Prays.ca Home Prayer Book Explained Preaching Presbyterian Catholic Bible Myths Men's Bible

Why Christianity Prospered





We now come to the question, Why did Christianity prosper, and why was
Jesus of Nazareth believed to be a divine incarnation and Saviour?

There were many causes for this, but as we can devote but one chapter to
the subject, we must necessarily treat it briefly.

For many centuries before the time of Christ Jesus there lived a sect of
religious monks known as Essenes, or Therapeutae;[419:1] these
entirely disappeared from history shortly after the time assigned for
the crucifixion of Jesus. There were thousands of them, and their
monasteries were to be counted by the score. Many have asked the
question, "What became of them?" We now propose to show, 1. That they
were expecting the advent of an Angel-Messiah; 2. That they considered
Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah; 3. That they came over to
Christianity in a body; and, 4. That they brought the legendary
histories of the former Angel-Messiahs with them.

The origin of the sect known as Essenes is enveloped in mist, and will
probably never be revealed. To speak of all the different ideas
entertained as to their origin would make a volume of itself, we can
therefore but glance at the subject. It has been the object of Christian
writers up to a comparatively recent date, to claim that almost
everything originated with God's chosen people, the Jews, and that
even all languages can be traced to the Hebrew. Under these
circumstances, then, it is not to be wondered at that we find they have
also traced the Essenes to Hebrew origin.

Theophilus Gale, who wrote a work called "The Court of the Gentiles"
(Oxford, 1671), to demonstrate that "the origin of all human
literature, both philology and philosophy, is from the Scriptures and
the Jewish church," undoubtedly hits upon the truth when he says:

"Now, the origination or rise of these Essenes (among the
Jews) I conceive by the best conjectures I can make from
antiquity, to be in or immediately after the Babylonian
captivity, though some make them later."

Some Christian writers trace them to Moses or some of the prophets, but
that they originated in India, and were a sort of Buddhist sect, we
believe is their true history.

Gfroerer, who wrote concerning them in 1835, and said that "the Essenes
and the Therapeutae are the same sect, and hold the same views," was
undoubtedly another writer who was touching upon historical ground.

The identity of many of the precepts and practices of Essenism and
those of the New Testament is unquestionable. Essenism urged on its
disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.[420:1]
The Essenes forbade the laying up of treasures upon earth.[420:2] The
Essenes demanded of those who wished to join them to sell all their
possessions, and to divide it among the poor brethren.[420:3] The
Essenes had all things in common, and appointed one of the brethren as
steward to manage the common bag.[420:4] Essenism put all its members on
the same level, forbidding the exercise of authority of one over the
other, and enjoining mutual service.[420:5] Essenism commanded its
disciples to call no man master upon the earth.[420:6] Essenism laid the
greatest stress upon being meek and lowly in spirit.[420:7] The Essenes
commended the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst after
righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemaker. They
combined the healing of the body with that of the soul. They declared
that the power to cast out evil spirits, to perform miraculous cures,
&c., should be possessed by their disciples as signs of their
belief.[420:8] The Essenes did not swear at all; their answer was yea,
yea, and nay, nay.[420:9] When the Essenes started on a mission of
mercy, they provided neither gold nor silver, neither two coats, neither
shoes, but relied on hospitality for support.[420:10] The Essenes,
though repudiating offensive war, yet took weapons with them when they
went on a perilous journey.[421:1] The Essenes abstained from connubial
intercourse.[421:2] The Essenes did not offer animal sacrifices, but
strove to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable
unto God, which they regarded as a reasonable service.[421:3] It was the
great aim of the Essenes to live such a life of purity and holiness as
to be the temples of the Holy Spirit, and to be able to prophesy.[421:4]

Many other comparisons might be made, but these are sufficient to show
that there is a great similarity between the two.[421:5] These
similarities have led many Christian writers to believe that Jesus
belonged to this order. Dr. Ginsburg, an advocate of this theory, says:

"It will hardly be doubted that our Saviour himself belonged
to this holy brotherhood. This will especially be apparent
when we remember that the whole Jewish community, at the
advent of Christ, was divided into three parties, the
Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, and that every Jew
had to belong to one of these sects. Jesus, who, in all
things, conformed to the Jewish law, and who was holy,
harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, would
therefore naturally associate himself with that order of
Judaism which was most congenial to his holy nature. Moreover,
the fact that Christ, with the exception of once, was not
heard of in public until his thirtieth year, implying that he
lived in seclusion with this fraternity, and that though he
frequently rebuked the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, he
never denounced the Essenes, strongly confirms this
conclusion."[421:6]

The facts--as Dr. Ginsburg calls them--which confirm his conclusions,
are simply no facts at all. Jesus may or may not have been a member of
this order; but when it is stated as a fact that he never rebuked the
Essenes, it is implying too much. We know not whether the words said to
have been uttered by Jesus were ever uttered by him or not, and it is
almost certain that had he rebuked the Essenes, and had his words been
written in the Gospels, they would not remain there long. We hear very
little of the Essenes after A. D. 40,[421:7] therefore, when we read of
the "primitive Christians," we are reading of Essenes, and others.

The statement that, with the exception of once, Jesus was not heard in
public life till his thirtieth year, is also uncertain. One of the
early Christian Fathers (Irenaeus) tells us that he did not begin to
teach until he was forty years of age, or thereabout, and that he
lived to be nearly fifty years old.[422:1] "The records of his life
are very scanty; and these have been so shaped and colored and modified
by the hands of ignorance and superstition and party prejudice and
ecclesiastical purpose, that it is hard to be sure of the original
outlines."

The similarity of the sentiments of the Essenes, or Therapeutae, to those
of the Church of Rome, induced the learned Jesuit, Nicolaus Serarius, to
seek for them an honorable origin. He contended therefore, that they
were Asideans, and derived them from the Rechabites, described so
circumstantially in the thirty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah; at the same
time, he asserted that the first Christian monks were Essenes.[422:2]

Mr. King, speaking of the Christian sect called Gnostics, says:

"Their chief doctrines had been held for centuries before
(their time) in many of the cities of Asia Minor. There, it is
probable, they first came into existence as 'Mystae,' upon the
establishment of a direct intercourse with India under the
Seleucidae and the Ptolemies. The colleges of Essenes and
Megabyzae at Ephesus, the Orphics of Thrace, the Curetes of
Crete, are all merely branches of one antique and common
religion, and that originally Asiatic."[422:3]

Again:

"The introduction of Buddhism into Egypt and Palestine
affords the only true solution of innumerable difficulties in
the history of religion."[422:4]

Again:

"That Buddhism had actually been planted in the dominions of
the Seleucidae and Ptolemies (Palestine belonging to the
former) before the beginning of the third century B. C., is
proved to demonstration by a passage in the Edicts of Asoka,
grandson of the famous Chandragupta, the Sandracottus of the
Greeks. These edicts are engraven on a rock at Girnur, in
Guzerat."[422:5]

Eusebius, in quoting from Philo concerning the Essenes, seems to take it
for granted that they and the Christians were one and the same, and
from the manner in which he writes, it would appear that it was
generally understood so. He says that Philo called them "Worshipers,"
and concludes by saying:

"But whether he himself gave them this name, or whether at the
beginning they were so called, when as yet the name of
Christians was not everywhere published, I think it not
needful curiosity to sift out."[422:6]

This celebrated ecclesiastical historian considered it very probable
that the writings of the Essenic Therapeuts in Egypt had been
incorporated into the gospels of the New Testament, and into some
Pauline epistles. His words are:

"It is very likely that the commentaries (Scriptures) which
were among them (the Essenes) were the Gospels, and the works
of the apostles, and certain expositions of the ancient
prophets, such as partly that epistle unto the Hebrews, and
also the other epistles of Paul do contain."[423:1]

The principal doctrines and rites of the Essenes can be connected with
the East, with Parsism, and especially with Buddhism. Among the
doctrines which Essenes and Buddhists had in common was that of the
Angel-Messiah.[423:2]

Godfrey Higgins says:

"The Essenes were called physicians of the soul, or
Therapeutae; being resident both in Judea and Egypt, they
probably spoke or had their sacred books in Chaldee. They were
Pythagoreans, as is proved by all their forms, ceremonies,
and doctrines, and they called themselves sons of Jesse. If
the Pythagoreans or Conobitae, as they are called by Jamblicus,

were Buddhists, the Essenes were Buddhists. The Essenes lived
in Egypt, on the lake of Parembole or Maria, in monasteries.
These are the very places in which we formerly found the
Gymnosophists, or Samaneans, or Buddhist priests to have
lived; which Gymnosophistae are placed also by Ptolemy in
north-eastern India."

"Their (the Essenes) parishes, churches, bishops, priests,
deacons, festivals are all identically the same (as the
Christians). They had apostolic founders; the manners which
distinguished the immediate apostles of Christ; scriptures
divinely inspired; the same allegorical mode of interpreting
them, which has since obtained among Christians, and the same
order of performing public worship. They had missionary
stations or colonies of their community established in Rome,
Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Phillippi, Colosse, and
Thessalonica, precisely such, and in the same circumstances,
as were those to whom St. Paul addressed his letters in those
places. All the fine moral doctrines which are attributed to
the Samaritan Nazarite, and I doubt not justly attributed to
him, are to be found among the doctrines of these
ascetics."[423:3]

And Arthur Lillie says:

"It is asserted by calm thinkers like Dean Mansel that within
two generations of the time of Alexander the Great, the
missionaries of Buddha made their appearance at
Alexandria.[423:4] This theory is confirmed--in the east by
the Asoka monuments--in the west by Philo. He expressly
maintains the identity in creed of the higher Judaism and that
of the Gymnosophists of India who abstained from the
'sacrifice of living animals'--in a word, the BUDDHISTS. It
would follow from this that the priestly religion of
Babylonia, Palestine, Egypt, and Greece were undermined by
certain kindred mystical societies organized by Buddha's
missionaries under the various names of Therapeutes, Essenes,
Neo-Pythagoreans, Neo-Zoroastrians, &c. Thus Buddhism
prepared the way for Christianity."[424:1]

The Buddhists have the "eight-fold holy path" (Dhammapada), eight
spiritual states leading up to Buddhahood. The first state of the
Essenes resulted from baptism, and it seems to correspond with the first
Buddhistic state, those who have entered the (mystic) stream. Patience,
purity, and the mastery of passion were aimed at by both devotees in the
other stages. In the last, magical powers, healing the sick, casting
out evil spirits, etc., were supposed to be gained. Buddhists and
Essenes seem to have doubled up this eight-fold path into four, for
some reason or other. Buddhists and Essenes had three orders of
ascetics or monks, but this classification is distinct from the
spiritual classifications.[424:2]

The doctrine of the "Anointed Angel," of the man from heaven, the
Creator of the world, the doctrine of the atoning sacrificial death of
Jesus by the blood of his cross, the doctrine of the Messianic antetype
of the Paschal lamb of the Paschal omer, and thus of the resurrection of
Christ Jesus, the third day, according to the Scriptures, these
doctrines of Paul can, with more or less certainty, be connected with
the Essenes. It becomes almost a certainty that Eusebius was right in
surmising that Essenic writings have been used by Paul and the
evangelists. Not Jesus, but Paul, is the cause of the separation of the
Jews from the Christians.[424:3]

The probability, then, that that sect of vagrant quack-doctors, the
Therapeutae, who were established in Egypt and its neighborhood many ages
before the period assigned by later theologians as that of the birth of
Christ Jesus, were the original fabricators of the writings contained in
the New Testament, becomes a certainty on the basis of evidence, than
which history has nothing more certain, furnished by the unguarded, but
explicit, unwary, but most unqualified and positive statement of the
historian Eusebius, that "those ancient Therapeutae were Christians, and
that their ancient writings were our gospels and epistles."

The Essenes, the Therapeuts, the Ascetics, the Monks, the Ecclesiastics,
and the Eclectics, are but different names for one and the self-same
sect.

The word "Essene" is nothing more than the Egyptian word for that of
which Therapeut is the Greek, each of them signifying "healer" or
"doctor," and designating the character of the sect as professing to be
endued with the miraculous gift of healing; and more especially so with
respect to diseases of the mind.

Their name of "Ascetics" indicated the severe discipline and exercise
of self-mortification, long fastings, prayers, contemplation, and even
making of themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, as did
Origen, Melito, and others who derived their Christianity from the same
school; Jesus himself is represented to have recognized and approved
their practice.

Their name of "Monks" indicated their delight in solitude, their
contemplative life, and their entire segregation and abstraction from
the world, which Jesus, in the Gospel, is in like manner represented as
describing, as characteristic of the community of which he was a member.

Their name of "Ecclesiastics" was of the same sense, and indicated
their being called out, elected, separated from the general fraternity
of mankind, and set apart to the more immediate service and honor of
God.

They had a flourishing university, or corporate body, established upon
these principles, at Alexandria in Egypt, long before the period
assigned for the birth of Christ Jesus.[425:1]

From this body they sent out missionaries, and had established colonies,
auxiliary branches, and affiliated communities, in various cities of
Asia Minor, which colonies were in a flourishing condition, before the
preaching of St. Paul.

"The very ancient and Eastern doctrine of an Angel-Messiah had been
applied to Gautama-Buddha, and so it was applied to Jesus Christ by the
Essenes of Egypt and of Palestine, who introduced this new Messianic
doctrine into Essenic Judaism and Essenic Christianity."[425:2]

In the Pali and Sanscrit texts the word Buddha is always used as a
title, not as a name. It means "The Enlightened One." Gautama Buddha
is represented to have taught that he was only one of a long series of
Buddhas, who appear at intervals in the world, and who all teach the
same system. After the death of each Buddha his religion flourishes for
a time, but finally wickedness and vice again rule over the land. Then
a new Buddha appears, who again preaches the lost Dharma or truth.
The names of twenty-four of these Buddhas who appeared previous to
Gautama have been handed down to us. The Buddhavansa, or "History of
the Buddhas," the last book of the Khuddaka Nikaya in the second
Pitca, gives the lives of all the previous Buddhas before commencing its
account of Gautama himself; and the Pali commentary on the Jatakas
gives certain details regarding each of the twenty-four.[426:1]

An Avatar was expected about every six hundred years.[426:2] At the
time of Jesus of Nazareth an Avatar was expected, not by some of the
Jews alone, but by most every eastern nation.[426:3] Many persons were
thought at that time to be, and undoubtedly thought themselves to be,
the Christ, and the only reason why the name of Jesus of Nazareth
succeeded above all others, is because the Essenes--who were expecting
an Angel-Messiah--espoused it. Had it not been for this almost
indisputable fact, the name of Jesus of Nazareth would undoubtedly not
be known at the present day.

Epiphanius, a Christian bishop and writer of the fourth century, says,
in speaking of the Essenes:

"They who believed on Christ were called JESSAEI (or Essenes),
before they were called Christians. These derived their
constitution from the signification of the name Jesus, which
in Hebrew signifies the same as Therapeutes, that is, a
saviour or physician."

Thus we see that, according to Christian authority, the Essenes and
Therapeutes are one, and that the Essenes espoused the cause of Jesus of
Nazareth, accepted him as an Angel-Messiah, and became known to history
as Christians, or believers in the Anointed Angel.

This ascetic Buddhist sect called Essenes were therefore expecting an
Angel-Messiah, for had not Gautama announced to his disciples that
another Buddha, and therefore another angel in human form, another organ
or advocate of the wisdom from above, would descend from heaven to
earth, and would be called the "Son of Love."

The learned Thomas Maurice says:

"From the earliest post-diluvian age, to that in which the
Messiah appeared, together with the traditions which so
expressly recorded the fall of the human race from a state of
original rectitude and felicity, there appears, from an
infinite variety of hieroglyphic monuments and of written
documents, to have prevailed, from generation to generation,
throughout all the regions of the higher Asia, an uniform
belief that, in the course of revolving ages, there should
arise a sacred personage, a mighty deliverer of mankind from
the thraldom of sin and of death. In fact, the memory of the
grand original promise, that the seed of the woman should
eventually crush the serpent, was carefully preserved in the
breasts of the Asiatics; it entered deeply into their
symbolic superstitions, and was engraved aloft amidst their
mythologic sculptures."[427:1]

That an Angel-Messiah was generally expected at this time may be
inferred from the following facts: Some of the Gnostic sects of
Christians, who believed that Jesus was an emanation from God, likewise
supposed that there were several AEons, or emanations from the Eternal
Father. Among those who taught this doctrine was Basilides and his
followers.[427:2]

SIMON MAGUS was believed to be "He who should come." Simon was worshiped
in Samaria and other countries, as the expected Angel-Messiah, as a God.

Justin Martyr says:

"After the ascension of our Lord into heaven, certain men
were suborned by demons as their agents, who said that they
were gods (i. e., the Angel Messiah). Among these was
Simon, a certain Samaritan, whom nearly all the Samaritans
and a few also of other nations, worshiped, confessing him as
a Supreme God."[427:3]

His miracles were notorious, and admitted by all. His followers became
so numerous that they were to be found in all countries. In Rome, in the
reign of Claudius, a statue was erected in his honor. Clement of Rome,
speaking of Simon Magus, says that:

"He wishes to be considered an exalted person, and to be
considered 'the Christ.' He claims that he can never be
dissolved, asserting that he will endure to eternity."

Montanus was another person who evidently believed himself to be an
Angel-Messiah. He was called by himself and his followers the
"Paraclete," or "Holy Spirit."[428:1]

Socrates, in his Ecclesiastical History, tells us of one Buddhas (who
lived after Jesus):

"Who afore that time was called Terebynthus, which went to the
coasts of Babylon, inhabited by Persians, and there published
of himself many false wonders: that he was born of a virgin,
that he was bred and brought up in the mountains, etc."[428:2]

He was evidently one of the many fanatics who believed themselves to be
the Paraclete or Comforter, the "Expected One."

Another one of these Christs was Apollonius. This remarkable man was
born a few years before the commencement of the Christian era, and
during his career, sustained the role of a philosopher, religious
teacher and reformer, and a worker of miracles. He is said to have lived
to be a hundred years old. From the history of his life, written by the
learned sophist and scholar, Philostratus, we glean the following:

Before his birth a god appeared to his mother and informed her that he
himself should be born of her. At the time of her delivery, the most
wonderful things happened. All the people of the country acknowledged
that he was the "Son of God." As he grew in stature, his wonderful
powers, greatness of memory, and marvelous beauty attracted the
attention of all. A great part of his time was spent, when a youth,
among the learned doctors; the disciples of Plato, Chrysippus and
Aristotle. When he came to man's estate, he became an enthusiastic
admirer and devoted follower of Pythagoras. His fame soon spread far and
near, and wherever he went he reformed the religious worship of the day.
He went to Ephesus, like Christ Jesus to Jerusalem, where the people
flocked about him. While at Athens, in Greece, he cast out an evil
spirit from a youth. As soon as Apollonius fixed his eyes upon him, the
demon broke out into the most angry and horrid expressions, and then
swore he would depart out of the youth. He put an end to a plague which
was raging at Ephesus, and at Corinth he raised a dead maiden to life,
by simply taking her by the hand and bidding her arise. The miracles of
Apollonius were extensively believed, by Christians as well as others,
for centuries after his time. In the fourth century Hierocles drew a
parallel between the two Christs--Apollonius and Jesus--which was
answered by Eusebius, the great champion of the Christian church. In it
he admits the miracles of Apollonius, but attributes them to sorcery.

Apollonius was worshiped as a god, in different countries, as late as
the fourth century. A beautiful temple was built in honor of him, and he
was held in high esteem by many of the Pagan emperors. Eunapius, who
wrote concerning him in the fifth century, says that his history should
have been entitled "The Descent of a God upon Earth." It is as Albert
Reville says:

"The universal respect in which Apollonius was held by the
whole pagan world, testified to the deep impression which the
life of this Supernatural Being had left indelibly fixed in
their minds; an expression which caused one of his
contemporaries to exclaim, 'We have a God living among us.'"

A Samaritan, by name Menander, who was contemporary with the apostles of
Jesus, was another of these fanatics who believed himself to be the
Christ. He went about performing miracles, claiming that he was a
SAVIOUR, "sent down from above from the invisible worlds, for the
salvation of mankind."[429:1] He baptized his followers in his own
name. His influence was great, and continued for several centuries.
Justin Martyr and other Christian Fathers wrote against him.

Manes evidently believed himself to be "the Christ," or "he who was to
come." His followers also believed the same concerning him. Eusebius,
speaking of him, says:

"He presumed to represent the person of Christ; he proclaimed
himself to be the Comforter and the Holy Ghost, and being
puffed up with this frantic pride, chose, as if he were
Christ, twelve partners of his new-found doctrine, patching
into one heap false and detestable doctrines of old, rotten,
and rooted out heresies, the which he brought out of
Persia."[429:2]

The word Manes, says Usher in his Annals, has the meaning of Paraclete
or Comforter or Saviour. This at once lets us into the secret--a new
incarnation, an Angel-Messiah, a Christ--born from the side of his
mother, and put to a violent death--flayed alive, and hung up, or
crucified, by a king of Persia.[429:3] This is the teacher with his
twelve apostles on the rock of Gualior.

Du Perron, in his life of Zoroaster, gives an account of certain
prophecies to be found in the sacred books of the Persians. One of
these is to the effect that, at successive periods of time, there will
appear on earth certain "Sons of Zoroaster," who are to be the result
of immaculate conceptions. These virgin-born gods will come upon earth
for the purpose of establishing the law of God. It is also asserted that
Zoroaster, when on earth, declared that in the "latter days" a pure
virgin would conceive, and bear a son, and that as soon as the child was
born a star would appear, blazing even at noonday, with undiminished
splendor. This Christ is to be called Sosiosh. He will redeem mankind,
and subdue the Devs, who have been tempting and leading men astray ever
since the fall of our first parents.

Among the Greeks the same prophecy was found. The Oracle of Delphi was
the depository, according to Plato, of an ancient and secret prophecy
of the birth of a "Son of Apollo," who was to restore the reign of
justice and virtue on the earth.[430:1]

Those who believed in successive emanations of AEons from the Throne of
Light, pointed to the passage in the Gospels where Jesus is made to say
that he will be succeeded by the Paraclete or Comforter. Mahommed was
believed by many to be this Paraclete, and it is said that he too told
his disciples that another Paraclete would succeed him. From present
appearances, however, there is some reason for believing that the
Mohammedans are to have their ancient prophecy set at naught by the
multiplicity of those who pretend to be divinely appointed to fulfill
it. The present year was designated as the period at which this great
reformer was to arise, who should be almost, if not quite, the equal of
Mahommed. His mission was to be to to purify the religion from its
corruptions; to overthrow those who had usurped its control, and to
rule, as a great spiritual caliph, over the faithful. According to
accepted tradition, the prophet himself designated the line of descent
in which his most important successor would be found, and even indicated
his personal appearance. The time having arrived, it is not strange that
the man is forthcoming, only in this instance there is more than one
claimant. There is a "holy man" in Morocco who has allowed it to be
announced that he is the designated reformer, while cable reports show
that a rival pretender has appeared in Yemen, in southern Arabia, and
his supporters, sword in hand, are now advancing upon Mecca, for the
purpose of proclaiming their leader as caliph within the sacred city
itself.

History then relates to us the indisputable fact that at the time of
Jesus of Nazareth an Angel-Messiah was expected, that many persons
claimed, and were believed to be, the "Expected One," and that the
reason why Jesus was accepted above all others was because the
Essenes--a very numerous sect--believed him to be the true Messiah, and
came over to his followers in a body. It was because there were so many
of these Christs in existence that some follower of Jesus--but no one
knows who--wrote as follows:

"If any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or, lo, he
is there; believe him not; for false Christs and false
prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders to
seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."[431:1]

The reasons why Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah by the majority
of the Jews was because the majority expected 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 had so
long groaned, to avenge them upon their haughty oppressors, and to
re-establish the kingdom of Judah; and this Jesus--although he evidently
claimed to be the Messiah--did not do.

Tacitus, the Roman historian, says:

"The generality had a strong persuasion that it was contained
in the ancient writings of the priests, that at that very time
the east should prevail: and that some one, who should come
out of Judea, should obtain the empire of the world; which
ambiguities foretold Vespasian and Titus. But the common
people (of the Jews), according to the influence of human
wishes, appropriated to themselves, by their interpretation,
this vast grandeur foretold by the fates, nor could be brought
to change their opinion for the true, by all their
adversities."

Suetonius, another Roman historian, says:

"There had been for a long time all over the east a constant
persuasion that it was recorded in the fates (books of the
fates, or foretellings), that at that time some one who should
come out of Judea should obtain universal dominion. It
appears by the event, that this prediction referred to the
Roman emperor; but the Jews, referring it to themselves,
rebelled."

This is corroborated by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who says:

"That which, chiefly excited them (the Jews) to war, was an
ambiguous prophecy, which was also found in the sacred
books, that at that time some one, within their country,
should arise, that should obtain the empire of the whole
world. For this they had received by tradition, that it was
spoken of one of their nation; and many wise men were deceived
with the interpretation. But, in truth, Vespasian's empire was
designed in this prophecy, who was created emperor (of Rome)
in Judea."

As the Rev. Dr. Geikie remarks, the central and dominant characteristic
of the teaching of the rabbis, was the certain advent of a great
national Deliverer--the Messiah--but not a God from heaven.

For a time Cyrus appeared to realize the promised Deliverer, or, at
least, to be the chosen instrument to prepare the way for him, and, in
his turn, Zerubabel became the centre of Messianic hopes. In fact, the
national mind had become so inflammable, by constant brooding on this
one theme, that any bold spirit, rising in revolt against the Roman
power, could find an army of fierce disciples who trusted that it should
be he who would redeem Israel.[432:1]

The "taxing" which took place under Cyrenius, Governor of Syria (A. D.
7), excited the wildest uproar against the Roman power. The Hebrew
spirit was stung into exasperation; the puritans of the nation, the
enthusiasts, fanatics, the zealots of the law, the literal
constructionists of prophecy, appealed to the national temper, revived
the national faith, and fanned into flame the combustible elements that
smoldered in the bosom of the race. The Messianic hope was strong in
these people; all the stronger on account of their political
degradation. Born in sorrow, the anticipation grew keen in bitter hours.
That Jehovah would abandon them could not be believed. The thought would
be atheism. The hope kept the eastern Jews in a perpetual state of
insurrection. The cry "Lo here, lo there!" was incessant. Claimant after
claimant of the dangerous supremacy of the Messiah appeared, pitched a
camp in the wilderness, raised the banner, gathered a force, was
attacked, defeated, banished, or crucified; but the frenzy did not
abate.

The last insurrection among the Jews, that of Bar-Cochba--"Son of the
Star"--revealed an astonishing frenzy of zeal. It was purely a
Messianic uprising. Judaism had excited the fears of the Emperor
Hadrian, and induced him to inflict unusual severities on the people.
The effect of the violence was to stimulate that conviction to fury. The
night of their despair was once more illumined by the star of the east.
The banner of the Messiah was raised. Potents, as of old, were seen in
the sky; the clouds were watched for the glory that should appear.
Bar-Cochba seemed to fill out the popular idea of the deliverer.
Miracles were ascribed to him; flames issued from his mouth. The vulgar
imagination made haste to transform the audacious fanatic into a child
of David. Multitudes flocked to his standard. The whole Jewish race
throughout the world was in commotion. The insurrection gained head. The
heights about Jerusalem were seized and occupied, and fortifications
were erected; nothing but the "host of angels" was needed to insure
victory. The angels did not appear; the Roman legions did. The
"Messiah," not proving himself a conqueror, was held to have proved
himself an impostor, the "son of a lie."[433:1]

The impetuous zeal with which the Jews rushed to the standard of this
Messianic impostor, in the 130th year of the Christian era, demonstrates
the true Jewish character, and shows how readily any one who made the
claim, was believed to be "He who should come." Even the celebrated
Rabbi Akiba sanctioned this daring fraud. Akiba declared that the
so-called prophecy of Balaam,--"a star shall rise out of Jacob,"--was
accomplished. Hence the impostor took his title of Bar-Cochabas, or
Son of the Star; and Akiba not only publicly anointed him "KING OF THE
JEWS," and placed an imperial diadem upon his head, but followed him to
the field at the head of four-and-twenty thousand of his disciples, and
acted in the capacity of master of his horse.

Those who believed on the meek and benevolent Jesus--and whose number
was very small--were of that class who believed in the doctrine of the
Angel-Messiah,[433:2] first heard of among them when taken captives to
Babylon. These believed that just as Buddha appeared at different
intervals, and as Vishnu appeared at different intervals, the avatars
appeared among the Jews. Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and Elijah or Elias,
might in outward appearance be different men, but they were really the
self-same divine person successively animating various human
bodies.[433:3] Christ Jesus was the avatar of the ninth age, Christ
Cyrus was the avatar of the eighth. Of the hero of the eighth age it
is said: "Thus said the Lord to his Anointed (i. e., his Christ),
his Messiah, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to subdue
nations."[434:1] The eighth period began about the Babylonish captivity,
about six hundred years before Christ Jesus. The ninth began with
Christ Jesus, making in all eight cycles before Jesus.

"What was known in Judea more than a century before the birth of Jesus
Christ cannot have been introduced among Buddhists by Christian
missionaries. It will become equally certain that the bishop and
church-historian, Eusebius, was right when he wrote, that he considered
it highly probable that the writings of the Essenic Therapeuts in Egypt
had been incorporated into our Gospels, and into some Pauline
epistles."[434:2]

For further information on the subject of the connection between
Essenism and Christianity, the reader is referred to Taylor's Diegesis,
Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, and the works of S. F. Dunlap. We shall now
speak of another powerful lever which was brought to bear upon the
promulgation of Christianity; namely, that of FRAUD.

It was a common thing among the early Christian Fathers and saints to
lie and deceive, if their lies and deceits helped the cause of their
Christ. Lactantius, an eminent Christian author who flourished in the
fourth century, has well said:

"Among those who seek power and gain from their religion,
there will never be wanting an inclination to forge and lie
for it."[434:3]

Gregory of Nazianzus, writing to St. Jerome, says:

"A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the
people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our
forefathers and doctors have often said, not what they
thought, but what circumstances and necessity
dictated."[434:4]

The celebrated Eusebius, Bishop of CAESAREA, and friend of Constantine
the Great, who is our chief guide for the early history of the Church,
confesses that he was by no means scrupulous to record the whole truth
concerning the early Christians in the various works which he has left
behind him.[434:5] Edward Gibbon, speaking of him, says:

"The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius
himself, indirectly confesses that he has related what might
redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that
could tend to the disgrace of religion. Such an acknowledgment
will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so
openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history, has
not paid a very strict regard to the observance of the other;
and the suspicion will derive additional credit from the
character of Eusebius, which was less tinctured with
credulity, and more practiced in the arts of courts, than that
of almost any of his contemporaries."[435:1]

The great theologian, Beausobre, in his "Histoire de Manichee," says:

"We see in the history which I have related, a sort of
hypocrisy, that has been perhaps, but too common at all times;
that churchmen not only do not say what they think, but they
do say the direct contrary of what they think. Philosophers in
their cabinets; out of them they are content with fables,
though they well know they are fables. Nay, more; they deliver
honest men to the executioner, for having uttered what they
themselves know to be true. How many atheists and pagans have
burned holy men under the pretext of heresy? Every day do
hypocrites consecrate, and make people adore the host, though
as well convinced as I am, that it is nothing but a bit of
bread."[435:2]

M. Daille says:

"This opinion has always been in the world, that to settle a
certain and assured estimation upon that which is good and
true, it is necessary to remove out of the way, whatsoever may
be an hinderance to it. Neither ought we to wonder that even
those of the honest, innocent, primitive times made use of
these deceits, seeing for a good end they made no scruple to
forge whole books."[435:3]

Reeves, in his "Apologies of the Fathers," says:

"It was a Catholic opinion among the philosophers, that pious
frauds were good things, and that the people ought to be
imposed on in matters of religion."[435:4]

Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian, says:

"It was held as a maxim that it was not only lawful but
praiseworthy to deceive, and even to use the expedient of a
lie, in order to advance the cause of truth and
piety."[435:5]

Isaac de Casaubon, the great ecclesiastical scholar, says:

"It mightily affects me, to see how many there were in the
earliest times of the church, who considered it as a capital
exploit, to lend to heavenly truth the help of their own
inventions, in order that the new doctrine might be more
readily allowed by the wise among the Gentiles. These
officious lies, they were wont to say, were devised for a good
end."[435:6]

The Apostolic Father, Hermas, who was the fellow-laborer of St. Paul in
the work of the ministry; who is greeted as such in the New Testament;
and whose writings are expressly quoted as of divine inspiration, by the
early Fathers, ingenuously confesses that lying was the easily-besetting
sin of a Christian. His words are:

"O Lord, I never spake a true word in my life, but I have
always lived in dissimulation, and affirmed a lie for truth to
all men, and no man contradicted me, but all gave credit to my
words."

To which the holy angel, whom he addresses, condescendingly admonishes
him, that as the lie was up, now, he had better keep it up, and as in
time it would come to be believed, it would answer as well as
truth.[436:1]

Dr. Mosheim admits, that the Platonists and Pythagoreans held it as a
maxim, that it was not only lawful, but praiseworthy, to deceive, and
even to use the expedient of a lie, in order to advance the cause of
truth and piety. The Jews who lived in Egypt, had learned and received
this maxim from them, before the coming of Christ Jesus, as appears
incontestably from a multitude of ancient records, and the Christians
were infected from both these sources, with the same pernicious
error.[436:2]

Of the fifteen letters ascribed to Ignatius (Bishop of Antioch after 69
A. D.), eight have been rejected by Christian writers as being
forgeries, having no authority whatever. "The remaining seven
epistles were accounted genuine by most critics, although disputed by
some, previous to the discoveries of Mr. Cureton, which have shaken,
and indeed almost wholly destroyed the credit and authenticity of all
alike."[436:3]

Paul of Tarsus, who was preaching a doctrine which had already been
preached to every nation on earth,[436:4] inculcates and avows the
principle of deceiving the common people, talks of his having been
upbraided by his own converts with being crafty and catching them with
guile,[436:5] and of his known and willful lies, abounding to the glory
of God.[436:6]

Even the orthodox Doctor Burnet, an eminent English author, in his
treatise "De Statu Mortuorum," purposely written in Latin, that it
might serve for the instruction of the clergy only, and not come to the
knowledge of the laity, because, as he said, "too much light is hurtful
for weak eyes," not only justified but recommended the practice of the
most consummate hypocrisy, and would have his clergy seriously preach
and maintain the reality and eternity of hell torments, even though they
should believe nothing of the sort themselves.[437:1]

The incredible and very ridiculous stories related by Christian Fathers
and ecclesiastical historians, on whom we are obliged to rely for
information on the most important of subjects, show us how
untrustworthy these men were. We have, for instance, the story related
by St. Augustine, who is styled "the greatest of the Latin Fathers," of
his preaching the Gospel to people without heads. In his 33d Sermon he
says:

"I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with
some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this
country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two
great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more
southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their
foreheads."[437:2]

This same holy Father bears an equally unquestionable testimony to
several resurrections of the dead, of which he himself had been an
eye-witness.

In a book written "towards the close of the second century, by some
zealous believer," and fathered upon one Nicodemus, who is said to have
been a disciple of Christ Jesus, we find the following:

"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."[438:1]

Eusebius, "the Father of ecclesiastical history," Bishop of Caesarea, and
one of the most prominent personages at the Council of Nice, relates as
truth, the ridiculous story of King Agbarus writing a letter to Christ
Jesus, and of Jesus' answer to the same.[438:2] And Socrates relates how
the Empress Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem
for the purpose of finding, if possible, "the cross of Christ." This she
succeeded in doing, also the nails with which he was nailed to the
cross.[438:3]

Beside forging, lying, and deceiving for the cause of Christ, the
Christian Fathers destroyed all evidence against themselves and their
religion, which they came across. Christian divines seem to have always
been afraid of too much light. In the very infancy of printing, Cardinal
Wolsey foresaw its effect on Christianity, and in a speech to the
clergy, publicly forewarned them, that, if they did not destroy the
Press, the Press would destroy them.[438:4] There can be no doubt, that
had the objections of Porphyry,[438:5] Hierocles,[438:6] Celsus,[438:7]
and other opponents of the Christian faith, been permitted to come down
to us, the plagiarism in the Christian Scriptures from previously
existing Pagan documents, is the specific charge they would have
presented us. But these were ordered to be burned, by the prudent piety
of the Christian emperors.

In Alexandria, in Egypt, there was an immense library, founded by the
Ptolemies. This library was situated in the Alexandrian Museum; the
apartments which were allotted for it were beautifully sculptured, and
crowded with the choicest statues and pictures; the building was built
of marble. This library eventually comprised four hundred thousand
volumes. In the course of time, probably on account of inadequate
accommodation for so many books, an additional library was established,
and placed in the temple of Serapis. The number of volumes in this
library, which was called the daughter of that in the museum, was
eventually three hundred thousand. There were, therefore, seven hundred
thousand volumes in these royal collections.

In the establishment of the museum, Ptolemy Soter, and his son
Philadelphus, had three objects in view: 1. The perpetuation of such
knowledge as was then in the world; 2. Its increase; 3. Its diffusion.

1. For the perpetuation of knowledge. Orders were given to the chief
librarian to buy, at the king's expense, whatever books he could. A body
of transcribers was maintained in the museum, whose duty it was to make
correct copies of such works as their owners were not disposed to sell.
Any books brought by foreigners into Egypt were taken at once to the
museum, and when correct copies had been made, the transcript was given
to the owner, and the original placed in the library. Often a very large
pecuniary indemnity was paid.

2. For the increase of knowledge. One of the chief objects of the
museum was that of serving as the home of a body of men who devoted
themselves to study, and were lodged and maintained at the king's
expense. In the original organization of the museum the residents were
divided into four faculties,--Literature, Mathematics, Astronomy, and
Medicine. An officer of very great distinction presided over the
establishment, and had general charge of its interests. Demetius
Phalareus, perhaps the most learned man of his age, who had been
Governor of Athens for many years, was the first so appointed. Under him
was the librarian, an office sometimes held by men whose names have
descended to our times, as Eratosthenes and Apollonius Rhodius. In
connection with the museum was a botanical and a zoological garden.
These gardens, as their names imply, were for the purpose of
facilitating the study of plants and animals. There was also an
astronomical observatory, containing armillary spheres, globes,
solstitial and equatorial armils, astrolabes, parallactic rules, and
other apparatus then in use, the graduation on the divided instruments
being into degrees and sixths.

3. For the diffusion of knowledge. In the museum was given, by
lectures, conversation, or other appropriate methods, instruction in all
the various departments of human knowledge.

There flocked to this great intellectual centre, students from all
countries. It is said that at one time not fewer than fourteen thousand
were in attendance. Subsequently even the Christian church received from
it some of the most eminent of its Fathers, as Clemens Alexandrinus,
Origen, Athanasius, &c.

The library in the museum was burned during the siege of Alexandria by
Julius Caesar. To make amends for this great loss, the library collected
by Eumenes, King of Pergamus, was presented by Mark Antony to Queen
Cleopatra. Originally it was founded as a rival to that of the
Ptolemies. It was added to the collection in the Serapion, or the temple
of Serapis.[440:1]

It was not destined, however, to remain there many centuries, as this
very valuable library was willfully destroyed by the Christian
Theophilus, and on the spot where this beautiful temple of Serapis
stood, in fact, on its very foundation, was erected a church in honor of
the "noble army of martyrs," who had never existed.

This we learn from the historian Gibbon, who says that, after this
library was destroyed, "the appearance of the empty shelves excited the
regret and indignation of every spectator, whose mind was not totally
darkened by religious prejudice."[440:2]

The destruction of this library was almost the death-blow to
free-thought--wherever Christianity ruled--for more than a thousand
years.

The death-blow was soon to be struck, however, which was done by Saint
Cyril, who succeeded Theophilus as Bishop of Alexandria.

Hypatia, the daughter of Theon, the mathematician, endeavored to
continue the old-time instructions. Each day before her academy stood a
long train of chariots; her lecture-room was crowded with the wealth and
fashion of Alexandria. They came to listen to her discourses on those
questions which man in all ages has asked, but which have never yet been
answered: "What am I? Where am I? What can I know?"

Hypatia and Cyril; philosophy and bigotry; they cannot exist together.
As Hypatia repaired to her academy, she was assaulted by (Saint) Cyril's
mob--a mob of many monks. Stripped naked in the street, she was
dragged into a church, and there killed by the club of Peter the
Reader. The corpse was cut to pieces, the flesh was scraped from the
bones with shells, and the remnants cast into a fire. For this
frightful crime Cyril was never called to account. It seemed to be
admitted that the end sanctified the means. So ended Greek philosophy in
Alexandria, so came to an untimely close the learning that the
Ptolemies had done so much to promote.

The fate of Hypatia was a warning to all who would cultivate profane
knowledge. Henceforth there was to be no freedom for human thought.
Every one must think as ecclesiastical authority ordered him; A. D.
414. In Athens itself philosophy awaited its doom. Justinian at length
prohibited its teaching and caused all its schools in that city to be
closed.[441:1]

After this followed the long and dreary dark ages, but the sun of
science, that bright and glorious luminary, was destined to rise again.

The history of this great Alexandrian library is one of the keys which
unlock the door, and exposes to our view the manner in which the Hindoo
incarnate god Crishna, and the meek and benevolent Buddha, came to
be worshiped under the name of Christ Jesus. For instance, we have
just seen:

1. That, "orders were given to the chief librarian to buy at the king's
expense whatever books he could."

2. That, "one of the chief objects of the museum was that of serving as
the home of a body of men who devoted themselves to study."

3. That, "any books brought by foreigners into Egypt were taken at once
to the museum and correct copies made."

4. That, "there flocked to this great intellectual centre students from
all countries."

5. That, "the Christian church received from it some of the most eminent
of its Fathers."

And also:

6. That, the chief doctrines of the Gnostic Christians "had been held
for centuries before their time in many of the cities in Asia Minor.
There, it is probable, they first came into existence as 'Mystae,' upon
the establishment of a direct intercourse with India under the
Seleucidae and the Ptolemies."

7. That, "the College of ESSENES at Ephesus, the Orphics of Thrace, the
Curetes of Crete, are all merely branches of one antique and common
religion, and that originally Asiatic."

8. That, "the introduction of Buddhism into Egypt and Palestine
affords the only true solution of innumerable difficulties in the
history of religion."

9. That, "Buddhism had actually been planted in the dominions of the
Seleucidae and Ptolemies (Palestine belonging to the former) before the
beginning of the third century B. C. and is proved to demonstration by
a passage in the edicts of Asoka."

10. That, "it is very likely that the commentaries (Scriptures) which
were among them (the Essenes) were the Gospels."

11. That, "the principal doctrines and rites of the Essenes can be
connected with the East, with Parsism, and especially with Buddhism."

12. That, "among the doctrines which the Essenes and Buddhists had
in common was that of the Angel-Messiah."

13. That, "they (the Essenes) had a flourishing university or
corporate body, established at Alexandria, in Egypt, long before the
period assigned for the birth of Christ."

14. That, "the very ancient and Eastern doctrine of the
Angel-Messiah had been applied to Gautama Buddha, and so it was
applied to Jesus Christ by the Essenes of Egypt and Palestine, who
introduced this new Messianic doctrine into Essenic Judaism and Essenic
Christianity."

15. That, "we hear very little of them (the Essenes) after A. D. 40;
and there can hardly be any doubt that the Essenes as a body must have
embraced Christianity."

Here is the solution of the problem. The sacred books of Hindoos and
Buddhists were among the Essenes, and in the library at Alexandria.
The Essenes, who were afterwards called Christians, applied the
legend of the Angel-Messiah--"the very ancient Eastern doctrine,"
which we have shown throughout this work--to Christ Jesus. It was simply
a transformation of names, a transformation which had previously
occurred in many cases.[442:1] After this came additions to the
legend from other sources. Portions of the legends related of the
Persian, Greek and Roman Saviours and Redeemers of mankind, were, from
time to time, added to the already legendary history of the Christian
Saviour. Thus history was repeating itself. Thus the virgin-born God
and Saviour, worshiped by all nations of the earth, though called by
different names, was but one and the same.

In a subsequent chapter we shall see who this One God was, and how
the myth originated.

Albert Reville says:

"Alexandria, the home of Philonism, and Neo-Platonism (and
we might add Essenism), was naturally the centre whence
spread the dogma of the deity of Jesus Christ. In that city,
through the third century, flourished a school of
transcendental theology, afterwards looked upon with suspicion
by the conservators of ecclesiastical doctrine, but not the
less the real cradle of orthodoxy. It was still the Platonic
tendency which influenced the speculations of Clement, Origen
and Dionysius, and the theory of the Logos was at the
foundation of their theology."[443:1]

Among the numerous gospels in circulation among the Christians of the
first three centuries, there was one entitled "The Gospel of the
Egyptians." Epiphanius (A. D. 385), speaking of it, says:

"Many things are proposed (in this Gospel of the Egyptians) in
a hidden, mysterious manner, as by our Saviour, as though he
had said to his disciples, that the Father was the same
person, the Son the same person, and the Holy Ghost the same
person."

That this was one of the "Scriptures" of the Essenes, becomes very
evident when we find it admitted by the most learned of Christian
theologians that it was in existence "before either of the canonical
Gospels," and that it contained the doctrine of the Trinity, a
doctrine not established in the Christian church until A. D. 327, but
which was taught by this Buddhist sect in Alexandria, in Egypt, which
has been well called, "Egypt, the land of Trinities."

The learned Dr. Grabe thought it was composed by some Christians in
Egypt, and that it was published before either of the canonical
Gospels. Dr. Mill also believed that it was composed before either of
the canonical Gospels, and, what is more important than all, that the
authors of it were Essenes.

These "Scriptures" of the Essenes were undoubtedly amalgamated with the
"Gospels" of the Christians, the result being the canonical Gospels as
we now have them. The "Gospel of the Hebrews," and such like, on the
one hand, and the "Gospel of the Egyptians," or Essenes, and such like,
on the other. That the "Gospel of the Hebrews" spoke of Jesus of
Nazareth as the son of Joseph and Mary, according to the flesh, and
that it taught nothing about his miracles, his resurrection from the
dead, and other such prodigies, is admitted on all hands. That the
"Scriptures" of the Essenes contained the whole legend of the
Angel-Messiah, which was afterwards added to the history of Jesus,
making him a CHRIST, or an Anointed Angel, is a probability almost
to a certainty. Do we now understand how all the traditions and legends,
originally Indian, escaping from the great focus through Egypt, were
able to reach Judea, Greece and Rome?

To continue with our subject, "why Christianity prospered," we must now
speak of another great support to the cause, i. e., Persecution.
Ernest de Bunsen, speaking of Buddha, says:

"His religion has never been propagated by the sword. It has
been effected entirely by the influence of peaceable and
persevering devotees."

Can we say as much for what is termed "the religion of Christ?" No! this
religion has had the aid of the sword and firebrand, the rack and the
thumb-screw. "Persecution," is to be seen written on the pages of
ecclesiastical history, from the time of Constantine even to the present
day.[444:1] This Christian emperor and saint was the first to check
free-thought.

"We search in vain," (says M. Renan), "in the collection of
Roman laws before Constantine, for any enactment aimed at
free thought, or in the history of the emperors, for a
persecution of abstract doctrine. Not a single savant was
disturbed. Men whom the Middle Ages would have burned--such as
Galen, Lucian, Plotinus--lived in peace, protected by the
law."[444:2]

Born and educated a pagan, Constantine embraced the Christian faith from
the following motives. Having committed horrid crimes, in fact, having
committed murders,[444:3] and,

"When he would have had his (Pagan) priests purge him by
sacrifice, of these horrible murders, and could not have his
purpose (for they answered plainly, it lay not in their power
to cleanse him)[444:4] he lighted at last upon an Egyptian
who came out of Iberia, and being persuaded by him that the
Christian faith was of force to wipe away every sin, were it
ever so heinous, he embraced willingly at whatever the
Egyptian told him."[444:5]

Mons. Dupuis, speaking of this conversion, says:

"Constantine, soiled with all sorts of crimes, and stained
with the blood of his wife, after repeated perjuries and
assassinations, presented himself before the heathen priests
in order to be absolved of so many outrages he had committed.
He was answered, that amongst the various kinds of expiations,
there was none which could expiate so many crimes, and that no
religion whatever could offer efficient protection against the
justice of the gods; and Constantine was emperor. One of the
courtiers of the palace, who witnessed the trouble and
agitation of his mind, torn by remorse, which nothing could
appease, informed him, that the evil he was suffering was not
without a remedy; that there existed in the religion of the
Christians certain purifications, which expiated every kind of
misdeeds, of whatever nature, and in whatsoever number they
were: that one of the promises of the religion was, that
whoever was converted to it, as impious and as great a villain
as he might be, could hope that his crimes were immediately
forgotten.[445:1] From that moment, Constantine declared
himself the protector of a sect which treats great criminals
with so much lenity.[445:2] He was a great villain, who tried
to lull himself with illusions to smother his remorse."[445:3]

By the delay of baptism, a person who had accepted the true faith
could venture freely to indulge their passions in the enjoyment of this
world, while they still retained in their own hands the means of
salvation; therefore, we find that Constantine, although he accepted the
faith, did not get baptized until he was on his death-bed, as he wished
to continue, as long as possible, the wicked life he was leading. Mr.
Gibbon, speaking of him, says:

"The example and reputation of Constantine seemed to
countenance the delay of baptism. Future tyrants were
encouraged to believe, that the innocent blood which they
might shed in a long reign would instantly be washed away in
the waters of regeneration; and the abuse of religion
dangerously undermined the foundations of moral
virtue."[445:4]

Eusebius, in his "Life of Constantine," tells us that:

"When he thought that he was near his death, he confessed
his sins, desiring pardon for them of God, and was baptized.

"Before doing so, he assembled the bishops of Nicomedia
together, and spake thus unto them:

"'Brethren, the salvation which I have earnestly desired of
God these many years, I do now this day expect. It is time
therefore that we should be sealed and signed with the badge
of immortality. And though I proposed to receive it in the
river Jordan, in which our Saviour for our example was
baptized, yet God, knowing what is fittest for me, hath
appointed that I shall receive it in this place, therefore
let me not be delayed.'"

"And so, after the service of baptism was read, they baptized
him with all the ceremonies belonging to this mysterious
sacrament. So that Constantine was the first of all the
emperors who was regenerated by the new birth of baptism, and
that was signed with the sign of the cross."[446:1]

When Constantine had heard the good news from the Christian monk from
Egypt, he commenced by conferring many dignities on the Christians, and
those only who were addicted to Christianity, he made governors of his
provinces, &c.[446:2] He then issued edicts against heretics,--i. e.,
those who, like Arius, did not believe that Christ was "of one
substance with the Father," and others--calling them "enemies of truth
and eternal life," "authors and councillors of death," &c.[446:3] He
"commanded by law" that none should dare "to meet at conventicles,"
and that "all places where they were wont to keep their meetings should
be demolished," or "confiscated to the Catholic church;"[446:4] and
Constantine was emperor. "By this means," says Eusebius, "such as
maintained doctrines and opinions contrary to the church, were
suppressed."[446:5]

This Constanti





Next: The Antiquity Of Pagan Religions

Previous: Paganism In Christianity



Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
ADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 1793