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The Miracles Of Christ Jesus And The Primitive Christians





The legendary history of Jesus of Nazareth, contained in the books of
the New Testament, is full of prodigies and wonders. These alleged
prodigies, and the faith which the people seem to have put in such a
tissue of falsehoods, indicate the prevalent disposition of the people
to believe in everything, and it was among such a class that
Christianity was propagated. All leaders of religion had the reputation
of having performed miracles; the biographers of Jesus, therefore, not
wishing their Master to be outdone, have made him also a
wonder-worker, and a performer of miracles; without them Christianity
could not prosper. Miracles were needed in those days, on all special
occasions. "There is not a single historian of antiquity, whether Greek
or Latin, who has not recorded oracles, prodigies, prophecies, and
miracles, on the occasion of some memorable events, or revolutions of
states and kingdoms. Many of these are attested in the gravest manner by
the gravest writers, and were firmly believed at the time by the
people."[252:1]

Hindoo sacred books represent Crishna, their Saviour and Redeemer, as
in constant strife against the evil spirit. He surmounts extraordinary
dangers; strews his way with miracles; raising the dead, healing the
sick, restoring the maimed, the deaf and the blind; everywhere
supporting the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the
powerful. The people crowded his way and adored him as a GOD, and these
miracles were the evidences of his divinity for centuries before the
time of Jesus.

The learned Thomas Maurice, speaking of Crishna, tells us that he passed
his innocent hours at the home of his foster-father, in rural
diversions, his divine origin not being suspected, until repeated
miracles soon discovered his celestial origin;[252:2] and Sir William
Jones speaks of his raising the dead, and saving multitudes by his
miraculous powers.[253:1] To enumerate the miracles of Crishna would
be useless and tedious; we shall therefore mention but a few, of which
the Hindoo sacred books are teeming.

When Crishna was born, his life was sought by the reigning monarch,
Kansa, who had the infant Saviour and his father and mother locked in a
dungeon, guarded, and barred by seven iron doors. While in this dungeon
the father heard a secret voice distinctly utter these words: "Son of
Yadu, take up this child and carry it to Gokool, to the house of Nanda."
Vasudeva, struck with astonishment, answered: "How shall I obey this
injunction, thus vigilantly guarded and barred by seven iron doors that
prohibit all egress?" The unknown voice replied: "The doors shall open
of themselves to let thee pass, and behold, I have caused a deep slumber
to fall upon thy guards, which shall continue till thy journey be
accomplished." Vasudeva immediately felt his chains miraculously
loosened, and, taking up the child in his arms, hurried with it through
all the doors, the guards being buried in profound sleep. When he came
to the river Yumna, which he was obliged to cross to get to Gokool, the
waters immediately rose up to kiss the child's feet, and then
respectfully retired on each side to make way for its transportation, so
that Vasudeva passed dry-shod to the opposite shore.[253:2]

When Crishna came to man's estate, one of his first miracles was the
cure of a leper.

A passionate Brahman, having received a slight insult from a certain
Rajah, on going out of his doors, uttered this curse: "That he should,
from head to foot, be covered with boils and leprosy;" which being
fulfilled in an instant upon the unfortunate king, he prayed to Crishna
to deliver him from his evil. At first, Crishna did not heed his
request, but finally he appeared to him, asking what his request was? He
replied, "To be freed from my distemper." The Saviour then cured him of
his distemper.[253:3]

Crishna was one day walking with his disciples, when "they met a poor
cripple or lame woman, having a vessel filled with spices, sweet-scented
oils, sandal-wood, saffron, civet and other perfumes. Crishna making a
halt, she made a certain sign with her finger on his forehead, casting
the rest upon his head. Crishna asking her what it was she would
request of him, the woman replied, nothing but the use of my limbs.
Crishna, then, setting his foot upon hers, and taking her by the hand,
raised her from the ground, and not only restored her limbs, but
renewed her age, so that, instead of a wrinkled, tawny skin, she
received a fresh and fair one in an instant. At her request, Crishna and
his company lodged in her house."[254:1]

On another occasion, Crishna having requested a learned Brahman to ask
of him whatever boon he most desired, the Brahman said, "Above all
things, I desire to have my two dead sons restored to life." Crishna
assured him that this should be done, and immediately the two young men
were restored to life and brought to their father.[254:2]

The learned Orientalist, Thomas Maurice, after speaking of the miracles
performed by Crishna, says:

"In regard to the numerous miracles wrought by Crishna, it
should be remembered that miracles are never wanting to the
decoration of an Indian romance; they are, in fact, the life
and soul of the vast machine; nor is it at all a subject of
wonder that the dead should be raised to life in a history
expressly intended, like all other sacred fables of Indian
fabrication, for the propagation and support of the whimsical
doctrine of the Metempsychosis."[254:3]

To speak thus of the miracles of Christ Jesus, would, of course, be
heresy--although what applies to the miracles of Crishna apply to those
of Jesus--we, therefore, find this gentleman branding as "infidel" a
learned French orientalist who was guilty of doing this thing.

Buddha performed great miracles for the good of mankind, and the
legends concerning him are full of the most extravagant prodigies and
wonders.[254:4] "By miracles and preaching," says Burnouf, "was the
religion of Buddha established."

R. Spence Hardy says of Buddha:

"All the principal events of his life are represented as being
attended by incredible prodigies. He could pass through the
air at will, and know the thoughts of all beings."[254:5]

Prof. Max Mueller says:

"The Buddhist legends teem with miracles attributed to Buddha
and his disciples--miracles which in wonderfulness certainly
surpass the miracles of any other religion."[254:6]

Buddha was at one time going from the city of Rohita-vastu to the city
of Benares, when, coming to the banks of the river Ganges, and wishing
to go across, he addressed himself to the owner of a ferry-boat, thus;
"Hail! respectable sir! I pray you take me across the river in your
boat!" To this the boatman replied, "If you can pay me the fare, I will
willingly take you across the river." Buddha said, "Whence shall I
procure money to pay you your fare, I, who have given up all worldly
wealth and riches, &c." The boatman still refusing to take him across,
Buddha, pointing to a flock of geese flying from the south to the north
banks of the Ganges, said:

"See yonder geese in fellowship passing o'er the Ganges,
They ask not as to fare of any boatman,
But each by his inherent strength of body
Flies through the air as pleases him.
So, by my power of spiritual energy,
Will I transport myself across the river,
Even though the waters on this southern bank
Stood up as high and firm as (Mount) Semeru."[255:1]

He then floats through the air across the stream.

In the Lalita Vistara Buddha is called the "Great Physician" who is to
"dull all human pain." At his appearance the "sick are healed, the deaf
are cured, the blind see, the poor are relieved." He visits the sick
man, Su-ta, and heals soul as well as body.

At Vaisali, a pest like modern cholera was depopulating the kingdom, due
to an accumulation of festering corpses. Buddha, summoned, caused a
strong rain which carried away the dead bodies and cured every one. At
Gaudhara was an old mendicant afflicted with a disease so loathsome that
none of his brother monks could go near him on account of his fetid
humors and stinking condition. The "Great Physician" was, however, not
to be deterred; he washed the poor old man and attended to his maladies.
A disciple had his feet hacked off by an unjust king, and Buddha cured
even him. To convert certain skeptical villagers near Sravasti, Buddha
showed them a man walking across the deep and rapid river without
immersing his feet. Purna, one of Buddha's disciples, had a brother in
imminent danger of shipwreck in a "black storm." The "spirits that are
favorable to Purna and Arya" apprised him of this and he at once
performed the miracle of transporting himself to the deck of the ship.
"Immediately the black tempest ceased, as if Sumera arrested it."[255:2]

When Buddha was told that a woman was suffering in severe labor, unable
to bring forth, he said, Go and say: "I have never knowingly put any
creature to death since I was born; by the virtue of this obedience may
you be free from pain!" When these words were repeated in the presence
of the mother, the child was instantly born with ease.[256:1]

Innumerable are the miracles ascribed to Buddhist saints, and to others
who followed their example. Their garments, and the staffs with which
they walked, are supposed to imbibe some mysterious power, and blessed
are they who are allowed to touch them.[256:2] A Buddhist saint who
attains the power called "perfection," is able to rise and float along
through the air.[256:3] Having this power, the saint exercises it by
mere determination of his will, his body becoming imponderous, as when a
man in the common human state determines to leap, and leaps. Buddhist
annals relate the performance of the miraculous suspension by Gautama
Buddha, himself, as well as by other saints.[256:4]

In the year 217 B. C., a Buddhist missionary priest, called by the
Chinese historians Shih-le-fang, came from "the west" into Shan-se,
accompanied by eighteen other priests, with their sacred books, in order
to propagate the faith of Buddha. The emperor, disliking foreigners and
exotic customs, imprisoned the missionaries; but an angel, genii, or
spirit, came and opened the prison door, and liberated them.[256:5]

Here is a third edition of "Peter in prison," for we have already seen
that the Hindoo sage Vasudeva was liberated from prison in like manner.

Zoroaster, the founder of the religion of the Persians, opposed his
persecutors by performing miracles, in order to confirm his divine
mission.[256:6]

Bochia of the Persians also performed miracles; the places where he
performed them were consecrated, and people flocked in crowds to visit
them.[256:7]

Horus, the Egyptian Saviour, performed great miracles, among which was
that of raising the dead to life.[256:8]

Osiris of Egypt also performed great miracles;[256:9] and so did the
virgin goddess Isis.

Pilgrimages were made to the temples of Isis, in Egypt, by the sick.
Diodorus, the Grecian historian, says that:

"Those who go to consult in dreams the goddess Isis recover
perfect health. Many whose cure has been despaired of by
physicians have by this means been saved, and others who have
long been deprived of sight, or of some other part of the
body, by taking refuge, so to speak, in the arms of the
goddess, have been restored to the enjoyment of their
faculties."[257:1]

Serapis, the Egyptian Saviour, performed great miracles, principally
those of healing the sick. He was called "The Healer of the
World."[257:2]

Marduk, the Assyrian God, the "Logos," the "Eldest Son of Hea;" "He
who made Heaven and Earth;" the "Merciful One;" the "Life-Giver," &c.,
performed great miracles, among which was that of raising the dead to
life.[257:3]

Bacchus, son of Zeus by the virgin Semele, was a great performer of
miracles, among which may be mentioned his changing water into
wine,[257:4] as it is recorded of Jesus in the Gospels.

"In his gentler aspects he is the giver of joy, the healer of
sicknesses, the guardian against plagues. As such he is even a law-giver
and a promoter of peace and concord. As kindling new or strange thoughts
in the mind, he is a giver of wisdom and the revealer of hidden secrets
of the future."[257:5]

The legends related of this god state that on one occasion Pantheus,
King of Thebes, sent his attendants to seize Bacchus, the "vagabond
leader of a faction"--as he called him. This they were unable to do, as
the multitude who followed him were too numerous. They succeeded,
however, in capturing one of his disciples, Acetes, who was led away and
shut up fast in prison; but while they were getting ready the
instruments of execution, the prison doors came open of their own
accord, and the chains fell from his limbs, and when they looked for
him he was nowhere to be found.[257:6] Here is still another edition of
"Peter in prison."

AEsculapius was another great performer of miracles. The ancient Greeks
said of him that he not only cured the sick of the most malignant
diseases, but even raised the dead.

A writer in Bell's Pantheon says:

"As the Greeks always carried the encomiums of their great men
beyond the truth, so they feigned that AEsculapius was so
expert in medicine as not only to cure the sick, but even to
raise the dead."[258:1]

Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, speaking of AEsculapius, says:

"He sometimes appeared unto them (the Cilicians) in dreams and
visions, and sometimes restored the sick to health."

He claims, however, that this was the work of the DEVIL, "who by this
means did withdraw the minds of men from the knowledge of the true
SAVIOUR."[258:2]

For many years after the death of AEsculapius, miracles continued to be
performed by the efficacy of faith in his name. Patients were conveyed
to the temple of AEsculapius, and there cured of their disease. A short
statement of the symptoms of each case, and the remedy employed, were
inscribed on tablets and hung up in the temples.[258:3] There were also
a multitude of eyes, ears, hands, feet, and other members of the human
body, made of wax, silver, or gold, and presented by those whom the god
had cured of blindness, deafness, and other diseases.[258:4]

Marinus, a scholar of the philosopher Proclus, relates one of these
remarkable cures, in the life of his master. He says:

"Asclipigenia, a young maiden who had lived with her parents,
was seized with a grievous distemper, incurable by the
physicians. All help from the physicians failing, the father
applied to the philosopher, earnestly entreating him to pray
for his daughter. Proclus, full of faith, went to the temple
of AEsculapius, intending to pray for the sick young woman to
the god--for the city (Athens) was at that time blessed in
him, and still enjoyed the undemolished temple of THE
SAVIOUR--but while he was praying, a sudden change appeared in
the damsel, and she immediately became convalescent, for the
Saviour, AEsculapius, as being God, easily healed
her."[258:5]

Dr. Conyers Middleton says:

"Whatever proof the primitive (Christian) Church might have
among themselves, of the miraculous gift, yet it could have
but little effect towards making proselytes among those who
pretended to the same gift--possessed more largely and exerted
more openly, than in the private assemblies of the Christians.
For in the temples of AEsculapius, all kinds of diseases were
believed to be publicly cured, by the pretended help of that
deity, in proof of which there were erected in each temple,
columns or tables of brass or marble, on which a distinct
narrative of each particular cure was inscribed.
Pausanias[258:6] writes that in the temple at Epidaurus there
were many columns anciently of this kind, and six of them
remaining to his time, inscribed with the names of men and
women who had been cured by the god, with an account of their
several cases, and the method of their cure; and that there
was an old pillar besides, which stood apart, dedicated to the
memory of Hippolytus, who had been raised from the dead.
Strabo, also, another grave writer, informs us that these
temples were constantly filled with the sick, imploring the
help of the god, and that they had tables hanging around them,
in which all the miraculous cures were described. There is a
remarkable fragment of one of these tables still extant, and
exhibited by Gruter in his collection, as it was found in the
ruins of AEsculapius's temple in the Island of the Tiber, in
Rome, which gives an account of two blind men restored to
sight by AEsculapius, in the open view,[259:1] and with the
loud acclamation of the people, acknowledging the manifest
power of the god."[259:2]

Livy, the most illustrious of Roman historians (born B. C. 61), tells us
that temples of heathen gods were rich in the number of offerings
which the people used to make in return for the cures and benefits
which they received from them.[259:3]

A writer in Bell's Pantheon says:

"Making presents to the gods was a custom even from the
earliest times, either to deprecate their wrath, obtain some
benefit, or acknowledge some favor. These donations consisted
of garlands, garments, cups of gold, or whatever conduced to
the decoration or splendor of their temples. They were
sometimes laid on the floor, sometimes hung upon the walls,
doors, pillars, roof, or any other conspicuous place.
Sometimes the occasion of the dedication was inscribed, either
upon the thing itself, or upon a tablet hung up with
it."[259:4]

No one custom of antiquity is so frequently mentioned by ancient
historians, as the practice which was so common among the heathens, of
making votive offerings to their deities, and hanging them up in their
temples, many of which are preserved to this day, viz., images of metal,
stone, or clay, as well as legs, arms, and other parts of the body, in
testimony of some divine cure effected in that particular
member.[259:5]

Horace says:

"----Me tabula sacer
Votiva paries indicat humida
Suspendisse potenti
Vestimenta maris Deo." (Lib. 1, Ode V.)

It was the custom of offering ex-votos of Priapic forms, at the
church of Isernia, in the Christian kingdom of Naples, during the last
century, which induced Mr. R. Payne Knight to compile his remarkable
work on Phallic Worship.

Juvenal, who wrote A. D. 81-96, says of the goddess Isis, whose
religion was at that time in the greatest vogue at Rome, that the
painters get their livelihood out of her. This was because "the most
common of all offerings (made by the heathen to their deities) were
pictures presenting the history of the miraculous cure or deliverance,
vouchsafed upon the vow of the donor."[260:1] One of their prayers ran
thus:

"Now, Goddess, help, for thou canst help bestow,
As all these pictures round thy altars show."[260:2]

In Chambers's Encyclopaedia may be found the following:

"Patients that were cured of their ailments (by AEsculapius,
or through faith in him) hung up a tablet in his temple,
recording the name, the disease, and the manner of cure. Many
of these votive tablets are still extant."[260:3]

Alexander S. Murray, of the department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in
the British Museum, speaking of the miracles performed by AEsculapius,
says:

"A person who had recovered from a local illness would dictate
a sculptured representation of the part that had been
affected. Of such sculptures there are a number of examples
in the British Museum."[260:4]

Justin Martyr, in his Apology for the Christian religion, addressed to
the Emperor Hadrian, says:

"As to our Jesus curing the lame, and the paralytic, and
such as were crippled from birth, this is little more than
what you say of your AEsculapius."[260:5]

At a time when the Romans were infested with the plague, having
consulted their sacred books, they learned that in order to be delivered
from it, they were to go in quest of AEsculapius at Epidaurus;
accordingly, an embassy was appointed of ten senators, at the head of
whom was Quintus Ogulnius, and the worship of AEsculapius was established
at Rome, A. U. C. 462, that is, B. C. 288. But the most remarkable
coincidence is that the worship of this god continued with scarcely any
diminished splendor, for several hundred years after the establishment
of Christianity.[260:6]

Hermes or Mercury, the Lord's Messenger, was a wonder-worker. The staff
or rod which Hermes received from Phoibos (Apollo), and which connects
this myth with the special emblem of Vishnu (the Hindoo Saviour), was
regarded as denoting his heraldic office. It was, however, always
endowed with magic properties, and had the power even of raising the
dead.[261:1]

Herodotus, the Grecian historian, relates a wonderful miracle which
happened among the Spartans, many centuries before the time assigned
for the birth of Christ Jesus. The story is as follows:

A Spartan couple of great wealth and influence, had a daughter
born to them who was a cripple from birth. Her nurse,
perceiving that she was misshapen, and knowing her to be the
daughter of opulent persons, and deformed, and seeing,
moreover, that her parents considered her form a great
misfortune, considering these several circumstances, devised
the following plan. She carried her every day to the temple of
the Goddess Helen, and standing before her image, prayed to
the goddess to free the child from its deformity. One day, as
the nurse was going out of the temple, a woman appeared to
her, and having appeared, asked what she was carrying in her
arms; and she answered that she was carrying an infant;
whereupon she bid her show it to her, but the nurse refused,
for she had been forbidden by the parents to show the child to
any one. The woman, however--who was none other than the
Goddess herself--urged her by all means to show it to her, and
the nurse, seeing that the woman was so very anxious to see
the child, at length showed it; upon which she, stroking the
head of the child with her hands, said that she would surpass
all the women in Sparta in beauty. From that day her
appearance began to change, her deformed limbs became
symmetrical, and when she reached the age for marriage she was
the most beautiful woman in all Sparta.[261:2]

Apollonius of Tyana, in Cappadocia, who was born in the latter part of
the reign of Augustus, about four years before the time assigned for the
birth of Jesus, and who was therefore contemporary with him, was
celebrated for the wonderful miracles he performed. Oracles in various
places declared that he was endowed with a portion of Apollo's power to
cure diseases, and foretell events; and those who were affected were
commanded to apply to him. The priests of Iona made over the diseased to
his care, and his cures were considered so remarkable, that divine
honors were decreed to him.[261:3]

He at one time went to Ephesus, but as the inhabitants did not hearken
to his preaching, he left there and went to Smyrna, where he was well
received by the inhabitants. While there, ambassadors came from
Ephesus, begging him to return to that city, where a terrible plague was
raging, as he had prophesied. He went immediately, and as soon as he
arrived, he said to the Ephesians: "Be not dejected, I will this day put
a stop to the disease." According to his words, the pestilence was
stayed, and the people erected a statue to him, in token of their
gratitude.[262:1]

In the city of Athens, there was one of the dissipated young citizens,
who laughed and cried by turns, and talked and sang to himself, without
apparent cause. His friends supposed these habits were the effects of
early intemperance, but Apollonius, who happened to meet the young man,
told him he was possessed of a demon; and, as soon as he fixed his
eyes upon him, the demon broke out into all those horrid, violent
expressions used by people on the rack, and then swore he would depart
out of the youth, and never enter another.[262:2] The young man had not
been aware that he was possessed by a devil, but from that moment, his
wild, disturbed looks changed, he became very temperate, and assumed the
garb of a Pythagorean philosopher.

Apollonius went to Rome, and arrived there after the emperor Nero had
passed very severe laws against magicians. He was met on the way by a
person who advised him to turn back and not enter the city, saying that
all who wore the philosopher's garb were in danger of being arrested as
magicians. He heeded not these words of warning, but proceeded on his
way, and entered the city. It was not long before he became an object of
suspicion, was closely watched, and finally arrested, but when his
accusers appeared before the tribunal and unrolled the parchment on
which the charges against him had been written, they found that all the
characters had disappeared. Apollonius made such an impression on the
magistrates by the bold tone he assumed, that he was allowed to go where
he pleased.[262:3]

Many miracles were performed by him while in Rome, among others may be
mentioned his restoring a dead maiden to life.

She belonged to a family of rank, and was just about to be married, when
she died suddenly. Apollonius met the funeral procession that was
conveying her body to the tomb. He asked them to set down the bier,
saying to her betrothed: "I will dry up the tears you are shedding for
this maiden." They supposed he was going to pronounce a funeral oration,
but he merely took her hand, bent over her, and uttered a few words in
a low tone. She opened her eyes, and began to speak, and was carried
back alive and well to her father's house.[263:1]

Passing through Tarsus, in his travels, a young man was pointed out to
him who had been bitten thirty days before by a mad dog, and who was
then running on all fours, barking and howling. Apollonius took his case
in hand, and it was not long before the young man was restored to his
right mind.[263:2]

Domitian, Emperor of Rome, caused Apollonius to be arrested, during one
of his visits to that city, on charge of allowing himself to be
worshiped (the people having given him divine honors), speaking
against the reigning powers, and pretending that his words were inspired
by the gods. He was taken, loaded with irons, and cast into prison. "I
have bound you," said the emperor, "and you will not escape me."

Apollonius was one day visited in his prison by his steadfast disciple,
Damus, who asked him when he thought he should recover his liberty,
whereupon he answered: "This instant, if it depended upon myself," and
drawing his legs out of the shackles, he added: "Keep up your spirits,
you see the freedom I enjoy." He was brought to trial not long after,
and so defended himself, that the emperor was induced to acquit him, but
forbade him to leave Rome. Apollonius then addressed the emperor, and
ended by saying: "You cannot kill me, because I am not mortal;" and as
soon as he had said these words, he vanished from the tribunal.[263:3]
Damus (the disciple who had visited him in prison) had previously been
sent away from Rome, with the promise of his master that he would soon
rejoin him. Apollonius vanished from the presence of the emperor (at
Rome) at noon. On the evening of the same day, he suddenly appeared
before Damus and some other friends who were at Puteoli, more than a
hundred miles from Rome. They started, being doubtful whether or not it
was his spirit, but he stretched out his hand, saying: "Take it, and if
I escape from you regard me as an apparition."[263:4]

When Apollonius had told his disciples that he had made his defense in
Rome, only a few hours before, they marveled how he could have performed
the journey so rapidly. He, in reply, said that they must ascribe it to
a god.[264:1]

The Empress Julia, wife of Alexander Severus, was so much interested in
the history of Apollonius, that she requested Flavius Philostratus, an
Athenian author of reputation, to write an account of him. The early
Christian Fathers, alluding to this life of Apollonius, do not deny the
miracles it recounts, but attribute to them the aid of evil
spirits.[264:2]

Justin Martyr was one of the believers in the miracles performed by
Apollonius, and by others through him, for he says:

"How is it that the talismans of Apollonius have power in
certain members of creation? for they prevent, as we see,
the fury of the waves, and the violence of the winds, and the
attacks of wild beasts, and whilst our Lord's miracles are
preserved by tradition alone, those of Apollonius are most
numerous, and actually manifested in present facts, so as to
lead astray all beholders."[264:3]

So much for Apollonius. We will now speak of another miracle performer,
Simon Magus.

Simon the Samaritan, generally called Simon Magus, produced marked
effects on the times succeeding him; being the progenitor of a large
class of sects, which long troubled the Christian churches.

In the time of Jesus and Simon Magus it was almost universally believed
that men could foretell events, cure diseases, and obtain control over
the forces of nature, by the aid of spirits, if they knew how to invoke
them. It was Simon's proficiency in this occult science which gained him
the surname of Magus, or Magician.

The writer of the eighth chapter of "The Acts of the Apostles" informs
us that when Philip went into Samaria, "to preach Christ unto them," he
found there "a certain man called Simon, which beforetime in the same
city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that
himself was some great one. To whom they all gave heed, from the least
to the greatest, saying: This man is the great power of God."[264:4]

Simon traveled about preaching, and made many proselytes. He professed
to be "The Wisdom of God," "The Word of God," "The Paraclete, or
Comforter," "The Image of the Eternal Father, Manifested in the
Flesh," and his followers claimed that he was "The First Born of the
Supreme."[265:1] All of these are titles, which, in after years, were
applied to Christ Jesus. His followers had a gospel called "The Four
Corners of the World," which reminds us of the reason given by Irenaeus,
for there being four Gospels among the Christians. He says:

"It is impossible that there could be more or less than
four. For there are four climates, and four cardinal
winds; but the Gospel is the pillar and foundation of the
Church, and its breath of life. The Church, therefore, was to
have four pillars, blowing immortality from every quarter,
and giving life to men."[265:2]

Simon also composed some works, of which but slight fragments remain,
Christian authority having evidently destroyed them. That he made a
lively impression on his contemporaries is indicated by the subsequent
extension of his doctrines, under varied forms, by the wonderful stories
which the Christian Fathers relate of him, and by the strong dislike
they manifested toward him.

Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, says of him:

"The malicious power of Satan, enemy to all honesty, and foe
to all human salvation, brought forth at that time this
monster Simon, a father and worker of all such mischiefs, as
a great adversary unto the mighty and holy Apostles.

"Coming into the city of Rome, he was so aided by that power
which prevaileth in this world, that in short time he brought
his purpose to such a pass, that his picture was there placed
with others, and he honored as a god."[265:3]

Justin Martyr says of him:

"After the ascension of our Savior into heaven, the DEVIL
brought forth certain men which called themselves gods, who
not only suffered no vexation of you (Romans), but attained
unto honor amongst you, by name one Simon, a Samaritan, born
in the village of Gitton, who (under Claudius Caesar) by the
art of devils, through whom he dealt, wrought devilish
enchantments, was esteemed and counted in your regal city of
Rome for a god, and honored by you as a god, with a
picture between two bridges upon the river Tibris, having this
Roman inscription: 'Simoni deo Sancto' (To Simon the Holy
God). And in manner all the Samaritans, and certain also of
other nations, do worship him, acknowledging him for their
chief god."[265:4]

According to accounts given by several other Christian Fathers, he could
make his appearance wherever he pleased to be at any moment; could poise
himself on the air; make inanimate things move without visible
assistance; produce trees from the earth suddenly; cause a stick to reap
without hands; change himself into the likeness of any other person, or
even into the forms of animals; fling himself from high precipices
unhurt, walk through the streets accompanied by spirits of the dead; and
many other such like performances.[266:1]

Simon went to Rome, where he gave himself out to be an "Incarnate Spirit
of God."[266:2] He became a favorite with the Emperor Claudius, and
afterwards with Nero. His Christian opponents, as we have seen in the
cases cited above, did not deny the miracles attributed to him, but said
they were done through the agency of evil spirits, which was a common
opinion among the Fathers. They claimed that every magician had an
attendant evil spirit, who came when summoned, obeyed his commands, and
taught him ceremonies and forms of words, by which he was able to do
supernatural things. In this way they were accustomed to account for all
the miracles performed by Gentiles and heretics.[266:3]

Menander--who was called the "Wonder-Worker"--was another great
performer of miracles. Eusebius, speaking of him, says that he was
skilled in magical art, and performed devilish operations; and that
"as yet there be divers which can testify the same of him."[266:4]

Dr. Conyers Middleton, speaking on this subject, says:

"It was universally received and believed through all ages of
the primitive church, that there was a number of magicians,
necromancers, or conjurors, both among the Gentiles, and the
heretical Christians, who had each their peculiar demon or
evil spirit, for their associates, perpetually attending on
their persons and obsequious to their commands, by whose help
they could perform miracles, foretell future events, call up
the souls of the dead, exhibit them to open view, and infuse
into people whatever dreams or visions they saw fit, all which
is constantly affirmed by the primitive writers and
apologists, and commonly applied by them to prove the
immortality of the soul."[266:5]

After quoting from Justin Martyr, who says that these magicians could
convince any one "that the souls of men exist still after death," he
continues by saying:

"Lactantius, speaking of certain philosophers who held that
the soul perished with the body, says: 'they durst not have
declared such an opinion, in the presence of any magician,
for if they had done it, he would have confuted them upon the
spot, by sensible experiments; by calling up souls from the
dead, and rendering them visible to human eyes, and making
them speak and foretell future events."[267:1]

The Christian Father Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, who was contemporary
with Irenaeus (A. D. 177-202), went so far as to declare that it was evil
spirits who inspired the old poets and prophets of Greece and Rome. He
says:

"The truth of this is manifestly shown; because those who are
possessed by devils, even at this day, are sometimes exorcised
by us in the name of God; and the seducing spirits confess
themselves to be the same demons who before inspired the
Gentile poets."[267:2]

Even in the second century after Christianity, foreign conjurors were
professing to exhibit miracles among the Greeks. Lucian gives an account
of one of these "foreign barbarians"--as he calls them[267:3]--and says:

"I believed and was overcome in spite of my resistance, for
what was I to do when I saw him carried through the air in
daylight, and walking on the water,[267:4] and passing
leisurely and slowly through the fire?"[267:5]

He further tells us that this "foreign barbarian" was able to raise the
dead to life.[267:6]

Athenagoras, a Christian Father who flourished during the latter part of
the second century, says on this subject:

"We (Christians) do not deny that in several places, cities,
and countries, there are some extraordinary works performed in
the name of idols," i. e., heathen gods.[267:7]

Miracles were not uncommon things among the Jews before and during the
time of Christ Jesus. Casting out devils was an every-day
occurrence,[267:8] and miracles frequently happened to confirm the
sayings of Rabbis. One cried out, when his opinion was disputed, "May
this tree prove that I am right!" and forthwith the tree was torn up by
the roots, and hurled a hundred ells off. But his opponents declared
that a tree could prove nothing. "May this stream, then, witness for
me!" cried Eliezar, and at once it flowed the opposite way.[268:1]

Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that King Solomon was expert
in casting out devils who had taken possession of the body of mortals.
This gift was also possessed by many Jews throughout different ages. He
(Josephus) relates that he saw one of his own countrymen (Eleazar)
casting out devils, in the presence of a vast multitude.[268:2]

Dr. Conyers Middleton says:

"It is remarkable that all the Christian Fathers, who lay so
great a stress on the particular gift of casting out devils,
allow the same power both to the Jews and the Gentiles, as
well before as after our Saviour's coming."[268:3]

Vespasian, who was born about ten years after the time assigned for
the birth of Christ Jesus, performed wonderful miracles, for the good of
mankind. Tacitus, the Roman historian, informs us that he cured a blind
man in Alexandria, by means of his spittle, and a lame man by the
mere touch of his foot.

The words of Tacitus are as follows:

"Vespasian passed some months at Alexandria, having resolved
to defer his voyage to Italy till the return of summer, when
the winds, blowing in a regular direction, afford a safe and
pleasant navigation. During his residence in that city, a
number of incidents, out of the ordinary course of nature,
seemed to mark him as the peculiar favorite of the gods. A man
of mean condition, born at Alexandria, had lost his sight by a
defluxion on his eyes. He presented himself before Vespasian,
and, falling prostrate on the ground, implored the emperor to
administer a cure for his blindness. He came, he said, by the
admonition of Serapis, the god whom the superstition of the
Egyptians holds in the highest veneration. The request was,
that the emperor, with his spittle, would condescend to
moisten the poor man's face and the balls of his eyes.[268:4]
Another, who had lost the use of his hand, inspired by the
same god, begged that he would tread on the part affected.
. . . In the presence of a prodigious multitude, all erect
with expectation, he advanced with an air of serenity, and
hazarded the experiment. The paralytic hand recovered its
functions, and the blind man saw the light of the sun.[268:5]
By living witnesses, who were actually on the spot, both
events are confirmed at this hour, when deceit and flattery
can hope for no reward."[268:6]

The striking resemblance between the account of these miracles, and
those attributed to Jesus in the Gospels "according to" Matthew and
Mark, would lead us to think that one had been copied from the other,
but when we find that Tacitus wrote his history A. D. 98,[269:1] and
that the "Matthew" and Mark narrators' works were not known until
after that time,[269:2] the evidence certainly is that Tacitus was
not the plagiarist, but that this charge must fall on the shoulders of
the Christian writers, whoever they may have been.

To come down to earlier times, even the religion of the Mahometans is a
religion of miracles and wonders. Mahomet, like Jesus of Nazareth, did
not claim to perform miracles, but the votaries of Mahomet are more
assured than himself of his miraculous gifts; and their confidence and
credulity increase as they are farther removed from the time and place
of his spiritual exploits. They believe or affirm that trees went forth
to meet him; that he was saluted by stones; that water gushed from his
fingers; that he fed the hungry, cured the sick, and raised the dead;
that a beam groaned to him; that a camel complained to him; that a
shoulder of mutton informed him of its being poisoned; and that both
animate and inanimate nature were equally subject to the apostle of God.
His dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described as a real and
corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Borak, conveyed him from
the temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem; with his companion Gabriel he
successively ascended the seven heavens, and received and repaid the
salutations of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the angels in their
respective mansions. Beyond the seventh heaven, Mahomet alone was
permitted to proceed; he passed the veil of unity, approached within two
bow-shots of the throne, and felt a cold that pierced him to the heart,
when his shoulder was touched by the hand of God. After a familiar,
though important conversation, he descended to Jerusalem, remounted the
Borak, returned to Mecca, and performed in the tenth part of a night the
journey of many thousand years. His resistless word split asunder the
orb of the moon, and the obedient planet stooped from her station in the
sky.[269:3]

These and many other wonders, similar in character to the story of Jesus
sending the demons into the swine, are related of Mahomet by his
followers.

It is very certain that the same circumstances which are claimed to have
taken place with respect to the Christian religion, are also claimed to
have taken place in the religions of Crishna, Buddha, Zoroaster,
AEsculapius, Bacchus, Apollonius, Simon Magus, &c. Histories of these
persons, with miracles, relics, circumstances of locality, suitable to
them, were as common, as well authenticated (if not better), and as much
believed by the devotees as were those relating to Jesus.

All the Christian theologians which the world has yet produced have not
been able to procure any evidence of the miracles recorded in the
Gospels, half so strong as can be procured in evidence of miracles
performed by heathens and heathen gods, both before and after the time
of Jesus; and, as they cannot do this, let them give us a reason why we
should reject the one and receive the other. And if they cannot do this,
let them candidly confess that we must either admit them all, or reject
them all, for they all stand on the same footing.

In the early times of the Roman republic, in the war with the Latins,
the gods Castor and Pollux are said to have appeared on white horses in
the Roman army, which by their assistance gained a complete victory: in
memory of which, the General Posthumius vowed and built a temple to
these deities; and for a proof of the fact, there was shown, we find, in
Cicero's time (106 to 43 B. C.), the marks of the horses' hoofs on a
rock at Regillum, where they first appeared.[270:1]

Now this miracle, with those which have already been mentioned, and many
others of the same kind which could be mentioned, has as authentic an
attestation, if not more so, as any of the Gospel miracles. It has, for
instance: The decree of a senate to confirm it; visible marks on the
spot where it was transacted; and all this supported by the best authors
of antiquity, amongst whom Dionysius, of Halicarnassus, who says that
there was subsisting in his time at Rome many evident proofs of its
reality, besides a yearly festival, with a solemn sacrifice and
procession, in memory of it.[270:2]

With all these evidences in favor of this miracle having really
happened, it seems to us so ridiculous, that we wonder how there could
ever have been any so simple as to believe it, yet we should believe
that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after he had been in the tomb
four days, our only authority being that anonymous book known as the
"Gospel according to St. John," which was not known until after A. D.
173. Albert Barnes, in his "Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity,"
speaking of the authenticity of the Gospel miracles, makes the following
damaging confession:

"An important question is, whether there is any stronger
evidence in favor of miracles, than there is in favor of
witchcraft, or sorcery, or the re-appearance of the dead, of
ghosts, of apparitions? Is not the evidence in favor of these
as strong as any that can be adduced in favor of miracles?
Have not these things been matters of universal belief? In
what respect is the evidence in favor of the miracles of the
Bible stronger than that which can be adduced in favor of
witchcraft and sorcery? Does it differ in nature and degrees;
and if it differs, is it not in favor of witchcraft and
sorcery? Has not the evidence in favor of the latter been
derived from as competent and reliable witnesses? Has it not
been brought to us from those who saw the facts alleged? Has
it not been subjected to a close scrutiny in the courts of
justice, to cross-examination, to tortures? Has it not
convinced those of highest legal attainments; those accustomed
to sift testimony; those who understood the true principles of
evidence? Has not the evidence in favor of witchcraft and
sorcery had, what the evidence in favor of miracles has not
had, the advantage of strict judicial investigation? and been
subjected to trial, where evidence should be, before courts of
law? Have not the most eminent judges in the most civilized
and enlightened courts of Europe and America admitted the
force of such evidence, and on the ground of it committed
great numbers of innocent persons to the gallows and to the
stake? I confess that of all the questions ever asked on the
subject of miracles, this is the most perplexing and the most
difficult to answer. It is rather to be wondered at that it
has not been pressed with more zeal by those who deny the
reality of miracles, and that they have placed their
objections so extensively on other grounds."

It was a common adage among the Greeks, "Miracles for fools," and the
same proverb obtained among the shrewder Romans, in the saying: "The
common people like to be deceived--deceived let them be."

St. Chrysostom declares that "miracles are proper only to excite
sluggish and vulgar minds, men of sense have no occasion for them;"
and that "they frequently carry some untoward suspicion along with
them;" and Saint Chrysostom, Jerome, Euthemius, and Theophylact, prove
by several instances, that real miracles had been performed by those
who were not Catholic, but heretic, Christians.[271:1]

Celsus (an Epicurean philosopher, towards the close of the second
century), the first writer who entered the lists against the claims of
the Christians, in speaking of the miracles which were claimed to have
been performed by Jesus, says:

"His miracles, granted to be true, were nothing more than
the common works of those enchanters, who, for a few
oboli, will perform greater deeds in the midst of the Forum,
calling up the souls of heroes, exhibiting sumptuous banquets,
and tables covered with food, which have no reality. Such
things do not prove these jugglers to be sons of God; nor do
Christ's miracles."[271:2]

Celsus, in common with most of the Grecians, looked upon Christianity
as a blind faith, that shunned the light of reason. In speaking of the
Christians, he says:

"They are forever repeating: 'Do not examine. Only believe,
and thy faith will make thee blessed. Wisdom is a bad
thing in life; foolishness is to be preferred.'"[272:1]

He jeers at the fact that ignorant men were allowed to preach, and
says that "weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate and rustic
fellows," set up to teach strange paradoxes. "They openly declared that
none but the ignorant (were) fit disciples for the God they worshiped,"
and that one of their rules was, "let no man that is learned come among
us."[272:2]

The miracles claimed to have been performed by the Christians, he
attributed to magic,[272:3] and considered--as we have seen
above--their miracle performers to be on the same level with all Gentile
magicians. He says that the "wonder-workers" among the Christians
"rambled about to play tricks at fairs and markets," that they never
appeared in the circles of the wiser and better sort, but always took
care to intrude themselves among the ignorant and uncultured.[272:4]

"The magicians in Egypt (says he), cast out evil spirits, cure
diseases by a breath, call up the spirits of the dead, make
inanimate things move as if they were alive, and so influence
some uncultured men, that they produce in them whatever sights
and sounds they please. But because they do such things shall
we consider them the sons of God? Or shall we call such things
the tricks of pitiable and wicked men?"[272:5]

He believed that Jesus was like all these other wonder-workers, that is,
simply a necromancer, and that he learned his magical arts in
Egypt.[272:6] All philosophers, during the time of the Early Fathers,
answered the claims that Jesus performed miracles, in the same manner.
"They even ventured to call him a magician and a deceiver of the
people," says Justin Martyr,[272:7] and St. Augustine asserted that it
was generally believed that Jesus had been initiated in magical art in
Egypt, and that he had written books concerning magic, one of which was
called "Magia Jesu Christi."[272:8] In the Clementine Recognitions,
the charge is brought against Jesus that he did not perform his miracles
as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, an initiate of the heathen
temples.[272:9]

The casting out of devils was the most frequent and among the most
striking and the oftenest appealed to of the miracles of Jesus; yet, in
the conversation between himself and the Pharisees (Matt. xii. 24-27),
he speaks of it as one that was constantly and habitually performed by
their own exorcists; and, so far from insinuating any difference
between the two cases, expressly puts them on a level.

One of the best proofs, and most unquestionable, that Jesus was accused
of being a magician, or that some of the early Christians believed him
to have been such, may be found in the representations of him performing
miracles. On a sarcophagus to be found in the Museo Gregoriano,
which is paneled with bas-reliefs, is to be seen a representation of
Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. He is represented as a young man,
beardless, and equipped with a wand in the received guise of a
necromancer, whilst the corpse of Lazarus is swathed in bandages
exactly as an Egyptian mummy.[273:1] On other Christian monuments
representing the miracles of Jesus, he is pictured in the same manner.
For instance, when he is represented as turning the water into wine, and
multiplying the bread in the wilderness, he is a necromancer with a
wand in his hand.[273:2]

Horus, the Egyptian Saviour, is represented on the ancient monuments
of Egypt, with a wand in his hand raising the dead to life, "just as
we see Christ doing the same thing," says J. P. Lundy, "in the same way,
to Lazarus, in our Christian monuments."[273:3]

Dr. Conyers Middleton, speaking of the primitive Christians, says:

"In the performance of their miracles, they were always
charged with fraud and imposture, by their adversaries. Lucian
(who flourished during the second century), tells us that
whenever any crafty juggler, expert in his trade, and who knew
how to make a right use of things, went over to the
Christians, he was sure to grow rich immediately, by making a
prey of their simplicity. And Celsus represents all the
Christian wonder-workers as mere vagabonds and common cheats,
who rambled about to play their tricks at fairs and markets;
not in the circles of the wiser and the better sort, for among
such they never ventured to appear, but wherever they observed
a set of raw young fellows, slaves or fools, there they took
care to intrude themselves, and to display all their
arts."[273:4]

The same charge was constantly urged against them by Julian, Porphyry
and others. Similar sentiments were entertained by Polybius, the Pagan
philosopher, who considered all miracles as fables, invented to preserve
in the unlearned a due sense of respect for the deity.[273:5]

Edward Gibbon, speaking of the miracles of the Christians, writes in
his familiar style as follows:

"How shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and
philosophic world, to those evidences which were represented
by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their
senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of
their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was
confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind
saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were
expelled, and the laws of nature were frequently suspended for
the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome
turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the
ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious
of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the
world."[274:1]

The learned Dr. Middleton, whom we have quoted on a preceding page,
after a searching inquiry into the miraculous powers of the Christians,
says:

"From these short hints and characters of the primitive
wonder-workers, as given both by friends and enemies, we may
fairly conclude, that the celebrated gifts of these ages were
generally engrossed and exercised by the primitive Christians,
chiefly of the laity, who used to travel about from city to
city, to assist the ordinary pastors of the church, and
preachers of the Gospel, in the conversion of Pagans, by the
extraordinary gifts with which they were supposed to be indued
by the spirit of God, and the miraculous works which they
pretended to perform. . . .

"We have just reason to suspect that there was some original
fraud in the case; and that the strolling wonder-workers, by a
dexterity of jugglery which art, not heaven, had taught them,
imposed upon the credulity of the pious Fathers, whose strong
prejudices and ardent zeal for the interest of Christianity
would dispose them to embrace, without examination, whatever
seemed to promote so good a cause. That this was really the
case in some instances, is certain and notorious, and that it
was so in all, will appear still more probable, when we have
considered the particular characters of the several Fathers,
on whose testimony the credit of these wonderful narratives
depends."[274:2]

Again he says:

"The pretended miracles of the primitive church were all mere
fictions, which the pious and zealous Fathers, partly from a
weak credulity, and partly from reasons of policy, believing
some perhaps to be true, and knowing all of them to be useful,
were induced to espouse and propagate, for the support of a
righteous cause."[274:3]

Origen, a Christian Father of the third century, uses the following
words in his answer to Celsus:

"A vast number of persons who have left those horrid
debaucheries in which they formerly wallowed, and have
professed to embrace the Christian religion, shall receive a
bright and massive crown when this frail and short life is
ended, though they don't stand to examine the grounds on
which their faith is built, nor defer their conversion till
they have a fair opportunity and capacity to apply themselves
to rational and learned studies. And since our adversaries are
continually making such a stir about our taking things on
trust, I answer, that we, who see plainly and have found the
vast advantage that the common people do manifestly and
frequently reap thereby (who make up by far the greater
number), I say, we (the Christian clergy), who are so well
advised of these things, do professedly teach men to believe
without examination."[275:1]

Origen flourished and wrote A. D. 225-235, which shows that at that
early day there was no rational evidence for Christianity, but it was
professedly taught, and men were supposed to believe "these things"
(i. e. the Christian legends) without severe examination.

The primitive Christians were perpetually reproached for their gross
credulity, by all their enemies. Celsus, as we have already seen,
declares that they cared neither to receive nor give any reason for
their faith, and that it was a usual saying with them: "Do not examine,
but believe only, and thy faith will save thee;" and Julian affirms
that, "the sum of all their wisdom was comprised in the single precept,
'believe.'"

Arnobius, speaking of this, says:

"The Gentiles make it their constant business to laugh at our
faith, and to lash our credulity with their facetious jokes."

The Christian Fathers defended themselves against these charges by
declaring that they did nothing more than the heathens themselves had
always done; and reminds them that they too had found the same method
useful with the uneducated or common people, who were not at leisure to
examine things, and whom they taught therefore, to believe without
reason.[275:2]

This "believing without reason" is illustrated in the following words of
Tertullian, a Christian Father of the second century, who reasons on the
evidence of Christianity as follows:

"I find no other means to prove myself to be impudent with
success, and happily a fool, than by my contempt of shame; as,
for instance--I maintain that the son of God was born: why am
I not ashamed of maintaining such a thing? Why! but because it
is a shameful thing. I maintain that the son of God died:
well, that is wholly credible because it is monstrously
absurd. I maintain that after having been buried, he rose
again: and that I take to be absolutely true, because it was
manifestly impossible."[275:3]

According to the very books which record the miracles of Jesus, he never
claimed to perform such deeds, and Paul declares that the great reason
why Israel did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah was that "the Jews
required a sign."[276:1] He meant: "Signs and wonders are the only
proofs they will admit that any one is sent by God and is preaching the
truth. If they cannot have this palpable, external proof, they withhold
their faith."

A writer of the second century (John, in ch. iv. 18) makes Jesus aim at
his fellow-countrymen and contemporaries, the reproach: "Unless you see
signs and wonders, you do not believe." In connection with Paul's
declaration, given above, these words might be paraphrased: "The reason
why the Jews never believed in Jesus was that they never saw him do
signs and wonders."

Listen to the reply he (Jesus) made when told that if he wanted people
to believe in him he must first prove his claim by a miracle: "A wicked
and adulterous generation asks for a sign, and no sign shall be given
it except the sign of the prophet Jonas."[276:2] Of course, this answer
did not in the least degree satisfy the questioners; so they presently
came to him again with a more direct request: "If the kingdom of God is,
as you say, close at hand, show us at least some one of the signs in
heaven which are to precede the Messianic age." What could appear more
reasonable than such a request? Every one knew that the end of the
present age was to be heralded by fearful signs in heaven. The light of
the sun was to be put out, the moon turned to blood, the stars robbed of
their brightness, and many other fearful signs were to be shown![276:3]
If any one of these could be produced, they would be content; but if
not, they must decline to surrender themselves to an idle joy which must
end in a bitter disappointment; and surely Jesus himself could hardly
expect them to believe in him on his bare word.

Historians have recorded miracles said to have been performed by other
persons, but not a word is said by them about the miracles claimed to
have been performed by Jesus.

Justus of Tiberias, who was born about five years after the time
assigned for the crucifixion of Jesus, wrote a Jewish History. Now, if
the miracles attributed to Christ Jesus, and his death and resurrection,
had taken place in the manner described by the Gospel narrators, he
could not have failed to allude to them. But Photius, Patriarch of
Constantinople, tells us that it contained "no mention of the coming of
Christ, nor of the events concerning him, nor of the prodigies he
wrought." As Theodore Parker has remarked: "The miracle is of a most
fluctuating character. The miracle-worker of to-day is a
matter-of-fact juggler to-morrow. Science each year adds new wonders to
our store. The master of a locomotive steam-engine would have been
thought greater than Jupiter Tonans, or the Elohim, thirty centuries
ago."

In the words of Dr. Oort: "Our increased knowledge of nature has
gradually undermined the belief in the possibility of miracles, and the
time is not far distant when in the mind of every man, of any culture,
all accounts of miracles will be banished together to their proper
region--that of legend."

What had been said to have been done in India was said by the "half
Jew"[277:1] writers of the Gospels to have been done in Palestine. The
change of names and places, with the mixing up of various sketches of
Egyptian, Phenician, Greek and Roman mythology, was all that was
necessary. They had an abundance of material, and with it they built. A
long-continued habit of imposing upon others would in time subdue the
minds of the impostors themselves, and cause them to become at length
the dupes of their own deception.


FOOTNOTES:

[252:1] Dr. Conyers Middleton: Free Enquiry, p. 177.

[252:2] Indian Antiquities, vol. iii. p. 46.

[253:1] Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 237.

[253:2] Hist. Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 331.

[253:3] Ibid. p. 319.

[254:1] Hist. Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 320. Vishnu Parana, bk. v. ch. xx.

[254:2] Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 68.

[254:3] Hist. Hindostan, vol. ii. p. 269.

[254:4] See Hardy's Buddhist Legends, and Eastern Monachism. Beal's
Romantic Hist. Buddha. Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, and Huc's Travels, &c.

[254:5] Hardy: Buddhist Legends, pp. xxi. xxii.

[254:6] The Science of Religion, p. 27.

[255:1] Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 246, 247.

[255:2] Dhammapada, pp. 47, 50 and 90. Bigandet, pp. 186 and 192.
Bournouf: Intro. p. 156. In Lillie's Buddhism, pp. 139, 140.

[256:1] Hardy: Manual of Buddhism.

[256:2] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 229.

[256:3] See Tylor: Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 135, and Hardy:
Buddhist Legends, pp. 98, 126, 137.

[256:4] See Tylor: Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 135.

[256:5] Thornton: Hist. China, vol. i. p. 341.

[256:6] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 240, and Inman's
Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 460.

[256:7] S





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