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Why Christianity Prospered
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The Divine Child Recognized And Presented With Gifts
The next in order of the wonderful events which are related to have
happened at the birth of Christ Jesus, is the recognition of the divine
child, and the presentation of gifts.
We are informed by the Matthew narrator, that being guided by a star,
the Magi[150:1] from the east came to where the young child was.
"And when they were come into the house (not stable) they
saw the young child, with Mary his mother, and fell down and
worshiped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they
presented unto him gifts, gold, frankincense, and
The Luke narrator--who seems to know nothing about the Magi from the
east--informs us that shepherds came and worshiped the young child.
They were keeping their flocks by night when the angel of the Lord
appeared before them, saying:
"Behold, I bring you good tidings--for unto you is born this
day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
After the angel had left them, they said one to another:
"Let us go unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to
pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. And they came with
haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a
The Luke narrator evidently borrowed this story of the shepherds from
the "Gospel of the Egyptians" (of which we shall speak in another
chapter), or from other sacred records of the biographies of Crishna or
It is related in the legends of Crishna that the divine child was
cradled among shepherds, to whom were first made known the stupendous
feats which stamped his character with marks of the divinity. He was
recognized as the promised Saviour by Nanda, a shepherd, or cowherd,
and his companions, who prostrated themselves before the heaven-born
child. After the birth of Crishna, the Indian prophet Nared, having
heard of his fame, visited his father and mother at Gokool, examined the
stars, &c., and declared him to be of celestial descent.[151:1]
Not only was Crishna adored by the shepherds and Magi, and received with
divine honors, but he was also presented with gifts. These gifts
were "sandal wood and perfumes."[151:2] (Why not "frankincense and
Similar stories are related of the infant Buddha. He was visited, at
the time of his birth, by wise men, who at once recognized in the
marvellous infant all the characters of the divinity, and he had
scarcely seen the day before he was hailed god of gods.[151:3]
"'Mongst the strangers came
A grey-haired saint, Asita, one whose ears,
Long closed to earthly things, caught heavenly sounds,
And heard at prayer beneath his peepul-tree,
The Devas singing songs at Buddha's birth."
Viscount Amberly, speaking of him, says:[151:4]
"He was visited and adored by a very eminent Rishi, or
hermit, known as Asita, who predicted his future greatness,
but wept at the thought that he himself was too old to see the
day when the law of salvation would be taught by the infant
whom he had come to contemplate."
"I weep (said Asita), because I am old and stricken in years,
and shall not see all that is about to come to pass. The
Buddha Bhagavat (God Almighty Buddha) comes to the world only
after many kalpas. This bright boy will be Buddha. For the
salvation of the world he will teach the law. He will succor
the old, the sick, the afflicted, the dying. He will release
those who are bound in the meshes of natural corruption. He
will quicken the spiritual vision of those whose eyes are
darkened by the thick darkness of ignorance. Hundreds of
thousands of millions of beings will be carried by him to the
'other shore'--will put on immortality. And I shall not see
this perfect Buddha--this is why I weep."[151:5]
He returns rejoicing, however, to his mountain-home, for his eyes had
seen the promised and expected Saviour.[151:6]
Paintings in the cave of Ajunta represent Asita with the infant
Buddha in his arms.[152:1] The marvelous gifts of this child had become
known to this eminent ascetic by supernatural signs.[152:2]
Buddha, as well as Crishna and Jesus, was presented with "costly jewels
and precious substances."[152:3] (Why not gold and perfumes?)
Rama--the seventh incarnation of Vishnu for human deliverance from
evil--is also hailed by "aged saints"--(why not "wise men"?)--who
die gladly when their eyes see the long-expected one.[152:4]
How-tseich, who was one of those personages styled, in China,
"Tien-Tse," or "Sons of Heaven,"[152:5] and who came into the world in a
miraculous manner, was laid in a narrow lane. When his mother had
fulfilled her time:
"Her first-born son (came forth) like a lamb.
There was no bursting, no rending,
No injury, no hurt--
Showing how wonderful he would be."
When born, the sheep and oxen protected him with loving care.[152:6]
The birth of Confucius (B. C. 551), like that of all the demi-gods and
saints of antiquity, is fabled to have been attended with allegorical
prodigies, amongst which was the appearance of the Ke-lin, a
miraculous quadruped, prophetic of happiness and virtue, which announced
that the child would be "a king without a throne or territory." Five
celestial sages, or "wise men" entered the house at the time of the
child's birth, whilst vocal and instrumental music filed the
Mithras, the Persian Saviour, and mediator between God and man, was
also visited by "wise men" called Magi, at the time of his birth.[152:8]
He was presented with gifts consisting of gold, frankincense and
According to Plato, at the birth of Socrates (469 B. C.) there came
three Magi from the east to worship him, bringing gifts of gold,
frankincense and myrrh.[152:10]
AEsculapius, the virgin-born Saviour, was protected by goatherds (why
not shepherds?), who, upon seeing the child, knew at once that he was
divine. The voice of fame soon published the birth of this miraculous
infant, upon which people flocked from all quarters to behold and
worship this heaven-born child.[153:1]
Many of the Grecian and Roman demi-gods and heroes were either fostered
by or worshiped by shepherds. Amongst these may be mentioned Bacchus,
who was educated among shepherds,[153:2] and Romulus, who was found on
the banks of the Tiber, and educated by shepherds.[153:3] Paris, son
of Priam, was educated among shepherds,[153:4] and AEgisthus was
exposed, like AEsculapius, by his mother, found by shepherds and educated
Viscount Amberly has well said that: "Prognostications of greatness in
infancy are, indeed, among the stock incidents in the mythical or
semi-mythical lives of eminent persons."
We have seen that the Matthew narrator speaks of the infant Jesus, and
Mary, his mother, being in a "house"--implying that he had been born
there; and that the Luke narrator speaks of the infant "lying in a
manger"--implying that he was born in a stable. We will now show that
there is still another story related of the place in which he was
[150:1] "The original word here is 'Magoi,' from which comes our word
'Magician.' . . . The persons here denoted were philosophers,
priests, or astronomers. They dwelt chiefly in Persia and Arabia. They
were the learned men of the Eastern nations, devoted to astronomy, to
religion, and to medicine. They were held in high esteem by the Persian
court; were admitted as councilors, and followed the camps in war to
give advice." (Barnes's Notes, vol. i. p. 25.)
[150:2] Matthew, ii. 2.
[150:3] Luke, ii. 8-16.
[151:1] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. pp. 129, 130, and Maurice: Hist.
Hindostan, vol. ii. pp. 256, 257 and 317. Also, The Vishnu Purana.
[151:2] Oriental Religions, pp. 500, 501. See also, Ancient Faiths, vol.
ii. p. 353.
[151:3] Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 157.
[151:4] Amberly's Analysis, p. 177. See also, Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p.
[151:5] Lillie: Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. 76.
[151:6] Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 6, and Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 58,
[152:1] Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 36.
[152:2] See Amberly's Analysis p. 231, and Bunsen's Angel Messiah, p.
[152:3] Beal: Hist. Buddha, p. 58.
[152:4] Oriental Religions, p. 491.
[152:5] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 200.
[152:6] See Amberly's Analysis of Religious Belief, p. 226.
[152:7] See Thornton's Hist. China, vol. i. p. 152.
[152:8] King: The Gnostics and their Remains, pp. 134 and 149.
[152:9] Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 353.
[152:10] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 96.
[153:1] Taylor's Diegesis, p. 150. Roman Antiquities, p. 136, and Bell's
Pantheon, vol. i. p. 27.
[153:2] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 322.
[153:3] Bell's Pantheon, vol. ii. p. 213.
[153:4] Ibid. vol. i. p. 47.
[153:5] Ibid. p. 20.
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