
"Constantine, a Sun worshiper, who had, as other Heathen, kept the
Sun-day, publicly ordered this to supplant the Jewish Sabbath."[396:1]
He commanded that this day should be kept holy, throughout the whole
Roman empire, and sent an edict to all governors of provinces to this
effect.[396:2] Thus we see how the great Pagan festival, in honor of
Sol the invincible, was transformed into a Christian holy-day.

Not only were Pagan festival days changed into Christian holy-days, but
Pagan idols were converted into Christian saints, and Pagan temples into
Christian churches.

A Pagan temple at Rome, formerly sacred to the "Bona Dea" (the "Good
Goddess"), was Christianized and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In a
place formerly sacred to Apollo, there now stands the church of Saint
Apollinaris. Where there anciently stood the temple of Mars, may now be
seen the church of Saint Martine.[396:3] A Pagan temple, originally
dedicated to "Caelestis Dea" (the "Heavenly Goddess"), by one Aurelius,
a Pagan high-priest, was converted into a Christian church by another
Aurelius, created Bishop of Carthage in the year 390 of Christ. He
placed his episcopal chair in the very place where the statue of the
Heavenly Goddess had stood.[396:4]

The noblest heathen temple now remaining in the world, is the Pantheon
or Rotunda, which, as the inscription over the portico informs us,
having been impiously dedicated of old by Agrippa to "Jove and all the
gods," was piously reconsecrated by Pope Boniface the Fourth, to "The
Mother of God and all the Saints."[396:5]

The church of Saint Reparatae, at Florence, was formerly a Pagan temple.
An inscription was found in the foundation of this church, of these
words: "To the Great Goddess Nutria."[396:6] The church of St. Stephen,
at Bologna, was formed from heathen temples, one of which was a temple
of Isis.[396:7]

At the southern extremity of the present Forum at Rome, and just under
the Palatine hill--where the noble babes, who, miraculously preserved,
became the founders of a state that was to command the world, were
exposed--stands the church of St. Theodore.

This temple was built in honor of Romulus, and the brazen
wolf--commemorating the curious manner in which the founders of Rome
were nurtured--occupied a place here till the sixteenth century. And, as
the Roman matrons of old used to carry their children, when ill, to the
temple of Romulus, so too, the women still carry their children to St.
Theodore on the same occasions.

In Christianizing these Pagan temples, free use was made of the
sculptured and painted stones of heathen monuments. In some cases they
evidently painted over one name, and inserted another. This may be seen
from the following

INSCRIPTIONS FORMERLY IN PAGAN TEMPLES.

1. To Mercury and Minerva, Tutelary Gods.

and

INSCRIPTIONS NOW IN CHRISTIAN CHURCHES.

1. To St. Mary and St. Francis, My Tutelaries.

2. To the Gods who preside over this Temple.

2. To the Divine Eustrogius, who presides over this Temple.

3. To the Divinity of Mercury the Availing, the Powerful, the
Unconquered.

3. To the Divinity of St. George the Availing, the Powerful,
the Unconquered.

4. Sacred to the Gods and Goddesses, with Jove the best and greatest.

4. Sacred to the presiding helpers, St. George and St.
Stephen, with God the best and greatest.

5. Venus' Pigeon.

5. The Holy Ghost represented as a Pigeon.

6. The Mystical Letters I. H. S.[397:1]

6. The Mystical Letters I. H. S.[397:2]

In many cases the Images of the Pagan gods were allowed to remain in
these temples, and, after being Christianized, continued to receive
divine honors.[397:3]

"In St. Peter's, Rome, is a statue of Jupiter, deprived of his
thunderbolt, which is replaced by the emblematic keys. In like manner,
much of the religion of the lower orders, which we regard as essentially
Christian, is ancient heathenism, refitted with Christian
symbols."[397:4] We find that as early as the time of St. Gregory,
Bishop of Neo-Cesarea (A. D. 243), the "simple" and "unskilled"
multitudes of Christians were allowed to pay divine honors to these
images, hoping that in the process of time they would learn
better.[398:1] In fact, as Prof. Draper says:

"Olympus was restored, but the divinities passed under other
names. The more powerful provinces insisted upon the adoption
of their time-honored conceptions. . . . Not only was the
adoration of ISIS under a new name restored, but even her
image, standing on the crescent moon, reappeared. The
well-known effigy of that goddess with the infant Horus in her
arms, has descended to our days in the beautiful, artistic
creations of the Madonna and child. Such restorations of old
conceptions under novel forms were everywhere received with
delight. When it was announced to the Ephesians, that the
Council of that place, headed by Cyril, had declared that the
Virgin (Mary) should be called the 'Mother of God,' with
tears of joy they embraced the knees of their bishop; it was
the old instinct cropping out; their ancestors would have done
the same for Diana."[398:2]

"O bright goddess; once again
Fix on earth thy heav'nly reign;
Be thy sacred name ador'd,
Altars rais'd, and rites restor'd."

Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople from 428 A. D., refused to call Mary
"the mother of God," on the ground that she could be the mother of the
human nature only, which the divine Logos used as its organ. Cyril,
Bishop of Alexandria, did all in his power to stir up the minds of the
people against Nestorius; the consequence was that, both at Rome and at
Alexandria, Nestorius was accused of heresy. The dispute grew more
bitter, and Theodosius II. thought it necessary to convoke an
OEcumenical Council at Ephesus in 431. On this, as on former occasions,
the affirmative party overruled the negative. The person of Mary began
to rise in the new empyrean. The paradoxical name of "Mother of God"
pleased the popular piety. Nestorius was condemned, and died in exile.

The shrine of many an old hero was filled by the statue of some
imaginary saint.

"They have not always" (says Dr. Conyers Middleton), "as I am
well informed, given themselves the trouble of making even
this change, but have been contented sometimes to take up with
the old image, just as they found it; after baptizing it
only, as it were, or consecrating it anew, by the imposition
of a Christian name. This their antiquaries do not scruple to
put strangers in mind of, in showing their churches, as it
was, I think, in that of St. Agnes, where they showed me an
antique statue of a young BACCHUS, which, with a new name,
and some little change of drapery, stands now worshiped under
the title of a female saint."[398:3]

In many parts of Italy are to be seen pictures of the "Holy Family," of
extreme antiquity, the grounds of them often of gold.

These pictures represent the mother with a child on her knee, and a
little boy standing close by her side; the Lamb is generally seen in
the picture. They are inscribed "Deo Soli," and are simply ancient
representations of Isis and Horus. The Lamb is "The Lamb that taketh
away the sins of the world," which, as we have already seen, was
believed on in the Pagan world centuries before the time of Christ
Jesus.[399:1] Some half-pagan Christian went so far as to forge a book,
which he attributed to Christ Jesus himself, which was for the purpose
of showing that he--Christ Jesus--was in no way against these heathen
gods.[399:2]

The Icelanders were induced to embrace Christianity, with its legends
and miracles, and sainted divinities, as the Christian monks were ready
to substitute for Thor, their warrior-god, Michael, the warrior-angel;
for Freyja, their goddess, the Virgin Mary; and for the god Vila, a St.
Valentine--probably manufactured for the occasion.

"The statues of Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Orpheus, did duty for The
Christ.[399:3] The Thames River god officiates at the baptism of Jesus
in the Jordan. Peter holds the keys of Janus.[399:4] Moses wears the
horns of Jove. Ceres, Cybele, Demeter assume new names, as 'Queen of
Heaven,' 'Star of the Sea,' 'Maria Illuminatrix;' Dionysius is St.
Denis; Cosmos is St. Cosmo; Pluto and Proserpine resign their seats in
the hall of final judgment to the Christ and his mother. The Parcae
depute one of their number, Lachesis, the disposer of lots, to set the
stamp of destiny upon the deaths of Christian believers. The aura
placida of the poets, the gentle breeze, is personified as Aura and
Placida. The perpetua felicitas of the devotee becomes a lovely
presence in the forms of St. Perpetua and St. Felicitas, guardian angels
of the pious soul. No relic of Paganism was permitted to remain in its
casket. The depositories were all ransacked. The shadowy hands of
Egyptian priests placed the urn of holy water at the porch of the
basilica, which stood ready to be converted into a temple. Priests of
the most ancient faiths of Palestine, Assyria, Babylon, Thebes, Persia
were permitted to erect the altar at the point where the transverse beam
of the cross meets the main stem. The hands that constructed the temple
in cruciform shape had long become too attenuated to cast the faintest
shadow. There Devaki with the infant Crishna, Maya with the babe Buddha,
Juno with the child Mars, represent Mary with Jesus in her arms. Coarse
emblems are not rejected; the Assyrian dove is a tender symbol of the
Holy Ghost. The rag-bags and toy boxes were explored. A bauble which the
Roman schoolboy had thrown away was picked up, and called an 'agnus
dei.' The musty wardrobes of forgotten hierarchies furnished costumes
for the officers of the new prince. Alb and chasuble recalled the
fashions of Numa's day. The cast-off purple habits and shoes of Pagan
emperors beautified the august persons of Christian popes. The cardinals
must be contented with the robes once worn by senators. Zoroaster bound
about the monks the girdle he invented as a protection against evil
spirits, and clothed them in the frocks he had found convenient for his
ritual. The pope thrust out his foot to be kissed, as Caligula,
Heliogabalus, and Julius Cesar had thrust out theirs. Nothing came amiss
to the faith that was to discharge henceforth the offices of spiritual
impression."[400:1]

The ascetic and monastic life practiced by some Christians of the
present day, is of great antiquity. Among the Buddhists there are
priests who are ordained, tonsured, live in monasteries, and make vows
of celibacy. There are also nuns among them, whose vows and discipline
are the same as the priests.[400:2]

The close resemblance between the ancient religion of Thibet and
Nepaul--where the worship of a crucified God was found--and the Roman
Catholic religion of the present day, is very striking. In Thibet was
found the pope, or head of the religion, whom they called the "Dalai
Lama;"[400:3] they use holy water, they celebrate a sacrifice with bread
and wine; they give extreme unction, pray for the sick; they have
monasteries, and convents for women; they chant in their services, have
fasts; they worship one God in a trinity, believe in a hell, heaven, and
a half-way place or purgatory; they make prayers and sacrifices for the
dead, have confession, adore the cross; have chaplets, or strings of
beads to count their prayers, and many other practices common to the
Roman Catholic Church.[400:4]

The resemblance between Buddhism and Christianity has been remarked by
many travelers in the eastern countries. Sir John Francis Davis, in his
"History of China," speaking of Buddhism in that country, says:

"Certain it is--and the observance may be daily made even at
Canton--that they (the Buddhist priests) practice the
ordinances of celibacy, fasting, and prayers for the dead;
they have holy water, rosaries of beads, which they count with
their prayers, the worship of relics, and a monastic habit
resembling that of the Franciscans" (an order of Roman
Catholic monks).

Pere Premere, a Jesuit missionary to China, was driven to conclude that
the devil had practiced a trick to perplex his friends, the Jesuits. To
others, however, it is not so difficult to account for these things as
it seemed for the good Father. Sir John continues his account as
follows:

"These priests are associated in monasteries attached to the
temples of Fo. They are in China precisely a society of
mendicants, and go about, like monks of that description in
the Romish Church, asking alms for the support of their
establishment. Their tonsure extends to the hair of the whole
head. There is a regular gradation among the priesthood; and
according to his reputation for sanctity, his length of
service and other claims, each priest may rise from the lowest
rank of servitor--whose duty it is to perform the menial
offices of the temple--to that of officiating priest--and
ultimately of 'Tae Hoepang,' Abbot or head of the
establishment."

The five principal precepts, or rather interdicts, addressed to the
Buddhist priests are:

1. Do not kill.
2. Do not steal.
3. Do not marry.
4. Speak not falsely.
5. Drink no wine.

Poo-ta-la is the name of a monastery, described in Lord Macartney's
mission, and is an extensive establishment, which was found in
Manchow-Tartary, beyond the great wall. This building offered shelter to
no less than eight hundred Chinese Buddhist priests.[401:1]

The Rev. Mr. Gutzlaff, in his "Journal of Voyages along the coast of
China," tells us that he found the Buddhist "Monasteries, nuns, and
friars very numerous;" and adds that: "their priests are generally very
ignorant."[401:2]

This reminds us of the fact that, for centuries during the "dark ages"
of Christianity, Christian bishops and prelates, the teachers, spiritual
pastors and masters, were mostly marksmen, that is, they supplied, by
the sign of the cross, their inability to write their own name.[402:1]
Many of the bishops in the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, it is
said, could not write their names. Ignorance was not considered a
disqualification for ordination. A cloud of ignorance overspread the
whole face of the Church, hardly broken by a few glimmering lights, who
owe almost the whole of their distinction to the surrounding
darkness.[402:2]

One of the principal objects of curiosity to the Europeans who first
went to China, was a large monastery at Canton. This monastery, which
was dedicated to Fo, or Buddha, and which is on a very large scale, is
situated upon the southern side of the river. There are extensive
grounds surrounding the building, planted with trees, in the center of
which is a broad pavement of granite, which is kept very clean. An
English gentleman, Mr. Bennett, entered this establishment, which he
fully describes. He says that after walking along this granite pavement,
they entered a temple, where the priesthood happened to be assembled,
worshiping. They were arranged in rows, chanting, striking gongs, &c.
These priests, with their shaven crowns, and arrayed in the yellow robes
of the religion, appeared to go through the mummery with devotion. As
soon as the mummery had ceased, the priests all flocked out of the
temple, adjourned to their respective rooms, divested themselves of
their official robes, and the images--among which were evidently
representations of Shin-moo, the "Holy Mother," and "Queen of Heaven,"
and "The Three Pure Ones,"--were left to themselves, with lamps burning
before them.

To expiate sin, offerings made to these priests are--according to the
Buddhist idea--sufficient. To facilitate the release of some unfortunate
from purgatory, they said masses. Their prayers are counted by means of
a rosary, and they live in a state of celibacy.

Mr. Gutzlaff, in describing a temple dedicated to Buddha, situated on
the island of Poo-ta-la, says:

"We were present at the vespers of the priests, which they
chanted in the Pali language, not unlike the Latin service of
the Romish church. They held their rosaries in their hands,
which rested folded upon their breasts. One of them had a
small bell, by the tingling of which the service was
regulated."

The Buddhists in India have similar institutions. The French
missionary, M. L'Abbe Huc, says of them:

"The Buddhist ascetic not aspiring to elevate himself only, he
practiced virtue and applied himself to perfection to make
other men share in its belief; and by the institution of an
order of religious mendicants, which increased to an immense
extent, he attached towards him, and restored to society, the
poor and unfortunate. It was, indeed, precisely because Buddha
received among his disciples miserable creatures who were
outcasts from the respectable class of India, that he became
an object of mockery to the Brahmins. But he merely replied to
their taunts, 'My law is a law of mercy for all.'"[403:1]

In the words of Viscount Amberly, we can say that, "Monasticism, in
countries where Buddhism reigns supreme, is a vast and powerful
institution."

The Essenes, of whom we shall speak more fully anon, were an order of
ascetics, dwelling in monasteries. Among the order of Pythagoras, which
was very similar to the Essenes, there was an order of nuns.[403:2] The
ancient Druids admitted females into their sacred order, and initiated
them into the mysteries of their religion.[403:3] The priestesses of the
Saxon Frigga devoted themselves to perpetual virginity.[403:4] The
vestal virgins[403:5] were bound by a solemn vow to preserve their
chastity for a space of thirty years.[403:6]

The Egyptian priests of Isis were obliged to observe perpetual
chastity.[403:7] They were also tonsured like the Buddhist
priests.[403:8] The Assyrian, Arabian, Persian and Egyptian priests wore
white surplices,[403:9] and so did the ancient Druids. The Corinthian
Aphrodite had her Hierodoulio, the pure Gerairai ministered to the
goddess of the Parthenon, the altar of the Latin Vesta was tended by her
chosen virgins, and the Romish "Queen of Heaven" has her nuns.

When the Spaniards had established themselves in Mexico and Peru, they
were astonished to find, among other things which closely resembled
their religion, monastic institutions on a large scale.

The Rev. Father Acosta, in his "Natural and Moral History of the
Indies," says:

"There is one thing worthy of special regard, the which is,
how the Devil, by his pride, hath opposed himself to God; and
that which God, by his wisdom, hath decreed for his honor and
service, and for the good and health of man, the devil strives
to imitate and pervert, to be honored, and to cause men to be
damned: for as we see the great God hath Sacrifices, Priests,
Sacraments, Religious Prophets, and Ministers, dedicated to
his divine service and holy ceremonies, so likewise the devil
hath his Sacrifices, Priests, his kinds of Sacraments, his
Ministers appointed, his secluded and feigned holiness, with a
thousand sorts of false prophets."[403:10]

"We find among all the nations of the world, men especially
dedicated to the service of the true God, or to the false,
which serve in sacrifices, and declare unto the people what
their gods command them. There was in Mexico a strange
curiosity upon this point. And the devil, counterfeiting the
use of the church of God, hath placed in the order of his
Priests, some greater or superiors, and some less, the one as
Acolites, the other as Levites, and that which hath made most
to wonder, was, that the devil would usurp to himself the
service of God; yea, and use the same name: for the Mexicans
in their ancient tongue call their high priests Papes, as
they should say sovereign bishops, as it appears now by their
histories."[404:1]

In Mexico, within the circuit of the great temple, there were two
monasteries, one for virgins, the other for men, which they called
religious. These men lived poorly and chastely, and did the office of
Levites.[404:2]

"These priests and religious men used great fastings, of five
or ten days together, before any of their great feasts, and
they were unto them as our four ember week; they were so
strict in continence that some of them (not to fall into any
sensuality) slit their members in the midst, and did a
thousand things to make themselves unable, lest they should
offend their gods."[404:3]

"There were in Peru many monasteries of virgins (for there are
no other admitted), at the least one in every province. In
these monasteries there were two sorts of women, one ancient,
which they called Mamacomas (mothers), for the instruction of
the young, and the other was of young maidens placed there for
a certain time, and after they were drawn forth, either for
their gods or for the Inca." "If any of the Mamacomas or
Acllas were found to have trespassed against their honor, it
was an inevitable chastisement to bury them alive or to put
them to death by some other kind of cruel torment."[404:4]

The Rev. Father concludes by saying:

"In truth it is very strange to see that this false opinion of
religion hath so great force among these young men and maidens
of Mexico, that they will serve the devil with so great rigor
and austerity, which many of us do not in the service of the
most high God, the which is a great shame and
confusion."[404:5]

The religious orders of the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians are described
at length in Lord Kingsborough's "Mexican Antiquities," and by most
every writer on ancient Mexico. Differing in minor details, the grand
features of self-consecration are everywhere the same, whether we look
to the saintly Rishis of ancient India, to the wearers of the yellow
robe in China or Ceylon, to the Essenes among the Jews, to the devotees
of Vitziliputzli in pagan Mexico, or to the monks and nuns of Christian
times in Africa, in Asia, and in Europe. Throughout the various creeds
of these distant lands there runs the same unconquerable impulse,
producing the same remarkable effects.

The "Sacred Heart," was a great mystery with the ancients.

Horus, the Egyptian virgin-born Saviour, was represented carrying the
sacred heart outside on his breast. Vishnu, the Mediator and Preserver
of the Hindoos, was also represented in that manner. So was it with
Bel of Babylon.[405:1] In like manner, Christ Jesus, the Christian
Saviour, is represented at the present day.

The amulets or charms which the Roman Christians wear, to drive away
diseases, and to protect them from harm, are other relics of paganism.
The ancient pagans wore these charms for the same purpose. The name of
their favorite god was generally inscribed upon them, and we learn by a
quotation from Chrysostom that the Christians at Antioch used to bind
brass coins of Alexander the Great about their heads, to keep off or
drive away diseases.[405:2] The Christians also used amulets with the
name or monogram of the god Serapis engraved thereon, which show that
it made no difference whether the god was their own or that of another.
Even the charm which is worn by the Christians at the present day, has
none other than the monogram of Bacchus engraved thereon, i. e., I.
H. S.[405:3]

The ancient Roman children carried around their necks a small ornament
in the form of a heart, called Bulla. This was imitated by the early
Christians. Upon their ancient monuments in the Vatican, the heart is
very common, and it may be seen in numbers of old pictures. After some
time it was succeeded by the Agnus Dei, which, like the ancient
Bulla, was supposed to avert dangers from the children and the wearers
of them. Cardinal Baronius (an eminent Roman Catholic ecclesiastical
historian, born at Sora, in Naples, A. D. 1538) says, that those who
have been baptized carry pendent from their neck an Agnus Dei, in
imitation of a devotion of the Pagans, who hung to the neck of their
children little bottles in the form of a heart, which served as
preservatives against charms and enchantments. Says Mr. Cox:

"That ornaments in the shape of a vesica have been popular
in all countries as preservatives against dangers, and
especially from evil spirits, can as little be questioned as
the fact that they still retain some measure of their ancient
popularity in England, where horse-shoes are nailed to walls
as a safeguard against unknown perils, where a shoe is thrown
by way of good-luck after newly-married couples, and where the
villagers have not yet ceased to dance round the May-pole on
the green."[405:4]

All of these are emblems of either the Linga or Yoni.

The use of amulets was carried to the most extravagant excess in
ancient Egypt, and their Sacred Book of the Dead, even in its earliest
form, shows the importance attached to such things.[406:1]

We can say with M. Renan that:

"Almost all our superstitions are the remains of a religion
anterior to Christianity, and which Christianity has not been
able entirely to root out."[406:2]

Baptismal fonts were used by the pagans, as well as the little cisterns
which are to be seen at the entrance of Catholic churches. In the temple
of Apollo, at Delphi, there were two of these; one of silver, and the
other of gold.[406:3]

Temples always faced the east, to receive the rays of the rising sun.
They contained an outer court for the public, and an inner sanctuary for
the priests, called the "Adytum." Near the entrance was a large
vessel, of stone or brass, filled with water, made holy by plunging into
it a burning torch from the altar. All who were admitted to the
sacrifices were sprinkled with this water, and none but the unpolluted
were allowed to pass beyond it. In the center of the building stood the
statue of the god, on a pedestal raised above the altar and enclosed by
a railing. On festival occasions, the people brought laurel, olive, or
ivy, to decorate the pillars and walls. Before they entered they always
washed their hands, as a type of purification from sin.[406:4] A story
is told of a man who was struck dead by a thunderbolt because he omitted
this ceremony when entering a temple of Jupiter. Sometimes they crawled
up the steps on their knees, and bowing their heads to the ground,
kissed the threshold. Always when they passed one of these sacred
edifices they kissed their right hand to it, in token of veneration.

In all the temples of Vishnu, Crishna, Rama, Durga, and Kali, in India,
there are to be seen idols before which lights and incense are burned.
Moreover, the idols of these gods are constantly decorated with flowers
and costly ornaments, especially on festive occasions.[406:5] The
ancient Egyptian worship had a great splendor of ritual. There was a
morning service, a kind of mass, celebrated by a priest, shorn and
beardless; there were sprinklings of holy water, &c., &c.[406:6] All of
this kind of worship was finally adopted by the Christians.

The sublime and simple theology of the primitive Christians was
gradually corrupted and degraded by the introduction of a popular
mythology, which tended to restore the reign of polytheism.

As the objects of religion were gradually reduced to the standard of the
imagination, the rites and ceremonies were introduced that seemed most
powerfully to affect the senses of the vulgar. If, in the beginning of
the fifth century, Tertullian, or Lactantius, had been suddenly raised
from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint or
martyr, they would have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the
profane spectacle, which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship
of a Christian congregation.[407:1]

Dr. Draper, in speaking of the early Christian Church, says:

"Great is the difference between Christianity under Severus
(born 146) and Christianity under Constantine (born 274). Many
of the doctrines which at the latter period were pre-eminent,
in the former were unknown. Two causes led to the amalgamation
of Christianity with Paganism. 1. The political necessities of
the new dynasty: 2. The policy adopted by the new religion to
insure its spread.

"Though the Christian party had proved itself sufficiently
strong to give a master to the empire, it was never
sufficiently strong to destroy its antagonist, Paganism. The
issue of the struggle between them was an amalgamation of the
principles of both. In this, Christianity differed from
Mohammedanism, which absolutely annihilated its antagonist,
and spread its own doctrines without adulteration.

"Constantine continually showed by his acts that he felt he
must be the impartial sovereign of all his people, not merely
the representative of a successful faction. Hence, if he built
Christian churches, he also restored Pagan temples; if he
listened to the clergy, he also consulted the haruspices; if
he summoned the Council of Nicea, he also honored the statue
of Fortune; if he accepted the rite of Baptism, he also struck
a medal bearing his title of 'God.' His statue, on top of the
great porphyry pillar at Constantinople, consisted of an
ancient image of Apollo, whose features were replaced by those
of the emperor, and its head surrounded by the nails feigned
to have been used at the crucifixion of Christ, arranged so as
to form a crown of glory.

"Feeling that there must be concessions to the defeated Pagan
party, in accordance with its ideas, he looked with favor on
the idolatrous movements of his court. In fact, the leaders of
these movements were persons of his own family.

"To the emperor,--a mere worldling--a man without any
religious convictions, doubtless it appeared best for himself,
best for the empire, and best for the contending parties,
Christian and Pagan, to promote their union or amalgamation
as much as possible. Even sincere Christians do not seem to
have been averse to this; perhaps they believed that the new
doctrines would diffuse most thoroughly by incorporating in
themselves ideas borrowed from the old; that Truth would
assert herself in the end, and the impurities be cast off. In
accomplishing this amalgamation, Helen, the Empress-mother,
aided by the court ladies, led the way.

"As years passed on, the faith described by Tertullian (A. D.
150-195) was transformed into one more fashionable and more
debased. It was incorporated with the old Greek mythology.
Olympus was restored, but the divinities passed under new
names. . . .

"Heathen rites were adopted, a pompous and splendid ritual,
gorgeous robes, mitres, tiaras, wax-tapers, processional
services, lustrations, gold and silver vases, were introduced.

"The festival of the Purification of the Virgin was invented
to remove the uneasiness of heathen converts on account of the
loss of their Lupercalia, or feasts of Pan.

"The apotheosis of the old Roman times was replaced by
canonization; tutelary saints succeeded to local
mythological divinities. Then came the mystery of
transubstantiation, or the conversion of bread and wine by
the priest into the flesh and blood of Christ. As centuries
passed, the paganization became more and more
complete."[408:1]

The early Christian saints, bishops, and fathers, confessedly adopted
the liturgies, rites, ceremonies, and terms of heathenism; making it
their boast, that the pagan religion, properly explained, really was
nothing else than Christianity; that the best and wisest of its
professors, in all ages, had been Christians all along; that
Christianity was but a name more recently acquired to a religion which
had previously existed, and had been known to the Greek philosophers, to
Plato, Socrates, and Heraclitus; and that "if the writings of Cicero had
been read as they ought to have been, there would have been no occasion
for the Christian Scriptures."

And our Protestant, and most orthodox Christian divines, the best
learned on ecclesiastical antiquity, and most entirely persuaded of the
truth of the Christian religion, unable to resist or to conflict with
the constraining demonstration of the data that prove the absolute
sameness and identity of Paganism and Christianity, and unable to point
out so much as one single idea or notion, of which they could show that
it was peculiar to Christianity, or that Christianity had it, and
Paganism had it not, have invented the apology of an hypothesis, that
the Pagan religion was typical, and that Crishna, Buddha, Bacchus,
Hercules, Adonis, Osiris, Horus, &c., were all of them types and
forerunners of the true and real Saviour, Christ Jesus. Those who
are satisfied with this kind of reasoning are certainly welcome to it.

That Christianity is nothing more than Paganism under a new name, has,
as we said above, been admitted over and over again by the Fathers of
the Church, and others. Aringhus (in his account of subterraneous Rome)
acknowledges the conformity between the Pagan and Christian form of
worship, and defends the admission of the ceremonies of heathenism into
the service of the Church, by the authority of the wisest prelates and
governors, whom, he says, found it necessary, in the conversion of the
Gentiles, to dissemble, and wink at many things, and yield to the times;
and not to use force against customs which the people were so
obstinately fond of.[409:1]

Melito (a Christian bishop of Sardis), in an apology delivered to the
Emperor Marcus Antoninus, in the year 170, claims the patronage of the
emperor, for the now called Christian religion, which he calls "our
philosophy," "on account of its high antiquity, as having been
imported from countries lying beyond the limits of the Roman empire,
in the region of his ancestor Augustus, who found its importation
ominous of good fortune to his government."[409:2] This is an absolute
demonstration that Christianity did not originate in Judea, which was
a Roman province, but really was an exotic oriental fable, imported
from India, and that Paul was doing as he claimed, viz.: preaching a God
manifest in the flesh who had been "believed on in the world" centuries
before his time, and a doctrine which had already been preached "unto
every creature under heaven."

Baronius (an eminent Catholic ecclesiastical historian) says:

"It is permitted to the Church to use, for the purpose of
piety, the ceremonies which the pagans used for the purpose
of impiety in a superstitious religion, after having first
expiated them by consecration--to the end, that the devil
might receive a greater affront from employing, in honor of
Jesus Christ, that which his enemy had destined for his own
service."[409:3]

Clarke, in his "Evidences of Revealed Religion," says:

"Some of the ancient writers of the church have not scrupled
expressly to call the Athenian Socrates, and some others of
the best of the heathen moralists, by the name of
Christians, and to affirm, as the law was as it were a
schoolmaster, to bring the Jews unto Christ, so true moral
philosophy was to the Gentiles a preparative to receive the
gospel."[409:4]

Clemens Alexandrinus says:

"Those who lived according to the Logos were really
Christians, though they have been thought to be atheists; as
Socrates and Heraclitus were among the Greeks, and such as
resembled them."[409:5]

And St. Augustine says:

"That, in our times, is the Christian religion, which to
know and follow is the most sure and certain health, called
according to that name, but not according to the thing
itself, of which it is the name; for the thing itself which is
now called the Christian religion, really was known to the
ancients, nor was wanting at any time from the beginning of
the human race, until the time when Christ came in the flesh,
from whence the true religion, which had previously existed,
began to be called Christian; and this in our days is the





Next: Why Christianity Prospered

Previous: The Trinity



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