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The Resurrection And Ascension Of Christ Jesus





The story of the resurrection of Christ Jesus is related by the four
Gospel narrators, and is to the effect that, after being crucified, his
body was wrapped in a linen cloth, laid in a tomb, and a "great stone"
rolled to the door. The sepulchre was then made sure by "sealing the
stone" and "setting a watch."

On the first day of the week some of Jesus' followers came to see the
sepulchre, when they found that, in spite of the "sealing" and the
"watch," the angel of the Lord had descended from heaven, had rolled
back the stone from the door, and that "Jesus had risen from the
dead."[215:1]

The story of his ascension is told by the Mark[215:2] narrator, who
says "he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God;"
by Luke,[215:3] who says "he was carried up into heaven;" and by the
writer of the Acts,[215:4] who says "he was taken up (to heaven) and a
cloud received him out of sight."

We will find, in stripping Christianity of its robes of Paganism, that
these miraculous events must be put on the same level with those we have
already examined.

Crishna, the crucified Hindoo Saviour, rose from the dead,[215:5]
and ascended bodily into heaven.[215:6] At that time a great light
enveloped the earth and illuminated the whole expanse of heaven.
Attended by celestial spirits, and luminous as on that night when he was
born in the house of Vasudeva, Crishna pursued, by his own light, the
journey between earth and heaven, to the bright paradise from whence he
had descended. All men saw him, and exclaimed, "Lo, Crishna's soul
ascends its native skies!"[215:7]

Samuel Johnson, in his "Oriental Religions," tells us that Rama--an
incarnation of Vishnu--after his manifestations on earth, "at last
ascended to heaven," "resuming his divine essence."

"By the blessings of Rama's name, and through previous faith in him, all
sins are remitted, and every one who shall at death pronounce his name
with sincere worship shall be forgiven."[216:1]

The mythological account of Buddha, the son of the Virgin Maya, who,
as the God of Love, is named Cam-deo, Cam, and Cama, is of the
same character as that of other virgin-born gods. When he died there
were tears and lamentations. Heaven and earth are said equally to have
lamented the loss of "Divine Love," insomuch that Maha-deo (the
supreme god) was moved to pity, and exclaimed, "Rise, holy love!" on
which Cama was restored and the lamentations changed into the most
enthusiastic joy. The heavens are said to have echoed back the exulting
sound; then the deity, supposed to be lost (dead), was restored,
"hell's great dread and heaven's eternal admiration."[216:2]

The coverings of the body unrolled themselves, and the lid of his coffin
was opened by supernatural powers.[216:3]

Buddha also ascended bodily to the celestial regions when his mission
on earth was fulfilled, and marks on the rocks of a high mountain are
shown, and believed to be the last impression of his footsteps on this
earth. By prayers in his name his followers expect to receive the
rewards of paradise, and finally to become one with him, as he became
one with the Source of Life.[216:4]

Lao-Kiun, the virgin-born, he who had existed from all eternity, when
his mission of benevolence was completed on earth, ascended bodily into
the paradise above. Since this time he has been worshiped as a god,
and splendid temples erected to his memory.[216:5]

Zoroaster, the founder of the religion of the ancient Persians, who
was considered "a divine messenger sent to redeem men from their evil
ways," ascended to heaven at the end of his earthly career. To this
day his followers mention him with the greatest reverence, calling him
"The Immortal Zoroaster," "The Blessed Zoroaster," "The Living Star,"
&c.[216:6]

AEsculapius, the Son of God, the Saviour, after being put to death,
rose from the dead. His history is portrayed in the following lines of
Ovid's, which are prophecies foretelling his life and actions:

"Once, as the sacred infant she surveyed,
The god was kindled in the raving maid;
And thus she uttered her prophetic tale:
Hail, great Physician of the world! all hail!
Hail, mighty infant, who in years to come
Shalt heal the nations, and defraud the tomb!
Swift be thy growth, thy triumphs unconfined,
Make kingdoms thicker, and increase mankind.
Thy daring art shall animate the dead,
And draw the thunder on thy guilty head;
Then shalt thou die, but from the dark abode
Shalt rise victorious, and be twice a god."[217:1]

The Saviour Adonis or Tammuz, after being put to death, rose from
the dead. The following is an account given of the rites of Tammuz or
of Adonis by Julius Firmicius (who lived during the reign of
Constantine):

"On a certain night (while the ceremony of the Adonia, or
religious rites in honor of Adonis, lasted), an image was laid
upon a bed (or bier) and bewailed in doleful ditties. After
they had satiated themselves with fictitious lamentations,
light was brought in: then the mouths of all the mourners were
anointed by the priests (with oil), upon which he, with a
gentle murmur, whispered:

'Trust, ye Saints, your God restored.
Trust ye, in your risen Lord;
For the pains which he endured
Our salvation have procured.'

"Literally, 'Trust, ye communicants: the God having been
saved, there shall be to us out of pain, Salvation.'"[217:2]

Upon which their sorrow was turned into joy.

Godwyn renders it:

"Trust ye in God, for out of pains,
Salvation is come unto us."[217:3]

Dr. Prichard, in his "Egyptian Mythology," tells us that the Syrians
celebrated, in the early spring, this ceremony in honor of the
resurrection of Adonis. After lamentations, his restoration was
commemorated with joy and festivity.[217:4]

Mons. Dupuis says:

"The obsequies of Adonis were celebrated at Alexandria (in
Egypt) with the utmost display. His image was carried with
great solemnity to a tomb, which served the purpose of
rendering him the last honors. Before singing his return to
life, there were mournful rites celebrated in honor of his
suffering and his death. The large wound he had received was
shown, just as the wound was shown which was made to Christ by
the thrust of the spear. The feast of his resurrection was
fixed at the 25th of March."[218:1]

In Calmet's "Fragments," the resurrection of Adonis is referred to as
follows:

"In these mysteries, after the attendants had for a long
time bewailed the death of this just person, he was at
length understood to be restored to life, to have
experienced a resurrection; signified by the re-admission of
light. On this the priest addressed the company, saying,
'Comfort yourselves, all ye who have been partakers of the
mysteries of the deity, thus preserved: for we shall now enjoy
some respite from our labors:' to which were added these
words: 'I have scaped a sad calamity, and my lot is greatly
mended.' The people answered by the invocation: 'Hail to the
Dove! the Restorer of Light!'"[218:2]

Alexander Murray tells us that the ancient Greeks also celebrated this
festival in honor of the resurrection of Adonis, in the course of which
a figure of him was produced, and the ceremony of burial, with weeping
and songs of wailing, gone through. After these a joyful shout was
raised: "Adonis lives and is risen again."[218:3]

Plutarch, in his life of Alcibiades and of Nicias, tells us that it was
at the time of the celebration of the death of Adonis that the
Athenian fleet set sail for its unlucky expedition to Sicily; that
nothing but images of dead Adonises were to be met with in the streets,
and that they were carried to the sepulchre in the midst of an immense
train of women, crying and beating their breasts, and imitating in every
particular the lugubrious pomp of interments. Sinister omens were drawn
from it, which were only too much realized by subsequent events.[218:4]

It was in an oration or address delivered to the Emperors Constans and
Constantius that Julius Firmicius wrote concerning the rites celebrated
by the heathens in commemoration of the resurrection of Adonis. In his
tide of eloquence he breaks away into indignant objurgation of the
priest who officiated in those heathen mysteries, which, he admitted,
resembled the Christian sacrament in honor of the death and
resurrection of Christ Jesus, so closely that there was really no
difference between them, except that no sufficient proof had been given
to the world of the resurrection of Adonis, and no divine oracle had
borne witness to his resurrection, nor had he shown himself alive
after his death to those who were concerned to have assurance of the
fact that they might believe.

The divine oracle, be it observed, which Julius Firmicius says had
borne testimony to Christ Jesus' resurrection, was none other than the
answer of the god Apollo, whom the Pagans worshiped at Delphos, which
this writer derived from Porphyry's books "On the Philosophy of
Oracles."[219:1]

Eusebius, the celebrated ecclesiastical historian, has also condescended
to quote this claimed testimony from a Pagan oracle, as furnishing one
of the most convincing proofs that could be adduced in favor of the
resurrection of Christ Jesus.

"But thou at least (says he to the Pagans), listen to thine
own gods, to thy oracular deities themselves, who have borne
witness, and ascribed to our Saviour (Jesus Christ) not
imposture, but piety and wisdom, and ascent into heaven."

This was vastly obliging and liberal of the god Apollo, but, it happens
awkwardly enough, that the whole work (consisting of several books)
ascribed to Porphyry, in which this and other admissions equally
honorable to the evidences of the Christian religion are made, was not
written by Porphyry, but is altogether the pious fraud of Christian
hands, who have kindly fathered the great philosopher with admissions,
which, as he would certainly never have made himself, they have very
charitably made for him.[219:2]

The festival in honor of the resurrection of Adonis was observed in
Alexandria in Egypt--the cradle of Christianity--in the time of St.
Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (A. D. 412), and at Antioch--the ancient
capital of the Greek Kings of Syria--even as late as the time of the
Emperor Julian (A. D. 361-363), whose arrival there, during the
solemnity of the festival, was taken as an ill omen.[219:3]

It is most curious that the arrival of the Emperor Julian at
Antioch--where the followers of Christ Jesus, it is said, were first
called Christians--at that time, should be considered an ill omen. Why
should it have been so? He was not a Christian, but a known apostate
from the Christian religion, and a zealous patron of Paganism. The
evidence is very conclusive; the celebration in honor of the
resurrection of Adonis had become to be known as a Christian festival,
which has not been abolished even unto this day. The ceremonies held in
Roman Catholic countries on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday, are
nothing more than the festival of the death and resurrection of Adonis,
as we shall presently see.

Even as late as the year A. D. 386, the resurrection of Adonis was
celebrated in Judea. St. Jerome says:

"Over Bethlehem (in the year 386 after Christ) the grove of
Tammuz, that is, of Adonis, was casting its shadow! And in the
grotto where formerly the infant Anointed (i. e., Christ
Jesus) cried, the lover of Venus was being mourned."[220:1]

In the idolatrous worship practiced by the children of Israel was that
of the worship of Adonis.

Under the designation of Tammuz, this god was worshiped, and had his
altar even in the Temple of the Lord which was at Jerusalem. Several of
the Psalms of David were parts of the liturgical service employed in his
worship; the 110th, in particular, is an account of a friendly alliance
between the two gods, Jehovah and Adonis, in which Jehovah adorns Adonis
for his priest, as sitting at his right hand, and promises to fight for
him against his enemies. This god was worshiped at Byblis in Phoenicia
with precisely the same ceremonies: the same articles of faith as to his
mystical incarnation, his precious death and burial, and his glorious
resurrection and ascension, and even in the very same words of religious
adoration and homage which are now, with the slightest degree of
variation that could well be conceived, addressed to the Christ of the
Gospel.

The prophet Ezekiel, when an exile, painted once more the scene he had
so often witnessed of the Israelitish women in the Temple court
bewailing the death of Tammuz.[220:2]

Dr. Parkhurst says, in his "Hebrew Lexicon":

"I find myself obliged to refer Tammuz, as well as the Greek
and Roman Hercules, to that class of idols which were
originally designed to represent the promised Saviour (Christ
Jesus), the desire of all nations. His other name, Adonis, is
almost the very Hebrew word 'Our Lord,' a well-known title of
Christ."[220:3]

So it seems that the ingenious and most learned orthodox Dr. Parkhurst
was obliged to consider Adonis a type of "the promised Saviour (Christ
Jesus), the desire of all nations." This is a very favorite way for
Christian divines to express themselves, when pushed thereto, by the
striking resemblance between the Pagan, virgin-born, crucified, and
resurrected gods and Christ Jesus.

If the reader is satisfied that all these things are types or symbols of
what the "real Saviour" was to do and suffer, he is welcome to such
food. The doctrine of Dr. Parkhurst and others comes with but an ill
grace, however, from Roman Catholic priests, who have never ceased to
suppress information when possible, and when it was impossible for them
to do so, they claimed these things to be the work of the devil, in
imitation of their predecessors, the Christian Fathers.

Julius Firmicius has said: "The devil has his Christs," and does not
deny that Adonis was one. Tertullian and St. Justin explain all the
conformity which exists between Christianity and Paganism, by
asserting "that a long time before there were Christians in existence,
the devil had taken pleasure to have their future mysteries and
ceremonies copied by his worshipers."[221:1]

Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, after being put to death, rose from the
dead,[221:2] and bore the title of "The Resurrected One."[221:3]

Prof. Mahaffy, lecturer on ancient history in the University of Dublin,
observes that:

"The Resurrection and reign over an eternal kingdom, by an
incarnate mediating deity born of a virgin, was a
theological conception which pervaded the oldest religion of
Egypt."[221:4]

The ancient Egyptians celebrated annually, in early spring, about the
time known in Christian countries as Easter, the resurrection and
ascension of Osiris. During these mysteries the misfortunes and tragical
death of the "Saviour" were celebrated in a species of drama, in which
all the particulars were exhibited, accompanied with loud lamentations
and every mark of sorrow. At this time his image was carried in a
procession, covered--as were those in the temples--with black veils.
On the 25th of March his resurrection from the dead was celebrated
with great festivity and rejoicings.[221:5]

Alexander Murray says:

"The worship of Osiris was universal throughout Egypt, where
he was gratefully regarded as the great exemplar of
self-sacrifice--in giving his life for others--as the
manifestor of good, as the opener of truth, and as being full
of goodness and truth. After being dead, he was restored to
life."[221:6]

Mons. Dupuis says on this subject:

"The Fathers of the Church, and the writers of the Christian
sect, speak frequently of these feasts, celebrated in honor of
Osiris, who died and arose from the dead, and they draw a
parallel with the adventurers of their Christ. Athanasius,
Augustin, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Lactantius,
Firmicius, as also the ancient authors who have spoken of
Osiris . . . all agree in the description of the universal
mourning of the Egyptians at the festival, when the
commemoration of that death took place. They describe the
ceremonies which were practiced at his sepulchre, the tears,
which were there shed during several days, and the festivities
and rejoicings, which followed after that mourning, at the
moment when his resurrection was announced."[222:1]

Mr. Bonwick remarks, in his "Egyptian Belief," that:

"It is astonishing to find that, at least, five thousand years
ago, men trusted an Osiris as the 'Risen Saviour,' and
confidently hoped to rise, as he arose, from the
grave."[222:2]

Again he says:

"Osiris was, unquestionably, the popular god of Egypt. . . .
Osiris was dear to the hearts of the people. He was
pre-eminently 'good.' He was in life and death their friend.
His birth, death, burial, resurrection and ascension, embraced
the leading points of Egyptian theology." "In his efforts to
do good, he encounters evil. In struggling with that, he is
overcome. He is killed. The story, entered into in the account
of the Osiris myth, is a circumstantial one. Osiris is buried.
His tomb was the object of pilgrimage for thousands of years.
But he did not rest in his grave. At the end of three days,
or forty, he arose again, and ascended to heaven. This is the
story of his humanity." "As the invictus Osiris, his tomb
was illuminated, as is the holy sepulchre of Jerusalem now.
The mourning song, whose plaintive tones were noted by
Herodotus, and has been compared to the 'miserere' of Rome,
was followed, in three days, by the language of
triumph."[222:3]

Herodotus, who had been initiated into the Egyptian and Grecian
"Mysteries," speaks thus of them:

"At Sais (in Egypt), in the sacred precinct of Minerva; behind
the chapel and joining the wall, is the tomb of one whose name
I consider it impious to divulge on such an occasion; and in
the inclosure stand large stone obelisks, and there is a lake
near, ornamented with a stone margin, formed in a circle, and
in size, as appeared to me, much the same as that in Delos,
which is called the circular. In this lake they perform by
night the representation of that person's adventures, which
they call mysteries. On these matters, however, though
accurately acquainted with the particulars of them, I must
observe a discreet silence; and respecting the sacred rites
of Ceres, which the Greeks call Thesmyphoria, although I am
acquainted with them, I must observe silence except so far as
is lawful for me to speak of them."[222:4]

Horus, son of the virgin Isis, experienced similar misfortunes. The
principal features of this sacred romance are to be found in the
writings of the Christian Fathers. They give us a description of the
grief which was manifested at his death, and of the rejoicings at his
resurrection, which are similar to those spoken of above.[222:5]

Atys, the Phrygian Saviour, was put to death, and rose again from
the dead. Various histories were given of him in various places, but
all accounts terminated in the usual manner. He was one of the "Slain
Ones" who rose to life again on the 25th of March, or the "Hilaria" or
primitive Easter.[223:1]

Mithras, the Persian Saviour, and mediator between God and man, was
believed by the inhabitants of Persia, Asia Minor and Armenia, to have
been put to death, and to have risen again from the dead. In their
mysteries, the body of a young man, apparently dead, was exhibited,
which was feigned to be restored to life. By his sufferings he was
believed to have worked their salvation, and on this account he was
called their "Saviour." His priests watched his tomb to the midnight
of the veil of the 25th of March, with loud cries, and in darkness;
when all at once the lights burst forth from all parts, and the priest
cried:

"Rejoice, Oh sacred Initiated, your god is risen. His death,
his pains, his sufferings, have worked our salvation."[223:2]

Mons. Dupuis, speaking of the resurrection of this god, says:

"It is chiefly in the religion of Mithras. . . . that we
find mostly these features of analogy with the death and
resurrection of Christ, and with the mysteries of the
Christians. Mithras, who was also born on the 25th of
December, like Christ, died as he did; and he had his
sepulchre, over which his disciples came to shed tears. During
the night, the priests carried his image to a tomb, expressly
prepared for him; he was laid out on a litter, like the
Phoenician Adonis.

"These funeral ceremonies, like those on Good Friday (in Roman
Catholic churches), were accompanied with funeral dirges and
groans of the priests; after having spent some time with these
expressions of feigned grief; after having lighted the sacred
flambeau, or their paschal candle, and anointed the image
with chrism or perfumes, one of them came forward and
pronounced with the gravest mien these words: 'Be of good
cheer, sacred band of Initiates, your god has risen from the
dead. His pains and his sufferings shall be your
salvation.'"[223:3]

In King's "Gnostics and their Remains" (Plate XI.), may be seen the
representation of a bronze medal, or rather disk, engraved in the
coarsest manner, on which is to be seen a female figure, standing in the
attitude of adoration, the object of which is expressed by the
inscription--ORTVS SALVAT, "The Rising of the Saviour"--i. e., of
Mithras.[224:1]

"This medal" (says Mr. King), "doubtless had accompanied the
interment of some individual initiated into the Mithraic
mysteries; and is certainly the most curious relic of that
faith that has come under my notice."[224:2]

Bacchus, the Saviour, son of the virgin Semele, after being put to
death, also arose from the dead. During the commemoration of the
ceremonies of this event the dead body of a young man was exhibited with
great lamentations, in the same manner as the cases cited above, and at
dawn on the 25th of March his resurrection from the dead was celebrated
with great rejoicings.[224:3] After having brought solace to the
misfortunes of mankind, he, after his resurrection, ascended into
heaven.[224:4]

Hercules, the Saviour, the son of Zeus by a mortal mother, was put to
death, but arose from the funeral pile, and ascended into heaven in a
cloud, 'mid peals of thunder. His followers manifested gratitude to
his memory by erecting an altar on the spot from whence be
ascended.[224:5]

Memnon is put to death, but rises again to life and immortality. His
mother Eos weeps tears at the death of her son--as Mary does for Christ
Jesus--but her prayers avail to bring him back, like Adonis or Tammuz,
and Jesus, from the shadowy region, to dwell always in Olympus.[224:6]

The ancient Greeks also believed that Amphiaraus--one of their most
celebrated prophets and demi-gods--rose from the dead. They even
pointed to the place of his resurrection.[224:7]

Baldur, the Scandinavian Lord and Saviour, is put to death, but does
not rest in his grave. He too rises again to life and immortality.[224:8]

When "Baldur the Good," the beneficent god, descended into hell, Hela
(Death) said to Hermod (who mourned for Baldur): "If all things in the
world, both living and lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to
the AEsir (the gods)." Upon hearing this, messengers were dispatched
throughout the world to beg everything to weep in order that Baldur
might be delivered from hell. All things everywhere willingly complied
with this request, both men and every other living being, so that
wailing was heard in all quarters.[225:1]

Thus we see the same myth among the northern nations. As Bunsen says:

"The tragedy of the murdered and risen god is familiar to us
from the days of ancient Egypt: must it not be of equally
primeval origin here?" [In Teutonic tradition.]

The ancient Scandinavians also worshiped a god called Frey, who was
put to death, and rose again from the dead.[225:2]

The ancient Druids celebrated, in the British Isles, in heathen times,
the rites of the resurrected Bacchus, and other ceremonies, similar to
the Greeks and Romans.[225:3]

Quetzalcoatle, the Mexican crucified Saviour, after being put to
death, rose from the dead. His resurrection was represented in Mexican
hieroglyphics, and may be seen in the Codex Borgianus.[225:4]

The Jews in Palestine celebrated their Passover on the same day that
the Pagans celebrated the resurrection of their gods.

Besides the resurrected gods mentioned in this chapter, who were
believed in for centuries before the time assigned for the birth of
Christ Jesus, many others might be named, as we shall see in our chapter
on "Explanation." In the words of Dunbar T. Heath:

"We find men taught everywhere, from Southern Arabia to
Greece, by hundreds of symbolisms, the birth, death, and
resurrection of deities, and a resurrection too, apparently
after the second day, i. e., on the third."[225:5]

And now, to conclude all, another god is said to have been born on the
same day[225:6] as these Pagan deities; he is crucified and buried,
and on the same day[225:7] rises again from the dead. Christians of
Europe and America celebrate annually the resurrection of their
Saviour in almost the identical manner in which the Pagans celebrated
the resurrection of their Saviours, centuries before the God of the
Christians is said to have been born. In Roman Catholic churches, in
Catholic countries, the body of a young man is laid on a bier, and
placed before the altar; the wound in his side is to be seen, and his
death is bewailed in mournful dirges, and the verse, Gloria Patri, is
discontinued in the mass. All the images in the churches and the altar
are covered with black, and the priest and attendants are robed in
black; nearly all lights are put out, and the windows are darkened. This
is the "Agonie," the "Miserere," the "Good Friday" mass. On Easter
Sunday[226:1] all the drapery has disappeared; the church is
illuminated, and rejoicing, in place of sorrow, is manifest. The
Easter hymns partake of the following expression:

"Rejoice, Oh sacred Initiated, your God is risen. His death,
his pains, his sufferings, have worked our salvation."

Cedrenus (a celebrated Byzantine writer), speaking of the 25th of March,
says:

"The first day of the first month, is the first of the month
Nisan; it corresponds to the 25th of March of the Romans,
and the Phamenot of the Egyptians. On that day Gabriel
saluted Mary, in order to make her conceive the Saviour. I
observe that it is the same month, Phamenot, that Osiris
gave fecundity to Isis, according to the Egyptian theology.
On the very same day, our God Saviour (Christ Jesus), after
the termination of his career, arose from the dead; that is,
what our forefathers called the Pass-over, or the passage of
the Lord. It is also on the same day, that our ancient
theologians have fixed his return, or his second
advent."[226:2]

We have seen, then, that a festival celebrating the resurrection of
their several gods was annually held among the Pagans, before the time
of Christ Jesus, and that it was almost universal. That it dates to a
period of great antiquity is very certain. The adventures of these
incarnate gods, exposed in their infancy, put to death, and rising again
from the grave to life and immortality, were acted on the Deisuls and
in the sacred theatres of the ancient Pagans,[226:3] just as the
"Passion Play" is acted to-day.

Eusebius relates a tale to the effect that, at one time, the
Christians were about to celebrate "the solemn vigils of Easter," when,
to their dismay, they found that oil was wanted. Narcissus, Bishop of
Jerusalem, who was among the number, "commanded that such as had charge
of the lights, speedily to bring unto him water, drawn up out of the
next well." This water Narcissus, "by the wonderful power of God,"
changed into oil, and the celebration was continued.[227:1]

This tells the whole story. Here we see the oil--which the Pagans had
in their ceremonies, and with which the priests anointed the lips of the
Initiates--and the lights, which were suddenly lighted when the god
was feigned to have risen from the dead.

With her usual policy, the Christian Church endeavored to give a
Christian significance to the rites borrowed from Paganism, and in
this case, as in many others, the conversion was particularly easy.

In the earliest times, the Christians did not celebrate the resurrection
of their Lord from the grave. They made the Jewish Passover their
chief festival, celebrating it on the same day as the Jews, the 14th of
Nisan, no matter in what part of the week that day might fall.
Believing, according to the tradition, that Jesus on the eve of his
death had eaten the Passover with his disciples, they regarded such a
solemnity as a commemoration of the Supper and not as a memorial of the
Resurrection. But in proportion as Christianity more and more separated
itself from Judaism and imbibed paganism, this way of looking at the
matter became less easy. A new tradition gained currency among the Roman
Christians to the effect that Jesus before his death had not eaten the
Passover, but had died on the very day of the Passover, thus
substituting himself for the Paschal Lamb. The great Christian festival
was then made the Resurrection of Jesus, and was celebrated on the first
pagan holiday--Sun-day--after the Passover.

This Easter celebration was observed in China, and called a
"Festival of Gratitude to Tien." From there it extended over the then
known world to the extreme West.

The ancient Pagan inhabitants of Europe celebrated annually this same
feast, which is yet continued over all the Christian world. This
festival began with a week's indulgence in all kinds of sports, called
the carne-vale, or the taking a farewell to animal food, because it
was followed by a fast of forty days. This was in honor of the Saxon
goddess Ostrt or Eostre of the Germans, whence our Easter.[227:2]

The most characteristic Easter rite, and the one most widely diffused,
is the use of Easter eggs. They are usually stained of various colors
with dye-woods or herbs, and people mutually make presents of them;
sometimes they are kept as amulets, sometimes eaten. Now, "dyed eggs
were sacred Easter offerings in Egypt;"[228:1] the ancient Persians,
"when they kept the festival of the solar new year (in March), mutually
presented each other with colored eggs;"[228:2] "the Jews used eggs in
the feast of the Passover;" and the custom prevailed in Western
countries.[228:3]

The stories of the resurrection written by the Gospel narrators are
altogether different. This is owing to the fact that the story, as
related by one, was written to correct the mistakes and to endeavor to
reconcile with common sense the absurdities of the other. For instance,
the "Matthew" narrator says: "And when they saw him (after he had
risen from the dead) they worshiped him; but some doubted."[228:4]

To leave the question where this writer leaves it would be fatal. In
such a case there must be no doubt. Therefore, the "Mark" narrator
makes Jesus appear three times, under such circumstances as to render
a mistake next to impossible, and to silence the most obstinate
skepticism. He is first made to appear to Mary Magdalene, who was
convinced that it was Jesus, because she went and told the disciples
that he had risen, and that she had seen him. They--notwithstanding
that Jesus had foretold them of his resurrection[228:5]--disbelieved,
nor could they be convinced until he appeared to them. They in turn
told it to the other disciples, who were also skeptical; and, that they
might be convinced, Jesus also appeared to them as they sat at meat,
when he upbraided them for their unbelief.

This story is much improved in the hands of the "Mark" narrator, but,
in the anxiety to make a clear case, it is overdone, as often happens
when the object is to remedy or correct an oversight or mistake
previously made. In relating that the disciples doubted the words of
Mary Magdalene, he had probably forgotten Jesus had promised them that
he should rise, for, if he had told them this, why did they doubt?

Neither the "Matthew" nor the "Mark" narrator says in what way
Jesus made his appearance--whether it was in the body or only in the
spirit. If in the latter, it would be fatal to the whole theory of
the resurrection, as it is a material resurrection that Christianity
taught--just like their neighbors the Persians--and not a
spiritual.[229:1]

To put this disputed question in its true light, and to silence the
objections which must naturally have arisen against it, was the object
which the "Luke" narrator had in view. He says that when Jesus
appeared and spoke to the disciples they were afraid: "But they were
terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a
spirit."[229:2] Jesus then--to show that he was not a spirit--showed
the wounds in his hands and feet. "And they gave him a piece of a
broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before
them."[229:3] After this, who is there that can doubt? but, if the
fish and honeycomb story was true, why did the "Matthew" and
"Mark" narrators fail to mention it?

The "Luke" narrator, like his predecessors, had also overdone the
matter, and instead of convincing the skeptical, he only excited their
ridicule.

The "John" narrator now comes, and endeavors to set matters right. He
does not omit entirely the story of Jesus eating fish, for that would
not do, after there had been so much said about it. He might leave it
to be inferred that the "Luke" narrator made a mistake, so he modifies
the story and omits the ridiculous part. The scene is laid on the shores
of the Sea of Tiberias. Under the direction of Jesus, Peter drew his net
to land, full of fish. "Jesus said unto them: Come and dine. And none of
the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish
likewise."[229:4]

It does not appear from this account that Jesus ate the fish at all.
He took the fish and gave to the disciples; the inference is that
they were the ones that ate. In the "Luke" narrator's account the
statement is reversed; the disciples gave the fish to Jesus, and he
ate. The "John" narrator has taken out of the story that which was
absurd, but he leaves us to infer that the "Luke" narrator was
careless in stating the account of what took place. If we leave out of
the "Luke" narrator's account the part that relates to the fish and
honeycomb, he fails to prove what it really was which appeared to the
disciples, as it seems from this that the disciples could not be
convinced that Jesus was not a spirit until he had actually eaten
something.

Now, if the eating part is struck out--which the "John" narrator
does, and which, no doubt, the ridicule cast upon it drove him to
do--the "Luke" narrator leaves the question just where he found it.
It was the business of the "John" narrator to attempt to leave it
clean, and put an end to all cavil.

Jesus appeared to the disciples when they assembled at Jerusalem. "And
when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side."[230:1]
They were satisfied, and no doubts were expressed. But Thomas was not
present, and when he was told by the brethren that Jesus had appeared to
them, he refused to believe; nor would he, "Except I shall see in his
hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the
nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."[230:2]
Now, if Thomas could be convinced, with all his doubts, it would be
foolish after that to deny that Jesus was not in the body when he
appeared to his disciples.

After eight days Jesus again appears, for no other purpose--as it would
seem--but to convince the doubting disciple Thomas. Then said he to
Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither
thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but
believing."[230:3] This convinced Thomas, and he exclaimed: "My Lord and
my God." After this evidence, if there were still unbelievers, they
were even more skeptical than Thomas himself. We should be at a loss to
understand why the writers of the first three Gospels entirely omitted
the story of Thomas, if we were not aware that when the "John"
narrator wrote the state of the public mind was such that proof of the
most unquestionable character was demanded that Christ Jesus had risen
in the body. The "John" narrator selected a person who claimed he was
hard to convince, and if the evidence was such as to satisfy him, it
ought to satisfy the balance of the world.[230:4]

The first that we knew of the fourth Gospel--attributed to John--is
from the writings of Irenaeus (A. D. 177-202), and the evidence is that
he is the author of it.[230:5] That controversies were rife in his day
concerning the resurrection of Jesus, is very evident from other
sources. We find that at this time the resurrection of the dead
(according to the accounts of the Christian forgers) was very far from
being esteemed an uncommon event; that the miracle was frequently
performed on necessary occasions by great fasting and the joint
supplication of the church of the place, and that the persons thus
restored by their prayers had lived afterwards among them many years. At
such a period, when faith could boast of so many wonderful victories
over death, it seems difficult to account for the skepticism of those
philosophers, who still rejected and derided the doctrine of the
resurrection. A noble Grecian had rested on this important ground the
whole controversy, and promised Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, that if
he could be gratified by the sight of a single person who had been
actually raised from the dead, he would immediately embrace the
Christian religion.

"It is somewhat remarkable," says Gibbon, the historian, from whom we
take the above, "that the prelate of the first Eastern Church, however
anxious for the conversion of his friend, thought proper to decline
this fair and reasonable challenge."[231:1]

This Christian saint, Irenaeus, had invented many stories of others
being raised from the dead, for the purpose of attempting to strengthen
the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. In the words of the Rev.
Jeremiah Jones:

"Such pious frauds were very common among Christians even in
the first three centuries; and a forgery of this nature, with
the view above-mentioned, seems natural and probable."

One of these "pious frauds" is the "Gospel of Nicodemus the Disciple,
concerning the Sufferings and Resurrection of our Master and Saviour
Jesus Christ." Although attributed to Nicodemus, a disciple of Jesus,
it has been shown to be a forgery, written towards the close of the
second century--during the time of Irenaeus, the well-known pious
forger. In this book we find the following:

"And now hear me a little. We all know the blessed Simeon, the
high-priest, who took Jesus when an infant into his arms in
the temple. This same Simeon had two sons of his own, and we
were all present at their death and funeral. Go therefore and
see their tombs, for these are open, and they are risen;
and behold, they are in the city of Arimathaea, spending their
time together in offices of devotion."[231:2]

The purpose of this story is very evident. Some "zealous believer,"
observing the appeals for proof of the resurrection, wishing to make it
appear that resurrections from the dead were common occurrences,
invented this story towards the close of the second century, and
fathered it upon Nicodemus.

We shall speak, anon, more fully on the subject of the frauds of the
early Christians, the "lying and deceiving for the cause of Christ,"
which is carried on even to the present day.

As President Cheney of Bates College has lately remarked, "The
resurrection is the doctrine of Christianity and the foundation of the
entire system,"[232:1] but outside of the four spurious gospels this
greatest of all recorded miracles is hardly mentioned. "We have epistles
from Peter, James, John, and Jude--all of whom are said by the
evangelists to have seen Jesus after he rose from the dead, in none of
which epistles is the fact of the resurrection even stated, much less
that Jesus was seen by the writer after his resurrection."[232:2]

Many of the early Christian sects denied the resurrection of Christ
Jesus, but taught that he will rise, when there shall be a general
resurrection.

No actual representation of the resurrection of the Christian's Saviour
has yet been found among the monuments of early Christianity. The
earliest representation of this event that has been found is an ivory
carving, and belongs to the fifth or sixth century.[232:3]


FOOTNOTES:

[215:1] See Matthew, xxviii. Mark, xvi. Luke, xxiv. and John, xx.

[215:2] Mark, xvi. 19.

[215:3] Luke, xxiv. 51.

[215:4] Acts, i. 9.

[215:5] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 240. Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. ii. pp. 142 and 145.

[215:6] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 131. Bonwick's Egyptian
Belief, p. 168. Asiatic Researches, vol. i. pp. 259 and 261.

[215:7] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 72. Hist. Hindostan, ii. pp.
466 and 473.

"In Hindu pictures, Vishnu, who is identified with Crishna, is often
seen mounted on the Eagle Garuda." (Moore: Hindu Panth. p. 214.) And M.
Sonnerat noticed "two basso-relievos placed at the entrance of the choir
of Bordeaux Cathedral, one of which represents the ascension of our
Saviour to heaven on an Eagle." (Higgins: Anac., vol. i. p. 273.)

[216:1] Oriental Religions, pp. 494, 495.

[216:2] Asiatic Res., vol. x. p. 129. Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 103.

[216:3] Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, p. 49.

[216:4] Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 86. See also, Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 159.

[216:5] Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 214.

[216:6] Ibid. p. 258.

[217:1] Ovid's Metamorphoses, as rendered by Addison. Quoted in Taylor's
Diegesis, p. 148.

[217:2] Quoted by Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 114. See also,
Taylor's Diegesis, pp. 163, 164.

[217:3] Taylor's Diegesis, p. 164.

[217:4] Prichard's Egyptian Mythology, pp. 66, 67.

[218:1] Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 161. See also, Dunlap's
Mysteries of Adoni, p. 23, and Spirit Hist. of Man, p. 216.

[218:2] Calmet's Fragments, vol. ii. p. 21.

[218:3] Murray: Manual of Mythology, p. 86.

[218:4] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Beliefs, p. 261.

[219:1] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Beliefs, p. 247, and Taylor's
Diegesis, p. 164.

[219:2] See Taylor's Diegesis, p. 164. We shall speak of Christian
forgeries anon.

[219:3] See Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 2.

[220:1] Quoted in Dunlap's Son of the Man, p. vii. See also, Knight:
Ancient Art and Mythology, p. xxvii.

"From the days of the prophet Daniel, down to the time when the red
cross knights gave no quarter (fighting for the Christ) in the streets
of Jerusalem, the Anointed was worshiped in Babylon, Basan, Galilee and
Palestine." (Son of the Man, p. 38.)

[220:2] Ezekiel, viii. 14.

[220:3] Quoted in Taylor's Diegesis, p. 162, and Higgins: Anacalypsis,
vol. ii. p. 114.

[221:1] See Justin: Cum. Typho, and Tertullian: De Bap.

[221:2] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 16, and vol. i. p. 519.
Also, Prichard's Egyptian Mythology, p. 66, and Bonwick's Egyptian
Belief, p. 163.

[221:3] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 166, and Dunlap's Mysteries of
Adoni, pp. 124, 125.

[221:4] Prolegomena to Ancient History.

[221:5] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 102.

[221:6] Murray: Manual of Mythology, pp. 347, 348.

[222:1] Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 256.

[222:2] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. vi.

[222:3] Ibid. pp. 150-155, 178.

[222:4] Herodotus, bk. ii. chs. 170, 171.

[222:5] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 263, and Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. ii. 108.

[223:1] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 169. Higgins: Anacalypsis,
vol. ii. p. 104. Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 255. Dunlap's
Mysteries of Adoni, p. 110, and Knight: Anct. Art and Mythology, p. 86.

[223:2] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 99. Mithras remained in the
grave a period of three days, as did Christ Jesus, and the other
Christs. "The Persians believed that the soul of man remained yet three
days in the world after its separation from the body." (Dunlap:
Mysteries of Adoni, p. 63.)

"In the Zoroastrian religion, after soul and body have separated, the
souls, in the third night after death--as soon as the shining sun
ascends--come over the Mount Berezaiti upon the bridge Tshinavat which
leads to Garonmana, the dwelling of the good gods." (Dunlap's Spirit
Hist., p. 216, and Mysteries of Adoni, 60.)

The Ghost of Polydore says:

"Being raised up this third day--light, Having deserted my body!"

(Euripides, Hecuba, 31, 32.)

[223:3] Dupuis: Origin of Religious Beliefs, pp. 246, 247.

[224:1] King's Gnostics and their Remains, p. 225.

[224:2] Ibid. p. 226.

[224:3] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 102. Dupuis: Origin of
Religious Belief, pp. 256, 257, and Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 169.

[224:4] See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 135, and Higgins:
Anacalypsis, vol. i. 322.

[224:5] Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 294. See also, Goldzhier's Hebrew
Mythology, p. 127. Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 322, and Chambers's
Encyclo., art. "Hercules."

[224:6] Aryan Mytho., vol. ii. p. 90.

[224:7] See Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 56.

[224:8] Aryan Mytho., vol. ii p. 94.

[225:1] Mallet's Northern Antiquities, p. 449.

[225:2] See Knight: Ancient Art and Mythology, p. 85.

[225:3] See Davies: Myths and Rites of the British Druids, pp. 89 and
208.

[225:4] See Kingsborough's Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi. p. 166.

[225:5] Quoted in Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 174.

[225:6] As we shall see in the chapter on "The Birth-day of Christ
Jesus."

[225:7] Easter, the triumph of Christ, was originally solemnized on
the 25th of March, the very day upon which the Pagan gods were believed
to have risen from the dead. (See Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief,
pp. 244, 255.)

A very long and terrible schism took place in the Christian Church upon
the question whether Easter, the day of the resurrection, was to be
celebrated on the 14th day of the first month, after the Jewish custom,
or on the Lord's day afterward; and it was at last decided in favor of
the Lord's day. (See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 90, and
Chambers's Encyclopaedia, art. "Easter.")

The day upon which Easter should be celebrated was not settled until the
Council of Nice. (See Euseb. Life of Constantine, lib. 3, ch. xvii.
Also, Socrates' Eccl. Hist. lib. 1, ch. vi.)

[226:1] Even the name of "EASTER" is derived from the heathen goddess,
Ostrt, of the Saxons, and the Eostre of the Germans.

"Many of the popular observances connected with Easter are clearly of
Pagan origin. The goddess Ostara or Eastre seems to have been the
personification of the morning or East, and also of the opening year or
Spring. . . . With her usual policy, the church endeavored to give a
Christian significance to such of the rites as could not be rooted out;
and in this case the conversion was practically easy." (Chambers's
Encyclo., art. "Easter.")

[226:2] Quoted in Dupuis: Origin of Religious Belief, p. 244.

[226:3] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 340.

[227:1] Eccl. Hist., lib. 6, c. viii.

[227:2] Anacalypsis, ii. 59.

[228:1] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 24.

[228:2] See Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Easter."

[228:3] Ibid.

[228:4] Matthew, xxviii. 17.

[228:5] See xii. 40; xvi. 21; Mark, ix. 31; xiv. 23; John, ii. 10.

[229:1] "And let not any one among you say, that this very flesh is
not judged, neither raised up. Consider, in what were ye saved? in what
did ye look up, if not whilst ye were in this flesh? We must, therefore,
keep our flesh as the temple of God. For in like manner as ye were
called in the flesh, ye shall also come to judgment in the flesh. Our
one Lord Jesus Christ, who has saved us, being first a spirit, was made
flesh, and so called us: even so we also in this flesh, shall receive
the reward (of heaven)." (II. Corinthians, ch. iv. Apoc. See also
the Christian Creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the body.")

[229:2] Luke, xxiv. 37.

[229:3] Luke, xxiv. 42, 43.

[229:4] John, xxi. 12, 13.

[230:1] John, xx. 20.

[230:2] John, xx. 25.

[230:3] John, xx. 27.

[230:4] See, for a further account of the resurrection, Reber's Christ
of Paul; Scott's English Life of Jesus; and Greg's Creed of Christendom.

[230:5] See the Chapter xxxviii.

[231:1] Gibbon's Rome, vol. i. p. 541.

[231:2] Nicodemus, Apoc. ch. xii.

[232:1] Baccalaureate Sermon, June 26th, 1881.

[232:2] Greg: The Creed of Christendom, p. 284.

[232:3] See Jameson's Hist. of Our Lord in Art, vol. ii., and Lundy's
Monumental Christianity.





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