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Title: The Christ Of Paul - Or, The Enigmas of Christianity
Author: Reber, George
Language: English
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By George Reber



     Death of Stephen.--Conversion of Paul.--His retirement to
     Arabia and return to Damascus and Jerusalem.

Let the reader imagine that he is in Jerusalem, in Judea, about the year
A.D. 34. There is unusual tumult in the vicinity of the Temple. A large
crowd has gathered, and, stirred up by some strong provocation, is
swayed like the billows in a storm. As we approach, we see a young man,
who is trying to raise his voice above the din. There is something very
striking in his looks. He is pale, but firm. His eyes gleam with an
unearthly light. As the crowd surges and threatens, he is calm. His
thoughts and looks are directed more to Heaven than Earth.

But in this crowd there is a young man of an entirely different stamp.
He is excited and angry. His eyes are red with rage, and he is seen
moving among the crowd like an incendiary. The crisis came, and poor
Stephen stood first on the list of Christian martyrs. This little
bleared-eyed, angry man is not yet satisfied. Like the tiger that
has tasted blood, he thirsts for more. He goes about Jerusalem like
a madman. He fills the prisons with men and women who believed with
Stephen. When he had done all the injury he could in Jerusalem, he asked
and received permission to go to Damascus on a like mission. On his way,
while he is breathing out threatenings and slaughter, he is struck down
in his mad career. He saw in it the hand of God. Everything is changed
in a moment. The fiery stream of burning lava, which rushed in one
direction, now turned and ran with equal violence the other way.

Philosophers may differ as to what befell Paul on his way to Damascus;
but as for himself, he never doubted. The Christ that he persecuted had
spoken to him. His faith in what he saw in his vision he bore in his
bosom, as he did his heart; and in a life of toil, suffering, and
sorrow, he clung to it to the end.

We can hardly tell what were the feelings of Paul when he awoke to
consciousness, because we cannot judge him as we would other men. He had
raised his hand against the Son of God, and now, after a severe reproof,
he was appointed by him to be his special minister on earth. Paul did
just what we might suppose he would. He withdrew from the world, avoided
Jerusalem, and, as he says, went into Arabia. There, alone, he meditated
over the wonderful scenes through which he had passed. The more he
thought, the more he believed he had talked with Christ, the Son of
God, and the more he believed he had been selected to spread his Gospel
throughout the earth.

Once convinced that his vision was a reality, it was natural for him to
make himself believe that these visions were repeated; and through life,
in all his acts and movements, he believed he was under the guidance
of the same hand that smote him on the plains of Damascus. He goes from
place to place as a Spirit from above directs him, and when he speaks
he speaks not for himself, but for Him who sent him, Positive and
overbearing by nature, he imagines himself to be the minister of the
Son of God, and becomes intolerant, vain and exacting. All his ideas are
crystallized, and will not bend or yield.

As he was specially selected to preach, he believed in the doctrine of
election. When he believed at all, he believed too much; for it was his
nature to overrun. He had witnessed Christ--others had not; but, in the
absence of proof, they must substitute faith. Works are nothing--faith
everything. What he saw and believed, others must believe without

His theology, from his natural temperament and the circumstances of his
conversion, took an austere cast, which made the relation between man
and the Creator that of guardian and ward. God himself, in the mind of
Paul, is almost hideous. Some are given over to damnation before they
are born; while others are destined to be saved before they have had a
chance to sin.

It is difficult to tell whether the religious faith of Paul was fully
fixed and determined before he left his retreat in Arabia and returned
to Damascus, or whether it was the growth of after experience and
reflection. At some period of his life, and early too, he had settled
in his mind the true relation which Christ bore to humanity. He had the
best of reasons for his belief on that subject. He was in Jerusalem at
a time when it was not impossible that Mary herself was living; and
if not, he saw Peter and was with him fifteen days, when he had every
opportunity to inform himself about the early history of Christ. Will
any one say that Paul, with a mind awake to everything that related to
Christ, would not inquire and find out all that was known about Him who
had spoken to him from the clouds, when he was in Jerusalem, and could
question those who had been his companions on this earth? If there was
anything remarkable about his birth or death, Peter would have told it,
and Paul would have repeated it all along the shores of the Archipelago,
or wherever he went.

But Paul, from first to last, preached that Christ was born of woman,
and was of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. Upon this point
he yielded nothing, and stood to it to the death. Paul was a man of
learning, and wrote with great power. Longinus classed him among the
great men of Greece. But in action and in deeds is where he went
beyond all other men. Upon his shoulders, as he believed, was left the
conversion of the world; and he had a will and energy equal to the task.
Believing that the Son of God stood at his side, as he performed the
mission which had been assigned him, he neither feared nor trembled, but
stood up with a bold front in the presence of Festus and King Agrippa.
The unsparing cruelty of Nero had no terrors for him.

After Paul had remained in Arabia long enough to collect his thoughts,
and determine the course he should pursue, he went back to Damascus.
At last he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem and see Peter. What must
have been his feelings as he approached the holy city, and passed
along the place where he assisted, three years before, in the death of
Stephen! Paul never forgave himself for the part he took in this murder.

Can we imagine with what feelings he approached Peter, or why he
approached him at all? If he felt sad and grieved at the part he took
in the death of Stephen, he did not feel as if he met Peter as his
superior, for he conceded nothing to any of the Apostles. There was no
point upon which he was more sensitive. Paul did not visit Peter to be
taught and instructed as to his duties, nor to learn from him the
great truths of Christianity; for he had learned all this from a higher
source, and felt himself more able to give instruction than to receive
it from others. Speaking of his doctrines, he says: "For I neither
received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of
Jesus Christ" (_Galatians_ i. 12). Doubtless he came to learn from
Peter everything he knew of the personal history of Christ. He had many
questions to ask about his habits--mode of life--his employments--about
Mary, Joseph, and the whole family of Jesus. The smallest incident in
his early life would be dear to Paul, and he would lock the remembrance
of it in his bosom, as a sacred treasure.

In this way fifteen days passed over, when Paul again left Jerusalem,
and afterwards went into Syria and Cilicia, where he was followed by
divine visions and revelations. He spent the year A.D. 42 in Antioch,
where he taught, assisted by Barnabas. Here he took up a collection for
the brethren of Judea, who were suffering from the effects of a famine
which took place during the reign of Claudius Caesar, and returned with
it to Jerusalem. Having discharged his trust, he went back to Antioch,
accompanied by Barnabas and Mark. All we know with certainty about Paul,
from this time forward, we must gather, for the most part, from his
Epistles to the churches; for all other sources of information are
suspicious and doubtful. An act, especially one of importance connected
with his labors as an Apostle, attributed to him by others, and not
spoken of at all by himself, should be excluded from the pages of
authentic history.


     Paul and Barnabas start west to preach the Gospel.--The
     prevailing ideas on religion in Asia Minor.--Theology of
     Plato and Philo.--The effect produced by the preaching of

Paul, in the year A.D. 45, with Barnabas and Mark as his companions, set
his face west in the direction of Asia Minor. The people who inhabited
the country from Antioch in Syria along the north coast of the
Mediterranean and the Ægean, or the Archipelago, to Thessalonica in
Macedonia, were for the most part descendants of the early colonists
from Greece. A large number of cities were scattered along the shores,
which had been enriched by commerce, and were the seats of learning
and luxury. The Greek of Asia Minor, in the latter part of the first
century, was not the Greek of the time of Pericles and Epaminondas.

His levity and cunning had outlived his courage, his love of country and
stern endurance. The college at Alexandria was the source of all light
and learning, and the doctrines of that celebrated school, like a subtle
fluid, pervaded all classes of men. It was here that Plato took lessons
which led him to explore the mysterious nature of the Deity, and expose
to the eyes of mortals the nature of the divine persons who regulated
the affairs of the universe. In his imagination he populated Heaven, and
divided among the different deities the share of each in the
government of the world. According to Plato there was one God who was
superessential, and in him was blended or united all that was powerful
and good. This he called the _One_, or the first principle of things.
Proculus, of the same school, says the _One_ is the God of all gods, the
Unity of the unities, the Holy among the holies. Plato compares him with
the sun. For as the sun by his light not only confers the power of being
seen on visible objects, but is likewise the cause of their generation,
nutriment, and increase, so the good of the One, through superessential
light, imparts being and power. As a consequence, both Plato and
Pythagoras conclude that the immediate issue of this ineffable Cause
must be gods, and each must partake of the same nature and have a
superessential existence. That "everything in nature which is the result
of progression exists in a mysterious unity and similitude with its
first cause. They are superessential, and differ in no respect from the
highest good. From the supereminent Cause, as from an exalted place
of survey, we may contemplate the divine unities, that is, the gods,
flowing in admirable and ineffable order, and at the same time abiding
in profound union with each other, and with their Cause."

The first procession, from the first One, or intelligible Cause, is the
intelligible Triad, consisting of Being, Life, and Intellect, which
are the three highest things after the first God. Plato, in his
_Parmenides_, calls the Author of the Universe Intellect and Father, and
represents him commanding the junior gods to imitate the power which he
employed in their generation. It follows, that that which generated from
the Father is offspring, Son or Logos, second in the Triad. The third
power or principle in the Triad is Intellect, or Spirit of the Universe.
Here we have the Father, the Logos, and the Soul of the Universe in
a mysterious union; and as they all proceed from the One, are one in
unity. The author of "Decline and Fall" thus defines the theology of
Plato: "The vain hope of extricating himself from these difficulties
which must forever oppress the feeble powers of the human mind,
might induce Plato to consider the divine nature under the threefold
modification of the First Cause, the Reason or Logos and the Soul or
Spirit of the Universe. His poetical imagination sometimes fixed and
animated these metaphysical abstractions; the three archial or original
principles were represented in the Platonic system as three gods, united
with each other by a mysterious and ineffable generation; and the Logos
was particularly considered, under the more accessible character of the
Son of an Eternal Father, and the Creator and Governor of the world."
(Vol. I., page 438.)

Such is an outline of the theology of Plato, as we learn it from the
"Explanatory translation" of Taylor to the _Cratylus_ and other works
of the great light of Greece. The ideas of Plato, under the teachings
of the Alexandrian school, underwent changes and modifications, but were
the source of all subsequent systems of theology, and we can readily
detect in each the genius of the Athenian. Through the invitation of the
Ptolemies, large numbers of Jews settled in the new capital of Egypt,
who carried with them the laws and institutions of Moses. It was
not many years before the religious ideas of the descendants of the
colonists were tinctured and in some degree moulded after the doctrines
taught at the school of Alexandria. Under the lead of Philo a new
school arose, which was formed from a union of "Mosaic faith and Grecian
philosophy," in which the distinctive features of each are clearly

Philo Judæus was an Alexandrian Jew, descended from a noble and
sacerdotal family, and was distinguished in his day for his wisdom
and eloquence. He was born before Christ, and survived him. He was the
author of numerous works, and esteemed one of the most learned men of
his day. A tumult arose in Alexandria between the Jews and the Greeks,
and out of each party three were chosen as embassadors to go to Rome and
lay the case before Caligula, who was then emperor. Philo was chosen as
one to represent his countrymen, and undertook to act as chief spokesman
in the imperial presence. He was treated with insolence--ordered to
be silent--and the emperor was so carried away by his passions that
personal violence seemed imminent. The equanimity of the philosopher
was not disturbed, and having discharged his duty, he quitted the palace
filled with the contempt for the tyrant which has loaded his memory in
all subsequent ages. (Josephus, _Antiq_., lib. xviii. ch. 8, sec. I.)

The system taught by Philo dispensed with the third person in the
Godhead, which was composed of the Father and the _Logos_, a divine
_Duad_, which did not exist in unity, like the trinity of Plato: but
the Logos with him, like the Mediator of the Hebrews, was possessed of
mediatorial powers, and was an intercessor in behalf of the fallen race
of Adam. It is difficult to define the relation of the _Logos_ of Philo
with the Creator of the Universe, whether he is an attribute which is
made manifest in creative power, or whether he has a separate existence.
He is the Son of God, and was with the Father before the world was
created. His powers embrace the mediatorial, and he stands between God
and man, and represents the Father in his providences to our race. He is
not an hypostasis, and yet he was begotten.

Such are some of the ideas which prevailed in Asia Minor, and other
countries along the shores of the Mediterranean, when Paul and Barnabas
entered the country, bringing with them a new religion. It is as
difficult to define what Paul's real belief was of the relations which
Christ bore to the Creator, as it is to determine the real belief of
Philo on the same subject. With Paul, Christ was the Son of God, but
what was the exact relation he did not pretend to say. He says he is
less than the angels--superior to Moses (Hebrews ii. and iii.); but he
nowhere says he is equal to God. Paul seems to have been less concerned
about the nature of Christ, and the place occupied by him in the
Godhead, than he was about his mediatorial powers. Through the fall of
Adam, all men were under condemnation, and it was the office of Christ,
through his blood, to make atonement, and once more restore man to the
favor of the Creator. With him Christ was not the Creator, like the
Logos of Philo, but was the Saviour of the world. He did not exist from
the beginning, but, like all flesh, from his natural birth. But still he
was, as was the _Logos_ of Philo, the Son of God.

With such ideas, Paul made his way among the Greeks. The Jews were the
first to make war upon him. But he stood his ground and gained more. The
small churches which he established were like so many fortresses in an
enemy's country. Wherever he went he started discussion. The friction
between the new and the old ideas produced heat: and with heat came

But, after all, Paul's converts, for the most part, were from the less
informed and the middle classes. The learned turned away from him,
because he had no tangible proof to satisfy them that what he preached
was true. The story of his conversion was improbable, and could be
ascribed to the effects of natural causes.

The time for miracles had not yet come, and Paul did not claim anything
from them.*

     * Had it been true that an apron which came in contact with
     Paul's person could cure diseases, all Asia would have been
     converted while he was making a few hundred believers.

Tacitus speaks of Christians as a race of men detested for their evil
practices, and classes their doctrines among the pernicious things which
flowed into Rome as into a common sewer. (_Annals_, lib. xv. sec 54.)
Still the churches established by Paul grew slowly, but seemed to
require the influence of his presence and personal efforts to keep
them alive. As long as the fight went on between Paul and the Jews, and
unconverted Gentiles, his lofty courage and iron will were enough to
hold him up. But he soon had troubles of a different kind. He found them
in the churches themselves. It is not difficult to tell what would be
the effect of Paul's ideas when brought face to face with doctrines
of the Alexandrian school. It was like the meeting of the acid and the
alkali. The first sign of the effervescence appears at Corinth, and two
hundred years passed before it ceased, if it ceased at all. From the
time the quarrel commenced at Corinth, between the followers of Paul,
until the time when the questions disappear altogether, mental phenomena
are exhibited unlike any other in the history of man. Even the quarrels
and disputes of the Realists and Nominalists of the thirteenth century
bear no comparison. The contest between the different sects had all
the earnestness of a struggle between gladiators. From being warm
disputants, men became dishonest. Books were forged entire, others were
mutilated, and some suppressed and put out of sight. It was an age of
downright dishonesty on all sides. But from these dark and discordant
elements arose the true Church.


     Therapeutæ of Philo--and Essenes of Josephus.--An account of
     them.--Their disappearance from history, and what became of

In the beginning of the first century there existed a sect or society
which exercised great influence over the fortune and affairs of the
world; but, before the second had elapsed, was insensibly lost in the
commingling of creeds and sects which sprang up in the mean time. Like a
billow on the sea, it rose high and spread far; but at last disappears,
or is lost in the great ocean. We refer to the Therapeutæ of Philo and
the Essenes of Josephus. Their origin is lost in the distant past; nor
is it proven who was the founder of the sect. Although the Therapeutæ
were found in every part of the Roman empire, Alexandria was the centre
of their operations. Their learning and knowledge were derived from
the schools of Alexandria; and to the climate of Egypt, which, by some
immutable law of nature, disposed men to embrace a gloomy asceticism,
they are indebted for their morose and cruel discipline. From this
society were furnished all the monks which populated the deserts of
Africa before the Christian era began.

The Essenes were one of the three leading sects among the Jews; the
Sadducees and Pharisees forming the other two. Josephus, who fully
describes them, in early life was a member, and for three years took up
his abode in the desert, and suffered all the pains, and endured all the
hardships of monastic life. They were confined to no locality, but were
found in every city in Europe and Asia. When travelling from place to
place, they were received and provided for by members of their sect
without charge, so that when one of them made his appearance in a
strange city, he found there one already appointed for the special
purpose of taking care of strangers and providing for their wants. They
neither bought from nor sold to each other, but each took what his wants
required, as if it were his own.

"And as for their piety towards God," says Josephus, "it is very
extraordinary; for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane
matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their
forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this,
every one of them is sent away by their curators, to exercise some of
those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great
diligence till the fifth hour, after which they assemble themselves
together in one place, and when they have clothed themselves in white
veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water, and, after their
purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of
their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to
enter; while they go after a pure manner into the dining-room, as into
a certain holy temple, and quietly sit themselves down; upon which the
baker lays their loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of
one sort of food and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says
grace before meat; and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food
before grace be said. The same priest, when he has dined, says grace
again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise
God, as he that bestows their food upon them; after which they lay aside
their [white] garments, and betake themselves to their labors again
until the evening; then they return home to supper, after the same
manner." (Josephus, _Wars_, lib. ii. chap. 8, sec. 5.)

The time allowed for probation, before admission to the fraternity,
was three years, and in the meantime the temper and disposition of the
neophyte were put to the severest test, and not until he had given ample
proof of his sincerity or ability to submit to the laws and ordinances
of the sect was he deemed fit for admission; but before he is allowed
to do so, he is required to swear, "that, in the first place, he will
exercise piety towards God; and then that he will observe justice
towards men; and that he will do no harm to any one, either of his
own accord, or by the command of others; that he will always hate
the wicked, and be assistant to the righteous; that he will ever show
fidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority, because no
one obtains the government without God's assistance; and that if he
be in authority, he will at no time whatever abuse his authority, nor
endeavor to outshine his subjects, either in his garments, or any other
finery; that he will be perpetually a lover of truth, and propose to
himself to reprove those that tell lies; and that he will keep his hands
clear from theft, and his soul from unlawful gains; and that he will
neither conceal anything from those of his own sect, nor discover any of
their doctrines to others--no, not though any one should compel him so
to do, at the hazard of his life. Moreover, he swears to communicate
their doctrines to no one any otherwise than as he received them
himself; that he will abstain from robbery, and will equally preserve
their books belonging to their sect, and the names of the angels [or
messengers]. These are the oaths by which they secure their proselytes
to themselves." (Jos., _Wars_, lib. ii. ch. 8, sec. 6.)

The following is the account given by Philo of this sect, preserved in
the pages of Eusebius:--

"'This kind of men is everywhere scattered over the world, for the
Greeks and barbarians should share in so permanent a benefit. They
abound, however, in Egypt, in each of its districts, and particularly
Alexandria. But the principal men among them from every quarter emigrate
to a place situated on a moderate elevation of land beyond the Lake
Maria, very advantageously located both for safety and temperature of
the air, as if it were the native country of the Therapeutæ.'"

"After describing what kind of habitations they have, he says of the
churches: 'In every house there is a sacred apartment which they call
the Semneion or Monasterium, where, retired from men, they perform the
mysteries of a pious life. Hither they bring nothing with them, neither
drink nor food, nor anything else requisite to the necessities of the
body; they only bring the law and the inspired declarations of the
prophets, and hymns, and such things by which knowledge and piety may be
augmented and perfected.' After other matters he adds: 'The whole time
between the morning and the evening is a constant exercise; for as they
are engaged with the sacred Scriptures, they reason and comment upon
them, explaining the philosophy of their country in an allegorical
manner. For they consider the verbal interpretation as signs indicative
of a sacred sense communicated in obscure intimations. They have also
commentaries of ancient men, who, as founders of the sect, have left
many monuments of their doctrine in allegorical representations which
they use as certain models, imitating the manner of the original

These facts appear to have been stated by a man who at least has paid
attention to those that have expounded the sacred writings. But it is
highly probable that the ancient commentaries which he says they have
are the very Gospels and writings of the Apostles, and probably some
expositions of the ancient prophets, such as are contained in the
Epistle to the Hebrews, and many others of St. Paul's epistles.
Afterwards again, concerning the new psalms which they composed, he thus
writes: 'Thus they not only pass their time in meditation, but compose
songs and hymns unto God, noting them of necessity with measure
uncommonly serious through every variety of metres and tunes.' Many
other things concerning these persons, he writes in the same book....

Why need we add to these an account of their meetings, and the separate
abodes of the men and the women in these meetings, and the exercises
performed by them, which are still in vogue among us at the present day,
and which, especially at the festival of our Saviour's passion, we are
accustomed to use in our fastings and watchings, and in the study of
the divine word. All these the above-mentioned author has accurately
described and stated in his writings, and they are the same customs that
are observed by us alone at the present day, particularly the vigils of
the great festival, and the exercises in them, and the hymns that are
commonly recited among us. He states that whilst one sings gracefully
with a certain measure, the others, listening in silence, join
in singing the final clauses of the hymns; also, that on the
above-mentioned days they lie on straw spread on the ground, and to use
his own words, 'They abstain altogether from wine, and taste no flesh.
Water is their only drink, and the relish of their bread, salt and
hyssop.' Besides this, he describes the grades of dignity among those
who administer the ecclesiastical services committed to them, those of
the _Deacons_ and the _Presidencies_ of the _Episcopate_ as the highest.
But, whosoever desires to have a more accurate knowledge of these
things, may learn them from the history already cited; but that Philo,
when he wrote these statements, had in view the first heralds of the
gospel, and the original practices handed down from the Apostles, must
be obvious to all. (Euseb. Ecc. Hist., lib. ii. ch. 17.)

They had their churches, their Bishops (called Presidencies of the
Episcopate), Deacons and monasteries. They used sacred writings, which
they read in their churches with comments, and which they believed were
divinely inspired. Commentaries were written on these writings, as they
are on the present Gospels. Their mode of worship was much the same as
in our own day; and they had missionaries all over Asia, and in many
parts of Europe. The day observed by Christians afterwards as the
festival of our Saviour's passion was observed by them as sacred, and
which they passed in fasting, watching, and the study of the sacred
writings. All this we are assured is true, by the authority of Josephus,
Philo, and Eusebius. So strong is the resemblance in doctrines, and form
of church government, between these ancient Therapeutæ, that Eusebius,
because he could not deny the similitude, undertook the task of proving
that the Essenes were Christians, and that their sacred writings were
the four Gospels. He says: "But it is highly probable that the ancient
writings which he (Philo) says they have, are the very Gospels and
writings of the Apostles, and probably some expositions of the ancient
prophets, such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and many
others of St. Paul's epistles." (Eus., Ecc. Hist., lib. ii. ch. 17.)

Eusebius has not deceived himself--he only hoped to deceive others. If
the Essenes were not Christians, then it is evident that much which is
claimed as original in Christianity was copied from them. "Basnage has
examined with the most critical accuracy the curious treatise of Philo,
which describes the Therapeutæ. By proving that it was composed as early
as the time of Augustus, he has demonstrated, in spite of Eusebius and a
crowd of _modern Catholics_, that the Therapeutæ were neither Christians
nor monks." (_Decline and Fall_, Vol. I. page 283, chapter xv., note

"Much dispute has arisen among the learned concerning this sect. Some
have imagined them to be Judaizing Gentiles; but Philo supposes them to
be Jews, by speaking of them as a branch of the sect of the Essenes,
and especially classes them among the followers of Moses. Others have
maintained that the Therapeutæ were an Alexandrian sect of Jewish
converts to the Christian faith, who devoted themselves to monastic
'life. But this is impossible, for Philo, who wrote before Christianity
appeared in Egypt, speaks of this as an established fact" (Buck's
_Theological Dictionary_.')

And now, what has become of the Therapeutæ?--of their sacred writings?
Where are their Elders, their Deacons and the Presidency of the
Episcopate, or Bishops? All writers agree that they soon disappeared
after the introduction of Christianity. "How long," continues Buck,
"this sect continued, is uncertain, but it is not improbable that
after the appearance of Christianity in Egypt, it soon became extinct."
Gibbon, in speaking of the disappearance of this sect from history,
says: "It still remains probable that they changed their names,
preserved their manners, and adopted some new article of faith." (Vol.
I. page 283, n. 162.)

This sect did not mingle and lose itself in the huge mass of Pagans, for
between the two there was no neutral ground on which they might meet and
agree. The antagonism between them had continued too long, and there
was traditional hatred on both sides. Paul threw the doors of the church
wide open, and, as we shall see, the Therapeutæ soon entered, and by
their numbers took possession, and barred them against the founder
and all his followers. What did the Therapeutæ do with their sacred
writings, which, Eusebius claims, were nothing more than our present
Gospels? To suppose that they abandoned and destroyed them altogether is
not possible, considering their antiquity, and the veneration in which
they were held for generations.



It is a question of great interest in history, if nothing more, when and
where it was that the Christian Church, in the form in which it has come
down to us, had its origin.

To be sure, there are many who are satisfied with an orthodox belief
on the subject, because they have never questioned their sources of
information. But the world has grown to that age when traditional
dogmas, or whatever they may be called, must be subject to the test
which advancing knowledge imposes. Tried by this test, what is true will
appear brighter; what is false will be thrown off; and man, relieved of
a burden which only weighed him down, will move on to an improved and
better life. Man is not doomed by the condition of his nature to be
eternally tugging at the stone of Sisyphus--nor is it consistent with
the laws of a wise and beneficent Creator that mankind, in order to
be prosperous and happy, should be compelled to live under a perpetual
delusion. Like the source of some river, often traced to a mountain
rill or the oozing waters of a morass, so the beginning of the church
or churches of our own day is to be looked for in some obscure corner of
history, covered by the _debris_ of ages.

Located on a narrow isthmus between the Ægean and Ionian seas stood
Corinth, one of the principal cities of Greece. Situated where the
commerce from the East and the West meet _in transitu_, it grew in
opulence and wealth, and was distinguished for the arts, and for the
luxury and licentiousness of its inhabitants. Here Venus had a temple,
presided over by a thousand priestesses, whose attractions increased the
numbers who came from all parts of Greece to assist in celebrating the
Isthmian games. It was at this place Paul planted a church, between
the years A.D. 51 and A.D. 53, and where he remained eighteen months,
working as no one but himself could work to build up and strengthen it.

Paul left Corinth for a time for other fields of labor, because he
belonged to no one place, but his mission embraced the world. The
commerce of Corinth attracted to the place people from every part of
the empire, east and west, and with others a large number of Alexandrian
Jews. Among them were many of the Thera-peutæ, who brought with them
into Greece the doctrines of Philo.

During Paul's absence there came to Corinth Apollos of Alexandria. He
was an eloquent man and learned in the Scriptures. It is a subject of
regret that we do not know more of his history than we find in the Acts,
and in the Epistles of Paul. What were the doctrines he taught when he
first appeared in Ephesus, where he spent some time before he went
to Corinth, we cannot tell, but he was fervent in spirit, "and taught
diligently the things of the Lord." He had heard of John the Baptist,
for he was a historic character, and Josephus tells how he baptized
multitudes in the waters of the Jordan; but he seems to have known
nothing about Christ or the doctrines he taught. He spoke in the
synagogue, which proves that what he taught did not give offence, to the
Jews. In Ephesus he attracted the notice of Aquila and Priscilla, Jewish
Christians, who had been expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius on
account of some disturbance growing out of quarrels between Jews and
Christians.* Under their instructions Apollos was made a convert to

     * See Appendix A.

The Jews, as has been shown, were divided into three sects--Pharisees,
Sadducees, and the Essenes. Every Jew belonged to or connected himself
with the one or the other. Those who went to Alexandria, in time took
the name of Therapeutæ, which, it is claimed, was the same as the
Essenes. However this may be, Philo describes them as a Jewish sect.
That Apollos was one of them may be claimed with great reason. A Jew,
born in Alexandria, he could scarcely escape being one. Raised under the
shadow of the college of Alexandria, of a fervent spirit and a man of
thought, he could not fail to be impressed by the doctrines taught
by that celebrated school. They were the prevailing and fashionable
doctrines of the day. That he brought with him to Ephesus the Logos
idea of Philo is clearly proven by what took place after his arrival.
It seems his conversion to the Christian faith under the instruction of
Aquila and Priscilla was easy, which proves that the difference which
separated them in the first place was not great. Like all Jews, he was
looking for some kind of Saviour or Deliverer, and they convinced him
that Christ was the one. He now undertook to convince others. "For
he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the
Scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (Acts xviii. 28.) But the Alexandrian
notions of the Logos or Son of God soon began to show out in his
discourses and make trouble. Some began to cry, I am for Paul; and
others, I am for Apollos (1 Cor. iii. 4).

Paul's ideas on some points did not suit the Alexandrian school. The
birth of Christ from human parents, in the speculative minds of this
people, stripped him of all mystery; and with them, on subjects like
this, where there is no mystery there is nothing real. There could be no
other difference between the followers of Paul and Apollos, except as to
the origin and nature of Christ, and his relations to the Creator;
and there was none. The strife grew to such dimensions that Paul is
constrained to write an epistle to the church, in which we can see
what was at the bottom of the trouble. In his First Epistle, to the
Corinthians, Paul names four parties whose quarrels disturbed the peace
of the Church: the Paul party, who maintained the doctrines of Paul as
to the human origin of Christ; the party of Apollos, who, without doubt,
taught the doctrines of Philo; the party of Cephas, which held to the
doctrines of circumcision; and the Christ party. We infer that the last
was composed of negative men, or those who occupied neutral ground--the
_fence_ men of our day. It could not have been of much importance, for
we never hear of it again.

It was neither the first, third, or fourth of these parties that called
out the letter to the Corinthians. It was the wisdom of the Greek school
and Apollos' "excellency of speech" that disturbed Paul, and continued
to do so to the end of his life. But see with what force he opposes to
the wisdom of the Greeks the revelations which came to him from God This
letter displays all the characteristics of Paul. "And my speech and
my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit, and of power: that your faith should
not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. But God hath
revealed _them_ unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all
things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the
spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know
the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we
speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the
Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him: neither can he know _them_, because they are
spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet
he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord,
that he may instruct him? But _we have the mind of Christ_" (1 Cor. ch.
ii.) Here it is not Paul that denounces the wisdom of the Greek school,
but it is God himself. Such is Paul.

It is not difficult to tell to which of the four parties at Corinth this
epistle was addressed. That the difference between Paul and Apollos grew
out of opposing opinions as to the nature of Christ admits of little
doubt, and is rendered certain by the first, second, and third chapters
of his First Epistle to the Corinthians. He says: "For other foundation
can no man lay than _that is laid_, which is Jesus Christ." That is, I
have taught to you Christ as he is, and it is not for any other man to
teach anything different. He declares that "according to the grace of
God _which is given unto me_, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the
foundation.".... "let every man _take heed how he buildeth thereon._"
Here is a plain intimation that the Christ of Paul rested upon a
different foundation from that of Apollos--the one divine, the other
human. "I have planted, Apollos watered." That is, I have planted the
seed that will produce the true fruit, and it is for others only to
cultivate and nourish what I have planted.

He tells the Corinthians that they were born unto a knowledge of Christ
through his gospel--that is, through his preaching; and that if they
had ten thousand instructors, of these there would not be many who, as
spiritual fathers, could reveal to them the truth as he had. "Wherefore,
I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto
you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who
shall bring you into remembrance of _my ways which be in Christ, as
I teach everywhere in every church_." (1 Cor. iv. 16, 17.) What more
conclusive evidence could be asked that Apollos was preaching doctrines
different from those of Paul as to the nature of Christ, than that the
latter sent Timothy to counteract them? and what other doctrines was the
former teaching than those of the Alexandrian school? When Paul says all
Asia had turned against him, it could only be on the questions which
had sprung up between himself and Apollos. It could not be on account of
circumcision, because on this point the Greeks would agree with Paul.
It was not on account of different views on the subject of the
resurrection, because that was retained and became the foundation of
the Christian faith. There was but a single point upon which those who
professed Christianity at that day could turn upon Paul, and that is
his "ways which be in Christ" as he taught them in all the churches. The
quarrels of Paul with the Jews on the subject of circumcision died away
in the church not long after his death, drowned out by the Greek and
Therapeutæ element; but the cause of the strife between the followers
of Paul and Apollos has continued down, in some form, even to our own

It could not be long after his letter to the Corinthians that the
doctrines preached by Apollos spread through all the churches of Asia
Minor and became the established orthodox faith. Paul, in the Second
Epistle to Timothy, says: "All Asia has turned against me." A mere
change of name--Therapeutæ to Christian--and the revolution was
complete. It was made so rapidly that the world scarcely noticed it. The
Therapeutæ, who were spread over Europe, Asia, and portions of Africa,
disappeared so suddenly that it has always been a problem in history
what became of them. But we can find here and there, in the history of
the times, evidences that the few friends of Paul did not give up the
contest with their powerful foe without a struggle. These struggles come
to the surface of history like the bubbles from the mouth of a drowning

But little change in doctrines was required to justify the Therapeutæ in
taking upon themselves the name of Christians. Christ, with Paul, was a
Mediator, and so was the Logos of Philo. "What intelligent person," says
the latter, "who views mankind engaged in unworthy and wicked pursuits,
but must be grieved to the heart, and call upon that Saviour God, that
these crimes may be exterminated, and that by a ransom and price of
redemption being given for his soul, it may again obtain its freedom.
It pleased God, therefore, to appoint his Logos to be a Mediator. To his
Word, the chief and most ancient of all in heaven, the great Author of
the world gave this especial gift: that he should stand as a medium (or
intercessor) between the Creator and the created; and he is accordingly
the Advocate of all mortals." (_Jacob Bryant, quoted in Clarke's
Commentaries on St. John's Gospel_.) As the Therapeutæ of Philo were
the descendants of a Jewish colony who had settled in Egypt, and
still retained in some degree their Mosaic ideas and belief in the
Old Testament, under the light of the school of Alexandria, where the
doctrines of Philo were taught, they readily adopted the Alexandrian
ideas of the Logos. The belief in some intermediate or mediatorial power
between God and man was common to the Jews as well as most other
people. Adam, by his disobedience, had broken the law, and if he or his
descendants are ever to be restored to the favor of the Creator, it is
to be done through the office of a Mediator. The notions of Philo on the
nature of the Logos suited the Therapeutæ much better than did those of
Paul, and after a short struggle we will discover the Alexandrian dogmas
to be the creed of the orthodox. Christ's appearance on earth, his death
and resurrection, are what Paul preached, and what the Therapeutæ, who
were converted by him, believed. These features were retained in the
church after the Philo ideas of the Logos had displaced the Christ of
Paul. It was only Paul's doctrine of the descent of Jesus from Mary and
Joseph after the flesh that was thrown aside by them. The intervention
of the Virgin, at a later period in the history of the church, was the
means by which the Christ of Paul was made the Son of God in the sense
of the Alexandrian school.

The transition of the Therapeutæ to Christianity was easy. Little or no
change was made in the form of the services in the church. According to
Eusebius, they sang hymns. They read sacred books and made comments
on them as well after as before the change. Like the first Christian
community, they held all their property in common. They said grace at
table both before and after meals, according to Josephus, which they
continued to do after they took the name of Christians. They made no
change in their fasts and festivals, and retained the monasteries. The
transfer of the form of the Therapeutæ church government to the new
church was the work of time, and was not fully effected until the second
century. The influence of Paul's name, with other causes, was too strong
during the first to permit the change.

A Bishop in a Christian church is the work of the second century. Like
every other new feature in its history, we find the first Bishop at
Alexandria. Gibbon says: "The extensive commerce of Alexandria, and its
proximity to Palestine, gave an easy entrance to the new religion. It
was at first embraced by great numbers of the Therapeutæ, or Essenians
of the lake Mareotis, a Jewish sect which had abated much of its
reverence for the Mosaic ceremonies. The austere life of the Essenians,
their fasts and excommunications, the community of goods, the love of
celibacy, their zeal for martyrdom, and the warmth though not the purity
of their faith, already offered a very lively image of the primitive
discipline. It was in the school of Alexandria that the Christian
theology appears to have assumed a regular and scientific form; and when
Hadrian visited Egypt he found a church, composed of Jews and of
Greeks, sufficiently important to attract the notice of that inquisitive
prince." (Ch. xv. (162) (163), vol. I. p. 283.)*

     * After the author had written out his views as above, he
     met with the following passages from the writings of
     Michaelis, the great German critic, quoted in Taylor's
     Diegesis. Of the Therapeutæ, he says they are a "Jewish
     sect, which began to spread itself at Ephesus, and to
     threaten great mischief to Christianity in the time (or
     indeed previous to the time) of St. Paul, on which account,
     in his epistles to the Ephesians, to the Colossians, and to
     Timothy, he declares himself openly against them."
     (Diegesisy 58.)

     Again: "It is evident from the above-mentioned epistles of
     Paul, that, to the great mortification of the apostle, they
     insinuated themselves very early into the church." (60.) The
     writer does not wish to be understood that the disturbances
     created in the church were confined to Corinth, and that
     Apollos was the only one who taught during the life of Paul
     the doctrines of the Alexandrian school. Wherever Paul had
     founded a church, there the Therapeutæ element was at work.
     Apollos, by his superior eloquence and learning, was
     distinguished from a host of agitators, and called forth the
     special notice of Paul. element was at work. Apollos, by his
     superior eloquence and learning, was distinguished from a
     host of agitators, and called forth the special notice of

It is safe to say that it was the Therapeutæ who caused the troubles
in the churches in Paul's time and afterwards, because no other sect or
society was so extended, and had the power to make the disturbance so
universal. Paul could complain of no other, and it was this sect that
turned all Asia against him. There is no way to account for the sudden
and wonderful increase of Christians in a few years before Paul's death,
unless we can refer the cause to the sudden conversion of the Therapeutæ
to the new religion. When they are suddenly lost to sight, the small
churches of Paul have grown great in numbers, and spread over Europe and
Asia in an incredibly short space of time.

Before going to press, the writer came into the possession of the works
of Michaelis, where we find the following passage: "But even before
Apollos had received the instructions of Aquila and Priscilla, he taught
publicly in the synagogue at Ephesus concerning the Messiah. Hence it is
not improbable that the Essenes introduced themselves into the church
at Ephesus by means of Apollos, who came from Alexandria, in the
neighborhood of which city, according to Philo, the Essenes were not
only numerous but were held in high estimation." (Vol. iv. p. 85.) It
would seem from this that Apollos only continued to do at Corinth what
he first began at Ephesus.

No man of any age suffered so much abuse, nor was there ever one whose
memory labored under such a weight of obloquy as that of Paul--first
from the followers of Apollos; and afterwards from the Catholics of
the second century, when the mother of God rose like a new star in
the heavens. The first half of the Acts was written, as will be shown,
expressly to exalt Peter over him and degrade him from the rank of an
Apostle. The Revelation ascribed to St. John is nothing but a bitter
tirade of denunciation against Paul and his followers. He is called a
liar, "the false prophet," who with the beast was cast alive into a lake
of burning fire. He is the great red dragon who stood before the woman
ready to devour the child Jesus as soon as he was born, and who warred
with Michael and the angels. Paul is not only denounced, but Christ
himself is made to declare his status in the Godhead. "I Jesus have sent
mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches." (xxii.
16.) What the things were to which the angel was to bear testimony,
sufficiently appears in every portion of the book of Revelation. Why was
Paul the subject of so much abuse? There can be but one answer. It was
because of the way in which he taught Christ in all the churches,
which he had learned from the Apostles in his interviews with them
at Jerusalem, and probably from Joseph and Mary themselves, for they
occurred about the year A.D. 40.


     Review of the past.--What follows in the future.

Let us assume a stand at the beginning of Adrian's reign, A.D. 117, and
make a survey of the Christian world as it presents itself at that day.
A half-century has passed since the death of Paul. Since then, Rome has
been without a Christian population. Driven from the city through the
cruel butcheries of the tyrant, they took refuge in the provinces,
especially Asia Minor, where they remained until the reign of Adrian
and his successor, the tolerant Antoninus Pius. In the mean time, the
Therapeutan element of Christianity had been steadily on the increase,
while that of Paul had correspondingly declined. The proclamation of
Adrian, or rather his letter to Fundanus, a governor of one of the
provinces, prohibiting the punishment of Christians on account of their
religion, was the first intimation from the capital of the empire that
they could return in safety. From this time Christians began to return
to Rome in a steady stream, so that within the next twenty years they
had so increased in numbers that they once more take a place in history,
and are found mixed up in the history of the imperial city.

But at this time Christians, in their contest with the Pagans, found the
evidence of Christianity, as it then stood, not sufficient to contend
with the infidelity of the age. The old religion of Rome was hallowed by
time, supported by the learned men of that day, and upheld by the power
of the State. The Gospels had not yet appeared; the world was without a
miracle; Mary, the bride of Heaven, afterwards the central figure in the
Hierarchy of the orthodox, had no place in history. Peter had not
been in Rome, or John in Asia. The personal influence of Paul and his
immediate followers had kept alive the spirit of Christianity in Asia;
but now Paul is no more, and the influence of his name has nearly passed
away. The proof that there ever were such persons as Christ and his
disciples had become faint. The dim light of tradition, and what Paul,
and his companion Barnabas, said of him in their epistles, comprised
about all the evidence at that day to sustain the claims of
Christianity. But Paul himself had not seen Christ, except under such
circumstances as might excite suspicion of either delusion or fraud. He
had seen Peter, and remained with him, in the first place fifteen days;
and afterwards went to Jerusalem, where he saw all of the disciples who
were then living. What Paul learned from the disciples, with his vision
near Damascus, was sufficient to convince him of the reality of Christ
and the truth of the religion he taught. But the proof all lay within
himself. The genuine epistles of Peter, as we will show, were so
corrupted by the men of the second century, that we have no means of
knowing how much of the original remains or how much has been added. The
epistle of James, which is the only writing by an Apostle, or any one
else, that has come down to us from the Apostolic age without some
evidence of fraud and corruption, only speaks of Christ as a just man,
and makes no mention of the prodigies and wonders claimed to have taken
place at the time of his birth and death; nor does he take notice of
the miracles and wonderful things spoken of in the Gospels. The proof,
whatever it may have been, that Christ ever existed, was too weak to
overcome or even contend against the skepticism of the age.

So far we have said nothing of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, because
it was cast to one side, for the reason that it was a standing argument
against the Alexandrian ideas of the Logos--and was regarded as of
no authority in the church until it had been improved by important
additions made afterwards, and passed into the present Greek version.
With such proof as existed at the time we write of, Christianity could
not hold its ground against the great pressure brought to bear it
down--much less make headway against such powerful opposition. The time
to supply new proof of the reality of Christ was favorable. All the
scenes in his life lay within the boundaries of Galilee, Samaria, and
Judea--the greater part in and about Jerusalem. Since his death the
Legions of Rome had been there, and left nothing standing except a few
towers, reserved for military defence. The silence of death, for almost
a half century, had reigned in the streets of Jerusalem. The greater
part of the Jewish people had been put to death by the sword, or carried
away into captivity. All who lived during the time of Christ, by age and
the calamities of war had gone to their graves. We shall soon see the
Synoptics appear in intervals such as circumstances demanded, each
bearing the name of an Apostle, or the name of some one who wrote at
their dictation. A little further down in the century we will find
men engaged in laying the foundation of a church, whose claims to
infallibility and supremacy are based on "apostolic succession." When we
come to this period we will find all ecclesiastical history to consist
of traditions, and a time in the world's life which is populated by
Bishops and high-church dignitaries, who pass before us without speech
or action, like shadows on a wall. We shall find Peter has been in Rome;
John at Ephesus; Paul in Gaul, Spain, and Britain. We will find parties
engaged in exalting Peter above all the other Apostles--and the same
influence at work to put down Paul. Again we will see Paul restored
to favor, but his writings defaced by forgeries, to conform to the
doctrines of the day. We shall also see Christians enter into quarrels
among themselves, which continue through centuries.

Books are forged, traditions manufactured, and the works of the Fathers
shamefully altered and corrupted. Later in the century, brought out by
a pressure which made it necessary, the fourth Gospel will appear, and
Christianity pass from the Alexandrian Logos to the Incarnate God.
By casting our eyes still further down the centuries, we will see
Christianity and the philosophy of Plato strangely allied, which brings
us to the era of the Trinity. Let us first inquire into the origin of
the first three Gospels.


     How the Four Gospels Originated

The origin of the Gospels has proved a Serbonian bog, in which many
writers who have attempted an explanation have floundered without
finding solid ground. Scarcely two writers agree. Why should there be
any doubt in a matter of so much importance, where the evidence could so
readily be obtained at the time they were written, and so safely guarded
and preserved? Truth, in a historic period like that in which it is
claimed the Gospels were written, need not be left in the dark. The true
difficulty has grown out of the fact, that writers who have undertaken
to give the origin of the Gospels have looked, as men do in most other
cases, to outside sources for information; whereas the explanation of
the origin is to be found within the Gospels themselves, and nowhere
else. By looking for light where none is to be found, writers on this
subject have had their attention withdrawn from the direction where the
truth is to be discovered. If we bear in mind that men eighteen hundred
years ago were much like men of to-day, that the emotion or effect a
given event or occurrence produces in the minds of men of our own time
would be the same as upon those who lived in the first part of the
second century, we have a compass, such as it is, to guide us through
this Cimmerian darkness. What would excite ridicule, or appear false and
improbable to intelligent minds of our own times, would appear equally
so to such minds as Pliny and Tacitus at their ages of the world.

In imagination let us take a stand at the beginning of the second
century, and make ourselves citizens of the Roman empire under the reign
of Adrian. We can well imagine how the minds of thinking and intelligent
people were affected on the first appearance of the present Greek
version of Matthew's Gospel. It set forth some of the most astounding
events in the history of the world, and which the world heard of for the
_first time_. When Christ was put to death, all the land, from the sixth
to the ninth hour, was covered with darkness; the veil of the temple was
rent in twain from the top to the bottom; the earth did quake, and the
rocks were rent asunder; the graves were opened, and many bodies of
saints which slept arose and came out of their graves, and went into the
holy city and appeared unto many. Suppose that some morning we
should pick up our daily paper, and find under the telegraph head an
announcement of like events as having occurred in London or Paris. At
first we might be fearfully startled, but would soon feel satisfied that
it was all a hoax, after the style of Professor Locke's story of the
Moon. If the authors of the story expected to accomplish anything
by such startling announcements, they failed by attempting too much.
Whether the earth was covered with darkness, or was shaken by an
earthquake, or the dead got out of their graves and went down into the
city, were facts easily inquired into, in that age of the world.

Matthew further states that a star went before the wise men of the East,
till it came and stood over where the young child was. How could a star
a million of miles off lead any one on this earth, and how could it at
that distance be in a position to indicate a spot on the earth where the
child was? He also states, that when Herod found he was mocked he was
wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in _Bethlehem_
and all the coast thereof, from two years old and under. We can readily
imagine the Pagans, who composed the learned and intelligent men of
their day, at work in exposing the story of Herod's cruelty, by showing
that, considering the extent of territory embraced in the order, and the
population within it, the assumed destruction of life stamped the story
false and ridiculous. A Governor of a Roman province who dared make such
an order would be so speedily overtaken by the vengeance of the Roman
people, that his head would fall from his body before the blood of his
victims had time to dry. Archelaus, his son, was deposed for offences
not to be spoken of when compared with this massacre of the infants.

But that part of the first Gospel which related to the dream of Joseph
and the conception of Mary was what most excited the criticism and
ridicule of the people of that day. The whole and sole foundation of the
new religion was _a dream_. The simplicity of Joseph, too, provoked a
smile, if nothing more. The story at the sepulchre was overdrawn, and
threw discredit over all. "And behold, there was a great earthquake: for
the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back
the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like
lightning, and his raiment white as snow." (_Matthew_ xxviii. 2, 3.)
Such aerial bodies are not given to the employments assigned to the
angel in this case. Rolling stones, say the wise men, by spiritual
essences is ridiculous and absurd. Besides, who knows anything of the
great earthquake? We find no account of it, nor is it even mentioned
anywhere else.

So men reasoned eighteen hundred years ago--and so they would to-day.
It is evident that the author of the first Gospel had overdone his part,
and injured the cause he meant to advance. The blunders and mistakes of
the first Gospel made it necessary that there should be a second. This
gave rise to a second Gospel, not by the same hand, but by some other,
who felt the pressure that had been brought to bear on Matthew.

As this second Gospel was written with a special purpose, we must expect
a great resemblance in it to the first, except where the former makes
statements which were the occasion of so much criticism on the part of
the philosophers; and in such cases, the best course to pursue would
be to say nothing. Naked contradiction would not answer. Mark has not
a word to say about the story of Joseph and the angel. He omits the
earthquake at the crucifixion, and the resurrection of the dead, for
these things were susceptible of disproof; but tells of the darkness,
and the rent in the temple, because the former was comparative, and may
have been a dark cloud in the heavens; and as to the case of the temple,
no one could disprove the story, for it was destroyed. The story of the
angel and stone is entirely omitted, but the stone is removed from the
mouth of the sepulchre when the women appear, and a young man is found
in the inside, who is presumed to have done it. Matthew says that Joseph
of Arimathea deposited the body of Christ in the sepulchre, and then
rolled a great stone to the door. Afterwards the priest and Pharisees
caused the entrance to be made _secure_, for fear that the body would be
stolen, and the disciples then claim that he had risen from the dead.
If so, say the philosophers, the work was not so poorly done that _one_
young man could roll the stone from the door, as stated by Mark. It
would be beyond his strength.

Luke removes the objection; when the women come to the sepulchre in
the morning they found the stone removed, and the body of Christ was
missing. There was no young man inside, but _two_ men were found
standing on the outside, who, no doubt, were competent to do the work.
The story of the star which led the wise men, and the murder of the
infants at Bethlehem, is also omitted. We are justified in saying that
those who were engaged in getting up the _first_ Gospel, or those who
succeeded them, were driven to abandon some false and impossible and
improbable things stated in that Gospel, by proof, in some cases, of
their falsehood, and in others by the force of argument and ridicule.

Matthew had related the story of Joseph and the angel, and that admitted
of no change or modification. Mark says nothing about it, but silence
will not answer; for the philosophers still claim that all depends upon
a _dream_, and the dreams of Joseph are no better than the dreams of any
other man. If the story could not be modified, it might be corroborated.
So, when it came to Luke's turn to speak he adds the story of Zacharias,
and the interview between Mary and the angel Gabriel. All now occurs in
_daylight_, and dreams which had been the subject of so much ridicule
are dispensed with.

When Zacharias went to the temple to burn incense, he found on the
outside a great multitude of people. The crowd has no connection with
the story, except as these people are wanted for witness as to what
happened _in the sanctuary_. While Zacharias was offering incense
within, there appeared to him an angel standing on the right side of
the altar. The position of the angel is defined with precision, that it
might not be claimed that what appeared to him was a phantom. Zacharias
saw him and was afraid.

As further evidence that the angel was not some optical illusion,
Gabriel spoke, and gave Zacharias such information about the future
birth of a son to him that he was disposed to doubt the truth of it. As
a punishment for his reasonable doubts, he is struck dumb. The interview
continued so long that the crowd on the outside began to be uneasy,
and when Zacharias did come out he had lost the power of speech. This
convinced the multitude (but how, is not stated) that he had seen a
vision in the temple. After this, Gabriel made a visit to Mary in open
day, and held a conversation, in which he announced to her the birth of
a son through the overshadowing influence of the Holy Ghost, who would
reign over the house of Jacob forever. Then follows the scene between
Mary and her cousin Elisabeth.

In Luke's account of the announcement of the birth of Christ by divine
agency, the story of Joseph is entirely omitted, and new witnesses are
introduced. His story was well studied; every precaution was taken to
silence cavil and make such a case as would remove doubts. The blunders
of Matthew were not to be repeated. The birth of Christ and John, who
was afterwards called the Baptist, are ingeniously associated in the
announcement of the angel, to give color to what is said of them in the
Gospels afterwards.

What objections were made by the philosophers to the story of Luke at
the time, we have no means of knowing; but if any were made, there is no
subsequent effort to improve it, and so it remains to this day.

The question interests us to know when and from whom did Luke get his
information. If he had it from any one who had the means of knowing what
he tells us, it must have been from Paul, for we have no knowledge that
he had any acquaintance, or relations of any kind, with either of the
disciples. He was Paul's companion: we find him with Paul at Troas, A.D.
50; thence he attended him to Jerusalem, continued with him during his
troubles in Judea, and sailed in the same ship with him when he was
sent a prisoner to Rome, where he stayed with him during his two years'
confinement. He was with him during his second imprisonment, and, as we
will show in the proper place, he died with Paul in Rome, and was one
of the victims of Nero's reign. If Paul knew what Luke states as to the
divine emanation of Christ, why does he not make some allusion to it in
his numerous epistles?--and how can we understand that he could, with
such knowledge, deny this divine creation, and preach to the last that
Christ was born according to natural law?

Luke, too, made mistakes, which John afterwards corrected in the fourth

We can best illustrate the claim that the three last Gospels were
written in the order they appeared, as a necessity to meet the
objections and cavils of the philosophers, by taking some leading
subject which is mentioned by all. Take the case of the _resurrection_.
Matthew says: "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some
doubted." (Matt, xxviii. 17.) To leave the question where Matthew leaves
it would be fatal. In such a case there must be no doubt. Mark makes
Christ appear three times under such circumstances as to render
a mistake next to impossible, and to silence the most obstinate
skepticism. He first appears to Mary Magdalene, who was convinced that
it was Christ, because she went and told the disciples that he had
risen, and that she had seen him. They disbelieved, nor could they be
convinced until he appeared to them. They in turn told it to the other
disciples, who were also skeptical; and, that they might be convinced,
Christ also appeared to them as they sat at meat, when he upbraided them
for their unbelief.

This story is much improved in the hands of Mark, but, in the anxiety to
make a clear case, it is overdone, as often happens when the object is
to remedy or correct an oversight or mistake previously made. There was
a large amount of skepticism to be overcome, but the proof offered
was sufficient to do it, and remove all doubts from the minds of the
disciples. Considering Christ had told the disciples he would rise, why
did they doubt at all? Owing to some strange oversight, neither Matthew
nor Mark says in what way Christ made his appearance--whether it was in
the body or only in the spirit. If in the latter, it would be fatal to
the whole theory of the resurrection. We conclude from what followed,
that the philosophers of that day, who would concede nothing to the
claims of Christianity, took advantage of this oversight, and denied the
resurrection of Christ in the body. It was the business of Luke to put
this disputed question in its true light, and silence the objection.
He says that when Christ appeared and spoke to the disciples they were
afraid. "But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they
had seen a _spirit._" (Luke xxiv. 37.) Christ then showed the wounds in
his hands and feet. "And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of
a honeycomb: And he took it, and did _eat before them_." (Luke xxiv. 42,
43.) Now who dare doubt? Why some doubted, as Matthew says they did,
is hard to explain. The account of Luke should have satisfied the
philosophers that it was a body and not a spirit that appeared to the
disciples. But we can believe they were not, from what is afterwards
said on this subject. The story of the fish and honeycomb was incredible
and absurd. It was a fish-story. If true, why did Matthew and Mark fail
to mention it?

Luke had overdone the matter, and instead of convincing the Pagans, he
only excited their ridicule.

Now comes John's turn. He does not omit entirely the story of Christ
eating fish, for that would not do, after there had been so much said
about it. He might leave it to be inferred that Luke made a mistake, so
he modifies the story and omits the ridiculous part of it. The scene
is laid on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias. Under the direction of
Christ, Peter drew his net to land full of fish. "Jesus saith unto them,
Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou?
knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh _bread,
and giveth them, and fish_ like wise." (John xxi. 12, 13.) It does not
appear from this account that Christ ate of the fish at all. He took
the fish and gave to the disciples; the inference is, that they were the
ones that ate. In Luke the statement is reversed:--the disciples gave
the fish to Christ, and he ate. John has taken out of the story that
which was absurd, but he leaves us to infer that Luke was _nearsighted
or careless_ in his account of what took place. If you leave out of
Luke's account the part that relates to the fish and honeycomb, he fails
to prove what it really was which appeared to the disciples.

Christ, he says, said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I
myself." (Ch. xxiv. 39.) "And while they yet believed not for joy, and
wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?" (Ch. xxiv. 41.) It
seems from this that the disciples could not be convinced until Christ
had actually eaten something. Now if you strike out the eating part,
which John does, and which no doubt the ridicule cast upon it drove him
to do, Luke leaves the question open just where he found it. It was the
business of John to leave it clean, and put an end to all cavil.

Jesus appeared to the disciples when they assembled at Jerusalem. "And
when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side." (John
xx. 20.) They were satisfied, and no doubts were expressed. But Thomas
was not present, and when he was told that Jesus had appeared to the
disciples, he refused to believe, nor would he, "Except I shall see in
his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of
the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John
xx. 25.) Now if Thomas can be convinced with all his doubts, it would
be foolish after that to deny that Christ was not in the body when he
appeared to his disciples.

After eight days Christ again appears, without any object that we can
discover but to convince Thomas. Then said he to Thomas, "Reach hither
thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust
it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing." (John xx. 27.) It
is not stated whether he did as he was directed; but he was convinced,
and exclaimed, "_My Lord and my God_."

What fault the Pagans found with this account we have not the means of
knowing; but if they still disbelieved, they were more skeptical than
Thomas himself. We should be at a loss to understand why the writers of
the first three Gospels entirely omitted the story of Thomas, if we were
not aware that when John wrote the state of the public mind was such,
that proof of the most unquestionable character was demanded that Christ
had risen in the body. John selected a person who claimed he was hard
to convince, and if the evidence was such as to satisfy him, it ought to
satisfy the balance of the world.

John's services are again required to repair the blunders and oversights
of the writers of the first three Gospels in relation to the body of
Christ after the crucifixion. Matthew states that Mary Magdalene and the
other Mary went on the first day of the week to see the sepulchre. No
other purpose is expressed. Mark says that early in the morning of the
first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and
Salome brought spices to anoint the body. According to Luke, after the
women who had followed Christ from Galilee had seen the body deposited
in the tomb, they returned and prepared spices and ointments, and rested
the Sabbath day. The body was deposited in the tomb some time on Friday,
and remained until Sunday morning, on the first day of the Jewish week.
Doubtless, in the climate of Syria, the body in the mean time must have
undergone such a change as to make it difficult to either embalm or even
anoint it. The Pagans at that day could hardly fail to take advantage of
this mistake or blunder. But John again comes to the rescue and sets the
matter right. According to him, Joseph of Arimathea had permission to
take the body, which he did, and carried it away. "And there came also
Nicodemus (which at the first came to Jesus by night) and brought a
mixture of myrrh and aloes, _about a hundred pounds weight_. Then took
they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices,
as the manner of the Jews is to bury." (John xix. 39, 40.)

John now fully silenced the cavils of the enemy and taken the proper
steps to preserve the body until the morning of the third day.

The subject might be further pursued, but enough has been said to
furnish a key to the origin of the Gospels. Christians in their contests
with the Pagans resemble the course of a retreating army, which falls
back to take a stronger position. Each time the position is improved,
until one at last is found which is impregnable. We can readily see how
it is that the first three Gospels so closely resemble each other,
the exact language for whole passages being alike in all. Mark copies
Matthew, and Luke uses the words of both. It is only when the last
undertakes to improve or modify something written by those who wrote
previously, that the difference becomes obvious. That the Christians in
the beginning of the second century had books of some kind before the
three first Gospels appeared in the present shape is beyond all dispute.
The sacred writings of the Therapeutæ, as we have shown, were full of
the most sound morality, and contained all the essential principles of
Christianity. These writings were ancient--had been regarded as sacred
for generations among them, and were so much like the present Gospels
that Eusebius claimed them to be the same, and that the Therapeutæ were
Christians. No doubt the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew was extant, and if it
was rejected by the Christians of that day, because it did not contain
the two first chapters of the Greek version, there was no reason why
they should reject the Sermon on the Mount, and all the sublime and pure
religion taught by Christ. The sacred writings of the Therapeutæ--the
Hebrew version of Matthew, the Epistle of James and the first of
Peter--furnished the principles and doctrines which now form the life of
Christianity; and the great want of the day--that is, some proof of the
actual existence of the person of Christ, by those who had seen him and
were familiar with him before his death--was supplied in the first three
Gospels, by the testimony of those who claimed to be his disciples, or
by those who, it is said, wrote at their dictation.

In what quarter of the globe were the Synoptics written, and by whom?
All that can be said on this subject with certainty is, that the Greek
version of Matthew, the source of all, was not written in Judea, or by
one who knew anything of the geography of the country, or the history of
the Jews. He was ignorant of both. What excuse was there but ignorance
for making the order for the massacre of the infants to include
Bethlehem, and all _the coast thereof_, which would take in at least the
one-half of all Judea, and involve in one common slaughter, according to
the calculations of learned men, several thousand innocent children?
The Greek writer of Matthew evidently believed that Bethlehem was
an insignificant hamlet, situated on the coast of the Mediterranean,
whereas it is as far in the interior as Jerusalem; and not far from the
centre of Judea. The writer's ignorance of Jewish history will appear
still more conspicuous, when we speak of the application which he makes
of prophecy to the person of Jesus. Whoever the writer may have been, it
is evident that he received his education at the college at Alexandria,
where Medicine and Divinity were taught, and regarded as inseparable.
From the union of the two, recovery from diseases was ascribed to
supernatural powers. A fever was a demon, which was not to be expelled
by virtue of any material remedy, but by incantations, spells, and
magic. It was by such power Christ cleansed the leper--healed the
centurion's servant--touched the hand of Peter's wife's mother and
drove away the fever--expelled the devils from two men into swine,
and performed many other cures. The whole of the first Gospel has an
Alexandrian look not easily to be mistaken--if we except the miracle of
the loaves and fishes, walk of Christ on the water, and other wonders of
a like nature, which is the work of some one later in the century. The
deserts in the neighborhood of Alexandria abounded with monasteries from
the earliest accounts of the Therapeutæ to the conquest of Egypt by the
Mahometan power, which were filled with monks who were celebrated
for their piety, their miracles, their power to expel devils and heal
diseases. The pages of Sozomen and Socrates abound with the names
of monks who cured the palsy, expelled demons, and cured the sick.
(Sozomen, _Ecc. Hist._, lib. vi., ch. 28.)


     John the son of Zebedee never in Asia Minor.--John the
     Presbyter substituted.--The work of Irenæus and Eusebius.--
     John the disciple has served to create an enigma in
     history.--John of Ephesus a myth.

Was John the son of Zebedee ever in Asia? To ask a question which
implies a doubt on a subject that has been agreed on for almost twenty
centuries, will probably startle many even in this age of inquiry and
progress. It may be a question whether he who makes a discovery in
science or the arts which facilitates the advance of mankind, or he who
contributes by his labors to remove a delusion which has stood in the
way of progress, is most entitled to the gratitude of his fellow-men. A
falsehood, as long as it stands unquestioned, may and does receive the
respect which is due to the truth; but there is a time when, no matter
how hoary with age, it must pass away and give place to the latter.

John the son of Zebedee the fisherman, upon careful inquiry, can never
be successfully confounded with him of Ephesus. His character, as
developed in the Synoptics, is composed of negative qualities. We find
him in Jerusalem when he had got to be fifty years old, without any
evidence, up to that time, that he had been out of sight of the walls
of the city, and no proof that he said or did anything worthy of notice.
His name is mentioned in connection with some of the great scenes in the
life of Christ, but he takes no part, and, like the supernumeraries on
the stage, his presence is only needed to fill up a required number.
To be sure, Paul speaks of him in connection with James and Peter as
pillars of the church--which has no significance, as the nine other
disciples were all moderate men, and the church at the time few in
number and easily managed. John of the Synoptics is not only lymphatic
and of negative qualities, but, from his condition in life and pursuits,
must have had but little learning of any kind. John of the Greeks is
a man of learning, and a scholar. He was master of the Greek, and was
familiar with the abstruse and subtle philosophy of that speculative
people. He was at home in all the different and various doctrines of
the Gnostics, and proved himself the most able man of the age in his
contests with those numerous sects which embraced the most learned men
of the second century. In fine, this John of Galilee, whose name is
seldom mentioned, or if so, not for anything he said or did, who lives
to be more than fifty without the least notice being taken of him, or
allusion made--this phlegmatic John, after he has passed the meridian
of life, and his powers are on the decline, has all at once become a
teacher, and the great light of Grecian theology, and wields a pen with
the fire and spirit of Demosthenes! A change and complete transformation
like this is nowhere else to be found in the history of the world. The
truth is, the John of Galilee is not the John of Ephesus. The latter
is a phantom of some Greek's brain, which has served to mislead men for

If John the disciple had ever passed out of Syria into Asia Minor, so
important a fact would find a place in some authentic history; and from
the time he put his foot in the country, his meanderings, like those
of Paul, would be well known and preserved. We leave him in Jerusalem in
A.D. 50, and the next time we hear of him he is in Ephesus. When he left
Judea, and when he arrived in Asia Minor, no one pretends to know.
From the year forty-eight, and perhaps much sooner, to the spring of
sixty-five, Paul spent nine-tenths of his time travelling up and down
the Archipelago, establishing and visiting the churches. He made the
circuit three times, and it was his uniform practice, in closing his
epistles to the different churches, to mention those of the brethren who
were with him, even if they were not of much importance; and yet in none
of them does he mention the name of John. Considering that John was an
Apostle, this silence of Paul can be accounted for only by the fact that
he did not hear of or see him in Asia Minor, and was in Ephesus as late
as the year sixty-four, and still later, sixty-five, and up to that time
John had not been there, for Paul makes no mention of him.

What historical proof is there that is worthy of credit, that John was
ever in Asia Minor? The whole story rests on the shoulders of Irenæus.

Here is what he says: "Then, again, the church in Ephesus, founded by
Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times
of Trajan, is a true witness of the traditions." (Book III. sec. 3.)
Irenæus cites no authority, and we have a right, in a matter of so much
importance, to demand of him some evidence that what he states is true.
In this absence of any reference to written testimony we have a right
to infer that there was none, and that there was no ground for the
assertion but tradition. This Irenæus is forced to admit. The book on
heresies was written, as we shall show, about A.D. 181. According to
authentic history, Paul was in Ephesus in sixty-five, the last time. If
the statement of Irenæus is founded on tradition, and there is no other,
then the tradition that Paul left John in Ephesus is one hundred and
sixteen years old. We will see what a tradition so old, handed down to
future ages, is worth, coming from Irenæus. A tradition over one hundred
years old, when first inserted into the pages of history by one of the
most dishonest historians of any age, is the authority we have in our
day for believing a most important fact in the history of the Christian
church. The caption to the section from which the above passage was
taken will explain the reason why Irenæus undertook to misrepresent the
truth of history: "_A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in
the various churches, a perpetual succession of Bishops was kept up_."
He was engaged in furnishing an apostle to the churches in Asia Minor
and some parts of Greece, for an "apostolic succession." We will find
him engaged in doing a great deal of this kind of business before we are
done with him. The proof that John was not in Ephesus is conclusive.
The language of Irenæus implies that Paul placed John in charge of the
church when he left for Rome _for he says John remained_. This is not
so. When Paul left Ephesus, in the year A. D. 64 or 65, he left Timothy
there in charge of the church, and he remained until Paul got into
trouble in Rome, in the fall of A. D. 65, when the latter sent for him.
Would Paul leave the church in the charge of Timothy when one of the
Apostles was there, especially as he was so young that some objected to
him on account of his age? In writing to Timothy to meet him in Rome,
would Paul fail to make some mention of the Apostle, if he had been in
Ephesus when he left?--Not one word to an Apostle who would naturally
take charge of the church, in the absence of himself and Timothy?

It is clear, then, that John had not been in Ephesus up to the fall or
summer of A. D. 65, when Timothy left to go to Rome; and the question
is, was he there after this? and if so, when? Polycarp presided over the
church at Smyrna, which was not far from Ephesus, and between the two
points there was constant intercourse by land and water; and if John had
succeeded Timothy at the latter place, would not he, Polycarp, take some
notice of so important a fact? He speaks of Paul in his letter to
the Philippians, and why not mention John, who was one of the twelve
Apostles? Polycarp lived to the end of the century, and it is claimed
John also lived to about that time, and as they both lived so long
in such close proximity, how natural it would be that the intercourse
between them should be most intimate, and that the former should mention
those relations with an Apostle in writing to the churches he addressed,
Irenæus felt the force of this, and undertakes to show that Polycarp was
the _hearer and disciple of John_. He says: "These things are attested
by Papias, who was John's hearer and the associate of Polycarp, an
ancient writer, who mentions them in the fourth book of his works."
(Quoted in Eusebius, _Ecc_. Hist., book iii., chap. 39.) It is meant
that it should be understood from this passage that both Papias and
Polycarp had seen and heard John the Apostle. Now Papias never conversed
with John, the son of Zebedee the fisherman, and he says so, in a
fragment preserved in the writings of Eusebius. After quoting the
passage just cited from Irenaeus, Eusebius says: "But Papias himself, in
the preface to his discourses, by no means asserts that he was a hearer
and an eye-witness of the holy Apostles, but informs us that he received
the doctrines of faith _from their intimate friends_, which he states
in the following words: 'But I shall not regret to subjoin to my
interpretations, also for your benefit, whatsoever I have at any time
accurately ascertained and treasured up in my memory, as I have received
it _from the elders_, and have recorded it in order to give additional
confirmation to the truth by my testimony. For I never, like many,
delighted to hear those that tell many things, but those that teach the
truth; neither those that record foreign precepts, but those that are
given from the Lord to our faith, and that came from the truth itself.
But if I met with any one who had been a follower of the elders
anywhere, I made it a point to inquire what were the declarations of
the elders,--what was said by Andrew, Peter, or Philip; what by Thomas,
James, John, Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord; what
was said by Aristion, and the Presbyter John, disciples of the Lord;
for I do not think that I derived so much benefit from books as from the
living voice of those that are still surviving.' And the same Papias
of whom we now speak professes to have received the declarations of the
Apostles _from those that were in company with them_, and says also that
he was a hearer of Aristion and the Presbyter John. For, as he has
often mentioned them by name, he also gives their statements in his own
works." (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii. chap. 39.)

He says he never conversed with John, but with the elders, and that _he
was a hearer of Presbyter John, and so was Polycarp_. When Irenæus says
that Papias conversed with John, without telling which John, he knew
that no one would be thought of but the disciple; and such would
have been the case, had not Eusebius preserved this fragment from the
writings of Papias. Polycarp and Papias both conversed with the same
John, who was John the Presbyter. In another place Irenæus says: "But
Polycarp also was only instructed by this Apostle, and had conversed
with many who had seen Christ." (Book iii. chap. 3, sec. 3.) This is a
palpable falsehood, and so appears from the passage just cited. He cites
no authority, but lets facts of so much importance in history depend
on his simple word. If what is stated be true, why does not Polycarp
himself say something about the sources from which he derived his
doctrines? Nothing would give so great weight to his preaching as that
he derived what he taught from those who had listened to Christ and his
Apostles. Why speak of Paul, and what he taught, and not of Jesus and
his disciples, and what they taught?

The world is indebted to Irenæus for the story of what took place
between John and Cerinthus at the bath-house in Ephesus. Speaking of
Polycarp, and how in all respects he was superior to Valentinianus and
Marcion, he says: "_There are also those_ who heard from him (Polycarp)
that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and
perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without
bathing, exclaiming, 'Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down,
because Cerinthus is within. '" (Book iii. chap. 3.)

Now it has been shown that John the disciple of the Lord never saw
Polycarp, and if anything of the kind ever did take place, it was
between Polycarp and John the Presbyter. The latter is a historic
character, spoken of by Polycarp, who lived about this time, and was
a Presbyter in the church; and it is evident that Irenæus seeks to
confound the Apostle with him. It is for this reason he describes him in
the above passage as "the disciple of the Lord," for which there was
no reason, unless he meant to deceive. We have proved that he tried it
once, and when the first falsehood is uttered it is easy to fabricate
a second. This is the first blow that was directed by Irenæus against
Cerinthus, a leader among the Gnostics; but it is only initiatory to
still heavier ones which are to follow.

Marcion was a distinguished character among the Gnostics, and he too
must receive some damaging blows at the hands of Polycarp, the disciple
of John. And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on
one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?"--"I do know thee--the
first-born of Satan."--"Such," continues the writer, "was the horror
which the _Apostles and the disciples_ had against holding even a verbal
communication with any of the corrupters of the truth." (Book iii. chap.

The Apostle in this case was John the Presbyter, if any one, and the
disciple Polycarp the martyr, who had, in fact, never seen any of the
Apostles. It is to be noted that no authority is given by Irenæus for
these stories, though they are introduced as some things which somebody
had said. Such is history.

The value of tradition from the authority of Irenæus may be judged of by
the following statement he makes, evidently intended to strengthen the
assertion he made about the presence of St. John in Asia Minor. In
all cases where he wants it to appear that the Apostle was there, he
connects the principal subject with other statements in a way as if
the main fact was incidentally mentioned. "Now Jesus was, as it were,
beginning to be thirty years old when he came to receive baptism, and
according to those men he preached only one year, reckoning from his
baptism. On completing his thirtieth year he suffered, being still a
young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that
the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that extends
onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the
fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age,
which our Lord possessed, while he still fulfilled the office of
teacher, even as the gospel and all the elders testify." "Those who were
conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord (affirming) that
John gave to them that information. And he remained among them up to the
time of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other
Apostles, and heard the same account from them, and bear testimony as
to the validity of the statement. Which, then, should we rather
believe?--whether such as these, or Ptolemæus, who never saw the
Apostles, and who never in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of
an Apostle?" (Book ii. chap. 22, sec. 5.)

It seems that Irenæus had got into a dispute with Ptolemæus, and
attempts to silence him, as he does all opponents, by the authority of
the disciples, and especially of John, who is the only one he names.
John, too, was in Asia at the time. It is not said where the other
Apostles were. Ptolemæus claimed, as appears in the first part of the
same section, "that Christ preached for one year only, and then suffered
in the twelfth month." The argument with Ptolemæus was, that Christ was
too young, and preached too short a time, to be regarded as a teacher of
much authority; and in this way, as Irenæus says, "destroying his whole
work, and robbing him of that age which is both necessary and more
honorable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which
also, as a teacher, he excelled all others." The objection is put down
in a summary way, claiming that the time of Christ's preaching extended
over a period of _ten years_. This is what the Apostles stated, _and
what John said while he was in Asia, and who remained there to the time
of the death of Trajan_.

Ecclesiastical history claims three years only as the period of Christ's
ministry, but it can be proven that the truth lies on the side of
Ptolemæus. Did John, while he was in Asia, and the other Apostles, no
matter where, give rise to such absurd and false traditions? If John
was in Ephesus at the time Paul went to Rome, in the year A. D. 65, and
remained to the time of Trajan, as stated by Irenæus, he was in Asia
thirty-five years. During this time his history must have been so
interwoven with the affairs of the church, holding the rank of an
Apostle, that nothing could be more easy than to prove his presence in
the country. There is no difficulty in following the footsteps of Paul
for each year after he set out to preach the gospel, whether in Europe
or Asia; and so with any real character who has been conspicuous for his
talents, or from the position he held in his day. But neither Irenæus
nor Eusebius have been able to furnish the world with the least evidence
of a substantial character of the presence of John in Asia, although
they have undertaken it, and exhausted their ingenuity in trying to do
so. If no better proof can be given of the presence of John in Asia,
after a residence of thirty-five years, than a grave, which may as well
be claimed to be that of Hannibal as that of John, the world will be
satisfied he never was there. Eusebius has displayed his characteristic
ingenuity, and shown his usual disregard for truth in an effort to prove
that the grave of John was in Ephesus, and that it was identified as
late as the latter part of the second or beginning of the third century.
He travels out of his way to do it--manifests from the way he does it
that he is engaged in a fraud, and, between the fear of detection and
anxiety for success, he makes poor work of it. He causes Polycrates, who
was Bishop of Ephesus, to write a letter to Victor, Bishop of Rome, with
the apparent purpose of informing him that some mighty luminaries had
fallen asleep in Asia, but, in fact, to give an opportunity to make
mention of the grave of John as being there in Ephesus. Who these
luminaries were who had fallen asleep, he does not name; but dismisses
this part of the subject and proceeds to say: "Moreover, John, that
rested on the bosom of our Lord, he also rests at Ephesus." Some other
matters are introduced into the letter, which related to the burial of
Philip and his two daughters at Hierapolis; but this was only intended
to conceal the real purpose and design of the writer.

Victor was Bishop of Rome in the beginning of the third century, after
John, if we admit he was in Asia, had been dead one hundred years. In
writing to Victor about persons who had lately died, and without saying
who they were, why should Polycrates make mention of the grave of John
as located in Ephesus, which, if true, would have been as well known to
all Asia as the tomb of Washington is known to the enlightened world to
be at Mount Vernon?

That intelligent men of the second and third centuries denied and
disproved the presence of John in Asia, is rendered certain by the
struggles and desperate efforts of their adversaries to establish the
affirmative. The indications are, that the philosophers proved that the
person whom the Christians claimed to be the Apostle John was some other
John; in all probability, John the Presbyter. Upon this point the proof
seems to have been so conclusive that the Christians were driven to
the necessity of proving that there were two Johns--one besides the
presbyter. Eusebius takes this task upon himself. We quote from
the above letter of Polycrates to Victor: "For in Asia also mighty
luminaries have fallen asleep, which will rise again at the last day at
the appearance of the Lord, when he shall come with glory from heaven,
and shall gather again all the saints. Philip, one of the twelve
Apostles, sleeps in Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin daughters.
Another of his daughters, who lived in the Holy Spirit, rests at
Ephesus. Moreover, John, that rested on the bosom of the Lord, who was a
priest that bore the sacerdotal plate, and martyr, and teacher, he
also rests at Ephesus." (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii. ch. 31.) Owing
either to a bad translation, or design on the part of the writer, two
distinct characters are so run together in the same sentence, that we
would suppose them to be one person if we did not know that the person
who leaned on the bosom of the Lord could not be the one who bore the
sacerdotal plate, and was a martyr.

It would seem from this effort to make it appear that there were two
Johns buried at Ephesus, that the philosophers proved that the John who
bore the sacerdotal plate was the one the Christians were attempting to
impose on the world as the real John, and that the proof was such that
they had to yield the point, and claim that there were two graves--one
the martyr's, and the other the Apostle's. Eusebius felt conscious that
it was not safe to rest his case here, and we find him reaching out in
every direction for further proof, satisfied with anything that will
give color to the fact he labors to establish.

In another place he states: "Where it is also proper to observe the name
of John is twice mentioned. The former of which he (Papias) mentions
with Peter and James and Matthew, and the other apostles; evidently
meaning the evangelist. But in a separate point of his discourse
he ranks the other John with the rest not included in the number of
apostles, placing Aristion before him. He distinguishes him plainly by
the name of Presbyter. So that it is here proved that the statement of
those is true who assert there were _two_ of _the same_ name in Asia,
that there were also two tombs in Ephesus, and that both are called
John's even to this day; _which it is particularly necessary to
observe_" (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii. chap, xxxix.) As much as to
say to the objecting philosophers, If you have proved that one John in
Asia was the Presbyter John, we prove by Papias that there were two,
and that one of them was the Apostle. If this is so, it is only by
inference. But it spoils the argument when it is shown that when Papias
speaks of the two Johns, he does not say they were in Asia, or where
they were. He speaks at the same time of all the Apostles, or nearly so,
by name, but does not mention them, or any of them, in connection with
any place. To subserve a particular purpose, Irenæus had asserted that
John had been in Ephesus, where he remained a long time, without the
least authority to sustain him. It was a bare, naked assertion without

In the third and fourth centuries, during the time of Eusebius, this
assertion had grown to great importance, by reason that, on the fact
that it was so, was founded the Apostolic succession of nearly all the
churches in Europe, and most of Asia. To maintain the presence of John
in Asia was as important as it was to prove that Peter had been in Rome.
Understanding the importance of this fact, the philosophers directed
their attacks upon it, showing that the man the Christians called the
Apostle was somebody else. It devolved upon Eusebius, the most learned
man of his day, to defend the position. The task exceeded his ability,
but not his inclination to deceive. If we except Irenæus, no writer has
so studiously put himself to work to impose falsehoods on the world as
Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea. His genius was employed in various ways,
and especially in perverting chronology. Speaking of a class of men who
gave themselves up to such employments, the author of the "Intellectual
Development of Europe," page 147, says: "Among those who have been
guilty of this literary offence, the name of the celebrated Eusebius,
the Bishop of Cæsarea in the time of Constantine, should be designated,
since in his chronography and Synchronal tables he purposely 'perverted
chronology for the sake of making synchronisms.' (_Bunsen_.) It is true,
as Niebuhr asserts, 'He is a very dishonest writer.' To a great
extent, the superseding of the Egyptian annals was brought about by his
influence. It was forgotten, however, that of all things chronology is
the least suited to be an object of inspiration, and that, though men
may be wholly indifferent to truth for its own sake, and consider it
not improper to wrest it unscrupulously to what they may suppose a just
purpose, yet that it will vindicate itself at last" His character for
truth stood no better among writers of the fifth century, for Socrates
fairly charges that in his life of Constantine he had more regard for
his own advancement than he had for the truth of history. (Book i.
ch. 1.) A whole volume is devoted to display the virtues and exalt
the character of a man who had murdered his son Crispus--his nephew
Licinius--suffocated his wife Fausta in a steam bath, and who, to
revenge a pasquinade, was with difficulty restrained from the massacre
of the entire population of Rome.

In another part of this volume we will have occasion to detect and
expose the genius of this Father, in his attempt to create a chronology
so as to give semblance to a list of men who never existed, but who were
required to fill an important gap in the life of the church. No fitter
instrument could be found to help consummate the fraud conceived by
Irenæus to impose a spurious John on the world than Eusebius of Cæsarea.


     The Gnostics.--Irenæus makes war on them.--His mode of
     warfare.--The Apostolic succession and the object.--No
     church in Rome to the time of Adrian.--Peter never in Rome--
     nor Paul in Britain, Gaul, or Spain.--Forgeries of Irenæus.

Before we approach the principal subject treated of in this section, it
will be proper to say something of a sect or society which in its day
took a leading part in the affairs of the world, but which has long
since disappeared from history, and whose former existence is now only
known to the careful reader. We refer to the Gnostics, who for the
most part flourished in the second century. They were divided among
themselves into more than fifty different sects. "The principal among
them were known under the names of Basilidians, Valentinians, and
Marcionites. They abounded in Egypt, Asia, Rome, and were found in
considerable numbers in the provinces of the West. Each of these sects
could boast of its Bishops and congregations, of its doctors and
martyrs, and instead of the four Gospels adopted by the church, they
produced a multitude of histories, in which the actions and discourses
of Christ and his apostles were _adapted_ to their respective tenets."--
(Decline and Fall, chap. xv. vol. I. p. 257.) They supported their
opinions by various fictitious and apocryphal writings of Adam, Abraham,
Zoroaster, Christ, and the Apostles. They were for the most part
composed of Gentiles who denied the divine authority of the Old
Testament, and rejected the Mosaic account of the creation, of the
origin and fall of man, and claimed that a God was unworthy of
adoration, who for a trivial offence of Adam and Eve pronounced sentence
of condemnation on all their descendants. They adored Christ as an
_Æon_, or divine emanation, who appeared on the earth to reclaim man
from the paths of error and point out to him the ways of truth; but with
these opinions they mingled many sublime and obscure tenets derived from
oriental philosophy. This divine _Æon_ or emanation they considered was
the Son of God, but was inferior to the Father, and they rejected his
humanity on the principle that everything corporeal is essentially and
intrinsically evil. They agreed with the Christians in their abhorrence
of polytheism and idolatry, and both regarded the former as a
composition of human fraud and error, and demons as the authors and
patrons of the latter.

As we have stated, the Gnostics for the most part sprang up in the
second century and disappeared in the fourth and fifth, suppressed by a
law of the Emperor Constantine. "The Emperor enacted a law by which they
were forbidden to assemble in their own houses of prayer, in private
houses, or in, public places, but were compelled to enter the Catholic
church.... Hence the greater number of these sectarians were led by fear
of consequences to join themselves to the church. Those who adhered to
their original sentiments did not at their death leave any disciples to
propagate their heresies, for, owing to the restrictions to which they
were subjected, they were prevented from preaching their doctrines."--
(Sozomen, Ecc. Hist., book ii ch. 32.)

Thus passed from history the Gnostics, "the most polite, the most
learned and most wealthy of the Christian name." (Decline and Fall,
chap. xv. vol. I. p. 256.) Such was the character of the men who,
brought into collision with the orthodox Christians in the second
century, became involved in the most violent and bitter struggles in
which men were ever engaged. It was to defeat and destroy these men that
Irenæus devoted the labor of a lifetime, that on their ruin he might
erect the Catholic church. The undertaking was Herculean, but the means
employed were well chosen, vigorously and tenaciously pursued, and its
success is one of the most remarkable and exceptional cases in history
of the triumph of cunning, falsehood, and fraud. The grand idea was,
that Christ, the Son of God, was the founder of the church on earth, and
that, at his death, the power to establish others after him he conferred
on the Apostles, and upon no one else. As they might confer this power
on others as they had received it from Christ, so these last could in
turn do the same to those who followed them, and in this way continue
the church through all time. This is what Irenæus calls the "Apostolic
succession." A church which could not prove its connection with Christ
through this Apostolic chain was no church at all, and it amounted to
impiety and vile heresy for such a pretended church to undertake to
explain or understand his gospel. Such a church has no relation to
Christ, but with demons and evil spirits.

Irenæus found it much less difficult to show that there was no such
succession in the Gnostic churches than he did in proving that it
existed in his own. To do this, as we will show in another place, he was
forced to introduce on to the stage the names of at least nine persons
who, he claimed, had been Bishops of Rome, most of whom were mere myths
and never had an existence, and those who had were never in Rome at all.

Christ, at his death, he further maintains, not only conferred on the
Apostles the sole right to establish churches, but also imparted to them
some divine knowledge or gifts which they on their death intrusted
to the church as a special deposit for the benefit of all who yielded
obedience to her authority. These precious gifts left with the church
Irenæus compares to money or riches deposited in a bank by a rich man.
But we will let him speak for himself: "Since, therefore, we have such
proof, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others, which is
easy to obtain from the church; since the Apostles, like a rich man
depositing his _money in a bank_, lodged in her hands most copiously all
things pertaining to the truth; so that every man, whosoever, _can draw_
from her the water of eternal life. For she is the entrance to life, and
all others are thieves and robbers." (Book iii. chap. 4, sec. I.) Having
established the principal proposition by his mere assertion (which is
his way of making history of all kinds), Irenæus next proceeds to show
that the Gnostics could not trace any connection with a church founded
by the Apostles. "For prior to Valentinianus (he says), those who follow
Valentinianus had no existence: nor did those from Marcion exist before
Marcion; nor, in short, had any of those malignant-minded people, whom
I have above enumerated, any being previous to the initiators and
inventors of their perversity." (Book iii. chap. 4, sec. 3.)

The ancient Father has, so far, established two of his main
propositions: first, that a church must derive its origin through the
Apostles, or some one of them, to be genuine; and second, that there was
no such connection in the churches of the Gnostics; and it only remains
to show that the church claiming to be orthodox had. He declines to
point out the order of succession in all the churches, but consents
to do it in the case of Rome, which, he says, according to tradition,
derived from the Apostles, was founded and organized at Rome by the
two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul. (Book iii. chap. 3, sec. 2.) The
church at Rome, founded by such great lights as Peter and Paul, Irenæus
continues, should be regarded of the highest authority in the church,
for, he says, "it is a matter of necessity that every church should
agree with _this_ church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that
is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has
been preserved continuously by those faithful men who exist everywhere."
(Sec. 2.)

As Peter was selected to be head of the church, and Rome the capital of
the Christian world, the scheme to establish a church on the ground of
an Apostolic succession must fail, unless it can appear that Peter had
not only been there at some time, but that he was also the founder of a
church at the holy city. A letter said to have been written by Clement,
the third Bishop of Rome, is selected as the medium by which it is made
to appear that Peter had been in Rome; and Irenæus took upon himself
to show what he was engaged in while there. At the proper place we will
show that this Clement is a fiction, brought on the stage as a link in
the Apostolic chain forged by the great criminal of the second century.

Now follows a forgery so apparent on its face, that it does not require
the skill of an expert to detect it.

"But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to those who, in
these last days, have wrestled manfully for the faith; let us take
the noble examples of our own age. Through envy, the faithful and most
righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted even to the most
dreadful deaths. Let us place before your eyes the good Apostles. Peter,
by unjust envy, underwent not one or two, but many labors: and thus
having borne testimony unto death, he went into the place of glory,
which was due to him. Through envy, Paul obtained the reward of
patience. Seven times he was in bonds; he was scourged; was stoned.
He preached both in the East and in the West, leaving behind him the
glorious report of his faith. And thus having taught the whole world
of righteousness, and reached the fullest extremity of the West, he
suffered martyrdom by the command of the governors, and departed out of
this world, and went to the holy place, having become a most exemplary
pattern of patience." (_Epistle I. of Clement to Corinthians_, sec. 5.)
By the side of this extract we will lay a passage of Irenæus. Speaking
of the writers of the Gospels, he says: "Matthew also issued a written
Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul
were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the church."
(Book iii. chap. 1.) Now, we assert with confidence, that the hand which
penned the first passage wrote them both. It is not said in so many
words, in Clement's letter, that Peter was in Rome, but it is to be
inferred, as in the case of John at Eph-esus. Irenæus seldom states
anything which is positively untrue in direct language, but makes
falsehood inferential. The passage we have quoted does not contain a
single truth, except as it relates to Paul. Paul and Peter were never
engaged together in laying the foundation of a church. They quarrelled
in Damascus and could never agree. The doctrine of circumcision formed
an impassable wall between them, and, as we will show, was never given
up by Peter. Besides, it is not true that Peter had anything to do in
laying the foundation of the church at Rome.

Christians, during the reign of Claudius in Rome, were too few in number
and too poor to form a church, especially such an one as would require
the office of a Bishop. Renan, in speaking of the church in the time of
Claudius, says it was composed of a "little group--every one smelt of
garlic. These ancestors of Roman prelates were poor proletaries, dirty,
alike clownish, clothed in filthy gabardines, having the bad breath of
people who live badly. Their retreats breathed that odor of wretchedness
exhaled by persons meanly clothed and fed, and collected in a small
room." (_Life of Paul_, 96.)

We have no reason to believe that at any time during the life of Peter
was the church of Rome, if there was any church there at all, composed
of different materials or greater in numbers than at the time referred
to. What was there for a Bishop to do in such a crowd, or what was there
to keep him from starvation? Christians engaged in riots growing out
of the hostility between them and the Jews, were driven from Rome by
an edict of the Emperor Claudius, and did not return during his reign,
which ceased in A.D. 54, when that of Nero commenced. In A.D. 58 they
had not rallied, and at that time Rome was without a church. It was
the practice in all cases with Paul to address Christians through the
churches, where churches were established; but his Epistle, in A.D. 58,
to the Romans, is addressed not to a church, but "_to all that be in
Rome_" In his three years' imprisonment in that city, commencing in the
spring of A.D. 61, he makes no mention of a church, nor does he during
the second, which lasted from the summer or fall of A.D. 65 to the
spring of A.D. 66. There is no proof that the historian can discover,
worthy of his notice, that there was a church in Rome of any kind, even
down to the time of Adrian, A.D. 117, and even later. We are overrun
with traditions on this subject, the creations of the second century,
to which the attention of the reader will be called when we treat of the
twelve traditional Bishops named by Irenæus. Adrian, in the seventeenth
year of his reign, knew so little about a Christian church, that he
supposed the office of a Bishop belonged to the worship of the god
Serapis. In a letter written by him from Alexandria, A.D. 134, to his
brother-in-law Servianus, he says: "The worshippers of Serapis are
Christians, and those are devoted to the god Serapis, who, I find, call
themselves Bishop of Christ."

We will dismiss this part of the subject for the present, with the
promise to return to it in a subsequent chapter, when it will be
demonstrated that there was no Christian church in Rome until after the
reign of Antoninus Pius.*

     * See Appendix C

Were Peter and Paul together in Rome at all? Paul went there in the
spring of A.D. 61, for the first time, and remained until the spring
or summer of A.D. 63. During this time he wrote four epistles, as
follows:--to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon,
and, if we except the first, he closes them by naming the persons who
are with him. He says nothing about Peter, nor does he mention his name,
so far as we know, during the three years he was confined in Rome. That
Paul should omit to mention Peter, one of the Apostles, in some of his
letters, is the very best proof that he was not in Rome at all. After
his release in the spring of A.D. 63, after making a visit to the
churches in Europe and Asia, he returned to Rome again in the fall of
A.D. 65. He had with him a few friends who stood by him to the last.
They were Luke, Mark, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia. There could not have
been many other Christians in Rome at the time besides those named,
because Paul, after naming the above who sent salutations to Timothy,
adds, "and all the other brethren," which implies that there were not
many of them. Paul does not mention Peter, because he was not there.
Timothy, no doubt, was with Paul in the winter of A.D. 65 and A.D. 66,
and was put to death in the spring of the latter year, with his friend
and fellow-laborer. We never hear of him again. In the spring of A.D.
66, the labors and sorrows of the great Apostle of the Gentiles ceased.
He had fought the good fight--he had finished his work--he had _kept
the faith_; and now, by his death, bore testimony to the doctrines he
preached. He was among the last of Nero's victims. Nothing that
belongs to history is surer than that Peter and Paul never were in Rome
together, laying the foundation of a church, or anything else.

Having proved that one-half of what is stated by Irenæus in the passage
which we have quoted is false, according to the usual rule for testing
the truth of any statement, we might claim that the remaining half
is also untrue. But we ask no such advantage in disproving any of the
statements made by this father.

_When_ was Peter in Rome? No writer in the first or second century
pretends to give the time when he was in Rome, or when he died.

Irenæus gives the names of twelve Bishops who succeeded each other,
commencing with Linus, but does not give a single date, so that we can
tell when or how long any one of them held the office. This want of
dates, where it was easy to give them--if what was stated was true--was
urged with so much force against what Irenæus said, that Eusebius, in
the fourth century, undertook to fix the time when these traditional
Bishops succeeded to, and how long each held the office. He fails to say
when Peter first became Bishop, or when he ceased to be the head of
the church, but commences giving dates from the time of Linus, his
successor. Without intending, he has furnished the data to determine
when Peter died, if his dates are correct, which is _not even probable_.
He says: "After Vespasian had reigned about ten years, he was succeeded
by his son Titus; in the second year of whose reign, Linus, Bishop of
the church of Rome, who held the office about twelve years, transferred
it to Anacletus." (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii. ch. 13.) As Linus
succeeded Peter, the latter must have died just before his successor
took the office. Titus became emperor June 24th, A. D. 79, and as Linus
died two years after this, after holding the office twelve years, he
became Bishop in A. D. 69; which must have been the year of Peter's
death. Nero died in June A. D. 68, and at his death the persecution
against Christians ceased altogether. It is not claimed that Galba,
Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, or Titus ever inflicted persecution of
any kind on Christians during the time they held the government of the
empire. Eusebius, in attempting to fix a date when the second Bishop
took office, answers the objections made to the vagueness of Irenæus,
but robs Peter of the laurels of a martyr.

But it is claimed that Linus was installed Bishop before the death of
Peter, and Irenæus pretends to give the time. He says: "The blessed
Apostles then having founded and built up the church, committed unto the
hands of Linus the office of the Episcopate." (Book iii. ch. 2, sec.
3.) The blessed Apostles are Peter and Paul. Now we have just shown that
these Apostles were never in Rome together, and that there was no church
to be committed to the charge of Linus or anybody else. As it is an
important part of the story that Peter died a martyr at Rome, this could
only happen to him between A. D. 64 and A. D. 68, for the persecution
under Nero commenced during the former year, and ended with his death in
A. D. 68. We have the most conclusive proof that Peter was not in Rome
in A. D. 64, when the persecutions under Nero commenced, nor afterwards.
He was in Babylon--whether Babylon in Assyria, Babylon in Mesopotamia
or Egypt--he was in Babylon more than two thousand miles away. Peter was
born about the time of Christ, and was sixty-four years of age when the
persecutions under Nero began. He was married, and when he wrote his
first Epistle he was in Babylon and had his family with him, for he
mentions the name of Marcus, and calls him his son. "The church that is
at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus,
my son." (1 Peter v. 13.)

The date of this epistle is fixed by Dr. Lard-ner and other critics at
A. D. 64. Did Peter, at the age of sixty-four, when he heard that Nero
was feeding the wild beasts of the Amphitheatre with the flesh and bones
of Christians, "lured by the smell of blood," start for Rome? If Peter
was in Babylon in A. D. 64, an "Apostolic succession," so far as it
depends on him, must fail, and Rome must surrender the authority by
which she has held the religious world in subjection for the last
seventeen centuries.

But this she will never do, as long as her audacity and cunning are left
to hatch schemes to escape from the dilemma. Inspired by despair, she
now claims that Peter means Rome when he says Babylon, and that the
Marcus spoken of was not the son of Peter, but the nephew of Barnabas
and companion of Paul! Just as well claim anything else, and say Babylon
means Alexandria, and that Marcus was the stepson of Nero. Here two
impressions are made: one that the letter was written at Babylon, and
the other that Peter was attended by his son. Are both false? What did
Peter, or anybody else, expect to gain by giving false impressions? By
an agreement between Peter and Paul, made early and observed strictly,
the labors of the former were limited to the circumcised, and he found
them in large numbers in cities watered by the Euphrates. There and in
Judea, among the Jewish people, was the scene of Peter's labors, and
there he died. He had no business in Rome. As there was no church in
Rome in A. D. 64, it is impossible, if Peter was there at the time, for
him to make the salutation he does in his address to his countrymen. He
could say, "the church that is at Babylon," but not "the church that is
at Rome," for there was none.*

     * See Appendix B.

Mark the son of Peter, and Mark the nephew of Barnabas, are two
different persons, whom the genius of Irenæus seeks to confound. The
epistle to Philemon was written in the latter part of A. D. 63, which
shows that Paul, Timothy, and Mark were then in Rome. They left in
the following spring. During the winter of A. D. 63, Paul wrote the
Colossians that they might expect Mark to visit them, and it would seem
that he had made arrangements with them of some kind in regard to him,
when he arrived among them. "Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas (_touching
whom ye received commandments_: if he come unto you, receive him.") Col.
iv. 10.

Unless Mark changed his mind afterwards, he went from Rome to Colosse in
Phrygia. The next reliable information we have of Paul after the spring
of A. D. 63, except at Nicopolis in A. D. 64, he is back in Rome in
the fall of A. D. 65, and in prison; and the first knowledge we have of
Mark, he is in some part of Asia Minor. Timothy and Mark were together,
and Paul writes to the former from his prison, to come to Rome and to
bring the latter with him, and to get there before the winter sets in;
which request was complied with. To suppose that Mark had been to
Rome in the mean time would be most unreasonable, and against all the
probabilities in the case. There was nothing to take him there until
Paul called him back. If Peter was in Rome when he wrote his first
epistle, in A. D. 64, Mark the nephew of Barnabas was not with him. If
Mark saw Peter at all in A. D. 64, it was not in Rome. Nor did he see
him that year in Babylon in Egypt, or Babylon in Mesopotamia or Chaldea.

The latter Babylon was long known for its vices and wickedness, and was
called a sink of iniquity; and as Rome had become corrupt and steeped in
crime of all kinds, it is claimed that Peter uses the word Babylon in a
typical sense when he was writing from Rome! If this is so, he did not
write from Babylon in Egypt or Mesopotamia, as some have contended, for
they were each small and inconsiderable places of no importance, and
there could be no object in using either as a type to represent the
corruptions of Rome. If Mark saw Peter in Babylon, it was in Chaldea.
Measured by degrees of longitude, Rome and this Babylon are more than
two thousand miles apart. Why would Mark make a visit to Peter involving
a journey of four thousand miles, br half that distance? He never did.
He could not. He went among the Colossians under some arrangement made
by Paul, and no doubt remained with them until he was wanted at Rome.
When Peter calls Mark his son, he means just what he says. Mark the
companion of Paul, and Mark the son of Peter, are two different men.

What should take Peter to Rome or keep him there when burning and
torturing Christians was one of the amusements of Nero? Had Peter's
character for courage so much improved that he went there when all the
Christians had gone, to defy Nero, and invite his destruction? There
is something in the character of Peter that makes it improbable, if not
impossible, that he should be in Rome in a time of danger. He was a man
of strong impulses, but a constitutional coward. He followed Christ to
the scene of the crucifixion, "but he followed him afar off." (Matt.
xxvi. 58.) He had pride, and a proper sense of manliness, and when he
was betrayed through a want of courage into the commission of a mean
act, he had spirit and sense enough to be ashamed of it. He denied
Christ, but it cost him bitter tears of repentance. Either his cowardice
or his jealousy stood in the way of his coming to the aid of Paul,
whenever Paul was in danger of his life. When the Jews were about to
tear him to pieces in Jerusalem, and he had to be rescued by the Roman
soldiers, Peter was nowhere about, and we do not even hear of him, In
his trials before the Roman Governors, when he had no one to stand by
him but a few faithful companions, the presence of Peter, at such a
time, would have done much to aid and console the great champion of a
common cause. But in all these places there was danger, and where danger
was was no place for Peter.

He lacked moral, as he did physical courage. At Damascus he did not
hesitate to sit at the same table with the uncircumcised, when there was
no one present to object; but when those came from Jerusalem who could
not tolerate the liberal ideas of Paul on circumcision, he cowardly
sneaked away. Paul took fire at the appearance of so much meanness, and
boldly reproved him. Is this the kind of man who would enter the lion's
den, and brave the wrath of Nero at a time when the tyrant was flooding
the streets of Rome with the blood of Christians?

Justin Martyr was born about the year A. D. 100, and was a native of
Neapolis in Syria. (Apology, sec. I.) At the beginning of the reign of
Antoninus Pius he fixed his abode in Rome, and afterwards wrote numerous
works, principally devoted to the defence of Christians. (Cave's _Life
of Martyr_, vol. 2, chap. 6.) No one had better opportunities of knowing
about Peter, and the church at Rome, than he had, and no one who wrote
as much as he did which concerned Christianity, would have been more
likely to mention him, if what Irenæus says of him had been true. He
is so oblivious of Peter that he seems to have been unconscious of his
existence. No writer in the first years of the second century, who is
entitled to credit, speaks of him, and he first begins to figure in
the pages of Irenæus when the disputes with the Gnostics were at their
height. The Clementines were composed later in the century, when Pauline
Christianity was giving way to the new school, and the dogma of an
Apostolic succession had taken possession of the church. Dionysius,
Bishop of Corinth, who lived and wrote during the reign of Marcus
Antoninus and his son Commodus, about A. D. 180, according to Eusebius,
also states that Paul and Peter were at Rome together engaged in laying
the foundation of a church. (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., lib. ii. ch. 25.)
But this writer has got out of the Pauline period, and even goes beyond
Irenæus, for he states, according to the same authority, that Peter and
Paul laid the foundation of the church at Corinth.

Theophilus of Antioch, Melito of Sardis, Apollinarius of Hierapolis,
all writers about the same time, A. D. 180, like Irenæus, take sides
against the Gnostics, and show that they were committed to the new
school. From this time Irenæus is quoted as the authority for the fact
that Peter and Paul had founded the church at Rome, and we are asked
to give special weight to what he says, as he was the companion of
Polycarp, who had seen and conversed with John.

Speaking of Paul, Clement is made to say, "He preached both in the East
and in the West--taught the whole world righteousness, and reached the
farthest extremity of the West, and suffered martyrdom, by the command
of the Governors." This passage has long been a stumbling-block among
learned critics. It is the only authority on which is founded the story,
that after Paul was discharged from prison in A. D. 63, he went into
Spain, Gaul, and Britain. Caius, the Presbyter, in the beginning of the
third century, says: "Writings not included in the canon of Scripture
expressly mention the journey from Rome into Spain." Hippolytus, in the
same century, says that Paul went as far as Illyricum, preaching the
gospel. Athanasius, in the fourth century, says that St. Paul did not
hesitate to go to Rome and Spain. Jerome, in the same century, says that
"St. Paul, after his release from his trial before Nero, preached the
Gospels in the Western parts." (Quoted from Chevallier's _Apostolical
Epistles_, note, p. 487.)

These is no authority for Paul's travels in the Western provinces,
except the passage from Clement, and as Irenæus is the founder of the
story, it is not improved by the repetition of subsequent writers.
The whole is a transparent falsehood. From the time of Paul's career,
commencing with his adventure near Damascus to the time of his
imprisonment in Rome, in the spring of A. D. 61, we have an account of
his travels, and know where he was each year during this time. He never
in this time went west of Rome. In the spring of A. D. 63, in company
with Mark, Titus, Timothy and others, he left Rome and went in all
probability to Colosse, where, in pursuance of some agreement he made
with the people of that place, he left Mark. How long he remained is
uncertain, but the next time we hear of him he is in Crete, where no
doubt he spent the winter of A. D. 63 and A. D. 64, In the mean time he
made some converts, whom he left in charge of Titus, and in the spring
went west into Macedonia. Some time in the summer or fall of A. D. 64
we find him in Nicopolis, where he informed Titus he meant to spend
the winter. The following spring or summer he went to Rome and was soon
imprisoned. If he was at Colosse or Crete in A. D. 63, and Nicopolis in
A. D. 64, he could not have gone to Britain, Gaul, and Spain between
the spring of A. D. 63 and the summer of A. D. 65, for it would not be

But it is conclusive that Paul did not go into the provinces of the West
after his release from prison; that there is no mention of his travels
in the West, except what is said in this passage from the letter
of Clement--a thing impossible, when we consider that he never went
anywhere but he made his mark, and left his footprints behind him. Even
Paul himself, in his subsequent letters, makes no allusion to any such
travels, which is accountable upon no other hypothesis than that he
never made them. But what was gained in fabricating this passage?

The idea of Irenæus, that there could be no church unless its origin
could be traced to some one of the Apostles, who were special bankers
of divine favors, never left him. He furnished Rome with Peter, and Asia
with John, and now he is required to furnish one for the churches in
Gaul, Spain, and Britain. Here were churches in these countries in his
day, and who had authority to establish them? It would not do to claim
that either of the Twelve had been in the West, for even falsehood has
its' boundaries. Paul will do. He is the great Apostle of the Gentiles.
Besides, according to the Acts, he had submitted to ordination at the
hands of the Apostles. The explanation of the reasons which dictated
this spurious passage in Clement's letter is consistent with the acts of
Irenæus, and the whole current of his thoughts throughout his life.
But this story, invented by him, has been repeated by others, until it
settled down--as history! It is clear from the proof here shown, that
Irenæus has no claim to our belief as a writer, and that the statements
he makes in regard to Peter in Rome and Paul in the West are mere
inventions of his own to assist him in his disputes with the Gnostics,
in which he was engaged for the best part of his life.


     The claim of Irenæus that Mark was the interpreter of Peter,
     and Luke the author of the third Gospel, considered.--Luke
     and Mark both put to death with Paul in Rome.

Irenæus, after stating that Peter and Paul preached in Rome and laid the
foundation of a church at that place, continues: "After their departure,
Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us
in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of
Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him." (Book iii. sec.
1.) Again no time is given. The last time we know anything of Mark and
Luke that is certain, or at all reliable, they were both with Paul in
Rome. In his second letter to Timothy he says: "Only Luke is with me.
Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the
ministry." (2 Timothy iv. 11.) That Timothy obeyed this request and
took Mark with him, does not admit of doubt. Paul and Timothy were
inseparable, and Mark was Paul's near friend and companion. This must
have been in the fall of A. D. 65, when Paul was in prison, with little
or no hope to escape the second time from the fangs of Nero.

At the time Timothy and Mark entered Rome, the fury of Nero raged with
all its sanguinary cruelty. It was just about the time the conspiracy
of Piso was brought to light. Made mad by his fears, he struck in all
directions. Not content with the destruction of the conspirators, he put
to death all who offended his vanity or moved his jealousy. Seneca, a
man whose many virtues added lustre to the Roman people, and who was
an honor to any age, was not suffered to live. His very virtues gave
offence to the tyrant. Lu-can and others, distinguished for genius and
learning, were put to death. Tacitus says that at this time "the city
presented a scene of blood, and funerals darkened all the streets."
(Annals, book XV. sec. 21.) Speaking of the events of the year 66, when
Paul was put to death, the same writer says: "We have nothing before us
but tame servility, and a deluge of blood spilt by a tyrant in the
hour of peace. The heart recoils from the dismal story. But let it be
remembered by those who may hereafter think these events worthy of
their notice, that I have discharged the duty of an historian, and if in
relating the fate of so many eminent citizens, who resigned their lives
to the will of one man, I mingle tears with indignation, let me be
allowed to feel for the unhappy. The truth is, the wrath of Heaven was
bent against the Roman State. The calamities that followed cannot, like
the slaughter of an army or the sacking of a city, be painted forth
in one general draught. Repeated murders must be given in succession."
(Annals, B. XVI. sec. XVI.) The author then proceeds to give a long
list of victims. At the time Paul was in prison, and Mark and Luke
his companions were with him, the Roman legions, under the command of
Vespasian, were marching to make war upon the Jews, if they had not
done so already. They had rebelled and defied the power of Rome. At this
time, no Jew could be in Rome and live. Not only was the anger of Nero
aroused against them, but that of the entire people of Rome--and
this feeling did not abate until after almost the entire nation was
destroyed. No doubt Timothy, Luke, Linus, Paul, and all others who were
with them, perished in the general calamity. Why put to death Paul,
and not his fellow-laborers? Nero waged war not against Christians, but
against Christianity. We trace all these parties inside the gates of
Rome, and then we lose their trail forever. There is not one single item
of reliable proof that any one of them ever left the doomed city. The
footprints of Christians going into Rome at this time were like the
tracks going into the cave of Polyphemus--many were seen going in, but
none coming out.

We learn from Eusebius and Jerome, that Mark went to Egypt and founded a
church at Alexandria, and the latter states that he died and was buried
there in the eighth year of the reign of Nero. This is impossible. As
Nero commenced his reign A.D. 54, this would made him die in A.D. 62.
Now we find him alive with Paul in A.D. 65. Eusebius, in his loose way,
says: "The same Mark, _they say also_, being the first that was sent
to Egypt, proclaimed the gospel there which he had written, and first
established churches in Alexandria." (Book I. ch. 16.) This father
had special reasons why he wanted to get Mark to Alexandria. The close
resemblance between Christians and Therapeutæ, as we have shown, was
a reason with him why he should insist that the latter were in fact
believers in Christ by a different name. Mark is sent to be their
teacher, and was claimed to be the founder of this new sect of
Christians. Nothing is wider from the truth. If ever Mark or Luke left
Rome, there is no reason why we should not hear something of them.
Situated as they were in their relations with the founders of
Christianity, had they survived the slaughter at Rome, one or both would
have left behind them evidence, of some kind, of their escape. What
remained of Paul, Timothy, Mark, Luke, Linus and others after they
entered Rome in the winter of A.D. 65 and A.D. 66, could only be found
after that time among the graves of Nero's victims. Whatever Mark and
Luke wrote, in the nature of Gospels, was written before they entered
the gates for the last time.

As this was in A. D. 65 or A. D. 66, and the gospels ascribed to
them were neither extant nor known before the beginning of the second
century, we are forced to look to some other quarter for those who wrote

But what proof is there that Mark and Peter were on such intimate terms
as is claimed by Irenæus? None, except that which is afforded in the
first Epistle of Peter (1 Peter v. 13), wherein Mark is spoken of
by Peter as his son. What better evidence can we have of the studied
dishonesty of Irenæus, than his attempt to have it appear or believed
that the Mark referred to in the first of Peter, was the companion of
Paul and interpreter of Peter? We have just shown he was not--but an
entirely different person, and it sweeps away the whole foundation
upon which rests the claim that the Gospel of Mark was written at the
dictation of Peter. While Mark was with Paul, either in Rome or Asia
Minor, Peter, with his son Mark, is preaching among the Jews of Chaldea.

What Presbyter John says on this subject is here worthy of notice.
Eusebius, speaking of the writings of Papias, says: "He also inserted
into his work other accounts of the above-mentioned Aristion respecting
our Lord, as also the _traditions_ of the Presbyter John, to which
referring those that are desirous of learning them, we shall now subjoin
to the extracts from him already given a _tradition_ which _he_, sets
forth concerning Mark, who wrote the Gospel, in the following words:
'And John the Presbyter also said this: Mark being the interpreter of
Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrote with great accuracy, but not in
the order in which it was spoken or done by our Lord, for he neither
heard nor followed our Lord, but, as before said, he was in company with
Peter, who gave him such instruction as was necessary, _but not to give
a history of our Lord's discourses._'" (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., book iii.
chap. 39.) Papias here gives _a tradition_ derived through Presbyter
John. Slender proof that Peter dictated the Gospel of Mark! To rank
among canonical Gospels, and as a corner-stone of Christianity, with the
authority of an inspired book, the proof falls far below what we have a
right to expect and demand. On such a subject it is no proof at all. It
is difficult to tell what Mark did write, according to Papias. What he
did write was not in the order in which the events in the life of Christ
occurred--nor in the order in which he spoke or taught. Peter would not
allow him to give the history of our Lord's discourses. If that is so,
then the Gospel to which Papias refers is not our present Gospel of
Mark. This relates the acts of Christ in the order of time, and gives
his discourses in full. In this respect the second Gospel does not
differ from the first and third. It is quite probable that Mark, in his
intercourse with the Apostles, may have learned many things in relation
to Christ which he wrote out, but which, like the Hebrew Gospel
of Matthew, was condemned or cast one side, as it did not help to
strengthen the new ideas in relation to Christ, which sprang up some
time before the death of Paul. But we can never know what Mark wrote, as
Papias does not claim he ever saw it, nor do we know of any one who did.

What is said by Clement of Alexandria and all other writers on the
origin of the second Gospel is derived from the extract taken from the
works of Papias, and from what is said by Irenaeus: their statements do
not better the case, any more than a superstructure will give strength
to the base on which it rests. If Mark ever wrote anything, it would
contain nothing that did not accord with Paul, for he was not only his
fellow-traveller, but he was his fellow-laborer in the spread of the
doctrines of Christianity; and so near and dear were the relations
between them, that when Paul saw his end approach, he wrote to Timothy
to bring Mark with him, as brother would for brother, for a parting
inter view. What Paul taught, Mark believed--and Paul dead or Paul in
life would have made no difference with Mark.

After reading the Gospel of Mark, who would suppose that he had been the
companion of Paul and the interpreter of Peter? We would expect to find
some thought or expression that had in it the soul of Paul, as his very
spirit penetrated all his followers and made them a reflex of himself.
Paul drew from the depths of his own consciousness, which he took for
revelations, the ideas which formed the basis of his religion and
made Christ what he believed him to be. It was a holy faith with him,
disconnected from all material laws. The second Gospel is founded on
works, and the divinity of Christ proven by his power over the laws
of the universe. All nature bows down before him; even demons and evil
spirits fly before his presence. Mark the interpreter of Peter!! Where
do we see Peter in the Gospel of Mark? What, all at once, has become of
circumcision? Did he, after his quarrel with Paul, shake off his Jewish
prejudice and bigotry and rise to a higher plane? The proof is he did

Paul, Luke, and Mark were as companions inseparable--they were
fellow-laborers, held the same doctrines, died for the same cause and at
the same time.

In another chapter we inquired from what source Luke got his knowledge
of the wonderful statement he makes in relation to the visitation of the
angel to Mary and Zacharias, for he did not get it from Paul, who never
mentions the name of Mary. We now ask, from whom did Mark learn the
story of John the Baptist? Paul knew nothing about him. Who had a better
opportunity than he to know everything which related to him, if he had
been the person described by Mark? What better proof can be offered to
show that neither Luke nor Mark wrote the Gospels ascribed to them,
than that they are made to state matters which lay at the bottom of
Christianity in after-ages, of which Paul, their teacher and co-laborer,
knew nothing? To find the authors of these Gospels we must look to the
second century.


     Acts of the Apostles.--Schemes to exalt Peter at the expense
     of Paul.

The Acts of the Apostles dates between A. D. 140 or 150 and A. D. 170.
The book, _as we now find it_, was not in existence before Justin's
_Apology_, because before his time there were no miracles, as will
be shown; while the Acts abounds in those of the most extravagant
character. Between A. D. 140 or 150, and A. D. 180, is the time when
the war among the different sects raged with the greatest violence, and
frauds and forgeries were practised by all parties without remorse or
shame. It was during this time that Lazarus was made to rise superior to
death, and assume his place among men, after his body had become putrid
and began to decay. There was nothing too false or extravagant for
parties to assert at this period of the world, and the only wonder
is, that the absurd stories of the age have passed down to subsequent
generations as truths of a revealed religion.

The book of the Acts, in its present form, came to light soon after
the doctrine of the Apostolic succession was conceived, for it is very
evident that the first half is devoted to give prominence to Peter among
the Apostles, who was to be made the corner-stone of the Church. As
all other churches are made to bow to the supremacy of Rome, so all the
Apostles must be subordinate to Peter. This is so obvious that the work
is overdone. On the day of Pentecost he is put forward to explain the
miracle of the cloven tongue, and show that it was in accordance with
what the prophet Joel had foretold--which if Peter did say what he is
made to say, only proved his ignorance of what the prophet meant. His
miraculous powers are wonderful. He cured a man forty years old, who
had been lame from his birth, so that he leaped and walked. His power
extends over death, and he raises Dorcas from the grave. He is now chief
speaker. Ananias and his wife Sapphira fall down dead before him. So
extraordinary is his power over diseases, "that they brought forth the
sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that _at the
least the shadow of Peter_ passing by might overshadow some of them."
(Acts v. 15.)

It is surprising that the incredulity of the Jews did not give way
before such wonderful works; but it seems it did not, and the only
effect produced on their minds was to send Peter to prison. Peter is
twice committed to prison for doing good, and the sole object in sending
him there is to give an opportunity to the Lord to deliver him, and show
that he is under the special protection and guardianship of God. "And
behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the
prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise
up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said
unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals: and so he did. And he
saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me." (Acts xii.
7, 8.) "And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a
surety that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of
the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the
Jews" (verse 11).

The person over whom the Lord had manifested so much care, must
certainly have been set apart to act some great part in his providences
towards our race. At the time we are writing about, the struggle between
the followers of Peter and Paul was raging; the latter claiming that the
Apostle of the Gentiles was of equal authority as to doctrine with
Peter or any of the Apostles; while the former insisted that Paul had a
special commission--to convert the Gentiles--and as he had performed
his work, his mission ceased, and he was no longer to be regarded as an
authority in the church. No less a person than God himself can settle
the dispute, and the cunningly devised stories of Cornelius, and Paul's
conversion, are introduced into the Acts in order to give the Lord an
opportunity to decide between the two parties.

Cornelius, a devout man, is laboring under what is called religious
conviction, and is in doubt what to do. He stands in need of a spiritual
adviser, and when in this condition of mind, "He saw in a vision
evidently about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to
him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him he was
afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers
and thy alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to
Joppa, and call for one _Simon_, whose surname is Peter." (Acts x. 3,
4, 5.) The centurion was sent to Peter, because he was the depositary of
divine light, and the dispenser of spiritual gifts--an intimation from
God to all the world, for all ages, where men must look to, to find the
true interpreter and expounder of religious faith. Cornelius did as he
was commanded.

But it was not enough that this was true of Peter; but it must be shown
that Paul was but a simple missionary, whose powers ended with his
death. To do this, the story of his conversion in the Acts is told,
notwithstanding it is in direct conflict with what Paul says himself
on the subject. When Ananias was requested by the Lord to call on Paul
while he was still prostrate from the effects of the blow he received
near Damascus, he declined to do so--apparently in fear of Paul, on
account of his previous treatment of Christians. This gave the Lord
an opportunity to tell Ananias, why he is anxious to do as he was
requested. "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the
children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer
for my name's sake." (Acts ix. 15, 16.)

The Lord has now settled all disputes between the followers of Peter
and Paul, and the office of each is settled and defined. Under such a
judgment, pronounced by God himself, no wonder the influence of Paul
ceased to be felt in the latter part of the second century, and Peter
proportionally increased in weight and authority. This attempt to put up
Peter and put down Paul, determines the date of the Acts, and fixes
it somewhere between A.D. 150 and A.D. 170, a period in the century
prolific of spurious writings. It may be called the Petrine age of

When Paul made his defence before the Jews at Jerusalem, and explained
to them the mode of his conversion, it would be dangerous, or at least
suspicious, to leave out the story of Cornelius; but as it differed so
much from the one he gives in second Corinthians, it was necessary to
omit the one given in the epistle entirely. But the fraud is easily
detected. The account as given in the Acts, to the sixth verse
inclusive, is as it was doubtless delivered by Paul; but from this
point the story diverges from the one given by himself, and is a sheer
fabrication. "And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was
come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a
great. light round about me." (Acts xxii. 6.) Then according to Paul's
account, given in his letter to the Corinthians, he was caught up to the
third heaven, and there heard unspeakable words which it was not lawful
for man to utter. What transpired between God and Paul, all took place
in heaven, where no man could bear witness. The account in the Acts,
which commences in the seventh verse, says that after the light shone
from heaven, Paul fell to the ground, and did not ascend to heaven, but
was led by the same light to Damascus. This version is to let in the
story of Ananias. He could not bear witness to what passed between the
Lord and Paul in the third heaven, but he might if the scene was laid
on the earth. Besides, what passed between the Lord and Paul the latter
does not pretend to state, for the words he heard were unspeakable and
not lawful for man to utter. There is nothing in the story in the Acts
that is unspeakable or unlawful to be repeated, unless it is to be
regarded as a piece of blasphemy.

Had Paul told the story as given in the Acts in his defence, there was
nothing in it to arouse the Jews to such a pitch of madness as to cause
them to insist that he should be put to death. There was more in it to
provoke a sneer than to excite anger. The scene in Jerusalem, when Paul
was compelled to make his defence, was in A.D. 58, and he could have
appealed to Ananias, who in the course of nature might still be living,
and others, if the story was true. It was not the story in the Acts
that incensed the Jews. When Paul claimed he was taken up to heaven, and
there met the Lord and talked to him face to face, he had reached,
in the minds of his hearers, a point in blasphemy that drove them to
frenzy, so that they exclaimed: "Away with such a fellow from the earth:
for it is not fit that he should live." The Jews listened to Stephen
with patience until he exclaimed, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and
the Son of man standing at the right hand of God," when they could stand
it no longer, and ran upon him with one accord and stoned him to
death. It is clear that Paul's defence, made before the Jews, of his
conversion, is omitted, and the story of Ananias substituted, to aid the
enemies of Paul in placing Peter over him.

When we find the same story variously stated by Paul, and in the Acts,
there should be no hesitation in choosing between the two. The Acts,
like the works of the early fathers, bears so many marks of forgeries,
to suit the emergencies and wants of the day, that very little contained
in either is of any historic value. The epistles of Paul had obtained
a large circulation before the time when the men of the second century
inaugurated an era of forgeries, and long before the Acts were in
existence; so that the forgers were compelled to exercise great caution
when they came to deal with the epistles, and only ventured to insert
passages into the genuine writings to give the sanction of his name to
the doctrines of the Alexandrian or Johannean school, or some dogma of
the day. Such passages are scattered all through the epistles, but
we can easily point them out, for they are doctrinal and exceedingly

Peter disappears at the end of the twelfth chapter; but enough has been
done to make him chief among the Apostles, and claim for him a spiritual
supremacy in all matters which relate to the church. John, afterwards
the great light of Asia, only plays the part of an esquire to Peter, his
lord and superior. They are often together, but John is not suffered to
speak. It was designed that John, who was to take Asia in charge, should
stand next to Peter; but the writer, by imposing silence on him on
all occasions, took care that the supremacy of Peter was not put in
jeopardy. The preaching of Philip in Samaria was a device to show that
Peter and John were superior to the rest of the Apostles in their power
to confer the Holy Ghost. Philip made many converts, both men and women,
and he baptized them--but his baptism was not sufficient. "Now when the
Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the
word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. They laid their hands
on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."--Acts viii. 14, 17.

According to Paul, and this is made clear by the quarrels between him
and Peter, as related in the epistles, the latter was tenacious to the
last for the Jewish rite of circumcision, and we have no evidence, and
no reason to believe, that he ever gave it up. A sectarian Jew would
never answer to be the head and founder of a Catholic church. The
sectarian character of Peter must be got rid of, and we see studied
efforts in the Acts to do so. We have seen that Peter, in the first
words he addressed to Cornelius, took the opportunity to declare that he
believed in the doctrine that God was no respecter of persons. But this
was not enough, in the opinion of the writer of the Acts, or at least
the first half, and to make Peter's emancipation from his old Jewish
opinions more conspicuous, and enable him to explain how it happened
that the change was brought about, the vision of Peter on the house-top
is produced. He went up upon the house-top to pray, about the sixth
hour, and became very hungry; but while they were preparing something
for him to eat, he had a trance, "And saw heaven opened, and a certain
vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the
four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of
four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things,
and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter, kill
and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything
that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second
time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done
thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven."

The command of the Lord to Peter to eat, was a command to give up his
Jewish views and notions; for that all flesh was alike, and equally
proper to be taken on an empty stomach. Peter was at a loss to
understand the vision, and while he was revolving the subject in
his mind, Cornelius and his party came to be instructed by him, in
accordance with the directions of the Lord. When Cornelius, who was
of the Gentiles, made at known the object of his visit, Peter at once
understood the import of the vision, and exclaimed, "Of a truth I
perceive that God is no respecter of persons," and that the gospel of
Christ is to supply the spiritual wants of all nations, as the beasts
and fowls are to furnish food for the hungry.

The conversion of Peter receives further importance and prominence
from the defence he is compelled to make before the brethren, for his
disregard of the rite of circumcision in the baptism of Cornelius. Peter
makes a speech, in which he declares that he was commanded by God, not
less than three times, to give up his old Jewish notions; and no sooner
was the command given than Cornelius, a Gentile, who was sent to him by
God, made his appearance. The command from God to Peter, and the arrival
of the centurion, who was instructed by the Lord to come to him, left
him no choice in the matter, and that he baptized the Gentile, in
obedience to the commands of the Lord. The reason was sufficient. "When
they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God,
saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto
life." (Acts. xi. 18.) The wall between Jew and Gentile is now broken
down, and Peter a fit subject for the head of a universal or catholic

It seems that the person who put the speech into the mouth of Peter,
renouncing circumcision, was not satisfied with what he said at the
time. Something had been omitted or overlooked. Peter had shed his
Jewish skin, but the Lord had not given him a commission to preach
the gospel to all nations, and this he must have to be the head of a
universal church. At the council held at Jerusalem by the Apostles
to settle the question of circumcision, Peter, according to the Acts,
seizes the opportunity to supply the omission: "And when there had been
much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren,
ye know how that a good while ago, God made choice among us, that
the Gentiles, by _my mouth_, should hear the word of the gospel, and
believe." (Acts xv. 7.) Now there was no occasion for Peter to make this
claim or assertion, for it had nothing to do with the subject before
the council, and was not true. The account which Paul gives of what took
place at the council is quite different, contradictory, and no doubt
true. He says, when he stated before the council the trouble and
vexations which were occasioned by this rite, and reasons why it should
not be forced on the Gentiles, that Peter, James, and John agreed with
him--gave him the right hand of fellowship, and then entered into a
compact that he should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
(Gal. ii.)

This agreement was never departed from; but not so with regard to
circumcision. That Peter, James, and all the disciples disregarded the
order of the Council in regard to that subject, is rendered clear by
their subsequent conduct. After that, as much as two years, for the
Council was held in A.D. 49 or A.D. 50, and the epistle to the Galatians
was written in A. D. 52, Peter went to Antioch, where he found Paul.
He ate with the uncircumcised until some Jewish converts came from
Jerusalem at the instance of James, who found fault with his course.
Peter, it seems, then changed front and stood up for circumcision. "I
withstood him to the face," says Paul, for he was wrong. A discussion
springs up. Paul claimed that men were not to be saved through old rites
and ceremonies, nor by-works, but by faith. At this time, neither James
nor Peter had given up their contracted notions on the Jewish rite.
Nor had Peter as late as A. D. 57, twenty-four years after the death of
Christ. Of the four parties which disturbed the peace of the church at
Corinth at the time of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, which
was written in A. D. 57, the party of _Cephas_ was one. Peter was at the
head of a party which held out for circumcision, seven years after the
council at Jerusalem; and if he had not given it up then, when he was
fifty-seven years old, there is no reason to believe he did after that.
Nothing gave the men in the second century who undertook to put Peter
at the head of a universal church so much trouble as this thing of
circumcision, which we can readily detect by the pains and labors they
have taken to free him from it. But the stain will not wash out.

The story told in the Acts about the way in which Peter was
disenthralled from his narrow Jewish notions, is wholly inconsistent
with the subsequent history of the church at Jerusalem. After the
Lord had taken so much pains to prove to the disciples that a new
dispensation had commenced, and the wall between the Jews and Gentiles
was broken down, there was no reason why they should not all dispense
with the practice of circumcision. But they never did. The fifteen first
Bishops of Jerusalem, commencing with James and including Judas, were
all circumcised Jews. (Eus., Ex. 77., B., iv. ch. v. Sulpicius Severus,
vol. 11-31.) With the twelve disciples, jealousy of Paul, who fought
this Jewish practice to the last, seemed to be the most active feeling
of their natures, and we seldom hear of them unless they were dogging
his footsteps, and stirring up the Jews against him. It was through
their intrigues that the doors of the synagogue were slammed in his face
wherever he went.

The doctrine of ordination, through which that deposit of divine riches
which Irenæus says Christ left with the Apostles is made to flow in an
uninterrupted current through all time, is conspicuously presented in
the Acts. When Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, and about to start
for the West, on a mission to preach to the Gentiles, the Lord said,
"Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called
them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them,
they sent them away." (Acts xiii. 2, 3.) Nothing could impose so great a
humiliation as this upon Paul. The Lord again interferes and assigns him
to a special duty, and to make this humiliation complete, he is ordered
to receive his commission at the hands of the Apostles. Who laid their
hands on Barnabas and Paul, is not stated, nor is it of any importance,
as the object of the statement is to make it apparent that the latter,
the great light of the Gentiles, submitted to the rite of ordination by
the imposition of hands, administered by some one of the Apostles.
Will any one believe this story to be true? If he does, he does not
understand the character of Paul. There is nothing he would resent with
so much feeling, as he would such an admission on his part that he was
less than an Apostle. When it was claimed he was not, his soul took
fire, and in his address to the Galatians, in the first chapter, he
delivers himself in this defiant strain: "_Paul, an Apostle, (not of
men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised
him from the dead_.) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my
mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that
I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with
flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were
Apostles before me." (Gal. i. I, 15, 16, 17.) Is this the Paul who
patiently submits to receive his commission from an Apostle to preach
the doctrines of Christ to the nations of the earth at Antioch, when he
is about to commence his labors?

It is not enough that Paul should submit to receive the Holy Ghost at
the hands of the Apostle, and in this way be authorized to preach the
gospel; but he gives the ordinance his full sanction by conferring
ordination on others. "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at
Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus;
and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the
Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so
much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And when Paul had laid
his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with
tongues, and prophesied." (Acts xix. 1, 2, 6.) No stronger proof could
be given that the followers of Paul were opposed to the Episcopacy
and the doctrine of succession and ordination, and contended against
a government by Bishops with zeal to the last, than the labored and
frequent efforts that are made to show that he himself gave his sanction
to the order.

For Paul's persistence in claiming a human origin for Christ, there
was a studied effort in the second century to destroy his claims as an
Apostle; but after his epistles had undergone alterations so as to
make Christ the Son of God in the sense of the Catholics of the second
century, he was restored to favor, and his powers wonderfully magnified.
He is now able to work miracles, and his power to heal diseases is such,
that whatever comes in contact with his person, is so filled or imbued
with holy energy, that its curative properties are sufficient to put
death at defiance.

It is clear that the Acts of the Apostles is not the work of one
century, but of two. The real itinerary of Paul commences in the
thirteenth chapter, and from this to the end of the Acts, we can trace
his footsteps in his various journeys among the churches, until he
finally enters the gates of Rome, in the spring of A.D. 61.


     Matthew the author of the only genuine Gospel.--Rejected,
     because it did not contain the first two chapters of the
     present Greek version.

Matthew, surnamed Levi, was a native of Galilee. Before his conversion
to Christianity he was a publican, or tax-gatherer, under the Romans,
and collected the customs of all goods exported or imported at
Capernaum, a maritime town on the Sea of Galilee, and received tribute
paid by passengers who went by water. From the position of Matthew, he
must have been a man of some learning and judgment, and from what we
know of the early lives of the other Apostles, the only one among
them, except perhaps Peter and James, that was capable of writing out a
correct account of what was said and done by Christ.

As the first church at Jerusalem increased in number, and new converts
were added to it, there was a necessity that there should be some
written history given of what was said and taught by Christ before his
death; and as Matthew was in every way qualified, the task was imposed
on him. Matthew wrote this book about A.D. 40, not much, if any, more
than seven years after the death of Christ. Everything was fresh in his
memory, and no doubt he was particular to give to the new converts a
full and correct knowledge of all the doctrines taught by Christ, and
especially to place before them his sermon on the mount, so full of
divine morality, which was to form the soul of the new religion.

From all we know with certainty, this Gospel of Matthew was the only
account of Christ in use among the members of the first Christian
church, and their only means of information, except what they learned
direct from the other Apostles. Everything, then, was just as it fell
from the lips of Christ, and had the odor of fresh-gathered flowers.
How the Christians at Jerusalem clung to this Gospel of Matthew, their
sufferings and persecutions through a period of more than two centuries
will bear witness. These Christians, afterwards called by way of
aversion Ebionites, were charged with the alteration of the Scriptures.
This alteration, according to Epiphanius, consisted in the omission
of the first two chapters of Matthew, which contain the account of
the miraculous conception of Christ. The statements of Epiphanius are
verified by the fact, that at the time these two chapters were added,
by the men of the second century, we can trace through the pages of
Ignatius, and other early fathers, numerous forgeries and interpolations
which are unmistakable, and were intended to sustain the new aspect
which Christianity took on in the early part of the second century. The
addition of the two chapters, and the forgeries, belong to the period
when the religion of Paul had passed off into the Philo-Alexandrian
period of Christianity. Eusebius informs us what were the crimes of the
Ebionites: "They are properly called Ebionites by the ancients, as those
who cherished a low and mean opinion of Christ. For they consider him
a _plain and common man_, and justified in his advances in virtue, and
that he was born of the Virgin Mary by natural generation." (Eusebius,
Ecc. Hist., book iii. chap. 27.)

The views held by the Ebionites of Christ were derived from the Gospel
of Matthew, and what they learned direct from the Apostles. Matthew had
been a hearer of Christ--a companion of the Apostles, and had seen and
no doubt conversed with Mary. When he wrote his Gospel everything was
fresh in his mind, and there could be no object on his part, in writing
the life of Jesus, to state falsehoods or omit important truths in order
to deceive his countrymen. If what is stated in the two first chapters
in regard to Christ is true, Matthew would have known of them; and,
knowing them, why should he omit them in giving an account of his
life? It was impossible to pass from the first to the second stage
of Christianity, as long as the Gospel of Matthew was recognized as
authority in the church. It stood as a mountain in the way, and had to
be torn down and made way with. The history of the Ebionites, from the
time they are charged with altering the Scriptures, to the time when
they disappear from history, is one of tyranny and bloody persecution.
In the reign of Adrian, what was left of them settled in the little town
of Pilla, beyond the Jordan, from whence they spread themselves into
villages adjacent to Damascus. Some traces of them can be discovered as
late as the fourth century, when they "insensibly melted away; either
into the church or synagogue." (_Gibbon_, ch. xv. vol. I. p. 255.) With
them perished the genuine Gospel of Matthew, the only Gospel written by
an Apostle.

Much useless labor has been bestowed on the question, whether the
genuine Gospel was written in the Hebrew or Greek language. How this may
be is of little consequence, since the genuine writing is no longer in
existence. It is just as certain that the present version of Matthew was
written in Greek, as that the genuine one was published in the Hebrew
tongue. To the church of Rome the world is indebted for the destruction
of the only genuine Gospel, and with it the only authentic account of
Christ. No greater loss could befall the world. It was written in the
dawn of Christianity, before corrupt and ambitious men sought to make
religion a way to power and distinction. The truths contained in this
Gospel stood in the way of a gigantic scheme, conceived by corrupt and
arrogant men, who saw in a church established by the authority of
God, the road to the highest point of human power and grandeur. They
succeeded, but their success,--

     "Brought death into the world and all our woe."

It was not necessary to reject all of Matthew's Gospel, and it is very
evident that much was retained--such as the discourses of Christ and
some portions of history.


     The character of Irenaeus and probable time of his birth.--
     His partiality for traditions.--The claim of the Gnostics,
     that Christ did not suffer, the origin of the fourth
     Gospel.--Irenaeus the writer.

The time when Irenaeus was born is variously stated. In the introduction
to his works against heresies, translated by Alexander Roberts, D.D.,
and the Rev. W. H. Rambaut, A. B., is the following passage on this
subject: "We possess a very scanty account of the personal history of
Irenaeus. It has been generally supposed he was a native of Smyrna, or
some neighboring city in Asia Minor. Harvey, however, thinks that he
was probably born in Syria, and removed in boyhood to Smyrna. He himself
tells us (lib. iii. sec. 3, 4) that he was in early youth acquainted
with Polycarp, the illustrious Bishop of that city. A sort of clue is
thus furnished as to the date of his birth. Dodwell supposes that he was
born as early as A.D. 97, but this is clearly a mistake, and the general
date of his birth is somewhere between A.D. 120 and A.D. 140" (page 18).

Among the many strong and representative men who have impressed their
genius on the Catholic Church, and given to it its distinctive features,
none have equalled Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons. It may in truth be
said he was the father of the church. He assisted at its birth; took
charge of its infancy; planted within its bosom seeds which sprouted and
bore fruit which has been the source of its nourishment and strength for
seventeen hundred years and more. It is enough to say of him, that he
placed in the heart of the church the seed which bore the fruit of the

From the adoption of Trajan, in A.D. 98 to the death of the Antonines,
in 180, a period of eighty-two years, has been selected by the learned
author of the "Decline and Fall" as the most happy and prosperous
period in the annals of the human race. (Vol. I. page 47.) Had he
omitted the last of the Antonines, under whose reign Justin Martyr and
other good men were put to death, the learned author would have come
nearer the truth of history.

It was the prospect of peace and protection held out under this state of
things that influenced the Christians who had survived the cruelties of
other reigns to once more return to the imperial city. As soon as
they were sufficiently numerous it was natural to adopt some form of
government; but what that form was, we have no means of knowing,
except by the dangerous light of tradition. It must be always fatal to
tradition, where it claims to be important, that contemporaneous history
says nothing about it. It is certain that the uninterrupted repose
of the church to the time of Antoninus Verrus, A.D. 161, gave rise to
disputes among Christians; for when they were relieved from the fears of
an outward enemy, they soon found cause for quarrel among themselves. On
the introduction of the first three Gospels, which happened during
this time, as we shall prove, the character of Christ, or rather his
mysterious birth from the Virgin, gave rise to numberless controversies.

Irenaeus was born at the right time to be thrust into the midst of them,
and as soon as he was able to comprehend anything, his ears were filled
with the disputes of the various contending parties. He was born with a
love of contention planted in him, and had the best school ever de-vised
to cultivate and strengthen it. The character of his mind was bold and
daring, and in support of the cause he espoused, he had no scruples or
shame in resorting to falsehood and forgery. If the end was good, in his
sight, it was all the same to him, whether it was reached by truth or
its opposite. Such, indeed, was the prevailing morality of the age.
Towards his adversaries he was bitter and vindictive, applying to them
low and vile language, such as thieves and robbers. He claimed to look
with contempt upon those who differed from him, and took pleasure in the
repeated use of the word _heretic_. Whether he ever saw Polycarp or not,
and it is no proof he did because he says so, he claimed great advantage
from it, because, as he declares again and again, Polycarp was the
disciple of the Apostle John. He is only one remove from an Apostle, and
for what he states he claimed the weight of Apostolic authority.

We say again, it is very doubtful whether he ever saw Polycarp; and it
is very certain the latter never saw John. The studied dishonesty of
Irenaeus, in attempting to palm off the Presbyter John for the Apostle,
is as dark a piece of knavery as is to be found in the history of a
church which has encouraged such practices from the time it claimed to
be the depository of all the divine wealth left by the Apostles.

Driven to the wall by the sharp logic and superior wisdom of that
class of Christians who were distinguished by the name of Gnostics, his
devious and ingenious mind undertook to cut them off from all claims
as members of a Christian church, by interposing the doctrine of the
Apostolic succession. This step once taken involved the necessity of
repeated forgeries and frauds. Cowardly Peter is to be changed into a
hero,--sent to Rome, where death is certain, and there die a Christian
martyr. John, who had not life and force enough in him to rise above the
masses, and no more knowledge than is wanted to dip a net into the sea,
is to be converted into a fiery spirit, and put forth a book which is to
fall like a thunderbolt on the heads of the heretics. If anything arises
in the course of the debates, which, to ordinary men, would present
difficulties, with Irenæus they were easily disposed of by tradition.
He had traditions for all emergencies, and when his adversaries dared
dispute him, he stands ready to silence them by abuse. He says: "But,
again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from
the Apostles, (and) which is preserved by means of the successions of
Presbyters in the churches, they object to tradition, saying that they
themselves are wiser not merely than the Presbyters, but even than the
Apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. It comes
to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture
nor to tradition. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal,
my very dear friend, endeavoring like slippery serpents to escape at all
points." (Irenaeus, Vol. I. book iii. page 260.)

He brings often and repeated charges against his enemies for forgeries,
and at the same time makes more himself than all of them put together.
In the disputes about the twofold nature of Christ as he appears in the
Synoptics, and as will be fully explained hereafter, the Gnostics had
the advantage in the argument. If Christ the God descended upon the man
Christ at the baptism in the Jordan, it left him at the crucifixion.
Then, say the Gnostics, there _is no atonement_, for the Son of God did
not shed his blood. No other man, in that or any other age, could meet
the crisis but Irenaeus; and the result is the fourth Gospel.

The time when this Gospel first appeared as a historical fact, has been
so thoroughly sifted by late writers on that subject, that it will only
be necessary here to notice some of the prominent reasons why its date
is fixed after the middle of the second century. All allusions, or
pretended allusions, found in the writings of the fathers, on inspection
will be found to be the work of those who have attempted to poison the
fountains of history. Papias lived near the age of John, and if John had
written he must have known and spoken about it, as he speaks of Matthew
and Mark; but he says nothing about John or Luke. He was Bishop of
Heliopolis A. D. 165, and informs us that it was his habit to inquire of
those who were the followers of the elders, what was said by them: what
was said by Andrew and Peter or Philip; what by Thomas, James, John,
Matthew, or any other of the disciples of the Lord. (Eusebius, Ecc.
Hist., book iii. chap. 39.)

The Apology of Justin to the emperor was written some time between the
years A. D. 130 and A. D. 160. The precise time is not known, and there
is some uncertainty about it. In his Apology, Justin makes thirty-five
distinct allusions to Matthew, eighteen to Luke, and five to Mark, and
if he says anything which points to John at all, on examination it will
appear that the allusions are found elsewhere, in writings anterior to
Justin. "For Christ said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter
into the Kingdom of Heaven.'" This, it is claimed, is taken from the
fourth Gospel, which must have been in existence when Justin wrote. The
language in the Gospel is, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Except
a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John iii. 3.)
This language, imputed to Christ, was drawn from a common source--from
the Gospel according to the Hebrews, as has been fully proven, and so in
every other instance where the writer seems to allude to the Gospel of

The new ideas concerning Christ found in this Gospel had not yet dawned
upon the world when Justin wrote, for on that subject he had not got
beyond what was contained in the Synoptics; or, to speak with greater
accuracy, his Logos idea was that of Philo, which differed from that of

An examination of this subject by the most learned and careful writers,
proves that there is no reliable evidence that the fourth Gospel was in
existence before A. D. 175, when a direct reference is made to it in
the Clementine homilies, a production written in praise of Peter against
Marcion. The language quoted is unmistakably the language of John.
Tatian, who wrote between A. D. 160 and A. D. 185, quotes from the
fourth Gospel: "And this is what was said, Darkness does not comprehend
the light; the Logos is the light of God." In the nineteenth chapter
we read: "All things were made by him, and without him not a thing was
made." These were quotations from John without his being named as the
author; but Theophilus of Antioch, who wrote about A. D. 176, especially
ascribes the Gospel to him. "In the second book of this treatise
addressed to Antolycus, he says: 'Whence the holy Scriptures teach us,
and all who carried in them a holy spirit, of whom John says, In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.'" It may be claimed as an
historic fact, that the fourth Gospel was extant in A. D. 175, and that
all efforts to give it an early date spring from uncertain data: obscure
allusions and doubtful inferences altogether too vague and unreliable to
satisfy the mind in pursuit of truth.


     Why Irenaeus wrote the fourth Gospel in the name of John.--
     He shows that the Gospels could not be less than four, and
     proves the doctrine of the incarnation by the Old Testament
     and the Synoptics.--The author of the epistles attributed to
     St. John.

The zeal of Irenaeus against his adversaries had carried him so far in
support of the doctrine of the incarnation that he ventured upon a
new Gospel, under the name and authority of an Apostle. Without
the authority of some one of the Apostles to sustain him, of what
consequence would the opinion of one man be, on a question which
involved the substance and essence of Christianity? Nothing would be
easier than to publish a fourth Gospel in the name of-some one among the
disciples. They were all dead a hundred years or more, and the time and
place of their death no one knew.

But why did Irenaeus select the name of John? It was his policy to
select from among the twelve the one who had been the least conspicuous
during his life, so that what was said or done by him in Judea at one
time should not conflict with something else claimed to have been done
at the same time somewhere else. The one that said and did nothing in
his own country might be claimed to have said and done a great deal in
another. If the proof adduced to prove that John, the son of Zebedee,
was not the John of Ephesus, and that Irenaeus was engaged in making a
false substitute, we have gone a great way to show that he himself was
the author of the fourth Gospel. To be sure, John's presence in Asia was
required for the Apostolic succession; but the man who brought him there
for that purpose would be most likely to use his name in all other cases
when it might prove useful.

The book against Heresies was written between A. D. 182 and A. D. 188,
so that about eight years elapsed between the appearance of the Gospel
and the one against the heretics. In the mean time, no doubt the
Gospel had been attacked from more quarters than one, so that it became
necessary that the writer should come to its defence. The book against
Heresies is nothing more than a supplement to the Gospel, and the writer
had in view its defence as much, if not more, than he had the heresies
of the Gnostics.

No better evidence could be given of the violence with which the fourth
Gospel was attacked, when it first appeared, than the character of the
defence made to sustain it. That it was something new in the time of
Irenaeus is evident from the fact that he is called upon and employed
his genius to defend it. He is not called upon to defend either of the
other Gospels, because whatever doubts there may have been as to them,
the time for discussion had long passed away. But the fourth Gospel was
something new; it had not gone through that fermentation in the minds of
men which always follows the introduction of some new idea or principle,
but was undergoing that process at the time Irenaeus wrote in its
defence. If this Gospel had been written by John, it would have been,
at the time Irenaeus wrote, nearly one hundred years old, and its claims
settled years before he was born. The very arguments he brings to its
support are proofs that it is a fraud. He proves that it is genuine
because it is a necessity--just as pillars are necessary to the support
of a portico. In his mode of argument he proves that a falsehood may be
exposed by the poverty and weakness of the arguments which are relied
upon for its support.

Irenaeus proves not only that the appearance of the fourth Gospel was
something new, but that the doctrines it contained were unheard of
before. He says: "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more
or fewer in number than they are; for since there are four zones of the
world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the church is
scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the
church is the Gospel and the Spirit of life, it is fitting that she
should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and
vivifying men afresh." (Book III. chap. 2, sec. 8.) On this subject,
after drawing many illustrations from the Gospels in proof of his
position, he concludes as follows: "These things being so, all
who destroy the form of the Gospel are _vain, unlearned_, and also
_audacious_: those (I mean) who represent the aspects of the Gospel as
being more in number than as aforesaid, or, on the other hand, fewer."
(Book III. chap. 2, sec. 9.)

The fourth Gospel was written with no other purpose than to prove the
incarnation, and that purpose is so persistently kept up in every line
and verse, from the beginning to the end, that if we strike out this,
and the miracles which are mere supports of the main idea, there is
nothing left. And so with the third book against Heresies--it has but
one theme. The writer sets out with the Logos idea of this Gospel,
which is never lost sight of. He finds proof in the traditions of the
church--in every page of the Old Testament--in the Synoptics, as well
as in the fourth Gospel; and as we read his misapplication of words and
sentences, we would conclude that he was a lunatic if we did not know
he was something else. He has no quarrel with the first three Gospels,
because he can see nothing in them that does not furnish proof of what
is taught in the fourth; and in the language which makes most against
his dogmas, he sees the clearest proof of their truth.

As an example of his mode of interpretation, and turning the plain sense
of words from their proper meaning to proofs that Christ was God in the
flesh, we will give his explanation of the prophecy of Isaiah, which
relates to his birth from a virgin: "Therefore, the Lord himself shall
give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and ye
shall call his name Emmanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat: before he
knows or chooses out things that are evil, He shall exchange them for
what is good; for before the child knows good or evil, He shall not
consent to evil, that he may choose that which is good." Here follow the
comments: "Carefully, then, has the holy Ghost pointed out, by what has
been said--His birth from a virgin and His essence, for he is God (for
the name of Emmanuel indicates this). And he shows that he is a man when
he says, 'Butter and honey shall he eat;' and in that he terms him a
child also, in saying, 'before he knows good from evil;' for these are
all tokens of a human infant. But that he 'will not consent to evil that
he may choose what is good,' this is proper to God; that by the fact,
that He shall eat butter and honey, we would understand that He is a
mere man only--nor on the other hand from the name Emmanuel, should
suspect him to be Christ without flesh." (Book ill. ch. 21, sec. 4.)
That is, Christ is in the flesh, because he is to eat butter and honey;
and he is God, because he knows how to distinguish between good and
evil; and as a consequence, the divine and human nature are united in
his person, and he is the incarnate God. We have shown in another part
of this work that the prophecy of Isaiah had nothing to do with a future
Christ, but was meant as a measure of time, governed by the period of

Again: "'The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I
make thine enemies Thy footstool.' Here (the Scripture) represents to
us the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of
the heathen, and subjected to Him all his enemies. Since, therefore, the
Father is truly Lord, and the Son truly Lord, the Holy Spirit has
fitly designated them by the title of Lord. And again, referring to the
destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says, 'Then the Lord rained
upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord out of
heaven.' For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking
with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites for their
wickedness. And this (text following) does declare the same truth: 'Thy
throne, O God, is forever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is
a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity:
therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee.' For the Spirit designates
both [of them] by the name of God--both Him who is anointed as Son, and
Him who does anoint, that is, the Father. And again: 'God stood in the
congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods.' He (here) refers
to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but
these are the church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God--that
is, the Son Himself--has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks:
'The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.' Who
is meant by God? He of whom He has said, 'God shall come openly, our
God, and shall not keep silence;' that is, the Son, who came manifested
to men, who said, 'I have openly appeared to those who seek me not.'"
(Book ill. chap. 6, sec. 1.)

"And again, when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, 'I am come down to
deliver this people.' For it is He who descended and ascended for the
salvatipn of men. Therefore God has been declared through the Son, who
is in the Father, and has the Father in Himself--He who is, the Father
bearing witness to the Son, and the Son announcing the Father." (Book
III. chap. 6, sec. 2.)

He quotes many passages from the Gospel of Matthew to prove his
doctrine. "But Matthew says, that the Magi, coming from the East,
exclaimed, 'For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to
worship Him;' and that, having been led by the star into the house of
Jacob to Emmanuel, they showed, by those gifts which they offered, who
it was that was worshipped: myrrh, because it was He who should die and
be buried for the mortal human race; gold, because He was a king, 'of
whose kingdom is no end;' and frankincense, because He was God, who also
'was made known in Judea,' and was 'declared to those who sought
Him not.'" (Book III. chap. 9, sec. 2.) "And then, (speaking of His)
baptism, Matthew says: 'The heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit
of God, as a dove, coming upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' For Christ _did not
at that descend upon Jesus_, neither was Christ one and Jesus another:
but the Word of God--who is the Saviour of all, and the ruler of heaven
and earth, who is Jesus, as I have already pointed out, who did
also take upon Him _flesh_, and was anointed by the Spirit from the
Father--was made Jesus Christ." (Book III. chap. 9, sec. 3.)

The following is proof derived from Luke. "As Zacharias, also,
recovering from the state of dumbness which he had suffered on account
of unbelief, having been filled with a new spirit, did bless God in
a new manner. For all things had entered upon a new phase, the Word
arranging after a new manner the advent in the flesh, that He might win
back to God that human nature (_hominem_) which had departed from God."
(Book III. chap. 10, sec. 2.)

Many citations of a like nature are taken from Luke and Mark to prove
the _Logos_ doctrine of John's Gospel. Irenaeus even brings John upon
the stand to prove the doctrine of an incarnate Christ! which John
himself was the first to communicate. "John, the disciple of the Lord,
preaches this faith, and seeks, by the proclamation of the Gospel, to
remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men,
and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an
offset of that 'knowledge' falsely so called, that he might confound
them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things
by His Word; and not, as they allege, that the Creator was one, but
the Father of the Lord another; and that the Son of the Creator was,
forsooth, one, but the Christ from above another."... "The disciple of
the Lord, therefore, desiring to put an end to all such doctrines, and
to establish the rule of truth in the church, that there is one Almighty
God, who made all things by His Word, both visible and invisible;
showing at the same time, that by the _Word_, through whom God made
the creation, He also bestowed salvation on the men included in the
creation: thus commenced His teaching in the Gospel: 'In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'" (Bopkm.
chap. 11, sec. 1.)

He makes many references to John, and sums up his complaints against the
Gnostics in the following words: "But according to the opinion of no one
of the heretics was the Word of God made flesh. For if any one carefully
examines the systems of them all, he will find that the Word of God is
brought in by all of them as not having become _incarnate (sine carne)_
and _impassible_, as is also the Christ from above." (Book III. chap,
in, sec. 3.) The writer cites many passages from the epistle of Peter,
all confirming the _Logos_ doctrines of John.

The following is the heading of chap. xxii. book III.: "_Christ assumed
actual flesh, conceived and born of the Virgin_." In this chapter the
doctrine of the incarnation is elaborately argued, and proof supplied
from many quarters; but as there is a great sameness in the argument
throughout, it would only tire the reader to pursue the subject any

The third book against Heresies contains twenty-five chapters, which are
extended through one hundred and seventeen pages, and throughout there
is but one idea presented, and the proof offered in its support; and
from the first to the last, there is a studied effort to turn the plain
import of biblical passages from their true meaning into the support of
the doctrines in the fourth Gospel. Thus this father of the church, in
about seven years after this Gospel appeared, came to its defence, and
for that purpose wrote a book, which must have cost him much time and
study, for in its way it is a work of great research, and required an
intimate acquaintance with the Old and New Testaments, and the writings
of the Gnostics, which were numerous in his day. From the zeal which
is shown throughout, it is evident that the writer had some personal
interest in the subject, and that he was defending his own doctrines,
and not those of St. John or any one else.

We do not detect in the work against Heresies the lofty and sublime
tone of the Gospel, and, from the nature of the subject, it could not
be expected. He is engaged in an attempt to impose on the world, and
as what he declares to be the work of an Apostle has no foundation
in truth, nor the doctrines it teaches, he struggles like a man in
a morass, who is compelled to seize upon anything to keep him from
sinking. No doubt he was pressed hard by his adversaries, and he seems
in his defence of the fourth Gospel like a gored bull with a pack at his
front and heels. We can detect the keen lance of his adversary, piercing
him to the quick, in the repeated cry of Antichrist, which is the
favorite weapon when hard pressed by his enemies.

As he fights all his battles in the name of St. John, hear him exclaim,
in the first and second epistles, which he falsely ascribes to the
Apostle: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard
that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby
we know that it is the last time. Who is a liar but he that denieth that
Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the
Son." (1 John ii. 18, 22.) "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every
spirit that confesseth that' Jesus Christ is come in the _flesh_, is of
God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come
in the flesh, is not of God. And this is that _spirit_ of Antichrist,
whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in
the world." (1 John iv. 2, 3.) "For many deceivers are entered into the
world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the _flesh_. This
is a deceiver, and an Antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not
those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath
not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the
Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this
doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2
John 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.)

The spirit that dictated the foregoing denunciations of those who
disbelieved the dogma of Christ incarnate, also gave birth to what
follows: "But again, those who assert that he was simply a mere man,
begotten by Joseph, remaining in the bondage of the old disobedience,
are in a state of death; having been not as yet joined to the Word
of God the Father, nor receiving liberty through the Son, as He does
himself declare: 'If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free
indeed.' But, being ignorant of Him who from the Virgin is Emmanuel,
they are deprived of His gift, which is eternal life; and not receiving
the incorruptible Word, they remain in mortal flesh, and are debtors
to death, not obtaining the antidote of life. To whom the Word says,
mentioning His own gift of grace: 'I said, ye are all the sons of the
Highest, and gods; but ye shall die like men.' He speaks undoubtedly
these words to those who have not received the gift of adoption, but
who despise _the incarnation_ of the pure generation of the Word of
God, defraud human nature of promotion into God, and prove themselves
ungrateful to the Word of God, who became _flesh_ for them." (Book iii.
chap. 19, sec. I.)


     Four distinct eras in Christianity from Paul to the Council
     of Nice.--The epistles of Paul and the works of the fathers
     changed to suit each era.--The dishonesty of the times.

From the time Paul commenced his labors, to the latter part of the
second century, we can trace three eras or periods in the state and
character of Christianity, as marked and distinct as the various strata
of the earth which indicate the different ages of their formation.
First, the Pauline; second, the Philo-Alexandrian, which includes the
time of the first three Gospels; third, the Incarnation, which includes
the fourth Gospel. As we approach the end of the third century, we may
include a fourth period--that of the Trinity.

We have stated elsewhere, that the distinguishing feature between
the Logos of Philo and the Christ of Paul was, that the former was
coexistent in point of time with the Creator or Father, while in case of
the latter, there was a time he did not exist. There was still another
difference: the Logos was begotten in heaven, but Christ was born on
the earth, of earthly parents. Through the influence of the Alexandrian
Jews, who had been converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul,
the Christ of Paul was made to give way, in time, to the Logos of Philo.
This change can be traced in the forgeries which are found interlarded
through the epistles of Paul, and the writings of the early fathers. We
trace the gradual and stealthy departure from the first to the second
stages of Christianity in the use of terms in Paul's epistles which were
employed among the Gnostics and others in the early part of the
second century. The epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians have been
pronounced by able critics to be spurious, because of some verse which
have an Alexandrian look; when it is easy to discover that these verses
are mere insertions into the original text. The term _pleroma_, or
_fulness_, was a favorite phrase among the Gnostics, and now we find
it scattered here and there through the epistles: "For it pleased the
Father, _that in him_ should all fulness dwell." (Col. i. 19.) "For in
him dwelleth all the _fulness_ of the Godhead bodily." (Col. ii. 9.)
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head
of all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that
filleth all in all." (Eph. i. 22, 23.) "And to know the love of Christ,
which passeth all knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the
fulness of God." (Eph. iii. 19.) The preexistence of Christ, and his
rank as God, is now openly avowed. "For by him were all things created,
that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,
whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all
things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things,
and by him all things consist." (Col. i. 16, 17.) Here the Christ
of Paul disappears, like the great Apostle himself. The works of the
fathers are now mutilated by the same ruthless hand, to maintain the new
phase which Christianity is forced to assume. "Ignatius, who is called
Theophorus to the church which is at Ephesus in Asia, deservedly happy,
being blessed through the greatness and _fulness_ of God the Father, and
_predestinated before the world began_, that it should be always unto an
enduring and unchangeable glory; being united and chosen, through actual
suffering, according to the will of the Father and Jesus Christ our
God, all happiness by Jesus Christ and his undefiled grace." (Epistle
to Eptsiceris, sec. 1. 17.) The balance of this section, which will be
cited in a subsequent page, was added in the third or fourth century,
when Christianity put on its fourth phase. "For this cause they were
persecuted also, being inspired by his grace, fully to convince the
unbelievers that _there is one God_, who hath manifested himself by
Jesus Christ his Son, who is his _eternal Word_, not coming forth from
_silence_, who in all things was well pleased in him that sent him." *
(Sec. 8.)

     * The word silence is a word which grew in use among the
     Gnostics long after the time of Ignatius, and affords
     unmistakable proof of the fraudulent interpolation.
     Valentinianus, a Gnostic of the second century, held that
     there is a certain Dyad (twofold being), who is
     inexpressible by name, of whom one part should be called
     Anhetus, unspeakable, and the other Silence. The word, in
     the connection in which it is found in the passage from
     Ignatius, speaking about what related to a later age, has
     been the occasion of much discussion: some contending that
     it has reference to the Silence of Valentinianus, which
     proves the passage spurious; others, that it relates to the
     erroneous opinions of heretics anterior to Valentinianus.
     What heretics! (See Chevalier's Apostolical Gospels, note

Such passages as we have cited, and others of a like nature which might
be cited, have led critics to the conclusion that the writings which
contain them are forgeries; but if examined in _connection with the
texts_, it will be found that they are interpolations, forced into the
places they fill. As the writings of Paul now stand, they present Christ
in two distinct characters or aspects: his own as the Son of Man, from
which he never wavered; and the other that of Philo. All through his
epistles we find passages which inculcate doctrines with which he
combated during his whole life. All that is essential to, or that is
embraced in, the writings of Philo, as to the nature of the Logos, may
be found in the epistles of Paul. We will give a few examples which we
gather from the work of Jacob Bryant, and found among the notes of Adam
Clarke in his Commentaries on St. John.

Philo. "First begotten of God."

COLOSSIANS i. 15. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born
of every creature."

HEBREWS i. 6. And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into
the world, he saith, "And let all the angels of God worship him."

PHILO. "By whom the world was created." Hebrews i. 2. "Hath in these
last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all
things, by whom also he made the worlds."

1 Corinthians viii. 6. "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of
whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, _by whom
are all things, and we by him_."

Philo. "_The most ancient of God's works, and before all things_."

2 Timothy i. 9. "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,
which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."

Philo. "_Esteemed the same as God_." PHILIPPIANS ii. 6. "Who, being in
the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Philo.
"He unites, supports, preserves, and perfects the world."

COLOSS. i. 17. "And he is before all things, and by him all things

Philo. "Free from all taint of sin, voluntary and involuntary."

Hebrews vii. 26. "For such an high priest became us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the

Philo. "_The Logos the foundation of wisdom._"

1 Corinthians i. 24. "But unto them which are called, both Jews and
Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

COLOSS. ii. 3. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and

Philo. "_Men being freed by the Logos from all corruption, shall be
entitled to immortality_"

1 Corinthians xv. 52, 53. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be
raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." "For this corruptible
must put on in-corruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

Inconsistency cannot be claimed to be one of the faults of Paul; but if
we place these passages by the side of those in which he declares,
in unmistakable language, his belief in the nature of Christ, we must
either admit inconsistency or fraud. The influence of Paul had lost much
of its force before his death in A.D. 66; and when Hadrian assumed the
government of the empire, A.D. 117, the Pauline era had nearly ceased.
Speaking of the great Apostle, Renan says: "After his disappearance from
the scene of his apostolic struggles, we shall find him soon forgotten.
His death was probably regarded as the death of an agitator. The
second century scarcely speaks of him, and apparently endeavors to
systematically blot out his memory. His epistles are then slightly read,
and only regarded as authority by rather a slender group." (_Life of
Paul_. page 327.)

But the same author tells us, on the same page, what history confirms,
that Paul, in the third century, wonderfully rises in the estimation of
the church, and resumes the place from which he had been deposed.
There is a good and obvious reason for the change. During this interval
between the fall and rise of his influence, his epistles had been
subjected to the most glaring forgeries, in order to make them conform
to the Philo-Alexandrian ideas which in the mean time prevailed.

It is to be remarked at this place, that the Logos idea of Philo
encountered difficulties, when applied to the person of Jesus. It could
not be denied that he was the son of Mary; but it might be, that he was
not the son of Joseph. He is therefore born not of man. The influence of
a divine energy is substituted. No sooner is this new feature introduced
into the second stage of Christianity, than new ideas prevail, and are
found scattered through the works of the fathers. "And the princes of
the world know not the virginity of Mary, and him who was born of her,
and the death of the Lord: three mysteries noised abroad, yet done by
God in silence." "Where is the wise and where is the disputer? Where is
the boasting of those who are called men of understanding? For our
God, Jesus Christ, was born in the womb of Mary, according to the
dispensation of God." (Ignatius to Eph. sees. 18, 19.)

The foregoing are mere specimens. Christ is now the Son of God; but
for a time he is all humanity. He grows from infancy to manhood, and
manifests in himself the appetites and infirmities which belong to the
flesh. His mind develops early; but, as with other mortals, it grew and
expanded as he advanced in years. But the time came when "the heavens
were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a
dove, and lighting upon him." (Matt. iii. 16.) He was there proclaimed
by a voice from heaven, to be the Son of God. Here is something Paul
never heard of. The new Logos of the gospel, like the Logos of Philo,
was without beginning, from everlasting; but from this point they

The Logos of the Alexandrian was not an _hypostasis_, or a person, but
a divine emanation or spirit; of a nature unconceivable, which hovered
over the earth, but never touched it. The new Christ descended from
heaven as a spirit, took up its mysterious abode in the human form,
where it dwelt until its ministry was complete, when, with the body
which contained it, it encountered death--went down into the grave--but
on the third day broke the chains of death, and triumphantly ascended
into heaven, from whence it came.

The tendency of the minds of men at that day towards the discussions of
metaphysical and unintelligible subjects, soon led to endless disputes,
growing out of this new feature of the Christian faith. How this
mysterious union of God and man could and did exist, and when and how
it was dissolved, were questions which caused much angry feeling and
acrimonious discussion among Christians, which continued through the
second, and even to the fourth century, when, according to the learned
author of the "Decline and Fall," they died out by "the prevalence of
more fashionable controversies, and by the superior ascendant of the
reigning power." (Gib-bon, vol. I. p. 257.)

The idle and profitless disputes of the second era of Christianity were
forced, at a later day, to give way to those of the third. Cerinthus,
and other Gnostics, maintained that the Son of God descended on the day
of baptism in the form of a dove, and remained in its human receptacle
until the time of the crucifixion, when it took its flight, leaving to
the human form all the agonies and sufferings of death. If this were
so, there is no atonement: the Son of God has not offered himself as a
sacrifice. The Gnostics had the advantage of consistency. If Christ
was a creature, like other men, when the Spirit descended upon him, and
existed apart from the flesh, then death could only reach the body,
and when that was put to death, or about to be, and the Spirit lost
its tabernacle or abiding-place, it must again return to the celestial

The perplexities and interminable disputes, caused by such
unintelligible subjects, at last led to the third period in the
Christian religion: the doctrine of the _incarnation_. "The _Word_ was
made flesh and dwelt among us, who was not born of blood, nor of the
will of man, but of God." (_John_ i. 13, 14.) God took upon himself
the form of man, and was God in man. The Logos of Philo has become an
hypostasis, and walks upon the earth. The war with the Gnostics has
changed ground. The Son of God did not come down and take up his abode
in the mortal form of Christ, but was Jesus himself, and when he came
to suffer death there was no separation of divine and human natures, but
the real Son of God shed his blood, suffered, and died on the cross as a
sacrifice for the sins of our race.

The paternal solicitude of Irenaeus in support of this new phase of
Christianity is conspicuously displayed in the third book of his work
against Heresies. "But, according to these men, neither was the Word
made flesh, nor Christ, nor the Saviour (_Soter_), who was produced from
[the joint contributions of] all [the _Æons_]. For they will have it
that the Word and Christ never came into this world; that the Saviour,
too, never became incarnate, nor _suffered_, but that he descended
like a dove upon the dispensational Jesus; and that, as soon as He had
declared the unknown Father, He did again ascend into the Pleroma....
Therefore the Lord's disciple, pointing them all out as false witnesses,
says: 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.'" (Chap. xi.
sec. 3.) "As it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed
in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also
always present with mankind, was in these last days, according to the
time appointed by the Father, united to His own workmanship, inasmuch as
He became a man liable to suffering, [it follows] that every objection
is set aside of those who say, 'If our Lord was born at that time,
Christ had therefore no previous existence.' For I have shown that the
Son of God did not then begin to exist, being with the Father from
the beginning; but when He became _incarnate_, and was made man, He
commenced afresh the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a
brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in
Adam--namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God--that we
might recover in Christ Jesus." (Chap, xviii. sec. 1.) The forgers are
again at their work. The ancient fathers must be made to subscribe to
the new creed. "For some there are who are wont to carry about the name
of Christ in deceitful-ness, but do things unworthy of God, whom you
must avoid as ye would wild beasts. For they are raving dogs, which bite
secretly, of whom you must be aware, as men hardly to be cured. There
is one physician, both carnal and spiritual, create and increate, God
_manifest in the flesh_; both of Mary and of God; first capable _of
suffering_--then liable to suffer no more." (_Ignatius to Eph_. sec. 7.)
"For whosoever confesseth not that Jesus Christ is _come in the flesh_
is Antichrist; and whosoever confesseth not his _sufferings upon the
cross_ is from the devil. And whosoever perverts the oracles of God, he
is the first-born of Satan." (Polycarp to Philippians, sec. 7.)

The above citations are a few of many others of a like character
scattered through the works of the fathers, inserted long after their
death, and evidently intended to combat the idea of Cerinthus and
others, that Christ did not suffer on the cross, and so it could not be
claimed that by his death he made an atonement for the sins of man. Both
of these fathers lived near the time of Paul, and believed the doctrines
he preached: "Ye are the passage of those that are killed for God; who
have been _instructed in the mysteries of the gospel with Paul_, who was
sanctified and bore testimony even unto death, and is deservedly most
happy; at whose feet I would that I might be found when I shall have
attained unto God, who through all his epistles makes mention of you in
Christ." (_Ignatius to the Ephesians_, sec. 12.) "For neither can I,
nor any other such as I am, come up to the wisdom of the blessed and
renowned Paul, who being amongst you, in the presence of those who then
lived, taught with exactness and soundness the word of truth; who in
his absence also wrote an epistle to you, unto which, if you diligently
look, you may be able to be edified in the faith delivered unto you,
which is the mother of us all." (_Polycarp to the Philippians_, sec. 3.)

Paul taught that Christ was born of woman, under the law; and Ignatius,
that he was "truly of the race of David, according to the flesh."
(Letter to the Eph., sec. 1.)

The letters of Polycarp and Ignatius seemed a kind of a free commons
where forgeries might be committed by all; and they have been so often
used for this purpose, in order to secure the authority of their names
to the doctrines of the day, that there is very little of the originals
left. All parties were engaged in the practice; and each charged his
adversary with doing the very thing that he was doing himself.

As we read whole pages in Irenaeus, charging his adversaries with
forgeries and false interpolations, we smile at the impudence and
audacity of the man, who has done more to pollute the pages of history
than any other, and whose foot-prints we can follow through the whole
century, like the slime of a serpent.

Speaking of the forgeries of this century, Casaubon says: "And in the
last place, it mightily affects me to see how many there were in the
earliest times of the church, who considered it 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; from which source, beyond question, sprang nearly
innumerable books, which that and the following age saw published by
those who were far from being bad men (for we are not speaking of the
books of the heretics), under the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and of
the Apostles, and of other saints." (_Casaubon_, quoted by Lardner.)
Lardner is forced to admit "that _Christians of or the Enigmas of
Christianity, all sorts_ were guilty of this fraud--indeed, we may say
it was one great fault of the times." (Vol. iv. page 54.)

In an age where falsehood was esteemed a merit, the truth cannot be
expected. Before we close what we have to say on the third period of
Christianity, we cannot fail to notice what a wide gulf has grown up
between the religious faith of Paul and his followers, and those who
gave their assent to the doctrines of the fourth Gospel. But, wide as is
the gulf, those who call themselves Christians can stand on the opposite
banks and clasp hands as believers in a common faith. Why is this?
Skilful artisans, in the second century and subsequent ages, have been
busy in bridging over this vast abyss, by adding to and taking away
from what Paul taught, until to cross over is neither difficult nor


     The Trinity, or fourth period of Christianity.

If we may judge of the opposition made to the doctrines of the fourth
Gospel by the vehemence and bad feeling with which they were defended,
we conclude that if they were not successfully refuted, they did not
escape just and severe criticism. The sudden change from the Logos
of Philo to the _hypostasis_ of John--from Christ a spirit who had
descended from Heaven and taken up a temporary abode in the human form,
and a Christ who was born a God, lived and remained such through death
and the resurrection--was too great a change to be suddenly taken,
without provoking the sneers and animadversions of the enemies of
the new faith, who were on the lookout to expose its weaknesses, and
ridicule its inconsistencies. What gave force and point to their attacks
was, that the change from the Logos of the Synoptics to that of the
fourth Gospel was one of necessity, forced upon Christians by the
tactics of the Gnostics, in order to maintain a principle which lay at
the foundation of their religion: that is, the atonement.

In the war waged between them and their enemies, Christians found it a
source of great relief and satisfaction, to learn that the doctrines
of John's Gospel, which were announced in the first verses of the
first chapter, were in harmony with the theology of Plato. Whatever
inconsistencies might be imputed to them on account of the change of
their ideas as to the nature of Christ, their present views were the
same as those held by the great philosopher of Greece, whose wisdom had
entitled him to be called Plato the Divine. The study of the works of
the Athenian by Christians of this period was the natural result of this
feeling, and we discover a constant increase of this admiration until
his ascendency is complete, and the nature of the Godhead determined by
his genius. The followers of Plato were no less gratified to find that
the doctrines of the fourth Gospel were in harmony with the school of
their great teacher; so much so that it removed, the prejudice, and
reduced the distance which formerly separated them from the Christians.*

     * Some proofs of the respect which the Christians
     entertained for the person and doctrines of Plato, may be
     found in De la Mothe le Vager, torn. v. p. 135, and Basnage,
     tom. IV. p. 29-79.    Decline and Fall, vol. I. p. 440, note

According to John, the _Word_ existed with the Father from the
beginning--was equal to the Father, and was the Creator of all things.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were co-equal and co-eternal.
With Plato, the Father, or First Cause, the Logos, and Spirit of the
Universe, existed from the beginning, and were endowed with co-ordinate
powers; but, according to him, all divine natures flow from the One, or
First Cause, as light flows from the sun, and are bound in unity, and
are one; so the three persons in the Godhead of Plato are one, and
constitute a triad in unity.

The theology of the fourth Gospel approached so near to that of Plato,
that it was natural that one should insensibly run into the other, and
was what might have been expected. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are
equal, as the First Cause, the Logos, and the Spirit of the Universe are
equal. As the two proceed from the One, or First Cause, with Plato, and
are united, so the two proceed from the Father, and are one, and in both
cases form a trinity in unity.

The circle is now complete. Paul was dethroned by the Alexandrian Philo,
and his Christology in turn is overthrown by the mixed theology of John
and Plato. We can readily detect the violence done the works of the
fathers, in order to give the authority of their names to this new phase
of Christianity. "Wherefore come all ye together as to one temple of
God--as to one altar--as to one Jesus Christ--_who proceeds from One
Father, and exists in one and is returned to One_" (_Ignatius to
Magnesians_, sec. 7.) This language expresses the Platonic idea in all
its completeness. It could hardly be expected that Christianity could
take upon itself this new phase without opening the door for new causes
for dispute, as will always be the case when men presume to reason on
spiritual generation, and from negative ideas attempt to draw positive

Sabellius, of Egypt, undertook to find a middle ground, and while he
admitted the triad in unity, he claimed that there was but one person in
the Godhead, and that the Word and Spirit are only virtues or emanations
of the Deity. But his doctrine conceded too much to the theology of
the Greek to suit the followers of Arius, and not enough to satisfy the
orthodox; and so, after a vain struggle, Sabellius and his doctrine?
were swallowed up and lost sight of in the strife created by the
opposing views which suddenly sprang up in the church at Alexandria. We
give the origin of the dispute in the words of Socrates, a writer of the
fifth century.

"After Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, had suffered martyrdom under
Diocletian, Achilles was installed in the Episcopal office, whom
Alexander succeeded, during the period of peace above referred to.
He, in the fearless exercise of his functions for the instruction and
government of the church, attempted one day, in the presence of the
presbytery and the rest of his clergy, to explain, with perhaps too
philosophical minuteness, that great theological mystery, _the Unity
of the Holy Trinity_. A certain one of the Presbyters under his
jurisdiction, whose name was Arius, possessed of no inconsiderable
logical acumen, imagining that the Bishop entertained the same view of
this subject as Sabellius the Libyan, controverted his statements
with excessive pertinacity, advancing another error which was directly
opposed indeed to that which he supposed himself called upon to refute.
'If,' said he, 'the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a
beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a
time when the Son was not in being. It therefore necessarily follows,
that he had his existence from nothing.'" (_Ecclesiastical History_,
book i. chap. 5.)

From a little spark, continues the writer, a large fire was kindled,
which ran throughout all Egypt, Libya, the upper Thebes, and finally
through Asia and Europe. After disturbing the peace of the world for
fourteen hundred years, the dispute which commenced at Alexandria
remains unsettled to this day.

We now approach a new era. Up to this time the religion of a people had
no connection with the powers of the State. Constantine is the first to
set an example. Indebted to the Christians for their assistance in the
civil war between himself and Licinius, under the pretext of preserving
the peace of the church, he wrote an epistle to Alexander and Arius,
admonishing them to forbear and cease to quarrel about things they
can neither explain or comprehend. Thus commenced a connection between
church and State which has proved so ruinous to the cause of true
religion, and the peace of the church ever since. This interference was
continued by Constantine throughout his reign, and at the time of his
death the affairs of the church and State were so interwoven that it
became difficult, at times, to distinguish between the office of a
Bishop and the powers of the Emperor. The spirit of faction in the
church proved superior to the authority of Constantine, and in order to
restore peace, he was forced to call an assembly of Bishops, Presbyters,
and Deacons from every part of the Christian world. What was meant to
restore harmony, only furnished fresh subjects for dispute, so that the
progress of mankind has rather been retarded than assisted by the piety
and wisdom of the Nicene fathers. The attempt to fix a standard of faith
by the decrees of councils has proven to be the greatest folly in which
men were ever engaged, as it has been the source of the greatest misery
and suffering; and proves, by the evils which flow from it, that all
such efforts are vain and presumptuous. As well undertake to fix a
standard for the fine arts, and determine by a decree the combination
of colors, and how the lights and shades shall be mingled in making a
picture to please the eye, and satisfy the taste of all.

That which followed what was done at the Council of Nice, shows of
what little value are the decrees of such bodies in establishing or in
assisting the cause of truth. Council followed council, without arriving
any nearer to the settlement of the dispute. In the fourth century
alone, there were forty-five councils; of these, thirteen decided
against Arius, fifteen in his favor, and seventeen for the Semiarians.
(Draper's _Intellectual Development_, page 222.) The divisions and
quarrels among Christians sapped the strength, and finally led to the
disruption of the Roman empire, and prepared the way for the armies of
Persia, and the conquest of Mahomet.


     The Catholic Epistles.

The Catholic Epistles, as they are called, if genuine, should be
regarded as of the highest authority in everything which relates to
the early age of Christianity. That some are the real productions of an
Apostle, some so in part, and others wholly spurious, is susceptible
of the most satisfactory proof. The epistle of James, and the first of
Peter, if we except certain parts of the latter, have strong claims to
be treated as the works of the writers whose names they bear; while
the second of Peter, the first, second, and third of John, and the one
ascribed to Jude, carry on their face unmistakable marks of forgery.

The writer of the first epistle of Peter was a Jew, not a Greek, and it
was addressed to Jewish converts. His mind dwells on events in Jewish
history, for he speaks of Sarah, Abraham, and Moses, and refers to the
traditions of the Jewish rabbins and elders. (1 Pet. i. 18.) Although
addressed to _strangers_, the epistle was meant for Jews, who, through
persecution in Judea, fled into foreign countries; for to Peter was
committed the ministry of the circumcision. (Gal. ii. 9.) Besides, the
persons to whom Peter writes _are styled "a chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation_, a peculiar people" (1 Peter ii. 9), which
can only apply to the Jewish nation. "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom
of priests, and a holy nation." (_Exodus_ xix. 6.)

The letter shows that Peter was still a Jew, and altogether proves
that he had not changed his views on circumcision. The vision on
the house-top had not yet taken place. But there is a spirit of pure
morality running through the greater part of the epistle, which brings
it near the time of Christ, and makes it out of place in a later period
of Christianity. It is conclusive proof of its canonical authority, that
it is inserted in the Syriac version of the New Testament, executed at
the close of the first or early in the second century; and it is equally
conclusive against the second of Peter, that it is not included in
the same work. Hermas has not fewer than seven allusions to the first
epistle, which is sufficient to prove its antiquity.

This epistle was also written before the order of Bishops was recognized
in the church, and Christians had not departed from their first simple
ideas of ecclesiastical government. Peter himself claimed to be nothing
more than elder. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also
_an elder_" (i Peter v. I.)

The place where the letter bears date corresponds with our ideas of the
movements of Peter, for his labors, whatever they may have been, were
confined to Asia, not far beyond the confines of Judea.

But if the first of Peter is in the main genuine, it did not escape
corruption at the hands of the poisoners of truth in the second century.
"Who verily was fore-ordained before _the foundation_ of the world, but
was manifest in these last times for you." (i Peter i. 20.) "Forasmuch
then as Christ hath suffered for us in the _flesh_, arm yourselves
likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the _flesh_
hath ceased from sin." (1 Peter iv. I.) When these verses were written,
Christianity had passed into its third period, for here is announced _a
Christ_ who was co-eternal with the Father, and was _incarnate_.

Most of the first chapter, if not all, is undoubtedly spurious. The
boastful spirit with which it commences; the doctrinal announcements,
and the tone in which they are delivered are entirely different from
that shown in the following chapters. It is written as something to be
used against an adversary, and, like all forgeries inserted into genuine
writings for such purposes, much is crowded into a small space.

In this chapter is declared the preexistence of Christ, or the
Alexandrian Logos; the resurrection; foreknowledge and election, and
sanctification--all disputed points in theology, which required the
authority of an Apostle to settle: but neither of which had anything to
do with Christ or the religion he taught. It will be noticed, that the
crucifixion is mentioned twice: once in connection with the twentieth
verse, which asserts the eternity of the Logos, and the other in
close connection with the second verse, which holds to the doctrine of
election. As the preexistence of Christ was no part of Christianity when
Peter wrote, which was, according to Lardner and others, in A.D. 64, but
belongs to a later period; and as the subject mentioned in the twentieth
and twenty-first verses is the same, and cannot be separated, it follows
that both are spurious.

So we would say of the mention of the resurrection in the third verse.
It is connected with a doctrinal point which had no existence in Peter's
time, and, if it had, was in dispute, and was inserted into this chapter
to give it Apostolic authority. The mention of the resurrection in
the twenty-first verse of the third chapter, holds also a suspicious
connection with the doctrine of baptism.

The true commencement of this epistle will be found in the first verse
of the second chapter. Here we discover quite a different spirit. Here
commence the plain, simple and pure doctrines of the Christian faith,
which in the end will secure the victory. Peter and James are each
examples to prove that a mind wedded to a single idea, which had for
ages entered into the religion of a people, may be contracted and
fettered by it, and yet be free to expand under the influence of the
true genius of Christianity, and become liberal on other subjects.
Neither Peter nor James could shake off the Jewish notion of
circumcision, for it began with the father of that people by the command
of God, and was to be binding on his descendants to the end of time.
With them, like all the laws of God, the law of circumcision was
unchangeable. But notwithstanding all this, they each had heart enough
to take in the great truths of Christianity as declared by the lips
of its founder. These men, who were slaves to one idea, who dogged the
footsteps of Paul because he taught the doctrine of the uncircumcision,
could yet teach men the duty to "love thy neighbor as thyself." (James
ii. 8.)

No two writings can be more unlike than the two epistles ascribed
to Peter. The second is filled with the boasting and controversial
bitterness of the times of the Gnostics. In the primitive churches the
authenticity of this epistle was a subject of doubt. It was not, as
stated, included in the Syriac version of the New Testament, which
cannot be accounted for, except that it was not in existence when it
was compiled, at the beginning of the second century. But the internal
evidence furnished by the epistle itself is sufficient to prove that it
never was written by Peter.

The following contains the spirit of Irenaeus when he speaks of his
intimacy with Polycarp: "And this voice which came from heaven _we
heard, when we were with him_ in the holy mount." (2 Peter i. 18.) "But
there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,
even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift
destruction." (2 Peter ii. 1.) "And through covetousness shall they with
feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time
lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (Chap. ii. 3.) "But
these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and _destroyed_, speak
evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish
in their own corruption.... Spots they are and blemishes, sporting
themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you." (Chap.
ii. 12, 13.) "For it had been better for them not to have known the way
of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy
commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according
to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and, The
sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." (Chap. ii. 21, 22.)
The letter is filled with all the venom and bitterness of the Gnostic

We have already said enough to prove the two epistles of John spurious,
and who it was that wrote them. "That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard\ which we have seen with our eyes, which we have
looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the
life was manifested, and we have seen it, and shew unto you that eternal
life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." (1 John i.
1, 2.) Iræneus, in a letter to Florinus, says, in speaking of Polycarp:
"Well, therefore, could I describe the very place in which the blessed
Polycarp sat and taught; his going out and coming in; the whole tenor of
his life; his personal appearance; the discourses which he made to the
people. How would he speak of the conversations which he had held with
John and others who had seen the Lord. How did he make mention of their
words, and whatsoever he had heard from them respecting the Lord." All
this he can say without a blush; although Polycarp never saw John, and
in all his letters, which are numerous, he never claims he did. He saw
Paul, but not John. The manner in which John is made to speak of Christ
is much the same as Irenaeus makes mention of Polycarp. Effect is meant
to be given to what was stated in both cases, by dwelling on details.

After having qualified himself as witness in this boastful spirit, he
proceeds to deal out blows on the heads of his adversaries: "He that
saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the
truth is not in him." (i John ii. 4.) "Who is a liar but he that denieth
that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father
and the Son." (Chap. ii. 22.) "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that confesseth
not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God." (Chap. iv.
2, 3.) Such is the spirit throughout the two epistles ascribed to John.
The Apostle is forced on the stage to make war on the Gnostics, and
maintain the dogma of the incarnation in the language of a blackguard.

The epistle of Jude is nothing but a bolt hurled at the head of Paul,
from the hand of one who assumed the name of an apostle.

What is said of the first epistle of Peter may be said of that which
is attributed to James. It was written by a Jew, for he says: "Was not
Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son
upon the altar?" (James ii. 21.) The text shows it was written during
the Pauline period of Christianity, and was the work of James, or some
one else, in reply to Paul, who claimed that faith without works were
sufficient for salvation. It makes no allusion to the disputed dogmas
of the second century, and like the first of Peter, breathes a spirit
of Christianity which approached near the time of Christ. The frequent
allusions to it by Hermas are in favor of an early date: it is included
in the Syriac version, which leaves its antiquity without question.

We cannot fail to be struck with the fact, that Peter and James, both
Jews, who were the disciples and companions of Christ, are free from
doctrinal dogmas, and preach doctrines like those of their Great
Teacher, full of charity, kindness, and love. It is only when we come
to the writings and forgeries of the Greek that we encounter subtle and
unintelligible dogmas, which involved men in endless disputes, excited
the most violent passions, and terminated in wars and disturbances of
all kind.

What is remarkable, too, neither of these Jewish writers makes any
reference to the Gospels, nor to the miracles or prodigies spoken of
in them; nor does either make mention of the miraculous conception and
birth of Christ. All these things sprang from the Greeks. To be sure,
Paul preached the resurrection; but he believed because he saw Christ
after the crucifixion, in a vision, James is silent on the greatest
event since the creation, of which, if true, he was a witness. The hand
of the spoiler failed to leave his mark on the pages of James the son
of Alpheus. Addressed to the "Twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,"
the epistle which bears his name had obtained too wide a circulation,
and was in the hands of too many, before the age of forgery commenced,
to be an easy subject for mutilation. It was written in Judea, and
addressed to the whole Jewish people. It was for them alone, and in
their special custody, and if it comes down to us without a spot or
stain, as it came from the pen of the writer, it is because it was too
well guarded and protected by its friends to admit of corruption. Why
did James withhold from the twelve tribes the great fact that Christ had
risen from the dead? He speaks of his cruel death; why not mention the
still more important fact, that he rose superior to the grave, and put
death under his feet? "Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he
doth not resist you." (James v. 6.)


     No Christians in Rome from A. D. 66 to A. D. 117.

From the death of Paul in A. D. 66, as we have before stated, to the
reign of Adrian in A. D. 117, Rome was without a Christian population.
Such is history when properly rendered. The course of Nero filled them
with horror, and at the time of his death Rome was deserted by them.
After he ceased to reign there followed the civil wars, the most fearful
in the annals of Rome. Galba, after all obstacles in his way to power
had been removed by the sword, entered the city through a scene of
blood, and men expected nothing less than the renewal of all the
cruelties of Nero's reign. (_Annals of Tacitus_, Appendix to book xvi.)
Then commenced the civil war between Vespasian and Vitellius, which was
the cause of untold misery to the Roman people. The city of Rome was
burned to the ground. "From the foundation of the city to that hour,
the Roman people had felt no calamity so deplorable, no disgrace so
humiliating." (__Tacitus, book iii. sec. 22.)

The condition of the times is truly depicted in the concise and eloquent
language of the author of the "Decline and Fall": "During fourscore years
(excepting only the short and doubtful respite by Vespasian's reign)
Rome groaned beneath an unrelenting tyranny which exterminated the
ancient families of the Republic, and was fatal to almost every virtue
and every talent that arose during that unhappy period." (Vol. I. page

Obscene rites alleged to be practised by Christians; their indifference
towards all who differed from them in their ideas on religion; their
isolation from the rest of mankind, had excited the hatred of the Pagan
world; so that in large cities, where the population was lawless and
difficult to restrain, they were liable to be attacked and torn to
pieces without notice and without provocation. All the evils which
befell the empire were referred to the Christians, and were regarded as
proof that the Roman people had, by tolerating them, incurred the
anger of heaven. Their presence was considered a curse upon the earth.
Tertullian exclaims: "If the Tiber rises against the walls of the city,
or the Nile does not overflow its banks; if there is a drought, or
earthquake, or famine, or pestilence, the cry at once is, Take the
Christians to the Lion." (_Apology_, chap, xl.)

It was this state of feeling that made it dangerous, especially during
the civil war, for Christians to remain in Rome. Domitian, the son of
Vespasian, commenced his reign in A. D. 81, and was assassinated in
A. D. 96. That we have no account of any Christians being put to death
under his reign is proof that they had not returned from the provinces.
It is the fashion with historians to allege great cruelty towards
Christians during this reign. We have searched for the evidence, but
have failed to find it. Suetonius lived during his reign; had personal
knowledge of many things he describes; gives the names of numerous
victims and their offences; mentions the cruelties inflicted on the
Jews; but does not even make use of the word Christian, or give the
name of any one who suffered on account of his religion. The cruelty of
Domitian spent itself on those who were guilty of political offences;
but the interested and partisan traditions of the second century delight
to make him a monster who took pleasure in shedding Christian blood. He
did not fail to persecute Christians because he had no inclination to
do so--for he punished what he called impiety to the gods with
severity--but because there was none in Rome during his reign to

     * See Appendix D.

Trajan succeeded to the empire in A. D. 98. During his reign, which
continued to A. D. 117, what proof there is on the subject tends to
show that Christians had not yet returned to the capital. So little did
Trajan know about them, that Pliny, in writing to him for advice as
to how he should deal with them, is compelled to describe to him their
doctrines, practices and forms of worship. Had there been any in Rome at
the time, there would have been no necessity for this; and besides, had
there been any there, the mode of treatment of them by the emperor would
afford a precedent for Pliny without calling for special instructions.
But we can affirm with confidence that no Christian dared live in Rome
during this reign, which continued for nineteen years, for the reason
that to be one during this time was a crime punishable by death.

In answer to Pliny's letter, in speaking of Christians, Trajan
writes: "If they be brought before you, and are convicted, let them be
_capitally_ punished, yet with this restriction, that if any one will
renounce Christianity and evince his sincerity by supplicating our gods,
however suspected he may be in the past, he shall obtain pardon for the
future on his repentance."

It is not at all astonishing that Pliny, in writing Trajan about his
mode of treating Christians, had to tell him who they were, and describe
the way in which they conducted themselves. From A.D. 64, when Tacitus
speaks of them in connection with the great fire, and their sufferings
at the time, no historian makes any mention of them, as dwellers in
Rome, to the end of the century. The obscure allusion to them by Juvenal
and Martial, in a satirical vein, relates solely to their conduct under
torture, inflicted by Nero at the time Rome was burned.

Suetonius, who was secretary to the Emperor Adrian, wrote the life and
times of the Emperors from Augustus to Domitian; and if we except the
doubtful allusion to them in the reign of Claudius, he does not even
make use of the word Christian, or speak of anything in connection with
them. During the time of which we have been speaking, lived and wrote
Quintilian, Juvenal, Statius, and Martial.


     The office of Bishop foreign to churches established by
     Paul, which were too poor and too few in number to support
     the order.--Third chapter of the second Epistle to Timothy,
     and the one to Titus, forgeries.--The writings of the
     Fathers corrupted.

Elders or Seniors, in ancient Jewish polity, were persons who were
selected on account of their age and experience to administer justice
among the people,--who also held the first rank in the synagogue as
presidents. The office of the Elder, with the Jews, commenced with
Moses, and was continued until after the days of the Apostles. They were
selected with reference to age and knowledge, without regard to anything
else. It is evident that the Apostles did not depart from the Jewish
form of church government, but adopted and continued it du ring their
lives. The epistle of James was written in A.D. 61. At that time the
church was governed by Elders.

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the Elders of the church; and
let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."
(James v. 14.) In A.D. 64, Peter was an Elder, for that is the date of
the first epistle which bears his name. "The _Elders_ which are among
you I exhort, who _am also an Elder_." (1 Peter vi. 1.)

We hear nothing of the office of Bishop until we enter the second age
of Christianity, when the Therapeutæ had taken possession of the church,
got the upper-hand of Paul and his followers, and introduced their
government of the Episcopacy. Did Paul institute a government for the
churches established by him, different from that of Peter and James?

Paul had no place for the office of Bishop in the churches which he
founded and organized. In all cases except one he addresses his epistles
to the church, and those that are sanctified in Christ. The letter to
the Romans is addressed, "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God." The
first to the Corinthians, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth;"
second Corinthians, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,
with all the saints which are in all Achaia;" Galatians, "And all the
brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia;" Ephesians,
"To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ
Jesus;" Thessalonians, "Unto the church of the Thessalonians, which
is in God." Only in one instance does Paul make any other or different
address. His epistle to the Philippians is addressed, "To all the saints
in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, _with the Bishops and Deacons_:"
a simple spurious addition to the forms of address in all other cases.

The letter to the Philippians was written in A. D. 62 or A. D. 63, when
Paul was in Rome. The epistle to the Thessalonians was written in A. D.
52, while he was in Corinth. For ten years Paul had been writing letters
to the different churches, and in his epistle to the Philippians he
uses the word Bishop for the first time. In this epistle the name of the
Bishop is not given, which is significant. The contents of this letter
show that there was no Bishop at Philippi at the time it was written.

When Paul was a prisoner in Rome the first time, the church at that
place sent Epaphroditus to visit him, with means to supply his wants.

Thankful for the remembrance in which he was held, he sent the letter
spoken of, and as some return for their kindness, he promised to send to
them Timothy. "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly
unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state."
(Phil. ii. 19.) "Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I
shall see how it will go with me," (Chap. ii. 23.) If there was a Bishop
in the church at Philippi, why not mention his name? or why send Timothy
to them at all to supply their spiritual wants?

How many members composed the church at Philippi to require the services
of a Bishop and deacons? Paul had been there once, and perhaps the
second time. He was called there for the first time by a vision; but he
soon got into trouble, and even into prison, and remained but a short
time. The author of the life of Paul (Renan) claims that he went into
Macedonia the second time, and remained about six months, from June
to November (page 261). The same writer says: "A country was reputed
evangelized when the name of Jesus was pronounced there and half a score
of persons had been converted. A church frequently contained no more
than twelve or fifteen members. Probably all the converts of St. Paul in
Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece did not exceed one thousand." Of this
number, in a note to the twenty-second chapter, he assigns two
hundred to the churches in Macedonia. As Paul had numerous churches in
Macedonia, we are safe to assign to the church at Philippi the one-half
of the whole number of his followers in that country. The first converts
to Christianity were from the poorer class of people, and were not able
to even support Paul, so that he had to maintain himself by manual labor
as a tent-maker. The question may well be asked, what necessity was
there for a Bishop and deacons at Philippi, and how were they to be
supported? Lucian, in his dialogue entitled Philopatris, while he no
doubt exaggerates the poverty and mean appearance of Paul's followers,
he at the same time throws much light on their true condition. He speaks
of them as "a set of tatterdemalions, almost naked, with fierce looks."
(Taylor's _Diegesis_, 376.) The truth is, all the churches which owe
their origin to Paul were so small and so poor, that their government
was of the most simple and economical kind. The first epistle of Paul to
Timothy is intended to settle the position and claims of a Bishop in
the church, and give the authority of Paul to the order. It is by such
obvious forgeries as this, and others we will produce, that we are
able to form any idea of the violence of the quarrels among the early
Christians, as to the rights or standing of a Bishop in the church.

What arouses suspicion, and at last convinces us, that the third chapter
of the first epistle to Timothy is a forgery, is that there is too much
on the subject of Bishops from Paul all at once. If the episcopate
form of government underlaid or was at the bottom of Paul's mode of
government, it surely would have come to the surface or made itself
known before it suddenly starts up in the first to Timothy; for he had
been engaged in building up churches for at least fifteen years before

It is characteristic of the forgeries of the second century, when they
are inserted into genuine writings, to make their appearance in the
form of boulders, very much condensed, but out of place. There is
nothing diffusible about them, and we never suspect their presence
until we stumble upon or over them. The way the subject of Bishops is
introduced, at once creates suspicion. "This is a true saying. If a man
desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good thing." It is intended
to convey the idea in the start, that the office had been long in
existence, and that the profits were such as to excite the cupidity of
men. The office of Bishop, in the time of Paul, even if such an office
had any existence, was not, as we have shown, a good thing, but the
opposite; but in the second century, when the forgery was perpetrated,
it was. Good critics have pronounced the whole of the first of Timothy
a forgery. The weight of the evidence is in favor of this belief. As to
the third chapter, there can be no question.

The effort to make it appear that Paul recognized the episcopate form
of church government is repeated in the epistle to Titus. It is to be
remarked that this effort is only made in the last epistles written by
him. The first of Timothy was written in A. D. 64; that to Titus in A.
D. 65. All the epistles between A. D. 52 and A. D. 62, have nothing to
say on the subject of Bishops. Those written between these two periods,
at Paul's death had obtained a wide circulation among all the churches
of Asia and Europe, which made it impossible for those who were engaged
in corrupting his writings to make changes that could be easily detected
and exposed. As long as he lived it could not be done. But the reverse
is true of those which were written just before his death. Besides, the
Therapeutæ element did not begin to work until A. D. 57, and had not
grown bold and strong enough to venture on the corruptions of Paul's
writings until some time after his death.

The inference that is meant to be drawn from parts of his epistle is
that Titus was a Bishop when Paul left him in Crete. Compared with
other countries where Paul had churches, Crete was comparatively
insignificant, and if Paul's converts in Europe and Asia did not exceed
one thousand, and we have no reason to think they did, what portion of
this number can we assign to the church at Crete, if there was one there
at all? Renan says, "A church frequently contained no more than twelve
or fifteen members." (_Life of Christ_, page 326.) Twelve or fifteen
Christians and not more, if that many, composed the church at Crete. Did
that number require the presence of a Bishop and elders?

The real truth of the matter is easily discovered. Paul, in A. D. 64,
made a visit to all the churches in company with Titus and others, and
stopped at Crete, which was the first time he was ever on the island, so
far as we have any proof on the subject. After making some few converts,
he left Titus to continue the work (_Titus_ i. 5), while he proceeded
west in the direction of Macedonia. The epistle to Titus was written
from Nicopolis in the summer or fall of A. D. 64, and says: "For this
cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things
that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed
thee." (Chap. i. 5.) That is, to organize churches and appoint the

Had this subject about church organization ceased at this point, there
would not be much to complain of, although the word "_ordain_" had no
place in the vocabulary of Paul. He ordained no one, after any form or
ceremony, nor did he pretend to impart to his followers any but his own
spirit and power.

In the seventh verse he proceeds to address Titus as Bishop, and to give
him advice. Titus was no Bishop when Paul left him in Crete, nor did he
hold any office, but was simply a fellow-laborer, like Luke, Mark, and
Timothy. The men of the second century would have it understood that
Paul was surrounded by a galaxy of Bishops. "For a bishop must be
blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not
given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre." (_Titus_ i. 7.)
Was it necessary to give such advice to "Titus, mine own son after the
common faith?" The forgery is a clumsy one because it is out of place,
and evidently inserted for a purpose. Titus was directed by Paul to
leave Crete and meet him in Nicopolis, where he meant to spend the

As has been stated, the only means we have of judging of the resistance
made to the claims of the Bishop is from the extravagance of these
demands, and the violence with which they are asserted. "Wherefore it
becomes you to run together, according to the will of your Bishop, even
as also ye do. For your renowned Presbyter, worthy of God, is fitted as
exactly to the Bishop as the strings are to the harp." (_Ignatius to the
Eph._, sec. 4.) "Let no man deceive himself: Except a man be _within the
altar_ he is deprived of the bread of life." (Ib., sec. 5.) "I exhort
you, that you study to do all things in a divine concord, your Bishop
presiding in _the place of God_," (_Ignatius to Magnesians_, sec. 6.)
"It is therefore necessary that you do nothing without your Bishop, even
as ye are wont. In like manner, let all reverence the Deacons _as Jesus
Christ_, and the _Bishops as the Father_; without these _there is no
church_. Wherefore guard yourselves against such persons: And that ye
will do, if ye are not puffed up, but continue inseparable from Jesus
Christ our God; and from your Bishop and from the commands of the
Apostles. He that is within the altar is pure. But he that is without,
is not pure. That is, he that doeth anything without the Bishop and
the Presbyters and Deacons is not pure in conscience." (_Ignatius to
Trallians_, secs. 2, 3, 7.) "But the Spirit spake, saying in this wise:
Do nothing without the Bishop; But God forgives all that repent, if
they return to the _unity of God and to the council of the bishop_"
(_Ignatius to Phil_., sec. 8.) "See that ye all follow your Bishop as
_Jesus Christ the Father_." (_Ignatius to Smyrnæus_, sec. 8.) "It is
good to have due regard both _to God and to the Bishop_." (Ib., sec. 9.)

These passages prove, that there was a party in the church that was
opposed to the order of Bishops, introduced by the Therapeutæ, and that
party no doubt were the followers of Paul. To silence them, the Epistles
of Paul and the writings of the fathers were filled with forgeries
and alterations so extravagant and obvious that they have defeated the
object in view.

It is hardly necessary to ask the question, where it was the Therapeutæ
form of government, by Bishops, was first organized. Alexandria seems to
have been the common mother of all that is new in religion. It is here
where have sprung up, in all ages, those subtle questions which have led
the minds of men from sense and reason to pursue mischievous phantoms.
We infer from the writings of Eusebius, and from other sources, that the
Therapeutæ Christians in Alexandria were numerous at an early date. The
letter of Adrian from Alexandria, in A. D. 134, is the first notice we
have of a church with a Bishop at its head. It was this letter that
led the author of the "Decline and Fall," after a careful survey of the
subject, with a penetration that nothing escaped, and an industry which
left no ground unexplored, to conclude that the first regular Christian
church government was instituted at Alexandria. If Christian churches
are not indebted to the Therapeutæ for their form of church government,
from what source do they derive it? _Not_ From the Jews; not from Paul;
not from the Apostles.


     Linus never Bishop of Rome.--Clement, third Bishop, and his
     successors to the time of Anicetus, myths.--Chronology of
     Eusebius exposed, also that of Irenæus.

At what time was Linus, said to be the successor of Peter, made Bishop
of Rome? The last trace we have of him, he was with Paul, in Rome, in
the fall of A. D. 65. After this we know nothing of him, except from
vague and more than doubtful tradition. According to Irenaeus, it was
when Peter and Paul were in Rome together, after they had laid the
foundation of the church at that place. Paul went to Rome for the first
time in A. D. 61, where he remained to the spring of A. D. 63. We have
shown that during this time Peter was not there. Paul remained absent
until the summer or fall of A. D. 65, and soon after his return was
committed to prison. In A. D. 64, Peter was in Babylon, two thousand
miles away. As Irenaeus is the founder of the story, and the only
authority in subsequent ages, when it was that Linus was appointed over
the church of Rome as the successor of Peter, it devolves on those who
pretend to believe him to show when it was that Peter and Paul were
together in Rome, laying the foundation of a church, or anything else.
This can never be done; and if not, it destroys the first link in the
Apostolic chain, and what is left is worthless.

The importance attached to Clement as the third Bishop of Rome will be a
sufficient excuse for a critical examination, as to who he was, when
he lived, and the position he occupied. The authority that Clement was
Bishop of Rome is the same we have in any other case for links to keep
up the Apostolic succession; for Irenaeus not only supplies an Apostle
from whom to start, but also the intermediate links in the chain, to
the time of authentic history. In this he finds great assistance in his
ready invention of traditions, which we are required to believe without
question, for fear of incurring the sin of unbelief, and subject
ourselves to being called slippery eels, trying to evade the truth. The
x following is his language: "The blessed Apostles, then, having founded
and built up the church, committed into the hands of Linus the office
of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the epistles to
Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place
from the Apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he
had seen the blessed Apostles, and had been conversant with them, might
be said to have the preaching of the Apostles still echoing (in his
ears), and their traditions before his eyes." (_Irenæus_, book iii.
chap. 3, sec. 3.)

It may be affirmed with confidence, that we know nothing of the person
who is called Clement, and made third Bishop in the Church of Rome. If
he had held the office at the time it is claimed he did--the latter part
of the first century--it would have been in the power of Irenaeus to
give us a full account of him: when he took the office, and when he
died; for if he had been a real character, there must have been persons
living, at the time Irenaeus flourished, who had seen and known him, so
that the historian had ample material to inform posterity of everything
which related to the life of the third Bishop. But he gives no
information--does not give a date--or the source from which he derives
his authority, but has left the world to grope in darkness ever since.
We have his word, and that is all.

It is impossible that a person should fill an office of importance in
the church in Rome, at the end of the first century, without leaving
some tangible evidence that he had once an existence; but Clement, like
a shadow, passes over the earth, without a single mark of any kind to
prove he ever lived. There is a dispute, as to when and how he died.
Some say he was banished into the Crimea by Trajan, and there suffered
martyrdom by drowning. Others that he died a peaceful death, A.D. 100.
There is nothing known about him, and for that reason, everything which
concerns him is variously stated. This could not be, had he been a real
character in history. It is only fictions of the brain that elude you,
when you attempt to grasp them.

We are not told when he first filled the office which it is claimed he
did. Eusebius states, that he succeeded Anacletus in the twelfth year of
Domitian's reign, A. D. 93. Cave, in his life of Clement, from the best
light he could get, adopted the conclusion of Dodwell, that he became
bishop about A. D. 64 or A. D. 65. The reason of this confusion is
readily explained. The Clement referred to by Paul has been made to fill
the place of an imaginary Clement at the end of the century--a person
who only existed in the brain of Irenaeus; and in trying to fix time
and dates, the real and imaginary Clement create confusion. Irenaeus has
purposely left the subject in darkness, as he does the time when Peter
went to Rome, and John to Asia. Dates are always fatal to falsehood
and misrepresentations. The real Clement is referred to by Paul in the
fourth chapter and third verse of the epistle to the Philip-pians, which
was written from Rome in A. D. 63. This is the only notice that is taken
of him, and he is made the third Bishop of Rome by Irenaeus, simply
because his name is found among others in one of Paul's epistles, as it
was in the case of Linus, who was made first. Who was it that wrote the
letter to the Corinthians ascribed to Clement? We cannot tell who wrote
all, but we can who did write a part. The address of this letter by a
person who, it is claimed, was at the time a Bishop, to a church outside
the city, which, it was said, appealed to him for advice, is the
first bold attempt, on the part of the See of Rome, to enforce an
acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Papal authority. Can any reason
be given why the church at Corinth, during the first century, should
appeal to Rome for advice on any subject? The church at Corinth was the
oldest, and after Paul's death knew of no higher authority than itself.
There are no signs of a church to which an appeal could be made to the
end of the century, except those manufactured by the aid of tradition,
which do not deserve to be mentioned when men mean to be serious.

This letter, like everything else suspicious, has no date. We can fix
the date with almost entire certainty to every letter written by Paul,
and there is no reason why a date should not be given to the one to the
Corinthians, except that there is something wrong about it, and a date
would expose the fraud. Archbishop Wake supposes it to have been written
soon after the termination of the persecution under Nero, between the
years A. D. 64 and A. D. 70, Lard-ner refers it to the year A. D.
96. (_Chevallier H. E. Introduction_.) The writer of this epistle
was careful to leave no internal evidence by which its date could be
determined, and what there is of that character is inserted apparently
to mislead or afford grounds for dispute.

We have a right to demand the letter of the Corinthians to Clement, to
which his is the answer; for it is more probable that a letter received
at Rome of so much importance would be preserved, than one sent away
into a distant country. We not only have not the letter, but we cannot
learn what it was about. There can be no doubt of the early date of the
letter, for it makes no allusion to the Gospels, and was written during
the lives of the first fathers of the church, such as Polycarp and
Ignatius. It has but little of the odor of the second century about it.

From all the light we can collect on this perplexing question, we would
say that the letter itself was written by some of the early fathers, and
made afterwards, with some alterations, to conform to the purposes for
which it was wanted--that is, the entering wedge of Papal supremacy. It
is evident that Irenaeus is attempting to make the Clement of Paul take
the place of a creature of his own creation, and thus impose upon the
world, as he did in the case of John and Mark.

In manipulating the letter he provided for Peter in Rome and Paul in the
Occident. In naming the successors to Clement, Irenaeus says: "To this
Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then,
sixth from the Apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him Telesphorus,
who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after
him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherus does now,
in the twelfth place from the Apostles, hold the inheritance of the
episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical
_tradition_ from the Apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come
down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the
same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the church from the
Apostles until now, and handed down _in truth_."

Including Linus and Anacletus, here are twelve _traditional_ bishops in
succession. Why traditional?

For the reason that most of them, and all, except the three last, are
not real or historical characters.

Commencing with Nero, about the time when the tradition commences, and
coming down to, and including Commodus, cotemporary with Eleutherus,
there are thirteen emperors, one more than the number of Bishops in
the same time, and history gives the time when each was born, when each
became a ruler, when each ceased to reign, the manner of his death,
and the qualities for which each was distinguished. It was an age of
chronology, when dates of important events were as carefully preserved
as in our own day; and yet Irenaeus has failed to give a single date
in connection with his twelve traditional Bishops. We do not even know
there was such a tradition, except that he says so, and we are very
certain that there was no church in Rome to preserve it, if there was.

This vagueness and uncertainty--where certainty, if the statements were
true, could be easily attained, but easily exposed, if false--must have
been used with great effect, by the philosophers of the third century,
against Christians, for it forced Eusebius to fix up dates for each of
these traditional bishops. He makes each appear in order, like so many
shadows, and he reminds us, as he goes through the roll, of the showman
in a panorama, who explains each figure as it takes its place on the
canvas. What Irenaeus dared not do in the second, Eusebius dared do in
the fourth century. On such subjects, his whole history proves, he had
no scruples; and he admits, indirectly, that he has related whatever
might redound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the
disgrace of religion.

It will be noticed that he gives no authority for his dates, for the
reason that he has none. Irenaeus could find none in the second century.
It is not probable Eusebius would be any better supplied in the fourth.
It is evident he went to work and divided the whole time in which it
is claimed the twelve Bishops lived, between them, so as to make each
appear at a given time, marked by the accession of the emperors who
reigned during the traditional era. We will give his statements as he
makes them himself:--

"After Vespasian had reigned about ten years, he was succeeded by his
son Titus; in the second year of whose reign, Linus, Bishop of the
church at Rome, who had held the office about twelve years, transferred
it to Anacletus." (Ecc. Hist., book iii. chap. 13.) "In the twelfth year
of the same reign, after Anacletus had been Bishop of Rome twelve years,
he was succeeded by Clement." (Ib., book iii. chap. 4.) "In the third
year of the above-mentioned reign (Trajan's), Clement, Bishop of Rome,
committed the episcopal charge to Euaristus, and departed this life,
after superintending of the divine word nine years." (Ib., book iii.
chap. 34.) "About the twelfth year of the reign of Trajan, Euaristus had
completed the eighth year as Bishop of Rome, and was succeeded in his
episcopal office by Alexander." (Ib., book iv. chap. 1.) "In the third
year of the same reign (Adrian's), Alexander, Bishop of Rome, died,
having completed the tenth year of his ministration. Xystus was his
successor." (Ib., book iv. chap. 4.) "And Adrian being now in the
twelfth year of his reign, Xystus, who had now completed the tenth year
of his episcopate, was succeeded by Telesphorus." (Id., book iv. chap.
5.) "The Emperor Adrian, having finished his mortal career after the
twenty-first year of his reign, is succeeded by Antoninus, called Pius,
in the government of the Romans. In the first year of this reign, and in
the eleventh year of his episcopate, Telesphorus departed this life, and
was succeeded in charge of the Roman church by Hyginus." (Ib., book iv.
chap. 10.) "Hyginus dying after the fourth year of his office, Pius
received the episcopate." (Ib., book iv. chap. 11.) "Pius dying at Rome
in the fifteenth year of his episcopate, the church was governed by
Anicetus." (Ib., book iv. chap. 11.) "It was in the eighth year of the
above-mentioned reign, to wit, that of Verus, that Anicetus, who held
the episcopate of Rome for eleven years, was succeeded by Soter." (3.,
book iv. chap. 19.) "Soter, Bishop of Rome, died after having held the
episcopate eight years. He was succeeded by Eleutherus." (Ib., book v.
Introduction.) "In the tenth year of the reign of Commodus, Eleutherus,
who had held the episcopate thirteen years, was succeeded by Victor."
(Ib., book v. chap. 22.)

We give a list of the emperors, and the time of accession of each to the
government of the Empire, commencing with Vespasian, coming down to the
time of Commodus:

[Illustration: Table of Emperors 278]

The following tabular statement shows the year in which each Bishop took
the office, according to the statement of Eusebius, and the number of
years which each held it:--

[Illustration: Table of Traditional Roman Bishops 279a]

[Illustration: Table of Traditional Roman Bishops 279a]

From A.D. 69, when Linus became Bishop, to the tenth year of Commodus,
when Victor succeeded Eleutherus, the true time is one hundred
and twenty-one years. The time, taking the period assigned to each
traditional Bishop, is one hundred and twenty-three years. In making a
dead calculation under the circumstances, while we would not expect to
find any gross mistakes, we would expect to discover enough to detect
the true character of the work, for truth can never be so skilfully
counterfeited, but that we can readily distinguish it from that which is
false and spurious. The difference between the skilful counterfeit and
the genuine bill is often slight, so much so that none but experts can
detect it; but it is this difference which termines its character.

If the time occupied by the Bishops had fallen short two years, we might
account for it on the principle of an interregnum; but where the time is
in excess, it is proof of a blunder or mistake, on the part of some one
who is engaged in a dishonest employment.

Clement became Bishop in A.D. 91, and filled the office for nine years.
This leaves his successor to take his place in A.D. 100, whereas he took
it in A.D. 101, one year after the office was vacant. Euaristus took the
office in A.D. 101, held it eight years, to A.D. 109; his successor
took his place in A.D. no, leaving a gap of one year. Telesphorus became
Bishop in A.D. 129, and served eleven years, which would leave the
office vacant in A.D. 140; but his successor takes it in A.D. 138, two
years before the death of his predecessor. Anicetus took the office in
A.D. 157, and served eleven years, to A.D. 168. His successor, Soter,
took the office in the eighth year of Verus, which would be A.D. 169.
Here is a clear gap of one year.

It was intended that the time assigned to the Bishops should correspond
with the true historic period, and be 121 instead of 123 years. There
are three years of vacancies, and a lap of two years in the case of
Telesphorus and Hyginus. If we deduct this lap, it will stand one
hundred and twenty-one, the true time.

Eusebius meant well and intended no offence to chronology, but
blundered, and in fixing twelve dates only makes four mistakes. During
a time when accuracy of dates is more important than at any other, there
seems to have been less care exercised than in the same space of time
in any period of history; and indeed, since the foundation of Rome, over
seven hundred years before Christ, to the end of the empire, there have
not been so many mistakes and contradictions as to dates which relate to
successive rulers, as during this period of one hundred and twenty-one
years. But such is the difference between true and genuine, and false
and spurious history.

Of the twelve traditional Bishops of Irenaeus, Telesphorus is selected
for the honors of martyrdom. No period in Roman history could have
been selected more unlikely and improbable for the death of a Christian
Bishop at Rome on account of his religion, than the reign of Antoninus
Pius. Not one drop of Christian blood was spilt in Rome during his reign
of twenty-three years. Not only was there no blood spilt in Rome, but
he forbade the persecution of Christians in the provinces by an express
edict. A modern writer, speaking of him, says: "Open to conviction,
uncorrupted by the vain and chimerical philosophy of the times, he was
desirous of doing justice to all mankind. Asia _propria_ was still the
scene of vital Christianity and cruel persecution. These Christians
applied to Antoninus, and complained of the many injuries they sustained
from the people of the country. Earthquakes, it seems, had lately
happened, and the pagans were much terrified, and ascribed them to the
vengeance of Heaven against Christians." (Milner, C. H., vol. I., page

Here follows the edict of the pious Emperor, addressed to the enemies
of the Christians: "As to the earthquakes which have happened in past
times, or lately, is it not proper to remind you of your own despondency
when they happened, and to desire you to compare your spirit with
theirs, and observe how serenely they confide in God? You live in
practical ignorance of the Supreme God himself--you harass and persecute
to death those who worship him, Concerning these same men, some others
of the provincials wrote to our divine Hadrian, to whom he returned
answer, that they should not be molested unless they appeared to attempt
something against the Roman government. Many also have signified to me
concerning these men, to whom I have returned an answer agreeable to the
maxims of my fathers. _But if any person will still persist in accusing
the Christians merely as such, let the accused be acquitted, though he
appear to be a Christian, and let the accusor be punished_." Set up at
Ephesus in the common assembly of Asia.

Is it possible that Telesphorus was put to death in Rome under the mild
and gentle reign of such a man?

If the persons who are named by Irenaeus as Bishops were real and not
fictitious, how is it that there was not something done or said by some
or all of them, so as to connect them with the events which transpired
during their lives? They lived, if they lived at all, during the most
eventful period of Roman history. It was during the period of the civil
war, when Rome was reduced to ashes--when the Jewish nation was almost
destroyed by the legions of Titus, Jerusalem rendered a desert place,
and the victorious armies of Trajan added Armenia, Mesopotamia, and
Assyria to the Empire. During a period of seventy years, filled with the
most exciting scenes and mighty events the world has ever known, we have
at least nine Bishops in Rome, whose presence is no more felt in the
history of the times, than so many men who were dead and quietly resting
in their graves. They do not even cast their shadows on the earth.

The first person on the list of these traditional Bishops who steps
forth into the light, so that we see something real and tangible, is
Anicetus. Hegisippus says, "After coming to Rome, I made my stay with
Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus." Taking the foregoing data as
correct, Anicetus held the office of Bishop about A. D. 157. If the
statement of Hegisippus is true, which we are inclined to believe, not
because he says so, but because it is probable, he is the first person
who had ever seen and talked with any of the traditional Bishops of
Irenaeus, and he is tenth in order of succession. But it is not until we
come to Eleutherus that we have a historic character, whose acts can be
traced and found in the history of the times. Here we part company with
spectres and deal with real life; but as we leave an age populated by
phantoms, we enter into another stained with forgeries and fraud.


     The prophetic period.--The fourteenth verse of the seventh
     chapter of Isaiah explained.

The claims of Christ to be the Logos or Son of God, in the Alexandrian
sense, are made manifest by prophecy and miracles. The Jews, influenced
by the prophets of their nation, believed that a deliverer would
some day appear, who would deliver them out of the hands of all their
enemies, and establish a temporal kingdom on the earth. But up to the
time when Christ appeared, and even to the present day, no one had shown
himself who realized their idea of this divine mission. The Christians
at the time of Christ believed that he was the one spoken of by the old
prophets, and that a spiritual deliverer, one who was to deliver men
from the power of Satan, had been mistaken for one who with temporal
power would rescue the Jewish people from the hands of their foes.

Barnabas, the companion of Paul, firmly believed this to be so, and took
pains to cite many texts from the Old Testament to prove it. He cites
numerous passages from Daniel, and all the prophets, and especially
searched the pages of Isaiah, where he claims to have found at least
sixteen different references made to Christ as the coming Saviour. But
in all his references to the prophecies he makes none to the celebrated
passage in the seventh chapter of Isaiah, on which is founded the
doctrine of the divine conception of Christ from a Virgin. He makes no
allusion to the fourteenth verse of the chapter at all, so that he was
ignorant of the very foundation on which the Christianity of the second
century was reared. Nor does Polycarp or Ignatius, except where their
writings have been clearly defaced by the forgeries of men, who wished
to establish the new ideas of the day by the authority of the fathers.

But when we come down to the second century, as far as the times of
Justin Martyr, we find pages in the writings of the day filled with a
new class of citations from the Old Testament, all of which foreshadow
the appearance of Christ, his birth from a virgin, and point him out as
the one foretold by the prophets. In his Apology to the emperor, Justin
Martyr quotes numerous passages from the Old and New Testaments to prove
the divine mission of Christ, and speaks of his miraculous conception
from the Virgin. (_Apology_, sec. 43)

We now enter a new era, filled with new ideas, and passages of Scripture
which before had been overlooked, but which all at once were discovered
to contain a meaning which concerned the eternal interests of mankind.
The Synoptics are now spread out before the world, and Christianity,
armed by the voice of the prophets of God, is prepared to make a
new start. One fact will appear clear as we approach the end of this
subject, that all the men who undertook to strengthen the cause of
Christianity by the application of prophecy to the person of Christ
were ignorant of Jewish history, and either wofully misunderstood the
language of the prophets, or foolishly attempted to pervert it.

There are four prophecies cited in the Gospel of Matthew from the Old
Testament, which it is claimed point out Christ as the one foretold by
the old Jewish prophets. 1st. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which
being interpreted is, God with us." (Matt. i. 23.) It must be borne in
mind, as has been before stated, that when the new idea of the Logos
was started, it was found necessary in some way to make Christ more than
mortal. To be the Son of God in the Alexandrian sense he must have God
for his father, and this could be only brought about through a virgin
overshadowed by his divine presence. In the zeal of these men, who
undertook to prove it, they selected a passage from Isaiah which had no
application to anything outside of the Jewish history of the day.

Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, united and made war on
Ahaz, king of Ju-dah, and marched upon Jerusalem. Ahaz became alarmed
at the combination, and feared the capture of the holy city and the
destruction of his kingdom. The Lord took compassion on him and his
people, and sent Isaiah to him with an order to meet him at the end of
the conduit of the upper pool, where he would inform him what would be
the fate of Judah and her enemies.

"Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and
Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in
the highway of the fuller's field; and say unto him, Take heed, and be
quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these
smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the
son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have
taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and
vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the
midst of it, even the son of Tabeal. Thus saith the Lord God, It shall
not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is
Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin: and within threescore and
five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the
head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son.
If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Moreover,
the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy
God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said,
I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now,
O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will
ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign:
behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the
evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse
the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be
forsaken of both her kings. The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy
people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from
the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria."
(_Isaiah_ vii. 3-17.)

The Lord told Ahaz not to fear or be fainthearted, and he undertook to
tell him how long it would be before Rezin and Pekah would be defeated
and driven away. In fixing the time, Isaiah indulges in a poetic
license, and purposely rendered it obscure. The language used expresses
this meaning: If a virgin should conceive from that time, the day when
the Lord spoke to Ahaz, the child would be born before his enemies would
be subdued or driven away; but not a great while before, for when they
were driven away, the child would still be so young as not to know how
to refuse the evil and choose the good. If the Lord did not tell Ahaz
in some way when his enemies would be subdued, then the object of the
interview entirely failed; for that was just what Ahaz wanted to know,
and which the Lord promised to disclose to him. Be not faint-hearted,
neither be afraid, for in such a time your deliverance shall come. If
the Lord wished to inform him that he would be delivered from Rezin and
Pekah, after the Messiah spoken of in the Scriptures should come, which
happened seven hundred years later, he would know no more after, than
he did before he conversed with the Lord. The Lord did not tell him the
precise day, but furnished Ahaz the data by which he might make his own

A very simple answer is purposely obscured by connecting some things
with it which have a remote bearing on the subject, and others which
have no connection with it at all. "Butter and honey shall he eat,
that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good," is an obscure
allusion to the age of the child: and his name shall be called Immanuel,
is of no significance, for he might as well be called by any other name.
When we first read the passage, we see nothing distinct: all is in a
kind of penumbra; but after looking for a short time, as in a curiously
shaded picture, an image, an idea, shows or appears on the ground-work,
well marked and defined.

The explanation we have given of the passage from Isaiah is justified
and made apparent by the language used in the first, second, and third
verses of the eighth chapter of this prophet. It seems the Lord wished
to prove to Ahaz, by actual demonstration, that what he promised should
be fulfilled to the letter. The prophet says, he took with him two
faithful witnesses and went in to the prophetess (who was the virgin)
and she conceived and bare a son. Then when the son was born, the Lord
said to the prophet, that before the child could pronounce the name of
father or mother, "the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall
be taken away before the king of Assyria." Tiglath Pileser, king of
the Assyrians, did come to the aid of Ahaz, and made war on the
Syrians--laid their country waste--took Damascus, and slew Rezin. He
afflicted the land of Israel, and carried the people away captives.
(Josephus, _Antiq_., book ix. chap. 12, sec. 3.) All this too within the
time promised Ahaz, according to Isaiah.

The mystical language used by Isaiah in the fourteenth verse of the
seventh chapter, which has been the cause of so much speculation and
false interpretation, springs from the poetic element of the Hebrew
mind. Had Isaiah lived in our day, his sublime genius would have
produced a Paradise Lost; but in his own country, and in his own times,
his imagination dwelt upon ideas and thoughts which had their root in
the hearts of the Jewish people. The Hebrew poets found subjects within
the history of their own nation best suited to arouse their genius, and
move the hearts of the people. The sorrows and afflictions brought on
the nation by her enemies, and her final deliverance by the hand of the
Lord, are favorite themes, and inspire her poets with thoughts full of
tenderness, and with denunciations which are sublime and often terrific.
The harp of Zion in the hands of the daughters of Judah, as they weep
by the waters of Babylon, gives forth no sounds but those of sorrow; but
the genius of her prophets, inspired by a consciousness that a time
of deliverance will come, deals out thunderbolts on the heads of their

What are called the prophecies of Isaiah are nothing more, many of them,
than so many epic poems, like the Iliad of Homer, to celebrate scenes
and real occurrences in Jewish history. The war upon Ahaz, king of
Judah, by Rezin and Pekah, kings of Israel and Syria, took place during
the life of Isaiah: and the poet undertakes to commemorate the history
of the times, in the form of a Jewish epic. He speaks of the past, and
not of things to come. The Jews were taught to believe that their nation
was the favorite people of God, and from the time of Moses to the last
of her prophets, her poets did not hesitate to introduce the Lord, and
cause him to take part in a Jewish epic, any more than Homer hesitated
to introduce Jupiter and all the heathen gods into the story of the
Iliad. The meeting of the Lord and Ahaz at the "end of conduit of the
upper field," and what afterwards takes place, is the poetic license of
the poet, as he undertakes to narrate a portion of the history of his
own time.


     Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, as foretold by the
     prophets.--Cyrus, the deliverer and ruler referred to by
     Micah the prophet.--The Lamentations of Jeremiah spoken of
     by Matthew (Chap. ii. 18), refers to the Jews, and not to
     the massacre of the infants by Herod.

When Herod inquired of the wise men where Christ should be born, they
said unto him, "In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the
prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least
among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that
shall rule my people Israel." (_Matt_. ii. 5, 6.)

The passage is taken from the prophet Micah, who was a cotemporary with
Jeremiah, and prophesied under the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,
kings of Judah. He lived during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the great
enemy of the Jewish nation, and witnessed a large share of the miseries
he inflicted upon that people. We would infer from the first verse of
the fifth chapter, that his book was written at a time when the armies
of the king of Babylon were encamped around the walls of Jerusalem.

"Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: _he hath laid siege
against us_; they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the
cheek." Looking forward to the time when the Jewish people will be
delivered from the power of Nebuchadnezzar and the Assyrian nation,
and of their conquest by some other power, the prophet, aroused by a
prophetic spirit, announces that the time is coming when Israel shall
again be free: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little
among the thousands of Judah, yet opt of thee shall he come forth unto
me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of
old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time
that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his
brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand
and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the
Lord his God; and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the
ends of the earth." (_Micah_ v. 2, 3, 4.)

In the tenth verse of the fourth chapter, the captivity of the Jews, and
their transportation to Babylon, is distinctly announced, and they are
told that while in the hands of the Assyrians, they shall be as a woman
in travail; but that, like her, they should in time be delivered from
suffering. The third verse of the fifth chapter declares that God will
not interfere in the mean time, and that they must wait for deliverance,
and submit to their sufferings, as unavoidable as in the case of the
woman; that at the appointed time a deliverer would come, who would save
and bring back a remnant of the people, who shall grow powerful and "be
great to the ends of the earth."

Now it is deliverance from Assyrian captivity that is referred to, and
it is to violate the fitness of time, place, history, and the state of
the Jews to apply it to anything else. Amidst the awful fate impending
over the Jewish people, they wanted something to encourage and sustain
them; and the prophet undertook to do so, by a promise, that in time
their captivity should cease, and they be allowed to return to their own

But deliverance is to come from Bethlehem Ephratah--words which
sufficiently indicate from what quarter the deliverer was to come; and
to give a false direction the word Ephratah is omitted in the text in
Matthew. Bethlehem in Judea is surely not intended, but the country
watered by the river Euphrates. A little poetic license to create
obscurity--a peculiarity of the Jewish prophets--does not at all render
the meaning doubtful. Cyrus was king of all the country watered by the
Euphrates; and the Assyrian empire ceased to exist when he restored
the Jews to their own country. Cyrus was a ruler in Israel. He took
the direction of their affairs, ordered the temple to be rebuilt, and
directed how the means were to be provided to pay the expense. (Letter
of Cyrus to Sisinnes and Sathrabouzanes. Josephus, Antiq., book xi.
chap. 1, sec. 3.) Cyrus is the ruler alluded to, and not Christ. The
deliverer was to be at the head of a very ancient people--the Medes and
Persians--who "have been from old--from everlasting." When did Christ
rule over Israel? Never.

That Jesus lived at Nazareth until he grew to be a young man could not
be disputed, and no doubt the fact was stated in the Hebrew Gospel of
Matthew. He might live there, but he must be born in Bethlehem, and some
excuse must be had to get Mary there at the precise time when his birth
took place. The device of the tax to take her there at the time is weak
and puerile, and proves that those who got it up were neither wise nor
learned. Matthew barely alludes to Bethlehem as the place of Christ's
birth. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of
Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem."
Luke is more specific. "And it came to pass in those days that there
went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be
taxed." (_Luke_ ii. 1.) "And all went to be taxed, every one into his
own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of
Nazareth, into Judea, into the city of David, which is called Bethlehem
(because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with
Mary his espoused wife, being great with child." (Luke ii. 3, 4, 5.)

The Jews were taxed at the place where their property, real or personal,
was at the time of taxing, and not where their ancestors happened to be
born. A law or decree of the kind mentioned would involve a movement of
almost the entire population of Judea, and for no reason, unless it was
to give the people a chance to defraud the tax-gatherer by concealing
their effects.

The Cyrenius mentioned was sent out by Cæsar "to be a judge of that
nation (the Jews) and take an account of their substance." (Josephus,
_Antiq_., book xviii. chap. 1, sec. I.) It would not be necessary
for Joseph to go to Bethlehem, seventy-five miles away, where he had
nothing, to give an account of his substance, when all he had was in
Nazareth. Besides, Judea was at this time under the government of Rome,
and if there ever had been a law among the Jews requiring each one of
them to go to his native city to be taxed, the Romans could not have
any object in enforcing it. Admit that Joseph was required to go to
Bethlehem because David was born there several hundred years before, to
be taxed: why was it necessary for Mary to go with him? He was to give
to the Roman officer "an account of his substance:" and did this require
the presence of Mary?

The writer of Luke fixes the time when this tax was to be levied. It
was when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. Now this Cyrenius, according to
Josephus, was a Roman senator, who was sent to Judea "to take an account
of the substance of the people," as a basis of taxation. This was after
Archelaus, the son of Herod, had been deposed, and ten years after
the death of Herod. Christ was ten years old when Cyrenius was made
Governor, so that the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem was ten
years before the decree to tax was made. The following are the words of
Josephus: "Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through
other magistracies and had passed through them till he had been Consul,
and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this
time into Syria, with a few others sent by Cæsar, to be a judge of
that nation, _and to take an account of their substance_." (Josephus,
_Antiq_., book xviii. chap. I, sec. I.)

Had the writer of Matthew known anything of Jewish history, he never
would have made so gross a blunder, and saved the immense amount of
labor that it has taken to explain away the effects of his ignorance.
One explanation of this mistake is, that there were two assessments--one
about the time Jesus was born, and the other ten years after. The first
has been proven to be a forgery, and was never made. (Renan's _Life of
Christ_, chap. I. See note.) "In Ramah was there a voice of lamentation
and weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and
would not be comforted." This, it is claimed, referred to the cruelties
of Herod, to escape from which Joseph and Christ were forced to fly into
Egypt; so that his subsequent return to Nazareth would answer to the
prophecy, which says, "_Behold, from Egypt I have called my Son_."
In the first place, the story of Herod's cruelties in the case of the
infants is an invention, without the least claim to truth, and was a
lame excuse, as we have just stated, to get Christ into Egypt. "Then
Herod, when he saw he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth,
and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem and in
all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the
time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." A very short
time, not more than two or three days, elapsed after the birth of
Christ, when Herod, not hearing from the wise men, gave the command for
the wholesale murder of the infants. It was certainly giving Herod more
credit for cruelty than was necessary, even on that occasion, for as
Christ was only a few days old when the order was given, it was useless
murder to include all under two years: ninety-five per cent, of the
infants might as well have been spared as not.

It is a matter of surprise that Josephus, the Jewish historian, who
suffers nothing deserving notice to escape his pen, has made no mention
of a fact which, if true, would have filled Bethlehem and the country
round about it with mourning. He could afford to make mention of the
quarrels in Herod's family; but not one word to say about the wholesale
slaughter of the infants. The story is so absurd, so easily exposed, and
of no possible use, that it is omitted in Mark, Luke, and John.

But if the story is true, what has it to do with the troubles of Rachel?
The passage from Jeremiah refers to a time in the history of the Jews
when Jerusalem was taken and held by the Assyrians, and a great number
of that people had taken refuge in Egypt. The Jews were undergoing
great afflictions, and God, through Jeremiah, undertakes to console and
comfort them. The Lord, in plain language, says: I know that there is
great suffering in Ramah--much lamentation and bitter weeping. Israel
has lost many of her children, and she suffers great sorrow and grief.
"Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, for thy work shall
be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land
of the enemy." (_Jeremiah_ xxxi. 15, 16.) What has this to do with the
cruelty of Herod?

We have stated that the massacre of the infants was an invention to
form an excuse to get Jesus into Egypt; for his return from that country
would serve to prove that he was the one referred to when the Lord is
made to say, "Out of Egypt I have called my son." Here, we confess, we
are at a loss to express our astonishment. In the eleventh chapter of
Hosea, the Lord complains of the ingratitude of the Jewish nation, and
reminds them what he had done for them in times past. He expresses the
love he had for them when the nation was young, and required the power
of his arm to protect them. "_When Israel was a child, then I loved him,
and called my son out of Egypt_" (_Hosea_. 1.) It need not be said, that
this refers to the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of Pharaoh.
Israel is the son spoken of who had _already_ passed out of Egypt. "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_."
(_Matthew_ ii. 23.) There is no such prophecy to be found in the Old


     Christ and John the Baptist

"THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is
written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the
wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
(_Mark_ i. 1,2, 3.) As in Matthew, at the very outset, the second Gospel
starts out to show that Christ is the one foretold by the prophets, and
that a direct reference is made to him by Isaiah, as one who was to
be preceded by another who was to prepare the way for his advent.
Cotemporaneous history, and a critical examination of the words of the
prophet, will dispel the delusion.

Hezekiah, king of Judea, was improvident enough to show to the son of
the king of Babylon, then on a visit to him, all his treasures, and
riches of every description; and "there was nothing in his house, nor in
all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed him not." When Isaiah was told by
the king himself what he had done, the prophet spoke and said: "Hear the
word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in
thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this
day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.
And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget,
shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the
king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the
Lord which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace
and truth in my days." (_Isaiah_ xxxix. S, 6, 7, 8.) The Babylonian
captivity-is here referred to.

Isaiah then proceeds to declare that after great suffering, in their
servitude under the Assyrians, the Lord would deliver the Jewish people,
and that they should again be a great and prosperous nation. "Comfort
ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double
for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway
for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill
shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough
places plain." (_Isaiah_ xl. 1,2, 3, 4.)

With what tenderness the prophet speaks to his countrymen, to assure
them that their captivity will not last forever! Divested of poetical
language and figures, the Lord says: In your lost condition in slavery
("wilderness") you shall hear the voice of the Lord to comfort you. Be
prepared, for he will provide the means ("highway") for your deliverance
from captivity. The words wilderness, desert, and highway are symbolical
terms, representing the lost condition of the Jews and the promise made
by the Lord, that he would provide means for their deliverance from
their enemies. What follows, holds forth to the Jews a glorious future.
"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be
made low." That is, the down-trodden and oppressed children of Israel
shall once more take the stand of an independent nation; and the proud
and lofty Assyrian shall in his turn be humbled, and come under the yoke
of the conqueror. The idea which underlies the language of the prophet
is, that the Jews will be ultimately restored to their own country, and
again become a prosperous people; and as is characteristic of all these
Jewish prophecies, the expressions, "and the crooked shall be made
straight, and the rough places plain," are mere expletives, to obscure
the sense, and increase the ambiguity. Like the oracles of Greece, a
simple idea is concealed beneath figures and metaphors, and the mind
distracted by the introduction of thoughts that have no meaning, and no
connection with the subject.

Josephus, after giving a full account of this prophecy from Isaiah says,
it was subsequently fulfilled in the captivity and restoration of the
Jews, and that when he wrote, the words of the prophet had passed into
history. (_Antiq_., book x. chap. 2, sec. 2.) The Lord, by the prophet,
is addressing the Jews of that day about matters which directly
concerned them, and what was said had no more to do with John the
Baptist preaching on the Jordan, in the neighborhood of the Arabian
desert, than it had with the travels of Livingstone over the sands of
Africa. The John referred to in Mark is a historic character, and all we
know about him we learn through Josephus.

In his day he was a reformer. Shocked at the low condition of the
Jews, who had reached the lowest deep in crimes and vices of all kinds,
through the corruption of the priesthood, and tyranny of their civil
Governors, he undertook to reform abuses, and elevate the moral standard
of the nation. Standing on the banks of the Jordan, crowds from the
surrounding country came to hear him denounce the sins of the people,
and be baptized. He preached repentance, and those who did repent he
purified with the mystic waters of the Jordan.

In the time of John, the Jewish people had become restive, and chafed
under the government of Rome. The elements of rebellion were then at
work, which, a few years later, led to open revolt, and the total
ruin of the nation. While the Jews overran with discontent, the Roman
Governors were filled with suspicion. Herod took alarm at the course
of John, and caused him to be seized and confined in the castle of
Macherus, situated on the borders of the desert, where he was afterwards
put to death. All that is known of him is found in the following extract
from Josephus:

"Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came
from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against
John, that was called the _Baptist_; for Herod slew him, who was a good
man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness
towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism;
for that washing [with water] would be acceptable to him if they made
use of it, not in order to the putting away [or remission] of some sins
[only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the
soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when
[many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved
[or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great
influence John had over the people might put it into his power and
inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything
he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent
any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties,
by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too
late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious
temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to
death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was
sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure against
him." (Josephus, _Antiq_., book xviii. chap. 5, sec. 2.)

It was this passage, and the one from Isaiah, "The voice of him
that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord," that
suggested the story of Christ coming from Galilee to the Jordan to be
baptized by John, and the scenes that followed. As Josephus, in the
passage just quoted, speaks of what John was doing on the Jordan, and
what occurred there, it is strange he takes no notice of the wonderful
things which took place at the time Christ was baptized, as described in
Matthew. But, as we have shown, the prophecy of Isaiah has nothing to do
with John the Baptist.

The story that the life of John was the price paid for a jig danced
before Herod, is not only false and absurd, but in one sense impossible.
Herod was a Roman officer, and received his appointment from Rome. As
the Governor of a province, he acted under, and was governed by law.
To take life without sufficient cause, from mere wantonness or caprice,
subjected him to punishment and removal from office. Herod might put
John to death as a promoter of sedition, but not to gratify the spite
of a woman who had been accused of incest. Pilate dared not deliver
over Christ to be crucified, until after he was charged by the Jews with
conspiring against the government of Cæsar. His claim to be king of the
Jews, which was made a charge against him, was the warrant which Pilate
had to surrender him to a merciless mob, which would not be satisfied
with anything less than his blood. The author of Matthew, it is clear,
was ignorant of the topography of Judea, the history of the Jews, and
knew nothing of the fundamental principles of the Roman law.


     The miracle of the cloven tongues.--Misapplication of a
     prophecy of Joel.

In the Acts of the Apostles, a passage from Joel the prophet is spoken
of by Peter, as foretelling what is called the miracle of tongues: At
the end of forty days Christ appeared to his disciples at Jerusalem, and
being assembled together with them, they were commanded not to depart
from Jerusalem until certain things should take place. Now the writer
of the Acts forgot what he said in his Gospel, if he wrote both, for he
there tells us that Christ ascended the day of his resurrection, or at
most, the day after. Taking what we can glean from the four Gospels, and
taking the probabilities of the case into the account, the disciples,
a very short time after the death of Jesus, returned to Galilee. The
public mind was greatly moved against Jesus, which was more or less
directed against his followers, and as none of them were remarkable
for courage, it is hardly probable that they would tarry in Jerusalem,
especially as there was nothing to keep them. But according to the
writer in Luke, at the end of the forty days they were still in the
city, and were commanded not to leave until certain things took place.

He next says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were
all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from
heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where
they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as
of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the
Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave
them utterance." (_Acts_ ii. 1, 2, 3, 4.)

This is something truly wonderful, and we are astonished that so strange
and important an event has found no place in history--especially as
a report of it must have been circulated far and wide, for the writer
says, that "there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews out of every nation
under heaven," who came to see for themselves. The writer includes other
people besides Jews from every nation, and says: "Now when this was
noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded;"
and among these were "Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the dwellers
in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia"--people from "Phrygia,
Pamphylia, Cretans and Arabians"--and all heard spoken the language of
their native countries.

Josephus lived not long after this time, and if he did not reside
in Jerusalem, he must have been often in the Jewish capital, and if
anything so wonderful as this had taken place, he certainly must have
heard of it, and it was not possible for him to forget it when he came
to write his history, especially as things of no comparative importance
are fully noted by him.

These things are so wonderful, that it is necessary to explain them by
the direct action of the Deity, in fulfilment of prophecy. The writer
has Peter make a speech, and Peter tells the crowd that they need not
be surprised, for what had just happened had all been foretold, and was
nothing more than the fulfilment of a prophecy of Joel, who said: "And
it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour put my
Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream
dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaids I will pour out in those
days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in
heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and
vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into
blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come." (_Acts_ ii.
17, 18, 19, 20.)

All this has nothing more to do with, or has no more reference to, the
miracle of the cloven tongues than it has to the assassination of Julius
Cæsar in the Roman Senate. The Jews, at the time referred to by Joel,
were suffering under great afflictions. There had been a most severe
drought, and the land had been devoured by the locust, the canker-worms
and caterpillar. As all calamities which befell the Jewish people were
referred by them to the displeasure of God on account of their sins,
Joel exhorts them to repent, and promises, if they do, the Lord will
come to the rescue. "Then will the Lord be zealous for his land and
pity the people. He will send down rain, and the floors shall be full of
wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will
restore to you the years that the locust had eaten, the cancer-worm and
caterpillar and palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you. And
you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the
Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you. And ye shall know
that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and
none else: and my people shall never be ashamed."

Now follows what Peter was made to say was the prophecy which foretold
the miracle of the cloven tongues. "And it shall come to pass afterwards
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your
young men shall see visions." Which means, I will pour out my blessings
("Spirit") on all flesh, including the servants and handmaids--they
shall be universal, and not confined to any class. Then all the young
and the old shall rejoice and be happy. Their happiness shall be of
the most exalted kind, unalloyed with care, like delightful dreams and
visions. As the prophet had said in the beginning of this chapter: "Blow
ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all
the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for
it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds
and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great
people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be
any more after it, even to the years of many generations." (_Joel_ ii.
1, 2.)

Referring to this terrible calamity which was to come, that the fear of
it _might not interrupt this general state of happiness_ which is spoken
of, the Lord tells the people that he will give them timely notice, that
they may be prepared: "And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the
earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned
into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the
terrible day of the Lord come."

(_Joel_ ii. 30, 31.) There could not be a state of universal joy among
the people, such as is described, as long as the "great and terrible day
of the Lord" might overtake them any moment. There could be no happiness
where there was constant fear. The Lord promised that a timely warning
should be given. Now what has this beautiful and sublime poem to do with
the miracle of the cloven tongues?



It is in vain to deny the truth of a miracle on the ground that it is
impossible, and contravenes the well-established laws of the universe.
The power to create, implies the power to suspend; and as the
performance of a miracle is the exercise of creative energy, it is
just as easy to exercise it in one case as another. All efforts to
demonstrate the impossibility of miracles have failed even in the hands
of such men as Hume, because men reason on such subjects in a circle.
Still it would be strange if there was no way to expose a false miracle,
especially where the results claimed from it are calculated to lead men
into error. When some unusual and extraordinary event which amounts to
a miracle is said to have occurred one hundred years ago, at a time when
intelligent and inquisitive minds were around, and no notice is taken of
it by them in giving an account of their own times, nor by any one else,
it is safe to conclude that it never did take place, and that those who
assert it for the first time at the end of the hundred years are engaged
in an attempt to impose some fraud on their fellow-men.

From the death of Christ, A.D. 33, to some time near A.D. 140, we claim
that no writer of profane or church history makes mention or speaks of
the miracles described in the first three Gospels, and not those of the
fourth until long afterwards. It is by negative testimony alone that we
can arrive at the truth. In the first place, did the great Apostle of
the Gentiles perform the miracles that are ascribed to him in the Acts?
It is stated that at Lystra he cured a man who had been crippled from
his birth by his simple word; he exorcised the evil spirit that was in
Lydia; he raised Eutychus, who had fallen from a window; cast from
his hand, unhurt, the deadly viper; and such miraculous powers did he
possess, "that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or
aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went
out of them." (_Acts_ xix. 12.)

Paul, in his epistles, does not mention or refer to any of these
wonderful things, and does any man suppose, if true, he would fail to
make some allusion to them? He neither mentions the miracles ascribed
to himself, nor those described in the four Gospels. Perhaps he did not
disbelieve in the possibility of miracles, for such belief was common
to the age; but to believe them possible, and believe that one has been
performed, is another thing. "Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought
among you in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds."
(2 _Cor_. xii. 12.) The signs and wonders here spoken of were made
to appear to the Corinthians alone, and have no reference to miracles
described in the New Testament, nor do we know what they were, for no
notice of them is taken in the Acts. In the 18th chapter and 9th verse,
he says that he had a vision which told him not to be afraid to speak,
and not hold his peace. The "mighty deeds" refers to his works as
an Apostle, and the "signs and wonders" rather to the fruits of his
preaching than to any display of miraculous power.

Had Paul possessed the power attributed to him in the Acts, it would
have been easier for him to have converted the world than to make the
few converts he made after the labor of a life. There were those living
who in the course of nature might have seen Lazarus, or heard of his
resurrection, and had it been in the power of Paul to have cited his
case, or any of the miraculous cures claimed for Christ or any of his
disciples, the conversion of mankind would have been as rapid as the
movements of the earth. Every pagan temple and altar would have been
deserted, and their priests have fallen prostrate at the feet of Paul.
A few pretended miracles and revelations on the part of Mahomet
established his claim to be the prophet of God, and were the means,
backed by the scimitar, of fixing the faith of millions. Paul is
silent on the subject of the miracles. Barnabas was a companion and
fellow-preacher with Paul.

No document extant to-day which relates to the Apostolic age is entitled
to more, if as much confidence and credit, as the epistle which bears
his name. For some reason, it bears less evidence on its face of
fraudulent manipulation than any other writing of that time, and it is
this evidence of its purity which excludes it from the list of canonical
Gospels this day. It has been referred to by a long list of fathers,
commencing with Origen, and coming down to writers of our day, as the
genuine production of the companion of the great Apostle. No one, not
even the Apostles themselves, had more faith in Christ than he, and it
seems to be the burden of his epistle to prove that he was the Saviour
who had been foretold by the prophets, and whom the Jews were anxiously
expecting. Had Christ, in his ministry among men, done or performed any
act out of the course of nature which proved him superior to other
men in his power over the laws of nature--anything like command over
diseases, sickness, to say nothing of death--Barnabas would not have
failed to dwell upon everything of the kind with energy and zeal,
because such powers would establish what he aimed to prove: that is,
that Christ was the one spoken of by the prophets. But, while he makes
the most labored application of the prophecies to Christ, he makes no
allusion to any wonderful work he performed while he was on the earth.
He has not one word to say on the subject of the miracles ascribed to
Christ in the Gospels.

Much may be inferred from the silence of Apollos on the subject of
miracles. The intercourse between the Jews at Alexandria and Judea was
constant. Nothing of importance could occur in Jerusalem without its
being known in a short time on the banks of the Nile. The history of
John the Baptist, the works he did at the Jordan, and the manner of his
death, were all known to Apollos from some source, before Josephus wrote
his history of the Jews; but it seems he had never heard of Christ or
any of his wonderful works. (_Acts_ xviii.) After his conversion he
taught that Christ was the one expected by the Jews, and he undertook to
prove it by the prophecies in the Old Testament. It would have been far
easier to establish this by the mention of the one-half the miracles
ascribed to Christ in the Gospels than by arguments drawn from prophecy,
which were vague, obscure, and doubtful. But he had never heard of the
resurrection of Lazarus, nor of the miracles of the loaves and fishes,
nor of the wonderful things that happened to the swine in the country of
the Gadarenes.

There are now extant, writings which learned men refer to the Apostolic
age, which have no value except as they may throw some light on the age
in which they were written. We may mention the epistle of Paul to the
Laodiceans; the epistles of Paul to Seneca, with Seneca's to Paul, and
the Acts Paul and Thecla. In none of these writings is any mention made
of the miracles of Paul, or those of the New Testament, and the silence
of such works is only of consequence as it shows the universal ignorance
of antiquity, or the Apostolic age, on the subject; for it is not to be
supposed that those things which were standing themes for discourses and
books in the second century, would be unnoticed in the first, if they
did exist, as well at one time as the other. How can we account for
the silence of the fathers of the church on this subject? Ignatius and
Polycarp were so near to the time of Paul and the disciples, and even
Christ, that nothing which concerned any one of them was unknown, and if
the miracles ascribed to them had been real occurrences, nothing could
be more effective in the hands of these fathers for the spread of the
religion of Christianity.

But there is not only no mention by any one of them of the miracles,
but the Gospels have not yet appeared. Up to the beginning of the first
century, there is no mention or reference made in any writing, either to
the Gospels, or the miracles they describe. Allusions are made in some
cases to the Scriptures, in the most general terms; and as the Old
Testament writings were called Scriptures, and there was the Hebrew
Gospel of Matthew, and the epistles of Barnabas, James, Peter, and Paul,
to which the term Scripture might apply, the reference is of no value
in fixing the date of the Gospels. The first distinct and unequivocal
notice of the first three Gospels is found in Justin Martyrs _Apology_;
and he, who speaks of them for the first time, dilates on their
contents, and refers to Matthew, Mark, and Luke each by name: to Matthew
nineteen, to Mark four, and to Luke fourteen times. From this time to
the present hour, every book abounds in references to these Gospels.

As yet the Gospel of John had not appeared. What is remarkable in the
Gospels, referred to by Justin, who makes a most elaborate disquisition
on the prophecies, citing many passages to prove that Christ was a
divine person, whose advent had been predicted, he does not make mention
of any of his miracles, or of those of any of his disciples. He speaks
of Christ's birth from the Virgin Mary, his miraculous conception, and
all the leading acts of his life, as described in Matthew and others,
but seems to have had no knowledge of the miraculous works he performed.

The silence of Justin on the subject of miracles, and his extended
notice of the prophecies, can only be explained by the fact that there
was nothing said about them in the Gospels, and that they were inserted
at a later day. As the quarrels among Christians in the second century
intensified, and as the authority of the church grew to be paramount as
we approach the dark ages, no doubt the Gospels underwent a revision,
and the miracles were added as a means to excite the awe and command
the belief of the Pagan world. The spirit for the creation of miracles
commenced in the church before the end of the second century--was
encouraged by it, and has been continued down to our own times, and
formed the most effective weapon for the conversion of the hordes of the
North, and for the final overthrow of the followers of Arius. Each age
had its own miracles, in each of which was apportioned the amount
of divine energy required to subdue the obstinacy and unbelief to be

The silence of what are called profane writers on the subject of the
miracles is equally unaccountable--if they are to be regarded as real
occurrences in history--and none as much so as that of the Jewish
historian, Josephus. Of sacerdotal extraction, and of royal descent,
Flavius Josephus was born A.D. 37. He was alive in A.D. 96, but the
time and manner of his death is unknown. His works comprise a complete
history of the Jews, and omit nothing that was worthy of notice. He was
a youth of great ability and promise, and says of himself, "When I was
a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the
love I had for learning, on which account the high priest and principal
men of the city came frequently to me together, in order to know my
opinion about the accurate understanding of points of law." (_Life of
Josephus_, sec. I.)

Here we have a historian of the right kind, living so near the time that
he must have seen and conversed with those who had seen and known Christ
and his disciples. How are we to regard his silence? Had Christ been the
character which many suppose he was, a teacher endowed beyond all other
men, with a divine genius to declare the doctrines which are to govern
man in his relations towards the Creator and towards each other, we can
well understand why, in A.D. 93, when Josephus wrote the history of the
Jews, he failed to notice him. His ministry extended through a period of
only one year, at a time when the Jewish people were chafing under the
yoke of the Romans, and were preparing for a final struggle with the
conquerors. At such a time, the presence of such a person as Christ,
who taught men to forgive their enemies, to love their neighbors as
themselves, and to cultivate feelings which dispose mankind to peace
and charity, would most likely pass unnoticed. If Christ was more than
a great teacher--if he were the second person in the Godhead, who
condescended to visit the earth to instruct mankind, and while here
performed the wonderful works spoken of in the Gospels, then there is no
way in which we can account for the silence of the Jewish historian. We
are forced to admit that the Son of God, who took up his abode among
men to convince and instruct them, failed to make his presence known and
felt so as to attract the notice of him who undertook to give a minute
account of what happened at the time, and in the country where he
preached and taught.

The attempt in the fourth century to force into history, between the
regular course of events, a passage intended to break the force of total
unconsciousness on the part of Josephus that there was such a person
as Christ, to the eye of the critic is infinitely more damaging than
complete silence. A quarrel, which led to a sedition, sprang up in
Jerusalem, about the use made by Pilate of sacred money, to bring
water into the city. "_About the same time, also, another_ sad calamity
happened, which put the Jews into disorder." A Roman woman called
Paulina, through the connivance of some of the gods of Isis, was seduced
by a person of the name of Mundus. (_Antiq_., book xviii. chap. 3.)
Between these two events, is wedged, or forced in, a paragraph which
contains all the great historian has to say of Christ, and the events of
his life. Twenty-nine lines are taken to tell about the troubles
growing out of the misapplication of the sacred money; one hundred and
thirty-one about Paulina and her misfortunes, and _sixteen_ are all that
the historian requires to inform us of all he knows about Christ. Much
better had he said nothing.

If Josephus makes no mention of Christ and his miracles, where must we
look? It is in vain to search among the writers of Greece and Rome. Out
of the nine reasons given by Dr. Lardner for believing the passage from
Josephus in relation to Christ spurious, the first is sufficient: it was
never quoted, or referred to, by any writer previous to _Eusebius_, who
wrote in the fourth century.


     Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews.

THIS epistle has been the source of more controversy than any other book
of the New Testament. It has been the cause of much useless labor
and unprofitable research. In the first place, was Paul the author?
Tertullian ascribes it to Barnabas; Grotius to St. Luke, and Luther the
reformer thought it was written by Apollos, mentioned in the Acts; but
the testimony of ecclesiastical antiquity is all in favor of Paul as the
author. Allusions are made to it in the epistles of Ignatius about A. D.
107. It is also referred to by Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna in the year A.
D. 108.

Internal evidence, supplied by the epistle itself, is conclusive that
Paul was the writer. No one better than he understood the veneration in
which the Levitical law was held by the Jewish people, and the tenacity
with which they adhered to it. As he believed that this law had passed
away, and that the Lord had made a new covenant with the Jewish nation,
it was natural for him to labor to open the eyes of his countrymen,
and bring them under the light of the new dispensation. It was for this
reason, when he entered into a place for the first time, that he always
began to teach in the synagogue. If Paul wrote to the Hebrews at all, it
would be just such an epistle as the one ascribed to him, except
certain portions, which were clearly written after the Pauline period of
Christianity had passed away.

Again, it has been a question as to the language in which this epistle
was first written. At the time of Paul, the original Hebrew was
understood by few, and had ceased to be the language of the Jews. The
original Hebrew was broken in upon by several dialects--such as the
East Aramæan, or Chaldee, and the West Aramæan, or Syriac. The universal
language of the day was Greek, and no doubt Paul adopted it in writing
to the Hebrews, who were dispersed over Europe, Asia, and parts of

As the initiatory formula usual in the epistles of Paul is wanting in
this, it has been questioned whether it was really an epistle, or only a
discourse intended for the general reader. The want of the usual formula
can be easily accounted for, when the mind becomes convinced that the
first chapter is not the production of Paul. That it was written as it
now stands by the forgers of the second century admits of no doubt. The
design of the writer is exposed in the very first and second verses of
the first chapter. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake
in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,
_by whom also he made the worlds_."

Here Christ is made the Creator by whom the worlds were made. Again:
"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the _express image of his
person, and upholding all things by the word of his power_, when he had
by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty
on high; being made so much _better than the angels_, as he hath by
_inheritance_ obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which
of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I
begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be
to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the
world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." (_Heb_. i.

Here we find condensed into a few verses, and declared in the most
pointed language, the _Godship_ of Christ, first proclaimed by the
men of the second century, and which is in direct conflict with the
remainder of the Epistle, and with what Paul taught during his whole

Commencing at the ninth verse of the second chapter, Paul says: "But
we see Jesus, who was made a little _lower_ than the angels for the
suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace
of God should taste death for every man." "For verily he took not on him
the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." (Chap.
ii. 16.) "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and _High Priest_ of our profession, Christ Jesus;
who was faithful to him who appointed him, as also Moses was faithful
in all his house. For _this man_ was accounted worthy of more glory than
Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than
the house. For every house is builded by some man; _but he that built
all things is God_." (Chap. iii. 1-5.)

On the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth verses of the second chapter,
Paul declares that to angels "is given the government of the world to
come;" and to man, who was made but _little lower than the angels_, was
consigned the government of the earth. All men, according to Paul, like
Jesus, were born but little lower than the angels--and Christ by him is
put on a level with all humanity. It is evident that the first chapter,
as written by Paul, has been suppressed, and the one which has descended
to us is made to take its place. It is not possible that Paul wrote the
first and second chapters as they now stand. In the one case Christ is
made _more_ than the angels; and in the other case he is made _less_. In
the one case he is the Creator of the world, "_upholding all things by
the word of his power_;" in the other he is a High Priest of the order
of Melchisedec, and one of the descendants of Abraham. In the first
chapter he formed the world, and in the third chapter it is said,
"He who built all things is God." The doctrines here declared are
unreconcilable, but it is not difficult to distinguish between those of
Paul and those of the men of the second century.

Paul speaks of three orders of the priesthood: that of Melchisedec, that
under the Levitical law, and that under the new covenant, with Christ
at the head. What was the character of the priesthood of the order
of Melchisedec, Paul does not say--nor do we know where to look for
information on the subject. He was "without father, without mother,
without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but
made like _unto the Son of God_: abideth a priest continually." (Chap.
vii. 3.) When we are informed in the same chapter that Christ is a
priest after the order of Melchisedec, "who is made, not after the _law
of a carnal commandment_, but after the power of an endless life" (ver.
16), we detect the insidious and subtle poison of the Johannian school.

Here we have a Logos, who was in the beginning, and who would continue
through all time, which could never be true of any of the descendants
of Abraham. The priesthood under the Levitical law, Paul claimed, had
passed away, and was succeeded by a much better one with Christ as
its head. The last was superior to the old because it would "continue
forever, an unchangeable priesthood." (Chap. vii. 24.) In this new and
better dispensation, Christ is as superior to Moses and Aaron, as the
new covenant is superior to the old. Christ is called a High Priest, "a
minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord
pitched, and not man." (Chap. viii. 2.)

If Christ was the Son of God, born of a virgin, when Paul was
instructing his countrymen in the mysteries of the new covenant, and
was pointing out to them the relation which Christ bore to the same, as
compared with Moses under the old, how happened it that he fails to make
mention of this important fact altogether? How can we account for the
silence of Paul at such a time on a subject of such vital importance?
He was a man of learning, and well versed in all that was written by the
Hebrew prophets; and if the fourteenth verse of the seventh chapter of
Isaiah had any application to Christ, or any other prophecy in the Old
Testament, why did he not point them out to his countrymen, and in this
way prove that Christ was not only superior to Moses, but to the angels?
Why call him a High Priest, and admit his Jewish descent, from the
father of the Hebrew nation? Who so well as Paul could define the
_status_ of Christ under the new covenant? His numerous visits to
Jerusalem, not long after Christ's death, his intimacy with all the
disciples, gave him every and ample means for information; and the deep
interest he took in every particular which related to Christ stimulated
inquiry; and whatever he found that was important to be known as a part
of the new faith, he would not fail to proclaim in tones of thunder,
from the Euphrates to the Tiber.

We can well imagine his astonishment when the doctrines of the Greek
school first began to make headway in his little churches. We can form
some idea of his feelings by reading the eleventh and twelfth chapters
in the second epistle to the Corinthians: "Would to God ye could bear
with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous
over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband,
that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest
by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your
minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if
he that cometh preacheth _another Jesus whom we have not preached_, or
if ye received another spirit, which ye have not received, or another
gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (2
Cor. xi. 1-4.) Rendered into plain language, he says: Would to God you
would pardon my zeal and anxiety on your account. Having instructed you
in the religion of Christ, I am jealous and over-anxious that you should
stand as examples of pure Christianity, and not surrender your pure and
virgin faith in Christ, carried away by the subtle doctrines of cunning
men. If any one speaks of Christ, and claims that he is anything
different from what I have taught you--or if any one has preached to you
a different religion or a different gospel, from that which you learned
of me, you show your forbearance if you do not visit your anger upon
them, who thus labor to mislead and deceive you.

Throughout these two chapters Paul shows deep sorrow on account of
the progress of the new faith, and with his expressions of regret, he
mingles words of reproof. The troubles growing out of it followed him
through life. They harassed him in his prison. He lived to see all Asia
turned away from him. With an aching heart he makes one last request
of Timothy: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many
witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to
teach others also." (2 _Tim_. ii. 2.)


     The controversy between Ptolemæus and Irenæus as to the
     length of Christ's ministry.--Christ was in Jerusalem but
     once after he began to preach, according to the first three
     Gospels, but three times according to John.--If the
     statements made in the first three are true, everything
     stated in the fourth could only happen after the death of

It will be remembered that Ptolemæus asserted that the time of Christ's
ministry did not exceed the period of one year. This drove Irenæus to
claim that it continued for the space of ten years, on the authority
of a tradition derived from John. The precise time when, and what,
Ptolemæus wrote, we have no means in our day of finding out; for his
writings, like all those of the Gnostics, doubtless perished under
the destructive edict of the Emperor Constantine. We are at liberty to
conclude that he wrote before the fourth Gospel appeared, as he limits
the time to one year, which agrees in that respect with the Synoptics.
Had he had any knowledge of the fourth Gospel, he might, by adopting the
mode of reasoning on this subject used by the orthodox, have made the
time three years instead of one. It will be noted that Irenaeus, in his
controversy with Ptolemaeus, makes no mention of the fourth Gospel, but
falls back on a tradition. In a dispute with a sharp-witted adversary,
he found it safer to rely on a tradition, as evasive as the mirage of
the desert, than the authority of the fourth book of John. The reason
for this preference will be readily seen when the subject is understood.
According to Matthew, after the temptation in the wilderness, Christ
returned to Nazareth, in Galilee. He left Nazareth and came and dwelt
in Capernaum, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim, as spoken by
Esaias: "The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of
the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people which sat in
darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow
of death light is sprung up. _From that time Jesus began to preach, and
to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand_." (Chapter iv. 15,
16, 17.)

Here the place where Christ commenced to preach is clearly defined; and
as the spot had been pointed out by Isaiah seven hundred years before,
there could be no mistake, unless the inspiration of the great Hebrew
prophet was at fault. Mark and Luke substantially agree with Matthew;
so, according to all three, Christ began his labors at Capernaum. The
precise time in the year we cannot tell, but it must have been shortly
after the fourteenth of March (Nisan), when the celebration of the
Passover commenced. At the following festival, as we will show, Christ
was put to death. In the meantime he had performed the greater part of
his work, which would require not much less than a year. That Christ
should go to Jerusalem to celebrate the first Passover after he began to
preach is not only probable but almost certain. Everything shows that
he did. The laws of Moses commanded every Jew to observe this feast; and
although no place is specified, all deemed it the highest religious duty
to go to Jerusalem for that purpose. On such occasions "an innumerable
multitude came hither out of the country--many beyond its limits,"
according to Josephus. Hence the great destruction of the Jewish people,
who had come up to the holy city to celebrate, when it was destroyed by
Titus. Christ could hardly fail to be present at the first celebration
after he began to preach, especially as he was accustomed to go every
year from childhood with his parents, according to Luke. If Christ
attended the first festival after he began his work, his ministry
continued for less than one year, for he went there but once after
he began to preach. The early part of his career was solely passed in
Galilee, according to Matthew, Mark and Luke. His labors were confined
to his own country, mostly in the neighborhood of the sea of Tiberias.
At length, as the time for the celebration of the Passover approached,
his thoughts were directed toward the city of David. At Cæsarea Philippi
he concluded _at last_ to go to Jerusalem. "From that time forth began
Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and
suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be
killed, and be raised again the third day." (_Matt_. xvi. 21.) At length
he "departed from Galilee and came into the coasts of Judea beyond
Jordan." (Chap. xix. I.) "And when he was come into Jerusalem all the
city was moved, saying, _Who is this?_" (Chap. xxi. 10.) Would that
question have been asked if he had been there the year before? That
this was Christ's first visit to Jerusalem, according to the first three
Gospels, will not admit of a doubt. Here he taught and preached until he
was handed over bound into the hands of Pilate. He never after this left
the city until his immortal spirit took its flight from Calvary. The
itinary of Christ, as we have it in the first three Gospels, renders
it impossible that he made any visit to Jerusalem except the one above
mentioned. We can trace him, step by step, from the beginning to the
end of his career. He began to preach at Capernaum, and from there
he traveled all over Galilee. In the meantime he delivered his divine
Sermon on the Mount. From the Mount he returned to Capernaum. From
here he entered a ship and rebuked the sea. He next crossed over to the
country of the Gadarines. From there he recrossed the sea and went into
his own city.

Once more he travels over Galilee, preaching, and healing diseases. On
the shores of Tiberias he delivered the parable of the sower, and again
went back to his own country. While there he heard of the death of John
the Baptist; when he crossed over the sea of Tiberias, and on the east
shore fed the multitude. After events which are fully declared, he and
his disciples crossed the sea and went to the land of Gennesaret. From
there he departed unto the coast of Tyre and Sidon. He returned unto the
sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain and again fed the multitude.
From here he went unto the coast of Magdala, and from there to Cæsarea
Philippi, when he made up his mind _at last_ to go to Jerusalem. In the
meantime it was not possible for him to have made a visit to the Holy
City. He had not even been in Judea. According to John, Christ did not
manifest his divine power at Capernaum, but at Cana. This was not a
great while before the feast of the Passover, for he went from Cana to
Capernaum, where he remained "_not many days_" but went to Jerusalem
to celebrate. As John and the writers of the first three Gospels
have Christ attend the first festival after he began his ministry, it
follows, according to John, that Christ at that time had just begun
to teach; while, if we believe the other three writers, he had nearly
performed his work, and came to Jerusalem to meet his death. The Gospel
of John causes Christ to make three distinct visits to Jerusalem: first,
soon after the miracle at Cana, the same mentioned by Matthew, Mark
and Luke; the second, when he attended a feast of the Jews, which Dr.
Robertson and other learned writers claim was the Passover; and a third,
when he went to witness the feast of the Tabernacle. _Now, if the first
three Gospels are true, then everything stated in the fourth as the
works of Christ must have been performed after his death!_ Every day,
from the time he set out from Capernaum to teach, to his first and last
entrance into Jerusalem, is accounted for in the first three Gospels.
This second visit was not without a special significance.

So strong was the proof in the last half of the second century that John
had never been to the western coast of the Mediterranean, that Irenæus
and others of that century dare not assert that the fourth Gospel
was written by him in Asia Minor. On this point the great criminal is
silent. But, in the Gospel itself, there is an evident effort made to
have it appear that it was written before the fall of Jerusalem. Even
the learned Basnage and Lampe were betrayed into this belief, and so
were others. Lardner fixes the date in the year 68, Owen 69, and the
learned Michaelis in 70. That such men should have fallen into this
belief is truly wonderful, for its fallacy is apparent at first view.
This Gospel, as none dispute, was written in reply to the Gnostics, and
as none of that sect, as will be shown, was known to be in existence
until the second century, it at once disposes of the question.
Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Mills, Fabricius and Bishop Tomline, with
others, saw the dilemma, and fixed the date of the Gospel at a later
period--some at 97, and others at 98.

That part of this Gospel by which Dr. Lardner and others were misled is
as follows: "_Now there is at Jerusalem_, by the sheep-market, a pool
which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches."
From the language here used, they conclude that Jerusalem was standing
when the Gospel was written, as the present is used instead of the past
tense. Few things troubled the Catholics of the second century more than
to find a convenient date for John's Gospel. If it was written before
the fall of Jerusalem, where there was a sheep market having five
porches still standing, it was too early, by many years, for Corinthus
and other leading Gnostics. If its date were fixed at the end of the
century when John was in Asia Minor, Catholics were met with proof that
John never was there. The story of the angel, and the man who had an
infirmity for eight-and-thirty years, was a clumsy invention to make way
for the deception as to the early date of the Gospel. If there was in
fact such a pool as represented, whose medical properties were dependent
upon the visitation of an angel, and which had properties to cure all
diseases, it was the only one of the kind, or anything like it, ever
known to man; its fame would have spread far and wide, and Jewish
historians, who delight to dwell upon anything which belongs to their
country, would have emphasized a phenomenon like the pool of Bethesda,
as proof of divine favor shown to their nation. It excites the anger of
commentators, and Doddridge among the rest, that Josephus has failed to
notice it; and among the extraordinary motives assigned for his
silence is a fear that he "_would disgust his pagan readers_"! The same
commentator says: "It is probable that the miracle was not wrought
for any length of time, and perhaps ceased on this occasion. This may
account for the surprising silence of Josephus in a story which made
so much for the honor of his nation. He himself was not born when it
happened, and, though he might have heard the report of it, he would,
_perhaps (in the modern way), oppose speculation and hypothesis to
fact_." Jenks, another commentator, says: "It is true the Jewish
historians, who are not sparing in praise of Jerusalem, do none of them
mention this pool, for which, perhaps, this is the reason: that it was
taken as a presage of the approach of the Messiah, and, _therefore, they
who denied him to be come industriously concealed such an indication
of his coming_." No one has ever pretended to have found this pool,
although pious travelers have found every other spot consecrated by the
life and death of Christ. Helena, the mother of Constantine, as early
as A. D. 326, made a pilgrimage to the Holy City to discover the places
made sacred by scenes in the life of the Saviour; and when human
energy and skill failed, she called to her assistance the aid of the
miraculous. But the powers that enabled her to find the true cross,
after a waste in the earth of over three hundred years, and detect the
place of the Lord's sepulcher, and other sacred spots which Infidel
hatred vainly attempted to obliterate, failed to discover the place
where the angel of mercy found ground to rest her feet when she
descended from heaven, loaded with blessings for the blind, halt and

It is admitted by all writers, and especially Michaelis (vol. iii.
part I, p. 280), that the Gospel of John was written in answer to the
Gnostics, and especially Corinthus, who lived in the last years of the
first century. It was possible to spin out the life of John to the
end of the century, and thus bring him near the time when Corinthus
flourished; but it is fatal to the claim, set up by Irenaeus and others,
that John was the author of the fourth Gospel, that the quarrels which
grew out of the writings of Corinthus failed to attract notice until
some time about the middle of the second century. You may look in vain
among all the writings of the Fathers and others of the first century to
find the name of Corinthus or any of his writings, although we can trace
Gnosticism, in its primitive stages, as early as the first years in the
second. Still, it assumed but little importance in its contests with
Christianity until some time after the year A. D. 117. Buck says that
"_Many persons were infected with the Gnostic heresy in the first
century; though the sect did not render itself conspicuous, either for
numbers or reputation, before the reign of Adrian, when some writers
erroneously date its rise_? There was no call or demand for the fourth
Gospel until Christians and Gnostics commenced their quarrels, which was
long after John's death, even admitting that he lived to be a hundred
years old. There was no help in the emergency which then arose, but to
antedate the fourth Gospel, to confound the time when Cerinthus wrote
with the time when the spread of his doctrines created discussion among


     The phase assumed by Christianity in the fourth Gospel
     demanded a new class of miracles from those given in the
     first three.--A labored effort in this Gospel to sink the
     humanity of Christ.--His address to Mary.--The temptation in
     the wilderness ignored, and the last supper between him and
     his disciples suppressed.--Interview between Christ and the
     women and men of Samaria.--A labored effort to connect
     Christ with Moses exposed.

When the incarnation became a leading feature of Christianity, its whole
spirit underwent a change from what it was in the first three Gospels.
The miracles which they describe are too tame for the new phase which
Christ is made to assume. None of the five, except one, in the Gospel
of John, are mentioned in the first three, for the apparent reason that
those in the Synoptics all fall short of upholding the claims set up
for Christ in the fourth. The subsidence of the sea at Tiberias, at his
command, was some proof that he held control of the wind and waves, but
a lucky coincidence might account for part, and ocular deception for the
rest. But, in that case, the constituents of the water were not changed.
Not so with the water at the feast at Cana. The restoration of the
widow's son at Nain, and of the daughter of Jairus, might admit of
doubt, for the first had not shown signs of decided death, and the
latter may have been a case of _coma_--"For the maid is not dead, but
sleepeth." (_Matt_. ix. 24.) But in the case of Lazarus there could be
no mistake. For four days the seal of death sat upon his brow, and flesh
and blood were fast returning to their native dust. Christ, in the first
three Gospels, heals diseases and cures the blind; but how much was
to be referred to his power as a god, and how much to the skill of a
_Thera-peutæ_, might invite discussion. But in the cases of the man who
had an infirmity for eight-and-thirty years, and the one born blind,
there could be no ground for dispute. The miracles selected proved all
that was claimed for Christ in the first part of the Gospel. He was
master of the elements, death heard and obeyed his voice, and he held
the avenues which led from fife to the grave. The miracle of the loaves
and fishes is the only one in the first three Gospels repeated by John,
because it proved his power over nature; for if he did not change the
elements, as he did at Cana, he multiplied them. We see in this Gospel
a studied effort to avoid anything like a human parentage for Christ, as
stated in the first three Gospels. The trip to Bethlehem, the birth in
the manger, the journey of the wise men from the East, are all omitted.
The name of Mary in this Gospel is studiously kept in the background.
She is barely mentioned twice, once at the feast of Cana: "And when
they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine;
Jesus saith unto her, _Woman, what have I to do with thee?_" The true
answer intended by the question was--_nothing_. Christ could not be
entirely oblivious of earthly ties. He had lived under the same roof
with Mary. He had received from her many acts of kindness; and if nature
was allowed her empire over the heart; he must have felt for her the
affection of a son. For him she had all the feelings of a mother. She
followed and stood by him at the cross. As she stood and wept in his
sight, the only words of consolation and endearment he could give her
were as cold and heartless as a Lapland wind: "_Woman_, behold thy son"!
The word "_woman_" was ever on his lips. When he recommends her, at the
last scene, to the care of the disciples, he is studied and guarded in
his language: "Then saith he to the disciple, Behold _thy mother_." The
scenes at the cross were too solemn to permit the studied purpose of an
artful bigot to muzzle the voice of nature. Truth turns away from the

The design of this Gospel to keep out of view the carnal nature of
Christ, as it appears in the first three Gospels, is marked with
Jesuitical cunning. He who was born, not of blood, nor of the will
of the flesh, but of God, must be so constituted as to be above the
weaknesses and frailties of those who are born of earth. The temptations
in the wilderness, which supply the most remarkable scenes in the life
of Christ, and, as given in the first three Gospels, proved the power of
the Son of God over the Powers of Darkness, are wholly unnoticed in the
Gospel of John. He who was all God, without a link to connect him
with humanity, must be so superior to Satan as to be above his arts
of seduction. John will not allow Christ to be tempted, because he was
above it; but, in sinking his humanity to favor a dogma, he keeps out of
sight the most sublime and god-like portion of his character--the power
to rise above the allurements of wealth, power, and dominion. It was by
such things he proved himself a god. The design of the fourth Gospel is
overdone. In making Christ all God, no chord of sympathy is left between
him and man. Even in the last supper, dwelt upon with so much tenderness
by Matthew, Mark and Luke, we detect, by the silence of John, the spirit
of the Jesuit. He makes no mention of it. Who can mistake the reason of
this silence? The tender scenes of this last interview between Christ
and his disciples are sacrificed to make way for a senseless and
heartless dogma. In the last supper, given in the Synoptics, the bread
and wine are mere symbols of the death and sufferings of Christ. It was
this symbolic character of the sacrament that the writer of John wished
to avoid. As the Lord's supper is with John a real sacrifice, each
repetition is a fresh atonement, and the bread and wine, by a miraculous
conversion, are made flesh and blood. There could be no sacrifice of
the body of Christ _until death_, and, for that reason, the last supper
between him and his disciples before the crucifixion is omitted. This
miraculous conversion of the elements has been one of the holy mysteries
of the Church for ages past. It has been the bigot's wand. Millions have
fallen down before the Host. It led the crusades. The fair fields of
Europe and Asia have been whitened by the bones of its victims. In fine,
it has been the armory in which fanaticism has forged her most fatal
and dangerous weapons. With John, the body of Christ is never dead--the
grave cannot hold it; but it exists in a mysterious union with the
Church, so that every time the devout believer eats of the bread, or
touches the sacred cup to his lips, he partakes of the flesh and drinks
the blood of the Son of God. Such is the dogma which took its rise in
the last half of the second century, the offspring of a bitter, heated
controversy which demands that reason be strangled to make room for
faith. It is the fate of this dogma, as it is of all like it, to
be associated with others equally false and absurd. It can have no
fellowship with truth. Speaking of Christ, John says: "The same was in
the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him
was not anything made that was made." (Chap. i. 2, 3.) Christ says of
himself: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the
will of him that sent me." (Chap. vi. 38.) He was on earth thirty-three
years. In what business was this creator of worlds engaged for thirty
years of this time? If anything, so far as we can know, it was the
business of a carpenter. Did he do his Heavenly Father's business all
this time? This is what he says himself he was sent to do. The first
proof he gave of the power of a god, while here, was at Cana. It
was here that he first manifested forth his glory, and inspired his
disciples with faith. The first three Gospels leave Christ to his
humanity to the time the angels took charge of him, and subject him,
like other mortals, to human employments. In John, a god with power to
create worlds is bound up in the fate of mortals for thirty years, and
only escapes thralldom when the spell is broken at the marriage feast.
Would he, who was with God in the beginning, whose word was sufficient
to create worlds, submit to a fate like this?

The interview between Christ and the woman of Samaria affords abundant
evidence of the spurious character of the fourth Gospel, and that the
writer was some Greek who was ignorant of the religion of Moses and the

The temple of Jerusalem being destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the
Samaritans proposed to join the Jews after their captivity in rebuilding
it; but the Jews refused the coalition. (_Ezra_ iv. 1-3.) This gave rise
to other causes of dispute, until the most inveterate hatred grew up
between the two peoples. At length, by permission of Alexander the
Great, the Samaritans erected a temple at Mount Gerizim, in opposition
to the one at Jerusalem. The same worship was observed in both cities,
and both people avoided the idolatry of surrounding nations. All the
followers of Moses in Judea shared alike in the calamities which befell
the Jewish people; so all shared a common belief that God would at some
time, by the hand of a deliverer, restore to them all they had lost.
If by the hand of Cyrus the power of the Assyrian empire had been torn
down, the Temple rebuilt, and the Jews and Samaritans placed back in
their homes in Judea; so, if some like calamity should befall them,
the same hand would again restore them to liberty and the land of their
inheritance. The Jews and Samaritans, though divided on some things,
were alike the chosen people of God, and the promises made to one were
made to both. At the time Christ made his appearance in Samaria, the
people of that country had settled convictions as to what they might
expect from the promises made to them by Jehovah through Moses, their
great lawgiver and prophet. These convictions, like the concretion of
ages, had solidified, and made up the Jewish and Samaritan character.
Whatever might befall them, they had no expectations of a spiritual
deliverer of any kind. They recognized no spiritual bondage growing out
of the sins of the first parents, like the believers in Christianity,
for Moses taught nothing of the kind. A personal sacrifice, like that of
Christ, to save men from the condemnation of a broken law, never entered
into the mind of either Jew or Samaritan. Neither was cosmopolitan, and
with them a deliverer was a deliverer to the Jews and not the Gentiles.
After Christ had convinced the woman at the well that he was a prophet,
by telling her past life, she is made to say: "I know that Messiah
cometh which is called Christ; when he is come he will tell us all
things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he." It is said
that the woman believed; if so, did she understand him? With Christ,
he was the Son of God, equal with the Father; was with him in the
beginning, and by him the universe was made--_he was the Creator_. We
ask again, did the woman believe in such a Messiah, and did she believe
that he who spoke to her, and told her how many husbands she had had,
was that august Being? If there is room in the breast of any people for
a hope or expectation of such a person as Christ claimed to be, not a
shade of either could be found in the hearts of the followers of Moses.
Let a belief in such a Being have made its way into the Jewish mind, and
the whole structure, as it was reared by their great leader, would fall
like a baseless tower. Strike out the Semitic idea which was thundered
from Sinai, and that very thing which cost the Jews ages of persecution
would with it be thrown away.

The woman was convinced by the arts of a fortune-teller, some of the
Samaritans by what befell the woman, and others, because of what they
saw and heard themselves, believed "_that Christ was the Saviour of the
world!_" Here we reach a climax: did the Samaritans, in so short a time,
renounce Moses and the institutions of their fathers? Christ claimed
before the Jews that he lived before Abraham. This they could not stand,
but took up stones and cast them at him, and, because he preached the
end of the Mosaic law, they crucified and put him to death.

There are still some of the descendants of the Samaritans at Naplosa
(the ancient Shech-em), at Gaza, Damascus and Cairo, who still retain
the faith held by their fathers in the time of Christ--a living protest
against the truth of the story of the women and men of Samaria. Let him
who wishes to be convinced go among the remnant of this persecuted
race, witness their poverty, their sad and careworn faces, the work of
centuries of injustice and oppression, and ask them if they believe
the story of the woman at the well. They will point you to two thousand
years of suffering for their Mosaic faith, enough to "bring tears down
Pluto's wan cheeks," and ask you, with a look of scorn, if the ancestors
of such a people could ever be apostles.

In talking to the Jews, Christ is made to say: "For had ye believed
Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe
not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (_John_ v. 46,47.)
Christ here undertakes to make the Jews believe that he was the one
who had been foreseen and spoken of in ages past, and especially by the
great prophet of the Hebrew people. Had any Jew in the time of Moses
set up the claim that at some future day there would arise one among his
people who would be equal with God, but who would suffer death at their
hands, as a ransom for the salvation not only of the Jews but of the
Gentiles, he would have ordered that such a prophet be stoned to death.
By him and \ the Jews no such Saviour was expected or required. Adam and
Eve were the first to break the law, but God pronounced judgment upon
them before they left the Garden. The earth was cursed with thorns and
thistles, for Adam's sake. By the sweat of his brow he was bound to eat
of its fruits in sorrow all his days. Upon Eve were imposed the pains
and sufferings of childbirth, and the duty of obedience. All this
endured, both were to return to the dust from whence they came. This was
all the punishment and all the atonement God demanded. He asked no more.
With Moses, death was the end of punishment. Those who committed the
first sin made their own atonement, and so have all their descendants,
in the eyes of Moses and the Jews. "Had ye believed in Moses, ye would
have believed in me." Reverse this, and we have the exact truth: If ye
believe in Moses, it is impossible to believe in me. How could they?
"Moses wrote of me." What did he write? To connect Christ with prophecy,
language of the most indefinite character is selected from all parts of
the Hebrew scriptures. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's
head." Christ of the fourth Gospel is not of the seed of the woman.
"_The Word was made flesh?_" and "was not born of blood, nor the will
of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God." "The scepter shall not
depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh
come." (_Gen_, xlix. 10). The Jews ceased to be an independent people,
and the scepter departed from Judah at the time Pompey invaded the
country, seized upon the Temple, deposed Aristobulus, the high priest,
and put Hyrcanus in his place. (Josephus, _Wars_, Book I. chap. vii.
sec. 6.) He deprived the Jews of all their conquests, restored the
conquered, and placed Syria, together _with Judea_ and the country as
far as Egypt and Euphrates, under the command of Scaurus. (Ibid, sec. 7.)

In view of these events, Josephus bitterly laments the results, and
says: "_We lost our liberty', and became subject to the Romans_, and
were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the
Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians. Moreover, the
Romans exacted of us, in a little time, above ten thousand talents."
(Josephus, _Antiquities_, Book XIV. ch. iv. sec. v.) When did the Jews,
after the conquest of Pompey, shake off the yoke of the Romans? Between
his conquest and the birth of Christ at least sixty-seven years had
intervened. In the meantime Caesar crossed the Rubicon, was assassinated
in the senate; the empire was distracted by civil wars; Mark Antony and
Augustus tried the fortune of battle with Brutus and Cassius, on the
field at Philippi, and the first of the Roman emperors had nearly
completed a long reign of four-and-forty years. When Christ was born,
the scepter had departed from Judea, and the Jews were a nation of

Space will not allow us to pursue this subject farther. Throughout
the Gospel of John we discover the most studied and labored effort to
connect Christ with the religion of Moses, so that it may appear that in
himself he is only the response to the many prophesies contained in the
Hebrew scriptures. This Gospel is full of instances where the Jews, upon
Christ's bare word--and sometimes not even that--gave up everything, and
followed him, even to the cross. The day following the baptism, as John
stood by the side of the disciples, Jesus walked by, when the Baptist
exclaimed: "_Behold the Lamb of God!_" This was sufficient to induce two
of the disciples to follow Christ, and one of them was so carried away
that he hunted up his brother, who was Peter, and told him they _had
found the Messiah, who was the Christ_. On the next day, Christ went
to Galilee, and found Philip, whom he directed to follow him; and soon
Philip found Nathaniel, and told him, "We have found him of whom _Moses,
in the law, and the prophets, did write_." They had found no such
thing. The conversion of Paul formed a new era in religious history. We
may well say, that when he left Judaism, he left the twelve disciples
behind him, for they could neither climb over or break down the wall of
circumcision which separated the Jews from the Gentiles. Paul quarreled
with and then left them, but took along with him enough of the Mosaic
faith to keep up a connection between the old and new religion, so
that we can trace the features of the child in those of the parent. He
carried with him _Monotheism_, but it was qualified in the glare of his
vision at Damascus so that, in some sense, Christ was the Son of
God. Here was a clear departure from Moses, for which the Jews always
despised him. Then followed Paul's tug with the Greeks. In spite of him,
they established a dual government in Heaven. _The Son was equal with
the Father_, At this point there should have been an eternal separation
between Jewry and Christianity. For nearly two thousand years, the Jews
have protested against an alliance, while, on the other side, Christians
have striven to maintain it. The two parties, in the meantime, were kept
separate by an ocean of blood which flowed between. No bridge could
ever span it--no bridge ever can. In conclusion of this branch of the
subject, we repeat, that great efforts are made to have it appear in
this Gospel that Christ is in harmony with Moses and the prophets,
whereas there is scarce a word in it which declares his equality with
the Father (and it teaches little else) not met with a denial from
Sinai, amid "thunders and lightnings" and "the voice of the trumpet":
"_Thou shalt have no other gods before me?_" Moses is sublime in threats
and denunciations against those who depart from the true and _only_ God.
The men of the second century knew nothing of the spirit of the Mosaic
faith, or they never would have stultified themselves by such a work as
the fourth Gospel.


     The first two chapters of Matthew not in existence during
     the time of Paul and Apollos.--A compromise was made between
     their followers at the council at Smyrna, A. D. 107.--The
     creed of the Church as it existed at that day determined,
     and how Christ was made manifest.--Catholics of the second
     century repudiate this creed and abuse Paul.--Further proof
     that Irenaeus never saw Polycarp.--Injuries inflicted upon
     the world by the fourth Gospel.

We have shown in another place that not long after Apollos arrived at
Corinth he came in collision with Paul on some question which related
to Christ. Just what that difference was, it is hard in this age of the
world to determine; but it will be sufficient for our purpose at this
time to show what it was not. Had it been claimed by Apollos and his
followers that Christ was born in the way in which it is stated in
Matthew's Gospel, Paul, instead of wasting a whole lifetime in fighting
his enemies, would have gone straight to Jerusalem, and proved by
living witnesses that there was not a word of truth in this Gospel
which related to the supernatural birth of Christ. Paul's troubles with
Apollos and his school commenced as early as 57. At that time there were
thousands upon thousands who were born about the time Christ was, and
were comparatively young men when he was put to death. It was before the
fall of Jerusalem, and before any great calamity had befallen the Jewish
people. Many of the disciples may have been still living. Peter we know
was, for in 64 we find him preaching in Chaldea. Doubtless there
were still living, in Nazareth, women who grew up with Mary, and were
acquainted with her entire history. The Greeks did not contend, as long
as Paul lived, for anything stated in the first two chapters of Matthew
on the subject of the birth of Christ; for that reason there is no
mention of Mary by Paul in any of his epistles. What, then, was the
trouble? With Philo, the Logos was born in Heaven, and from thence he
descended to earth. With Paul, Christ was born on the earth, and in this
respect did not differ from other mortals. If the Logos was the Son of
God, and came down from heaven, by what instrumentalities did he reach
the earth? It was for Apollos to show how this was brought about.
Nothing is more difficult in the history of Christianity than to
find out what was Apollos belief as to the way by which the Logos is
connected or identified with the man Christ. The story of the descent of
the Spirit in the form of a dove, at the Jordan, was not known until a
long time after Paul's death. Paul could not disprove it, for during his
life no one asserted it. To establish this connection, we gather from
Paul that the school of Apollos had some subtle mode of reasoning, the
distillation of Greek wisdom and cunning. He never says what it was, but
compares it to the subtle sophistry with which the serpent deceived
Eve. To the wisdom of the Greeks Paul has nothing to oppose but direct
revelations from God. He sits in opposition to Hellenic sophistry, his
power and wisdom derived from above. When he talks to the Jews, before
they will believe what he tells them, they demand that a sign shall
be given unto them--something tangible to the senses. But the Greeks
required no proof of this kind. Conviction with them as to Christ was
wholly dependent upon some device, doubtless an outgrowth of Platonic
philosophy. From what is said hereafter, we can venture the belief that
with Apollos the Logos was made Christ simply by the providence of God.
How this providence was exerted to bring about this result, was a proper
subject to employ the cunning, the wisdom and sophistry of the Greek
school. After Paul's death, and after the fall of Jerusalem, the change
from the Logos from on high to the Christ of the earth, simply by the
providence of God and the theory of Apollos, was too indefinite, and the
reasoning of the Greeks too weak, to satisfy the minds of men. In the
second century, Christianity had worked west, and the Latin element
began to make itself felt in the Church, and we shall soon see the means
employed by Providence to bring the Logos into the world. We can readily
see why, in the disputes between Paul and the Greeks, as they stood in
his day, the name of Mary is nowhere mentioned. There was no necessity
for it. Ignatius, one of the oldest Fathers of the Church, was Bishop
of Antioch in the year 70. When Trajan set out on his expedition against
the Parthians, he stopped for a short time in this city. As he had
refused to sacrifice to the gods for the safety of the Emperor, and was
outspoken against the pagans, even in the royal presence, Ignatius was
condemned, and ordered to be sent to Rome to be devoured by the wild
beasts of the amphitheatre. This, as some say, was in A.D. 107; but some
writers, with greater plausibility, fix the time as late as 115. We will
err on the right side, and adopt the former period. On his way to Rome
he stayed some time at Smyrna, where he wrote letters to the churches
in Asia, as a kind of legacy, in which he imparts to them a knowledge
of the doctrines of the Church, and the foundation on which they were
based. No man of his day was better informed on such subjects than
Ignatius, and the cruel fate that awaited him on his arrival in Rome
was an earnest that in what he said he was sincere. In his letter to the
Ephesians he tells how, in the first place, Christ came into the world.
_He was born in the womb of Mary according to the dispensation of
Providence, of the seed of David, yet by the Holy Ghost_. Here is a
platform to which Paul himself could hardly object. That that which
Ignatius declares to be the way in which Christ came into the world was
the doctrine of the Church in his day, and for some time after, cannot
be questioned. On his way to Rome he stopped at Smyrna, where Polycarp,
who was then Bishop at that place, lived, and it was there that Ignatius
wrote his letter to the Ephesians. Polycarp stood at his side when the
letter was written, and knew its contents, and probably took charge of
it, for he himself says: "The Epistles of Ignatius which he wrote unto
us and _others_, as many as we have with us, we have sent unto you
according to your order, which are subjoined to thy epistle, from which
ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and
of all things which portend to edification in our Lord." (_Epistle to
Philippians_). On his way to Rome, Ignatius stopped at different places,
and everywhere the churches sent their bishops and other messengers to
visit and console the venerable Father on his way to the wild beasts;
and everywhere he taught Christ as we find it at this day in his letter
to the Ephesians. Here we have the doctrines or creed of the Church in
the beginning of the second century as to the status of Christ, as it
was declared by Polycarp, Ignatius, and all the churches of Asia. That
Paul, at this time, was held in great estimation is evident from what
Polycarp and others say of him in writing to the churches. Polycarp
alone refers to his epistles twenty-six times, and in speaking of him
says: "For neither can I, nor any other such as I am, come up to the
wisdom of the blessed and renowned Paul, who, being amongst you in
the presence of those who then lived, taught with _exactness_ and
_soundness_ the word of truth; who in his absence also wrote an epistle
to you, unto which, if you diligently look, you may be able to be
edified in the faith delivered unto you, which is the mother of us all."
(_Polycarp to the Philippians_, sec. 3). Indeed, Polycarp's letter to
the Philippians is made up of quotations from the letter of the great
apostle. The bitter feeling which existed between the followers of Paul
and Apollos had in a great measure died away at the close of the first
century. Whatever difference of opinion there may have been between
these two great leaders, it seemed to be merged in the creed of the
Church in the days of Polycarp and other teachers of his time. With Paul
and these men, Christ was born of woman and of the seed of David; but,
with the latter, it was by the Holy Ghost, through the providence of
God. As Paul has nowhere declared how and in what way Christ was the son
of God, but believed him to be such from what he learned in his vision
at Damascus and other places, his followers might readily accept the
belief declared by Ignatius and all the Fathers in his day. Mutual
concessions seem to have been made in the latter part of the first
century; and while the followers of Apollos conceded the descent of
Christ from David, the friends of Paul could readily admit that he was
the Son of God through the Holy Ghost by the dispensation of God. The
violent animosity against Paul which sprang up afterward in the Church
was an outgrowth of the second century. In this century, Paul becomes a
liar and a heretic. To make Christ what the men of this century wished
to have him appear in their quarrels with the Gnostics and others, it
was necessary to assail the great apostle. To admit that Christ was born
in the womb of Mary, of the seed of David, would not admit the claim
that he was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost alone. It
was upon this point that Paul had thrown obstructions in the way of men
who were engaged in building up a Church controlling exclusively the
highway to heaven, and which in time was to govern the world. Here let
me ask if the most acute intellect can detect in the doctrines of the
Church, as declared by Polycarp and others at the beginning of the
second century, the faintest trace of the _incarnation of the fourth
Gospel, or the Trinity_, Both of these dogmas, which have convulsed the
world for eighteen hundred years, were unborn when the Fathers of all
the churches of Asia, at Smyrna, declared what was the faith of the

We have selected this place to settle a question of veracity between the
writer and Iræneus. He says he saw Polycarp. We say he never did. Since
the introduction of the Gospels, especially the fourth, great importance
has been attached to the fact that Polycarp was a disciple of John, and
that Irenaeus had been instructed by the former. Speaking of Irenaeus,
Horn, in his introduction, says: "His testimony to the genuineness and
authenticity of the New Testament is the most important and valuable,
because he was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John."
(Vol. I. 83.) Now Polycarp never mentions John, but speaks of Paul. If
he did see John, John _never taught him the doctrine of the incarnation_
as declared in the fourth Gospel. Polycarp _never heard of the
incarnation_, and it follows as a matter of course he never taught
Irenaeus anything of the kind. _Had he taught the incarnation, he never
would have indorsed Paul_. This attempt, on the part of the so-called
Bishop of Lyons, to trace the doctrines conceived and written by himself
to a disciple, is a stupendous fraud, which has cost the world more
misery than all causes of suffering since his day combined. This Gospel
has been the means of defeating the mission of Christ on earth--_peace
and good-will to all men_. There is not one word in it to encourage
virtue or reprove vice--not one for those who sorrow or are afflicted;
no charity for any except the woman caught in adultery. Love for one
another he entreated of his disciples, but none for the world. The
boundless love, the universal charity, which shine forth in the Sermon
on the Mount, and warm the heart, so that there flows from it all that
is good in our natures--as the beautiful flowers of the earth are made
to spring and bloom under the genial heat of the sun--finds no place
in the Gospel of John. What is said and taught in this Gospel, when
compared with the teachings on the Mount, are as hollow groans from the
cavern of Avernus compared with sweet sounds from the lyre of Orpheus.
It is belief--or damnation. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned,
but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." It was this
Gospel which gave birth to that bigotry and fanaticism which has brought
on the world all the sufferings and misery caused by the Inquisition. It
destroyed in the fourth century all the grand and beautiful temples and
works of architecture of Asia and Europe. The Pantheon barely escaped.
It applied the torch to the library at Alexandria. It kindled the fires
of persecution in every age; and as it came down the centuries, like a
blazing comet, it carried with it "pestilence and war." It makes Christ
cold and selfish. He cures diseases to exalt himself. A man was deprived
of his sight from his birth, without any sin on his part, that he may
have an opportunity to make known his power. He thanks God for answering
his prayer for the death of Lazarus, that he might show the world that
he was master of the grave. This Gospel makes Christ vain and boastful.
Again and again he asserts that he is the Son of the Father; that the
Father had sent him; that he came to save the world, and that the world
was to be judged by him: and yet, with all these pretensions, he could
find but few that believed him. All important events told of in this
Gospel, are unnatural. Some who stood by and saw Lazarus come forth from
the tomb with the habiliments of the grave still upon him, as if some
great crime had been committed, ran for the police--for to inform the
Pharisees was about the same thing. When the Pharisees heard of it, they
called together the priests, and held a council, to devise some plan to
stop that kind of proceeding. What was the objection to raising a dead
man to life? It would give offense to the Romans. Can anyone give a
reason why? For this act, which, if true, would fill the heavens and the
earth with awe, Christ was compelled to fly to the wilderness. If the
scene at the grave of Lazarus, as related, was true, how different would
have been the conduct of those who witnessed it. All would have been
struck dumb and fallen prostrate at the feet of him who held the keys
of life and death. The Pharisees would shake and cower, for fear that at
any moment they might be struck dead by a bolt from heaven. There would
not have been a dry eye in all Jerusalem. What intelligence did Lazarus
bring us from the spirit land? One word from the other world would be
worth all this world of ours; but the world has gained nothing from the
resurrection of Lazarus. This Gospel takes from God his omnipotence.
When the Lord of the universe conceived a plan to prove to mankind that
Christ was his Son and their Saviour, we must believe that he who made
the heavens and the earth, who regulates the stars in their courses, and
who said, "Let there be light, and there was light," could not fail
in his purpose. But the resurrection of Lazarus was a failure. It
accomplished nothing. The tomb of Lazarus at Bethany was in sight from
the cross on Calvary.

We have stated that at Smyrna were declared the doctrines of the
Christian Church in the year 107, as they were understood and taught by
Polycarp, Ignatius, and all the great lights of Asia. And now we shall
show what assurances these Fathers gave to the world--why they knew that
Christ was truly the Son of God. This is made manifest by signs in
the heavens. Ignatius first declares the belief of the Church on this
subject, and proceeds to ask this question: "How was he made manifest to
the world?" "A star shone in heaven above all other stars; and its light
was inexpressible, and its novelty struck terror. All the rest of the
stars, with the sun and moon, were the chorus to this star, that sent
forth its light above all. And there was trouble, whence this novelty
came so unlike all the others. Hence all the power of magic was
dissolved; and every bond of wickedness was destroyed; ignorance was
taken away and the old kingdom was abolished: God made manifest in the
form of man, for the renewal of eternal life. Thence began what God
prepared. From thenceforth all things were disturbed, forasmuch as he
designed to abolish death." (_Epistle to Ephesians_, sec. 19.) This was
the way in which Christ made himself manifest to the world, as taught in
all the churches in A.D. 107. The story of the star which led the wise
men to Bethlehem was an _afterthought_. At the time Ignatius declared
the doctrine of the Church, as to the way by which Christ was brought
into the world and how he was made manifest, the Gospel of Matthew had
not yet appeared; for, if it had, he would have given the story of the
star, and the wise men of the East, rather than that of the sun,
moon, and all the stars, for the former was the most probable and most
sensible of the two. Why should he give one story which was false and
impossible on its face, if he could give another which, if false, was
not manifestly absurd. It is quite easy to tell why the story of the
stars and moon leaving their orbits to dance attendance to a bright
particular star was abandoned. Such a commotion of the heavenly bodies
would have put the universe out of joint; and as the star projected its
light above all the other stars, and all the other stars and the moon
and sun sang chorus to it, the display would have been apparent to all
the world. In the year A.D. 107, some few might have been alive who were
living at the time the phenomenon is said to have occurred; and if not,
then the children of those who lived at the time would have preserved
the tradition fresh in their minds, to say nothing of history. But as no
one living witnessed the scene enacted in the heavens, and none of their
descendants had heard of it, and no historian had recorded it, the men
of the day laughed it down. One single star might have been seen by the
wise men of the East, and no one else; and if the story was invented,
as the wise men were dead before it was told, there was no danger of
contradiction. If the Gospel of Matthew was not extant A.D. 107, it
is fatal to all the prophecy in the New Testament as to the fall of
Jerusalem. In the year A.D. 70, Jerusalem fell. The Roman standards
waved over its ruins. The daughters of Israel wept over the ashes of
their homes. The holy city was no more, and he who wrote the Gospel of
Matthew as it now stands wrote history. How much is the Christianity of
the Gospels indebted to the prophecies which foretold the fall of the
Jewish capital? In every age and in every country where Christianity
found a foothold, they were the corner-stone of the Christian faith.
In the hour of doubt and despair, when the heavens looked black and
the earth seemed to be a house of mourning, the Christian could draw
consolation from the tears shed by Christ as he wept over the fall of
the holy city. But Truth is inexorable. Her triumphant car moves on,
though she leaves in her wake the wreck of the brightest hopes, the most
cherished creeds, and the most ambitious schemes. So she has done for
ages. And her pathway is marked by the overthrow of dogmas by which
man vainly undertook to enslave the mind. To-day she is as mighty and
powerful as ever.



Few passages from history have given rise to more discussion than the
following from Suetonius: "He," meaning the Emperor Claudius,
"banished all the Jews, who were continually making disturbance, at the
instigation of one Crestus." (_Life of Claudius_, sec. 25.) The original
is as follows: "_Judæos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes, Roma
expulit_." Does this order of banishment refer to the Christians? Dr.
Lardner and others think not. All difficulties vanish when we bear in
mind, that the Christians then at Rome were Jewish converts from Judea.
The writer knew little about Christians, and knowing them to be Jews, he
says all Jews were banished, which included the Jewish converts as
well as those who opposed Christianity. All engaged in the riot were
included, and none but Jews were. These Jews were constantly making
disturbance at the instigation of one Crestus: that is, they were
quarrelling about Crestus, which was a continual subject of quarrel
among the converted and unconverted Jews everywhere. The writer knew so
little about Christ that he failed to get the name correct, or there may
have been a mistake on the part of the transcribers.


As a proof that the most learned scholars and correct thinkers, when
under the influence of an early bias, are liable to the most gross
mistakes and delusions, the following writers have given the authority
of their names to the belief, that Peter uses the name Babylon in a
figurative sense: Grotius, Macknight, Hale, Bishop Tomline, Whitby, and
Lardner. But a large majority of writers hold to the literal meaning.
Bishop Pearson, Le Clerk, and Mills think that Peter speaks of Babylon
in Egypt. Beza, Erasmus, Drusius, Dr. Cave, Lightfoot, Basnage,
Beausobre, Dr. Benson, A. Clarke think that Peter intended Babylon in
Assyria; Michaelis, that Babylon in Mesopotamia was meant. The frequent
use of the word Babylon in the Revelation attributed to St. John, which
there stands for Rome, is the principal argument used by those who
contend for a figurative sense. This book is the most impious and
malignant production among all the forgeries of the second century, and
its design can be readily exposed, if it was worth the time to do it.
Christ, whose last words were used in prayer for the forgiveness of his
enemies, is made through St. John to pour forth feelings full of hatred
against those who disagreed with the writer on matters of doctrine,
especially the followers of Paul. He hurls his envenomed shaft at the
heart of the great Apostle. It was at Ephesus where the war was warmest
between Paul's friends and the followers of the Alexandrian school. To
the church at that place, Christ is made to say: "I know thy works, and
thy labor, and thy patience, and _how thou canst not bear them which are
evil_: and thou hast tried them which say they are _Apostles, and are
not, and hast found them liars_." (_Revelation_ ii. 2.) Who could use
such language but a malignant partisan? Christ, the Son of God, is made
to use the language of a bar-room bully. When will those who profess to
be Christians, learn that Christ was all kindness, gentleness, and love.
They admit the authenticity and divine origin of writings that prove the
Son of God was not even a gentleman.


The writings ascribed to the Fathers, especially Polycarp and Ignatius,
are entitled to little consideration; for nothing is clearer than that
their names were used by the men of the second century to supply proof
when disputes sprang up, or give authority to doctrines when divisions
arose. The introduction to the epistle of Ignatius, addressed to the
church at Rome, is a bare-faced attempt to prove that there was a church
at Rome during the reign of Trajan, at the beginning of the second
century. It was written not only to prove that there was a church at
Rome at that time, but that it was the bank or depository of divine
riches, "_wholly filled with the grace of God, and entirely cleansed
from any other doctrine_." But we submit the whole passage to the
judgment of the reader. "Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the
Church which hath obtained mercy in the majesty of the Most High Father,
and his only Son Jesus Christ, beloved and illuminated through the will
of him who willeth all things, which are according to the love of Jesus
Christ, our God; (to the church) which presides also in the place of the
region of the Romans, worthy of God, and of all honor and blessing and
praise; worthy to receive that which she wishes, chaste, and pre-eminent
in charity, bearing the name of Christ and of the Father, which I salute
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are
united both in flesh and spirit to all his commands, and wholly filled
with the grace of God, and entirely cleansed from the stain of any other
doctrine, be all undefiled joy in Jesus Christ our God."

The forger overdid the work in which he was engaged. This language,
addressed to a church illuminated with all things according to the
will of Christ and God, and worthy to receive all blessings and praise,
proves that the passage was written at a time when the dogma of the
Apostolic succession was in vogue, and Rome was putting forth claims to
spiritual supremacy.* No time was more unpropitious to prove that there
was _such a church_ at Rome, than that Goog embraced in the reign of
Trajan, when Christianity was a crime, which subjected the believer to
the penalty of death. There being no Christians in Rome from the death
of Paul to the time of Hadrian, it leaves the time to be taken up by
traditions, which was gladly seized upon by Irenaeus, who populated it
with Bishops and others, the offspring of his own imagination.

     * The strong probability is, that the letter of Ignatius is
     a forgery throughout, and was gotten up for the sake of the
     introduction. Condemned by Trajan, and ordered to be carried
     to Rome to be devoured by wild beasts, for the amusement of
     the people, it is claimed the letter was written on his way
     to that city. Why he should write to the church at Rome
     while on his way there, is something remarkable, since there
     is nothing in the letter that was important to be known to
     the Christians, if there were any there, before his arrival.
     The epistle breathes a spirit which is unnatural and
     repugnant to every feeling of humanity. The following is a
     specimen of the whole. "May I enjoy the wild beasts which
     are prepared for me; and pray that they may be found ready
     for me: which I will even encourage to devour me all at
     once, and not fear to touch me, as they have some others And
     if they refuse, and will not, I will compel them." (Sec. 5.)
     Why would Ignatius write an epistle of this character to the
     Romans while he was on the way to Rome himself? especially
     "as he was pressed by the soldiers to arrive at the great
     city before the public spectacle, that he might be delivered
     to the wild beasts." Why import a Christian Bishop from
     Antioch for the wild beasts of the Amphitheatre, if there
     was one to be found in the mean time in Rome? Where was
     Clement, the third Bishop? Our confidence is not increased
     in the genuineness of this letter, that the first distinct
     reference is made to it by Irenaeus.


WRITERS in the third and fourth centuries, for reasons sufficiently
obvious, take pleasure in scandalizing the name of Domitian as the
persecutor of Christians, and the great enemy of the Christian cause. It
is claimed he put to death many persons accused of Atheism, the common
charge against Christians, on account of their refusal to offer incense
or to worship the ancient gods of Rome. Flavius Clemens, his cousin, is
given as an instance. Now hear what a co-temporary historian has to say
on the subject:

"Flavius Clemens, his cousin-german, a man contemptible for his
indolence, whose sons, then of tender age, he had avowedly destined for
his successor, and taking from them his former names, had ordered one
to be called Vespasian, and the other Domitian, he suddenly put to death
upon some slight suspicion, almost before the father was put out of his
consulship," (Suet, _Life of Domitian_, sec. 15.) As the tyrant affected
great reverence for the gods, he would not fail to visit the most severe
punishment on those whom he judged guilty of irreverence, and as the
Christians of that day were bold in the face of the most imminent
danger, they could not escape the vengeance of the tyrant, had there
been any in Rome upon whom he could lay his hands. With a disposition
that was willing to furnish any number of victims, Eusebius has
succeeded in giving the name of a single one. He says, "At the same
time, for professing Christ, Flavius Domitilla, the niece of Flavius
Clemens, one of the consuls of Rome at that time, was transported, with
many others, to the Isle of Pontia." (Eus., E. H., book iii. chap. 18.)
The truthful father has succeeded in giving the name of one Christian
who had suffered under the reign of Domitian, and that was a case of

As to the expression, "and many others," it is only an easy way of
conveying a falsehood without incurring the risk of detection. The story
of John's banishment to the Isle of Pat-mos, like everything else
which relates to this Apostle, is founded on a _tradition_ of the
third century, and is unworthy of serious notice. The story told by
Hegesippus, of the treatment received by the grandchildren of Jude,
called the brother of Jesus, at the hands of Domitian, if entitled to
any credit at all, only goes to refute the charges made against him. As
the story runs, these children were brought before him on the charge
of being Christians. After hearing what they had to say, "Domitian
dismissed them--made no reply--but treating them with contempt as
simpletons, commanded them to be dismissed, and, by a decree, ordered
the persecution to cease. Thus delivered, they ruled the churches,
both as witnesses and relations of the Lord. Such is the statement of
Hegesippus," says Eusebius (book iii. chap. 20).

Here is a clear case for persecution; but proceedings are dismissed, and
those who were the objects of it treated with contempt.

Suetonius makes special mention of the persecution of the Jews under the
reign of Domitian, who was governed, in their case, by his love of money
rather than his regard for the cause of religion. The vast amount of
money expended by him in the erection of palaces and public edifices had
ruined his finances, which he undertook to relieve by the confiscation
of the large estates and wealth in the hands of this people. To his
rapacity there was no limit in such cases, short of the ruin of his
victims. It is in vain to attempt to relieve the memory of the son of
Vespasian and brother of Titus from the ignominy of the most odious and
detestable crimes. From Augustus to Trajan, no one who bore the name of
emperor is more justly entitled to the name of monster. He put to death
his own cousin, Flavius Sabinus, because, upon his being chosen at the
consular election to that office, the public crier had, by a blunder,
declared him to the people--not consul, but emperor. Virtue as well as
vice stood in awe in his presence.

The genius and learning of Tacitus and Pliny made it unsafe for them to
remain in Rome, and both avoided danger by seeking obscurity. But to his
other crimes are not to be added the murder of Christians, who were wise
and cautious enough to avoid his presence.

The following dates are assigned to the epistles of Paul by Dr. Lardner
and others:--

[Illustration: Table 406]

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