The Antiquity Of Pagan Religions





We shall now compare the great antiquity of the sacred books and

religions of Paganism with those of the Christian, so that there may be

no doubt as to which is the original, and which the copy. Allusions to

this subject have already been made throughout this work, we shall

therefore devote as little space to it here as possible.



In speaking of the sacred literature of India, Prof. Monier Williams

says:



"Sanskrit literature, embracing as it does nearly every branch

of knowledge is entirely deficient in one department. It is

wholly destitute of trustworthy historical records. Hence,

little or nothing is known of the lives of ancient Indian

authors, and the dates of their most celebrated works cannot

be fixed with certainty. A fair conjecture, however, may be

arrived at by comparing the most ancient with the more modern

compositions, and estimating the period of time required to

effect the changes of structure and idiom observable in the

language. In this manner we may be justified in assuming that

the hymns of the Veda were probably composed by a succession

of poets at different dates between 1500 and 1000 years B.

C."[450:1]



Prof. Wm. D. Whitney shows the great antiquity of the Vedic hymns from

the fact that,



"The language of the Vedas is an older dialect, varying very

considerably, both in its grammatical and lexical character,

from the classical Sanscrit."



And M. de Coulanges, in his "Ancient City," says:



"We learn from the hymns of the Vedas, which are certainly

very ancient, and from the laws of Manu," "what the Aryans of

the east thought nearly thirty-five centuries ago."[450:2]



That the Vedas are of very high antiquity is unquestionable; but

however remote we may place the period when they were written, we must

necessarily presuppose that the Hindostanic race had already attained

to a comparatively high degree of civilization, otherwise men capable of

framing such doctrines could not have been found. Now this state of

civilization must necessarily have been preceded by several centuries of

barbarism, during which we cannot possibly admit a more refined faith

than the popular belief in elementary deities.



We shall see in our next chapter that these very ancient Vedic hymns

contain the origin of the legend of the Virgin-born God and Saviour,

the great benefactor of mankind, who is finally put to death, and rises

again to life and immortality on the third day.



The Geetas and Puranas, although of a comparatively modern date,

are, as we have already seen, nevertheless composed of matter to be

found in the two great epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata,

which were written many centuries before the time assigned as that of

the birth of Christ Jesus.[451:1]



The Pali sacred books, which contain the legend of the virgin-born God

and Saviour--Sommona Cadom--are known to have been in existence 316 B.

C.[451:2]



We have already seen that the religion known as Buddhism, and which

corresponds in such a striking manner with Christianity, has now existed

for upwards of twenty-four hundred years.[451:3]



Prof. Rhys Davids says:



"There is every reason to believe that the Pitakas (the

sacred books which contain the legend of 'The Buddha'), now

extant in Ceylon, are substantially identical with the books

of the Southern Canon, as settled at the Council of Patna

about the year 250 B. C.[451:4] As no works would have been

received into the Canon which were not then believed to be

very old, the Pitakas may be approximately placed in the

fourth century B. C., and parts of them possibly reach back

very nearly, if not quite, to the time of Gautama

himself."[451:5]



The religion of the ancient Persians, which corresponds in so very

many respects with that of the Christians, was established by

Zoroaster--who was undoubtedly a Brahman[451:6]--and is contained in

the Zend-Avesta, their sacred book or Bible. This book is very

ancient. Prof. Max Mueller speaks of "the sacred book of the

Zoroastrians" as being "older in its language than the cuneiform

inscriptions of Cyrus (B. C. 560), Darius (B. C. 520), and Xerxes (B. C.

485) those ancient Kings of Persia, who knew that they were kings by the

grace of Auramazda, and who placed his sacred image high on the

mountain-records of Behistun."[452:1] That ancient book, or its

fragments, at least, have survived many dynasties and kingdoms, and is

still believed in by a small remnant of the Persian race, now settled at

Bombay, and known all over the world by the name of Parsees.[452:2]



"The Babylonian and Phenician sacred books date back to a fabulous

antiquity;"[452:3] and so do the sacred books and religion of Egypt.



Prof. Mahaffy, in his "Prolegomena to Ancient History," says:



"There is indeed hardly a great and fruitful idea in the

Jewish or Christian systems which has not its analogy in the

Egyptian faith, and all these theological conceptions pervade

the oldest religion of Egypt."[452:4]



The worship of Osiris, the Lord and Saviour, must have been of extremely

ancient date, for he is represented as "Judge of the Dead," in

sculptures contemporary with the building of the Pyramids, centuries

before Abraham is said to have been born. Among the many hieroglyphic

titles which accompany his figure in those sculptures, and in many other

places on the walls of temples and tombs, are, "Lord of Life," "The

Eternal Ruler," "Manifester of Good," "Revealer of Truth," "Full of

Goodness and Truth," etc.



In speaking of the "Myth of Osiris," Mr. Bonwick says:



"This great mystery of the Egyptians demands serious

consideration. Its antiquity--its universal hold upon the

people for over five thousand years--its identification with

the very life of the nation--and its marvellous likeness to

the creed of modern date, unite in exciting the greatest

interest."[452:5]



This myth, and that of Isis and Horus, were known before the Pyramid

time.[453:1]



The worship of the Virgin Mother in Egypt--from which country it was

imported into Europe[453:2]--dates back thousands of years B. C. Mr.

Bonwick says:



"In all probability she was worshiped three thousand years

before Moses wrote. 'Isis nursing her child Horus, was

represented,' says Mariette Bey, 'at least six thousand years

ago.' We read the name of Isis on monuments of the fourth

dynasty, and she lost none of her popularity to the close of

the empire."



"The Egyptian Bible is by far the most ancient of all holy

books." "Plato was told that Egypt possessed hymns dating back

ten thousand years before his time."[453:3]



Bunsen says:



"The origin of the ancient prayers and hymns of the 'Book of

the Dead,' is anterior to Menes; it implies that the system of

Osirian worship and mythology was already formed."[453:4]



And, says Mr. Bonwick:



"Besides opinions, we have facts as a basis for arriving at a

conclusion, and justifying the assertion of Dr. Birch, that

the work dated from a period long anterior to the rise of

Ammon worship at Thebes."[453:5]



Now, "this most ancient of all holy books," establishes the fact that a

virgin-born and resurrected Saviour was worshiped in Egypt thousands of

year before the time of Christ Jesus.



P. Le Page Renouf says:



"The earliest monuments which have been discovered present

to us the very same fully-developed civilization and the

same religion as the later monuments. . . . The gods whose

names appear in the oldest tombs were worshiped down to the

Christian times. The same kind of priesthoods which are

mentioned in the tablets of Canopus and Rosetta in the

Ptolemaic period are as ancient as the pyramids, and more

ancient than any pyramid of which we know the date."[453:6]



In regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. We have just seen that "the

development of the One God into a Trinity" pervades the oldest religion

of Egypt, and the same may be said of India. Prof. Monier Williams,

speaking on this subject, says:



"It should be observed that the native commentaries on the

Veda often allude to thirty-three gods, which number is also

mentioned in the Rig-Veda. This is a multiple of three,

which is a sacred number constantly appearing in the Hindu

religious system. It is probable, indeed, that although the

Tri-murti is not named in the Vedic hymns,[454:1] yet the

Veda is the real source of this Triad of personifications,

afterwards so conspicuous in Hindu mythology. This much, at

least, is clear, that the Vedic poets exhibited a tendency to

group all the forces and energies of nature under three heads,

and the assertion that the number of the gods was

thirty-three, amounted to saying that each of the three

leading personifications was capable of eleven

modifications."[454:2]



The great antiquity of the legends referred to in this work is

demonstrated in the fact that they were found in a great measure on the

continent of America, by the first Europeans who set foot on its soil.

Now, how did they get there? Mr. Lundy, in his "Monumental

Christianity," speaking on this subject, says:



"So great was the resemblance between the two sacraments of

the Christian Church (viz., that of Baptism and the Eucharist)

and those of the ancient Mexicans; so many other points of

similarity, also, in doctrine existed, as to the unity of

God, the Triad, the Creation, the Incarnation and Sacrifice,

the Resurrection, etc., that Herman Witsius, no mean scholar

and thinker, was induced to believe that Christianity had been

preached on this continent by some one of the apostles,

perhaps St. Thomas, from the fact that he is reported to have

carried the Gospel to India and Tartary, whence he came to

America."[454:3]



Some writers, who do not think that St. Thomas could have gotten to

America, believe that St. Patrick, or some other saint, must have, in

some unaccountable manner, reached the shores of the Western continent,

and preached their doctrine there.[454:4] Others have advocated the

devil theory, which is, that the devil, being jealous of the worship of

Christ Jesus, set up a religion of his own, and imitated, nearly as

possible, the religion of Christ. All of these theories being untenable,

we must, in the words of Burnouf, the eminent French Orientalist, "learn

one day that all ancient traditions disfigured by emigration and legend,

belong to the history of India."



That America was inhabited by Asiatic emigrants, and that the American

legends are of Asiatic origin, we believe to be indisputable. There is

an abundance of proof to this effect.[454:5]



In contrast to the great antiquity of the sacred books and religions of

Paganism, we have the facts that the Gospels were not written by the

persons whose names they bear, that they were written many years after

the time these men are said to have lived, and that they are full of

interpolations and errors. The first that we know of the four gospels

is at the time of Irenaeus, who, in the second century, intimates that he

had received four gospels, as authentic scriptures. This pious forger

was probably the author of the fourth, as we shall presently see.



Besides these gospels there were many more which were subsequently

deemed apocryphal; the narratives related in them of Christ Jesus and

his apostles were stamped as forgeries.



"The Gospel according to Matthew" is believed by the majority of

biblical scholars of the present day to be the oldest of the four, and

to be made up principally of a pre-existing one, called "The Gospel of

the Hebrews." The principal difference in these two gospels being that

"The Gospel of the Hebrews" commenced with giving the genealogy of

Jesus from David, through Joseph "according to the flesh." The story

of Jesus being born of a virgin was not to be found there, it being an

afterpiece, originating either with the writer of "The Gospel according

to Matthew," or some one after him, and was evidently taken from "The

Gospel of the Egyptians." "The Gospel of the Hebrews"--from which, we

have said, the Matthew narrator copied--was an intensely Jewish

gospel, and was to be found--in one of its forms--among the Ebionites,

who were the narrowest Jewish Christians of the second century. "The

Gospel according to Matthew" is, therefore, the most Jewish gospel of

the four; in fact, the most Jewish book in the New Testament, excepting,

perhaps, the Apocalypse and the Epistle of James.



Some of the more conspicuous Jewish traits, to be found in this gospel,

are as follows:



Jesus is sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The

twelve are forbidden to go among the Gentiles or the Samaritans.

They are to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of

Israel. The genealogy of Jesus is traced back to Abraham, and there

stops.[455:1] The works of the law are frequently insisted on. There

is a superstitious regard for the Sabbath, &c.



There is no evidence of the existence of the Gospel of Matthew,--in its

present form--until the year 173, A. D. It is at this time, also, that

it is first ascribed to Matthew, by Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolis.

The original oracles of the Gospel of the Hebrews, however,--which were

made use of by the author of our present Gospel of Matthew,--were

written, likely enough, not long before the destruction of Jerusalem,

but the Gospel itself dates from about A. D. 100.[456:1]



"The Gospel according to Luke" is believed to come next--in

chronological order--to that of Matthew, and to have been written some

fifteen or twenty years after it. The author was a foreigner, as his

writings plainly show that he was far removed from the events which he

records.



In writing his Gospel, the author made use of that of Matthew, the

Gospel of the Hebrews, and Marcion's Gospel. He must have had, also,

still other sources, as there are parables peculiar to it, which are not

found in them. Among these may be mentioned that of the "Prodigal

Son," and the "Good Samaritan." Other parables peculiar to it are

that of the two debtors; the friend borrowing bread at night; the rich

man's barns; Dives and Lazarus; the lost piece of silver; the unjust

steward; the Pharisee and the Publican.



Several miracles are also peculiar to the Luke narrator's Gospel, the

raising of the widow of Nain's son being the most remarkable. Perhaps

these stories were delivered to him orally, and perhaps he is the

author of them,--we shall never know. The foundation of the legends,

however, undoubtedly came from the "certain scriptures" of the Essenes

in Egypt. The principal object which the writer of this gospel had in

view was to reconcile Paulinism and the more Jewish forms of

Christianity.[456:2]



The next in chronological order, according to the same school of

critics, is "The Gospel according to Mark." This gospel is supposed to

have been written within ten years of the former, and its author, as of

the other two gospels, is unknown. It was probably written at Rome, as

the Latinisms of the author's style, and the apparent motive of his

work, strongly suggest that he was a Jewish citizen of the Eternal City.

He made use of the Gospel of Matthew as his principal authority, and

probably referred to that of Luke, as he has things in common with Luke

only.



The object which the writer had in view, was to have a neutral

go-between, a compromise between Matthew as too Petrine (Jewish), and

Luke as too Pauline (Gentile). The different aspects of Matthew and Luke

were found to be confusing to believers, and provocative of hostile

criticism from without; hence the idea of writing a shorter gospel, that

should combine the most essential elements of both. Luke was itself a

compromise between the opposing Jewish and universal tendencies of

early Christianity, but Mark endeavors by avoidance and omission to

effect what Luke did more by addition and contrast. Luke proposed to

himself to open a door for the admission of Pauline ideas without

offending Gentile Christianity; Mark, on the contrary, in a negative

spirit, to publish a Gospel which should not hurt the feelings of either

party. Hence his avoidance of all those disputed questions which

disturbed the church during the first quarter of the second century. The

genealogy of Jesus is omitted; this being offensive to Gentile

Christians, and even to some of the more liberal Judaizers. The

supernatural birth of Jesus is omitted, this being offensive to the

Ebonitish (extreme Jewish) and some of the Gnostic Christians. For every

Judaizing feature that is sacrificed, a universal one is also

sacrificed. Hard words against the Jews are left out, but with equal

care, hard words about the Gentiles.[457:1]



We now come to the fourth, and last gospel, that "according to John,"

which was not written until many years after that "according to

Matthew."



"It is impossible to pass from the Synoptic[457:2] Gospels," says Canon

Westcott, "to the fourth, without feeling that the transition involves

the passage from one world of thought to another. No familiarity with

the general teachings of the Gospels, no wide conception of the

character of the Saviour, is sufficient to destroy the contrast which

exists in form and spirit between the earlier and later narratives."



The discrepancies between the fourth and the Synoptic Gospels are

numerous. If Jesus was the man of Matthew's Gospel, he was not the

mysterious being of the fourth. If his ministry was only one year

long, it was not three. If he made but one journey to Jerusalem, he

did not make many. If his method of teaching was that of the

Synoptics, it was not that of the fourth Gospel. If he was the Jew of

Matthew, he was not the Anti-Jew of John.[457:3]



Everywhere in John we come upon a more developed stage of Christianity

than in the Synoptics. The scene, the atmosphere, is different. In the

Synoptics Judaism, the Temple, the Law and the Messianic Kingdom are

omnipresent. In John they are remote and vague. In Matthew Jesus is

always yearning for his own nation. In John he has no other sentiment

for it than hate and scorn. In Matthew the sanction of the Prophets is

his great credential. In John his dignity can tolerate no previous

approximation.



"Do we ask," says Francis Tiffany, "who wrote this wondrous Gospel?

Mysterious its origin, as that wind of which its author speaks, which

bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof and canst

not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. As with the Great Unknown

of the book of Job, the Great Unknown of the later Isaiah, the ages keep

his secret. The first absolutely indisputable evidence of the existence

of the book dates from the latter half of the second century."



The first that we know of the fourth Gospel, for certainty, is at the

time of Irenaeus (A. D. 179).[458:1] We look in vain for an express

recognition of the four canonical Gospels, or for a distinct mention

of any one of them, in the writings of St. Clement (A. D. 96), St.

Ignatius (A. D. 107), St. Justin (A. D. 140), or St. Polycarp (A. D.

108). All we can find is incidents from the life of Jesus, sayings, etc.



That Irenaeus is the author of it is very evident. This learned and pious

forger says:



"John, the disciple of the Lord, wrote his Gospel to confute

the doctrine lately taught by Cerinthus, and a great while

before by those called Nicolaitans, a branch of the Gnostics;

and to show that there is one God who made all things by his

WORD: and not, as they say, that there is one the Creator, and

another the Father of our Lord: and one the Son of the

Creator, and another, even the Christ, who descended from

above upon the Son of the Creator, and continued impassible,

and at length returned to his pleroma or fulness."[458:2]



The idea of God having inspired four different men to write a history

of the same transactions,--or rather, of many different men having

undertaken to write such a history, of whom God inspired four only to

write correctly, leaving the others to their own unaided resources, and

giving us no test by which to distinguish the inspired from the

uninspired--certainly appears self-confuting, and anything but natural.



The reasons assigned by Irenaeus for there being four Gospels are as

follows:



"It is impossible that there could be more or less than

four. For there are four climates, and four cardinal

winds; but the Gospel is the pillar and foundation of the

church, and its breath of life. The church therefore was to

have four pillars, blowing immortality from every quarter, and

giving life to man."[459:1]



It was by this Irenaeus, with the assistance of Clement of Alexandria,

and Tertullian, one of the Latin Fathers, that the four Gospels were

introduced into general use among the Christians.



In these four spurious Gospels, and in some which are considered

Apocryphal--because the bishops at the Council of Laodicea (A. D. 365)

rejected them--we have the only history of Jesus of Nazareth. Now, if

all accounts or narratives of Christ Jesus and his Apostles were

forgeries, as it is admitted that all the Apocryphal ones were, what

can the superior character of the received Gospels prove for them, but

that they are merely superiorly executed forgeries? The existence of

Jesus is implied in the New Testament outside of the Gospels, but

hardly an incident of his life is mentioned, hardly a sentence that he

spoke has been preserved. Paul, writing from twenty to thirty years

after his death, has but a single reference to anything he ever said or

did.



Beside these four Gospels there were, as we said above, many others,

for, in the words of Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian:



"Not long after Christ's ascension into heaven, several

histories of his life and doctrines, full of pious frauds

and fabulous wonders, were composed by persons whose

intentions, perhaps, were not bad, but whose writings

discovered the greatest superstition and ignorance. Nor was

this all; productions appeared, which were imposed upon the

world by fraudulent men, as the writings of the holy

apostles."[459:2]



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



"There never was any period of time in all ecclesiastical

history, in which so many rank heresies were publicly

professed, nor in which so many spurious books were forged

and published by the Christians, under the names of Christ,

and the Apostles, and the Apostolic writers, as in those

primitive ages. Several of these forged books are frequently

cited and applied to the defense of Christianity, by the most

eminent fathers of the same ages, as true and genuine

pieces."[459:3]



Archbishop Wake also admits that:



"It would be useless to insist on all the spurious pieces

which were attributed to St. Paul alone, in the primitive ages

of Christianity."[460:1]



Some of the "spurious pieces which were attributed to St. Paul," may be

found to-day in our canonical New Testament, and are believed by many to

be the word of God.[460:2]



The learned Bishop Faustus, in speaking of the authenticity of the New

Testament, says:



"It is certain that the New Testament was not written by

Christ himself, nor by his apostles, but a long while after

them, by some unknown persons, who, lest they should not be

credited when they wrote of affairs they were little

acquainted with, affixed to their works the names of the

apostles, or of such as were supposed to have been their

companions, asserting that what they had written themselves,

was written according to these persons to whom they ascribed

it."[460:3]



Again he says:



"Many things have been inserted by our ancestors in the

speeches of our Lord, which, though put forth under his name,

agree not with his faith; especially since--as already it has

been often proved--these things were not written by Christ,

nor his apostles, but a long while after their assumption, by

I know not what sort of half Jews, not even agreeing with

themselves, who made up their tale out of reports and opinions

merely, and yet, fathering the whole upon the names of the

apostles of the Lord, or on those who were supposed to follow

the apostles, they mendaciously pretended that they had

written their lies and conceits according to them."[460:4]



What had been said to have been done in India, was said by these

"half-Jews" to have been done in Palestine; the change of names and

places, with the mixing up of various sketches of the Egyptian, Persian,

Phenician, Greek and Roman mythology, was all that was necessary. They

had an abundance of material, and with it they built. The foundation

upon which they built was undoubtedly the "Scriptures," or Diegesis,

of the Essenes in Alexandria in Egypt, which fact led Eusebius, the

ecclesiastical historian--"without whom," says Tillemont, "we should

scarce have had any knowledge of the history of the first ages of

Christianity, or of the authors who wrote in that time"--to say that the

sacred writings used by this sect were none other than "Our Gospels."



We offer below a few of the many proofs showing the Gospels to have

been written a long time after the events narrated are said to have

occurred, and by persons unacquainted with the country of which they

wrote.



"He (Jesus) came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the

coasts of Decapolis," is an assertion made by the Mark narrator (vii.

31), when there were no coasts of Decapolis, nor was the name so much as

known before the reign of the emperor Nero.



Again, "He (Jesus) departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of

Judea, beyond Jordan," is an assertion made by the Matthew narrator

(xix. 1), when the Jordan itself was the eastern boundary of Judea, and

there were no coasts of Judea beyond it.



Again, "But when he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in

the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither,

notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into

the parts of Galilee, and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth;

that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophets, he shall

be called a Nazarene," is another assertion made by the Matthew narrator

(ii. 22, 23), when--1. It was a son of Herod who reigned in Galilee as

well as Judea, so that he could not be more secure in one province than

in the other; and when--2. It was impossible for him to have gone from

Egypt to Nazareth, without traveling through the whole extent of

Archelaus's kingdom, or making a peregrination through the deserts on

the north and east of the Lake Asphaltites, and the country of Moab; and

then, either crossing the Jordan into Samaria or the Lake of Gennesareth

into Galilee, and from thence going to the city of Nazareth, which is no

better geography, than if one should describe a person as turning

aside from Cheapside into the parts of Yorkshire; and when--3. There

were no prophets whatever who had prophesied that Jesus "should be

called a Nazarene."



The Matthew narrator (iv. 13) states that "He departed into Galilee, and

leaving Nazareth, came and dwelt in Capernaum," as if he imagined that

the city of Nazareth was not as properly in Galilee as Capernaum was;

which is much such geographical accuracy, as if one should relate the

travels of a hero, who departed into Middlesex, and leaving London, came

and dwelt in Lombard street.[461:1]



There are many other falsehoods in gospel geography beside these,

which, it is needless to mention, plainly show that the writers were not

the persons they are generally supposed to be.



Of gospel statistics there are many falsehoods; among them may be

mentioned the following:



"Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto

John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness," is an assertion made by

the Luke narrator (Luke iii. 2); when all Jews, or persons living among

them, must have known that there never was but one high priest at a

time, as with ourselves there is but one mayor of a city.



Again we read (John vii. 52), "Search (the Scriptures) and look, for out

of Galilee ariseth no prophet," when the most distinguished of the

Jewish prophets--Nahum and Jonah--were both Galileans.



See reference in the Epistles to "Saints," a religious order, owing

its origin to the popes. Also, references to the distinct orders of

"Bishops," "Priests," and "Deacons," and calls to a monastic life;

to fasting, etc., when, the titles of "Bishop," "Priest," and "Deacon"

were given to the Essenes--whom Eusebius calls Christians--and, as is

well known, monasteries were the abode of the Essenes or Therapeuts.



See the words for "legion," "aprons," "handkerchiefs,"

"centurion," etc., in the original, not being Greek, but Latin,

written in Greek characters, a practice first to be found in the

historian Herodian, in the third century.



In Matt. xvi. 18, and Matt. xviii. 17, the word "Church" is used, and

its papistical and infallible authority referred to as then existing,

which is known not to have existed till ages after. And the passage in

Matt. xi. 12:--"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the

kingdom of heaven suffereth violence," etc., could not have been written

till a very late period.



Luke ii. 1, shows that the writer (whoever he may have been) lived long

after the events related. His dates, about the fifteenth year of

Tiberius, and the government of Cyrenius (the only indications of time

in the New Testament), are manifestly false. The general ignorance of

the four Evangelists, not merely of the geography and statistics of

Judea, but even of its language,--their egregious blunders, which no

writers who had lived in that age could be conceived of as

making,--prove that they were not only no such persons as those who have

been willing to be deceived have taken them to be, but that they were

not Jews, had never been in Palestine, and neither lived at, or at

anywhere near the times to which their narratives seem to refer. The

ablest divines at the present day, of all denominations, have yielded as

much as this.[463:1]



The Scriptures were in the hands of the clergy only, and they had every

opportunity to insert whatsoever they pleased; thus we find them full of

interpolations. Johann Solomo Semler, one of the most influential

theologians of the eighteenth century, speaking of this, says:



"The Christian doctors never brought their sacred books before

the common people; although people in general have been wont

to think otherwise; during the first ages, they were in the

hands of the clergy only."[463:2]



Concerning the time when the canon of the New Testament was settled,

Mosheim says:



"The opinions, or rather the conjectures, of the learned

concerning the time when the books of the New Testament were

collected into one volume; as also about the authors of that

collection, are extremely different. This important question

is attended with great and almost insuperable difficulties to

us in these later times."[463:3]



The Rev. B. F. Westcott says:



"It is impossible to point to any period as marking the date

at which our present canon was determined. When it first

appears, it is presented not as a novelty, but as an ancient

tradition."[463:4]



Dr. Lardner says:



"Even so late as the middle of the sixth century, the canon

of the New Testament had not been settled by any authority

that was decisive and universally acknowledged, but Christian

people were at liberty to judge for themselves concerning the

genuineness of writings proposed to them as apostolical, and

to determine according to evidence."[464:1]



The learned Michaelis says:



"No manuscript of the New Testament now extant is prior to the

sixth century, and what is to be lamented, various readings

which, as appears from the quotations of the Fathers, were in

the text of the Greek Testament, are to be found in none of

the manuscripts which are at present remaining."[464:2]



And Bishop Marsh says:



"It is a certain fact, that several readings in our common

printed text are nothing more than alterations made by

Origen, whose authority was so great in the Christian Church

(A. D. 230) that emendations which he proposed, though, as he

himself acknowledged, they were supported by the evidence of

no manuscript, were very generally received."[464:3]



In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius gives us a list of what books at

that time (A. D. 315) were considered canonical. They are as follows:



"The four-fold writings of the Evangelists," "The Acts of the

Apostles," "The Epistles of Peter," "after these the first

of John, and that of Peter," "All these are received for

undoubted." "The Revelation of St. John, some disavow."



"The books which are gainsaid, though well known unto many,

are these: the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, the

latter of Peter, the second and third of John, whether

they were John the Evangelist, or some other of the same

name."[464:4]



Though Irenaeus, in the second century, is the first who mentions the

evangelists, and Origen, in the third century, is the first who gives us

a catalogue of the books contained in the New Testament, Mosheim's

admission still stands before us. We have no grounds of assurance that

the mere mention of the names of the evangelists by Irenaeus, or the

arbitrary drawing up of a particular catalogue by Origen, were of any

authority. It is still unknown by whom, or where, or when, the

canon of the New Testament was settled. But in this absence of positive

evidence we have abundance of negative proof. We know when it was not

settled. We know it was not settled in the time of the Emperor

Justinian, nor in the time of Cassiodorus; that is, not at any time

before the middle of the sixth century, "by any authority that was

decisive and universally acknowledged; but Christian people were at

liberty to judge for themselves concerning the genuineness of writings

proposed to them as apostolical."



We cannot do better than close this chapter with the words of Prof. Max

Mueller, who, in speaking of Buddhism, says:



"We have in the history of Buddhism an excellent opportunity

for watching the process by which a canon of sacred books is

called into existence. We see here, as elsewhere, that

during the life-time of the teacher, no record of events, no

sacred code containing the sayings of the Master, was wanted.

His presence was enough, and thoughts of the future, and more

particularly, of future greatness, seldom entered the minds of

those who followed him. It was only after Buddha had left the

world to enter into Nirvana, that his disciples attempted to

recall the sayings and doings of their departed friend and

master. At that time, everything that seemed to redound to the

glory of Buddha, however extraordinary and incredible, was

eagerly welcomed, while witnesses who would have ventured to

criticise or reject unsupported statements, or to detract in

any way from the holy character of Buddha, had no chance of

ever being listened to. And when, in spite of all this,

differences of opinion arose, they were not brought to the

test by a careful weighing of evidence, but the names of

'unbeliever' and 'heretic' were quickly invented in India

as elsewhere, and bandied backwards and forwards between

contending parties, till at last, when the doctors disagreed,

the help of the secular power had to be invoked, and kings and

emperors assembled councils for the suppression of schism, for

the settlement of an orthodox creed, and for the completion of

a sacred canon."[465:1]



That which Prof. Mueller describes as taking place in the religion of

Christ Buddha, is exactly what took place in the religion of Christ

Jesus. That the miraculous, and many of the non-miraculous, events

related in the Gospels never happened, is demonstrable from the facts

which we have seen in this work, that nearly all of these events, had

been previously related of the gods and goddesses of heathen nations of

antiquity, more especially of the Hindoo Saviour Crishna, and the

Buddhist Saviour Buddha, whose religion, with less alterations than

time and translations have made in the Jewish Scriptures, may be traced

in nearly every dogma and every ceremony of the evangelical mythology.



* * * * *



NOTE.--The Codex Sinaiticus, referred to on the preceding page,

(note 2,) was found at the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, by

Tischendorf, in 1859. He supposes that it belongs to the 4th cent.;

but Dr. Davidson (in Kitto's Bib. Ency., Art. MSS.) thinks different. He

says: "Probably it is of the 6th cent.," while he states that the

Codex Vaticanus "is believed to belong to the 4th cent.," and the

Codex Alexandrinus to the 5th cent. McClintock & Strong's Ency. (Art.

MSS.,) relying probably on Tischendorf's conjecture, places the Codex

Sinaiticus first. "It is probably the oldest of the MSS. of the N.

T., and of the 4th cent.," say they. The Codex Vaticanus is considered

the next oldest, and the Codex Alexandrinus is placed third in order,

and "was probably written in the first half of the 5th cent." The

writer of the art. N. T. in Smith's Bib. Dic. says: "The Codex

Sinaiticus is probably the oldest of the MSS. of the N. T., and of the

4th cent.;" and that the Codex Alexandrinus "was probably written in

the first half of the 5th cent." Thus we see that in determining the

dates of the MSS. of the N. T., Christian divines are obliged to resort

to conjecture; there being no certainty whatever in the matter. But

with all their "suppositions," "probabilities," "beliefs" and

"conjectures," we have the words of the learned Michaelis still before

us, that: "No MSS. of the N. T. now extant are prior to the sixth

cent." This remark, however, does not cover the Codex Sinaiticus,

which was discovered since Michaelis wrote his work on the N. T.; but,

as we saw above, Dr. Davidson does not agree with Tischendorf in regard

to its antiquity, and places it in the 6th cent.





FOOTNOTES:



[450:1] Williams' Hinduism, p. 19. See also, Prof. Max Mueller's Lectures

on the Origin of Religion, pp. 145-158, and p. 67, where he speaks of

"the Hindus, who, thousands of years ago, had reached in Upanishads the

loftiest heights of philosophy."



[450:2] The Ancient City, p. 13.



[451:1] See Monier Williams' Hinduism, pp. 109, 110, and Indian Wisdom,

p. 493.



[451:2] See Isis Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 576, for the authority of Prof.

Max Mueller.



[451:3] "The religion known as Buddhism--from the title of 'The Buddha,'

meaning 'The Wise,' 'The Enlightened'--has now existed for 2400 years,

and may be said to be the prevailing religion of the world." (Chambers's

Encyclo.)



[451:4] This Council was assembled by Asoka in the eighteenth year of

his reign. The name of this king is honored wherever the teachings of

Buddha have spread, and is reverenced from the Volga to Japan, from

Ceylon and Siam to the borders of Mongolia and Siberia. Like his

Christian prototype Constantine, he was converted by a miracle. After

his conversion, which took place in the tenth year of his reign, he

became a very zealous supporter of the new religion. He himself built

many monasteries and dagabas, and provided many monks with the

necessaries of life; and he encouraged those about his court to do the

same. He published edicts throughout his empire, enjoining on all his

subjects morality and justice.



[451:5] Rhys Davids' Buddhism, p. 10.



[451:6] See Chapter VII.



[452:1] Mueller: Lectures on the Science of Religion, p. 235.



[452:2] This small tribe of Persians were driven from their native land

by the Mohammedan conquerors under the Khalif Omar, in the seventh

century of our era. Adhering to the ancient religion of Persia, which

resembles that of the Veda, and bringing with them the records of

their faith, the Zend-Avesta of their prophet Zoroaster, they settled

down in the neighborhood of Surat, about one thousand one hundred years

ago, and became great merchants and shipbuilders. For two or three

centuries we know little of their history. Their religion prevented them

from making proselytes, and they never multiplied within themselves to

any extent, nor did they amalgamate with the Hindoo population, so that

even now their number only amounts to about seventy thousand.

Nevertheless, from their busy, enterprising habits, in which they

emulate Europeans, they form an important section of the population of

Bombay and Western India.



[452:3] Movers: Quoted in Dunlap's Spirit Hist., p. 261.



[452:4] Prolegomena, p. 417.



[452:5] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 162.



[453:1] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 163.



[453:2] Ibid. p. 142, and King's Gnostics, p. 71.



[453:3] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, pp. 135, 140, and 143.



[453:4] Quoted in Ibid. p. 186.



[453:5] Ibid.



[453:6] Renouf: Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 81.



[454:1] That is, the Tri-murti Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, for he tells

us that the three gods, Indra, Agni, and Surya, constitute the Vedic

chief triad of Gods. (Hinduism, p. 24.) Again he tells us that the idea

of a Tri-murti was first dimly shadowed forth in the Rig-Veda, where a

triad of principal gods--Agni, Indra and Surya--is recognized. (Ibid. p.

88.) The worship of the three members of the Tri-murti, Brahma, Vishnu

and Siva, is to be found in the period of the epic poems, from 500 to

308 B. C. (Ibid. pp. 109, 110, 115.)



[454:2] Williams' Hinduism, p. 25.



[454:3] Monumental Christianity, p. 890.



[454:4] See Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi.



[454:5] See Appendix A.



[455:1] The genealogy which traces him back to Adam (Luke iii.) makes

his religion not only a Jewish, but a Gentile one. According to this

Gospel he is not only a Messiah sent to the Jews, but to all nations,

sons of Adam.



[456:1] See The Bible of To-Day, under "Matthew."



[456:2] See Ibid. under "Luke."



[457:1] See the Bible of To-Day, under "Mark."



[457:2] "Synoptics;" the Gospels which contain accounts of the same

events--"parallel passages," as they are called--which can be written

side by side, so as to enable us to make a general view or synopsis of

all the three, and at the same time compare them with each other. Bishop

Marsh says: "The most eminent critics are at present decidedly of

opinion that one of the two suppositions must necessarily be adopted,

either that the three Evangelists copied from each other, or that all

the three drew from a common source, and that the notion of an absolute

independence, in respect to the composition of the three first Gospels,

is no longer tenable."



[457:3] "On opening the New Testament and comparing the impression

produced by the Gospel of Matthew or Mark with that by the Gospel of

John, the observant eye is at once struck with as salient a contrast as

that already indicated on turning from the Macbeth or Othello of

Shakespeare to the Comus of Milton or to Spenser's Faerie Queene."

(Francis Tiffany.)



"To learn how far we may trust them (the Gospels) we must in the first

place compare them with each other. The moment we do so we notice that

the fourth stands quite alone, while the first three form a single

group, not only following the same general course, but sometimes even

showing a verbal agreement which cannot possibly be accidental." (The

Bible for Learners, vol. ii. p. 27.)



[458:1] "Irenaeus is the first person who mentions the four Gospels by

name." (Bunsen: Keys of St. Peter, p. 328.)



"Irenaeus, in the second century, is the first of the fathers who, though

he has nowhere given us a professed catalogue of the books of the New

Testament, intimates that he had received four Gospels, as authentic

Scriptures, the authors of which he describes." (Rev. R. Taylor:

Syntagma, p. 109.)



"The authorship of the fourth Gospel has been the subject of much

learned and anxious controversy among theologians. The earliest, and

only very important external testimony we have is that of IRENAEUS (A.

D. 179.)" (W. R. Grey: The Creed of Christendom, p. 159.)



[458:2] Against Heresies, bk. ii. ch. xi. sec. 1.



[459:1] Against Heresies, bk. iii. ch. xi. sec. 8.



[459:2] Mosheim: vol. i. p. 109.



[459:3] Middleton's Works, vol. i. p. 59.



[460:1] Genuine Epist. Apost. Fathers, p. 98.



[460:2] See Chadwick's Bible of To-Day, pp. 191, 192.



[460:3] "Nec ab ipso scriptum constat, nec ab ejus apostolis sed longo

post tempore a quibusdam incerti nominis viris, qui ne sibi non

haberetur fides scribentibus quae nescirent, partim apostolorum, partim

eorum qui apostolos secuti viderentur nomina scriptorum suorum frontibus

indiderunt, asseverantes secundum eos, se scripsisse quae scripserunt."

(Faust, lib. 2. Quoted by Rev. R. Taylor: Diegesis, p. 114.)



[460:4] "Multa enim a majoribus vestris, eloquiis Domini nostri inserta

verba sunt; quae nomine signata ipsius, cum ejus fide non congruant,

praesertim, quia, ut jam saepe probatum a nobis est, nec ab ipso haec sunt,

nec ab ejus apostolis scripta, sed multo post eorum assumptionem, a

nescio quibus, et ipsis inter se non concordantibus SEMI-JUDAEIS, per

famas opinionesque comperta sunt; qui tamen omnia eadem in apostolorum

Domini conferentes nomina vel eorum qui secuti apostolos viderentur,

errores ac mendacia sua secundum eos se scripsisse mentiti sunt."

(Faust.: lib. 88. Quoted in Ibid. p. 66.)



[461:1] Taylor's Diegesis.



[463:1] Says Prof. Smith upon this point: "All the earliest external

evidence points to the conclusion that the synoptic gospels are

non-apostolic digests of spoken and written apostolic tradition, and

that the arrangement of the earlier material in orderly form took place

only gradually and by many essays."



Dr. Hooykaas, speaking of the four "Gospels," and "Acts," says of

them: "Not one of these five books was really written by the person

whose name it bears, and they are all of more recent date than the

heading would lead us to suppose."



"We cannot say that the "Gospels" and book of "Acts" are unauthentic,

for not one of them professes to give the name of its author. They

appeared anonymously. The titles placed above them in our Bibles owe

their origin to a later ecclesiastical tradition which deserves no

confidence whatever." (Bible for Learners, vol. iii. pp. 24, 25.)



These Gospels "can hardly be said to have had authors at all. They had

only editors or compilers. What I mean is, that those who enriched the

old Christian literature with these Gospels did not go to work as

independent writers and compose their own narratives out of the accounts

they had collected, but simply took up the different stories or sets of

stories which they found current in the oral tradition or already

reduced to writing, adding here and expanding there, and so sent out

into the world a very artless kind of composition. These works were

then, from time to time, somewhat enriched by introductory matter or

interpolations from the hands of later Christians, and perhaps were

modified a little here and there. Our first two Gospels appear to have

passed through more than one such revision. The third, whose writer says

in his preface, that 'many had undertaken to put together a narrative

(Gospel),' before him, appears to proceed from a single collecting,

arranging, and modifying hand." (Ibid. p. 29.)



[463:2] "Christiani doctores non in vulgus prodebant libros sacros,

licet soleant plerique aliteropinari, erant tantum in manibus

clericorum, priora per saecula." (Quoted in Taylor's Diegesis, p. 48.)



[463:3] Mosheim: vol. i. pt. 2, ch. ii.



[463:4] General Survey of the Canon, p. 459.



[464:1] Credibility of the Gospels.



[464:2] Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 160. The Sinaitic MS. is believed

by Tischendorf to belong to the fourth century.



[464:3] Ibid. p. 368.



[464:4] Eusebius: Ecclesiastical Hist. lib. 3, ch. xxii.



[465:1] The Science of Religion, pp. 30, 31.





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