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Title: The Eliminator; or, Skeleton Keys to Sacerdotal Secrets
Author: Westbrook, Richard B.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            *THE ELIMINATOR*


                  *Richard B. Westbrook, D.D., L.L.D.*





THE Eliminator has now been before the public nearly two years. I have
seen nothing worthy of the name of criticism respecting it. A few
Unitarian ministers have said that Christ must have been a person
instead of a personification, for the reason that men could not have
conceived of such a perfect character without a living example, and that
the great influence exercised by him for so long a time, over so many
people, proves him to have been an historic character. These arguments
are anticipated and fully answered. (See pp. 283, 284, 306.)

Our Unitarian friends are the greatest _idealists_ upon the globe! They
only accept the Gospel biography of Jesus (and we have no other) just so
far as the story accords with what they think it ought to be. They deny
the immaculate conception and miraculous birth of the Christ, and have
very great doubts about his crucifixion and resurrection. Their Christ
is purely _ideal_. The fact is that Christendom has worshipped the
literal Jesus for the ideal Christ for nearly twenty centuries, though
their conceptions of him have been manifold and contradictory. No wonder
that so many intelligent Christian sects in the early ages of the [Pg
iv] church utterly denied the existence of Jesus as an historic person.
(See pp. 266, 267, 357.) But there is indubitable evidence that this
_Christ character_ (called by many Unitarians the “Universal Christ”)
was mainly _mythical, drawn from the astrological riddles of the older
Pagan mythologies._

In fact, almost everything in Christianity seems to have been an
_afterthought_. It is the least original of any of the ten great
religions of the world, and the great mistake has been in making almost
everything _literal_ which the wise men of ancient times regarded as
_allegorical_. This comes from the priestly attempt to identify the
_Jewish Jesus_ with the _Oriental Christ_ Tradition is, in fact, the
main foundation of the Christian scheme, and cunning sacerdotalists have
done by artifice what history, in fact, has failed to do. But for its
moral precepts and its “enthusiasm of humanity,” Christianity would not
survive for a single century. The so-called “Apostles’ Creed” (which was
not formulated until centuries after the last Apostle slept in the
grave), and which is repeated in so many churches every Sunday, has a
greater number of historical and theological misstatements than any
other writing of the same length now extant!

There is in our day a general disposition to magnify the virtues of the
Christ of the New Testament, connected with a proposition to unite all
Christians in his leadership. This device will not succeed, because it
is as impossible to found a perfect religion upon an imperfect man as it
is upon a fallible Book. Lovers of the truth will show that the
traditional Christ is not a perfect model. (See Chapter xiii.) There is
a most significant sense in which it may be truthfully said: “Never man
spake like this man,” as no great moral teacher ever uttered so many
things that needed to be revised and explained!

May it not be the fact that both Catholic and Protestant Christians are
under a great delusion as to the facts of religion? I think so. I
believe so. I well know how difficult it is to explode a delusion that
is nearly twenty centuries old, and that is supported by a sacerdotalism
of vast wealth and learning, and whose votaries by “this craft have
their wealth.”

I nail these _Thèses_ to the church doors of all the Catholics and
Protestants in Christendom, and with Martin Luther, at the Diet of
Worms, I exclaim, “Here I stand. I cannot move! God help me!” If I am
mistaken, then my reason is at fault and all history is a lie! It is
said that when Renan died, the Pope inquired whether he had confessed
before his de-cease, and upon being told that he had not, replied,
“Well, then God will have to save him for his sincerity!” I am ready to
be judged on this ground. I sum up my latest conclusions thus: The Jesus
of the Gospels is _traditional_, the Christ of the New Testament is


1707 Oxford Street,


October 1, 1894.


Many things in this book will greatly shock, and even give heartfelt
pain to, numerous persons whom I greatly respect. I have a large share
of the love of approbation, and naturally desire the good opinion of
those with whom I have been associated in a long life. There is no
pleasure in the fact that I have to stand quite alone in the eyes of
nearly all Christendom. There is no satisfaction in being deemed a
disturber of the peace of the great majority of those “professing and
calling themselves Christians.” But, at the same time, I must not be
indifferent in matters where I believe truth is concerned.

Before I withdrew from the orthodox ministry I used to wonder why God in
his gracious providence had not seen fit to so order events as to give
us a credible and undoubted history of the incarnation and birth of his
Son Jesus Christ, and why that Saviour, who had come to repair the great
evils inflicted upon our race by Adam, had never once mentioned that
unfortunate fall.

I do not deny that there was a person named Jesus nearly nineteen
hundred years ago. I think there were several persons bearing this name
and who were contemporaneous, and that several of them were very good
men; but that any one of them was _such_ a person as is described in the
Gospels I cannot believe. I lay special emphasis on the word such.
Admitting for the sake of the argument the real, historical personality
of Jesus of Nazareth, he has by the process of _idealization_ become an
_impersonation_, and I have so attempted to make it appear; and I cannot
but think that this view is not inconsistent with the most enlightened
piety and religious devotion, while this explanation relieves us of many
things which are absurd and contradictory.

I desire to explain more fully than appears in the _Table of Contents_
the plan of this book. I first combat the policy of _suppression and
deception_, and insist that the whole truth shall be published, and have
shown that sacerdotalism is responsible for the fact that it has not
been done. As so-called Christianity is based upon Judaism, I undertake
to show the fabulous character of many of the claims of the Jews,
disclaiming all intention to asperse the character of Israelites of the
present generation.

I thought it proper in this connection to give the substance of an _open
letter_ to the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on
_Moses and the Pentateuch_—to which His Honor never responded—showing
that the “law of Sinai was not the first of which we have any
knowledge,” and that Moses was not “the greatest statesman and lawgiver
the world had ever produced,” as the Chief-Justice had affirmed in a
lecture before the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Presenting brief views of the symbolic character of the Old Testament,
and showing how “Astral Keys” unlock many Bible stories, I undertake to
show that the so-called fall of Adam is a _fable_, nothing more; and
then, as the _first_ Adam is shown to be a _myth_, I go in search for
the “_last Adam_.” Finding no knowledge of such a person except in the
New Testament, I deem it necessary to briefly show the character of this
book, that it may be determined how far it should be received as
evidence in a matter of so much importance. Then in five chapters, more
or less connected, I combat the idea of the historical, or rather
_traditional_, Jesus, and follow with an examination of the evangelical
dogma of _Blood-Salvation_, and close with a very brief summary of the
_Things that Remain_ as the foundation of faith.

I do not expect _caste_ clergymen to read this book any farther than is
necessary to denounce it. It is their way of meeting questions like
those herein discussed. I am prepared to have certain _dilettanti_
sneer-ingly say, “This book is of no critical value.” They are so
accustomed to “scholarly essays” which “are poetically sentimental and
floridly vague” that they have little respect for anything else. The
book is intended for the common people, and not for the professional

I do not expect everybody to agree with me, especially at first. Truth
can afford to wait, and in years to come many points that I have made,
which are now so startling, will be calmly and intelligently accepted.

There are probably mistakes in the book—mistakes in names, in dates, and
perhaps in facts; but these will not affect the main argument. No man
knows everything. Until recently it was never suspected by the learned
world that _The Contemplative Life_ was not written by Philo nearly
nineteen centuries ago, instead of being written by a monk in the third
century of the Christian era. Even Macaulay and Bancroft have made
mistakes, and so have many other authors of good repute.

I have always tried to preserve a _reverent spirit_—a genuine respect
for true religion and morality. I have always been profoundly religious,
and cannot remember the time when I was not devout. But I do not believe
that it is ever proper “to do evil that good may come.” In this work I
have sought only the _truth_, in the firm conviction that superstition
and falsehood cannot promote a course of _right living_, which is the
object and aim of all true religion.

I have a supreme disregard for literary fame. I do not shrink from being
called a _compiler_ or even a _plagiarist_. There is absolutely very
little of real _originality_ in the world. I could have followed the
course of many writers and _absorbed or assimilated_, and thus seemingly
made my own what they had written; but I have chosen to quote freely,
and so have substantially given the words of many authors of repute, and
at the same time saved myself the labor of a re-coining, which does not,
after all, deceive the intelligent reader. The books from which I
largely quote are mainly voluminous and very expensive, and some of them
are out of print. I am indebted to the learned foot-notes of Evan Powell
Meredith in his prize essay on _The Prophet of Nazareth_ for several
things, and must not fail to acknowledge my obligations to certain
living authors for valuable assistance, and especially to my friend Dr.
Alexander Wilder, who prepared at my request the substance of Chapter
X., _The Drama of the Gospels_, and who, in my judgment, has few
superiors in classical and Oriental literature.

I sympathize with those persons who will complain-ingly exclaim, “You
have taken away my Saviour, and I know not where you have laid him.” But
suppose that we do not _need a Saviour_ in the evangelical sense?
Suppose that man has not _fallen_, but that the race has been _rising_
these many centuries; and that while we have mainly to save ourselves,
all the good and great men of all ages have aided us in the work of
salvation by what they have said and done and suffered, so that instead
of one savior we really have had many saviors. I think that this view is
more reasonable and consoling than the commercial device of what is
called the “scheme of redemption,” besides having scientific facts to
sustain it.

I have preserved on the title-page some of my college degrees, to
indicate my professional studies of theology and law, and not from
motives of pedantry.


1707 Oxford Street,

Philadelphia.[pg 9]



_“For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid
that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in
darkness, shall be heard in the light, and that which ye have spoken in
the ear, in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”—Luke 12:
2, 3._

THE assumption is general that if the faith of the common people should
be unsettled as to some things which they have heretofore been taught
regarding religion, they would immediately reject all truth, and fall
into a most deplorable state of skepticism and infidelity, and that the
existing institutions of religion would be destroyed, and public virtue
so undermined as to endanger the very foundations of morality and civil
government. This is not only the fear of conservative and timid
clergymen, but many of our prominent statesmen seem anxious lest the
enlightenment of the people in matters in which they have been cruelly
deceived should so weaken the restraints of police and governmental
authority as to result in universal anarchy and a general disregard of
the rights of property, and even of the sacredness of human life.

These foolish fears show a great want of confidence in human nature, and
falsely assume that moral character depends mainly upon an unquestioning
faith in certain dogmas which, in point of fact, have no necessary
connection with it.

The statistics of crime show that a very large majority of those who
have been seized by the strong arm of the law as dangerous members of
society are those who most heartily believe in those very dogmas of
theology which we are warned not to criticise, though we may know them
to be accretions of ignorance and superstition, and that some of them
have a natural tendency to fetter the essential principles of true
religion and that higher code of morality which alone can stand strong
under all circumstances. It is safe to affirm that ninety-nine
hundredths of the criminal class believe, or profess to believe, in the
dogmas of the dominant theology, Romish and Protestant; which are
essentially the same.

It is too often forgotten that the very first condition of good
government is faith in human nature, confidence in the people. You
always excite dishonor and dishonesty by treating men as if you think
them all rogues, and as if you expect nothing good from them, but every
conceivable evil, only as they may be restrained by the fear of pains
and penalties in this life and after death.

One great fundamental mistake of theologians and dogmatic pietists is
the baseless assumption that religion is something supernatural, not to
say anti-natural; something external to human nature and of foreign
origin; something to be received by transfusion as the result or
consequence of faith in certain dogmas or the observance of external
rites; something bottled up by the Church, like rare and precious
medicines in an apothecary-shop, to be dealt out to those who are
willing to follow priestly prescriptions and pay the required price.

The fact is, churches and scriptures and dogmas are the outcome of that
religious element which is inherent in human nature. It cannot be too
often or too strongly urged that the religious principle is _innate_ and
_ineradicable_ in mankind, and that you might as well try to destroy
man’s love of the beautiful, his desire for knowledge, his love of home
and kindred, or even his appetite for food, as to try to destroy it. It
is as natural to feel the want of religion as it is to be hungry. You
_cannot^ destroy the foundations of religion. They rest in *nature_ and
antedate all creeds and churches, and will survive them.

Even Professor Tyndall says: “The facts of religious feeling are to me
as certain as the facts of physics.”

... “The world will have religion of some kind.”... “You who have
escaped from these religions into the high and dry light of intellect
may deride them, but in doing so you deride accidents of form merely,
and fail to touch the immovable basis of the religious sentiment in the
nature of man. To yield this sentiment reasonable satisfaction is the
problem of problems at this hour.”

Renan also writes thus: “All the symbols which serve to give shape to
the religious sentiment are imperfect, and their fate is to be one after
another rejected. But nothing is more remote from the truth than the
dream of those who seek to imagine a perfected humanity without
religion.”... “Devotion is as natural as egoism to a true-born man. The
organization of devotion _is_ religion. Let no one hope, therefore, to
dispense with religion or religious associations. Each progression of
modern society will render this want more imperious.”

We use the word religion as it was used by Cicero, in the sense of
_scruple_, implying the consciousness of a natural obligation wholly
irrespective of what one may believe concerning the gods. Religion in
its true meaning is the great fact of _duty, of oughtness_, consisting
in an honest and persistent effort to realize ideal excellence and to
transform it into actual character and practical life. Religion as a
_spirit_ and a life is objected to by none, but is admired and commended
by all. It is superstition, bigotry, credulity, and dogma that are
detestable. The religious instinct has been perverted, turned into wrong
channels, made subservient to priestcraft and kingcraft, but its basic
principle remains for ever firm. If it _could_ have been destroyed, the
machinations of priests would have annihilated it long ago. Give
yourselves no anxiety about the corner-stone of religion, but look well
to the rotten superstructures that have been reared upon it. Its
professed friends are often its real enemies. It is the false prophet
who is afraid to have his oracles subjected to tests of reason and
history. It is the evil-doer who is afraid of the light, the conscious
thief who objects to being searched. An honest man would say, “Let the
truth be published, though the heavens fell.”

The whole truth should be published, as a matter of common honesty, if
nothing more. We have no moral right to conceal the truth, any more than
we have to proclaim falsehood. He who deliberately does the one will not
hesitate long about doing the other. And this is one of the most serious
aspects of this subject. He who can bring himself to practise deceit
regarding religion will soon be a villain at heart, even if worldly
prudence is strong enough to keep him out of the penitentiary.

As a rule, the unfaithful teacher inflicts a greater evil upon his own
soul than upon his unsuspecting dupe. The deceiver is sure to be
overtaken by his own deceit. Mean men become more mean, and liars come
to believe their own oft-repeated falsehoods. This principle may in part
account for the fact that in all ages dishonest, mercenary, designing
priests have been most corrupt citizens and ready tools in the hands of
tyrants to oppress and enslave the people.

Every deceptive act blunts the moral sense, defiles and sears the
conscience, until at last the hypocrite degenerates into a slimy, subtle
human serpent that always crawls upon its belly and eats dust.
Secretiveness and deceitfulness become a second nature, and show
themselves continually even in the ordinary affairs of life. The reflex
influence of deception upon the deceiver himself is its most bitter

But modern preachers have a way of justifying their evasions and
prevarications by saying that even Jesus himself withheld from his own
disciples some things, for the reason that they were “not able to bear
them,” quite overlooking the fact that he is also reported to have said,
“When the Spirit of truth has come, he will teach you all things,” and
that other passage (Luke 12: 2), where Jesus is represented as saying,
“For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid
that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in
darkness, shall be heard in the light, and that which ye have spoken in
the ear, in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

If after eighteen hundred years of Christian teaching the time has not
yet come to proclaim the whole truth, it is not likely to come for many
ages in the future. If religion is a mystery too great to be
comprehended, too sacred for reverent but untrammelled investigation,
something that can only exist with a blind, unreasoning credulity and
the utter stultification of the natural faculties of a true manhood,
then religion is not worth what it costs and should be exposed as a
delusion and a snare.

The time for the religious _Kabala_ has passed, and ambiguities,
concealments, and evasions are no longer to be tolerated. Martin Luther
builded better than he knew when he proclaimed the right of private
judgment in matters of religion. It has taken two hundred years for this
fundamental principle to become thoroughly accepted by the people; but
so firmly is it now established that bigoted ecclesiastics might as well
attempt to resist the trend of an earthquake, stop the rising of the
sun, and turn the light of noonday into the darkness of midnight as to
attempt to arrest the progress of a true religious rationalism. The mad
ravings of fanatics will have no more influence than the pope’s bull had
on the comet. Learning is no longer monopolized by a few monks and
ministers. For every five clergymen who are abreast with the times, the
progress of modern thought, and the conclusions of science, there are
fifty laymen who are familiar with the writings of Humboldt, Darwin,
Huxley, Spencer, Tyndall, and scores of other scientists, to whom the
world is more indebted for true progress than to all the lazy monks and
muttering priests who have lived since the world began. The fact is, the
old delusion that men must look to the sacerdotal class exclusively, or
even mainly, for religious truth, has been for ever banished from the
minds of intelligent men. The literature of the day is full of free
thought and downright rationalism, and even the secular newspaper is a
missionary of religious progress and reform, and brings stirring
messages of intellectual progress every day to our breakfast-tables. The
world moves, and those who attempt to stop it are sure to be crushed.

The pretence that anything is too sacred for investigation and
publication will not stand the light of this wide-awake nineteenth

It is often said that the common people are not ready for the whole
truth. In 1873, Dr. J. G. Holland, then editor of _Scribner’s Monthly_,
wrote to Dr. Augustus Blauvelt declining to publish an article on “The
Divine and Infallible Inspiration of the Bible,” and added, “I believe
you are right. I should like to speak your words to the world; but if I
do speak them it will pretty certainly cost me my connection with the
magazine. This sacrifice I am willing to make if duty requires it. I am
afraid of nothing but doing injury to the cause I love.... In short, you
see that I sincerely doubt whether the Christian world is ready for this
article.... Instead of the theologians the _people_ would howl.... I
cannot yet carry my audience in such a revolution. Perhaps I shall be
able to do so by and by, but as I look at it to-day it seems
impossible.... My dear friend, I believe in you. You are in advance of
your time. You have great benefits in your hands for your time. You are
free and true. And I mourn sadly and in genuine distress that I cannot
speak your words with a tongue which all my fellow-Christians can hear.
They will not hear them yet. They will some time....”

Dr. Holland has passed away and cannot reply to criticism. Let us be
kind and charitable. He intended to be right, but he was mistaken. The
people do not howl when the truth is published, even though their
prejudices may be aroused; and no tedious preparation is now necessary
to be able to hear the whole truth. The masses of the people are hungry
for knowledge, and it is high time that they be honestly fed. They now
more than half suspect that they have been deceived by those some of
whom they have educated by their charities and liberally paid to teach
them the truth. When, in 1875, _Scribner’s Monthly_ did publish Dr.
Blauvelt’s articles on “Modern Skepticism,” it was not the people that
“howled.” It was the clergy. Some of them demanded a new editor; others
warned the people from the pulpit not to patronize _Scribner_; and one
distinguished man declared that the magazine must be “stamped out,” and
at once organized a most powerful ecclesiastical combination against the
freedom of the press; and yet the _North American Review_ and other
similar magazines are today doing more to settle long-mooted religious
questions than all the pulpits in Christendom; and the people do not
howl. No respectable enterprising publisher now hesitates to publish a
book of real merit, however much its doctrines may differ from the
dominant faiths. The masses of the people are determined to know all
that can be known of the history, philosophy, and principles of
religion; and the greater the effort to conceal and suppress the truth
the stronger will be the demand for its full and undisguised

That there is a general drifting away from the old formulas of religious
doctrine everybody knows, and yet there is more practical religion in
the world to-day than in any previous age. It does not consist in
fastings and attendance upon ecclesiastical rites and ordinances; but it
takes the form of universal education, of providing homes for friendless
infancy and old age, of the prevention of cruelty to children and even
to brute animals, of the more rational and humane treatment of lunatics,
paupers, and criminals, ameliorating the miseries of prisons and
hospitals,—in short, of elevating and improving the condition of
universal humanity. These truly religious works do not depend upon any
particular statement of religious belief, for all sects and persons of
no sect are equally engaged in them.

Charities would not cease if all creeds should be abandoned or should be
so revised as not to be recognized by the disciples of Calvin and
Wesley, and if every priest in the land should henceforth give up the
mummeries and puerilities of the Dark Ages.

Religion, as the “enthusiasm of humanity,” the cultivation of all the
virtues, and the practice of the highest morality growing out of the
inalienable rights of man in all the relations of life, is a fixed fact.
It is a natural endowment, coeval with humanity in its development and
progress, and is as absolutely indestructible as manhood itself.

So far from being true is the assumption that religion would be
imperilled by the exposure of the false dogmas of theology and the
heathenish rites and superstitious ceremonies of ecclesiasticism, it is
clear to many minds that the myths of dogmatic theology and the
absurdities of primitive ages are the chief obstacles in the way of the
free course of true religion; and it may safely be affirmed that the
distinguishing dogmas of the dominant theology, Catholic and Protestant,
as will hereafter be shown, are essentially demoralizing and logically
_tend_ to undermine and corrupt public virtue. It is not intended to
affirm that churches and theologians do no good and that their entire
influence is bad. They teach much that is humane in principle and moral
in practice, and so do good for society. Nevertheless, it is true that
much of the rotten morality of the times can be philosophically traced
to the influence of a false theology. The main dogmas of Romish and
orthodox Protestant creeds are false, and it is absurd to suppose that a
pure system of public virtue can be founded upon ignorance,
superstition, and falsehood.

But, after all, we are asked, Does it make any odds what one believes if
he is only sincere in his faith?

The obvious answer is, that the more sincerely you believe a lie the
more dangerous is your faith. The more trustfully you build upon a sandy
foundation the sooner and greater will be the fall and ruin of the
superstructure. The more implicitly you confide in a dishonest partner
or agent the more successful will be his robbery. There is no safety in
error and falsehood. The Westminster divines well said, “Truth is in
order to righteousness.” There can be no true righteousness inherent in
a system of superstition and falsehood. The failure of the Church to
reach the masses and to establish a condition of public honesty superior
to the ancient heathen morality shows that there must be some serious
defect in its methods.

But the crushing objection to theological agitation and free discussion
is the common one that “it is unwise to unsettle and destroy the faith
of the people in the dominant theology unless there is something better
to offer them as a substitute.”

There is something better. Truth is always better and safer than
falsehood. In the discussions which are to follow an attempt will be
made to show that there is a _natural religion_ which accords with
enlightened reason, and which cannot fail to furnish a firm scientific
foundation for _the highest morality_. The common saying, that “it is
better to have a false religion than no religion,” contains two
groundless assumptions—viz. that it is possible for a man to have _no_
religion, and that that which is false may be dignified with the name
_religion_. It is about time that things should be called by their right
names, and that superstition and falsehood should not be deemed
necessary to public morality.

For a religion (so called) of superstition and falsehood there must be a
religion of _natural science*that cannot be overthrown, and which cannot
fail to make its way among men as knowledge shall increase and the
principles of true religious philosophy shall be [pg 21] better
understood. We should not be frightened at the cowardly cry of
“destructive criticism.” We *must_ pull down before we can reconstruct.


  (1) To imitate the example of the early Christian Fathers in fraud,
      falsehood, and forgery for the promotion of religion is a policy
      that is too shocking to the moral sense of civilized men
      everywhere to be tolerated. To withhold or suppress the truth is a
      crime against humanity and contrary to the spirit of this age; and
      those who do it are the enemies of progress and unworthy to be
      recognized as the authoritative teachers of the world.
  (2) Those who publish that which is false or suppress what is true not
      only do a great wrong to the people, but, if possible, do a
      greater wrong to their own souls, and must suffer the
      consequences. They must have an awful reckoning with eternal,
      retributive justice.
  (3) It is a most egregious mistake to suppose that the people cannot
      be trusted with the whole truth—that their sense of right is so
      dull and flimsy that on the slightest discovery of the errors in
      which they have been instructed from infancy they would lose
      confidence in all truth and rightfulness and rush riotously to
      ruin. If the people must be hoodwinked for ever, then the
      distinguishing principle of the Protestant Reformation and the
      basic principles of our American Declaration of Independence and
      republican government are false and delusive, and we should return
      to mediæval times and to feudal and autocratic government in
      Church and State.
  (4) It is high time that men should see that dogma is not religion;
      that blind faith is more to be feared than rational skepticism and
      scientific investigation; that whatever is opposed to reason and
      science in theology can be spared, not only without any loss, but
      greatly to the advantage of true religion and sound morality. All
      the religion that is worth having is _natural and rational_, and
      corresponds with the facts of the universe as they are
      demonstrated by the crucibles of science and the inductions of a
      sound philosophy. The principal moral obligations of men grow out
      of their relations to each other in life, and nothing can be more
      complete than the Golden Rule, emphasized in the Sermon on the
      Mount, but as clearly taught in the Jewish _Babylonian Talmud_,
      and in the twenty-fourth Maxim of the Chinese philosopher
      Confucius, and many others centuries before the Christian era.
  (5) Instead of loading down religion with Oriental myths and fables,
      instead of a gorgeous ritualism and surpliced priests, borrowed
      literally from the ancient paganism, instead of dogmas and creeds
      and unquestioning faith and blind submission to ecclesiastical
      dictation and rule, we want sound moral instruction in the great
      fundamental truths of nature and of science, which will always be
      found to strengthen and confirm the principles of true religion.
      These are the sources from which to gain light. We want less creed
      and more ethical culture, less profession and paraphernalia in
      religious worship and more practical philosophy and common sense.
  (6) The man who in scientific matters would make false representations
      and conceal the real truth would be deemed an impostor, and the
      time has come when hypocrites and cowards in theology should be
      made to feel their degradation and be forced into an open
      abandonment of “ways that are dark and tricks that are vain.” If
      we would scorn delusions in natural philosophy, if we would
      correct errors in oceanic charts, astronomical diagrams, and
      geographical maps, why should we hesitate to correct the most
      egregious blunders regarding those things which are infinitely
      more important? Can we with any proper sense of propriety and
      right connive at falsehood and uphold and strengthen it by our
      silence and cowardly negligence in failing to expose it? Are not
      all delusions debasing and opposed to the progress of truth and
      the elevation of mankind? In all the departments of human
      knowledge religion and morality are most imperative in their
      demands for pure and unadulterated truth; and he who does not
      recognize this fact sins grievously against his own soul, against
      the human family, and against the truth and its eternal Author,
      the God of all truth.
  (7) Finally, let it not be overlooked that it will not, for many
      reasons, be possible much longer to keep the people in ignorance,
      and to palm off upon them myths for veritable history and a system
      of theology plainly at variance with the conclusions of science,
      the facts of history, and the spiritual and moral consciousness of
      every true and well-developed man. The schoolmaster is abroad, and
      the spirit of fearless investigation is in the air, and men
      _will,_ sooner or later, find out what is true; and when they come
      to understand how they have been imposed upon by their cowardly
      teachers, a fearful _reaction_ will be the result; and woe to the
      hypocrite and time-server when that time comes! It is therefore
      not only good principle, but good policy, to tell the whole truth
      now. The following copy of a book-notice well describes the
      prevalent policy regarding matters of faith:

“A theory of religious philosophy which is much commoner among us than
most of us think, but which has never been expressed so fully or so
attractively as in the story of Marius.

“‘Submit,’ it seems to say, ‘to the religious order about you, accept
the common beliefs, or at least behave as if you accepted them, and live
habitually in the atmosphere of feeling and sensation which they have
engendered and still engender; surrender your feeling while still
maintaining the intellectual citadel intact; pray, weep, dream with the
majority while you think with the elect; only so will you obtain from
life all it has to give, its most delicate flavor, its subtlest aroma.’”
Against such a _sham_ the writer heartily protests, as against the
villainous maxim, quoted from memory, accredited to Aristotle: “_Think_
with the sages and philosophers, but _talk_ like the common people.”
Come what may, let us cease to profess what we have ceased to believe.

“The two learned people of the village,” says Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes,
telling of his fanciful Arrowhead Village, “were the rector and the
doctor. These two worthies kept up the old controversy between the
professions which grows out of the fact that one studies nature from
below upward, and the other from above downward. The rector maintained
that physicians contracted a squint which turns their eyes inwardly,
while the muscles which roll their eyes upward become palsied. The
doctor retorted that theological students developed a third eyelid—the
_nictitating membrane_, which is so well known in birds, and which
serves to shut out, not all light, but _all the light they do not

The Presbyterians have provided for a _revision_ of their creed, though
they have stultified themselves by certain restrictions, _shutting out
the light they do not want!_ Let us hope that the time will soon come
when men will be honest enough and brave enough to follow the truth
wherever it may lead. Let there be perfect veracity above all things,
more especially in matters of religion. It is not a question of
courtesies which deceive no one. To profess what is not believed is
immoral. Immorality and untruth can never lead to morality and virtue;
all language which conveys untruth, either in substance or appearance,
should be amended so that words can be understood in their recognized
meanings, without equivocal explanations or affirmations. Let historic
facts have their true explanation.


_“The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for
hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money.”—Micah 3: 11._

_“Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat
a piece of bread.”—1 Sam. 2: 36._

THE cognomens priest, prophet, presbyter, preacher, parson, and pastor
have certain things in common, and these titles may therefore be used

As far back as history extends, the office or order now represented by
the clerical profession existed. It was as common among pagan tribes in
the remotest periods as among Jews and Christians in more modern times.
Service done to the gods by the few in behalf of the many is the primary
idea of the priestly function. It has always and everywhere been the
profession and prerogative of the priests to pretend to approach nearest
to the gods and to propitiate them; on account of which they have always
been supposed to have special influence with the reigning deity and to
be the authorized expounders and interpreters of the divine oracles. The
priesthood has always been a _caste, a “holy order;”_ and it was no less
so among ancient Jews than among modern Christians. In all churches
clergymen _ex-officio_ exercise certain sacred prerogatives. They occupy
select seats in every sanctuary. They lead in every act of worship. They
preside over every sacred ceremony. They exclusively administer the
ordinances of religion. They baptize the children and give or withhold
the “Holy Communion.” They celebrate our marriages, visit our sick, and
conduct our funerals. In Romish churches and in some of our Protestant
churches they pretend to pronounce “absolution” and to seal the
postulant for the heavenly rest. It is not necessary, now and here, to
speak of the evil influence that these pretensions exert upon the common
people, nor of the light in which intelligent, thinking women and men
commonly regard them; but it is appropriate to note the reflex influence
which such assumptions have upon the clergy themselves, disqualifying
them for such rational presentation of doctrinal truth as their hearers
have a right to expect.

The pride of his order makes it humiliating for the priest to admit that
what he does not know is worth knowing. Claiming to be the authorized
expounder of God’s will, how can he admit that he can possibly be in
error in any matter relating to religion? In view of the high
pretensions of his order, founded, as he claims, upon a
plenarily-inspired and infallible book-revelation, and he professing to
be specially called and sanctified by God himself as his representative,
it would be ecclesiastical treason to admit, even by implication, that
he is not in possession of all truth. Regarding his creed as a finality,
his mind becomes narrow, circumscribed, and unprogressive. He was taught
from childhood that “to doubt is to be damned,” and through all his
novitiate he was warned against being unsettled by the delusions of
reason and the wiles of infidelity. His professional education has been
narrow, one-sided, sectarian. He has seldom, if ever, read anything
outside of his own denominational literature, and has heard little from
anybody but his own theological professors and associates. He suspects
that Humboldt, Spencer, Huxley, and Tyndall are all infidels, and that
the sum and substance of Evolution, as taught by Darwin, is that man is
the lineal descendant of the monkey.

Some persons think that ministers are often selected from among
weaklings in the family fold. However, this may be, the absorption of
the “holy-orders” idea, and the natural self-assurance and
self-satisfaction that belong to a caste profession, render delusive the
hope that anything original can ever come from such a source. Whether
weak at first or not, the habits of thought and the peculiar training of
young ecclesiastics are almost sure to dwarf them intellectually for
life. The theological student has become the _butt_ in wide-awake
society everywhere, and his appearance in public is the occasion for
jests and ridicule over his sanctimonious vanity and silly pride. The
extreme clerical costume which he is sure to assume excites the disgust
of sensible people, though he may march through the street and up the
aisle with the regulation step of the “order,” and suppose himself to be
the object of reverent admiration on the part of all beholders. No
wonder that the churches complain that few young men of ability enter
the ministry in these modern times.

The priestly office has always been deemed one of great influence, so
that ancient kings were accustomed to assume it. This was true of the
kings of ancient Egypt, and the practice was kept up among the Greeks
and Romans. Even Constantine, the first Christian emperor (so called),
continued to exercise the function of a pagan priest after his professed
conversion to Christianity, and he was not initiated into the Christian
Church by baptism until just before his death. One excommunicated king
lay for three days and nights in the snow in the courtyard before the
Pope would grant him an audience! The “Pontifex-Maximus” idea of the
Roman emperors was the real foundation of the “temporal power” claimed
by the bishops of Rome. Kingcraft and priestcraft have always been in
close alliance. When the king was not a priest he always used the
priest; and the priest has generally been willing to be used on the side
of the king as against the people when liberally subsidized by the
reigning potentate. Moreover, priestcraft has always been ambitious for
power, and sometimes has been so influential as to make the monarch
subservient to the monk. More than one proud crown has been humbly
removed in token of submission to priestly authority, and powerful
sovereigns have been obliged to submit to the most menial exactions and
humiliations at ecclesiastical mandates. The priestly rôle has always
been to utilize the religious sentiment for the subjection of the
credulous to the arbitrary influence of the caste or order.

Priestcraft never could afford to have a conscience, so admitted, and
therefore it has not shrunk from the commission of any crime that could
augment its dominion. Its greatest success has been in the work of
demoralization. It has always been the corrupter of religion. The
ignorance and superstition of the people and the perversions of the
religious sentiment, innate in man, have been the stock in trade of the
craft in all ages, and are to-day.

It will be shown later how the whole system of dogmatic theology, Romish
and Protestant (for the system is the same), has been formed so as to
aggrandize the priest, perpetuate his power, and hold the masses in
strict subjection. This is a simple matter of fact. History is
philosophy teaching by example, and often repeats itself, and it seldom
gives an example of a priestly caste or “holy” order of men leading in a
great practical reform. The dominant priestly idea is to protect the
interests of the _order_, not to promote the welfare of the people.

In view of these principles and facts, and others which might be
presented, it is reasonable to conclude that we cannot expect the whole
living, unadulterated truth, even if they had it, from the professional
clergy. The caste idea renders it essentially unnatural and
philosophically impossible.

But there are other potent reasons why such expectation is vain. All
Christendom is covered with numerous sects in the form of ecclesiastical
judicatories, each claiming to be the true exponent of all religious
truth. The Romish Church is pre-eminently priestly and autocratic. The
priesthood is the Church, and the people only belong to the Church; that
is, belong to the priesthood, and that, too, in a stronger sense than at
first seems to attach to the word _belong_. Then the priesthood itself
is subdivided into castes.:

    “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas; and so—ad infinitum”

When Patrick J. Ryan was installed Archbishop in Philadelphia, an office
conferred by a foreign potentate, our own city newspapers in flaming
headlines called it “The Enthronement of a Priest!” And so it was. He
sat upon a throne and received the honors of a prince. He is called “His
Grace,” and wears the royal purple in the public streets. Bishops are
higher than the “inferior clergy,” and the priest, presbyter, or elder
is of a higher caste than the deacon, and all are higher and more holy
than the people. All ministers exercise functions which would be deemed
sacrilege in a layman. The same odious spirit of caste prevails in fact,
if not so prominently in form, in all orthodox denominations, especially
as to the distinction between the clergy and the laity. Even Quakers
have higher seats for “recommended ministers.”

Moreover, priests have laid down creeds containing certain affirmations
and denials which are called “Articles of Religion,” to which all
students of divinity and candidates for holy orders must subscribe
before they can be initiated into the sacred arcana.

The professor in the theological seminary, who perhaps was selected for
the chair quite as much for his conservatism as for his learning, has
taken a pledge, if not an oath, that he will teach the young aspirant
for ecclesiastical honors nothing at variance with the standards of his
denomination; which covenant he is very sure to keep (having other
professors and aspirants for professorships to watch him) in full view
of the penalty of dismission from his chair and consequent
ecclesiastical degradation. The very last place on this earth where one
might expect original research, thorough investigation, and fearless
proclamation of the whole truth is in a theological school. A horse in a
bark-mill becomes blind in consequence of going round and round in the
same circular path; and the theological professor in his treadmill
cannot fail to become purblind as regards all new truth.

What can be expected from the _graduates_ of such seminaries?

The theological novitiate sits with trembling reverence at the feet of
the venerable theological Gamaliel. From his sanctified lips he is to
learn all wisdom. Without his approbation he cannot receive the coveted
diploma. Without his recommendation he will not be likely to receive an
early call to a desirable parish.

The student is _obliged_ to find in the Bible just what his Church
requires, and nothing more and nothing less. In order to be admitted
into the clerical caste and have holy hands laid upon his youthful head
he must believe or profess to believe, _ipsissima verba_, just what the
“Confession” and “Catechism” contain. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller once
said in a sort of confidential undertone, “What is the use of examining
candidates for the ministry at all as to what they believe? The fact
that they apply for admission shows that they intend to answer all
questions as we expect them to answer; else, they very well know, we
would not admit them.”

The ecclesiastical system is emphatically an iron-bedstead system. If a
candidate is too long, it cuts him shorter; and if too short, it
stretches him. He must be made to fit. Then, after “ordination” or
“consecration,” the new-fledged theologian enters upon his public work
so pressed by the cares of his charge and the social and professional
demands upon his time that he finds it impossible to prepare a lecture
and two original sermons a week; so he falls back upon the “notes” he
took from the lips of his “old professor” in the divinity school, or
upon some of those numerous “skeletons” and “sketches” of sermons
expressly published for the “aid” of busy young ministers; and he gives
to “his people” a dish of theological hash, if not of re-hash, instead
of pouring out his own living words that should breathe and thoughts
that should burn.

Hence it is easy to see why one scarcely ever gets a fresh, living truth
from the pulpit. It is almost always the same old, old story of
commonplace fossils that the wide-awake world has outgrown long ago, and
that modern science has fearlessly consigned to the “bats and the moles”
of the Dark Ages. No wonder the pulpit platitudes fail to attract the
masses of earnest men, especially in our great cities.

Then if a clergyman should discover, after years of thought and study,
that he has been in error in some matters, and that a pure rational
interpretation of the Bible is possible, and he really feels that the
creeds, as well as the Scriptures, need revising, what can he do? If he
lets his new light shine, he will share the fate of Colenso, Robertson
Smith, Augustus Blauvelt, Professor Woodrow, and scores of others. He
knows that heresy-hunters are on the scent of his track. The mad-dog cry
of _Heretic_ would be as fatal as a sharp shot from the ecclesiastical
rifle. Proscription, degradation, ostracism, stare him in the face. Few
men who have the _esprit de corps_ of ecclesiasticism and a reasonable
regard for personal comfort and preferment are heroic enough to face the
social exclusion, financial ruin, and beggary for themselves and
families which are almost sure to follow a trial and condemnation for
heresy. If the newly-enlightened minister escapes the inquisition of a
heresy trial by declaring himself independent, he has a gauntlet to run
in which many poisoned arrows will be sure to pierce his quivering
spirit. It is true that some sects have no written creed and no trials
for heresy; but even among them there is an _implied_ standard of what
is “regular,” and more than one grand soul knows by a sorrowful
experience, what it is to belong to the “left wing” of the Liberal army,
and to follow the “spirit of truth” outside of the implied creed.

Another reason why the whole truth cannot be expected from the regular
clergy is, the influence of their pecuniary dependence upon those to
whom they minister. The Jews have always been great borrowers and
imitators. It was quite natural that they should adopt the
“price-current list” of the ancient Phœnicians, whose priests not only
exacted the tribute of “first-fruits,” but a fee in kind of each
sacrifice. Then the judicial functions exercised by Jewish priests
became a fruitful source of revenue, as the fines for certain offences
were paid to the priests (2 Kings 12: 16; Hosea 4: 8; Amos 2: 8).
According to 2 Sam. 8: 18 and 2 Bangs 10: 11, also 12: 2, the priests of
the royal sanctuaries became the grandees of the realm, while the petty
priests were generally poor enough—just as is well known to be the case
among the Christian clergy of to-day, some receiving a salary of
twenty-five thousand dollars and more per annum, while many of the
“inferior clergy” hardly average two hundred and fifty dollars a year.

That the Christian clerical profession was borrowed from the Jews, just
as the latter copied it from the heathen, is evident from the fact that
Paul, while refusing for himself pecuniary support, preferring to “work
with his own hands” (weaving tent-cloth), “living in his own hired
house,” nevertheless defended the principle of ministerial support,
mainly on the ground of the Mosaic law (Deut. 25: 4), “Thou shalt not
muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn” (1 Cor. 9: 9; 1 Tim. 5:
18). It is a striking illustration of the inconsistency of the modern
clergy that they quote, in reference to a salaried ministry, the words
ascribed to Jesus (Matt. 10: 10), “The workman is worthy of his meat,”
or, as it is rendered in Luke 10: 7, “The laborer is worthy of his
hire,” very conveniently forgetting to quote the connecting words
requiring them to “provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in their
purse, nor scrip for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes,
nor yet staves,” but to enter unceremoniously into any house, accepting
any proffered hospitality, “eating such things as might be set before
them.” The fact is, the first disciples of Jesus, according to our
Gospels, were mendicant monks, leading lives of asceticism and poverty.
There is no evidence that one of them ever received a salary; they made
themselves entirely dependent on public charity and hospitality. The
idea of a “church living” or “beneficed clergy” or a salaried ministry
never entered into the mind of Him of whom it is said he “had not where
to lay his head.”

It is enough for the present argument to emphasize the point that, in
the very nature of things, it is not reasonable to expect the whole
truth from a salaried ministry. Those who have a large salary naturally
desire to retain it; those who have small and insufficient salaries
naturally desire to have them increased.

This can only be done by carefully preserving a good orthodox standing
according to the sectarian _shibboleth_, and in pleasing the people who
rent the pews or who dole out their penurious subscriptions for “the
support of the gospel.” High-salaried ministers are most likely to be
proud, arrogant, bigoted, sectarian. Starveling ministers become broken
in spirit, fawning, and crouching, and they generally have an
unconscious expression of appeal for help, of importunity and
expectancy, stamped upon their faces. The millstone of pecuniary
dependence hangs so heavily about their necks that they seldom hold up
their heads like men, and they can never utter a new truth or a
startling sentiment without pausing to consider what effect it may have
on the bread and butter of a dependent and generally numerous family.
Ministers with high salaries are almost sure to be spoiled, and those
with low ones are sure to be stultified and dwarfed intellectually and
morally; so that we cannot depend upon either class for the highest and
latest truths. Those who have a “living,” provided in a State Church,
and those who depend upon voluntary contributions from the people, are
alike manacled and handicapped. We must look elsewhere than to the
modern pulpit for that truth which alone can give freedom and true
manliness. Perfect indifference as to ecclesiastical standing, backed by
pecuniary independence, is an essential condition for untrammelled
investigation and the fearless proclamation of the whole truth.

It was noticed in the recent convention of scientists in this city (the
American Association) that it was the salaried professors in Church
colleges who professed to find no conflict between Geology and Genesis.
It will always be so until the ecclesiastical tyranny is greatly
weakened or destroyed, and men can utter their boldest thoughts without
fear or favor, and when teachers can afford to have a conscience by
making themselves free from Church control and menial dependence upon
those to whom they minister for the necessaries of a mere livelihood.
Science itself has made progress only as it has been fearless of
priestly maledictions; and when it shall throw off the incubus of Church
patronage it will astonish the world in showing the eternal antagonisms
between the dogmas of the dominant theology and the essential truths of
natural religion and morality.


The following conclusions follow from what has been said:

  (1) The clerical fraternity claims to be more than a mere profession.
      It is essentially a caste, a “holy order,” borrowed from the
      ancient paganism, but somewhat modified by Judaism and a perverted
  (2) From such a caste or order the whole truth is not to be expected,
      especially when the truth would show the order to be an imposture.
      The assumptions of peculiar sanctity, official pre-eminence,
      functional prerogatives, and special spiritual authority make such
      a hope unnatural and quite impossible.
  (3) The church system, with its tests of orthodoxy, its ecclesiastical
      handcuffs, and its worse than physical thumb-screws, puts an end
      to all independent thinking, and results in an enforced conformity
      inconsistent with intellectual progress and the discovery and full
      publication of the whole truth.
  (4) The pecuniary stipend upon which professional preachers are
      dependent has a demoralizing and degrading influence, so that the
      doctrinal teaching of the pulpit should not be received without
      hesitation and distrust. The common law excludes the testimony of
      interested witnesses, and, though modern statutes admit such
      testimony, the courts take it for what it is worth, but always
      with many grains of allowance. “A gift perverteth judgment,” and
      self-interest may sway the convictions of a man who intends and
      desires to be fairly honest.
  (5) The existing systems of ministerial education and support deter
      many superior men from entering the profession, and have placed
      preaching upon a commercial or mercantile basis, which has
      manacled and crippled the pulpit, and must sooner or later result
      in the consideration of the question whether the services of the
      clergy are worth what they cost, and whether the truth must not be
      sought for in some other direction. More than two hundred and
      fifty thousand priests and ministers (of whom about one hundred
      thousand are in the United States) are maintained at an annual
      expense of more than five hundred millions of dollars; and, as a
      rule, where priests are most numerous, people are poorest and
      public morality lowest.

A member of the Canadian Parliament (Hon. James Beatty) has recently
published a book in which he opposes the whole system of a salaried
clergy on scriptural and other grounds; and many other thoughtful men
are beginning to inquire how it is that the Society of Friends get along
so well without a “hireling ministry.”

  (6) It is a great mistake to suppose that we must look mainly to
      professional clergymen for instruction in divine things. It is a
      significant fact that the most able and important books that have
      been published within the last decade have been written by laymen
      or by persons, like Emerson, who have outgrown the narrow garments
      of a caste profession and have laid them off. How to get along
      without professional ministers has been well answered by Capt.
      Robert C. Adams (quoted in the writer’s book, Man—Whence and
      Whither? pp. 218, 219).

If ministers would give up the _holy-orders_ idea, cast into the sea the
millstone incumbrance of pecuniary dependence, engage earnestly in some
legitimate work to support themselves, they would then for the first
time begin to realize what soul-freedom is, and they could then preach
with an intelligence and power and with a satisfaction to themselves of
which they now know nothing. Let them try it for themselves and learn a
lesson. Whether the clerical order is so divine an institution that we
have no right to call it into question or to abolish it altogether, is a
question that must be practically considered soon.

  (7) There is a deep impression widely prevailing among thoughtful and
      sincerely religious persons that the infidelity of the pulpit is
      largely responsible for the prevailing skepticism of the age. The
      word “infidelity” is here specially used in a strict philological
      sense—_infidele_, not faithful, unfaithfulness to a trust—but it
      is also used in its more general sense of _disbelief_ in certain
      religious dogmas.

We impeach and arraign the clergy (admitting a few honorable exceptions)
on the general charge of _infidelity_ in the strictest and broadest
sense of the word—

1st. In that they fail to qualify themselves to be the leaders of
thought in the great, living questions affecting religion and morality.
We have elsewhere said: “Not one minister in a thousand ‘discerns the
signs of the times’ or is prepared for the crisis. Few pastors ever read
anything beyond their own denominational literature. Their education is
partial, one-sided, professional. They cling to mediaeval superstitions
with the desperate grasp of drowning men. The great majority of the
clergy are not men of broad minds and wide and deep research, and have
not the ability to meet the vexed questions of to-day.”

It is an admitted policy, especially among the orthodox clergy (so
called), not to read or to listen to anything that might unsettle their
faith in what they have accepted as a finality; whereas no man can
intelligently _believe_ anything until he has candidly considered the
reasons assigned by other men for not believing what he does. “He that
is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and
searcheth him.”

Professor Fisher, the champion of Yale-College orthodoxy, has recently
admitted in the _North American Review_ that at least one of the causes
of the decline of clerical authority and influence is the increased
intelligence of the laity. If the people cannot get what they desire
from the pulpit, they will seek it from the platform and the press.
Truth is no longer to be concealed in cloisters and smothered in
theological seminaries, but it is to be proclaimed from housetops and in
language understood in every-day life.

It was once said that “the lips of the priest give knowledge,” but it
may now be truly said that modern scientists and philosophers among the
laity are the principal teachers of mankind, and that publications like
the _North American Review_ and _The Forum_, and last, but not least,
the secular daily newspapers, are doing more to instruct the people in
living truths than the whole brood of ecclesiastical parrots.

2d. We charge that many professional clergymen suppress things which
they do believe to be true, and not unfrequently suggest things, at
least by implication, which they do know to be false.

Dr. Edward Everett Hale recently published an article in the _North
American Review_ entitled “Insincerity in the Pulpit;” and the Rev. Dr.
Phillips Brooks of Boston, who recently received episcopal honors in
Massachussetts, has confirmed in the _Princeton Review_ what Dr. Hale
charged in the _North American Review_ regarding clerical
disingenuousness. Dr. Brooks wrote thus:

“A large acquaintance with clerical life has led me to think that almost
any company of clergymen, talking freely to each other, will express
opinions which would greatly surprise, and at the same time greatly
relieve, the congregations who ordinarily listen to these ministers....
How many men in the ministry to-day believe in the doctrine of verbal
inspiration which our fathers held? and how many of us have frankly told
the people that we do not believe it?... How many of us hold that the
everlasting punishment of the wicked is a clear and certain truth of
revelation? But how many of us who do not have ever said a word?”

The same principle of prevarication and deceit was practised by the
early Fathers of the Christian Church, who not only concealed the truth
from the masses of the people, but did not hesitate to deceive and
mislead them.

Mosheim, an ecclesiastical historian of high authority, testifies that
“in the fourth century it was an almost universally adopted maxim that
it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie when by such means the
interests of the Church might be promoted.” He further says of the fifth
century, “Fraud and impudent imposture were artfully proportioned to the
credulity of the vulgar.”

Milman, in his _History of Christianity_, says: “It was admitted and
avowed that to deceive into Christianity was so valuable a service as to
hallow deceit itself.” He further says  in the same historical work,
“That some of the Christian legends were deliberate forgeries can
scarcely be questioned.” There is not a Bible manuscript or version that
has not been manipulated by ecclesiastics for century after century.
Many of these priests were both ignorant and vicious. From the fifth to
the fifteenth century crimes not fit to be mentioned prevailed among the

Dr. Lardner says that Christians of all sorts were guilty of fraud, and
quotes Cassaubon as saying, “In the earliest times of the Church it was
considered a capital exploit to lend to heavenly truth the help of their
own inventions.” Dr. Thomas Burnet, in a Latin treatise intended for the
clergy only, said, “Too much light is hurtful to weak eyes;” and he
recommended the practice of deceiving the common people for their own
good. I _know_ that this same policy is in vogue in our day. This same
nefarious doctrine of the exoteric and esoteric, one thing for the
priest and another for the people, is far from being dead in this
nineteenth century. It has always been, and now is, the real priestly
policy to keep the common people in ignorance of many things; and if all
do not accept the maxim of Gregory, that “Ignorance is the mother of
Devotion,” many ministers _privately_ hold in our day that “where
ignorance is bliss ’Tis folly to be wise.”

3d. The third article of impeachment, under the general charge of
infidelity is, that sacerdotalists teach dogmas which they do not
believe themselves. They do not all believe, _ex animo_, the distinctive
dogmas of the orthodox creeds—that God is angry with the great body of
mankind, that his wrath is a burning flame, and that there is, as to a
majority of men, but a moment’s time and a point of space between them
and eternal torture more terrible than imagination can conceive or
language describe. It is well said that “Actions speak louder than
words;” and we need only ask the question, “Do ministers who profess to
believe these horrible dogmas preach as if they really believed them?”
Notice the general deportment of the clergy at the summer resort, at the
seaside, or on the mountain-top, and say whether they can possibly
believe what for eight or nine months they have been preaching in their
now closed churches. Listen to the private conversation of our
evangelists at the camp-meeting or at the meetings of ecclesiastical
bodies, and then conclude, if you can, that they believe what they

Take, if you please, the case of one of our best-known evangelical
ministers, a member of the strictest of our orthodox sects, who spends a
large proportion of his time in studying the ways of insects, and who
would chase a pismire across the continent to find out its habits. Can a
pastor believe in his heart the dogmas of the Westminster Confession,
and yet devote so much time to ants? It is impossible. He may deceive
himself; he cannot deceive others.

4th. Our fourth article of impeachment under the general charge is, that
the pulpit is the great promoter of skepticism called infidelity, in
that it insists upon the belief of dogmas which are absurd upon their
face, such as the miraculous conception of Jesus, the dogma of the
Trinity, the origin and fall of man, vicarious atonement,
predestination, election and reprobation, eternal torture for the
majority, and many other absurdities which no rational mind can now
consistently accept.

True, these dogmas may be found in the Bible; and when men ate told with
weekly reiterations that the Bible is purely divine, supernatural, and
infallible, and they find that it is purely human, natural, and very
fallible, they cannot believe the Bible, though they find many inspiring
and helpful things in it. When ministers tell thinking men that they
must believe all or reject all, they accept the foolish alternative and
reject all. And so it might be further shown how, in very many ways, the
pulpit is the great promoter of skepticism and infidelity, and that the
professed teachers of religion are its greatest enemies, its most
effective clogs and successful antagonists. No wonder that the most
thoughtful and intelligent men and women in every community have drifted
away from the popular faith, and are anxiously inquiring, What next?

President Thomas Jefferson, in writing to Timothy Pickering, well said:

“The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of
Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have
caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock
reasonable thinkers to revolt them against the whole, and drive them
rashly to pronounce its founder an impostor.” Writing to Dr. Cooper, he
said: “_My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel if
there had never been a priest._”

We would not abolish the office, or, if you please, the profession, of
_public moral teacher_, but we would banish from the world the caste
idea, the _holy-order_ pretence. When simple-minded young men and grave
and surpliced bishops talk about taking “holy orders,” sensible and
thoughtful men know that they are talking holy nonsense. No man has a
right to assume that he is more holy than other men, or that he has
authority to exercise religious functions that other men have not.

Nor have we any objection that moral teachers should be paid for their
services as other teachers are paid; but when educated men can afford to
teach without pecuniary compensation, we think it would be well for them
to do so; and when the teacher of morals adopts the example of St. Paul,
“working with his own hands” and “living in his own hired house,” we
think the world will be the better for it. Let us hope that the day will
soon dawn when clergymen will consider themselves moral teachers only,
and for ever repudiate the false pretence of special authority and
priestly sanctimoniousness, and clearly understand that mediocrity and
stupidity will not much longer be tolerated because of the so-called
sacredness of a profession.

That the estimate here made of sacerdotalists may not seem extreme and
unjustifiable, I add the testimony of one of the most honored
ecclesiastics of the Established Church of England, Canon Farrar, who in
a recent sermon on priestcraft said: “In all ages the exclusive
predominance of priests has meant the indifference of the majority and
the subjection of the few. It has meant the slavery of men who will not
act, and the indolence of men who will not think, and the timidity of
men who will not resist, and the indifference of men who do not care.”
Alas that “holy hands” should so often be laid “upon skulls that cannot
teach and will not learn”!

Let me here quote from Professor Huxley an admirable statement of the
facts in the case:

“Everywhere have they (sacerdotalists) broken the spirit of wisdom and
tried to stop human progress by quotations from their Bibles or books of
their saints. In this nineteenth century, as at the dawn of modern
physical science, the cosmogony of the semi-barbarous Hebrew is the
incubus of the philosopher and the opprobrium of the orthodox. Who shall
number the patient and earnest seekers after truth, from the days of
Galileo until now, whose lives have been embittered and their good name
blasted by the mistaken zeal of bibliolaters? Who shall count the host
of weaker men whose sense of truth has been destroyed in the effort to
harmonize impossibilities; whose life has been wasted in the attempt to
force the generous new wine of science into the old bottles of Judaism,
compelled by the outcry of the same strong party? It is true that if
philosophers have suffered, their cause has been amply avenged.
Extinguished theologies lie about the cradle of every science as the
strangled snakes beside that of Hercules; and history records that
whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has
been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not
annihilated, scotched if not slain. But orthodoxy learns not, neither
can it forget; and though at present bewildered and afraid to move, it
is as willing as ever to insist that the first chapter of Genesis
contains the beginning and the end of sound science, and to visit with
such petty thunderbolts as its half-paralyzed hands can hurl those who
refuse to degrade nature to the level of primitive Judaism.” “Religion,”
he also elsewhere writes, “arising like all other knowledge out of the
action and interaction of man’s mind, has taken the intellectual
coverings of Fetishism, Polytheism, of Theism or Atheism, of
Superstition or Rationalism; and if the religion of the present differs
from that of the past, it is because the theology of the present has
become more scientific than that of the past; not because it has
renounced idols of wood and idols of stone, but it begins to see the
necessity of breaking in pieces the idols built up of books and
traditions and fine-spun ecclesiastical cobwebs, and of cherishing the
noblest and most human of man’s emotions by worship, ‘for the most part
of the silent sort,’ at the altar of the _unknown and unknowable_”...
“If a man asks me what the politics of the inhabitants of the moon are,
and I reply that I know not, that neither I nor any one else have any
means of knowing, and that under these circumstances I decline to
trouble myself about the subject at all, I do not think he has any right
to call me a skeptic.” Again: “What are among the moral convictions most
fondly held by barbarous and semi-barbarous people? They are the
convictions that authority is the soundest basis of belief; that merit
attaches to a readiness to believe; that the doubting disposition is a
bad one, and skepticism a sin; and there are many excellent persons who
still hold by these principles.”... “Yet we have no reason to believe
that it is the improvement of our faith nor that of our morals which
keeps the plague from our city; but it is the improvement of our natural
knowledge. We have learned that pestilences will only take up their
abode among those who have prepared unswept and ungarnished residences
for them. Their cities must have narrow, un watered streets full of
accumulated garbage; their houses must be ill-drained, ill-ventilated;
their subjects must be ill-lighted, ill-washed, ill-fed, ill-clothed;
the London of 1665 was such a city; the cities of the East, where plague
has an enduring dwelling, are such cities; we in later times have
learned somewhat of Nature, and partly obey her. Because of this partial
improvement of our natural knowledge, and that of fractional obedience,
we have no plague; but because that knowledge is very imperfect and that
obedience yet incomplete, typhus is our companion and cholera our


    “Not giving heed to Jewish fables.”—Tit. 1: 14.

    “Neither give heed to fables.”—1 Tim. 1: 4.

    “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.”—1 Tim. 4: 7.

IT is impossible to understand modern Christian ecclesiasticism without
a careful study of ancient Judaism. It is reported that Jesus himself
said, “_Salvation is of the Jews._” The gospel was to be preached “to
the Jews first.” The common belief to-day is, that the Christian Church
represents the substance of what Judaism was the promise, and that the
New Testament contains the fulfilment and realization of what was
foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

All well-informed theologians understand that the Christian Church is
held to have had its origin in what is denominated the “call of
Abraham,” and that what is known in orthodox parlance as the “Abrahamic
covenant” lies at the foundation of the orthodox theory of grace and of
all other systems of doctrine falsely designated as evangelical. It is a
suggestive fact that while Christians hold that their religion is the
very quintessence and outcome of Judaism, they most cordially hate the
Jews, and the Jews in return, have a supreme contempt for Christians and
stoutly deny the relationship of parent and child.

Now that the descent of the Jews from the Chaldean Abram, whom they
affect to call their father, is discredited by all scholars who reject
the inspirational and infallible theory of the Old Testament, it is very
difficult to find out the real origin of this strange people. All modern
writers on Jews and Judaism admit that outside of the Old Testament
there is little or no history of the Jews down to the time of Alexander,
and that there is very little reliable history even in the collection of
books known as the Hebrew Scriptures. It cannot be doubted now that the
Pentateuch, improperly called the five books of Moses, was mostly
written after the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon,
about 538 b. c., and what is found in these books mainly corresponds
with the religion and literature of the Assyrians, and was learned
during their sojourn in that country, and not, as has ignorantly been
supposed, from the mythical Abram, the reputed immigrant from Ur of the
Chaldees. What is recorded in the Pentateuch, not being mentioned in
other Old-Testament writings, shows that such records had no existence
when those books were written, and therefore could have no recognition.
It will be shown hereafter that there is little or nothing in the
Pentateuch that is strictly original, much less strictly historical.
Indeed, the tales of the Old Testament generally were written for a
religious or patriotic purpose, with little regard for time, place, or
historical accuracy. Persons, real or mythical, are often used to
represent different tribes, while allegory is the rule rather than the
exception in what is ignorantly accepted as history. This is admitted by
many eminent Christian writers.

The word “Jew” first occurs in 2 Kings 16: 6 to denote the inhabitants
of Judea, but they should properly have been called “Judeans.” The very
name _Jew_ is probably mythological, derived from _Jeoud_, the name of
the only son of Saturn, though, like Abraham, he had several other sons.
It cannot be doubted that the stories of Saturn and Abraham are slightly
varied versions of the same fable.

The Jews never deserved to be called a _nation_, at least not until in
comparatively modern times. They were inclined from the first to mingle
with and intermarry with other peoples, and so became _mongrels_ at an
early period.

There was no race distinction, we are told, between the Canaanites,
Idumeans, and Israelites. Ishmael married an Egyptian woman, and so did
Joseph, the son of Jacob. Esau married a daughter of Ishmael, also two
other women, called daughters of Canaan, one a Hittite and the other a
Hivite. Judah and Simeon each married Canaanites. We read in Judges 3:
5, 6, “The children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and
Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites; and they took
their daughters to be their wives, and gave their [own] daughters to
their sons, and served their gods.”

In Ezekiel 16th it is written: “Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem,
Thy birth and thy nativity was in the land of Canaan; thy father was an
Amorite and thy mother an Hittite. Your mother was an Hittite and your
father an Amorite—thine elder sister, Samaria, and thy youngest sister,

In Deut. 7: 7 the Jews are told, “The Lord did not set his love upon you
because ye were more in number than any other people, for ye were
_fewest_ of all people.” In Josh. 12: 24 they are reminded that it was
necessary to “send them hornets which drove them (the Canaanites) out
before you, even the two kings of the Amorites;” and in Ex. 23: 28, 29
it is said, “I will send hornets before thee which shall drive out the
Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before thee. I will not
drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become
desolate and the beasts of the field multiply against thee.” This does
not look as if the Jews were very numerous or valorous in the little
territory not much larger than the State of Connecticut.

Josephus makes certain notes to show that the Lacedemonians claimed
original kinship with the Jews, and some writers make the same claim for
the Afghans and several other peoples. Nothing is more certain, in my
judgment, than that the Jews are the most thoroughly _mongrel_ race upon
the face of the earth. That they have certain idiosyncrasies in common,
and even certain distinguishing _facial_ and other physical marks, can
easily be accounted for on other grounds than the assumption of unity of

The common story of the origin of the Jews is certainly fabulous.
Major-General Forlong, of the British Army, says: “They were probably in
the beginning a wandering tribe of Bedouin Arabs who got possession of
the rocky parts of Palestine, which were never made better by their
presence. They are a comparatively modern people. The first notice of
Jews is possibly that of certain Shemitic rulers in the Aram paying
tribute about 850 b. c. to Vul-Nirari, the successor of Shalmaneser of
Syria; regarding which, however, much more is made by biblicists than
the simple record warrants. This is the case also where Champollion
affirms that mention is made on the Theban temples of the capture of
certain towns of the land we call Judæa, this being thought to prove the
existence of Jews. Similar assumption takes place in regard to the
hieratic papyri of the Leyden Museum, held to belong to the time of
Rameses II., an inscription read on the rocks of El-Hamamat, and the
discovery of some names like Chedorlaomer in the records of Babylonia;
but this is all the (so-called) evidence as to the existence of ancient
Jews which has been advanced; and the most is made of it in Dr. Birch’s
opening address on the _Progress of Biblical Archaeology_ at the
inauguration of the Archaeological Society. Of Jews we hear nothing
during all the Thothmik wars, unless they be included among the
phallic-worshipping Hermonites who were mentioned as inhabiting the
highlands of Syria. We have no real historical evidence of the persons
or kingdoms of David or Solomon, though we may grant the Jewish stories
_cum grano salis_, seeing how outrageously they have always exaggerated
in everything pertaining to their own glorification.

“The only logical conclusion justifiable when we give up the inspiration
theory is, that Arabs and Syro-Phœnicians were known to Assyrians and
Egyptians, and this none would deny. Indeed, we readily grant, with Dr.
Birch, that under the nineteenth and twentieth Egyptian dynasties the
influence of the Aramæan nations is distinctly marked; that not only by
blood and alliances had the Pharaohs been closely united with the
princes of Palestine and Syria, but that the language of the period
abounds in Semitic words quite different from the Egyptian, with which
they were embroidered and intermingled. Could it possibly be otherwise?
Is it not so to this day? Is a vast and rapidly-spawning Shemitic
continent like Arabia not to influence the narrow delta of a river
adjoining it or the wild highlands of Syria to the north? Of course
Arabs or Shemites were everywhere spread over Egypt, Syria, and
Phœnicia, as well as in their ancient seats of empire in Arabia, Irak
(Kaldia), and on the imperial mounds of Kalneh and Koyunjik; but not
necessarily as Jews. I cannot find that these last were anything more
than a peculiar religious sect of Arabs who settled down from their
pristine nomadic habits and obtained a _quasi_ government under petty
princes or sheiks, such as we have seen take place in the case of
numerous Arabian and Indian sects.

“Only about two hundred years or so after their return from Babylon did
the Jews seem to consolidate into a nation, and the collection and
translation of their old mythic records—deciphered with much difficulty
by the diligent librarians of Ptolemy Philadelphus from “old shreds and
scraps of leather”—no doubt materially aided in consolidating the people
and in welding them into what they became—clans proud of a sort of a
mythic history built up by Ezra and other men acquainted with Babylonian
records and popular cosmogonies.”

No efforts, say the leaders of the Biblical Archaeological Society, have
been able to find either amidst the numerous engravings on the rocks of
Arabia Petrea or Palestine, _any save Phœnician inscriptions_; not even
a record of the Syro-Hebrew character, which was once thought to be the
peculiar property of Hebrews. Most of those inscriptions hitherto
discovered do not date anterior to the Roman empire. Few, if _any_
monuments (of Jews) have been found in Palestine or the neighboring
countries of any useful antiquity save the Moabite Stone, and the value
of this last is all in favor of my previous arguments on these points.
At the pool of Siloam we have an “inscription in the Phœnician character
as old as the time of the Kings;... it is incised upon the walls of a
rock-chamber apparently dedicated to Baal, who is mentioned on it. So
that here, in a most holy place of this peculiar people, we find only
Phœnicians, and these worshipping the Sun-god of Fertility, as was
customary on every coast of Europe from unknown times down to the rise
of Christianity.”

The Biblical Archaeological Society and British Museum authorities tell
us frankly and clearly that no Hebrew square character can be proved to
exist till after the Babylonian captivity, and that, at all events, this
inscription of Siloam shows “that the curved or Phœnician character was
in use in Jerusalem itself under the Hebrew monarchy, as well as the
conterminous Phœnicia, Moabitis, and the more distant Assyria. No
monument, indeed,” continues Dr. Birch, “of greater antiquity inscribed
in the square character (Hebrew) has been found as yet _older than the
fifth century A. D._ [the small capitals are mine], and the coins of the
Maccabean princes, as well as those of the revolter Barcochab, are
impressed with _Samaritan_ characters. So that here we have the most
complete confirmation of all that I assert as to the mythical history of
a Judean people prior to a century or so b. c., and even then only under
such a government as Babylonian administrators had taught them to form
and the lax rule of the Seleukidæ, followed by intermittent Roman
government, permitted of.”

Another modern writer says: “Soon after the death of Alexander the Jews
first came into notice under Ptolemy I. of Egypt, and some of their
books were collected at the new-built city of Alexandria.”

Such was the insignificance of the Jews as a people that the historical
monuments preceding the time of Alexander the Great, who died 323 years
b. c., make not the slightest mention of any Jewish transaction. The
writings of Thales, Solon, Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Herodotus, and
Xenophon, all of whom visited remote countries, contain no mention of
the Jews whatever. Neither Homer nor Aristotle, the preceptor of
Alexander, makes any mention of them. The story of Josephus, that
Alexander visited Jerusalem, has been proved to be a fabrication.
Alexander’s historians say nothing about it. He did pass through the
coast of Palestine, and the only resistance he encountered was at Gaza,
which was garrisoned by Persians (Wyttenbach’s _Opuscula_, vol. ii. pp.
416, 421).

For half a century after its destruction, says Dr. Robinson, there is no
mention of Jerusalem in history; and even until the time of Constantine
its history presents little more than a blank (vol. i. pp. 367, 371).

General Forlong says: “The area of Judea and Samaria is, according to
the above authority, 140 X 40 = 5600 square miles, which I think is
certainly one-fourth too much, my own triangulation of it giving only
4500, or a figure of about 130 X 35. I will, however, concede the
allotment of 5600, but we must remember that, as a rule, the whole is a
dismal, rocky, arid region, with only intersecting valleys, watered by
springs and heavy rain from November to February inclusive, and having
scorching heats from April to September. Even the inhabitable portions
of the country could only support the very sparsest population, and I
speak after having marched over it and also a considerable portion of
the rest of the world. In India we should look upon it as a very poor
province; in some respects very like the hilly tracts of Mewar or
Odeypoor in Kajpootana, but in extent, population, and wealth it is less
than that small principality.

“The chief importance of Palestine in ancient history was due to its
lying on the high-road between the great kingdoms of Egypt, Babylon, and
Assyria, and as giving the Arabs a hiding- and abiding-place which
they—Jews included—could not obtain if they ventured out on the plains
south and east. The holes and fastnesses of the hills were their
safeguards, and, as they assure us, very much used indeed. The Jewish
strip is divided into Samaria as a centre, with Galilee north and Judea
south, giving to the two former eight-tenths, and the latter two-tenths;
that is, two tribes;  5600 X 2/10 so that the Judean area would be about
5600 X 8/10 = 20 square miles, against the 4480 of the latter; and the
population would be somewhat in this proportion, for the extreme
barrenness of all the country south and east of Jerusalem would be in
some degree made up for by this town being perhaps a little larger than
those in the north.

“We are thus prepared to state the population of the entire land in
terms of its area, as was done for the Judean capital, and with equally
startling results. The whole Turkish empire yields at present less than
twenty-four persons to the square mile, and in the wild and warring ages
we are here concerned with we may safely say that there were less than
twenty per square mile, of which half were females and one-third of the
other half children and feeble persons, unable to take the field whether
for war or agriculture. The result is disastrous to much biblical
matter, and far-reaching; upsetting the mighty armies of Joshua and the
Judges, no less than those of David and Solomon, who are thought for a
few short years to have united the tribes: nay, the stern facts of
figures destroy all the subsequently divided kings or petty chiefs who
lasted down to the sixth century or so b. c., and show us that Jews have
ever been insignificant in the extreme, especially when compared with
the great peoples who generally ruled them, and far and wide around

“So that this paltry thirty thousand to forty thousand is the very most
which the twelve tribes could, and only for these few years, bring to
the front. In general, the tribes warred with one another and with their
neighbors, so that, for the purposes of foreign war, the Jewish race
represented only two or three tribes at a time, or, say, ten thousand
able men. Thus one tribe—as, for example, Judah—would have only from
three thousand to four thousand men in all, supposing every man left his
fields and home to fight, while Assyrian armies not unusually numbered
one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand men.”

In the above statistics also we have taken a greater area than I think
the tribes occupied. There is not a sign of a Jewish people till about
what is called their “Eastern Captivity,” and the Rev. Mr. Rodwell
writes in the _Trans. of the Biblical Archaeological Society_ that “_the
Hebrew of the Bible is no other than a dialectic variety of the
Canaanitish or Phœnician tongue expressed in the Chaldean character_,
not brought, as has been taught, by Abram himself from Ur of the
Chaldees, but adopted by the Israelites during their long captivities.”
“Could it possibly be otherwise when we look at the facts? The Jews were
a poor, ignorant, weak Arab tribe, living on the outskirts of a land
occupied for long ages previously by the most famous race of all
antiquity—a people from whom Greece, Rome, and Carthage alike borrowed
the ideas of their earliest art and architecture. Homer called this race
_Phens_ Poludaidaloi—‘artists of varied skill,’ and later Romans prized
them above all others for their constructive talent. Pliny, Seneca, and
Varro praise them in words which will never die; Jews said that David
solicited their skilled labor, and that Solomon’s temple, small and
simple though it was, could not be raised without their help; nay,
though Ezra says he had these ensamples before him, and had seen all the
fine buildings of Babylon, yet he too had to solicit their aid, else the
walls of the city of Jehovah and Zerub-babel’s second shrine could never
have been constructed. In all arts, trades, and manufactures this
extraordinary people excelled every ancient race, and from the very
earliest times down and into the Roman period. Is it surprising, then,
that their language and customs prevailed wherever their skilled aid was
required? that Africa in its writing was no less Punic—that is,
Phœnician—than Libyan, guided by these wondrous Pheni or “Tyrii
bilingues”? The history of Britain during some past generations as the
first great manufacturing country of modern times shows how
civilization, power, and progress must ever follow industry and
usefulness, and Phœnicians to a great extent in early days controlled
‘the sinews of war’ where this was their interest; but it too often
proved more profitable to deal in swords and helmets than in ‘Tyrian
purple’ and costly brocade stuffs. Manufacturers are not much given to
writing, and these Pheni have been so parsimonious in their vowels and
lavish and indifferent in the use of b’s, dfs, r’s, and s’s that few
philological students have attempted the translation of Phœnician
writings, though Phœnician, and not Hebrew, is what alone we find traces
of in Syria and Palestine.”

It has been substantially said by William Henry Burr, in a work not now
in the market, that “very erroneous ideas prevail in regard to the
magnitude of the nation and country of the Jews and their importance in
history. Most maps of ancient Palestine assign far too much territory to
that nation. They make the greatest length of the country from 160 to
175 miles, and its greatest breadth from 70 to 90, inclosing an area of
from 10,000 to 12,000 square miles—a little larger than the State of
Vermont. They not only include the entire Mediterranean coast for 160
miles, but a considerable mountain-tract on the north, above Dan, and a
portion of the desert on the south, below Beer-sheba, besides running
the eastern boundary out too far. Moreover, they lengthen the distances
in every direction. From Dan to Beersheba, the extreme northern and
southern towns, the distance on Mitchell’s map is 165 miles, and on
Colton’s, 150; but on a map accompanying _Biblical Researches in
Palestine_, by Edward Robinson, D. D., which is one of the most recent
and elaborate, and will doubtless be accepted as the best authority, the
distance is only 128 miles.

“Now, the Israelites were never able to drive out the Canaanites from
the choicest portion of the country—the Mediterranean coast—nor even
from most parts of the interior (Judges 1: 16-31; 1 Kings 9: 20, 21).
The Phœnicians, a powerful maritime people, occupied the northern
portion of the coast, and the Philistines the southern; between these
the Jebusites or some other people held control, so that the Israelites
were excluded from any part of the Mediterranean shore. The map of their
country must therefore undergo a reduction of a strip on the west at
least 10 miles wide by 160 long, or 1600 square miles. A further
reduction must be made of about 400 square miles for the Dead Sea and
Lake of Tiberias. This leaves at most 9000 square miles by Colton’s map.
But on this map the extreme length of the country is 175 miles, which is
47 miles too great: for the whole dominion of the Jews extended only
from Dan to Beersheba, which Dr. Robinson places only 128 miles apart.
We must therefore make a further reduction of an area about 47 by 60
miles, or 2800 square miles. Then we must take off a slice on the east,
at least 10 miles broad by 60 long, or 600 square miles. Thus we reduce
the area of Colton’s map from 11,000 square miles to 5600—a little less
than the State of Connecticut.

“But now, if we subtract from this what was wilderness and desert, and
also what was at no time inhabited and controlled by the Israelites, we
further reduce their habitable territory about one-half. The land of
Canaan being nearly all mountainous and bounded on the south and east by
a vast desert which encroached upon the borders of the country, a great
part of it was barren wilderness. Nor did but one-fifth of the
Israelites (two and a half tribes) occupy the country east of the
Jordan, which was almost equal in extent to that on the west, the proper
Land of Promise. The eastern half, therefore, must have been but thinly
populated by the two and a half tribes, who were only able to maintain a
precarious foothold against the bordering enemies. So, then, it is not
probable that the Israelites actually inhabited and governed at any time
à territory of more than 3000 square miles, or not much if any larger
than the little State of Delaware. At all events, it can hardly be
doubted that Delaware contains more good land than the whole country of
the Jews ever did.

“The promise to Abraham in Gen. 15: 18 is ‘from the river of Egypt to
the river Euphrates.’ But the Jewish possessions never reached the Nile
by 200 miles. In Ex. 33: 31 the promise is renewed, but the river of
Egypt is not named. The boundaries are ‘from the Red Sea to the Sea of
the Philistines (the Mediterranean), and from the desert to the river.’
By ‘the river’ was doubtless meant the Euphrates; and assuming that by
‘the desert’ was meant the eastern boundary (though Canaan was bounded
on the south also by the same great desert which reached to the Red
Sea), we have in this promise a territory 600 miles long by an average
of about 180 broad, making an area of about 100,000 square miles, or ten
times as much as the Jews ever could claim, and nearly one-half of it
uninhabitable. So, then, the promise was never fulfilled, for the
Israelites were confined to a very small central portion of their land
of promise, and whether they occupied 3000 or 12,000 square miles in the
period of their greatest power, the fact is not to be disputed that
their country was a very small one.

“Lamartine describes the journey from Bethany to Jericho as singularly
toilsome and melancholy—neither houses nor cultivation, mountains
without a shrub, immense rocks split by time, pinnacles tinged with
colors like those of an extinct volcano. ‘From the summit of these
hills, as far as the eye can reach, we see only black chains, conical or
broken peaks, a boundless labyrinth of passes rent through the
mountains, and those ravines lying in perfect and perpetual stillness,
without a stream, without a wild animal, without even a flower, the
relics of a convulsed land, with waves of stone’ (vol. ii., p. 146).”

But lest it may be thought that these dismal features are due to modern
degeneracy, let us take the testimony of an early Christian Father, St.
Jerome, who lived a long time in Bethlehem, four miles south of
Jerusalem. In the year 414 he wrote to Dardanus thus: “I beg of those
who assert that the Jewish people after coming out of Egypt took
possession of this country (which to us, by the passion and resurrection
of our Saviour, has become truly the land of promise), to show us what
this people possessed. Their whole dominions extended only from Dan to
Beersheba, hardly 160 Roman miles in length (147 geographical miles).
The Scriptures give no more to David and Solomon, except what they
acquired by alliance after conquest.... I am ashamed to say what is the
breadth of the land of promise, lest I should thereby give the pagans
occasion to blaspheme. It is but 47 miles (42 geographical miles) from
Joppa to our little town of Bethlehem, beyond which all is a frightful
desert” (vol. ii., p. 605).

Elsewhere he describes the country as the “refuse and rubbish of
nature.” He says that “from Jerusalem to Bethlehem there is nothing but
stones, and in the summer the inhabitants can scarcely get water to

“In the year 1847, Lieut. Lynch of the U. S. Navy was sent to explore
the river Jordan and the Dead Sea. He and his party with great
difficulty crossed the country from Acre to the Lake of Tiberias, with
trucks drawn by camels. The only roads from time immemorial were
mule-paths. Frequent détours had to be made, and they were compelled
actually to make some portions of their road. Even then the last
declivity could not be overcome until all hands turned out and hauled
the boats and baggage down the steep places; and many times it seemed as
if, like the ancient herd of swine, they would all rush precipitately
into the sea. Over three days were required to make the journey, which
in a straight line would be only twenty-seven miles. For the first few
miles they passed over a pretty fertile plain, but this was the ancient
Phœnician country, which the Jews never conquered. The rest of the route
was mountainous and rocky, with not a tree visible nor a house outside
the little walled villages (pp. 135 to 152).

“The ancient Sea of Galilee has a prominent place in Jewish geography
and commerce, yet on this insignificant body of water, twelve miles long
by seven wide, all the commerce of the Jews was carried on, except when
they had the use of a port on the Red Sea.

“In a book entitled _The Holy Land, Syria_, etc., by David Roberts, R.
A. (London, 1855), the valley of the Jordan is thus described:

“‘A large portion of the valley of the Jordan has been from the earliest
time almost a desert. But in the northern part the great number of
rivulets which descend from the mountains on both sides produce in many
places a luxuriant growth of wild herbage. So too in the southern part,
where similar rivulets exist, as around Jericho, there is even an
exuberant fertility; but those rivulets seldom reach the Jordan and have
no effect on the middle of the Ghor. The mountains on each side are
rugged and desolate, the western cliffs overhanging the valley at an
elevation of 1000 or 1200 feet, while the eastern mountains fall back in
ranges of from 2000 to 2500 feet.’”

What was the size of ancient Jerusalem? We know pretty nearly what it is
now and how many inhabitants it contains. It is three-quarters of a mile
long by half a mile wide, and its population is not more than ,500
(_Biblical Researches_, vol i., p. 421), a large proportion of whom are
drawn thither by the renowned sanctity of the place. Dr. Robinson
measured the wall of the city, and found it to be only 12,978 feet in
circumference, or nearly two and a half miles (vol. i., p. 268).

“In a book entitled _An Essay on the Ancient Topography of Jerusalem_,
by James Fergusson (London, 1847), a diagram is given of the walls of
ancient and modern Jerusalem, from which it appears that the greatest
length of the city was at no time more than 6000 feet, or a little more
than a mile, and its greatest width about three-quarters of a mile;
while the real Jerusalem of old was but a little more than a quarter
that size.

“With these measurements Mr. Fergusson undertakes to estimate the
probable population of the ancient city, as follows:

“‘If we allow the inhabitants of the first-named cities fifty yards to
each individual, and that one-half of the new city was inhabited at the
rate of one person to each one hundred yards, this will give a permanent
population of 23,000 souls. If, on the other hand, we allow only
thirty-three yards to each of the old cities, and admit that the whole
of the new was as densely populated as London, or allowing one hundred
yards to each inhabitant, we obtain 37,000 souls for the whole; which I
do not think it at all probable that Jerusalem ever could have contained
as a permanent population.’ “‘In another part of the book (p. 47) he

“If we were to trust Josephus, he would have us believe that Jerusalem
contained at one time, or could contain, two and a half or three
millions of souls, and that at the siege of Titus 1,100,000 perished by
famine and the sword, 97,000 were taken captive, and 40,000 allowed by
Titus to go free.

“In order to show the gross exaggeration of these numbers, he cites the
fact that the army of Titus did not exceed, altogether, 30,000, and that
Josephus himself enumerates the fighting-men of the city at 23,400,
which would give a population something under 100,000. But even this he
believes to be an exaggeration. For, says he,

“‘In all the sallies it cannot be discovered that at any time the Jews
could bring into the field 10,000 men, if so many.... Titus enclosed the
city with a line four and a half miles in extent, which, with his small
army, was so weak a disposition that a small body of the Jews could
easily have broken through it; but they never seem to have had numbers
sufficient to be able to attempt it.’

“The author guesses that the Jews might have mustered at the beginning
of the siege about 10,000 men, and that the city might have contained
altogether about 40,000 inhabitants, permanent and transient, in a space
which in no other city in the world could accommodate 30,000 souls. But
the wall of Agrippa was built, as the same author states, twelve or
thirteen years after the Crucifixion; hence prior to that time the area
of Jerusalem was only 756,000 yards, and it was capable of containing
only 23,000 inhabitants at most, but probably never did contain more
than 15,000.

“Allowing to Jerusalem, in the period of the greatest prosperity of the
Jews, a population of even  20,000, is it at all probable that the whole
country could have contained anything like even the lowest estimate to
be gathered from the Scripture record? In 1 Chron. 21: 5, 6 we read that
the number of ‘men that drew the sword of Israel and Judah amounted to
1,570,000, not counting the tribes of Levi and Benjamin. In 2 Sam. 24:
9, the number given at the same census is 1,300,000, and no omission is
mentioned. Assuming the larger number to be correct, and adding only
one-eighth for the two tribes of Levi and Benjamin, which may have been
the smallest, we have 1,766,000 fighting-men. This would give, at the
rate of one fighting-man to four inhabitants, a total population of over
7,000,000 souls. But if we adopt a more reasonable ratio, of one to six,
we have a population of over 10,500,000 souls. And then we omit the
aliens. These numbered 153,600 working-men only two years later (2
Chron. 2: 17), and the total alien population, therefore, must have been
about 500,000, which, added to the census, would make the total
population from 7,500,000 to 11,000,000, or more. Can any intelligent
man believe that a mountainous, barren country, no larger than
Connecticut, without commerce, without manufactures, without the
mechanical arts, without civilization, ever did or could subsist even
two millions of people? Much less can it be believed that it subsisted
‘seven nations greater and mightier than the Israelitish nation itself’
(Deut. 7: 1)—i e. not less than 14,000,000.

“That the Jews were a very barbarous people is undeniable. Slavery
necessarily makes a people barbarous. Not only were the Israelites a
nation of slaves, according to their own record, but after their entry
into Canaan they were six times reduced to bondage in their own land of
promise. During a period of 281 years they were in slavery 111 years.

“That the Jews were far behind their surrounding neighbors in
civilization is shown by the fact that in the first battle they fought
under their first king, Saul, they had in the whole army ‘neither sword
nor spear in the hand of any of the people,’ except Saul and Jonathan (1
Sam. 13:22). Nor was any ‘smith found throughout all the land of Israel’
(ver. 19), but ‘all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to
sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his
mattock’ (ver. 20.) This was 404 years after the Exodus and only 75
years prior to the building of Solomon’s temple. Their weapons of war
were those of the rudest savage.

“As another evidence of the barbarism of the Jews, when David resolved
to build a house for himself he had no native artisans, but had to send
to Hiram, king of Tyre, for masons and carpenters (2 Sam. 5: 11). Even
the wood itself had to be brought from Tyre, it would seem that even in
those days, as now, the mountains of Canaan were destitute of trees—a
sure sign of a sterile country. The wood of course had to be carried
overland. Wheel-carriages were unknown to the Israelites, except in the
form of chariots of iron used by their enemies, which prevented Judah,
even with the help of the Lord, from driving out the inhabitants of the
valleys (Judg. 1: 19). David captured 1000 chariots in about the
sixteenth year of his reign, of which he preserved only 100, disabling
all the horses (1 Ghron. 18: 3.) Prior to this event neither chariots
nor horses had been used by the Israelites, nor was much use made of
them by the subsequent kings. Oxen and asses were their beasts of
burden; camels were rare even long after Solomon’s reign. How, then, was
the wood brought from Tyre over the mountains, unless it was carried on
the backs of oxen or asses or dragged along the ground?”

That a considerable number of Jews at one time sojourned in Egypt is
highly probable. How they got there, and how they came to leave, is not
so certain. An eminent Egyptologist writes in a leading London journal:

“The presence of large numbers of Semites in ancient Egypt has always
been a puzzle to historians, and what first led to their migrating from
Mesopotamia to the land of the Pharaohs has never hitherto been made
clear. Quite recently, however, the British Museum has become possessed
of a number of cuneiform tablets which throw considerable light on the
subject. Early in the present year a number of these tablets were
offered for sale in Cairo. They had been dug up from the grave of a
royal scribe of Amenophis III. and IV. of the eighteenth dynasty, which
had given up its records, and not only records, but seals and papyri of
great historical and artistic value. Some went to the Boulak Museum,
some to Berlin, others to private persons, and eighty-one have found
their way to the British Museum. These last have now been arranged and
catalogued by Mr. Budge, the well-known Egyptologist, whose
investigations have brought to light a most interesting chapter in the
history of ancient Egypt. Not only do the tablets explain the historical
crux mentioned above, but they introduce us to the family life of the
early kings. They picture to us the splendors of the royal palaces; they
enable us to assist at the betrothal of the kings’ daughters and to
follow the kings to their hunting-grounds. Most of the tablets are
letters addressed to Amenophis III., and some are from Tushratta, king
of Mesopotamia.

“Amenophis III. was a mighty hunter, and once on a shooting-trip into
Mesopotamia after big game he, like a king in a fairy-tale, met and
loved Ti, the daughter of Tushratta. They were married in due time, and
Ti went down into Egypt with three hundred and seventeen of her
principal ladies. This brought a host of their Semitic countrymen along,
who found in Egypt a good field for their business capacities, and
gradually, like the modern Jews in Russia, got possession of the lands
and goods of their hosts. The influence of the Semitic queen is attested
by the very fact that this library of cuneiform tablets was preserved.
And under the feeble sovereigns who followed, her countrymen doubtless
held their own. But at last came the nineteenth dynasty and the Pharaoh
‘who knew not Joseph.’ Then they were set to brick-making and
pyramid-building, till the outbreak which led to the Red Sea triumph.

“Mr. Budge, of the British Museum, has translated three of the letters.
One is from Tushratta to Ameno-phis. After many complimentary
salutations, he proposes to his son-in-law that they should continue the
arrangement made by their fathers for pasturing doublehumped camels, and
in this way he leads up to the main purport of his epistle. He says that
Manie, his great-nephew, is ambitious to marry the daughter of the king
of Egypt, and he pleads that Manie might be allowed to go down to Egypt
to woo in person. The alliance would, he considers, be a bond of union
between the two countries, and he adds, as though by an after-thought,
that the gold which Amenophis appears to have asked for should be sent
for at once, together with ‘large gold jars, large gold plates, and
other articles made of gold.’ After this meaning interpolation he
returns to the marriage question, and proposes to act in the matter of
the dowry in the same way in which his grandfather acted, presumably on
a like occasion. He then enlarges on the wealth of his kingdom, where
‘gold is like dust which cannot be counted,’ and he adds an inventory of
presents which he is sending, articles of gold, inlay, and harness, and
thirty eunuchs.”

In speaking of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt, Dr. Knappert
says: “According to the tradition preserved in Genesis, it was the
promotion of Jacob’s son, Joseph, to be viceroy of Egypt that brought
about the migration of the sons of Israel from Canaan to Goshen. The
story goes that this Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers, and
after many changes of fortune received the viceregal office at Pharaoh’s
hands through his skill in interpreting dreams. Famine drives his
brothers, and afterward his father, to him, and the Egyptian prince
gives them the land of Goshen to live in. It is by imagining all this
that the legend tries to account for the fact that Israel passed some
time in Egypt. But we must look for the real explanation in a migration
of certain tribes which could not establish or maintain themselves in
Canaan, and were forced to move farther on.”

The author of the _Religion of Israel_ says: “The history of the
religion of Israel must start from the sojourn of the Israelites in
Egypt. Formerly it was usual to take a much earlier starting-point, and
to begin with a discussion of the religious ideas of the patriarchs. And
this was perfectly right so long as the accounts of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob were considered historical. But now that a strict investigation
has shown us that these stories are entirely unhistorical, of course we
have to begin the history later on.” The author of _The Spirit History
of Man_ says: “The Hebrews came out of Egypt and settled among the
Canaanites. They need not be traced beyond the Exodus; that is their
historical beginning. It was very easy to cover up this remote event by
the recital of mythical traditions, and to prefix to it an account of
their origin in which the gods (patriarchs) should figure as their

But how about the Jewish exodus from Egypt? What was the real cause?
Whom shall we credit, the writer of the book called Exodus or other
writers? What follows differs very much from the Hebrew story.

Lysimachus relates that “a filthy disease broke out in Egypt, and the
oracle of Ammon, being consulted on the occasion, commanded the king to
purify the land by driving out the Jews (who were infected with leprosy,
etc.), who were hateful to the gods. The whole multitude of the people
were accordingly collected and driven out into the wilderness.”

Diodorus Siculus says: “In ancient times Egypt was afflicted with a
great plague, which was attributed to the anger of God on account of the
multitude of foreigners in Egypt, by whom the rites of the native
religion were neglected. The Egyptians accordingly drove them out. The
most notable of them went under Cadmus and Danaus to Greece, but the
greater number followed Moses, a wise and valiant leader, to Palestine.”

Tacitus, the Roman historian, says: “In this clash of opinions one point
seems to be universally admitted—a pestilential disease, disfiguring the
race of man and making the body an object of loathsome deformity,
spreading all over Egypt. Bocchoris, at that time the reigning monarch,
consulted the oracle of Jupiter Hammon, and received for answer that the
kingdom must be purified by exterminating the infected multitude, as a
race of men detested by the gods. After diligent search the wretched
sufferers were collected together, and in a wild and barren desert
abandoned to their misery. In that distress, while the vulgar herd was
sunk in deep despair, Moses, one of their number, reminded them that by
the wisdom of his counsels they had been already rescued out of
impending danger. Deserted as they were by men and gods, he told them
that if they did not repose their confidence in him as their chief by
divine commission they had no resource left. His offer was accepted.
Their march began, they knew not whither. Want of water was their chief
distress. Worn out with fatigue, they lay stretched on the bare earth,
heartbroken, ready to expire, when a troop of wild asses, returning from
pasture, went up the steep ascent of a rock covered with a grove of
trees. The verdure of the herbage round the place suggested the idea of
springs near at hand. Moses traced the steps of the animals, and
discovered a plentiful vein of water. By this relief the fainting
multitude was raised from despair.”

In a learned work on Egypt by Mr. William Oxley of England, published in
1884, the author writes: “Taking the records as we find them, if they
are real history, and as Palestine is contiguous to Egypt, we should
naturally expect to find some reference to the Israelites in the
Egyptian annals, but what does appear in regard to Palestine is
certainly not favorable to the assumption that it was the home of the
Israelites as a nation. I cull the following from such materials as are
at present within reach, partly taken from the _Records of the Past_:

“It has been generally acknowledged by Egyptian biblicists that ‘the
cruel bondage of the Israelites, culminated under the reign of Rameses
II., nineteenth dynasty, and that the Exodus took place under his
successor, Menephtah I., 1326 b. c., who was drowned in the Red Sea with
all his host in his attempt to bring the wanderers back again. But, as I
have already said, the tomb of this very king at Thebes contains an
inscription to the effect that he had lived to a good old age, and was a
child of good-fortune from his cradle to the grave. In the annals of
Rameses III., who reigned some fifty or sixty years after the Israelites
_ought to have been_ settled in their own land, many references are made
to the country in which they were located (according to biblical
accounts). The king goes to what is known to us as Palestine, Phœnicia,
and Syria to receive the annual tribute from the chiefs/ whom he calls
Khetas. In the enumeration of his conquests, extending from Egypt east
and northward, he enumerates thirty-eight tribes and peoples, and says:
‘I have smitten every land, and have taken every land in its extent.’ In
his reminder to the God Ptah of the benefits he had conferred on the
god, the king says: ‘I gave to thy temple from the store-houses of
Egypt, Tar-neter, and Kharu (i, e. Palestine and Syria) more numerous
offerings than the sand of the sea, as well as cattle and slaves’
(Syrians). He also built a temple to Ammon in the same country, to which
‘the nations of the Rutenna came and brought their tribute.’ Making full
allowance for the usual Egyptian flattery, the fact is clear that in the
time of this king the Israelites could not have been a settled and
distinct people; and the incident of their Exodus would have been too
fresh and recent to be passed over without some comment by this
vainglorious monarch.

“From a papyrus translated in the _Records of the Past_ (ii. 107),
entitled _Travels of an Egyptian_, who gives a full account of
Palestine, etc., it appears there was a fortress there which had been
built by Rameses II., and which was still belonging to Egypt. This would
be about 1350 B. C.; but not the slightest hint of any such people as
Israelites, although he tells us  ‘he visited the country to get
information respecting the country, with the manners and customs of its

“The next is Rameses XII., some two hundred years after the Exodus, who
is the hero of the story of the possessed princess. He was in
Mesopotamia at the time when the chief of the Bakhten brought his
daughter, who afterward became queen of Egypt. ‘His Majesty was there
registering the annual tributes of all the princes of the countries,’
among whom he enumerates Tar-neter (Palestine), but no mention of

“I find no further trace until the time of Herodotus (about 420 B. c.);
and here we come on historical ground. This great historian travelled
through Egypt and Palestine in the reign of one of the kings of the
Persian dynasty, about forty or fifty years after the alleged return of
the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, and when the temple had been
built and the city fortified. He repeatedly alludes to the Phœnicians
and Syrians, whose country extended from the coast of the Levant down to
the Egyptian frontier, including the isthmus and Sinaitic Peninsula. He
says that Necho (about 670 b. c.) fought with the Syrians, and took a
large city, Cadytis; but he makes no mention of Jews nor yet of
Jerusalem. If they had been there, it is incredible that such a careful
and grasping historian should have explored the land without noticing
them in some way or other.

“The next is from a tablet erected to Alexander II. by Ptolemy, at that
time viceroy under the Persian king, but who soon after himself became
king of Egypt, 305 b. c. The inscription states that ‘Alexander marched
with an army of Ionians to the Syrians’ land, who were at war with him.
He penetrated its interior and took it at one stroke, and led their
princes, cavalry, ships, and works of art to Egypt.’

“Next follows the third Ptolemy, 238 b. c. (see the Decree of Canopus,
_Records of the Past_, viii., 81), who invaded the two lands of Asia,
and brought back to Egypt all the treasures which had been carried away
by Cambyses and his successors. He ‘imported corn from East Rutenna and
Kafatha’—i. e. from Syria and Phœnicia. It was the father of this king
who is credited with sending to Judea for the seventy-two men who
translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek; and yet neither of these
Ptolemaic kings makes mention of Judea, Jerusalem, or the Jews! The
inference is obvious: _they were not there._

“Many historiographers, when writing of Jewish annals, use the Ptolemaic
and other monumental and papyrian accounts as applying to the Jews, and
consequently use the term ‘Jews,’ but this is unwarrantable, inasmuch as
the accounts themselves speak of ‘Syrians, Phœnicians,’ etc., but _not_
of ‘Jews.’ According to the best cyclopædists, ‘there is little or
nothing known of the Jews or Jerusalem until the time of Christ;’ and
even then it is taken chiefly from Josephus, who, to my view, is
scarcely admissible as a chronographer of actual history. No mention is
made by the Ptolemies—say 250 or even less years b. c.—of the Jews of
Jerusalem, and as the Roman emperor Hadrian (from 117 to 138 A. D.) is
credited with changing the name of the city to _Ælia Capitolina_, it
could only have been known as Jerusalem for a few centuries at most. The
Arch of Titus in Rome is taken as conclusive proof that it was erected
to commemorate his victories over the rebellious Jews and the successful
siege of Jerusalem. But even this, I apprehend, is taken chiefly from
Josephus. When in Rome last year I closely inspected this arch,
expecting to find an inscription to this effect, but I was disappointed
at seeing only a Latin one over the arch, which reads (in English): ‘The
Senate and Roman People to the Divine Titus, (Son) of the divine
Vespasian,’ and another, by Pius VII., recording its restoration. It is
true, I saw the alto-reliefs on the inside of the arch, showing a table,
trumpets, and a seven-branched lamp; but these were used in many
temples, and would as well refer to the Syrian or Phœnician temples,
which undoubtedly existed at that time, and in the absence of direct
Roman testimony to the name of the city and people (of which I am
unaware), it cannot be accepted as indubitable evidence of its reference
to a city called and known to them as Jerusalem, and to a people known
to them as Jews. Unless this can be established, it only amounts to an
inference resting on Josephus.

“As the result of my researches, I place Jewish historians, so called,
upon the same footing as the Christian ecclesiastical ones, whose works,
while containing a base of more or less historical reference and truth,
are yet too much overweighted with unhistorical myths to be regarded as
genuine, sober history. To my view, the Jews were, at the period I am
referring to, in a not dissimilar position to the Druses of Lebanon of
the present day. As is well known to a certain class of writers who have
come in contact with them, they form a community held together not so
much by national ties as by semi-religious ones, which are based upon
Cabalistic and theurgic rites and ceremonies. Like what I conceive the
Jews to have been in the centuries preceding the Christian era, they are
an _order_ rather than a nation, the remains of systems which have
continued and survived from ancient times. In this light the Jewish
records are intelligible as writings veiled in allegory, treating of
their mystic lore, albeit expressed in verbiage that bears a literal
meaning upon its surface. I give this as the only solution that presents
itself of the mysterious problem under review.”

I now propose to state a few points from the Jewish writings themselves
(collated from Bishop Colenso) to show the fabulous character of the
history of this pretentious people.

The number of fighting-men who marched out of Egypt is nowhere estimated
at less than 600,000, and if this represented only one-fourth of the
population, the latter must have reached 3,000,000. If we cut this down
one-third, so as to be sure of our figures, we make it 2,000,000 souls.

The number of the children of Israel who went into Egypt was 70 (Ex. 1:
5). They sojourned in Egypt 215 years. It could not have been 430 years,
as would appear from Ex. 11:40. The marginal chronology makes the period
215 years, and there were only four generations to the Exodus—namely,
Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses (Ex. 6: 16, 18, 20). How could these
people have increased in 215 years from 70 souls so as to number 600,000
warriors? It would have required an average number of 46 children to
each father. The 12 sons of Jacob had between them only 53 sons. At this
rate of increase, in the fourth generation there would have been only
6311 males (provided they were all living at the time of the Exodus),
instead of 1,000,000. If we add the fifth generation, who would be
mostly children, the total number of males would not have exceeded

All the first-born males from a month old and upward, of those that were
numbered, were 22,273 (Num. 3: 43). The lowest computation of the whole
number of the people at that time is 2,000,000. The number of males
would be 1,000,000. Dividing the latter number by the number of
first-born, gives 44, which would be the average number of boys in each
family, or about 88 children by each mother. Or, if where the first-born
were females, the males were not counted, the number of children by each
mother would be reduced to 44.

Dan in the first generation had but one son (Gen. 46: 23), and yet in
the fourth generation his descendants had increased to 62,700 warriors
(Num. 2: 26), or 64,400 (Num. 26: 43). Each of his sons and grandsons
must have had about 80 children of both sexes. On the other hand, the
Levites increased the number of “males from a month old and upward”
during the 38 years in the wilderness only from 22,000 to 23,000 (Num.
3: 39; 26: 62), and the tribe of Manasseh during the same time increased
from 32,200 (Num. 1: 35) to 52,700 (26: 34).

The whole population of Israel were instructed in one single day to keep
the passover, and actually did keep it (Ex. 12). At the first notice of
any such feast Jehovah said, “I will pass through the land of Egypt this
night.*” The passover was to be killed “at even” on the same day that
Moses received the command.

The women were at the same time ordered to borrow jewels of their
neighbors, the Egyptians. After midnight of the same day the Israelites
received notice to start for the wilderness. No one was to go out of his
house till morning, when they were to take their hurried flight with
their cattle and herds. How could 2,000,000 people, scattered about over
a wide district, as they must have been with their cattle and herds,
have gotten ready and taken a simultaneous hurried flight at twelve
hours’ notice?

The Israelites, with their flocks and herds, reached the Red Sea, a
distance of from fifty to sixty miles over a sandy desert, in three
days! Marching fifty abreast, the able-bodied warriors alone would have
filled up the road for seven miles, and the whole multitude would have
made a column twenty-two miles long, so that the last of the body could
not have been started until the front had advanced that distance—more
than two days’ journey for such a mixed company. Then the sheep and
cattle must have formed another vast column, covering a much greater
tract of ground in proportion to their number. Upon what did these two
millions of sheep and oxen feed in the journey to the Red Sea over a
desert region, sandy, gravelly, and stony alternately? How did the
people manage with the sick and infirm, and especially with the seven
hundred and fifty births that must have taken place in the three days’

Judah was forty-two years old when he went down with Jacob into Egypt,
being three years older than his brother Joseph, who was then
thirty-nine. For “Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before
Pharaoh” (Gen. 41: 46); and from that time nine years elapsed (seven of
plenty and two of famine) before Jacob came down into Egypt. Judah was
born in the fourth year of Jacob’s double marriage (Gen. 29: 35), being
the fourth of the seven children of Leah born in seven years; and Joseph
was born of Rachel in the seventh year (Gen. 30: 24, 26; 21: 41). In
these forty-two years of Judah’s life the following events are recorded
in Gen. 38:

He grows up, marries, and has three sons. His eldest son grows up,
marries, and dies. The second son marries his brother’s widow and dies.
The third son, after waiting to grow to maturity, declines to marry the
widow. The widow then deceives Judah himself, and bears him twins—Pharez
and Zarah. One of these twins grows up and has two sons—Hez-ron and
Hamul—bom to him before Jacob goes down into Egypt.

In Ex. 30:11-13, Jehovah commanded Moses to take a census of the
children of Israel, and in doing it to collect half a shekel of the
sanctuary as atonement-money. This expression “shekel of the sanctuary”
is put into the mouth of Jehovah six or seven months before the
tabernacle was made. In Ex. 38: 26 we read of such a tribute being paid,
but nothing is there said of any _census_ being taken, only that the
number of those who paid, from twenty years old and upward, was 603,550
men. In Num. 1: 1-46, more than six months after this occasion, an
account of an actual census is given, but no _atonment-money_ is
mentioned. If in the first instance a census was taken, but accidentally
omitted to be mentioned, and in the second instance the tribute was
paid, but accidentally omitted likewise, it was nevertheless surprising
that the number of adult males should have been identically the same
(603,550) on both occasions, six months apart.

Aaron and his two sons were the only priests during Aaron’s lifetime.
They had to make all the burnt-offerings on a single altar nine feet
square (Ex. 37: 1), besides attending to other priestly duties for
2,000,000 people. At the birth of every child both a burnt-offering and
a sin-offering had to be made. The number of births must be reckoned as
at least two hundred and fifty a day, for which consequently five
hundred sacrifices would have to be offered daily—an impossible duty to
be performed by three priests. For poor women pigeons were accepted
instead of lambs. If half of them offered pigeons, and only one instead
of two, it would have required 90,000 pigeons annually for this purpose
alone. Where did they get the pigeons? How could they have had them at
all under Sinai? There were thirteen cities where the presence of these
three priests was required (Josh. 21: 19). The three priests had to eat
a large portion of the bumt-offerings (Num. 18: 10) and all the
sin-offerings—two hundred and fifty pigeons a day—more than eighty for
each priest.

In keeping the second passover under Sinai, 150,000 lambs must have been
killed—i. e. one for each family (Ex. 12: 3, 4). The Levites slew them,
and the three priests had to sprinkle the blood from their hands (1
Chron. 30: 16; 35: 11). The killing had to be done “between two
evenings” (Ex. 12: 6), and the sprinkling had to be done in about two
hours. The killing must have been done in the court of the tabernacle
(Lev. 1: 3, 5; 17: 2-6). The area of the court could have held but 5000
people at most. Here the lambs had to be sacrificed at the rate of 1250
a minute, and each of the three priests had to sprinkle the blood of
more than 400 lambs every minute for two hours.

The number of warriors of the Israelites, as recorded at the Exodus, was
600,000 (Ex. 7: 37); subsequently it was 603,550 (Ex. 38: 25-28), and at
the end of their wanderings it was 601,730 (Num. 26: 51). But in 2
Chron. 13:3, Abijah, king of Judah, brings 0,000 men against Jeroboam,
king of Israel, with 0,000, and “there fell down slain of Israel 500,000
chosen men” (ver. 17). On another occasion, Pekah, king of Israel, slew
of Judah in one day, 120,000 valiant men (2 Chron. 28: 6.)

The Israelites at their Exodus were provided with tents (Ex. 16: 16), in
which they undoubtedly encamped and dwelt. They did not dwell in tents
in Egypt, but in “houses” with “doors,” “sideposts,” and “lintels.”
These tents must have been made either of hair or of skin (Ex. 26: 7,
14; 36: 14, 19)—most probably of the latter—and were therefore much
heavier than the modern canvas tents. At least 200,000 were required to
accommodate 2,000,000 people. Supposing they took these tents from
Egypt, how did they carry them in their hurried march to the Red Sea?
The people had burdens enough without them. They had to carry their
kneading-troughs with the dough unleavened, their clothes, their cooking
utensils, couches, infants, aged and infirm persons, and food enough for
at least a month’s use, or until manna was provided for them in the
wilderness, which was “on the fifteenth day of the second month after
their departure out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 16:1). One of these
tents, with its poles, pegs, etc., would be a load for a single ox, so
that they would have needed 0.000 oxen to carry the tents. But oxen are
not usually trained to carry goods on their backs, and will not do so
without training. Then it is written:

“These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel” (Deut. 1: 1).

“And Moses called all Israel and said unto them” (Deut. 5:1).

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not
before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little
ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” (Josh. 8: 35).

How was it possible to do this before at least

2,000,000 people? Could Moses or Joshua, as actual eye-witnesses, have
expressed themselves in such extravagant language? Surely not.

The camp of the Israelites must have been at least a mile and a half in
diameter. This would be allowing to each person on the average a space
three times the size of a coffin for a full-grown man. The ashes, offal,
and refuse of the sacrifices would therefore have to be carried by the
priest in person a distance of three-quarters of a mile “without the
camp, unto a clean place” (Lev. 4:11, 12.) There were only three
priests—namely, Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar—to do all this work for
2,000,000 people. All the wood and water would have to be brought into
this immense camp from the outside. Where could the supplies have been
got while the camp was under Sinai, in a desert, for nearly twelve
months together? How could so great a camp have been kept clean?

But how huge does the difficulty become if we take the more reasonable
dimensions of twelve miles square for this camp; that is, about the size
of London! Imagine at least half a million of men having to go out daily
a distance of six miles and back to the suburbs for the common
necessities of nature, as the law directed.

The Israelites undoubtedly had flocks and herds of cattle (Ex. 34: 3).
They sojourned nearly a year before Sinai, where there was no food for
cattle; and the wilderness in which they sojourned nearly forty years is
now and was then a desert (Deut. 32: 10; 8: 15). The cattle surely did
not subsist on manna!

Among other prodigies of valor, 12,000 Israelites are recorded in Num.
31 as slaying all the male Midianites, taking captive all the females
and children, siezing all their cattle and flocks, numbering 808,000
head, taking all their goods and burning all their cities, without the
loss of a single man. Then they killed all the women and children except
32,000 virgins, whom they kept for themselves. There would seem to have
been at least 80,000 females in the aggregate, of whom 48,000 were
killed, besides (say) 20,000 boys. The number of men slaughtered must
have been about 48,000. Each Israelite therefore must have killed 4 men
in battle, carried off 8 captive women and children, and driven home 67
head of cattle. And then after reaching home, as a pastime, by command
of Moses, he had to murder 6 of his captive women and children in cold

Now, I respectfully submit that, judging from the account of the Exodus
of the Jews, which they have written themselves, we cannot credit it.
The narrative is full of contradictions, and is so absurd and
incredible, and even impossible, that we must regard it as a _huge
myth_. There may have been an Exodus from Egypt, of which this account
is an exaggeration, but it bears so many evidences of the _fabulous_
that we cast it aside and are led to doubt whether the Jews were ever in
Egypt except as tramps and vagabonds, and to suspect that the whole
story is an _adapted_ history of some great exodus of some ancient
tribes written for a _purpose._

I think it has been shown that the Jews were not the people that they
have been supposed to be. They are a modern people in the world’s
history, antedated by many highly-civilized and powerful nations. They
are not descendants of Abram, as will be shown more fully hereafter, and
their population never reached the fabulous numbers that are given in
what is called their sacred history. Indeed, there is so much of the
_fabulous_ about them, so much of _false pretence_ that upon the very
face is impossible and incredible, that the wonder is that Christians
should ever have seriously thought of regarding them and their
institutions as the source and substance of what Christianity is. We
have no prejudice against the Jews. We cast no reflection upon the
so-called Hebrews of the present day. They are not responsible for their
ancestors, any more than Gladstone, Huxley, Tyndall, Spencer, and other
brainy Englishmen are responsible for the savagery and barbarism of
_their_ forefathers.

It has been our object in this chapter to show the _Munchausenish_
character of Jewish history, upon which the whole superstructure of
modern theology rests. If anybody is proud of his descent from such a
people, he is welcome to the glory.


_“But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their
heart.”—2 Cor. 3:15._

THE first five books of the Old Testament, supposed by many to have been
written by Moses, are called the Pentateuch. In the early chapters of
Genesis, in the “Authorized Version,” there is placed at the head of the
page in the margin, “a. m. 1,” which mean Anno Mundi—the year of the
world—one, and immediately below it are the letters “b. c.”—which mean
Before Christ—“4004.” This is the system of chronology established by
Archbishop Ussher, and means that 4004 years before Christ the world was
_one_ year old. It is claimed that Moses promulgated the law about 1451
b. c., and this must have been about two thousand five hundred and
fifty-three years after the Creation, which added to 1890, the present
date, would make the world just five thousand eight hundred and
ninety-four years old. Lyell, a most judicious geologist estimated the
delta of the Mississippi at one hundred thousand years, and some persons
think these figures should have been doubled. Professor John Fiske
thinks the glacial period began two hundred and forty thousand years
ago, and that human beings inhabited Europe at least one hundred and
sixty thousand years earlier, thus giving an antiquity to our race of
not less than four hundred thousand years. Other scientists talk of
hundreds of thousands, and even _millions_, of years, but we attach no
importance to specific figures. We simply insist upon an antiquity which
very far exceeds six thousand years.

Learned Egyptologists place Rameses II., the Pharaoh of the Jewish
captivity, whose mummy is now to be seen in the museum at Cairo, at 1390
years b. c. It seems strange that his mummy should be on exhibition in a
museum when “he and all his hosts were swallowed up in the Red Sea.” If
we are told that Rameses II. was succeeded by Sethi II., we find from
Egyptian records that both of these kings lived to a good old age, and
the mummy of each has been preserved, and not even a hint is given that
either of them was drowned. But we have, according to the tables of
Abydos and Bunsen, which are generally accepted, three thousand six
hundred and twenty years before Christ as the time in which Menes, the
first monarch of Egypt, reigned, making two thousand two hundred and
thirty years as the period of the Egyptian monarchy before the reign of
Rameses II.

But I contend that Egyptian civilization extends back at least seven
thousand years, and Miss Amelia

  B. Edwards, the Egyptologist, who has recently lectured in our
     Pennsylvania University course, thinks ten thousand years not too
     high an estimate. In support of ibis hypothesis, the great
     antiquity of man, which no scholar now disputes, carries us back
     many thousands of years beyond Menes, and there are many facts
     which favor the assumption that the valley of the Nile was one of
     the places inhabited for an indefinite period. The works of
     art—monuments, architecture, paintings, etc.—show an antiquity that
     cannot be estimated. Manetho, an Egyptian priest, who wrote a
     history of Egypt, by request of Ptolemy II., two hundred and
     eighty-six years before Christ, carries us back more than seven
     thousand years.

The Pentateuch is a compilation by several authors, and hence its
patchwork character. Professors Ewald and Kuenen and others have proved
this, and Dean Stanley, of the English Establishment, has admitted it.
Some portions may have been compiled eight hundred or nine hundred years
before Christ, but not the two contradictory accounts of the creation
and fall of man. The Assyrian cuneiform tablets, which were discovered
in 1873 and 1874 a. d., and which are now in the British Museum, show
that this ancient people had this story about two thousand years before
the time of Moses. The Jews learned it in Babylon, and none of the other
Old-Testament writings contain any notice of it, because it was not
known until after the return of the Jews from their captivity in
Babylon, five hundred and eighteen years before Christ. Is it not
reasonable to suppose that the various Old-Testament writers would have
made some reference to the Pentateuch had they known of its existence?
Professor François Lenormant of the National Library of France, a most
learned archaeologist and palaeontologist, and a most devout Christian,
in his _Beginnings of History_ admits that the Jews borrowed
substantially the story of the creation and the fall from more ancient
nations, and furnishes the original copies. The legends recorded in
Genesis are found among many ancient peoples who lived many centuries
before Moses; and Berosus, a priest of the temple of Belus, who wrote
two hundred and seventy-six years before Christ, affirms that fragments
of Chaldean history can be traced back 15 Sadi or 150,000 years. I have
mentioned these things because they are germane to what is to follow.

There is good reason for thinking that the book of Deuteronomy was
written about six hundred and twenty-one years before Christ, and the
remaining books of the Pentateuch were of later date, coming down to
four hundred and fifty years before Christ. This Professor Kuenen has
demonstrated beyond controversy in his _Religion of Israel_, to which I
must refer for his arguments in detail. The best scholarship of the
world does not believe that what is called the Law of Moses was written
prior to the fifth or sixth century before Christ, and learned men in
Holland, Germany, and England, as well as the most advanced thinkers in
America, now accept this opinion. Professor Robertson Smith, in the
_Encyclopœdia Britannica_, adopts this view, and Dean Stanley, in his
_Jewish Church_, does not leave us in doubt as to his opinion.

Take the following as an example of what I mean (Gen. 12:6): “And the
Canaanite was then in the land;” whereas the expulsion of the Canaanites
did not occur until several centuries after the death of Moses, when
this must have been written. In Gen. (36: 31) we read, “Before there
reigned any king over Israel.” This must have been two hundred years
after the death of Moses. “The nations that were before you” (Lev. 13:
8) of course presupposes that the Canaanites had already been subdued.
“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the
face of the earth” (Num. 12:13), could hardly have been written by Moses
himself. The expression “unto this day” frequently occurs, and shows
that the time was long after the events took place. It is also implied
in various places that the writer resided in Palestine, and so it could
not have been Moses. In Deuteronomy (19: 14) we read, “Thou shalt not
remove thy neighbor’s landmark which they of old time have set in thine
inheritance.” They had no landmark to remove, unless this was written
concerning the land of Canaan long after the death of Moses. They are
reproached for not keeping the Sabbath in the past for a long time, and
this is given as a reason for the Captivity; and hence Leviticus 26:34,
35, 43 was written after the Captivity, which began in 597 b. c. In Gen.
14:14, Lot is taken prisoner and rescued from his captors, whom they
“pursued unto Dan.” Now, there was no such place as Dan until after the
entrance into Canaan. We read in Judg. 18:27, 29 that this city was
called Laish, which was burned by the Israelites, and then they built a
city, and they called it “Dan, after the name of their father: howbeit
the name of the city was Laish at first.” This “trout in the milk” is as
striking as if some one should write of Chicago when the Declaration of
Independence was signed. In Gen. 36:31 we read, “And these are the kings
that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the
children of Israel.” This passage shows that it was written after there
had been kings in Israel, and could not have been written by Moses. I
could show similar incongruities concerning the manna in Gen. 16: 35,
compared with Josh. 5: 12. So Deut. 24: 14 must have been written after
the entrance into Canaan, as until then they had no _lands_, and there
were no gates and no “strangers within their gates.” The same might be
said of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue: the Israelites had no
_gates_ until after they entered Canaan. It could not have been written
by Moses in the wilderness of Arabia.

These illustrations might be produced indefinitely, but enough have been
given to show that the Pentateuch was written several hundred years
after the death of Moses, and that we are justifiable in fixing the date
for most of it in the fourth, fifth, or sixth century before the
Christian era. The Pentateuch abounds in duplicate traditions of the
same transactions, and also in diversity and contradictions. These
numerous repetitions are fatal to the supposition that it was written by
Moses. If Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, we should expect to
find a good many hints of this in other parts of the Bible; whereas we
have no reference to Sinai and its awful thunders, and, although Moses
is mentioned in the New Testament, it only shows the existence of
traditions to that effect at that time. Not until the time that
Christianity arose, about thirteen hundred years after the death of
Moses, did the tradition obtain currency that he was the author of the

The fact is, the Jews are a comparatively modern people, and were not
known as a nation until the time of Alexander the Great (356-325 b. c.),
and Herodotus, by never mentioning them, so indicates. While the
Hindoos, Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, Chaldeans, and Babylonians had
their men of science, literature, and law, whose fame only brightens
with the flight of time, the Jews have no _history_ except what was
written by themselves, and that is so absurd, impossible, and
contradictory that nobody can believe it.

Everybody knows that the ancient Jews were the constitutional imitators
of other peoples. They have always been the second-hand clothes-dealers
of the world. As a race they never have been noted for originality, but
have always been ready to borrow what belonged to other people, and
then, with characteristic self-complacency, have claimed to be the
“original Jacobs” of everything good and great. We intend this as no
reflection upon the Jews of the present day.

  C. Staniland Wake, an English writer, in his great work on the
     _Evolution of Morality_, vol. ii., page 59,  thus expresses his
     views: “Judging from this fact, many persons imagine—or at least,
     from the superstitious reverence that they have for the Decalogue,
     appear to do so—that until the time of the Hebrew lawgiver the most
     ordinary rules of morality were unknown. The mere fact of Egypt
     being the starting-point of the Exodus ought to be sufficient to
     disabuse the mind of this idea, without reference to the contents
     of the code itself. But the moral laws given in the Decalogue are
     of so primitive a character that it is absurd to suppose, except on
     the assumption that the Hebrews were at that period in a condition
     of pure savagery, that God would personally appear to give his
     immediate sanction to them. The commands, Honor thy father and thy
     mother, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou
     shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
     neighbor, Thou shalt not covet, were simply _reiterations_ of laws
     to which the Hebrews had been subject during their whole sojourn in
     Egypt, and which must, in fact, have been familiar to them before
     their ancestors left their traditional Chaldean home.”

Then we must bear in mind that Moses himself was an Egyptian by birth,
and that he was brought up at the court of Pharaoh until he was forty
years of age, and in Acts 7: 22 we are told that “Moses was learned in
all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”

The whole matter relating to the Pentateuch is thus summed up by the
late Prof. John Wm. Draper, M. D., LL.D., late of the University of New
York, in his _Conflict between Religion and Science_: “No man may dare
to impute them (the books of the Pentateuch) to the inspiration of
Almighty God, their inconsistencies, incongruities, and impossibilities,
as exposed by many learned and pious modern scholars, both German and
English, are so great. It is the decision of these critics that Genesis
is a narrative based upon legends; that Exodus is not historically true;
that the whole Pentateuch is _unhistoric_ and _un-Mosaic_: it contains
the most extraordinary contradictions and impossibilities, sufficient to
involve the credibility of the whole—imperfections so conspicuous that
they would destroy the authenticity of any modern historical work.”...
“To the critical eye they all present peculiarities which demonstrate
that they were written on the banks of the Euphrates, and not in the
desert of Arabia. They contain many Chaldaisms.”... “From such Assyrian
sources the legends of the creation of the earth and heavens, the Garden
of Eden, the making of man from clay and the woman from one of his ribs,
the temptation of the serpent, etc.,... were obtained by Ezra.” “I agree
in the opinion of Hupfeld, that the discovery that the Pentateuch is put
together out of the various sources of original documents is beyond all
doubt, is not only one of the most important and most pregnant with
consequences for the interpretation of the historical books of the Old
Testament—or rather for the whole of theology and history—but it is also
one of the most certain discoveries which have been made in the domain
of criticism and the history of literature.”

But not only do the laws of Egypt antedate the laws accredited to Moses,
but the Hindoos had laws which were yet more ancient. The writings of
Buddha, who died in 477 b. c., refer to older books and quote from them,
and these again refer to still older books, until we reach laws which
existed many thousands of years before the Law of Moses, as the laws of
Manu were drawn from the “immemorial customs” of the nation and
constitute a kind of _common law_. “The most accurate scholars point to
India as the origin of Egyptian civilization,” says Le Renouf, the
learned Egyptologist.

If Egyptian literature was derived in a remote period from India, what
must be the date of old India’s laws as compared with the laws of the
Hebrews? It is no wonder that Max Müller, professor in the orthodox
University of Oxford, says (in Chips, vol. i., p. 11): “After carefully
examining every possible objection that can be made against the date of
the Vedic hymns, their claim to that high antiquity which is ascribed to
them has not, as far as I can judge, been shaken.” The same learned
Sanskrit scholar says, “The opinion that the pagan religions were mere
corruptions of the religion of the Old Testament, once supported by men
of high authority and great learning, is now as completely surrendered
as the attempt at explaining Greek and Latin as corruptions of Hebrew”
(_Science of Religion_, p. 24). This great Sanskrit scholar admits in
many places in his voluminous writings the greater antiquity of the
pagan scriptures, and gives many weighty reasons to show how impossible
and absurd it is to suppose that they have been changed and interpolated
to adapt them to more modern times.

The Vedas, the sacred writings of the Hindoos, according to Sir William
Jones the Orientalist, “cannot be denied to have an antiquity the most
distant.” According to the Brahmans, they are coeval with the creation,
and the Sama-Veda says, “They were formed of the soul of Him who exists
by, or of, himself.” The Hindoo laws were codified by Manu and copied by
all antiquity, notably by Rome in the compilation or digest of the laws
of all nations called the Code of _Justinian_, which has been adopted as
the foundation of all modern legislation. I could, did time permit,
furnish the laws of Manu, the Justinian Code, and the Civil Code of
Napoleon in parallel columns, in a way to show their common origin
beyond a doubt. Laws of betrothal and marriage, paternal authority,
tutelage, and adoption; property, contract, deposit, loan, sale,
partnership, donation, and testamentary bequest,—all were elaborately
promulgated by the Code of Manu in 2680 _slocas_.

Laws were arranged under eighteen principal heads, concerning as many
different causes for which laws are enacted: Debts, deposits and loans
for use, sale without ownership, gifts, non-payment of wages,
agreements, sale and purchase, disputes, boundaries, assaults, slander,
robbery and violence, adultery, altercation between man and wife,
inheritance, and gaming. “The court of Brahma with four faces” is where
four learned Brahmans sat in judgment, one of whom was the king’s chief

One of their trite sayings was, “When justice, having been wounded by
iniquity, approaches the court, and the judges extract not the arrow or
dart, they also shall be wounded by it.”

The mode of conducting lawsuits was, in a great degree, similar to that
used in all civilized countries of the present day. The oath taken by
witnesses was as follows: “What ye know to have been transacted in the
matter before us, between the parties reciprocally, declare at large and
with truth, for your evidence in the cause is required.”

“The witness who speaks falsely shall be fast bound under water in the
snaky cords of Varuna, and be wholly deprived of power to escape torment
during a hundred transmigrations.”

Brahmans were banished for giving false evidence, but all others were
punished by blows on the abdomen, the tongue, feet, eyes, nose, and
ears, and in capital cases blows were inflicted upon the whole body.

Some of the moral sayings of the Hindoos run thus: “He who bestows gifts
for worldly fame, while he suffers his family to live in distress,
touches his lips with honey, but swallows poison. Such virtue is
counterfeit. Even what he does for his spiritual body, to the injury of
those he is bound to maintain, shall bring him ultimate misery, both in
this world and the next.

“Content, returning good for evil, resistance to sensual appetite,
abstinence from illicit gains, knowledge of tbe Vedas, knowledge of the
Supreme Spirit, veracity, and freedom from wrath, form the tenfold
system of duties.

“Honor thy father and thy mother. Forget not the favors thou hast
received. Learn whilst thou art young. Seek the society of the good.
Live in harmony with others. Remain in thine own place.

“Speak ill of none. Ridicule not bodily infirmities. Pursue not a
vanquished foe. Deceive even not thy enemies. Forgiveness is sweeter
than revenge. The sweetest bread is that earned by labor. Knowledge is

“What one learns in his youth is as lasting as graven on stone. The wise
is he who knows himself. Speak kindly to the poor. Discord and gaming
lead to misery. He misconceives his interest who violates his promise.

“There is no tranquil sleep without a good conscience, nor any virtue
without religion. To honor thy mother is the most acceptable worship. Of
women the fairest ornament is modesty.”

The following, from the laws of Manu (lib. iii. Sloca 55), will contrast
strangely with the law of Moses regarding the treatment of women and the
esteem in which they should be held:

“Women should be nurtured with every tenderness and attention by their
fathers, their brothers, their husbands, and their brothers-in-law, if
they desire great prosperity.”

“Where women live in affliction the family soon becomes extinct; but
when they are loved and respected, and cherished with tenderness, the
family grows and prospers in all circumstances.”

“When women are honored the divinities are content; but when we honor
them not all acts of piety are sterile.”

“The households cursed by the women to whom they have not rendered due
homage find ruin weigh them down and destroy them as if smitten by some
secret power.”

“In the family where the husband is content with his wife, and the wife
with her husband, happiness is assured for ever.”

That there were many trivial things in the ancient pagan laws, and many
practices prevailed among a portion of the people which seem idolatrous,
we freely admit; but the same is true of many of the Hebrew laws, which
are too obscene for quotation here. We also find among the Hebrews all
forms of _nature-worship_, such as sun-worship, tree-worship,
fire-worship, ser-pent-worship, and phallic-worship. Of this more later

Besides the Hindoos and the Egyptians, there were many nations more
ancient than the Hebrews. The Grecian Argos was founded 1807 b. c.
Athens and Sparta existed 1550 b. c. Then there were the Phœnicians, a
maritime people who flourished more than five thousand years ago, whose
monuments and inscriptions are found in Palestine to-day, while the
Hebrews have left us neither monument nor inscription. The Chaldeans
established a monarchy four thousand or five thousand years ago, and
three thousand five hundred or four thousand years back the Assyrians
became masters of the valley of the Euphrates and the Tigris, and from
these people the Jews got all they ever knew about things subsequently
recorded in the Pentateuch.

The Jewish and Christian religions (for they are claimed to be one) are
next to being the _youngest_, or most modern, of any of the _great
religions_ of the world, the Mohammedan being the last. Each claimed
divine authority; all had their lawgivers, priests, and prophets, who
wrote, as they claimed, their bibles by _divine_ inspiration. The error
of Judaism is in claiming the greatest antiquity, as well as claiming to
be the only religion having the divine sanction.

I cannot refrain from mentioning some things which cannot be regarded as
wholly irrelevant. Moses had a very remarkable experience in his
infancy. At his birth he was placed in an ark and set afloat on the
Nile, and was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, who called a nurse for him
who proved to be his mother. We have many counterparts of this in
Grecian and Egyptian mythology. _Perseus_ was shut up in a chest and
cast into the sea by the king of Argos, and was found by Dictys, who
educated him. _Bacchus_ was confined in a chest by order of the king of
Thebes, and was cast upon the Nile. He had two mothers—natural and
adopted. _Osiris_, the Egyptian divinity, was confined in a coffer and
thrown into the river. He floated to Phœnicia. His mother wandered in
silence and grief to Byblos, and was selected by the king’s servants and
taken to the palace, and was made _the nurse_ of the young prince. We
could give several  other parallel cases, but we pause and wonder
whether the reported experience of Moses was not another version of the
same myth.

We next find this “greatest of statesmen and lawgivers” a fugitive from
justice (Ex. 2: 11-15). He had killed a man and buried him in the sand,
and when he learned that the murder was known by the Hebrews, and
Pharaoh sought to slay him, he fled to the land of Midian and tended the
flocks of Jethro, a priest, until he was eighty years old. He knew then
that it was wrong to kill just as well as he did after receiving the Ten
Commandments; for he “looked this way and that” to find out whether any
one saw him, and “he feared, and said, Surely this is known.” He showed
a sense of _guilt_. He always seemed afraid of Pharaoh on account of
this murder.

He was next commissioned to deliver his brethren from their bondage in
Egypt, and was instructed to say that “_I Am that I Am_” had sent him
(Ex. 3: 14). Now, it seems to me very strange that Nuk-Pa-Nuk was the
Egyptian name for God, and means, “_I Am that I Am!_” (Bonwick,
_Egyptian Belief *, p. 395). This name was found upon an Egyptian
temple, according [pg 111] to Higgins (*Anacalypsis_, vol. ii. p. 17),
who says, “_I Am_ was a divine name understood by all the initiated
among the Egyptians;” and Bunsen affirms, in his _Keys of St. Peter_,
that the “_I Am_ of the Hebrews was the same as the _I Am_ of the

There is another peculiarity about Moses that seems strange to me. In
his statue in Fairmount Park he is represented as having horns, and he
is so portrayed in the statue by Michael Angelo. Now the sun-god Bacchus
had _horns_, and so had Zeus, the Grecian supreme deity. _Bacchus_ was
called “the Lawgiver,” and it is said that his laws were written upon
_two tables of stone_. It is also said that he and his army enjoyed the
_light of the sun_ (pillar of fire) during the night-time, and he, like
Moses, had a _rod_ with which divers miracles were wrought. The Persian
legend relates that Zoroaster received from Ormuzd the Book of the Law
upon a _high mountain. Minos_ received on Mount Dicta, from Zeus, the
supreme god, _the law_. There are many such cases. Even Mohammed, it is
said, so received the Koran.

Then the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and his three millions of
absconding slaves “dry-shod,” and the “rock in the wilderness giving
forth water when struck by the rod of Moses,” both have several
parallels. Orpheus, the earliest poet of Greece, relates how _Bacchus_
had crossed _the Red Sea dry-shod_ at the head of his army, and how he
“divided the waters” of the rivers Orontes and Hydaspis and passed
through them “dry-shod,” and how he _drew water from the rock [pg 112]
with his wonderful rod_. Professor Steinthal notes the fact “that almost
all the acts of Moses correspond to those of the _sun-gods_.” It may
seem strange that the Hebrews were acquainted with Grecian mythology,
yet we know this was the fact. Rev. Dr. Isaac M. Wise says, “The Hebrews
adopted forms, terms, ideas, and myths of all nations with whom they
came in contact, and, like the Greeks, in their way cast them all in a
peculiar Jewish religious mould.”

Moreover, there are strange inconsistencies and contradictions connected
with the alleged giving of the Law to Moses. In both Exodus and
Deuteronomy God is represented as _speaking_ the words, and in Deut.
5:22 it is said God “_wrote_ them on two tables of stone” after speaking
them, and in Ex. 24: 28 _Moses_ is represented as doing the writing:
“And _he_ wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten
commandments.” We here find a hundred commandments, more or less, of a
ceremonial character, and only _one_ of the original ten, the one
relating to the Sabbath, and we here find “earing-time and harvest” made
a season of rest just as much as the Sabbath. Then there are different
reasons given for the observance of the Sabbath in Ex. 20 and Deut.
5—the one that God “rested on the seventh day” after creating all things
in six days (of course this was in six days of twenty-four hours each,
else there was no pertinency in the reason); and the other, that it was
in commemoration of the deliverance of the Hebrews from the bondage in

It has been claimed that at least the Sabbath is an institution first
established in the Decalogue of Exodus, and yet even this must be
denied. Evidences of the observance of the seventh day as sacred are
found in the calendars of the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, and the
_Records of the Past_ assert that Sabbath observance was in existence at
least eleven hundred years before Moses or Exodus among the Accadians,
Chaldeans, and Assyrians.

There are also great variances in the language of the two accounts in
Exodus and Deuteronomy, which could not have existed if copied from what
God had written in stone. The second table of stone was an exact copy of
the first (Deut. 10:2). When Moses got excited at Aaron’s golden calf
and broke the two tables of stone containing the Law, and God was going
to destroy the people, Moses dissuaded him from doing so by telling him
what the Egyptians would then say about him! (Num. 14; 13-16.)

It is worthy of note that the first commandment is of doubtful
_monotheism_: Thou shalt have no “other gods before me,” implying that
there were other gods. Then there is something not pleasant in the idea
of a “jealous God,” as used in this commandment and frequently in other
places. Contrast this with the Hindoo _Geeta_, where God is represented
as saying, “They who serve even other gods, with a firm belief in doing
so, involuntarily worship Me. I am He who partaketh of all worship, and
I am their reward.” God is defined in the Hindoo _Vedas_ as, “He who
exists by himself, and who is in all because all is in him; whom the
spirit can alone perceive; who is imperceptible to the organs of sense;
who is without visible parts, Eternal, the Soul of all being, and whom
none can comprehend.” “God is one, immutable, without form or parts,
infinite, omnipresent, and omnipotent.” No need to prohibit the making
of a “graven image” to represent such a god.

Now take Moses’ description of God. He only saw his “back parts” (Ex.
33: 22, 23), and God held his hand over him when in the cleft of the
rocks while he passed by, that he might not see his glory. And, while it
is said, “Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and
live” (Ex. 33: 20), yet “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a
man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex. 33:11). He was with him in the
mountain forty days and nights, and saw him and talked to him, and so
did at least seventy-three other persons (Ex. 24: 9). Yet we are told in
John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time.”

Then there are many other “commandments” in the Bible which cannot be
reconciled with the “Ten Commandments,” and very many acts regarded as
criminal in this nineteenth century which are not forbidden, but
indirectly or tacitly sanctioned. One of the “Ten Commandments” is,
“Thou shalt not kill,” but husbands are directed to _kill_ their wives
if they propose to them a change of religion, and killing is commanded
in numerous instances and for trivial offences, such as picking up
sticks to make a fire on the Sabbath.

Take the following as specimens of the cruelty of Moses:

“But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give
thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save nothing alive that breatheth”
(Deut. 20:16).

Here is another of his injunctions: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel,
Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate
throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his
companion, and every man his neighbor” (Ex. 32:27).

Here is another: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which
Amalek did to Israel [some four hundred years before], how he laid wait
for him,” etc. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that
they have; slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep,
camel and ass” (1 Sam. 15: 2, 3). This was sweeping, merciless revenge
on the innocent.

He commands the Jews to swindle the Egyptians by false pretence,
“spoiling” them of their jewelry (Ex. 3:19-22). He authorized them to
take _usury_ of strangers, but not of one another; and to sell the
“flesh of animals that had died of themselves” to strangers and aliens,
but not to run the risk of poisoning themselves (Deut. 14:21).

In the affair with the Midianites _Moses was more cruel than the
officers and common soldiery_. He was “_wroth with them_” because they
had saved all the women alive, and required that they should go back and
finish the brutal butchery. I cannot do this subject justice without
transcribing a large portion of Num. 31:

“And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses;
and they slew all the males.

“And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were
slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of
Midian; Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.

“And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and
their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their
flocks, and all their goods.

“And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their
goodly castles, with fire.

“And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of

“And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses
and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of
Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near

“And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the
congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

“And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains
over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

“And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of
Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and
there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every
woman that hath known man by lying with him.

“But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with
him, keep alive for yourselves.”

What shall we say when we remember that Moses found a refuge with the
Midianites for forty years when he was a fugitive from justice for the
murder of the Egyptian, and the Midianites were the first to show the
Jews hospitality when they escaped from the bondage of Egypt? Moreover,
Moses had married a woman of Midian, and might have been supposed to
have some regard for her kinswomen. It cannot be claimed that Moses was
compelled by the low condition of the people to treat the Midianites
thus, for he was the _sole author_ of this extreme butchery of women and
children, and was “wroth” with his officers for not committing the
atrocity in the first place. True, he charges the women with having
“caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit
trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor but this could not
justify the butchery of some forty-eight thousand women and twenty
thousand boys, besides the old men. And then the thirty-two thousand
virgins had a fate _worse than death_, though called the ’Lord’s
tribute’,” and the priests got their full share of the spoil. For those
who would justify such cruelty and wholesale butchery, as they would
justify famine and pestilence the effect of natural laws, I can have no
very great respect.

It has been said, “Cruel as many of the Mosaic punishments undoubtedly
were, it is well to remember that two hundred years ago the criminal
code of England was almost, if not equally, bloody. If Moses stoned
adulteresses to death, it is not very long since we put witches and
Quakers to death, while in many other countries the stake and the fagot
were the chief arguments in aid of orthodoxy. It would not be just to
judge of the punishments inflicted over three thousand years ago from
the standpoint of the present century, when the Mosaic dispensation has
passed away and that of the law of love substituted. There was no mercy
in the smoking rocks of Sinai. There was nothing but the law in all its

This is all very well, but we should remember that the cruel criminal
codes of modern times got their cruelty from the Mosaic code. “Thou
shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex. 22: 18) was one of the laws of
Moses, and from first to last thirty thousand witches were’ executed in
Great Britain and two hundred thousand in Germany. Sir Matthew Hale
pronounced the death-sentence on a “witch,” and Blackstone, the great
commentator, thought that witchcraft must be real because the Bible said
there were witches! Scotland continued to burn witches until 1722, and
Germany until 1780, while in 1515 there were five thousand witches
burned at Geneva. I am ashamed to speak of our own hanging of witches in
Massachusetts, but it is very well known that it was done by authority
of the law of Moses: “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit,
or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them
with stones: their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 20: 27).(1)

Rev. Rabbi Hirsch sums up his conclusions as the result of his study of
the Pentateuch:

“The non-authenticity of the Pentateuch is shown by the work itself. It
is indicated by—(1) The impossible occurrences in the desert; (2) The
various contradictions and repetitions, as in the descriptions of the
festivals; the provision of the officiators for the sacrifices; the
appropriations of the tithes; the rules for sacrificing the first-born
children to Deity—the law regulating these matters varying in
Deuteronomy and Numbers; (3) Certain phrases used, as “up to the present
day,” which lose all significance if applied to Moses. Thus the book
itself shows not one author, but many.

“The non-authenticity of the Pentateuch is shown also by lack of
reference to it in the prophetical and historical books. Jeremiah, when
denouncing in unmeasured terms the very sins prohibited by the
Decalogue, never uses the language of those cardinal rules of morality;
the prophecies show no trace of the priestly ordinances; and, though
most of the laws refer to Sinai, the name occurs in none of the
prophetical books.

  (1) In 1865 the witch-laws were yet in force in South Carolina!

“It contains old songs; embodies the written law or judicial decisions
of the Israelites in the Book of the Covenant; springs from two currents
of history, the Elohist and Jehovist, the former composed of the younger
Elohist of the South and the older Elohist of the North; shows
Deuteronomy very much altered from its original form by emendations and
additions, being formerly without the first four and the closing
chapters, and the Levitical Law or Priestly Codex having been later
incorporated with Joshua and the books of Moses; and lastly it is marred
by changes made in accordance with the new religious spirit.”

We know very little about Moses. If there ever was such a man—which is
very doubtful, taking the writings accredited to him for authority—he is
not shown to have been “the greatest statesman and lawgiver the world
has ever produced.” Neither have the Jews ever developed, in ancient or
modern times, such a moral character as a people as to justify the
supposition that they had a great and inspired leader among them, and
that he taught them anything not well known for many centuries before to
more ancient and more intelligent nations.

The assumption that Moses was the author, under divine guidance, of what
is commonly called the _Ten Commandments,_ about one thousand four
hundred and fifty-one years before the Christian era, is _assumption_
only, without a particle of proof to sustain it. What are commonly
called the laws of Moses were written by some person or persons unknown
in the fifth or sixth centuries before the beginning of Christianity.
Most of the matter of what is called the Pentateuch was borrowed from
older and wiser nations—the Egyptians, the Hindoos, the Greeks, etc. But
for the unbounded credulity on this subject it would seem like an insult
seriously to discuss the question, Which are the older writings? and,
Which the substantial copies? Unless a man is ready to take assumptions
for demonstrated facts, to ignore the museums and libraries, to question
the conclusions of the profound-est antiquarians, and to make the stream
of history flow backward, he must admit that the Hebrews were the

  (1) The substance of this chapter was published in March, 1890, in _An
      Open Letter_ to Hon. Edward M. Paxson, Chief-Justice of
      Pennsylvania, who had affirmed in a lecture before the Law School
      of the University of Pennsylvania that the “law of Sinai was the
      first of which we have any knowledge,” and that “Moses was the
      greatest statesman and lawgiver the world has ever produced.”


_“Which things are an allegory.”—Gal. 4:24._

WORSHIP is natural to man, and all systems of religion, many think,
received their cult from Nature-worship. Typology, mythology, theology
followed each other as the links of a well-forged chain.

Cicero well suggested: “Do you not see how, from the beginning, from the
productions of nature and the useful inventions of men have arisen
fictitious and imaginary deities, which have been the foundations of
false opinions, pernicious errors, and miserable superstitions?” He
asserts that “if the sacred mysteries celebrated by the most ancient
peoples were properly understood, they would rather explicate the nature
of things than portray the knowledge of the gods.” Plato said he “would
exclude from his ideal republic the poems of Homer, because the young
would not be able to distinguish between what was allegorical and what
was actual.” Proclus alleges that even Plato himself drew many of his
peculiar dogmas from the symbolisms of the ancients. It is also said
that he was curious to find out what was the secret meaning of the
allegories of the more ancient sages and philosophers, while at the same
time he affirmed that what he should successfully find out he would keep
to himself. It is well known that the real offence of Socrates was in
publishing to the common people the wisdom secreted by other teachers.
Heyne has truly said that “from myths all the history and all the
philosophy of the ancients proceed.” Gerald Massey, in his great work
_The Natural Genesis_, claims that it is only in the symbolic stage of
expression that we can expect to recover the lost meanings of priestly
dogmas. These are preserved in the gesture-signs, ideographic types,
images, and myths scattered over the world. The symbolic extends beyond
the written or spoken language of any people now extant.

He well says that “ancient symbolism was a mode of expression which has
bequeathed a mould of thought that imprisons the minds of myriads as
effectually as the toad shut up in the rock in which it dwells is
confined.” Myths and allegories, anciently unfolded to initiates in the
mysteries, have been ignorantly adopted by modern priests and published
to the world as the literal truth. The main dogmas of modern theology
are based on distorted myths, “under the shadow of which we have been
cowering as timorously as birds in a stubble when an artificial kite in
the shape of a hawk is hovering overhead.” Modern dogmatic theology is
largely what Mr. Massey has tersely called “fossilized symbolism.” It
was the habit of the Oriental mind to personify almost everything.
Ancient mystics veiled all their thoughts in allegory and draped their
sacred lessons in symbols. They invented many poetic riddles and
fantastic stories, which the initiated knew to be fanciful, but which in
time came to be regarded by the masses as substantial historic facts. It
is well known that this method was not confined to the ancients, but
played a conspicuous part in the Middle Ages, and that its baneful
influence is not yet exhausted. It will hereafter be shown that in no
writings extant can be found so many illustrations of the symbolic
method of teaching as in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. Even in
our day the common people have not outgrown this habit of
personification, and are wont to tell their children of Santa Claus and
Kriss Kringle who bring them presents at Christmastime, and of Jack
Frost who will bite them if they go out in the cold. Modern folk-lore is
full of symbolisms and personifications, as real to multitudes as are
the mythical stories found in writings supposed to contain an infallible
divine revelation.

A large number of learned authors favor the theory that all systems of
dogmatic theology are mythic suggestions of the phenomena of physical
nature, postulated by philosophers and poets in the most ancient periods
of the world. They maintain this hypothesis, in part from the well-known
fact that many of the most widely-separated peoples, who never could
have had any intercourse, directly or indirectly, have used the same
imagery and substantially adopted the same systems of religion. This
suggestion regarding Nature-worship is worthy of careful and reverent
examination. Primitive peoples, living mostly in the open air, were
brought in close contact with external natural objects and phenomena.
One of the most prevalent forms of religion in ancient times was
_tree-worship,_ and it entered largely into the religious thought of the
ancient Jews. The tree furnished the food, mainly, upon which our race
in its infancy depended for subsistence. The grove was called “the
retreat beloved by gods and men.” It furnished shelter from storm, and
shade from the tropical sun. It was a place of rest and a thing of
beauty. Mr. Barlow, in his excellent book on Symbolism, says the most
generally-received symbol of life was a tree. It was inseparable from
the ancient conception of a garden. It was the “tree of life” in the
mythic paradise. It was suggestive of passion and offspring in
connection with the serpent, which was an emblem of male virility. The
tree has many suggestions, not only in it leaves, but in its fruit and
mode of propagation. The sap of certain trees has an exhilarating, and
even an intoxicating, quality. The sacred soma was taken before reading
the Vedic hymns “to quicken the memory.” It was supposed to promote
spirituality and inspiration. Various trees and plants are suggestive of
fertility and fecundity in man. The lotus is the flower of Venus. There
is a “language of trees” as well as “language of flowers.” There are
poetic and symbolic reasons in the form of the stems and shape of the
leaves for the display of orange-blossoms as bridal decorations, as
thoughtful botanists can readily see. Much of the symbolism of the Old
Testament is identical with the Eastern tree-worship; and without some
knowledge of this form of imagery much of the Hebrew Scriptures must
remain a dead letter. The frequent references to palms, cedars, oaks,
vines, mandrakes, etc. etc., are vastly significant to the adept in

The Jewish Bible is full of Nature-worship to all whose eyes are not
veiled by sacerdotalism. The fact that God is said to have appeared to
Moses in the burning bush is suggestive of both tree- and fire-worship
(Ex. 3: 2). Josephus says, “The bush was holy before the flame appeared
in it and because it was holy it became the vehicle of the burning,
fiery, jealous God of the Jews. Even our Christmas evergreens contain a
recognition of the gods of the trees. The feet is, many of the religious
rites of both Jews and Christians are but slight modifications of the
ancient Nature-worship, as all well-read men know, but to which truth
our modern theologians are as blind as bats. Abraham, the alleged
progenitor of the Jewish nation (so called), is represented as a
dissenter from the religion of his native country; yet he, and his
descendants and followers after him for hundreds of years, employed the
same religious symbols and forms of worship used by the people of
Chaldea and other so-called idolatrous nations. Read the solemn
arraignment of the “chosen people” by the prophet, recorded in Ezek.
16:15 to the end of that chapter, if you would have proof of this
charge. The fact is, if we treat the story of Abraham and other
so-called Old-Testament patriarchs as we do the traditions of other
nations, we shall be forced to give it an esoteric interpretation rather
than a literal or an historic one. But more of this farther on.

_Serpent-worship_ is another form of sacred symbolism, and has an
intimate connection with phallic rites. The serpent was not at first a
personification of evil, but of wisdom, and is so used in our New
Testament, “... wise (shrewd) as serpents, harmless as doves.” It also
denotes the art or gift of healing, and was not only so used by
Esculapius, but also by Moses, and is recognized as a type by Jesus
himself: “... And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even
so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him
should not perish, but have, eternal life” (Num. 21:9; John 3:14, 15).
Indeed, the serpent has almost universally been regarded as a symbol of
immortal life, and especially, as frequently presented in ancient
sculptures, with its tail in its mouth, thus forming an endless circle.
This idea may have been suggested at first by its tenacity of life, and
its being so thoroughly alive in all its parts, its body and tail moving
and living after its head has been crushed; and, further, from the
periodic renewal of its skin, suggesting a new and continuous life. Then
there are other significant qualities in the serpent—viz. its power of
voluntary enlargement and self-erection, combined with its intense gaze
and wonderful secret of fascination and its noiseless and mysterious
movement—all suggestive of the _spirituel_. It is also a symbol of power
and divinity, and as such was embroidered upon ancient robes and flags
of royalty. Upon a decorative banner recently displayed upon the walls
of an edifice in Philadelphia wherein recently met the General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, the symbolic serpent
was prominent; and those who criticised it were silenced by a member’s
pointing to the fact that the serpent is engraved upon the seal of the
General Assembly itself. Think of Presbyterians perpetuating

It was doubtless the emblematic snakes which had been used in Ireland in
the Druidic worship, before the introduction of Christianity, that the
somewhat mythical St. Patrick drove out of the “Emerald Isle”—all the
snakes according to Romish tradition, now believed by millions of devout
worshippers to be strictly historical, though known by priests to be
mythical. He destroyed the emblematic serpents. It was not until after
the invention of the talking subtle serpent that tempted Eve in Eden
that the serpent became a symbol of evil. The Jews never heard of that
“old serpent the devil” until after their captivity in Babylon. We must
not fail, however, according to the Old Testament, to give King Hezekiah
credit for having been a sort of Hebrew St. Patrick, in attempting to
drive serpent-worship from among the Israelites after it had prevailed
among them for about seven hundred years.

In a line or two we sum up the symbolism of the serpent, as has been
suggested, in that it is thoroughly alive, has a fiery nature, is swift
in motion, and moves without bands or feet. It assumes a variety of
forms, is long-lived, and renews its youth by shedding its external
covering, and at pleasure stands erect, enlarges its size, is strong,
and is said to have the marvellous secret of fascination.

Initiates worshipped only the qualities or principles symbolized by
outward forms, while the ignorant may have really worshipped the
external or literal object. Every quality in the objects of the ancient
Nature-worship has suggested a religious dogma, which was first
incorporated into ancient systems of sacerdotalism, and can now be
traced in an occult and esoteric sense in all bodies of modern dogmatic
theology. Ninety-nine out of every one hundred of professional
ecclesiastics are as ignorant of these things as unborn babes, while the
select few know, but conceal, the truth. The larger class are honest
dupes and dunces, while the others are hypocrites and impostors.

_Phallieism_, the worship of the genital organs, was another form of
natural symbolism. Men saw that in some mysterious way the race was
propagated by the congress of the generative organs, male and female,
and soon naturally worshipped them as at least the symbols of the
unknown fecundating power of the universe.

This form of symbolism prevailed in the most distant ages, and has
continued in many countries unto the present time. Richard Payne Knight,
an honorable English gentleman, in 1865 wrote a quarto book, of which
only two hundred copies were printed, entitled _A Discourse on the
Worship of Priapus, and its Connection with the Theology of the
Ancients_, in which this whole subject is boldly discussed, and
phallicism illustrated by one hundred and thirty-eight engravings, many
of them copied from actual emblems now preserved in the British Museum
and in the Secret Museum in Naples. Major-General Forlong, of the
British army, has also fully presented this subject in his recent quarto
in two volumes, entitled _Rivers of Life; or, Sources and Streams of the
Faiths of Man in all Lands._

It would doubtless astound many modern theologians to be told that even
the Jews did not escape the influence of this form of Nature-worship,
and that our Bible, especially the Old Testament, contains many
evidences of it; and yet it is a fact. Circumcision was no doubt an
offshoot of phallicism. It did not originate with Abraham. It was known
by the Egyptians, Abyssinians, and African tribes long before the time
he is said to have lived. It was practised, according to Herodotus, at
least twenty-four hundred years before our era, and was even then an
ancient custom. When Jacob entered into a covenant with Laban, a pillar
was set up, surrounded by a heap of stones (Gen. 31:45-53), which was a
phallic emblem, and frequently used in the Old Testament. Hebrew
patriarchs desired numerous descendants, and hence the symbolic pillar
was well suited to their religious cult.

The name of the reputed father of Abraham, Terah, signifies “a maker of
images.” In Amos 5: 26 it is said that the Hebrews in the wilderness
worshipped a deity known by a name signifying “God of the Pillar,” as is
shown by the name Baal Tamar, which means the “fructifying god.” The
Semitic custom of giving sanction to an oath or sacred pledge by what
the Hebrews called the “putting of the hand under the thigh” is
explained by the Talmudists to be the touching of that part of the body
which is sealed and made holy by circumcision. The translations of the
Jewish Scriptures through motives of delicacy are full of these
euphemisms. Professor Joseph P. Lesley, in his _Man’s Origin and
Destiny_, suggests that phallicism converted all the older Arkite
symbols into illustrations of its own philosophical conceptions of the
mystery of generation, and thus gave to the various parts of the human
body those names which constitute the special vocabulary of obscenity of
the present day. Every scholar knows it to be a fact that certain words
and names now never spoken except by the vulgar abound in the original
Jewish writings, and are partly concealed by the convenient methods of
euphemism. When Abraham called his servant to take a solemn oath, he
required him to lay his hands upon his parts of generation as the most
sacred and revered parts of his body (Gen. 24:2), and Jacob, when dying,
made his son Joseph take the same form of oath (Gen. 47: 29). This was
but little more than the equivalent of the modern custom of laying the
hand upon the heart as a token of sincerity. The proper translation of
what the servant of Abraham was required to do is given in the margin of
Bagster’s _Comprehensive Bible_ thus: “In sectione circumcisionis meæ.”
We have in this form of phallic oath an important suggestion as to the
origin, or at least the use, of the words _testimony, testament,
testify_, and their cognates (_testis_, a witness), which cannot fail to
occur to the learned reader, but which cannot here be fully explained.
“_Caute lege_” (read carefully) was a warning of a secret or concealed
meaning which esoteric writers anciently put in the margin of their
books when they would call the special attention of the initiated to
what is now called “reading between the lines.” Until our readers
comprehend this hint they will not be able to understand what is really
meant by the “testimony” mentioned in connection with the “ark of the
covenant,” as it occurs in Ex. 16: 34, before any laws, or even altars,
were known in Sinai or its thunders heard of. In this hint may also be
found the true explanation of David’s nude dance before the ark, and of
the attending circumstances. Scores and scores of proofs could here be
furnished from the Old-Testament Scriptures, showing that the use of
phallic emblems was the rule rather than the exception for centuries
among the Jews; and the idols stolen by Rachel (teraphim) need no longer
be misunderstood, nor the meaning of the wedges upon which she sat and
refused to rise when the “custom of women was upon her” (Gen. 31:35).
She was engaged in an act of devotion. General Forlong asserts that at
this present day Queen Victoria of Christian England rules over more
than one hundred millions of phallic worshippers! Indeed, more than half
of the population of our globe still worship, as symbols of fertility
and fecundity, the genital organs.

A correspondent of the London Times, of April 8, 1875, says: “The Roman
Catholic Church still keeps up certain suggestions of phallicism. As the
ancient temple or dagoba was the womb or feminine principle of the god
Siva or Bod and others, so the new cardinal, Archbishop Manning, was
after his elevation conducted to his church, which is here entitled, in
its relation to him, bride or spouse, he calling it _sponsa mea_. The
cardinal was called the bridegroom, and the _actual building_ (the
shrine of St. Gregory) _his_ spouse, and not the spiritual Church, which
is called Chrises.” The _Times_’ correspondent further writes of this
“sacerdos magnus,” as he is termed, going to meet his spouse, the
Church: “He stood reverently at the door, when holy water was presented
to him and clouds of incense spread around him, to symbolize that,
inasmuch as before the bridegroom enters the bride-chamber he washes and
is perfumed, so the cardinal, having been espoused to the Church with
the putting on of a ring, of his title, holy water and incense were
offered to him, when the choir burst forth with the antiphon, ‘Ecce
sacerdos magnus’—‘Behold the great sacerdotal!’”

We are thus assured, as far as this is possible, that the phallic idea
and a phallic faith lie at the base of this creed; and we are reminded
of Apis of the Nile entering his palace for his works of sacrifice and
mercy—terms applied to the Great Generator or Great Creator. The
ancients all taught that their Great One, Manu,* Man, or Noh, was in the
great ark which floats in the midst of the waters, and that the whole
was a mystery incomprehensible to the uninitiated. He who is lord of the
Christian ark is the lord of all nations, which the great sacerdos or
pope claims to be. He was till very lately a temporal as well as a
spiritual head of kings and nations. So no wonder that the holder of the
rod, baton, or banner, who occupies the place also of Moses to lead his
flocks through this wilderness, is always examined as to his phallic
completeness before being confirmed in the pontificate. This, we read in
the life of Leo X. by Roscoe, is required in the case of popes, just as
the laws of Moses required that all who came to worship their very
phallic JHVH should first prove their completeness as men. From this we
may conclude that eunuchs or incompetent men were children of the devil,
or at least, not of this phallic god—a fact which the writer of Matt.
19:12, and the Fathers Origen and Valentine, and a host of other saints
who acted on this text, must have overlooked. Wm. Roscoe, the historian,
thus writes: “On the 11th of August, 1492, after old Roderigo (Borgia)
had assumed the name of Alexander VI., and made his entrance as supreme
pontiff into the church of St. Peter, after the procession and pageants
had all been gone through, Alexander was taken aside to undergo the
final test of his qualifications, which in his particular case might
have been dispensed with.” The historian of course alludes to his
numerous progeny.

The author expects to be criticised, and perhaps charged with obscenity,
for introducing this subject. But it has been well said: “Prudery and
pruriency are frequently companions, equally impure and cowardly; and in
all scientific investigations they should be disregarded rather than
conciliated.” The ancients saw no impurity in the symbolism of parentage
to indicate the work of creation. What is divine and natural to be and
to do cannot be immodest and obscene. No person can with decency and
propriety impugn the operation of Nature’s laws to which he owes his
existence; and he is degraded and corrupt above all others who regards
that law as essentially sensual. Phallicism meant no wrong until
sensuality and impurity of life suggested that to mention it was
indecorous. No clean and chaste mind can be shocked by the most obvious
laws of nature. Lydia Maria Child and other grand women have written
brave words on this subject which silly prudes would do well to study,
if, indeed, they ever read anything beyond a lascivious French novel.
Women only expose their ignorance when they are reddened with blushes at
the mention of phallic worship, and at the same time wear the mystic
horse-shoe or the crescent upon their immaculate bosoms, eat hot
cross-buns, dance around the Maypole, and worship beneath the church
steeple. Even the vestments of priests are ornamented with phallic
emblems; and one can hardly go abroad without beholding things which
show how innocently and unconsciously “the records of the past” are
preserved in church architecture, ecclesiastical rites, and many other
things daily before our eyes—well understood by really learned men, but
to the true origin and significance of which the masses are totally
blind. There are churches in Philadelphia, and elsewhere, even among
those who call themselves _liberal_, which are ornamented with all the
emblems of the ancient Nature-worship, especially sun-worship and
phallus-worship. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union held a great
meeting recently at Ocean Grove, N. J., and innocently used a programme
decorated with the horseshoe and many other phallic emblems. They had
the cat seated on the crescent, which, according to Egyptian mythology,
said, “We are virgins, but nevertheless desire that commerce which
eventuates in offspring.” They had the emblematic _hare_ also, which
always denotes _fecundity_, and many other emblems not to be mentioned
in polite society. Even our ordinary playing-cards, over which so much
precious time is wasted, are distinguished by phallic symbols!

Passing by the symbolism of fire-worship prevalent in nearly all ancient
lands, and omitting to notice ancestor-worship, the _worship of the
sun_, which embraces nearly all the forms of Nature-worship, now claims
our attention. It should be kept in mind what has already been
intimated, that the use of natural objects in worship is not necessarily

The priests of Chaldea, Babylonia, Hindostan, and Egypt disclaimed the
actual worship of the material objects prominent in their rituals, and
held that these visible signs were necessary for the vulgar to
contemplate, while intelligent worshippers fixed their spiritual eyes
upon the thing or principle signified by the sign. The Roman Catholic
Church well understands this principle, and by its appeal to the ear and
eye of uneducated people attracts them to its gorgeous temples and holds
them in loyal subjection to the priests. Take the following as an
illustration of the ancient customs referred to:

“Mr. F. Buckland tells us, in _Land and Water_, that on the first of May
all the choristers of Magdalen College, Oxford, still meet on the summit
of their tower, one hundred and fifty feet high, and sing a Latin hymn
as the sun rises, whilst the final peal of ten bells simultaneously
welcomes the gracious Apollo. In former days high mass was held here,
and the rector of Slymbridge, in Gloucestershire, it appears, still has
to pay ten pounds yearly for the one performance of sundry pieces of
choir-music at 5 A. M. on the top of this tower. This May music,
Christian priests explain, is for the repose of the souls of kings and
others, which, of course, is quite an after-thought. Early mass for Sol
used also to be held in the college chapel, but it is now explained
that, owing to this having been forbidden at the Reformation, it has
since been performed at the top of the tower. After the present hymn is
sung by the choristers—boys dressed in womanly raiment—the lads throw
down eggs upon the crowd beneath, and blow long loud blasts to Sol
through bright new tin horns—showing us that the Bacchic and Jewish
trumpet fêtes are not yet forgotten by Christians. Long before daybreak
the youths of both sexes used to rise and go to a great distance to
gather boughs and flowers, and reach home at sunrise to deck all doors,
windows, and loved spots.... Long before man was able to appreciate
ploughing and harvesting, he keenly felt the force of the winter and of
the vernal equinox, and was ready to appreciate the joyous warmth of the
sun and its energizing power on himself, as well as on fruits and

While the Jewish and Christian Bibles contain traces of all forms of the
ancient Nature-worship, there is one form that is specially conspicuous
from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of Revelation—to wit, the
worship of the sun.

This form of worship was more general among pagan nations than any
other. It was natural for those primitive people, leading pastoral lives
in the open air, to fix their attention upon the sun and to notice his
relations to other celestial orbs. It was natural for the contemplative
and devout to come to regard the sun as the best emblem of the creating,
animating, fecundating spirit of the universe, while the ignorant
multitude may never have looked beyond the material object. Those who
have read the history of the sun-worshippers of Mexico and Peru,
detailed in the great works of Prescott, must have been impressed by the
fact that these nations enjoyed a higher prosperity and a purer public
morality when they were worshippers of the sun than they have ever
enjoyed since under the Roman Catholic religion called Christian.

To fully understand how the astronomical element came to be extensively
incorporated into the Jewish and Christian religions, it is absolutely
necessary to familiarize ourselves with that ancient pictorial device
known as the solar zodiac.



This is nothing more than an imaginary belt covering that region of the
starry heavens within the bounds of which the apparent motions of the
sun, moon, and many other large planets are observed. It is divided into
twelve equal parts of thirty degrees each, called “signs,” known as
“constellations” and designated as follows:

Aries, the Ram or Lamb; Taurus, the Bull; Gemini, the Twins; Cancer, the
Crab; Leo, the Lion; Virgo, the Virgin; Libra, the Balance; Scorpio, the
Scorpion; Sagittarius, the Archer; Capricornus, the Goat; Aquarius, the
Water-carrier; Pisces, the Fishes.

These constellations are filled up with imaginary forms of men, women,
animals, monsters, and many fantastic figures, each including a group of
stars. In the ancient astronomy these groups numbered thirty-six, to
which many modern additions have been made. Through these constellations
passes a wavy line called the Ecliptic, apparently marking the path of
the sun, but really indicating the path of our own earth around the sun.
The sun seems to move thirty degrees a month, and at the end of the year
appears at the point from which he started. We thus have a natural belt
or way about sixteen degrees wide extending around the entire heavens,
one half the year north, and the other half south, of the equator. But
the sun does not cross the equator at the same point each year, so that
in crossing he is not always in the same sign. The sun seems to recede,
and as the apparent recession of the sun is caused by the real movement
of the earth, the phenomenal result is the precession of the equinoxes;
and as the equinoctial point recedes in a fixed ratio, this point will
go back through the whole circle of the constellations in about
twenty-five thousand years, requiring about twenty-one hundred and sixty
years to pass through each sign. According to the ancient astrology, the
sun assumed at different times the character of the particular sign
through which it passed, and as such was symbolically worshipped. Four
thousand years ago the sign Taurus gave rise to the worship of the Bull
(the Egyptian Apis); and when the sun passed into the sign of Aries the
Lamb, this emblem dominated the worship of Persians and other
sun-worshippers, and so became the paschal or passover lamb of the
ancient Hebrews.

You will now begin to see what this zodiacal device has to do with our
interpretations of the Bible. The Jewish Scriptures also contain it,
and, as will soon be made to appear, it is impossible to make sense of
large portions of the Bible without it.

Many superficial persons imagine this peculiar mapping of the celestial
heavens to be a modern fancy, because it is found in modern almanacs and
in the maps and charts of modern school-books; but the fact is that it
is so old and so universal that it is impossible to ascertain with
historical accuracy when and where and how it did originate. There are
two ancient zodiacs—one at Esne on the Nile, and one in India—besides
two more modern ones at Denderah in Egypt. Sir William Drummond, who
wrote in 1811, estimated the age of the one at Esne at about 6500 years;
Dupuis made it 1000 years older; while other calculations date the
Indian zodiac back 22,875 years, and the Egyptian one 30,100 years.
These calculations are based upon the assumption that the signs were in
a certain position at certain known times, so that the computation is
one of simple mathematical astronomy. The credibility of these
calculations is strengthened by the following fact: Upon the coffin of
an Egyptian mummy, now in the British Museum, is found a zodiac with the
precise indication of the position of the constellations in the year
1722 B. c. Our own Professor Mitchell calculated the exact position of
the celestial bodies belonging to our solar system at the time
indicated, and found that on October 7, 1722 B. c., the planets had
actually occupied the position in the heavens marked upon the mummy

But further proofs are superfluous, as the zodiacal designs must be much
older than the Bible or they could not have been so frequently used in

The Chaldean drama called the book of Job is supposed by some persons to
be very ancient, and its author showed his familiarity with the zodiacal
constellations when he so sublimely challenged his opponent: “Canst thou
bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”
“Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth?” etc. etc. But can there be any doubt
as to the antiquity of the zodiac when there is an honored Protestant
doctor of divinity, now living, who holds to the opinion that Enoch, or
even Adam himself, invented the zodiac to foreshadow the redemption of
fallen man through the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of a
veritable God? Martin Luther is said to have thrown his inkstand at the
head of the devil. If the lusty old Reformer could now visit this world,
he would denounce in unmeasured terms of righteous wrath a man who under
the garb of a Lutheran minister could utter such consummate nonsense.
And yet we must not forget that Dr. Martin Luther himself denounced
Copernicus as an atheist and a fool.

It is the misfortune of the prevalent dogmatic theology that it was
formed by people who held the _geocentric_ theory—that is, that this
little globe is the centre of the universe. Even now our professional
priests seldom extend their thoughts beyond the narrow limits of the
planet upon which we dwell. They do not realize that, while the earth
travels at the rate of 68,000 miles an hour, Mercury makes 110,000 miles
an hour, and that the sun has 1,380,000 times our earth’s bulk, and has
a diameter of 822,000 miles to our earth’s 8000; and that astronomers
have some knowledge of a fixed star in the constellation of the Swan
which is 62,481,500,000,000 (62 trillions 481 billions 500 millions) of
miles from this planet, and that light, which travels from the sun to
the earth in eight minutes, would require ten years to reach us from
that star. Yet the author of the _Gospel in the Stars_ thinks the whole
celestial universe was so constructed as to shadow forth the dogmas of
petty preachers of modern times! One can only laugh at such fanciful


_“Therefore they took a key and opened them.”—Judg. 3: 25._

IT is the carefully-formed conclusion of many independent thinkers that
there is very little real history or biography in the Old-Testament
Scriptures. It is a monstrous mistake in modern ministers to take as
literal what is, in fact, strictly allegorical. The figurative character
of most of the Bible narratives was well known and freely admitted by
many ancient writers, Jewish and Christian, as will be shown hereafter.

It would be natural to commence our studies of Hebrew symbolism with the
account of the creation and alleged fall of man; but as this dogma is so
directly connected with the dogmas of modern sacerdotalism, we reserve
the examination of the so-called Mosaic account of Eden and the fall
until we are ready to enter upon what is called, in theological
parlance, “the redemptive scheme” of Christianity. We say so-called
Mosaic account, for there are many reasons for doubting, as I have
shown, that he wrote the Pentateuch, should his existence be admitted
for the sake of argument. Archbishop Burnet, in speaking of the story of
creation, says: “We receive this history without examination, because it
was written by Moses; but if we had found it in the work of a Greek
philosopher, a rabbi, or Mohammedan, our minds would be arrested at
every step by doubts and objections. This difference in our judgment
does not come from the nature of the facts; it comes from the opinion we
have of Moses, whom we believe to be inspired.” Here are three
assumptions not supported by a particle of evidence, to wit: that such a
man as Moses existed, that he was supernaturally inspired, and that he
wrote Genesis and other books of the Pentateuch under divine
inspiration. Now, we have no account of the real existence of Moses, and
no account of what he did and said except from writings accredited to
him and the incidental mention of him in the New Testament. His alleged
wonderful exploits in Egypt are not mentioned in Egyptian annals nor in
any other contemporaneous writings, while many things-said of him in the
Old Testament are substantially recorded of many other persons, as
already shown.

There are many reasons for believing that Moses was a personification of
the sun and his whole history  a myth. Observing persons cannot fail to
notice that all ancient paintings and statues of Moses represent him
with horns, probably originally denoting the rays of the sun when in the
constellation Taurus the Bull. The fact is well known that what is
called the history of the Jews is mainly fiction, and that, too,
borrowed from other peoples and modified to suit circumstances; and very
bungling work have they made of it. The sacerdotalists of the world may
be safely challenged to produce anything strictly original from the Old
Testament, especially relating to morals. The historian Josephus admits
that the Jews “never invented anything useful.” Even the writings of
Josephus should be received with many grains of allowance. He was
himself superstitious and credulous, as shown in his story of a heifer
giving birth to a lamb when being led from the temple stable to the
altar. Moreover, we have no ancient certified copies of what he did
actually write, and there is abundant evidence of alterations and
interpolations in his alleged writings by sacerdotalists in modern
times. There is no greater imposition palmed off upon the ignorant than
the commonly-believed falsehoods that the Jews were a very ancient
people and that their Scriptures are the oldest book extant.

We now take up a few Bible stories, and give to them a symbolic instead
of an historic interpretation; and for obvious reasons we begin with the
alleged progenitor of the Jewish nation, _Abraham_.

It may or may not be a mere coincidence that by transposing the letters
of the name Abraham we have the name Brahma—just as in the old legend of
the sacrifice of the daughter of Agamemnon, Iphthi-genia, if we divide
the syllables into words, Iphthi-geni, we have literally Jephthah’s
daughter; so, after all, it may be greatly to the credit of Jephthah
that the story is fabulous. These curious coincidences are not here
offered as evidence. It is acknowledged, at least by implication, in the
Bible itself that the story of Abraham is of Chaldean origin, as his
father Terah was a native of Ur of the Chaldees and the alleged
patriarch was a Chaldean. Now, these people were great astronomers in
very ancient times, and were accustomed to veil their occult science
under just such allegorical personifications and fabulous tales as this
of Abraham. Paul, or whoever wrote the Epistle credited to him, lets out
the whole secret (Gal. 4: 22-26): “For it is written Abraham had two
sons, one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of
the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he of the free woman was by
promise; _which things are an allegory,_” etc. Now, if you carefully
read the apostolic explanation in these verses, you will notice that the
two sons of Abraham are two covenants, and the bondmaid Hagar represents
an Arabian mountain, which by a magical change becomes the same as the
city of Jerusalem. The name Abram signifies the “Father of Elevation,”
which is the astronomical distinction of the planet Saturn, the
exaltation of which, with its devious ways, well represents the alleged
history of its prototype. The word _Chasdim_, translated _Chaldees_,
literally means _light_, and is a professional not a geographical name,
and probably refers to the art of magic and the work of astrologers; so
that it is more than probable that Abram was not a person, any more than
Chasdim was a place. There are many references in the Scriptures which
favor this interpretation, but which cannot here be mentioned. Even in
the _Lord’s Prayer_, found in Jewish rituals long before the Christian
era, there are evidences that it was first addressed to Saturn. There
never was any form of religious worship which did not contain an
expression equivalent to _Our Father who art in heaven_. Even Jupiter
means _Our Father in the sky_.

The name of Abram has many variations, and there is an important sense
in which he may be called “the father of many nations.” He was the
Esrael of the Chaldeans, the Israel of the Phœnicians, as the historian
Sanchoniathon distinctly alleges that their name for Saturn was Israel:
the names Abraham and Israel are used interchangeably in both the Old
and New Testaments, and among the Hindoos, the Greeks, the Persians, and
other nations he was the god Saturnus of the whole pagan world. Even
upon the dials of our “grandfathers’ clocks,” cherished in many families
as heirlooms in our day, his memory is kept green by the figure of the
god of Time. Scores of other similitudes between Saturn and Abraham
could here be introduced did space permit. Suffice it to say, Saturn in
fable married his own sister, who was a star; and so did Abraham, and
the name of his wife signifies a star. Both had many sons, but each had
a favorite son, and Saturn called his _Jeoud_, which implies an only
son, as Abraham so regarded Isaac. A learned English scholar has
suggested that the name “Jeoud” is the real origin of the name “Jew,”
and he assigns several philological and historical reasons for his
theory. It is certain in the minds of many profound and independent
investigators that the Jewish tribes originated in Arabia, and were
originally a mere religious order, and that their so-called history is
largely fabulous, and that their exodus is a comparatively modern novel
with an ancient date, as has been shown.

Let us now take the best-remembered incident in the life of Abraham, the
attempted murder and the rescue of his son Isaac, and see what will come
of applying the symbolic instead of the literal interpretation to it.

Let it be noted that this is not an original story. The ancient Hindoos
have one like it. King Haris-candra had no son. He prayed for one, and
promised that if one should be born to him he would sacrifice him to the
gods. One was born, and he named him Rohita. One day his father told him
of his promise to Varuna to offer him in sacrifice. The son bought a
substitute, and when he was about to be immolated he was marvellously
rescued. Then there is the well-known similar story written by the
Phœnician Sanchoniathon

thirteen hundred years before our era. Then there is the Grecian story
of Agamemnon, to whom, when about to sacrifice his daughter, a stag was
furnished by a goddess as a substitute. There is another Grecian fable
in which a maiden was about to be sacrificed, and as the priest uplifted
his knife to shed her blood the victim suddenly disappeared, and a goat
of uncommon beauty stood in her place as a substitute. Another story
runs thus: In Sparta the maiden Helena was about to be immolated on the
altar of the gods, when an eagle carried off the knife of the priest and
laid it upon the neck of a heifer, which was sacrificed in her stead.
Similar stories might be produced from among many nations in the most
ancient times, long before the Jews picked this up in Babylon and
rewrote it, with modifications, so as to apply it to their mythical
progenitor; for this fable of Abraham’s offering was not written until
after their return from their Babylonish captivity—much nearer our own
time than is generally suspected.

Regarded as an historic account of a real transaction, this story of the
attempted sacrifice of a beloved son by a venerable father is shocking
in the extreme, dishonoring alike to God and to Abraham. A good God
could not have done such an unnatural and cruel thing. He had no
occasion to try Abraham to find out how much faith he had. He knew that
already. Regarded as an astrological allegory, it is ingenious and
contains a moral lesson, to wit: obedience to the voice of God and the
hope of deliverance in the hour of extreme emergency. The defect in the
story is, that God could trifle with a loving child, and pretend to
require him to break one of his own commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,”
and subject him to its own penalty, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man
shall his blood be shed.” It would not have availed Abraham to plead
that God told him to murder his son, any more than it availed the
Pocasset crank when he pleaded that God had directed him to murder his
little daughter. The State of Massachusetts sent the semi-lunatic to a
safe place of confinement. This story of Abraham and Isaac has led to
scores and scores of murders of children by their fathers, just as the
passage in the Old Testament, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,”
has been pleaded in justification of the cool, deliberate murder of
multitudes of men, women, and children on the charge of witchcraft.

The literal interpretation of what is called infallible Scripture has
been the most bitter curse to deluded, priest-ridden humanity. It is the
“stock in trade” of ignorant and selfish ecclesiastics to-day.

Let us look a little more closely at this Abraham-and-Isaac myth.
Abraham was the personification of Saturn, the god of Time, while Isaac
was the personification of the Sun. Abraham took Isaac up to
Hebron—which means _union or alliance_, and clearly indicates a union of
the ecliptic and equinoctial line—the very point at which the Ram of the
vernal equinox passed by, or, as might be poetically said, was caught in
a cloud or bush; so that the whole story was written long ages before in
the celestial heavens, and emblazoned in the skies at the return of each
vernal equinox. Writers on astro-theology point out details at great
length to support the symbolic interpretation, but it is enough for pur
purpose to merely give the keynote. Let the fact be specially noted that
the names of the patriarchs have an astrological meaning,

and that the twelve sons of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, who became
the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, have distinctly astrological
characters, fully indicated in Jacob’s dying blessing on his sons (Gen.
49) and in the corresponding “Song of Moses” (Deut. 33), on the banner
carried by the different tribes in their mythical march from Egypt to
Canaan; and that on the breastplate of the officiating high priest the
jewels correspond to the celestial signs of the solar zodiac; and
although Jacob had children by several different women and was a
first-class Mormon, his twelve sons are made to correspond with the
twelve months of the year and the twelve signs of the zodiac. This fact
is admitted by the orthodox author of _The Gospel in the Stars_. His
daughters are not considered worthy of notice, as that would have
spoiled the riddle. The philology and etymology of the name _Jacob_ has
suggestions of the serpent; and from his history he must have been a
snaky fellow from the first to the last. He was born with his hand upon
his brother’s “heel,” and he managed to cheat him out of his share of
his mother’s affections, and lied to his father, and conspired with his
mother to rob Esau, his brother, of his “blessing.” The stories of Laban
and Leah and Rachel all conform to the symbolic rather than the literal
hypothesis, as well as Jacob’s vision of the ladder, and his
wrestling-match with the angel, when he openly obtained the astrological
name of the children of Saturn—Israel. It must be admitted that the
allegorical hypothesis relieves the patriarchs of the charge of many
mean things, such as the heartless manner in which Abram treated Hagar
when Sarah got jealous, and the manner in which he treated Sarah herself
when he lied to the king through a selfish cowardice and gave his wife
over to the lusts of the monarch Abimelech, who was (or one bearing his
name) deceived by Isaac in regard to Rebekah by a similar trick (Gen.
26:1). Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was guilty of a meaner and more
unmanly act when he himself proposed to give over his two virgin
daughters to the worse than beastly lusts of a howling mob, to protect
two angels who were guests at his tent (Gen. 19:1-11).

But theologians will never willingly admit that the Abraham of Genesis
was a myth. They well know the logical conclusion. They would have to
give up the “Abrahamic covenant,” which is the basis of sacerdotalism.
When Professor Driver, of the orthodox University of Oxford, recently
admitted only by implication that Abraham may have had no real personal
existence, and claimed that such hypothesis would not be injurious to
religion, his article was rejected and suppressed by the editor of an
orthodox paper in Philadelphia as dangerous. But to assume that all the
principal actors of Genesis and some other books were impersonations,
not persons, would not destroy the good things they are alleged to have
said and done. It is no more necessary to insist upon the real
personality of Abraham than to insist upon the literal existence of
Faithful and Great-Heart and other impersonations in _Pilgrim’s
Progress_. Nobody insists that the characters in the parables accredited
to Jesus must be taken in a literal sense. And yet it may be admitted
that the fictions of Scripture may have been suggested by some persons
and facts, just as in modern novels there generally is some person who
stands for the original of the story. This is eminently so in the novels
of Dickens and D’Israeli. Nevertheless, it is difficult to doubt that
the principal characters of the Old Testament are mythical, pure and
simple, as we find the originals in the older scriptures of different
nations, confessedly founded upon the solar and other forms of
Nature-worship. The feet is, that the only rational way to explain the
marvellous stories of the Hebrew Scriptures is by the well-known methods
of ancient symbolism.

Let us now merely glance at some other Old-Testament fables.

_Noah_ and his Deluge are mainly mythical, as this story is almost a
literal copy of the Chaldean, though found substantially in the writings
of many other nations. It readily fits the allegorical method of
interpretation in almost every particular. The Chaldean account as
written by Berosus, and found recently by the late George Smith of the
British Museum on the clay tablets, is so much like the story in Genesis
that the latter must have been copied from the former; and the slight
variations in the two narratives are no greater than might have been
expected as between Chaldea and Palestine. The Jews obtained it from
Babylon, as there is no mention made of this miracle in any book of the
Bible written before the Captivity. The books of Psalms, Proverbs,
Chronicles, Judges, Kings, etc. are silent on this subject. Josephus
defended the Noachian Deluge on the sole ground that an account of it
was held by the Chaldeans, never pretending that the Chaldean account
was taken from the Jewish record.

But it is useless to dwell on the story of a universal deluge of water.
It is in the light of modern science physically impossible and absurd;
and such men as Buckland, Pye Smith, Hugh Miller, and Hitchcock, with
many other distinguished Christian scientists, give up the doctrine of a
universal deluge while claiming a partial one. And here, again, the
ancient astronomy comes in with an explanation of partial floods of
waters by the natural results of the “precession of the equinoxes,” in
which, at certain periods during the change of the polar axis of the
earth, great physical convulsions must follow, with wide eruptions of
water, making a partial overflow and suggesting the idea of a universal
deluge. Four such cataclysms must have occurred while the sun was making
one journey through the twelve zodiacal constellations. Prof. Huxley has
recently well said: “But the voice of archæology and historical
criticism still has to be heard, and it gives forth no uncertain sound.
The marvellous recovery of the records of an antiquity far superior to
any that can be ascribed to the Pentateuch, which has been effected by
the decipherers of cuneiform characters, has put us in possession of a
series once more, not of speculations, but of facts, which has a most
remarkable bearing upon the question of the trustworthiness of the
narrative of the Flood. It is established that for centuries before the
asserted migration of Terah from Ur of the Chaldees (which, according to
the orthodox interpreters of the Pentateuch, took place after the year
2000 b. c.) Lower Mesopotamia was the seat of a civilization in which
art and science and literature had attained a development formerly
unsuspected, or, if there were faint reports of it, treated as fabulous.
And it is also no matter of speculation, but a fact, that the libraries
of this people contain versions of a long epic poem, one of the twelve
books of which tells the story of a deluge which in a number of its
leading features corresponds to the story attributed to Berosus, no less
than with the story given in Genesis, with curious exactnesss.

“Looking at the convergence of all these lines of evidence leads to the
one conclusion—that the story of the Flood in Genesis is merely a
version of one of the oldest pieces of purely fictitious literature
extant; that whether this is or is not its origin, the events asserted
in it to have taken place assuredly never did take place; further, that
in point of fact the story in the plain and logically necessary sense of
its words has long since been given up by orthodox and conservative
commentators of the Established Church.”

The only rational interpretation of the extraordinary stories of the
Pentateuch and other scriptures is to regard them as mythical and
allegorical, borrowed from the astrological systems of more ancient
peoples. It is very difficult to present within the limits here allowed
what has grown into ponderous volumes in elucidating the matter in hand.

The story of Jonah and the Fish, taken as a literal story, is
incredible, though the notorious Brooklyn preacher thinks that it must
be literally true, as that God might have so diluted the gastric juice
in the stomach of the fish as to make Jonah quite indigestible! This
whole story is found in earlier pagan writings, and is fully explained
by the astronomical phenomena. The earth is a huge fish in the ancient
mythology, and on December the 21st the sun (Jonah, the type) sinks into
its dark belly, and after three days—to wit, December 25th—it comes
forth. The Sun-god is on dry land again.

There is a Hindoo fable much like this. In Grecian fable Hercules was
swallowed by a whale at Joppa, and is said to have lain three days in
his entrails. The Sun was called _Jona_, as can be shown from many
authorities. The nursery-tale of “Little Red Riding-Hood” was also a
sun-myth, mutilated in the English story, showing how the _Sun_ was
devoured by the _Black Wolf_ (Night), and came out unhurt. Scores of
similar sun-myths could be narrated.

But there are geographical inaccuracies which show its mythical
character. Instead of Nineveh being “three days’ journey” from the coast
where Jonah was vomited out, it is distant some four hundred miles of
hill and plain, and the size of the city was not twenty by twelve miles,
but more nearly eight by three miles. Moreover, the city showed no signs
of decay till about two hundred and fifty years after the alleged
warning of Jonah. It is truly astounding that intelligent men can be so
blind. It was recently admitted by high Christian authority that there
is not a particle of proof for this story except that Jesus had referred
to Jonah as being “three days and nights in the whale’s belly.” If Jesus
did say this, he used it as an illustration. He probably stated a
current tradition, if he said it at all.

Let us now try our key in the closet-door of the Samson story.

According to the Bible account, Samson performed twelve principal
exploits; and if you will turn to any good dictionary of mythology you
will find a wonderful likeness to the twelve labors of Hercules in the
Greek myth of the Sun. Time can be taken to examine only one—the cutting
off of Samson’s hair while reposing in the lap of Delilah, and the
consequent loss of his strength. Professor Goldhizer says: “Long locks
of hair and a long beard are mythological attributes of the sun.”...
“When the powerful summer’s sun is succeeded by the weak rays of the
winter’s sun, its strength departs.” But as the sun becomes ascendant
again he renews his strength, just as Samson’s strength returned when
his hair grew out again. The seven locks represent the seven planetary
worlds. The constellation Virgo represents Samson’s wife; and Delilah,
in whose lap he dallied and lost his strength, represents the months of
autumn, before the winter came to hand him over to the Philistines, the
dreary time of the winter months. The story of Samson is found in the
sun-myths of all the Sun-worship-ping nations, and the story of Hercules
was known in an island colony of the Phœnicians five hundred years
before it was known in Greece; and the story is almost as old as
humanity itself. The very name Samson (or Samp-shon) in some languages
means the sun; and there is not an exploit recorded of him that does not
yield to the solar interpretation; and when modern ministers undertake
to explain how Samson caught three hundred foxes and set fire to their
tails, they never think to mention (if they happen to know it) that in
the ancient festival of Ceres a fox-hunt was enacted in the theatres of
Rome in which burning torches were bound to the foxes’ tails. We have an
explanation of this from Prof. Steinthal: “This was a symbolical
reminder of the damage done to the fields by mildew, called the ’red
fox’ in the last of April. It was at the time of the _Dog Star_ at which
the mildew was most to be feared; and if at that time great solar heat
followed too close upon the hoar-frost or dew of the cold nights, the
mischief raged like a burning fox through the corn-fields. Like the
lion, the fox is an animal that indicates the solar heat, being well
suited both by its color and long-haired tail.” Bou-chart gives a
similar explanation and application, and so do many other writers. It
remains for ministers of this nineteenth century to dole out the ancient
fables of the past as literal history to the grown-up children of
to-day. The story of Samson in all its details yields to the key of
ancient symbolism. Why not admit the fact that this is a solar myth, and
thus get clear of all the blasphemy and absurdities of a literal

The incredibly absurd story of Joshua’s commanding the sun to stand
still for several hours has a rational explanation, regarded as a myth,
well known to initiates to set forth the correction of the calendar, so
as to make different periods correspondras one stops a clock to make it
agree with the ringing of the standard time by the town bell. There are
scores of parallels in ancient history.

Regard Solomon as a sun-myth, and you have no difficulty about the size
of his family. The seven hundred wives and the three hundred concubines
represented so many stars. Even the narratives of David’s exploits with
the five kings, his “unpleasantness” with Saul, and his dalliance and
intrigue with Bathsheba yield to the astro-mythological key.

The same is true of the story of the two she-bears that ate up the
forty-two children who called shorn Elisha “bald-head.” The prophet was
the Sun, denuded of his curls at a certain astronomical period; the two
bears were the constellations _Ursa Major and Ursa Minor_, the great
bear and the little bear; and the forty-two children were a group of
stars covered by the two bears, so that, figuratively, it might be said
they were “eaten up.” And yet the late Dr. Nehemiah Adams of Boston once
exclaimed: “I believe that the forty-two children who made fun of the
bald head of the prophet of God are now in hell.” He once wrote an
admirable book entitled _Agnes; or, The Little Key,_ but he failed to
find the skeleton key to unlock the solar fable of the prophet, the
saucy little children, and the voracious bears.

Within the last few months Philadelphia has been the scene of a most
imposing ecclesiastical ceremony—the investiture of the Roman Catholic
archbishop with the pallium, a narrow band or sash made from wool grown
upon white lambs that had been blessed by the Pope on St. Agnes’ Day. We
heard the eloquent sermon of the archbishop of New York, and he
commenced his plausible discourse by tracing the pallium to the mantle
that fell from Elijah upon Elisha, the summer and winter sun, and was
worn by him after the translation of Elijah. But we try our skeleton
key, and find that Elijah represented the ascending summer sun, and
Elisha the sun of autumn; and when Elijah gained the greatest height, of
course his lessened rays, well called a “mantle,” fell upon the
bald-headed man representing the autumn. This is the whole story in
plain language, and this is the kind of stuff that ecclesiastical
man-millinery is made of. The crowd stared with admiration and wonder,
just as children are amused with their doll-babies, who are “sick” or
“well,” “naughty” or “good,” according to the whims of the “little
women” who dress and nurse them. There is a doll-baby period in every
child’s history, and it may be necessary to have a doll-baby period in
religion; but it does seem to some of us that it is about time for
full-grown women and men to doff their bibs and aprons, lay aside their
doll-babies and other ecclesiastical toys, and act as becomes men and
women of full growth. Even Paul said, “When I was a child, I spake as a
child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away
childish things.” It has been well said by a judicious writer:
“Intelligent readers, except revelationists, well know that the Hebrew
fables are myths which teem with history of a kind, if we can only
separate the wheat from the chaff. So also is the story of the Creation
in Genesis. We have a very valuable myth, though a purely phallic tale,
such as East Indians—and perhaps they only—can thoroughly comprehend.

“We would not seek to detract from the great value of myths, for,
besides their own intrinsic worth, these stories also exhibit to us many
phases of ancient life and thought. Myths may be regarded as history
which we have not yet been able to read. We should not discard as untrue
or unhistorical any tale, biblical or other, as implying that it is
false and unworthy of consideration. On the contrary, we cannot too
earnestly and patiently ponder over every ancient tale, legend, or myth,
as they all have some foundation and instructive lesson. Whenever an
important myth has existed an important fact has doubtless been its


_“And calleth those things which be not as though they were.”—Rom.

THE prevailing belief of Christendom to-day is, that about six thousand
years ago, somewhere in Asia, the Supreme Creator took common clay and
moulded it into the form of a man, somewhat as a sculptor forms the
model from which the marble statue is to be constructed, and when shaped
to his liking he breathed into the clay model the breath of life, and it
became a living soul. This miraculous work is believed to have been
begun and completed on a particular day; so that in the morning the
earth contained not a man, but in the afternoon the full-grown, bearded
man stood up in his majesty and assumed supremacy over all living
things. This godlike man finding himself lonely, the Creator put him to
sleep, and opened his side and took therefrom a rib, out of which he
formed a woman, who was to be a companion, a wife, to the man; and from
this particular couple have come, by ordinary generation, all the people
dwelling upon the face of the earth. They are said to have been perfect,
but, unfortunately for their progeny, this perfection did not long
continue. Before they were blest with offspring they lost their
Creator’s favor by eating fruit from a forbidden tree, and became
fearfully demoralized, and, instead of begetting children endowed with
their own angelic qualities, they became the unhappy parents of a race
of moral monsters, of which we are all degraded and degenerate

The sacerdotal story of the fall of Adam and Eve is based upon the
assumption that it is to be received as literal history, revealed by the
Creator and written down in a book by a man specially chosen and
plenarily inspired; so that there can be no error or mistake in the
record. To question this narrative in its literal sense is most impious,
and subjects the doubter to the charge of favoring infidelity.

While persons “professing and calling themselves Christians” cannot
agree regarding many things deemed by them matters of vital importance,
the fall of man is a matter in which they are fully agreed. The great
basic dogma which underlies all modern systems of theology, Romish and
Protestant, is the utter depravity of the human race through the fall of
Adam, dooming a large majority of the human family to eternal

How evil came into the world has been the most perplexing problem of the
ages. Before it the most gigantic minds have been covered with confusion
and paralyzed with doubt. Why sin and suffering should have been
permitted, not to say created, has never been made clear to the human
reason by any system of theology, Romish or Protestant. A few years ago
Dr. Edward Beecher published a book entitled _The Conflict of Ages_.
When reviewed by Dr. Charles Hodge in the _Princeton Review_ he entitled
his paper “Beecher’s Conflict;” but it was rightly called _The Conflict
of Ages_; it was not “Beecher’s Conflict,” and the explanation given by
theology only involves the question in greater doubt and difficulty.

From the first dawning of human reason, even in the mind of inquisitive
childhood, questions like these have been revolved, if not formulated:
Did not God know, when he made Adam and Eve, that they would fall? Why,
then, did he create them? Why did he create a subtle serpent to tempt
them? Why did he create a tree the fruit of which was forbidden? Why did
he make the possible everlasting ruin of innumerable unborn mortals
depend on such a trivial act as the eating of a certain apple? Why did
he not destroy Adam and Eve after their first act of disobedience, and
thus prevent them from propagating a faithless progeny, which should
increase in geometrical progression until the number should be so great
as to exhaust calculation with weariness, stagger reason itself, and
transcend even the powers of the loftiest imagination to conceive? Why
are the teeming millions of the children of Adam held virtually
responsible for this single trivial act of disobedience by an unknown
remote ancestor myriads of ages ago? How could all men sin in him and
fall with him in the first transgression? How could the guilt of Adam’s
sin be imputed to his children?

The circumstances connected with the degradation of man are so
extraordinary that it is not unreasonable to inquire whether the
narrative of the fall is a matter of supernatural revelation based upon
an historic occurrence, or whether it is purely mythical, portraying the
conceptions of the human mind as to the origin of evil at some remote
period of the world’s childhood. For the support of the dogma of total
depravity through the fall of Adam theologians rely primarily upon the
account in the book of Genesis. It is a notable fact that Adam and Eve
are not historically recognized in any other portion of the Old
Testament, and their very existence was totally ignored by the Teacher
of Nazareth, if the Gospels said to contain the only report of his
teachings are to be credited. Nobody pretends that Moses, the doubtful
author of the Pentateuch, wrote from personal knowledge; but it is
claimed that he wrote under inspiration of God, though there is not a
single intimation in Genesis or any other book that he was so inspired,
or that God had anything more to do with his writings than he had with
the writings of Homer, Herodotus, or John Milton. But the assumption
that the dogma of the fall through the sin of Adam was first revealed to
Moses—at most not more then eight or nine hundred years before the
Christian era—is plainly exploded by the fact that this story existed
among many nations centuries and centuries before Moses is said to have
been born or the writing called Genesis existed.

It is not within the lines of our general purpose to here give in detail
the numerous legends—substantially the same, though differing in
particulars—regarding the introduction of sin into this world, found in
the writings of Hindoos, Persians, Etruscans, Phœnicians, Babylonians,
Chaldeans, Egyptians, Thibetans, and others. Any man who would now dare
to deny this statement regarding the prevalence of the story of the fall
centuries before the writing of Genesis existed would justly subject
himself to the charge of ignorance or dishonesty.

Dr. Inman states that Adam is the Phallus and Eve the Yoni—in other
words, that Adam and Eve signify the same idea as Abraham and Sara,
Jacob and Leah, man and woman; thus embodying in the Hebrew the Hindoo
notion that all things sprang from Mahadeva and his Sacti, my lady Sara.
This deduction enables us at once to recognize, as did the early
Christians, the mythical character of the account of the fall; and we
must conclude that the story means that the male and female lived
happily together so long as each was without passion for the other, but
that when a union took place between them the woman suffered all the
miseries inseparable from pregnancy, and the man had to toil for a
family, whereas he had previously only thought of himself. The serpent
is the emblem of “desire,” indicated by the man and recognized by the
woman. “There is a striking resemblance between the Hindoo and Hebrew
myths. The first tells us that Mahadeva was the primary Being, and from
him arose the ‘Sacti.’ The second makes Adam the original, and Eve the
product of his right side—an idea which is readily recognizable in the
word _Benjamin_. After the creation, the Egyptian, Vedic, and Jewish
stories all place the woman beside a citron or pomegranate tree, or one
bearing both fruits; near this is a cobra or asp, the emblem of male
desire, because these serpents can inflate or erect themselves at will.”

General Forlong thus discourses upon this subject: “Most cosmogonies
relate a phallic tale of two individuals Adam and Eve, meeting in a
garden of delight (Gan-Eden), and then being seduced by a serpent Ar
(Ar-i-man), Hoa, Op, or Orus, to perform the generative act, which it is
taught led to sin and trouble, and this long before we hear of a
spiritual god or of solar deities. These cosmogonies narrate a contest
between man and Nature, in which the former fell, and must ever fall,
for the laws of Sol and his seasons none can resist.”... “The Jews
learned most of their faith and fables from the great peoples of the
East; especially did they get the two cosmogonies, and that solar fable,
mixed with truth, of a serpent tempting a woman with the fruit of a
tree, of course in the fading or autumnal equinox, when only fruit
exists and all creation tries to save itself by shielding all the stores
of nature from the fierce onslaughts of angry Typhon when entering on
his dreary winter. The Gan-Eden fable was clearly an attempt by
Zoroastrians to explain to outsiders the difficult philosophical problem
of the origin of man and of good and evil. Mithras, they said—and the
Jews followed suit—is the good God, the incarnation of God, who dwells
in the beauteous orb of day; to which Christian Jews added that he was
born of a virgin in a cave which he illuminated.”

“The tree of life mentioned in Gen. 3: 22 certainly appears,” says Mr.
Smith (Chal. Acct, p. 88), “to correspond to the sacred grove of Anu,
which a later fragment of the creation-tablets states was guarded by a
sword turning to all the four points of the compass; and there too we
have allusions to a thirst for knowledge, having been the cause of man’s
fall; the gods curse the dragon and Adam for the transgression. This
Adam was one of the Zalmat-qaqadi, or dark men, created by Hea or
Nin-Si-ku, a name pointing to Hea being a Nin or Creator, while Adam is
called Adami or Admi, the present Eastern term for man and the lingam,
and no proper name.” The impression that I get from the legends of
Izdubar, or the Flood, or even the creation-tablets, is simply that
these were religious revivals. Nearly every illustration of Mr. Smith’s
last volume shows the serpent as an evil influence. Now, if I am
right—and all I have read elsewhere tends to the same conclusion—then
all the tales as to a temptation by a serpent, a fall, are phallo-pythic
transmutations of faith, and have no more connection with the first
creation of man upon earth than have the flood, the ark, or
mountain-worship of Jews in the desert, or the destruction of Pytho by
Apollo in the early days of Delphi, etc.

“The tree and serpent,” says Fergusson, “are symbolized in every
religious system which the world has known, not excepting the Hebrew and
Christian, The two together are typical of the reproductive powers of
vegetable and animal life. It is uncertain whether the Jewish tree of
life was borrowed from the Egyptians or Chaldeans; but the meaning was
in both cases the same, and we know that the Assyrian tree was a
life-giving divinity. And Moses, or the writer of Genesis, has
represented very much the same in his coiled serpent and love-apples, or
citrons, of the tree of life.

“The writer of Genesis probably drew his idea of the two trees, that of
life and that of knowledge, from Egyptian and Zoroastrian story; for
criticism now assigns a comparatively late date to the writing of the
first Pentateuchal book. After Genesis no further notice is taken in the
Bible of the tree of knowledge. But that of life, or the tree which
gives life, seems several times alluded to, especially in Rev. 2: 7. The
lingam or pillar is the Eastern name for the tree which gives life. But
when this tree became covered with the inscriptions of all the past
ages, as in Egypt, then Toth, the Pillar, came to be called the tree of

But it must not be supposed that all Christian theologians of the
present day hold the historical and literal truth of the legend of the
fall of Adam. In several of the public libraries of Philadelphia may be
found a book entitled _Beginnings of History_, written by a learned
professor of Archaeology at the National Library of France—Professor
François Lenormant. It was republished by Scribner, New York, in 1886,
with an introduction by Francis Brown, associate professor of Biblical
Philology in the Presbyterian Union Theological Seminary of New York. It
is written from a Christian standpoint, and the writer is a firm
defender of the infallibility of the Hebrew Scriptures, and can never be
suspected of having any sympathy with modern rationalism. He not only
admits that the Edenic story of the introduction of sin, found in
Genesis, is a compilation made up from the Shemitic traditions of
Babylonians, Phœnicians, and other pagan peoples, but he has covered
page after page with proofs of this fact by learned and accurate
quotations from their numerous legends. He puts in the common plea of
lawyers, known as _confession and avoidance_, and takes the ground that
“the writer of the Hebrew Genesis took these fables from floating
tradition as he found them, and cleansed them of their impurities,
altered their polytheistic tendencies, made them monotheistic, and
otherwise so transformed them as to make them fit vehicles of spiritual
instruction by the Divine Spirit which inspired him.”

This is an ingenious device, but it will hardly satisfy sound thinkers.
The question is, whether the story of Adam is historical truth or pagan
fiction. The highest scholarship pronounces it fiction, while certain
orthodox writers admit the fact “that God used prevailing but unreal
fancies to teach important truths.”

The document in which the story of the fall is found is a confused,
inconsistent, and absurd compilation by at least two different writers,
representing each a different God, Jehovah and Elohim, the writers
contradicting each other in many particulars; and this feet is admitted
by candid Christian writers, and by none more frankly than the late Dean
Stanley of the English Establishment. The first account of creation ends
at the third verse of Gen. 2, and the second account begins with the
fourth verse and closes with the end of that chapter. In the first
account the man and woman are created together on the sixth and last day
of creation (Gen. 1:28). In the second account the beasts and birds are
created after the creation of the man and before the creation of the
woman; and it was not until after Adam had examined and named all the
beasts of the fields, and had failed to find among the apes,
chimpanzees, and ourangs a suitable companion for himself, that Eve was
made from one of Adam’s ribs, taken from his primeval anatomy while
under the influence of a divine anaesthetic (Gen. 2:7, 8, 15, 22). In
the first account man was made on the last day, and woman was made at
the same time; in the second account man was made after the plants and
herbs, but before fruit trees, beasts, and birds. So it would seem that,
inasmuch as woman was made after all things, she was an afterthought, a
sort of necessary evil for the solace and comfort of man. These
contradictions run through the whole of the first and second chapters of
Genesis, and plainly show that these narratives were compiled by two
different persons from vague traditions or from different written
documents. Had the Creator undertaken to write or dictate an account of
his own work, he certainly would not have contradicted himself six times
within the limit of a few lines.

The credibility of the document in which is found the account of the
fall is further impaired by the fact that it contains statements openly
at variance with the demonstrations of science. It teaches not only that
the world was made in six days of twenty-four hours each, but that the
whole planetary system was made in a single day. “He made the stars
also.” The discoveries of modern science have lately driven our
sacerdotalists to a new and absurd interpretation of the story of
creation by alleging that the six days spoken of were not periods of
twenty-four hours each, but six indefinite periods of very long
duration. But it would be easy to furnish numerous admissions of
orthodox scholars that the six days of the creative week were intended
by the writers to describe ordinary days, of twenty-four hours each, and
not indefinite periods. Any other interpretation Professor Hitchcock has
pronounced “forced and unnatural, and therefore not to be adopted
without a very urgent necessity.” The venerable Moses Stuart, long
professor of Biblical Literature in the Andover Theological Seminary,
says: “When the sacred writer in Gen. 1 says the first day, the second
day, etc., there can be no possible doubt—none, I mean, for a
philologist, let a geologist think as he may—that a definite day of the
week is meant. What puts this beyond all question,” the learned
theologian adds, “is that the writer says specifically ‘the evening and
the morning were the first day,’ ‘the second day,’ etc. Now, is an
evening and a morning a period of some thousands of years?... If Moses
has given us an erroneous account of the creation, so be it. Let it come
out and let us have the whole truth.” The fact is, that the
indefinite-period hypothesis does not, after all the quirks and special
pleadings, overcome the difficulty. The question arises, Why six
indefinite periods? One indefinite period is as long as six or sixty.
There is nothing in geology to indicate six periods. One need only
consider the attempt to reconcile Genesis and geology to plainly see
that the Mosaic record was intended to be taken in its obvious sense.
The forced interpretations put upon the Hebrew story to make it appear
to be historical and literal truth make it more absurd than it would
otherwise appear. Think of Adam created (according to one account) on
the second day, and Eve on the sixth day, and then accept the hypothesis
that these creative days represent indefinite periods of thousands, if
not millions, of years to each day, so that four indefinite periods of
thousands of years passed away before Adam had his Eve to be his
helpmeet, and what a long, lonely time he must have had! Then how small
the human census must have been for unnumbered ages, and how strange the
fact that the same writer says that Adam “lived nine hundred and thirty
years, and he died;” that is to say, he died several hundred thousand
years before the rib was taken from his side to make him a wife!

But the fact must be emphasized that it is quite useless to criticise
the so-called Mosaic narrative of the fall, because it is acknowledged
to be a huge myth or allegory by the best scholarship of modern times.
The Christian author of the _Beginnings of History_ has with profound
research actually produced and printed the stories of many ancient
peoples in contrast with the narrative in Genesis. He says in the
preface to his book: “This is the problem which I have been led to
examine in comparing the narrations of the Sacred Book with those
current long ages before the time of Moses among nations whose
civilization dated back into the remote past, with whom Israel was
surrounded, from among whom it came out. As far as I myself am
concerned, the conclusion from this study is not doubtful. That which we
read in the first chapter of Genesis is not an account dictated by God
himself, the possession of which was the exclusive privilege of the
chosen people. It is a tradition whose origin is lost in the night of
the remotest ages, and which all the great nations of Western Asia
possessed in common, with some variations. The very form given it in the
Bible is so closely related to that which has been lately discovered in
Babylon and Chaldea, it follows so exactly the same course, that it is
quite impossible for me to doubt any longer.

The school of Alexandria in general, and Origen in particular, in the
first centuries of the Church interpreted the first chapters of Genesis
in the allegorical sense; in the sixteenth century the great Cardinal
Cajetan revived this system, and, bold as it may appear, it has never
been the object of any ecclesiastical censure.”

It is well understood among men of learning that the whole story of
Eden, the talking serpent, and the sinning woman is a myth, and that all
nations of sun-worshippers have had substantially the same legend, and
their priests, poets, and philosophers have not hesitated to acknowledge
among themselves its fabulous character. That early Jewish and Christian
writers freely admitted the allegorical character of the narrative
ascribed to Moses is well known. Maimonides, a learned Jewish rabbi,
said: “One ought not to understand nor take according to the letter that
which is written in the Book of the Creation, nor have the ideas
concerning it that most men have, otherwise our ancient sages would not
have recommended us to carefully conceal the sense of it, and on no
account to raise the allegorical veil which conceals the truth it
contains. Taken according to the letter, this work gives the most absurd
and extravagant idea of divinity. Whoever shall discover the true sense
of it ought to be careful not to divulge it.” Philo, the great Jewish
authority, took the same ground, and wrote mainly to show the
allegorical character of all the sacred books. Josephus held similar
views, and so did Papias and many of the early Christian Fathers. Origen
said: “What man of good sense will ever persuade himself that there was
a first, second, and a third day, and that these days had each their
morning and evening without the not-yet-existing sun, moon, and stars?
What man sufficiently simple to believe that God, acting the part of a
gardener, planted a garden in the East—that the ‘tree of life’ was a
real tree, evident to the senses, whose fruit had the virtue of
preserving life?” etc. St. Augustine held the same views as to the
allegorical character of the so-called Mosaic account of the creation
and fall, and so did Tertullian, Clement, and Ambrose. Some of the early
Christian authorities carried this idea of the allegorical character of
the Scriptures so far as to apply it to the Gospels themselves. “There
are things therein” (said Origen) “which, taken in their literal sense,
are mere falsities and lies;” and St. Gregory asserted of the letter of
Scripture that “it is not only dead, but deadly;” while Athanasius
admonished us that “should we understand Sacred Writ according to the
letter we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies.” It seems to
have been fully realized in early times that there was no rational way
to interpret Moses and his writings but upon the allegorical hypothesis.
As the Mosaic account of the creation and the fall of man is so
evidently the same story that was suggested to the Persians and other
nations by the astronomical phenomena, we are forced to the conclusion
that this is the only key to unlock  the mysteries of the first three
chapters of Genesis. If the original story is known to have been founded
upon the ancient astrological religion, the substantial copy in our
Jewish Scriptures must have the same basis. All the ancient religions
had their _Cabala_—secret words and initiations—and the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures are no exceptions, as is seen upon their very
surface. We may not have all their secrets—some of them may not be
proper things to write about in our day—but no fair man of intelligence
can successfully deny that many of those things which are absurd if
taken for historical truth are at once explained by reference to the
solar cults of the ancients.

Many theologians have virtually admitted that there is nothing injurious
to the interests of true religion in the hypothesis here presented, but,
on the contrary, there is much that is truly beautiful and calculated to
elevate and inspire the devout mind. Even the distinguished Albertus, of
the twelfth Christian century, surnamed _the Great_ for his attainments
as a scholastic ecclesiastic, did not hesitate to write: “All the
mysteries of the incarnation of our Saviour Christ, and all the
circumstances of his marvellous life from his conception to his
ascension, are to be traced out in the constellations and are figured in
the stars.” “The Gospel in the Stars” was the significant advertisement
of a course of sermons recently delivered in a prominent Lutheran church
in Philadelphia by a learned doctor of divinity, and, though many of his
hearers thought that the title should have been “The Stars in the
Gospel,” it was certainly an evidence of progress and increasing light
to have a frank admission from such a source that all the truths of the
gospel and the doctrines of the Reformation were prefigured in the
celestial heavens and illustrated in the constellations of the solar

This author admits the identity between the tenets of the astro-theology
of ancient sun-worshippers and the present dominant theology of
Christendom, but assumes that the original construction of the celestial
heavens and its fanciful division into constellations had reference to,
and in fact prefigured, what was literally fulfilled in Christianity. He
finds in the solar zodiac of Esne in Egypt as clear predictions of the
coming of Christ as he finds in Isaiah or any other Jewish prophet.
Thus, he “gives away” the whole argument, and unwittingly admits the
natural origin of all the distinctive tenets of modern dogmatic
theology. This last craze may well be regarded as a compound of
scientific trifling and theological, moonshine.

But it is said by theologians that man is depraved, and that the present
moral status of humanity confirms the dogma of total depravity by
descent through fallen and depraved ancestors. This involves the
question, What is depravity?

That man is not perfect in morality is as true as that he is not perfect
in body nor in mentality. But does not every one know by his own
experience and observation that human shortcomings mainly arise from a
want of perfect development and the influence of environment, rather
than from essential, innate viciousness? What is called “sin” should be
known as “undevelopment,” and, as real as is the law of heredity, it is
no more real than the law of environment. Where there is evidence of
hereditary evil tendencies it is not necessary to go back more than two
or three generations to find the source.

But the fact must here be emphasized and continually kept in mind that
the story of Eden and the fall is substantially found in the annals of
many nations anterior to the existence of the Jewish tribes, varied only
in trivial matters. The story of the serpent in Eden is probably of
Aryan source, to which the conception of the satanic origin of evil was
attached after the Jews came into close contact with Persian dualistic
ideas. To doubt which was the original and which the copy, shows,
regarding the well-established facts of history, a want of information
so great as to make argument on this matter quite useless.

The conclusion is inevitable that if the fall of Adam is a fiction, then
the entire system of evangelical theology is based upon a fiction; and
the fruit must be natural to the tree—a fictitious tree can only bear
fictitious fruit. Orthodox theologians, especially of the logical
Presbyterian stamp, realize that if they give up Adam and Eve as
progenitors of the entire human race, they give up the very
foundation-stones of the “redemptive scheme.” This accounts for
Presbyterian opposition to the doctrine of evolution. They are logical
enough to see that the second Adam as a Saviour in the evangelical sense
must share the fate of the first Adam; and so Professor Woodrow of South
Carolina has recently been degraded on account of his theory of

The world moves, and, as Professor Marsh of Yale College has well said,
“The doctrine of evolution is as thoroughly demonstrated as the
Copernican system of astronomy.”

In the _Popular Science Monthly_ for October, 1890, we have a very able
article from Andrew D. White, LL.D., ex-president of Cornell University,
showing how completely science contradicts theology in regard to the
Edenic story. He shows that the tendency of the race has always been
upward from low beginnings. He further shows that Archbishop Whately and
the Duke of Argyll championed the Bible story, but were so conclusively
answered by Sir John Lubbock and Tylor that the views of the archbishop
were seen to be untenable, while the duke, as an honest man and a sound
thinker, was obliged to give up his former views and adopt the
scientific theory. The light thrown upon this subject by Herbert
Spencer, Buckle, Max Müller, and scores of other great scholars is among
the glories of the century now ending. The public declaration of the
celebrated Von Martius, of his conversion to the scientific view of the
story of the Fall, ought to make smaller men less confident of their
views on a subject they have never studied.

In 1875, Commodore Vanderbilt endowed a university in Tennessee, and it
was put in charge of the Methodists. Dr. Alexander Winchell was called
to the chair of Geology. He was distinguished in his specialty by his
successful labors in another university. He openly taught “that man
existed before the period assigned to Adam, and that all the human race
could not have descended from Adam.” The Methodist bishop told him “that
such views were contrary to the plan of redemption.” The Methodist
Conference resolved “that they would have no more of this,” and
Professor Winchell was summarily dismissed from the chair, and the
position, with its salary, assigned to another. The State University of
Michigan recalled him to his former chair in that institution, where he
could teach _science_ regardless of the impotent thunders of _theology_.

The fall of Adam is really the pivotal principle in dogmatic theology of
the orthodox variety. If the entire human race are not descendants of a
real, genuine, historical pair miraculously created (a pair almost
divine in perfections), and who by disobedience fell from their high
estate, and by their federal or representative character involved all
their countless descendants by natural generation and descent in the
same ruin,—if these things are not true, then what is called the
evangelical scheme is based upon a fiction, and is to be so treated,
regardless of the effect upon other theological doctrines. The dogma of
a sudden, special creation of a perfect man is not sustained by the
facts of history nor the science of palaeontology. Scientific
investigators find man, so far as the evidence of his remote existence
can be traced, very nearly allied to apes; and there is abundant
evidence to show that man has been improving in every respect as years
and cycles of years have rolled away. It is thus absolutely demonstrated
that the history of our race shows the rise or ascent of man from a very
low estate, instead of his “fall” from a condition of high perfection.

But it does not follow, because man as we first find him was very much
like the anthropoid ape, that he is a lineal descendant of the ape. The
more rational hypothesis is, that both apes and man were evolved from
still lower animal forms by divergent lines, so that there is a relation
of a very distant cousinship existing between them. There is many a
fool-born jest about man and the monkey, oft repeated by _adcaptandum_

theologians who have never read Darwin’s _Origin of Species_ nor his
_Descent of Man_, and who therefore do not know that there is nothing in
these writings to justify such caricatures.

The fact is, the evolution of man by slow and long-continued processes,
instead of his sudden miraculous creation on a certain day, is now as
well established as the law of gravitation, in the judgment of
scientists who are not hampered and blinded by preconceived theological
dogmas. It cannot be denied that the weight of scientific testimony is
very largely in favor of the _development_ of man, instead of a
miraculous and complete creation at a particular period of time. The
true ground will be found to be _creation by evolution_; and if our
purblind sacerdotalists had accepted this doctrine, as the brightest of
them have privately done, they would have saved themselves the disgrace
of becoming the laughing-stock of the scientific world. If man was
brought to his present high estate by a system of evolution, it is no
less the work of the Supreme Creator of the universe than if he had been
made from clay in an instant of time; and if the character of man,
mentally and morally, is admitted to be based on the degree of his
development, it would solve many a knotty question in theology and
morals. At any rate, the evolution hypothesis has many advantages over
the Church dogma, manifestly founded on a pagan fable. The fact is,
sacerdotalists have always been their own worst enemies, and have always
been defeated in their battles with science and a true philosophy.

It is not intended to ignore the fact that legends of a paradisiacal
period, a real “golden age,” are found among all ancient peoples, also
of periods of general demoralization; but these legends can easily be
accounted for. It is a natural instinct in man to praise the past, and
to think that “the former times were better than the present.” We see
this among aged men and women to-day. Then it is well known that the
stream of human history has never run in an unbroken channel. Our race
has ever had its “ups and downs,” and, comparatively speaking, mankind
has had many _falls_ and _ascents_, while the general or ultimate
tendency and result have been ascending higher and higher. Moreover, the
golden age of Adam in Eden must have been very short, according to the
fable of Genesis, as the fall occurred before he had any children. What
a pity that Adam and Eve could not have maintained their innocence by
blind obedience until at least a son and daughter could have been born
to them! This may be considered irreverent, but everybody knows that,
outside of the pulpit and the Sun-day-school, the story of Adam and Eve
is hardly ever mentioned except as a huge joke, and that witty preachers
often take part in laughing at it. It is difficult to write about a
fiction otherwise than facetiously.

I cannot refrain from again quoting Professor Huxley in summing up my
own conclusions in regard to this matter:

“I am fairly at a loss to comprehend how any one for a moment can doubt
that Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical
trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures. The very conception of the
Messiah, or Christ, is inextricably interwoven with Jewish history. The
identification of Jesus of Nazareth with that Messiah rests upon the
interpretation of passages of the Hebrew Scriptures which have no
evidential value unless they possess the historical character assigned
to them. If the covenant with Abraham was not made; if circumcision and
sacrifices were not ordained by Jehovah; if the ‘ten words’ were not
written by God’s hand on the stone tables; if Abraham is more or less a
mythical hero, such as Theseus; the story of the deluge a fiction; that
of the fall a legend; that of the creation the dream of a seer,—if all
these definite and detailed narratives of apparently real events have no
more value as history than the stories of the regal period of Rome, what
is to be said of the Messianic doctrine which is so much less clearly
enunciated? And what about the authority of the writers of the books of
the New Testament, who on this theory have not merely accepted flimsy
fictions for solid truths, but have built the very foundations of
Christian dogma upon legends and quicksands?

“The antagonism between natural knowledge and the Pentateuch would be as
great if the speculations of our time had never been heard of. It arises
out of contradictions upon matters of fact. The books of ecclesiastical
authority declare that certain events happened in a certain fashion; the
books of scientific authority say they did not.”

“What we are pleased to call religion now-a-days is for the most part
Hellenized Judaism; and, not un-frequently, the Hellenic element carries
with it a mighty remnant of old-world paganism and a great infusion of
the worst and weakest products of Greek scientific speculation; while
fragments of Persian and Babylonian—or rather Accadian—mythology burden
the Judaic contribution to the common stock. The antagonism of Science
is not to Religion, but to the heathen survivals and the bad philosophy
under which Religion herself is wellnigh crushed. Now, for my part, I
trust this antagonism will never cease, but that to the end of time true
Science will continue to fulfil one of her most beneficent functions,
that of relieving men from the burden of false Science which is imposed
upon them in the name of Religion.”

The fact that well-dressed congregations do not laugh sacerdotalists to
scorn shows how safe it is to rely upon the credulity and indifference
of those who have been taught mere myths as real history from early
childhood. The day will come when even children will laugh in the faces
of priests when they seriously speak of the fall of Adam and Eve as a
matter of actual occurrence. The great curse of true religion to-day is
_literalism_, enforced by priestcraft, in regard to what relates to our
most sacred concerns.

It is no part of our design to here explain the development theory as to
how man did originate from the lower forms of animal existence, but must
refer those who are willing to learn to such works as Darwin’s _Origin
of Species and Descent of Man_, Huxley’s _Man’s Place in Nature_, and to
scores of other books accessible to all. Perhaps ninety-nine-hundredths
of living working scientists repudiate the Adam-and-Eve story, and
regard it as a fable intended to illustrate what man’s attainments at
the time would not enable him to account for on natural principles.


_“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made

_“And so it is written, the first Adam was made a living soul, the last
Adam was made a quickening spirit.”—1 Cob. 15: 22-45._

THE claim of sacerdotalism is substantially as follows: Adam was the
first man and the sole progenitor of the entire human race. When he
fell, all his progeny “sinned in him and fell with him in the first
transgression.” Death was first introduced in the world by Adam’s sin,
and life is restored by Christ. Adam and Christ are the two great
representatives of death and life, of the fell and the restoration. The
Creator permitted this great calamity to happen, having purposed from
all eternity to redeem this degenerate race, or at least a portion of
it, from the terrible curse caused by Adam’s sin. In due time he did
incarnate himself, became man, human flesh and blood, by impregnating,
or “overshadowing,” a Jewish virgin, and so was born, by ordinary
generation, a human babe in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was
called the Christ. After about thirty years this human-born God died to
make it possible to restore our race to its original moral status. This
is called the “redemptive scheme,” and is the sum and substance of
Christianity, and is fully set forth in what is very improperly called
the “Apostles’ Creed,” which is publicly recited in thousands of
churches every Sunday as an epitome of their belief.

The story of this one first man, who sinned by eating an apple from a
certain forbidden tree, has been proved to be a _fable, a myth, an
allegory_. The legend may shadow forth certain natural truths, but it is
nevertheless a myth. The thing never occurred. The alleged facts are not
facts. There was no first Adam. There may have been some one whom
certain persons called the last Adam, but it is nevertheless true that
what is said of him was founded upon an _unreality_—a thing which never
happened. According to biblical chronology, the last Adam did not make
his advent until about four thousand years after the first Adam fell,
Even this seems to have been a long period to wait, but if we accept the
interpretation of certain modern writers, that which is called “the
beginning” in Genesis may have been forty thousand or four hundred
thousand years before the advent of Jesus. True, this would show certain
events to have been a very long way apart (for instance, the creation of
Eve after that of Adam) and would make the work of Christ in the
“redemptive act” occur ages and ages after the mischief was done.

It is contended that the promise of the sending of a Saviour was made
the very day that the first Adam sinned, and that the salvation of the
sinner was conditioned upon man’s faith in, and acceptance of, the
promise that in due time, not mentioned, the last Adam should come and
repair all the mischief which the first Adam had caused. It is claimed
by sacerdotalists that the saying in Genesis 3: 15 is the first promise
of a Redeemer: “And I will put enmity between thee [the  serpent] and
the woman, and between thy seed and  her seed; it shall bruise thy head
and thou shalt bruise  his heel.” But these very words occur in the
pagan fables that were written long before the time that I Genesis was
written, and in some of these fables, much more consistently with the
passage above quoted, the woman is represented as standing with her heel
on the serpent’s head. Then it is claimed that the Creator accepted the
sacrifice of Abel because it was a _bloody_ sacrifice, prefiguring the
shedding of the _blood_ of

Christ, and that he rejected the offering of Cain because there was no
_blood_ in it. We have looked in vain through the Old-Testament
Scriptures for a promise of the _last_ Adam who was to come and redeem
man, but have failed to find it. A system of “redemption” that is based
on expressions so enigmatical must have a very flimsy foundation upon
which to stand. It is like the assumption that women generally have an
aversion to reptiles because a serpent tempted Eve and brought so many
curses on the sex. To such miserable subterfuges will sacerdotalists
resort to maintain a theory.

One of the first points emphasized in connection with the advent of
Jesus is the claim that it was _in [pg 193] exact fulfilment of Hebrew
prophecy_. Certain orthodox Christian writers claim that there are _two
hundred_ prophecies in the Old Testament relating to Jesus, while
certain other eminent German and English Christian scholars deny that
there is even one prophecy which does not admit of another and a more
rational explanation. The quotations from Old-Testament prophecies in
the Gospels are, to say the least, unfortunate, and rather suggest the
hypothesis that certain things, if done at all, were done to make the
history fit the prediction.

Learned Bible critics contend that there is not to be found a single
example of such redemptive prophecy, even though the theory of the
double sense of prophecy be admitted. These predictions or hopes were
intended to apply to eminent characters in Hebrew history as
_deliverers_, and can only be applied to Jesus by a _forced and
unnatural_ construction; and, though Cyrus and others appeared, the
expectations of the Jews have not yet been realized, and some of them
are still awaiting _their_ Messiah, spurning the idea that the
predictions of their prophets were fulfilled in the humble Man of

One or two examples of so-called Messianic prophecies must suffice.
Matthew (27: 9) says the prophecy of “Jeremy the prophet” regarding the
thirty pieces of silver was fulfilled in the betrayal of Jesus; whereas
no such prophecy is found in Jeremiah, and, though similar words occur
in Zechariah, they have another obvious application. Then in Matthew
(chap. 2)  Hosea is quoted to prove that Jesus dwelt in Egypt to fulfil
a prophecy, whereas it is evident (Hos. 11:1) that it was of Israel, not
Jesus, that those words were spoken. Again, in Matt. 22:41 the quotation
from the Psalms is obviously misapplied—“The Lord said unto my lord,”
etc.—as it was not written by David, but Nathan addressed it to David.
It was the poet that called David _lord_, which spoils the prophecy and
ruins the argument of the evangelist. Many things recorded in the New
Testament are unwittingly admitted to have been done to fulfil a
supposed prophecy—“that it might be fulfilled.” There is one very
amusing example of an attempt to fulfil an alleged prophecy—that of
Jesus dwelling in Nazareth, because it had been prophesied that he
should be called a Naz-arene, no such prophecy ever having been uttered.

The Indian Yedas are full of alleged prophecies relating to coming
incarnations, and so are the Chinese sacred books. Even Zoroaster, who
lived 570 years b. c., prophesied; “A virgin shall conceive and bear a
son, and a star shall appear blazing at midday to announce his
appearance. When you behold the star (said he), follow it whithersoever
it leads you. Adore the mysterious child, offering him gifts with
profound humility. He is indeed the Almighty Word which created the
heavens. He is indeed your Lord and everlasting King” (_History of
Idolatry_, Faber, vol. ii. p. 92). It was believed that this prophecy
was fulfilled by the advent of the Persian god _Sosia_. It was common
among the ancients to presage the birth of a god by the appearance of a
mysterious star, and for astronomers to hasten to adore the new-born
deity and present him gifts. Greece, Rome, Arabia, and even Mexico, were
all familiar with _Messianic_ prophecies. Bishop Hawes says that “the
idea that God should in some extraordinary manner visit and dwell with
men is found in a thousand forms among ancient heathens.”

The fact is, there is no promise or prophecy of a “last Adam” in the
Hebrew Scriptures. The Jews give a very different interpretation to
those utterances alleged to be Messianic, and the alleged types of Jesus
in the Old Testament are purely fanciful, and many of them are
exceedingly childish. The idea that Solomon and Moses and the scapegoat
were _types_ of Jesus is simply absurd, and not creditable to the
alleged antetype. There is no Jesus of Nazareth in the Hebrew oracles.

The bloody sacrifices of the Old Testament were antedated by heathen
nations centuries before the Jews. The sacrificing of brute beasts was
heathenism pure and simple, to conciliate an imaginary anthropomorphic
god. Twenty generations of innocent animals slaughtered by divine
command in order to notify the world beforehand of the coming of the
last Adam, yet never saying so, seem to have failed to prepare the
people for the alleged spiritual sacrifice of Jesus. It was a signal
failure. If these bloody offerings were types of Jesus, there must have
been some resemblance. Wherein did it lie? A bullock was forced to the
altar; he died like any beast at the shambles. It made the sanctuary a
slaughter-house. The involuntary offering of an innocent lamb or pigeon
cannot be a type of a willing offering of a human being. The whole
scheme of bloody animal sacrifices is a type of nothing but the cruelty
of barbarism, and meant a good dinner and fat priests! It is generally
condemned by the Hebrew prophets as useless, and was entirely rejected
by those who “professed and called themselves Christians.”

Since we can learn absolutely nothing that is rationally reliable
concerning the “last Adam” from the Old Testament, it becomes necessary
for us to consult comparatively modern history. The advent of Jesus was
made, if made at all within the historic period, scarcely nineteen
hundred years ago. If such a person appeared among men at that time,
there must be some written record of so wonderful an event by
contemporary parties.

In the Jewish Talmud, a perfect wilderness of religious and secular
speculations, we find many spiteful and distorted allusions to one Jesus
who went into Egypt and learned sorcery and magic, and by such influence
raised a tumult among the people and led away a party of deluded
followers. Whether this was Jesus of Nazareth it is impossible to say.
There were many persons bearing similar names.

There is at the present day much ignorance—or at least indifference—even
among intelligent Christians, to the fact that the very name of Jesus is
not of Hebrew, but of Greek origin, as indeed is the whole history of
his life as related in the four Gospels; and no one but those who have a
previous theory to uphold can believe that the people of Jerusalem
during the time of Christ spoke any other language than that spoken by
their forefathers. From this we will pass to other instances where the
name of Jesus is applied to others not named in the Gospels; and it will
be a matter of surprise to many to know that no less than fifteen, most
of them living at the time of the Christian era, are named by the Jewish
historian Josephus as bearing the name of Jesus:

   1. Jesus, son of Josedek (Ant., xi. iii. 10, iv. 1).
   2. Jesus, sumamed Jason, son of Simon (Ant., xi. iii. 10, iv. 1).
   3. Jesus, son of Phabet (Ant., xv. ix. 3).
   4. Jesus, son of Sie (Ant., xvii. xiii. 1).
   5. Jesus, son of Damneus (Ant., xx. ix. 1).
   6. Jesus, son of Gamaliel (Ant., xx. ix. 4).
   7. Jesus, son of Sapphias ( Wars, ii. xx. 4).
   8. Jesus, son of Shaphat ( Wars, iii. ix. 7).
   9. Jesus, son of Ananus ( Wars, iv. iv. 9).
  10. Jesus, son of Ananus, a plebeian ( Wars, vi. v. 3).
  11. Jesus, son of Gamala (Life, 38, 41).
  12. Jesus, a high priest ( Wars, vi. ii. 2).
  13. Jesus, son of Thebuthi ( Wars, vi. viii. 3).
  14. Jesus, father of Elymas.
  15. Jesus, surnamed Barabbas.

Josephus also refers to one Judas, a Gaulonite, who was a leader of the
people, and whose character and career answer in so many respects to
qualities credited to Jesus of Nazareth that it is supposed by many that
the name Jesus had been changed to Judas; and he also refers to other
Jesuses who are too much like the traditional Jesus of the Gospels in
many things to be mere coincidences. Then there was the _meek_ Jesus,
mentioned by Josephus, who lived during the reign of Albinus, who
prophesied such evil things, and who was scourged until his bones were
laid bare, and who uttered no reply, and in so many ways was like the
Jesus of tradition ( _Wars of the Jews_, book vi., chap. 5). Then we
have the mention of the Jesus, as is well known, who was the friend of
Simon and John and the “son of Sapphias,” who was the leader of a
seditious tumult, _who was betrayed by one of his followers_, and
defeated by Josephus himself when he was governor of Galilee, and put to
shame and confusion (_Life of Josephus_, sec. 12-14).

This undoubtedly shows that nearly all that is claimed for Jesus of
Nazareth _might_ have been said as the substance of what was written by
Josephus concerning real historical persons called Jesus. This may
account for the conglomerate character and the many inconsistencies
ascribed to this Jesus of tradition.

The failure of Jewish writers of the first century to recognize Jesus of
Nazareth, even in the most casual way, is a significant fact. Philo, the
celebrated writer of his day, was born about twenty years before the
Christian era, and spent his time in philosophical studies at that
centre of learning, Alexandria in Egypt. He labored diligently and wrote
voluminously to reconcile the teachings of Plato with the writings of
the Old Testament, and, though in the prime and vigor of manhood when
Jesus is said to have lived, and dwelling in the immediate vicinity of
Judea, and in the very city where Christianity was early introduced, yet
this learned, devout, and honest Jew makes no mention of Jesus of

Even more strange is the silence of Josephus, the Jewish historian, who
was born about A. d. 35, and lived and wrote extensively until after the
destruction of Jerusalem, and yet he never mentioned the name of Jesus.
The celebrated passage regarding Christ is known to be a forgery, and
the one respecting “James the brother of Jesus, called the Christ,” is
by no means worthy of confidence. It must be certain that in the first
century of our era Jesus of Nazareth did not attract the attention of
these fair and distinguished Jewish writers, if he in fact existed.

In early times the name Jesus, as has been shown, was as common as the
names John or James, and when the name is mentioned it is impossible to
say who is referred to. The passage in Josephus referring to Jesus thus,
“About this time appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it be right to
call him a man,” etc., is acknowledged by celebrated Christian writers
to be a fraud. Its authenticity was given up as long ago as the time of
Dr. Nathaniel Lardner, author of the _Credibility of the Gospel
History_, and one of the most highly regarded of Christian writers.
Gibbon, too, decided it to be a forgery. Bishop Warburton, the
distinguished defender of Pope’s _Essay on Man_ against the charge of
atheism, and one of the most distinguished of Christian defenders,
agreed with Lardner. The Rev. Robert Taylor quotes many other Christian
writers as coinciding. The biographer of Josephus in the _Encyclopaedia
Britannica_ says the passage is unanimously regarded as spurious. Drs.
Oort, Hookyaas, and Xuenen, German Christian writers of great repute, in
the _Bible for Learners_ declare the passage to be “certainly spurious”
and “inserted by a later and a Christian hand.”

Gibbon says it was forged between the time of Origen (a. d. 230) and
Eusebius (a. d. 315). The credit of the forgery, however, is generally
given to Eusebius, who first quoted it. The distinguished authors of the
_Bible for Learners_ distinctly state that Josephus never mentioned
Jesus, and cite Josephus’s close following of the atrocious career of
Herod up to the very last moments of his life, without mentioning the
slaughter of the innocents, as indubitable proof that Josephus knew
nothing of Jesus. Dr. Lardner gives these reasons why he regards the
passage as a forgery:

“I do not perceive that we at all want the suspected testimony to Jesus,
which was never quoted by any of our Christian ancestors before

“Nor do I recollect that Josephus has anywhere mentioned the name or
word _Christ_ in any of his works, except the testimony above mentioned
and the passage concerning James, the Lord’s brother.

“It interrupts the narrative.

“The language is quite Christian.

“It is not quoted by Chrysostom, though he often refers to Josephus, and
could not have omitted quoting it had it been in the text.

“It is not quoted by Photius, though he has three articles concerning

“Under the article ‘Justus of Tiberias, this author (Photius) expressly
states that the historian (Josephus), being a Jew, has not taken the
least notice of Christ.

“Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, nor Clemens
Alexandrinus, who made so many extracts from Christian authors, nor
Origen against Celsus, have ever mentioned this testimony.

“But, on the contrary, in chapter xxxv. of the first book of that work,
Origen openly affirms that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist,
did not acknowledge Christ.”

The Rev. Dr. Giles, author of the _Christian Records_, adds to the
reasons for rejecting the passage, as follows:

“Those who are best acquainted with the character of Josephus and the
style of his writings have no hesitation in condemning this passage as a
forgery interpolated in the text during the third century by some pious
Christian, who was scandalized that so famous a writer as Josephus
should have taken no notice of the Gospels or of Christ their subject.
But the zeal of the interpolator has outrun his discretion, for we might
as well expect to gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles as to
find this notice of Christ among the Judaizing writings of Josephus. It
is well known that this author was a zealous Jew, devoted to the laws of
Moses and the traditions of his countrymen. How, then, could he have
written that _Jesus was the Christ?_ Such an admission would have proved
him to be a Christian himself, in which case the passage under
consideration, too long for a Jew, would have been far too short for a
believer in the new religion; and thus the passage stands forth, like an
ill-set jewel, contrasting most inharmoniously with everything around
it. If it had been genuine, we might be sure that Justin Martyr,
Tertullian, and Chrysostom would have quoted it in their controversies
with the Jews, and that Origen or Photius would have mentioned it. But
Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (i. 11), is the first who quotes
it, and our reliance on the judgment, or even honesty, of this writer is
not so great as to allow our considering everything found in his works
as undoubtedly genuine.”

Oxley in his great work 011 Egypt says: “However, I have found in some
papers that this discourse _was not written by Josephus, but by one
Caius, a presbyter._”

Here, according to their own showing, what had passed for centuries as
the work of Josephus was a fraud perpetrated by a dignitary of the
Church. This is in perfect keeping with ancient custom. In addition to
all this, there is not an original manuscript of Josephus in existence,
nor one (that I have heard of) that dates farther back than the tenth or
eleventh century A. D.

Another forged reference to Christ is found in the _Antiquities_, book
xx. chapter ix. section 1, where Josephus is made to speak of James,
“the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” Some theologians who
reject the longer reference to Jesus accept this as genuine. But they do
it without reconciling the discrepancies between the stories regarding
the end of this same James. According to this passage, James was put to
death under the order of the high priest. But according to Hegesippus, a
converted Jew who wrote a history of the Christian Church about A. d.
170, James was killed in a tumult, not by sentence of a court. Clement
of Alexandria confirms this, and is quoted by Eusebius accordingly.
Eusebius also quotes the line from Josephus without noticing that the
two do not agree. The statement is quoted in various ways in the early
writers, and the conclusion is irresistible that the copies of Josephus
were tampered with by copyists. Even had Jesus lived and taught as
described in the Gospels, Josephus, an orthodox Jew, a priest, and
conservative government official, would never have given him the title
of Christ, or Messiah, a party leader for whom the Jews were looking to
free them from their Roman bondage.

Among the great pagan writers of the first century of our era we find
absolutely nothing relating to Jesus of Nazareth. There was Seneca,
living not far from these times, and then the Elder and the Younger
Pliny, Tacitus, Plutarch, Galen, Epictetus, Marcus Antoninus—some of the
noblest men of the world. Let us look at some few fragments of testimony
that we have. One historian writes that “under a ringleader named
Chrestus the Jews raised a tumult.” In another place he refers to the
Christians as a class of men devoted to a “new and mischievous
superstition.” And Tacitus speaks of Judea as “the source of this evil.”
Another speaks of the Christians as “a sect hated for their crimes,” and
Suetonius gives Nero special praise for having done the most that he
could to wipe them off the face of the earth. In a _Life of Claudius_,
another Roman emperor, Christ is spoken of as “a restless, seditious
Jewish agitator.” Pliny the Younger, writing to the emperor about A. D.
104, when he was governor of Bithynia, says the Christians do not
worship the gods nor the emperors—as most of the people then did—nor
could they be induced to curse Christ. He says they met mornings for
virtuous vows, and chanted a hymn to Christ as to a god, and in the
evening they ate together a common meal. And after he had put them to
torture he said all he could find against them was “a perverse and
immoderate superstition.” Lucian, about the middle of the second
century, speaks of Jesus as the crucified Sophist. We do not know
certainly whether these references to Christ allude to Jesus of Nazareth
at all. _Chrestians_ and _Chrestus_ were designations in common use all
over the world, and the writers merely mentioned them as a sect well
known as creating some noise in the world. Certainly the language used
in describing them is not very complimentary. They may have referred to
the Essenes, who had their ideal Chrest.

A modern writer has shown that the story of the persecution of
Christians by the emperor Nero (a. d. 54-68) is a modern fabrication.
Robert Taylor, in his _Diegesis_ published in 1829, proved that
Cornelius Tacitus never could have written the passage describing such
persecution. It has been demonstrated that the whole of the so-called
_Annals of Tacitus_, containing the celebrated passage, was forged by a
Papal secretary named Poggio Bracciolini. In 1422, while in the receipt
of a small salary under Martin V., he was tempted by an offer of five
hundred sequins (which would now be equal to fifty thousand dollars) to
engage in some mysterious literary work. Seven years later, six books of
what are now called the _Annals of Tacitus_ were brought to him by a
monk from Saxony. Then all Christendom rejoiced to learn that the
heathen Tacitus had mentioned Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate.
Poggio, though a father both spiritually and carnally, was not a husband
till the age of fifty-four. At seventy-two he accepted the office of
secretary to the republic of Florence, and at seventy-nine he died,
leaving five sons of his old age. Up to the last he was a busy student
and writer. Fifty-six years after his death his fourth son was secretary
to Pope Leo X., at which time the pope’s steward, stimulated by a
munificent reward, discovered the first six incomplete books of the
_Annals_, being the unfinished work of Poggio in his old age.

The finding of ancient MSS. was a very lucrative business for scholars
in those days. It began with Petrarch, who died in 1374, and did not end
with Poggio, who died in 1459. Poggio discovered several orations of
Cicero, a history by Ammianus Marcollinus, and several other classic
works, besides the unclassic writings of Tertullian, the first Latin

The modern fabrication of many of the ancient Latin and Greek MSS. is
now becoming apparent. Jean Hardouin, a French Jesuit, died in 1729,
aged eighty-three years. He was deeply versed in history, language, and
numismatology. At the age of forty-four he began to suspect that certain
writings of the Christian Fathers were spurious, and soon became
convinced that none of them were genuine. Then turning his attention to
the Greek and Latin classics, he found evidence sufficient to convince
him that most of those also were forgeries, being fabricated by the
Benedictine monks after the middle of the fourteenth century.

Eusebius’s _Ecclesiastical History_, first found in Latin in the
fifteenth century and then in Greek in the six-teenth century, we have
no doubt is a probable forgery. And if so we have really no history of
the primitive Church except what may be found in the New Testament and a
few uncertain fragments of apocryphal literature, all much corrupted.

The use of the word _Christus_ and _Christianus_ by the Latin writers is
sufficient evidence of modern fabrication. Ainsworth’s Latin Dictionary
has not the word Christus nor Christianus in the Latin part, but in the
part which gives the Latin equivalents of English words we find this:

A Christian = Christianus.

Christianism or Christianity = Christianismus.

Christmas = Christianataliam festum.

Now, the words Christus and Christianus are used by Tacitus, Suetonius,
Pliny (the younger), Tertullian, and all the succeeding Latin Fathers.

_Christos_ in Greek is a very proper word, being a translation of the
Hebrew _mashiach_, meaning “anointed.” Therefore, the Latins would have
rendered it _unctus_.

But the Benedictine monks who forged the literature of the pretended
Fathers, instead of translating _christos,_ audaciously transferred the
word, and thus the new word _Christus_, with a capital C, became an
additional name for the man-god of the Catholic Church.

Now, we respectfully raise the query whether it is rational to suppose
that such wonderful things occurred in the little province of Palestine,
surrounded by learned sages and philosophers of the most enlightened
nations of the world, and not one direct and intelligent reference
should have been made to them? Is it not strange that we have no account
of the birth, sayings, and doings of this “last Adam,” who is said to
have come into this world on the most important mission, and yet we hear
nothing of him except in four or five little anonymous and dateless
pamphlets written a long while after the events are said to have
transpired? Since the New Testament contains _all_ that has been written
on this subject, is it not our highest duty to subject this book to the
most thorough examination? This we shall now proceed to do in the most
fearless manner, however startling the conclusions which may be reached.


_“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and
they are they which testify of me.”—John 5: 39._

WE of course use the above passage as a motto, as the writer must have
referred to the Old-Testament Scriptures, as the New Testament was not
yet in existence. As this book is the sole dependence in finding
evidence regarding Jesus, we naturally first inquire as to what is known
of it. We find this volume to be made up of _twenty-seven_ small tracts
or pamphlets, fastened together for the sake of convenience.

  (1) We have _four_ sketches, purporting to be brief biographies of
  (2) Next we have a condensed history, called the _Acts of the
  (3) Then we have _twenty-one_ writings or letters addressed to
      different churches or individuals in the epistolary form of
  (4) And finally we have a _highly-wrought allegory_, partaking
      somewhat of the form of both history and prophecy.

We find that this volume of little pamphlets is called the “Authorized
Version” of the New Testament.

We inquire who _authorized_ this version, and find that it was gotten up
by certain men, mainly Englishmen, in the year 1603 by the “special
command” of James, who is called “king of Great Britain, France, and
Ireland,” and who was addressed by these gentlemen, mostly clergymen, as
“the Most High and Mighty Prince, Defender of the Faith,” etc.

It now becomes a matter of superlative importance to determine the basis
upon which this version of the New Testament was made. It is well known
that in 1881 a New Version was published, and Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.
D., a member of the committee of revisers, issued a little book entitled
_Companion to the Revised Version_, to be circulated with it. This is
the latest and highest authority by which to settle the question of the
_basis or standard_ of our “Authorized Version” of the New Testament. It
is stated on its title-page that it is “Translated out of the Original
Greek;” and it is safe and fair to let Dr. Roberts, the mouthpiece of
the New Version Committee, tell us upon what Greek manuscripts this
version of King James was based. After giving a history of the different
Greek editions of the New Testament (the _first_ of which was completed
in 1514, and its publication formally sanctioned by Pope Leo X. in
1520), he inquires, “Which of the foregoing Greek texts formed the
_original_ from which our common English translation was derived?” “To
this question the answer is, that Beza’s edition of 1589 was the one
usually followed.” Beza’s edition was based on Stevens’ edition of 1550,
and that was derived from the fourth edition of Erasmus, published in
1527. Beza, Stevens, Erasmus! In reference to the edition of Erasmus he
said himself, “It was rather tumbled headlong into the world than
edited.” But the question now comes up, What was the basis of the
edition of Erasmus? Dr. Roberts shall answer: “In the Gospels he
principally used a cursive MS. of the fifteenth or sixteenth
century,”... “admitted by all to be of a very _inferior character._”...
“He procured another MS. of the twelfth century or earlier, but Erasmus
was ignorant of its value and made little use of it.”... “In the Acts
and Epistles he chiefly followed a cursive MS. of the thirteenth or
fourteenth century, with occasional reference to another of the
fifteenth century.”... “For the Apocalypse he had only one mutilated
MS.” Dr. Roberts adds: “He had _no_ documentary materials for publishing
a complete edition of the Greek Testament.”

The point we here raise is, that it is an admission made by the best
orthodox authority that our “_Authorized_ New Testament” was formed out
of  MSS. dating no farther back than the twelfth, thirteenth,
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, and that even these were
hastily and unskilfully used or not used at all.

But the question naturally arises, Have not earlier MSS. come to light,
substantially confirming what we have in King James’ Version? The answer
is, that there are now in existence about two thousand MSS. containing
_parts_ of the New Testament, with about _one hundred and fifty
thousand_ variations, mostly trivial, but some very important; but no
scholar, orthodox or liberal, will dare to pretend that any of these
date any farther back than the fourth or fifth century; and he would be
a reckless man, feeling bound to lie for what he might regard as the
truth, who would contradict the admission of Dr. Roberts, that there are
only five copies of the New Testament, at all complete, of a greater
antiquity than the tenth century, nor who would dare to question the
statement of the Rev. George E. Merrell in his recent _Story of the
Manuscripts_, that “there is a wide gap of almost three centuries
between the original manuscripts of the evangelists and apostles and the
earliest copies of their writings which have yet been discovered.”
Whether there ever were _original_ manuscripts or _accurate_ copies are
questions which it would be prudent to hold for consideration until we
have made further investigations. When we reverently listen to our
ministers as they expound the Word, and learnedly tell us how certain
sentences should have been translated from the “original Greek,” let us
not laugh in their faces, but respectfully ask them whether they do not
know that there is _no original_ Greek Testament or any certified copy,
and that all we know upon these matters is highly conjectural and wholly

The principal MSS. of the New Testament were unknown for a thousand
years after the Christian era—to wit, those from which our “Authorized”
New Testament was compiled—and their real origin cannot be traced, and
even their accepted date is purely a matter of conjecture. The
Alexandrian, Vatican, and Sinaitic MSS., supposed to date from the
fourth and fifth centuries, are of uncertain and suspicious origin, and
their date is a matter of simple guess by parties whose prepossessions
would incline them to make them as ancient as possible. How easy it is
for the best scholars to be imposed upon is shown from the fact that the
experts of the British Museum would probably have been swindled by the
recent Syrian forgery of the very ancient book of Deuteronomy but for
the discovery of the fact by a French scholar that the “ancient
document” was in fact only a year or two old, the product of a skilled
copyist! The fact is, little or nothing is actually _known_ by
historical and documentary verification of the origin or dates of the
MSS. upon which our New Testament is based.

The next question that arises in a rational mind in this connection is
this: Have we in these twenty-seven little pamphlets all that has been
written upon the subjects to which they relate? The answer to this
question is very embarrassing. It is an undoubted fact that the
ecclesiastical council that selected the books composing the New
Testament had at least _fifty_ Gospels, from which they selected _four_,
and more than _one hundred_ Epistles, from which they selected
_seventeen_, and that from nearly a _score_ of books professing to be
records of the “Acts of the Apostles” they selected _one_, which
Chrysostom in the fifth century says “was not so much as known to many.”
Then there are _forty-one_ New-Testament books now extant, called
apocryphal, relating to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and
besides the canonical and apocryphal books extant there are
_sixty-eight_ New-Testament books mentioned by the Christian Fathers of
the first four centuries which are not now known to be in existence.
Besides these, more than _fifty_ books, written in the second century by
more than _twenty_ distinguished persons, have mysteriously disappeared.
The fact should also be emphasized that the adoption of the
New-Testament books in the early part of the fourth century, as we now
substantially have them, was followed by the _disappearance_ and
probable _destruction_ of all books that could throw light upon the
books received, and all the supposed copies of our Gospels to that
period have been lost or destroyed. The fact to be kept in mind is this,
that the New-Testament books which we now have were selected from scores
and hundreds of writings claiming equal authority by a few
self-appoint-ed men, who had very few qualifications and many
disqualifications for the work they undertook for all coming
generations. We have but a trifling proportion in number of the ancient
records regarding Jesus.

But we now take up the little pamphlets as we have them, and try to
arrange them in order of time. The oldest writings of the New Testament
are the Epistles of Paul. And here we find ourselves embarrassed by the
fact that biblical criticism shows that not more than _five—some say
four_—of the Epistles ascribed to Paul were written by him—viz. First
Thessalonians, Galatians, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, and
Romans. The other nine ascribed to Paul were doubtless written by
unknown second-century authors. The same uncertainty prevails in regard
to the authorship of several, if not all, of what are called the General
or Catholic Epistles, as well as of the Acts of the Apostles and the
book of Revelation.

It is impossible to fix the dates of the New-Testament books except
approximately. There is a great diversity of opinion. The earliest were
probably written in the last half of the first century, and the latest
certainly in the last quarter of the second century. Certain it is that
no evidence can be found of the existence of our four Gospels until the
latter part of the second century, about one hundred and fifty years
after the alleged death of Jesus. It is therefore true what Prof.
Robertson Smith, D. D., the learned Scotch Presbyterian minister,
asserts, that our four Gospels are “unapostolic digests of the second
century.” From the Apostolic Epistles we learn nothing of the life and
teachings of Jesus. With Paul, Christ was an _idea_ rather than a
_person_. Not a syllable do we find in his writings of the miraculous
birth of Jesus, no reference to the Sermon on the Mount, much less to
the miracles ascribed to him. He rather boasted that he had learned
nothing of him from his disciples, but what he knew he had received at
the time of his own miraculous conversion. He dwells upon the _death_
and spiritual _resurrection_ of Jesus, not upon his _life_; and the only
_words_ of Jesus quoted by Paul, “it is more blessed to give than to
receive,” are not found at all in the Gospels. All that Paul ever
claimed to know about Jesus as a person he learned in a vision, and it
is to be taken for what it is worth.

We are absolutely driven to the Gospels for information regarding the
alleged founder of Christianity, his birth, his life, his teachings, and
his death. And here the fact should be faced that Jesus never wrote
anything about himself, his mission, or his doctrines. We should not
even know that he had learned the art of writing but for the incident
mentioned in one of the Gospels (John 8:6) that on a certain occasion he
stooped down and wrote in the sand; and now our learned New Versionists
come along and snatch this from us by declaring that the beautiful story
about the kind treatment of the woman taken in adultery is an
interpolation not found in the best early MSS., so that we are not even
sure that Jesus wrote anything even with his finger in the sand, or that
he even knew how to write! Nobody pretends that Jesus ever directed his
disciples or any one else to write down what he said and did, but, on
the other hand, he often forbade his disciples to tell what he said and
did; and much of what he is reported to have said was so obscure that
the disciples themselves continually misunderstood him. Two reasons have
been assigned for this omission of Jesus to write himself or to
commission others to write down his sayings. The first is, that he said
nothing which could not be found in then existing writings (as can
easily be shown), and the second is, that he was so sure that the world
was about to be destroyed, and that his own kingdom would so soon be set
up and established upon the general ruin, that it was useless to write
down what was said and done in the short remaining period of mundane

We have four brief sketches claiming to be biographies of Jesus, which
the Church claims as authentic, from which we must draw all our
information regarding Jesus.

It is not necessary here to assign the reasons of learned critics for
their conclusion that the Gospel “according to” Mark is the older of the
four. But it is worthy of note that there is not in it _one word_ of
_the miraculous conception story_, and not a _hint_ of the bodily
resurrection and ascension of Jesus, as the critics have a way of
proving that the last chapter of Mark was added by a later hand.

Then we are embarrassed by the testimony of Irenæus, Origen, Jerome, and
other Christian Fathers that the Gospel of Matthew was written in
Hebrew, while there are indubitable internal evidences that this Gospel,
as we have it, was written in Greek and by a Greek, and not a Jew, and
that it is really a _theological_ treatise written by some partisan for
ecclesiastical reasons, and that if Matthew ever wrote a Gospel, it has
been unfortunately lost or purposely destroyed. An early Christian sect,
called in derision Ebionites, are supposed to have had the Hebrew Gospel
of Matthew, and they were persecuted and stamped out for denying the
miraculous conception and divinity of Christ, and with them, some
critics suppose, perished the only genuine Gospel of Matthew. There is
little if any doubt that the first and second chapters of our Matthew,
giving an account of the miraculous birth and genealogy of Jesus, were
added when this fiction was incorporated into Christianity as necessary
to a divine Church establishment which should almost deify a hierarchy
and bring the common people into subjection. In reading Matthew’s Gospel
we should undoubtedly begin at chapter 3, and especially as the first
two chapters are absurd, contradictory, and inconsistent. If Jesus was
begotten by the Holy Ghost, it was not consistent or necessary to notice
the genealogy of Joseph, and there is nothing more bungling than the
genealogies of Mary and Joseph as given in Matthew and Luke. Indeed, the
name Matthew is not Jewish, and there are those who doubt if there ever
was such a man. It is a suggestive fact that the Egyptians had a
_Matthu_, and that he was the _registrar_, or keeper of their records.

The Gospel ascribed to Luke he himself admits to be a résumé or
compilation of what had been written by others and was the prevalent
belief (Luke, chapter 1). In making a close analysis of this little
tract a learned German critic Schleiermacher, shows that it was probably
compiled from thirty-three different manuscripts. But since Luke himself
claims nothing more than the office of a collector, his work is a mere
digest of what others had written and a summary of what was then
believed by some persons.

The Gospel according to John deserves a more careful and extended
notice, from the fact that it differs in so many particulars from the
other three Gospels. There is no evidence of the existence of this
writing until A. D. 175, when it was mentioned in the Clementine
Homilies,(1) and in 176, Theophilus of Antioch ascribed its authorship
to John. But nothing is more certain than that John the Evangelist did
not write this little book, as it contains internal evidence of its
Grecian origin, and that it could not have been written by one familiar
with Judaism and the geography of Palestine. Many of the best biblical
scholars, orthodox and rationalistic, admit this fact, and our Methodist
friends may amuse themselves at their leisure in reading a learned note
from the pen of their great commentator, Dr. Adam Clarke, at the close
of his exposition of the first chapter of John, in which he points out
thirty-five parallels between the writings of Philo the learned
Platonist and the Gospel of John, unwittingly showing that it must have
been written by an Alexandrian Greek.

  (1) These were spurious.

And right here it is proper to expose an ancient fraud perpetuated in
the Church to the present day—to wit, that Papius and Polycarp, early
Christian writers, were personally acquainted with and instructed by
John, and that therefore a succession was established with the teachings
of Jesus himself, whose personal disciple John was. This story was
originated by Irenæus, and the fraud consists in confounding John the
son of Zebedee and Salome with one John who was said to be a presbyter
in Asia Minor. This ingenious device is clearly exposed by Reber in his
work—_The Enigmas of Christianity_. Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, may be
called one of the _founders_ of the papal hierarchy, as he in the second
century attempted, but miserably failed, to furnish a catalogue of
bishops in orderly succession from the apostles; and soon after he was
followed in the same vain attempt by Tertullian, who first claimed
supremacy for the bishop of Rome, calling him “_epis-copus
episcoporum_,” a bishop of bishops. The fact is, it is not known who
wrote the fourth Gospel, but it is certain that it was not written by
the humble, amiable Galilean fisherman, but by a learned neo-Platonist,
who was familiar with the dialectics of the learned Gnostic
philosophers, and who desired most earnestly their complete suppression
as essential to the success of the fixed purpose of priests to establish
a Church, under an alleged divine commission, in which they were to be
the kings and princes. Priests have always been the corrupters and
perverters of truth for their own aggrandizement, and the Grecian
treatise palmed upon the Church as the Gospel of St. John is one of the
most illustrious examples. But for this so-called “Gospel” the existence
of the papal hierarchy, and the consequent priestly pretensions in
Protestant churches, would have been impossible. Enough has been
presented to show that we have no alternative but to depend upon the
synoptical Gospels, credited to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in our inquiry
as to Jesus.

Now let us see just where we stand as to the sources of information to
which we are to look in learning whom Jesus was.

   1. We are restricted to four, if not three, short biographies,
      accredited to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, only two of whom,
      Matthew and John, were mentioned among the disciples of Jesus.
   2. That these sketches were written by those whose names they bear is
      not supported by a particle of proof, but, on the other hand,
      there is strong evidence that they were not written by the persons
      to whom they are credited; and this is especially true in regard
      to Matthew and John. Strictly speaking, our Gospels are anonymous.
   3. These documents are without date, both as to the time in which
      they are written and the place of writing, and there is no proof
      of their existence until more than one hundred and fifty years
      after the alleged occurrence of the things recorded.
   4. That these four Gospels were selected from many other writings
      most of which have been lost or destroyed.
   5. That the men who made our four Gospels canonical, and rejected all
      the rest, were for the most part narrow, bigoted partisans, and
      had good reasons of a selfish nature to reject whatever did not
      favor their ambitious designs.
   6. We have no proof that the four Gospels made canonical by the early
      ecclesiastical councils were the original writings of the
      evangelists, even if we were sure that they wrote anything, nor
      have we any proof that the copies adopted were genuine and
      authentic and the best then extant.
   7. We have no proof that the copies we have are accurate copies of
      the ones adopted by the councils, but we have proof positive,
      admitted by the New Version-ists of 1881, that they contain many
      interpolations and additions and many evidences of forgeries and
      alterations by the ignorant, designing, and selfish ecclesiastics
      of the mediaeval centuries known as the Dark Ages.
   8. That the Authorized Version read in the churches and in our
      families is based upon MSS. dating from the twelfth to the
      sixteenth century, and that only fragmentary MSS. and
      unauthenticated copies are now in existence, dating from the
      fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries.
   9. That the copies we have bound up in our New Testament contradict
      themselves and one another in a great many particulars, and
      contain many statements which are geographically, historically,
      and philosophically absurd and incredible.
  10. That, therefore, our Gospels are of uncertain authority and of
      undoubted human origin, and are to be so regarded without a doubt.

Now, it will be said that this is an infidel attack upon the New
Testament, and that it tends to the overthrow of the only religion that
can do the world any good. And yet, strange as it may appear, these
facts are presented in the best interests of true religion—presented
because they are true, and therefore best adapted, nay absolutely
essential, to the successful defense and propagation of virtue and

The real infidels of the day are the theological liars and pretenders
who are wilfully ignorant, or too dishonest and cowardly to publish what
they know. Infidelity is breach of trust, disloyalty to truth. He who
would do the most good must tell the whole truth. If we regard the
Gospels as simple compilations from earlier documents and traditions,
with occasional additions and alterations to meet occasions and times,
we shall find in them very many things to admire and to adopt into our
problems of life and systems of morals, many things worthy of imitation,
many things to give courage and comfort in the struggle for existence,
many things which would be just as true and just as useful if they had
only been written yesterday by some one whom we have known from our

Regarding the Gospels as human, we can excuse their absurdities and
errors, and while we cast these errors aside we joyfully accept what is
true and good and beautiful; but by claiming for them what they are not
we bring even what is true into disrepute.

It was a master-stroke of worldly wisdom and policy when Irenæus in the
second century (who first mentioned our four Gospels) sanctioned the
monstrous assumption of all ecclesiastical authority by divine right by
the bishops and priests, which power soon became centralized at Rome;
but it was the greatest misfortune of the ages for the cause of true
religion and sound morality. It not only made the Church of Rome with
its immense machinery a necessary result, but it made the not less false
systems of Protestant dogmatic theology possible. There is no use in
attempting to disguise the fact that the so-called scheme of redemption
is in principle and substance the same in the Catholic and orthodox
Protestant Churches. Many intelligent persons feel that they would as
soon belong to one as the other, while they secretly regard the
Romanists as logically the more consistent.

The Romanists are strong in that they place the Church _first (jure
divino)_ and make the scriptures the product of the Church, and of
course subject to its interpretation. Protestants are weak in that they
make the Church subject to written scriptures, which were selected by
the founders of _Catholicism_, and then for centuries altered, forged,
interpolated, and manipulated by popes and priests to strengthen their
authority and secure the absolute submission of the people.

The one fatal blunder of the Protestant Reformers was to found their
system of theology upon a written book of the origin of which so little
is known, and yet regarding which so much is known that it is impossible
for persons of a rational, judicial mind to accept it as an infallible
supernatural revelation.

The conclusion is inevitable that in the absence of everything that, by
even a strain of language, can be called _evidence_ as to the
genuineness and authenticity, of our Gospels we cannot safely accept
them as an infallible authority in religious matters. We have a right to
examine them critically, just as we would read and study any other
ancient writings of uncertain authorship and date.

The Reformation was in part the substitution of a _book_ which was
pronounced _infallible_, but which has proved to be very _fallible_, for
a Church which claimed infallibility, but which had shown itself not
only very fallible, but exceedingly corrupt and dangerous. Infallibility
belongs to neither men nor books. Infallibility in books is an
absurdity. A religion founded upon a printed book must submit to
examination of both the origin and character of that book, and must
shoulder the imperfections and errors which the discoveries of modern
research have fully exposed. The principles of true religion inherent in
human nature, an ineradicable constituent of the constitution of man, as
has been shown, are to-day obscured and shackled by the false position
in which its professed friends have placed it. It will be shown before
these papers are concluded that a religion manacled by a printed book
claiming infallibility, and made to depend solely upon an _historical
character_ who, if admitted to be historical, wrote nothing himself and
commissioned no one to write anything for him, and of whose verbal
teachings and actual mode of life we can never be sure,—a religion thus
encumbered must suffer great loss, if not total failure, as men shall
progress in knowledge and science shall uncover the past and demonstrate
the absurdities of the superstitious dogmas of the ancient faiths. It is
impossible to compress the largest brains of the nineteenth century into
the smallest skulls of the twelfth century. The true friend of religion
is the fearless man who dares attempt to rescue it from the accretions
and perversions of the Dark Ages, and to establish its eternal
principles of truth and righteousness in the very nature of man, in the
elevation of moral character, in strict agreement with the demonstrated
facts of the present, as opposed to the bigoted and degrading fancies of
the past. To defend religion from the follies of its mistaken champions,
and show that its foundations are secure and its ultimate triumph
certain, may now be denounced as treason to the Church, but in coming
years it will be seen to have been the work of men of whom the Church of
to-day is not worthy.

The fact is, very little is known of the New Testament, but too much is
well known to receive it in _evidence_ in a matter of so much
importance. The narratives it contains would be _ruled out of court_ in
any civilized country on the globe. It is evidently a huge _compilation_
of what was at best only _traditions_ among the nations of the earth,
and even these traditions, mixed and mangled as they are, must have
another and a more rational explanation than an historical or a literal
one. This book _cannot be an infallible divine revelation_. Let us see
whether we cannot find out what was really intended to be taught by the
different writers.


_“Great is the mystery of godliness.”—1 Tim. 3:16._

_“We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.”—1 Cor. 2:7._

_“I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.”—1 Cor. 10:15._

IN early times every prominent religious teacher had his own gospel, as
Paul asserts that he had his. The books that were canonized did not by
any means shape the belief of the early Christians, but, on the
contrary, their beliefs shaped the character of the books. “The question
of a ‘Catholic canon,’” says Professor Davidson, “was realized about the
same time as the idea of a Catholic Church.” The partisanship, low
trickery, and mob violence by which votes of councils were obtained to
establish ecclesiastical dogmas, the canonicity of Scriptures, etc.,
were such as now-a-days characterize a political meeting in the slums of
an American city.

While, therefore, we quote the statements of the Gospels to prepare the
way for the presentation of our points of argument, we do so only for
convenience. They cannot, by any rule of sound criticism, testimony of
contemporary writers, or even of spiritual discernment, be accepted as

The composition of the four Gospels indicates in many ways that they
were originally collections of _religious stories_, each of which has a
moral of its own, like the fables of Æsop, or, more properly, the
narratives concerning Buddha given in the _Dhammapada_. This was a
common mode of writing in early times. History and biography were hardly
considered. Hence contradictions of verbal statement were not counted as
of any importance. This is probably the reason why the transcribers
neglected to remove the conflicts of statement and other inaccuracies
that abound in the Gospels.

It is also more than probable that many parts of these works which have
a narrative form were later interpolations. The first two chapters of
Matthew and the first two in the Gospel according to Luke are
unequivocally of this character. The style and diction are conspicuously
unlike the language of the other parts of those works, as will appear on
the slightest notice.

The oldest parts of the New Testament are the Epistles of Paul to the
Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, and Thessalonians. We will do well,
therefore, to study them a little while by themselves, without reference
to the Gospels and other documents, which were of later date. Paul
asserts that he possessed and promulgated a gospel distinct and
different from others, and he pronounced an anathema on the man or angel
that should teach any different one. The way that he became possessed of
it he sets forth as follows: He had no conference with any human being
whatsoever about the matter, nor had he anything to do with those who
were apostles before him, but he went into Arabia and afterward to
Damascus. A hint is furnished by Josephus in his history of his own life
which throws some light upon the purpose of this sojourn in Arabia.
There were members of the Essenean brotherhood living there who were
resorted to by individuals desiring instruction and discipline. Josephus
himself went thither for that purpose. Paul evidently had a similar
errand. He had been a Pharisee, but had embraced another faith.

Why did he choose the Esseneans in preference to the Judean apostles?
The answer must be that he was more certain of learning their tenets
without adulteration. They were famous for their devotion to religious
study, their cultivation of sacred literature and the art of prophecy,
for their austerity, industry, and peculiar social organization. We
shall find upon comparison that this was very closely resembling what is
represented of the first believers at Jerusalem. They had their
episcopacy, their deacons or stewards, their Holy Scriptures, and
apostles or missionaries. These were numerous in Syria, Asia Minor, and
Egypt. As the Therapeutæ of the latter country resembled them, even to
the signification of their name (healers, ministers), the probability is
that the two were nearly identical. Eusebius, quoting the account of the
Egyptian communes as given by Philo the Jew, has remarked the close
similarity of their doctrines and customs with those of the apostolic
congregations, and declared that they were Christians and their writings
the Gospels.

This, however, is not tenable, at least not tenable in the way that he
suggests. Unfortunately for his statement, the Essenean brothers
existed, with all the peculiarities described, long before the Christian
era. Josephus treats of them as flourishing as early as the time of
Jonathan, the first of the Maccabeans who held the office of high
priest. About that period the canon of the Old Testament was finally
collected. “Judas gathered together all those things that were lost by
reason of the war we had (with Antiochos Epiphanes and his successors),
and they remain with us” (2 Macc. 2: 14). The Maccabees or Asmoneans
were partisans of the sect known as Asideans (Chaldeans), and afterward
as Pharisees or Parsees. At this very period we first learn of the
Sadducees or Zadokites, who chiefly belonged to the hereditary lineage
of Aaron, and likewise of the Essenean fraternity. These last had their
own sacred books, and took no part in the worship and sacrifices of the
temple. In short, they were regarded as a people apart. Their books, we
have good reason to suppose, were different in tenor from those of the
Old Testament, and it is by no means improbable that they included the
scriptures written in Greek by the Alexandrians and now called the

The designation _Minim_ may mean “observers of the heavens,” and the
Essenes appear to have been such. “Before sunrising,” says Josephus,
“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.” This illustrates the taunt to the
Pharisees, that they could discern the face of the sky in regard to the
weather, but could not read there the signs or symbols of the times,
which were also written there.

The Saddukim were doubtless the disciples and partisans of Judas of
Galilee, or Gaulonitis beyond Jordan. This man and his colleague Sadduk
began their career at the time of the census or enrolment by Cyre-nius,
which took place after the displacing of Arche-laus, the son of Herod
I., from the throne of Judea. There are many plausible reasons for
identifying them with the apostolic congregation. They established a new
religious or philosophical sect, which Josephus declares had a great
many followers, and laid the foundations of the subsequent miseries of
the Jews. Their tenets agreed with those of the Pharisees; but, says the
historian, “they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that
God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They do not value any kinds of
death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and
friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.” The Jewish
nation, Josephus declares, was infected with this doctrine to an
incredible degree. It is plain that the books interdicted in the
_Talmud_ pertained to the sect which followed these teachers, and
perhaps also to the Essenes.

The Gospels show evidence of having been compiled from previous works.
The one ascribed to Mark is apparently the more original, being shorter,
more concise, and exhibiting fewer traces of having been tampered with.
The Gospel according to Matthew is from the same original, having whole
sentences in exactly the same words, but it is amplified and more
diffuse. Neither of these Gospels was recognized by Paul, and indeed
there is much reason to doubt whether he had ever seen them. If he
recognized any evangelic compilation as genuine, it was the one ascribed
to Luke; and even then the treatise must have been rewritten after his

There exists abundant reason for regarding the Essenean worship as more
or less identical with that of Mithras, the Persian “god of heaven.”
This appears to be sustained by a comparison of the cults. Thus, as has
been remarked, they permitted no discourse on secular concerns before
sunrise, but chanted prayers like the _Gathas_, as in supplication to
the divinity presiding over the sky. Their personal habits exhibited a
profound awe for the _Sun_. Their name itself was not peculiar to the
fraternity of Palestine and Arabia, but was borne by the ascetic priests
at Ephesus, whose manner of life was similar; and Plutarch informs us
that certain _osioi_ (another form of the name) performed mystic rites
in the temple of Apollo at Delphi in commemoration of Zagreus, the
sun-god of the Orphic religion, who was slain and resuscitated.

The Persian theology is evidently the basis and source of Judaism. The
symbolism of the universe afforded a model for their religion. After the
conquest of Pontus and the pirate empire by Pompey, about 70 b. c., the
worship was introduced into the Roman empire. The verdict of Salamis was
thus reversed. The defeat of Xerxes, who was a zealous propagandist, had
assured the ascendency of Apollo at Delphi and Demeter at Eleusis over
the religion of Ahura Mazda; but the conquest of the Mithras-worshippers
by Pompey resulted in the introduction of their rites into every part of
the Roman world. From the river Euphrates to the Wall of Antoninus in
Britain, and into the forests of Germany, Mithraism everywhere
prevailed. For four centuries it disputed the supremacy with
Christianity; and even when it was proscribed and forbidden by imperial
authority, it still retained its hold upon the _pagani_ or inhabitants
of the rural districts. The Templars and other secret fraternities of
the Middle Ages were more or less similar in character to those of the
Parsee sun-god, and the rites which we have heard denounced as magic and
witchcraft were Mithraic ceremonies mingled with aboriginal customs.
Although the divinity is essentially Persian, we cannot but regard the
secret worship as an Assyrian institution. M. Lajard has given an
account of this cultus, which so generally supplanted the mystic worship
of the West.

The story of the temptation of Jesus, if read intelligently “between the
lines,” will be seen to indicate the characteristics of the Mithraic
initiation. “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by
John. And straightway coming up out of the water he saw the heavens
opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him; and there came a
voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness, and
he was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan
[Anra-mainyas], and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered
to him.”

These different clauses relate to different parts of the mystic

The sojourn of the apostle Paul in Arabia, it is apparent, was for a
purpose in close analogy with that of Jesus in the wilderness, as
already described. “It had pleased God,” he says, “to reveal [or unveil]
his Son in me;” so, without conferring with anybody, he set forth on his
holy errand, and upon his return began to preach a gospel which he
declares was not according to man nor taught in lessons, but was
received by the revelation. He was instructed at the fountain
intuitively, and so was “not a whit behind the chiefest apostles.” Hence
in the utmost intensity of feeling he proclaimed, “If we, or even an
angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you, let him be accursed.”
He goes on to recite the history of his career to show his entire
independence of Judaism and the other apostles, and dwells upon his
absolute rupture with Peter at Antioch on the ground of the adherence of
the latter to the discarded restrictions of that religion.

The question now becomes pertinent, What is the purport of this “faith”?
In the fifteenth chapter of the First Corinthian Epistle he sets forth
the chief points as follows: “I delivered unto you first of all that
which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to
the Scriptures; also that he was buried, and that he rose again the
third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas,
and after that of above five hundred brethren at once; after that he was
seen of James, and then of all the apostles; and, last of all, he was
seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

It may appear strange to the common reader to be told that these
matters, which the apostle sets forth with so much apparent confidence,
are _mystic and arcane the transcript of older theologies and
constituted throughout of astrologie symbolism._ The ancient faiths of
the different peoples contain doctrines and dramatic narrative closely
analogous with the evangelic story of Jesus. The later Persians had the
legend of Saoshyas (the savior), the son of the virgin Eredatferi, who
conceives him in a miraculous manner. “He will appear and restore all
things, after which he will himself become subordinate, that the Creator
may be supreme and all in all.”

In the Orphic drama, as it was performed by the Osians at the temple of
Apollo at Delphi, the birth of Zagreus of the holy maid Persephoneia as
the son of the Supreme Being, Zeus, is duly represented; then his
proposed heirship of the universe, his passion and death; and finally
his restoration again into life through a reincarnation as son of the
virgin Semelê under the new name of _Dionysos_. The myth was Assyrian,
Semelê being the same as Mylitta, the mystic mother, and her child,
Shamas Dian-nisi, or the personified Sun, the Judge or Lord of mankind.
_The death, [pg 236] resurrection, and glorification of this Son of God
were celebrated in the mystic dramas of several countries._

The legends of Atys in Asia Minor, of Adonis or Tammuz in Syria, of
Osiris in Egypt, were derived from the same source. They cover the same
field and have the same occult meaning. The apocalypse, or unveiling of
the mystic purport of the sacred dramas to those considered worthy and
competent to understand them, was the great object of initiation. The
Gospels were regarded formerly as accounts of a tragedy of analogous
character. The higher functionaries of the Roman Catholic Church, we
have reason to believe, have this same view, which is more than hinted
in several places. Paul speaks unequivocally in this way of his gospel
and the preaching or heralding of Jesus Christ, “_according to the
revelation or unfolding of the mystery now made known to all nations for
the obedience of faith._” When the disciples asked of Jesus why he spoke
to the common multitude in parables he makes this reply: “Unto you it is
given to know the mystery of the reign of God; but unto them that are
without all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see,
and not perceive, and hearing they may hear, and not understand.”

In these religious stories there is a very similar general outline.
There is a divine parentage and a career given; then the Holy One is put
to death, the corpse is brought in for burial, the tragic occurrence is
mourned by women, and the ceremonial is concluded by his resuscitation
and ascension. There were varied phases of the representation, but they
always had an intimate relation to the _seasons of the year and the
analogous occurrences in the world of nature_. Thus the supposed death
more frequently occurred at the beginning of spring, and was mourned for
a lenten period of forty days, which the vernal equinox brought to a
close. Then funeral rites were performed, and after three days, in the
case of Adonis, it was fabled that the god arose and ascended into the
higher sky. In the Dionysia or Bacchic rite the god descended into hell,
the world of death, and brought thence his virgin mother, that they
might be glorified together.

The Neo-Platonists taught that these occult rites were a form of
representing philosophic and religious dogmas as if in scenes of common
life by living persons, and of shadowing them by ceremonies and
processions. This is more than hinted by Plato himself, and is
undoubtedly true. The candidates were prepared for participation by long
periods of fasting and various purifications, moral and physical. The
Eleusinia consisted of a drama of several days in duration, in which the
abduction, or rather death, of Persephoné and the wanderings of her
mother Demeter served as the veil or _myesis_ to the doctrine of
resurrection and life of eternity. The author of _The Great Dionysiak
Myth_ has ably presented the various forms of the Bacchic rites with the
same basis and dénouement. Even the Hebrew Scriptures allude to the
matter. The “mourning for the only one” is mentioned by Jeremiah, Amos,
and Zechariah.

That the story of Jesus was in like manner a drama for religious ends,
consisting of a miraculous parentage, a career of goodness, a passion,
death, resurrection, and ascension, is, to say the least, no improbable
solution of the question.

It has also been noticed that the events of the seasons were denoted by
the mystic symbolism. The sun, stars, constellations, and earth are
commemorated in regard to their annual careers by these observances;
whether because they were essential to the physical well-being of man or
were especially appropriate for symbology different writers have
conjectured differently, according to their own mental peculiarities.
Probably both are right, so far as their views extend.

It becomes us now to investigate the drama of the Gospels more
carefully. The mythologic story of Mithras was probably Assyrian in
detail, though Persian in first conception. It embraced the same notions
as were denoted by the mysteries of the Western peoples, and hence the
Mithraic worship in a very great degree superseded the arcane religions
of Asia Minor and Europe. Very naturally, as may easily be perceived,
the _framework of the Gospel narrative is on the basis of these rites._
The influence of the other ancient faiths is also conspicuously
manifest. The physical, and particularly the astronomic, features are
everywhere present in the external structure of Christianity. Sir Isaac
Newton was quick to perceive that the festivals of the Church had been
fixed and arranged upon the observed phenomena of the heavens, and gave
a detailed list of correspondences. It was not prudent, however, even in
his time, for a man to say all he knew, and he carefully avoided the
drawing of any conclusions which might encourage further inquiry in that

It has already been suggested that the gospel of Paul was at the bottom
Essenean and Mithraic; and in accordance with that hypothesis the
crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension would _be solar
and astrologic events_. The Essenes, as well as the other
Mithras-worshippers, adored the sun and greeted his rising with
invocations and sacred chants. The death and resurrection were
“according to the Scriptures.” In other words, they were duly set forth
after the manner of literal occurrences in the sacred books of the
Essenes long before Paul was born. The adepts of that fraternity
understood the matter, and the hostility which they and the other
disciples always exhibited toward the great apostle was because he
divulged too much. His writings contained many _dysnoetic_ matters,
Peter declared—many matters of higher knowledge improperly expressed,
which they that are unlearned and unstable might wrest to their own
hurt. According to the scriptures of the brotherhood, the drama of the
Gospel had its dénouement in the passion and tragedy of Jesus. Paul,
like a genuine adept, has accepted this narrative as the basis of his
gospel; nevertheless, as though aware that it is a figurative rather
than a literal occurrence, he nowhere speaks of the crucifixion as a

We use the term _drama_ in this connection from a deliberate purpose,
because we believe it correct. It was the designation of the matters
represented in the Eleusinian, Dionysiac, and other arcane rites. The
theatre of the Greeks consisted of such tragic and other
representations, which were performed at the temples of Bacchus and
Æsculapius. Our modern theatre originated in like manner from the
mysteries and mir-acle-plays of the Middle Ages, in which monks and
priests acted the parts of the different persons of the Gospel drama.
The “Passion Play,” which excites so much interest in these modern
times, is very suggestive, but little understood by sacerdotalists.

The Christian worship in the earlier centuries was not so unlike or
incongruous with the pagan customs as may have been supposed. The
emperor Hadrian, when in Egypt, was forcibly impressed with the apparent
identity of the worshippers of Serapis with those of Christ. “Those who
worship Serapis are Christians,” he declared, “and those who call
themselves Christian bishops are devotees of Serapis. The very patriarch
himself when he came into Egypt was said by some to worship Serapis and
by others to worship Christ.”

The same ambiguity prevailed in the case of Christianity where it had
been in contact with the arcane worship of Mithras. Seel endeavors to
explain the matter as one of policy. He states that the early Christians
in Germany for the most part ostensibly paid worship to the Roman gods
in order to escape persecution. He makes a supposition as regards the
adoption of the secret religion. “It is by no means improbable,” says
he, “that under the permitted symbols of Mithras they worshipped the Son
of God and the mysteries of Christianity. In this point of view,” he
adds, “the Mithraic monuments so frequent in Germany are evidences of
the secret faith of the early Christian Romans.” We are not ready to
accept this notion that the Christians paid homage to one God, meaning
another at the same time, except on the hypothesis that they regarded
Mithras and Jesus as virtually the same personification. This conclusion
seems to be countenanced by Augustine, the celebrated bishop of Hippo.
“I know,” says he, “that the worshippers of the divinity in the cap [the
statues of Mithras were decorated with the red Phrygian or cardinal’s
cap] used to say, ‘Our god in the cap is Christian.’”

That the crucifixion of Christ was not a literal historic occurrence
seems to require no argument. Besides, the first day of the Passover was
never a Friday, nor can it be according to the established principles of
the Jewish calendar. The account in the three synoptic Gospels is
therefore manifestly not correct as a literal occurrence; and the
unknown writer of the Gospel of John has lamely attempted to evade the
difficulty by placing the crucifixion on the day before the Passover.

There was a mystic reason, however, for this statement of the synoptic
Gospels. The story of the crucifixion had the same occult meaning as
that of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. The forty days in
which Jesus “showed himself alive after his passion” corresponded with
the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Hence, as the Israelites
left Egypt on the first day of the Passover, so Jesus was also crucified
on that day. Not being an historical event, one actually occurring, the
statement was permitted in order to preserve the harmony and identity of
the myths.

As, however, the story is astrological, we need only explain that the
sun crossing the equinoctial line at the 21st of March is thus
crucified, the ecliptic and the equator constituting the real cross in
the form of the letter X. On the third day he appears ascending in the
northern hemisphere, and so is “raised again according to the

Paul, while referring to these matters as _apparently historical_, never
departs from their _symbolic_ import. In fact, he dwells upon this so
emphatically that the events are only mentioned for the purpose of
indicating his meaning more definitely. “I am crucified with Christ,”
says he; “they that are of Christ have crucified the flesh with its
affections and lusts.” Nobody will for a moment imagine that this
crucifixion meant any physical violence, but only a çasting off of those
dispositions which are essentially unspiritual. “Our old man is
crucified,” Paul explains again, “in order that the body of sin might be
destroyed;... likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto
sin, but alive unto God.” This is the real meaning of the death and
resurrection as a spiritual matter. The external history which is so
much insisted upon by the partisans of the letter vanishes utterly away
before the eyes of him who perceives as well as sees, and understands
through intelligence rather than by scientific and logical reasoning.

The early Fathers of the Church never scrupled to employ rites, symbols,
and other agencies which had been previously used by the various
priesthoods of the’ pagan worships. The entire biography of Jesus, as it
is set forth in the Gospels, exhibits unequivocally astrological
features, and a resemblance to the narratives of the gods so close as to
be equivalent almost to actual identity. The miraculous conception was
but a counterpart of many others: Atys, Adonis, Hercules, Bacchus, and
Æsculapius were fabled to have been sons of gods by human mothers. The
25th of December was also the birthday of Mithras; and Chrysostom, with
characteristic sophistry and equivocation, explains the matter and
justifies it as follows: “On this day also the birthday of Christ was
lately fixed at Rome, in order that while the heathen were busied with
their profane ceremonies the Christians might perform their holy rites
undisturbed.” He adds: “They call this the birthday of the Invincible
One: who so invincible as the Lord that overthrew and conquered death?
They style it the birthday of the sun; he is the Sun of righteousness of
whom Malachi speaks: ‘Upon you who fear my name the Sun of righteousness
shall arise with healing in his wings.’”

At the very outset a serious difficulty is encountered. When the Roman
emperor Theodosius, fifteen centuries ago, decreed the universal
authority of the Christian Church, he commanded also that all books of
the philosophers and others not according to the new faith should be
destroyed. This leaves only the collection known as the _New Testament_
and the writings of certain theologians, together with certain Gospels,
Epistles, and Apocalypses denominated apocryphal which were extant
during the earlier centuries of our era. In addition to this, there is
internal evidence in the writings now regarded as canonical that they
have been abridged, added to, and changed, so that the sense is more or
less obscured and doctrines are affirmed which were not in the original

With the exception, perhaps, of some of the Epistles of Paul, James, and
First Peter there is no evidence, or even probability, that any other
book of the New Testament, whether Gospel, Epistle, or Apocalypse, was
written, or even known, by the individual whose name it bears. Indeed,
it is well known among students that the practice was formerly common to
append the name of some distinguished personage to a letter or treatise
and put it forth with this to commend it. “Our ancestors,” says the
philosopher Jamblichus, “used to inscribe their own writings with the
name of Hermès, he being as common property to all the priests.” Very
significant, therefore, is the clause “according to” which occurs in the
title of every one of the four Gospels. Each of them has been in
existence some fifteen or sixteen centuries “without father, without
mother,” or any other voucher or guarantee as evidence of the truth of
the statements which it contains. We have no obligation to hesitate in
our avowal that not one of the four reputed evangelists had anything to
do with the production to which his name is affixed. The works must
stand upon their intrinsic merits, and receive consideration

Two centuries had passed away after the beginning of the present era
before the designation of _New Testament_ was used in connection with
any collection of writings, and before any special authority was claimed
for them. The men who first suggested their canonicity were Irenæus of
Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage. Neither of
these men, so far as is known, made any attempt to demonstrate that any
book of the collection was genuine or authentic. Professor Davidson has
declared in regard to the scribes who made the copies of the books of
the _Old Testament_ that they did not refrain from changing what had
been written or inserting fresh matter. The same course has been taken
likewise with the text of the New Testament. Heretics and orthodox alike
added to its matter in order to establish their peculiar dogmas. The
text is nowhere pure. The doctrines of the Trinity, the Nativity of
Jesus, his Godhead and equality with the Father, the story of Mary, were
all introduced from Egypt and engrafted into the Gospels.

Jesus is represented as having been born in a cave or stable at the
moment of midnight. At that period the constellation Virgo is cut
exactly in half by the eastern horizon, the sun itself being beneath in
the zodiacal sign of Capricorn, which was also called “the Stable of
Augeas” that Hercules was set to cleanse. Justin Martyr corroborates
this by stating that Christ was born when the sun (Mithras) takes his
birth in the stable of Augeas, coming as a second Hercules to cleanse a
foul world. Hence the rosary of the Roman Catholic Church has this
service: “Let us contemplate how the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the time
of her delivery was come, brought forth our Redeemer at midnight and
laid him in a manger.”

By the cave, or _petra_, we may understand the cave of initiation, which
was always employed in ancient mystic rites. There was such a cave at
Bethlehem, and Jerome affirms that the mysteries of Adonis were
celebrated there in his time. Justin has preserved the tradition that
Mithras was born in a cave or petra, and Porphyry asserts that his rites
were observed in caves representing the vault of the heavens. The famous
declaration to Peter owes all its significance to this fact: “Thou art
Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build my Church; and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys
of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall
be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven.” Undoubtedly, this passage is an interpolation;
nevertheless, it is susceptible of explanation. Jesus having asked the
twelve apostles who he was said to be, they reply: the “reincarnation”
of this or that prophet, as it was believed that such rebirth was usual
among men. Peter then avows that he is the Son of God.

Significantly, Peter is not a Jewish proper name, but relates to
function. It is a Semitic word denoting an interpreter of oracles. The
priests of Apollo among the Gauls were denominated _paterœ_, as having
the gift of prophecy. The residence of Balaam the prophet was called
_Petur_, and there were oracles of Apollo at Patrai in Achaia and Patara
in Asia Minor. When, therefore, it is announced that the Church would be
built “upon this rock,” we may understand it to be the apostle’s
oracular utterance that Jesus was the Son of God. The Church that was
thus established consisted solely of adepts and initiates, the clergy
only, and the higher functionaries at that. The laity only _belong to_
the Church: the others _are_ the Church.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy have for centuries caused the fiction to be
promulgated that the apostle Peter founded the universal see of Rome.
This is like the mystic utterances of Jesus in speaking to the multitude
in parables. The pope, cardinals, and prelates know the real truth.
There never took place, so far as any historical evidence exists, any
visit, and much less the martyrdom, of the apostle Peter at Rome. The
pope is not the successor of any Christian apostle whatever, but only of
the pagan high priest. Under the republic and emperors the _pontifex
maximus_ was the supreme religious dignitary. Julius Cæsar held that
office. He presided over the worship and interpreted the sacred oracles.
It was a direction in the secret religion never to change the foreign
names. The Chaldaic designation of the supreme pontiff and hierophant
was _peter_. When the ancient worship was suppressed the Roman bishop
succeeded to the pontificate; and by this exaltation became vicar of the
Lord and successor of the peter or pagan pontiff of Rome.

The tradition of the Magi or wise men coming from the east to worship
the infant Jesus, which was prefixed to the Gospel of Matthew, is pretty
well set forth by the names given them: _Kaspar_, the white one;
_Melchior_, the king of light; and _Balthasar_, the lord of treasures.
The additional legend that they travelled to Germany and were buried at
Cologne grew out of the fact that the Mithraic worship was prevalent in
that region.

It should be borne in mind, while considering the astrologic character
of the story of Jesus, that the divis-ion of the apparent path of the
sun among the stars into the constellations which form the zodiac was
made and known throughout the Oriental world and employed in its
religious myths at an antiquity so remote as not to be known when the
plan was devised. Astrological correspondences are carefully maintained
all through the gospel narrative. The apostles represent the twelve
months, each of them being sent or commissioned to announce him (the
sun) to the people.

The special events and their dates are commemorated by the Church so as
to be coincident with astrological data. The designation “Lamb of God”
comes directly from the fact that the crucifixion was placed at the time
the sun crosses the equinoctial line in March, and so entered the
zodiacal sign of Aries, the Lamb. He was thus “slain before the
foundation of the world,” or year, and takes away the sins or evils of
winter. Having descended into hell, or the winter period, he rises from
the dead. He is now enthroned; the four beasts, denoting the four chief
constellations in each quarter of the zodiacal circle—Taurus, Leo,
Aquila, and Aquarius—adore him, and the twenty-four elders (or hours)
fall down and worship him. The miracle of turning water into wine is
done every year, as Addison has sung,:

                    “May the sun refine
    The grape’s soft juice and mellow it to wine.”

The curse of the fig tree is visited on every plant that is feeble and
poorly rooted when the sun’s heat comes upon it. John the Baptist says
of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The 24th of June, St.
John’s Day, is the last of the summer solstice, from which period the
days shorten, as, on the contrary, from the 25th of December, the natal
day of Jesus, they lengthen. “This is the sixth month with her that was
called barren,” said the angel Gabriel to Mary on the 25th of March, the
Annunciation, nine months before Christmas. On the 15th of August the
Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into the heavenly
chamber of the King of kings, and accordingly the constellation Virgo
(or Astræa) also disappears, being eclipsed by the light and glory of
the sun. This disappearance continues seven days. Miriam, the virgin
sister of Moses and Aaron, doubtless also an astral character, was
secluded seven days while leprous. Three weeks later the sun has moved
on in the sky, permitting the constellation again to appear; and
accordingly the Church celebrates the 8th of September as the
anniversary of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin.

The prominent pagan symbols which are now adopted by the Christian
prelacy are generally astronomical. Astrology and religion always went
hand in hand, and have not been legally divorced. At an earlier period
the sun entered the zodiacal sign of Taurus at the vernal equinox. This
fact led to the adoption of the bull or calf as a symbol of the Deity.
We notice this fact all over the ancient world, and in some modern
peoples that have not had a learned caste of priests. Every 2152 years
the zodiac shifts backward one sign—i. e. one-twelfth of its whole
extent. Hence, eventually, Aries, the Ram or Lamb, took the place of the
Bull to represent the god of spring. The paschal lamb, the ram-headed
god Amen of Egypt, and the lamb of Christian symbolism thus came into
existence. Since that the constellation Pisces has become the
equinoctial sign, and the Fish is the symbol of the Church. Hence the
bishop of Rome employs the seal of the fisherman, and the Gospel
narrative has made St. Peter a “fisher.” In this way the entire passion
of Jesus from the crucifixion to the ascension is astronomic.

The Roman Catholic Church, having the superior understanding of the
matter, holds Protestants in derision for making a fetish of the Bible
and worshipping the sun, while not comprehending the matter
intelligently. Indeed, it is known by every intelligent priest that the
sun and phallic symbols characterize every world-religion. No matter
what attempts are made to disguise the matter, such is the fact. That
the sun is the light of the world needs but a mention; and so is Jesus
as the avatâr or personification. The cross on which he is impaled was a
symbol of the phallic worship thousands of years ago. The form may be an
X, f, or f, but it means the same. He is buried in winter and
resuscitated in the spring.

Thus, to recapitulate: The Christian religion consists of the worship of
a divine being incarnated in human form in order to redeem fallen man,
born of a virgin, teaching immortality, working wonders, dying through
the machinations of the evil one, rising from death, re-ascending into
heaven, and to be the judge of the living and dead. The Mithraic
worship, its great rival and counterpart, was constituted with similar
imagery. The festivals appointed in honor of Mithras were fixed in
accordance with the seasons of the year, his birth being at the end of
the solstice in December, his death directly after the equinox in March.
Christ, being like Mithras, the personification of the sun and lord of
the cosmos, enacts a career on earth corresponding in its principal
parts to that of the sun in the heavens. The Holy Spirit as a wind or
atmosphere is the herald of his advent. The Virgin is the moon, the
mother of the sun and queen of heaven, just as she was in the pagan
world under different names.

Often also at evening we witness the sun undergoing a bloody passion and
dying amid the reddened sky, leaving to the one whom he loves the moon
as his mother.

So conscious is the Church of its descent in direct line from the former
paganism that it has adopted the symbols of its predecessor and placed
many of the old gods in its catalogue of saints along with the Assyrian
archangels. Bacchus appears there as St. Bacchus, St. Denis or
Dionysius, St. Liber, St. Eleutherius, St. Lyacus. Priapus is there as
St. Foutin, St. Cosmo, and St. Damian. The nymph Aura Placida is St.
Aura and St. Placida. There is also St. Bibiana, whose anniversary
occurs on the day of the Grecian festival of tapping the wine-casks. The
star Margarita has become St. Margaret, and Hippolytus the son of
Theseus, the hero-founder of the Athenian polity, has also been
canonized. The true image, or _veraicon_, has become St. Veronica, as
the supreme hierophant of Roman paganism is St. Peter. Then, too, there
are sainted dogmas personified, as St. Perpetua, St. Félicitas, St.
Rogatian, St. Donatian, etc. There are also St. Abraham, St. Michael,
St. Gabriel, St. David, and St. Patrick, whose anniversary falls on that
of his well-known predecessor, Pater Liber, the Roman Bacchus. The keys
of the Italian Janus and the Phrygian Kybelé are now held by the pope as
the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

There is not a feature, symbol, ceremony, or dogma in the Church which
did not have a pagan prototype. Another fact is equally curious. While
the worship of Mithras is the evident origin of the Christian cultus,
the Lamas of Thibet in the heart of Asia also have ecclesiastical
orders, ceremonies, and other institutions which are the almost literal
counterpart of those of Rome.

Whether there ever was really such an individual living on the earth as
Jesus of Nazareth becomes, in view of these facts, a minor question.
Myth, legend, tradition, and fancy have so transformed him that there is
no nucleus of original humanity left in sight. He is almost absolutely
without an historical mention. He has become a _myth, a
personification_, whether he was really a man or not. He is therefore an
_ideal_, and not _real_. The passages in Josephus are unquestionable
forgeries. Tacitus speaks of him as having been crucified under Pilate,
but in no way as an occurrence to be vouched for. Suetonius in his life
of Claudius Cæsar states that the emperor banished the Jews from Rome
because they raised sedition under the instigation of one Chrêstos. If
this is to be considered as meaning the reputed founder of the Christian
religion, the orthography of the name is very suggestive. Godfrey
Higgins declares in his _Anacalypsis_ that it was the original term
used, and was changed to Chreistos and Christ for ecclesiastical
reasons. He was of opinion also that transcribers had made these
alterations in the books of the New Testament. Chrêstos was a title of
Apollo and other divinities, and was conferred upon the better class of
citizens in certain Grecian states. Once the term is applied to Jesus in
the first Epistle of Peter: “The Lord is Chrëstos.” The probabilities
favor the supposition, the term Messiah, which is the Hebrew equivalent
for Christ, being nowhere used except in the fourth chapter of the
Gospel of John to designate Jesus, and that being a doubtful passage.

There are few data remaining that indicate the character of Jesus. So
far as these are definitive they exhibit a close relationship to the
Essenean brotherhood.

During the reign of Herod I., Hillel, a Babylonian, became president of
the Sanhedrim. He was thus the recognized head of the school, his
opponents being known as Shammaites. Both parties professed to be the
custodians of the Kabala or traditions of the ancients. These comprised
the arcane literature of the Jews, which was to be kept carefully away
from the laity. The Hillelites appear to have been more tenacious of
principles, but the Shammaites were very captious in regard to the
minutiae. The _Logia_, or aphorisms, imputed to Jesus accord with the
utterances of Hillel, and in a degree justify the opinion of the Rabbis.

The relations of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem and his early abode at
Nazareth are of the character of myth, and serve to indicate his
association with the Essenes. Bethlehem was the reputed birthplace of
King David, and afterward the prophet Micah, depicting the rise of
Hezekiah as the messiah and liberator of Judea from the Assyrian yoke,
assigns his origin to the same place. This latter prince could not have
been the son of Ahaz, whom he is said to have succeeded, having been
born when that king was but ten or eleven years old. That the dynasty of
Ahaz was overthrown is intimated in the declaration of Isaiah (7: 9),
and by his announcement of the accession of a new prince (9: 6, 7; 11:1,
etc.). The town of Bethlehem and the places about are enumerated in the
second chapter of First Chronicles as containing “the families of the
scribes,” “the Kenites,” from whom proceeded the Rechabites of later
times. These Kenites appear to have been a sacerdotal and literary
tribe, like the Magians of Media. They are said to have lived near the
city of palm trees (Judges 1:16), and to have removed into the southern
part of the Judean territory. Moses was described as having intermarried
and been adopted among them, and the kings Saul and David were more or
less familiar with them. Saul found them when be marched against the
Amalekites, and David sent them presents, as being accustomed in his
career as an outlaw to “haunt” their region. Elijah the prophet is said
to have gone into their country when he was driven out of the kingdom of

The birth of Jesus at Bethlehem would seem, therefore, to have some
mystic reference to this people, as well as to the notion of a lineal
descent from David. His abode in the earlier years of life at Nazareth
was evidently a myth of kindred nature. Curiously enough, the writer of
the first chapter of Luke has represented Mary as a resident of
Nazareth, while the second chapter of Matthew describes Joseph as taking
up his abode there incidentally, fulfilling the word of the Essenean
prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene,” or Nazarite. The Esseneans
were also denominated _Nazarim_, and we may perceive the idea suggested
by the name that Jesus belonged to their body. It was a common mode of
writing, to describe an every-day occurrence in a form conveying a
mystic or occult meaning beneath the apparent statement. The character
of Jesus as a prophet and representative personage is thus actually
signified. His birth in the country of the Kenites and adepts betokened
his consecration and separation, while the residence at Nazareth
typified his Essenean relations.

The congregation of disciples at Jerusalem and their sympathizers in
Palestine were designated as Nazore-ans and Ebionim. It is no great
stretch of imagination to presume them to have been an offshoot of the
Essenean brotherhood. These were zealous propagandists, and their modes
of life and action coincide very closely with those of the early Church.
The writers of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles describe the
apostles and their converts as living after the manner of an Essenean
commune. Jesus “ordained twelve that they should be with him;... and
they went into a house,” or became as one family. This was precisely
like the Essenes and Therapeutæ. “In the first place,” says Philo, “not
one of them has a house of his own which does not belong to all of
them.” For besides their living together in large societies, each house
is also open to every visiting brother of the order. “Furthermore, all
of them have one store of provisions and equal expenses; they have their
garments in common, as they do with their provisions. They reside
together, eat together, and have everything in common to an extent as it
is carried out nowhere else.” Hence we read without surprise that the
multitude came about them, so that they could not so much as eat bread.
The apostolic congregation is also described as imitating the same form
of living: “All that believed were together and had all things common;
and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all of them as
every one had need.... Neither said any of them that aught of the things
which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither
was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of
lands or houses sold them, and brought the price of the things that were
sold and laid them down at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made
unto every man as he had need.” For a time the apostles, it is stated,
were stewards of the whole body, teaching them and supplying them with
food, till finally seven Hellenistic Jews were selected and set apart
for that purpose.

Eusebius comments upon the account given by Philo of the Therapeutæ, as
follows: “These facts appear to have been stated by a man (Philo), 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....
Why need we add an account of their meetings, and the separate abodes of
men and 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
festivals, 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
president 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 those statements,
had in view the first heralds of the gospel and the original practices
handed down from the apostles must be obvious to all”

As if to afford further foundation for this conjecture of identity of
the early disciples with the Ebionites, the Greek word for this
designation, “ptochos,” usually translated “poor” and “beggar,” occurs
in the New Testament in a manner which often suggests that the Ebionites
are meant by the designation.

“Happy the poor in spirit,” says the Sermon on the Mount; “for the
kingdom of the heavens is theirs.” “The gospel is preached to them” was
the message sent to John the Baptist in his prison at Macheras. “If thou
wilt be perfect,” says Jesus to the young man, “go, sell that thou hast,
and give to the poor.” In the Gospel according to St Luke (6: 20) Jesus
actually addresses his disciples as “ye poor,” or Ebionim. Lazarus is
called _Ptochos, or Ebioni_, in the sixteenth chapter. Paul sternly
rebukes the Galatian Christians for their conversion to Ebionism: “But
then, not having seen God, you were servants to those that are not gods;
but now having known God, or rather having been known by God, why do you
turn about again to the weak and beggarly elements?”

Nevertheless, the conclusion of Eusebius, that the Essenes or Therapeutæ
were only Christians of the apostolic age, is impossible. They were of
greater antiquity, and flourished when Christians—or _Chrestians_,
whichever they may be—had never been heard of. The converse is more
probable by far—that the apostles and their Ebionite followers were
religionists after the form of the Essenes.

We have indicated the evident similarity of these sectaries with the
Mithraic initiates, and the fact has also been shown that many of the
Christians of the first centuries also observed the rites of that
worship. That the astrological features of each were identical and are
manifest in the story of Jesus has also been illustrated. We may now
treat the final question, that of the person of Jesus himself.

It is the easiest way just now to concede his physical existence, and
reject the marvels, exaggerations, and other incredibilities of the
Gospel narratives. A Roman Catholic writer of great acuteness has marked
out that very course. He explains his position so aptly that we will
reproduce the principal features, which certainly seem in a great degree
to sustain our proposition. “Where intellect sees an idea, an
abstraction,” says he, “religion sees a person. This involves a superior
development of the consciousness; inasmuch while intellect of itself,
having neither motive nor force, could not have created, personality
includes intellect and all else that is indispensable to action—namely,
feeling and energy.”

He sets forth Christianity as a religion in Palestine “which consisted
in the worship of a Divine Being incarnated in human form in order to
redeem fallen man, born of a virgin, teaching immortality, working
wonders of benevolence, dying through the hostile machinations of the
spirit of evil, rising from death, reascend-ing into heaven, and
becoming judge of the dead. As representative of the sun the festivals
appointed in his honor were fixed in accordance with the seasons, his
birth being at the end of the winter solstice; his death at the spring
equinox; his rising soon afterward, and then his ascension into heaven,
whence he showers down benefits on man.”

The same author indicates the Essenes as cherishing these beliefs:
“Deriving their tenets from the East, they believed in the Persian
dualism, regarded the sun as the impersonation of the Supreme Light, and
worshipped it in a modified way.” He adds: “To the sect of the Essenes
the originals of John the Baptist and Jesus must have belonged.”

“We may possess a trustworthy account of the spirit that was in Jesus,”
he says again, “and yet be altogether in the dark respecting his precise
sayings and doings. The condition of the world at this period being such
as I have described, it was inevitable that any impressive personality
whose career enabled such things, with however small a modicum of truth,
to be predicated of it as were predicated of Jesus, should be seized
upon and appropriated to the purposes of a new religion....

“For the masses the spectacle of an heroic crusade against the
authority, respectability, and pharisaism of an established
ecclesiasticism, combined with complete self-devotion, with teaching of
the most absolute perfection in morals—a perfection readily recognizable
by the intuitive perceptions of all—and with a confident mysticism that
seemed to imply unbounded supernatural knowledge—_all characteristics of
the sect of Essenes to which he and the Baptist manifestly
belonged_,—these were amply sufficient to win belief in Jesus as a
divine personage. And especially so when they found him persistently
reported not only as having performed miracles in his life, but as
having shown that traditional superiority to all the limitation of
humanity which was ascribed to their previous divinities by rising from
the dead and ascending into heaven. Familiar as they were with the
notion of incarnations in which the sun played a principal part, and
accustomed to associate such events with virgin mothers impregnated by
deities, births in stables or caves, hazardous careers in the exercise
of benevolence, violent deaths, and descents into the kingdom of
darkness, resurrections and ascensions into heaven, to be followed by
the descent of blessings upon mankind,—it required but the suggestion
that Jesus of Nazareth was a new and nobler incarnation of the Deity,
who had so often before been incarnate and put to death for man’s
salvation, to transfer to him the whole paraphernalia of doctrine and
rite deemed appropriate to the office.”

There appears no reasonable doubt of the relationship of Jesus to the
Essenean brothers. Not only does the name itself imply a personification
of that peculiar people, but he is represented as uttering their
distinctive doctrines. In the Sermon on the Mount he required from his
disciples, as did the Essenean teachers, a righteousness exceeding that
of the Scribes and Pharisees; and the Beatitudes are distinctly of the
same character. He prohibits the oath, as the Esseneans also did,
enjoined non-resistance to violent assault and forgiveness of injuries,
and exhorted to take no thought for the morrow, which he described as
serving Mammon. He also charged against divulging the interior
doctrines, comparing it to giving the holy bread to dogs and casting
pearls to the swine, the latter treading the precious jewels under foot
and the dogs turning to rend the giver. Indeed, the whole discourse is
one which a teacher of the fraternity would deliver to candidates.
“These things,” he declares, “are hid from the wise and prudent, but are
revealed to babes.” When his disciples demur at his rigid tenets in
regard to marriage, permitting divorce only for lewdness or false
religion, he sanctions their inference that it is not good to marry. “He
that is able to receive this doctrine,” added he, “let him receive it.”
To the young man who desired to know the way to perfection he first gave
a reproof for calling him good when there was no one so but the one God,
and then commanded him to sell all his possessions and give to the
_poor_, probably meaning the _Ebionim_. In the parable in Luke the rich
man after death is tormented, while the other, the _ptochos_ or Ebionite
Lazarus, is compensated in the lap of Abraham. Yet except the few cases
when the terms “brethren” and “disciple” are used there are few direct
references to the Essenes. But he is continually exhorting against the
doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and denouncing the former.
Meanwhile, he nowhere fills a page in history. He has left no mark of
his individual existence.

We have observed that Judaism was chiefly the counterpart of Persian
Mazdaism, the Supreme Being, the seven Amesha-spentas, Yazatas, Evil
Spirit and devas, being reproduced in Jehovah with his angels and seven
archangels, Satan and his wicked crew. Essenism, in turn, appears to
have been a form of the Persian religion, including the worship of the
sun, astral and prophetic doctrines, occult science, a cultus and
sacraments; and as the Persian doctrines were ascribed to the unknown
Zarathustra, so those of the Essenean brotherhood are personified in the
character of a gifted teacher, born on the natal day of Mithras,
inculcating truth and right action, and in every way representing and
personifying the religious system. This was, as has been observed, a
common practice in former times. As soon as we consider _Jesus as
Essenism personified_ we find the difficulties vanish which every other
theory presents. But Essenism was much older than the Christian era,
despite the pretense of Eusebius of the absolute identity of Essenes and
the early Christians. We may also remark that there are fragments of
books in existence which treat of a Jew, the son of a soldier and
temple-woman, who exhibits characteristics of the Jesus of the Gospels
sufficient to intimate the identity of the two. They place his career in
the time of the earlier Asmonean kings, about the period when the
Essenes are first mentioned by that name. We do not attach great
importance to these works, except for the fact that they would not have
appeared, unless there had existed a comprehensive account of some kind,
parabolic or historic, to suggest their preparation. The _Toldoth
Jeshu_, or Generations of Jesus, to which we refer, has several
characteristics which are worth noting. The father of Jesus, being a
soldier, probably denoted a “soldier of Mithras,” and the alma or
Blessed Virgin, a Hebrew maiden set apart for a time, as was the
practice for young maids in Athens, to work and be initiated at the
temple. It is also asserted that Jesus spent a season in Egypt, where he
learned magic. The Therapeutæ had communes in that country as well as in
Arabia and Palestine, and were addicted to the study of medical
knowledge, astrology, and other arts, which, being derived from the Magi
or priest-caste of the East, were denominated magic. This term
originally carried with it no reproachful meaning, but meant all
learning of a liberal character, and occult science was only such
knowledge as was considered too sacred for profane individuals. “He who
pours water into a muddy well,” says Jamblichus, “does but disturb the
mud.” Doubtless the primitive Essenean gospel described Jesus as a young
man of rare qualities, the son of a Mithraic or Essenean adept, who was
instructed at the school of Alexandria or in the priest-colleges of
ancient Egypt, and became expert in the technic of religious and
scientific wisdom. Thus, the great Siddartha was taught by the Jaina
sage Mahavira before he became himself a teacher and a sage. As the
sacraments of the Church are like the observances of the Essenes and
those which are also celebrated at the Mithraic initiations, this is
abundantly plausible. The departure made by Paul and others from the
methods of the order afford the reason for the assigned origin of
Christianity at the period known as the “year of our Lord,” _Anno

The original books from which the Gospels were compiled have perished.
There was a Gospel in the possession of the Ebionites carefully guarded
as a sacred or arcane book, a copy of which Jerome procured with great
difficulty, but which has since been lost and forgotten. The sect
disappeared, melting away into the church or the synagogue, and we now
read of them loaded with the opprobrious slanders of Irenæus and
Epiphanius. They were the original disciples in Judea, and were
subjected, in common with other Jews, to the hardships and persecutions
which followed upon the destruction of the national polity. This Hebrew
Gospel and such writings as the Catholic Epistles of James and Peter
contained their peculiar doctrines. They regarded Jesus as a teacher or
exemplar, but not as a superhuman being in any sense of the term. That
notion came from the pagans.

Indeed, it was not their belief that such a man had literally existed.
The Doketæ (or Illusionists) held that he was a symbolic being, an
ideality. The Gnostics generally, whom Gibbon describes as “the most
polite, the most learned, and most wealthy of the Christian name,”
described him as an _aion_ or spiritual principle; and considered the
crucifixion as metaphorical and not a literal event. The real Christ,
Chrëstos or divine principle, they regarded as still in heaven, intact.

The apostle Paul was the great innovator upon the Ebionite and Essenean
doctrines. He was too broad and far-seeing to overlook the fact that the
exclusiveness of Judaism would arrest any universal dissemination of the
faith in the world. Hence he struck out boldly on his own account. He
had a gospel, he declares to the Galatians, which he had received from
no man; it was not “_according_ to any man,” but a distinct,
differentiated matter, the apocalypse of Jesus Christ. “Let the man, or
even angel, that preaches any other gospel be anathema,” he declares. He
did not hesitate to denounce the Ebionist apostles, nor they in turn to
set him forth as an impostor, holding the doctrine of Balaam and
teaching faith without works or rites. At Antioch he withstood Peter to
the face, and declares him condemned. Writing to the Corinthians, he
denounces the schisms and deprecates the influence of Apollos, a Jew
from Alexandria. “I, the wise architect, have laid the foundation,” says
he, “but another has built upon it. That foundation is Christ.” It is
very plain, however, that the Christ that he taught was rather an ideal
than a literal personage. “I have seen the Lord,” he declares, and again
avows that he preached “Jesus Christ and the Crucified One.” Yet when he
refers to the death and resurrection he always treats of them as
figurative matters, pertaining to the spiritual and not to the corporeal
nature. A Christ that he had seen could but be a spiritual entity.
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” he declares,
“neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” This is a complete
setting aside of any gross, literal sense to be given to his language.
Others who received the gospel were crucified as Christ was, and rose
again to a new life while yet embodied in mortal flesh. He was the type,
the model, the exemplar, and they who believed were walking in his
footsteps. “Know ye not,” he asks the Roman believers, “that so many of
us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? We
then are buried with him by this baptism into his death; so that as
Christ was raised up from the dead, even so we should walk in a new
life. For if we have become planted together in the likeness of his
death, we are also, on the other hand, in that of his resurrection:
knowing this, that our old man was crucified together, that the body of
sin might be made inert, that we may no longer be enslaved to sin. If we
died with Christ, we believe that we will also live to him; being aware
that Christ having risen from the dead is no longer dying, death no
longer rules him. For wherein he died, he died to sin once for all; but
wherein he lives, he lives to God. So likewise reckon ye yourselves dead
to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

A spiritual crucifixion, death, and resurrection, in strict analogy with
the equinoctial crucifixion, death, and resurrection of the mystic
rites, is the foremost idea of this passage. The baptism of Jesus in the
river Jordan and his forty days’ temptation in the wilderness were of
the same character. There was no literal dying signified in the case.
Indeed, nobody knew better than Paul that the Jewish Sanhedrim did not
sit and that capital punishments were not inflicted at the period of the
Passover, the day of the crucifixion, being, according to the law, “a
day of holy convocation.” The crucifixion being figurative and suggested
by an astrological period, we are fully warranted in the hypothesis that
the victim likewise was a symbolic personage of an astral character.

This ideal Jesus, with the emphatic but ambiguous phrase of Paul—“Him
crucified”—was not sufficient for the exigencies of the Christian
leaders of the subsequent century. The Gnostics and other cultured men
were satisfied, but the lower classes wanted a more tangible character,
a physical corporeity. The great want, therefore, was some proof of the
literal existence of the individual by the evidence of men that had seen
him and been familiar with him. This was now furnished by the production
of the three synoptic Gospels and their adoption in the place of other
evangelical literature. Afterward, Irenæus or some one with his approval
added the Gospel according to John. The fiction of an apostolic
succession was then originated, and forgery for religious purposes was a
general practice. The quarrels of Christians with Christians were for
centuries more scandalous than all the atrocities of actual martyrdom.

Previous to this the Church had labored indefatigably and successfully
to destroy the influence and reputation of Paul. He was now taken into
favor; his Epistles were revised, interpolated, toned down, and accepted
as canonical. The Acts of the Apostles was next produced. It is a work
in two parts—one set apart to the story of the apostle Peter, and the
other to the achievements of Paul. The purpose evidently was to indicate
that the two were not at variance, but were laborers in the same field.
The work of harmonizing must have been difficult. In our day it would
not have been possible. Books cannot be got out of the way as in former
centuries, and inconsistencies of writers are sure to be exposed.

Justin Martyr lived at Rome in the reign of the Antonines and wrote a
_Defence of the Christians_. Yet he makes no mention of “St. Peter the
first bishop.” He had never heard of him. Irenæus, however, did not
hesitate to say anything to advance the gospel, and accordingly boldly
asserts that Peter and Paul founded the church at Rome; overlooking
their reciprocal animosity, and the fact that the Epistle of Paul to the
Romans addresses the “saints,” but makes no mention of a church.
Claudius had banished the Jews from Rome for their turbulent conduct
under the instigations of Chrestos, and the emperors Trajan and Adrian
seem to have known of Christians only from information which they had
derived solely from the provinces in the East. But all this made no
difficulty for Irenæus. This French prelate also declared that the
ministry of Jesus lasted upward of ten years; also that he lived to be
an elderly man. The anachronisms and bad geography of the Gospels are
notorious, but they do not compare with the absurdities of Irenæus. He
invented the name _Antichrist_, and hurled it with ferocious rage
whenever he had been assailed and hard pushed in controversy. He was
never so much in his element as when quarrelling; and his designation of
Irenæus (a man of peace) is one of the most stupendous misnomers ever
heard of.

We have alluded to the fact that passages had been interpolated into the
Epistles of Paul. The object was to harmonize the Logos of Philo and his
school with the Christ or Chrêstos of the apostle. It would have been a
futile attempt if it had been made when Paul was castigating the
Corinthian Christians in regard to Apollos. A dead man’s words, however,
can be mutilated and perverted without his resistance. We accordingly
find the sturdy Hebrew diction of the apostle interlarded with Gnostic
utterances, and new epistles purporting to have been written by him
which give a different complexion to his doctrines. The _pleroma_ or
fulness which is treated of in the Epistle to the Ephesians was taken
bodily from the Gnostics.

The pre-existence of Christ as the Creator of the world was asserted in
a spurious document purporting to be a letter from him to the
Colossians, and interpolations of a corresponding nature were made in
the genuine Corinthian Epistles. Thus in the famous chapter on the
resurrection we find the following sentiment of Philo in an amplified
form: “Man, being freed by the _Logos_ (or Word) from all corruption,
shall be entitled to immortality.”

Gibbon has shown us that the first regular church government was
instituted at Alexandria. This is in keeping with the other facts. The
dogmas of an incarnate God, of the Trinity, and the sacred character of
the Blessed Virgin were all introduced into the creed by the influence
of the Alexandrians, and it would therefore seem to be legitimately
their right to institute the government. We have noticed already that
the Therapeutæ of that country had offices with similar titles and
functions as those now possessed by officers of the Church, and as they
and the Christians were closely allied, we have good reason for the
belief that they had united with the new organization in such numbers as
to outvote the original members. Certain it is, that thenceforth the
names of Essenes and Therapeutæ occurred no more. But the sect which
gave shape to the concept had thus, to a certain degree at least,
resumed control over the whole matter.

That such an individual as Jesus Christ ever lived is entirely without
proof from history. We find Josephus making mention of one and another
who acquired notoriety. He describes Judas of Galilee as the founder of
a fourth philosophic sect, and tells of Jesus the son of Hanan who
predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple years before it
occurred. We observe similarity enough in his utterances to those of the
twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and in his deportment when brought
before the Roman governor to that described in the Gospels, to warrant
some little surmise of identity with the Jesus of the Gospels. But of
Jesus as the founder of the Christian religion, or more properly the
Ebionite sect, we have no such delineation. Of him we have only an
utterance which is a palpable forgery.

This preaching of Jesus as a veritable individual of like passions with
other men, having a will not always consonant with the divine will, and
yet divine in qualities and attributes, has been very justly “to the
Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness.” Intelligent men,
however reverent and impartial, have been compelled to dissent. The
fanatic Tertullian in declaring his own position gave utterance to what
many felt to be the substance of the whole matter: “I reverence it
because it is contemptible; I adore it because it is absurd; I believe
it because it is impossible.” We are outgrowing a faith and veneration
so utterly childlike as to be fatuity itself.

If we search for Jesus at Nazareth in Galilee, we shall not find a
footprint. If, however, we look for him in the testimonies of the
Nazarim and Essenes as the personification of their school of
philosophic thought, thus representing in concept the emanation of God
and the evolution of man as a spiritual being, we shall see him as he
is. Hence to surrender the popular notion of a literal man as an
infallible teacher and exemplar is not to renounce anything that is
vital in truth. We will only dispense with the paganism and
raan-worship. We eliminate the sensuous imagery, but preserve intact the
life, the power, and the energy. The parables and aphorisms which are in
the Gospels are as true, as wholesome, and inspiring as ever. Jesus the
ideal represents, and will continue to represent, all that was implied
in the arcane religions in the East. Upon this ground, therefore, it is
well that Christianity in its external forms as well as in its esoteric
principles should supplant the other worships. It repeats what there is
of value in them, and at the same time it comes more closely home to the
higher consciousness. In the personification of Jesus the true ideal of
our humanity is suggested. We are born of our earthly father and mother,
whose image and name we accordingly inherit, and we have to pass through
the pains and throes of a second birth as children of the celestial
parent. This was outlined distinctly by symbols in the initiations, and
the successful candidate, having overcome in the trial, was enthroned
and acknowledged as the son of the Most High. Hence Jesus sets forth in
the Gospel the last disclosure of the Esseneân rite: “Call no man father
on the earth, for one is your Father; he is in the heavens; and you are
brothers.” Paul repeats the sentiment in other words: “As many as are
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God; heirs of God and
joint-heirs with Christ.” This idea, often too much lost sight of, lies
at the core of all real knowledge. The end of all worship, all
philosophic discipline, and all religious teaching is to open the way in
every mind to a higher perception and a profounder conscientiousness.

Yet the suggestion of the angel at the sepulchre is pertinent—that we
forbear to seek for the living among the dead. The real enlightenment of
mankind comes not from teachers, but only from the fountains of interior
illumination. We have no call or occasion to go to this man or to that
man as a leader. It may be the province of individuals to stand out
conspicuously in order to indicate the next advance to be made. But when
each has thus performed his service, his glory is outshone by the
refulgent light which he has induced others to seek and obtain.

We require no display of spiritual pyrotechnics. Enough for us that
there is truth, and that we have the intellect to perceive it—that there
is right, and we have the will to obey it. Neither a human God nor a
divine man can enlighten us further than this. There are freedom and
impulse for us to attain the highest degree of illumination of which we
are capable. The human aspiration soars beyond the path of the
lightning. In every noble idea, every worthy desire, we have a mediator
with God. The more silent the work, the more certain that the principle
of all life is performing it. In this is our eternity, and there is
nothing beyond.


_“What think ye of Christ? Whose son was he?”—Matt. 22: 42._

NEARLY a quarter of a century ago (1868) a very remarkable pamphlet was
published by request of the Free Religious Association, written by that
remarkable man, the Rev. Samuel Johnson, a Unitarian minister and an
author of no little repute. The subject was _The Worship of Jesus._ It
had a very limited circulation, and the stereotype plates were destroyed
in the great Boston fire, and it is now very difficult to find a copy.

Mr. Johnson takes the ground that “Christianity is a temporary step in
the divine growth of man through the worship of the ideal; and this hope
lies, not in pausing on this step as final, nor in proving the names and
personalities associated with it to be as valid for ever as they have
been in the past, but in that which underlies and governs the whole
process—_the law of religious idealization._

“This is no speculation; it is the positive law of progress, as history
presents it. To worship ideals is the condition of spiritual life. To
lose belief that there is somewhere a better than ourselves is to
gravitate downward to what is worse than ourselves. We grow better by
definite homage to a best. And this worship of ideals is a process of
idealization.... Man’s power of growth, therefore, resides in the
ability to shift his veneration....

“Ideals prove themselves to be idealizations, that they may point him on
to higher levels. This is religious progress....

“So a time comes when every religion that centres in an individual’s
prerogative of divinity falls under criticism, and is, so far, referred
to temporary causes. Christianity cannot escape this law. As a distinct
religion it is but Christism, and passes away, like Jehovism, before a
broader faith. Whether what succeeds it be called Theism or Pantheism,
this terminology of systems fails to express its scope. It is free
worship of the one infinite and eternal life of the spiritual, moral,
and physical universe....

“How, then, did the concentration of the religious sentiment upon Jesus
originate? Not, as the Church insists, in the undeniable rights of a
perfect Being to the everlasting allegiance of mankind, for there is no
evidence of his perfection, intellectual or spiritual, but in the fact
that the religious sentiment, at a certain stage of its historical
progress, demanded a single human centre, and knew how to satisfy its
own demand by its own process of idealization.

“The ideal itself was sent in the soul of the age. It was bound to do
what it would with its materials by its own divine gift. It was the
creative force of the time. It is not the whole truth to say with
Merivale, then, that( the religion of Christ seized and developed, with
a divine energy, the latent yearnings of mankind for social combination,
having for its essence, in a human point of view, the doctrine of the
equality of man/ Rather did that religion catch a spirit of universality
already abroad in the age—not latent, but mighty to transform society,
to inspire both Hebrew Messiah and Gentile philosopher, _to make its god
in its own image_, and to transform the little Jewish sect at last into
a Church of civilization....

“And this, at least, is sure; always there is a man for the hour.
Somehow or other, a great demand will find satisfaction. But the man is
not what the hour reports him when it has crowned him with all that
faith and fancy can bestow, and set up, through him, its own special
demand as valid for all time. Future ages will revise, from a freer
standpoint, the image it transmits for their adoration....

“The earliest types and emblems of Christ-worship betray this powerful
element in its origination. Jesus is represented in the form of the old
deities and in conjunction with them. Between the images of Mercury
Criophorus and Apollo Nomius, and that of the ‘Good Shepherd/ the
transition is so gradual that it is hard to decide whether the picture
is pagan or Christian. In the Catacombs Jesus sits as Pluto on the
judgment-seat, with Mary as Proserpine, while Mercury leads in souls.
Still earlier emblems of Jesus, the Lamb, the Fish, the Ship, the Cross,
the Dove, are all associated with older heathen mysteries or
mythological beliefs, as are also the Christian festivals and rites.

“And so the idealization of Jesus went on steadily and consistently till
it reached deification. The early Christian ‘apologists’ ridiculed the
human gods of the old polytheism, yet they did but concentrate the same
principle more perfectly in the form of their Christ. Hebrew monotheism
was indeed too strong in Paul to allow of his finding in Jesus more than
a man in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt. But this hovers very
close upon the larger desire of the nations. And later, in the Gospel of
John, the Gentile current has absorbed the Hebrew and the call for a
God-man is boldly met. A life of Jesus is here dramatically constructed,
not out of historical facts, nor even traditions, but out of that
preconceived ideal of an incarnate word attaching itself, in its longing
for actual and living substance, to the growing prestige of his name....

“The records of Jesus’ life have had to be idealized also; and these are
not, like his person, so dim and veiled as to leave the religions
imagination a certain margin of freedom, however inadequate, but a
definite statement of doctrines, doings, and claims; so that science,
philosophy, art, and morality have been taught to bow in his name to the
limitations of half-developed times and men.

“It is not denied that by leaving out what we dislike we can find in the
New-Testament Jesus as noble an ideal as we will, though it can be only
of a purely interior individualism, unrelated to practical and political
functions. But we cannot ignore the many sources, apart from the real
life of Jesus, from which this feast of good things has been derived.
The New Testament is, in fact, not so much the record of a life as the
fruit of two ancient civilizations, the Oriental and Greek, of whose
confluence Christianity itself was the product....

“It is urged that we destroy the basis of religious unity when we take
away this historical and personal centre of faith. Men absolutely need,
it is said, that concrete form, that individuality, under which the
divine is represented to them in the Christ. There would be more cause
for this anxiety if it could be shown that they have ever possessed such
a centre. But what have they had, after all, but a common name for
ever-changing ideals? The belief that all eyes were turned to a common
authoritative centre was an illusion, which had its uses, indeed, but
becomes a breeder of strife in proportion as men learn the rights of
free inquiry. ‘Worship the Christ! follow Jesus!’ cry the ages. But who
is Jesus? and what is the Christ? The Jesus of Matthew is one, the
Christ of John is another, the ‘second Adam’ of Paul is a third. The
moral as well as the theological contents of the name vary with the ages
and the sects that appeal to it. As the Christ of Luther was not the
Christ of Augustine, nor his the Christ of James, so the Christ of the
Unitarian is one, of the Calvinist another. Whom the one will save, the
other will destroy; what to the one is moral wrong, to the other is
divine right; what love would require in the one, justice would
foreclose in the other. What common centre can the liberal Bible
scholars and the panic-stricken, text-ridden Revivalists find in the
name of Christ? All the warring sects have been ‘standing up for Jesus;’
and which of them knows what Jesus was? The farther you get back toward
the original, the less sure do you feel of your own knowledge, and the
less right should you feel from what you know in part to assume that you
have found the appointed centre of religious thought. It would be easy
to show that unity is impossible so long as it is sought to found it on
the claims of a person to that position, since the mysterious
irrationality of such an office must keep the speculative faculties of
mankind in ceaseless self-contradiction and strife. It would be easy to
show that this claim of Jesus has been the perpetual root of dogmatic
warfare—that all barbarism of the Christian Church in past ages has come
of jealousy about the honor due the person of the Christ.” We offer no
apology for these long extracts from Mr. Johnson’s inimitable little
book of ninety pages. “He being dead yet speaketh,” and his words give
no uncertain sound. He was in advance of the times, and if his brethren
in the Unitarian ministry would regard Jesus, whom they almost deify, as
an _ideal_ (quite imperfect) that has come down to us from pagan
peoples, and cease to court the favor of the orthodox, they would have
more self-respect and more real regard from the thinking men of the age.

We might as well now come directly to the question whether the Jesus of
the Gospels was an _ideal_ rather than a historical individual—an
_impersonation_ rather than a person. And here we take the broad ground
that whether there was a real man or not makes no difference whatever,
because the writings themselves are largely _ideal_, and so make the man
what he was not. No two persons worship the same God, the “personified
Infinite.” The conception of God must itself be limited and incomplete,
and therefore inadequate and largely ideal. No two persons believe in
the same Jesus, so there must be as many ideals as there are believers.
The habit of exaggerating, of deifying those whom we have been taught to
regard as the greatest and best, is a well-known disposition of the
human mind. Indeed, “the function of the Church is the cultivation of
the ideal.” This is so palpable that the legends of all religions
recognize this principle to such an extent that most of them represent
their “saviors” as having been born of virgin mothers. Catholics flock
to their temples and in parrot-like utterances worship an ideal Jesus
and an equally ideal Virgin, and thus cultivate only the ideal side of
their nature. It is very much easier to excite the imagination than to
convince the understanding; and this is the real secret of the strength
of Catholicism and of the weakness of Protestantism. Catholic worship is
mainly spectacular, an appeal to the senses, and is therefore attractive
alike to the uneducated and the educated. They believe the Gospels
_literally_, because they have had the principal incidents recorded in
them set forth before their eyes from their very birth, and they cannot
be reasoned out of what they have never been reasoned into.

But we are told that Jesus must have been a real person or he never
could have exerted the influence that he has for the last eighteen
hundred years upon so many millions of people. Let us see: If Jesus ever
dwelt upon this earth, it must have been several hundred years ago. Not
one of the many millions who have worshipped him since his few years of
sojourn here but have done so in view of what they have heard of him or
read of him. They never saw him and never heard his voice. He wrote
nothing, and never authorized any one else to write anything. After the
lapse of nearly two centuries the four Gospels appeared. Very little is
told of him there. If you take out what is repeated concerning him
therein, you would not have, in length, what would make a modern sermon;
and that would be found full of contradictions, absurdities, and
impossibilities. Those who have believed on him have believed on what
they called _testimony_ concerning him; and that testimony would have
produced the same effect whether true or false if they really _believed_
it. The real existence of an alleged person is not essential to excite
admiration if it is really _believed_ that he existed. The Swiss loved
and honored William Tell just as much as if he had not in these latter
years been proved a myth. The world’s history teems with the heroic
deeds of many noble persons (impersonations) who never had an existence,
and the literature of the race would greatly suffer by striking out all
that is fictitious. The reason that the ideal Christ has exerted so much
greater influence than any other impersonation is because so many
skilful artists have bestowed their best labor upon it, and because the
figure is so ancient and contains so many features that commend
themselves to the human mind and heart.

We find in _Natural Genesis_, by the English poet Gerald Massey, a
passage which so beautifully portrays our own view of this subject that
we cannot forbear copying it:

“It has often been said that if there were no historic Christ then the
writers who represented such a conception of the divine man must have
included amongst them one who was equal to the Christ. But the mythical
Christ was not the outcome of any such conception. It was not a work of
the individual mind at all, but of the human race—a crowning result of
evolution _versus_ any private conception of a hero. This was the hero
of all men, who never was and was never meant to be human, but from the
beginning was divine; a mythical hero without mortal model, and equally
without fault or flaw. This was the star-god who dawned through the
outermost darkness; this was the moon-god who brought the message of
renewal and immortality; this was the sun-god who came with the morning
to all men; this in the Kronian stage was the announcer of new life and
endless continuity at the opening of every cycle, and in the
psychotheistic phase the typical son of the Eternal as manifester and
representative in time.

“As a mental model the Christ was elaborated by whole races of men, and
worked at continually, like the Apollo of Greek sculpture. Various
nations wrought at this ideal, which long-continued repetition evoked
from the human mind at last as it did the Greek god from the marble.

“Egypt labored at the portrait for thousands of years before the Greeks
added their finishing touches to the type of the ever-youthful solar
god. It was Egypt that first made the statue live with her own life, and
humanized her ideal of the divine. Hers was the legend of supreme pity
and self-sacrifice so often told of the canonical Christ. She related
how the very god did leave the courts of heaven and come down as a
little child, the infant Horus born of the Virgin, through whom he took
flesh or descended into matter, < crossed the earth as a substitute/
descended into Hades as the vivifier of the dead, their vicarious
justifier and redeemer, the first-fruits and leader of the resurrection
into eternal life. The Christian legends were first related of Horus, or
Osiris, who was the embodiment of divine goodness, wisdom, truth, and
purity—who personated ideal perfection in each sphere of manifestation
and every phase of power. This was the greatest hero that ever lived in
the mind of man—not in the flesh—to influence with transforming force;
the only hero to whom the miracles were natural because he was not
human. The canonical Christ only needed a translator, not a creator, a
transcriber of the ‘sayings’ and a collector of the ‘doings’ already
ascribed to the mythical Christ.

“The humanized history is but the mythical drama made mundane. The
sayings and marvellous doings of Christ being pre-extant, the ‘spirit of
Christ,’ the ‘secret of Christ,’ the ‘sweet reasonableness of Christ’
were all pre-Christian, and consequently could not be derived from any
‘personal founder’ of Christianity. They were extant before the great
delusion had turned the minds of men and the figure-head of Peter’s bark
had been mistaken for a portrait of the builder.

“The Christ of the Gospels is in no sense an historical personage or a
supreme model of humanity—a hero who strove, and suffered, and failed to
save the world by his death. It is impossible to establish the existence
of an historical character even as an impostor. For such an one the two
witnesses, astronomical mythology and Gnosticism, completely prove an
alibi. The Christ is a popular lay figure that never lived, and a lay
figure of pagan origin—a lay figure that was once the Ram and afterward
the Fish; a lay figure that in  human form was the portrait and image of
a dozen different gods.

“The imagery of the Catacombs shows that the types there represented are
not the ideal figures of the human reality. They are the sole reality of
the centuries after the Christian era, because they had been in the
centuries long before. The symbolism, the allegories, the figures, and
types remained there just what they were to the Romans, Greeks,
Persians, and Egyptians, The iconography of the Catacombs absolutely
proves that the lay figure, as Christ, must have sat for the portraits
of Osiris, Horus the child, Mithras, Bacchus, Aristæus, Apollo, Pan, the
Good Shepherd. The lay figure or type is one all through. The portraits
are manifold, yet they all mean the mythical Christ under whatsoever

“The typical Christ, so far from being derived from the model man, has
been made up from the features of many gods, after a fashion somewhat
similar to those ‘pictorial averages’ portrayed by Mr. Galton, in which
the characteristics of various persons are photographed and fused in a
portrait—a composite likeness of twenty different persons merged in one
that is not _anybody_.

“It is pitiful to track the poor faithful gleaners who picked up every
fallen fragment or scattered waif and stray of the mythos, and to watch
how they treasured every trait and tint of the ideal Christ to make up
the personal portrait of their own supposed real one. His mother, like
the other forms of the queen of heaven, had the color of the _mater
frugum_, the complexion of the golden corn; and a Greek Father of the
eighth century cites an early tradition of the Christians concerning the
_personnel_ of the Christ to the effect that in taking the form of Adam
he assumed features exactly like those of the Virgin, and his face was
of a _wheaten color_, like that of his mother. That is, he (the seed)
was _corn-complexioned_, as was the mother of corn, like Flava Keres,
Aurea Venus, the Golden Lakshmi, the Yellow Neitli; and the son was her
seed, which in Egypt was the corn brought forth at the vernal equinox,
and which was continued in the cult of Rome as the ‘bread-corn of the

“In the chapter of ‘knowing the spirits of the East’ the Osirified
assumes the type of the virile and hairy Horus, the divine hawk of the
resurrection. This is called the type under which he desires to appear
before all men; and it is said, ‘his hair is on his shoulder when he
proceeds to the heaven.’ This long hair of the adult Horus reaching down
to the shoulders is a typical feature in the portraits of the Messiah,
the copy of the Kamite Christ made permanent by the art of the Gnostics.
The halo of Christ is the glory of the sun-god seen in his phantom phase
when the more physical type had become psychotheistic. Hence it is worn
by the child-Christ as the _karast_ mummy. It is the same halo that
illumined Horus and Iu-em-hept, Krishna and Buddha, and others of whom
the same old tales of deliverance and redemption were told and believed.
Yet the dummy ideal of paganism is supposed to have become doubly real
as the man-god standing with one foot in two worlds—one resting on the
ground of the fall from heaven, and the other on the physical
resurrection from the earth.”

It is a well-known fact that many early Christian sects absolutely
denied the existence of Christ in the flesh, regarding him as a phantom.
It is very difficult to decide whether the apostle Paul believed in a
real or an ideal Christ. He wrote his Epistles before the Gospels were
written, and therefore could have learned nothing from that source.
Concerning the various appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, he
says: “Last of all, he was seen of me, as by one born out of due time,”
and this seems to bear out the conjecture that Jesus was an ideal,
inasmuch as it was not in the flesh that he saw him, and his refusal to
know him after the flesh indicates his strong preference for him as an
idea, and not as a person. Paul makes no mention of any miracle but that
of the resurrection, and that was manifestly a spiritual rather than a
physical fact. Moreover, he was a Pharisee, and it is difficult to see
how he could have “gloried in the cross” had he taken the cross in a
literal sense. He casts no reproach on the Jews for causing Jesus to
suffer, and never speaks of the crucifixion as a crime, nor shows a
particle of sympathy or compassion with the sufferer. He seems to have
been the real founder of Christianity, and might have had in view the
direct action of the solar divinity with whom Christ had become

A careful analysis of the Pauline Epistles will show, we think, that the
Christ of Paul was an idea. And here it is important to bear in mind
that those who attributed to him at least ten Epistles he never wrote
would not scruple to alter, amend, interpolate, and change portions of
the Epistles he actually did write. Those who formed the system of
Christian ecclesiasticism never could afford to have a conscience. Those
Fathers of the second century who formed the foundations of the Catholic
hierarchy were most unscrupulous men.

Of the _Gnostics_, Mr. Gerald Massey speaks as follows:

“The ancient wisdom of Egypt and Chaldea lived on with the men who knew,
called the Gnostics. They had directly inherited the gnosis that
remained oral, the sayings uttered from mouth to ear that were to be
unwritten, the mysteries performed in secret, the science kept
concealed. The continuity of the astronomical mythos of Equinoctial
Christolatry and of the total typology is proved by the persistence of
the type—the ancient genitrix, the two sisters, the hebdomad of inferior
and superior powers, the trinity in unity represented by _Iao_ the
tetrads male and female, the double Horus, or Horus and Stauros, the
system of Æôns, the Karaite divinities, Harpocrates and Sut-Anubis, Isis
and Hathor. Theirs was the Christ not made flesh, but the manifester of
the seven powers and perfect star of the pleroma. The figure of eight,
which is a sign of the Nnu or associate gods in Egypt, who were the
primary Ogdoad, is reproduced as a gnostic symbol, a figure of the
pleroma and fellow-type of the eight-rayed star. The ‘Lamb of God’ was a
gnostic sign. ‘Lord, thou art the Lamb’ (and ‘our Light’) was a gnostic
formula. The ‘Immaculate Virgin’ was a gnostic type. On one of the sard
stones Isis stands before Serapis holding the sistrum in one hand, in
the other a wheatsheaf, the legend being ‘Immaculate is our Lady Isis,’
which proves the continuity from Kam.

“It was gnostic art that reproduced the Hathor-Meri and Horus of Egypt
as the Virgin and child-Christ of Rome, and the icons of characters
entirely ideal which served as the sole portraits of the _historical_
Madonna and Jesus the Christ. The report of Irenæus sufficed to show the
survival of the true tradition. He complains of the oral wisdom of the
Gnostics, and says rightly they read from things unwritten—i. e. from
sources unknown to him and the Fathers in general. Chief of these
sources was the science of astronomy. He testifies that Marcus was
skilled in this form of the gnosis, and enables us to follow the line of
unbroken continuity, and to confute his own assertion that Gnosticism
had no existence prior to Marcion and Valentinus; which shows he did not
know, or else he denied the fact, that the Suttites, the Mandaites, the
Essenes, and Nazarenes were all Gnostics; all of which sects preceded
the cult of the carnalized Christ. Hippolytus informs us that Elkesai
said the Christ born of a Virgin was _œonian_. The Elkesites maintained
that Jesus the Christ had continually transformed and manifested in
various bodies at many different times. This shows they also were in
possession of the gnosis, and that the Christ and his repeated
incarnations were Kronian. Hence we are told that they occupied
themselves ‘with a bustling activity in regard to astronomical science.’
Epiphanius also bears witness that the head and front of the gnostic
boast was astronomy, and that Manes wrote a work on astronomy, astronomy
being the root of the whole matter concerning Equinoctial Christolatry.
“Nothing is more astounding, on their own showing, than the ignorance of
the Fathers about the nature, the significance, the descent of
Gnosticism, and its rootage in the remotest past. They knew nothing of
evolution or the survival of types, and for them the new beginning with
Christ carnalized obliterated all that preceded. Such a thing as
priority, natural genesis, or the doctrine of development did not
trouble those who considered that the more the myth the greater was the
miracle which proved the divinity.

“Also, it has been asserted from the time of Irenæus down to that of
Mansel that the Gnostic heretics of the second century invented a number
of spurious Gospels in imitation of or in opposition to the true gospel
of Christ, which has descended to us as canonical, authentic, and
historic. This is a popular delusion, false enough to damn all belief in
it from the beginning until now. The ignorance of the past manifested by
men like Irenæus is the measure of the value of their testimony to the
origines of Equinoctial Christolatry. They who pretend to know all
concerning the founding and the founder know nothing of the

“Gnosticism, according to those who are ignorant of its origin and
relationships, was supposed and assumed to have originated in the second
century; the first being carefully avoided, only proves that the
A-Gnostics, who had literally adopted the pre-Christian types, and
believed they had been historically fulfilled, were then for the first
time becoming conscious of the cult that preceded theirs and face to
face with those who held them to be the heretics. Gnosticism was no
birth or new thing in the second century, it was no perverter or
corrupter of Christian doctrines divinely revealed, but the voice of an
older cult growing more audible in its protest against a superstition as
degrading and debasing now as when it was denounced by men like Tacitus,
Pliny, Julian, Marcus Aurelius, and Porphyry. For what could be more
shocking to any sense really religious than the belief that the very God
himself had descended on earth as an embryo in a virgin’s womb, to run
the risk of abortion and universal miscarriage during nine months in
utero, and then dying on a cross to save his own created world or a
portion of its people from eternal perdition? The opponents of the
latest superstition were too intelligent to accept a dying deity....

“Never were men more perplexed and bewildered than the A-Gnostic
Christians of the third and fourth centuries—who had started from a new
beginning altogether, which they had been taught to consider solely
historic—when they turned to look back for the first time to find that
an apparition of their faith was following them one way and confronting
them in another; a shadow that threatened to steal away their substance,
mocking them with its aërial unreality; the ghost of the body of truth
which they had embraced as a solid and eternal reality claiming to be
the rightful owner of their possessions; a phantom Christ without flesh
or bone; a crucifixion that only occurred in cloudland; a parody of the
drama of salvation performed in the air, with never a cross to cling to,
not a nail-wound to thrust the fingers into and hold on by, not one drop
of blood to wash away their sins. It was horrible. It was devilish. It
was the devil, they said, and thus they sought to account for Gnosticism
and fight down their fears. ‘You poor ignorant idiotai!’ said the
Gnostics, ‘you have mistaken the mysteries of old for modern history,
and accepted literally all that was only meant mystically.’—‘You spawn
of Satan!’ responded the Christians, ‘you are making the mystery by
converting our accomplished facts into your miserable fables; you are
dissipating and dispersing into thin air our only bit of solid foothold
in the world, stained with the red drops of Calvary. You are giving a
Satanic interpretation to the word of revelation and falsifying the
oracles of God. You are converting the solid facts of our history into
your new-fangled allegories.’—‘Nay,’ replied the Gnostics, ‘it is you
who have taken the allegories of mythology for historic facts.’ And they
were right. It was in consequence of their taking the allegorical
tradition of the fall for reality that the Christian Fathers considered
woman to be accursed, and called her a serpent, a scorpion, the devil in
feminine form.”

The Gnostics are said by Gibbon to have been “the most polite, the most
learned, and the most wealthy of the Christian name.” They were finally
forbidden by Theodosias I. to assemble at their places of meeting or to
teach their doctrines. Their books, too, were burned, so that we have
now no full account of them. Only those who lied about them have been
permitted a hearing.

The very fact that all the apparently historic events in the life of
Jesus have an astrological and metaphoric character lifts him out of the
category of physical humanity into that of the ideal. We may relegate
him thither, and yet leave no vacant place in the arena of common life.
This would be in perfect keeping with ancient usage. Among the reputed
founders of philosophic systems we have no evidence of the existence of
such great teachers as Manu, Kapila, Vyasa, Kanada, or Gotama, and the
founding of the principal commonwealths was ascribed to demigods and
fictitious eponymous heroes. Rome, Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and indeed
every ancient city of note, was said to be established after that
manner. Even leaders and teachers actually existing have been disguised
by myth or the characteristics of the doctrine which they taught.
Confucius and Zoroaster are hidden from view by the character assigned
to them by later writers. Even Socrates as he appears and speaks in the
Platonic _Dialogues_ is little else than a personification of the
Academic philosophy. When we consider that he is closely assimilated to
the sages and hero-gods of the other worships, and that every
significant point in his history conforms to astrological periods and to
similar characteristics in the pagan religions, we cannot well avoid the
conclusion that he too is an _ideal_.

Mr. William Oxley of England, in his great work on Egypt, takes the
ground that the account we have of Jesus in the Gospels is substantially
drawn from Egyptian sources.

Amenoph III. was one of the greatest of the old Egyptian kings. Amongst
other gigantic works, he built the temple at Luxor, much of which is
buried in sand and covered over by native houses. It is on the walls of
this temple that very remarkable sculptures are portrayed relating to
the birth, etc. of Amenoph III.; they are on the inner wall of the
sacred shrine, the holy of holies, and the sculptured scenes represent
the annunciation, the conception, the incarnation, birth, and adoration
of the divine man-child (Amenoph III.) born from Mut-em-Sa. The two
latter syllables mean “the Alone,” or Only One, and the whole title
means “the mother who gave birth to the Only One.”

One fact is established beyond all cavil, and that is that the New
Testament is the product of an order of men well versed in astronomy,
and who by the aid of that science produced, on lines laid down by the
ancient Egyptian hierophants, a new version of the old myths and
allegories. We have as a fact the actual names and dates plagiarized
from an Egypto-Arabic source, which undoubtedly betrays its origin, and
the interpretation of this, and numberless instances besides, in strict
accordance with the astrological formula and system, with its
Graeco-Egyptian zodiacal pictorial representations.

Oxley says: “_Apropos_ to this doctrine, I have in my possession two
statuettes—one dating from the twenty-second dynasty, 900 B. c.—of Isis,
crowned and nursing the babe Horus. On my return from Egypt through
Italy, I obtained a statuette of Mary, crowned and nursing the babe
Jesus, which is an exact copy of the Virgin and Child in the church of
St. Augustine in Rome. _The figures are identical_.”

Face to face with such a fact, who dare assert that the Egyptian Isis
and Horus are a myth, and that the Christian Mary and Jesus are really
historical? Some simple-minded ones beguile themselves with the delusion
that these Egyptian and other heathen beliefs are prophecies of the real
Jesus who in the fulness of time came down from heaven and was born of a
virgin. But against this we have not only the actual claim of several
Egyptian kings to be the “son of God according to promise or prophecy”
(sixteen hundred years before Christ was born), but we have the fact of
a whole nation _for thousands of years_ resting their hopes of eternal
salvation upon a belief that “the son of God, Osiris, came down from
heaven, took upon himself the mortal form, was slain by wicked hands,
rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where he became the
great judge of all mankind.”

What adds to the difficulty is that _no dates_ are given in the writings
of the early Christian authors, and, what is more, many of their names
are evidently _noms de plume_; for instance, the arch-heretic _Arius_
and the great Nicene Council seem to resolve themselves simply into a
controversy relating to the sun-god under the form of _Aries_ (the Ram
or Lamb); and as to dates in connection therewith, they are simply
Masonic points with an astronomical reference and symbolical meaning. In
plain terms, nearly the whole of both the Old and New Testaments is an
allegorical record of astral, solar, and planetary phenomena, with
personages substituted for zodiacal signs; and with this key in hand the
Hermetic student can unravel the allegories which are presented in such
a form as to read like literal history.

Our English name for the zodiacal sign referred to is the Ram, but in
Latin it is _Aries_, and _Nisan_ (which is the month of March). The
“sacred year” of all systems commences with this month and sign; hence
the _Arian_ heresy and the Council of _Nice_; which resolves itself into
a descriptive personified account of a conjunction of planets about the
definite fixing of the _first point of Aries_ as a basic point in time
in history, and which point is used in astronomical science to this day.
But the appearance of the Cross, with the letters I H S on the
planispherical chart, gives the key to the solution of the mystery. The
Church interprets these letters to stand for _Jesus Salvator Hominum_—i.
e. Jesus the Saviour of Men. The initiates read them as _numerals_,
which stand for 608; which is the exact period of a solar-lunar cycle—i.
e. the number of years which pass before the sun and moon occupy the
same relative positions in the heavens.

According to the astral theology of ancient religious systems, this
cycle of 608 (or 600) years represented a Messianic period, at the
completion of which a new messiah or avatar or savior was born upon the

The one prior to Jesus was _Cyrus_, who gave orders for the building of
the temple at Jerusalem just six hundred years before Christ. Manatheo
speaks of a “Cyrus,” son of Cambyses, first king of the twenty-second
dynasty, but no Cyrus appears in the Egyptian annals. The biblical Cyrus
is only another form of Osiris, and is in reality a sun-savior. The
Arabs used the same system, for their Mohammed comes in just about six
hundred years after Christ, and their era commences with their
commencement of a new year, which dates from 622 A. D. Even our latest
era—_Anno Domini_—did not come into general use until about one thousand
years after the event it is said to commemorate had passed. This epoch
was introduced into Italy in the sixth century by Dionysius the Little,
a Roman abbot, and it began to be used in Gaul in the eighth, but was
not generally followed until the ninth century. From extant charters in
England it is known to have been used a little before the ninth century,
but it did not come into common use for a century later. Time was, for
centuries after the alleged birth of Christ, calculated from January 1
in the 4th of the 194th Olympiad, the 753d A. u. c. of the foundation of
Rome, and 4714th of the Julian period.

The astro-theological foundation of the New Testament being
demonstrated, the actual date of the compilation of the matter becomes
of secondary importance, inasmuch as celestial phenomena are as true
today as they were when first used to symbolize the intellectual and
spiritual nature of man. As all nations that have any pretensions to be
considered civilized have had the same phenomena for their religious
systems, and as the path of the solar orb has been utilized for the
history of its various personifications, the question arises, Which out
of the many messiahs or sun-saviors are true, and which are false? As
has been already noted, the leading incidents in the memoirs of Osiris,
Buddha, Chrishna, and Jesus are identical in conception, but more or
less varied in expression according to the idiosyncrasies of the
writers. The logical and true method is to regard one and all as
allegorical symbols, clothed not merely with an eclectic
intellectuality, but vested with a moral power that can affect the heart
and conscience of men for good.

The parentage of Christianism is in Egyptian Osirianism, while that of
what we understand as Judaism is attributable to Chaldean sources, both
converging to a common centre and finding a new expression through two
diverse orders, yet both equally versed in Cabalistic science, modified
by the eclectic influences which were active at the period of their

The ecclesiastical party, for reasons which are well understood, never
allowed the laity to be taught other than the literal and surface
meaning, while the mystic brotherhoods were forbidden by the rules of
their orders to make public the real meaning of the symbols, of which
only the highest degree of initiates were allowed to know.

Mr. William Oxley further thinks that if it were possible to raise the
veil that obscures the historic past it would be found that the
divine-human ideal figure of Jesus Christ is the combination of the
Western _Hesus_ and Eastern _Christus_. This accounts for the title,
while the incidents in the life of the historic Apollonius of Tyana
would supply material for the personal narrative. In fact, the nervous
desire of ecclesiastical reviewers to suppress or explain away the too
patent similarity between his and the Gospel life of Jesus is a half
admission of there being a substratum of truth in the allegation.

Oxley says: “Against the claim for a very high antiquity in regard to
even the Old Testament, we are confronted with the fact that all the
Hebrew words used in its compilation have their roots in the Arabic
language (or Aramaic, which closely borders upon the Arabic); and what
is not less strange is, that many of the so-called apocryphal writings
of the Christians are still extant in the same language. As Christian
productions this fact is inexplicable, but considered as _Chrestonian_
tales or legends, it is easy to understand, seeing that they relate to
the humanized deity of that geographical district.”

He concludes that Christianity, considered as a living spiritual truth,
is the gradual development of a system of thought, and is the resultant
of the highest and best conception of the human mind as an ideal of
purity and every virtue that it is capable of expressing; and, further,
that this ideal was presented to different nations long before the
Christian one was known, and that it was the literalizing or
personification of this _written ideal_ that afforded conditions for the
superstructure of ecclesiastical systems, dependent on a separate caste
of men set apart for the purpose of its support and propaganda. As these
men were able to grasp and wield power over the intellect, and even
persons, of their votaries, so in exact ratio the spiritual and
intellectual ideal (which is not a monad, but universal) was lost, and
the assumed historical personage is exalted at the expense of spiritual
liberty and the birthright prerogative of humanity. In short, the
supposed Founder of Christianity is not an historical personage, but an
old ideal presented in a newer and better and higher form than its
predecessors; and, further, this ideal is not dependent upon a past
historical, but is held up as the standard of attainment by humanity;
and as each realizes the truth within him or herself, then they will
find that the real “Christ” is not and was not an historical person, but
a spiritual life-giving principle within themselves.

The records of history show that a dramatic Christ has come down the
stream of time from the earliest periods; from India through Egypt,
China, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Arabia, Asia Minor, and Palestine,
until the present time—from the Buddha of the Tauric constellations to
the Aries and Pisces of the modern Christ; and all his manifestations
possess the essential characteristics of the one sun-god. Midway between
Buddhists and the Christians appears the sublimely idealistic mythology
of Greece, shining all over with the glory of the solar legend. Very
prominent in this system is the god-man Prometheus. The name is
synonymous with _Logos_, which is used in the fourth Gospel in reference
to Jesus, and signifies a demi-deity; and Prometheus means _Providence_,
and is represented by the all-seeing Eye. We select him rather than
other notable impersonations, for the purpose of referring to the
wonderful Greek drama written by Æschylus (_Prometheus Bound_), which
was acted in the theatre of Athens at least five hundred years before
the Christian era. The plot was derived from material even then of great
antiquity, and contains all the essential features of the modern
“Passion Play” so beautifully portrayed upon canvas in our churches and
eloquently described by our ministers of the present day. No author ever
displayed greater powers of poetry in supporting through this Promethean
play the august character of this divine sufferer. We give a few lines
from Potter’s translation.:

                   “I will speak,
    Not as upbraiding them, but my own gifts
    Commending. ’Twas I who brought sweet hope
    To inhabit in their hearts; I brought
    The fire of heaven to animate their clay,
    And through the clouds of barbarous ignorance
    Diffused the beams of knowledge. In a word,
    Prometheus taught each useful art to man.”

He was called upon to explain how his goodness could have brought upon
him such extreme suffering,  and he says:

    “See what, a god, I suffer from the gods!
    For mercy to mankind I am not deemed
    Worthy of mercy; but in this uncouth
    Appointment am fixed here,
    A spectacle dishonorable to Jove!
    On the throne of heaven scarce was he seated,
    On the powers of heaven
    He showered his various benefits, thereby
    Confirming his sovereignty; but for unhappy mortals
    Had no regard, but all the present race
    Willed to extirpate and to form anew.
    None save myself opposed his will. I dared,
    And, boldly pleading, saved them from destruction—
    Saved them from sinking to the realm of night;
    For which oflënce I bow beneath these pains,
    Dreadful to suffer, piteous to behold!”

None remained to be witnesses of his dying agony but the chorus of
ever-faithful women, who bewailed and lamented him. The earth trembled
and the whole frame of nature was convulsed, and the curtain fell on the
sublimest scene ever presented to human sight—a _dying god!_ The
preternatural darkness was exhibited on the stage, and the most
agonizing and heartfelt sorrow manifested by the weeping audience. It
was the “Passion Play.”

Let it be kept in mind that all of the incidents of the Gospels have
been acted in the theatres or illustrated in the sacred rites and
religious ceremonies of pagan peoples from time immemorial. Are not the
Gospels a plagiarized and adapted _drama?_

We close this chapter with a further quotation from Mr. Johnson:

“I am not asserting that all this was pure fiction—that no one stood
where men imagined they saw a God on earth. But I do recognize the
extreme difficulty of satisfying a free and sincere mind as to how much
or how little did ‘happen,’ and the extreme hardihood of asserting at
this day that there was anything in the person or life of Jesus to vest
in him the claim to be the enduring definitive centre of religious
thought and association under any name or title whatsoever. Neither the
character of the records nor the manner of their origination authorizes
that postulate of perfection through which alone such claim could vest
in any being. The veneration of ages for his name deserves respect as
the satisfaction of a natural demand during a certain stage of human
progress. But it does not prove him an exception to the law that the
worship of personages must give way to the worship of principles—the
centrality of an individual to the centrality of ideas—the divinity or
‘lordship’ of a man to the deity of the infinitely wise and good. It
illustrates that law. Christism in due time passes, like polytheism, and
a larger faith succeeds. Thus the theory refutes itself.

“The Christian idealization demands that all imperfections in the
New-Testament Jesus shall be ascribed to the misapprehensions of the
disciples and the ignorance of the biographers. It is confident that
Jesus must have been greater than the record shows. But we do not know
that he was even so great as the record shows. We are confidently told
that such an ideal as can be there discerned presupposes its actual—that
no man could have drawn such a character except from life. ‘Such a grand
figure is not hewn out of air.’ But it is quite possible to carry this
kind of divination too far.

“If a man could be that, why could not a man or an age conceive that it
ought to be? All that can fairly be assumed is, that there must have
been an impressive life (or lives) behind all the construction; and this
is not denied. But the necessities of the religious life in that time
produced Jesus. Why could they not magnify their own product and improve
upon it ideally as they developed into new and larger demands? If we are
to insist that the idealizing faculty cannot go beyond actuality, no
meaning will be left to the word ideal, and no such faculty will remain.
This is the irony to which the old belief comes....

“A pure and simple worship of the Infinite and Eternal is the necessity
of philosophy; it is the goal of science; it is the true ground of trust
and prayer and love, of philosophic Theism and spiritual Pantheism
alike; it is the parent of prophets, of mystics, of reformers, of all
true builders of man’s social unity and religious communion.”

No reasonable man can doubt that the Christ of Paul and the Gospels is
largely, if not altogether, ideal; and in the succeeding chapter we
proceed to give more specifically our reasons for thinking so.


_“Come now, let us reason together.”—Isa. 1:18._

_“Let me reason the case with thee.”—Jer. 12: 1._

THAT there should be held so many different views concerning the
character and work of Christ is itself a very suggestive circumstance.
It implies that the evidence in the case is not direct and clear, and
that there are grounds for doubt and uncertainty. That honest,
well-meaning men should be left in doubt regarding the most wonderful
event in history, involving their salvation, is still more astounding.
One would suppose that if so wonderful an event as the incarnation of
God had taken place it would have been made so manifest that the most
skeptical could not doubt it. There seems to have been great neglect or
indifference regarding the matter. Contemporaneous history takes no
notice of Jesus, and the biographies that we have of him cannot be shown
to have had an existence until nearly two centuries after he is said to
have made his advent; and Paul, who had written concerning him before
these Gospels were compiled, was so ambiguous that the most learned
theologians differ as to whether he regarded the Christ as an actual
person or merely an impersonation. The early records of the life of
Christ, if any existed, seem to have been destroyed or lost, and there
are no original documents nor authenticated copies of such records.
There can be no true faith, no genuine intelligent belief, without
evidence; and where is the evidence? To believe without some reason for
believing is blind credulity. The most intelligent Christian writers do
not even pretend to have any documents relating to the existence of
Jesus that by any strain of language can be called evidence.

Neander, an eminent Christian writer, author of a _Life of Christ_,
acknowledges in so many words his painful consciousness of the utter
lack of historic evidence in regard to him, his acts, and wonderful
performances. He demands, as an imperative necessity, to be permitted at
the beginning to take the most important matters for granted. He asks:
“What, then, is the special presupposition with which we must approach
the life of Christ? It is, in a word, the belief that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God in a sense that cannot be predicated of any human being,
the truth that Christ is God-man being presupposed.” Neander, by making
this confession, surrenders the whole question. There is no direct
evidence of the existence of such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, and all
fair-minded, intelligent Christian writers admit it. What is called
evidence is found only in the short sketches of the New Testament, which
have been shown to be no evidence at all.

We might rest the case here. It is admitted that it cannot be _proved_
that Jesus existed, and when we undertake to show to the contrary we
undertake to prove a negative—a thing which is never required in a court
of justice. Yet we do undertake it, and reverently invite the reader to
impartially consider the points in our case.

There is in the biography of Jesus an utter want of _originality_. It is
a copy of other lives. It is a significant fact that all the principal
claims made for Jesus of Nazareth had been made for others long before
him. We can only mention a few.

The birth of Buddha, like the birth of Jesus, was announced in the
heavens by an asterism on the horizon which is singularly called the
“Messianic star.” When Chrishna was born his star was pointed out by
Nared, a great astronomer.

The birth of every East Indian _avatar_ was announced by celestial
signs. Even the Jews have similar traditions regarding Moses and
Abraham. Canon Farrar admits in his _Life of Christ_ that the Greeks and
Romans always held this idea of the birth and death of great men being
presaged by mysterious stars, and Tacitus affirms this regarding the
dethronement of Nero. All candid theologians admit that this doctrine of
the announcement of the birth of extraordinary persons by the appearance
of stars was a universal belief among ancient peoples.

Luke is the only evangelist who records the fact that the birth of Jesus
was attended with the songs of angels from the heavenly world, and there
is good reason for believing that this professed compiler drew his
information from the apocryphal Gospel called “Protevangelion.” But
there is nothing novel in this idea, for the same thing had long before
been recorded of Chrishna at his birth, that “the quarters of the
horizon were irradiate with joy,”... that “the spirits and nymphs of
heaven danced and sang, and at midnight the clouds emitted low pleasing
sounds and poured down rain of flowers.” It is only necessary here to
state that similar demonstrations are alleged to have attended the
advent of other Hindoo saviors, and also of Confucius, of Osiris, of
Apollonius, of Apollo, of Hercules, and of Esculapius.

It is certainly very singular that all the circumstances connected with
the birth of Jesus are recorded of several other persons long before.
Chrishna was cradled among shepherds, to whom his birth was first
announced, and the prophet Nared visited his father and mother and
declared the child to be of divine descent. An aged hermit named Asita,
like Simeon of our Gospels, visited the infant Buddha and predicted
wonderful things of his life and mission, and wept because he was too
old to see the day. Not only was the infant Chrishna adored by the
shepherds and magi, but was presented with “gifts of sandal-wood and
perfume,” very like “frankincense and myrrh;” and he was also presented
with gifts of “costly jewels and precious substances,” very like “gold.”
Substantially the same things are recorded of Mithras, the Persian
savior, of Socrates, and many of the Grecian and Roman demigods.

It must suffice it to say that these incidents are too numerous and
circumstantial to be mere coincidences. King Kansa was jealous of the
infant Chrishna, and ordered a general slaughter of the infants under a
certain age and in a# certain district, just as Herod is falsely charged
with having done when Jesus was born; and as Joseph and Mary were warned
in a dream to flee into Egypt to save the young child’s life, so the
foster-father of Chrishna was warned of danger by a “heavenly voice,”
and he was taken to Mathura; and Canon Farrar, speaking of the sojourn
of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus in Egypt, writes: “Ancient legends
say that they remained two years absent from Palestine, and lived at
Matarieh, a few miles northeast of Cairo.” This seems to be the same
legend, but the one regarding Chrishna is sculptured upon the rocks and
temples of India, while contemporary history makes no mention of the
slaughter of the innocents by Herod; and further embarrassment arises
from the fact that Herod was not king at that time, as the taxing under
Quirinus did not take place under the reign of Herod, he having been
dead for several years.

It would be easy to present more than a score of instances in which
persons who came to be regarded as demigods and heroes had been obliged
to flee from the wrath of the reigning monarch at their birth, as is
recorded of the infant Jesus. In all centuries of olden times the
reigning monarch has generally been jealous of some mysterious child,
whose parents or caretakers were obliged to hide him away in some safe

The long fast and temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, found in the
Gospel “according” to Matthew, have numerous parallels in the experience
of other Messiahs, even in minor details. The fast generally, as in the
case of Moses, the Ninevites, and Jesus, lasted forty days, but that of
Buddha continued forty-seven days, and in his weakness and attenuation
of body he was tempted by _Mara_, the prince of evil, who promised him
all the kingdoms of the earth, “universal empire,” on certain
conditions; but, like Jesus, he said, “Avaunt! get thee away from me!”
After the temptation and triumph both Buddha and Jesus were ministered
unto by visiting angels! Zoroaster, the founder of the Persian religion,
had a similar experience with the devil, of which there are fully
detailed reports.

Both Chrishna and Jesus were precocious boys, disputing with doctors and
astonishing their teachers with their learning, which had not been
acquired in the usual way; and both wandered away from their parents and
became objects of anxiety and search to anxious mothers. Both preached a
celebrated sermon, wrought numerous and very similar miracles, were
hated and opposed by the priests of their day, and both suffered
premature violent deaths at about the same age, and then arose from the

These parallels might be given to an indefinite extent, as they appear
in _Asiatic Researches_, by Sir William Jones; Upham’s _History and
Doctrine of Buddhism_; Hardy’s _Manual of Buddhism_; numerous other
ancient and modern writings on this subject; and the parallel facts
presented by these authorities are admitted by the most distinguished
Christian writers not a few.

In regard to miracles it is thought best to say only a passing word.

It is admitted by the ablest theologians of the orthodox schools that
miracles are indispensable to establish the claim of a special
supernatural revelation, and great reliance is made upon the miracles
accredited to the Christian Christ; and yet we find other saviors and
heroes credited not only with the same miracles substantially, but with
a larger number of even more wonderful miracles. It would be easy to
fill a large volume with the alleged miracles of Buddha and Chrishna,
and Prof. Max Müller affirms that the Buddhistic miracles “surpass in
wonderfulness the miracles of all other religions.” Zoroaster, Buddha,
Osiris, Isis, and Horus all wrought miracles, even the raising of the
dead; Serapis, Marduk, Bacchus, Esculapius, and Apollonius did the same;
and the early Christian Fathers admitted the reality of heathen
miracles, but very conveniently attributed them to the devil. In short,
it may safely be affirmed that more wonderful and better-authenticated
accounts of miracles are given of numerous other persons, both before
and after the advent of the Christian Christ, than are given of his
miracles in the Gospels.

The Greeks were accustomed to say, “Miracles for fools,” and the Romans
shrewdly said, “The common people like to be deceived—deceived let them
be;” and even the Christian Father St. Chrysostom declared that
“miracles are proper only to excite sluggish and vulgar minds; men of
sense have no occasion for them.” The modern theological idea of proving
the record by the miracle, and the miracle by the record, has become too
transparent for even the most credulous.

There is also great confusion about the time of the birth of Jesus,
though the Church in a sort of perfunctory manner settled this by saying
he was born December 25, A. D. One. But the Church adopted this date for
reasons of an astronomical character. More than one hundred different
dates, some extending back nearly a century, have been fixed as to his
birth, showing that no one knew anything about it. A blundering notice
of his birth assigns its date to the period when Cyrenius was governor
of Syria, and makes the enrolment ordered by that official the occasion
of Joseph’s temporary sojourn at Bethlehem when that event took place.
This enrolment, however, was not made till after the displacement of
Archelaus from the kingdom of Judea and some ten years or more after the
death of Herod, and the story is accordingly in direct contradiction
with the account of the flight of Joseph into Egypt, while Herod was
still alive, to preserve the life of his son from that monarch’s
jealousy. But what is very significant is the fact that when Cyrenius
commanded the enrolment Judas of Galilee arose and denounced it. He
established a distinct sect which continued till the overthrow of the
Jewish people.

Josephus says: “When Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus’s money, and
when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the
thirty-seventh year of Caesar’s victory over Antony at Actium,” Antiq.
xviii. 2. The battle of Actium, in which Octavianus gained his final
victory over Antony, occurred in b. c. 31. Counting thirty-seven years,
would bring the date of the taxings down to A. d. 6. Archelaus after
reigning ten years was deposed for misconduct, and banished into Gaul.
Cyrenius, a Roman senator, had been sent by the government to settle up
his finances and take an account of the substance of the Jews, or, in
other words, to assess their property in order to apportion their taxes.
These things were done in the thirty-seventh year after the battle of
Actium, or in 6 A. d. Counting ten years back, we would be at the year 4
b. c., or the year Archelaus began to reign. As Herod of course was dead
before Archelaus ascended the throne, he consequently died before Christ
was born, and hence the entire story of the slaying of the infants, the
journey of the wise men, and the flight into Egypt falls helplessly to
the ground.

“But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his
father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned
of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee.” Matt.

Here we have a strange state of affairs. Joseph and the young child
turned from Judea to Galilee when Archelaus was as powerful in the one
country as in the other, for his ethnarchy included both!

In reading the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel we find an inexplicable
mystery. The very first verse reads: “The book of the generation of
Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Then in the
sixteenth verse it is said, “And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of
Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” In the eighteenth,
nineteenth, and twentieth verses the Holy Ghost is represented as the
real Father of Jesus by a virgin; and his miraculous divine descent is
elsewhere specifically taught in the Gospels, and the divine Sonship of
Jesus has been accepted as a fact by the general Church—Roman Catholic,
Greek, and Protestant.

On the other hand, there is proof positive, if the record is accepted,
that Jesus claimed for himself simple humanity, and consequent
inferiority and subjection to God; and Roman Catholics and orthodox
Protestants very conveniently settle these contradictions by affirming
that he was both God and man; while Unitarians reject the divinity of
Jesus, and by way of apology for so doing magnify his manhood so as to
make him quite divine, a human god.

It would be easy to fill volumes with accounts, with very slight
variations, of the miraculous conception and birth of divine personages
born of virgin mothers, who, after laboring and suffering for the good
of men, came to a tragic death, which was generally followed by a
triumphant resurrection and subsequent deification. The cases are so
numerous that one hardly knows where to begin to enumerate them. It
would be easy to furnish a roll containing the names of scores of
incarnate deities, and it would be tedious to describe the many things
in which they substantially agree.

According to some modern writers, supported by abundant sculptures in
temples, caves, and rocks, Vishnu, the second person of the Hindoo
trinity, has been incarnated eight or nine times, Buddha being the
first, Chrishna the eighth, and Gautama, also called Sakya-Muni, the
ninth. The fact that these alleged incarnations took place at uniform
intervals show their astronomical origin.

Equally suggestive is the fact that there are so many peculiarities
connected with the birth of these gods, and also so many incidents in
their lives and deaths absolutely identical.

The name of the mother of Buddha was _Maia_ and the same name was given
to the mother of the Greek Mercury and even to later divinities; which,
like the name Mary, typifies the sea and sometimes the month of May.

Buddha had no earthly father, but was an immaculate conception of a ray
of celestial light through a virgin mother. Chrishna, the eighth Indian
incarnation, was born of the left intercostal rib of a virgin. His birth
was concealed through fear of the tyrant Kansa. He raised the dead and
wrought marvellous miracles, and washed the feet of the Brahmans. It
would be tedious to give details, as almost every incident recorded in
the Gospels of the life of the alleged Christian incarnation is recorded
in circumstantial detail of some ancient pagan deity.

The fact is, that all the great nations of antiquity, and many of the
smaller tribes, have had very similar views as to divine manifestations
in human flesh; and you need only turn to the pages of any good
dictionary of mythology to verify the truth of this allegation.

We might extend these analogies to an indefinite extent. The author of
_Bible Myths_ has specified about fifty particulars in which Jesus is
said to have resembled Buddha, and as many more particulars in the case
of Chrishna. Nobody having any knowledge of the world’s history will
doubt that these Indian divinities preceded the Judean Christ by several
centuries, as many distinguished writers, like Prof. Max Müller, have

We challenge the theologians to present one single prominent feature or
characteristic said to have been shown in the career of Jesus which did
not appear in several other alleged incarnations hundreds of years
before. The fact is, that the Christ of modern times is a perfect copy
of other Christs who preceded him. Not only are all ancient Oriental
scriptures full of incarnated divine saviors, but the same symbols and
ceremonies abound in their worship. Take the cross, for an example. In
ancient India the cross was as common as in modern Rome, and heathen
temples were built in the form of a cross centuries before papists and
Puseyites and their liberal imitators ever thought of such a thing. It
was a common symbol in the ancient worship of Egypt. It was a Druidic
emblem in Britain five hundred years before the introduction of
Christianity. Plato, the Grecian philosopher, four hundred or five
hundred years before Christ proclaimed the cross to be the best symbol
of the divinity next to the supreme. The worshippers of Serapis used it,
and Hadrian, the Roman emperor, as late as A. d. 130 mistook them for
Christians. The standard portrait of Jesus, so honored by modern
Christians, is a copy of the head of Serapis, the well-known sun-god,
according to the testimony of Mr. King in his able work, _Gnostics and
their Remains_ (p. 68).

The same is true of baptism and the Eucharist, as ceremonies identical
with these, in their main aspects, existed among the ancient pagans. The
“Lord’s Supper” virtually was in use more than two hundred and fifty
years before Christ. Wherever Christian missionaries have gone they have
found substantially the same dogmas and religious observances, and
Tertullian, a Christian Father of the second century, conveniently
explained this fact by saying that the devil had taught the heathen
these same things to forestall the preaching of the missionaries.

And yet Justin Martyr in the second century (a. d. 140), in defending
the Christian religion against the assaults of pagans, said: “For
declaring that the Logos, the first-begotten Son of God, our Master
Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin without any human mixture, and to
be crucified and dead and to have arisen again into heaven, we say no
more in this than what you say of those whom you style the sons of
Jove.” Here is a distinct admission in the second century, from one in
high authority, that the doctrine of the death and resurrection of
miraculously-incarnated deities born of virgin mothers was well known
among pagans before the Christian era.

But we are not done with Justin Martyr yet. In his Apology to the
emperor Hadrian he makes this most astonishing admission: “In saying
that all things were made in this beautiful order by God, what do we
seem to say more than Plato? When we teach a general conflagration, what
do we teach more than the Stoics? By opposing the worship of the works
of men’s hands we concur with Menander the comedian.... For you need not
be told what a parcel of sons the writers most in vogue among you assign
to Jove; there’s Mercury, Jove’s interpreter, in imitation of the Logos,
in worship among you. There’s Æsculapius, the physician, smitten by a
thunderbolt, and after that ascending into heaven. There’s Bacchus, torn
to pieces; and Hercules, burnt to get rid of his pains. There’s Pollux
and Castor, the sons of Jove by Leda, and Perseus by Danæ; and, not to
mention others, I would fain know why you always deify the departed
emperors, and have a fellow at hand to make affidavit that he saw Cæsar
mount to heaven from the funeral pile?

“As to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him to be nothing
more than man, yet the title of the Son of God is very justifiable, upon
the account of his wisdom, considering that you have your Mercury in
worship under the title of the Word and Messenger of God.

“_As to the objection of our Jesus being crucified,_ I say that
suffering was common to all the forementioned sons of Jove, but only
they suffered another kind of death. As to his being born of a virgin,
you have your Perseus to balance that. As to his curing the lame and the
paralytic and such as were cripples from birth, this is little more than
what you say of your Æsculapius.”

St. Augustine says: “For the thing itself which is now called the
Christian religion really was known to the ancients, nor was not wanting
at any time from the beginning of the human race until the time when
Christ came in the flesh, from whence the true religion which had
previously existed began to be called Christian; and this in our day is
the Christian religion, not as having been wanting in former times, but
as having in later times received this name.”

A fellow and tutor in Trinity College and lecturer on ancient history in
the University of Dublin (Mr. Mahaffy) closes one of his lectures in the
following manner: “There is, indeed, hardly a great or fruitful idea in
the Jewish or Christian system which has not its analogy in the
(ancient) Egyptian faith. The development of the one God into a
_trinity_; the incarnation of the mediating deity in a virgin, and
without a father; his conflict and his momentary defeat by the powers of
darkness; his partial victory (for the enemy is not destroyed); his
resurrection and reign over an eternal kingdom with his justified
saints; his distinction from, and yet identity with, the uncreate
incomprehensible Father, whose form is unknown and who dwelleth not in
temples made with hands,—_all these theological conceptions pervade the
oldest religion of Egypt_. So, too, the contrast and even the apparent
inconsistencies between our moral and theological beliefs—the
vacillating attribution of sin and guilt partly to moral weakness,
partly to the interference of evil spirits, and likewise of
righteousness to moral worth, and again to help of good genii or angels;
the immortality of the soul and its final judgment,—_all these things
have met us in the Egyptian ritual and moral treatises_. So, too, the
purely human side of morals and the catalogue of virtues and vices are
by natural consequences as like as are the theological systems. _But I
recoil from opening this great subject now; it is enough to have lifted
the veil and shown the scene of many a future contest._”

Indeed, the ablest of the Christian Fathers never claimed that
Christianity was a new religion recently and specially revealed by
Jesus, but made many admissions quite to the contrary. Clarke in his
_Evidences_ says that the most ancient writers of the Church did not
scruple to acknowledge the Athenian Socrates a Christian.

Clemens Alexandrinus, of the second century (a. d. 194), wrote: “And
those who lived according to the _Logos_ were really Christians that is
to say, those who practically accepted the Greek conception of a divine
incarnation were really Christians.” And why not, for is not John’s
Gospel an elaboration of the Neo-Platonism of the Greeks? and is not the
whole Christian scheme an ingenious combination of Judaism and Oriental

Lactantius well said: “If there had been one to have collected the truth
that was scattered and diffused among the sects into one, and to have
reduced it into a system, there would indeed have been no difference
between him and us.” Could anything be more emphatic than this admission
of a Christian Father of the fourth century that Christianity is made up
of fragments of other religions?

A volume might be filled with similar admissions from the highest
Christian authority, for it would be easy to show that it was the main
argument of Justin Martyr (a. d. 141) that the Christian religion
contained nothing that might not be found in all earlier religions, and
that therefore its votaries deserved toleration and protection rather
than persecution.

Compare the following, furnished by Mr. Johnson, with the teachings of

“When you have shut your doors and darkened your room, beware of saying
that you are alone, for you are not alone, for God is within, and your
genius is within, and what need have they of light to see what you are
doing?” (Epictet., i. 14); “Dare look up to God, and say, ‘Use me as
thou wilt. I am one with thee. I refuse nothing that seems good to thee.
Lead me whither thou wilt’” (ii. 16); “Be not angry with the erring, but
pity them rather” (i. 18); “Be patient, mild, ready to forgive, severe
to none, knowing that the soul is never willingly deprived of truth”
(ii. 22); “No need to lift up the hands or get close to the ears of an
image, so as to be heard. God is near thee, with thee, in thee. I tell
thee, Lucilius, a holy spirit dwells within us, beholder of our conduct”
(Seneca, Ep., xli.); “Between God and good men is friendship, yea,
necessary intimacy” (De Prov., i. 5); “What use in concealment from men?
Nothing is hid from God” (Ep., lxxxiii. 1); “God escapes the eyes; he is
seen by thought only” (Nat. Quest., vii. 30); “No temples are to be
built to him. He must be hallowed by each in his own breast” (Seneca,
quoted by Lactantius, Ind., vi. 25); “Man’s primal union is with God”
(Cicero, De Leg., i. 7); “Virtue is the same in God and man; man
therefore is in the likeness of God” (ibid.).

We could multiply these quotations indefinitely, but we forbear. The
fact cannot be denied that Christianity is but the continuation and
modification of the old pagan religions, and that Egypt has to be
largely credited with supplying a great portion of the subject-matter of
our so-called “special revelation.” We could take up the sun-gods of
Egypt and show that all the titles and offices ascribed to them are
given to Jesus, and that often the very language is used. “Out of Egypt
have I called my Son” is emphatically true, but in a broader and wider
sense than is generally supposed. This will be more clearly shown


WE say “reverent” out of pure regard to the feelings of multitudes of
devout persons who verily believe that Jesus was and is God, and so any
criticism of him is simply blasphemous. This subject is not to be
treated in a light or frivolous manner.

We say “reverent” also out of respect to a smaller number of so-called
_liberals_ who deny the divinity of Christ, but who nevertheless believe
that Jesus was the _one_ pre-eminently good and wise man, and that no
man equal to him ever existed or ever will exist upon the face of this
earth; that he was the special Son of God, the model man, worthy of
worship as the man who possessed so much of the divine spirit as to
entitle him to the place of honor and grateful remembrance among men for
all time and in all countries.

We think it more honest and respectful to reverently inquire into the
evidences of his divine character, and not to accept with blind
credulity what other men say. We are endowed with reason, and it seems
to us proper that we should exercise our rational faculties, and not
ignore them altogether. Honest _doubt_ must be more acceptable to him,
_if_ he is God, than unreasoning faith.

Now, we propose to look at him in the light of the New Testament, and
especially of the Gospels, assuming them to be authentic. We shall here
pass by his infancy and childhood (utterly ignoring the doubtful and
controverted passages concerning his immaculate conception and
miraculous birth), and take the first direct account we have of his
life. This commences when he was about _twelve_ years of age. We are
told that he accompanied his mother and putative father to Jerusalem,
whither they went to attend the feast of the Passover. Luke states that
he strayed away from his parents, who were greatly concerned for his
safety, but he was at length found in the temple among the doctors
asking and answering wonderful questions, so as to astonish all who
heard him with his wonderful knowledge. His mother gently reproved him
for giving them so much anxiety, and he answered back, rather
impatiently, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be
about my Father’s business?" But he went home with his parents and was
subject to them, and for at least eighteen years dwelt with them and his
brothers James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. The names of his several
sisters are not given. During these eighteen years he is supposed to
have learned the trade of a carpenter and worked with his reputed
father, who was a carpenter, spending the most vigorous portion of his
life in manual labor, only devoting about three years to his mission as
the Messiah. Now, Jesus is held up as an “example,” and we are “to
follow his steps,” and it does not appear that there was anything in his
example specially worthy of imitation for about thirty years. We must
find it in the last years of his earthly career if we find it at all.

The first instance in which the evangelists bring Jesus forward as a
moral teacher is in the Sermon on the Mount. This discourse is supposed
by Christians to be the masterpiece of wisdom and deep spiritual
insight. While Matthew gives it as a complete discourse, Mark and Luke
intersperse the substance of the sermon throughout their Gospels; which
is strong presumptive proof that it was not delivered as a connected
discourse. Like the book of Proverbs, it seems to be a collection of the
moral sayings of former times, many of which can be pointed out, with
slight verbal alterations, in the writings of pagan authors and of more
modern Jews of the Hillel school. In fact, there is nothing in the
sermon which had not been taught by many others a long time before,
while there is much that is absurd and impracticable, not to say untrue
and unjust. Even the deep spirituality involved in recognizing the
spirit and intent of the law can be paralleled by several passages in
Buddhistic scriptures. The so-called “Golden Rule” was announced by
Confucius as an axiom nearly five centuries before the Christian era,
both in its positive and its negative form, while the same maxim is laid
down in most choice and beautiful language by Isocrates, Aristotle,
Sextus, Pittacus, Thales, and many others from three to six centuries
before Christ.

The same is true of the Lord’s Prayer, though it is often asserted that
Jesus first taught the “Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”
This is not true. The “Lord’s Prayer” is found in the ancient Jewish
rituals, and is entitled a “Prayer to the Father,” and the expression
“Our Father who art in heaven” is common to many, if not all, nations
and religions.

While there are several things in the Sermon on the Mount truly
beautiful, there is nothing that is strictly _original_; there are many
sayings which show a great lack of knowledge, and that are positively
impracticable and immoral in their tendency. No Christian tries to keep
these sayings. It would lead to vagabondism and would convert a nation
into a crowd of tramps. It would be positively immoral to obey them. If
Jesus did not _intend_ that his teachings should be taken according to
the common sense of the words used, why did he not say so? What is
language for but to express one’s meaning? So far from teaching the
non-resistance of evil, in other places he runs into the extreme of
teaching revenge. (See Luke 10:10-12; Matt. 10:14, 15; Mark 6:11.) He
also sanctions the most gross injustice. He commends the unjust steward
(Luke 16:5-8), saying that he had “done wisely” in cheating his employer
by compounding with his creditors, and advises his hearers to make
“friends” of the “mammon of unrighteousness.”

Moreover, whoever is familiar with the teachings ascribed to Jesus must
know that his first condition of discipleship is _the total surrender of
all worldly possessions and the non-accumulation of earthly treasures
thereafter_ (Matt. 16: 24; Luke 14: 26, 27; Matt. 19, etc.). Can words
be more emphatic than the utterances of Jesus reported in Matt.
6:19-34?—“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”... “For
where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”... “Ye cannot
serve God and mammon.”... “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for
your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your
body, what ye shall put on.” This absolute unconcern about food and
raiment is emphasized by repeating the injunction twice: “Therefore take
no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or,
Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”... “Take therefore no thought for the
morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

The attempts of theologians to modify these precepts are most
preposterous. They tell us that Jesus meant to discourage _anxious_
thought about worldly possessions and wants—that he intended to condemn
undue anxiety and worriment of mind; and they even assert that the
original word implies and justifies this rendering. To this it may be
replied, We cannot be certain as to what particular words Jesus used, as
we have no manuscripts of the Gospels dating back to within four hundred
years of his time, and the alleged copies that we have are not
authenticated; so that an argument, even if justified by learned
criticism, based upon the implied meaning of particular words is
useless, unless we are sure, as we cannot be, that Jesus used those very
words, and that he intended that his disciples and other unlearned and
uncritical hearers should accept the implied rather than the obvious

But, taking the words in the Greek manuscripts of the Gospels now most
approved by scholars, we deny that there is anything in them to justify
the interpolation of the word “anxious” between the words “no” and
“thought.” There is the highest classical authority for the assertion
that the verb employed here simply means to “care,” “to be careful,” “to
heed,” and is so translated in other portions of the New Testament, as,
for examples, in 1 Cor. 7: 32, 33, 34; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7; and in
many other passages. When Paul exhorted the Philippians to be “careful
for nothing,” because the Lord was about to appear in judgment, he
obviously meant that it was not worth while to make any provision for
future bodily wants.

It is a universally-admitted principle of critical interpretation that
the meaning of words in any given text must be determined from the
context, the connection in which the word occurs. It so happens that
Jesus has illustrated his doctrine in this connection so as to make it
impossible to doubt as to the meaning of the words employed: “Behold the
fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather
into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye much
better than they?”... “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the
lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin,
and I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like
one of these.”

The use of the illative word, “_wherefore_, if God so clothe the grass,”
and the word “_therefore_ take no thought,” show beyond doubt that Jesus
intended to teach, and did teach, that his disciples were to be as
indifferent to matters of food and clothing as are the birds of the air
and the flowers of the field. Not only did he use words that sanction
the utmost improvidence in regard to future bodily wants, but he gave
the sense in which his words were to be received by referring them to
the well-known unconcern of the birds and lilies.

But it may be further shown what Jesus meant to teach by reference to
his own life and the lives of his first followers. There is little or no
evidence in the Gospels or elsewhere that Jesus or his first disciples
ever possessed any earthly goods whatever, or that they ever engaged in
any of the useful or wealth-producing avocations of the country in which
they lived. Matthew speaks of Jesus as the son of a carpenter, and Mark
calls him “the carpenter, the son of Mary.” The fervid imaginations of
modern writers have depicted Jesus as an apprentice to his father and
laboring at the carpenter’s trade, but there is no evidence that he ever
pushed a plane or drove a nail. There is no reason to believe that he
ever erected a house for others, and it is certain that he never built a
house for himself, for he has told us that “the foxes have holes and the
birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has not where to lay his
head.” There is not in any of the Gospels one single word accredited to
Jesus in favor of industrial pursuits, not one syllable to justify the
accumulation of property, or any forethought whatever for sickness, for
helpless infancy, or tottering age.

When Jesus sent out his disciples he expressly forbade them to make any
provision for food or raiment. He said, “Provide neither gold or silver
nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats,
neither shoes, nor yet staves, for the workman is worthy of his meat.”
They were to throw themselves upon the charities of the world, accept
such things as were given them, and to manifest the utmost indifference
to worldly comforts. There is no evidence that any of the followers of
Jesus who listened to his personal instructions ever engaged in any
worldly avocation, except to catch a mess of fish when driven by hunger
to do so. They lived from “hand to mouth,” and if they had lived in our
day they would, every one of them, have been denominated “tramps,” and
would have been amenable to our modern laws of vagrancy. ’Tis true,
there seems to have been some sort of care about future possible wants,
but only on the communistic principle. They had a treasurer in the
person of Judas Iscariot, but no _individual_ possessions were allowed.
We are told (Acts 4: 26) regarding early Christians, “Neither was there
any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or
houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
and laid them down at the apostles’ feet, and distribution was made unto
every man according as he had need.” In Acts 2:44, 45 the facts are also
fully set forth: “And all that believed were together and had all things
common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men
as every man had need.” Whatever was allowed as a community, it is
certain that no individual was allowed to accumulate or retain property
on his own personal account.

In perfect consistency with the view here presented Jesus taught that
the possession of riches was almost sure to debar one from heaven—that
while it might be possible for a rich man to be saved, because all
things are possible with God, nevertheless it is “easier for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into
heaven.” Riches were always denounced by Jesus, and poverty eulogized as
if it were a virtue in itself, commending one to the favor of God and
greatly increasing his prospects for the heavenly inheritance. If the
triple testimony of the synoptical Gospels amounts to anything, it shows
beyond a doubt that Jesus would accept no man as a disciple who
continued in the possession of worldly property, or who accumulated
earthly riches, or who allowed himself to think of the future
necessaries of life, even food and clothing. At the same time, the most
promiscuous and profuse almsgiving was enjoined: “Sell all that thou
hast and give unto the poor,” was the literal injunction. “Give to him
that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou

Besides this, he required absolute non-resistance: “But I say unto you
that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right
cheek turn to him the other also “And whosoever shall compel thee to go
a mile, go with him twain “And if any man will sue thee at the law and
take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” This is even more than
non-resistance; it is a reward for unprincipled men to impose upon you.
It would be impossible to state the principle of absolute non-resistance
in stronger language. But modern commentators tell us that Jesus did not
intend to be so understood—that he merely intended to condemn the spirit
of strife and retaliation. Why, then, did he not say so? Which shall we
accept—what Jesus plainly and repeatedly said, or what commentators say
he meant?

What are we to say about the doctrine of _bodily mutilation_ taught in
the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 29, 30)? Theologians of to-day tell us
that these words are to be taken in a metaphorical sense—that to secure
salvation we must sacrifice every passion that would lead us into sin,
though it might be as dear as a right hand, foot, or eye. The reason
assigned by Jesus for enforcing this precept cannot be reconciled with
the assumption that it was intended to be figurative: “For it is
profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that
thy whole body should be cast into hell.” If by members of the body
Jesus _meant principles or passions_ that might tempt and entrap one
into evil, we must charge upon the precept the absurdity that it would
be better to enter into heaven with one evil principle or passion than
to be cast into hell with many evil principles and passions! The literal
interpretation is favored by the fact that in ancient times bodily
mutilation was recognized in religious matters. In Matt. 19:12, Jesus is
reported to have said, “And there be eunuchs, which have made themselves
eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it,
let him receive it.” If this is not a sanction of bodily mutilation,
what can it mean? That it was understood literally by many early
Christians cannot be denied. The ascetics of the second century
practised the most extreme literal mortification of the flesh, and even
in the middle of the third century Origen, one of the most learned of
the Christian Fathers, destroyed his own manhood by bodily mutilation as
an act of piety. Much curious matter upon this subject may be found in
Mosheim’s _Ecclesiastical History_, page 310, and also Gibbon’s _Decline
and Fall_, chap. xv. and notes.

The fairest and most reasonable way to ascertain what Jesus taught is to
study his own life, and then to follow his example. It will be somewhat
startling to many when we announce the proposition that the religion of
the Christian Gospels is monastic and ascetic in the extreme, and that
Jesus himself was an ascetic, and that he required his disciples to
become such. One thing is certain: No man can study the character of
Jesus and his teachings, his own life and the career of his immediate
disciples, without admitting the monkish character of their religion. It
was emphatically the religion of sorrow, the religion not only of
anti-naturalism, but of unnaturalism. It virtually said: “Whatever is
natural is wrong; whatever you desire is wrong. To do what is painful is
right, while to do what you want to do is certain ruin. Life must be one
incessant wail of suffering if it is to be followed with eternal
blessedness. The body is the enemy of the soul, and the world the enemy
of God. Worldly prosperity is a curse in disguise, while poverty and
want and persecution and suffering of all kinds are indications of the
divine favor.” (See _Secret of the East_, by Dr. Felix L. Oswald.)

At the very commencement of his public career Jesus formed an alliance
with that hardiest of anchorites known as John the Baptist, and in all
the Gospels the close relationship between the missions of John and
Jesus is constantly recognized. It is a tradition of the early Church
that Jesus was never known to smile, and there is an implication in the
Gospels that his face was prematurely old. He recommended a life of
religious mendicancy and voluntary poverty as absolutely necessary for
admission to his kingdom.

But there was scarce anything in the teachings of Jesus that had not
been insisted upon for hundreds of years before by the monks of India,
Egypt, and other countries. It is impossible to go into details, but no
man of reading will deny this allegation. Like the ancient monks, Jesus
practised long fastings and abstained from flesh meats, though he ate
fish and vegetables. He neither possessed nor sought to acquire any
worldly property. While going about the streets and the seashore
teaching by day, he generally resorted, like ancient monks, to the
mountains and wilderness at night, and his principal religious devotions
were performed in the darkness of midnight. He abstained from marriage,
and had but little regard for the domestic relations. Asceticism was the
distinguishing characteristic of the early Church, and the doctrine of
the community of goods was practically received by the Church for two
hundred years, and is so received by many to-day.

So far from practically condemning the literal teachings of Jesus as we
find them in the Gospels, we take the ground that they were just what
might have been expected from one holding the doctrine that the world
was about to be destroyed and a new kingdom established upon the
regenerated earth, of which he was to be the king and his disciples the
princes. If there was anything definite in the teachings of Jesus, it
was the speedy coming of the end of the world. Carefully study the
twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, the thirteenth of Mark, and the
twenty-first of Luke if you have any doubts upon this subject.

The attempt of theologians to make it appear that Jesus only referred to
the destruction of Jerusalem is most absurd. It virtually charges Jesus
with the inconsistency of giving information upon one subject when his
disciples desired information upon another. They asked him for signs
that should precede the destruction of the world, and he distinctly
affirmed, “This generation shall not pass away till all these things are
fulfilled;” “There be some standing here that shall not taste death till
they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28). The
doctrine of the almost _immediate_ end of all mundane things as they
then existed is the only key to unlock what seems so absurd in the
teachings of Jesus. If he believed what he taught as to the speedy end
of the world, it was perfectly consistent for him to condemn the holding
or accumulating of property, and to commend the most indiscriminate
almsgiving, the most absolute non-resistance, with bodily mortification
and mutilation, and a life of unworldliness and practical mendicancy and
poverty. Jesus and his disciples taught and acted just as men would
teach and act if they believed that the end of the world was at hand.
His disciples so understood him.

In the year 960 A. d. there was in the Christian Church a revival of
this doctrine, and the speedy end of the world and the second coming of
Jesus were proclaimed with great earnestness. The clergy as a class
adopted it, and encouraged people to give away their possessions. A
universal panic prevailed; all business was suspended; men abandoned
their families, and multitudes undertook a pilgrimage to Palestine to
meet their returning Lord.

It is hardly necessary to mention the craze of “Millerism” in 1843 in
this country, when many, in perfect consistency with their belief, gave
up their possessions and prepared their “ascension robes,” and waited
anxiously for the end. If the clergy of all denominations should now
unite in proclaiming just what Jesus predicted concerning the end of the
world, just in proportion as people sincerely believed the message they
would at once literally accept the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount,
and act accordingly.

This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that much of what Jesus
taught can only be understood and justified by his particular view and
representation of the almost immediate end of all earthly things; and
this understanding of the subject is much more creditable to Jesus as a
teacher than the assumption that he failed to make himself understood,
and that he did not mean what he said, though both he and his disciples
practically in their lives exemplified the unworldliness and asceticism
that he preached.

We submit as a key to the enigmas of the Sermon on the Mount and other
hard sayings attributed to Jesus that he and his disciples believed and
taught that this world was about to be made new, that the then present
order was about to terminate, and that therefore earthly possessions and
pursuits were of no consequence, and even the domestic relations were of
little account.

That the teachings and examples of Jesus (in many respects) cannot be
accepted by the people of the nineteenth century without a complete
overthrow of existing institutions and forms of civilization is a
self-evident fact. We must abandon all industrial pursuits, change all
our views of the rights of property, adopt the communistic principle and
policy, and lead lowly lives of self-denial and bodily mortification and

We repeat that the teachings and example of Jesus were natural and
rational from his conviction of the approaching end of all things.

It would be easy to point out many other things in the Sermon on the
Mount equally defective and offensive to reason and common sense, but we
forbear. We have dwelt upon this celebrated sermon at such length
because it is held up as a model of moral teaching. We pronounce it a
very inferior compilation of things good and bad, not at all
corresponding with proper ideas of practical morality, and not adapted
to the present necessities of civilization.

What is said of the Sermon on the Mount may be said of many portions of
the alleged teachings of Jesus. We mention only a few instances. The
parable of the Unjust Steward justifies a worldly cunning and a
decidedly dishonest act (Luke 16:5-8). Jesus commends him, saying that
“he had done wisely” in cheating his principal, and advises his
disciples to “make to them friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.” A
more grossly dishonest act could not have been committed by a person
acting in a fiduciary capacity. To follow his example would overthrow
all business integrity and lead to universal knavery.

In the parable of the Unjust Judge he gives a very low and
anthropomorphic view of God and the efficacy of prayer. It is this: A
certain woman went to a judge for a certain favor, and he would not
grant her request. She persisted, and finally he said, “Though I fear
not God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me I will
avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Then the lesson
taught: “And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry unto him day
and night, though he bear long with them?” This certainly teaches that
if one teases and worries God long enough, he will answer the prayer
without regard to the rightfulness of the petition. Dr. Adam Clark says
in his _Commentary_ that the expression “she weary me” is a metaphor
taken from boxers, “who bruise each other about the face, _blacken the
eyes!_” We forbear to remark on this blasphemous doctrine.

We pass on without specifying the manifestly unjust principles laid down
in the parables of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the Ten Talents, the
Great Feast, and other parables, the manner in which he treated the
woman of Canaan, the mystification and evasions he used, leaving her in
doubt with regard to his real meaning, and the many instances in which
he gave irrelevant answers and unfair and illogical conclusions. His
teachings were notable for their obscurity and ambiguity; he tells us he
did not desire to be understood; and no wonder that his most trusted
disciples wrangled about his true meaning and came to opposite
conclusions. His own family did not believe in him, and some persons
thought him insane. Indeed, his mysterious and enigmatical style is so
marked that it suggests whether, after all, what is said to have been
spoken by Jesus was not the utterances and traditions of initiates in
the second Christian century?

The claim of autocratic official authority to forgive and punish, to
deny before God those who should deny him before men, to denounce whole
cities for want of faith in him, to come in God’s name to judge all
mankind, to proclaim everlasting punishment and declare that some should
never be forgiven, mars the beauty of Jesus’ character. A real
deficiency in his teaching was the absence of any explicit declaration
of human brotherhood. It is a remarkable feet that no clear statement of
this idea is recorded of Jesus. But the lack was supplied in a certain
form by Paul, whose broader ethnic experience and more liberal culture
made him recognize the demand more fully, and who was therefore bound to
have it satisfied in his religious ideal. This was easy, since he had
never seen Jesus, and could construct his personality as his own
reverence and sense of human need might prompt.

The clearest statement of human brotherhood in the New Testament is that
ascribed to Paul: “God hath made of one blood all the nations of the
earth.” Yet even in Paul’s mind it seems to have been conditioned on
faith in his Master. All were “members of one another, whether Jew or
Gentile, bond or free;” but it was only in so far as they were, or were
fit to be, “in the body of Christ.” Cicero and Seneca rest human
brotherhood on broader and deeper foundations. “All are members of one
great body,” says Seneca also; but in what sense? “By the constitution
of nature, which makes us kindred, and more miserable in doing than in
receiving an injury; and by whose sway our hands are prepared for mutual
help.” Paul says, “In Christ is neither bond nor free.” But Seneca says
more broad-ly, “Virtue invites all, free-born, slaves, kings, exiles. It
asks no questions about rank or wealth. It is content with the bare
man.” Again, exhorting Nero, he says: “Do not ask how much of
manumission is endurable, but how much the nature of justice and good
will allows you which bids you spare even captives and persons bought
with a price. Let slaves find refuge before the statute; if all things
are permitted you (by custom and power) against a slave, there is that
which the common law of life forbids to be done to a man; for the slave
is of the same nature as yourself.” So Cicero says: “No other things are
so alike as we are to each other;” “There is no one of any nation who
cannot reach virtue by following the light of nature;” “The foundation
of law is that nature has made us for the love of mankind.”

Other testimonies to like effect might easily be adduced from “heathen”
writers of that age. And the later Stoics do but echo the thought of
their predecessors from the days of Zeno and Cleanthes when they
reiterate in the broadest terms the belief that men are created for the
very purpose of mutual good. And Philo says: “We all are brothers by the
highest kind of kindredship, as children of reason;” “Slavery is
impious, as destroying the ordinances of nature, which generated all
equally and brought them up as if brethren, not in name only, but in
reality and truth.” But with the apostles of Christianity, as probably
with Jesus himself, brotherhood was inseparable from belief in “the

But let us not overlook the facts that the Gospels attribute to Jesus
certain beliefs which our present knowledge positively contradicts, and
even sentiments and claims which the highest morality cannot approve.
For example, take his belief in diabolic possession; his claim of power
to forgive sins and to judge mankind with his disciples on twelve
thrones; his denunciation of cities that should not receive his
messengers; his official retaliation (Matt. 10: 33); the unpardonable
sin; his giving Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and to his
apostles the same powers; the second coming of the Son of man, with
destruction of the world and the coming judgment day within that
generation; condemning to endless punishment those who have not succored
believers; no salvation to those found unrepentant at his coming; the
sinning brother who will not hear the Church to be treated as a heathen;
his sweeping denunciation of Pharisees and Scribes; a personal devil and
an everlasting hell; power over deadly serpents and the taking of
poisons without injury; the working of miracles by faith, even to the
removing of mountains and tearing up trees, raising the dead, etc. etc.

But not only are the teachings of Jesus subject to criticism, but his
acts are equally so. Take for an example the manner in which he
addressed his mother when found disputing with the doctors in the
temple,  but more particularly hear his words to his mother at the
wedding in Cana. She told him that the wine had run out, and he answered
in the most uncouth manner, “_Woman_, what have I to do with _thee?_”
That is to say, of what concern was his mother to him, and what had he
to do with her trouble about the wine being out? Then the making of the
wine, upon which the people got drunk, was by no means worthy of
imitation. The quantity, according to some divines, was not less than
two or three hogsheads of intoxicating drink, enough to last the balance
of the week. The guests were already drunk, and, though the wine was
made out of water, it was nevertheless highly intoxicating. We might
also mention his rude answer when his mother desired to speak to him
(Mark 3: 21-35). At the time of his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem he
took an “ass and colt,” the private property of some person, without
permission, and the bystanders so understood it. He went immediately to
the temple and beat out with a whip all the merchants (whom he calls
thieves), all legitimate dealers in animals and doves for religious
sacrifice, and violently overthrew the tables of the money-changers,
whose business seems also to have been legitimate. This act was a
“breach of the peace,” and in any civilized country would have been
followed by arrest and imprisonment. It was not right that he should
assert his authority by such disorderly conduct, and that too upon the
eve of the celebration of a religious ceremony. When waited on by a most
respectable deputation of public men who served officially (Matt. 23:
21) and inquired of him “by what authority he did such things,” instead
of answering them frankly and making known to them his mission, he
raised an irrelevant question, and because they could not tell whether
“John’s baptism was from earth or heaven,” he refused to give any
apology or explanation of his most treasonable and violent actions. He
addressed the Scribes and Pharisees in the most extreme language,
calling them “vipers,” “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” “serpents,” etc.,
and used fulminations that were calculated to excite the worst passions
and the most atrocious acts. He told them that they were “whited
sepulchres” and “fools.” When he was accepting the hospitalities of a
Pharisee (Luke 11:37-54) he abused and denounced both the host and his
guests. He is said to have looked on the Pharisees “with anger,” thus
violating what he taught. His unjustifiable conduct toward the “barren
fig tree” will not be overlooked. It was not the season for figs; he had
no right to expect to find fruit on that tree, yet he “cursed” it, and
here again destroyed private property without rendering an equivalent.
So with the swine of the Gadarenes. This story is childish and wicked,
and his action resulted in the destruction of animals which must have
been valued at about four thousand pounds sterling. He was also
chargeable with dissimulation greatly at variance with moral rectitude.
When his brothers would have him go to Jerusalem to attend the feast of
tabernacles he declined, and advised them to go without him. But when
they had gone, “then went up also to the feast, as it were in secret”
(John 7: 2-10).

He certainly here practised deceit. When walking with the two disciples
to Emmaus he pretended to be another person, and when they arrived there
he “made as though he would go farther that is, he pretended what he did
not intend...” (Luke 24:13). He practised the utmost dissimulation in
several particulars in the affair of Judas, and carried it even farther
than the traitor. (Read and study Matt. 26: 46-50 and context.)

We might pursue this subject indefinitely. It is enough for our present
purpose to affirm that many of the errors in natural philosophy,
physiology, astronomy, and other sciences that prevailed in that day are
implied or incorporated in the Gospels, with many prevailing
superstitions, and that there are more mistakes and a greater number of
contradictions in the four Gospels than in any other writings of the
same length now extant in any language.

There is no one subject upon which so many books have been written as
what are called “harmonies of the Gospels.” There are now more than one
hundred such books extant, besides thousands that have gone out of
print. Long ago as the seventeenth century Thomas Munn of London
published such a book, on the title-page of which he states that he has
reconciled three thousand contradictions. What does all this imply? Has
it ever been found necessary to so reconcile the writings of Plato,
Socrates, Aristotle, Newton, or Bacon? Could not God make himself
understood? It is an acknowledged fact among juriste that the
discrepancies in the four Gospels would destroy the credibility of any
four witnesses in any intelligent court of law.

We must here express our conviction that the Gospels, which profess to
give the life of Jesus, are not original, genuine productions, and it is
time to show how they came into existence and were palmed off by
ecclesiastics as the productions of those whose names they bear.

About the time of the birth of Christianity almost every system of
philosophy and religion centred at Alexandria in Egypt. The Essenes,
though scattered throughout all the provinces of the Roman empire, had
their head-quarters at Alexandria, where existed a flourishing
university. To this centre of learning seekers after truth from all
countries of the globe found their way, and, comparing their various
systems, the result was the evolution of the Eclectic philosophy, made
up of what was regarded as the best of every known faith.

Palestine and Egypt were geographically contiguous, and the commerce
between them was general and constant through Alexandria. Here the
various sects of Judaism came into direct contact with Greek and
Oriental thought and philosophy, with which they had been made quite
familiar during their captivity in Babylon. Pythagorean, Platonic, and
even Zoroastrian and Buddhistic speculations were rife—were in the very
air of Alexandria. It is notorious that in that city Christian theology
assumed a systematic form. The first and best Christian manuscripts were
Alexandrian, and so were the first bishops; so says Prof. Calvin E.

It is impossible for any party to escape entirely from the influence of
its surroundings. How could a new sect eighteen hundred years ago escape
the influences that dominated the very atmosphere of Alexandria?
Christianity, so called, did not escape this influence, but in a short
time took an eclectic form made up of the then existing systems of faith
and philosophy, so that we now find in it ingredients taken from every
known system of religion and philosophy, including Judaism, Platonism,
Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism.

Mosheim says this Eclectic philosophy, which “chose the good and
rejected the evil out of every system that had been propounded to
mankind,” was taught in the university of Alexandria when Christianity
came into existence. A very interesting question arises in this
connection, which few have paused to ponder—viz. What became of the
sects of the Essenes and Therapeutists after the commencement of the
Christian era? That they suddenly disappeared as sects is an historical
fact. But what became of them? Is there anything more natural than to
assume that they became the pioneers of the Christian Church, and, in
fact, that it was these people to whom the name “Christian” was first
given at Antioch? The entire New-Testament Scriptures are full of
phrases and allusions which clearly show the Essenean admixture, of
which many examples might be quoted. Even Eusebius, styled the “Father
of ecclesiastical history,” without whose writings little or nothing is
known of the early Christian Church, not only admits the close
resemblance between this sect and Christianity, but he even claims that
they were Christians.

A thorough investigation of this matter drives one to the conclusion
that our Catholic Christianity came from Alexandria—virtually from the
Essenean monks who flourished before the Augustan age, and that their
writings are the foundation of our Gospels, re-edited, changed, and
interpolated to suit times and occasions. Catholicism is the undoubted
offshoot of Egyptian monkery, as Protestantism is an offshoot of
Catholicism, and improperly called a _Reformation_. Paul probably became
a sort of Martin Luther, and led the great schism from the Essenean
Church, and it was then from a certain time called Christian. The four
Greek Gospels of our New Testament were made up at Alexandria from
Egyptian asceticism, and consist largely of a union of Neo-Platonism
with Judaism, and is full of the occult and mystical so common in that
period. They were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as can
be _proved_, and he who is called Jesus of Nazareth was nothing more
than an Essenean impersonation. This view is honestly held by the
writer, and did space permit he could give many pertinent reasons for
it. Investigation in this direction would meet a rich reward.

Many pious persons here confront us, and inquire reproachfully, “What is
the use of destroying the faith of the people in the Christian
religion?” This question implies what is not true, as it is farthest
possible from the object of these papers to ridicule or in any way to
bring religion into disrepute. It is not only good principle, but it is
also good policy, to always tell the truth. Why should we say, either
directly or by implication, that Christianity is a supernatural religion
when we know it to be of human origin, and can show just how, and when,
and where it grew out of then existing creeds and systems of philosophy?

Is religion such a sham that it can best be subserved by falsehood and
imposture? We think not. And if we should adopt the Jesuistic maxims,
that “the end justifies the means” and that “pious intent hallows
deceit,” it is simply impossible in this inquisitive scientific age to
keep up a deception, however venerable for age and sacred from
association. Knowledge is on the increase, and the people will not for
ever wear bandages over their eyes, and, thus hoodwinked, swallow
without question whatever is put into their mouths by the dispensers of
theologic twaddle and priestly pap. Regarding Christianity as a special
divine revelation recently made, it will not stand scientific and
historic examination; but regarding it as of human origin, an evolution,
a product of that age of pessimism which resulted from the
disappointment of the Jews as to their national Messiah, and the
disintegration and coming decadence and downfall of the Roman empire,
coupled with the proclamation of the speedy destruction of the world
itself, it is just what might have been expected—a religion of
pessimism, of sorrow, of unworldliness, of evil forebodings.

“When the devil got sick, the devil a monk would be.” When Charles IV.
of Spain was discomfited by the misfortunes of war, he sought solace in
embroidering a petticoat for the Virgin Mary. Rancé had a domestic
tragedy, and he founded the order of Trappist monks. Loyola would never
have founded Jesuitism if he had not first been disfigured and crippled
in a military siege. Dante was an exile when he wrote his _Inferno_, and
John Calvin was a dyspeptic and suffered from rheumatism, gout, and
stone when he wrote his _Institutes_. The most distinguished devotees to
the religion of self-reproach have always been sufferers from headache
and neuralgia, as “crippled foxes decry the vintage,” and grapes are
always sour that are beyond reach.

The germs of Christianity grew out of the decaying carcasses of the
Jewish commonwealth and the Roman empire, and as the worship of sorrow
and unnaturalness it is not promotive of the highest virtue and the best
interests of human society. It is only when the distinctive asceticism
is eliminated and its extreme pessimism is destroyed by a rational
optimism that it becomes a real blessing to humanity.

Every religion reflects the characteristics of the place and time of its
birth, and the gloomy and melancholic temperaments of the dwellers by
the Jordan, the Nile, and the Euphrates thoroughly permeated and
impregnated the sects of those countries.

Regarding Christianity as of human origin, we are at liberty to cast
aside its lugubrious spirit, its impracticable unworldliness and
unnaturalness, and with higher esteem, and a more genuine heartfelt
appreciation, and a sincere acceptance and approval we are free to adopt
and glorify its general humane spirit under the divine impulse of the
universal Fatherhood of God.

The real religious basis is that he serves God best who serves man best,
and the coming of the kingdom of God is concomitant with the coming of
the kingdom of man.

The claim of infallibility is always suspicious, and there is no
finality in religious truth and progress; and it cannot be doubted that
the religion of the nineteenth century is as great an improvement upon
the religion of the first as our civilization, science, commerce, and
the mechanic arts are superior. Prof. Max Müller, of the orthodox
University of Oxford, well says: “The elements and roots of religion
were there as far back as we can trace the history of man, and the
history of religion, like the history of language, shows us throughout a
succession of new combinations of the same radical elements.” In no
system of religion is the principle of combination, of previously
existing forms of creed and conduct, so apparent as in the Christian
religion. It is the best because it is the latest of the great
religions, and contains the best selections and combinations of all
previously existing ones, Jewish and pagan.

Our faith in the sublime moral precepts of Christianity is increased and
strengthened as we realize that they are thousands of years old, that
they are the accumulated products of the ages—an evolution from the
consummated wisdom of all previously existing religionists of all times
and countries. God’s real revelations to man are from within, and they
would not be any more divine if they were from without. Of nothing can
we be so sure as that God will take care of his own eternal truth, and
cause it to shine forth with more radiant splendor as knowledge shall
increase and true science shall learn to read more intelligently the
records of the divine character and will in the infallible book of

Ecclesiastical tomtits may twitter and flutter, and theological owls may
look solemn and wise and hoot out their gloomy forebodings, but the true
ark of Nature’s covenant is safe.:

    “Ever the truth comes uppermost,
    And ever is justice done.”

The only safe position, because it is the only true one, is that there
is a God in the universe, and that it is the divine order to make known
his will by slow and uniform processes, and not by sudden and miraculous

The principle of evolution is just as true in its application to moral
and spiritual things as it is in regard to the material world, and
another Darwin will some day arise who will demonstrate the fact.
Indeed, this field is “ripe for the harvest,” as several new sciences,
not dreamed of until within a half century past, are revealing facts and
establishing principles which are sure to consign the old
supernaturalism to regions of superstition and priestcraft.


_“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”—John


SINCE preparing Chapter XI., on _The Ideal Christ_, and quoting freely
from Mr. Gerald Massey regarding the Gnostics, some doubts have been
suggested as to the soundness of his views. We have therefore carefully
reviewed this matter, and can find no reason to abate one tittle from
the conclusions presented by this painstaking and able writer.

The word _gnosis_, meaning _knowledge_, does not apply exclusively to a
party or sect The Gnostics were not distinguished from Christians at
first by sectarian lines. The Epistles of Paul, both genuine and
spurious, recognize the gnosis, and there were Gnostic sects, as well as
individual Gnostics, both before and after the Christian era. The gnosis
consisted in knowing, and mainly in not accepting as historical and
literal what was really only allegorical. The chief Gnostic sects held
as _secret_ their essential doctrines, and at the same time they had an
exoteric statement which they gave to the common people. Even Paul, who
seems to have been a first-class Gnostic, preached one gospel publicly
to the Gentiles, and another which he gave “privately to them that were
of reputation” (Gal. 2: 2). His teachings were highly _Cabalistic_, and
he seems to have delighted in “mysteries.” He had no conference with any
of the other apostles as to what he should teach, but went to Arabia,
where he doubtless met the Essenean brotherhood, and probably learned
from them instead of the Judean teachers. The Essenes were famous for
the cultivation of sacred literature, and had their _personified_
Christ, as we have reason to believe. Mr. C. Staniland Wake thinks, with
good reason, that the Essenes were Mithrasts, and that they worshipped
the sun, and Mithras, the Persian savior, was a personification of the
sun. The Essenes, according to Josephus, treated the sun with great
veneration, and offered certain prayers early in the morning, as if they
made supplication for its rising. The Essenes and Mithrasts were
Gnostics in that they held to a personified savior, and not a literal
man of flesh and blood. The symbolism of the universe afforded models
for the secrets of their religion, and their rites were introduced into
every part of the Roman empire—of course including Palestine—and for
nearly four centuries the Mithraic religion wellnigh overshadowed
Christianity. Much that was written of Jesus indicates the
characteristics of the secret initiations. It may appear strange to the
superficially informed when we affirm, as heretofore, that many of those
matters which Paul set forth with such seeming literalness were in fact
mystic and arcane, the transcript of older doctrines, and were made up
throughout of astrological symbolism.

The systems of many ancient peoples centuries before Christianity
contain doctrines and dramatic stories closely analogous to the gospel
story of Jesus. The Neo-Platonists held that these occult rites were
merely a form of representing philosophic thought as if in scenes of
daily life. While Paul refers to certain matters as apparently
historical, he never overlooks their symbolic import. The interpolators
of his writings misrepresented his real views, as is evinced by internal
evidence in the writings themselves.

The fourth Gospel, falsely credited to John, was written for the evident
purpose of opposing the Gnostic doctrine of Jesus not made flesh by
presenting the Neo-Platonic dogma of “the Word made flesh.” In many
places throughout the New Testament there is an implication that there
were those who denied that Jesus came in the flesh: “And every spirit
that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of
God” (1 John 1: 3). In 2 John, 7th verse, it is said: “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.” How does
this comport with the assumption that the existence of the human Jesus
was never doubted in the apostolic age? The ignorant and disingenuous
ecclesiastics who wrote on Gnosticism in early ages always observed one
rule, and that was to represent it as a mere offshoot and corruption of
Christianity, invented because of disappointed ambition by apostates
from the religion established by the apostles. The Rev. Mr. King, in his
_Gnostics, and their Remains_, affirms that such representations “are
entirely false.” The truth is, that Gnosticism did not purport to be a
Christian system, except by a kind of syncretism to reconcile different
faiths. The Neo-Platonists attempted this, and Gnostics did the same on
an analogous plan. The historical existence of Jesus was little else
than a concession made to the unreasoning multitude, while the esoteric
doctrine was so much older as to make such an existence of no possible
account except as a piece of folk-lore to hang illustrations of
doctrines upon. This is the central idea of every branch of Gnosticism.
The forms set forth by different expositors are secondary and
incidental, liable to mislead those who attempt to place them in the
front and draw deductions from them; and hence Saturninus taught that
all that was considered physical in Jesus was only a phantasy, and that
what was from God was spiritual only, and not at all corporeal. As for
the writings of Tatian, they are “lost”—that is, destroyed—and we are
under no obligations to accept what his enemies have said of them. The
period was one in which calumny, slander, and forgery were the rule, as
well as the main dependence for refuting an adversary. We know nothing
of Cerinthus except through Epiphanius, whose reputation for truth and
veracity is so bad that he would make falsehood appear like truth by his
manner of telling it. Our evidence respecting Cerinthus comes chiefly
from Epiphanius, who once professed to be a Gnostic (Macosian), and
afterward turned Catholic, and, Judas-like, betrayed some scores of his
former associates, including seventy women, to the persecuting civil

The Ophites were certainly mystics, and read everything concerning Jesus
as a sacred allegory. Many think that _Christos_ was with them
_Chrëstos_, the good, the incarnation and associate of Sophia, “the
wisdom from on high.” The “wisdom religion” was extensively symbolized.
Pythagoras named his esoteric doctrine the _gnosis_ or “knowledge,” and
Plato used a similar expression to indicate the “interior knowledge.”
Marcion was evidently Persian and used Mithraic symbolism. The
ceremonials of Mithraism (red-cap Christians) and astral rites were
adopted by the Catholic Church, besides many other rites of paganism.
The Jewish _Cabala_ and the Gnostics had much in common. The Sethites
were of Jewish origin, and they held that Seth was the son of Sophia,
who had filled him with the divine gnosis, and that his descendants were
a spiritual race.

The Mandaites were Gnostics, as their name indicates, and they found in
the system the older type of doctrine which obtained in Mesopotamia and
in the old and elaborate Babylonian religion. This is seen from the fact
that the names of the old pantheon were adopted.

The variety of legends regarding Jesus show that he was not an
historical character. Deriving the bulk of their theosophy from beyond
the Euphrates, and even much from beyond the Indus, the early
ecclesiastics changed names, but retained their original ideas. Nearly
all Christian festivals are the equivalents of pagan observances, as is
well known. Prof. F. W. Newman denounces the assertions of Tischendorf
and Canon Westcott, concerning the Gnostics as “unworthy of scholars,
and only calculated to mislead readers, who most generally are ignorant
of the actual facts in in the case.” “The uncritical and inaccurate
character of the Fathers rendered them peculiarly liable to be misled by
forgone conclusions.”

Oriental Christianity and Parseeism furnish a striking example of
religious syncretism. In the Gnostic basis itself it is not difficult to
recognize the general features of the religion of ancient Babylon, and
thus we are brought nearer to a solution of the problem as to the real
origin of Gnosticism in general.

Dr. John Tulloch, principal of St. Andrew’s University and the writer of
the article on the Gnostics in the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ (ninth
edition), truly says: “The sources of Gnosticism are to be found in
diverse forms of religion and speculative culture antecedent to
Christianity, especially in the theology of the Alexandrian Jews as
represented in the writings of Philo, and again in the influences
flowing from the old Persian or Zarathustrian religion and the
Buddhistic faiths of the East.” He also says it is “the fact that the
spirit of Gnosticism and the language which it afterward developed were
in the air of the apostolic age, and that the last thing to seek in the
early Fathers is either accuracy of chronology or a clear sequence of

In Appletons’ New _American Cyclopedia_, under the title “Gnostics,” it
is said: “The Gnostics numbered two classes—the select few who were
admitted to the divine secrets, and the large class of common believers
who were not able to rise above the physical condition.” The point is
that the Gnostics had a _secret doctrine_ which their adversaries did
not know. The recognition of Jesus as an actual person was only
apparent, and hence different people differed in that respect. The
doctrine came from the far East, and teachers only sought to harmonize
it with the new worship, as they also did with Mithraism. The real
Gnostics were the spiritual men of the times, and mere externalists
could not understand them. It would be amusing if it were not so serious
to see men often affecting great learning, themselves not professing
orthodoxy, yet vehement for what can only be called Roman
ecclesiasticism. “The letter killeth,” and “the wise shall understand.”

Many writers on Gnosticism seem to know no more than the cock on the
dunghill knows of the jewels that lie before him. The fact is, that the
writings of the so-called Fathers, and of the New Testament itself, have
come down to us percolated through Roman sacerdotalism, and must be
taken with many grains of allowance. There were many men named Jesus at
the commencement of the Christian era, but that a Jesus was crucified
and rose from the dead is not supported by a particle of evidence. The
anonymous author of the great English book, _Supernatural Religion_, has
shown how utterly valueless the Gospels are as sources of evidence; and
where else shall we look for an historical Jesus? We can have no faith
in historical “phantoms,” “aions,” and “illusions.” Neither pagan nor
Jewish contemporaneous history gives any countenance to the orthodox
claim of a personal, crucified, and risen Jesus.


The Gospels were doubtless compiled nearly two hundred years after the
beginning of the Christian era from the mythological and superstitious
lore that was then circulating in great abundance; and Christ himself is
only a mythological personage who, if such a person ever had any
existence at all, existed many centuries before the Christian era, and
was very different from the Christ of the Gospels, being originally
Æsculapius or some other character of the like fame, and serving only as
the basis of the Christian fable. It is certain that the primitive
teachers of Christianity converted to their own purposes the writings of
ancient poets and philosophers, mixing together the Oriental Gnosticism
and Greek philosophy, and palming them on the world in a new form as
things especially revealed to themselves.

It may further be remarked that at a most early period of the Christian
era there appears to have been great doubts as to the real existence of
Christ. The Manichees, as Augustine informs us, denied that he was a
man, while others maintained that he was a man, but denied that he was a
God (August. Serm. xxxvii. c. 12). There is, therefore, considerable
force in the expressions of a modern writer that the being of no other
individual mentioned in history ever labored under such a deficiency of
evidence as to its reality, or ever was overset by a thousandth part of
the weight of positive proof that it was a creation of imagination only,
as that of Jesus Christ. His existence as a man has, from the earliest
day on which it can be shown to have been asserted, been earnestly and
strenuously denied; and that not by the enemies of the Christian faith,
but by the most intelligent, most learned, and most sincere of the
Christian name who have left to the world proofs of their intelligence
and learning in their writings and of their sincerity in their
sufferings. The existence of no individual of the human race that was
real and positive was ever by a like conflict of jarring evidence
rendered equivocal and uncertain. Nothing, however, is more common than
for some persons to assume an air of contempt, and to cry out that those
who deny that such a person as Jesus of Nazareth ever existed are
utterly unworthy of being answered. It is, truly, very convenient for
them thus to shelter themselves by assuming his existence as
incontrovertible, instead of fairly meeting historical facts which, to
say the least, render his existence very problemetical. It is to no
purpose to urge that it might as well be denied that no such a person as
Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte ever existed as to set at
defiance the evidence of the existence of Jesus. For the existence of
neither Alexander nor Napoleon was miraculous, and there never was on
earth one other real personage whose existence, as a real personage, was
denied and disclaimed even as soon as ever it was asserted, as was the
case with respect to the assumed personality of Christ. But the only
common character that runs through the whole body of the evidence of
heretics is, that they, one and all, from first to last, deny the
existence of Jesus Christ as a man, and, professing their faith in him
as a God and Saviour, yet uniformly and consistently hold the whole
story of his life and actions to be allegorical. The very earliest
Christian writings that have come down to us are of a controversial
character and written in attempted refutation of heresies. These
heresies must therefore have been of so much earlier date and prior
prevalence; they could not have been considered of sufficient
consequence to have called (as they seem to have done) for the entire
devotion and enthusiastic zeal of the orthodox party to extirpate or
keep them under, if they had not acquired deep root and become of
serious notoriety—an inference which leads directly to the conclusion
that they were of anterior origination to any date that has hitherto
been ascribed to the Gospel history.

In accordance with the notion that Christ was a phantom, the writer of
the Commentaries which are attributed to Clement of Alexandria,
apparently quoting from the Gospel of Nicodemus, tells us that an
apostle  attempted to touch the body of Christ, but in so doing found no
hardness of flesh and met with no resistance from it, although he thrust
his hand into the inner part of it. A similar idea is conveyed by Luke
where he says that Christ _vanished_ out of the sight of his disciples,
but yet shortly after stood in the midst of them—a notion consistent
only with that of an apparition (Luke 24: 31, 36). Similar remarks may
be made on the words of Christ to Thomas and Mary; to the latter he
says, “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father that is, I
am not to be felt;” and to the former he says, “Reach hither thy hand,
and thrust it into my side” (John 20:17, 27). Both these expressions,
contradictory as they are with regard to Jesus, still show that the
writer knew something of the notion entertained that Christ was a
_phantom_. Luke (24: 37, 39) also has words proving the same point,
where he says that the disciples, when they saw Christ after his
resurrection, thought they had seen a spirit and that he told them to
handle him. Marcion of Pontus, who flourished about A. D. 127, believed
Christ not to have been born of a virgin and to have grown up gradually,
but that he took the form of a man and _appeared_ as a man without being
born, and at once showed himself in Galilee in full maturity. Manes
also, according to the testimony of Socrates and others, “denied that
Christ was ever really born or had real human flesh, but asserted that
he was a mere phantom.” (See Lardner’s _Credibility_, vol. ii. p. 141.)
For men who entertained this notion of “the person of Christ,” his
sufferings, death, and resurrection were of course a delusion—were only
in appearance. Thus, according to Father Apelles, who wrote about A. D.
160, Christ was _not born_, nor was his body like ours, but consisted of
aërial and ethereal particles. Very probably, Apelles did not think it
unlikely that a body composed of such subtile matter as this should rise
from the grave and be capable of passing not only through the smallest
aperture, but even through solid matter. Barnabas, the companion of
Paul, in his Gospel had another way of disposing of the question of the
resurrection—namely, by denying that Christ was crucified at all, but
was taken up into the third heaven by four angels; that it was Judas
Iscariot who was crucified in his stead; and that Christ will not die
till the very end of the world (Toland’s _Nazarenus_, Letter i. chap. v.
p. 17.) The _Basilidians_, about the commencement of the second century,
disposed in a similar manner of the miracle of the resurrection by
asserting that it was not Christ, but Simon of Cyrene, who was crucified
instead of Jesus.

Such are some of the various opinions of the origin of the story of
Christ’s resurrection. They are placed before the reader that he may
have a choice of theories. After matured reflection, however, he will,
most probably, come to the conclusion that this tale originated in the
same manner as “The Gospel of the Birth of Mary,” “The Gospels of the
Infancy of Christ,” “The Gospel of Nicodemus,” the epistolary
correspondence of Christ and Abgarus, of the Virgin Mary and Ignatius,
together with hundreds of other similar productions of the ages when
facts were not so much appreciated as fables in the form of books. If he
arrive at this conclusion, he will see no reason to believe that such a
personage as the Christ of the Gospels was ever crucified, much less
raised from the dead.


It is amusing to observe how, in ancient times, the dark, enigmatical,
and allegorical style was practised, particularly in the East, by all
public teachers, both Jews and Gentiles. By this means they explained
away the fabulous tales current regarding their gods, and discoursed on
every branch of knowledge known to them. They deemed religion a mystery
not to be publicly explained, and always delivered its dogmas clothed in
dark allegories (_Oie. de Nat. Deor. lib. ii. iii.; Spencer de Legibus
Heb., p. 182; Clerici Hist. Eccles.,_ p. 23). The Egyptians and
Chaldeans were noted for their dark sayings (_Simon Hist crû. des
Comment_, p. 4). Gale (_Opuscula Mythologica_) gives an account of
several ancient books expressly written as instructions to interpret
allegories. The Greek poets, Homer not excepted, are by their scholiasts
regarded as treating of their gods in a mystical style. The Stoic
philosophers dressed the whole heathen theology in allegorical language
(_Cic. de Nat. Deor_., lib. ii.). The Pythagorean philosophy was taught
in enigmatical expressions, the meaning of which was studiously
concealed from the vulgar mind, and revealed even to the initiated only
gradually as their years of maturity were thought to qualify them for
its reception. Plato and his followers in the groves of Academia
practised the same mode of teaching religion, especially theogony. The
writings attributed to Paul the apostle, as has been shown, are replete
with mystical and enigmatical expressions. This he confesses, saying
that he spoke “the wisdom of God in a mystery,” “comparing spiritual
things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2: 7, 13). Accordingly, he regards the
history of Isaac and Ishmael as an allegory (Gal. 4: 22-25), which he
condescends to explain. The primitive Fathers of Christianity pursued
the same mode of communicating instruction and of defending their
religion against the pagans. Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria,
Irenæus, Tertullian, Origen, all of them, were very expert in this
occult system, in imitation of the heathen philosophers, by whom most of
them had been educated. Eusebius (_Hist. Eccles_.y lib. vi. c. 19),
citing what he is pleased to call the assertions of Porphyry, writes
that Origen, having been educated in Greek literature, intermingled it
with the fictions of Christianity, that he dealt in the works of Plato,
Numenius, Cranius, Apollophanes, Longinus Moderatus, Nico-machus,
Chæremon, and Cornutus, and that he derived from these pagan authors the
allegorical mode of interpretation usual in the mysteries of the Greeks,
and applied it to the Jewish Scriptures. Thus, Origen’s mode of teaching
was identical with that of the pagans—a mode commended even by the
learned Dodwell (_Letters of Advice_, etc., p. 208), who says that the
pagan mystical arts of concealment are of use toward understanding the
Scriptures. The Jewish rabbis also delivered their doctrines in the same
obscure and mystical manner, as their Talmud, Cabala, Gemara, and other
books, besides what we call the Hebrew Scriptures, amply show. The
religious teachers of all the nations of antiquity thus delighting in
dark sayings, it is therefore by no means wonderful that the writers of
the Gospels, whoever they were, attribute similar enigmas to Jesus. This
accounts, in a measure, for the obscurity of the Gospels, while,
however, it traces their origin to a pagan source.


It is in perfect harmony with what has long ago been demonstrated by
some of the most critical writers, not only in English, but also in
other languages—namely, that the New Testament has been collected by
Eclectic monks—particularly Egyptian monks of Jewish extraction
connected with the Alexandrian college—from various legendary tales and
other documents then afloat, which they modified to answer their own
purposes, and which since their time have been considerably altered to
suit the requirements of different religious communities.

The Christian apologists of the second and third centuries evinced no
lack of knowledge on this point. Justin Martyr, as already cited, in
addressing a Roman emperor, says that the Christians, by declaring Jesus
to be the Son of God, born of a virgin, said no more than the Romans
said of those whom they styled the 24 sons of Jupiter, such as Mercury,
Bacchus, Hercules, Pollux, and Castor; and as to Jesus, he repeats,
having been born of a virgin, the pagans had their Perseus, son of Jove
and the virgin Danaë, to balance this feature. Creusa, daughter of
Erectheus, was visited by the god Apollo, and in consequence became the
mother of the god Janus. A Chinese virgin by means of the rays of the
sun—regarded as a deity—became the mother of the god Fo, who acted as a
mediator between his followers and another superior god. The Hindoo
virgin Rohini in like miraculous manner gave birth to a god, one of the
Brahman trinity. Another Hindoo virgin, Devaci, as already observed,
having had an intercourse with the deity Yasudeva, became the mother of
an incarnate god whose name was Chrishna; whose birth was announced by
the appearance of a new star; whose life, when an infant, was sought in
vain by the reigning tyrant of the country; whose principal exploits
were killing a terrible serpent, holding a mountain on the tip of his
finger, washing the feet of the Brahmans, saving multitudes by his
miraculous power, raising many from the dead, dying to save the world
from sin and darkness, rising from the dead, and then ascending to his
heavenly seat in Vaicontha (Sir Wm. Jones’s Asiatic Researches, vol. i.
pp. 259-273). Somonocodom, who, according to the sacred books of the
Talapoins of Siam, was destined to save the world, was another personage
who had a virgin mother. The followers of Plato about two hundred years
after his death, but more than a century before the Christian era,
reported that he had been born of a virgin.

The most ancient Alexandrian chronicles, which furnish ample proofs of
the universal prevalence of our gospel religion in Egypt for ages before
the Christian era, testify as follows: “To this day Egypt has
consecrated the pregnancy of a virgin and the nativity of her son, whom
they annually present in a cradle to the adoration of the people; and
when King Ptolemy, three hundred and fifty years before our Christian
era, demanded of the priests the significancy of this religious
ceremony, they told him it was a mystery.” (See _Christian Mythology
Unveiled_, p. 94.)

Indeed, the fabulous lore of ancient times is teeming with the amours of
gods with virgins and the results thereof. Some writers have intimated
that such births were the consequences of the artful intrigues of the
pagan priests with holy virgins; but Dupuis, Albert, Alphonso,
Boulanger, and others have clearly shown “that these and similar tales,
which are revolting to common sense if taken literally, were originally,
in Oriental learning, astronomical and other allegories, conveying the
most sublime truths then known touching the revolutions of the heavenly
bodies and other physical and moral facts, while their meaning in after
ages was gradually perverted to answer other ends.”


It is a most remarkable fact that in none of the Epistles is there any
mention made of the various wonderful things narrated in the Gospels as
having been said and done by Christ. Indeed, there is scarcely an
allusion made in them to those astounding details with which every page
of the Gospels is replete. No mention is made in them of what the
Gospels state that Christ declared _regarding the day of
judgment_—nothing about Christ’s preternatural birth, his baptism, his
temptation by Satan, his denunciations of the different existing sects,
his precepts, his parables, his intimate acquaintance with publicans,
with Magdalene, with Mary and other women. Not one of his miracles is
detailed, and nothing is said of the marvellous circumstances which
attended his crucifixion and death, such as the sun darkening, the earth
quaking, the temple rending, rocks cleaving asunder, graves opening, the
dead rising and walking the streets of Jerusalem. These are matters
which, one would imagine, should occupy a very prominent position in all
the Epistles—should be relied upon by the writers respectively as facts
with which to attest and establish the truth of their doctrines, and
which would, of themselves, suffice to convince and convert the most
incredulous and obdurate mind. In the Epistles ascribed to Peter, James,
and John, who are said to have been eye- and ear-witnesses of what
Christ did and said, one would expect, certainly, to find frequent
details of the marvellous things said of Jesus in the Gospels. But Peter
does not so much as allude to the keys of heaven and hell which the
Gospels say were given him to keep, nor even to the fact that Jesus,
walking on the sea, enabled him also to do so and saved him from
drowning. Neither does he tell those to whom he writes that Jesus
conferred his blessing upon him when he pronounced him “the Christ, the
Son of the living God;” nor that Jesus, after he had suspiciously asked
him three times whether he loved him, and had as often received
affirmative answers, charged him to feed his flock. Of course we cannot
expect him to have recorded in his Epistles that Jesus graced him with
the epithet “Satan,” or that he denied the same Jesus thrice. If it was
the son of Zebedee who wrote “the General Epistle of James” (about the
authorship of which Christians have not as yet agreed), it would not
seem too great a tribute to his divine Master for him to refer to some
of his mighty words and deeds which he must have witnessed. Or if the
author is the brother of Jesus (which is not very likely, since all his
relatives except his mother shunned him), he could deplore the fact that
he and his brothers—Joses, Simon, and Judas—_did not believe_ in the
pretensions of their divine brother, Jesus. But the very name of Jesus
is mentioned, and that casually, only thrice in the whole Epistle. John,
“the beloved disciple,” could in one of his Epistles, or at least in
that which it is agreed he wrote—to the confirmation of the genuineness
of Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels—have adverted to that curious
incident of his mother asking Jesus to allow him and his brother James
to sit on each side of him in his kingdom; or could, with a mixture of
joy and sorrow, ruminate on the pleasure he had felt in accompanying
Peter to prepare the last Passover which they had eaten with their
divine Master, and bemoan the fatal disaster which shortly after
overtook his Lord. But he writes not one word about these remarkable
events, or about anything that occurred personally between him and
Jesus. Indeed, the writers of the Epistles totally ignore the contents
of the Gospels. How, then, is this fact to be accounted for? Did the
writers of the Epistles—whoever they were—know anything at all about the
contents of the present Gospels? Are we not entitled to infer that
either the churches, etc. to which these Epistles were addressed were
much older than the date of the Gospels, and even than the time at which
the Christ of the Gospels was born, or that, if the present Gospels then
existed, the authors of the Epistles knew nothing of them?


We have seen that, so limited was the knowledge of Jesus of futurity, he
falsely prophesied the end of the world, the time of his own
resurrection, the perpetual praise of a woman who poured upon him a box
of ointment, and the signs which believers in Christianity would
manifest. We have also seen that a vast number of his precepts and
doctrines were obscure, contradictory, bigoted, absurd, and untrue, and
that much of his conduct was open to criticism. We have further seen
that he was deficient in knowledge of natural philosophy; that he
borrowed the best part of his doctrine from heathen mythology; that his
life, his teaching, and his practices were identical with those of
heathen monks who had preceded him; that, like many other human beings,
he feared death; that neither his own neighbors, nor kinsmen, nor even
his disciples, believed that he was, either in nature or power, superior
to other mortals; and that he himself avowed that the purpose for which
he had been ushered into the world was to send strife, division, fire,
and sword on earth, and to make “brother deliver up brother to death,
and the father the child, and incite children to rise up against their
parents and cause them to be put to death” (Matt. 10: 21).

Such has been the result of our inquiry. But let it not be supposed that
there was nothing to admire in the alleged character and teachings of
the ideal Jesus. There are many exceedingly tender things mingled with
the arrogant and severe. His character, made up from many models, could
not be otherwise than inconsistent and contradictory. It is a perfect
mosaic, but such has been the reverence for Jesus, in view of the
extraordinary claims made for him, that men have closed their eyes to
his imperfections and faults, while they have greatly magnified his
virtues. We have known many persons in our day who as far excelled Jesus
in every noble and manly quality as the civilization and morality of the
nineteenth century are superior to those of the first. It has been well
said that Jesus, whether a person or an impersonation, will continue to
be the leader just so long as he _leads_; but he no longer leads. It is
found (assuming his personality) that he taught nothing but what had
been taught with equal distinctness before him, and that he taught much
not suited to this commercial age and to the wants of this nineteenth
century. While many persons profess to be disciples of Jesus, yet nobody
even pretends to conform their lives to his alleged teachings. Properly
speaking, there is not now a real Christian upon the face of the earth,
as no one attempts to practise the extreme precepts Christ is said to
have laid down in the so-called Sermon on the Mount. What is called
Christianity is proved and admitted to be an evolution from various
religions which were before it. The good in every religion is the same,
and men will go on weeding out the impure and imperfect, the fittest
only surviving. Christianity claims to be an infallible divine
revelation, and that it is complete in itself, and of course admits of
no progress. This is the difficulty between the old orthodoxy and the
new orthodoxy of the creeds. The Church carries no flag of truce. It
says, You _must_ believe! True men answer, We _cannot_ believe the
impossible and the absurd. There can be no doubt as to who will survive
in this struggle for existence. The “spirit of truth” is coming, and it
will “teach in all things.”


_“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without
the shedding of blood there is no remission.”—Heb. 9: 22. “The blood of
Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”—! John 1: 5._

IT would be tedious to quote even one-tenth of the passages from the New
Testament in which salvation is ascribed to the blood of Jesus. Indeed,
from Genesis to Revelation sacrificial blood seems to be the one
prominent theme. The salvation of Christ is emphatically the salvation
by blood, and this idea runs through the whole system of what is called
evangelical theology. Jeremy Taylor wrote about “lapping with the tongue
the blood from the Saviour’s open wounds,” suggesting the well-known
habit of the bloodthirsty dog. But Mr. Taylor was outdone by the late
Rev. Bishop Jesse T. Peck, when he frantically exclaimed, in the
presence of thousands of people at a religious mass-meeting, “We have
not enough _blood_ in our religion. I want to wade in the blood of
Calvary up to my armpits, and _wallow_ in it,” suggesting the well-known
habits of the filthy sow. But the Rev. T. D. Talmage, D. D., capped the
climax when, in his usual rhapsodical style, he exclaimed in a recent
sermon: “It seems to me as if all Heaven were trying to bid in your
soul. The first bid it makes is the tears of Christ at the tomb of
Lazarus; but that is not a high-enough price. The next bid Heaven makes
is the sweat of Gethsemane; but it is too cheap a price. The next bid
Heaven makes seems to be the whipped back of Pilate’s Hall; but it is
not a high-enough price. Can it be possible that Heaven cannot buy you
in? Heaven tries once more. It says: ‘I bid this time for that man’s
soul the torture of Christ’s martyrdom, the blood on his temple, the
blood on his cheek, the blood on his chin, the blood on his hand, the
blood on his side, the blood on his knee, the blood on his foot—the
blood in drops, the blood in rills, the blood in pools coagulated
beneath the cross; the blood that wet the tips of the soldier’s spear,
the blood that plashed warm in the faces of his enemies.’ Glory to God!
that bid wins it! The highest price that was ever paid for anything was
paid for your soul. Nothing could buy it but blood! The estranged
property is bought back. Take it. You have sold yourselves for naught;
and ye shall be redeemed without money.’ O atoning blood, cleansing
blood, life-giving blood, sanctifying blood, glorifying blood of Jesus!
Why not burst into tears at the thought that for thee he shed it—for
thee the hard-hearted, for thee the lost?”

Henry III. of England was presented with a small portion of the blood of
Jesus, said to have been shed upon the cross, and to have been preserved
in a phial, duly attested by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and other
distinguished functionaries as genuine. It was carried in triumph
through the streets of London with rapturous shoutings by a large
procession, from St. Paul’s to Westminster Abbey, and the historian
testifies that it made all England radiant with glory. Indeed, there has
been enough of the so-called genuine blood that was shed on Calvary
given to the faithful to float the largest ship in the navy of Great
Britain. A sufficient quantity of the real cross upon which Jesus is
said to have been crucified has been preserved to erect the largest
temple the world ever contained. There is no end to the superstition on
this subject, all going to show how deep-seated is the credulity which
exists in the popular belief in regard to this matter.

There are many illustrations which might be given of “blood-evocation”
among ancient pagans who regarded blood as the great arcanum of nature.

But what was the _origin_ of the idea that blood is purifying,
cleansing, purging? There is nothing in the thing itself that suggests
this idea. Take a basinful of newly-drawn blood and set it upon the
table before you. It soon coagulates, and emits an offensive odor, so
that you are forced to hurry it from your presence. It is the very
opposite of _cleansing_. If you get a drop upon your finger, you
immediately wash it off. Indeed, some persons cannot stand the sight of
blood, and shrink from its touch as from a deadly poison. There must be
some reason for the idea that in some way blood is suggestive of
cleansing or purifying. Now, we go to _nature_ in search of knowledge.
There is only one phenomenon in which the shedding of blood is a natural
process, and that is when the young girl arrives at the stage of
_pubescence_, and in this case, and in this case only, does it suggest
the idea of _purification_. Before the period approaches nothing can be
more suggestive of the untidy than the unpubescent girl. She is
generally awkward, slouchy, and unattractive. But let the sanguineous
evidence of approaching womanhood appear, and how changed! Her
complexion becomes then most beautiful and bewitching. Her eyes sparkle
with a fire which cannot be described. Her once ungraceful form becomes
lithe, and her whole person changes in such a manner as to indicate that
some great thing has happened. She has been purified or cleansed. She is
a new creature. Old things have passed away. Each succeeding month she
has a similar experience until the full bloom of womanhood has passed

Indeed, we find among the primitive customs of ancient Africans a
special observance of the commencement of the catamenial period. Before
the arrival of the time of periodicity the young girl is of very little
account, and is not numbered as a member of the tribe. It is not
considered indecent for her to run around in a state of nudity until she
is fourteen years of age or until the evidence of pubescence appears.
Stanley says of certain African girls: “They wait with impatience the
day when they can be married and have a cloth to fold around their
bodies.” There was in use among certain ancient people, now worn by
Catholic priests,  an apron known as the _peplum_, which was worn after

The tribal mark and totemic name were conferred in the _baptism of
blood_. A covenant was entered into which was written with menstruous
blood, because blood was the announcer of the female period of
pubescence. From time immemorial the Kaffirs have preserved the custom
of celebrating the first appearance of the menstrual flow. All the young
girls in the neighborhood meet together and make merry on the happy
occasion. We are told by Irenæus how the feminine _Logos_ was
represented in the mysteries of Marcus, and the wine was supposed to be
miraculously turned into blood, and Charis, who was superior to all
things, was thought to infuse her own blood into the cup. The cup was
handed to the women, who also consecrated it with an effusion of blood
proceeding from themselves.

It would seem that the blood of Charis preceded the blood of Christ, and
it is doubtful whether there would have been any cleansing by the blood
of Christ if there had been no purification by the blood of Charis. Thus
Nature’s rubrics are written in _red_. The Eucharist is derived by
Clement of Alexandria from the mixture of the water and the Word, and he
identifies the Word with the blood of the grape. We give these delicate
hints for what they are worth.

We have a deep conviction that the conception of the idea of
purification by blood had at first some connection with the natural
issue of blood at the commencement of periodicity in the female. In the
Eleusinian Mysteries, celebrated by pagans centuries before the paschal
supper of the Jews or the Lord’s Supper of Christians, the element of
blood was very conspicuously set forth, and Higgins has shown in his
_Anaealypsis_ that the sacrifice of bread and wine in religious
ceremonies was common among many ancient peoples, the wine representing
the blood.

In 1885 a very remarkable book appeared, entitled _The Blood Covenant_,
by Rev. H. Clay Trumbull, D. D., and we have obtained the consent of
this author (whom we have the honor to recognize as an old and very dear
personal friend) “to use anything we please, in any way we please,
without giving any credit.” For this permission we are truly thankful,
though we only avail ourself of a few of the facts bearing upon the
point concerning which we write.

Our author says: “One of these primitive rites, which is deserving of
more attention than it has yet received, as throwing light on many
important phases of Bible-teaching, is the rite of blood-covenanting—a
form of mutual covenanting by which two persons enter into the closest,
the most enduring, and the most sacred of compacts as friends and
brothers, or as more than brothers, through the intercommingling of
their blood by means of its mutual tasting or of its transfusion. This
rite is still observed in the unchanging East; and there are historic
traces of it from time immemorial in every quarter of the globe, yet it
has been strangely overlooked by biblical critics and biblical
commentators generally in these later centuries.

“Although now comparatively rare, in view of its responsibilities and of
its indissolubleness, this covenant is sometimes entered into by
confidential partners in business or by fellow-travelers; again, by
robbers on the road, who would themselves rest fearlessly on its
obligations, and who could be rested on within its limits, however
untrustworthy they or their fellows might be to any other compact. Yet,
again, it is the chosen compact of loving friends—of those who are drawn
to it only by mutual love and trust.

“There are, indeed, various evidences that the the of blood-covenanting
is reckoned in the East even a closer tie than that of natural
descent—that a ‘friend’ by this tie is nearer and is dearer, ‘sticketh
closer’ than a ‘brother’ by birth. We in the West are accustomed to say
that ‘ blood is thicker than water,’ but the Arabs have the idea that
blood is thicker than a mother’s milk. With them, any two children
nourished at the same breast are called ‘milk-brothers’ or ‘sucking
brothers;’ and the tie between such is very strong.

“Lucian, the bright Greek thinker, writing in the middle of the second
century of our era, is explicit as to the nature and method of this
covenant as then practised in the East: ‘And this is the manner of it:
Thereupon, cutting our fingers, all simultaneously, we let the blood
drop into a vessel, and, having dipped the points of our swords into it,
both of us holding them together, we drink it. There is nothing which
can loose us from one another after that.’

“Yet, a little while earlier than Lucian, Tacitus gives record of this
rite of blood-brotherhood as practised in the East. He makes an
explanation: ‘It is the custom of Oriental kings, as often as they come
together to make covenant, to join right hands, to tie the thumbs
together, and to tighten them with a knot. Then, when the blood is thus
pressed to the finger-tips, they draw blood by a light stroke and lick
it in turn. This they regard as a divine covenant, made sacred, as it
were, by mutual blood or blended lives.’

“Sallust, the historian of Catiline’s conspiracy against Rome, says:
‘There were those who said at that time that Catiline at this
conference, when he inducted them into the oath of partnership in crime,
carried round in goblets human blood mixed with wine, and that, after
all had tasted of it with an imprecatory oath, as is men’s wont in
solemn rites, he opened to them his plans.’ Florus, a later Latin
historian, describing this conspiracy, says: ‘There was added the pledge
of the league—human blood—which they drank as it was borne round to them
in goblets.’ And yet later Tertullian suggests that it was their own
blood, mingled with wine, of which the fellow-conspirators drank
together. ‘Concerning the eating of blood and other such tragic dishes,’
he says, ‘you read that blood drawn from the arms and tasted by one
another was the method of making covenant among certain nations.’

“As far back even as the fifth century before Christ we find an explicit
description of this Oriental rite of blood-covenanting. ‘Now, the
Scythians,’ says Herodotus, ‘make covenants in the following manner,
with whomsoever they make them: Having poured out wine into a great
earthen drinking-bowl, they mingle with it the blood of those making
covenant, striking the body with a small knife or cutting it slightly
with a sword. Thereafter they dip into the bowl sword, arrows, axe, and
javelin. But while they are doing this they utter many invokings, and
afterward not only those who make the covenant, but those of their
followers who are of the highest rank, drink off the wine mingled with

“Again, Herodotus says of this custom in his day: ‘Now, the Arabians
reverence in a very high degree pledges between man and man. They make
these pledges in the following way: When they wish to make pledges to
one another, a third man, standing in the midst of the two, cuts with a
sharp stone the inside of the hands along the thumbs of the two making
the pledges. After that, plucking some woollen from the garments of each
of the two, he anoints with the blood seven stones as the “heap of
witness” which are set in the midst. While he is doing this he invokes
Dionysus and Urania. When this rite is completed, he that has made the
pledges introduces the stranger to his friends, or the fellow-citizen to
his fellows if the rite was performed with a fellow-citizen.

“Going back, now, to the world’s most ancient records in the monuments
of Egypt, we find evidence of the existence of the covenant of blood in
those early days. So far was this symbolic thought carried that the
ancient Egyptians spoke of the departed spirit as having entered into
the nature, and, indeed, into the very being, of the gods by the rite of
tasting blood from the divine arm.

“‘The Book of the Dead,’  as it is commonly called, is a group, or
series, of ancient Egyptian writings representing the state and the
needs and the progress of the soul after death. A copy of this funereal
ritual, ‘more or less complete according to the fortune of the deceased,
was deposited in the case of eveiy mummy. ‘As the Book of the Dead is
the most ancient, so it is undoubtedly the most important of the sacred
books of the Egyptians;’ it is, in fact, ‘according to Egyptian notions,
essentially an inspired work;’ hence its contents have an exceptional
dogmatic value. In this book there are several obvious references to the
rite of blood-covenanting. Some of these are in a chapter of the ritual
which was found transcribed in a coffin of the eleventh dynasty, thus
carrying it back to a period prior to the days of the patriarchs.

“‘Give me your arm; I am made as ye,’  says the departed soul, speaking
to the gods. Then, in explanation of this statement, the pre-historic
gloss of the ritual goes on to say: ‘The blood is that which proceeds
from the member of the Sun after he goes along cutting himself,’  the
covenant blood which unites the soul and the god is drawn from the flesh
of Ra when he has cut himself in the rite of that covenant. By this
covenant-cutting the deceased becomes one with the covenanting gods.
Again, the departing soul, speaking as Osiris—or as the Osirian, which
every mummy represents—says: ‘I am the soul in his two halves.’ This was
at least two thousand years before the days of the Greek philosopher.
How much earlier it was recognized does not appear.

“Moreover, a ‘red talisman,’  or red amulet, stained with ‘the blood of
Isis,’  and containing a record of the covenant, was placed at the neck
of the mummy as an assurance of safety to his soul.  ‘When this book
[this amulet-record] has been made,’ says the ritual, ‘it causes Isis to
protect him.’ ‘If this book is known,’ says Horus, ‘he [the deceased] is
in the service of Osiris.... His name is like that of the gods.’”

Dr. Trumbull properly remarks:

“Thus in ancient Egypt, in ancient Canaan, in ancient Mexico, in modern
Turkey, in modern Russia, in modern India, and in modern Otaheite, in
Africa, in Asia, in America, in Europe, and in Oceanica, blood-giving
was life-giving. Life-giving was love-showing. Love-showing was a
heart-yearning after union in love and in life and in blood and in very
being. That was the primitive thought in the primitive religions of all
the world.

“An ancient Chaldean legend, as recorded by Bero-sus, ascribes a new
creation of mankind to the mixture by the gods of the dust of the earth
with the blood that flowed from the severed head of the god Belus. ‘On
this account it is that men are rational and partake of divine
knowledge,’ says Berosus. The blood of the god gives them the life and
nature of a god. Yet, again, the early Phœnician and the early Greek
theogonies, as recorded by Sanchoniathon and by Hesiod, ascribe the
vivifying of mankind to the outpoured blood of the gods. It was from the
blood of Ouranos, or of Saturn, dripping into the sea and mingling with
its foam, that Venus was formed, to become the mother of her heroic
posterity. ‘The Orphies, which have borrowed so largely from the East,’
says Lenormant, ‘said that the immaterial part of man, his soul, his
life, sprang from the blood of Dionysus Zagreus, whom... Titans had torn
to pieces, partly devouring his members.’

“Homer explicitly recognizes this universal belief in the power of blood
to convey life and to be a means of revivifying the dead.

“Indeed, it is claimed, with a show of reason, that the very word
(_surquinu_) which was used for ‘altar’ in the Assyrian was primarily
the word for ‘table’—that, in fact, what was known as the ‘altar’ to the
gods was originally the table of communion between the gods and their

From the writings of Livingstone, the African explorer, as well as from
the reports of Stanley, it appears that the custom of blood-covenanting
is kept up in Africa in these modern times.

Describing the ceremony, Livingstone says: “It is accomplished thus: The
hands of the parties are joined (in this case Pitsane and Sambanza were
the parties engaged). Small incisions are made on the clasped hands, on
the pits of the stomach of each, and on the right cheeks and foreheads.
A small quantity of blood is taken from these points, in both parties,
by means of a stalk of grass. The blood from one person is put into a
pot of beer, and that of the second into another; each then drinks the
other’s blood, and they are supposed to become perpetual friends or
relations. During the drinking of the beer some of the party continue
beating the ground with short clubs and utter sentences by way of
ratifying the treaty.”

The primitive character of these customs is the more probable from the
fact that Livingstone first found them existing in a region where, in
his opinion, the dress and household utensils of the people are
identical with those represented on the monuments of ancient Egypt.

Concerning the origin of this rite in this region, Cameron says: “This
custom of  making brothers, I believe to be really of Semitic origin.”

Henry M. Stanley, who was sent to rescue Livingstone, gives many
interesting accounts of his experience with the blood-covenanters. In
1871, Stanley encountered the forces of Mirambo, the greatest of African
warriors. They agreed to make “strong friendship” with each other. The
ceremony is thus described:

“Manwa Sera, Stanley’s ‘chief captain,’ was requested to seal our
friendship by performing the ceremony of blood-brotherhood between
Mirambo and myself. Having caused us to sit fronting each other on a
straw carpet, he made an incision in each of our right legs, from which
he extracted blood, and, interchanging it, he exclaimed aloud, ’If
either of you break this brotherhood now established between you, may
the lion devour him, the serpent poison him, bitterness be in his food,
his friends desert him, his gun burst in his hands and wound him, and
everything that is bad do wrong to him until death.’” The same blood now
flowed in the veins of both Stanley and Mirambo. They were friends and
brothers in a sacred covenant—life for life. At the conclusion of the
covenant they exchanged gifts, as the customary ratification or
accompaniment of the compact. They even vied with each other in proofs
of their unselfish fidelity in this new covenant of friendship.

Again and again, before and after this incident, Stanley entered into
the covenant of blood-brotherhood with representative Africans more than
fifty times, in some instances by the opening of his own veins; at other
times by allowing one of his personal escort to bleed for him.

Thus we see that in ancient and modern times, among all people and in
all portions of the earth, this idea of blood-friendship prevailed. In
the primitive East, in the wild West, in the cold North, and in the
torrid South this rite shows itself. “It will be observed,” says Dr.
Trumbull, “that we have already noted proofs of the independent
existence of this rite of blood-brotherhood or blood-friendship among
the three great primitive divisions of the race—the Semitic, the
Hamitic, and the Japhetic; and this in Asia, Africa, Europe, America,
and the islands of the sea; again, among the five modern and more
popular divisions of the human family—Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian,
Malay, and American. This fact in itself would seem to point to a common
origin of its various manifestations in the early Oriental home of the
now scattered peoples of the world.

“The Egyptian amulet of blood-friendship was red, as representing the
blood of the gods. The Egyptian word for ’red’ sometimes stood for
’blood.’ The sacred directions in the Book of the Dead were written in
red; hence follows our word ‘rubric,’ The Rabbis say that when
persecution forbade the wearing of the phylacteries with safety, a red
thread might be substituted for this token of the covenant with the
Lord. It was a red thread which Joshua gave to Rahab as a token of her
covenant relations with the people of the Lord. The red thread in China
to-day binds the double cup from which the bride and bridegroom drink
their covenant draught of ‘wedding wine,’ as if in symbolism of the
covenant of blood. And it is a red thread which in India to-day is used
to bind a sacred amulet around the arm or the neck. Among the American
Indians scarlet, or red, is the color which stands for sacrifices or for
sacrificial blood in all their picture-painting; and the shrine, or
_tunkan_, which continues to have its devotees, ’is painted red, as a
sign of active or living worship.’ The same is true of the shrines in
India; the color red shows that worship is still living there; red
continues to stand for blood.”

When a Jewish child is circumcised, it is commonly said of him that he
is caused “to enter into the covenant of Abraham and his godfather or
sponsor is called Baal-beerith, master of the covenant.” Moreover, even
down to modern times the rite of circumcision has included a
recognition, however unconscious, of the primitive blood-friendship
rite, by the custom of the a rabbi,  God’s representative, receiving
into his mouth the prepuce or foreskin that is cut from the boy, and
thereby  made a partaker of the blood mingled with the wine according to
the method described among the Orientals, in the rite of
blood-friendship, from the earliest days of history. We make this
statement on the testimony of Buxtorf, who is a recognized authority in
matters of Jewish customs, though he gives it in Latin, with a view of
limiting a knowledge of the facts.

All that we have stated concerning the blood-covenant brings us nearer
and nearer to the disgusting and beastly habit of cannibalism. Dr.
Trumbull says: “It would even seem to be indicated, by all the trend of
historic facts, that cannibalism—gross, repulsive, inhuman
cannibalism—had its basis in man’s perversion of this outreaching of his
nature (whether that outreach-ing were first directed by revelation or
by divinely-given innate promptings) after inter-union and
intercommunion with God, after life in God’s life, and after growth
through the partaking of God’s food or of that food which represents
God. The studies of many observers in widely-different fields have led
both the rationalistic and the faith-filled student to conclude that in
_their_ sphere of observation it was a religious sentiment, and not a
mere animal craving—either through a scarcity of food or from a spirit
of malignity—that was at the bottom of cannibalistic practices there,
even if that field were an exception to the world’s fields generally.
And now we have a glimpse of the nature and workings of that religious
sentiment which prompted cannibalism wherever it has been practised. In
misdirected pursuance of this thought men have given the blood of a
consecrated human victim to bring themselves into union with God; and
then they have eaten the flesh of that victim which had supplied the
blood which made them one with God. This seems to be the basis of fact
in the premises, whatever may be the understood philosophy of the facts.
Why men reasoned thus may indeed be in question. That they reasoned thus
seems evident. Certain it is, that where cannibalism has been studied in
modern times it has commonly been found to have had originally a
religious basis; and the inference is a fair one that it must have been
the same wherever cannibalism existed in earlier times. Even in some
regions where cannibalism has long since been prohibited there are
traditions and traces of its former existence as a purely religious
rite. Thus, in India little images of flour paste or clay are now made
for decapitation or other mutilation in the temples, in avowed imitation
of human beings who were once offered and eaten there.”

Réville, treating of the native religions of Mexico and Peru, comes to a
similar conclusion with Dorman, and he argues that the state of things
which was there was the same the world over, so for as it related to
cannibalism. “Cannibalism,” he says, “which is now restricted to a few
of the savage tribes who have remained closest to the animal life, was
once universal to our race. For no one would ever have conceived the
idea of offering to the gods a kind of food which excited nothing but
disgust and horror.” In this suggestion Réville indicates his conviction
that the primal idea of an altar was a table of blood-bought communion.

There is something that looks very much like cannibalism in the sixth
chapter of John’s Gospel. The Jews murmured that Jesus spoke of himself
as the bread which came down from heaven, and inquired, “How can this
man give us of his flesh to eat? Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily,
verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and
drink his blood ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh
and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the
last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He
that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he
that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. This is the bread
which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers did eat, and died; he
that eateth this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the
synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.”

This was spoken nearly two years before he is said to have instituted
the memorial Supper, and has always been a mystery to commentators,
though they allege that the whole mystery is explained in John 6: 63:

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the
words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” This
seems to be very farfetched indeed—an afterthought. It did not satisfy
some of his disciples, for “from that time many of his disciples went
back, and walked no more with him.”

From this simple idea of securing faithfulness by the transfusion of the
blood of two persons seems to have come the idea of _propitiating_ the
gods by offering them bloody sacrifices. In primitive times, among
barbarous and uncivilized peoples, the conception was universal that the
gods were very much like themselves, and that therefore they would be
pleased with presents. When offended they could be conciliated, and when
some crime had been committed they could be induced to forgive the
transgressor by some valuable offering, such as the first-fruits of the
soil or the most immaculate animals of the flock. This idea of obtaining
favors from the invisible powers was carried to such extremes that for
the honor of humanity we should feel inclined to doubt the monstrous
stories were they not so well attested. The offering of these sacrifices
became so degraded and disgusting by superstition that it ended in the
belief that the deity’s anger could be appeased, his revenge satisfied,
his vanity flattered, and that he could be made generally pleased, by
holocausts of human beings; so that the more costly the sacrifice, the
more certain was the deity to smile upon the donor. The Moloch-worship,
the mother placing the babe in the arms of the monstrous idol and seeing
it burned before her own eyes, seems to exhaust the horrors of human
ingenuity. We have only space to state that these abominations prevailed
over most of the heathen world when the Old-Testament rites and
ceremonies came into use among the Jews. We find the custom of offering
sacrifices in the early pages of Genesis, when it led to the first
murder. Cain’s sacrifice, sacerdotal-ists tell us, was not accepted by
Jehovah because there was no _blood_ in it, as there was in the offering
of Abel. Abraham was about to slay his own son when the blood of a ram
was provided instead; and, in fact, all the Bible patriarchs sacrificed,
and the exodus from Egypt itself was brought about under the pretence
that the people had to go to the desert to offer their accustomed

The Jews borrowed their idea of sacrifice from the heathen, and
sometimes were more heathenish than the heathens themselves. Thousands
and thousands of innocent animals were cruelly butchered for sacrifice,
as the Jews were full of Egyptian reminiscences on one hand and of
Canaanitish modes of worship on the other. It is said that Jehovah
allowed these abominations because of the ignorance of these people and
their hardness of heart, lest they might despise a naked religion and be
dazzled by the imposing ceremonies by which they were surrounded. The
whole system of bloody sacrifices was based upon anthropomorphic
conceptions of their Jehovah, to whom the “agreeable smell” of the blood
was a sweet satisfaction. The Jews adopted the very worst features of
paganism in regard to these bloody sacrifices, which they offered on all
occasions—so much so that their prophets cried out against them and
Jehovah himself denounced them.

The life or blood of the animal was distinctly said to make “the
atonement for the soul.” This notion of a _representative_ victim is one
that belonged to the whole ancient world, as can be seen by reference to
any of the great cyclopaedias. It was _adopted_ by the Jews, not
_revealed_ to them by Jehovah. The scape-goat (Lev. 16) and many other
cases of seemingly expiatory sacrifices are embodiments of this idea,
which was adopted by Christianity directly from Judaism, whose priests
had adopted it from other people.

The practice of bloody offerings was common to Hindoos, Assyrians,
Phœnicians, Greeks, and Northmen. There is a Hindoo ritual for human as
well as for brute animals set forth in _Asiatic Researches_. In
_Fragments of Sanchoniathon_, Kronos sacrifices his “only son” to his
father Ouranos, his “father in heaven.” Agamemnon sacrificed his
daughter, Iphigeneia,

before going to Troy, and Polyxena, daughter of Priam, was immolated on
the tomb of Achilles to his manes. Repeatedly in the Punic wars children
of noble families were burned alive to Æsculapius, god of medicine.
Burning at the stake and hanging upon a gibbet were sacrifices to
appease the divine justice. In short, all bloody sacrifices were
propitiatory, to appease the rage of hunger in a famished god. Blood was
excellent, because its aroma was the vehicle of life, and so afforded
support to life.

In Homer’s _Odyssey_, Ulysses slays animals before the ghosts of Hades,
and these run up to be nourished by the blood. He draws his sword,
rushes upon them, and drives them away. Then, selecting one with whom he
wishes to talk, he feeds him with the invigorating vapor, and the ghost
is then made strong enough to talk.

But none of these sacrifices were strictly vicarious. The old gods were
angry at neglect, but never had the kind of justice that a sheep or goat
or cow could not appease. The Jews were not unfamiliar with human
sacrifices (Lev. 27:28,29; Judg. 11:30-39), and even the early
Christians are said to have offered bloody sacrifices of human beings.
The deification of Jesus to correspond with the apotheosis of other
personages required a divine parentage. This idea was not gotten up
until the second Christian century. Justin made Jesus a second god. But
the earlier Fathers did not connect the notion of the vicarious
atonement with that of original sin and total depravity. Basilides
maintained that penal suffering or suffering for purposes of justice of
necessity implies personal criminality in the sufferer, and therefore
cannot be endured by an innocent person as a substitute.

Prof. Robertson Smith, LL.D., in the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_, in his
learned article on “Sacrifice," says part: “Where we find a practice of
sacrificing honorific gifts to the gods, we usually find also certain
other sacrifices which resemble those already characterized, to be
consumed in sacred ceremony, but differ from them, inasmuch as the
sacrifice—usually a living victim—is not regarded as a tribute of honor
to the god, but has a special or mystic significance. The most familiar
case of this second species of sacrifice is that which the Romans
distinguished from the _hostia honoraria_ by the name of _hostia
piacularis_. In the former case the deity accepts a gift; in the latter,
he demands a life. The former kind of sacrifice is offered by the
worshipper on the basis of an established relation of friendly
dependence on his divine lord; the latter is directed to appease the
divine anger or to conciliate the favor of a deity on whom the
worshipper has no right to count” (vol. xxi. p.. 132).

_Piamlar Sacrifices_.—“The idea of substitution is widespread among all
early religions, and is found in honorific as well as piacular rites. In
all such cases the idea is that the substitute shall imitate as closely
as is possible or convenient the victim whose place it supplies; and so
in piacular ceremonies the god may indeed accept one life for another,
or certain select lives to atone for the guilt of a whole community; but
these lives ought to be of the guilty kin, just as in blood-revenge the
death of any kinsman of the manslayer satisfies justice. Hence such
rites as the Semitic sacrifices of children by their fathers [Moloch],
the sacrifice of Iphigeneia and similar cases among the Greeks, inasmuch
as something is given up by the worshippers [pg 400]nor the offering up
of boys to the goddess Mania at Rome....

“In advanced societies the tendency is to modify the horrors of the
ritual, either by accepting an effusion of blood without actually
slaying the victim—e. g. in the flagellation of the Spartan lads—or by a
further extension of the doctrine of substitution: the Romans, for
example, substituted puppets for the human sacrifices to Mania, and cast
rush dolls into the Tiber, at the yearly atoning sacrifice on the
Sublician Bridge. More usually, however, the life of an animal is
accepted by the god in place of a human life.... Among the Egyptians the
victim was marked with a seal bearing the image of a man bound and
kneeling with a sword at his throat. And often we find a ceremonial
laying of the sin to be expiated on the head of the victim (Herod, ii.
39; Lev. 4: 4, compared with 14: 21).

“In such piacular rites the god demands only the life of the victim,
which is sometimes indicated by a special ritual with the blood (as
among the Hebrews the blood of the sin-offering was applied to the horns
of the altar or to the mercy-seat within the veil), and there is no
sacrificial meal. Thus, among the Greeks the carcase of the victim was
buried or cast into the sea [comp, with most important Hebrew
sin-offerings and sacrifice of children to Moloch—outside the camp or

“When the flesh of the sacrifice is consumed by the priests, as with
certain Roman piacula and Hebrew sin-offerings, the sacrificial flesh is
seemingly a gift accepted by the deity and assigned by him to the
priests, so that the distinction between a honorific and a piacular
sacrifice is partly obliterated. But this is not hard to understand; for
just as a blood-rite takes the place of blood-revenge in human justice,
so an offence against the gods may in certain cases be redeemed by a
fine (e. g. Herod, ii. 65) or a sacrificial gift. This seems to have
been the origin of the Hebrew _trespass-offering_ (p. 136).

“The most curious developments of piacular sacrifice take place in the
worship of deities of the totem type. Here the natural substitute for
the death of a criminal of the tribe is an animal of the kind with which
the worshippers and their god alike count kindred—an animal, that is,
which must not be offered in a sacrificial feast, and which indeed it is
impious to kill. Thus, Hecaté was invoked as a dog, and dogs were her
piacular sacrifices. And in like manner in Egypt the piacular sacrifice
of the cow-goddess Isis-Hathor was a bull, and the sacrifice was
accompanied by lamentations as at the funeral of a kinsman.”

Under the head of _Mystical or Sacramental Sacrifices_—i. e. sacrifices
at initiations and in the _Mysteries_: “According to Julian, the
mystical sacrifices of the cities of the Roman empire were... offered
once or twice a year, and consisted of such victims as the dog of
Hecaté, which might not ordinarily be eaten or used to furnish forth the
tables of the gods.... The mystic sacrifices seem always to have had an
atoning efficacy; their special feature is that the victim is not simply
slain and burned or cast away, but that the worshippers partake of the
body and blood of the sacred animal, and that so his life passes, as it
were, into their lives and knits them to the deity in living communion.

“In the Old Testament the heathen mysteries seem to appear as ceremonies
of initiation by which a man was introduced into a new worship.... But
originally the initiation must have been introduction into a particular
social community.... From this point of view the sacramental rites of
mystical sacrifice are a form of blood-covenant.... In all the forms of
blood-covenant, whether a sacrifice is offered or the veins of the
parties opened and their own blood used, the idea is the same: the bond
created is a bond of kindred, because one blood is now in the veins of
all who have shared the ceremony.”

A learned friend writes me: “I doubt whether a real distinction can be
made between _propitiatory and expiatory_ sacrifices. Propitiation is by
expiation. The basic idea in all sacrifices of that nature appears to be
_substitution_; that is, something taking the place of the offender....
It seems that the basis of all sacrifice is to be found in a
relationship, or _kinship_ (through blood), between the deity—who is
only the representative of the tribal head regarded as still living in
the spirit-world—and the worshipper.

“I may add that the idea of pollution by wrongdoing—i. e. offending the
tribal deity—to be got rid of only by the shedding of blood, is not
unknown to so-called savages. This applies especially to offences
against chastity, as with the Mâlers of Rajmahal, India, and the Dyaks
of Borneo. The pig is the animal usually sacrificed—probably because it
is the most valuable animal food. The Pâdam Abors of Assam look upon all
crimes as public pollutions which require to be washed away by a public
sacrifice. Here we have the idea of cleansing by the application of
blood, and this appears to be the idea also with the Mâlers, and
probably among the aboriginal hill-tribes of India generally.”

Mommsen, the Roman historian, says: “At the very core of the Latin
religion there lay that profound moral impulse which leads men to bring
earthly guilt and earthly punishment into relation with the world of the
gods, and to view the former as a crime against the gods, and the latter
as its expiation. The execution of the criminal condemned to death was
as much an expiatory sacrifice offered to the divinity as was the
killing of an enemy in just war; the thief who by night stole the fruits
of the field paid the penalty to Ceres on the gallows, just as the enemy
paid it to mother earth and the good spirits on the field of battle. The
fearful idea of substitution also meets us here: when the gods of the
community were angry, and nobody could be laid hold of as definitely
guilty, they might be appeased by one who voluntarily gave himself up
(_devovere se_).”

But it was left for Anselm of Canterbury, late in the eleventh century,
to first formulate the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Before this
there seemed to be among the theologians the idea that in some way
Christ came to restore, at least in part, all that was lost in Adam.
During the first four centuries of the Christian era there seems to have
been no fixed opinion as to whether there was a ransom-price paid to God
or the devil. Under the article “Devil " in the Encyclopœdia Britannica
it is said:

“He [the devil] was, according to Cyprian (_De Unitate Ecd_.), the
author of all heresies and delusions: he held man by reason of his sin
in rightful possession, and man could only be rescued from his power by
the ransom of Christ’s blood. This extraordinary idea of a payment or
satisfaction to the devil being made by Christ as the price of man’s
salvation is found both in Irenæus (Adv. Hcer., v. 1. 1.) and in Origen,
and may be said to have held its sway in the Church for a thousand
years. And yet Origen is credited with the opinion that, bad as the
devil was, he was not altogether beyond hope of pardon."

It would be tedious to note the various views that have prevailed among
theologians to the present day. Some hold that the offering was made to
God to satisfy divine justice; others hold that it was a commercial
transaction—so much blood for so many souls; and still others regard the
whole as a governmental display to impress the world with a sense of the
hatefulness of sin. Calvinists seem to think that the atonement was only
made for the elect, but that the blood of Christ had sufficient merit to
save the whole world. Roman Catholics hold that it is the literal,
material blood of Christ that saves the sinner, and hence their extreme
belief in the dogma of _transubstantiation_, the real body and blood of
Jesus being offered in the sacrifice of the Mass, and taken by the
penitent in the Holy Communion. Protestants generally hold to a sort of
consubstantiation—a sort of real presence in the sacrament; while
persons of intelligence profess to believe that this whole theory of
blood-salvation is only to be accepted in a figurative sense. The fact
is, that the whole scheme of vicarious atonement is an ancient
superstition, though taught in the New Testament, and is absurd and
unphilosophical, and false in principle and in practice, as we shall
hereafter show.

We leave altogether out of view the logical conclusion that if the blood
shed by Jesus was the blood of a man, it could have had no more efficacy
than the blood of any other human being, and that if the blood shed was
the blood of a God, the very mention of the thought is absurd and
blasphemous in the extreme. It is nonsense to say that it was the union
of the divine with the human nature that gave the blood of Christ its
peculiar efficacy—that the altar sanctifies the gift for if the blood
was changed by the man being united with the God, it was not human
blood, but the blood of a divine man.

Now, there is no evidence that the blood of Jesus (supposing that he was
crucified) differed in its essential qualities from other human blood.
If analyzed by the chemist, it would have been found to contain only the
constituent particles which belong to human blood. The white and red
corpuscles and other chemical properties would have been found in it.

_The dogma of blood-salvation as held by Romanists is cannibalism, pure
and simple, and as held by Protestants it is sheer superstition, without
one grain of reason to support it._ It has no analogy in nature, nor in
the philosophy of legal jurisprudence as held and practised by the most
enlightened nations of the world.

It seems to us that the doctrine of vicarious atonement is not only
immoral, but demoralizing. It represents God as punishing the innocent
for the guilty to make it possible to forgive the guilty. This is
inconsistent with the eternal principles of justice and rightfulness. It
must have a demoralizing influence upon the mind and conscience of the
sinner, to be told that his sins are already atoned for, and he only
need to be cleansed by the blood of Christ; and this is to be obtained
by simple faith and trust! Believe that Jesus shed his blood for you,
and that he is waiting and anxious to apply it in washing away your
guilt, and it is done! Then as often as you sin afterward you need only
go through the same process to secure pardon! The easiness with which
sins may be blotted out and washed away must have a demoralizing
influence upon uneducated minds, though truly intelligent persons may
not reason in this way. The low state of morals among those who really
believe in this device for the forgiveness of sins may thus be accounted
for. The numerous defalcations and downright thefts among the higher
classes of Christians, and the petty lying and stealing among the great
mass of Catholics and Protestants, are notorious, and can be traced, we
think, to the easy methods of getting rid of the consequencees of
wrong-doing. Our prison-statistics are truly suggestive, and should be
carefully studied. Freethinkers are far in advance of Christians in the
matter of practical morality. Many of those whom the courts exclude as
witnesses, because they do not accept certain religious dogmas, are
pre-eminently truthful, and would sooner die than tell a falsehood. They
do not rely upon the blood of Jesus to wash away the vilest sins and
make them white as snow.

Our statesmen are beginning to find out that our system of _pardon_ is
most pernicious. To relieve from the consequences of wrong-doing through
a divine contrivance of the vicarious sufferings of an innocent person,
and that human disobedience is made all right as to consequences by this
obedience of a divine-human person, does not commend itself to the
intelligence of this nineteenth century. The answer of theologians to
this charge is familiar and specious enough, but it is not practically
accepted by the common people. When a child enters the Sunday-school
room, and his eyes rest upon the conspicuous placard, “_Jesus Paid it
All_” the natural inference is there is nothing more to pay, nothing to
do but to accept the free gift.

Thousands of ignorant persons, Catholics and Protestants, no doubt
secretly accept and rely upon this easy device to cover up their
numerous shortcomings and misdoings. This doctrine is a welcome one in
the murderer’s cell and upon the platform of the gallows. In thousands
of uncultivated minds the thought is no doubt deeply hidden that about
the surest way to get to heaven is to commit a murder and have the
“benefit of clergy,” and in due time to be “jerked to Jesus” (as
described by a Western journal) by the hangman’s rope. Why should it not
be so? The vicarious atonement has been made, and is being made in the
Mass, and they have only to accept it. Two priests or ministers actually
opposed the postponement of the execution of a certain murderer on the
ground that he then believed in Jesus, but that if execution was
postponed they did not know that he would continue to “believe,” and
that his soul might thus be lost!

Suppose that our State authorities should proclaim in advance free
pardon and a princely palace to all lawbreakers on the simple condition
of trusting in the mediatorial interposition and substitution of
another, _already made and accepted_; what would be the effect on public
morals? The system of redemption and pardon set forth in the New
Testament is infinitely more than this, and must be demoralizing. All
public officers know the evil effects of the pardon system, and how even
the faintest hope of pardon encourages crime, and how certainly a free
pardon is almost sure to be followed by a life of increased criminality.

There should be no such thing as pardon in our State jurisprudence—no
“board of pardons” and no “exercise of the executive clemency.” If a
convict is believed to have been wrongly imprisoned, or by
after-discovered evidence is found to be innocent, let no “pardon board”
or “executive” interfere, but let the case go back to the court that
convicted him or to one of like jurisdiction, and let the case be
judicially reviewed in the light of evidence; and if the accused is
found innocent, let him be honorably acquitted, or if guilty remanded to

There is nothing in reason, philosophy, or science that approves the
theologie method of dealing with offenders. It violates every principle
of justice, and has not one single quality of rightfulness in it. It is
a fiction pure and simple, in form and in fact. Macaulay well said of
this redemptive scheme, “It resembles nothing so much as a forged bond,
with a forged release endorsed upon its back.” Gregg pungently put it
thus: “It looks very much like an impossible debt paid in inconceivable
coin; or a legal fiction purely gratuitous got rid of by what looks like
a legal chicanery purely fanciful. It gives unworthy conceptions of God
as one delighting in the blood of human beings, and even suggests the
disgusting practices of cannibalism. It is a relic of the ancient
barbaric fetichism borrowed from savages by sacerdotalists for purposes
of priestcraft, and should be scouted by all honest and intelligent

The severely orthodox Rev. Professor Shedd, as well as Dr. Priestley,
admits that there was no scientific construction of the doctrine of the
atonement in the writings of the apostolic Fathers (_Hist, of Doc._,
vol. ii., p. 208). The doctrine was evidently manufactured when the
Romish Church was evolved out of the innumerable sects of early
Christendom, and was enforced by wholesale excommunication of dissenters
and the death penalty. Christianity was planted in Germany, Prussia, and
Sweden by military power. The Saxons were “converted” by Charlemagne.
All the secret religions have a god or demi-god put to death. Even the
Freemasons have Hiram Abiff. The death of Osiris was the central point
in the Egyptian system. He was killed by Seth or Typhon, and returned to
life as Rat-Amenti, the judge. In Egypt, Christianity moulded its
doctrines of the Trinity, atonement, and “mother of God.” The Osirian
theology was grafted on the Christian stock, if indeed the Christian
system was not an evolution of Osirianism; and of this the monstrous
concoction known as _vicarious atonement_ was made, and thrust down
men’s throats by threats of hell and the visits of the executioner.

We might extend our remarks upon this subject indefinitely, but we have
not space. We have seen that _blood-salvation_ did not originate with
either Jews or Christians. Dr. Trumbull has proved this over and over
again, and Kurtz, an orthodox writer, has admitted this fact. He says:
“A comparison of the religious symbols of the Old Testament with those
of ancient heathendom shows that the ground and the starting-point of
those forms of religion which found their appropriate expressions in
symbols was the same in all cases; while the history of civilization
proves that on this point priority cannot be claimed by the Israelites.
But when instituting such an inquiry we shall also find that the symbols
which were transferred from the religions of nature to that of the
spirit first passed through the fire of divine purification, from which
they issued as the distinctive theology of the Jews, the dross of a
pantheistic deification of nature having been consumed.” All this is
very frank, but we should not overlook the fact, so clearly established,
that this doctrine of cleansing blood, so constantly taught in the New
Testament and proclaimed from every orthodox pulpit in the land, was not
a _divine revelation_ specially made to Jews or Christians, but has been
adopted and modified from the religions of nature, celebrated in all
parts of the world by the most barbarous peoples in the remotest periods
of time. Indeed, the more gross and savage the people, the more
disgusting has been this doctrine of _blood-salvation_.

Dr. Trumbull could only think of two possible ways of explaining these
marvellous things: “How it came to pass that men everywhere were so
generally agreed on the main symbols of their religious yearnings, and
their religious hopes in this realm of their aspirations, is a question
which obviously admits of two possible answers. A common revelation from
God may have been given to primitive man, and all these varying yet
related indications of religious strivings and aim may be but the
perverted remains of the lessons of that misused or slighted revelation.
On the other hand, God may originally have implanted the germs of a
common religious thought in the mind of man, and then have adapted his
successive revelations to the outworking of those germs. Whichever view
of the probable origin of these common symbolisms, all the world over,
be adopted by any Christian student, the importance of the symbolisms
themselves, in their relation to the truths of revelation, is manifestly
the same."... “Because the primitive rite of blood-covenanting was well
known in the lands of the Bible at the time of the writing of the Bible,
for that very reason we are not to look to the Bible for a specific
explanation of the rite itself, even where there are incidental
references in the Bible to the rite and its observances; but, on the
other hand, we are to find an explanation of the biblical illustrations
of the primitive rite in the understanding of that rite which we gain
from outside sources."

These assumptions are very flimsy stuff upon which to found the most
prominent and mysterious doctrine of the orthodox Christian religion,
making it the Alpha and Omega of the whole “_scheme of redemption_” To
witness the mummeries of Roman Catholic priests and the manipulations of
Protestant ministers in the celebration of the “Eucharistic Feast” or
“Holy Communion” is enough to lead a truly intelligent man to wonder why
these celebrants do not laugh each other in the face. Even our
Universalist and Unitarian ministers sometimes indulge in this heathen
diversion, though some of them deeply feel the absurdity of the rite,
and the consequent humiliation to which they are subjected.
Nevertheless, some of our most profound  statesmen, when about to die,
call in a priest, Catholic or Protestant, to administer the heathen
ordinance. When will the world open its blind eyes, and learn that all
that God requires of men is to “walk humbly, love mercy, and deal

There is no difficulty in accepting the words of a God who is said to
have uttered the burning reproof to ritualists and hypocrites as
follows: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices? I delight
not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. Bring no more
vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and
sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity
even the solemn meeting. And when you spread your hands I will hide mine
eyes from you, yea, you make many prayers I will not hear, your hands
are full of blood. Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your
doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well, seek
judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the

This doctrine of _bloodsalvation_ is, in our judgment, most
unphilosophical and even absurd. It originated, as we have shown, in the
most gross and anthropomorphic conceptions of God, and its solemn
celebration in orthodox churches is inseparable from the most ignorant
and superstitious rites of the most savage peoples. Its tendency must be


_“That those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”—Heb. 12: 27._

IN the preceding chapters we have shown that in our judgment the time
has fully come for the fearless proclamation of the whole truth,
regardless of temporary consequences.

We think that we have also shown that for many important reasons we
cannot expect the whole truth from the professional clergy.

We have shown that the Jews are not the very ancient and numerous people
that they have been supposed to have been, and that many of their claims
are purely fabulous; and that this is specially true of their
Pentateuch, which Moses, supposing such a man to have lived, could not
have written.

We have shown how extensively symbolism anciently prevailed in sacred
writings, how modern sacerdotalists have accepted as literal history and
matters of fact what was at first a romance or an allegory intended to
illustrate certain principles, and how the introduction of astral keys
can only explain many of the Old-Testament stories, which, taken
literally, are extremely absurd and foolish.

We think we have shown that the “fall” of the mythical Adam and Eve is
an allegory, and not an historical fact, and that it is extremely
unfortunate that the whole system of dogmatic theology is made to depend
upon a mythus.

We have gone in search of the “second Adam,” and have not found him,
except in the New Testament, and we have shown how utterly incomplete
and unsatisfactory that account is, not rising in any degree to the
character of evidence.

We have shown that the Gospels are highly dramatic; that the Christ is
largely ideal; that many other persons before the Christian era claimed
all that was claimed for Jesus; and that he, his conduct, and alleged
sayings (he wrote nothing) are widely open to criticism.

We have shown that the distinguishing feature of the New
Testament—blood-salvation—is not a special revelation, but that it has
been borrowed and modified and adapted from savages and from the most
ignorant and superstitious tribes; and that what is called the
“redemptive scheme” is full of absurdities and contradictions, and that
it is philosophically and naturally demoralizing in its tendency and
influence if its logical consequences are accepted.

We now come to the practical question, _What have we left?_ Is there
anything in religion worth preserving? Indeed, is there anything
condemned in this book that is essential to the purest religion and the
highest morality? After doubting and throwing discredit on so much, have
we anything left worth preserving? Having cast so much of the cargo
overboard to lighten the ship, is the vessel worth saving? Having cast
away the accretions and superstitions of religion, we are only now just
prepared to defend its essential and sublime principles. Let us see what

      I. _Our Faith in God remains._—Not a God. The passage in the New
         Testament (John 4: 24) admits that “a” is an interpolation.
         There is no personality in God in a sense which implies
         limitation. God is spirit, and so spirit is God. Even Professor
         Hæckel, the German materialist, says: “This monistic idea of
         God, which belongs to the future, has already been expressed by
         Bruno in the following words: A spirit exists in all things,
         and no body is so small but contains a part of the divine
         substance within itself by which it is animated.” The words God
         and religion have been so long associated with superstition and
         priestcraft that many liberal thinkers have a repugnance to
         both. But we must not let these perversions of sacerdotalism
         rob us of good words. We can conceive of God as the _Over-all
         and In-all Spirit of the Universe._ That spirit is causation,
         and matter, its palpable form, is one of its manifestations. We
         know that Nature’s method of making worlds and brutes and men
         is by a uniform system of evolution, taking millions and
         billions of years to carry on the work to the present time, and
         that it is likely that it will take millions more to perfect
         it. When asked what spirit is, we answer, We do not know;
         neither do we know what electricity is, nor can we answer one
         of a thousand questions that come up regarding the subtle and
         occult qualities of matter. We see no difference between the
         Unknowable of Herbert Spencer and the Unsearchable of Zophar in
         the book of Job. The Unknown Power is the Noumenon, the
         absolute Being in itself, the inner nature of force, motion,
         and even of conscience.

We have said, in substance, elsewhere: It is a great mistake to think of
God as outside of and distinct from the universe. If there be a God at
all, he is in the universe and in every part of it. We cannot properly
localize him, and say that he is present in one place and not in
another, or that he is in one place more than another. He must be
everywhere and in everything. Anthropomorphic (man-like) views of God
are what make atheists and agnostics.

Men constantly talk of the laws of Nature, forgetting that law itself is
a product and cannot be a cause. The law of gravitation is not the cause
of gravitation. A self-originating and self-executing law is
unthinkable. The prevalence of law supposes the existence of a lawmaker
and a law-executor. We accept the law of evolution, but cannot conceive
of evolution independent of involution and an Evolver.

It may be said that this is “begging the question” by assuming the
existence of an infinite God. But we deny that it is an assumption in
its last analysis. What is known as the scientific method leads
logically to the conclusion that there must be something that theists
generally name God. You may call it “protoplasm,” “molecular force,” the
“potentiality of matter,” or even matter itself; and when you tell us
what these words mean we will tell you what we mean by “God.” Possibly
we all mean the same thing. We know of the existence of God, as we know
other things, by palpable manifestations.

Astronomers assumed the existence of Neptune from certain phenomena long
before its existence could be demonstrated; and if the discovery had
never been made the phenomena so long observed would have nevertheless
justified the conclusion that there must be some stupendous cause for
such unmistakable and marvellous perturbations.

When men talk of the eternity of matter we do not even profess to
understand them. The most advanced scientists do not attempt to explain
one of a thousand mysteries in which the phenomena of the material world
is enshrouded. Why, then, should we be expected to explain where and how
and when God came into existence, or how he could have had an eternal
existence or be self-existent? We affirm no more of God than
materialists imply of matter, and we endow him with no attributes that
they do not virtually ascribe to matter. So far as assumption is
concerned, both stand on the same ground. They, indeed, call things by
different names, but mean about the same thing. What theists prefer to
call “the works of God” materialists call “Nature,” “cosmic laws,”
“spontaneous generation,” “the potency of matter,” “conservation of
energy," “correlation of force," and “natural selection."

The fundamental error of modern scientists is that they limit their
investigations to the physical and palpable, while we have demonstrable
evidence of the existence of the spiritual and invisible. We know
nothing of matter but from its properties and manifestations, and we
have the same kind of evidence in regard to spirit, and know that it is
superior to gross matter, and therefore cannot be tested by the same
crucibles. In the very nature of things a great cause must ever be
imponderable and invisible. It cannot be weighed and measured, but must
ever remain intangible and incomprehensible. The spirit in physical man
in its relation to the Supreme Spirit is as the drop of water to the
ocean or the single glimmering ray to the full-orbed, refulgent sun. Men
may talk of “force correlation," and trace its progress and products,
but they must remain dumb as to the beginning or origin of force unless
they accept the doctrine of an _intelligent First Force_. There is no
way of accounting for the existence of spirit, of life, of intelligence,
but by premising the prior existence of spirit, life, and intelligence.
Like only causes like. An egg does not come from a stone, and the
ascidian did not come from a lifeless rock.

The logical conclusion from the facts and principles herein suggested is
that there must be an intelligent First Cause of all things—an
all-pervading, fecundating, animating Spirit of the universe; and we
prefer to call this God. Science has taught us the processes of his
work, and denominates them the “laws of Nature.” In point of fact, as
little is known of the origin and essence of matter as of spirit, and
there is as good ground for agnosticism in the former as in the latter.
There is therefore no necessary conflict between true science and a
rational theism or monism.

It is a rational proposition that something must have been before what
is called creation. There must have been an _intelligent potency_, and
that power theists call God. Materialism in its last analysis ascribes
to matter all that theists ascribe to God. It gives matter an eternal
self-existence—endows it with an inherent infinite intelligence and an
omnipotent potency. It spells “God” with six letters instead of three.
It makes a God of matter, and then denies his existence!

We now submit that it is more rational to postulate the existence of an
eternal Supreme Intelligence and Power, the Creator and Ruler of all
things visible and invisible, who is the Author and Executor of the laws
by which both mind and matter are governed. This Supreme Being is alone
the Self-existent One, and what are called the properties and modes of
inert matter are but the proofs and manifestations of his eternal power
and Godhead. There cannot be a poem without a poet, nor a picture
without an artist. There cannot be a watch or other complex machine
without an inventor and artisan. The universe is the sublimest of all
poems, and Cicero well said that it would be easier to conceive that
Homer’s Iliad came from the chance shaking together of the letters of
the alphabet than that the atoms should have produced the cosmos without
a marshalling agency. The visible and palpable compel us to acknowledge
their counterpart in the invisible and intangible, and we cannot
rationally account for the origin of man without postulating the
existence of an Intelligence and Power greater than humanity.

We are reproached for the inconsistency of believing in a Power we
cannot comprehend, and endowing him with attributes of which we can form
no just conceptions. Atheists do not seem to realize that they are
guilty of a greater inconsistency. They tell us that we believe in a
Being of whom we can form no conception, but they themselves must form
some conception of such a Being, else how could they deny his existence?

There is no difficulty in admitting the existence of a Supreme Power if
we do not attempt to comprehend and describe it. Matthew Arnold says:
“We too would say ’God’ if the moment we said ’God, you would not
pretend that you know all about him.” His definition of God is indeed
vague, but vastly suggestive: “An enduring Power not ourselves that
makes for righteousness.” This suggests the moral element in the unknown
Power. There is not only a spiritual sense in man which recognizes the
supersensuous, but there is an indwelling witness to the eternal
principle of rightfulness. The sentiment of oughtness is inherent and
ineradicable. Every man who is not a moral idiot has a feeling that
certain things ought and ought not to be—that there is an essential
right and wrong. Human intuition sees and feels this mysterious Power
that answers to our Ego, and from which it proceeds; and this inward
conviction cannot be eradicated from the average mind by the pretensions
of science. The patient watcher in the dark room at the terminus of the
ocean cable sees in his suspended mirror the reflection of an electric
spark, and he at once recognizes it as a message from the operator three
thousand miles away. So God is seen by the aspiring and contemplative in
the concave mirror of man’s own spirit, and, though it is a mere
reflection, a spark, a flash, it clearly proves the existence of the
Central Magnet. It is this recognition of the moral element that forms
the basis of moral government and of that worshipfulness which has
manifested itself among all nations, barbarian and civilized.

It is safe to assume that the average Atheism is disbelief in the God of
the dominant theology, and not in the Ultimate Power that makes for
righteousness. Vulgar, anthropomorphic conceptions of God, which endow
him with certain speculative attributes, are condemned by reason and
science; but nevertheless phenomena have something behind them, and
energy has something beneath it, and all things have something in them
which is the source of all phenomena and energy; and this enduring,
all-pervading Power is our sure guarantee of the order of the universe.
And this Power theists persist in calling God. Theologians may call this
Pantheism, but it is only seemingly so. There is a vast difference
between saying that everything is God, and that God is in everything.
The old watchmaker-mechanician idea, a God separate and outside of the
universe, has become obsolete, and science and reason and the law of
progressive development now compel men to reshape their conceptions of
God as identical with the Cosmos, plus the Eternal Power.

Herbert Spencer has beautifully said: “But amid the mysteries, which
become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will
remain the one absolute certainty that man is ever in presence of an
Infinite and Eternal Energy, from which all things proceed.” The felt
and the seen have their fulness in the unseen and intangible, and the
visible impels us to seek its counterpart and complement in the

     II. _Our Faith in Religion remains_.—And here the question comes
         up, What is religion? The commonly-accepted meaning of the word
         is as derived from the Latin _religare_, which means “to bind
         back or to bind fast.” We do not accept the definition, because
         it is suggestive of _bondage_. It implies a previous harmonious
         relation with God which had been lost. It favors the dogmas of
         the fall of Adam and man’s alleged reinstatement and “binding
         back” to the divine allegiance, through what is called, in
         theological parlance, a “redemptive scheme.” It is a
         significant fact that Lactantius, a theologian of the early
         part of the fourth century, was the first to apply the word
         religion to “the bond of piety by which we are bound to God.”
         Augustine of the fifth century followed his example, and so did
         Servius about the same time; and their example has been
         followed by theologians ever since, presumably because it
         favors the dogmas of the fall of Adam and the redemption by
         Christ. But the highest classical authorities derive the word
         religion from _relegere_ or _religere_, signifying “to go
         through or over and over again in reading, speech, or
         thought—to review carefully and faithfully to ponder and
         reflect with conscientious fidelity.”

Cicero must have understood the original meaning and origin of the Latin
word, and he took this view of the subject. He lived more than three
hundred years before Lactantius, and he said: “But they who carefully
meditated, and as it were considered and reconsidered all those things
which pertained to the worship of the gods, were called religious, from
religere.” The word _religio_ was in common use in ancient Rome in the
sense of _scruple_, implying the consciousness of a natural obligation
wholly irrespective of the gods. The oldest popular meanings of the word
_religion were faithfulness, sincerity, veracity, honor,
punctiliousness, and conscientiousness.*(1) Religion, then, in its true
meaning, is the great fact of *duty, of oughtness or right-fulness, of
conscience and moral sense_. Its great business is to seek conformity to
one’s highest ideal. It consists in an _honest and persistent effort by
all appropriate means to realize ideal excellence and to transform into
actual character and practical life._

  (1) See A Study of Religion, by Francis E. Abbot.

Religion in this sense is universally approved. It is false religion
which is condemned. It is what some men would require you to believe in
spite of history, science, and self-consciousness. It is superstition,
bigotry, credulity, creed, sectarianism, that men detest. Religion is
innate and ineradicable in man, and there is a natural religion
concerning which man cannot be skeptical if he would. Bishop Butler has
well said that the morality of the gospel is “the republication of
natural religion and it would be easy to show the evolution of religion
from very small beginnings and how this work is going on to-day.

Regarding religion as an evolution, a development, and not as something
as inflexible as a demonstrated proposition in mathematics, we are all
the while expecting an improvement. We have a right to expect that
Christianity should be better than more ancient religions, because it is
the latest; and so it is in many respects. But we have a right to expect
that this improvement will go on with the lapse of time. The religion of
the nineteenth century is an improvement on the religion of the first
century, but we are reaching forward to greater perfection. Even the
system of morals taught in the New Testament is defective. We want
something purer and better, and it is rapidly coming. All true religion
is natural, and its morality relates to the mutual and reciprocal claims
of men arising from organized society. If we are right in our dealings
with our fellow-men, we cannot be out of harmonious relations with God.
All happiness here and hereafter depends upon our knowledge of the order
of the universe and the conformation of our lives to it. It is
impossible to divorce true religion from real science, and the more we
know of the latter the more we shall have of the former. Whatever tends
to promote pure religion ought to be encouraged, and no man has any more
reason to be ashamed of his religion than he has to be ashamed of his
appetite. We sum up our ideas of religion by saying: Do all the good you
can to all the persons you can by all the means you can, and as long as
you can.

    III. _The Scriptures remain for just What they are._—Portions of the
         Bible command our most profound reverence and our most
         unqualified admiration. We respond heartily to some of the
         truly excellent moral maxims of the Bible, and read with
         rapture some of the selections of poetry from the Hebrew
         prophets. But right in close connection we often find stories
         of uncleanness, fornications, adulteries, and incests that the
         vilest newspaper of to-day would not dare publish. Jael meanly
         murders Sisera, and is praised for it, while the deceit and
         treachery of Rahab are commended in the New Testament. The
         story of Boaz and Ruth is only fit for a dime novel. Solomon’s
         Song is full of lasciviousness. Abram lies. Moses gets mad.
         David commits adultery and murders Uriah. Jacob is deceitful
         and a trickster; and so on to the end. Polygamy is shown to
         have been the rule, and not the exception, among Jehovah’s
         favorites. War is everywhere tacitly justified, and slavery is
         practised and not an abolitionist opens his mouth. We go to the
         New Testament, and He who is called the “Perfect One” curses a
         fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, drives out with
         small cords men engaged in legitimate business, upsets their
         tables, and uses the most violent and reproachful language
         toward them. He shows want of respect for his mother, and is
         ambiguous and evasive in his conversation with the woman of
         Canaan—says he does not know whether he is going to the feast
         at Jerusalem or not, and then straightway sets out for the Holy
         City, and makes believe by his actions that he is going to one
         place, when he is actually going to another.

We want a higher morality than is taught in the Bible. We want higher
and more noble conceptions than are given in the parable of the “Unjust
Judge,” and more just and equitable principles than are taught in the
parable of the “Unjust Steward” or the “Laborers in the Vineyard” or the
“Ten Talents.” We want a morality that relates to this life rather than
to the next We do not want the possession of property held up as a
crime, and poverty represented as a virtue entitling one to a seat in
the future kingdom. We want good homes to live in now, rather than
“mansions in the skies.” We do not want a morality that appeals to
selfishness only, that discriminates in favor of celibacy, and that only
tolerates marriage as a remedy for lust, as taught in the seventh
chapter of First Corinthians. We want a higher morality than the
morality of even the New Testament.

It is difficult to speak to ears polite of the obscenity of the Bible.
There are more than one hundred passages of the most coarse and vulgar
description. To print these in a book and send it through the United
States mails, if law were impartially administered, would put a man in
the penitentiary. There are entire chapters that reek with obscenity
from beginning to end. We cannot tell you about Onan, and Tamar, and Lot
and his two daughters, and scores of other obscene matters. There are
passages even in the New Testament that cannot be mentioned in the
presence of a virtuous woman. When we enter a lady’s parlor and see the
richly-gilded Bible upon the centre-table, we shudder as we remember the
obscenity that is contained between its costly lids. When we see a young
girl tripping along our streets, Bible in hand, we wonder if she knows
that she carries more obscenity than Byron ever wrote, than Shelley ever
dreamed of, than the vilest French novelist ever dared to print.

We have very grave doubts about putting the Bible into the hands of
children. They are, through it, made familiar with much that is
demoralizing. We have many reasons for rejecting the dogma of the
plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and of their infallibility. These
fragmentary writings must be judged by their merits—by what they are. It
has been shown by the author of Supernatural Religion that we gain more
than we lose by taking this rational view of the Bible. An illusion is
lost, but a reality is gained which is full of hope and peace. The
unknown men who mostly wrote the little pamphlets which make up the
Bible probably did the best they knew—that is, they wrote according to
the degree of their development—but some of the writers were on a very
low plane. We should read these books and all other sacred writings of
all nations just as we study geology—as showing what was in the mind of
man when the books were written, ‘just as we learn from the earth’s
strata the history and order of the various periodic formations. The
bibles of the ages are accessible to every man who can read. All of them
contain much that is valuable, with much that is frivolous,
superstitious, and false. But these books belong to our race, and happy
is the man who knows how to use them wisely. He who rejects all makes as
great a mistake as he who accepts all. The true position is that the
Bible contains the best thoughts of many of the best men that have lived
in the ages of the past, expressed according to their light; and, while
their obvious errors should be rejected, whatever commends itself to our
reason, according to the best light of to-day, and to which each man’s
own inspiration and spiritual discernment responds, should be reverently
studied and highly esteemed. Religion is not a product of the Bible, but
the Bible is a product of religion—natural religion—though often
misunderstood and perverted. We do not throw aside the bibles, but
accept them for just what we find them to be worth. We eat the kernel
and throw away the shell.

     IV. Our most Implicit Faith in the Continuity of Life remains.—We
         have no more confidence in Materialism than we have in Atheism.
         We believe that some men at least are immortal—that the
         intellectual and moral giants should be blotted out at death is
         unthinkable. We find in this doctrine of a future state much
         that has a moral tendency. It inspires self-respect and esteem.
         It leads to a proper appreciation of humanity. It inspires hope
         for the future. It affords comfort in bereavement. It furnishes
         a proper motive for aspiration and progress.

When we consider the millions of years that have been employed in
bringing man to his present high estate, it is rational to assume that a
capacity for such immense progress is good ground for faith in still
greater progress, so that there shall be no end to the advancement and
attainments of humanity. If primitive man was not immortal, there may
have been a time when he became immortal, just as there is a time when
the embryo becomes a conscious, breathing babe, and when the undeveloped
child begins to exercise the functions of rationality and becomes an
accountable being. It is not true that even the extreme Darwinian
doctrine is necessarily opposed to the doctrine of a future life for
man. On the contrary, its fundamental principles suggest the hypothesis
of immortality.

If the “conservation of energy” is a true principle of science, it
favors the faith of man in the doctrine of a future life. Greatness and
goodness developed in man must be “conserved,” and how can it be done if
death is a destroyer? The “persistency of force” in the human
personality must at least be equal to the primary elements which environ
that personality. Is  it rational to suppose that the sweep of evolution
which has brought man from such unfathomable depths will not carry him
up to still more illimitable heights? Are these vast achievements of
Nature to be so un-thriftily wasted? Do not the products of a past
eternity point unmistakably to still greater things in an eternity to

And, then, does not the scientific doctrine of the “indestructibility of
matter” favor the belief in life after death?

The theory of “natural selection” also favors the doctrine of a future
life, and never appears so real and so beautiful as when we realize that
as man progresses in everything that is grand and good he voluntarily
falls in with this natural law, and of choice not only selects that
which is most to be desired, but by self-denial and almost superhuman
exertions strives to attain the highest ideal of his heavenly
aspirations. The unwearied effort of the most highly-developed men to
reach a higher perfection and a more exalted excellence is evidence that
Nature is true to herself, and that man will not be blotted out of
conscious existence just as he first clearly perceives the essential
difference between good and evil. Having tasted the fruit of the tree of
life, he is destined to live for ever.

It is certainly a significant fact that the faith of man in, and a
desire for, a future life are strongest in his moments of greatest
mental and spiritual exaltation. If this is an illusion, it is strange
that it should be particularly vivid when he is in his most god-like
moods and when he is most in love with the beautiful, the true, and the
good. Is it possible for Nature to thus trifle with and deceive and
disappoint man when he is most serious and truthful, and when all the
elements of his better nature are in the ascendant and predominate over
everything that is gross and perishable?

A future life and an immortal one must exist to enable man to reach that
perfection to which he aspires, and feels himself bound to attain as the
only end worthy of his being, and which, during the brief span of mortal
life, is never reached even by the most virtuous. Nature cannot be so
blind, so stupidly improvident, as to throw away her most precious
treasures, gathered by so much labor and suffering, and not permit man
to carry forward the great work, in which he has just began to succeed,
to that perfection to which all his aspirations unmistakably converge.

Then every cultivated man realizes as age increases that his attainments
and successes in this ephemeral life fall far short of, and are
absolutely inadequate and disproportionate to, his inherent powers; and
it is irrational to conclude that his very existence is to be blotted
out and life itself become utterly extinct just as he has learned how to
live, and what life is, and what is his " being’s end and aim." We do
not desire to argue this question here: we only make a profession of our

  V. Our Faith in the Doctrine of Present and Future Rewards and
     Punishments remains.—While it is irrational to accept the horrible
     dogmas of sacerdotalism as to the eternal torments of the wicked,
     it is equally unreasonable to believe that all men enter upon a
     state of perfect happiness without regard to moral character.

The doctrine of rewards and punishments after death is clearly suggested
by the principles of natural religion which have been recognized by all
men, pagan and Christian. That virtue brings its own reward and vice its
own punishment is a fact in the experience of men in this life. It must
be so in the life to come, as the order of the universe cannot be
changed by time or place. No valid objection can be made to the
principle of future punishment. But its nature and object must be taken
into the account. True punishment is never arbitrary nor vindictive. It
is remedial, reformatory, disciplinary, and has respect to the
constitution of moral government and the best interests and welfare of
its subjects. Suffering is a consequence of sin, not a judicial penalty,
and happiness is not a favor conferred by grace, but a legitimate
product of right being rather than of right doing. Men are rewarded or
punished, both in this life and the life to come, not so much for what
they have done or not done as for what they are. Suffering is intended
to put an end to that which causes suffering, and is for the good of the
sufferer. In this world and in all possible worlds sin must be a source
of suffering, and goodness a fountain of happiness. The degree of
happiness or misery of man after death must be in proportion to the
degree of his perfection or imperfection in character evolved during
life that will constitute his “meetness.”

The same penal code must prevail in the next life that prevails here,
and it may be thus summarized: (1) Suffering is a consequence of
imperfection and wrong-doing. (2) Imperfection and wrong-doing will meet
their appropriate punishment in the future life as in this world. (3)
The effect will only continue so long as the cause exists. (4) Men will
for ever make their own heaven or hell, and there is good reason for
believing that the sufferings of many persons after death will be,
beyond all conception, awful in the extreme. (5) But the “immortal hope”
justifies the conclusion that all men will, sooner or later, be
established in holiness and happiness.

In response to the question, _After death—what?_ the proper answer to
the interrogative is, _In life—what?_ Death is transition, not
transmutation. It is emigration, not Pythagorean transmigration. Change
of place does not make change of character. It is therefore reasonable
to conclude that a man after death is just what he was before death.
Every man will gravitate to his own place. There will be as many grades
of moral character after death as in this life, and therefore as many
heavens and hells. Misers and drunkards and libertines will still be
such. Those who love the pure and beautiful, the true, the right, the
unselfish, and the humane will still have the same desires and tastes
after death as before death, and will naturally gravitate to kindred

After mature reflection the conclusion must be reached that the greatest
happiness of which man is capable arises from three sources: (1) The
perception of new truth; (2) Its impartation to others; (3) Doing good
to others. A more rational conception of future blessedness than this is

If these views are correct, it is the highest wisdom to cherish and
cultivate on earth and during life the tastes, the desires, the
affections, the principles which in themselves constitute the highest
bliss of saints and angels in all possible worlds. And as to hell after
death, we have nothing to fear but the hell we may carry with us—the
hell of unholy lust, the hell of unsanctified passion, the hell of
selfishness, the hell which follows wrong living and wrong doing.

But we must bring this book to a close. The writer is a firm believer in
God, in religion, and in morality; he accepts the Bible for just what it
is. He believes in the continuity of life after death and in future
rewards and punishments. If he believed that he had written anything in
this book to weaken faith in these doctrines, he would commit the
manuscript to the flames instead of to the printer.



Abraham a myth,  149 and his servant,  131 and phallic emblems,  131 and
Saturn,  150 offering Isaac—Parallels,  151- 154

Abrahamie Covenant,  155

Abydos and Bunsen’s Egyptian tables,  96

Adams, Dr., on forty-two children and the she-bears,  162 Capt. R. C.,
how to dispense with ministers,  40

Admission of Albertus,  180 of Ambrose,  179 of Augustine,  321 of
Clemens Alexandrinus,  364 of Tertullian,  179

Alexandria, systems of religion prevalent in,  347

Anno Domini, invented in the sixth century, generally adopt-1 ed in the
tenth,  299

Aristotle, maxims of, disapproved,  24

Arnold, Matthew, his definition of God,  421

Assyrian cuneiform tablets, discovery  [pg 187]_3-74,  97

Athens and Sparta, date  [pg 155]_0 b.c.,  108

Avatars, all announced by celestial signs,  309- 312


Bagster’s Comprehensive Bible on the phallic oath,  132

Barlow on tree-worship,  125

Beatty, Hon. James, his opposition to salaried ministers,  40

Berosus on Chaldean history,  98

Blackstone on witches,  118

Blauvelt, Dr. A.,  16  17

British Museum, manuscripts,  74

Brooks, Bishop, on insincerity in the pulpit,  43

Brotherhood of man,  342  343

Buckland on May music in Magdalen Church,  137

Buddha, died  377 years before Christ,  104

Budge, Dr., manuscripts classified by,  75

Burnet, Bishop, on the story of the creation,  146

Dr., on concealing the truth,  44

Burr, W. H., on area of Palestine and its population,  63-70.


Cardinal Cajetan’s admission,  178

Chaldean history, date of,  109

Child, Lydia Maria, and women at Ocean Grove,  136

Christ, doubts as to his existence,  367- 369

Christus and Christianus, evidence of modern fabrication,  207

Chrysostom on the 25th of December,  243

Cicero on symbolism,  122

Cicero’s definition of religion,  12  424

Circumcision originated in phallic-ism, more ancient than Judaism,  130

Clark, Dr. Adam, points ont thirty-five parallels to Philo in John*s
Gospels,  219

Clement, admission of,  179

Colenso, Bishop, collates from Pen-tateucn,  85

Confucius’s Golden Rule,  22

Constantine a pagan priest,  29

Cross very ancient,  318


David’s nude dance,  132

Davidson, Prof., on “Catholic canon,”  227

Deluge, The, Jews obtained the account from Babylon,  156

Doketæ,  266

Draper on Pentateuch,  103

Driver, Prof., and Philadelphia editor,  155


Edwards, Miss Amelia B., on date of Egyptian monarchy,  96

Elisha and she-bears explained,  162

Epistles, silence of, concerning the Gospels,  372

Essenes existed before Christianity,  230 identical with Mithraism,  232
profound regard for the sun,  239

Eusebius regarded the Essenes as Christians,  229

Eusebius’s History a probable forgery,  206


Farrar, Canon, on priestcraft,  48

Fisher, Prof., on decline of clerical authority,  42

Fisk, John, on glacial period,  95

Forlong, Gen., on Jews,  55

on area of Judea and Samaria,  59

Forlong, Gen., on prevalence of phallicism,  130  133 on the fall,  170


Gnosticism,  355- 362

Gnostics, what they held,  267

Gerald Massey on,  280- 294

Gibbon on,  294

Golden Rule used by Confucius, Isocrates, Aristotle, Sixtus, Pittacus,
Thales, from three to six centuries before Christ,  327

Gospel in the Stars,  144  145

Grecian Argos, date of,  108

Gregory on ignorance and devotion,  44


Hale, Dr., on insincerity in the pulpit,  42

Sir Matthew, condemns a witch to death,  118

Harmonies of the Gospels,  347

Herod died before Jesus was born,  315

Heyne on myths and philosophy,  123

Hindoo laws quoted,  105- 108

Hirsch, Rabbi, on Pentateuch,  119  120

Holmes, O. W., Rector and Doctor,  25

Huxley on clerical opposition to progress,  48 on the deluge,  157  158
on the fall,  187  188


I H S, numerals which stand for  308 explained,  298 Inman, Dr., on Adam
and Eve,  169 Irenœus the real founder of the Roman hierarchy,  220


Jacob and Joseph,  121

Jefferson to Pickering,  46 to Dr. Cooper,  47

Jeoud, son of Saturn, origin of the name of Jew,  150

Jesus, Essenism personified,  264

Jesuses, many,  197

Jews, mongrels,  54 origin of,  55 real cause of exodus,  78

John’s Gospel first mentioned by Theophilus of Antioch in A. d.  176

Johnson, Rev. Samuel, on the ideal Christ,  276- 281 also  305  306  323

Jonah and the fish, with its parallel myths,  159

Jones, Sir William, on antiquity of the Vedas,  105

Josephus, forgery of passages relating to Jesus, numerous authorities
quoted,  200- 203].

joins the Essenes,  229 on the “burning bush,”  126

Joshua, and the sun standing still,  162

Justinian Code, origin of,  105


Kaffirs celebrate the cataménial period,  381

Keys of Peter, an interpolation,  246

Knight, Richard Payne, on the “Worship of Priapus,”  130


Lactantius, admissions of,  323 Lardner, Dr., on deceit,  44 admissions
of,  177 concerning fall,  173 Lenormant’s admission,  98

Le Renouf on origin of Egyptian civilization,  104

Lesley, Prof., on phallicism,  131

Lord’s Prayer very ancient,  327

Luther on Copernicus,  144

Lyell on delta of Mississippi,  95


Mahaffy, Prof., on the identity of the Egyptian and Christian religions,
321  322

Manetheo on date of Egyptian monarchy,  97

Manning, Archbishop, consecration of, suggestive,  133

Manu, laws of  [pg 268]_0 slocaa,  104  105

Maomonide8, admission as to the fall being allegorical,  178

Marius, story of,  24

Martyr’s, Justin, comparison of Christianity and other religions,  319-

Massey on the ideal Christ,  284  288

on symbolism,  123

Matthew, Gospel of, written in Hebrew according to Irenœus, Origen, and
Jerome,  217

Menes, date of reign,  96

Merrell, Rev. Geo. E., gap of three, centuries in MSS.,  212

Miller, Dr., on examination of ministers,  33

Milman on deceit,  44

Mitchell, Prof., on mummy coffin,  143

Mithraism, its prevalence,  233  238

Moses, strange coincidences in the life of,  109- 112 a myth; horns,
147 and the Midianites and witches,  115  118

Mosheim on deceit,  43

MSS., date of,  213

Müller, Max, on dates,  104

Mutilation, bodily,  335


Neander’s concession,  308

Neo-Platonists, what they taught,  237

Newton, Sir Isaac, what he perceived,  238

Nineveh not three days* journey from the coast,  159

Noah and the deluge; Chaldean and other nations,  156


Origen on the fall,  178

Orphic and other dramas,  235

Oswald, Dr. Felix L., quoted,  336

Oxley, William, accounts of Jesus from Egyptian sources,  296

concerning Egyptian statuettes,  296  301 on the Jews,  79


Pagan contemporaneous with Jesus; authorities quoted, [pg  204].

Papius and Polycarp, not instructed by John the son of Zebedee, but
probably by John, a Presbyter of Asia Minor,  219

Paul’s genuine Epistles,  214  215

Paxson, Chief-Justice, open letter to,  121

Peck, Bishop, on blood,  277

Pentateuch, date of,  97  98  100  101

Peter’s name of Chaldaic origin,  248

Phallicism not necessarily obscene,  129  135

Philo, admission of,  178

Phœnicians, date of,  109

Plato on Homer’s poems,  122

Presbyterian serpent symbolism,  128

Proclus on Plato,  122

Prometheus, the god-man,  303


Rachel sitting on the wedges,  132

Rameses II., Pharaoh of the captivity,  96

Reber exposes a fraud,  220

Religion, definition of,  12

Renan on religion,  12

Roberts, Dr. Alexander, Version  [pg 188]_1,  210

Roscoe, William, description of the consecration of Pope Alexander VI.,

Ryan,’Bishop, installed,  31  163


Sabbath observed  [pg 110]_0 years before the Hebrews existed,  113

Sacrifices, human, beasts,  397  398

Samson story and the twelve labors of Hercules; the foxes,  160  161

Sethi II., Egyptian king, his good old age,  96

Shedd, Prof., admission,  409

Smith, Dr. Robertson, on the Gospels,  215 on sacrifice,  398 etc.

Spencer, Herbert, on infinite and eternal energy,  423

St. Patrick and the snakes,  128

Stanley on blood-friendship,  389

Stuart, Moses, on the “indefinite-period” theory,  175


Tacitus, Annala of, forged,  205

Talmage on blood,  377

Talmud, Babylonian,  22

“wilderness of speculations/’  196

Taylor, Jeremy, on blood,  377

Tertullian, fanatical expression of,  273

"Testimony," hint as to the origin of the word,  132

Theodosius, Emperor, ordered books burned,  244  294

Toldoth Jethu,  265

Trumbull on blood covenant,  382- 389

Tyndall on religion,  11


Ussher, Archbishop, his chronology,  95


Vedio prophecies,  194

Virgin-born gods,  369  371

Von Martins, conversion of,  183


Wake, C. Staniland, on Pentateuch,  101

Whately, Archbishop, converted by Sir John Lubbock and Taylor,  183

White, Andrew D., shows how science contradicts theology,  183

Winchell, Dr. Alexander, and the Methodists,  184

Witches executed, modern examples,  118


Zodiac,  140  141 age estimated,  143

Zoroaster prophesied of virgins,  194



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