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The Miraculous Birth Of Christ Jesus





According to the dogma of the deity of Jesus, he who is said to have
lived on earth some eighteen centuries ago, as Jesus of Nazareth, is
second of the three persons in the Trinity, the SON, God as absolutely
as the Father and the Holy Spirit, except as eternally deriving his
existence from the Father. What, however, especially characterizes the
Son, and distinguishes him from the two other persons united with him in
the unity of the Deity, is this, that the Son, at a given moment of
time, became incarnate, and that, without losing anything of his divine
nature, he thus became possessed of a complete human nature; so that he
is at the same time, without injury to the unity of his person, "truly
man and truly God."

The story of the miraculous birth of Jesus is told by the Matthew
narrator as follows:[111:1]

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his
mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together,
she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph, her
husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a
public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while
he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of
David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that
which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall
bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he
shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the
prophet, saying: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name
Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."[111:2]

A Deliverer was hoped for, expected, prophesied, in the time of Jewish
misery[112:1] (and Cyrus was perhaps the first referred to); but as no
one appeared who did what the Messiah, according to prophecy, should do,
they went on degrading each successive conqueror and hero from the
Messianic dignity, and are still expecting the true Deliverer. Hebrew
and Christian divines both start from the same assumed unproven
premises, viz.: that a Messiah, having been foretold, must appear; but
there they diverge, and the Jews show themselves to be the sounder
logicians of the two: the Christians assuming that Jesus was the Messiah
intended (though not the one expected), wrest the obvious meaning of
the prophecies to show that they were fulfilled in him; while the Jews,
assuming the obvious meaning of the prophecies to be their real meaning,
argue that they were not fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and therefore that
the Messiah is yet to come.

We shall now see, in the words of Bishop Hawes: "that God should, in
some extraordinary manner, visit and dwell with man, is an idea which,
as we read the writings of the ancient Heathens, meets us in a
thousand different forms."

Immaculate conceptions and celestial descents were so currently received
among the ancients, that whoever had greatly distinguished himself in
the affairs of men was thought to be of supernatural lineage. Gods
descended from heaven and were made incarnate in men, and men ascended
from earth, and took their seat among the gods, so that these
incarnations and apotheosises were fast filling Olympus with divinities.

In our inquiries on this subject we shall turn first to Asia, where,
as the learned Thomas Maurice remarks in his Indian Antiquities, "in
every age, and in almost every region of the Asiatic world, there seems
uniformly to have flourished an immemorial tradition that one god had,
from all eternity, begotten another god."[112:2]

In India, there have been several Avatars, or incarnations of
Vishnu,[112:3] the most important of which is Heri Crishna,[112:4] or
Crishna the Saviour.

In the Maha-bharata, an Indian epic poem, written about the sixth
century B. C., Crishna is associated or identified with Vishnu the
Preserving god or Saviour.[113:1]

Sir William Jones, first President of the Royal Asiatic Society,
instituted in Bengal, says of him:

"Crishna continues to this hour the darling god of the Indian
woman. The sect of Hindoos who adore him with enthusiastic,
and almost exclusive devotion, have broached a doctrine, which
they maintain with eagerness, and which seems general in these
provinces, that he was distinct from all the Avatars
(incarnations) who had only an ansa, or a portion, of his
(Vishnu's) divinity, while Crishna was the person of Vishnu
himself in human form."[113:2]

The Rev. D. O. Allen, Missionary of the American Board, for twenty-five
years in India, speaking of Crishna, says:

"He was greater than, and distinct from, all the Avatars
which had only a portion of the divinity in them, while he was
the very person of Vishnu himself in human form."[113:3]

Thomas Maurice, in speaking of Mathura, says:

"It is particularly celebrated for having been the birth-place
of Crishna, who is esteemed in India, not so much an
incarnation of the divine Vishnu, as the deity himself in
human form."[113:4]

Again, in his "History of Hindostan," he says:

"It appears to me that the Hindoos, idolizing some eminent
character of antiquity, distinguished, in the early annals of
their nation, by heroic fortitude and exalted piety, have
applied to that character those ancient traditional accounts
of an incarnate God, or, as they not improperly term it, an
Avatar, which had been delivered down to them from their
ancestors, the virtuous Noachidae, to descend amidst the
darkness and ignorance of succeeding ages, at once to reform
and instruct mankind. We have the more solid reason to affirm
this of the Avatar of Crishna, because it is allowed to be the
most illustrious of them all; since we have learned, that, in
the seven preceding Avatars, the deity brought only an
ansa, or portion of his divinity; but, in the eighth, he
descended in all the plentitude of the Godhead, and was
Vishnu himself in a human form."[113:5]

Crishna was born of a chaste virgin,[113:6] called Devaki, who, on
account of her purity, was selected to become the "mother of God."

According to the "BHAGAVAT POORAUN," Vishnu said:

"I will become incarnate at Mathura in the house of Yadu,
and will issue forth to mortal birth from the womb of
Devaki. . . . It is time I should display my power, and
relieve the oppressed earth from its load."[114:1]

Then a chorus of angels exclaimed:

"In the delivery of this favored woman, all nature shall have
cause to exult."[114:2]

In the sacred book of the Hindoos, called "Vishnu Purana," we read as
follows:

"Eulogized by the gods, Devaki bore in her womb the lotus-eyed
deity, the protector of the world. . . .

"No person could bear to gaze upon Devaki, from the light that
invested her, and those who contemplated her radiance felt
their minds disturbed. The gods, invisible to mortals,
celebrated her praises continually from the time that Vishnu
was contained in her person."[114:3]

Again we read:

"The divine Vishnu himself, the root of the vast universal
tree, inscrutable by the understandings of all gods, demons,
sages, and men, past, present, or to come, adored by Brahma
and all the deities, he who is without beginning, middle, or
end, being moved to relieve the earth of her load, descended
into the womb of Devaki, and was born as her son, Vasudeva,"
i. e., Crishna.[114:4]

Again:

"Crishna is the very Supreme Brahma, though it be a
mystery[114:5] how the Supreme should assume the form of a
man."[114:6]

The Hindoo belief in a divine incarnation has at least, above many
others, its logical side of conceiving that God manifests himself on
earth whenever the weakness or the errors of humanity render his
presence necessary. We find this idea expressed in one of their sacred
books called the "Bhagavat Geeta," wherein it says:

"I (the Supreme One said), I am made evident by my own power,
and as often as there is a decline of virtue, and an
insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, I make myself
evident, and thus I appear from age to age, for the
preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and
the establishment of virtue."[114:7]

Crishna is recorded in the "Bhagavat Geeta" as saying to his beloved
disciple Arjouna:

"He, O Arjoun, who, from conviction, acknowledgeth my divine
birth (upon quitting his mortal form), entereth into
me."[115:1]

Again, he says:

"The foolish, being unacquainted with my supreme and divine
nature, as Lord of all things, despise me in this human
form, trusting to the evil, diabolic, and deceitful principle
within them. They are of vain hope, of vain endeavors, of vain
wisdom, and void of reason; whilst men of great minds,
trusting to their divine natures, discover that I am before
all things and incorruptible, and serve me with their hearts
undiverted by other gods."[115:2]

The next in importance among the God-begotten and Virgin-born
Saviours of India, is Buddha[115:3] who was born of the Virgin Maya or
Mary. He in mercy left Paradise, and came down to earth because he was
filled with compassion for the sins and miseries of mankind. He sought
to lead them into better paths, and took their sufferings upon himself,
that he might expiate their crimes, and mitigate the punishment they
must otherwise inevitably undergo.[115:4]

According to the Fo-pen-hing,[115:5] when Buddha was about to descend
from heaven, to be born into the world, the angels in heaven, calling to
the inhabitants of the earth, said:

"Ye mortals! adorn your earth! for Bodhisatwa, the great
Mahasatwa, not long hence shall descend from Tusita to be born
amongst you! make ready and prepare! Buddha is about to
descend and be born!"[115:6]

The womb that bears a Buddha is like a casket in which a relic is
placed; no other being can be conceived in the same receptacle; the
usual secretions are not formed; and from the time of conception,
Maha-maya was free from passion, and lived in the strictest
continence.[115:7]

The resemblance between this legend and the doctrine of the perpetual
virginity of Mary the mother of Jesus, cannot but be remarked. The
opinion that she had ever borne other children was called heresy by
Epiphanius and Jerome, long before she had been exalted to the station
of supremacy she now occupies.[115:8]

M. l'Abbe Huc, a French Missionary, in speaking of Buddha, says:

"In the eyes of the Buddhists, this personage is sometimes a
man and sometimes a god, or rather both one and the other, a
divine incarnation, a man-god; who came into the world to
enlighten men, to redeem them, and to indicate to them the way
of safety.

"This idea of redemption by a divine incarnation is so
general and popular among the Buddhists, that during our
travels in Upper Asia, we everywhere found it expressed in a
neat formula. If we addressed to a Mongol or a Thibetan the
question, 'Who is Buddha?' he would immediately reply: 'The
Saviour of Men.'"[116:1]

He further says:

"The miraculous birth of Buddha, his life and instructions,
contain a great number of the moral and dogmatic truths
professed in Christianity."[116:2]

This Angel-Messiah was regarded as the divinely chosen and incarnate
messenger, the vicar of God. He is addressed as "God of Gods," "Father
of the World," "Almighty and All-knowing Ruler," and "Redeemer of
All."[116:3] He is called also "The Holy One," "The Author of
Happiness," "The Lord," "The Possessor of All," "He who is Omnipotent
and Everlastingly to be Contemplated," "The Supreme Being, the Eternal
One," "The Divinity worthy to be Adored by the most praiseworthy of
Mankind."[116:4] He is addressed by Amora--one of his followers--thus:

"Reverence be unto thee in the form of Buddha! Reverence be
unto thee, the Lord of the Earth! Reverence be unto thee, an
incarnation of the Deity! Of the Eternal One! Reverence be
unto thee, O God, in the form of the God of Mercy; the
dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all things, the
deity, the guardian of the universe, the emblem of
mercy."[116:5]

The incarnation of Gautama Buddha is recorded to have been brought about
by the descent of the divine power called The "Holy Ghost" upon the
Virgin Maya.[116:6] This Holy Ghost, or Spirit, descended in the form
of a white elephant. The Tikas explain this as indicating power and
wisdom.[117:1]

The incarnation of the angel destined to become Buddha took place in a
spiritual manner. The Elephant is the symbol of power and wisdom; and
Buddha was considered the organ of divine power and wisdom, as he is
called in the Tikas. For these reasons Buddha is described by Buddhistic
legends as having descended from heaven in the form of an Elephant to
the place where the Virgin Maya was. But according to Chinese Buddhistic
writings, it was the Holy Ghost, or Shing-Shin, who descended on the
Virgin Maya.[117:2]

The Fo-pen-hing says:

"If a mother, in her dream, behold
A white elephant enter her right side,
That mother, when she bears a son,
Shall bear one chief of all the world (Buddha);
Able to profit all flesh;
Equally poised between preference and dislike;
Able to save and deliver the world and men
From the deep sea of misery and grief."[117:3]

In Prof. Fergusson's "Tree and Serpent Worship" may be seen (Plate
xxxiii.) a representation of Maya, the mother of Buddha, asleep, and
dreaming that a white elephant appeared to her, and entered her womb.

This dream being interpreted by the Brahmans learned in the Rig Veda,
was considered as announcing the incarnation of him who was to be in
future the deliverer of mankind from pain and sorrow. It is, in fact,
the form which the Annunciation took in Buddhist legends.[117:4]

"----Awaked,
Bliss beyond mortal mother's filled her breast,
And over half the earth a lovely light
Forewent the morn. The strong hills shook; the waves
Sank lulled; all flowers that blow by day came forth
As 'twere high noon; down to the farthest hells
Passed the Queen's joy, as when warm sunshine thrills
Wood-glooms to gold, and into all the deeps
A tender whisper pierced. 'Oh ye,' it said,
'The dead that are to live, the live who die,
Uprise, and hear, and hope! Buddha is come!'
Whereat in Limbos numberless much peace
Spread, and the world's heart throbbed, and a wind blew
With unknown freshness over land and seas.
And when the morning dawned, and this was told,
The grey dream-readers said, 'The dream is good!
The Crab is in conjunction with the Sun;
The Queen shall bear a boy, a holy child
Of wondrous wisdom, profiting all flesh,
Who shall deliver men from ignorance,
Or rule the world, if he will deign to rule.'
In this wise was the holy Buddha born."

In Fig. 4, Plate xci., the same subject is also illustrated. Prof.
Fergusson, referring to it, says:

"Fig. 4 is another edition of a legend more frequently
repeated than almost any other in Buddhist Scriptures. It was,
with their artists, as great a favorite as the Annunciation
and Nativity were with Christian painters."[118:1]

When Buddha avatar descended from the regions of the souls, and
entered the body of the Virgin Maya, her womb suddenly assumed the
appearance of clear, transparent crystal, in which Buddha appeared,
beautiful as a flower, kneeling and reclining on his hands.[118:2]

Buddha's representative on earth is the Dalai Lama, or Grand Lama,
the High Priest of the Tartars. He is regarded as the vicegerent of God,
with power to dispense divine blessings on whomsoever he will, and is
considered among the Buddhists to be a sort of divine being. He is the
Pope of Buddhism.[118:3]

The Siamese had a Virgin-born God and Saviour whom they called
Codom. His mother, a beautiful young virgin, being inspired from
heaven, quitted the society of men and wandered into the most
unfrequented parts of a great forest, there to await the coming of a god
which had long been announced to mankind. While she was one day
prostrate in prayer, she was impregnated by the sunbeams. She
thereupon retired to the borders of a lake, between Siam and Cambodia,
where she was delivered of a "heavenly boy," which she placed within
the folds of a lotus, that opened to receive him. When the boy grew
up, he became a prodigy of wisdom, performed miracles, &c.[118:4]

The first Europeans who visited Cape Comorin, the most southerly
extremity of the peninsula of Hindostan, were surprised to find the
inhabitants worshiping a Lord and Saviour whom they called Salivahana.
They related that his father's name was Taishaca, but that he was a
divine child horn of a Virgin, in fact, an incarnation of the Supreme
Vishnu.[119:1]

The belief in a virgin-born god-man is found in the religions of China.
As Sir John Francis Davis remarks,[119:2] "China has her mythology in
common with all other nations, and under this head we must range the
persons styled Fo-hi (or Fuh-he), Shin-noong, Hoang-ty and their
immediate successors, who, like the demi gods and heroes of Grecian
fable, rescued mankind by their ability or enterprise from the most
primitive barbarism, and have since been invested with superhuman
attributes. The most extravagant prodigies are related of these persons,
and the most incongruous qualities attributed to them."

Dean Milman, in his "History of Christianity" (Vol. i. p. 97), refers to
the tradition, found among the Chinese, that Fo-hi was born of a
virgin; and remarks that, the first Jesuit missionaries who went to
China were appalled at finding, in the mythology of that country, a
counterpart of the story of the virgin of Judea.

Fo-hi is said to have been born 3463 years B. C., and, according to some
Chinese writers, with him begins the historical era and the foundation
of the empire. When his mother conceived him in her womb, a rainbow was
seen to surround her.[119:3]

The Chinese traditions concerning the birth of Fo-hi are, some of them,
highly poetical. That which has received the widest acceptance is as
follows:

"Three nymphs came down from heaven to wash themselves in a
river; but scarce had they got there before the herb lotus
appeared on one of their garments, with its coral fruit upon
it. They could not imagine whence it proceeded, and one was
tempted to taste it, whereby she became pregnant and was
delivered of a boy, who afterwards became a great man, a
founder of religion, a conqueror, and legislator."[119:4]

The sect of Xaca, which is evidently a corruption of Buddhism, claim
that their master was also of supernatural origin. Alvarez Semedo,
speaking of them, says:

"The third religious sect among the Chinese is from India,
from the parts of Hindostan, which sect they call Xaca, from
the founder of it, concerning whom they fable--that he was
conceived by his mother Maya, from a white elephant, which
she saw in her sleep, and for more purity she brought him from
one of her sides."[120:1]

Lao-kiun, sometimes celled Lao-tsze, who is said to have been born
in the third year of the emperor Ting-wang, of the Chow dynasty (604
B. C.), was another miraculously-born man. He acquired great reputation
for sanctity, and marvelous stories were told of his birth. It was said
that he had existed from all eternity; that he had descended on earth
and was born of a virgin, black in complexion, described "marvelous
and beautiful as jasper." Splendid temples were erected to him, and he
was worshiped as a god. His disciples were called "Heavenly Teachers."
They inculcated great tenderness toward animals, and considered strict
celibacy necessary for the attainment of perfect holiness. Lao-kiun
believed in One God whom he called Tao, and the sect which he formed
is called Tao-tse, or "Sect of Reason." Sir Thomas Thornton, speaking
of him, says:

"The mythological history of this 'prince of the doctrine of
the Taou,' which is current amongst his followers,
represents him as a divine emanation incarnate in a human
form. They term him the 'most high and venerable prince of
the portals of gold of the palace of the genii,' and say
that he condescended to a contact with humanity when he became
incorporated with the 'miraculous and excellent Virgin of
jasper.' Like Buddha, he came out of his mother's side, and
was born under a tree.

"The legends of the Taou-tse declare their founder to have
existed antecedent to the birth of the elements, in the Great
Absolute; that he is the 'pure essence of the teen;' that he
is the 'original ancestor of the prime breath of life;' and
that he gave form to the heavens and the earth."[120:2]

M. Le Compte says:

"Those who have made this (the religion of Taou-tsze) their
professed business, are called Tien-se, that is, 'Heavenly
Doctors;' they have houses (Monasteries) given them to live
together in society; they erect, in divers parts, temples to
their master, and king and people honor him with divine
worship."

Yu was another virgin-born Chinese sage, who is said to have lived
upon earth many ages ago. Confucius--as though he had been questioned
about him--says: "I see no defect in the character of Yu. He was sober
in eating and drinking, and eminently pious toward spirits and
ancestors."[120:3]

Hau-ki, the Chinese hero, was of supernatural origin.

The following is the history of his birth, according to the "Shih-King:"

"His mother, who was childless, had presented a pure offering
and sacrificed, that her childlessness might be taken away.
She then trod on a toe-print made by God, and was
moved,[121:1] in the large place where she rested. She became
pregnant; she dwelt retired; she gave birth to and nourished a
son, who was Hau-ki. When she had fulfilled her months, 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. Did not God give her comfort? Had he not accepted her pure
offering and sacrifice, so that thus easily she brought forth
her son?"[121:2]

Even the sober Confucius (born B. C. 501) was of supernatural origin.
The most important event in Chinese literary and ethical history is the
birth of Kung-foo-tsze (Confucius), both in its effects on the moral
organization of this great empire, and the study of Chinese philosophy
in Europe.

Kung-foo-tsze (meaning "the sage Kung" or "the wise excellence") was of
royal descent; and his family the most ancient in the empire, as his
genealogy was traceable directly up to Hwang-te, the reputed organizer
of the state, the first emperor of the semi-historical period (beginning
2696 B. C.).

At his birth a prodigious quadruped, called the Ke-lin, appeared and
prophesied that the new-born infant "would be a king without throne or
territory." Two dragons hovered about the couch of Yen-she (his
mother), and five celestial sages, or angels, entered at the moment of
the birth of the wondrous child; heavenly strains were heard in the air,
and harmonious chords followed each other, fast and full. Thus was
Confucius ushered into the world.

His disciples, who were to expound his precepts, were seventy-two in
number, twelve of whom were his ordinary companions, the depositories
of his thoughts, and the witnesses of all his actions. To them he
minutely explained his doctrines, and charged them with their
propagation after his death. YAN-HWUY was his favorite disciple, who, in
his opinion, had attained the highest degree of moral perfection.
Confucius addressed him in terms of great affection, which denoted that
he relied mainly upon him for the accomplishment of his work.[121:3]

Even as late as the seventeenth century of our era, do we find the myth
of the virgin-born God in China.[121:4]

All these god-begotten and virgin-born men were called Tien-tse, i.
e., "Sons of Heaven."

If from China we should turn to Egypt we would find that, for ages
before the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediating deity, born of a
virgin, and without a worldly father, was a portion of the Egyptian
belief.[122:1]

Horus, who had the epithet of "Saviour," was born of the virgin
Isis. "His birth was one of the greatest Mysteries of the Egyptian
religion. Pictures representing it appear on the walls of
temples."[122:2] He is "the second emanation of Amon, the son whom he
begot."[122:3] Egyptian monuments represent the infant Saviour in the
arms of his virgin mother, or sitting on her knee.[122:4] An inscription
on a monument, translated by Champollion, reads thus:

"O thou avenger, God, son of a God; O thou avenger, Horus,
manifested by Osiris, engendered of the goddess Isis."[122:5]

The Egyptian god Ra was born from the side of his mother, but was not
engendered.[122:6]

The ancient Egyptians also deified kings and heroes, in the same manner
as the ancient Greeks and Romans. An Egyptian king became, in a sense,
"the vicar of God on earth, the infallible, and the personated
deity."[122:7]

P. Le Page Renouf, in his Hibbert Lectures on the Religion of Ancient
Egypt, says:

"I must not quit this part of my subject without a reference
to the belief that the ruling sovereign of Egypt was the
living image and vicegerent of the Sun-god (Ra). He was
invested with the attributes of divinity, and that in the
earliest times of which we possess monumental
evidence."[122:8]

Menes, who is said to have been the first king of Egypt, was believed
to be a god.[122:9]

Almost all the temples of the left bank of the Nile, at Thebes, had been
constructed in view of the worship rendered to the Pharaohs, their
founders, after their death.[122:10]

On the wall of one of these Theban temples is to be seen a picture
representing the god Thoth--the messenger of God--telling the maiden,
Queen Mautmes, that she is to give birth to a divine son, who is to be
King Amunothph III.[123:1]

An inscription found in Egypt makes the god Ra say to his son Ramses
III.:

"I am thy father; by me are begotten all thy members as
divine; I have formed thy shape like the Mendesian god; I have
begotten thee, impregnating thy venerable mother."[123:2]

Raam-ses, or Ra-me-ses, means "Son of the Sun," and Ramses Hek An,
a name of Ramses III., means "engendered by Ra (the Sun), Prince of An
(Heliopolis)."[123:3]

"Thotmes III., on the tablet of Karnak, presents offerings to his
predecessors; so does Ramses on the tablet of Abydos. Even during his
life-time the Egyptian king was denominated 'Beneficent God.'"[123:4]

The ancient Babylonians also believed that their kings were gods upon
earth. A passage from Menaut's translation of the great inscription of
Nebuchadnezzar, reads thus:

"I am Nabu-kuder-usur . . . the first-born son of Nebu-pal-usur,
King of Babylon. The god Bel himself created me, the god
Marduk engendered me, and deposited himself the germ of my
life in the womb of my mother."[123:5]

In the life of Zoroaster, the law-giver of the Persians, the common
mythos is apparent. He was born in innocence, of an immaculate
conception, of a ray of the Divine Reason. As soon as he was born the
glory from his body enlightened the whole room.[123:6] Plato informs us
that Zoroaster was said to be "the son of Oromasdes, which was the name
the Persians gave to the Supreme God"[123:7]--therefore he was the Son
of God.

From the East we will turn to the West, and shall find that many of the
ancient heroes of Grecian and Roman mythology were regarded as of divine
origin, were represented as men, possessed of god-like form, strength
and courage; were believed to have lived on earth in the remote, dim
ages of the nation's history; to have been occupied in their life-time
with thrilling adventures and extraordinary services in the cause of
human civilization, and to have been after death in some cases
translated to a life among the gods, and entitled to sacrifice and
worship. In the hospitable Pantheon of the Greeks and Romans, a niche
was always in readiness for every new divinity who could produce
respectable credentials.

The Christian Father Justin Martyr, says:

"It having reached the Devil's ears that the prophets had
foretold the coming of Christ (the Son of God), he set the
Heathen Poets to bring forward a great many who should be
called the sons of Jove. The Devil laying his scheme in
this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ
was of the same character as the prodigious fables related
of the sons of Jove."

Among these "sons of Jove" may be mentioned the following: Hercules
was the son of Jupiter by a mortal mother, Alcmene, Queen of
Thebes.[124:1] Zeus, the god of gods, spake of Hercules, his son, and
said: "This day shall a child be born of the race of Perseus, who shall
be the mightiest of the sons of men."[124:2]

Bacchus was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Semele, daughter
of Kadmus, King of Thebes.[124:3] As Montfaucon says, "It is the son of
Jupiter and Semele which the poets celebrate, and which the monuments
represent."[124:4]

Bacchus is made to say:

"I, son of Deus, am come to this land of the Thebans, Bacchus,
whom formerly Semele the daughter of Kadmus brings forth,
being delivered by the lightning-bearing flame: and having
taken a mortal form instead of a god's, I have arrived at the
fountains of Dirce and the water of Ismenus."[124:5]

Amphion was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Antiope, daughter
of Nicetus, King of Boeotia.[124:6]

Prometheus, whose name is derived from a Greek word signifying
foresight and providence, was a deity who united the divine and human
nature in one person, and was confessedly both man and god.[124:7]

Perseus was the son of Jupiter by the virgin Danae, daughter of
Acrisius, King of Argos.[124:8] Divine honors were paid him, and a
temple was erected to him in Athens.[124:9]

Justin Martyr (A. D. 140), in his Apology to the Emperor Adrian, says:

"By declaring the Logos, the first-begotten of God, our
Master, Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin, without any
human mixture, we (Christians) say no more in this than what
you (Pagans) say of those whom you style the Sons of Jove.
For you need not be told what a parcel of sons the writers
most in vogue among you assign to Jove. . . .

"As to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him to be
nothing more than man, yet the title of 'the Son of God' is
very justifiable, upon the account of his wisdom, considering
that you (Pagans) have your Mercury in worship under the title
of the Word, a messenger of God. . . .

"As to his (Jesus Christ's) being born of a virgin, you have
your Perseus to balance that."[125:1]

Mercury was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Maia, daughter of
Atlas. Cyllene, in Arcadia, is said to have been the scene of his birth
and education, and a magnificent temple was erected to him there.[125:2]

AEolus, king of the Lipari Islands, near Sicily, was the son of Jupiter
and a mortal mother, Acasta.[125:3]

Apollo was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Latona.[125:4] Like
Buddha and Lao-Kiun, Apollo, so the Ephesians said, was born under a
tree; Latona, taking shelter under an olive-tree, was delivered
there.[125:5] Then there was joy among the undying gods in Olympus, and
the Earth laughed beneath the smile of Heaven.[125:6]

Aethlius, who is said to have been one of the institutors of the
Orphic games, was the son of Jupiter by a mortal mother,
Protogenia.[125:7]

Arcas was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother.[125:8]

Aroclus was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother.[125:9]

We might continue and give the names of many more sons of Jove, but
sufficient has been seen, we believe, to show, in the words of Justin,
that Jove had a great "parcel of sons." "The images of self-restraint,
of power used for the good of others, are prominent in the lives of all
or almost all the Zeus-born heroes."[125:10]

This Jupiter, who begat so many sons, was the supreme god of the Pagans.
In the words of Orpheus:

"Jupiter is omnipotent; the first and the last, the head and
the midst; Jupiter, the giver of all things, the foundation of
the earth, and the starry heavens."[125:11]

The ancient Romans were in the habit of deifying their living and
departed emperors, and gave to them the title of DIVUS, or the Divine
One. It was required throughout the whole empire that divine honors
should be paid to the emperors.[125:12] They had a ceremony called
Apotheosis, or deification. After this ceremony, temples, altars, and
images, with attributes of divinity, were erected to the new deity. It
is related by Eusebius, Tertullian, and Chrysostom, that Tiberius
proposed to the Roman Senate the Apotheosis or deification of Jesus
Christ.[126:1] AElius Lampridius, in his Life of Alexander Severus (who
reigned A. D. 222-235), says:

"This emperor had two private chapels, one more honorable than
the other; and in the former were placed the deified emperors,
and also some eminent good men, among them Abraham, Christ,
and Orpheus."[126:2]

Romulus, who is said to have been the founder of Rome, was believed to
have been the son of God by a pure virgin, Rhea-Sylvia.[126:3] One
Julius Proculus took a solemn oath, that Romulus himself appeared to him
and ordered him to inform the Senate of his being called up to the
assembly of the gods, under the name of Quirinus.[126:4]

Julius Caesar was supposed to have had a god for a father.[126:5]

Augustus Caesar was also believed to have been of celestial origin, and
had all the honors paid to him as to a divine person.[126:6] His
divinity is expressed by Virgil, in the following lines:

"----Turn, turn thine eyes, see here thy race divine,
Behold thy own imperial Roman Sine:
Caesar, with all the Julian name survey;
See where the glorious ranks ascend to-day!--
This--this is he--the chief so long foretold,
To bless the land where Saturn ruled of old,
And give the Learnean realms a second eye of gold!
The promised prince, Augustus the divine,
Of Caesar's race, and Jove's immortal line."[126:7]

"The honors due to the gods," says Tacitus, "were no longer sacred:
Augustus claimed equal worship. Temples were built, and statues were
erected, to him; a mortal man was adored, and priests and pontiffs were
appointed to pay him impious homage."[126:8]

Divine honors were declared to the memory of Claudius, after his death,
and he was added to the number of the gods. The titles "Our Lord," "Our
Master," and "Our God," were given to the Emperors of Rome, even while
living.[126:9]

In the deification of the Caesars, a testimony upon oath, of an eagle's
flying out of the funeral pile, toward heaven, which was supposed to
convey the soul of the deceased, was the established proof of their
divinity.[127:1]

Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia (born 356 B. C.), whom genius
and uncommon success had raised above ordinary men, was believed to have
been a god upon earth.[127:2] He was believed to have been the son of
Jupiter by a mortal mother, Olympias.

Alexander at one time visited the temple of Jupiter Ammon, which was
situated in an oasis in the Libyan desert, and the Oracle there
declared him to be a son of the god. He afterwards issued his orders,
letters, decrees, &c., styling himself "Alexander, son of Jupiter
Ammon."[127:3]

The words of the oracle which declared him to be divine were as follows,
says Socrates:

"Let altars burn and incense pour, please Jove Minerva eke;
The potent Prince though nature frail, his favor you must seek,
For Jove from heaven to earth him sent, lo! Alexander king,
As God he comes the earth to rule, and just laws for to bring."[127:4]

Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander's generals in his Eastern campaigns,
and into whose hands Egypt fell at the death of Alexander, was also
believed to have been of divine origin. At the siege of Rhodes, Ptolemy
had been of such signal service to its citizens that in gratitude they
paid divine honors to him, and saluted him with the title of Soter,
i. e., Saviour. By that designation, "Ptolemy Soter," he is
distinguished from the succeeding kings of the Macedonian dynasty in
Egypt.[127:5]

Cyrus, King of Persia, was believed to have been of divine origin;
he was called the "Christ," or the "Anointed of God," and God's
messenger.[127:6]

Plato, born at Athens 429 B. C., was believed to have been the son of
God by a pure virgin, called Perictione.[127:7]

The reputed father of Plato (Aris) was admonished in a dream to respect
the person of his wife until after the birth of the child of which she
was then pregnant by a god.[127:8]

Prof. Draper, speaking of Plato, says:

"The Egyptian disciples of Plato would have looked with anger
on those who rejected the legend that Perictione, the mother
of that great philosopher, a pure virgin, had suffered an
immaculate conception through the influences of (the god)
Apollo, and that the god had declared to Aris, to whom she
was betrothed, the parentage of the child."[128:1]

Here we have the legend of the angel appearing to Joseph--to whom Mary
was betrothed--believed in by the disciples of Plato for centuries
before the time of Christ Jesus, the only difference being that the
virgin's name was Perictione instead of Mary, and the confiding
husband's name Aris instead of Joseph. We have another similar case.

The mother of Apollonius (B. C. 41) was informed by a god, who
appeared to her, that he himself should be born of her.[128:2] In the
course of time she gave birth to Apollonius, who became a great
religious teacher, and performer of miracles.[128:3]

Pythagoras, born about 570 B. C., had divine honors paid him. His
mother is said to have become impregnated through a spectre, or Holy
Ghost. His father--or foster-father--was also informed that his wife
should bring forth a son, who should be a benefactor to mankind.[128:4]

AEsculapius, the great performer of miracles,[128:5] was supposed to be
the son of a god and a worldly mother, Coronis. The Messenians, who
consulted the oracle at Delphi to know where AEsculapius was born, and of
what parents, were informed that a god was his father, Coronis his
mother, and that their son was born at Epidaurus.

Coronis, to conceal her pregnancy from her father, went to Epidaurus,
where she was delivered of a son, whom she exposed on a mountain.
Aristhenes, a goat-herd, going in search of a goat and a dog missing
from his fold, discovered the child, whom he would have carried to his
home, had he not, upon approaching to lift him from the earth,
perceived his head encircled with fiery rays, which made him believe
the child was divine. The voice of fame soon published the birth of a
miraculous infant, upon which the people flocked from all quarters to
behold this heaven-born child.[128:6]

Being honored as a god in Phenicia and Egypt, his worship passed into
Greece and Rome.[128:7]

Simon the Samaritan, surnamed "Magus" or the "Magician," who was
contemporary with Jesus, was believed to be a god. In Rome, where he
performed wonderful miracles, he was honored as a god, and his picture
placed among the gods.[129:1]

Justin Martyr, quoted by Eusebius, tells us that Simon Magus attained
great honor among the Romans. That he was believed to be a god, and
that he was worshiped as such. Between two bridges upon the River
Tibris, was to be seen this inscription: "Simoni Deo Sancto," i. e.
"To Simon the Holy God."[129:2]

It was customary with all the heroes of the northern nations (Danes,
Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders), to speak of themselves as sprung
from their supreme deity, Odin. The historians of those times, that is
to say, the poets, never failed to bestow the same honor on all those
whose praises they sang; and thus they multiplied the descendants of
Odin as much as they found convenient. The first-begotten son of Odin
was Thor, whom the Eddas call the most valiant of his sons. "Baldur the
Good," the "Beneficent Saviour," was the son of the Supreme Odin and the
goddess Frigga, whose worship was transferred to that of the Virgin
Mary.[129:3]

In the mythological systems of America, a virgin-born god was not less
clearly recognized than in those of the Old World. Among the savage
tribes his origin and character were, for obvious reasons, much
confused; but among the more advanced nations he occupied a well-defined
position. Among the nations of Anahuac, he bore the name of
Quetzalcoatle, and was regarded with the highest veneration.

For ages before the landing of Columbus on its shores, the inhabitants
of ancient Mexico worshiped a "Saviour"--as they called
him--(Quetzalcoatle) who was born of a pure virgin.[129:4] A
messenger from heaven announced to his mother that she should bear a son
without connection with man.[129:5] Lord Kingsborough tells us that the
annunciation of the virgin Sochiquetzal, mother of Quetzalcoatle,--who
was styled the "Queen of Heaven"[129:6]--was the subject of a Mexican
hieroglyph.[129:7]

The embassador was sent from heaven to this virgin, who had two sisters,
Tzochitlique and Conatlique. "These three being alone in the house, two
of them, on perceiving the embassador from heaven, died of fright,
Sochiquetzal remaining alive, to whom the ambassador announced that it
was the will of God that she should conceive a son."[130:1] She
therefore, according to the prediction, "conceived a son, without
connection with man, who was called Quetzalcoatle."[130:2]

Dr. Daniel Brinton, in his "Myths of the New World," says:

"The Central figure of Toltec mythology is Quetzalcoatle.
Not an author on ancient Mexico, but has something to say
about the glorious days when he ruled over the land. No one
denies him to have been a god. He was born of a virgin in
the land of Tula or Tlopallan."[130:3]

The Mayas of Yucatan had a virgin-born god, corresponding entirely
with Quetzalcoatle, if he was not the same under a different name, a
conjecture very well sustained by the evident relationship between the
Mexican and Mayan mythologies. He was named Zama, and was the
only-begotten son of their supreme god, Kinchahan.[130:4]

The Muyscas of Columbia had a similar hero-god. According to their
traditionary history, he bore the name of Bochica. He was the
incarnation of the Great Father, whose sovereignty and paternal care he
emblematized.[130:5]

The inhabitants of Nicaragua called their principal god Thomathoyo;
and said that he had a son, who came down to earth, whose name was
Theotbilahe, and that he was their general instructor.[130:6]

We find a corresponding character in the traditionary history of Peru.
The Sun--the god of the Peruvians--deploring their miserable condition,
sent down his son, Manco Capac, to instruct them in religion,
&c.[130:7]

We have also traces of a similar personage in the traditionary Votan
of Guatemala; but our accounts concerning him are more vague than in
the cases above mentioned.

We find this traditional character in countries and among tribes where
we would be least apt to suspect its existence. In Brazil, besides the
common belief in an age of violence, during which the world was
destroyed by water, there is a tradition of a supernatural personage
called Zome, whose history is similar, in some respects, to that of
Quetzalcoatle.[130:8]

The semi-civilized agricultural tribes of Florida had like traditions.
The Cherokees, in particular, had a priest and law-giver essentially
corresponding to Quetzalcoatle and Bochica. He was their great prophet,
and bore the name of Wasi. "He told them what had been from the
beginning of the world, and what would be, and gave the people in all
things directions what to do. He appointed their feasts and fasts, and
all the ceremonies of their religion, and enjoined upon them to obey his
directions from generation to generation."[131:1]

Among the savage tribes the same notions prevailed. The Edues of the
Californians taught that there was a supreme Creator, Niparaga, and
that his son, Quaagagp, came down upon the earth and instructed the
Indians in religion, &c. Finally, through hatred, the Indians killed
him; but although dead, he is incorruptible and beautiful. To him they
pay adoration, as the mediatory power between earth and the Supreme
Niparaga.[131:2]

The Iroquois also had a beneficent being, uniting in himself the
character of a god and man, who was called Tarengawagan. He imparted
to them the knowledge of the laws of the Great Spirit, established their
form of government, &c.[131:3]

Among the Algonquins, and particularly among the Ojibways and other
remnants of that stock of the North-west, this intermediate great
teacher (denominated, by Mr. Schoolcraft, in his "Notes of the
Iroquois," "the great incarnation of the North-west") is fully
recognized. He bears the name of Michabou, and is represented as the
first-born son of a great celestial Manitou, or Spirit, by an earthly
mother, and is esteemed the friend and protector of the human
race.[131:4]

I think we can now say with M. Dupuis, that "the idea of a God, who came
down on earth to save mankind, is neither new nor peculiar to the
Christians," and with Cicero, the great Roman orator and philosopher,
that "brave, famous or powerful men, after death, came to be gods, and
they are the very ones whom we are accustomed to worship, pray to and
venerate."

Taking for granted that the synoptic Gospels are historical, there is no
proof that Jesus ever claimed to be either God, or a god; on the other
hand, it is quite the contrary.[131:5] As Viscount Amberly says: "The
best proof of this is that Jesus never, at any period of his life,
desired his followers to worship him, either as God, or as the Son of
God," in the sense in which it is now understood. Had he believed of
himself what his followers subsequently believed of him, that he was one
of the constituent persons in a divine Trinity, he must have enjoined
his Apostles both to address him in prayer themselves, and to desire
their converts to do likewise. It is quite plain that he did nothing of
the kind, and that they never supposed him to have done so.

Belief in Jesus as the Messiah was taught as the first dogma of
Christianity, but adoration of Jesus as God was not taught at all.

But we are not left in this matter to depend on conjectural inferences.
The words put into the mouth of Jesus are plain. Whenever occasion
arose, he asserted his inferiority to the Father, though, as no one
had then dreamt of his equality, it is natural that the occasions should
not have been frequent.

He made himself inferior in knowledge when he said that of the day and
hour of the day of judgment no one knew, neither the angels in heaven
nor the Son; no one except the Father.[132:1]

He made himself inferior in power when he said that seats on his right
hand and on his left in the kingdom of heaven were not his to
give.[132:2]

He made himself inferior in virtue when he desired a certain man not
to address him as "Good Master," for there was none good but God.[132:3]

The words of his prayer at Gethsemane, "all things are possible unto
thee," imply that all things were not possible to him, while its
conclusion "not what I will, but what thou wilt," indicates
submission to a superior, not the mere execution of a purpose of his
own.[132:4] Indeed, the whole prayer would have been a mockery, useless
for any purpose but the deception of his disciples, if he had himself
been identical with the Being to whom he prayed, and had merely been
giving effect by his death to their common counsels. While the cry of
agony from the cross, "My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken
me?"[132:5] would have been quite unmeaning if the person forsaken,
and the person forsaking, had been one and the same.

Either, then, we must assume that the language of Jesus has been
misreported, or we must admit that he never for a moment pretended to be
co-equal, co-eternal or consubstantial with God.

It also follows of necessity from both the genealogies,[133:1] that
their compilers entertained no doubt that Joseph was the father of
Jesus. Otherwise the descent of Joseph would not have been in the least
to the point. All attempts to reconcile this inconsistency with the
doctrine of the Angel-Messiah has been without avail, although the most
learned Christian divines, for many generations past, have endeavored to
do so.

So, too, of the stories of the Presentation in the Temple,[133:2] and of
the child Jesus at Jerusalem,[133:3] Joseph is called his father.
Jesus is repeatedly described as the son of the carpenter,[133:4] or
the son of Joseph, without the least indication that the expression is
not strictly in accordance with the fact.[133:5]

If his parents fail to understand him when he says, at twelve years old,
that he must be about his Father's business;[133:6] if he afterwards
declares that he finds no faith among his nearest relations;[133:7] if
he exalts his faithful disciples above his unbelieving mother and
brothers;[133:8] above all, if Mary and her other sons put down his
prophetic enthusiasm to insanity;[133:9]--then the untrustworthy
nature of these stories of his birth is absolutely certain. If even a
little of what they tell us had been true, then Mary at least would
have believed in Jesus, and would not have failed so utterly to
understand him.[133:10]

The Gospel of Mark--which, in this respect, at least, abides most
faithfully by the old apostolic tradition--says not a word about
Bethlehem or the miraculous birth. The congregation of Jerusalem to
which Mary and the brothers of Jesus belonged,[133:11] and over which
the eldest of them, James, presided,[133:12] can have known nothing of
it; for the later Jewish-Christian communities, the so-called Ebionites,
who were descended from the congregation at Jerusalem, called Jesus the
son of Joseph. Nay, the story that the Holy Spirit was the father of
Jesus, must have risen among the Greeks, or elsewhere, and not among
the first believers, who were Jews, for the Hebrew word for spirit is
of the feminine gender.[134:1]

The immediate successors of the "congregation at Jerusalem"--to which
Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers belonged--were, as we have
seen, the Ebionites. Eusebius, the first ecclesiastical historian (born
A. D. 264), speaking of the Ebionites (i. e. "poor men"), tell us
that they believed Jesus to be "a simple and common man," born as
other men, "of Mary and her husband."[134:2]

The views held by the Ebionites of Jesus were, it is said, derived from
the Gospel of Matthew, and what they learned direct from the Apostles.
Matthew had been a hearer of Jesus, a companion of the Apostles, and had
seen and no doubt conversed with Mary. When he wrote his Gospel
everything was fresh in his mind, and there could be no object, on his
part, in writing the life of Jesus, to state falsehoods or omit
important truths in order to deceive his countrymen. If what is stated
in the interpolated first two chapters, concerning the miraculous
birth of Jesus, were true, Matthew would have known of it; and, knowing
it, why should he omit it in giving an account of the life of
Jesus?[134:3]

The Ebionites, or Nazarenes, as they were previously called were
rejected by the Jews as apostates, and by the Egyptian and Roman
Christians as heretics, therefore, until they completely disappear,
their history is one of tyrannical persecution. Although some traces of
that obsolete sect may be discovered as late as the fourth century, they
insensibly melted away, either into the Roman Christian Church, or into
the Jewish Synagogue,[134:4] and with them perished the original
Gospel of Matthew, the only Gospel written by an apostle.

"Who, where masses of men are burning to burst the bonds of time and
sense, to deify and to adore, wants what seems earth-born, prosaic fact?
Woe to the man that dares to interpose it! Woe to the sect of faithful
Ebionites even, and on the very soil of Palestine, that dare to maintain
the earlier, humbler tradition! Swiftly do they become heretics,
revilers, blasphemers, though sanctioned by a James, brother of the
Lord."

Edward Gibbon, speaking of this most unfortunate sect, says:

"A laudable regard for the honor of the first proselytes has
countenanced the belief, the hope, the wish, that the
Ebionites, or at least the Nazarenes, were distinguished only
by their obstinate perseverance in the practice of the Mosaic
rites. Their churches have disappeared, their books are
obliterated, their obscure freedom might allow a latitude of
faith, and the softness of their infant creed would be
variously moulded by the zeal of prejudice of three hundred
years. Yet the most charitable criticism must refuse these
sectaries any knowledge of the pure and proper divinity of
Christ. Educated in the school of Jewish prophecy and
prejudice, they had never been taught to elevate their hope
above a human and temporal Messiah. If they had courage to
hail their king when he appeared in a plebeian garb, their
grosser apprehensions were incapable of discerning their God,
who had studiously disguised his celestial character under
the name and person of a mortal.

"The familiar companions of Jesus of Nazareth conversed with
their friend and countryman, who, in all the actions of
rational and human life, appeared of the same species with
themselves. His progress from infancy to youth and manhood was
marked by a regular increase in stature and wisdom; and after
a painful agony of mind and body, he expired on the
cross."[135:1]

The Jewish Christians then--the congregation of Jerusalem, and their
immediate successors, the Ebionites or Nazarenes--saw in their master
nothing more than a man. From this, and the other facts which we have
seen in this chapter, it is evident that the man Jesus of Nazareth was
deified long after his death, just as many other men had been deified
centuries before his time, and even after. Until it had been settled
by a council of bishops that Jesus was not only a God, but "God
himself in human form," who appeared on earth, as did Crishna of old,
to redeem and save mankind, there were many theories concerning his
nature.

Among the early Christians there were a certain class called by the
later Christians Heretics. Among these may be mentioned the
"Carpocratians," named after one Carpocrates. They maintained that
Jesus was a mere man, born of Joseph and Mary, like other men, but
that he was good and virtuous. "Some of them have the vanity," says
Irenaeus, "to think that they may equal, or in some respects exceed,
Jesus himself."[135:2]

These are called by the general name of Gnostics, and comprehend almost
all the sects of the first two ages.[135:3] They said that "all the
ancients, and even the Apostles themselves, received and taught the same
things which they held; and that the truth of the Gospel had been
preserved till the time of Victor, the thirteenth Bishop of Rome, but
by his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth had been corrupted."[135:4]

Eusebius, speaking of Artemon and his followers, who denied the
divinity of Christ, says:

"They affirm that all our ancestors, yea, and the Apostles
themselves, were of the same opinion, and taught the same with
them, and that this their true doctrine (for so they call it)
was preached and embraced unto the time of Victor, the
thirteenth Bishop of Rome after Peter, and corrupted by his
successor Zephyrinus."[136:1]

There were also the "Cerinthians," named after one Cerinthus, who
maintained that Jesus was not born of a virgin, which to them
appeared impossible, but that he was the son of Joseph and Mary, born
altogether as other men are; but he excelled all men in virtue,
knowledge and wisdom. At the time of his baptism, "the Christ" came
down upon him in the shape of a dove, and left him at the time of his
crucifixion.[136:2]

Irenaeus, speaking of Cerinthus and his doctrines, says:

"He represents Jesus as the son of Joseph and Mary, according
to the ordinary course of human generation, and not as
having been born of a virgin. He believed nevertheless that he
was more righteous, prudent and wise than most men, and that
the Christ descended upon, and entered into him, at the time
of his baptism."[136:3]

The Docetes were a numerous and learned sect of Asiatic Christians who
invented the Phantastic system, which was afterwards promulgated by
the Marcionites, the Manicheans, and various other sects.

They denied the truth and authenticity of the Gospels, as far as they
related to the conception of Mary, the birth of Jesus, and the thirty
years that preceded the exercise of his ministry.

Bordering upon the Jewish and Gentile world, the Cerinthians labored
to reconcile the Gnostic and the Ebionite, by confessing in the
same Messiah the supernatural union of a man and a god; and this
mystic doctrine was adopted, with many fanciful improvements, by many
sects. The hypothesis was this: that Jesus of Nazareth was a mere
mortal, the legitimate son of Joseph and Mary, but he was the best and
wisest of the human race, selected as the worthy instrument to restore
upon earth the worship of the true and supreme Deity. When he was
baptized in the Jordan, and not till then, he became more than man.
At that time, the Christ, the first of the AEons, the Son of God
himself, descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, to inhabit his
mind, and direct his actions during the allotted period of his
ministry. When he was delivered into the hands of the Jews, the
Christ forsook him, flew back to the world of spirits, and left the
solitary Jesus to suffer, to complain, and to die. This is why he
said, while hanging on the cross: "My God! My God! why hast thou
forsaken me?"[137:1]

Here, then, we see the first budding out of--what was termed by the
true followers of Jesus--heretical doctrines. The time had not yet
come to make Jesus a god, to claim that he had been born of a virgin.
As he must, however, have been different from other mortals--throughout
the period of his ministry, at least--the Christ must have entered
into him at the time of his baptism, and as mysteriously disappeared
when he was delivered into the hands of the Jews.

In the course of time, the seeds of the faith, which had slowly arisen
in the rocky and ungrateful soil of Judea, were transplanted, in full
maturity, to the happier climes of the Gentiles; and the strangers of
Rome and Alexandria, who had never beheld the manhood, were more
ready to embrace the divinity of Jesus.

The polytheist and the philosopher, the Greek and the barbarian, were
alike accustomed to receive--as we have seen in this chapter--a long
succession and infinite chain of angels, or deities, or aeons, or
emanations, issuing from the throne of light. Nor could it seem strange
and incredible to them, that the first of the aeons, the Logos, or
Word of God, of the same substance with the Father, should descend upon
earth, to deliver the human race from vice and error. The histories of
their countries, their odes, and their religions were teeming with such
ideas, as happening in the past, and they were also looking for and
expecting an Angel-Messiah.[137:2]

Centuries rolled by, however, before the doctrine of Christ Jesus, the
Angel-Messiah, became a settled question, an established tenet in the
Christian faith. The dignity of Christ Jesus was measured by private
judgment, according to the indefinite rule of Scripture, or
tradition or reason. But when his pure and proper divinity had been
established on the ruins of Arianism, the faith of the Catholics
trembled on the edge of a precipice where it was impossible to recede,
dangerous to stand, dreadful to fall; and the manifold inconveniences
of their creed were aggravated by the sublime character of their
theology. They hesitated to pronounce that God himself, the second
person of an equal and consubstantial Trinity, was manifested in the
flesh,[137:3] that the Being who pervades the universe had been
confined in the womb of Mary; that his eternal duration had been
marked by the days, and months, and years of human existence; that the
Almighty God had been scourged and crucified; that his impassible
essence had felt pain and anguish; that his omniscience was not
exempt from ignorance; and that the source of life and immortality
expired on Mount Calvary.

These alarming consequences were affirmed with unblushing simplicity by
Apollinaris, Bishop of Laodicea, and one of the luminaries of the
Church. The son of a learned grammarian, he was skilled in all the
sciences of Greece; eloquence, erudition, and philosophy, conspicuous in
the volumes of Apollinaris, were humbly devoted to the service of
religion.

The worthy friend of Athanasius, the worthy antagonist of Julian, he
bravely wrestled with the Arians and polytheists, and though he
affected the rigor of geometrical demonstration, his commentaries
revealed the literal and allegorical sense of the Scriptures.

A mystery, which had long floated in the looseness of popular belief,
was defined by his perverse diligence in a technical form, and he first
proclaimed the memorable words, "One incarnate nature of
Christ."[138:1]

This was about A. D. 362, he being Bishop of Laodicea, in Syria, at that
time.[138:2]

The recent zeal against the errors of Apollinaris reduced the Catholics
to a seeming agreement with the double-nature of Cerinthus. But
instead of a temporary and occasional alliance, they established, and
Christians still embrace, the substantial, indissoluble, and
everlasting union of a perfect God with a perfect man, of the second
person of the Trinity with a reasonable soul and human flesh. In the
beginning of the fifth century, the unity of the two natures was the
prevailing doctrine of the church.[138:3] From that time, until a
comparatively recent period, the cry was: "May those who divide
Christ[138:4] be divided with the sword; may they be hewn in pieces,
may they be burned alive!" These were actually the words of a
Christian synod.[139:1] Is it any wonder that after this came the
dark ages? How appropriate is the name which has been applied to the
centuries which followed! Dark indeed they were. Now and then,
however, a ray of light was seen, which gave evidence of the coming
morn, whose glorious light we now enjoy. But what a grand light is yet
to come from the noon-day sun, which must shed its glorious rays over
the whole earth, ere it sets.


FOOTNOTES:

[111:1] Matthew, i. 18-25.

[111:2] The Luke narrator tells the story in a different manner. His
account is more like that recorded in the KORAN, which says that Gabriel
appeared unto Mary in the shape of a perfect man, that Mary, upon seeing
him, and seeming to understand his intentions, said: "If thou fearest
God, thou wilt not approach me." Gabriel answering said: "Verily, I am
the messenger of the Lord, and am sent to give thee a holy son." (Koran,
ch. xix.)

[112:1] Instead, however, of the benevolent Jesus, the "Prince of
Peace"--as Christian writers make him out to be--the Jews were expecting
a daring and irresistible warrior and conqueror, who, armed with greater
power than Caesar, was to come upon earth to rend the fetters in which
their hapless nation





Next: The Star Of Bethlehem

Previous: Conclusion Of Part First



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