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Title: Paganism Surviving in Christianity
Author: Lewis, Abram Herbert
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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  A.D.,” ETC.




  The Knickerbocker Press


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  Electrotyped, Printed, and Bound by
  The Knickerbocker Press, New York

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He who judges the first century by the nineteenth will fall into
countless errors. He who thinks that the Christianity of the fourth
century was identical with that of the New-Testament period, will go
widely astray. He who does not look carefully into the history of
religions before the time of Christ, and into the pagan influences
which surrounded infant Christianity, cannot understand its subsequent
history. He who cannot rise above denominational limitations and
credal restrictions cannot become a successful student of early Church
history, nor of present tendencies, nor of future developments. History
is a series of results, not a medley of happenings. It is the story of
the struggle between right and wrong; the record of God’s dealing with
men. The “historic argument” is invaluable, because history preserves
God’s verdicts concerning human choices and actions. Events and epochs,
transitions and culminations, are the organized causes and effects
which create the never-ceasing movement, and the organic unity called
history. Hence we learn that ideas and principles, like apples, have
their time for development and ripening; that the stains of sin, the
weakness of error, and the influence of truth commingle and perdure
through the centuries; that good and evil, sin and righteousness,
persist, or are eliminated, in proportion as men heed God’s voice, and
listen to His verdicts.

The scientific study of history reveals the norm by which ideas,
creeds, movements, and methods are to be tested. Such a standard, when
contrasted with the speculations of philosophy, is granite, compared
with sand. God’s universal law, enunciated by Christ, is: “By their
fruits ye shall know them.”

The efforts of partisans to manipulate early history in the interest
of special views and narrow conceptions, have been a fruitful
source of error. Equally dangerous has been the assumption that the
Christianity of the third, fourth, and fifth centuries was identical
with that of the New Testament, or was a fair representative of it.
The constant development of new facts shows that at the point where
the average student takes up the history of Western Christianity, it
was already fundamentally corrupted by pagan theories and practices.
Its unfolding, from that time to the present, must be studied in the
light of this fact. The rise, development, present status, and future
history of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, cannot be justly
considered, apart from this fact. The fundamental principles, and the
underlying philosophy of these divisions of Christendom originated in
the paganizing of early Christianity. This fact makes the re-study
of the beginnings of Christianity of supreme importance. The pagan
systems which ante-dated Christ, exercised a controlling influence on
the development of the first five centuries of Western Christianity,
and hence, of all subsequent times. This field has been too nearly “an
unknown land,” to the average student, and therefore correct answers
have been wanting to many questions which arise, when we leave Semitic
soil, and consider Christianity in its relation to Greek and Roman
thought. “Early Christianity” cannot be understood except in the light
of these powerful, pre-Christian currents of influence; and present
history cannot be separated from them.

This book presents a suggestive rather than an exhaustive treatment
of these influences, and of their effect on historic Christianity.
The author has aimed to make a volume which busy men may read,
rather than one whose bulk would relegate it to the comparative
silence of library shelves. The following pages treat four practical
points in Christianity, without attempting to enter the field of
speculative theology, leaving that to a future time, or to the pen
of another--viz.: The influence of pagan thought upon the Bible, and
its interpretation; upon the organized Church, through the pagan
water-worship cult; upon the practices and spiritual life of the Church
by substituting pagan holidayism for Christian Sabbathism, through the
sun-worship cult; and upon the spiritual life and subsequent character
of the Church, by the union of Church and State, and the subjugation
of Christianity to the civil power, according to the pagan model.
Facts do not cease to be facts, though denied and ignored. They do not
withdraw from the field of history, though men grow restive under their
condemnation. I have dealt mainly with facts, giving but brief space to
“conclusions.” I have written for those who are thoughtful and earnest;
who are anxious to know what the past has been, that they may the
better understand the duties of the present and the unfolding issues
of the future. Such will not read the following pages with languid
interest nor careless eyes.

The issues involved are larger than denominational lines, or the
boundaries of creeds. They are of special interest to Protestants,
since they involve not only the reasons for the revolt against
Roman Catholicism, but the future relations of these divisions of
Christendom, to each other, and to the Bible. The supreme source of
authority in religion is directly at issue in the questions here
treated. That is a definite and living question which cannot be
waived aside. At this threshold, the author extends the welcome which
each searcher after facts and fundamental truths gives to fellow


Room 100, Bible House, New York City, May, 1892.



    Preliminary Survey--An Imaginary Past--Issue between
    Protestantism and Romanism--General Testimony Relative to
    Pagan Elements in Christianity, from Dyer, Lord, Tiele,
    Baronius, Polydore Virgil, Fauchet, Mussard, De Choul,
    Wiseman, Middleton, Max Müller, Priestley, Thebaud,
    Hardwick, Maitland, Seymore, Renan, Killen, Farrar,
    Merivale, Westropp and Wake, and Lechler.


    Contrast between the Christianity of the New Testament and
    That of the Later Centuries--Gnosticism and Allegorical
    Interpretation--Testimony of Harnack and Bauer Concerning
    the “Hellenization of Christianity”--Hatch on “Pagan
    Exegesis”--The “Fathers” as Allegorists; Justin, Clement of
    Alexandria, Barnabas, and Others--Examples: “The Red Heifer
    a Type of Christ”; “Spiritual Circumcision”; “Scriptural
    Significance of Foods”; “The Cross in the Old Testament”;
    “Why Are There One Hundred and Fifty Psalms?”; “The Phœnix
    a Type of the Resurrection”; “Gnostic Exposition of the
    Decalogue”; “Types of Christ”; Various Examples from

  CHAPTER III. ASIATIC PAGAN WATER-WORSHIP                        71

    Fundamental Corruption of Christian Baptism through
    Pagan Water-Worship--“Baptismal Regeneration,” the
    Product of Paganism--Spiritual Purity Sought through
    Pagan Baptism--Testimonies from Jamblicus, Virgil,
    Ovid, Herodotus, Juvenal, and Others--Baptism and
    Serpent-Worship--Baptism and Egyptian Sun-Worship--The
    Sacred Nile--The Prevalence of Water-Worship in
    India--Sacred Wells--Sacred Rivers--Modern Buddhistic and
    Modern Hindu Baptism.


    Water-Worship Prominent in Many Ways, and Associated with
    Holy Seasons--Infant Baptism among the Scandinavians and
    Teutons--Pagan “Christening of Children”--Sacred Water as a
    Safeguard against Disease, etc.--Virtue of Water Used for
    Mechanical Purposes--Water Sprites--Similarity between Roman
    Catholicism and Paganism of Mexico--Aztec Baptism--Prayer
    for “Baptismal Regeneration” of Child by Mexican Midwife.

  CHAPTER V. GREEK WATER-WORSHIP                                 112

    Sprinkling and Immersion Both Used--Prominence of “Baptismal
    Regeneration”--Lustral Water at Temple Doors--Baptism of
    Animals--Influence of “The Greek Mysteries” on Christian
    Baptism--Initiatory Baptisms--Scenic Illustrations--Mithraic
    Baptism Engrafted on Grecian--“Creed,” “Symbol,” Drawn from
    Grecian Water-Worship Cult--Identity of Grecian and Roman
    Catholic Forms--The Use of Spittle in Pagan Baptism.


    Testimony from Tertullian, Barnabas, Justin, Methodius,
    the Apostolic Constitutions, etc.--Holy Water, or Repeated
    Baptism, Borrowed without Change--Magical Effects of Holy
    Water, the Same in Christian as in Pagan Cult--Baptism of
    Animals by Holy Water, to Produce Magical Results--Holy
    Water Prepared after the Pagan Method--Consecration of
    Baptismal Waters Borrowed from Pagan Combination of Sun-
    and Water-Worship--The Church Filled with Baptized but
    Unconverted Pagans, and so Passed under Pagan Control.

  CHAPTER VII. PAGAN SUN-WORSHIP                                 156

    Sun-Worship the Oldest and Most Widely Diffused
    Form of Paganism--Gnostic Antinomianism or
    Lawlessness--Anti-Judaism, Mainly of Pagan
    Origin--Anti-Sabbathism and Sunday Observance
    Synchronous--Anti-Lawism and Anti-Sabbathism
    Unscriptural--Christ’s Teachings Concerning the Law of God;
    Paul’s Teachings on the Same--Destructive Effect of Pagan
    Lawlessness on Christianity.

    BEFORE THE MIDDLE OF THE SECOND CENTURY                      171

    Mistaken Notions Concerning the Beginning of
    Sunday Observance--No Sunday Observance in the New
    Testament--Sunday Directly Referred to but Three Times--It
    is Never Spoken of as a Sabbath, nor as Commemorative of
    Christ’s Resurrection--The Bible does Not State that Christ
    Rose on Sunday--Christ and His Disciples Always Observed
    the Sabbath--The Change of the Sabbath Unknown in the
    New Testament--The Sabbath Never Called “Jewish” in the
    Scriptures, nor by Any Writer until after Paganism had
    Invaded the Church--Origin of Sunday Observance Found in
    Paganism--First Reference to Sunday Observance about 150
    A.D.--No Writer of the Early Centuries Claimed Scriptural
    Reasons for Its Observance--Pagan Reasons and Arguments
    Adduced in Its Support; a Day of “Indulgence to the
    Flesh”--Pretended Scriptural Reasons, _ex post facto_.


    Christ’s Attitude toward the State--The Roman Conception
    of Religion as a Department of the State--Roman Civil Law
    Created and Regulated All Religious Duties--Effect of the
    Pagan Doctrine of Religious Syncretism on Christianity--The
    Emperor a Demi-God, Entitled to Worship, and, _ex officio_,
    the Supreme Authority in Religion--The Deep Corruption of
    Roman Morals and Social Life under Pagan State Religion.

    CONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS                               203

    A New Epoch in the Paganizing of Christianity--Paganism
    Seeking a New God, Strong Enough to Save the
    Empire--Constantine Not a “Christian Emperor,” but
    Superstitious, Time-Serving, and Ambitious--Murdering His
    Kindred while Promoting Christianity as a Rising Political
    Influence--Seeking Christianity Mainly for Ambitious
    Ends--Professing Christianity Only on his Death-Bed--Making
    the Most of Both Worlds--Constantine Corrupted and Perverted
    Christianity More than He Aided It.

    SUNDAY                                                       217

    All His Tolerative Legislation Essentially Pagan--Christians
    did Not Seek for Sunday Laws--The First Sunday Law, 321
    A.D., Pagan in Every Particular--Essentially Identical with
    Existing Laws Concerning Other Days--Legislation against
    Heathen Religions Feeble and Unenforced--Constantine Not a
    “Christian Prince.”


    A Low Standard of Religious Life--Faith in Relics--The Cross
    an Ancient Pagan (Phallic) Symbol--A “Charm” borrowed from
    Paganism--Constantine’s Use of the Composite Symbol as a
    Military Standard--Prevalence of Faith in “Charms”--Sign
    of the Cross in Baptism--Baptism and Holy Water as
    “Charms”--Stupendous Miracles, like Pagan Prodigies, through
    Baptism--Delayed Baptism--Orientation at Baptism, etc.

  CHAPTER XIII. SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                           263

    Lights in Worship--Worshipping “toward the East”--Easter
    Fires--Beltane or Baal Fires--Penance--Mariolatry--The
    Mass--Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead--Peter’s
    Keys--Christmas--Easter--Lent, etc.


    Protestants must Accept the Bible _in Fact_, as well as in
    Theory, or be Overthrown--The Bible must be Reinterpreted
    in the Light of “Higher Criticism” and Deeper Spiritual
    Life--The Present Tendencies in Bible Study Mark the Opening
    of the Second Stage of the Protestant Movement--Baptism
    must Cease to be the Foot-Ball of Denominational Polemics
    and be Raised to a Question of Obedience to the Example
    of Christ--Protestants must Return to the Sabbath,
    Christianized by Christ, and to True Sabbathism, Which Is
    as Undenominational as Faith--Such Sabbathism, and God’s
    Sabbath, must be Restored to the Place from Which Pagan
    No-Sabbathism and the Pagan Sunday Drove Them--“Sabbath”
    Legislation Is Unchristian--All Union of Christianity with
    the State must Yield before the Normal Development of True

  INDEX                                                          301

       *       *       *       *       *



  Preliminary Survey--An Imaginary Past--Issue between Protestantism
  and Romanism--General Testimony Relative to Pagan Elements in
  Christianity, from Dyer, Lord, Tiele, Baronius, Polydore Virgil,
  Fauchet, Mussard, De Choul, Wiseman, Middleton, Max Müller,
  Priestley, Thebaud, Hardwick, Maitland, Seymore, Renan, Killen,
  Farrar, Merivale, Westropp and Wake, and Lechler.

A preliminary survey is the more necessary lest the general reader
fail to grant the facts of history a competent hearing and a just
consideration. Unconsciously men think of the earliest Christianity as
being like that which they profess. They measure the early centuries
by their own. Their Church, its doctrines, forms, creeds and customs,
stands as the representative of all Christianity. It seems like a “rude
awakening” to ask men to believe that there is a “pagan residuum” in
their faith, or in the customs of their fathers. The average Christian
must pass through a broadening process, before he can justly consider
such a question. Unhappily, there are too many who are unwilling to
undergo such an enlargement of their religious and historical horizon
as will make them competent to consider those facts which every earnest
student of history must face. But the Christian who believes in the
immortality of truth, and in the certainty of its triumph, will welcome
all facts, even though they may modify the creed he has hitherto

A writer in the _Edinburgh Review and Critical Journal_, commenting on
the revised volumes of Bishop Lightfoot on _Ignatius_ and _Polycarp_,
speaking of the tendency to judge the early centuries by our own, thus
vitiating our conclusions, says:

  “The danger of such inquiries lies in the difficulty of resisting the
  temptation to frame pictures of an imaginary past; and the passion
  for transferring to the past the peculiarities of later times may be
  best corrected by keeping in view the total unlikeness of the first,
  second, or third centuries to anything which now exists in any part
  of the world.”

Protestants in the United States are poorly prepared to consider so
great a question as that which this book passes under review, because
they have not carefully considered the facts touching their relations
to Roman Catholicism. The Anglo-Romish controversy, in England, in the
earlier part of the present century made the question of paganism in
Christianity prominent for a time. But the discussion was so strongly
partisan and controversial that it could not produce the best results.
Truth was much obscured by the determined effort of Protestant writers
to show that the pagan residuum was all in the Catholic Church; whereas
the facts show that there could have been no Roman Catholic Church had
not paganism first prepared the way for its development by corrupting
the earliest Christianity. The facts show, with equal vividness,
that Protestantism has retained much of paganism, by inheritance.
Protestantism, theoretically, means the entire elimination of the
pagan residuum; practically, that work is but fairly begun. It must be
pushed, or the inevitable backward drift, the historical “undertow”
will re-Romanize the Protestant movement. The expectations and purposes
of Roman Catholicism all point towards such a result.

This chapter will make a general survey of the field, as it is seen by
men of different schools, that the reader may be the better prepared
for a more specific treatment of the subject.

DYER says:

  “The first Roman converts to Christianity appear to have had very
  inadequate ideas of the sublime purity of the gospel, and to have
  entertained a strange medley of pagan idolatry and Christian truth.
  The emperor Alexander Severus, who had imbibed from his mother,
  Mammæa, a singular regard for the Christian religion, is said to have
  placed in his domestic chapel the images of Abraham, of Orpheus, of
  Apollonius, and of Christ, as the four chief sages who had instructed
  mankind in the methods of adoring the Supreme Deity. Constantine
  himself, the first Christian emperor, was deeply imbued with the
  superstitions of paganism; he had been Pontifex Maximus, and it was
  only a little while before his death that he was formally received
  by baptism into the Christian Church. He was particularly devoted to
  Apollo, and he attempted to conciliate his pagan and his Christian
  subjects by the respect which he appeared to entertain for both. An
  edict enjoining the solemn observance of Sunday was balanced in the
  same year[1] by another directing that when the palace or any other
  public building should be struck by lightning, the haruspices should
  be regularly consulted.”[2]

In a similar strain Professor LORD speaks yet more strongly:

  “But the church was not only impregnated with the errors of pagan
  philosophy, but it adopted many of the ceremonials of Oriental
  worship, which were both minute and magnificent. If anything marked
  the primitive church it was the simplicity of worship, and the
  absence of ceremonies and festivals and gorgeous rites. The churches
  became in the fourth century as imposing as the old temples of
  idolatry. The festivals became authoritative; at first they were
  few in number and voluntary. It was supposed that when Christianity
  superseded Judaism, the obligation to observe the ceremonies of
  the Mosaic law was abrogated. Neither the apostles nor evangelists
  imposed the yoke of servitude, but left Easter and every other
  feast to be honored by the gratitude of the recipients of grace.
  The change in opinion, in the fourth century, called out the severe
  animadversion of the historian Socrates, but it was useless to stem
  the current of the age. Festivals became frequent and imposing. The
  people clung to them because they obtained a cessation from labor,
  and obtained excitement. The ancient rubrics mention only those of
  the Passion, of Easter, of Whitsuntide, Christmas, and the descent of
  the Holy Spirit. But there followed the celebration of the death of
  Stephen, the memorial of St. John, the commemoration of the slaughter
  of the Innocents, the feasts of Epiphany, the feast of Purification,
  and others, until the Catholic Church had some celebration for some
  saint and martyr for every day in the year. They contributed to
  create a craving for outward religion, which appealed to the sense
  and the sensibilities rather than the heart. They led to innumerable
  quarrels and controversies about unimportant points, especially in
  relation to the celebration of Easter. They produced a delusive
  persuasion respecting pilgrimages, the sign of the cross, and the
  sanctifying effects of the sacraments. Veneration for martyrs ripened
  into the introduction of images--a future source of popular idolatry.
  Christianity was emblazoned in pompous ceremonies. The veneration of
  saints approximated to their deification, and superstition exalted
  the mother of our Lord into an object of absolute worship. Communion
  tables became imposing altars typical of Jewish sacrifices, and the
  relics of martyrs were preserved as sacred amulets....

  “When Christianity itself was in such need of reform, when Christians
  could scarcely be distinguished from pagans in love of display, and
  in egotistical ends, how could it reform the world? When it was a
  pageant, a ritualism, an arm of the state, a vain philosophy, a
  superstition, a formula, how could it save if ever so dominant?
  The corruptions of the Church in the fourth century are as well
  authenticated as the purity and moral elevation of Christianity in
  the second century. Isaac Taylor has presented a most mournful view
  of the state of Christian society when the religion of the cross had
  become the religion of the state, and the corruptions kept pace with
  the outward triumph of the faith, especially when the pagans had
  yielded to the supremacy of the cross.”[3]

Many of the corrupting elements which entered into early Christianity
came from the Orient, by way of Greece and Rome. TIELE speaks of the
influx of these in the following words:

  “The Greek deities were followed by the Asiatic, such as the Great
  Mother of the gods, whose image, consisting of an unhewn stone, was
  brought at the expense of the state from Pessinus to Rome. On the
  whole, it was not the best and loftiest features of the foreign
  religions that were adopted, but rather their low and sensual
  elements, and these too in their most corrupt form. An accidental
  accusation brought to light in the year 186 B.C. a secret worship of
  Bacchus which was accompanied by all kinds of abominations, and had
  already made its way among thousands....

  “The eyes of the multitude were always turned toward the East, from
  which deliverance was expected to come forth, and secret rites
  brought from there to Rome were sure of a number of devotees. But
  they were only bastard children, or at any rate the late misshapen
  offspring of the lofty religions which once flourished in the East,
  an un-Persian Mithra worship, an un-Egyptian Serapis worship, an Isis
  worship which only flattered the senses and was eagerly pursued by
  the fine ladies, to say nothing of more loathsome practices. And yet
  even these aberrations were the expression of a real and deep-seated
  need of the human mind, which could find no satisfaction in the
  state religion. Men longed for a God whom they could worship, heart
  and soul, and with this God they longed to be reconciled. Their own
  deities they had outgrown, and they listened eagerly therefore to
  the priests of Serapis and of Mithra, who each proclaimed their God
  as the sole-existing, the almighty, and the all-good, and they felt
  especially attracted by the earnestness and strictness of the latter
  _cultus_. And in order to be secure of the eradication of all guilt,
  men lay down in a pit where the blood of the sacrificial animal
  flowed all over them, in the conviction that they would then arise
  entirely new-born.”[4]

Many Roman Catholic writers, with an honesty which all classes might
well emulate, openly recognize the paganizing of the Church, which
took place before the organization of the papacy.


  “It was permitted the Church to transfer to pious uses those
  ceremonies which the pagans had wickedly applied in a superstitious
  worship, after having purified them by consecration; so that,
  to the greater contumely of the devil, all might honor Christ
  with those rites which he intended for his own worship. Thus the
  pagan festivals, laden with superstition, were changed into the
  praiseworthy festivals of the martyrs; and the idolatrous temples
  were changed to sacred churches, as Theodoret shows.”[5]


  “The Church has borrowed many customs from the religion of the Romans
  and other pagans, but it has meliorated them and applied them to a
  better use.”[6]


  “The bishops of this kingdom employ all means to gain men to Christ,
  converting to their use some pagan ceremonies, as well as they did
  the stones of their temples to the building of churches.”[7]


  “William de Choul,[8] counsellor to the king and bailiff of the
  mountains, composed, an age ago, a treatise of the religion of the
  ancient Romans, wherein he shows an entire conformity between old
  Rome and new. On the point of religion he closes with these words[9]:
  ‘If we consider carefully,’ says he, ‘we shall see that many
  institutions in our religion have been borrowed and transferred from
  Egyptian and Pagan ceremonies, such as tunics and surplices, priestly
  ornaments for the head, bowing at the altar, the solemnity at mass,
  music in churches, prayers, supplications, processions, litanies, and
  many other things. These our priests make use of in our mysteries,
  and refer them to one only God, Jesus Christ, which the ignorance of
  the heathen, their false religion, and foolish presumption perverted
  to their false gods, and to dead men deified.’”[10]

During the Tractarian controversy in England, John Poynder wrote
_Popery in Alliance with Heathenism_, to show that Roman Catholicism is
essentially pagan. Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, then a professor in the
University at Rome, replied under the title: _Letters to John Poynder,
Esq., upon his Work Entitled “Popery in Alliance with Heathenism_,”
London, 1836.

In Letter Second, WISEMAN says:

  “I will, for a moment, grant you the full extent of your assumptions
  and premises; I will concede that all the facts you have brought
  forward are true, and all the parallels you have established between
  our rites and those of paganism, correct; and I will join issue with
  you on your conclusions, trying them by clearly applicable tests....
  The first person who argued as you have done was Julian the Apostate,
  who said that the Christians had borrowed their religion from the
  heathens. This proves at once that even then the resemblance existed,
  of which you complain as idolatrous. So that it is not the offspring
  of modern corruption, but an inheritance of the ancient church. It
  proves that the alliance between Christianity and heathenism existed
  three hundred years after Christ, and that consequently so far popery
  and ancient Christianity are identical. The Manichees also are
  accused by St. Augustine, writing against Faustus, of having made the
  same charge.”

Dr. Wiseman enumerates many items of resemblance which Poynder does
not, and retorts by showing that the English Church yet retains the
paganism which it inherited from papacy. He emphasizes the pagan
characteristics which appear in the building, adornment, and services
of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, claiming that if a Roman pagan were
to be resurrected and brought to St. Paul’s he would recognize the
likeness to his ancient faith on every hand. Dr. Wiseman’s testimony is
of great value, since, as a defender of Romanism, he also defends the
policy which corrupted early Christianity in the West, by conforming it
to the popular paganism in order to secure a nominal conversion of the

CONYERS MIDDLETON, whose _Letter from Rome_ forms one of the standard
authorities concerning the paganism of the early Church, says:

  “Aringhus, in his account of _Subterraneous Rome_, acknowledges
  this conformity between the pagan and popish rites, and defends the
  admission of the ceremonies of heathenism into the service of the
  Church, by the authority of their wisest popes and governors, who
  found it necessary, he says, in the conversion of the Gentiles, to
  dissemble and wink at many things, and yield to the times; and not
  to use force against customs which the people were so obstinately
  fond of; nor to think of extirpating at once everything that had
  the appearance of profane; but to supersede in some measure the
  obligation of the sacred laws, till these converts, convinced by
  degrees, and informed of the whole truth by the suggestions of the
  Holy Spirit, should be content to submit in earnest to the yoke of

Further important testimony is found in the following. Writing of the
first three centuries after Christ, MAX MÜLLER says:

  “That age was characterized far more than all before it, by a
  spirit of religious syncretism, an eager thirst for compromise.
  To mould together thoughts which differed fundamentally, to grasp,
  if possible, the common elements pervading all the multifarious
  religions of the world, was deemed the proper business of philosophy,
  both in the East and West. It was a period, one has lately said, of
  mystic incubation, when India and Egypt, Babylonia and Greece, were
  sitting together and gossiping like crazy old women, chattering with
  toothless gums and silly brains about the dreams and joys of their
  youth, yet unable to recall one single thought or feeling with that
  vigor which once gave it light and truth.

  “It was a period of religious and metaphysical delirium, when
  everything became everything, when Maya and Sophia, Mithra and
  Christ, Viraf and Isaiah, Belus, Zarvan, and Kronos were mixed up in
  one jumbled system of inane speculation, from which at last the East
  was delivered by the positive doctrines of Mohammed, the West by the
  pure Christianity of the Teutonic nations.”[12]


  “The causes of the corruptions were almost wholly contained in
  the established opinions of the heathen world, and especially the
  philosophical part of it; so that when those heathens embraced
  Christianity, they mixed their former tenets and prejudices with
  it.... The abuse of the _positive institutions_ of Christianity,
  monstrous as they were, naturally arose from the opinions of the
  purifying and sanctifying virtue of rites and ceremonies, which was
  the very basis of all the worship of the heathens.”[13]


  “Therefore this same ‘high civilization,’ as it is called, in the
  midst of which Christianity was preached, was a real danger to the
  inward life of the new disciple of Christ.

  “How could it be otherwise, when it is a fact, now known to all,
  that, even at the beginning of the fifth century, Rome was almost
  entirely pagan, at least outwardly and among her highest classes; so
  that the poet Claudian, in addressing Honorius at the beginning of
  his sixth consulship, pointed out to him the site of the Capitol,
  still crowned with the temple of Jove, surrounded by numerous pagan
  edifices, supporting in air an army of gods; and all around, temples,
  chapels, statues without number; in fact, the whole Roman and Greek
  mythology, standing in the city of the catacombs and of the pope.

  “The public calendars, preserved to this day, continued to note the
  pagan festivals, side by side with the feasts of the Saviour and his
  apostles. Within the city and beyond, throughout Italy and the most
  remote provinces, idols and their altars were still surrounded by the
  thronging populace, prostrate at their feet.”[14]

HARDWICK describes the tendency to reproduce pagan theories and customs
in the early Church as follows:

  “Or take again the swarm of heresies that soon invaded almost
  every province of the early Church. Abandoning, as they did, the
  more essential of the supernatural truths of revelation, they were
  virtually and in effect revivals of paganism, and family likenesses
  may accordingly be traced among the older speculations current in the
  schools of heathen philosophy. In discussing, for example, the nature
  of the divine Son-ship, Sabellius and his party taught a doctrine
  very similar to that already noticed in the Trimurrti of India;
  while Docetism, starting from a notion that the spiritual and the
  material cannot permanently co-exist, had merely reproduced the Hindu
  doctrine of Avataras. The inward correspondence in the texture of
  ideas had issued in a similar deprivation of revealed truth. Or if,
  penetrating below the surface, we investigate the elementary thoughts
  and feelings that hereafter found utterance in monastic institutions
  of the Church, we find that on one side those ideas are alien from
  the spirit of primitive Christianity, and on the other that they had
  long been familiar in the East, before they were appropriated or
  unconsciously reproduced among one class of Christians in Syria and
  Egypt. India was the real birthplace of monasticism, its cradle being
  in the haunts of earnest _yogins_, and self-torturing devotees, who
  were convinced that evil is inherent not in man only, but in all the
  various forms of matter, and accordingly withdrew as far as possible
  from contact with the outer world. At first, indeed, the Christian
  hermit, like the earliest of his Hindu prototypes, had dwelt alone on
  the outskirts of his native town, supporting himself by manual labor,
  and devoting all the surplus of his earnings to religious purposes.

  “But during the fourth century of the present era many such
  hermits began to flock together in the forest, or the wilderness,
  where regular confraternities were organized upon a model more or
  less derived from the Egyptian Therapeutæ, and the old Essenes
  of Palestine; the members in their dress and habits most of all
  resembling those of the religious orders who still swarm in Thibet
  and Ceylon.”[15]

MAITLAND bears important testimony touching many points in which
Christianity was paganized. He sums up the general results in the
following concerning the worship of martyrs:

  “The degrees of worship and adoration, since defined with fatal
  precision by the Romish Church, were not then fixed; and the heathen,
  even less willing than the Christian laity to enter into refinements
  on the subject, saw no distinction between one form and another. The
  consequences were disastrous in the extreme; the charge of idolatry,
  mutually urged by the contending parties, lost the force, or rather
  was effectively employed by the pagans, after it had become powerless
  in Christian hands. Thus it was that, although the pure doctrines of
  our faith speedily displaced the profligate polytheism of the empire,
  the after conflict was long doubtful, being maintained by a religion
  enfeebled by admixture with foreign elements, against one that had
  profited by adversity, and had not scrupled to borrow largely from
  its rival. We read in fable of the struggle between the man and the
  serpent, in which at length the combatants become transformed into
  the shapes of each other. In the last contest between paganism and
  Christianity we find the sophist contending for the unity of God, and
  accusing the Christian of undisguised polytheism; and on the other
  side the Christian insisting on the tutelary powers of glorified
  mortals, and the omniscience of departed spirits.”[16]

Similar testimony is borne by SEYMORE, who says:

  “The apostasy of the Church of Rome will be more apparent when we
  reflect that the character of the mediation which Romanism ascribes
  to its saints is precisely the same as that which heathenism ascribes
  to its demi-gods. It was believed among the heathen that when a man
  became illustrious for his deeds, his conquests, his inventions,
  or aught else that distinguished him as a benefactor of mankind,
  he could be canonized and enrolled among inferior deities. He thus
  became a mediator whose sympathies with his fellow-men on the one
  hand, and whose merits with the gods on the other fitted him for
  the mediatorial office of bearing the prayers and wants of mortals
  to the presence of the gods. The heathen philosophers, Hesiod,
  Plato, and Apuleius, all thus speak of those persons. The last named
  philosopher says: ‘They are intermediate intelligences, by whom our
  prayers and wants pass unto the gods. They are mediators between the
  inhabitants of the earth and the inhabitants of heaven, carrying
  thither our prayers, and drawing down their blessings. They bear
  back and forwards prayers for us, and supplies for them; or they
  are those that explain between both parties, and who carry our
  adorations.’ This was the creed of heathenism, and in nothing but
  the name does it differ from the corresponding creed of Romanism.
  When the Church of Rome finds members of her communion whom she
  regards as signally pious, or illustrious for supposed miraculous
  powers, she holds that they be canonized and enrolled among her
  saints; that they can mediate between God and man; that they have
  sufficient favor or influence with God to obtain compliance with
  our prayers, and therefore they are fitting objects to whom our
  confessions, invocations, and prayers may be offered; or, as she
  expresses it in her creed, ‘that the saints reigning with Christ
  are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God
  for us.’ The principle of heathen Romanism, and the principle of
  Christian Romanism are one and the same, the only difference is
  in the details of the names. And the origin of the practice is
  demonstrative of this; for when it was found, after the establishment
  of Christianity in the times of Constantine, when the great object
  of the court was to promote uniformity of religion, that many of the
  heathen would outwardly conform to Christianity if allowed to retain
  in private their worship of their guardian or tutelar divinities,
  they were so allowed, merely on changing the names of Jupiter to
  Peter, or Juno to Mary, still worshipping their old divinities under
  new names, and even retaining old images that were baptized with
  Christian names. This is apparent in the writings of those times,
  and was thought a measure of wisdom, a stroke of profound policy, as
  tending to produce a uniformity of religion among the unthinking
  masses. The invocations of Juno have been transferred to Mary; the
  prayers to Mercury have been transferred to Paul. We see not how the
  substitution of the names of Damian or Cosmo, for those of Mercury
  or Apollo, or how the substitution of the names of Lucy or Cecelia,
  for those of Minerva or Diana, can alter the idolatrous character of
  the practice. In some instances they have not even changed the names,
  and Romulus and Remus are still worshipped in Italy, under the more
  modern names of St. Romulo and St. Remugio. The simple people believe
  them to have been two holy bishops. I have myself witnessed this
  near Florence, and even Bacchus is not without his votaries, under
  the ecclesiastical name of St. Bacco. The principle and practice of
  papal Rome are identical with the principle and practice of pagan
  Rome. Every argument to justify one may be equally urged to justify
  or extenuate the other. And if the principle and practice of pagan
  Rome are to be pronounced as idolatrous, I see not why the very same
  principle and practice in papal Rome should not be pronounced as
  idolatrous likewise.”[17]

In the light of all the facts Mr. Seymore cannot fasten the pagan
residuum upon Romanism alone. The controlling trend into paganism
was established before the papacy was developed; and if new forms of
expression appeared afterward, they were but the fruitage of earlier

RENAN, speaking of the relation between the religious _cultus_ of the
Orient and early Christianity, says:

  “This is the explanation of the singular attraction which about the
  beginning of the Christian era drew the population of the ancient
  world to the religions of the East. These religions had something
  deeper in them than those of Greece and Rome; they addressed
  themselves more fully to the religious sentiment. Almost all of them
  stood in some relation to the condition of the soul in another life,
  and it was believed that they held the warrant of immortality. Hence
  the favor in which the Thracian and Sabasian mysteries, the _thiasi_,
  and confraternities of all kinds, were held. It was not so chilly in
  these little circles, where men pressed closely together, as in the
  great icy world of that day. Little religions like the worship of
  Psyche, whose sole object was consolation for human mortality, had
  a momentary prevalence. The beautiful Egyptian worship, which hid a
  real emptiness beneath a great splendor of ritual, counted devotees
  in every part of the empire. Isis and Serapis had altars even in
  the ends of the world. A visitor to the ruins of Pompeii might be
  tempted to believe that the principal worship which obtained there
  was that of Isis. These little Egyptian temples had their assiduous
  worshippers, among whom were many of the same class as the friends of
  Catullus and Tibullus. There was a morning service; a kind of mass,
  celebrated by a priest, shorn and beardless. There were sprinklings
  of holy water; possibly benediction in the evening. All this
  occupied, amused, soothed. What could any one want more?

  “But it was above all the Mithraic[18] worship which, in the second
  and third centuries, attained an extraordinary prevalence. I
  sometimes permit myself to say that, if Christianity had not carried
  the day, Mithraicism would have become the religion of the world.
  It had its mysterious meetings, its chapels, which bore a strong
  resemblance to little churches. It forged a very lasting bond of
  brotherhood between its initiates; it had a Eucharist, a supper so
  like the Christian mysteries that good Justin Martyr the Apologist
  can find only one explanation of the apparent identity, namely, that
  Satan, in order to deceive the human race, determined to imitate the
  Christian ceremonies, and so stole them. A Mithraic sepulchre in the
  Roman catacombs is as edifying, and presents as elevated a mysticism,
  as the Christian tombs.”[19]

Describing the earliest Christianity, KILLEN bears valuable testimony
to the fact that the features of paganism which became prominent at a
later period were wholly wanting in the earliest Christianity. He shows
that the Church was Judaistic in forms and practice.

These are his words:

  “A Roman citizen, when present for the first time at the worship
  of the Church, might have remarked how profoundly it differed
  from the ritual of paganism. The services in the great heathen
  temples were but an imposing scenic exhibition. The holy water for
  lustration, the statues of the gods with wax tapers burning before
  them, the officials robed in white surplices, and the incense
  floating in clouds and diffusing perfume all around, could only
  regale the sense or light up the imagination. No stated time was
  devoted to instruct the assembly; and the liturgy--often in a dead
  language--as it was mumbled over by the priest, merely added to
  the superstition and the mysticism. But the worship of the Church
  was, in the highest sense, a ‘reasonable service.’ It had no parade,
  no images, no fragrant odors; for the first hundred years it was
  commonly celebrated in private houses or the open fields; and yet it
  addressed itself so impressively to the understanding and the heart
  that the congregations of the faithful frequently presented scenes
  incomparably more spirit-stirring and sublime than anything ever
  witnessed in the high places of Greek or Roman idolatry....

  “No individual or church court is warranted to tamper with symbolic
  ordinances of divine appointment; for as they are the typical
  embodiment of great truths, any change essentially vitiates their
  testimony. But their early administrators overlooking this grave
  objection, soon ceased to respect the integrity of baptism and
  the Lord’s Supper. In the third century a number of frivolous and
  superstitious ceremonies--such as exorcism, unction, the making of
  the sign of the cross on the forehead, and the kiss of peace--were
  already tacked to baptism; so that the beautiful significance of
  the primitive observance could not be well seen under these strange
  trappings. Before the middle of the second century the wine of
  the Eucharist was mixed with water; fifty years afterwards the
  communicants participated standing; and at length the elements
  themselves were treated with awful reverence. The more deeply to
  impress the imagination, baptism and the Eucharist began to be
  surrounded with the secrecy of the heathen mysteries, and none save
  those who had received the ordinances were suffered to be present at
  their dispensation. The ministers of the Church sadly compromised
  their religion when they thus imitated the meretricious decorations
  of the pagan worship. As might have been expected, the symbols so
  disfigured were misunderstood and misrepresented. Baptism was called
  regeneration, and the Eucharist was designated a sacrifice. Thus
  a door was opened for the admission of a whole crowd of dangerous

The tendency to religious syncretism, during the early centuries, was a
prolific source of corruption to New Testament Christianity. Speaking
of the results of this tendency, and of the composite character of
the religious _cultus_ at Alexandria, in the time of Hadrian (117-138
A.D.), Canon FARRAR says:

  “There was no city in the empire in which a graver task was assigned
  to the great scholars and teachers of Christianity than the city of
  Alexandria. It was the centre of the most energetic intellectual
  vitality; and there, like the seething of the grapes in the vine
  cluster, the speculations of men of every religion and every
  nationality exercised a reciprocal influence on each other.

  “A single letter of Hadrian presented by Vopiscus will show the
  confusion of thought and intermixture of religions which prevailed
  in that cosmopolitan city, and the aspect presented by its religious
  syncretism to a cool and cynical observer. ‘Those who worship
  Serapis,’ he says in a letter to a friend, ‘are Christians, and those
  who call themselves Bishops of Christ are votaries of Serapis. There
  is no ruler of a synagogue there, no Samaritan, no presbyter of the
  Christians, who is not an astrologer, who is not a soothsayer, who
  is not a gymnast. The patriarch of the Jews himself when he comes to
  Egypt is forced by one party to worship Serapis, by the other Christ.
  They have but one God who is no God; him Christians, him Jews, him
  all races worship alike.’ To the disdainful and sceptical mind of
  the emperor, who deified his own unhappy minion, Christianity,
  gnosticism, Judaism, paganism were all forms of one universal
  charlatanry and sham.”[21]

In writing of Leo the Great (440-461) founder of the papacy, Dean
MERIVALE gives a graphic picture of the state of Christianity at that
time. Space is here taken for a copious extract that the weight of
Merivale’s name and words may add force to the facts. He says:

  “It will be admitted, I trust, without entering upon disquisitions
  which would be inappropriate to this occasion, that the corruptions
  of Christian faith against which our own national Church and many
  others rose indignantly at the Reformation had for the most part
  struck their foundations deep in the course of the fifth century;
  that though they had sprung up even from an earlier period, and
  though they developed more in some directions, and assumed more
  fixity in the darker times that followed, yet the working of the
  true Christian leaven among the masses was never more faint, the
  approximation of Christian usage to the manners and customs of
  paganism never really closer, than in the age of which we are now
  speaking. We have before us many significant examples of the
  facility with which the most intelligent of the pagans accepted the
  outward rite of Christian baptism, and made a nominal profession of
  the faith, while they retained and openly practised, without rebuke,
  without remark, with the indulgence even of genuine believers, the
  rites and usages of the paganism they pretended to have abjured. We
  find abundant records of the fact that personages high in office,
  such as consuls and other magistrates, while administering the laws
  by which the old idolatries were proscribed, actually performed
  pagan rites, and even erected public statues to pagan divinities.
  Still more did men, high in the respect of their fellow-Christians,
  allow themselves to cherish sentiments utterly at variance with the
  definitions of the Church. Take the instance of the illustrious
  Bishop Synesius. Was he a Christian, was he a pagan; who shall say?
  He was famous in the schools of Alexandria as a man of letters, a
  teacher of the ancient philosophies, an admirer of the pagan Hypatia.
  The Christian people of Ptolemais, enchanted with his talents,
  demanded him for their bishop. He protests not indeed that he is an
  unbeliever--but that his life and habits are not suitable to so high
  an office. He has a wife whom he cannot abandon, as the manners of
  the age might require of him; whom he will not consort with secretly,
  as the manners of the age would, it seems, allow. ‘But further I
  cannot believe,’ he adds, ‘that the human soul has been breathed
  into flesh and blood; I will not teach that this everlasting world
  of matter is destined to annihilation; the resurrection, as taught
  by the Church, seems to me a doubtful and questionable doctrine. I
  am a philosopher, and cannot preach to the people popularly.’ In
  short, he maintains to all appearance that if he is a believer in
  Jesus Christ, he is a follower of Plato; and such doubtless were
  many others. The people leave him his wife and his opinions, and
  insist that he shall be their bishop. He retains his family ties,
  his philosophy, his Platonism, his rationalism, and accepts the
  government of the Church notwithstanding. Again we ask, was Synesius
  a Christian or a pagan? The instance of such a bishop, one probably
  among many, is especially significant; but the same question arises
  with regard to other men of eminence of the period. Was Boëthius,
  a century later, the imitator of Cicero, Christian or pagan? Was
  Simplicius, the commentator on Plato? Was Ausonius, the playful
  poet and amiable friend of the Bishop Paulinus, who celebrates
  Christ in one poem, and scatters his allusions to pagan mythology
  indiscriminately in many others? We know that Libanius, the intimate
  friend and correspondent of Basil, was a pagan of the pagans; but he
  did not on that account forfeit the confidence of a sainted father of
  the Christian Church. So indifferent as Christians seem to have been
  at this period to their own creed, so indifferent to the creed of
  their friends and associates, we cannot wonder if it has left us few
  or but slight traces of a vital belief in the principles of divine

  “We must make, indeed, large allowance for the intellectual trials
  of an age of transition when it was not given to every one to see
  his way between the demands urged upon an intelligent faith by the
  traditions of a brilliant past on the one hand, and the intimations
  of an obscure and not a cheerful future on the other. We hardly
  realize, perhaps, the pride with which the schools of Athens
  and Alexandria still regarded their thousand years of academic
  renown, while the Christian Church was slowly building up the
  recent theological systems on which its own foundations were to be
  secured for the ages to follow. We need not complain of Leo, and
  other Christian doctors, if they shrank, as I think they did, from
  rushing again into polemics with the remnant of the philosophers,
  whose day, they might think, was sure to close at no distant date.
  But the real corruption of the age was shown in the unstinted
  adoption of pagan usages in the ceremonial of the Christian Church,
  with all the baneful effects they could not fail to produce on the
  spiritual training of the people. There are not wanting, indeed,
  passages in the popular teachings of St. Leo, in which he beats the
  air with angry denunciations of auguries, and sortilege, and magic,
  stigmatizes idolatry as the worship of demons, and the devil as the
  father of pagan lies. But neither Leo, nor, I think, the contemporary
  doctors of the Church, seem to have had an adequate sense of the
  process by which the whole essence of paganism was throughout their
  age constantly percolating the ritual of the Church and the hearts
  of the Christian multitude. It is not to these that we can look for
  a warning that the fasts prescribed by the Church had their parallel
  in the abstinence imposed by certain pagan creeds, and required
  to be guarded and explained to the people in their true Christian
  significance; that the monachism they extolled so warmly, and which
  spread so rapidly, was in its origin a purely pagan institution,
  common to the religions of India, Thibet, and Syria, with much,
  no doubt, to excuse its extravagance in the hapless condition of
  human life at the period, but with little or nothing to justify it
  in the charters of our Christian belief; that the canonizing of
  saints and martyrs, the honors paid them, and the trust reposed in
  them, were simply a revival of the old pagan mythologies; that the
  multiplication of formal ceremonies, with processions and lights and
  incense and vestments, with images and pictures and votive offerings,
  was a mere pagan appeal to the senses, such as can never fail to
  enervate man’s moral fibre; that, in short, the general aspect of
  Christian devotion, as it met the eye of the observer, was a faint
  and rather frivolous imitation of the old pagan ritual, the object
  of which, from first to last, was not to instruct, or elevate man’s
  nature, but simply to charm away the ills of life by adorning and
  beautifying his present existence.”[22]

Witness also the following from WESTROPP and WAKE:

  “In popular customs, and even in religious institutions, these things
  are as plainly perceived to-day as when Adonis and Astarte were the
  Gods of the former world. The sanctities, the powers, the symbols,
  and even the utensils of the ancient faith have been assumed, if not
  usurped or legitimately inherited, by its successors. The two holies
  of the Gnostics and Neo-Platonists, Sophia and Eirene--Wisdom and
  Peace--were adopted as saints in the calendar of Constantinople.
  Dionysius, the god of the mysteries, reappears as St. Denys in
  France, St. Liberius, St. Eleutherius, and St. Bacchus; there is
  also a St. Mithra; and even Satan, prince of shadows, is revered as
  St. Satur and St. Swithin. Their relics are in keeping. The holy
  virgin Astræa or Astarte, whose return was announced by Virgil in the
  days of Augustus, as introducing a new golden age, now under her old
  designation of Blessed Virgin and Queen of Heaven, receives homage as
  ‘the one whose sole divinity the whole orb of the earth venerates.’
  The Mother and Child, the latter adorned with the nimbus or aureole
  of the ancient sun-gods, are now the objects of veneration as much
  as were Ceres and Bacchus, or Isis and Horus, in the mysteries.
  Nuns abounded alike in Christian and Buddhist countries, as they
  did formerly in Isis-worshipping Egypt; and if their maidenhood is
  not sacrificed at the shrine of Baal-Peor, or any of his cognate
  divinities, yet it is done in a figure; they are all ‘brides of
  the Saviour.’ _Galli_ sing in the churches, and consecrated women
  are as numerous as of old. The priestly vestments are like those
  formerly used in the worship of Saturn and Cybele; the Phrygian
  cap, the pallium, the stole, and the alb. The whole Pantheon has
  been exhausted, from the Indus, Euphrates, and the Nile, to supply
  symbolic adornment for the apostles’ successors. Hercules holds the
  distaff of Omphale. The Lily has superseded the Lotus, and celibacy
  is exalted above the first recorded mandate of God to mankind....

  “It is true, doubtless, that there is not a fast or festival,
  procession or sacrament, social custom or religious symbol, that did
  not come ‘bodily’ from the previous paganism. But the pope did not
  import them on his own account; they had already been transferred
  into the ecclesiastical structure, and he only accepted and perhaps
  took advantage of the fact. Many of those who protest because of
  these corruptions are prone to imitate them more or less, displaying
  an engrafting from the same stock.”[23]

A late German writer of note and authority, LECHLER, thus states the
relative influence of paganism and Judaism on early Christianity:

  “Putting together all that has been said, we get the impression
  that, in respect to the Gentile Christians in the second half of
  the Apostolic age, heathenism was the vastly predominant power that
  partly from without threatened the Church, and partly from within
  prepared the most hazardous disputes. It was an anti-Christian gnosis
  proceeding from heathen ideas; frequently also a moral error stained
  with heathen licentiousness, that became dangerous to souls. On the
  other hand, according to all the documents of that later apostolic
  time that we possess, Judaism, broken as a political power, was no
  longer a dangerous opponent of the Church of Christ as a spiritual
  power; the time in which Judaizing errorists possessed a powerful
  influence over spirits was visibly passed.”[24]

With such a preview, made up from writers of such authority and
ability, the fact of the existence of an immense amount of pagan
residuum in Christianity is placed beyond question. The reader may be
surprised; may shrink from such facts. But shrinking from facts, or
denying them, does not remove or destroy them. Facts are immortal. He
who will take the trouble to follow through the successive chapters
will see by what means, and in what ways, Christianity was corrupted,
and whence came the pagan residuum that yet remains. Suggestions in
outline will also be found, as to how the remaining residuum can be


[1] It was the next day.

[2] _History of Rome_, by Thomas H. Dyer, LL.D., p. 295, New York and
London, 1877.

[3] _The Old Roman World_, by John Lord, LL.D., chap. xiii., p. 558
ff., New York, 1873.

[4] _Outlines of the History of Religions_, by Prof. C. P. Tiele,
translated from the Dutch by J. E. Carpenter, pp. 242, 244. London and
Boston, 1877.

[5] _Epitome Annalium Cardinalis Baronii, a Spondano._ In Dues Partes.
p. 79, Lugduni, 1686.

[6] _De Inventore Rerum_, lib. v., cap. i., Venetus, 1490.

[7] _Antiquities of France_, lib. 2, cap. 1.

[8] _Faux Visage de l’Antiquité._

[9] Which are to be found in the edition printed with the king’s
privilege, at Lyons, by William Rouille, anno 1556.

[10] _Conformity between Ancient and Modern Ceremonies_, Leyden, 1677,
pp. 4, 5.

For the original, see _Veterum Romanorum Religio_, Guilielmo du Choul,
Amstelædami, 1685, p. 216.

[11] _Middleton’s Works_, vol. iii., pp. 117, 118, London, 1752. See
also Aringhus, _Rom. Subter._, tom. 1, lib. i., c. 21.

[12] _Last Results of Persian Research_, in _Outlines of the Philosophy
of History_, by C. C. J. Bunsen, chap. 3, sec. 1, part 1, of First
Part, London, 1854.

[13] _History of the Corruption of Christianity_, vol. ii., pp. 441,
442, Birmingham, 1782.

[14] _The Irish Race in the Past and the Present_, by Rev. Aug.
Thebaud, S. J., p. 63, New York, 1876.

[15] _Christ and Other Masters_, by Charles Hardwick, M.A., part 2, p.
183, Cambridge, 1857.

[16] _The Church in the Catacombs_, etc., by Chas. Maitland, M.D., p.
306, London, 1846.

[17] _Evenings with the Romanists_, pp. 221-223, London, 1854.

[18] Eastern sun-worship.

[19] _Influence of Rome on Christianity_, Hibbert Lectures for 1880, p.
33 ff.

[20] _The Old Catholic Church_, etc., W. D. Killen, D.D., pp. 44-6,
Edinburgh, 1871.

[21] _Lives of the Fathers_, vol. i., pp. 350-1, Edinburgh, 1889.

[22] _Four Lectures on Some Epochs of Early Church History_, by Charles
Merivale, D.D., Dean of Ely, pp. 149-155, New York, Randolph; no date.

[23] _Ancient Symbol Worship_, Westropp and Wake, pp. 94, 96, New York,

[24] _Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Times_, G. V. Lechler, D.D., pp.
262, 263.


  Contrast between the Christianity of the New Testament and
  That of the Later Centuries--Gnosticism and Allegorical
  Interpretation--Testimony of Harnack and Bauer Concerning the
  “Hellenization of Christianity”--Hatch on “Pagan Exegesis”--The
  “Fathers” as Allegorists; Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Barnabas,
  and Others--Examples: “The Red Heifer a Type of Christ”; “Spiritual
  Circumcision”; “Scriptural Significance of Foods”; “The Cross in
  the Old Testament”; “Why Are There One Hundred and Fifty Psalms?”
  “The Phœnix a Type of the Resurrection”; “Gnostic Exposition of the
  Decalogue”; “Types of Christ”; Various Examples from Augustine.

The student of history cannot fail to note the wide difference between
the Christianity of the New Testament period and that of the fourth
century. The religion which Christ taught was a direct outgrowth of
Judaism. His mission was “not to destroy but to fulfil.” This He did
by giving a higher conception and a broader view of all which Judaism
had held hitherto. He gave a new meaning to the fatherhood of God.
He explained and enforced the moral precepts of the Old Testament,
developing their deeper spiritual sense, and giving them a new
application to the inner life of men. He enlarged Judaism without
destroying it. He clarified and intensified the ten commandments. He
discarded the outward formalities of the Jews, and “reached the heart
of things” by His interpretation of the ancient Scriptures, by His new
precepts, and by His example. He developed Christianity within the
Jewish Church, making it the efflorescence of all that was best in the
ancient dispensation.

Christ presented love for God, for truth, and for man, as the
mainspring of action in all religious living. Under His teachings
Christianity arose as a new life, springing from the law of God,
written in the hearts of men. New Testament Christianity was a life
born of love, and finding expression in loving obedience. It was a
system of right living, as in the divine presence, and by the help of
the divine Spirit. Men were drawn to each other and to Christ by the
power of this love. Such was Christianity at its birth.

The earliest Christian congregations were communities for holy living,
upon the ground of a mutual faith in Christ. They expected still
greater revelations of Him, and through Him, in the near future. The
facts connected with His life and the memory of His teachings formed
the soil in which Christianity had its earliest roots. A common
hope and the struggle for holy living according to the law of God
bound these communities together. They were made up of Jews alone,
or of Jews and those Gentiles who had been converts to Judaism.
Beyond this common hope there was no settled doctrine, no formal
ecclesiastical organization. There were no written scriptures except
the Old Testament. As the history of Christianity progressed, its
enlarging spirit brought about a conflict with the narrower phases of
Judaism, and hence more or less antagonism towards certain Judaistic
interpretations of the Old Testament.

The Christianity of the third and fourth centuries presents the
strongest possible contrast when placed alongside of that which existed
during the New Testament period. The Sermon on the Mount was the
promulgation of a new law of conduct. “The Nicene Creed is a statement
partly of historical facts, and partly of dogmatic inferences.”[25]
Some adequate reason must be found for this difference. How did this
change in the central character of Christianity come to pass? By what
influences was it transformed from a system of right living to a system
of metaphysical belief; to right thinking rather than right doing?
The answer is suggested by the fact that this change in character is
contemporaneous with the transferring of Christianity from Semitic
to Greek influence. Thus we are brought to face the fact that the
religion of a given people at a given time bears certain definite
relations to the mental attitude of that time. Religion is a part of
common life which cannot be separated from its surroundings. While we
may consider religious problems as distinct from other questions, they
can never be understood except as a part of the complex life with which
they are interwoven.

We therefore must commence by inquiring after the characteristics of
the pagan world into which the infant Christianity passed when the
stream of its history left the soil of Palestine and entered the field
of Greek and Roman influences.


Long before the time of Christ the Oriental religions had developed a
system of philosophy in which were the seeds of that which in later
times was known as gnosticism. This claimed to hold within itself “the
knowledge of God and of man, of the being and the providence of the
former, and of the creation and destiny of the latter.”[26] In its
journey westward this system had mingled with Jewish thought and given
rise to the Kabbalists or Jewish Gnostics. In the Oriental religions
all external phenomena expressed a hidden meaning. Applying this
doctrine to the Scriptures, the Jewish Gnostics taught that a hidden
meaning was to be found in all laws, ceremonies, and rituals. They
invented the theory that a secret tradition had been handed down from
the time of Moses; the interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures had been
greatly perverted in this way. Gnosticism said: “Nothing is what it
seems to be; everything tangible is the symbol of something invisible.
By this means the history of the Old Testament was sublimated into a
history of the emancipation of reason from sense.”[27] This application
of the allegorical method of interpretation to the Old Testament
enabled pagan philosophers to draw from it whatever fancies they chose.
This method also favored a tendency among the early Christians to
interpret the Old Testament so as to find upon every leaf of the book
some reference to Christ and the Christian religion. Thus gnosticism
had prepared the way for the obliteration of the concrete positiveness
of the Old Testament, and destroyed its authority in a great degree.

The entire Grecian world was thoroughly permeated as to its literature
and philosophy with the spirit and practice of gnosticism. It formed
the bridge between Judaism on its intellectual side, and the Oriental,
Grecian, and Egyptian cults. When the infant Christianity came in
contact with Greek thought, gnostic influences and tendencies assailed
it on every hand. Thus, through a gnostic element already within the
Jewish Church, and the cultured, powerful gnostic influences in the
pagan world, nascent Christianity was like the traveller from Jerusalem
to Jericho who fell among thieves. The intellectual unrest of the age
favored the process of corruption which went rapidly forward.

Biblical Exegesis.

Whatever touches the Bible and its interpretation touches Christianity
at a vital point. The fundamental difference between the pagan
gnosticism and Christianity lay in the fact that Christianity was a
revealed religion, finding its beginning and end in the divine love and
life unfolded in Christ Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. On the contrary,
gnosticism found its source in human reasoning, human philosophy, and

Dr. SCHAFF describes its influence when he says:

  “It exaggerates the Pauline view of the distinction of Christianity
  from Judaism, sunders Christianity from its historical basis,
  resolves the real humanity of the Saviour into a doketistic
  illusion, and perverts the freedom of the Gospel into Antinomian
  licentiousness. The author or first representative of this baptized
  heathenism, according to the uniform testimony of Christian
  antiquity, is Simon Magus, who unquestionably adulterated
  Christianity with pagan ideas and practices, and gave himself out, in
  pantheistic style, for an emanation of God. Plain traces of [of the
  existence of] this error appear in the later epistles of Paul to the
  Colossians, to Timothy, and to Titus, the second epistle of Peter,
  and the first two epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the
  messages of the Apocalypse to the seven churches.”[28]

This rapid survey of the field shows us that gnostic influences
represent what Professor HARNACK calls “_The acute vulgarization of
Christianity, or its Hellenization_.” We are therefore prepared to
accept his testimony relative to the influence of the Gnostics as
formulators of Christian doctrine. The following are his words:

  “Under this view the Gnostics should be given their place in the
  history of dogmas as has not been done hitherto. They are simply
  the theologians of the first century; they were the first to
  transform Christianity into a system of doctrines. They were the
  first to elaborate tradition systematically; they undertook to prove
  Christianity to be the absolute religion, and by it to hunt down
  all other religions, including Judaism; but to them the absolute
  religion, so far as its content was concerned, was identical with
  the results of religious philosophy, for which a revelation was to
  be sought as a foundation. Thus they became Christians who tried by
  quick measures to win Christianity for the Hellenic culture, and the
  Hellenic culture for Christianity. To this end they would surrender
  the Old Testament that they might make it more easy to establish
  the union between the two powers, and to gain the possibility of
  proclaiming the absoluteness of Christianity....

  “We may also consider the majority of the gnostic efforts as efforts
  to transform Christianity into a theosophy, or, so to say, into a
  system of revealed metaphysics, with a complete disregard for the
  Jewish Old Testament foundation, on which it originated, and by the
  use of the Pauline ideas. We can also compare later writers, such
  as Barnabas and Ignatius, with the so-called Gnostics, by which the
  latter will be seen to possess a well formulated theory, and the
  former to be in possession of fragments which bear a remarkable
  likeness to said theory.”[29]

BAUER, a careful student of gnosticism, gives a description of
its mission and methods which shows how it was prepared to exert
such a controlling influence on the history of early Christianity,
and how destructive that influence was in the matter of biblical
interpretation. He says:

  “_Gnosis_ and allegory are essentially allied conceptions; and this
  affords us a very marked indication of the path which will really
  lead us to the origin of gnosticism; for we shall find that allegory
  plays an important part in most of its systems, especially in those
  which exhibit its original form.

  “It is well known that allegory is the soul of the Alexandrian
  religious philosophy. Nothing else, indeed, can enable us to
  understand the rise of the latter, so closely is allegory interwoven
  with its very nature. Allegory is in general the mediator between
  philosophy and the religion which rests upon positive tradition.
  Wherever it is seen on a large scale, we notice that philosophical
  views have arisen side by side with, and independently of, the
  existing religion; and that the need has arisen to bring the ideas
  and doctrines of philosophy into harmony with the contents of the
  religious belief. In such circumstances, allegory appears in the
  character of mediator. It brings about the desired conformity by
  simply interpreting the belief in the sense of the philosophy.
  Religious ideas and narratives are thus clothed with a figurative
  sense, which is entirely different from their literal meaning. It
  was thus that allegory arose before the Christian time among the
  Greeks. The desire was felt first by Plato, and afterward still more
  strongly by the Stoics, to turn the myths of the popular religion
  to account on behalf of their philosophical ideas, and so to bridge
  over the gulf between the philosophical and the popular mind; and
  with this view they struck out the path of allegory, of allegorical
  interpretation of the myths. It is well known what extensive use the
  Stoics made of allegory when they wished to trace their own ideas
  of the philosophy of nature in the gods of popular belief, and the
  narratives concerning them.

  “But in Alexandria, this mode of interpretation assumed still greater
  importance. Here it had to solve the weighty problem, how the new
  ideas that had forced their way into the mind and consciousness of
  the Jew, were to be reconciled with his belief in the authority
  of his sacred religious books. Allegory alone made it possible to
  him, on the one hand, to admire the philosophy of the Greeks, and
  in particular of Plato, and to make its ideas his own; and, on the
  other, to reverence the Scripture of the Old Testament as the one
  source of divinely revealed truth. The sacred books needed but to be
  explained allegorically, and then all that was wished for, even the
  boldest speculative ideas of the Greek mind, could be found in the
  books themselves. How widely this method was practised in Alexandria,
  may be judged from the writings of Philo, in which we see the most
  extensive use made of allegorical interpretation, and find the
  contents of the Old Testament blended intimately with everything that
  the systems of Greek philosophy could offer. But it would be quite
  erroneous to think that it was nothing but caprice and the unchecked
  play of fancy, that called forth this allegorical explanation of
  the Scriptures, which came to exercise such influence. For to the
  Alexandrian Jew, at the stage of scriptural development which he had
  now reached, with his consciousness divided between his ancestral
  Hebraism and modern Hellenism, this allegorizing was a necessary form
  of consciousness; and so little did he dream that the artificial link
  by which he bound together such diverse elements was a thing he had
  himself created, that all the truth which he accepted in the systems
  of Greek philosophy seemed to him to be nothing but an emanation from
  the Old Testament revelation.

  “Now the gnostic systems also, for the most part, make very free
  use of the allegorical method of interpretation; and this is enough
  to apprise us that we must regard them under the same aspect as the
  Alexandrian religious philosophy. As far as we are acquainted with
  the writings of the Gnostics, we see them to have been full of
  allegorical interpretations, not indeed referring, as with Philo, to
  the books of the Old Testament (for their attitude toward the Old
  Testament was entirely different from his); but to those of the New,
  which were for the Gnostics what the books of the Old Testament were
  for Philo.

  “In order to give their own ideas a Christian stamp, they applied
  the allegorical method, as much as possible, to the persons and
  events of the Gospel history, and especially to the numbers that
  occur in it. Thus for the Valentinians the number thirty in the New
  Testament, especially in the life of Jesus, was made to signify the
  number of their æons; the lost wandering sheep was for them their
  Achamoth; and even the utterances of Jesus, which contain a perfectly
  simple religious truth, received from them a sense referring to the
  doctrines of their system.

  “The lately discovered _Philosophoumena_ of the pseudo-Origen who
  undertook the task of refuting all the heresies show us even more
  clearly than before what an extensive use the Gnostics made of

  “They applied it not merely to the books of the Old and New
  Testaments, but even the products of Greek literature, for instance,
  to the Homeric poems; their whole mode of view was entirely

  “The whole field of ancient mythology, astronomy, and physics, was
  laid under contribution to support their views. They thought that the
  ideas that were the highest objects of their thought and knowledge
  were to be found expressed everywhere.”[30]

HATCH offers important testimony as to the pagan elements in early
exegesis, in these words:

  “The earliest methods of Christian exegesis were continuations of the
  methods which were common at the time to both Greek and Græco-Judæan
  writers. They were employed on the same subject-matter. Just as
  the Greek philosophers had found their philosophy in Homer, so
  Christian writers found in him Christian theology. When he represents
  Odysseus as saying,[31] ‘The rule of many is not good; let there be
  one ruler,’ he means to indicate that there should be but one God;
  and his whole poem is designed to show the mischief that comes of
  having many gods.[32] When he tells us that Hephæstus represented
  on the shield of Achilles ‘the earth, the heaven, the sea, the sun
  that rests not, and the moon full-orbed,’[33] he is teaching the
  divine order of creation which he learned in Egypt from the books
  of Moses.[34] So Clement of Alexandria interprets the withdrawal of
  Oceanus and Tethys from each other to mean the separation of land and
  sea.[35] And he holds that Homer when he makes Apollo ask Achilles,
  ‘Why fruitlessly pursue him, a god,’ meant to show that the divinity
  cannot be apprehended by the bodily powers.[36]

  “Some of the philosophical schools which hung upon the skirts of
  Christianity mingled such interpretations of Greek mythology
  with similar interpretations of the Old Testament. For example,
  the writer to whom the name Simon Magus is given, is said to have
  ‘interpreted in whatever way he wished both the writings of Moses and
  also those of the Greek poets’[37]; and the Ophite writer, Justin,
  evolves an elaborate cosmogony from a story of Herakles narrated in
  Herodotus,[38] combined with the story of the Garden of Eden.[39]...

  “A large part of such interpretation was inherited. The coincidences
  of mystical interpretation between Philo and the _Epistle of
  Barnabas_ show that such interpretation were becoming the common
  property of Jews and Judæo-Christians. But the method was soon
  applied to new data. Exegesis became apologetic. Whereas Philo and
  his school had dealt mainly with the Pentateuch, the early Christian
  writers came to deal mainly with the prophets and poetical books;
  and whereas Philo was mainly concerned to show that the writings of
  Moses contained Greek philosophy, the Christian writers endeavored to
  show that the writings of the Hebrew preachers and poets contained
  Christianity; and whereas Philo had been content to speak of the
  writers of the Old Testament, as Dio Chrysostom spoke of the Greek
  poets, as having been stirred by a divine enthusiasm, the Christian
  writers soon came to construct an elaborate theory that the poets
  and preachers were but as the flutes through which the breath of God
  flowed in divine music into the soul.”[40]

The Fathers as Allegorists.

Beginning with Justin, the leaders of thought in the Church, from the
middle of the second century, were men who had been brought up as pagan
philosophers, or educated under pagan influence. It was therefore
unavoidable that this corrupting system of exegesis should be applied
to the books of the New Testament. This was done by the Gnostics,
according to their theory that the true meaning of all writings was
hidden. Christ’s life presented many difficulties to the philosophers.
To explain its seeming contradiction, they resolved the mission of
Christ into a series of superhuman movements, and the New Testament
into a sort of hieroglyphic record of those movements. Instance:
Simeon, taking the young Christ in his arms in the temple,

  “was a type of the Demiurge, who, on the arrival of the Saviour,
  learned his own change of place, and gave thanks to Bythus. They also
  assert that by Anna, who is spoken of in the Gospel as a prophetess,
  and who, after living seven years with her husband, passed all
  the rest of her life in widowhood until she saw the Saviour, and
  recognized Him, and spoke of Him to all, was most plainly indicated
  Achamoth, who, having for a little while looked upon the Saviour
  with his associates, and dwelling all the rest of the time in the
  intermediate place, waited for Him till He should come again and
  restore her to her proper consort. Her name, too, was indicated by
  the Saviour when he said, ‘Yet wisdom is justified by her children.’
  This, too, was done by Paul in these words, ‘But we speak wisdom
  among them that are perfect.’ They declare also that Paul has
  referred to the conjunctions within the Pleroma, showing them forth
  by means of one; for, when writing of the conjugal union in this
  life, he expressed himself thus: ‘This is a great mystery, but I
  speak concerning Christ and the Church.’”[41]

Another instance is found in the interpretation which they made of the
raising of Jairus’ daughter:

  “They maintain further, that that girl of twelve years old, the
  daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, whom the Lord approached
  and raised from the dead, was a type of Achamoth, to whom their
  Christ, by extending himself, imparted shape, and whom he led anew
  to the perception of that light which had forsaken her. And that
  the Saviour appeared to her when she lay outside of the Pleroma
  as a kind of abortion, they affirm Paul to have declared in his
  _Epistle to the Corinthians_ (in these words): ‘And last of all, He
  appeared to me also, as to one born out of due time.’ Again, the
  coming of the Saviour with His attendants, to Achamoth is declared
  in like manner by him in the same epistle, when he says: ‘A woman
  ought to have a veil upon her head, because of the angels.’ Now that
  Achamoth, when the Saviour came to her, drew a veil over herself
  through modesty, Moses rendered manifest when he put a veil upon his
  face. Then, also, they say that the passions which she endured were
  indicated by the Lord upon the cross. Thus, when He said, ‘My God,
  my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ he simply showed that Sophia
  was deserted by the light, and was restrained by Horos from making
  any advance forward. Her anguish again was indicated when He said,
  ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’; her fear by the
  words, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’; and
  her perplexity, too, when He said, ‘And what I shall say, I know

This Method Opposed by Some.

Some of the early Fathers, those who were least tinctured with Greek
thought, especially Tertullian, opposed this method at the first.
He declared that it was one of the arts of Satan, against which
Christians must wrestle. But the system was too deep-seated in all the
prevailing currents of influence to be displaced. Even while Tertullian
was opposing it, it was tightening its grasp upon the Christian
communities; a grasp which is by no means yet removed. Starting first
at Alexandria and strengthened by the union of Greek philosophy and
Hebrew theology, it gathered force like an increasing tide, and
overwhelmed all other forms of exegesis. A pertinent example is found
in Clement of Alexandria, in a philippic against the Sophists:

    “Look to the tongue and to the words of the glozing man,
     But you look on no work that has been done;
     But each one of you walks in the steps of a fox,
     And in all of you is an empty mind.”

CLEMENT of Alexandria comments on this as follows:

  “This, I think, is signified by the utterance of the Saviour, ‘The
  foxes have holes, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’
  For on the believer alone, who is separated entirely from the rest,
  who by the Scripture are called wild beasts, rests the head of the
  universe, the kind and gentle Word, ‘Who taketh the wise in their
  own craftiness. For the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that
  they are vain’; the Scripture calling those the wise (σοφοὺς) who are
  skilled in words and arts, sophists (σοφιστὰς).”[43]

In another place the story of the feeding of the multitude by Christ is
explained in these words:

  “And the Lord fed the multitude of those that reclined on the grass
  opposite to Tiberias with the two fishes and the five barley loaves,
  indicating the preparatory training of the Greeks and Jews previous
  to the divine grain, which is the food cultivated by the law. For
  barley is sooner ripe for the harvest than wheat; and the fishes
  signified the Hellenic philosophy that was produced and moved in the
  midst of the Gentile billow, given, as they were, for copious food to
  those lying on the ground, increasing no more, like the fragments of
  the loaves, but having partaken of the Lord’s blessing, had breathed
  into them the resurrection of God-head through the power of the Word.
  But if you are curious, understand one of the fishes to mean the
  curriculum of study, and the other the philosophy which supervenes.
  The gatherings point out the word of the Lord.”[44]

Christianity, according to the New Testament, could not be developed
under such exegesis. These pagano-Christian leaders had still greater
love for the allegorical method because it enabled them to “explain
away” the difficulties which they found in considering Christianity--as
they conceived of it--to be the product of the Old Testament. From
the first they had identified the God of the Old Testament with the
Demiurge, the creator of the world and of matter, in which was only
evil. They claimed that Jehovah could not make a revelation for all
time, nor one worthy of their confidence. Hatch, speaking of the Old
Testament, says:

  “An important section of the Christian world rejected its authority
  altogether; it was the work, not of God, but of His rival, the god
  of this world; the contrast between the Old Testament and the New
  was part of the larger contrast between matter and spirit, darkness
  and light, evil and good. This was the contention of Marcion, whose
  influence upon the Christian world was far larger than is commonly

Further Examples.

Still further examples of the fanciful perversions of the Scriptures,
by the Fathers, are presented in order that the reader may be left
without a doubt as to the ruinous effects which the pagan allegorizing
methods produced upon the infant Church.

_The Epistle of Barnabas_, falsely attributed to the companion of Paul,
is a notable example of unmeaning allegories which totally pervert the
Scriptures. Take the following examples:


  “Now what do you suppose this to be a type of, that a command was
  given to Israel, that men of the greatest wickedness should offer
  a heifer, and slay and burn it, and that then boys should take the
  ashes, and put these into vessels, and bind round a stick purple wool
  along with hyssop, and that thus the boys should sprinkle the people
  one by one, in order that they might be purified from their sins?
  Consider how he speaks to you with simplicity. The calf is Jesus; the
  sinful men offering it are those who led Him to the slaughter. But
  now the men are no longer guilty, are no longer regarded as sinners.
  And the boys that sprinkle are those that have proclaimed to us
  the remission of sins and purification of heart. To these He gave
  authority to preach the gospel, being twelve in number, corresponding
  to the twelve tribes of Israel. But why are there three boys that
  sprinkle? To correspond to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, because
  these were great with God. And why was the wool [placed] upon the
  wood? Because by wood Jesus holds His kingdom, so that [through the
  cross] those believing on Him shall live forever. But why was hyssop
  joined with the wool? Because in His kingdom the days will be evil
  and polluted in which we shall be saved, [and] because he who suffers
  in body is cured through the cleansing efficacy of hyssop. And on
  this account the things which stand thus are clear to us, but obscure
  to them, because they did not hear the voice of the Lord.”[47]

Chapter ix. discusses the spiritual meaning of circumcision. The
closing portion of the chapter is as follows:

  “Yea, the Egyptians also practise circumcision. Learn then, my
  children, concerning all things richly, that Abraham, the first who
  enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised
  that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For
  [the Scripture] saith, ‘And Abraham circumcised ten and eight and
  three hundred men of his household.’ What then was the knowledge
  given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three
  hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted--ten by I, and eight
  by H. You have [the initials of] Jesus, and because the cross was
  to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says
  also, ‘three hundred.’ He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters,
  and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the
  engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a
  more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are

The tenth chapter, which treats of the _Spiritual Significance of
the Precepts of Moses Respecting Different Kinds of Food_, can be
quoted only in part; portions of it are unfit for the public eye, and
yet these portions, gross as they are, are solemnly set forth as an
exegesis of Scripture. The chapter follows here, except the grosser

  “Now, wherefore did Moses say, ‘Thou shalt not eat the swine, nor
  the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the raven, nor any fish which is not
  possessed of scales?’ He embraced three doctrines in his mind [in
  doing so]. Moreover, the Lord saith to them in Deuteronomy, ‘And I
  will establish my ordinances among this people.’ Is there then not
  a command of God that they should not eat [these things]? There is;
  but Moses spoke with a spiritual reference. For this reason he named
  the swine, as much as to say, ‘Thou shalt not join thyself to men who
  resemble swine,’ for when they live in pleasure they forget their
  Lord; but when they come to want they acknowledge the Lord. And [in
  like manner] the swine, when it has eaten, does not recognize its
  master; but when hungry it cries out, and on receiving food is quiet
  again. ‘Neither shalt thou eat,’ says he, ‘the eagle, nor the hawk,
  nor the kite, nor the raven.’ ‘Thou shalt not join thyself,’ he
  means, ‘to such men as know not how to procure food for themselves by
  labor and sweat, but seize on that of others in their iniquity, and,
  although wearing an aspect of simplicity, are on the watch to plunder
  others.’ So these birds, while they sit idle, inquire how they may
  devour the flesh of others, proving themselves pests [to all] by
  their wickedness. ‘And thou shalt not eat,’ he says, ‘the lamprey,
  or the polypus, or the cuttle-fish.’ He means, ‘Thou shalt not join
  thyself or be like to such men as are ungodly to the end, and are
  condemned to death.’ In like manner as those fishes above accursed,
  float in the deep, not swimming [on the surface] like the rest, but
  make their abode in the mud which lies at the bottom....

  “Moses then issued three doctrines concerning meats with a spiritual
  significance; but they received them according to fleshly desire
  as if he had merely spoken of [literal] meats. David, however,
  comprehends the knowledge of the three doctrines, and speaks in like
  manner: ‘Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of
  the ungodly,’ even as the fishes [referred to] go in darkness to the
  depths [of the sea], ‘and hath not stood in the way of sinners,’ even
  as those who profess to fear the Lord, but go astray like swine; ‘and
  hath not sat in the seat of the scorners’ even as those birds that
  lie in wait for prey. Take a full and firm grasp of this spiritual
  knowledge. But Moses says still further, ‘Ye shall eat every animal
  that is cloven-footed and ruminant.’ What does he mean? [The ruminant
  animal denotes him] who on receiving food recognizes Him that
  nourishes him, and being satisfied by Him, is visibly made glad. Well
  spake [Moses] having respect to the commandment. What then does he
  mean? That we ought to join ourselves to those that fear the Lord,
  those who meditate in their heart on the commandment which they have
  received, those who both utter the judgments of the Lord and observe
  them, those who know that meditation is a work of gladness, and who
  ruminate upon the word of the Lord. But what means the cloven-footed?
  That the righteous man also walks in this world, yet looks forward to
  the holy state [to come]. Behold how well Moses legislated. But how
  was it possible for them to understand or comprehend these things?
  We then, rightly understanding his commandments, explain them as
  the Lord intended. For this purpose He circumcised our ears and our
  hearts, that we might understand these things.”[49]

Chapter xii. is a meaningless discussion of the cross as prefigured in
the Old Testament. A part of the chapter will suffice.

  “In like manner he points to the cross of Christ in another prophet,
  who saith, ‘And when shall these things be accomplished?’ And the
  Lord saith, ‘When a tree shall be bent down, and again arise, and
  when blood shall flow out of wood.’[50] Here again you have an
  intimation concerning the cross and Him who should be crucified.
  Yet again he speaks of this in Moses, when Israel was attacked by
  strangers. And that He might remind them, when assailed, that it was
  on account of their sins they were delivered to death, the Spirit
  speaks to the heart of Moses, that he should make a figure of the
  cross, and of Him about to suffer thereon; for unless they put their
  trust in Him they shall be overcome forever. Moses, therefore, placed
  one weapon above another in the midst of the hill, and standing upon
  it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his
  hands, and thus again Israel acquired the mastery. But when again he
  let down his hands, they were again destroyed. For what reason? That
  they might know that they could not be saved unless they put their
  trust in Him. And in another prophet he declares, ‘All day long I
  have stretched forth my hands to an unbelieving people, and one that
  gainsays my righteous way.’ And again Moses makes a type of Jesus
  [signifying] that it was necessary for him to suffer, [and also] that
  He would be the author of life [to others] whom they believed, to
  have destroyed on the cross when Israel was falling.”[51]

JUSTIN MARTYR is an eminent example of one who perverted the Scriptures
while claiming to explain them. Witness the following from the account
of his conversion to Christianity:

  “And when I had quoted this, I added, ‘Hear then how this man, of
  whom the Scriptures declare that He will come again in glory after
  His crucifixion, was symbolized both by the tree of life, which was
  said to have been planted in paradise, and by those events which
  should happen to all the just.’ Moses was sent with a rod to effect
  the redemption of the people; and with this in his hands, at the head
  of the people, he divided the sea. By this he saw the water gushing
  out of the rock; and when he cast a tree into the waters of Marah,
  which were bitter, he made them sweet. Jacob, by putting rods into
  the water troughs, caused the sheep of his uncle to conceive, so that
  he should obtain their young. With his rod the same Jacob boasts that
  he had crossed the river. He said that he had seen a ladder, and the
  Scripture has declared that God stood above it.

  “But that this was not the Father we have proved from the Scriptures.
  And Jacob having poured oil on a stone in the same place is testified
  to by the very God who appeared to him, that he had anointed a pillar
  to the God who appeared to him. And that the stone symbolically
  proclaimed Christ, we have also proved by many Scriptures; and that
  the unguent, whether it was of oil or of stacte, or of any other
  compounded sweet balsams, had reference to Him we have also proved,
  inasmuch as the word says, ‘Therefore God, even thy God, hath
  anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ For indeed
  all kings and anointed persons obtained from Him their share in the
  names of kings and anointed; just as he himself received from the
  Father the titles of King, and Christ, and Priest, and Angel, and
  such like other titles which He bears or did bear. Aaron’s rod which
  blossomed, declared him to be the high priest. Isaiah prophesied
  that a rod would come forth from the root of Jesse [and this was]
  Christ. And David says that the righteous man is ‘like the tree that
  is planted by the channels of waters, which should yield its fruit
  in its season, and whose leaf should not fade.’ Again, the righteous
  is said to flourish like the palm tree. God appeared from a tree to
  Abraham, as it is written, near the oak in Mamre. The people found
  seventy willows and twelve springs after crossing the Jordan. David
  affirms that God comforted him with a rod and staff. Elisha, by
  casting a stick into the river Jordan, recovered the iron part of the
  axe with which the sons of the prophets had gone to cut down trees
  to build the house, in which they wished to read and study the law
  and commandments of God; even as our Christ, by being crucified on
  the tree, and by purifying [us] with water, has redeemed us, though
  plunged in the direst offences, which we have committed, and has
  made [us] a house of prayer and adoration. Moreover, it was a rod
  that pointed out Judah to be the father of Tamar’s sons by a great

Still more confusing fancies, under the name of exegesis, appear near
the close of the _Dialogue_. Witness the following:

  “‘You know then, sirs,’ I said, ‘that God has said in Isaiah to
  Jerusalem, “I saved thee in the deluge of Noah.”[53] By this, which
  God said, was meant that the mystery of saved men appeared in the
  deluge. For righteous Noah, along with the other mortals at the
  deluge, _i. e._, with his own wife, his three sons, and their wives,
  being eight in number, were a symbol of the eighth day wherein Christ
  appeared when He rose from the dead, forever the first in power. For
  Christ being the first-born of every creature, became again the chief
  of another race regenerated by Himself through water, and faith, and
  wood, containing the mystery of the cross; even as Noah was saved by
  wood when he rode over the waters with his household. Accordingly,
  when the prophet says, “I saved thee in the times of Noah,” as I have
  already remarked, he addresses the people who are equally faithful
  to God, and possess the same signs. For when Moses had the rod in
  his hands he led your nation through the sea. And you believe that
  this was spoken to your nation only, or to the land. But the whole
  earth, as the Scripture says, was inundated, and the water rose in
  height fifteen cubits above all the mountains; so that it is evident
  this was not spoken to the land, but to the people who obeyed Him,
  for whom also He had before prepared a resting-place in Jerusalem, as
  was previously demonstrated by all the symbols of the deluge; I mean
  that by water, faith, and wood, those who are afore prepared, and who
  repent of the sins which they have committed, shall escape from the
  impending judgment of God.’”[54]

Another illustration of the utterly unmeaning and fanciful
interpretations of Scripture is found in _Fragments from Commentaries
on Various Books of Scripture_, by HIPPOLYTUS, Bishop of Rome. He is
explaining why there are one hundred and fifty psalms. The main reason
adduced is that fifty is a sacred number, and the Psalms, on account
of the destruction of God’s enemies, should contain not only one set
of fifty, but three such, for the name of the Father, and Son, and
Holy Spirit. The sacred character of the number fifty is explained as

  “The number fifty, moreover, contains seven sevens, or a Sabbath
  of Sabbaths, and also over and above these full Sabbaths, a new
  beginning in the eighth, of a really new rest that remains above the
  Sabbaths. And let any one who is able observe this [as it is carried
  out] in the Psalms with more, indeed, than human accuracy, so as to
  find out the reasons in each case, as we shall set them forth. Thus,
  for instance, it is not without a purpose that the eighth Psalm
  has the inscription, _on the wine presses_, as it comprehends the
  perfection of fruits in the eighth; for the time for the enjoyment
  of the fruits of the true vine could not be before the eighth. And
  again, the second Psalm inscribed, _on the wine presses_, is the
  eightieth, containing another eighth number, viz., in the tenth
  multiple. The eighty-third again is made up by the union of two holy
  numbers, viz., the eighth in the tenth multiple, and the three in the
  first multiple. And the fiftieth Psalm is a prayer for the remission
  of sins, and a confession. For, as according to the Gospel, the
  fiftieth obtained remission confirming thereby that understanding of
  the jubilee, so he who offers up such petitions in full confession
  hopes to gain remission in no other number than the fiftieth. And
  again there are also certain others which are called _songs of
  degrees_, in number fifteen, as was also the number of the steps of
  the temple, and which show thereby, perhaps, that the _steps_ (or
  _degrees_) are comprehended within the number seven and the number
  eight. And these songs of degrees begin after the one hundred and
  twentieth Psalm, which is called simply a _Psalm_, as the more
  accurate copies give it. And this is the number of the perfection of
  the life of man. And the hundredth Psalm, which begins thus, _I will
  sing of mercy and judgment, O Lord_, embraces the life of the saint
  in fellowship with God. And the one hundred and fiftieth ends with
  these words, _Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord_.”[55]

CLEMENT OF ROME, one of the earliest Fathers from whom anything genuine
has come to our time, presents other prominent examples of myth and
allegory, as follows:

  “Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which
  takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia, and the countries
  round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phœnix. This
  is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And
  when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it
  builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices,
  into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as
  the flesh decays, a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being
  nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then
  when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the
  bones of its parent, and, bearing these, it passes from the land of
  Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And in open day,
  flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the
  sun, and, having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The
  priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and finds that it
  has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.”[56]

Here is a pagan sun-myth gravely set forth as fact, and made to
illustrate a Christian truth; an example of what was common in the
writings and theories of those who became leaders in the Church.

The Bible, with its simple truths and plain ethical teachings, was an
insipid book to men whose tastes had become abnormal and perverted
through feeding on such pagan fancies and superstitions.

One more example from CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA. It must be remembered
that the “Christian” writers who condemn gnosticism as a heresy still
claimed that there was a “true Christian gnosticism”; the difference
between them and those whom they condemned was in degree more than in
kind. The following extracts are from Clement’s _Gnostic Exposition of
the Decalogue_. It needs little to show that when the law of God was
thus expounded, its power and authority were practically destroyed.
Such expositions were part and parcel of the lawlessness which was the
unavoidable fruitage of gnosticism. Clement says:

  “And the Decalogue, viewed as an image of heaven, embraces sun and
  moon, stars, clouds, light, wind, water, air, darkness, fire. This is
  the physical Decalogue of the heaven.

  “And the representation of the earth contains men, cattle, reptiles,
  wild beasts; and of the inhabitants of the water, fishes and whales;
  and again of the winged tribes, those that are carnivorous, and those
  that use mild food; and of plants likewise, both fruit-bearing and
  barren. This is the physical Decalogue of the earth.

  “And there is a ten in man himself: the five senses and the
  power of speech, and that of reproduction; and the eighth is the
  spiritual principle communicated at his creation; and the ninth,
  the ruling faculty of the soul; and tenth, there is the distinctive
  characteristic of the Holy Spirit, which comes to him through faith.

  “Besides, in addition to these ten human parts, the law appears to
  give its injunctions to sight and hearing, and smell and touch and
  taste, and to the organs subservient to these, which are double the
  hands and the feet. For such is the formation of man. And the soul
  is introduced, and previous to it the ruling faculty, by which we
  reason, not produced in procreation; so that without it there is made
  up the number ten, of the faculties by which all the activity of man
  is carried out....

  “Is not man, then rightly said ‘to have been made in the image of
  God’?--not in the form of his [corporeal] structure; but inasmuch
  as God creates all things by the Word (λόγῳ) and the man who has
  become a Gnostic performs good actions by the faculty of reason (τῷ
  λογικῷ) properly therefore the two tables are also said to mean
  the commandments that were given to the twofold spirits--those
  communicated before the law to that which was created, and to the
  ruling faculty; and the movements of the senses are both copied in
  the mind, and manifested in the activity which proceeds from the

Even TERTULLIAN, who inveighed so strongly against certain phases of
gnosticism, as represented in the Alexandrian schools, has given
interpretations which are no less unreliable and fanciful than those
which he condemns.

Hear him on “Types.”

  “_Types of the Death of Christ: Isaac, Joseph; Jacob against Simeon
  and Levi; Moses praying against Amalek; the Brazen Serpent._

  “On the subject of his death, I suppose you endeavor to introduce
  a diversity of opinion, simply because you deny that the suffering
  of the cross was predicted of the Christ of the Creator, and
  because you contend, moreover, that it is not to be believed that
  the Creator would expose His son to that kind of death on which He
  had Himself pronounced a curse. ‘Cursed,’ says he, ‘is every one
  who hangeth on a tree.’ But what is meant by this curse, worthy as
  it is of the simple prediction of the cross, of which we are now
  mainly inquiring, I defer to consider, because in another passage,
  we have given the reason of the thing preceded by proof. First,
  I shall offer a full explanation of the types. And no doubt it
  was proper that this mystery should be prophetically set forth by
  types, and indeed chiefly by that method; for in proportion to its
  incredibility would it be a stumbling block, if it were set forth in
  bare prophecy; and in proportion, too, to its grandeur, was the need
  of obscuring it in shadow, that the difficulty of understanding it
  might lead to prayer for the grace of God. First, then, Isaac, when
  he was given up by his father, as an offering, himself carried the
  wood for his own death. By this act he even then was setting forth
  the death of Christ, who was destined by his Father as a sacrifice,
  and carried the cross whereon he suffered. Joseph, likewise, was a
  type of Christ, not, indeed, on this ground (that I may not delay my
  course) that he suffered persecution for the cause of God from his
  brethren, as Christ did from his brethren after the flesh, the Jews;
  but when he is blessed by his father in these words, ‘His glory is
  that of a bullock; his horns are the horns of a unicorn; with them
  shall he push the nations to the very ends of the earth,’--he was
  not, of course, designated as a mere unicorn with its one horn, or
  a minotaur with two; but Christ was indicated in him--a bullock in
  respect of both His characteristics; to some as severe as a judge,
  to others gentle as a Saviour, whose horns were the extremities of
  his cross. For of the antenna, which is a part of a cross, the ends
  are called horns; while the midway stake of the whole frame is the
  unicorn. By this virtue, then, of His cross, and in this manner
  horned, He is both now pushing all nations through faith, bearing
  them away from earth to heaven; and will then push them through
  judgment, casting them down from heaven to earth. He will also,
  according to another passage in the same Scripture, be a bullock
  when he is spiritually interpreted to be Jacob against Simeon and
  Levi, which means against the scribes and the pharisees; for it was
  from them that these last derived their origin. [Like] Simeon and
  Levi, they consummated their wickedness by their heresy, with which
  they persecuted Christ. ‘Into their counsel let not my soul enter;
  to their assembly let not my heart be united; for in their anger
  they slew men,’ that is, the prophets; ‘and in their self-will they
  hacked the sinews of a bullock,’ that is, of Christ. For against
  Him did they wreak their fury, after they had slain His prophets,
  even by affixing Him with nails to the cross. Otherwise it is an
  idle thing, when, after slaying men, he inveighs against them for
  the torture of a bullock. Again, in the case of Moses, wherefore did
  he at that moment particularly, when Joshua was fighting Amalek,
  pray in a sitting posture with outstretched hands, when in such a
  conflict it would surely have been more seemly to have bent the
  knee, and smitten the breast, and to have fallen on the face to the
  ground, and in such prostration to have offered prayer? Wherefore,
  but because in a battle fought in the name of that Lord who was one
  day to fight against the devil, the shape was necessary of that very
  cross through which Jesus was to win the victory? Why, once more, did
  the same Moses, after prohibiting the likeness of everything, set up
  the golden serpent on the pole, and, as it hung there, propose it as
  an object to be looked at for a cure? Did he not here also intend
  to show the power of our Lord’s cross, whereby that old serpent,
  the devil, was vanquished--whereby also to every man who was bitten
  by spiritual serpents, but who yet turned with an eye of faith to
  it, was proclaimed a cure from the bite of sin, and health for

The allegorizing method continued with great pertinacity. AUGUSTINE,
the master mind of the fifth century, whose influence yet abounds
in the doctrines of both Catholics and Protestants, was under its
sway. With him, as with those who preceded him, this allegorical
interpretation perverted the Scriptures and obscured truth. A single
instance must suffice:

  “Hence, also, in the number of the large fishes which our Lord, after
  His resurrection, showing this new life, commanded to be taken on
  the right side of the ship, there is found the number fifty, three
  times multiplied with the addition of three more [the symbol of the
  Trinity] to make the holy mystery more apparent; and the disciples’
  nets were not broken, because in that new life there shall be no
  schism, caused by the disquiet of heretics. Then [in this new life]
  man, made perfect and at rest, purified in body and in soul, by
  the pure words of God which are like silver purged from its dross,
  seven times refined, shall receive his reward, the denarius. So that
  with that reward the numbers ten and seven meet in Him. For in this
  number seventeen [there is found] as in other numbers representing a
  combination of symbols, a wonderful mystery. Nor is it without good
  reason that the seventeenth Psalm is the only one which is given
  complete in the Book of Kings, because it signifies that kingdom in
  which we shall have no enemy. For its title is, ‘A Psalm of David in
  the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies
  and from the hand of Saul.’ For of whom is David the type, but of
  Him who, according to the flesh, was born of the seed of David? He,
  in His church, that is, in His body, still endures the malice of
  enemies. Therefore the words which from heaven fell upon the ear of
  that persecutor whom Jesus slew by His voice, and whom He transformed
  into a part of His body (as the food which we use becomes a part
  of ourselves), were these: ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’
  And when shall this His body be finally delivered from enemies?
  Is it not when the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed? It is
  to that time that the number of the one hundred and fifty-three
  fishes pertains. For if the number seventeen itself be the side of
  an arithmetical triangle, formed by placing above each other rows
  of units, increasing in number from one to seventeen, the whole sum
  of these units is one hundred and fifty-three: since one and two
  make three; three and three, six; six and four, ten; ten and five,
  fifteen; fifteen and six, twenty-one; and so on: continue this up to
  seventeen, the total one hundred and fifty-three.”[59]

The foregoing examples are neither isolated nor peculiar. They
represent fully and fairly the prevailing methods of exegesis, falsely
so called. Such men shaped the faith and governed the thought of
Christianity west of Palestine after the middle of the second century.
Other fruitage of their system will be found in another chapter, in the
Antinomian and anti-Sabbath doctrines by which the authority of Jehovah
and His word were still further undermined. A careful examination of
the entire group of “Christian writings” of the first five centuries
shows that the age was uncritical and utterly wanting in the learning
and habits of thought which prepare men to interpret the Bible. It
was brought down to the level of the pagan books with which these men
were familiar, both as to its authority and as to the methods by which
its meaning was sought. Indeed, its real meaning was not sought; the
main effort was to show how it accorded with pagan books, and with
the philosophical speculations which were popular. If, in any case,
it was recognized as the supreme authority, the prevailing methods of
interpretation obscured and perverted its meaning, so that men were
not governed by what it really taught. Men who did not have clear and
correct views of the Bible could not impart them to others. The masses
did not possess copies of the Bible, and could not have interpreted it
critically had it been in their hands. KILLEN declares these Fathers to
be untrustworthy and incompetent interpreters of the Bible. These are
his words:

  “Earlier writers, such as Origen or Clement of Alexandria, frequently
  expounded the word of God in the way in which Neo-Platonists
  explained the pagan mythology--that is, they regard it as an allegory
  from which they extract whatever meaning happens to be most agreeable
  to themselves--and too many continued to adopt the same system
  of interpretation. But among the Fathers of the fourth century
  there were some who followed sounder principles of exegesis, and
  carefully investigated the literal sense of the holy oracles. Still,
  comparatively few of the Christian writers even of this period are
  very valuable as biblical interpreters. These authors occasionally
  contradict themselves, and, without acknowledgment, copy most
  slavishly from each other. Jerome argues that the great duty of an
  expositor is, not so much to exhibit the mind of the Spirit, as to
  set before the reader the conflicting sentiments of interpreters....

  “But though we discover in these Fathers so many traces of human
  infirmity, we must make allowance for the time in which they lived,
  and for the prejudices in which they were educated. Christianity
  passed through a terrible ordeal when it suddenly became the religion
  of the Empire. Society was by no means prepared for so vast a change.
  Already the Gospel had suffered sadly from adulteration, and now
  it was more rapidly deteriorated. Many who were quite uninstructed
  became pastors of the Church; pagan forms and ceremonies were
  incorporated with its ritual; pagan superstitions were recognized
  as principles of action; and pagan philosophy corrupted theological
  science. A dense cloud of errors soon overspread the whole spiritual

This chapter may well close with the following quotation from UHLHORN,
which shows how nearly Christianity was ruined through the prevalence
of this gnostic allegorizing system, which obscured or perverted the
meaning of the Scriptures, and destroyed their authority. He says:

  “I have already called gnosticism the antipode of montanism. Such
  indeed it was. If montanism was over-narrow, here we find an
  all-embracing breadth. Gnosticism knew how to utilize every mental
  product of the age. Elements, Oriental and Occidental, in a curious
  medley, philosophy and popular superstition--all were collected and
  used as materials for the building of gnostic systems. The myths of
  the heathen may be found side by side with the Gospel histories,
  which were only myths to the gnostic. One proof text is taken from
  the Bible, and the next from Homer or Hesiod, and both alike are used
  by an allegorical exegesis to support the ready-made creations of the
  author’s fancy. Breadth enough, too, in morality; no trembling fear
  of pollution, no anxious care to exclude the influence of heathenism.
  It was no fiction inspired by the hatred of heresy, when the gnostics
  were said to be very lax in their adhesion to the laws of morality.
  Many of them expressly permitted flight from persecution.

  “Gnosticism extended far and wide in the second century. There was
  something very imposing in those mighty systems which embraced
  heaven and earth. How plain and meagre in comparison seemed simple
  Christianity! There was something remarkably attractive in the
  breadth and liberality of gnosticism. It seemed completely to have
  reconciled Christianity with culture. How narrow the Christian Church
  appeared! Even noble souls might be captivated by the hope of winning
  the world over to Christianity in this way; while the multitude was
  attracted by the dealing in mysteries with which the gnostic sects
  fortified themselves by offering mighty spells and amulets, thus
  pandering to the popular taste. Finally some were no doubt drawn in
  by the fact that less strictness of life was required, and that they
  could thus be Christians without suffering martyrdom.

  “But the victory of gnosticism would have been the ruin of
  Christianity. Christianity would have split into a hundred sects, its
  line of division from heathenism would have been erased, its inmost
  essence would have been lost, and instead of producing something
  really new, it would have become only an element of the melting mass,
  an additional ingredient in the fermenting chaos of religions which
  characterized the age.”[61]

When the fountain of formative Christianity was thus widely and early
corrupted, what wonder that the banks of the stream are covered with
pagan _débris_, and that the waters are yet turbid from its sediment?


[25] _Cf._ Hibbert Lectures for 1888, by Edwin Hatch, D.D., Lecture i.

[26] See _The Gnostics and Their Remains_, by C. W. King, M.A., p. 5,
London, 1887.

[27] See Harnack, _Dogmengeschichte_, vol. i., chap. 4.

[28] _Church History_, vol. i., p. 566, N. Y., 1882.

[29] _Dogmengeschichte_, vol. i., chap. 4.

[30] Bauer, _Church Hist._, vol. i., p. 191, London, 1878.

[31] Hom., _Il._, ii., 204.

[32] _Ps. Justin._ (probably Apollonius, see Dräseke, in the _Jahrb. f.
protestant. Theologie_, 1885, p. 144), chap. xvii.

[33] Hom., _Il._, xviii., 483.

[34] _Ps. Justin._, chap. xxviii.

[35] Hom., _Il._, xiv., 206; also Clem. Alex., _Stroma._, v., 14.

[36] _Il._, xxii., 8; Clem. Alex., _Stroma._, v., 14.

[37] Hippol., _Philosophoumena_, vi., 14.

[38] Herod., iv., 8-10.

[39] Hippol., v., 21.

[40] Hibbert Lectures for 1888, Lecture iii., pp. 69, 70, 72.

[41] Irenæus, _Against Heresies_, book i., chap. viii.

[42] Irenæus, _Against Heresies_, book i., chap. viii.

[43] _Stroma._, book i., chap. iii.

[44] _Strom._, bk. vi., ch. xi.

[45] _Influence of Greek Thought_, etc., p. 77.

[46] In quotations from the Fathers, words and clauses in brackets are
thus printed as “supplied words” in the Ante-Nicene Library of T. & T.
Clark, Edinburgh.

[47] _Epistle_, ch. viii.

[48] _Epistle_, ch. ix.

[49] _Epistle_, chap. x.

[50] This is a real or pretended quotation from some unknown
Apochryphal book.

[51] _Epistle_, chap. xii.

[52] _Dialogue with Trypho_, chap. lxxxvi.

[53] Isaiah liv., 9, may be referred to here, but there is nothing in
Isaiah or elsewhere in the Bible like what Justin here asserts.

[54] _Dialogue_, etc., chap. cxxxviii.

[55] _Ante-Nicene Library_, T. & T. Clark, vol. vi., p. 500.

[56] _Epistle of Clement_, chap. xxv.

[57] _Stromata_, bk. vi., ch. xvi.

[58] _Against Marcion_, book iii., chapter xviii.

[59] Letter lv., chapter xvii., par. 31.

[60] _The Old Catholic Church_, by W. D. Killen, D.D., pp. 99, 100,
Edinburgh, 1871.

[61] _Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism_, pp. 346, 347.


  Fundamental Corruption of Christian Baptism through Pagan
  Water-Worship--“Baptismal Regeneration,” the Product of
  Paganism--Spiritual Purity Sought through Pagan Baptism--Testimonies
  from Jamblicus, Virgil, Ovid, Herodotus, Juvenal, and others--Baptism
  and Serpent-Worship--Baptism and Egyptian Sun-Worship--The Sacred
  Nile--The Prevalence of Water-Worship in India--Sacred Wells--Sacred
  Rivers--Modern Buddhistic and Modern Hindu Baptism.

Corrupting Influence of Pagan Water-Worship.

The work of corrupting Christianity went forward systematically, as
though an enemy planned to undermine its fundamental truths and ruin
the Church through internal errors. When allegorical methods had shorn
the Bible of authority, and pushed God, as represented in his word, far
away from men, the next important step was to corrupt the developing
Church by a false standard of membership, thus planting a sure seed of
decay in its heart. In New Testament Christianity, baptism--submersion
in water--was the outward symbol of a new spiritual life, beginning
through faith and repentance. As such it had a specific meaning, and
from the earliest times formed the door to membership in the Christian
communities. He who accepted Christ as the Messiah, testified such
acceptance by being “buried with him in baptism.” This was the sign
of an inward purity which entitled the believer to a place in the
community, and to the fellowship of “those who believed.”

It was not the agent by which purity was produced, nor the source
from which the new spiritual life sprung. All this was changed by
introducing the pagan idea. The materials for such a corrupting process
were fully developed in the pagan world.

Various forms of baptism, and the doctrine of baptismal regeneration,
were common characteristics of pagan religion before the birth of

The pagan water-worship cult is secondary only to sun-worship, in age
and extent. Its native home was in the East, but it appears in all
periods and on both hemispheres. It had two phases: water as an object
of worship, and as a means of inspiration; and water used in religious
ceremonies to produce spiritual purity. These phases often mingle with
each other.

This reverence for water, and faith in its cleansing efficacy, arose
from the idea that it was permeated by the divine essence, from which
it had supernatural power to enlighten and purify the soul, without
regard to the spiritual state of the candidate. This doctrine of
baptismal regeneration was transferred to Christianity before the close
of the second century, and through it the Church was filled rapidly
with baptized but unconverted pagans.

Sun-worship and water-worship were closely united in the pagan
_cultus_, as they were in the corrupted Christian baptism. For
instance, one fountain noted by Jamblicus is described thus, by BRYANT:

  “From this history of the place we may learn the purport of the name
  by which this oracular place was called. Colophon is Col-Oph-On,
  Tumulus Dei Solis Pythonis, and corresponds with the character given.
  The river into which this fountain ran was sacred, and named Halesus;
  it was called Anelon, An-El-On, Fons Dei Solis. Halesus is composed
  of well known titles of the same God.”[62]

The following are the words of JAMBLICUS:

  “It is acknowledged then by all men that the oracle in Colophon gives
  its answers through the medium of water. For there is a fountain
  in a subterranean dwelling from which the prophetess drinks; and
  on certain established nights after many sacred rites have been
  previously performed, and she has drunk of the fountain, she delivers
  oracles, but is not visible to those that are present. That this
  water, therefore, is prophetic is from hence manifest. But how it
  becomes so, this, according to the proverb, is not for every man
  to know. For it appears as if a certain prophetic spirit pervaded
  through the water. This is not, however, in reality the case. For
  a divine nature does not pervade through its participants in this
  manner, according to interval and division, but comprehends, as it
  were, externally, and illuminates the fountain, and fills it from
  itself with a prophetic power. For the inspiration which the water
  affords is not the whole of that which proceeds from a divine power,
  but the water itself only prepares us, and purifies our luciform
  spirit, so that we may be able to receive the divinity; while in
  the meantime, there is a presence of divinity prior to this, and
  illuminating from on high.”[63]

Of another oracle Jamblicus says:

  “The prophet woman too, in Branchidæ, whether she holds in her hand a
  wand, which was at first received from some God, and becomes filled
  with a divine splendor, or whether seated on an axis, she predicts
  future events, or dips her feet, or the border of her garment in the
  water, or receives the God by imbibing the vapor of the water; by all
  these she becomes adapted to partake externally of the God.”[64]

Jamblicus also states that baths were a part of the preparation for
being thus inspired. The same combination is shown by VIRGIL, in the

  “He started up, and viewing the rising beams of the ethereal sun, in
  his hollow palms with pious form he raised water from the river, and
  poured forth to heaven these words: ‘Ye nymphs, ye Laurentine nymphs,
  whence rivers have their origin; and Thou, O Father Tiber, with thy
  sacred river, receive Æneas and defend him at length from dangers.
  In whatever source thy lake contains thee, compassionate to our
  misfortunes, from whatever soil thou springest forth most beauteous,
  hornbearing river, monarch of the Italian streams, ever shalt thou be
  honored with my veneration, ever with my offerings. O grant us thy
  present aid, and by nearer aid confirm thy divine oracles.’”[65]

OVID, describing the feast of Pales, held in May, exhibits the same
combination of sun and water-worship:

  “Often in truth have I leaped over the fires placed in three rows,
  and the dripping bough of laurel has flung the sprinkled waters....
  Shepherd, purify the full sheep at the beginning of twilight, let
  the water first sprinkle them, and let the broom made of twigs sweep
  the ground.... Protect thou alike the cattle, and those who tend the
  cattle, and let all harm fly afar, repelled from my stalls. Let that
  happen which I pray for, and may we at the close of the year offer
  cakes of goodly size to Pales, the mistress of the shepherds. With
  these words must the goddess be propitiated; turning to the East,
  do you repeat these words three times, and in the running stream
  thoroughly wash your hands.”[66]

In another place Ovid tells us of Deucalion and Pyrrha, resolving
to seek the sacred oracles, in prayer, at the temple of the goddess
Themis; he says:

  “There is no delay; together they repair to the waters of Cephissus,
  though not yet clear, yet now cutting their wonted channel. Then
  when they had sprinkled the waters poured on their clothes and their
  heads, they turn their steps to the temple of the sacred goddess,
  the roof of which was defiled with foul moss, and whose altars were
  standing without fires.”[67]

The same combination appears among the Persians. HERODOTUS, describing
the crossing of the Hellespont by Xerxes on his way to the invasion of
Greece, says:

  “That day they made preparations for the passage over; and on the
  following they waited for the sun, as they wished to see it rising,
  in the meantime burning all sorts of perfumes on the bridges, and
  strewing the road with myrtle branches. When the sun rose, Xerxes,
  pouring a libation into the sea out of a golden cup, offered up a
  prayer to the sun, that no such accident might befall him as would
  prevent him from subduing Europe, until he had reached its utmost
  limits. After having prayed, he threw the cup into the Hellespont,
  and a golden bowl and a Persian sword, which they call _acinace_. But
  I cannot determine with certainty, whether he dropped these things
  into the sea as an offering to the sun, or whether he repented of
  having scourged the Hellespont and presented these gifts to the sea
  as a compensation.”[68]

Purity Sought through Baptism.

The pagan conception that water produced spiritual purity was expressed
in many ways. JUVENAL describes the custom of Roman women who sought to
expiate their sins, committed in licentious revelries, as follows:

  “She will break the ice and plunge into the river in the depth of
  winter, or dip three times in the Tiber at early dawn, and bathe
  her timid head in its very eddies, and thence emerging, will crawl
  on bending knees, naked and shivering, over the whole field of the
  haughty kings [the Campus Martius]. If white Io command, she will
  go to the extremity of Egypt, and bring back water fetched from
  scorching Meroe, to sprinkle on the temple of Isis, that rears itself
  hard by the sheep-fold. For she believes that the warning is given
  her by the voice of the goddess herself.”[69]

Mithraic and Gnostic Baptism.

The conception that water cleansed from sin was a prominent feature in
Mithraicism and in gnosticism. KING, who is authority on all gnostic
questions, says:

  “In my account of Mithraicism, notice has been taken of the very
  prominent part that sacraments for the remission of sin play in the
  ceremonial of that religion; the following extracts from the grand
  Gnostic text-book will serve to show how the same notions, (and
  probably forms) were transferred to the service of Gnosticism.

  “‘_Baptism Remitting Sins._’--(_Pistis-Sophia_) (298).

  “‘Then came forth Mary and said: Lord, under what form do _baptisms_
  remit sins? I have heard thee saying that the Ministers of
  Contentions (ἐριδαῖοι)[70] follow after the soul, bearing witness
  against it of all the sins that it hath committed, so that they may
  convict it in the judgments. Now, therefore, Lord, do the mysteries
  of Baptism blot out the sins that be in the hands of the Receivers
  of Contention, so that they shall utterly forget the same? Now,
  therefore, Lord, tell us in what form they remit sins; for we desire
  to know them thoroughly. Then the Saviour answered and said: Thou
  hast well spoken; of truth those Ministers are they that testify
  against all sins, for they abide constantly in the places of
  judgment, laying hold upon the souls, convicting all the souls of
  sinners who have not received the mystery, and they keep them fast in
  chaos tormenting them. But these contentious ones cannot pass over
  chaos so as to enter into the courses that be above chaos; in order
  to convict the souls therefore receiving the mysteries, it is not
  lawful for them to force so as to drag them down into chaos, where
  the Contentious Receivers may convict them. But the souls of such as
  have not received the mysteries, these do they desire and hail into
  chaos; whereas the souls that have received the mysteries, they have
  no means of convicting, seeing that they cannot get out of their own
  place, and even if they did come forth, they could not stop those
  souls, neither shut them up in their chaos. Hearken, therefore, I
  will declare to you in truth in what form the mystery of Baptism
  remitteth sins. If the souls when yet living in the world have been
  sinful, the Contentious Receivers verily do come, that they may bear
  witness of all the sins they have committed, but they can by no means
  come forth out of the regions of chaos, so as to convict the soul
  in the places of judgment that be beyond chaos. But the counterfeit
  of the spirit testifies against all the sins of the soul, in order
  to convict it in the places of judgment that be beyond chaos. Not
  only doth it testify, but also sets a _seal_ upon all the sins of
  the soul, so as to print them firmly upon the soul, that all the
  Rulers of the judgment place of the sinners may know that it is the
  soul of a sinner, and likewise know the _number_ of sins which it
  hath committed from the seals that the counterfeit of the spirit
  hath imprinted upon it, so that they may punish the soul according
  to the number of its sins; this is the manner in which they treat
  the soul of a sinner. (300) Now, therefore, if any one hath received
  the mysteries of Baptism, _those mysteries become a great fire_,
  exceeding strong and wise, so as to burn up all the sins; and the
  Fire entereth into the soul secretly, so that it may consume within
  it all the sins which the counterfeit of the spirit hath printed
  there. Likewise it entereth into the body secretly, that it may
  pursue all its pursuers, and divide them into parts--for it pursueth
  within the body, the counterfeit of the spirit, and Fate--so that
  it may divide them apart from the Power and the Soul, and place them
  in one part of the body--so that the fire separates the counterfeit
  of the spirit, Fate, and the Body into one portion, and the Soul and
  the Power into another portion. The mystery of Baptism remaineth in
  the middle of them, so that it may perpetually separate them, so that
  it may purge and cleanse them in order that they may not be polluted
  by _Matter_. Now, therefore, Mary, this is the manner whereby the
  mystery of Baptism remitteth sins and all transgressions.

  (301) “‘And when the Saviour had thus spoken, he said to his
  disciples: Do ye understand in what manner I speak with you? Then
  came forth Mary saying: Of a truth, Lord, I perceive in reality all
  the things that thou hast said. Touching this matter of the Remission
  of Sins, thou speaketh aforetime to us in a parable, saying: I am
  come to bring fire upon the earth, nay more; let it burn as much as
  I please. And, again thou hast set it forth openly, saying: I have a
  baptism wherewith I will baptize and how shall I endure until it be
  accomplished? Ye think that I am come to bring peace upon the earth?
  By no means so, but dissension, which I am come to bring. For from
  this time forth there shall be five in one house; three shall be
  divided against two, and two against three. This, Lord, is the word
  that thou speakest openly. But concerning the word that thou spakest:
  I am come to bring fire upon the earth, and let it burn so much as
  I please; in this thou hast spoken of the mystery of Baptism in the
  world, and let it burn as much as thou pleasest for to consume all
  the sins of the soul, that it may purge them away. And again thou
  hast shewn the same forth openly, saying: I have a baptism wherewith
  I will baptize, and how shall I endure until it be accomplished? The
  which is this: Thou wilt not tarry in the world until the baptisms
  be accomplished to purify all the perfect souls. And again what thou
  spakest unto us aforetime: “Do ye suppose I am come to bring peace
  upon earth,” etc. (302) This signifieth the mystery of Baptism which
  thou hast brought into the world, because it hath brought about
  dissension in the body of the world, because it hath divided the
  Counterfeit of the spirit, the Body, and the Fate thereof, into one
  party, and the Soul and the Power into the other party. The same
  is, “There shall be three against two, and two against three.” And
  when Mary had spoken these things the Saviour said: Well done thou
  spiritual one in the pure light, this is the interpretation of my

The opinion of Simon Magus, a representative Gnostic, concerning
baptism is expressed by King thus:

  “The Kabbalists, or Jewish Gnostics, like Simon Magus, found a
  large portion of apostolic teaching in accordance with their own,
  and easily grafted upon it so much as they liked. Again the Divine
  power of working miracles possessed by the Apostles and their
  successors, naturally attracted the interest of those whose chief
  mystery was the practice of magic. Simon the Magician was considered
  by the Samaritans to be ‘the great Power of God’; he was attracted
  by the miracles wrought by the Apostles, and no doubt he sincerely
  ‘believed’--that is, after his own fashion. His notion of Holy
  Baptism was probably an initiation into a new mystery, with a higher
  Gnosis than he possessed before, and by which he hoped to be endued
  with higher powers; and so likewise many of those who were called
  Gnostic Heretics by the Christian Fathers, were not Christians at
  all, only they adopted so much of the Christian doctrine as accorded
  with their system.”[72]

Baptism of Blood.

The importance which the sun-worship cult attached to baptism is
further shown in the baptism of blood, which formed a prominent feature
in the Mithraic system of atonement and spiritual enlightenment. This
is commented upon by King as follows:

  “The ‘Taurobolia,’ or _Baptism of Blood_, during the later ages
  of the Western Empire, held the foremost place, as the means of
  purification from sin, however atrocious. Prudentius has left a
  minute description of this horrid rite, in which the person to be
  regenerated, being stripped of his clothing, descended into a pit,
  which was covered with planks pierced full of holes; a bull was
  slaughtered upon them whose hot blood, streaming down through these
  apertures (after the fashion of a shower-bath) thoroughly drenched
  the recipient below. The selection of the particular victim proves
  this ceremony in connection with the Mithraic, which latter, as
  Justin says, had a ‘baptism for the remission of Sins’; and the Bull
  being in that religion the recognized emblem of _life_, his blood
  necessarily constituted the most effectual laver of regeneration.
  No more conclusive evidence of the value then attached to the
  Taurobolia can be adduced, than the fact mentioned by Lampridius
  that the priest-emperor Heliogabalus thought it necessary to submit
  to its performance; and a pit, constructed for the purpose as late
  as the fourth century, has lately been discovered within the sacred
  precincts of the Temple at Eleusis, the most holy spot in all

Baptism at Death, and for the Dead.

The following throws light upon the pagan origin of baptism as a saving
act, at death, and after death. Describing the nature of the mystic
formulæ which the Gnostics used, King says:

  “The motive for placing in the coffin of the defunct _illuminato_
  these ‘words of power’ graven on scrolls of lead, plates of bronze,
  the gems we are considering, and doubtless to an infinitely greater
  extent on more perishable materials, derives much light from the
  description Epiphanius gives of the ceremony whereby the Heracleonitæ
  prepared their dying brother for the next world. They sprinkled his
  head with water, mingled with oil, and opobalsamum, repeating at
  the same time the form of words used by the Marcosians in baptism,
  in order that his _Inner Man_, thus provided, might escape the
  vigilance of the Principalities and Powers whose domains he was about
  to traverse, and mount up unseen by any to the Pleroma from which
  he had originally descended. Their priests therefore instructed the
  dying man that as he came before these Powers he was to address them
  in the following words: ‘I, the son from the Father, the Father
  pre-existing, but the son in the present time, am come to behold all
  things, both of others and of my own, and things not altogether of
  others, but belonging unto Achamoth (_Wisdom_) who is feminine, and
  hath created them for herself. But I declare my own origin from the
  Pre-existing One, and I am going back unto my own from which I have
  descended.’ By the virtue of these words he will elude the Powers and
  arrive at the Demiurgus in the eighth sphere, whom again he must thus
  address: ‘I am a precious vessel, superior to the female power who
  made thee, inasmuch as thy mother knoweth not her own origin, whereas
  I know myself, and I know whence I am; and I invoke the Incorruptible
  Wisdom who is in the father and in the mother of your mother who
  hath no father--nay, not even a male consort, but being a female
  sprung from a female that created thee, though she herself knows
  not her mother, but believes herself to exist alone. But I invoke
  the mother.’ At this address the Demiurgus is struck with confusion
  (as well he might be) and forced to acknowledge the baseness of his
  origin; whereupon the inner man of the Gnostic casts off his bondage
  as well as his own _angel_ or soul, which remains with the Demiurgus
  for further use, and ascends still higher into his proper place.”[74]

We shall find that this pagan conception became very prominent in the
early Church. The “being baptized for the dead,” of which Paul speaks,
and which was much practised after the second century, sprang from this
source; also delaying baptism until the moment of death.

Baptism and Serpent-Worship.

The serpent worshippers formed a prominent branch of the Gnostics,
if they were not the originators of the system. Water-worship was a
special and fundamental idea in their creed. Witness the following from

  “The well-informed and temperate Hippolytus, writing at the most
  flourishing period of these transitional theosophies, thus opens his
  actual ‘Refutation of All Heresies,’ and his Fifth Book with the
  description ‘of that sect which hath dared to boast the _Serpent_
  as the author of their religion, as they prove by certain arguments
  wherewith _he_ hath inspired them. On this account the apostles
  and priests of this creed have been styled “Naaseni,” from “Naas”
  the Hebrew word for _serpent_; but subsequently they entitled
  themselves “The Gnostics,” because they alone understood the deep
  things of religion. Out of this sect sprung many other teachers,
  who, by diversifying the original doctrines through inventions of
  their own, became the founders of new systems.’ Further on he has
  a passage bearing immediately upon this subject. ‘This _Naas_ is
  the _only thing_ they worship, for which reason they are called
  “Naaseni,” (_i. e._, Ophites, or Serpent-worshippers). From this
  same word _Naas_, they pretend that all the temples (ναοί) under
  Heaven derive the name. And unto this Naas are dedicated every rite,
  ceremony, mystery, that is; in short, not one rite can be found under
  Heaven into which this Naas does not enter. For they say the Serpent
  signifies the element Water; and with Thales of Miletus contend that
  nothing in the Universe can subsist without it, whether of things
  mortal or immortal, animate or inanimate. All things are subject unto
  him; and he is good, and hath all good things within himself as in
  the horn of a unicorn, so that he imparts beauty and perfection unto
  all that is, inasmuch as he pervades all things, as flowing out of
  Eden, and divided into four heads.... This Naas is the “water above
  the firmament” and likewise “the living water” spoken of by the
  Saviour. Unto this _Water_ all Nature is drawn, and attracts out of
  the same whatever is analogous to its own nature, each thing after
  its own kind, with more avidity than the loadstone draws the iron,
  the ray of the sea-hawk, gold, or amber straws. Then they go on to
  boast: We are the _Spiritual_, who have drawn our own portion out of
  the living water of the Euphrates that flows through the midst of
  Babylon; and who have entered in through the True Gate, the which
  is Jesus the Blessed. And we of all men are the _only Christians_
  in the Third Gate, celebrating the Mystery, being anointed with the
  ineffable ointment out of the _horn_, like David, not out of the
  _earthen vessel_, like Saul who conversed with the Evil Spirit of
  carnal concupiscence.’”[75]

The conception of water as a life-producing agent appears prominently
in the religion of the Egyptians. They associated it with Osiris, the
life-producing god of the sun. Speaking of this King says:

  “The _symbols_ of the same worship have been to some extent explained
  by persons writing at a time when they were still a living though
  fast expiring language. Of such writers the most valuable is
  Plutarch, who in his curious treatise _De Iside et Osiride_, has
  given the meaning of several of these symbols, and, as it would
  appear, upon very good authority. According to him, Isis sometimes
  signifies the Moon, in which sense she is denoted by a Crescent:
  sometimes the Earth as fecundated by the waters of the Nile. For this
  reason water, as the seed of Osiris, was carried in a vase in the
  processions in honor of this goddess.”[76]


  “The baptism of Egypt is known by the hieroglyphic terms of ‘waters
  of purification.’ In Egypt, as in Peru, the water so used in
  immersion absolutely cleansed the soul, and the person was said to be
  _regenerated_. The water itself was holy, and the place was known,
  as afterwards by the Eastern Christians, by the name of _holy bath_.
  The early Christians called it being ‘brought anew into the world.’
  The ancients always gave a new name at baptism, which custom was
  afterwards followed by moderns. The Mithraic font for the baptism of
  ancient Persians is regarded as of Egyptian origin. Augustine may,
  then, well say that ‘in many sacrilegious rites of idols, persons are
  reported to be baptized.’”[77]

The Sacred Nile.

Pagan water-worship everywhere was closely associated with sacred
rivers. HARDWICK speaks of the Nile as follows:

  “As the Nile, for instance, was a sacred river and as such was
  invoked in the Egyptian hymns among the foremost of the national
  gods, whatever bore directly on the culture of the soil, and the
  succession of the crops in every district of the Nile valley, was
  enforced among the duties claimed from husbandmen by that divinity.
  To brush its sacred surface with the balance bucket at a forbidden
  time was a crime equal in atrocity to that of reviling the face of a
  king or of a father.”[78]

Water-Worship in India.

Sir MONIER-WILLIAMS describes water-worship in India as follows:

  “Rivers as sources of fertility and purification were at an early
  date invested with a sacred character. Every great river was supposed
  to be permeated with the divine essence, and its waters held to
  cleanse from all moral guilt and contamination, and as the Ganges was
  the most majestic, so it soon became the holiest and most sacred of
  all rivers. No sin was too heinous to be removed, no character too
  black to be washed clean by its waters. Hence the countless temples
  with flights of steps lining its banks; hence the array of priests,
  called ‘Sons of the Ganges,’ sitting on the edge of its streams,
  ready to aid the ablutions of conscience-stricken bathers, and stamp
  them as whitewashed when they emerge from its waters. Hence also the
  constant traffic carried on in transporting Ganges water in small
  bottles to all parts of the country.”[79]

Sacred wells abound in India, especially in and around the city of
Benares. Mr. Williams describes some of these as follows. The one first
noted is said to be sacred, because when a certain temple was destroyed
by the Mohammedans the outraged god took refuge in this well; thus it
became a sacred shrine. Mr. Williams says:

  “Thither, therefore, a constant throng of worshippers continually
  resort, bringing with them offerings of flowers, rice and other
  grain, which they throw into the water thirty or forty feet below the
  ground. A Brahman is perpetually employed in drawing up the putrid
  liquid, the smell or rather stench of which, from incessant admixture
  of decaying flowers and vegetable matter, makes the neighborhood
  almost unbearable. This he pours with a ladle into the hands of the
  expectant crowds, who either drink it with avidity, or sprinkle it
  reverentially over their persons. A still more sacred well, called
  the Manikarnika, situated on one of the chief Ghats leading to
  the Ganges, owes its origin, in popular belief, to the fortunate
  circumstance that one of Siva’s earrings happened to fall on the
  spot. This well is near the surface and quite exposed to view. It
  forms a small quadrangular pool, not more than three feet deep. Four
  flights of steps on the four sides lead to the water, the disgusting
  foulness of which, in the estimation of countless pilgrims, vastly
  enhances its efficacy for the removal of sin. The most abandoned
  criminals journey from distant parts of India to the margin of this
  sacred pool. There they secure the services of Brahmans, appointed
  to the duty, and descending with them into the water are made to
  repeat certain texts and mutter certain mystic formulæ, the meaning
  of which they are wholly unable to understand. Then, while in the act
  of repeating the words put into their mouths, they eagerly immerse
  their entire persons beneath the offensive liquid. The longed-for dip
  over, a miraculous transformation is the result; for the foul water
  has cleansed the still fouler soul. Few Hindus venture to doubt that
  the most depraved sinner in existence may thus be converted into an
  immaculate saint, worthy of being translated at once to the highest
  heaven of the god of Benares.

  “But to return to the temple of Visvesvara. I found when I visited it
  a constant stream of worshippers passing in and out. In fact, Siva,
  in his character of the lord of the universe, is the supreme deity
  of Benares. Not that the pilgrims are prohibited from worshipping
  at the shrines of other gods, but that Siva is here paramount, and
  claims the first homage. Yet this supreme god has no image; he is
  represented by a plain conical stone, to wit, the Linga or symbol
  of male generative power. The method of performing worship in this
  great central and confessedly typical temple of Hinduism, appeared
  to me very remarkable in its contrast with all Christian ideas of
  the nature of worship. All that each worshipper did was to bring
  Ganges water with him, in a small metal vessel, and pour the water
  over the stone Linga; at the same time ringing one of the bells
  hanging from the roof, to attract the god’s attention towards
  himself, bowing low in obeisance and muttering a few texts, with the
  repetition of the god’s name. In this way the god’s symbol was kept
  perpetually deluged with water, while the crowds who passed in and
  out lingered for a time close to the shrine, talking to each other
  in loud tones. Nor did any idea of irreverence seem to be attached
  to noisy vociferation in the interior of the sanctuary itself. Nor
  was any objection made to an unbeliever, like myself, approaching and
  looking inside; whereas in the south of India I was strictly excluded
  from all the avenues to the inner Linga sanctuaries.[80] In the
  courts adjacent to the Linga were other shrines dedicated to various
  deities, and in a kind of cloister or gallery which encircled the
  temple, were thousands of stone Lingas crowded together carelessly,
  and apparently only intended as votive offerings. I noticed the coil
  of a serpent carved around one or two of the most conspicuous symbols
  of male generative energy, and the combination appeared to be very
  significant and instructive.”[81]

In another work Mr. Williams says:

  “Passing on to the worship of water, especially running water, it
  is to be observed that river-water is everywhere throughout India
  held to be instinct with divinity. It is not merely holy, it is
  especially pervaded by the divine essence. We must, however, be
  careful to distinguish between the mere sacredness of either fire or
  water, and their worship as mere personal deities. In _Rig-Veda_, X.,
  30, X., 9, VII., 47, and other passages of the _Veda_, the Waters
  are personified, deified and honored as goddesses, and called the
  Mothers of earth. In X., 17, 10, their purifying power, and in
  VI., 50, 7, their healing power, is celebrated. They cleanse their
  worshippers from sin and untruthfulness (I., 6, 22, 23).... The river
  Sarasvati--called the purifier in _Rig-Veda_, I., 3, 10--was to the
  earlier Hindus what the Ganges was to the later. She was instinct
  with divinity, and her influence permeated the writers of the Vedic
  hymns. Sometimes she is identified with the Vedic goddess, vac,
  speech, and invoked as the patroness of Science.”[82]

The confluence of the Ganges with the Jumna and Sarasvati is one of
the most hallowed spots in India. Many other rivers are held as being
especially sacred. The river Narboda is deemed by some to surpass all
others. The mere sight of it cleanses the soul from all guilt. It
makes all other waters sacred for thirty miles northward and eighteen
southward. The banks of all the chief rivers in India are considered
holy ground from their source to the sea. Pilgrimages, which continue
for six years, are undertaken, the pilgrim going down one bank of the
Ganges, and returning by another. Many hardships are incidental to such
pilgrimages, but are counted light, and the greater the difficulties
the greater the resultant merit.

In a still later work, Sir Williams describes the present baptismal
custom in Thibet and Mongolia, as follows:

  “It is noticeable that a kind of baptism is practised in Tibet and
  Mongolia. It is usual to sprinkle children with consecrated water,
  or even to immerse them entirely on the third or tenth day after
  birth. This is called Khrus-sol (according to Jäschke). The priest
  consecrates the water by reciting some formula, while candles and
  incense are burning. He then dips the child three times, blesses it,
  and gives it a name. After performing the ceremony he draws up the
  infant’s horoscope. Then, as soon as the child can walk and talk,
  a second ceremony takes place, when prayers are said for its happy
  life, and an amulet or little bag is hung around its neck, filled
  with spells and charms against evil spirits and diseases.”[83]

Other writers support the foregoing, though Sir Williams is too high an
authority to need confirmation. ALABASTER says:

  “Baptism was a religious rite from very ancient times, the Brahmins
  holding that if any one who had sinned went to the banks of the
  Ganges and saying: ‘I will not sin again,’ plunged into the stream,
  he would rise to the surface free of sin, all his sins floating away
  with the water; hence it is called baptism, or the rite of washing
  off offences, so that they floated away. Sometimes where any one was
  sick unto death, his relatives would place him by the river, and give
  him water to drink, and pour water over him till he died, believing
  that he would thus die holy and go to heaven.”[84]

Mr. WILKINS says:

  “Dasahara: this festival commemorates the descent of the Ganges
  from heaven to earth, and is called Dasahara, because bathing at
  this season is said to remove all the sins committed in ten births,
  _i. e._, during ten different lives. This is a most interesting
  ceremony. Thousands upon thousands of the people bring their
  offerings of flowers, fruits and grain to the river-side, and then
  enter the sacred stream. It is a thing worthy of note that although
  in many places men and women bathe together, the men having simply a
  cloth around their loins, and the women often having the upper part
  of their bodies exposed, I have never seen the slightest impropriety
  of gestures on these occasions. In some festivals, as previously
  noticed, the grossest impropriety of language and gesture are freely
  indulged in: but at bathing festivals I have never noticed anything
  indecent. It is proper to bathe in the Ganges, for those who live
  near enough; but other rivers may take the place of the Ganges, and
  legends have been manufactured to show that their virtues are even
  greater than those of the Ganges; if there is no river convenient,
  then a tank can be substituted.”[85]

Modern Buddhistic Baptism.

The modern water-worship connected with Buddhism is described by Sir
Monier-Williams in his latest book[86] as follows:

  “In Burmah, where a good type of southern Buddhism is still to be
  found, the New Year’s festival might suitably be called a ‘water
  festival.’ It has there so little connection with the increase of the
  New Year’s light that it often takes place as late as the early half
  of April.[87] It is, however, a movable feast, the date of which is
  regularly fixed by the astrologers of Mandalay, who ‘make intricate
  calculations based on the position of various constellations.’ The
  object is to determine on what precise day the king of the Naths will
  descend upon the earth and inaugurate the new year. When the day
  arrives all are on the watch, and just at the right moment, which
  invariably occurs at midnight, a cannon is fired off, announcing the
  descendant of the Nath king upon earth. Forthwith (according to Mr.
  Scott) men and women sally out of their houses, carrying pots full of
  water, consecrated by fresh leaves and twigs of a sacred tree, repeat
  a formal prayer, and pour out the water on the ground. At the same
  time all who have guns of any kind discharge them, so as to greet the
  new year with as much noise as possible.

  “Then, ‘with the first glimmer of light’ all take jars full of fresh
  water and carry them off to the nearest monastery. First they present
  them to the monks, and then proceed to bathe the images. This work
  is usually done by the women of the party, ‘who reverently clamber
  up’ and empty their goblets of water over the placid features of the
  Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Then begins the Saturnalia. All along the
  road are urchins with squirts and syringes, with which they have been
  furtively practising for the last few days. The skill thus acquired
  is exhibited by the accuracy of their aim. Cold streams of water
  catch the ears of the passers-by. Young men and girls salute one
  another with the contents of jars and goblets. Shouts of merriment
  are heard in every quarter. Before breakfast every one is soaked,
  but no one thinks of changing his garments, for the weather is warm
  and ‘water is everywhere.’ The girls are the most enthusiastic, as
  they generally go in bands and carry copious reservoirs along with
  them; ‘unprotected males’ are soon routed. Then a number of ‘zealous
  people’ go down to the river, wade into the water knee-deep, splash
  about, and drench one another till they are tired. No one escapes.
  For three days no one likes to be seen with dry clothes. The wetting
  is a compliment.”[88]

  “In Tibet there is a water festival in the seventh or eighth month
  (about our August and September). At this festival the Lamas go
  in procession to rivers and lakes and consecrate the waters by
  benediction or by throwing in offerings. Huts and tents are erected
  on the banks, and people bathe and drink to wash away their sins. It
  concludes with dancing, buffoonery, and masquerading.”[89]

LYDIA MARIA CHILD thus describes

Baptism among the Hindus:

  “Water is supposed to cleanse the soul and guard from evil. When a
  child is born priests sprinkle it, and sprinkle the dwelling, and
  all the inmates of the house bathe. They do this from an idea that
  it keeps off evil spirits. People perform ablutions before they eat;
  and priests purify themselves with water, accompanied with prayers,
  on innumerable occasions. When a man is dying, Brahmins hasten to
  plunge him into a river, believing that the departing soul may be
  thus freed from impurities before it quits the body. Some rivers are
  deemed more peculiarly holy and efficacious than others, such as the
  Ganges, the Indus, and the Chrishna; the water of the Ganges is used
  on all the most solemn occasions. Images of the deities are washed
  with it, and Brahmins are sprinkled with it, when inducted into the
  priestly office. Happy above other men is he who is drowned in that
  sacred stream. Once in twelve years the waters of Lake Cumbhacum are
  supposed to be gifted with power to cleanse from all sin. As this
  period approaches, Brahmins send messengers in every direction to
  announce when the great day of ablution will take place. The shores
  are crowded with a vast multitude of men, women, and children from
  far and near. They plunge, at a signal from the officiating Brahmin,
  and in the universal rush many a one is suffocated or has his limbs
  broken. Water from the Ganges is kept in the temples, and when the
  people are dying they often send from a great distance to obtain some
  of it. Before devotees put their feet into a river they wash their
  hands and utter a prayer.”[90]

These witnesses show us that water-worship and baptism, the water being
variously employed, by immersion, sprinkling, pouring, etc., has formed
a prominent feature in Oriental paganism from the earliest time until
now. It passed from the Orient to Greece and Rome. Perhaps the stream
from Egypt was an independent one, which came from the south. Before
considering the immediate contact of pagan water-worship with early
Christianity, it is necessary to note its existence outside of the
Orient and Egypt.


[62] _Analysis of Ancient Mythology_, by Jacob Bryant, third edition,
six vols. London, 1807, vol. i., page 255.

[63] Jamblicus--Taylor’s translation,--_The Mysteries of the Egyptians,
Chaldeans, and Assyrians_, p. 141, Chiswick, 1821.

[64] _Ibid._, p. 144.

[65] _Æneid_, book viii., lines 70-82.

[66] _Fasti_, book iv., between lines 728 and 779.

[67] _Metamorphoses_, book i., fable 10, line 651 f.

[68] Herodotus, book vii., section 54, page 431, N. Y., 1848.

[69] _Satire_ vii., lines 520-30, page 59, Evans’ translation, Bohn,
London, 1852.

[70] The Cabiri, “punishers of the ancient mythology, performing their
former duties under the new dispensation.”

[71] _The Gnostics and Their Remains_, pp. 141 ff.

[72] _Ibid._, p. 6.

[73] _Ibid._, p. 154.

[74] _Ibid._, pp. 329, 330.

[75] _The Gnostics and Their Remains_, p. 224.

The references to Hippolytus, made by King may be found in vol. vi.,
Ante-Nicene Library, Edinburgh, 1877, pp. 126-194, especially 150, 151.
One should read the fifth book of his “Refutation of All Heresies”
to see how much water, as a divine agency and power, entered into
various phases of the gnostic system. The original of the quotations
from the gnostic gospel, _Pistis-Sophia_, may be found in the London
edition--Latin--of 1856.

[76] _Ibid._, p. 106.

[77] _Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought_, p. 416, London, 1878.

[78] _Christ and Other Masters_, part iv., p. 84.

[79] _Brahmanism and Hinduism_, by Sir Monier-Williams, M.A., D.C.L.,
London, 1887, p. 172.

[80] See p. 447.

[81] _Ibid._, p. 437 ff.

[82] _Religious Thought and Life in India_, p. 346, London, 1883.

[83] _Buddhism_, etc., p. 356, 357, New York, 1889.

[84] _The Wheel of the Law; Buddhism, Illustrated from Siamese
Sources_, by Henry Alabaster, London, 1871, pp. 30, 31.

[85] _Modern Hinduism_, by W. J. Wilkins, p. 219, New York, 1887.
Consult also, _Religions of India_, by A. Barth, p. 278 ff., New York,

[86] _Buddhism in its Connection with Brahmanism and Hinduism, and in
its Contrast with Christianity_, second edition, London, 1890.

[87] See Mr. Scott’s _Burmah_, ii., 48.

[88] Pp. 341, 342.

[89] P. 344.

[90] _The Progress of Religious Ideas_, New York, 1853, vol. i., p. 124.


  Water-Worship Prominent in Many Ways, and Associated with Holy
  Seasons--Infant Baptism among the Scandinavians and Teutons--Pagan
  “Christening of Children”--Sacred Water as a Safeguard against
  Disease, etc.--Virtue of Water Used for Mechanical Purposes--Water
  Sprites--Similarity between Roman Catholicism and Paganism of
  Mexico--Aztec Baptism--Prayer for “Baptismal Regeneration” of Child
  by Mexican Midwife.

The existence of a widespread system of water worship in Northern
Europe is attested by the direct history of paganism, by the history
of Christianity at its first introduction, by the decrees of councils,
capitularies, and similar documents. These sources show that the
Allamanns, Franks, and others worshipped rivers and fountains, and
used water in various ways for sacred purposes. They prayed upon the
banks of sacred rivers and at sacred fountains. Springs which gushed
from the earth were considered especially sacred, as being produced
directly by divine agency. Lighted candles were used in the worship of
fountains and wells. This custom continues until the present day in
the semi-religious habits of the people, who gaze into wells by the
light of a candle on Christmas and Easter nights. Sacred brooks and
rivers were believed to have been produced from the pouring of water by
the gods out of bowls and urns.

Water drawn at holy seasons, such as midnight and sunrise, has always
been known as “holy water.” Running spring-water gathered on holy
Christmas night, while the clock strikes twelve is yet known as
_heilway_, and is believed to be good for certain diseases. At the
present time the common people of Northern Europe believe that between
eleven and twelve on Christmas night, and on Easter night, _spring
water changes into wine_. A similar faith is found as far back as the
latter part of the fourth century, which is noted by Chrysostom in an
Epiphany sermon preached at Antioch.

The following quotation will show that pagan water-worship was
indigenous in Northern Europe as well as in the Orient:

  “It is no less remarkable that a kind of infant baptism was practised
  in the North, long before the dawning of Christianity had reached
  those parts. Snorri Sturlason, in his chronicle, speaking of a
  Norwegian nobleman who lived in the reign of Harald Harfagra, relates
  that he poured water on the head of a new-born child, and called him
  Hakon, from the name of his father. Harald himself had been baptized
  in the same manner, and it is noted of King Olaf Tryggvason, that his
  mother, Astrida, had him thus baptized and named as soon as he was
  born. The Livonians observed the same ceremony, which also prevailed
  among the Germans, as appears from a letter which the famous Pope
  Gregory the third sent to their Apostle Boniface directing him
  expressly how to act in this respect. It is probable that all these
  people might intend, by such a rite, to preserve their children from
  the sorceries and evil charms which witched spirits might employ
  against them at the instant of their birth. Several nations of Asia
  and America have attributed such a power to ablutions of this kind;
  nor were the Romans without such a custom, though they did not wholly
  confine it to new-born infants.”[91]

S. BARING GOULD testifies concerning pagan baptism in Scandinavia as

  “Among the Scandinavians, infant baptism was in vogue long before the
  introduction of Christianity, and the rite accompanied the naming of
  the child. Before the accomplishment of this rite, the exposition
  of the babe was lawful, but after the ceremony it became murder. A
  baptism in blood seems to have been practised by the Germans and
  Norsemen in remote antiquity; to this the traditions of the horny
  Sigfrid, or Sigurd, and Wolfdietrich point. Dipping in water, and
  aspersion with water, or with blood of a victim, was also customary
  among the Druids, as was also the baptism of fire, perhaps borrowed
  by them from the Phœnicians. This was that passing through the fire
  to Molech alluded to repeatedly in the Jewish Scriptures.”[92]

There is an excellent picture of baptism among the pagan Teutons, by
Konrad Maurer, in which the author shows, in detail, the relation
between infant baptism among the Greeks, Romans, Teutonic pagans, and
Teutonic Christians. _The Nation_ for September 22, 1881, speaks of Mr.
Maurer’s work as follows[93]:

  “A large portion of Maurer’s monograph is devoted to showing how
  the ceremonies connected with heathen baptism were adopted by the
  Christian Church, and in tracing to a heathen source the rights and
  privileges secured to children by baptism in the Church. The author
  suggests that the laying at the breast was a recognition of the child
  on the mother’s part, and that the granting of the right of baptism
  was a recognition of the child on the part of the father, and that
  this was the chief significance of the latter ceremony; although it
  would seem from Havamal, in the Elder Edda, that spiritual blessings
  were also secured to the infant by the sprinkling of holy water.
  Baptism made the child an _heir_ both among the heathen and among
  the old Teutonic Christians, and the fact that among both it had so
  many things in common, that it took place soon after the birth of
  the child, and was connected with the naming of it; that there were
  god-fathers and god-mothers, and that presents were given, makes
  the question an exceedingly interesting one. But the author goes
  farther, and proves from ancient laws of the Germans, Visigoths, and
  Anglo-Saxons, that the rite of baptism is to be performed within
  the ninth day after the birth of the child; and here he calls
  attention to the ancient Roman custom of giving the name to a female
  infant on the eighth, and to a male infant on the ninth day after
  birth, and quotes Roman law to show that this naming day was of
  legal importance to the child. A similar custom is also found among
  ancient Greeks, where the seventh day after the birth of the child
  was celebrated with _cleansing_, gifts, sacrifices, banqueting, and
  other ceremonies. Maurer suggests that this seventh day of cleansing
  among the heathen Greeks was of the same legal value to the child
  as the day of sprinkling with water among the Teutons, and that it
  determined whether the child should live or be exposed. Roman law
  establishes the fact that the eighth day after birth for girls,
  and the ninth for boys was a _Dies lustricus_--that is, a day on
  which a religious rite (_lustratio_) for infants took place, and on
  which names were given to them, whence it was called _solonnitas
  nominalium_. The day was observed by bringing the infants to the
  temple, by banquets, etc.[94] We find, therefore, among the old
  Greeks, and what is of vastly more importance, in the old Roman laws,
  a day set apart for infants on which they get their names, and this
  naming connected with the observation of certain ceremonies. What
  the precise nature of these rites was, we are not told; but inasmuch
  as the Roman documents designate thereby the term _lustratio_,
  there can scarcely be room for doubt that it must have been a
  symbolic cleansing by means of water. And since the _Dies lustricus_
  confessedly secured legal rights to the infant, the question lies
  near at hand whether the old Teutonic heathen borrowed the baptismal
  right from the ancient Romans, or whether baptism was an original
  institution among the Aryans before they became divided into Teutons,
  Romans, etc. There can be no doubt, on the one hand, that the _Dies
  lustricus_ of the Romans obtained among the Christians in fixing the
  day for baptism, especially since it corresponded so nearly with the
  Mosaic day for circumcision; and on the other hand, that just as many
  of the old Teutonic feasts were turned into festivals, so the form
  of the Teutonic baptism was largely adopted by the Christians in
  Northern Europe.”

Baptism was undoubtedly an ancient Aryan rite, which existed before the
division of the race, of which Mr. Maurer speaks. For supplementary
proof of the lustration and naming of infants among the Greeks and the
Romans, consult Smith’s _Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities_,
pp. 800, 801. Also, for lustration, by holy water, of children and
adults, see _The Life of Greeks and Romans_, by E. Guhl and W. Koner,
p. 282, London (no date, but since 1862). See also Tertullian,
_Concerning Idolatry_ (chap. xvi.), for reference to pagan “Naming

JACOB GRIMM (_Teutonic Mythology_, 4 vols., London, 1883), a most
painstaking and scholarly authority, shows that the Christianity of
the present century is yet deeply imbued with the residuum of the
ancient pagan water-worship. He says:

  “Superstitious Christians then believed two things: a hallowing of
  the water at midnight of the day of baptism, and a turning of it into
  wine at the time of the bethphania. Such water the Germans called
  _heilawâc_, and ascribed to it a wonderful power of healing diseases
  and wounds, and of never spoiling.

  “Possibly even in Syria an old pagan drawing of water became veiled
  under new Christian meanings. In Germany other circumstances point
  undisguisedly to a heathen consecration of water: it was not to be
  drawn at midnight, but in the morning _before sunrise down stream_
  and _silently_, usually on _Easter Sunday_, to which the above
  explanations do not so well apply: this water does not spoil, it
  restores youth, heals eruptions, and makes the young cattle strong.
  Magic water, serving for unchristian divination, is to be _collected
  before sunrise on a Sunday_ in one glass from _three flowing
  springs_; and _a taper is lighted_ before a glass, as before a divine
  being. Here I bring in once again the Hessian custom mentioned at
  page 58: On Easter Monday youths and maidens walk to the Hollow
  Rock in the mountains, draw _water from the cool spring in jugs to
  carry home_, and throw flowers in as an offering. Apparently this
  water-worship was Celtic likewise. The water of the rock spring
  Karnant makes a broken sword whole again. Curious customs show us
  in what manner young girls in the Pyrenees country _tell their own
  fortunes in the spring water_ on May-day morning.”[95]

Water Securing Immunity from Disease.

Sacred water as a means of lustration and of immunity from disease is
yet a prominent characteristic of Northern European water-worship.
GRIMM thus describes it:

  “In a spring near Nogent men and women bathed on St. John’s eve:
  Holberg’s comedy of _Kilde-reisen_ is founded on the Copenhagen
  people’s practice of pilgriming to a neighboring spring on _St.
  Hans aften_ to heal and invigorate themselves in its waters. On
  Midsummer-eve the people of Ostergötland journeyed according to
  ancient custom to Lagman’s bergekälla near Skeninge, and drank of
  the well. In many parts of Germany some clear fountain is visited at
  Whitsuntide, and the water drunk in jugs of a peculiar shape. Still
  more important is Petrarch’s description of the annual bathing of
  the women of Cologne in the Rhine; it deserves to be quoted in full,
  because it plainly proves that the cult prevailed not merely at
  here and there a spring, but in Germany’s greatest river. From the
  Italian’s unacquaintance with the rite, one might infer that it was
  foreign to the country whence all Church ceremonies proceeded, and
  therefore altogether unchristian and heathenish. But Petrarch may
  not have had a minute knowledge of all the customs of his country;
  after his time, at all events, we find even there a lustration on
  St. John’s Day (described as ancient custom then dying out). And
  long before Petrarch, in Augustine’s time, the rite was practised
  in Libya, and is denounced by that Father as a relic of paganism.
  Generally sanctioned by the Church it certainly was not, yet it might
  be allowed here and there, as a not unapt reminder of the Baptizer
  in the Jordan, and now interpreted of him, though once it had been
  heathen. It might easily come into extensive favor, and that not as
  a Christian feast alone: to our heathen forefathers St. John’s Day
  would mean the festive middle of the year, when the sun turns, and
  there might be many customs connected with it. I confess, if Petrarch
  had witnessed the bathing in the river at some small town, I would
  the sooner take it for a native rite of the ancient Germani; at
  Cologne, the holy city so renowned for its relics, I rather suspect
  it to be a custom first introduced by Christian tradition.”[96]

Water used for mechanical purposes was also looked upon as possessing
peculiar virtues. Down to the present time the Servians catch the water
which rebounds from the paddles of mill wheels. Women go early on St.
George’s day, April 23d, to catch such water for bathing purposes.
Some carry it home on the evening before the twenty-third and sprinkle
broken bits of green herbs and boughs upon it. They believe that
all evil and harm “will then glance off their bodies like water off
the mill wheel,” as the result of such bathing. A trace of the same
superstition remains in Servia in the popular warning, “Not to flirt
the water off your hands after washing in the morning,” else you flirt
away your luck for the day.

Many religious and superstitious practices are prevalent in Northern
Europe in times of drouth, in order to propitiate the divinities,
either good or evil, and secure a rainfall. Certain goddesses which
were prominent in the Northern European mythologies, especially Nerthus
and Holda, were closely connected with water-worship. The former
represented the earth and is spoken of as “the bath-loving Nerthus.”
Holda lived in wells. She was identical with the Roman Isis. “When
it snows, she is making her bed, and the feathers fly. She stirs up
snow as Donar does rain.” In Prussia when it snows the people say:
“The angels are shaking their beds, and the flakes of down drop to the
earth.” It was believed that Holda haunted the lakes and fountains and
might be seen bathing at the hour of noon. Mortals could reach her
dwelling by passing through a well. She was supposed to pass through
the land at Christmas time, bringing fertility by her presence.[97]

On the fifth of August the lace-makers of Brussels pray to Mary that
their work “may keep as white as snow.” It was believed that Holda
appeared as an ugly old woman, long-nosed, big-toothed, with bristling
and thick-matted hair. The common people still say of a man whose hair
is tangled and in disorder: “He has had a jaunt with Holda.”

The pagan fear of water sprites still exists in Sweden. On crossing
any water after dark it is thought advisable to _spit three times_, as
a safeguard against their evil influences.[98] It is also thought to
be dangerous to draw water from a well without saluting the divinity
which governs it. This custom remains among modern Greeks. A thief
is supposed to be safe in his evil course if he sacrifices to the
water sprites, by throwing a little of that which he has stolen into
a stream. In Esthonia, the newly married wife drops a present into
the well of the house where she is to reside. In 1641, Hans Ohm, of
Sommerpahl in Esthonia, built a mill upon a sacred stream. Bad harvests
followed for several years until the peasants fell upon the mill, burnt
it down and destroyed the piles in the water. Ohm went to law and
obtained a verdict against the peasants. But to rid himself of new and
grievous persecutions, he induced pastor Gutslaff to write a treatise
especially combating this superstition. The Esthonians replied, when
asked how good or bad weather could depend upon springs and brooks: “It
is our ancient faith: the men of old have so taught us. Mills have been
burnt down on this brook before now.” They called it “Holy Brook,” and
believed that when they wanted rain it could be produced by throwing
something into the stream.[99]

Many similar stories abound in the modern literature of Esthonia.
Although less refined, the water-worship mythology of Northern Europe
was as widespread and persistent in its influence as that of Southern
Europe or of Asia. Its influence upon Christianity was not less
strongly marked, and the modifications which it produced in Christian
baptism continue in a great degree to the present day. The universal
sway of pagan baptism and its essential unity are shown by turning
from Northern Europe to the extreme point of another continent and

Water-Worship in Mexico.

PRESCOTT speaks of the amazement with which the early Spaniards beheld
the points of similarity between the customs of the pagan Mexicans and
the Roman Catholic Church; he says:

  “With the same feelings they witnessed another ceremony, that of the
  Aztec baptism; in which, after a solemn invocation, the head and lips
  of the infant were touched with water, and a name given to it; while
  the goddess Cioacoatl, who presided over childbirth, was implored
  that the sin which was given to us before the beginning of the world
  might not visit the child, but that, cleansed by these waters, it
  might live and be born anew.”[100]

A full account of this pagan baptism in Mexico is given by

  “When everything necessary for the baptism had been made ready, all
  the relations of the child were assembled, and the midwife, who was
  the person that performed the rite of baptism, was summoned. At early
  dawn they met together in the court-yard of the house. When the sun
  had risen the midwife, taking the child in her arms, called for a
  little earthen vessel of water, while those about her placed the
  ornaments which had been prepared for the baptism in the midst of the
  court. To perform the rite of baptism, she placed herself with her
  face towards the west, and immediately began to go through certain
  ceremonies.... After this she sprinkled water on the head of the
  infant, saying: ‘O my child! take and receive the water of the Lord
  of the world, which is our life, and is given for the increasing and
  renewing of our body. It is to wash and to purify. I pray that these
  heavenly drops may enter into your body and dwell there; that they
  may destroy and remove from you all the evil and sin which was given
  to you before the beginning of the world; since all of us are under
  its power, being all the children of Chalchivitlycue’ (the goddess of
  water). She then washed the body of the child with water and spoke
  in this manner: ‘Whencesoever thou comest, thou that art hurtful to
  this child, leave him and depart from him, for he now liveth anew
  and is born anew; now he is purified and cleansed afresh, and our
  Mother Chalchivitlycue again bringeth him into the world.’ Having
  thus prayed, the midwife took the child in both hands, and lifting
  him towards heaven, said: ‘O Lord, thou seest here thy creature, whom
  thou hast sent into this world, this place of sorrow, suffering, and
  penitence. Grant him, O Lord, thy gifts and thine inspiration, for
  thou art the great God, and with thee is the great goddess.’ Torches
  of pine were kept burning during the performance of these ceremonies.
  When these things were ended, they gave the child the name of some
  one of his ancestors, in hope that he might shed a new lustre over
  it. The name was given by the same midwife or priestess who baptized

A full discussion of baptismal ceremonies among the pagans of Mexico
may be found in H. H. Bancroft’s works,[102] which discussion fully
supports the foregoing from Prescott and Sahagun.


[91] _Northern Antiquities of the Ancient Scandinavians_, translated
from the French of P. H. Mallet by Bishop Percy, edition revised by J.
A. Blackwell, London, 1847, p. 206.

[92] _The Origin and Development of Religious Belief_, by S. Baring
Gould, M.A., London, 1869, p. 393.

[93] For details see _Ueber die Wasserweihe des Germanischen
Heidenthumes_, von Konrad Maurer, as found in the Transactions of the
Bavarian Academy of Science for 1880.

[94] See on this point Marquardt, _Das Privat-leben der Romer_, i., pp.
81, 82.

[95] Vol. ii., pp. 586, 587.

[96] Vol. ii., pp. 588, 590.

[97] Several attributes of the heathen goddess Holda passed over to the
worship of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church.

[98] Compare this with what is said by Pliny, and with the use of
spittle by the Roman Catholics in baptism. Chapter V. of this book.

[99] See _A Short Account of the Holy Brook_, etc., by John Gutslaff,
Pastor at Urbs in Liefland, Dorpt, 1644, pp. 25, 258.

[100] _Conquest of Mexico_, vol. iii., p. 369 f., Philadelphia, J. B.

[101] _Hist. de Nueva Espana_, lib. vi., cap. xxxvii.

[102] _The Native Races, Myths, and Languages_, vol. iii., p. 369
_seq._, San Francisco, 1882.


  Sprinkling and Immersion Both Used--Prominence of “Baptismal
  Regeneration”--Lustral Water at Temple Doors--Baptism of
  Animals--Influence of “The Greek Mysteries” on Christian
  Baptism--Initiatory Baptisms--Scenic Illustrations--Mithraic
  Baptism Engrafted on Grecian--“Creed,” “Symbol,” Drawn from Grecian
  Water-Worship Cult--Identity of Grecian and Roman Catholic Forms--The
  Use of Spittle in Pagan Baptism.

In our survey of the wide field, we now come to a still more specific
view of the pagan cult, along the line of Hellenic thought, where it
impinged most strongly upon Christianity.

POTTER writes learnedly of water-worship among the Greeks, in the

  “At least every person who came to the solemn sacrifices was
  purified by water. To which end at the entrance to the temples
  there was commonly placed a vessel full of holy water. This water
  was consecrated by putting into it a burning torch taken from the
  altar. The same torch was sometimes made use of to sprinkle those
  who entered into the temple. Thus we find in Euripides, and also
  in Aristophanes, where the scholiast observes that this torch was
  used because of the quality of fire, which is thought to purify
  all things. Instead of the torches, they sometimes used a branch
  of laurel, as we find in Pliny. Thus Sozomen, where he speaks of
  Valentinian following Julian into a pagan temple, relates that when
  they were about to enter, a priest holding certain green boughs
  dropping water besprinkled them after the Grecian manner. Instead of
  laurel, olive was sometimes used. Thus we find in Virgil:

    ‘Old Corianæus compassed thrice the crew,
     And dipped an olive branch in holy dew.’

  “This custom of surrounding here expressed, was so constant in
  purifying that most of the terms which relate to any sort of
  purification are compounded with περι, around, thus: περιῤῥαίνειν,
  περιμάττεσθαι, περιθειοῦν, περιαγνίζειν, etc.

  “The vessel which contained the water of purification was termed,
  περιῤῥαντήριον. And the Latin word _lustrare_, which signifies to
  purify or expiate, came hence to be a general word for any sort of
  surrounding or encompassing. Thus it is used by Virgil, _... dum
  montibus umbræ lustrabunt convexo_. Spondanus tells us that before
  the sacrifices of the celestial gods, the worshippers had their whole
  bodies washed, or if that could not be, at least their hands; but for
  those that performed the sacred rites to the infernal gods, a small
  sprinkling was sufficient. Sometimes the feet were washed as well as
  the hands; whence came the proverbs, ανιπτοις χερσιν and ανιπτοις
  ποσιν. In Latin _illotis manibus_, and _illotis pedibus_,--which are
  usually applied to men who undertake anything without due care and
  preparation. Porphyry tells us there was a programme fixed up, that
  no man should go beyond the περιῤῥαντήριον till he had washed his
  hands; so great a crime was it counted to omit this ceremony, that
  Timarchides hath related a story of one Asterius, who was struck dead
  with thunder because he had approached the altar of Jupiter with
  unwashed hands. Nor was this custom only used at solemn sacrifices,
  but also at the smallest parts of their worship. Hector tells us that
  he was afraid to make so much as a libation to Jupiter before he had

    ‘I dread with unwashed hands to bring,
     My incensed wine to Jove, an offering.’

  “And Telemachus is said, in Homer’s _Odysseis_, to have washed his
  hands before he ventured to pray to the gods. This they did out of a
  conceit that thereby they were purified from their sins; and withal
  signifying that nothing impure ought to approach the deities. On the
  same account, they sometimes washed their clothes, as Homer relates
  of Penelope, before she offered prayers to the gods. The water used
  in purification was required to be clear, and without mud and all
  other impurities. It was commonly fetched from fountains and rivers.
  The water of lakes or standing ponds was unfit for this purpose.
  So also was the purest stream if it had been a considerable time
  separated from its source.”[103]

BARING GOULD gives another picture of baptism and lustration among the

  “Among the Greeks, the mysteries of Cotys commenced with a
  purification, a sort of baptism, and the priests of the Thracian
  Goddess derived from this their title of βάπται. But Apollo, from
  a supposed derivation of his name from ἀπολούω to purify, was the
  special god of expiation by baptismal acts. In Thessaly was yearly
  celebrated a great festival of cleansing. A work bearing the name of
  _Musæus_ was a complete ritual of purifications. It distinguished the
  ceremonies into two orders, τελεταί and καθαρμοί. The latter were
  purifications and expiations accomplished by special sacrifices. The
  former resembled the purifications performed in the Mysteries. The
  usual mode of purification was dipping in water, or it was performed
  by aspersion. The baptism of immersion was called λοῦτρον, the other
  περίῤῥανσις. These sacraments were held to have virtue independent
  of the disposition of the candidate, an opinion which called forth
  the sneer of Diogenes when he saw some one undergoing baptism by
  aspersion: ‘Poor wretch! do you not see that, since these sprinklings
  cannot repair your grammatical errors, they cannot repair either the
  faults of your life?’

  “Lustral water was placed at the temple doors, with which the profane
  were purified by the priests. Usually, before entering a temple, the
  hands and feet were washed. At Athens, when the prœdrai had opened
  the assembly, the peristiarch offered a sacrifice, and then with the
  blood of the victim sprinkled the seats. The herald then took the
  place of the peristiarch, and continued the lustration by burning
  incense; for fumigations (περιθειώσεις), constituted another means of
  purification. In default of water, sand was used, and salt, which, as
  a symbol of incorruption, was regarded as possessed of purificatory
  virtue. Every impure act, murder, the touch of a corpse, illegitimate
  commerce, even the conjugal act, demanded purification. In like
  manner, baptism was practised by the Romans, and Juvenal satirizes
  those who washed away their sins by dipping the head thrice in the
  morning into the waters of the Tiber.[104]

  “On the feast of Pales, the goddess of flocks, the shepherds
  purified themselves by washing their hands thrice in new fallen
  dew; or a lustration was effected by aspersion with consecrated
  water shaken from a branch of laurel or olive; in reference to
  which rite Propertius prays, much as once did David: ‘_Spargite me

The Grecian idea of baptism is well set forth by OVID, in the following

    “From Greece the custom came, for Greece esteems
     Those free from guilt who bathe in sacred streams.
     Thus did old Pelius once Patroclus lave,
     And free from stain in the Hæmonian wave:
     As, in that same Hæmonian stream before,
     Acastus, Pelius freed from Phocus’ gore.
     The Phasian sorceress, in her fiery car,
     Borne by yoked dragons through the liquid air,
     To credulous Ægeus supplication made,
     And from him won an undeservèd aid.
     In Naupactoan Achelous’ flood,
     His horrid hands stained with his mother’s blood,
     Alcæmon bathed; ‘Cleanse me from crime,’ he cried,
     Nor by the stream was his request denied.
     Ah, vain the hope, and far too easy they,
     Who think the water takes such guilt away.”
                       _Fasti_, book ii., line 58 ff.

Influence of the “Greek Mysteries.”

The influence of the Greek mysteries in corrupting Christian baptism
is more plainly seen than that of any other specific department of the
pagan cult. These mysteries were the remnant of the oldest religion
known to the Greeks. They embodied the worship of the gods of the
productive forces in nature, and of the gods of death. The most
important centre of this cult was at Eleusis, where the worship was
celebrated in the largest temple in Greece. The chief elements in the
cult were initiation, sacrifice, and scenic representations of the
great facts in the processes of nature and in human life. The main
conception in the initiation was that the candidate must be purified
before he could approach God. The initiated, being thus purified,
were inducted to a divine life and to the hope of a resurrection. The
ceremonial began with the proclamation: “Let no one enter whose hands
are not clean, and whose tongue is not prudent.”[106]

Confession was followed by a kind of baptism.[107] The candidates for
initiation bathed in the pure waters of the sea. The manner of bathing
and the number of immersions varied with the degree of guilt which
they had confessed. They came from the bath new men. It was a κάθαρσις,
a λουτρὸν, a “laver of regeneration.” Certain forms of abstinence were
imposed; they had to fast; and when they ate they had to abstain from
certain kinds of food.[108]

After this purification came a σωτήρια, “a great public sacrifice
of salvation”; also personal sacrifices. After an interval of two
days still more sacrifices, shows, and “processions” followed. The
initiated carried lighted torches and sang “loud peans in honor of the
God.”[109] Then came the scenic representations at night. The initiated
stood outside the temple in deep darkness. Suddenly the door opened,
and in a blaze of light the drama of Demeter and Kore appeared--in
which the loss of the daughter, the wanderings of the mother, and the
birth of the child, were enacted. This symbolized the earth in its
great experiences, as well as the corresponding experiences in human
life. All this was enacted in silence. Each man saw and meditated
for himself. It was believed that this gave purity to the initiated,
changed their relations to the gods, and made them “partakers of a
life to come.”[110] Mithraicism had a similar form of initiation, a
prominent feature of which was a sacred meal, upon a “holy table,” of
which the initiated took part after they were purified. The societies
which practised these mysteries existed on a large scale during the
earliest centuries of our era, and had a marked influence upon the
earliest Christian communities, and upon the subsequent church. HATCH
thus describes these effects:

  “It was inevitable when a new group of associations came to exist
  side by side with a large existing body of associations, from which
  it was continually detaching members, introducing them into its own
  midst, with the practices of their original societies impressed upon
  their minds, that this new group should tend to assimilate, with the
  assimilation of their members, some of the elements of these existing

  “This is what we find to have been in fact the case. It is possible
  that they made the Christian associations more secret than before.
  Up to a certain time there is no evidence that Christianity had any
  secrets. It was preached openly to the world. It guarded worship by
  imposing a moral bar to admission. But its rites were simple and its
  teaching was public. After a certain time all is changed; mysteries
  have arisen in the once open and easily accessible faith, and there
  are doctrines which must not be declared in the hearing of the

The effect of these pagan mysteries upon Christian baptism, and upon
the Lord’s Supper also, will be more clearly seen when we remember how
simple a ceremony New Testament baptism was. It followed immediately
upon confession of faith in Christ. There was no preparatory ceremony,
no ritual, only the simple formula. There was no confusion or
controversy concerning the “mode,” for submersion alone was known
within Christian circles.

When the current of history emerges at and after the middle of the
second century, marked changes appear which are so identical with
gnosticism and the Greek mysteries that there can be no question as to
their source.[112] Among these changes were the following:

The name is changed, and the new terms used come directly from
the familiar mysteries. Justin calls it ψωτισμός, φωτιζεσθαι,
“enlightenment.”[113] Those who had passed the tests were “sealed,”
φραγις--a term from the mysteries.[114] It was also called
μυστήριον,[115] “Mysteries” and many other terms, all of which sprung
from the “mysteries of Greek paganism, rather than from the New

The time of baptism of adults was changed to meet the pagan conception
of it as a purifying and saving act. A long preparation was demanded,
and, to meet the pagan idea that it removed sins, it was often
deferred until near the close of life in order to make the most of
both worlds.[116] The initiated in the Greek mysteries were given a
password: σύμβολον or σύνθημα. “So the catechumens had a formula which
was only entrusted to them in the last days of their catechumenate,
the baptismal formula itself, and the Lord’s Prayer.”[117] A special
rite accompanied the giving of this formula. Otherwise both the Lord’s
Prayer and the Creed were kept as “mysteries”; the technical name for
creed remains to this day as σύμβολον “symbol.”[118]

Hatch quotes a description of baptism in the Roman Catholic Church,
which shows every essential feature of the Eleusinian mysteries
transferred to “Christian baptism,” falsely so called. The account is
taken from Mabillon.[119] He writes thus:

  “I will abridge the account which is given of the practice at Rome
  so late as the ninth century. Preparation went on through the
  greater part of Lent. The candidates were examined and tested; they
  fasted; they received the secret symbols, the Creed and the Lord’s
  Prayer. On Easter eve, as the day declined towards afternoon, they
  assembled in the Church of St. John Lateran. The rites of exorcism
  and renunciation were gone through in solemn form, and the rituals
  survive. The Pope and his priests come forth in their sacred
  vestments, with lights carried in front of them, which the Pope then
  blesses; there is a reading of lessons and a singing of psalms. And
  then, while they chant a litany, there is a procession to the great
  bath of baptism, and the water is blest. The baptized come forth from
  the water, are signed with the cross, and are presented to the Pope
  one by one, who vests them in a white robe and signs their foreheads
  again with the cross. They are arranged in a great circle, and each
  of them carries a light. Then a vast array of lights is kindled;
  the blaze of them, says a Greek Father, makes night continuous with
  dawn. It is the beginning of a new life. The mass is celebrated--the
  mystic offering on the cross is represented in figure; but for the
  newly baptized the chalice is filled, not with wine, but with milk
  and honey, that they may understand, says an old writer, that they
  have entered already upon the promised land. And there was one more
  symbolical rite in that early Easter sacrament, the mention of which
  is often suppressed--a lamb was offered on the altar, afterwards,
  cakes in the shape of a lamb. It was simply the ritual which we have
  seen already in the mysteries. The purified crowd at Eleusis saw a
  blaze of light, and in the light were represented in symbol life and
  death and resurrection.”[120]

Anointing and Baptism.

The use of anointing oil in baptism was borrowed directly from
paganism. To economize space, and fortify by the power of a great name,
we again quote from Hatch:

  “The general inference of the large influence of the Gnostics on
  baptism, is confirmed by the fact that another element, which
  certainly came through them, though its source is not certain, and
  is more likely to have been Oriental than Greek, has maintained a
  permanent place in most rituals--the element of anointing. There were
  two customs in this matter, one more characteristic of the East, the
  other of the West--the anointing with (1) the oil of exorcism before
  baptism and after the renunciation of the devil, and (2) the oil of
  thanksgiving, which was used immediately after baptism, first by the
  presbyter and then by the bishop, who then sealed the candidate on
  the forehead. The very variety of the custom shows how deep and yet
  natural the action of the Gnostic systems, with the mystic and magic
  customs of the Gnostic societies or associations, had been on the
  practices and ceremonies of the Church.”[121]

Use of Spittle in Baptism.

The pagan doctrine of exorcism was carried still further, and baptism
was corrupted yet more by adding the use of human saliva as a “charm.”
This arose from the general use of spittle by the pagans as a talisman
against harm and evil influences. Rev. JOHN JAMES BLUNT says:

  “Human saliva was heretofore very generally used as a charm, and
  was thought particularly efficacious against the venom of poisonous
  animals. Pliny quotes some authorities to prove that the pernicious
  powers of toads and frogs may be disarmed by this means, and that
  serpents may be rendered innoxious by spitting into their mouths. The
  testimony of Varro is also cited by the naturalist to show that there
  were people in the Hellespont, near Pasium, who could cure the bite
  of snakes by their saliva.... It is remarkable that in administering
  the rite of baptism the priest, among other ceremonies, moistens a
  napkin with his own saliva, and then touches with it the eyes and
  nose of the child, accompanying the action by the word _Ephphatha_.
  It was with a similar rite that Roman infants received their names on
  the _Dies Lustricus_.”[122]

The Satirists were not slow in holding up these various superstitions
to deserved ridicule. PERSEUS touches the spittle superstition in the
following stanza:

    “Lo! from his little crib the grandam hoar,
     Or aunt, well-versed in superstitious lore,
     Snatches the babe; in lustral spittle dips
     Her middle finger, and anoints his lips
     And forehead.”[123]

PLINY supports the statement of Blunt as follows:

  “The Marsi, in Italy, are still in possession of the same power,
  for which it is said they are indebted to their origin from the son
  of Circe, from whom they acquired it as a natural quality. But the
  fact is, that all men possess in their bodies a poison which acts
  upon serpents, and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take
  to flight as though they had been touched with boiling water. The
  same substance, it is said, destroys them as soon as it enters their
  throat, and more particularly so, if it should happen to be the
  saliva of a man who is fasting.”[124]

In another place Pliny enumerates many uses to which spittle is put:

  “But it is the fasting spittle of a human being that is, as already
  stated by us, the sovereign preservative against the poison of
  serpents: while, at the same time, our daily experience may recognize
  its efficacy and utility in many other respects. We are in the habit
  of spitting, for instance, as a preservative from epilepsy, or, in
  other words, we repel contagion thereby; in a similar manner, too,
  we repel fascinations, and the evil presages attendant upon meeting
  a person who is lame in the right leg. We ask pardon of the gods, by
  spitting in the lap, for entertaining some too presumptuous hope or
  expectation. On the same principle, it is the practice, in all cases
  where medicine is employed, to spit three times on the ground, and to
  conjure the malady as often, the object being to aid the operation
  of the remedy employed. It is usual, too, to mark a boil, when it
  first makes its appearance, three times with fasting spittle. What
  we are going to say is marvellous, but it may easily be tested by
  experiment: if a person repents of a blow given to another, either
  by hand or with a missile, he has nothing to do but to spit at
  once in the palm of the hand which has inflicted the blow, and all
  feelings of resentment will be instantly alleviated in the person
  struck. This, too, is often verified in the case of a beast of burden
  when brought on its haunches with blows; for upon this remedy being
  adopted, the animal will immediately step out and mend its pace. Some
  persons, however, before making an effort, spit into the hand in the
  manner above stated, in order to make the blow more heavy. We may
  well believe, then, that lichens and leprous spots may be removed by
  a constant application of fasting spittle; that ophthalmia may be
  cured by anointing, as it were, the eyes every morning with fasting
  spittle; that carcinomata may be effectually treated by kneading
  the root of the plant known as ‘apple of the earth’ with human
  spittle; that crick in the neck may be got rid of by carrying fasting
  spittle to the right knee with the right hand, and to the left knee
  with the left; and when an insect has got into the ear it is quite
  sufficient to spit into that organ to make it come out. Among the
  counter-charms, too, are reckoned the practice of spitting into the
  urine the moment it is voided, of spitting into the shoe of the right
  foot before putting it on, and of spitting while a person is passing
  a place in which he has incurred any kind of peril.

  “Marcion, of Smyrna, who has written a work on the virtues of
  simples, informs that the sea scolopendra will burst asunder if spit
  upon; and that the same is the case with bramble frogs, and other
  kinds of frogs. Opilius says that serpents will do the same if a
  person spits into their open mouth; and Salpe tells us that when any
  part of the body is asleep the numbness may be got rid of by the
  person spitting into his lap, or touching the upper eyelid with his
  spittle. If we are ready to give faith to such statements as these,
  we must believe also in the efficacy of the following practices:
  upon the entrance of a stranger, or when a person looks at an infant
  while asleep, it is usual for the nurse to spit three times upon the
  ground; and this, although infants are under the special guardianship
  of the god Fascinus, the protector, not of infants only, but of
  generals as well, and a divinity whose worship is entrusted to the
  vestal virgins, and forms a part of the Roman rites.”[125]


[103] _Antiquities of Greece_, by John Potter, D.D., vol. i., pp.
261-263, Edinburgh, 1832.

[104] See Satire vi., line 522.

[105] _The Origin and Development of Religious Belief_, by S. Baring
Gould, M.A., vol. i., p. 397, London, 1869.

[106] See Keil, _Attische Culte aus Inschriften_, _Philologus_, bd.
xxiii., 212, 259, 592, 622; also Weingarten, _Histor. Zeitschrift_, bd.
xlv., 1881, p. 441 ff.

[107] See Tertullian, _De Baptismo_, chap. v.; and Clem. of Alex.,
_Strom._, book v., chap. iv.

[108] _Cf._ Hatch, _Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the
Christian Church_.

[109] _Cf._ Clem. of Alex., _Exhortation to the Heathen_, chap. xii.

[110] _Cf._ Hatch as above; and Lenormant, in _Contemporary Review_ for
September, 1880.

[111] “The objection which Celsus makes (c. _Cels._, i., 1, Keim, p.
3) to the secrecy of the Christian associations would hardly have
held good in the apostolic age. Origen admits (c. _Cels._, i., 7)
that there are exoteric and esoteric doctrines in Christianity, and
justifies it by (1) the philosophies, (2) the mysteries. On the rise
of this conception of Christian teaching as something to be hidden
from the mass, _cf._ the Valentians in Tert., c. _Valent._, i., where
there is a direct parallel drawn between them and the mysteries; also
the distinction of men into two classes--πνευματικοὶ and ψυχικοὶ or
ὑλικοί,--among the Gnostics. Yet this very secrecy was naturalized in
the Church. _Cf._ Cyril Hier., _Catech._, vi., 30; Aug. in _Psalm_
ciii.; _Hom._, xcvi., in _Joan_; Theodoret, _Quæst._ xv., in _Num._,
and _Dial._, ii., (_Inconfusus_); Chry., _Hom._, xix., in _Matt._
Sozomen’s (i., 20, 3) reason for not giving the Nicene creed is
significant alike as regards motive and language.”--Hibbert Lectures,
1888, p. 293 and footnote.

[112] _Cf._ Hatch, p. 294 ff.

[113] _Apol._, i., 61.

[114] _Cf._ Clem. of Alex., _Stroma._, bk. ii., chap. iii.

[115] Chrysostom, _Hom._, 85, in _Joan_, xix., 34.

[116] _Cf._ _Apostol. Const._ and _Bingham Antiq. in loco._

[117] Hatch, p. 298.

[118] _Cf._ _Dic. Chris. Antiq._, “Baptism” and “Creed.”

[119] Com. Praev. Ad. Ord. Rom. Museum, Ital., ii., xcix.

[120] Hatch, p. 299.

[121] Pp. 307-308.

[122] _Vestiges of Ancient Manners and Customs in Italy and Sicily_, by
John James Blunt, pp. 164, 165, and 167. London, 1823.

[123] Perseus, Satire ii., 31.

[124] _Natural History_, book vii., chap. ii., vol. ii., p. 126.
London, edition 1856.

[125] _Natural History_, book xxviii., chap. vii., vol. v., pp. 288-90.
London, 1856.


  Testimony from Tertullian, Barnabas, Justin, Methodius, the
  Apostolic Constitutions, etc.--Holy Water, or Repeated Baptism,
  Borrowed without Change--Magical Effects of Holy Water, the Same
  in Christian as in Pagan Cult--Baptism of Animals by Holy Water,
  to Produce Magical Results--Holy Water Prepared after the Pagan
  Method--Consecration of Baptismal Waters Borrowed from Pagan
  Combination of Sun- and Water-Worship--The Church Filled with
  Baptized but Unconverted Pagans, and so Passed under Pagan Control.

Baptism in the Early Church.

Turning to the earlier Church fathers, who formulated much which has
come to us as Christian doctrine, we find the pagan idea of baptism
repeated in all its essential characteristics. We have seen that the
Greek fathers came to Christianity by way of Neo-Platonism rather
than the New Testament. They accepted Christianity as containing many
excellent things, but not as the only authoritative system of faith.
They followed the popular syncretic tendency, and combined Christianity
with the pagan faith in which they had been educated.

TERTULLIAN wrote a special treatise on the question of baptism, which
represents the pagano-Christian creed in fulness and in detail. I
transcribe his words in part, and call attention to the similarity and
the points of identity between these and the pagan theories already
presented. Chapter i. of the treatise opens with these words:

  “Happy is the sacrament of our water, in that, by washing away the
  sins of our early blindness, we are set free [and admitted] into
  eternal life!... But we, little fishes, after the example of our
  Ιχθυς, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any
  other way than by permanently abiding in [that] water.”[126]

In the succeeding chapters Tertullian goes on to show that water was
“chosen as a vehicle of divine operation” because it was the element
over which the divine spirit brooded in creation. He says:

  “_Why should WATER be chosen as a vehicle of divine operation? Its
  prominence first of all in Creation_.--Mindful of this declaration as
  of a conclusive prescript, we nevertheless [proceed to] treat [the
  question], ‘How _foolish_ and _impossible_ it is to be formed anew by
  water. In what respect, pray, has this material substance merited an
  office of so high dignity?’ The authority, I suppose, of the liquid
  element has to be examined. This, however, is found in abundance, and
  that from the very beginning. For [water] is one of those things,
  which, before all the furnishing of the world, were quiescent
  with God in a yet unshapen state. In the first beginning, saith
  [Scripture], ‘God made the heaven and the earth. But the earth was
  invisible, and unorganized, and darkness was over the abyss; and the
  Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters.’ The first thing,
  oh man, which you have to venerate, is the _age_ of the waters, in
  that their substance is ancient; the second, their _dignity_, in that
  they were the seat of the Divine Spirit, more pleasing [to him], no
  doubt, than all the other then existing elements. For the darkness
  was total thus far, shapeless, without the ornament of stars;
  and the abyss gloomy; and the earth unfurnished; and the heaven
  unwrought; water alone--always a perfect, gladsome, simple material
  substance, pure in itself--supplied a worthy vehicle to God. What
  [of the fact] that waters were in some way the regulating powers by
  which the disposition of the world thenceforward was constituted by
  God? For the suspension of the celestial firmament in the midst He
  caused by ‘dividing the waters’; the suspension of ‘the dry land,’
  He accomplished by ‘separating the waters.’ After the world had been
  hereupon set in order through [its] elements, when inhabitants were
  given it, ‘the waters’ were the first to receive the precept, ‘to
  bring forth living creatures.’ Water was the first to produce that
  which had life, that it might be no wonder in baptism if waters know
  how to give life. For was not the work of fashioning man himself also
  achieved with the aid of waters? Suitable material is found in the
  _earth_, yet not apt for the purpose unless it be moist and juicy;
  which [earth] ‘the waters’ separated the fourth day before into
  their own place, temper with their remaining moisture to a clayey
  consistency. If, from that time onward, I go forward in recounting
  universally, or at more length [than I have already done] the
  evidences of the ‘authority’ of this element which I can adduce to
  show how great is its power or its grace; how many ingenious devices,
  how many functions, how useful an instrumentality, it affords the
  world, I fear I may seem to have collected rather the praises of
  water than the reasons of baptism; although I should [thereby] teach
  all the more fully, that it is not to be doubted that God has made
  the material substance which he has disposed throughout all his
  products and works, obey him also in his own peculiar sacraments;
  that [the material substance] which governs terrestrial life acts as
  agent likewise in the celestial.”

The title of chapter iv. is:

  “_The primeval hovering of the Spirit of God over the waters typical
  of baptism. The universal element of water thus made a channel of
  sanctification. Resemblance between the outward sign and the inward

In this chapter Tertullian teaches that the divine power hovering over
the water, in creation, made it “holy” as well as life-producing, and
that these qualities continue to exist in all water. He says:

  “Thus the nature of the waters, sanctified by the Holy One, itself
  conceived withal the power of sanctifying. Let no one say, ‘Why,
  then, are we, pray, baptized with the very waters which then existed
  in the first beginning?’ Not with those very waters, of course,
  except in so far as the _genus_ indeed is one, but the _species_ very
  many. But what is an attribute to the _genus_ reappears likewise in
  the _species_. And accordingly it makes no difference whether a
  man be washed in a sea or a pool, a stream or a font, a lake or a
  trough; nor is there any distinction between those whom John baptized
  in the Jordan and those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber, unless
  withal [it be thought that] the eunuch whom Philip baptized in the
  midst of his journeys with chance water, derived [therefrom] more or
  less of salvation [than others]. All waters, therefore, in virtue
  of the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of
  God, attain the sacramental power of sanctification; for the Spirit
  immediately supervenes from the heavens, and rests over the waters,
  sanctifying them from himself; and being thus sanctified, they imbibe
  at the same time the power of sanctifying.”

In chapter v. Tertullian discusses the pagan theory as embodied in
the rites of Isis, Mithra, the Apollinarian and the Eleusinian games,
and attempts to show that cleansing cannot come through these rites,
because idols cannot imbue the water with sanctifying power, and evil
spirits can impart only evil influences. He expresses faith in their
power to do this, thus showing that he still held to the fundamental
features of the pagan system, and made them the basis of his theory of
Christian baptism.

_The Epistle of Barnabas_ presents a similar combination of fact and
fancy concerning baptism. The pagan idea of water as a regenerating
power underlies the theory set forth, and the reader will see
how Scripture is misquoted and misapplied in the effort to give a
scriptural coloring to the pagan theory. Chapter xi. of the epistle is

  “_Baptism and the Cross Prefigured in the Old Testament._--Let us
  further inquire whether the Lord took any care to foreshadow the
  water [of baptism] and the cross. Concerning the water, indeed, it
  is written, in reference to the Israelites, that they should not
  receive that baptism which leads to the remission of sins, but should
  procure another for themselves. The prophet therefore declares: ‘Be
  astonished, O heaven, and let the earth tremble at this, because
  this people hath committed two great evils; they have forsaken me, a
  living fountain, and have hewn out for themselves broken cisterns. Is
  my holy hill Zion a desolate rock? For ye shall be as the fledglings
  of a bird, which fly away when the nest is removed.’ And again saith
  the prophet: ‘I will go before thee and make level the mountains, and
  will break the brazen gates, and bruise in pieces the iron bars; and
  I will give thee the secret, hidden, invisible treasures, that they
  may know that I am the Lord God.’ And, ‘He shall dwell in a lofty
  cave of the strong rock.’ Furthermore, what saith He in reference to
  the Son? ‘His water is sure; ye shall see the King in His glory, and
  your soul shall meditate on the fear of the Lord.’ And again He saith
  in another prophet: ‘The man who doeth these things shall be like a
  tree planted by the courses of waters, which shall yield its fruit
  in due season; and his leaf shall not fade, and all that he doeth
  shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so, but even as chaff,
  which the wind sweeps away from the face of the earth. Therefore the
  ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of
  the just; for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way
  of the ungodly shall perish.’ Mark how He has described at once both
  the water and the cross. For these words imply, Blessed are they who,
  placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water;
  for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time; then He
  declares, I will recompense them. But now He saith, ‘Their leaves
  shall not fade.’ This meaneth that every word which proceedeth out
  of your mouth in faith and love shall tend to bring conversion and
  hope to many. Again, another prophet saith, ‘And the land of Jacob
  shall be extolled above every land.’ This meaneth the vessel of His
  Spirit, which He shall glorify. Further, what says He? ‘And there
  was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees;
  and whosoever shall eat of them shall live forever.’ This meaneth
  that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement,
  but come up bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and
  trust in Jesus in our spirit. ‘And whosoever shall eat of these shall
  live forever.’ This meaneth: Whosoever, He declares, shall hear thee
  speaking, and believe, shall live forever.”[127]

JUSTIN MARTYR combines his theory with his description of the rite of
baptism as follows. Note the misquotation of Scripture:

  “I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to
  God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this,
  we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as
  are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and
  undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and
  to entreat God, with fasting, for the remission of their sins that
  are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by
  us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in
  which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the
  Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
  and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.
  For Christ also said: ‘Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter
  into the kingdom of heaven.’ Now, that it is impossible for those who
  have once been born to enter into their mother’s womb, is manifest
  to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their
  sins is declared by Esaias, the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus
  speaks: ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings
  from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead
  for the widow; and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord.
  And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool;
  and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But
  if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you; for the mouth of
  the Lord hath spoken it.’ And for this [rite] we have learned from
  the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without
  our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and
  were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we
  may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may
  become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the
  water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced
  over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins,
  the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads
  to the laver the person that is to be washed, calling him by this
  name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and
  if anyone dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless
  madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who
  learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in
  the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and
  in the name of the Holy Ghost, who, through the prophets, foretold
  all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.”[128]

The pagano-Christian theory of baptism and baptismal regeneration,
variously expressed, is found in Methodius, _The Banquet of the Ten
Virgins_, chapter vi; in Clement of Alexandria, _The Instructor_,
chapter xii; in Tertullian, _Against Marcion_, book i., chapter xxviii;
in Cyprian, _Epistles_,[129]--1, _To Donatus_; 22, _To Clergy at Rome_;
51, _To Antonianus_; and 75, _To Magnus_; also _Testimonies against the
Jews_, paragraph 65; also, _A Treatise on Re-baptism_, by an unknown
author, published in connection with Cyprian’s writings, on page 402 of
Clark’s edition Ante-Nicene Library, vol. xiii.

The Apostolic Constitutions clearly set forth the result of this
perversion of New Testament doctrines concerning baptism. The
late Baron BUNSEN, one of the most eminent of German scholars and
statesmen, has grouped the teachings of the _Constitutions_ upon the
question of baptism in such a way as to give the reader a better view
than is possible by quoting these writings verbatim. Although these
_Constitutions_ are not the work of the apostles, they are of great
historic value in presenting a picture of the practices of the early
Church. Bunsen thinks that the _Constitutions_ present “a genuine,
though not textual, picture of the Ante-Nicene Church.” He says:

  “As soon as we take away what belongs to the bad taste of the
  fiction, all the ethic introductions and occasional moralizing
  conclusions, and, in general, all which manifestly is re-written with
  literary pretension, and lastly, as soon as we expunge some easily
  discernible interpolations of the fourth and fifth centuries, we find
  ourselves unmistakably in the midst of the life of the Church of the
  second and third centuries.”[130]

The summary made by Bunsen is given below. By analyzing it the reader
will see how much that is extra-scriptural, and anti-scriptural, was
associated with baptism thus early. By comparison with the pagan water
_cultus_, the source of these errors is plainly apparent.

  “And at the time of the crowing of the cock let them first pray
  over the water. Let the water be drawn into the font, or flowing
  into it. And let it be thus if they have no scarcity. But if there
  be a scarcity, let them pour the water which shall be found into
  the font; and let them undress themselves, and the young shall be
  first baptized. And all who are able to answer for themselves, let
  them answer. But those who are not able to answer, let their parents
  answer for them, or one other numbered amongst their relations. And
  after the great men have been baptized, at the last the women, they
  having loosed all their hair, and having laid aside the ornaments of
  gold and silver which were on them. Let not anyone take a strange
  garment with him into the water.

  “And at the time which is appointed for the baptism, let the bishop
  give thanks over the oil, which, putting into a vessel, he shall
  call the oil of thanksgiving. Again, he shall take other oil, and
  exorcising over it, he shall call it the oil of exorcism. And a
  deacon shall bear the oil of exorcism and stand on the left hand of
  the presbyter. Another deacon shall take the oil of thanksgiving and
  stand on the right hand of the presbyter.

  “And when the presbyter has taken hold of each one of those who are
  about to receive baptism, let him command him to renounce, saying: ‘I
  will renounce thee, Satan, and all thy service, and all thy works.’
  And when he has renounced all these, let him anoint him with the oil
  of exorcism, saying: ‘Let every spirit depart from thee.’

  “And let the bishop or the presbyter receive him thus unclothed,
  to place him in the water of baptism. Also let the deacon go with
  him into the water, and let him say to him, helping him that he may
  say: ‘I believe in the only true God, the Father Almighty, and
  in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and
  in the Holy Spirit, the Quickener, [the Consubstantial Trinity].
  One Sovereignty, one Kingdom, one Faith, one Baptism; in the Holy
  Catholic Apostolic Church, in the life everlasting. Amen.’

  “And let him who receives (baptism) repeat after all these: ‘I
  believe thus.’ And he who bestows it shall lay his hand upon the head
  of him who receives, dipping him three times, confessing these things
  each time.

  “And afterwards, let him say again: ‘Dost thou believe in our Lord
  Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the Father; that he became man in
  a wonderful manner for us, in an incomprehensible unity, by his Holy
  Spirit, of Mary, the Holy Virgin, without the seed of man; and that
  he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, died of his own will,
  once for our redemption, rose on the third day, loosening the bonds
  (of death), he ascended up into heaven, sat on the right hand of his
  good Father on high, and he cometh again to judge the living and the
  dead at his appearing and his kingdom? And dost thou believe in the
  Holy Good Spirit and Quickener, who wholly purifieth; and in the Holy

  “Let him say again: ‘I believe.’

  “And let them go up out of the water, and the presbyter shall anoint
  him with the oil of thanksgiving, saying: ‘I anoint thee with holy
  anointing oil in the name of Jesus Christ.’ Thus he shall anoint
  every one of the rest, and clothe them as the rest, and they shall
  enter into the Church.”[131]

After entering the church the candidate was anointed a second time, in
connection with the “prayer of blessing” and the “kiss of peace.” This
was followed by the service of the communion, which included bread,
wine, _milk and honey_, showing that the Lord’s Supper, as well as
baptism, was corrupted with pagan elements.

Holy Water.

The use of holy water formed an important part of the pagan system.
It was a sort of continuous baptism, a succession of baptismal acts.
That it is wholly unscriptural, and in every way foreign to Christian
baptism, is too obvious to need statement. There are abundant evidences
of its pagan origin; among them are the following:

  “Some persons derive the use of holy water in the churches from the
  Jews; but that it has been derived from the ancient heathens of Rome
  is now very generally believed, and, indeed, is warmly defended
  by the intelligent Ecclesiastics at Rome, on the principle that,
  as the heathen temples have been turned into Christian churches,
  so it was well to lay hold of the heathen practices and turn them
  into Christian customs, thus reconciling the heathen to a change of
  religion, seeing it did not change their favorite rites and customs.
  At the entrance of the heathen temples there were vessels of water
  with which the votaries sprinkled themselves as they entered to
  worship, and as it seemed desirable to make as little difference as
  possible, so as to induce the heathen to conform the more readily to
  Christian worship, similar vessels of water consecrated or made holy,
  were placed at the entrance of the Christian churches, and thus the
  custom has continued. Such at least is the origin generally ascribed
  at Rome to this practice, and such the principle on which it is
  defended by the men of mind and judgment among the priesthood.”[132]

Dr. JOSEPH PRIESTLEY thus supplements Mr. Seymore’s statements:

  “In Popish churches the first thing that we are struck with is a
  vessel of what is called _holy water_, into which those who enter dip
  their fingers, and then mark their foreheads with the sign of the
  cross. This holy water, there can be no doubt, came from the _lustral
  water_ of the pagans, as, indeed, learned Catholics allow. This water
  was also placed at the entrance of the heathen temples, and those who
  entered were sprinkled with it.”[133]

CONYERS MIDDLETON attests the pagan origin of holy water:

  “The next thing that will of course strike one’s imagination is their
  use of holy water; for nobody ever goes in or out of a church but
  is either sprinkled by the priest, who attends for that purpose on
  solemn days, or else serves himself with it from a vessel, usually of
  marble, placed just at the door, not unlike to one of our baptismal
  fonts. Now, this ceremony is so notoriously and directly transmitted
  to them from paganism, that their own writers make not the least
  scruple to own it. The Jesuit la Cerda, in his notes on a passage of
  Virgil, where this practice is mentioned, says: ‘Hence was derived
  the custom of Holy Church to provide purifying or holy water at
  the entrance of their Churches.’ ‘_Aquaminarium_ or _Amula_,’ says
  the learned Montfaucon, ‘was a vase of holy water, placed by the
  Heathen at the entrance of their Temples to sprinkle themselves
  with.’ The same vessel was by the Greeks called περιῤῥαντήριον; two
  of which, the one of gold, the other of silver, were given by Crœsus
  to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi; and the custom of sprinkling
  themselves was so necessary a part of all their religious offices,
  that the method of excommunication seems to have been by prohibiting
  to offenders the approach and use of the holy water-pot. The very
  composition of this holy water was the same also among the Heathens,
  as it is now among the Papists, being nothing more than a mixture
  of salt with common water; and the form of the sprinkling brush,
  called by the ancients _aspersorium_ or _aspergillum_ (which is much
  the same with what the priests now make use of), may be seen in
  bas-reliefs, or ancient coins, wherever the insignia, or emblems of
  the Pagan priesthood, are described, of which it is generally one.

  “Palatina, in his lives of the popes, and other authors, ascribes
  the institution of this holy water to Pope Alexander the First; who
  is said to have lived about the year of Christ 113; but it could not
  have been introduced so early, since, for some ages after, we find
  the primitive fathers speaking of it as a custom purely heathenish,
  and condemning it as impious, and detestable. Justin Martyr says
  that it was invented by demons, in imitation of the true baptism
  signified by the Prophets, that their votaries might also have their
  pretended purifications by water; and the Emperor Julian, out of
  spite to the Christians, used to order the victuals in the markets to
  be sprinkled with holy water, on purpose either to starve, or force
  them to eat what by their own principles they esteemed polluted.

  “Thus we see what contrary notions the Primitive and Romish Church
  have of this ceremony: the first condemns it as superstitious,
  abominable, and irreconcilable with Christianity; the latter adopts
  it as highly edifying and applicable to the improvement of Christian
  piety: the one looks upon it as the contrivance of the Devil to
  delude mankind; the other as the security of mankind against the
  delusions of the Devil. But what is still more ridiculous than
  even the ceremony itself, is to see their learned writers gravely
  reckoning up the several virtues and benefits, derived from the use
  of it, both to the soul and the body; and to crown all, producing a
  long roll of miracles, to attest the certainty of each virtue, which
  they ascribe to it. Why may we not, then, justly apply to the present
  people of Rome what was said by the Poet of its old inhabitants, for
  the use of this very ceremony?

    “‘Ah, easy Fools, to think that a whole Flood
      Of water e’er can purge the Stain of Blood!’
                     Ovid, _Fasti_, ii., 45.”[134]

Mr. Middleton wrote as a polemist against Romanism, and hence he took
especial pains to apply these facts to that system of Christianity
exclusively. Such an application is manifestly unjust, since baptism
was fully corrupted before the formal establishment of the Papacy,
and many corrupt elements are yet retained in Protestantism. Mr.
Middleton’s suggestion that men were debarred from the use of holy
water as a punishment is sustained by the following from ÆSCHINES. In
his speech against Ctesiphon he said:

  “Now the said law-giver (Solon) excludes as well the fearful, and him
  that refuses to serve in war, as him that deserts his rank in battle,
  from the privilege of holy lustration, and from the assembly of the

The magical virtues which Christians came to ascribe to holy water are
essentially identical with those which the pagans attributed to it. Mr.
Seymore, whom we have already quoted, gives a catalogue of the uses
and virtues of holy water, which he found in the chapel of St. Carlo
Borromeo at Rome. Similar virtues are still attributed to it by modern
Catholics.[136] The catalogue is as follows:

  “Holy water possesses much usefulness when Christians sprinkle
  themselves with it with due reverence and devotion. The Holy Church
  proposes it as a remedy and assistant in many circumstances, both
  spiritual and corporeal, but especially in these following:

  “_Its spiritual usefulness._

  “1. It drives away devils from places and persons.

  “2. It affords great assistance against fears and diabolical

  “3. It cancels venial sins.

  “4. It imparts strength to resist temptation and occasions to sin.

  “5. It drives away wicked thoughts.

  “6. It preserves safely from the passing snares of the devil, both
  internally and externally.

  “7. It obtains the favor and presence of the Holy Ghost by which the
  soul is consoled, rejoiced, excited to devotion, and disposed to

  “8. It prepares the human mind for a better attendance on the divine
  mysteries, and receiving piously and worthily the most holy sacrament.

  “_Its corporeal usefulness._

  “1. It is a remedy against barrenness, both in woman and in beast.

  “2. It is a preservation from sickness.

  “3. It heals the infirmities both of the mind and of the body.

  “4. It purifies infected air, and drives away plague and contagion.

  “Such is this document. It is the only authorized one I have seen
  respecting holy water; and this extraordinary statement stands as
  publicly in the church as do the ten commandments in a church in
  England. It is affixed separately over each of the vessels containing
  the Holy Water; and as every member of the congregation must have
  sprinkled himself with the water as he entered the church, so he may
  have seen and read these, its uses.”[137]

Holy water was also used to sprinkle animals. This custom continues in
the Roman Church. The counterpart is found in several pagan customs
which are described by Ovid in _Fasti_, as already quoted, and further
as shown in book i., line 669. Speaking of animals, Mr. Seymore says:

  “It was supposed to guard them [horses] against evil genii as they
  ran the race; and a legend is told of the horses of some Christians
  having outstripped all the horses of the heathen, owing to their
  being sprinkled with holy water. Such a legend serves as a sanction
  of primitive Christianity to horse-races, quite as well as to the
  use of holy water. The pagan custom soon became a papal custom, and
  falling in with the humor of the people, and the patronage of St.
  Anthony, who is usually pictured accompanied by a pig, and being
  conducive to the pecuniary interests of the convent of St. Anthony,
  the custom was continued under a new name, and ‘St. Anthony’s day’
  and the ‘blessing of the horses’ are thus identified.”[138]

Roman Catholics Defend this Use.

Dr. WISEMAN, who stands high as a Roman Catholic authority, in his
third letter, in reply to Poynder’s _Pagano-Papismus_ defends the use
of holy water:

  “But did not the ancient Christians use holy water? Indeed they did,
  and that in a manner to shame us. They did not sprinkle themselves
  with it, to be sure, or help themselves from a vessel at the door,
  as you express it; they did more than either, _they bathed in it_.
  Read Pacciandi, _De Sacris Christianorum Balneis_, Rome, 1758, and
  you will find much to instruct you on this subject. You will see
  how the ancient Christians used to bathe themselves before going to
  church after the commission of any sin. ‘Why do you run to the bath
  after sin?’ asks St. John Chrysostom. ‘Is it not because you consider
  yourselves dirtier than any filth?’ And Theophylactus writes in a
  similar strain. An ancient Christian bath was discovered by Ciampini
  among the ruins of Rome. But what is more to our purpose, the ancient
  Christians never went to receive the Eucharist, or even to pray in
  their churches, without washing their hands. ‘What propriety is
  there,’ says Tertullian, ‘to go to prayer with washed hands and yet
  with an unclean spirit?’ St. Chrysostom is still stronger: ‘Thou
  darest not touch the sacred victim with unwashed hands, although
  pressed by extreme necessity; approach not, therefore, with an
  unwashed soul.’ To supply the necessary convenience for this rite,
  a fountain or basin was provided at the church porch at which the
  faithful washed, as St. Paulinus of Nola several times described in
  the churches which he built.... St. Leo the Great built one at the
  gate of St. Paul’s Church which was celebrated by Ennodius of Pavia
  in eight verses.... The same was the practice of the Greek Church;
  for Eusebius tells us with commendation how Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre,
  placed in the porch of a splendid church which he built, the symbols
  of sacred purification, that is, fountains which gave, by their
  abundant supply, means of washing themselves to those who entered the

  “In fact, we have several of the old lustral vases with early
  Christian symbols and inscriptions, belonging to both the churches,
  as a celebrated Latin one at Pesaro, and a Greek one at Venice,
  drawings of both of which you will find in Pacciandi’s work with an
  ample description.”

Preparing Holy Water.

The corrupting presence of paganism is shown in the preparation of
water for purification and for baptism quite as much as in its use. The
following description is from FOY, _Romish Rites_, as quoted by BROCK:

  “It appears that there are three kinds of holy water, two of which
  are used for the consecration of churches. Of these two, the first
  is considered to be inferior, since nothing but salt is used in
  its preparation--‘salt exorcised for the salvation of those that
  believe.’ It serves for sprinkling the building. The other is made
  up by a mixture of salt, ashes, and wine--all blessed, of course.
  This appears to be the holier of the two, and is used for the
  consecration of the altar. The third class of holy water, that which
  is referred to above as being consecrated on ‘Holy Saturday,’
  is used for baptisms during the following year; and also, as I
  gather, for sprinkling generally. In its preparation--amid many
  exorcisms of devils and evil spirits, and forms of prayer--the
  following ceremonies are observed: The priest divides the water
  in the font with his hand, in the shape of a cross. In exorcising
  the water he touches it with his hand. In blessing it, he thrice
  makes over it the sign of the cross. In dividing it, he pours it
  toward the four quarters of heaven. He breathes thrice into it in
  the form of a cross. He lets down the great Paschal candle a little
  into it, and says: ‘The might of the Holy Ghost descend into this
  fountain--plentitude.’ _In hanc plentitudinem fontis._

  “Then he takes the candle from the water and again merges it more
  deeply, saying the same words as before, but in a higher tone. The
  third time he plunges it to the bottom, again repeating the formula
  with a still louder voice. Then blowing--_sufflans_--thrice into the
  water in the form of the Greek letter Psi, he says: ‘Impregnate with
  regenerating efficacy the whole substance of this water’; and so
  takes the candle out of the font. Besides these doings, various oils
  are poured into the water and mixed with the hand; and still more
  strange, spittle is mingled with it, as I have once seen with my own
  eyes in the grand baptistery at St. John Lateran in Rome.

  “‘_The might of the Holy Ghost descend into this
  fountain--plentitude, and impregnate with regenerating efficacy
  the whole substance of this water._’ Such is the spell. Exorcisms
  first chase all evil spirits from the water, then incantations and
  charms--dividings, oils, crossings, breathings, candle plungings,
  and other things--cause the might of the Holy Ghost to descend
  and impregnate the water with regenerating efficacy. It is no
  longer ordinary water, such as that wherein the eunuch or Cornelius
  and his friends were baptized; but, by the power of charms, it
  has become an ecclesiastical compound, and those to whom it is
  administered are made new creatures and regenerate, not--so far as I
  understand--because they are brought by faith to Christ, but through
  the mere application of the fluid impregnated with virtue by an
  ecclesiastical process. And the only man who can make and apply this
  ‘Elixir of Life,’--of eternal life,--is the priest.”[140]

Sun-Worship and Water-Worship.

We have already shown that the sun-worship _cultus_ and water-worship
were united from the beginning. This union was made anterior to Grecian
or Roman times, and much of the sacredness of water arose from it.
HISLOP describes this connection in the sanctifying of water, as

  “In Egypt, as we have seen, Osiris, as identified with Noah, was
  represented when overcome by his grand enemy, Typhon, or the ‘Evil
  One,’ as passing through the waters. The poets represented Semiramis
  as sharing in his distress, and likewise seeking safety in the
  same way. We have seen already that under the name of Astarte she
  was said to have come forth from the wondrous egg that was found
  floating on the waters of the Euphrates. Now, Manilius tells, in his
  _Astronomical Poetics_, what induced her to take refuge in these
  waters. ‘Venus plunged into the Babylonian waters,’ says he, ‘to
  shun the fury of the snake-footed Typhon.’ When Venus Urania, or
  Dione, the ‘Heavenly Dove,’ plunged in deep distress into these
  waters of Babylon, be it observed what, according to the Chaldean
  doctrine, this amounted to. It was neither more nor less than saying
  that the Holy Ghost incarnate, in deep tribulation, entered these
  waters, and that on purpose that these might be fit, not only by
  the temporary abode of the Messiah in the midst of them, but by
  the spirit’s efficacy thus imparted to them, for giving new life
  and regeneration, _by baptism_, to the worshippers of the Chaldean
  Madonna. We have evidence that the purifying virtue of the waters,
  which, in pagan esteem, had such efficacy in cleansing from guilt and
  regenerating the soul, was derived in part from the passing of the
  mediatorial god, the sun-god, and god of fire, through these waters
  during his humiliation and sojourn in the midst of them; and that the
  Papacy at this day retains the very custom which had sprung up from
  that persuasion. So far as heathenism is concerned, the following
  extracts from Potter and Athenæus speak distinctly enough: ‘Every
  person,’ says the former, ‘who came to the solemn sacrifices [of the
  Greeks] was purified by water. To which end, at the entrance of the
  temples, there was commonly placed a vessel full of holy water.’ How
  did this water get its holiness? This water ‘was consecrated,’ says
  Athenæus, ‘by putting into it a Burning Torch taken from the Altar.’
  The _burning torch_ was the express symbol of the god of fire; and by
  the light of this torch, so indispensable for consecrating the ‘holy
  water,’ we may easily see whence came one great part of the purifying
  virtue of ‘the water of the loud resounding sea,’ which was held to
  be so efficacious in purging away the guilt and stain of sin,--even
  from the sun-god having taken refuge in its waters. Now this very
  same method is used in the Romish Church for consecrating the water
  for baptism. The unsuspicious testimony of Bishop Hay leaves no doubt
  on this point. ‘It,’ [the water kept in the baptismal font] says he,
  ‘is blessed on the eve of Pentecost, because it is the Holy Ghost who
  gives to the waters of baptism the power and efficacy of sanctifying
  our souls, and because the baptism of Christ is with the Holy Ghost
  and with fire.’[141] In blessing the waters a Lighted Torch is put
  into the font.

  “Here, then, it is manifest that the baptismal _regenerating_ water
  of Rome is consecrated just as the _regenerating_ and _purifying_
  water of the pagans was. Of what avail is it for Bishop Hay to
  say, with a view of sanctifying superstition and ‘making apostasy
  plausible,’ that this is done ‘to represent the fire of divine
  love, which is communicated to the soul by baptism and the light of
  good example, which all who are baptized ought to give.’ This is
  the fair face put on the matter; but the fact still remains that
  while the Romish doctrine in regard to baptism is purely pagan,
  in the ceremonies connected with the papal baptism one of the
  essential rites of the ancient fire-worship is still practised at
  this day, just as it was practised by the worshippers of Bacchus,
  the Babylonian Messiah. As Rome keeps up the remembrance of the
  fire-god passing through the waters and giving virtue to them, so
  when it speaks of the ‘Holy Ghost _suffering_ for us in baptism,’
  it in like manner commemorates the part which paganism assigned
  to the Babylonian goddess when she plunged into the waters. The
  sorrows of Nimrod, or Bacchus, when in the waters, were meritorious
  sorrows. The sorrows of his wife, in whom the Holy Ghost miraculously
  dwelt, were the same. The sorrows of the Madonna, then, when in
  these waters, fleeing from Typhon’s rage, were the birth-throes by
  which children were born to God. And thus, even in the Far West,
  Chalchivitlycue, the Mexican ‘goddess of the waters’ and ‘mother’ of
  all the regenerate, was represented as purging the new-born infant
  from original sin, and ‘bringing it anew into the world.’”[142]


1. The worship of water as a divine element or agent, and hence its use
as a protection against evil, and, in baptism, as a means of producing
spiritual purity, forms a prominent feature of pagan religions.

2. Pagan water-worship was associated with the higher forms of
sun-worship in various ways, and notably with that lower phase,
Phallicism, with the obscene rites of which it is yet closely
connected in India. In Mexico the cross was the special symbol of the
water-worship cult.

3. In pagan water-worship the sacred fluid was applied in many ways--by
immersion, by bathing, by sprinkling; in the latter use, the water was
sprinkled upon the candidate from a sacred sprinkling-brush, or from a
bough of some sacred tree; it was sometimes poured upon the candidate
from a cup made from the bark of a sacred tree; trine immersion appears
in some instances. Inspiration was sought from sacred water, by
drinking, by bathing, by sitting over it, and by inhaling its vapors.

4. Water for religious purposes was taken from sacred streams,
fountains, and wells; or it was made holy by exorcisms and by the use
of salt; it was carried to remote points and preserved for a long time.
The ancient Druids caught rain-water in receptacles on the hill-tops
and carried it to their altars through necessary aqueducts.

5. The fundamental errors of the pagan water-worship cult appeared in
Western Christianity as early as the middle of the second century; this
resulted in the baptism of the sick, baptism of infants, baptism for
the dead, the delaying of baptism until the approach of death in order
to make the most of both worlds, and the doctrine of penance to atone
for sins committed after baptism; all these followed as a legitimate

6. As baptism was the door to Church membership, the Church was soon
filled with “baptized pagans,” who were Christians in name only; by
this means New Testament Christianity was rapidly perverted.

7. Whoever will seek the ultimate facts must confess that the
Christianity of the third and the succeeding centuries was far removed
from the New Testament standard. Protestants are returning to that
standard all too slowly and unwillingly. Many are drifting farther away.

It is scarcely necessary to add that every form of baptism except
submersion was borrowed from paganism; that faith in baptism as
producing spiritual purity, and hence as a “saving ordinance,” was
borrowed from paganism: the notion that only the baptized can be saved
was borrowed from paganism; the use of oil, of spittle, of the sign
of the cross, of lights, of white robes, is a remnant of paganism;
baptising for the dead, and delaying baptism until near death, are
a part of the pagan residuum; faith in water from the Jordan or
elsewhere is paganism. The naming of children at baptism was a direct
importation from paganism. In so far as any of these false elements are
yet retained by Roman Catholics, Greeks, or Protestants, thus far does
paganism dominate Christian thought and practice.


[126] _On Baptism_, Ante-Nicene Library, vol. xi., p. 231 ff.

[127] _Epistle of Barnabas_, chap. xi., Ante-Nicene Library, vol. i.,
pp. 120, 121.

[128] _First Apology_, ch. li., Ante-Nicene Library, vol. ii., p. 59. T.
& T. Clark.

[129] Numbering as found in vol. viii. of Ante-Nicene Library. Clark’s

[130] Vol. ii. of _Hippolytus and His Age_, page 236.

[131] _Hippolytus and His Age_, by C. C. J. Bunsen, D.C.L., vol. ii.,
pp. 321-7. London, 1852.

[132] _A Pilgrimage to Rome_, by Rev. M. Hobart Seymore, M.A., p. 537.
London, 1848.

[133] _History of the Corruption of Christianity_, by Joseph Priestley,
LL.D., F.R.S., vol. ii., p. 111. Birmingham, 1782.

[134] A letter from Rome, by Conyers Middleton, D.D., _Works_, vol.
iii., p. 71 ff. London, 1752.

[135] _Orations_, etc., p. 115. Oxford, 1755.

[136] See _The Church Progress and Catholic World_, St. Louis, Mo.,
July 5, 1890.

[137] _Pilgrimage_, etc., p. 527.

[138] _Ibid._, p. 535.

[139] Eusebius, _Ecc. Hist._, vi., x.

This reference to Eusebius should be book x., chap. iv., p. 375 of vol.
i. Christian Literature Company’s publications, second series. The
description given by Eusebius shows that holy water played an important
part in the Christian Church at Tyre, as early as 315 A.D. See also
Bingham, _Antiquities_, book viii., chap. iii. The church buildings
described by Eusebius and Bingham contained many prominent elements of
sun-worship, associated with the water-worship emblems.

[140] _Rome, Pagan and Papal_, by Mourant Brock, M.A., p. 107 ff.
London, 1883.

[141] Matt. iii., 11.

[142] _The Two Babylons_, by Rev. Alexander Hislop, p. 142 ff., seventh
edition, London.


  Sun-Worship the Oldest and Most Widely Diffused Form of
  Paganism--Gnostic Antinomianism or Lawlessness--Anti-Judaism,
  Mainly of Pagan Origin--Anti-Sabbathism and Sunday Observance
  Synchronous--Anti-Lawism and Anti-Sabbathism Unscriptural--Christ’s
  Teachings Concerning the Law of God; Paul’s Teachings on the
  Same--Destructive Effect of Pagan Lawlessness on Christianity.

The sun-god, under various names, Mithras, Baal, Apollo, etc., was
the chief god of the heathen pantheon. A direct conflict between him
and Jehovah appears wherever paganism and revealed religion came in
contact. As “Baal,” “Lord” of the universe and of the productive forces
in nature and in man, this sun-god was the pre-eminent divinity in
ancient Palestine and throughout Phœnicia. The chosen people of God
were assailed and corrupted by this cult, even while they were in the
desert,[143] being led away by the women of Moab. During the period
of the Judges, Baal-worship was the besetting sin of Israel, which
the most vigorous measures could not eradicate.[144] A reformation
came under Saul and David, only to be followed by a relapse under
Solomon, which culminated in the exclusion of Jehovah-worship under
Ahab.[145] Jehu broke the power of the cult, for a time, but the people
soon returned to it.[146] It also spread like a virus through Judah;
repressed by Hezekiah, but continued by Manasseh.[147]

This worship of the sun-god was a sign of disloyalty to Jehovah, and
formed the certain road to wickedness and impurity.[148]

In its lowest forms it was so closely allied to sex-worship,
Phallicism, that it lent great power to that debasing licentiousness,
which sanctified lust, and made prostitution of virtue a religious
duty. Sun-worship was both powerful and popular in the Roman Empire
when Christianity came into contact with Western thought. It furnished
abundant material for the corrupting process. We have seen in a former
chapter that several minor elements of sun-worship mingled with pagan
water-worship: such as turning to the west to renounce evil, and
turning to the east to promise allegiance to Christ and Light, before
baptism; “Orientation”--building churches with the altar so that
men should worship toward the east--was another element, while the
extinguishing of a torch or a candle in the font, in the preparation
of holy water, was a direct importation from this cult. But these
were of little account in extent or influence, when compared with
the corruption which came through the introduction of Baal’s and
Apollo’s day, “Sunday,” in place of the Sabbath, which had always
represented, and yet represents, Jehovah, maker of heaven and earth.
The introduction of Sunday into Christianity was a continuation of the
old-time conflict between Baal and Jehovah.

The definite and systematic manner in which the corrupting process was
carried forward is clearly seen by the preparatory steps which opened
the way for paganism to thrust the sun’s day upon Christianity. We
have seen how the foundation of God’s authority was undermined by the
gnostic opposition to the Old Testament, and by the allegorizing of
both Old and New; how a false “baptismal-regeneration” theory filled
the church with baptized but unconverted heathens. These were not
enough to complete the corrupting process. While men still had regard
for the Sabbath, they could not entirely give up the law of Jehovah on
which it was based, and thus the fundamental doctrines of paganism were
still held in check.

The Simultaneous Development of Anti-Sabbathism and of Sunday

Gnosticism was _antinomian_ from the core. All knowledge, and
hence all authority, was in the heart of the “true Gnostic.” The
“initiated” were divinely enlightened, were a law unto themselves.
This was doubly true when they came into contact with a law
promulgated by the “inferior God of the Jews,” the weak Creator of
matter, and hence a God in league with evil. Such opposition was
natural, was unavoidable, from the gnostic standpoint. Coupled with
the allegorical method of interpretation, it was an easy task for
this opposition to create a violent anti-Jewish prejudice, and a
combined no-lawism, and no-Sabbathism, which became the main factor
in sundering the Jewish and Gentile churches, and introducing the
reign of “_lawlessness_,” of which Paul wrote in the second chapter
of Thessalonians. This anti-lawism and anti-Sabbathism appear in
JUSTIN, the first pagano-Christian writer of whom we have sufficient
definite knowledge to gain a picture of the incipient results of pagan
influence on Christianity. He accepted Christianity after reaching
mature life, but retained his “philosopher’s cloak” as he did many of
his pagan ideas. His theories are a compound of pagan philosophy and
Christianity. He was furiously opposed to all that savored of Judaism.
His interpretations of Scripture and his religious opinions are all
strongly colored by this anti-Jewish spirit. His _Dialogue with Trypho
the Jew_, whether Trypho were a real or an imaginary character, is the
special exponent of anti-Judaism. The following examples show how he
confounded the moral laws and the ceremonial code of the Jews, and set
forth baneful no-lawism and no-Sabbathism, which grew in virulence and
destroyed the authority of the Old Testament wherever his influence
was felt. His special anti-Jewish treatise is entitled, _Dialogue
of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew_. It opens as

  “While I was going about one morning in the walks of the Xystus, a
  certain man, with others in his company, having met me said, ‘Hail, O
  Philosopher!’ And immediately after saying this, he turned round and
  walked along with me; his friends likewise followed him. And I, in
  turn having addressed him, said, ‘What is there important?’

  “And he replied: ‘I was instructed,’ says he, ‘by Corinthus, the
  Socratic in Argos, that I ought not to despise or treat with
  indifference those who array themselves in this dress, but to show
  them all kindness, and to associate with them, as perhaps some
  advantage would spring from the intercourse either to some such man
  or to myself. It is good, moreover, for both, if either the one or
  the other be benefited.’

  “On this account, therefore, whenever I see any one in such costume,
  I gladly approach him, and now, for the same reason, have I
  willingly accosted you; and these accompany me, in the expectation of
  hearing for themselves something profitable from you.”

This opening shows Justin in his true character, as a philosopher
who has united certain elements of Christianity (see _Dialogue_, ch.
viii.) with his pagan theories, and is now to defend this product as
Christianity. In chapter x., Trypho states his case against Christians
in the following words:

  “Moreover I am aware that your precepts in the so-called Gospel are
  so wonderful and so great, that I suspect no one can keep them; for
  I have carefully read them. But this is what we are most at a loss
  about; that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves
  better than others, are not in any particular separated from them,
  and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that
  you observe no festivals or Sabbaths, and do not have the rite of
  circumcision; and further, resting your hopes on a man that was
  crucified, you yet expect to obtain some good thing from God, while
  you do not obey His commandments. Have you not read, that that soul
  shall be cut off from his people who shall not have been circumcised
  on the eighth day? And this has been ordained for strangers and for
  slaves equally. But you, despising this covenant rashly, reject the
  consequent duties, and attempt to persuade yourselves that you know
  God, when, however, you perform none of those things which they do
  who fear God. If, therefore, you can defend yourself on these points,
  and make it manifest in what way you hope for any thing whatsoever,
  even though you do not observe the law, this we would very gladly
  hear from you, and we shall make other similar investigations.”[149]

Justin answers Trypho in the next chapter, (chapter xi), which is
entitled: “_The Law Abrogated; The New Testament Promised and Given of

Note the following from this, and subsequent chapters:

  “For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to
  yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now law placed
  against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant
  which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one;
  and an eternal and final law--namely Christ--has been given to us,
  and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law,
  no commandment, no ordinance.”[150]

  “You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly
  in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual Sabbath,
  and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious,
  not discerning why this has been commanded you; and if you eat
  unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The
  Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances; if there is
  any perjured person, or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if
  any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true
  Sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be

  “For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths,
  and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they
  were enjoined you--namely on account of your transgressions and
  the hardness of your hearts. For if we patiently endure all things
  contrived against us by wicked men and demons, so that even amid
  cruelties unutterable, death and torments, we pray for mercy to those
  who inflict such things upon us, and do not wish to give the least
  retort to any one even as the new Lawgiver commanded us; how is it,
  Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us--I
  speak of fleshly circumcision, and Sabbaths and feasts?”[152]

In many different forms Justin Martyr repeats his theory, that the ten
commandments and the ceremonial economy of the Jews were abrogated,
and that there is no written law regulating conduct on the part of the

TERTULLIAN also taught the temporary character of the Decalogue, and
no-lawism, as the following shows:

  “Whence we understand that God’s law was anterior even to Moses, and
  was not first [given] in Horeb, or in Sinai, and in the desert, but
  was more ancient; [existing] first in paradise, subsequently reformed
  for the patriarchs, and so again for the Jews, at definite periods;
  so that we are not to give heed to Moses’ law as to the primitive
  law, but as to a subsequent, which at a definite period, God has
  set forth to the Gentiles too, and, after repeatedly promising so
  to do, through the prophets, has re-formed for the better; and has
  premonished [men] that it should come to pass that, ‘just as the
  law was given through Moses,’ at a definite time, so it should be
  believed to have been temporarily observed and kept. And let us not
  annul this power which God has, which reforms the law’s precepts
  answerably to the circumstances of the times, with a view to man’s
  salvation. In fine, let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to
  be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth
  day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past,
  righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practised circumcision, and were
  thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man,
  since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him,
  even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in
  settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist
  of paradise. Therefore since God originated Adam uncircumcised,
  and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also,
  Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the
  Sabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering
  in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother
  Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah, also,
  uncircumcised,--yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath--God freed from
  the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and
  inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world; [Enoch]
  who did not first taste death, in order that, being a candidate for
  eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without
  the burden of the law of Moses, please God. Melchizedek, also,
  ‘the priest of the most high God,’ uncircumcised and inobservant
  of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. Lot, withal,
  the brother of Abraham, proves that it was for the merits of
  righteousness, without observance of the law, that he was freed from
  the conflagration of the Sodomites....

  “Therefore, since it is manifest that a Sabbath temporal was shown,
  and a Sabbath eternal foretold, and a circumcision carnal foretold,
  and a circumcision spiritual pre-indicated; a law temporal and a law
  eternal formally declared; sacrifices carnal and sacrifices spiritual
  foreshown; it follows that, after all these precepts had been given
  carnally, in time preceding, to the people of Israel, there was to
  supervene a time whereat the precepts of the ancient law, and of
  the old ceremonies would cease, and the promise of the new law, and
  the recognition of spiritual sacrifices, and the promise of the New
  Testament, supervene; while the light from on high would beam upon us
  who were sitting in darkness, and were being detained in the shadow
  of death. And so there is incumbent on us a necessity, binding us,
  since we have premised that a new law was predicted by the prophets,
  and that not such as had been already given to their fathers, at
  the time when He led them forth from the land of Egypt, to show and
  prove, on the one hand, that that old law has ceased, and on the
  other, that the promised new law is now in operation.”[153]

These examples must suffice, since all who are familiar with
Patristic literature know that its general trend, and its openly
avowed opposition to Judaism and all things connected with the Old
Testament and the Decalogue, place it beyond controversy, that
the prevailing type of Christianity during the third, fourth, and
succeeding centuries, was anti-Sabbatic, and antinomian. There were
practical exceptions among the more common people, but the prevailing
thought, and hence the strong tendency, was away from the Sabbath, and
from Sabbathism. He who questions this shows himself ignorant in the
premises. This growing disregard for the authority of the Sabbath law,
and the steady development of anti-Sabbathism, prepared the way for a
vast system of semi-religious pagan days, with the Sun’s day at their

Antinomianism and Anti-Sabbathism Unscriptural.

Before we inquire how Sunday was introduced, it will be well to
consider the unscriptural and destructive nature of the theories by
which the Decalogue and the Sabbath were dethroned, through false

Christ is the central figure in both dispensations. If new expressions
of the Father’s will are to be made in connection with the work of
Christ on earth, they must be made by the “Immanuel,” who is thus
“reconciling the world unto himself.” Did Christ teach the abrogation
of the Decalogue, of which the Sabbath law is a part? Let His own words

  “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I came not
  to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and
  earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away
  from the law, till all things be accomplished. Whosoever, therefore,
  shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men
  so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever
  shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of

When Christ speaks of the law (τὸν νόμον) in these emphatic words, He
cannot mean the ceremonial code, for these ceremonies were typical of
Him and must pass away with His death. Besides this, the word fulfil
(πληρῶσαι) means the opposite of destruction (καταλῦσαι). Christ
fulfilled the law by perfect obedience to it. He corrected false
interpretations, and intensified its claims. He taught obedience to
it in the spirit as well as the letter, and urged obedience from love
rather than fear. Such a work could not have been done in connection
with the dying ceremonies of the Jewish system. Such a work Christ did
do with reference to the Decalogue. In connection with the passage
above quoted Christ immediately refers to two laws from the Decalogue,
explains and enforces their meaning in a way far more broad and deep
than those who listened to Him were wont to conceive of them.

On another occasion[155] a certain shrewd lawyer sought to entrap the
Saviour by asking “which is the greatest commandment in the law.” The
question has no meaning unless it be applied to the Decalogue. Christ’s
answer includes all the commandments of the Decalogue, and thus avoids
the trap designed by the questioner, who sought to lead Him into some
distinction between laws known to be equal in their nature and extent.

In the sixteenth chapter of Luke,[156] Christ again affirms in the
strongest language, that “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass,
than one tittle of the law to fail.” Language could not be plainer than
that which is used in these statements.

These sentiments accord fully with the practice of Christ relative to
the Sabbath. He boldly condemned the unjust requirements which the Jews
had attached to the observance of it, and taught that works of mercy
were to be freely done on that day; that it was made for man’s good,
and not his injury. But He never taught that because it was “made for
man” therefore it was to be abrogated, or unsanctified. Neither did
He delegate to His disciples any power to teach the abrogation of the
law, or of the Sabbath. On the contrary, their representative writings
contain the same clear testimony in favor of the perpetuity of the law,
and show the same practical observance of the Sabbath. Paul, the great
reasoner among the Apostles, after an exhaustive discussion concerning
the relations between the law and the Gospel, concludes the whole
matter in these words:

  “Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid!
  Nay, we establish the law.”[157]

Again in the same epistle[158] he presents a conclusive argument,
starting from the axiom that “where there is no law there is no sin.”
Showing that since death, which came by sin, reigned from Adam to
Moses, therefore the law then existed, and, by the same reasoning that
if there be no law under the Gospel dispensation, there can be no sin;
if no sin, then no Saviour from sin, and Christ died in vain, if by
His death he destroyed the law. In another place Paul contrasts the
Decalogue with the ceremonial code, and declares the worthlessness of
the one and the binding character of the other, in these words:

  “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the
  keeping of the commandments of God.”[159]

Thus, in a plain and unequivocal way, Paul teaches as his Master taught.

In view of Christ’s words, and Paul’s sharp logic, the following
conclusions are unavoidable. They annihilate the no-law theory.

1. If the Decalogue was abolished by the death of Christ, then Christ
by His death prevented the possibility of sin, to redeem man from which
He died.

2. “Sin is not imputed where there is no law,”[160] hence the
consciousness of sin which men feel under the claims of the Gospel is
a mockery, and all faith in Christ is a farce. It only increases the
difficulty to say that the law is written in the hearts of believers.
If that be true, then:

3. None but believers in Christ can be convicted of sin, for no others
can know the law which convicts of sin. Therefore those who reject
Christ become, at least negatively, _righteous_ by refusing to come
where they can be convicted of sin. Thus does the no-Sabbath theory
make infidelity better than belief, and _rejection of Christ the only
means of salvation_. It leads to endless absurdities, and the overthrow
of all moral government. It contradicts the plain words of God, and
puts darkness for light. Its fruitage in human life has been only
bitterness and ashes.


[143] Numbers xxv.

[144] Judges ii., 13; iii., 7; vi., 25 ff.; x., 6; 1 Sam. vii., 4;
xii., 10.

[145] 1 Kings xvi., 31 ff., and xix., 10.

[146] 2 Kings x., 18-28, and xvii., 16.

[147] 2 Kings xviii., 4, and xxi., 3.

[148] When Joshua, the servant of Jehovah, commanded the sun to stand
still, there was given an ocular demonstration of the power of the God
who made the heavens and the earth, over the sun-god, in whom the pagan
enemies of Israel trusted.

[149] _Dialogue with Trypho_, chap. x.

[150] _Ibid._, chap. xi.

[151] _Ibid._, chap. xii.

[152] _Dialogue_, etc., chap. xviii.

[153] _Against the Jews_, chapters ii. and vi.

[154] Matthew v., 17-19.

[155] Matthew xxii., 35-40.

[156] 17th verse.

[157] Romans iii., 31.

[158] Romans v., 13, 14.

[159] The example of Christ and His Apostles concerning Sabbath
observance is discussed in detail in _Biblical Teachings_, etc., by the
writer, pp. 26-44.

[160] Romans v., 13.


  Mistaken Notions Concerning the Beginning of Sunday Observance--No
  Sunday Observance in the New Testament--Sunday Directly Referred
  to but Three Times--It is Never Spoken of as a Sabbath, nor as
  Commemorative of Christ’s Resurrection--The Bible does not State
  that Christ Rose on Sunday--Christ and His Disciples Always Observed
  the Sabbath--The “Change of the Sabbath” Unknown in the New
  Testament--The Sabbath Never Called “Jewish” in the Scriptures, nor
  by Any Writer until after Paganism had Invaded the Church--Origin
  of Sunday Observance Found in Paganism--First Reference to Sunday
  Observance about 150 A.D.--No Writer of the Early Centuries Claimed
  Scriptural Reasons for Its Observance--Pagan Reasons and Arguments
  Adduced in Its Support; a Day of “Indulgence to the Flesh”--Pretended
  Scriptural Reasons, _ex post facto_.

There are few if any questions concerning which popular notions and
ultimate facts are more at variance than the question of the early
observance of Sunday. It is not uncommon for men to assert that “Sunday
has been observed as the Christian Sabbath ever since the resurrection
of Christ”; while the fact is, that the first authentic and definite
statement concerning Sunday observance was made by Justin Martyr
as late as 150 A.D. Even if we accept the passage quoted from the
_Didache_, the portion of that document in which the reference occurs
cannot be placed earlier than 150, and it is probably much later. Since
the facts as they appear in the New Testament can be easily obtained, I
shall take only space enough to state them briefly.

“The first day of the week,” Sunday, is definitely referred to but
three times in the New Testament. Each of the Evangelists speaks of the
day on which Christ’s resurrection was made known to His disciples.
These references are all to the same day.[161] The book of Acts has
but one reference to Sunday[162]; and there is but one in all the
Epistles.[163] Three other passages are quoted in favor of Sunday

It is so easy for the reader to examine these passages, and to compare
them with popular notions and with what is said here, that I shall be
content with the following summary of facts touching Sunday observance
in the New Testament:

Six passages are quoted in favor of such observance. Only _three_ of
these passages mention the first day of the week in any manner. Neither
of them speaks of it as sabbatic, or as commemorative of any event, or
sacred, or to be regarded above other days, and it is only by vague
and illogical inferences that either of them is made to produce a
shadow of proof for such a change. Concerning the other three, it is
only _supposed_ by the advocates of the popular theory, that they in
some way refer to the first day. To this, therefore, does the “argument
from example” come, when carefully examined. The New Testament never
speaks of, or hints at, a change of the Sabbath; it contains no notice
of any commemorative or sabbatic observance of Sunday. It does tell of
the repeated and continued observance of the Sabbath by Christ and His
Apostles. Will the reader please examine the Bible to see whether these
things are so. Sunday is a myth, as far as the Bible is concerned, and
the theory of a “change of the Sabbath by divine authority,” had its
birth with English Puritanism less than three hundred years ago.

Christ’s Resurrection and Sunday.

Another popular notion is equally unsupported by New Testament history.
The Bible never associates the observance of Sunday, or of any other
day, with the resurrection of Christ. The Bible does not state that
Christ rose from the grave on Sunday. The most that can be said on this
point is, that when the friends of Christ first came to the tomb it was
empty. He had risen and gone. Matthew xxviii., 1, shows that the first
visit was made ‘late on the Sabbath,’ _i. e._ on Saturday afternoon
before sunset, at which time the tomb was empty.[165]

All references to Sunday are fully accounted for on other
considerations than that it was a sacred or a commemorative day. New
Testament arguments in favor of Sunday observance are all _ex post
facto_; they were developed after the practice had been initiated for
other reasons.

The Sabbath in the New Testament.

The history of the Sabbath in the New Testament is as much at variance
with popular notions as is the history of Sunday. The statement
sometimes made that “The Sabbath was never observed after the
resurrection of Christ,” contains as much error as can be put into that
number of words. Since the facts are in the hands of every reader of
the New Testament, only a general summary of them is given here.

Collating the facts, and summing up the case as regards the example of
Christ and His Apostles, it stands as follows:

1. During the life of Christ the Sabbath was always observed by Him and
by His followers. He corrected the errors and false notions which were
held concerning it, but gave no hint that it was to be abrogated.

2. The book of Acts gives a connected history of the recognition and
observance of the Sabbath by the Apostles while they were organizing
many of the churches spoken of in the New Testament. These references
extend over a period of eight or nine years, the last of them being at
least twenty years after the resurrection.

3. In all the history of the doings and teachings of the Apostles,
there is not the remotest reference to the abrogation of the Sabbath.

Had there been any change made or beginning to be made, or any
authority for the abrogation of the Sabbath law, the Apostles must
have known it. To claim that there was is therefore to charge them
with studiously _concealing the truth_. And also, with recognizing and
calling a day the Sabbath which _was not the Sabbath_.

Add to these considerations the following facts:

(_a_) The latest books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of
John, were written about the year ninety-five or later. In none of
these is there any trace of the change of the Sabbath, nor is the
abrogation of the Sabbath law taught in them.

(_b_) The Sabbath is mentioned in the New Testament sixty times, and
always in its appropriate character.

Thus the law and the gospel are in harmony, and teach that “the seventh
day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”

But some will say, “Christ and His Apostles did all this as Jews,
simply.” If this be true, then Christ lived and taught simply as a
_Jew_ and not as the _Saviour of the world_. On the contrary, He was
at war with the false and extravagant notions of Judaism concerning
questions of truth and duty. If Christ were not a “Christian,” but
a “Jew,” what becomes of the system which He taught? If His first
followers, who perilled all for Him and sealed their faith with their
blood, were only Jews, or worse, were dissemblers, doing that which
Christians ought not to do, for sake of policy, where shall Christians
be found? The assumption dies of its own inconsistency. More than this,
New Testament history repeatedly states that the Greeks were taught on
the Sabbath the same as the Jews; and in those churches where the Greek
element predominated there is no trace of any different teaching or
custom on this point. The Jewish Christians kept up their _national_
institutions, for a time, such as circumcision and the passover, while
all Christians accepted the Sabbath as a part of the law of God.
The popular outcry against the Sabbath as “Jewish” is unscriptural.
Christ was in all respects, as regards nationality, a Jew. So were
all the writers of the Old Testament, and all the writers of the New
Testament. God has given the world no word of inspiration in the Bible,
from Gentile pen, or Gentile lips. Is the Bible therefore “Jewish”?
The Sabbath, if possible, is less Jewish than the Bible. It had its
beginning long before a Jew was born. It is God’s day marked by His own
example, and sanctified by His blessing, for the race of man, beginning
when the race began, and can end only when the race shall cease to
exist. Christ recognized it under the Gospel as He recognized each of
the other eternal laws with which it is associated in the Decalogue;
recognized them as the everlasting words of His Father, whose law He
came to magnify and fulfil. It is manifestly unjust and unchristian
to attempt to thrust out and stigmatize any part of God’s truth as
“Jewish,” when all of God’s promises and all Bible truths have come to
us through the Hebrew nation.[166]

As we were compelled to go outside the Bible to find the influences
which undermined the Decalogue and the Sabbath, so we must seek for
the origin of Sunday observance outside of that book. We find the
first mention of such observance, and of reasons therefor, in the
same author, Justin, who we have seen was the first to formulate
the anti-law and anti-Sabbath doctrines which have already been

This earliest reference to Sunday observance is found in Justin’s
_Apology_ as follows:

  “On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the Country,
  gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the
  writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits; then when
  the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs and exhorts
  to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together
  and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread,
  and wine, and water are brought, and the president in like manner
  offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the
  people assent saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and
  a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to
  those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who
  are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is
  collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans
  and widows, and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are
  in want, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers sojourning
  among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday
  is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is
  the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness
  and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same
  day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that
  of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn which is
  the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples,
  He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for
  your consideration.”[168]

There is nothing scriptural in the reasons given by Justin; the first
is purely fanciful, and is in accord with the prevailing gnostic
speculations of those times. His statement that Christ was crucified on
Friday is the beginning of a popular error, which has come down, not
unchallenged, but largely uninvestigated. Some writers claim that the
last clause intends to state that Christ taught His disciples when He
first appeared to them, what Justin had written concerning the Sunday;
but one has only to read Justin’s words to see how entirely unfounded
such a claim is. At all events, there is not a word in Scripture to
support the reasons adduced by Justin for Sunday observance.

It is important that the reader note carefully what sort of Sunday
observance Justin describes. Laying aside all “suppositions,” and
“inferences,” and _ex-post-facto_ conclusions, we learn from him that
at the middle of the second century a form of religious service was
held on Sunday. But it is equally evident that there was no sabbatic
regard for the day. Sir WILLIAM DOMVILLE summarizes the case as follows:

  “This inference appears irresistible when we further consider that
  Justin, in this part of his _Apology_, is professedly intending to
  describe the mode in which Christians observed the Sunday.... He
  evidently intends to give all information requisite to an accurate
  knowledge of the subject he treats upon. He is even so particular
  as to tell the Emperor why the Sunday was observed; and he does, in
  fact, specify every active duty belonging to the day, the Scripture
  reading, the exhortation, the public prayer, the Sacrament, and the
  alms-giving: why then should he not also inform the Emperor of the
  one inactive duty of the day, the duty of abstaining from doing in
  it any manner of work? The Emperor well knew that such abstinence
  was the custom of all his Jewish subjects on the Saturday (_die
  Saturni_), and could readily have understood it to be the custom of
  his Christian subjects on the Sunday (_die Solis_, as Justin calls
  it in his _Apology_), and, therefore, if such was the custom of
  Christians in Justin’s time, his description of their Sunday duties
  was essentially defective. It is not, however, at all probable that
  he would intend to omit noticing so important a characteristic of
  the day, as the Sabbatical observance of it, if it was in fact
  Sabbatically observed. But even were it probable he should intend to
  omit all mention of it in his Apology to the Emperor, it would be
  impossible to imagine any sufficient cause for his remaining silent
  on the subject in his _Dialogue_ with Trypho the Jew; and this
  whether the _Dialogue_ was real or imaginary, for if the latter,
  Justin would still, as Dr. Lardner has observed, ‘choose to write
  in character.’... The testimony of Justin, therefore, proves most
  clearly two facts of great importance in the Sabbath controversy: the
  one, that the Christians in his time observed the Sunday as a prayer
  day; the other, that they did not observe it as a Sabbath-day.”[169]

Such is the summary of the case at the year 150 A.D. No-Sabbathism and
a form of Sunday observance were born at the same time. Trained in
heathen philosophies until manhood, Justin accepted Christianity as a
better philosophy than he had before found. Such a man and those like
him could scarcely do other than build a system quite unlike apostolic
Christianity. That which they did build was a paganized rather than an
apostolic type.

Pagan Reasons for Observing Sunday.

Pagan philosophy as a source of argument in favor of the observance
of Sunday is made still more prominent by CLEMENT of Alexandria, as

  “And the Lord’s day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book
  of the _Republic_, in these words: ‘And when seven days have passed
  to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out
  and arrive in four days.’ By the meadow is to be understood the
  fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of
  the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets,
  and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But
  after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to
  the eighth motion and day. And he says that souls are gone on the
  fourth day, pointing out the passage through the four elements. But
  the seventh day is recognized as sacred, not by the Hebrews only, but
  also by the Greeks; according to which the whole world of all animals
  and plants revolve. Hesiod says of it:

    “‘The first, and fourth, and seventh day were held sacred.’

  “And again:

    “‘And on the seventh the sun’s resplendent orb.’

  “And Homer:

    “‘And on the seventh, then came the sacred day.’


    “‘The seventh was sacred.’

  “And again:

    “‘It was the seventh day, and all things were accomplished.’

  “And again:

    “‘And on the seventh morn we leave the stream of Acheron.’

  “Callimachus the poet also writes:

    “‘It was the seventh morn, and they had all things done.’

  “And again:

    “‘Among good days is the seventh day, and the seventh race.’


    “‘The seventh is among the prime, and the seventh is perfect.’


    “‘Now all the seven were made in starry heaven,
      In circles shining as the years appear.’

  “The _Elegies of Solon_, too, intensely deify the seventh day. And
  how? Is it not similar to Scripture when it says, ‘Let us remove the
  righteous man from us, because he is troublesome to us?’ When Plato,
  all but predicting the economy of salvation, says in the second book
  of the _Republic_, as follows: ‘Thus he who is constituted just shall
  be scourged, shall be stretched on the rack, shall be bound, have
  his eyes put out; and, at last, having suffered all evils, shall be

A similar combination of pagan error and wild speculation is found in
another of Clement’s works, where he discusses reasons for fasting on
Wednesday and on Friday, and also considers how one may keep Sunday.
Writing of the “True Gnostic,” Clement says:

  “He knows also the enigmas of the fasting of those days--I mean the
  Fourth and the Preparation. For the one has its name from Hermes,
  and the other from Aphrodite. He fasts in his life, in respect of
  covetousness and voluptuousness, from which all the vices grow. For
  we have already often above shown the three varieties of fornication,
  according to the apostle--love of pleasure, love of money, idolatry.
  He fasts then, according to the law, abstaining from bad deeds,
  and according to the perfection of the Gospel, from evil thoughts.
  Temptations are applied to him, not for his purification, but, as we
  have said, for the good of his neighbors, if, making trial of toils
  and pains, he has despised and passed them by.

  “The same holds of pleasure. For it is the highest achievement for
  one who has had trial of it, afterwards to abstain. For what great
  thing is it, if a man restrains himself in what he knows not? He, in
  fulfilment of the precept according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord’s
  day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the
  Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. Further also
  when he has received the comprehension of scientific speculation,
  he deems that he sees the Lord, directing his eyes towards things
  invisible, although he seems to look on what he does not wish to
  look on; chastising the faculty of vision, when he perceives himself
  pleasurably affected by the application of his eyes; since he wishes
  to see and hear that alone which concerns him.”[171]

Clement on the Sabbath Law.

Prominent examples of paganism are found in Clement’s _Gnostic
Exposition of the Decalogue_. Discoursing upon the Fourth Commandment,
he says:

  “Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way,
  since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For
  the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the
  seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath,
  and the seventh a day of work. For the creation of the world was
  concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to
  solstice is completed in six months, in the course of which, at one
  time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to
  maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the
  sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to
  the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book _On
  the Eighth Month_, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book _On
  Nature_. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect
  number, from the creation of the world, according to the prophet, and
  call it Meseuthys and Marriage, from its being the middle of the even
  numbers, that is, of ten and two. For it is manifestly at an equal
  distance from both.”[172]

The next paragraph is too gross to appear in this place. Toward the
close of this learned (?) “exposition,” Clement gives birth to the
following curious argument from the Psalms:

  “And the blessed David delivers clearly to those who know the mystic
  account of seven and eight, praising thus: ‘Our years were exercised
  like a spider. The days of our years in them are seventy years; but
  if in strength, eighty years. And that will be to reign.’ That, then,
  we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose
  that God made it in time, prophecy adds: ‘This is the book of the
  generation, also of the things in them, when they were created in
  the day that God made heaven and earth.’ For the expression, ‘when
  they were created’ intimates an indefinite and dateless production.
  But the expression ‘in the day that God made,’ that is, in and by
  which God made ‘all things,’ and ‘without which not even one thing
  was made,’ points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David
  says, ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and
  rejoice in it’; that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by
  Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws
  light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life
  and being, is called day. And in fine, the Decalogue, by the letter
  _Iota_, signifies the blessed name, presenting Jesus, who is the

Pagan nonsense could scarcely go further, and yet this man wielded a
prominent influence in developing the doctrine of Sunday Observance.

Tertullian on the Sabbath.

TERTULLIAN was a prolific writer, and one not noted for consistency. He
taught the abolition of the Sabbath (see _Against the Jews_, chapter
iv.), and refers to the observance of Sunday without giving formal
reasons therefor. But incidental references which he makes show how the
Sunday, although it had then come to be called the “Lord’s Day,” still
bore the heathen characteristics. Witness the following:

  “The Holy Spirit upbraids the Jews with their holy-days. ‘Your
  Sabbaths, and new moons, and ceremonies,’ says He, ‘My soul hateth.’
  By us, to whom Sabbaths are strange, and the new moons and festivals
  formerly beloved by God, the _Saturnalia_ and _New-Year’s_ and
  _Midwinter’s_ festivals and _Matronalia_ are frequented--presents
  come and go--New-Year’s Gifts--games join their noise--banquets
  join their din! Oh, better fidelity of the nations to their own
  sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself! Not
  the Lord’s day, not Pentecost, even if they had known them, would
  they have shared with us; for they would not fear lest they would
  seem to be Christians. _We_ are not apprehensive least we seem to
  be _heathens_! If any indulgence is to be granted to the flesh, you
  have it. I will not say your own days, but more too; for to the
  _heathens_, each festive day occurs but once annually; _you_ have a
  festive day every eighth day. Call out the individual solemnities of
  the nations and set them out into a row, they will not be able to
  make up a Pentecost.”[174]

Here we have the native character of the Sunday truly set forth; a day
of “indulgence to the flesh.” Such was the legitimate, the unavoidable
fruitage of this semi-pagan festivalism, a fruitage which poisoned the
Church rapidly and almost fatally.

It is enough to add under this head, that _no writer of the first three
hundred years gives, or attempts to give_, a scriptural reason for
observing Sunday. There are no such reasons to give.


[161] Matt. xxviii., 1-8; Mark xvi., 2; Luke xxiv., 1-3; John xx., 1.

[162] Acts xx., 7.

[163] 1 Cor. xvi., 2.

[164] John xix., 23 and 26, and Rev. i., 10.

[165] For discussion of the time of Christ’s resurrection, see
_Biblical Teachings_, etc., by the writer.

[166] The reader will find this question discussed in detail in
“_Biblical Teachings Concerning the Sabbath and the Sunday_,” p. 26 ff.
If that is not at hand, take your Bible and Concordance, and examine
each passage in the New Testament where “Sabbath” occurs. _Cf._ also
_Sabbath Commentary_, by Bailey.

[167] For an examination of the writings, genuine and spurious, which
are adduced in favor of Sunday observance, before the time of Justin
Martyr, consult _A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday in the
Christian Church_, by the writer, pp. 33-69.

[168] Chap. lxvii.

[169] _Sabbath: An Examination of the Six Texts_, p. 274 _seq._,
London, 1849.

[170] _Stromata_, book v., chap. xiv.

[171] _Stromata_, book vii., chap. xii.

[172] _Stromata_, book vii., chap. xvi.

[173] _Stromata_, book vi., chap. xvi.

[174] _De Idolatria_, chap. xiv.


  Christ’s Attitude toward the State--The Roman Conception of Religion
  as a Department of the State--Roman Civil Law Created and Regulated
  All Religious Duties--Effect of the Pagan Doctrine of Religious
  Syncretism on Christianity--The Emperor a Demi-God, Entitled to
  Worship, and, _ex officio_, the Supreme Authority in Religion--The
  Deep Corruption of Roman Morals and Social Life under Pagan State

Three fundamental points at which Christianity was corrupted by
heathenism have been examined. It remains to consider another which
was not less fundamental, and has not been less persistent--viz., the
_Union of Christianity with the State_.

Christ’s Attitude Toward the State.

Christ taught the infinite worth of man as an individual. The divine
priesthood of every believer in Christ, and his absolute spiritual
kingship over himself, under God, is a fundamental doctrine of the
Gospel. On such a platform, Christ proclaimed the absolute separation
of Church and State. “My kingdom is not of this world” was the keynote
in His proclamation. His kingdom knew neither Jew nor Greek, Roman
nor Egyptian, bondman nor freeman. Ethnic distinctions and lines of
caste were unknown to the world’s Redeemer. Wherever a heart bowed
in simple faith and loyal obedience, there Christ’s kingdom was set
up. Placed alongside the state-church theory of Rome, the doctrine of
Christ’s kingdom was noonday by the side of midnight. It was a diamond
among pebbles. It was the proclamation of a brotherhood all-embracing
and eternal. This kingdom rendered unto Cæsar the little that was due
him, and demanded the fullest and highest allegiance to the invisible
but not unknown God. It sought only simple protection from the civil
power, and patiently suffered wrong, even unto death, when this was
denied. Such a kingdom found its first adherents among those who were
least entangled in the meshes of the state religions, and whose hearts
opened most loyal to the one God, and His Son, the Christ. These were
naturally the common people, who heard gladly, and entered joyfully
into the heavenly citizenship. Thus the Church of Christ, like Himself,
was born among the lowly, and wholly independent of the state. Such
a spiritual kingdom could not be brought under the control of the
civil power, and that a pagan power, without being corrupted, if not

Roman Conception of Religion.

The reader will be better prepared to understand how Christianity
became corrupted along this line, by considering the genius of the
Roman nation, and its conception of religion. The idea of law as
the embodiment of absolute power pervaded the Roman mind. Men were
important only as citizens. Separate from the state, man was nothing.
“To be a Roman, was greater than a king.” Every personal right, every
interest was subservient to the state. This conception of power was the
source of Roman greatness, prowess, and success. It conscripted the
legions, conquered the world, and made all roads lead to Rome. Previous
to Christianity, all religion was ethnic. To the Roman, religion was
a part of the civil code. It was a system of contracts between men
and the gods, through the civil law. The head of the State was, _ex
officio_, the head of the Department of Religion. There was no place in
heathen theories for the Gospel idea of the Church.

Speaking on this point, Dr. SCHAFF says:

  “Of a separation of religion and politics, of the spiritual power
  from the temporal, heathen antiquity knew nothing, because it
  regarded religion itself only from a natural point of view, and
  subjected it to the purposes of the all-ruling state, the highest
  known form of human society. The Egyptian kings, as Plutarch
  tells us, were at the same time priests, or were received into the
  priesthood at their election. In Greece the civil magistrate had
  supervision of the priests and sanctuaries. In Rome, after the
  time of Numa, this supervision was intrusted to a senator, and
  afterward united with the imperial office. All the pagan emperors,
  from Augustus to Julian the Apostate, were at the same time supreme
  pontiffs (Pontifices Maximi), the heads of the state religion,
  emperor-popes. As such they could not only perform all priestly
  functions, even to offering sacrifices, when superstition or policy
  prompted them to do so, but they also stood at the head of the
  highest sacerdotal college (of fifteen or more Pontifices), which in
  turn regulated and superintended the three lower classes of priests
  (the Epulones, Quindecemviri, and Augures), the temples and altars,
  the sacrifices, divinations, feasts and ceremonies, the exposition of
  the Sibylline books, the calendar, in short, all public worship, and
  in part even the affairs of marriage and inheritance.”[175]

That Christianity must needs become paganized if it became a religion
of the state, is shown further by the following, from an editor of
_Justinian’s Institutes_:

  “What was most peculiar in the religion of Rome was its intimate
  connection with the civil polity. The heads of religion were not a
  priestly caste, but were citizens, in all other respects like their
  fellows, except that they were invested with peculiar sacred offices.
  The king was at the head of the religious body, and beneath him
  were augurs and other functionaries of the ceremonies of religion.
  The whole body of the _populus_ had a place in the religious system
  of the state. The mere fact of birth in one of the _familiæ_ forming
  part of a _gens_ gave admittance to a sacred circle which was closed
  to all besides. Those in this circle were surrounded by religious
  ceremonies from their cradle to their grave. Every important act
  of their life was sanctioned by solemn rites. Every division and
  subdivision of the state to which they belonged had its own peculiar
  ceremonies. The individual, the family, the _gens_, were all under
  the guardianship of their respective tutelar deities. Every locality
  with which they were familiar was sacred to some patron god. The
  calendar was marked out by the services of religion. The pleasure of
  the gods arranged the times of business and leisure; and a constantly
  superintending Providence watched over the councils of the state,
  and showed, by signs which the wise could understand, approval or
  displeasure of all that was undertaken.”[176]

The fundamental difference between New Testament Christianity and the
Roman idea of religion is further shown by the following from Reville
and Tiele:


  “In Rome religious tradition was an affair of the state, like the
  priesthood itself. The senate was by right its guardian. That body
  legislated for religion as for everything else; and when the
  Greco-Roman paganism persecuted, it did so from essentially political

TIELE says:

  “Much greater weight was attached by the practical Roman to the
  cultus than to the doctrines of religion. This was the one point
  of supreme importance; in his view the truly devout man was he
  who punctually performed his religious obligations, who was pious
  according to law. There was a debt to be paid to the gods, which
  must be discharged, but it was settled if the letter of the contract
  was fulfilled, and the symbol was given in place of the reality. The
  animistic conception that the gods might be employed as instruments
  for securing practical advantages, lies at the basis of the whole
  Roman cultus. In the earliest times, therefore, it was quite simple,
  so far as regards the absence of images or temples, but it was at
  the same time exceedingly complicated and burdened with all kinds
  of ceremonies and symbolic actions, and the least neglect destroyed
  the efficacy of the sacrifice. This necessitated the assistance of
  priests acquainted with the whole ritual, not to serve as mediators,
  for the approach to the deity was open to all, but to see that pious
  action failed in no essential element.... Everything was regulated
  with precision by the government, and the fact that the highest of
  the priests was always under the control of the state, prevented
  the rise of a priestly supremacy, the absence of which in Greece
  was due to other causes; but the consequence was that the Roman
  religion remained dry and formal and was external rather than
  inward. Even the purity (_castitas_) on which great stress was laid,
  was only sacerdotal, and was attained by lustration, sprinkling,
  and fumigation, and the great value attached to prayer, so that a
  single error had to be atoned for as a neglect, had its basis in the
  superstitious belief that it possessed a high magic power.”[178]

Religious Syncretism.

The prevailing tendency to religious syncretism in the Roman empire
paved the way for corrupting Christianity by union with the State.

The doctrine of courtesy in religious matters had risen in the Roman
mind, to a theory of religious syncretism, which offered recognition
to other religions outside the Roman. The religions of the Orient
and of Egypt already had a place and protection at Rome. These, like
the citizens of the lands whence they came, were taken in charge by
the laws of the Mistress of the World. By the opening of the fourth
century, Christianity had gained such influence and standing that,
although it had no claims as an ethnic religion, it was too promising a
waif to be longer unnoticed. The great empire was conscious of present
decline and coming decay. New blood was an imperative necessity;
perhaps this new religion, that had given such power of endurance to
its votaries, would furnish the needful help.

This recognition, at first, was not in any true sense toleration, nor
a full recognition of the freedom of conscience. It was rather such
recognition as the foreman gives to the apprentice: “Come in and show
what you can do.” In this recognition Rome adopted no new policy,
neither gave evidence of any genuine faith in Apostolic Christianity.
As late as 321 A.D., not more than one-twentieth part of the people
were Christians; and Constantine, erroneously called “The first
Christian emperor,” did not make an open confession of Christianity,
until he lay on his death-bed in 337 A.D. Christianity was taken under
the protection of the empire, to be cared for and controlled according
to the genius of Roman history and Roman law. The “Christian emperors,”
from Constantine to Gratian (312-383), retained the title of “Pontifex
Maximus.” The visiting of heathen temples for religious purposes, and
the performance of heathen rites in private, were not prohibited by
imperial law until 391-393 A.D. by Theodosius. Nor were these laws then
enforced where the heathen element was in the ascendency. Theodosius
himself was not deemed an enemy of the old religion; he stood in such
favor that the senate enrolled him among the gods, after his death, in
395 A.D.

Instead of developing normally, after the simple New Testament model,
the Roman church was modelled largely after the Roman empire. The union
once begun, political intrigue and religious degeneracy followed in
rapid succession. All civil legislation in matters of religion pushes
the divine authority aside, and substitutes the human. This creates
conscience, if at all, toward the state alone, and so remains on
heathen ground.

Thus, by descending from the high ground of the Apostolic period,
from the immediate control and direction of the Holy Spirit, to the
control of a heathen state-system, and being already weakened by the
false philosophies which had driven out the authority of the Word,
Christianity was turned far away from its true status and character.
The legislation which followed, concerning festivals, ceremonies, and
doctrines, was a medley of paganism and Christianity, truth and error,
widely removed from the Sermon on the Mount, and the epistles of Paul.
The kernel of Papal error, and the fountain which was the source of
the Dark Ages, are both involved in the fundamental perversions of
Apostolic Christianity.

Since the emperor was, _ex officio_, the head of the Department of
Religion, it was comparatively easy to accomplish the amalgamation
of the different systems. Gibbon gives an outline picture of this
tendency as it prevailed during the third century. It was the more
destructive to Christianity because of the degraded character of the
emperors and those who controlled the public life of the empire. The
emperor of whom Gibbon writes below, is described by Schaff as follows:

  “The abandoned youth El-Gabal, or Heliogabalus (218-222), who
  polluted the throne by the blackest vices and follies, tolerated all
  the religions in the hope of at last merging them in his favorite
  Syrian worship of the sun, with its abominable excesses. He himself
  was a priest of the god of the sun, and thence took his name.

  “His far more worthy cousin and successor, Alexander Severus
  (222-235), was addicted to a higher kind of religious eclecticism
  and syncretism, a pantheistic hero-worship. He placed the busts of
  Abraham and Christ in his domestic chapel, with those of Orpheus,
  Apollonius of Tyana, and the better Roman emperors, and had the
  Gospel rule, ‘As ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
  them,’ engraven on the walls of his palace and on public monuments.
  His mother, Julia Mammæa, was a patroness of Origen.”[179]

GIBBON says of this period:

  “The sun was worshipped at Emesa, under the name of Elagabalus, and
  under the form of a black conical stone, which, as it was universally
  believed, had fallen from heaven on that sacred place. To this
  protecting deity Antoninus, not without some reason, ascribed his
  elevation to the throne. The display of superstitious gratitude
  was the only serious business of his reign. The triumph of the god
  of Emesa over all the religions of the earth, was the great object
  of his zeal and vanity; and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he
  presumed, as pontiff and favorite to adopt that sacred name) was
  dearer to him than all the titles of Imperial greatness. In a solemn
  procession through the streets of Rome, the way was strewed with
  gold-dust; the black stone, set in precious gems, was placed on a
  chariot, drawn by six milk-white horses, richly caparisoned. The
  pious emperor held the reins, and supported by his ministers, moved
  slowly backwards, that he might perpetually enjoy the felicity of
  the divine presence. In a magnificent temple raised on the Palatine
  Mount, the sacrifices of the god Elagabalus were celebrated with
  every circumstance of cost and solemnity. The richest wines, the
  most extraordinary victims, and the rarest aromatics, were profusely
  consumed on his altar. Around the altar, a chorus of Syrian damsels
  performed their lascivious dances to the sound of barbarian music,
  whilst the gravest personages of the state and army, clothed in long
  Phœnician tunics, officiated in the meanest functions, with affected
  zeal and secret indignation.

  “To this temple, as to the common center of religious worship, the
  Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium, and
  all the sacred pledges of the faith of Numa. A crowd of inferior
  deities attended in various stations the majesty of the god of Emesa;
  but his court was still imperfect, till a female of distinguished
  rank was admitted to his bed. Pallas had been first chosen for his
  consort; but, as it was dreaded lest her warlike terrors might
  affright the soft delicacy of a Syrian deity, the Moon, adored by
  the Africans under the name of Astarte, was deemed a more suitable
  companion for the Sun. Her image, with the rich offerings of her
  temple as a marriage portion, was transported with solemn pomp from
  Carthage to Rome, and the day of these mystic nuptials was a general
  festival in the capital and throughout the empire.”[180]

Elagabalus reigned from 218 to 222 A.D. The foregoing facts show
that the empire was practically prostituted, and given over to the
lowest forms of sun-worship during his reign. It was the triumph of
Orientalism in the West. The same devotion to sun-worship appears in
other emperors, toward the close of the third century.

Aurelian reigned from 270 to 276 A.D. Speaking of the magnificent
“Triumph” of this emperor in 274 A.D., Gibbon says:

  “So long and so various was the pomp of Aurelian’s triumph, that,
  although it opened with the dawn of day, the slow majesty of the
  procession ascended not the Capitol before the ninth hour; and it was
  already dark when the emperor returned to the palace. The festival
  was protracted by theatrical representations, the games of the
  circus, the hunting of wild beasts, combats of gladiators, and naval
  engagements. Liberal donatives were distributed to the army, and
  people, and several institutions agreeable or beneficial to the city,
  contributed to perpetuate the glory of Aurelian.

  “A considerable portion of his oriental spoils was consecrated to
  the gods of Rome; the Capitol, and every other temple, glittered
  with the offerings of his ostentatious piety; and the temple of the
  Sun alone received above fifteen thousand pounds of gold. This last
  was a magnificent structure, erected by the emperor on the side of
  the Quirinal hill, and dedicated, soon after the triumph, to that
  deity whom Aurelian adored as the parent of his life and fortunes.
  His mother had been an inferior priestess in a chapel of the Sun;
  a peculiar devotion to the god of Light was a sentiment which the
  fortunate peasant imbibed in his infancy; and every step of his
  elevation, every victory of his reign, fortified superstition by

Speaking of Diocletian, who reigned from 284 to 305, MILMAN says:

  “Diocletian himself, though he paid so much deference to the older
  faith as to assume the title of Jovius, as belonging to the Lord of
  the world, yet, on his accession, when he would exculpate himself
  from all concern in the murder of his predecessor Numerian, appealed
  in the face of the army to the all-seeing deity of the sun. It is the
  oracle of Apollo of Miletus, consulted by the hesitating emperor,
  which is to decide the fate of Christianity. The metaphorical
  language of Christianity had unconsciously lent strength to this new
  adversary; and, in adoring the visible orb, some, no doubt, supposed
  that they were not departing far from the worship of the ‘Sun of

In a foot-note, Milman quotes:

  “Hermogenes, one of the older heresiarchs, applied the text, ‘He
  has placed his tabernacle in the sun,’ to Christ, and asserted that
  Christ had put off his body in the sun.”[182]

Dr. GEIKIE touches the point, and shows in a few words how Christianity
yielded to paganism and its corrupting results; he says:

  “Helios, the sun, was the great object of worship, and so deep-rooted
  was this idolatry that the early Christian missionaries knew no other
  way of overthrowing it than by changing it into the name of Elias,
  and turning the temples into churches dedicated to him.”[183]

Two important factors touching the union of Christianity and the state
are now before the reader.

1. Under the Roman empire all recognized religions were controlled by
the civil law. The persecution of Christians was based upon the idea
that their worship was illegal; or rather that their refusal to worship
the national gods, according to the legal _cultus_, was an offence
against the commonwealth.

2. Sun-worship in its higher and lower forms was the prevailing and
popular cult at Rome in the third and fourth centuries of Christian
history. The emperors were devotees of this cult. It was therefore
a foregone necessity that when Christianity grew strong enough to be
entitled to recognition rather than persecution, it should be adopted
by the state, and further commingled with the prevailing sun-worship.
The next chapter will show how this was accomplished.


[175] _Church History_, vol. iii., pp. 131, 132, New York, 1884.

[176] _The Institutes of Justinian_, by Thomas Collett Sandars, Oxford,
Eng., Introduction, p. 4, Chicago, 1876.

[177] _Prolegomena of the History of Religions_, by Albert Reville,
D.D., p. 169, London, 1884.

[178] _Outlines of the History of Religions_, C. P. Tiele, Boston,
1877, pp. 237, 238.

[179] Schaff, _History of the Christian Church_, vol. ii., pp. 58, 59.

[180] _Decline_, etc., vol. i., pp. 170, 171, New York, 1883.

[181] _Ibid._, vol. i., p. 361.

[182] _Hist. Christianity_, book ii., chap. ix.

[183] _Life and Words of Christ_, vol. i., pp. 53, 54. Appleton & Co.,


  A New Epoch in the Paganizing of Christianity--Paganism Seeking a New
  God, Strong enough to Save the Empire--Constantine not a “Christian
  Emperor,” but Superstitious, Time-Serving, and Ambitious--Murdering
  his Kindred while Promoting Christianity as a rising Political
  Influence--Seeking Christianity mainly for Ambitious Ends--Professing
  Christianity only on his Death-Bed--Making the Most of Both
  Worlds--Constantine Corrupted and Perverted Christianity More than he
  Aided it.

The opening of the fourth century marks a new era in the process by
which paganism poisoned Christianity, by applying to it the pagan
theory set forth in the last chapter. Though sadly weakened and
corrupted by these influences, Christianity was a growing power in the
empire. On the other hand, paganism was declining, and the fortunes of
the disintegrating empire seemed to be going down with the national
religious cult. Pagan superstition looked upon all the fortunes of
the empire as the direct work of the gods, and as misfortunes piled
up around the empire, it was natural to think that the old gods were
deserting it, and that new gods must be sought. When the empire
became subdivided under different rulers, the rivalry between them,
and the varying success which attended the efforts of each, naturally
associated success and failure with the gods to whom each was devoted.
The firmness of the Christians under persecution was looked upon by the
pagans as evidence that the Christian’s God had great power to help
those who worshipped him. In this way many were brought to consider the
idea of adding this God to the catalogue of those whom they already

The severe edicts of Diocletian against the Christians, issued in 303
A.D., spread desolation far and wide. In Gaul, Britain, and Spain,
where Constantius Chlorus and Constantine his son reigned, the edict
was tamely enforced, they preferring to favor the Christians. The
bitterness of the persecutions in other parts of the empire inflamed
the zeal of Christians, and martyrdom was sought by many, not so much
from calm faith as from fanatical zeal.[184] This cruel persecution
was the last direct effort of paganism to destroy Christianity by
the sword. The fortunes which befell the leaders in the persecution
increased superstitious regard for the God of the martyrs, who was
thought to be like the gods of the pagans, only more powerful.

Galerius, who was the leader in the horrid work, being stricken by
a terrible disease, was overcome with fear, and, in connection with
Constantine and Licinius, ordered the persecutions to cease, by an
edict in 311 A.D. This edict was to the effect that since punishment
had not reclaimed the Christians, they might now hold their assemblies,
providing they did not disturb the order of the state. The real
animus of the edict is seen in its closing words, in which Galerius
suggested that “after this manifestation of grace, Christians ought to
pray to their God for the welfare of the Emperors and of the State.”
Constantine attributed the military success which finally made him
sole ruler in 323 A.D. to the help of the Christians’ God. All parties
looked upon the issue as a political struggle between Jupiter and
Jehovah, in which the latter was victorious.

BOISSIER, a late, learned French writer, says:

  “Constantine recalled that of all the princes that he had known, the
  only one who had lived prosperously, without eclipse, was his father
  Constance, who had protected the Christians; while nearly all those
  who had persecuted them had ended their lives miserably.”[185]

Character of Constantine.

Constantine has been called the “first Christian Emperor”; how unjustly
will be seen in what follows. In a certain sense, Christianity
ascended the throne of the Cæsars with Constantine. It was a political
triumph, but a spiritual defeat. That we may the better understand
the case, the reader needs to look carefully into the character of
this first representative of the pagan state-church policy, and of
the subordinating of Christianity to the political power. The reader
will be permitted to make this survey mainly through the eyes of other
writers, which I think will be more satisfactory than any picture that
I might draw.

KILLEN thus summarizes the character of Constantine:

  “The personal conduct of Constantine in advanced life did not exhibit
  Christianity as a religion fitted to effect a marked improvement
  in the spirit and character. In A.D. 326, he put to death his
  son Crispus, a youth of the highest promise, who had in some way
  disturbed his suspicious temper. His nephew Licinius and his own wife
  Fausta shared the same fate. His growing passion for gaudy dress
  betrayed pitiable vanity in an old man of sixty; and towards the end
  of his reign, the general extravagance of his expenditure led to an
  increase of taxation of which his subjects complained. He desired
  to be a dictator of the Church, rather than a disciple; and with a
  view to share its privileges without submitting to its discipline,
  deferred his baptism until the near approach of death. He then
  received the ordinance from the Arian bishop of Nicomedia.

  “The defects in the religious character of Constantine greatly
  impaired his moral influence. Though he did much to promote the
  extension of the visible Church, his reign forms an era in the
  history of ecclesiastical corruption. His own Christianity was so
  loose and accommodating that it seemed to consist chiefly in the
  admiration of a new ritual; and the courtiers who surrounded him and
  who complimented him by the adoption of his creed, seldom seemed to
  feel that it taught the necessity of personal reformation. All at
  once, the profession of the Gospel became fashionable; crowds of
  merely nominal converts presented themselves at the baptismal font;
  and many even entered the clerical office who had no higher object
  in view than an honorable or a lucrative position. Ecclesiastical
  discipline was relaxed; and that the heathen might be induced to
  conform to the religion of the emperor, many of their ceremonies
  were introduced into the worship of the Church. The manner in which
  Constantine intermeddled with ecclesiastical affairs was extremely
  objectionable. He undertook not only to preach, but also to dictate
  to aged and learned ministers. Had any other individual who had
  never been baptized appeared in the Nicene synod, and ventured to
  give counsel to the assembled fathers, he would have been speedily
  rebuked for his presumption; but all were so delighted to see a
  great prince among them, that there was a general unwillingness to
  challenge his intrusion. He sometimes indeed declared, that he left
  spiritual matters to Church courts; but his conduct demonstrated how
  little he observed such an arrangement. He convened synods by his
  own authority; took a personal share in their discussions; required
  their members to appear before him, and submit their proceedings to
  his review; and inflicted on them civil penalties when their official
  acts did not meet his approval. Had Constantine given his sanction
  and encouragement to the Church, and yet permitted her to pursue her
  noble mission in the full enjoyment of the right of self government,
  he might have contributed greatly to promote her safe and vigorous
  development; but by usurping the place of her chief ruler, and
  bearing down with the weight of the civil power on all who refused
  to do his pleasure, he secularized her spirit, robbed her of her
  freedom, and converted her divine framework into a piece of political

Rev. E. EDWIN HALL, who was for many years chaplain of the American
Legation at Rome, Italy, also chaplain of the American Church at
Florence, made a careful study of the early history and of the modern
characteristics of Roman Catholicism. In July, 1889, a paper from his
pen was published in the _Outlook_, a Sabbath quarterly from which the
following is taken:

  “Soon after the so-called conversion of Constantine, when he became
  sole emperor, the Church entered on its apostasy from the primitive
  simplicity and purity which marked its earlier history. Pagans in
  vast multitudes pressed into the Christian fold, bringing with them
  old practices and customs, and filling the places of Christian
  worship with the pageantry and the ornaments which characterized the
  worship of the gods in heathen temples. These unconverted millions
  became only nominally Christian, impressing their character together
  with the doctrines, rites and forms of pagan religion upon the
  Christian Church. Gibbon, speaking of these innovations, shows that:
  ‘Rites and ceremonies were introduced which seemed most powerfully
  to affect the senses of the people. If in the beginning of the 5th
  century Tertullian or Lactantius had been suddenly raised from the
  dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they
  would have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane
  spectacle which had succeeded the pure and spiritual worship of a
  Christian congregation. As soon as the doors of the church were
  thrown open, they must have been offended at the smoke of incense,
  the perfume of flowers, the glare of lamps and tapers which diffused
  at noonday, in their opinions, a gaudy, superfluous, and sacrilegious
  light. They would see a prostrate crowd of worshipers devoutly
  kissing the walls and pavement of the sacred edifice, their fervent
  prayers directed to the bones, the blood, or ashes of the saints, the
  walls covered with votive offerings, representing the favors received
  from saints in answer to their prayers and illustrating the abuse
  of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion, in recognition of the image,
  the attributes, and the miracles of the tutelar saint, which had the
  same value to their mind as a local divinity in the pagan religion.
  The ministers of various names in the Catholic Church imitated the
  profane model which they should have been impatient to destroy. So
  the religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the
  final conquest of the Roman Empire, but the victors themselves were
  insensibly subdued by the acts of their vanquished rivals.’[187]

  “From that time the worship of the Roman Catholic Church, in its
  forms and ceremonies, has been more clearly identified with the
  paganism of ancient Rome than with the religion of the New Testament.
  The customs of pagan religion were only baptized with Christian
  names. Gregory the Great in the latter part of the 6th century,
  ignoring the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit and the power of the
  Gospel, directed the Monk Augustine, whom he sent to convert the
  idolaters of England, ‘not to suspend or abolish the pagan festivals,
  nor the customs of their worship, but rather retain them, contenting
  himself with substituting for the names of false gods, the names of
  saints borne by their temples, and whose relics were deposited in

F. W. MAURICE aptly describes the Christianity of Constantine’s time as

  “And to the gloss of civilisation had been added the gloss of
  Christianity. The Emperor had believed, when other help was failing,
  that in the might of the Cross he might still conquer. The sign
  was indeed there, but it was marked upon the standard, not written
  upon the hearts, of those rulers of the world. They saw not what it
  meant; how it interpreted and crowned all that had been great in
  their history hitherto; how it separated the real great from the real
  little; how it sanctified all those feelings of obedience, duty,
  reverence for unseen law, self-devotion, by which the city had risen
  from nothing; how it poured contempt upon dominion, except as an
  instrument by which the highest might serve the lowest, upon glory,
  except as it grew out of humiliation, and was the exaltation of man
  above himself. The civilised Christian Roman had lost the heart, the
  reverence, the faith which belonged to his rude Pagan ancestors; that
  Christianity and civilisation might be victorious, the miserable
  patrons of both were swept away.”[189]

Speaking of the effect of Constantine’s attitude in favoring
Christianity as a rising influence in the nation, MERIVALE says:

  “We may suppose, indeed, that the favor thus unexpectedly showered
  on the new faith by the Imperial government would tend inevitably to
  reverse the proportions of the two persuasions, or rather of the two
  parties, which now divided the Roman world. Powerful as the example
  of rulers has always been in such matters, it would never, perhaps,
  be more so than at the moment when paganism, corrupt and effete,
  had lost all the spirit of a real faith, and when, as we shall see,
  Christianity was only too ready to accept overtures to the easy
  compromise which its rivals soon began to offer it. Nevertheless, the
  progress of the Church of Christ was really slower and less complete
  than might have been expected. Some allowance, as we have seen, must
  be made for the spirit of pique and the wounded pride of a class so
  deeply prejudiced on all matters of sentiment as the magnates of
  Roman society. But paganism, it must be added, developed at her last
  gasp a new principle of vitality, and nerved herself for a desperate
  conflict along her whole line.”[190]

Concerning the overthrow of paganism, as late as the time of Gratian,
375-383 A.D., Merivale says:

  “It seems clear that, as might indeed be expected, the earliest
  edicts for the confiscation of the temple-endowments under Gratian,
  big and stern as they look in the codes or statute-book, were
  practically of little effect. If many temples were really closed,
  as we may readily believe, though certainly by no means all or the
  greater number of them, we must suppose that the lordly holders of
  their property contrived to retain the enjoyment of the funds, while
  they, not unwillingly perhaps, relieved themselves from the services
  for which these funds had been originally given. Theodosius found the
  pagan priesthood despoiled of their wealth in name only, and however
  earnest he might be in his Christian profession, he long abstained,
  both in policy and mercy, from asserting the full authority of
  previous enactments.”[191]

Alzog, a modern Roman Catholic Church historian, though laboring hard
to set forth Constantine as the first Christian emperor, and a “saint”
of the Roman Catholic Church, is forced to say:

  “The law said to have been published by Constantine, A.D. 335,
  prohibiting all pagan sacrifices, is of doubtful authenticity, and,
  if authentic, is of very little importance, for like a great many
  others of a similar nature, it was never enforced. The execution
  of such laws met with a determined resistance in many places, and
  particularly at Rome. Constantine, although professing to be a
  Christian, lived pretty much the same sort of life he had lived while
  a pagan, and even stained his reputation by the commission of deeds
  of murder.

  “Licinius was executed A.D. 324, and Licinianus, his son, who
  appears to have excited the fears of Constantine, shortly afterward
  met the fate of his father. Constantine also had Crispus, his son
  by his first wife, Minervina, apprehended in the midst of a solemn
  festival and exiled him to the shore of Istria, where he perished
  by an obscure death. Learning afterward, as it is supposed, that
  Fausta, his second wife, the daughter of Maximianus Herculeus, had
  been instrumental in causing the death of his brave and illustrious
  son Crispus, he had her strangled in a bath of warm water heated to
  an insupportable temperature. It may be that these murders, in which
  the designing policy of Fausta played so conspicuous a part, prompted
  Constantine to delay his entrance into the Church, and to put off his
  baptism till the hour of his death. He was, moreover, influenced by
  the prevailing prejudice relative to the sacrament of baptism, and
  also wished to be baptized in the river Jordan, which, however, ‘God
  did not permit.’”[192]

Dr. SCHAFF describes Constantine’s relation to Christianity as follows:

  “Constantine adopted Christianity first as a superstition, and put
  it by the side of his heathen superstition, till finally, in his
  conviction, the Christian vanquished the pagan, though without itself
  developing into a pure and enlightened faith.

  “At first Constantine, like his father, in the spirit of the
  Neo-Platonic syncretism of dying heathendom, reverenced all the
  Gods as mysterious powers; especially Apollo, the god of the sun,
  to whom in the year 308 he presented munificent gifts. Nay, so late
  as the year 321 he enjoined regular consultation of the soothsayers
  in public misfortunes, according to ancient heathen usage; even
  later, he placed his new residence, Byzantium, under the protection
  of the God of the Martyrs and the heathen goddess of Fortune; and
  down to the end of his life he retained the title and the dignity
  of a _Pontifex Maximus_, or high-priest of the heathen hierarchy.
  His coins bore on the one side the letters of the name of Christ,
  on the other the figure of the Sun-God, and the inscription ‘_Sol
  invictus_.’ Of course these inconsistencies may be referred also to
  policy and accommodation to the toleration edict in 313. Nor is it
  difficult to adduce parallels of persons who in passing from Judaism
  to Christianity, or from Romanism to Protestantism have so wavered
  between their old and their new position that they might be claimed
  by both. With his every victory over his pagan rivals, Galerius,
  Maxentius, and Licinius, his personal leaning to Christianity and his
  confidence in the magic power of the sign of the cross increased; yet
  he did not formally renounce heathenism and did not receive baptism
  until in 337 he was laid upon the bed of death....

  “He was far from being so pure and so venerable as Eusebius, blinded
  by his favor to the Church, depicts him in his bombastic and almost
  dishonestly eulogistic biography, with the evident intention of
  setting him up as a model for all future Christian princes. It must,
  with all regret, be conceded that his progress in the knowledge of
  Christianity was not a progress in the practice of its virtues. His
  love of display and his prodigality, his suspiciousness and his
  despotism, increased with his power.

  “The very brightest period of his reign is stained with gross crimes,
  which even the spirit of the age and the policy of an absolute
  monarch cannot excuse. After having reached upon the bloody path of
  war the goal of his ambition, the sole possession of the empire,
  yea, in the very year in which he summoned the great council Nicæa,
  he ordered the execution of his conquered rival and brother-in-law
  Licinius, in breach of a solemn promise of mercy (324). Not satisfied
  with this he caused soon afterwards, from political suspicion, the
  death of the young Licinius, his nephew, a boy of hardly eleven
  years. But the worst of all is the murder of his eldest son, Crispus,
  in 326, who had incurred suspicion of political conspiracy, and of
  adulterous and incestuous purposes towards his step-mother, Fausta,
  but is generally regarded as innocent....

  “At all events, Christianity did not produce in Constantine a
  thorough moral transformation. He was concerned more to advance the
  outward social position of the Christian religion than to further its
  inward mission. He was praised and censured in turn by the Christians
  and pagans, the orthodox and the Arians, as they successively
  experienced his favor or dislike. He bears some resemblance to
  Peter the Great both in his public acts and his private character,
  by combining great virtues and merits with monstrous crimes, and
  he probably died with the same consolation as Peter, whose last
  words were: ‘I trust that in respect of the good I have striven to
  do my people (the Church), God will pardon my sins.’ It is quite
  characteristic of his piety that he turned the sacred nails of the
  Saviour’s cross, which Helena brought from Jerusalem, the one into
  the bit of his war horse, the other into an ornament of his helmet.
  Not a decided, pure, and consistent character, he stands on the line
  of transition between two ages and two religions; and his life bears
  plain marks of both. When at last on his deathbed he submitted to
  baptism with the remark: ‘Now let us cast away all _duplicity_,’ he
  honestly admitted the conflict of two antagonistic principles which
  swayed his private character and public life.”[193]

After such an array of testimony, which might be extended much farther
if space would permit, it seems unnecessary to say more than this:
the personal character and the political attitude of Constantine make
it impossible to think of him as a “Christian Emperor.” He adopted
and used the paganized Christianity of his time for personal ends,
rather than because of true piety. The political aid which he gave it
was overbalanced many times by the destruction of its best spiritual
interests. Judged from the standpoint of the Bible and the facts
of history, Constantine was the corrupter of Christianity, not its


[184] See Schaff, vol. ii., chap. 64 _ff_.

[185] _La Fin du Paganisme_: Étude sur les Dernières Luttes Religieuses
en Occident, au Quatrième Siècle. Par Gaston Boissier, de l’Académie
Française, et de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. Tome
premier, p. 28, Paris 1891.

[186] _The Old Catholic Church_, etc., by W. D. Killen, D.D., pp.
70-72, Edinburgh, 1871.

[187] _Decline_, etc., c. xxviii.

[188] _Beda_, lib. i., c. xxx.

[189] _The Religions of the World_, by F. W. Maurice, p. 185, London,

[190] _Four Lectures on Early Church History_, by Charles Merivale,
D.D., pp. 13, 14, New York.

[191] _Ibid._, p. 45.

[192] _Universal Church History_, by Rev. Dr. John Alzog, vol. i., p.
471, Cincinnati, 1874.

[193] _Church History_, vol. iii., pp. 14-18.


  All his Tolerative Legislation Essentially Pagan--Christians did
  not Seek for Sunday Laws--The first Sunday Law, 321 A.D., Pagan in
  Every Particular--Essentially Identical with Existing Laws Concerning
  Other Days--Legislation against Heathen Religions Feeble and
  Unenforced--Constantine not a “Christian Prince.”

The representative legislation of Constantine, with reference to
Christianity, was pagan both as to its genius and form. The various
edicts in favor of Christians contained little or nothing of true
liberty of conscience. They were the steps by which Christianity,
already paganized, was recognized, and gradually raised to a dominant
place among the legal religions. This accorded with the prevailing
syncretism, and the policy which Rome had always exercised toward
foreign religions. On the other hand, the Emperor, still acting as
_Pontifex Maximus_, and long before he was baptized into the fellowship
of the Church, became its dictator. He convened and controlled the
famous council at Nice (325 A.D.) while his hands were red with the
blood of his kindred, whom he slew lest they might come between him and
his ambition to be sole emperor.

The decisions of the Council of Nice mark the beginning of centuries
in which imperial law determined what should be called Christianity,
what orthodoxy, and what heterodoxy. The Bible was not the standard
of faith, or practice. Traditions, imperial decrees, the decisions of
councils called and dictated by the imperial power, determined the
practice of the Church, and formulated her faith. This will be shown
more in detail farther on. Meanwhile we pause to examine the character
of one of Constantine’s earliest laws, which has left a lasting
influence on all Christian history--his “Sunday Edict” of 321 A.D. It
is the more important to do this, since the question of Sunday laws
and their enforcement is now at the front, and it is well that the
reader understand the source from which Sunday legislation sprung. This
edict of Constantine is the beginning of Sunday legislation, and it is
not difficult to determine the influences which gave it birth. There
is no evidence that such legislation was either sought or desired by
Christians. They formed but a small fragment of the population of the
empire, and in so far as the principles of New Testament Christianity
remained, they forbade all such legislation.

The power to appoint holy days rested in the Emperor. His voice was
supreme in all such matters. Although history has been carefully
searched, there is no trace that any influence was brought to bear upon
Constantine, by any person, any event, any custom which represented
the Christians, or in which they were interested, to induce him to
enact a Sunday law. There is every evidence that he acted in his
proper capacity as _Pontifex Maximus_, and whatever notions may have
entered into his determination to promulgate the edict, they could not
have been Christian. On the other hand, there were abundant reasons
why he should begin legislation in favor of Sunday. It was Apollo’s
day. Apollo was the patron deity of Constantine. He was the beautiful
Sun-god, and Constantine was proud of his own personal beauty, because
of which his fawning courtiers were accustomed to liken him to Apollo.
The sun-worship cult had been popular for a long time. Any favor shown
to it would strengthen his influence with the “first families” of the
empire. It was the settled policy of the emperors to overcome the
discontent of the masses, under increasing taxation and burdens, by
increasing holidays, games, and enjoyments. To exalt the day of the
Sun at such a time was a stroke of policy wholly in keeping with the
universal practice of Constantine. The general character of the man,
his personal devotion to the Sun-god, and the surrounding demands,
furnish all needful reasons for an act of legislation which was pagan,
as we shall see, from centre to circumference. This famous edict runs
as follows:

  “Let all judges, and all city people, and all tradesmen, rest upon
  the Venerable Day of the Sun. But let those dwelling in the country
  freely and with full liberty attend to the culture of their fields;
  since it frequently happens that no other day is so fit for the
  sowing of grain, or the planting of vines; hence the favorable time
  should not be allowed to pass, lest the provisions of heaven be

This was issued on the seventh of March, A.D. 321. In June of the
same year it was modified so as to allow the manumission of slaves on
Sunday. The reader will notice that this edict makes no reference to
the day as a Sabbath, as the Lords day, or as in any way connected with
Christianity. Neither is it an edict addressed to Christians. Nor is
the idea of any moral obligation or Christian duty found in it. It is
merely the edict of a heathen emperor, addressed to all his subjects,
Christian and heathen, who dwelt in cities, and were tradesmen, or
officers of justice, commanding them to refrain from their business on
the “_venerable day_” of the god whom Constantine most adored, and to
whom he loved in his pride to be compared. There are several distinct
lines of argument which prove that this edict was a pagan rather than a
Christian document.

On the following day Constantine issued an edict with reference to
consulting the pagan soothsayers in case of public misfortune, which,
like the Sunday edict, is so purely heathen that no “Christian Emperor”
could have conceived or issued it. It runs as follows:

Edict Concerning Aruspices.

  “The August Emperor Constantine to Maximus:

  “If any part of the palace or other public works shall be struck
  by lightning, let the sooth-sayers, following old usages, inquire
  into the meaning of the portent, and let their written words, very
  carefully collected, be reported to our knowledge; and also let the
  liberty of making use of this custom be accorded to others, provided
  they abstain from private sacrifices, which are specially prohibited.

  “Moreover, that declaration and exposition written in respect to the
  amphitheater being struck by lightning, concerning which you had
  written to Heraclianus, the tribune, and master of offices, you may
  know has been reported to us.

  “Dated the 16th, before the calends of January, at Serdica (320) Acc.
  the 8th, before the Ides of March, in the consulship of Crispus II.
  and Constantine III., Cæsars Coss. (321).”[195]

There is abundant evidence, beyond the above, that the Sunday-law was
the product of paganism.

The language used speaks of the day only as the “_Venerable Day of
the Sun_,” a title purely heathen. There is not even a hint at any
connection between the day and Christianity, or the practices of

Similar laws concerning many other heathen festivals were common.
JOSEPH BINGHAM bears the following testimony, when speaking of the
edict under consideration:

  “This was the same respect as the old Roman laws had paid to their
  _feriæ_, or festivals, in times of idolatry and superstition.... Now,
  as the old Roman laws exempted the festivals of the heathen from all
  judicial business, and suspended all processes and pleadings, except
  in the fore-mentioned cases, so Constantine ordered that the same
  respect should be paid to the Lord’s day, that it should be a day of
  perfect vacation from all prosecutions, and pleadings, and business
  of law, except where any case of great necessity or charity required
  a juridical process and public transaction.”[196]

Bingham states correctly that such prohibitions were made by the
Roman laws in favor of pagan festivals, but adds, incorrectly, that
Constantine made the same in favor of the “Lord’s day.” It was not
the Lord’s day, but the “_Venerable Day of the Sun_,” which the edict
mentions; and it is impossible to suppose that a law, made by a
_Christian_ prince, in favor of a _Christian_ institution, should not
in any way mention that institution, or hint that the law was designed
to apply to it.

MILLMAN corroborates this idea as follows:

  “The earlier laws of Constantine, though in their effect favorable
  to Christianity, claimed some deference, as it were, to the ancient
  religion, in the ambiguity of their language, and the cautious terms
  in which they interfered with paganism. The rescript commanding
  the celebration of the Christian Sabbath, bears no allusion to its
  peculiar sanctity as a Christian institution. It is the day of the
  sun which is to be observed by the general veneration: the courts
  were to be closed, and the noise and tumult of public business and
  legal litigation were no longer to violate the repose of the sacred
  day. But the believer in the new paganism, of which the solar worship
  was the characteristic, might acquiesce without scruple in the
  sanctity of the first day of the week....

  “The rescript, indeed, for the religious observance of the Sunday,
  which enjoined the suspension of all public business and private
  labor, except that of agriculture, was enacted, according to the
  apparent terms of the decree, for the whole Roman Empire. Yet, unless
  we had direct proof that the decree set forth the Christian reason
  for the sanctity of the day, it may be doubted whether the act would
  not be received by the greater part of the empire as merely _adding
  one more festival_ to the _fasti_ of the empire, as proceeding
  entirely from the will of the emperor, or even grounded on his
  authority as supreme pontiff, by which he had the plenary power of
  appointing holy days. In fact, as we have before observed, the day of
  the sun would be willingly hallowed by almost all the pagan world,
  especially that part which had admitted any tendency toward the
  oriental theology.”[197]

Millman hints at some “direct proof.” There is none; hence the
correctness of his conclusion, that the people looked upon the new
holiday, “as merely adding one more festival to the _fasti_ of the
empire.” It was not only non-Christian but eminently unchristian.

Stronger still is the testimony of an English barrister, EDWARD V.
NEALE. These are his words:

  “That the division of days into _juridici et feriati_, judicial and
  non-judicial, did not arise out of the modes of thought peculiar to
  the Christian world must be known to every classical scholar. Before
  the age of Augustus, the number of days upon which out of reverence
  to the gods to whom they were consecrated, no trials could take place
  at Rome, had become a resource upon which a wealthy criminal could
  speculate as a means of evading justice; and Suetonius enumerates
  among the praiseworthy acts of that emperor, the cutting off from the
  number, thirty days, in order that crime might not go unpunished nor
  business be impeded.”[198]

After enumerating certain kinds of business which were allowed under
these general laws, Mr. Neale adds: “Such was the state of the laws
with respect to judicial proceedings, while the empire was still
heathen.” Concerning the suspension of labor, we learn from the same
author that:

  “The practice of abstaining from various sorts of labor upon days
  consecrated by religious observance, like that of suspending at such
  seasons judicial proceedings, was familiar to the Roman world before
  the introduction of Christian ideas. Virgil enumerates the rural
  labors, which might on festal days be carried on, without entrenching
  upon the prohibitions of religion and right; and the enumeration
  shows that many works were considered as forbidden. Thus it appears
  that it was permitted to clean out the channels of an old water
  course, but not to make a new one; to wash the herd or flock, if such
  washing was needful for their health, but not otherwise; to guard
  the crop from injury by setting snares for birds, or fencing in the
  grain; and to burn unproductive thorns.”[199]

SIR HENRY SPELMAN, who is recognized as high authority, in discussing
the origin of practices in the English courts, says that all ancient
nations prohibited legal proceedings on sacred days. His words are:

  “To be short, it was so common a thing in those days of old to exempt
  the times of exercise of religion from all worldly business, that the
  barbarous nations, even our _Angli_, while they were yet in Germany,
  the Suevians themselves, and others in those Northern parts would in
  no wise violate or interrupt it. Tacitus says of them that during
  this time of holy rites, _non bellum ineunt, non arma sumunt. Clausum
  omne ferrum. Pax et quies tunc tantum nota, tunc tantum amat._”

Speaking of the origin of the English “court terms,” Spelman says:

  “I will therefore seek the original of our terms only from the
  Romans, as all other nations that have been subject to their civil
  and ecclesiastical monarch do, and must.

  “The ancient Romans, while they were yet heathens, did not, as we
  at this day, use certain continual portions of the year for a legal
  decision of controversies, but out of superstitious conceit that some
  days were ominous and more unlucky than others (according to that
  of the Egyptians), they made one day to be _fastus_ or term day and
  another (as an Egyptian day), to be vacation or _nefastus_; seldom
  two fast days or law days together; yea, they sometimes divided one
  and the same day in this manner:

    “_Qui modo fastus erat, mune nefastus erat._

  “The afternoon was term, the morning holy day.

  “Nor were all their _fasti_ applied to judicature, but some of them
  to other meetings and consultations of the commonwealth; so that
  being divided into three sorts, which they called _fastos proprie_,
  _fastos endotercisos_, and _fastos comitiales_, containing together
  one hundred and eighty-four days through all the months of the year,
  there remained not properly to the prætor, as judicial or triverbial
  days, above twenty-eight.”[200]

Nothing more is needed to show that the Sunday edict was the product of
the heathen cult, as truly as that which was issued in connection with
it, relative to the Aruspices. There is an evident connection between
the two edicts. Apollo was the patron deity of the soothsayers, as well
as of Constantine. At least nine years later than this, Constantine
placed his new residence at Byzantium under the protection of the
heathen goddess of Fortune; he never gave up the title of high-priest
of the heathen religion; he did not formally embrace Christianity until
sixteen years later.

Whatever he did to favor Christianity, and whatever claims he made to
conversion, were the outgrowth of a shrewd policy, rather than of a
converted heart. And when the conservative historian can say of him,
“The very brightest period of his reign is stained with crimes, which
even the spirit of the age, and the policy of an absolute monarch,
cannot excuse,” he cannot be called a _Christian_ prince.

If he made any general laws against heathenism, they were little
executed; for it was not suppressed in the empire until A.D.
390--seventy-nine years after his Sunday edict, and fifty-three years
after his death. The few abuses against which he legislated were those
which had been condemned before by the laws of the heathen rulers who
had preceded him, such as the obscure midnight orgies, etc. Millman
says on this point:

  “If it be difficult to determine the extent to which Constantine
  proceeded in the establishment of Christianity, it is even more
  perplexing to estimate how far he exerted the imperial authority
  in the abolition of paganism.... The pagan writers, who are not
  scrupulous in their charges against the memory of Constantine and
  dwell with bitter resentment on all his overt acts of hostility to
  the ancient religion, do not accuse him of these direct encroachments
  on paganism. Neither Julian nor Zosimus lay this to his charge.
  Libanius distinctly asserts that the temples were left open and
  undisturbed during his reign, and that paganism remained unchanged.
  Though Constantine advanced many Christians to offices of trust, and
  no doubt many who were ambitious of such offices conformed to the
  religion of the emperor, probably most of the high dignities of the
  State were held by the pagans.... In the capitol there can be little
  doubt that sacrifices were offered in the name of the senate and the
  people of Rome till a much later period.”[201]

The whole matter is tersely told by a late English writer, who,
speaking of the time of the Sunday edict, says:

  “At a _later period_, carried away by the current of opinion, he
  declared himself a convert to the church. Christianity then, or what
  he was pleased to call by that name, became the law of the land, and
  the edict of A.D. 321, being unrevoked, was enforced as a Christian

The following words of the learned NIEBUHR, in his lectures on Roman
history, are to the same effect:

  “Many judge of Constantine by too severe a standard, because they
  regard him as a Christian; but I cannot look at him in that light.
  The religion which he had in his head, must have been a strange
  jumble indeed.... He was a superstitious man, and mixed up his
  Christian religion with all kinds of absurd and superstitious
  opinions. When certain oriental writers call him equal to the
  apostles, they do not know what they are saying, and to speak of him
  as a saint is a profanation of the word.”[203]

It is a curious and little known fact, that markets were expressly
appointed by Constantine to be held on Sunday. This we learn from an
inscription on a Slavonian bath rebuilt by him, published in Gruter’s
_Inscriptiones Antiquæ Totius Orbis Romani_, clxiv., 2. It is there
recorded of the emperor, that “_provisione pietatis suæ nundinas dies
solis perpeti anno constituit_”; “by a pious provision he appointed
markets to be held on Sunday throughout the year.” His pious object
doubtless was to promote the attendance of the country people at
churches in towns. “Thus,” says CHARLES JULIUS HARE, “Constantine was
the author of the practice of holding markets on Sunday, which, in
many parts of Europe, prevailed above a thousand years after, though
Charlemagne issued a special law (cap. cxl.) against it.”[204] In
“Scotland, this practice was first forbidden on holy days by an Act of
James IV., in 1503, and on Sundays in particular by one of James VI.,
in 1579.”[205]


[194] _Cod. Justin._, lib. iii., tit. xii., l. 3.

[195] _Codex Theod._, lib. xiv., tit. x., l. 1.

[196] _Antiquities of the Christian Church_, book xx., chap. ii., sec.

[197] _History of Christianity_, book iii., chaps. i. and iv.

[198] _Feasts and Fasts_, p. 6.

[199] _Feasts and Fasts_, p. 86, _et seq._

[200] _English Works from Original MS. in Bodleian Library_, book ii.,
p. 75.

[201] _Historical Commentaries_, book iv., chap. iv.

[202] _Sunday and the Mosaic Sabbath_ (Anonymous), p. 4.

[203] Lect. V.

[204] _Philological Museum_, i., 30.

[205] _Cf._ Robert Cox, _Sabbath Literature_, vol. i., p. 359. For
the Scotch laws mentioned by Cox, see _Critical History of Sunday
Legislation_, by the writer, pp. 144-146.


  A Low Standard of Religious Life--Faith in Relics--The Cross
  an Ancient Pagan (Phallic) Symbol--A “Charm” Borrowed from
  Paganism--Constantine’s use of the Composite Symbol as a Military
  Standard--Prevalence of Faith in “Charms”--Sign of the Cross in
  Baptism--Baptism and Holy Water as “Charms”--Stupendous Miracles,
  like Pagan Prodigies, through Baptism--Delayed Baptism--Orientation
  at Baptism, etc.

Those who have made a study of paganism as it appeared in Christianity
during and after the third century know that many other forms of
it were prominent besides those fundamental errors which have been
discussed in the preceding pages. Some of these have attracted more
attention than the fundamental ones, since they lie more plainly on the
surface of history. We shall glance at several, that the reader may see
the field yet more fully.

A Low Standard of Christian Life.

That the standard of individual character in the Church was brought far
below that of the New Testament, and much below what would be accepted
at the present day, appears in the history of morals and social life,
and in many ways in the Church.

The degenerate character of his time is thus set forth by CHRYSOSTOM:

  “Plagues too, teeming with untold mischiefs, have lighted upon the
  Churches. The chief offices have become saleable. Hence numberless
  evils are springing, and there is no one to redress, no one to
  reprove them. Nay the disorder has assumed a sort of method and
  consistency. Has a man done wrong and been arraigned for it? His
  effort is not to prove himself guiltless, but to find if possible
  accomplices in his crimes. What is to become of us? since hell is
  our threatened portion. Believe me, had not God stored up punishment
  for us there, ye would see every day tragedies deeper than the
  disasters of the Jews. What then? However, let no one take offence,
  for I mention no names; suppose some one were to come into this
  church to present you that are here at this moment, those that are
  now with me, and to make inquisition of them; or rather not now, but
  suppose on Easter day any one endued with such a spirit, as to have
  such a thorough knowledge of the things they had been doing, should
  narrowly examine all that came to Communion and were being washed
  [in baptism] after they had attended the mysteries; many things
  would be discovered more shocking than the Jewish horrors. He would
  find persons who practise augury, who make use of charms, and omens,
  and incantations, and who have committed fornication, adulterers,
  drunkards, and revilers,--covetous I am unwilling to add, lest I
  should hurt the feelings of any of those who are standing here. What
  more? Suppose any one should make scrutiny into all the communicants
  in the world, what kind of transgression is there which he would not
  detect? And what if he examined those in authority? Would he not find
  them eagerly bent upon gain? making traffic of high places? envious,
  malignant, vainglorious, gluttonous and slaves to money?”[206]

A similar vivid description, under the figure of a burning building,
representing the Church as consumed with evil, is found in Homily
10, _On Ephesians_. Another description of the effect of heathenism
upon those who professed to be Christians is sharply set forth in a
_Treatise Attributed to Cyprian_, on the “Public Shows.”[207] He says:

  “Believers, and men who claim for themselves the authority of the
  Christian name, are not ashamed--are not, I repeat, ashamed to find
  a defence in the heavenly Scriptures for the vain superstitions
  associated with the public exhibitions of the heathens, and thus to
  attribute divine authority to idolatry. For how is it, that what is
  done by the heathens in honor of any idol is resorted to in a public
  show by faithful Christians, and the heathen idolatry is maintained
  and the true and divine religion is trampled upon in contempt of
  God? Shame binds me to relate their pretexts and defences in this
  behalf. ‘Where,’ say they, ‘are there such Scriptures? Where
  are these things prohibited? On the contrary, both Elias as the
  charioteer of Israel, and David himself danced before the ark. We
  read of psaltries, horns, trumpets, drums, pipes, harps, and choral
  dances. Moreover, the apostle, in his struggle, puts before us the
  contest of the Cæstus, and of our wrestle against the spiritual
  things of wickedness. Again when he borrows his illustrations from
  the racecourse, he also proposes the prize of the crown. Why, then,
  may not a faithful Christian man gaze upon that which the divine
  pen might write about?’ At this point I might not unreasonably say
  that it would have been far better for them not to know any writings
  at all, than thus to read the writings [of the Scriptures]. For
  words and illustrations which are recorded by way of exhortation
  to evangelical virtue, are translated by them into pleas for vice;
  because those things are written of, not that they should be gazed
  upon, but that a greater eagerness might be aroused in our minds
  in respect of things that will benefit us, seeing that among the
  heathens there is manifest so much eagerness in respect of things
  which will be of no advantage.”

That these evils increased with the years, is shown by the words of
AUGUSTINE, when he says:

  “Accordingly you will have to witness many drunkards, covetous men,
  deceivers, gamesters, adulterers, fornicators, men who bind upon
  their persons sacrilegious charms, and others given up to sorcerers
  and astrologers, and diviners practised in all kinds of impious arts.
  You will also have to observe how those very crowds which fill the
  theaters on the festal days of the pagans, also fill the churches on
  the festal days of the Christians. And when you see these things
  you will be tempted to imitate them. Nay, why should I use the
  expression, _you will see_, in reference to what you assuredly are
  acquainted with even already. For you are not ignorant of the fact
  that many who are called Christians engage in all these evil things
  which I have briefly mentioned. Neither are you ignorant that at
  times, perchance, men whom you know to bear the name of Christians
  are guilty of even more grievous offenses than these.”[208]

Such degradation of Christian life was the unavoidable fruitage of
the various pagan influences which had substituted false standards of
Church membership and of action for the true ones laid down in the

Faith in “Relics.”

Faith in “Relics,” bodies, bones, garments, places, etc., as retaining
the virtues of the persons with whom they were associated, was
a prominent characteristic of paganism, from the earliest time.
Paganism brought this element into Christianity, where it took root
and flourished, like a fast-growing, noxious weed. The whole system
of relic worship, down to the “Holy Coat at Treves,” in 1891, is a
direct harvest from pagan planting. Relics were believed to be powerful
agents for good, by direct influence, and by acting as charms to ward
off evils of all kinds. Take an example from one of the early Church
historians, SOZOMEN, who gives the following with all the soberness of
undoubted fact:

  “While the Church everywhere was under the sway of these eminent
  men, the clergy and people were excited to the imitation of their
  virtue and zeal. Nor was the Church of this era distinguished only
  by these illustrious examples of piety; for the relics of the
  proto-prophets, Habakkuk, and a little while after, Micah, were
  brought to light about this time. As I understand, God made known
  the place where both these bodies were deposited, by a divine vision
  in a dream to Zebennus, who was then acting as bishop of the Church
  of Eleutheropolis. The relics of Habakkuk were found at Cela a city
  formerly called Ceila. The tomb of Micah was discovered at a distance
  of ten stadia from Cela, at a place called Berathsatia. This tomb was
  ignorantly styled by the people of the country, ‘the tomb of the
  faithful’; or, in their native language, Nephsameemana. These events,
  which occurred during the reign of Theodosius, were sufficient for
  the good repute of the Christian religion.”[209]

The same author reports the discovery of the relics of Zechariah the
prophet. Calemerus, a serf, was directed in a dream to dig at a certain
place in a garden, being assured that he would find two coffins, the
inner one of wood, the other of lead; “beside the coffins you will see
a glass vessel full of water, and two serpents of moderate size, but
tame and perfectly innoxious, so that they seem to be used to being
handled.” Calemerus followed the directions, and found the body of
Zechariah, “clad in a white stole,” with a royal child lying at his
feet; and “although the prophet had lain under the earth for so many
generations, he appeared sound; his hair was closely shorn, his nose
was straight; his beard moderately grown, his head quite short, his
eyes rather sunken, and concealed by the eyebrows.”[210] In a similar
style,[211] Sozomen relates how the head of John the Baptist was
discovered in the suburbs of Constantinople. That such ridiculous myths
could be written down as a part of genuine Church history, shows how
fully the pagan falsehoods corrupted the best currents of Christian

The Cross, its Sign, and other Charms.

Comparatively few readers realize that the cross was of heathen origin,
and a religious symbol of the lowest order, and that it was not adopted
as a symbol of Christianity until the Church was well paganized.
Its origin lies in the shadows of the prehistoric period. It was a
religious symbol in the Asiatic, Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Druidic,
and Central American heathenism. It originated in the lowest department
of sun-worship _cultus_. Ishtar, the Assyrian Venus, was represented
as holding a staff, the upper end of which was in the form of a Latin
cross. The worship of Ishtar was one of the darkest features of the
Babylonian religion. It was conducted with lascivious rites which may
not be named. It corrupted the Hebrews on every side. We find it, with
other forms of sun-worship, polluting the temple itself, and sharply
condemned by the prophet of Jehovah.[212]

Tammuz was the young and beautiful sun-god, the bridegroom of Ishtar
who bore the cross-crowned sceptre; and this mourning for him was
associated with gross obscenity.

Another form of this same worship is condemned by Jeremiah, thus:

  “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the
  streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers
  kindle the fire, and the women knead _their_ dough, to make cakes to
  the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods,
  that they may provoke me to anger.”[213]

There is evidence to show that these cakes were marked with one form
of the cross, the Greek _tau_ (_Τ_). In later times the Greeks offered
cakes thus marked to Bacchus, in connection with the vilest orgies.
Specimens of these are found at Herculaneum. Similar ones have been
found in the catacombs. The “hot cross-bun” is the lineal descendant of
the _tau_ (_Τ_)-marked cakes of the obscene sun-worship _cultus_. Its
association with Friday--day of Ishtar, Venus, Frega--is a remnant of
paganism, although later efforts to Christianize it have associated it
with “Good Friday.”

The cross appears in Assyrian history, worn as a religious emblem
by the priest-king, Samsi-Vul, son of Shalamanezar, and also by
Assur-Nazir-Pal. These specimens may be seen in the British Museum.
It is the Greek cross, and identical with the “pectoral cross,” worn
by the Pope, and seen on altar-cloths at the present day. Priority of
possession is several thousand years in favor of the Assyrian. The same
style of crosses are found in the Etruscan department of the Vatican
Museum at Rome. They are on the breasts--painted--of certain large
Etruscan male figures, and are taken from mural decorations in ancient
Etruscan burial-places. Similar “pectoral” crosses may be seen also in
the British Museum on two figures from Thebes, in the Egyptian Hall.
They date from about 1100 B.C., and represent men of Asia bringing
tribute. In Wilkinson’s _Ancient Egypt_ the same cross may be seen on
the breast of two warriors.

There is a figure of the youthful Bacchus, taken from an ancient
vase, with which antiquarians are familiar, holding a cup and fennel
branch--a figure of much beauty. The head-dress is a band with crosses
as of Horus. A portion of the band falls from the head, and with its
fringe and single cross, if lengthened, would form a modern “stole.”

The cross is also found on Greek pottery, dating from 700 to 500 B.C.
It appears in relics of the Latin people of the same period. It was
used as a symbol in Buddhism in India long before the time of Christ.
It is also found in Thibet, Scandinavia, and other parts of northern

That the cross was extensively known and used before the Christian era
is shown by an admirable article in the _Edinburgh Review_ of October,
1870, on the pre-Christian Cross. The author of the article claims
to have collected nearly two hundred varieties of the cross, in its
heathen form. He speaks of it as follows:

  “From the dawn of organized paganism in the Eastern world, to the
  final establishment of Christianity in the Western, the cross was
  undoubtedly the commonest and most sacred of symbolical monuments,
  and to a remarkable extent it is so still in almost every land
  where that of Calvary is unrecognized or unknown. Apart from any
  distinctions of social or intellectual superiority of caste, color,
  nationality, or location in either hemisphere it appears to have been
  the aboriginal possession of every people of antiquity--the elastic
  girdle, so to say, which embraced the most widely separated heathen
  communities, the most significant token of universal brotherhood,
  the principal point of contact in every system of pagan mythology,
  to which all the families of mankind were severally and irresistibly
  drawn, and by which their common descent was emphatically

  “Of the several varieties of the cross still in vogue as national
  or ecclesiastical emblems in this and other European states, and
  distinguished by the familiar appellations of St. George, St. Andrew,
  the Maltese, the Greek, the Latin, etc., there is not one amongst
  them the existence of which may not be traced to the remotest

It is also true that the cross does not appear as the symbol of
Christianity until after its paganization under Constantine. He made a
composite symbol, known as the _Chi-ro_, of which see below. It seems
probable that he added these to the pagan cross. On this point BLAKE

  “The Cross and the Crescent were combined in the Oriental standards
  (Fig. 29.) centuries before the time of Christ.

  “Roman coins of the period of 269 B.C. show the cross of Saturn (Fig.
  30.) with distinctness. According to Gaume, the illustrious writer,
  all the Roman standards bore this cross, and Constantine being unable
  to vary the banner of the empire, added ‘XP’ the Greek sign for
  Christ, to the imperial flag, 312 A.D.”[215]

The similarity between the heathenism of Asia and Central America is a
well-known fact of history.

  “The religion of the Mexicans was purely Chaldean. They professed
  to believe in a Supreme God, but idol-worship was general. They
  had a regular priesthood, gorgeous temples and convents; they
  had processions, in which crosses, and even red crosses, were
  carried; and incense, flowers, and fruit-offerings were employed
  in their worship. They confessed to their priests, and generally
  confessed only once, receiving a written absolution which served
  for the remainder of their lives as an effectual safeguard against
  punishment, even for crimes committed after receiving the said
  absolution. They worshipped, and afterwards ate, a wafer-god, an idol
  made of flour and honey, which they called ‘the god of penitence,’
  and they always ate him fasting. They also venerated the black calf,
  or bull, and adored a goddess-mother, with an infant son in her
  arms. They sacrificed human victims to the God of Hell, of whom they
  considered the cross to be a symbol, and to whom they were largely
  sacrificed, by laying them on a great black stone and tearing out
  their hearts.

  “We are now prepared to see how easily the heathen, in adopting a
  nominal Christianity, as they did from the reign of Constantine,
  would have modified and Christianized their views of the heathen
  cross. Hitherto that emblem had been associated with their worship
  of the gods. In their temples, in their houses, on their images,
  their clothes, their cattle, etc., the worshippers were accustomed
  to see the peculiar cross, or, crosses, dedicated to each. Bacchus
  had his, Serapis his, and so forth. Some of the new converts were
  themselves wearing on their own persons the emblem of their gods.
  This was the case with certain Asiatics and Etruscans, who wore the
  cross round their necks, but not, apparently, with the Egyptians as
  far as relating to a neck ornament. Wilkinson, chapter v., plate
  342, gives the figures of four warriors from the monuments of Egypt,
  from Asiatic tribes, wearing crosses round their necks, or on their
  clothes. Their date is about 1400 B.C.

  “In plate 47 of his _Peintures Antiques de Vases Grecs_ (Rome, 1817,
  fol.), Milligen gives examples of the cross on the apron of the
  warrior, and within a circle on his horse.

  “To enter then, into a heathen temple just rededicated to Christ,
  where the cross of the rejected pagan deity still existed, or
  where a new church cross had been substituted--to visit a temple
  so reconsecrated, or to enter a basilica (judgment hall) by the
  Emperor’s order just handed over to the bishop for Christian use--all
  this would aid in making the change from the worship of the gods to
  the worship of the Emperor’s God very easy to the convert.

  “The old temples, and the old basilicas, the arrangements of the
  apse, etc., in the latter almost unchanged--the lustral, or holy
  water--the mural paintings sometimes left, sometimes altered to suit
  the persons of the new heroes, or saints--the incense, the pomp of
  worship, the long train of vested priests--all and much more, would
  make the transition from the old to the new faith, externally, a
  matter of little difficulty. As to the cross, there it was, and there
  it would continue, and has continued.”[216]

In view of these and many similar facts, it is easy to understand how
the cross became a permanent and prominent feature in the symbolism of
paganized Christianity. The famous vision of Constantine the Great, in
which he is said to have seen a cross in the sky, in connection with
the sun, is not supported by evidence which places it among facts.
It was not unnatural, however, that he, a devout sun-worshipper,
and familiar with the cross as the symbol of the lowest form of
that worship, should associate the two, as he has been said to have
done. The symbol which he adopted on his military standard was not
the cross proper, but the two Greek initials of the name of Christ,
the “_chi-ro_.” One of these letters, resembling the English X, gave
the standard a similarity to the cross. Under Valens, Emperor of the
East, who died in 378 A.D., the cross appears without the letters, and
from that time the letters gradually disappear. The Empress Eudocia
wore the heathen form of the cross on her head.[217] It was the exact
counterpart of that which the moon-goddess, Diana, had worn before. The
leading facts concerning the cross may be summed up as follows:

Up to the time of Constantine--early part of the fourth century--the
cross remained what it had always been, a pagan symbol, type of
its most revolting _cultus_. It is the same in India to-day. By
the opening of the fifth century it had become the symbol of
paganized Christianity. The crucifix--a figure of Christ nailed to
the cross--appears first about the middle of the fifth century. The
following is the general order whereby the transition was accomplished:

1. Constantine adopts the initial letters, giving the _chi-ro_
standard, about 312 A.D.[218]

2. The _chi_ (_Χ_) was gradually changed to the form of a cross, while
the _ro_, similar to the English P, remained in its original position.

3. The _ro_ was rejected, and the _chi_ (_Χ_) was changed to the Greek
cross of Bacchus.

4. The heathen _tau_ (_Τ_), as used in India and Egypt, was brought
in, probably because of its supposed resemblance to the cross on which
Christ was (said to have been) put to death.

5. The _tau_ appears, surmounted by a roundel, evidently the sacred
egg of the heathen. This was the emblem of the Goddess of Nature, the
productive principle. This brought the original heathen symbol into
still greater similarity to what is now known as the Latin cross.

6. The _crux ansata_, or handled cross. This is the form usually seen
in the hands of the gods of India and Egypt. It is the symbol of the
sun-god, and is interpreted by modern Egyptologists as the symbol of
life. It was primarily a phallic symbol of reproduction. An English
writer (Rev. MOURANT BROCK) has pertinently said:

  “And it is high time that Christians should understand a fact of
  which skeptics have been long talking and writing, that the cross
  was the central symbol of ancient paganism. What it represents, must
  remain untold; but it was probably made the medium of our Lord’s
  death, through the crafty device of the wicked one, into whose hands
  he was for a while delivered, with a view to the future corruption
  of Christianity, and the carrying on, under its name, of all the
  abominations of the heathen.”

The prominence and value which the “sign of the Cross” and its
associate pagan symbols gained as “charms” in paganized Christianity
can be readily understood in view of the foregoing facts. It is wholly
unexplainable from the New Testament standpoint, and without these
facts. A few examples must suffice, showing how this pagan conception
was transferred to Christianity. BINGHAM, a learned and conservative
writer, says:

  “But there was one sort of enchantment, which many ignorant and
  superstitious Christians, out of the remains of heathen error, much
  affected; that was the use of charms and amulets and spells to cure
  diseases, or avert dangers or mischiefs, both from themselves and
  the fruits of the earth. For Constantine had allowed the heathen, in
  the beginning of his reformation, for some time, not only to consult
  their augurs in public, but also to use charms by way of remedy
  for bodily distempers, and to prevent storms of rain and hail from
  injuring the ripe fruits, as appears from that very law, where he
  condemns the other sort of magic, that tended to do mischief, to be
  punished with death. And probably from this indulgence granted to
  the heathen, many Christians who brought a tincture of heathenism
  with them into their religion, might take occasion to think there
  was no great harm in such charms or enchantments, when the design
  was only to do good, and not evil. However it was, this is certain
  in fact, that many Christians were much inclined to this practice,
  and therefore made use of charms and amulets, which they called
  _periammata_ and _phylacteria_, pendants and preservatives to secure
  themselves from danger, and drive away bodily distempers. These
  phylacteries, as they called them, were a sort of amulets made of
  ribands, with a text of Scripture or some other charm of words
  written in them, which they imagined without any natural means to be
  effectual remedies or preservatives against diseases.”[219]

The extent to which this evil existed in the Church is indicated
by Chrysostom, as is also his belief in the sign of the cross as a
superior “charm.” He says:

  “For these amulets, though they who make money by them are forever
  rationalizing about them, and saying, ‘We call upon God, and do
  nothing extraordinary,’ and the like; and ‘the old woman [who made
  the amulets] is a Christian,’ says he, ‘and one of the faithful’; the
  thing is idolatry. Art thou one of the faithful? Sign the cross; say,
  this I have for my only weapon; this for my remedy; and other I know
  none. Tell me, if a physician should come to one, and, neglecting the
  remedies belonging to his art, should use incantations, should we
  call that man a physician? By no means: for we see not the medicines
  of the healing art; so neither, in this case, do we see those of

  “Other women, again, tie about them the names of rivers, and venture
  numberless things of like nature. Lo, I say, and forewarn you all,
  that if any be detected, I will not spare them again, whether they
  have made amulet, or incantation, or any other thing of such an art
  as this.”[220]

  “This sign [the cross], both in the days of our forefathers and now
  hath opened doors that were shut up; this hath quenched poisonous
  drugs; this hath taken away the power of hemlock; this hath healed
  bites of venomous beasts. For if it opened the gates of hell, and
  threw wide the archways of Heaven, and made a new entrance into
  Paradise, and cut away the nerves of the devil; what marvel if it
  prevailed over poisonous drugs, and venomous beasts, and all other
  such things?”[221]

TERTULLIAN shows his faith in the sign of the cross as a cure for
disease,[222] in his discussion of the nature and cure of the
scorpion’s sting. He says:

  “We have faith for a defense if we are not smitten with distrust,
  itself, also, in immediately making the sign [of the cross over the
  wounded part] and adjuring [that part in the name of Jesus] and
  besmearing the [poisoned] heel with [the gore of] the beast.”

The Sign of the Cross in Baptism.

As one of the supreme charms, the sign of the cross was associated with
baptism, which was also made a “charm” under the influence of pagan
water-worship. It was associated with anointing, which was also a pure
importation from paganism. Speaking of this sign Bingham says:

  “The third use of it was in this unction before baptism. For so
  the author under the name of Dionysius, describing the ceremony of
  anointing the party, before the consecration of the water, says,
  The Bishop begins the unction by thrice signing him with the sign
  of the cross, and then commits him to the priest to be anointed all
  over the body, whilst he goes and consecrates the water in the font.
  St. Austin also may be understood of this when he says, The cross
  is always joined with baptism. And by this we may interpret several
  passages in Cyprian, as where he tells Demetrian, They, only, escape,
  who are born again, and signed with the sign of Christ. And what that
  sign is, and on what part of the body it is made, the Lord signified
  in another place, saying, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem and set
  a mark upon their foreheads.’ And so again in his book of the Unity
  of the Church, speaking of Uzziah’s leprosy, he says, He was marked
  for his offense against the Lord in that part of his body, where
  those are signed who obtain his mercy. Which seems plainly to refer
  to the sign of the cross made in baptism. The author of the Apostolic
  Constitutions is very express in this matter. For explaining the
  meaning of the several parts and ceremonies used in baptism, he says,
  The water is to represent Christ’s burial, the oil to represent the
  Holy Ghost, the sign of the cross to represent the cross, and the
  ointment or chrism, the confirmation of men’s professions. And not
  improbably St. Jerome might refer to this, though his words be not so
  restrained to this time of unction, when he says, He was a Christian,
  born of Christian parents, and carried the banner of the cross in
  his forehead. Some add also those words of Cyprian. Let us guard
  our foreheads that we may preserve the sign of God without danger.
  And those of Pontius in his life, where speaking of the Christian
  confessors who were branded by the heathen in the forehead, and sent
  as slaves into the mines, he says, They were marked in the forehead a
  second time; alluding to the sign of the cross, which as Christians
  they had received before. But these passages do not necessarily
  relate to baptism, but are only general expressions that may refer to
  the use of the sign of the cross upon any other occasion; it being
  usual in those times to sign themselves upon the forehead in the
  commonest actions of their lives, upon every motion, as Tertullian
  expresses it, at their going out and coming in, at their going
  to bath, or to bed, or to meals, or whatever their employment or
  occasions called them to. Yet thus far it may be argued from them,
  that they who used it so commonly upon all other occasions, would
  hardly omit it in this solemn unction of baptism. And therefore
  these allegations may be allowed to be a sort of collateral evidence
  of the practice.”[223]

Again he says:

  “Secondly, I observe, that together with this prayer, it was usual to
  make the sign of the cross also, not, as before, upon the person to
  be baptised, but as a circumstance of the consecration. This we learn
  not only from Dionysius, but from St. Austin, who says, The water
  of baptism was signed with the Cross of Christ. And St. Chrysostom
  says, They used it in all their sacred mysteries; when they were
  regenerated in baptism, when they were fed with the mystical food
  in the eucharist, when they were ordained, that symbol of victory
  was always represented in the action, whatever religious matter they
  were concerned in. To which we may add the author under the name of
  St. Austin, who runs over all the solemn consecrations of the Church
  and tells us, the symbol of the cross was used in every one, in
  catechising of new converts, in consecrating the waters of baptism,
  in giving imposition of hands in confirmation, in the dedication of
  Churches, and altars, in consecrating the eucharist, and in promoting
  priests and Levites to holy orders.

  “Thirdly, I observe concerning the effects of this consecration,
  that the very same change was supposed to be wrought by it in the
  waters of baptism, as by the consecration of bread and wine in the
  eucharist. For they supposed not only the presence of the Spirit,
  but also the mystical presence of Christ’s blood, to be here after
  consecration. Julius Firmicus, speaking of baptism, bids men here
  seek for the pure waters, the undefiled fountain, where the blood of
  Christ, after many spots and defilements, would whiten them by the
  Holy Ghost.”[224]

Superstitious regard for the sign of the cross grew as paganism ripened
in the church; witness the following words of Augustine:

  “And lastly as every one knows, what else is the sign of Christ but
  the Cross of Christ? For unless that sign be applied, whether it be
  to the foreheads of believers, or to the very water out of which they
  are regenerated, or to the oil with which they receive the anointing
  chrism, or to the sacrifice that nourishes them, none of them is
  properly administered.”[225]

Baptism and “Holy Water” as “Charms.”

The pagan doctrine of baptismal regeneration involved the idea of
water as a charm against disease and misfortune, in men, in animals,
in growing crops, and fruits. These notions were brought into the
Christian Church and soon became widely spread and firmly fixed. An
excellent review of this subject is furnished by Canon FARRAR in his
description of Cyprian’s views relative to baptism. These are his words:

  “Cyprian holds that in baptism the Priest commands the power of the
  Holy Ghost to forgive sin by means of sanctified and purified water,
  but only if he be a Catholic Priest, and free from every taint of
  what Cyprian or the Episcopate regards as Schism or heresy. When the
  grace of forgiveness for all past sins has been bestowed by this act
  it is not valid for future sins. They too require that satisfaction
  for them should be offered to God, and this satisfaction must be
  penitence, penance, and good works.”[226]

  “He might have adopted the language of Tertullian about baptism: ‘in
  this way, without pomp, with no novelty of preparation, without cost,
  a man descends into the water, and being immersed, with the utterance
  of a few words, rises up out of it, scarcely, if at all, cleaner
  in body, but, incredible consequence, the possessor of eternal

Miracles through Baptism.

SOCRATES, the Church historian, tells of miraculous cures through
baptism as gravely as Sozomen does of the finding of “Relics.” Hear him:

  “This was one important improvement in the circumstances of the
  Church, which happened during the administration of Atticus. Nor
  were these times without the attestation of miracles and healing.
  For a certain Jew being a paralytic had been confined to his bed for
  many years; and as every sort of medical skill, and the prayers of
  his Jewish brethren had been resorted to but had availed nothing, he
  had recourse at length to Christian baptism, trusting in it as the
  only true remedy to be used. When Atticus the bishop was informed of
  his wishes, he instructed him in the first principles of Christian
  truth, and having preached to him to hope in Christ, directed that he
  should be brought in his bed to the font. The paralytic Jew receiving
  baptism with a sincere faith, as soon as he was taken out of the
  baptismal font found himself perfectly cured of his disease, and
  continued to enjoy sound health afterwards. This miraculous power
  Christ vouchsafed to be manifested even in our times; and the fame
  of it caused many heathens to believe and be baptised. But the Jews,
  although zealously ‘seeking after signs,’ not even the signs which
  actually took place induced to embrace the faith. Such blessings were
  thus conferred by Christ upon men.”[228]...

  “A certain Jewish impostor, pretending to be a convert to
  Christianity, was in the habit of being baptized often, and by that
  artifice he amassed a good deal of money. After having deceived
  many of the Christian sects by this fraud--for he received baptism
  from the Arians and Macedonians--as there remained no others to
  practise his hypocrisy upon, he at length came to Paul bishop of the
  Novatians, and declaring that he earnestly desired baptism, requested
  that he might obtain it at his hand. Paul commended the determination
  of the Jew, but told him he could not perform that rite for him,
  until he had been instructed in the fundamental principles of the
  faith, and given himself to fasting and prayer for many days. The
  Jew compelled to fast against his will became the more importunate
  in his request for baptism; now as Paul did not wish to discourage
  him by longer delays, since he was so urgent, he consented to grant
  his request, and made all the necessary preparations for the
  baptism. Having purchased a white vestment for him, he ordered the
  font to be filled with water, and then led the Jew to it in order to
  baptize him. But a certain invisible power of God caused the water
  suddenly to disappear. The bishop, of course, and those present, had
  not the least suspicion of the real cause, but imagined that water
  had escaped by the channels underneath, by means of which they are
  accustomed to empty the font; these passages were therefore very
  carefully closed, and the font filled again. Again, however, as the
  Jew was taken there a second time, the water vanished as before.
  Then Paul, addressing the Jew, said: ‘Either you are an evil-doer,
  wretched man, or an ignorant person who has already been baptized.’
  The people having crowded together to witness this miracle, one among
  them recognized the Jew, and identified him as having been baptized
  by Atticus, the bishop, a little while before. Such was the portent
  wrought by the hands of Paul bishop of the Novatians.”[229]

That baptism was sought as a shield against bodily ills, without even
the pagan notion of spiritual purity, is shown by the following from

  “Yet sometimes, as Euthymius relates in the same place, they would
  bring their children to the presbyters of the Church to be baptised
  after the Catholic way, because they had an opinion that both baptism
  and the cross were of some advantage to the body for the cure of
  diseases, but of no other efficacy, benefit, or virtue to purge the
  soul. And such an opinion possessed the minds of many others, who had
  no further regard for baptism, but only as it was of use to free the
  body of some distemper or uncleanliness.”[230]

Delayed Baptism.

The pagan idea of “baptismal regeneration” took such hold of the Church
as to become a grave evil, by inducing men to live in sin, under the
belief that they could gain salvation at the last moment. The testimony
of Bingham is presented again, which testimony is the more valuable,
because coming from a conservative English Churchman.

  “Others deferred it out of heathenish principles still remaining in
  them, because they were in love with the world and its pleasures,
  which they were unwilling to renounce, to take upon them the yoke
  of Christ, which they thought would lay greater restraints upon
  them, and deny them those liberties which they could now more freely
  indulge themselves in and securely enjoy. They could spend their life
  in pleasure, and be baptised at last, and then they should gain as
  much as those that were baptised before; for the laborers who came
  into the vineyard at the last hour, had the same reward as those that
  had borne the burden and heat of the day.”[231]

Orientation at Baptism.

The corruption of baptism by the pagan sun-worship cult was especially
shown in the practice of turning eastward and westward in connection
with baptism. This chapter has space for a single quotation on this
point from Bingham:

  “This custom of turning about to the East when they made their
  profession of obedience to Christ is also mentioned by St. Ambrose,
  Gregory Nazianzen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and the author under the name
  of Dionysius. For which they assign two reasons: 1, Cyril tells his
  disciples that as soon as they had renounced the devil, the paradise
  of God, which was planted in the East, and whence our first parent
  for his transgression was driven into banishment, was now laid open
  to them; and their turning about from the West to the East, which
  is the region of light, was a symbol of this. For the same reason,
  St. Basil and some others of the ancients tell us, they prayed
  toward the East, that they might have their faces toward paradise.
  The other reason for turning to the East in baptism, was because
  the East or rising sun was an emblem of the Sun of Righteousness,
  to whom they now turned from Satan. Thou art turned about to the
  East, says St. Ambrose, for he that renounces the devil, turns unto
  Christ. Where he plainly intimates with St. Jerome, that turning to
  the East was a symbol of their aversion from Satan, and conversion
  unto Christ,--that is, from darkness to light, from serving idols,
  to serve him who is the Sun of Righteousness and Fountain of

Faith in the magical effects of baptism increased, until its sway ruled
the wisest and best of the leaders in the Church. The great Augustine
recounts many cases which indicate, if possible, more than pagan
credulity. Among them are the following. The chapter from which they
are taken is entitled: “_Of Miracles which were wrought that the world
might believe in Christ, and which have not ceased since the world

  “In the same city of Carthage lived Innocentia, a very devout
  woman of the highest rank in the state. She had a cancer in one of
  her breasts, a disease, which, as physicians say, is incurable.
  Ordinarily, therefore, they either amputated, and so separated from
  the body the member on which the disease has seized, or, that the
  patient’s life may be prolonged a little, though death is inevitable,
  even if somewhat delayed, they abandon all remedies following, as
  they say, the advice of Hippocrates. This lady we speak of had been
  advised to by a skilful physician, who was intimate with her family;
  and she betook herself to God alone by prayer. On the approach of
  Easter she was instructed in a dream to wait for the first woman that
  came out from the baptistry after being baptised, and ask her to make
  the sign of Christ upon her sore. She did so and was immediately

  “A gouty doctor of the same city, when he had given in his name for
  baptism, and had been prohibited the day before his baptism from
  being baptised that year, by black woolly-haired boys who appeared
  to him in his dream, and whom he understood to be devils, and when,
  though they trod on his feet, and inflicted the acutest pain he had
  ever yet experienced, he refused to obey them, but overcame them,
  and would not defer being washed in the laver of regeneration, was
  relieved in the very act of baptism, not only of the extraordinary
  pain he was tortured with, but also of the disease itself, so that,
  though he lived a long time afterwards, he never suffered from gout;
  and yet who knows of this miracle? We, however, do know it, and so,
  too, do the small number of brethren who were in the neighborhood,
  and to whose ears it might come.

  “An old comedian of Curubis was cured at baptism not only of
  paralysis, but also of hernia, and being delivered from both
  afflictions, came up out of the font of regeneration as if he had
  nothing wrong with his body. Who outside of Curubis knows of this,
  or who but a very few who might hear it elsewhere? But we, when we
  heard of it, made the man come to Carthage, by order of the holy
  bishop Aurelius, although we had already ascertained the fact on the
  information of persons whose word we could not doubt.

  “Hesperius, of a tribunitian family, and a neighbor of our own, has
  a farm called Zubedi in the Fussalian district; and finding that
  his family, his cattle, and his servants were suffering from the
  malice of evil spirits, he asked our presbyters, during my absence,
  that one of them would go with him and banish the spirits by his
  prayers. One went, offered there the sacrifice of the body of Christ,
  praying with all his might that vexation might cease. It did cease
  forthwith, through God’s mercy. Now he had received from a friend
  of his own some holy earth brought from Jerusalem, where Christ,
  having been buried, rose again the third day. This earth he had hung
  up in his bedroom to preserve himself from harm. But when his house
  was purged of that demoniacal invasion, he began to consider what
  should be done with the earth; for his reverence for it made him
  unwilling to have it any longer in his bedroom. It so happened that I
  and Maximinus, Bishop of Synita, and then my colleague, were in the
  neighborhood. Hesperius asked us to visit him, and we did so. When he
  had related all the circumstances, he begged that the earth might be
  buried somewhere, and that the spot should be made a place of prayer
  where Christians might assemble for the worship of God. We made no
  objection; it was done as he desired. There was in that neighborhood
  a young countryman who was paralytic, who, when he heard of this,
  begged his parents to take him without delay to that holy place. When
  he had been brought there he prayed, and forthwith went away on his
  own feet perfectly cured.

  “There is a country seat called Victoriana, less than thirty miles
  from Hippo-regius. At it there is a monument to the Milanese martyrs,
  Protasius and Gervasius. Thither a young man was carried, who, when
  he was watering his horse one summer day at noon, in a pool of a
  river, had been taken possession of by a devil. As he lay at the
  monument, near death, or even quiet like a dead person, the lady of
  the manor, with her maids and religious attendants, entered the place
  for evening prayer and praise, as her custom was, and they began to
  sing hymns. At this sound, the young man, as if electrified, was
  thoroughly aroused, and with frightful screaming seized the altar,
  and held it as if he did not dare or were not able to let it go, and
  as if he were fixed or tied to it; and the devil in him, with loud
  lamentation, besought that he might be spared, and confessed where
  and when and how he took possession of the youth. At last declaring
  that he would go out of him, he named one by one the parts of his
  body which he threatened to mutilate as he went out, and with these
  words he departed from the man. But his eye falling out on his cheek,
  hung by a slender vein as by a root, and the whole of the pupil which
  had been black became white. When this was witnessed by those present
  (others, too, had now gathered to his cries, and had all joined in
  prayer for him), although they were delighted that he had recovered
  his sanity of mind, yet, on the other hand, they were grieved about
  his eye, and said he should seek medical advice. But his sister’s
  husband, who had brought him there, said, ‘God who has banished the
  devil, is able to restore his eye at the prayers of his saints.’
  Therewith he replaced the eye that was fallen out and hanging, and
  bound it in its place with his handkerchief as well as he could, and
  advised him not to loose the bandage for seven days. When he did so,
  he found it quite healthy. Others also were cured there, but of them
  it were tedious to speak.

  “I know that a young woman of Hippo was immediately dispossessed of
  a devil, on anointing herself with oil, mixed with the tears of the
  presbyter who had been praying for her. I know also that a bishop
  once prayed for a demoniac young man whom he never saw, and that he
  was cured on the spot.”[233]

Many other similar miraculous occurrences are related by Augustine, in
this same chapter, showing how fully paganism mingled with his belief.
He reports also many miracles performed by the power of a shrine which
was situated near Carthage. The chapter sounds more like a record of
heathen prodigies than like sober Christian history.


[206] Homily 6, _On Ephesians_.

[207] Page 222 of vol. ii. of _The Writings of Cyprian_, in Ante-Nicene

[208] _On the Catechising of the Uninstructed_, chap. xxv., ¶ 48.

[209] _Ecc. Hist._, book vii., chap. xxix.

[210] _Ibid._, book ix., chap. xvii.

[211] Book vii., chap. xxi.

[212] See Ezek. viii., 14-18.

[213] Jer. vii., 17-19.

[214] Pp. 224, 226.

[215] _The Cross, Ancient and Modern_, by Willson W. Blake,
illustrated, pp. 18, 19, New York.

[216] _The Cross, Heathen and Christian_, by Mourant Brock, M.A., pp.
18, 57-59, London.

[217] Died 460 A.D.

[218] Boissier gives a minute account of the vision of Constantine
and its effects in leading him to favor Christianity. He quotes from
Lactantius, tutor of Constantine’s sons, who describes the vision of
the Emperor in his treatise, _The Death of the Persecutors_. This
summary, given by Boissier, shows that the sign which Constantine saw
in his vision, and which he engraved upon his military standard, was
not the cross proper, but the monogram known as the Chi-Ro. It is
described by Lactantius in these words: “The letter ‘X’ crossed by a
bar, the top of which was gently recurved, forming thus the monogram of
Christ”--(_cf._ _La Fin du Paganisme_).

[219] _Antiquities_, etc., book xvi., chap. v., sec. 6.

[220] Hom. viii., _On Colossians_.

[221] Homily liv., ¶ 7, _On the Gospel of St. Matthew_.

[222] _Scorpiace_, xv.

[223] _Antiquities_, book xi., chap. ix., sec. 5.

[224] _Antiquities_, book xi., chap. x., secs. 3 and 4.

[225] Tractate 118, _On the Gospel of St. John_.

[226] Epists. 64 and 69.

[227] _Lives of the Fathers_, by F. W. Farrar, D.D., F.R.S., vol. i.,
pp. 332, 333, Edinburgh, 1889.

[228] Socrates, _Eccl. History_, book vii., chap. iv.

[229] _Ibid._, chap. xvii.

[230] _Antiquities_, book ii., chap. ii.

[231] _Antiquities_, book ii., chap. vi., sec. 3.

[232] _Antiquities_, book xi., chap. vii., sec. 7.

[233] _The City of God_, book xxii., chap. viii.


  Lights in Worship--Worshipping “toward the East”--Easter
  Fires--Beltane or Baal Fires--Penance--Mariolatry--The
  Mass--Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead--Peter’s
  Keys--Christmas--Easter--Lent, etc.

Sun-worship, as the dominant cult in all pagan systems, furnished more
elements of corruption than any other.

Lights in Worship.

The pagan origin of lights in worship is universally acknowledged.
Their use was sharply condemned in the earlier times.[234] The Synod of
Elviri (305 or 306 A.D.) condemned their use in cemeteries, where they
already formed a part of the services for the dead. Canon 34 reads: “It
is forbidden to light wax candles during the day in cemeteries for fear
of disquieting the spirits of the saints.”

Baronius explains this as follows: “Many Neophytes brought the custom
from paganism of lighting wax candles upon tombs. The Synod forbids
this, because, metaphysically, it troubles the souls of the dead; that
is to say, this superstition wounds them.”

Abespine gives another explanation, which is, that the synod accepted
the belief that was then general, that the souls of the dead hovered
around their tombs. “The Synod consequently forbade that wax candles
should be lighted by day, perhaps to abolish a remnant of paganism,
but also to prevent the repose of the souls of the dead from being


  “The burning of lights is specified among the idolatrous rites
  forbidden by the Theodosian Code: ‘Let no one in any kind of place
  whatsoever in any city, burn lights, offer incense, or hang up
  garlands to senseless idols.’ Vigilantius, in reference to the
  custom of using lights in divine service, exclaims: ‘We almost see
  the ceremonial of the gentiles introduced into the Churches under
  pretence of religion; piles of candles lighted while the sun is still
  shining; and everywhere people kissing and worshipping, and I know
  not what; a little dust in a small vessel wrapped up in a precious
  cloth. Great honor do such persons render to the blessed martyrs,
  thinking with miserable tapers to illumine those whom the Lamb,
  in the midst of the throne, shines upon with the splendor of his
  majesty.’ This passage proves that Vigilantius, who must have known
  well the customs of paganism, was struck with the resemblance between
  them and the rites newly introduced into the Church.”[236]

But love for paganism was too strong, and the custom soon became
universal. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola (396 A.D.), gloried in the use of
lights. _In Natalis_ (3:100) he says:

  “The bright altars are crowned with thickly clustered lamps, the
  fragrant lights smell of waxed papyri; day and night they burn; so
  that night glitters with the splendor of day; and day itself glories
  with heavenly honors, shines the more, its lustre being doubled by
  innumerable lamps.”[237]

The persistency with which the use of lights yet holds a place in many
branches of the Church shows how long and how vigorously paganism has
continued to corrupt Christianity.


Another residuum from sun-worship led to building churches with the
altar at the east, praying toward the east, burying the dead with
reference to the east, etc. Of the pagan origin of the custom, GALE
speaks as follows:

  “Another piece of Pagan Demonolatry was their ceremony of bowing and
  worshipping towards the East. For the Pagans universally worshipped
  the sun as their supreme God, even the more reformed of them, the
  new Platonists, Plotinus, Porphyry, and Julian the apostate, as it
  appears by his oration to the Sun. Whence it came to pass, that the
  sun rising in the east they usually worshipped in that way (as the
  Jews in Babylon usually worshipped west, because Jerusalem stood west
  thence). Hence also they built their temples and buried their dead
  towards the East. So Diogenes Laertius, in the life of Solon, says:
  that the Athenians buried their dead towards the East, the head of
  their graves being made that way. And do not Anti-Christ and his
  sons exactly follow this Pagan ceremony in building their temples
  and High Altars towards the East, and in bowing that way in their

Various explanations were made concerning this practice, to cover up
the prominence of this paganism. For instance, CLEMENT of Alexandria

  “And since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that
  point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness,
  increases, there has also dawned on those involved in darkness a
  day of the knowledge of truth. In correspondence with the manner of
  the sun’s rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in
  the East. Whence also the most ancient temples looked towards the
  West, that people might be taught to turn to the East when facing
  the images. ‘Let my prayer be directed before thee as incense, the
  uplifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice,’ say the Psalms.”[239]

TERTULLIAN seeks to avoid the charge of paganism, while defending this
practice, as follows:

  “Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed,
  suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is a
  well known fact that we pray toward the East, or because we make
  Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this? Do
  not many among you, with an affectation of sometimes worshipping
  the heavenly bodies, likewise, move your lips in the direction
  of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have even admitted
  the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its
  day, in preference to the preceding day, as the most suitable in
  the week, for either an entire abstinence from the bath, or for
  its postponement until the evening, or for taking rest, and for

Easter Fires.

Another element of pagan sun-worship continues to the present time in
the Easter fires, which abound especially in Northern Europe. Fire is
regarded as a living thing, in Teutonic mythology. It is often spoken
of as a bird, the “Red Cock.” _Notfuer_, “Need-fire,” is yet produced
by friction, at certain times. Such fire is deemed sacred. On such
occasions all fires in the neighborhood are extinguished, that they
may be rekindled from the _Notfuer_. This fire is yet used to ward off
evil, and to cure diseases in domestic animals. Traces of sex-worship
appear in connection with the producing of this sacred fire; “two
chaste boys” must pull the ropes which produce the friction necessary
to generate the fire; and a “chaste youth” must strike the light for
curing the disease known as “St. Anthony’s fire.” In Scotland such fire
is held as a safeguard against the “bewitching of domestic animals.”

GRIMM, who is the highest authority on the mythology of Northern
Europe, has abundant material touching all forms of fire-worship in
that region. Here is a single extract with reference to _Easter Fires_.

  “At all the cities, towns and villages of the country, towards
  evening on the first (or third) day of Easter, there is lighted every
  year, on mountain and hill, a great fire of straw turf and wood,
  amidst a concourse and jubilation, not only of the young, but of
  many grown up people. On the Weser, especially in Schaumburg, they
  tie up a tar barrel on a fir tree wrapt around with straw, and set
  it on fire at night. Men and maids, and all who come dance, exulting
  and singing, hats are waved, handkerchiefs thrown into the fire.
  The mountains all around are lighted up, and it is an elevating
  spectacle, scarcely paralleled by any thing else, to survey the
  country for many miles around from one of the higher points, and
  in every direction at once to see a vast number of these bonfires,
  brighter or fainter, blazing up to heaven. In some places they
  marched up the hill in stately procession, carrying white rods: by
  turns they sang Easter hymns, grasping each other’s hands, and at the
  Hallelujah, clashed their rods together. They liked to carry some of
  the fire home with them.

  “For these _ignes paschales_ there is no authority reaching beyond
  the sixteenth century; but they must be a great deal older, if only
  for the contrast with Midsummer fires, which never could penetrate
  into North Germany, because the people there held fast by their
  Easter fires. Now seeing that the fires of St. John, as we shall
  presently show, are more immediately connected with the Christian
  Church than those of Easter, it is not unreasonable to trace these
  all the way back to the worship of the goddess Ostara, or Eastre,
  who seems to have been more a Saxon and Anglican divinity than one
  revered all over Germany. Her name and her fires, which are likely
  to have come at the beginning of May, would, after the conversion of
  the Saxons, be shifted back to the Christian feast. Those mountain
  fires of the people are scarcely derivable from the taper lighted in
  the Church the same day: it is true that Boniface calls it _ignis
  paschalis_, and such Easter lights are mentioned in the sixteenth
  century. Even now, in the Hildesheim country, they light the lamp on
  Maundy Thursday, and that on Easter day, at an Easter fire which has
  been _struck with a steel_. The people flock to this fire, carrying
  oaken crosses, or simply crossed sticks, which they set on fire and
  then preserve for a whole year. But the common folk distinguish
  between this fire and the wild fire produced by rubbing wood. Jager
  speaks of _a consecration fire of logs_.”[241]

Midsummer Fires.

Midsummer was the central point of a great pagan festival in honor
of the sun, who had then reached his greatest height, from which he
must soon decline. Catholic Christianity continued these festivals,
in St. John Baptist Day. Many of the peculiarities of these midsummer
fires were similar to those of the Easter fires already noticed. The
following description of the modern festival in Germany is taken from

  “We have a fuller description of a Midsummer fire, made in 1823 at
  Konz, a Lorrainian but still German village, on the Moselle, near
  Sierk and Thionville. Every house delivers a truss of straw on the
  top of the Stromberg, where men and youths assemble toward evening.
  Women and girls are stationed by the Burbach springs. Then a huge
  wheel is wrapt round with straw, so that none of the wood is left in
  sight, a strong pole is passed through the middle, which sticks out
  a yard on each side, and is grasped by the guiders of the wheel; the
  remainder of the straw is tied up into a number of small torches. At
  a signal given by the Maire of Sierk (who according to the ancient
  custom, earns a basket of cherries by the service), the wheel is
  lighted with a torch, and set rapidly in motion; a shout of joy is
  raised, all wave their torches on high, part of the men stay on the
  hill, part follow the rolling globe of fire, as it is guided down
  the hill to the Moselle. It often goes out first: but if alight
  when it touches the river, it prognosticates an abundant vintage,
  and the Konz people have a right to levy a tun of white wine from
  the adjacent vineyards. Whilst the wheel is rushing past the women
  and the girls, they break out into cries of joy, answered by the
  men on the hill, and inhabitants of neighboring villages, who have
  flocked to the river side, mingle their voices in the universal

Beltane or Baal Fires.

The Beltane or Baal fires and the ancient sacrifices to the sun-god
still continue in modified form in Scotland. Grimm speaks of them as

  “The present custom is thus described by Armstrong _sub v.
  bealtainn_: In some parts of the Highlands the young folks of a
  hamlet meet in the moors, on the first of May. They cut a table in
  the green sod, of a round figure, by cutting a trench in the ground,
  of such circumference as to hold the whole company. They then kindle
  a fire and dress a repast of eggs and milk, in the consistence of
  a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted at the
  embers, against a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they divide
  the cake in so many portions, as similar as possible to one another
  in size and shape, as there are persons in the company. They daub
  one of these portions with charcoal, until it is perfectly black.
  They then put all the bits of the cake into a bonnet, and every
  one, blindfold, draws out a portion. The bonnet-holder is entitled
  to the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit is the devoted person
  who is _to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favor they mean to implore
  in rendering the year productive_. The devoted person is compelled
  _to leap three times over the flames_. Here the reference to the
  worship of a deity is too plain to be mistaken; we see by the leaping
  over the flame, that the main point was, to select a human being to
  propitiate the god, and make him merciful; that afterwards an animal
  sacrifice was substituted for him, and finally nothing remained
  of the bodily immolation but a leap through the fire, for man and
  beast. The holy rite of friction is not mentioned here, but as it
  was necessary for the ‘needfire’ that purged pestilence, it must
  originally have been much more in requisition at the great yearly


The pagan theory of baptismal regeneration created a necessity for the
doctrine of penance. Under the idea that baptism removed all sins up
to the time of the ceremony, something was necessary to atone for sins
committed after baptism. Dr. SCHAFF describes the origin of penance as

  “The effect of baptism, however, was thought to extend only to sins
  committed before receiving it. Hence the frequent postponement of
  the sacrament, which Tertullian very earnestly recommends, though
  he censures it when accompanied with moral levity and presumption.
  Many, like Constantine the Great, put it off to the bed of sickness
  and of death. They preferred the risk of dying unbaptized to that of
  forfeiting forever the baptismal grace. Death-bed baptisms were then
  what death-bed repentances are now.

  “But then the question arose, how the forgiveness of sins committed
  after baptism could be obtained? This is the starting-point of the
  Roman doctrine of the sacrament of _penance_. Tertullian and Cyprian
  were the first to suggest that satisfaction must be made for such
  sins by self-imposed penitential exercises and good works, such as
  prayers and alms-giving. Tertullian held seven gross sins, which he
  denoted mortal sins, to be unpardonable after baptism, and to be left
  to the uncovenanted mercies of God; but the Catholic Church took a
  milder view, and even received back the adulterers and apostates on
  their public repentance.”[244]

More need not be said. The reader will readily see the connection
between these two elements of paganism; he will also see the deeply
corrupting effect of them both.


The worship of a Mother Goddess and her son formed a distinct feature
in the paganism of Babylon, India, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Rome.
Though variant in conception, the core of Mariolatry runs through all
these pagan systems. Those who desire to follow this theme in detail
will do well to consult ALEXANDER HISLOP.[245] A single extract from
page 82 of that work is all that space will permit:

  “The worship of the Goddess-Mother with the child in her arms
  continued to be observed in Egypt till Christianity entered. If the
  gospel had come in power among the mass of the people, the worship of
  this goddess-queen would have been overthrown. With the generality,
  it came only in name. Instead, therefore, of the Babylonian goddess
  being cast out, in too many cases her name only was changed. She was
  called the Virgin Mary, and, with her child, was worshipped with the
  same idolatrous feeling by professing Christians, as formerly by open
  and avowed pagans.”

The Mass.

The mass, which has been for centuries the central item in Roman
Catholic worship, finds its origin in the “unbloody sacrifices” which
were offered to the Paphian Venus, and to her counterpart in Babylonia
and Assyria. It was this worship of the Queen of Heaven into which the
apostate women of Judah were drawn, whom Jeremiah[246] condemns for
“burning incense, pouring out drink offerings, and offering cakes to
the Queen of Heaven.” These cakes were marked with the phallic symbol
of the cross. As before noted, they were the progenitors of the modern
“hot cross-buns,” which are associated with Friday--day of Venus.

The form of the cake-wafer adopted in paganized Christianity, its
_roundness_, was borrowed from the Egyptians, to whom the form
represented _the disk of the sun_. The mystic letters on the wafer
form another link which connects it with Egyptian paganism. Christians
explain these letters as meaning _Jesus Hominum Salvator_; but when the
worshippers of Isis, who were everywhere in the Roman empire in the
early centuries, read them on the unbloody sacrifice, they understood
by them _Isis_, _Horus_, _Seb_, _i. e._, The Mother, the Child, and the
Father of the Gods. The pagan character of this unbloody sacrifice was
so patent at the first, that it was sharply condemned; but familiarity
changed opposition to acceptance, and what was wholly pagan became the
centre of worship in paganized Christianity.

Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead.

All the leading systems of pagan religions have some form of purgatory,
with its associate prayers for the dead, for which large sums are paid
by the surviving friends. The purgatory which was developed in the
Christian cult is like its pagan prototype in almost every particular.
An extract from Wilkinson describing the practical workings of the
doctrine in pagan Egypt would need little changing to fit the facts
connected with the purgatory of Christians. We quote from Hislop[247]:

  “‘The Priest,’ says Wilkinson, ‘induced the people to expend large
  sums on the celebration of funeral rites; and _many who had barely
  sufficient to obtain the necessaries of life_ were anxious to save
  something for the expenses of their death. For besides the embalming
  process, which sometimes cost a talent of silver, or about £250,
  English money, the tomb itself was purchased at an immense expense;
  and numerous demands were made upon the estate of the deceased, for
  the celebration of prayer and other services for the soul.’ ‘The
  ceremonies,’ we find him elsewhere saying, ‘consisted of a sacrifice
  similar to those offered in the temples, vowed for the deceased
  to one or more gods (as Osiris, Anubis, and others connected with
  Amenti); incense and libation were also presented; and a prayer was
  sometimes read, the relations and friends being present as mourners.
  They even joined their prayers to those of the priest. The priest
  who officiated at the burial service was selected from the grade of
  Pontiffs, who wore the leopard skin; but various other rites were
  performed by one of the minor priests, to the mummies, previous to
  their being lowered into the pit of the tomb after that ceremony.
  Indeed, they continued to be administered at intervals, _as long as
  the family paid for their performance_.’ Such was the operation of
  the doctrine of purgatory and prayers for the dead among avowed and
  acknowledged pagans; and in what essential respect does it differ
  from the operation of the same doctrine in Papal Rome?”

Saint Peter’s Keys.

Those who claim the primacy of St. Peter and his right to the keys
of heaven, pretend to found that claim upon Christ’s words to
Peter. But an examination of the history and characteristics of the
doctrine reveals its pagan origin too clearly to admit of question.
Roman paganism had its college of pontiffs, headed by the emperor, as
_Pontifex Maximus_. Babylonian and Assyrian paganism had a similar
council of pontiffs. The especial primacy among the deities was
associated with Janus and Cybele. Each of these bore a key. The Pope
assumed them both in the fifth century, after Christianity had been
paganized. The term cardinal is plainly derived from _cardo_, a hinge.
Janus was God of the Hinges, and was called the “Opener, and Shutter.”

The sovereign pontiff of the pagan cult was the representative of the
divinity on earth, and was worshipped as a god. This continued in the
Roman empire long after the emperors were called “Christian.” After
that the Pope became God’s representative among men. A single quotation
from OVID will close this glance at St. Peter and his keys. In it Janus
is described, and he in turn describes his office:

  “He, holding in his right hand a staff, and in his left a key,
  uttered these accents to me from the mouth of his front face....
  ‘Whatever thou beholdest around thee, the sky, the sea, the air, the
  earth, all these have been shut up and are opened by my hand. In
  my power alone is the guardianship of the vast universe, and the
  prerogative of turning the hinge is entirely my own. When it has
  been my pleasure to send forth Peace, from her tranquil habitation,
  then at liberty she treads her paths unobstructed _by the restraints
  of war_. The whole world would be thrown into confusion in deadly
  bloodshed, did not my rigid bolts confine imprisoned warfare.
  Together with the gentle seasons, I preside over the portals of
  Heaven; through my agency Jupiter himself doth pass and repass.’”[248]

Representative Festivals.

Those who have given even a cursory examination of the subject, know
that the swarm of festivals which came into Christianity, after the
second century, were nearly, if not all, pagan days, with new or
modified names, but with little or no change of character. A few of the
representative ones will be noticed here.


The Scriptures are wholly silent as to the date of Christ’s birth.
The 25th of December, the winter solstice, was not fixed as Christmas
until a long time after the New Testament period. But in spite of
serious objections, historical and otherwise, that date triumphed. The
winter solstice was the date of the birth of Osiris, son of Isis the
Egyptian Queen of Heaven. The term “Yule,” another name for Christmas,
comes from the Chaldee, and signifies “child’s day.” This name for the
festival was familiar to our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, long before they
knew anything of Christianity. In Rome, this winter-solstice festival
was Saturn’s festival; the wild, drunken, licentious “Saturnalia.”
It was observed in Babylonia in a similar manner. When it came into
Christianity its leading features were like those of the Saturnalia.
These have been far too prevalent from that time. Lighted candles and
ornamented trees were a part of the observance of the festival among
the pagans. The “Christmas goose” and “Yule cakes” came, with the day,
from paganism.


The earliest Christians continued to observe the Jewish Passover on
the 14th of the month _Nisan_. As the pagan element increased in
the Church, and the anti-Jewish feeling accordingly, after a sharp
struggle, the time was changed from the fourteenth of the month to
the Sunday nearest the vernal equinox. This brought it in conjunction
with the festival of the Goddess of Spring, an ancient pagan feast,
which probably dates back to the time of Astarte-worship, in Babylonia.
The name “Easter” is comparatively modern. It comes from Oestra, the
Goddess of Spring, in the Northern European mythology. The forms of
observance were almost wholly heathen. Easter eggs, dyed, and “hot
cross-buns,” figured in the Chaldean Easter, as they have done in the
Christian. The Hindus, and Chinese, and Egyptians had a sacred egg,
the history of which can be traced to the Euphrates and the worship of


Lent has been given some appearance of having a Christian origin by
the assumption, for which there is not a shadow of scriptural, or
even apostolic authority, that it is the counterpart of Christ’s fast
of forty days. But the history of Lent shows unmistakably its pagan
origin. Its source is found in the fasting which the Babylonians
associated with the Goddess of Reproduction, whose worship formed the
starting-point of Easter. During that period of fasting, social joy and
all expressions of sexual regard were forbidden, because the goddess
then mourned the loss of her consort. From this came the germ of Lent,
and especially the practice of abstaining from marriage at that season.

The pagan tribes of Koordistan still keep such a fast. Humboldt found
the same in Mexico, and Landseer in Egypt. It came into Christianity
comparatively slowly, and brought gross evils with it. Witness the

  “This change of the calendar in regard to Easter was attended with
  momentous consequences. It brought into the Church the grossest
  corruption, and the rankest superstition in connection with the
  abstinence of Lent. Let any one only read the atrocities that were
  commemorated during the ‘sacred fast’ or pagan Lent, as described
  by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for
  the Christianity of those, who with the full knowledge of all these
  abominations ‘went down to Egypt for help’ to stir up the languid
  devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more
  excellent way to ‘revive’ it than by borrowing from so polluted a
  source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the
  early Christian writers held up to scorn.”[249]

Many devout Christians now observe Lent without taint of paganism; but
with the undevout, Lent is only a resting time from the fashionable
dissipation of “society,” which refreshes them for the excesses that
follow Easter.


[234] See Tertullian, _Apologeticus_, chap. xlvi., and _Ad Uxorum_,
lib. ii., chap. vi.

[235] See Hefele, _History of the Councils_, etc., to 325 A.D., pp.
150, 151. Clark’s edition, Edinburgh, 1872.

[236] _The Church in the Catacombs_, p. 225, London, 1846.

[237] See Maitland, p. 228.

[238] _Court of the Gentiles_, by Theophilus Gale, part iii., book ii.,
chap. ii., section 3, paragraph 4.

[239] _Stromata_, book vii., chap. vii.

[240] _Ad Nationes_, chap. xiii.

[241] _Teutonic Mythology_, by Jacob Grimm, four vols., London, 1883,
vol. ii., p. 115.

[242] _Ibid._, vol. ii., p. 619.

[243] _Ibid._, vol. ii., p. 613.

[244] _Schaff_, vol. ii., p. 254.

[245] _The Two Babylons_, seventh edition, London, p. 21 ff.

[246] Jer. xliv., 19.

[247] _Two Babylons_, p. 169. The references to Wilkinson’s Egyptians
are vol. ii., p. 94, and vol. v., pp. 383, 384.

[248] Ovid, _Fasti_, bk. i.

[249] Hislop, _Two Babylons_, p. 106.



  Protestants must Accept the Bible in _Fact_, as well as in Theory,
  or be Overthrown--The Bible must be Reinterpreted in the Light of
  “Higher Criticism” and Deeper Spiritual Life--The Present Tendencies
  in Bible Study Mark the Opening of the Second Stage of the Protestant
  Movement--Baptism must Cease to be the Foot-Ball of Denominational
  Polemics and be Raised to a Question of Obedience to the Example
  of Christ--Protestants must Return to the Sabbath, Christianized
  by Christ, and to True Sabbathism, Which is as Undenominational as
  Faith--Such Sabbathism, and God’s Sabbath, must be Restored to the
  Place from Which Pagan No-Sabbathism and the Pagan Sunday Drove
  Them--“Sabbath” Legislation is Unchristian--All Union of Christianity
  with the State must Yield before the Normal Development of True

The facts which have been set forth in the foregoing pages form the
basis for certain important conclusions. Unconsciously perhaps, but not
less certainly, the Protestant movement was the beginning of a definite
reaction against paganism in Christianity. Since humanity must learn
all higher truth through long and sometimes bitter experience, errors
and evils must ripen before those who have once accepted them will let
them go. All great upward movements illustrate this fact. Reformatory
action begins when error reaches so low a point that the best interests
involved are confronted with strangulation and destruction. When the
slow-beating heart threatens the death of the sleeping patient, nature
arouses all her forces in a final struggle for life. Thus truth,
stifled and trodden under foot by the pagan elements in the Church,
awoke for the final struggle as the morning began to dawn, after the
ages of midnight.

(1) Reinstatement of the Bible.

As the first step in perverting Christianity was to set aside the
authority of God’s book, and to teach error for truth through false
exegesis, so the first step toward reformation was the unchaining
of that Word. Paganized Christianity had placed itself between men
and God, and His Word. Faith, hedged and crippled, trusted in human
traditions, forms, and ceremonies, and in priestly absolution from sin.
Help could not come, neither could hope arise, until the pagan elements
should be so far removed that men could stand face to face with the
Bible, with Christ, and with God. Hence the central points in the
first stage of the reformatory work were an open Bible, an accessible
Christ, and a Father whose law was the ultimate appeal, and whose
love was the ultimate source of hope and the foundation of faith. The
upward movement started on the same plane of fundamental truth on which
the downward movement began. Hence the first struggle, under Luther,
centred around personal faith.

But it was in the nature of things that men whose inheritance had come
from the centuries made dark and religiously corrupt through pagan
residuum, could not rise above all these influences at once.

Though the leaders in such movements build better than they know, their
work is always comparatively imperfect. The intensity with which they
must pursue a single truth in order to make any progress, prevents
them from seeing all truth. This the more, since the public mind, at
such times, cannot grasp and hold more than one great truth at a time.
The reformers could not wholly free themselves from the idea that
“tradition and custom” have authority. They did not actually accept
the Bible as the _only rule_ of faith and practice. Protestantism has
never done this. As between Protestantism and Romanism, from which it
revolted, there can be no middle or common ground. The Roman Catholic
claims that the Church made the Bible, and formulated authoritative
traditions, and hence that the Church, as law-maker and interpreter of
the Bible, is the supreme authority. The Protestant begins by denying
the authority of the Church, and appealing to the Bible as the ultimate
authority. Logic and history combine to declare that Protestantism must
make its theory good, or fail. Hence we draw

  _Conclusion First._

  _Protestantism must fully accept the Bible as the ultimate and only
  standard of faith and practice, or it must be broken between the
  upper millstone of Roman Catholicism and the nether millstone of
  irreligious rationalism._

The years are ripe for decision. The backward drift toward Roman
Catholicism and rationalism has well set in. The loss already sustained
by Protestantism, though an incomplete movement, can be regained only
by prompt and vigorous action.

These conclusions relative to the future of Protestantism, having been
published in a magazine edited by the author of this book, _The Sabbath
Outlook_, were commented upon by the _Catholic Mirror_, Baltimore,
under date of March 19, 1892, as follows:

  “_Will ‘Scriptural Simplicity’ Save Protestantism?_”

  “This development of Christianity--assumed to be pagan and,
  therefore, corrupt--is naturally cause of much anxiety to Christian
  people who so regard it. We have said a few words to show how
  groundless is this concern. But the power and extent of the
  development gives most trouble. It is seen that the Catholic Church
  holds the key to the present position; and so Christians are warned
  that they must return to ‘the simple truths of the New Testament,’
  if they would not yield to the development. One of these people,
  a clear-headed, consistent Protestant, commenting upon Harnack’s
  researches, boldly proclaims: ‘Protestantism must go back of these
  Gnostic speculations and rebuild Christian faith and practice on the
  New Testament records of the first century, or remain hopelessly weak
  in its efforts to overcome the tide of Roman Catholic influence and
  history.’ He adds: ‘This is a vital truth which Protestantism must
  recognize and act upon promptly, or the next century will witness its
  crushing defeat between the forces of Roman Catholicism, Irreligious
  Rationalism, and Worldliness.’

  “There is a striking admission in this note of alarm. ‘Roman Catholic
  influence and history’ is the tide setting in with overwhelming
  power. The warning is clear and strong. There is no uncertain sound.

  “It goes without saying that we can have no pleasure (God forbid!),
  but only sadness in imagining the ‘crushing defeat’ of our Christian
  brethren by ‘irreligious rationalism’ or ‘worldliness.’ We will not
  apply the term ‘defeat’ to their being brought to see the truth and
  submit themselves to the Catholic Church. We are wondering just
  now whether there is any practical good in the warning given them;
  whether it is at all likely that Protestantism will ever go back to
  what are called ‘the simple truths of the New Testament.’ We don’t
  believe it will, or can.

  “When it is considered what the Protestantism of to-day is,--how
  much it has learned of the Church idea,--the Catholic idea,--it may
  be seen how useless it is to expect any such thing. To begin with,
  all or the immense majority of Protestants, in the simple matter of
  accepting the change from the Sabbath to the Sunday--from the last
  to the first day of the week,--quietly admit an extra-scriptural
  authority, the authority of the Church. Chillingworth’s famous maxim,
  ‘The Bible only, the religion of Protestants,’ leaves this item at
  least out of the calculation. All unwittingly our separated brethren
  are here acting upon a Catholic principle, which does not deny or do
  away Scripture, but makes the Rule of Faith to consist of _Scripture
  and_--something else--even _Tradition_; and by this principle the
  ever-living voice of the Church speaks with an authority always
  equal to that of the written revelation, and sometimes apparently
  transcending it.”

The issue is not one of mere name, or of denominationalism, or of
“Church” against “sects.” It is, as said above, a question of the
_reinstatement of the Bible_ as the supreme rule of Protestant
Christianity. The Protestant movement began in that issue. There can
be no Protestantism outside of it. If it be not true, Protestantism
is a failure. If it be true, Protestantism cannot remain where it
is and survive. If it be not true, Romanism has the logical and
historical right to the field. It is master of the situation, and its
expectation that erring Protestants will return to “The Mother Church,”
or wander hopelessly away from Christianity, will be realized in less
time than Protestantism has already existed. These facts challenge
the attention of all parties. They sound the same key as do the words
of Professor Harnack, spoken in July, 1889. I said to him: “Will the
Protestantism of the next century be more spiritual than now, or less?”
He answered, “It will be more spiritual, or it will die.” I continued:
“If it dies, what will be the next scene in church history?” He said:
“Roman Catholicism will take possession of the world as a new form of
paganism.” These are not the words of an alarmist, nor a sectarian
polemist; they are the legitimate deductions made by a careful student
of universal history. Will you ponder them?

(2) Biblical Interpretation; Higher Criticism.

Whoever has read the chapters on gnosticism, and the allegorical
method of interpreting the Bible, and has traced the influence of
these pagan elements upon the history of biblical interpretation,
cannot fail to see God’s guiding hand in the movements of the last
half of this century. The revival of Bible study, the development
of the “International Lessons,” the call for something yet better,
and the growth of exegetical literature form an epoch not less
important, though less noisy, because less political, than the rise of
Lutheranism, the development of Calvinism, or the birth of the English
Reformation. The last half of this century has witnessed what no other
century ever saw, the beginning of a systematic study of the Bible by
the people. Such an epoch could not do less than create the “higher
criticism.” That phase of this Bible-study epoch is as legitimate a
result as the “Diet at Worms” was of Luther’s revolt, or as Puritanism
was of the English Reformation. Therefore:

  _Conclusion Second._

  _Biblical study and biblical interpretation, including “Higher
  Criticism,” are ushering in the second great feature of the
  Protestant movement._

Luther and his coadjutors unchained the Bible and opened its pages.
They did not, could not, eliminate traditional authority and influence
from its exegesis. Traditionalism was largely pagan. It had held sway
for centuries, and is yet regnant in many ways. All past exegesis
needs retrial in the fires of a devout criticism. That criticism must
introduce Christ’s norm,--“By their fruits ye shall know them.” Pour
exegetical and theological traditionalism into that crucible. Heat it
in the fires of the best and most devout scholarship. Let brave hearts
and careful hands take away the dross, fearless as to consequences.
The Bible and Protestantism are both on trial in the closing years of
the nineteenth century. There need be no fear as to final results if
Protestants are true and firm. If they are not, the closing years of
the twentieth century will sit in sackcloth at the open grave of a
Christianity which began the elimination of paganism well, but had not
the bravery, and therefore the strength, to finish the work.

(3) Concerning Baptism.

The paramount question touching the residuum which came in from pagan
water-worship does not lie primarily in the _mode_ of baptism; although
historically, logically, and symbolically there were no _modes_ of
baptism until they were brought in by paganism. Paganism immersed,
affused, sprinkled. It immersed once, or three times. In the use of
holy water it sprinkled repeatedly and indefinitely. According to the
New Testament, baptism is submersion, as the symbol of death to sin and
resurrection to righteousness. All beyond that was pagan-born.

The central point of the evil which came from pagan water-worship is
found in “baptismal regeneration”; _i. e._, the idea that by virtue of
the power and sacredness of water spiritual purity is produced, and
the candidate is fitted for membership in the Church, and for heaven.
In so far as this idea remains, paganism remains. The most prominent
examples of this residuum which now survive are found in the use of
“holy water,” in the theory that an unconscious infant to which water
has been applied as a religious ceremony, is thereby made a member of
the organic church, and its future salvation thus assured; in the idea,
still held by some, that “regeneration” takes place only in connection
with immersion; and in the general idea that baptism is a “saving

  _Conclusion Third._

  _The core of the question of baptism, as of salvation through faith,
  is obedience, conformity to the example of Christ; hence it does not
  follow that he who remains unbaptized, when thus remaining does not
  involve the spirit of disobedience and neglect, may not enter the
  kingdom of heaven._

(4) Sabbathism.

The Sabbath question is not merely “one of days.” The fundamental
conception centres around the fact that _God must come to men in
sacred time_. Eternity is an attribute of God, and the measured
portion we call “time” is the point where God and man come together
as Creator and created. It is here that we “live in Him.” Scriptural
and extra-scriptural history show that man has always felt the need
of communion with God, through sacred time, and that God has always
sought to meet this want. Physical rest is not the primary idea of the
Sabbath. It is only a means to higher ends, namely, communion with God,
religious culture, and spiritual development. But since time is also
the essence of human existence, so far as activities and duties are
concerned, and since the use men make of time determines the character
of each human life, specific sacred time which shall represent God, and
draw men to Him, becomes an essential part of God’s moral and religious
government for man. The Sabbath finds its origin in God’s desire and
purpose to aid and culture men in holiness, and in man’s need of God,
and spiritual communion. Incidentally, and subordinately, the Sabbath
is also a physical blessing to man. But its primal, central thought
is religious, and the physical good depends largely on the motive for
resting. The Fourth Commandment embodies these deeper principles, and
is God’s law concerning the Sabbath. The authority of the law is found
in the reasons and necessities which lie back of it.

The Jews had never attained, or had lost sight of this higher law of
the Sabbath, and had reduced its observance to unmeaning formalities
and useless burdens. Christ brushed all these away, and glorified and
established the Sabbath, enlarging and making it a blessing instead of
a bondage. He taught His followers how to consider and observe it, by
His example and His words.

Paganism, filled with anti-Jewish prejudices against the authority of
the Old Testament, gave no heed to Christ’s teachings concerning the
Sabbath, but proclaimed that it was a “Jewish institution with which
Christians had nothing to do.” Borne on the waves of this false theory,
Sunday, and its associate pagan days, gradually drove the Sabbath out.
The Sunday of the Dark Ages, and the “Continental Sunday” of to-day,
are the necessary results. So far as paganized Christianity could do
it, sabbathism was slain and buried. A remnant, the denominational
progenitors of the present Seventh-day Baptists, refused to accept the
pagan theory, and remained true to the Sabbath through all the changes,
from the Apostles to the English Reformation. They were not always
organized, but they kept the light burning. In that Reformation the
Seventh-day Baptists came to the front, demanding a recognition of the
authority of the Fourth Commandment, and a return to the observance
of the Sabbath. Opposed to them, Roman Catholics and Episcopalians
continued to assert that the customs and traditions of the Church
formed the highest authority in the matter of Sabbath keeping. Between
these two the Puritan party sought a compromise, and invented the
theory (first propounded by Nicholas Bownde, in 1595 A.D.) that the
commandment, being yet binding, might be transferred to the Sunday.
This Puritan compromise has been tested, its fictitious sacredness
has gone, and much in the present state of the Sunday question is the
fruitage of that baseless compromise.

Sunday legislation, which, as we have seen in a former chapter, was
pagan in conception and form, has continued, being made a prominent
feature of the Puritan theory. At the present writing (1892) strenuous
efforts are being made in the United States to save the failing
fortunes of Sunday by a revival of Sunday laws. If, by any combination
of efforts, this can be done, no permanent good will ensue. The verdict
of history and the genius of Christ’s kingdom combine to declare
that men cannot be made good by act of Parliament, nor be induced
to keep any day sacred by the civil law. If the “rest day” alone be
exalted, the result is holidayism, rather than Sabbath keeping. If
the enforcement of the Sunday laws is pressed it will result in their

  _Conclusion Fourth._

  (a) _No day has ever been kept as a Sabbath except under the idea of
  divine authority._

  (b) _Everything less than this promotes holidayism._

  (c) _There is no scriptural and therefore no truly Protestant ground
  for Sunday observance._

The only alternative is a return to the observance of the Sabbath,
the Seventh day, under the law of obedient love, such love as Christ
had for the will of His Father; or to go down with the tide of
No-Sabbathism, which, checked temporarily by the Puritan compromise,
is now rushing on more wildly than before. The issue is at hand,
_Christian Sabbathism and the Sabbath, or Pagan holidayism and the
Sunday_. Culminating events demand that choice, and in the ultimate,
_universal Sabbathism_.

(5) Christianity and the State.

Certain superficial investigators have claimed that the union of
Christianity with the civil power was the outgrowth of the Hebrew
theocratic idea. The claim is groundless. The theocracy was a State
within the Church. The pagan theory, applied to Christianity under
Constantine and his successors, gave a Church dominated by the State,
and regulated, as to polity and faith, by civil law.

History has written some plain and pertinent verdicts concerning the
relations which ought to exist between Christianity and the civil
power. Every verdict emphasizes the truth of Christ’s words: “My
kingdom is not of this world.” The relations between Christianity and
the civil power which began under Constantine have worked incalculable
harm to Christianity as a spiritual religion. Its political triumph
was a most disastrous defeat which became a large factor in producing
the subsequent centuries of decline and darkness. Better conceptions
of civil government, and increasing civilization have improved
the status of State Churches since the Reformation; but spiritual
Christianity everywhere and always, is calling for “disestablishment.”
It is a singular fact that in the United States, where there has been
the nearest approach to religious liberty, we are confronted with
two phases of religio-civil legislation which are now coalescing,
and which, however well meant, partake more of the spirit of the
ninth century than of the nineteenth, or of the New Testament. These
movements are “National Reform,” which seeks to Christianize the
nation by putting Christ’s name into the National Constitution; and
the now popular Sunday-law movement. There are several points aimed at
by the National Reform Association, such as divorce, gambling, etc.,
which are within the province of the civil law; but its primary aim,
to secure legislation on all points covered by the Ten Commandments,
is fundamentally pagan in concept and intent. The good men who are
pressing the movement think that their theory of government is the
true one, and that great good would come if it were adopted. But the
verdict of every century since the pagan conception was introduced
into Christianity, forbids belief in their scheme as a means of
Christianizing the nation.

As to Sunday legislation we have seen that its origin was absolutely
pagan, and that it has been destructive of true Sabbathism at all
times. If the highest hopes of the present agitators could be realized;
if the civil law should compel all citizens of the United States to
rest on Sunday, every year of such a system would sink the people
deeper into the slough of No-Sabbathism. The “Continental Sunday”
is the product of a No-Sabbath theology, and civil Sunday-laws. The
Sunday-law advocates seek the supremacy of an unscriptural Sabbathism,
linked with Sunday by civil law. This has been fully tried, at a time
when men had far more regard for Sunday as a sacred day than they have
now. But with all things in its favor, the strength of youth, and the
honest ignorance of the masses concerning its true character, the
“Puritan Sunday” has returned to its original holidayism, in spite of
Church and State combined. It could not do less, even if a fortuitous
combination of influences should exalt it temporarily again. Religion
and conscience are entitled to the protection of the civil law, without
regard to creed or numbers. If immorality is practised in the name of
religion, it may be suppressed as immorality. Beyond such protection
the State may not go.

  _Conclusion Fifth._

  _All union of Church and State, or of Christianity and the State,
  is pagan-born, and opposed to the genius and purpose of Christ’s

Last Words.

Whatever prepossessions or conceptions the reader may have brought to
the perusal of these pages, he cannot finish them without seeing that
much which has come down to us as “Christianity” is so tinctured with
paganism that it does not fairly represent what Christ taught. The
purity of the earliest Christianity was the source of its wondrous
conquering power. After it was paganized, and united with the State,
it continued to conquer, but by the sword rather than by the spirit
of God. It is clear proof of the divine character of Christianity,
that it was not wholly destroyed by its contact with paganism. It
is surpassing proof of that same divine origin, that it could rise
from the grave of the Dark Ages, with such vigor as produced the
Reformation, and has carried that work to the point already gained.
But in the crises that await it, in the solving of the problems which
confront it, Protestant Christianity must realize that its specific
mission is to complete the work of eliminating the pagan residuum,
a work well begun by the Reformers, but which must be carried on to
higher victories, or sink back to lower defeats. When the last stain
of paganism is removed, the world will see a Christianity which will
be primarily a _life of purity_, through love for God and truth and
men, rather than a _creed_, embodying speculations about the unknowable
and abstractions concerning the unsolvable. In such a Christianity,
the Bible plainly interpreted, without allegory or assumption, and in
the light of its own history, will hold the first place. The Sabbath,
as God’s day, free from burdensome formalism, and filled with good
works and spiritual culture, will be restored; and this recognition of
it as God’s ever-recurring representative in human life will do much
to bring in that universal Sabbathism towards which God is patiently
leading his truth-loving children. The pagan Sunday, with its false
claims, will be a thing of the past. Baptism as the symbol of entrance
to Christ’s kingdom, through spiritual life and faith in Him, will be
no longer the foot-ball of polemic strife, nor the many-formed image
of pagan water-worship, nor the creator of a false standard of Church
membership through “baptismal regeneration.” In that better day, the
civil law will give all religion full protection and full freedom,
without regard to majorities or creeds. It will neither oppose by
persecution, nor control under the name of protection. The persecution
of Jews in Russia, and useless efforts to make the world holy by act
of Parliament, will pass away. To hasten that time, be it far or near,
these pages go forth; and he who writes them will be thankful if they
bear some part in freeing our holy religion from the poison of pagan
residuum, and in giving that higher spiritual life, to the attainment
of which all forms, ceremonies, times, and agencies ought to bring
Christ-loving men.



  Abespine, on use of “lights” at tombs, 264.

  Achamoth, gnostic idea of, injected into N. T. exegesis, 45.

  Alabaster, Henry, describes Brahmanic baptism, 93.

  Allegorists, the “Fathers” as, 44.

  Allegory, the mediator between philosophy and religion, 39;
    existed among the Greeks before the Christian era, 39;
    united paganism and Judaism, 39;
    corrupted the earliest methods of Scripture exegesis, 42;
    perverted the true doctrine of “inspiration,” 43;
    great influence of, on “Christian exegesis,” 46;
    destructive examples of, 49, 50;
    foolish application of, to clean and unclean food, 51, 52;
    unmeaning application of, to the “cross,” 53;
    much used by Augustine, 64, 65;
    prevailing influence in Scripture interpretation, after the second
      century, 66;
    used by Barnabas in combining pagan and Christian ideas concerning
      baptism, 133 _f_;
    destructive application of, to the Decalogue, 184 _f_.

  Alzog, historian, describes the character of Constantine, 212.

  Anointing, in baptism, borrowed from pagans, 123;
    use of, in baptism, as shown in apostolic constitutions, 138.

  Antinomianism, wholly unscriptural, 166.

  Anti-Sabbathism, appeared contemporaneously with Sunday
      observance, 159;
    wholly unscriptural, 166.

  Apollo, the counterpart of Mithras and Baal, 156;
    the patron deity of Constantine, 219.

  Apostolic Constitutions, teach pagan theories concerning
      baptism, 137 _f_.

  Aringhus, on similarity between paganism and Roman Catholicism, 11.

  Aruspices, Constantine’s law concerning, associated with his Sunday
      edict, 222.

  Astarte, worship of, reproduced in worship of the “Virgin Mary,” 28;
    the worship of, at Rome, 199.

  Augustine, influence of, on formation of Christian doctrines, 64;
    evil effect of allegorizing Scriptures by, 64, 65;
    describes corrupting influence of paganism on Christians, 224, 225;
    excessive superstition of, regarding miracles wrought by
      baptism, 258.

  Aurelian, Emperor, “Triumph” of, 199;
    costly offerings to the Sun-god, 200.

  Aztecs, baptism as practised by, 109 _f_.


  Baal, the worship of, corrupted the Israelites, 156.

  Baptism, character of, in the N. T., 71, 72;
    pagans sought spiritual purity by it, 77;
    mithraic and gnostic, 77;
    gnostics called it a “purifying fire,” 79;
    pagans initiated candidates to their “mysteries” by it, 82;
    by blood, a feature of mithraicism, 82;
    administered at death as a means of salvation, 83;
    performed for the dead, 83;
    associated with serpent worship, 85;
    pagan, in Egypt, 87;
    of young children in Thibet and Mongolia, 93;
    pagan, of the dying, 93;
    modern Buddhistic, 94 _f_;
    various forms of, in Oriental paganism, 97;
    an ancient Aryan rite, 103;
    pagan ideas and forms of, reproduced in the early Church, 128;
    pagano-Christian theories of, taught by Methodius, Clement of
      Alex., and others, 136;
    sign of the cross, and anointing connected with, 249;
    deemed invalid without sign of the cross upon the water and the
      candidate, 252;
    miracles said to be wrought by it, 253;
    believed to cure physical diseases, 255;
    delayed until near death, 256;
    “orientation” in connection with vows, 257;
    superstitious acceptance of miracles in connection with, 258 _f_;
    magical power of, 258;
    cancer, paralysis, and gout cured thereby, 258, 259;
    evil spirits exorcised by, 259;
    conclusions concerning, 290;
    pagan elements yet remaining in, 291;
    should be the symbol of new spiritual life, 300.

  Baptists, seventh-day, prominent in English Reformation, 293.

  Barnabas, closely allied to the Gnostics, 38;
    “Epistle” of, shows evil effect of allegorical interpretation, 43;
    foolish exegesis of Scripture by, 49;
    pagan fancies applied to the “cross,” and to baptism, by, 133 _f_.

  Baronius, Cardinal, defends the transfer of pagan ceremonies to
      Christianity, 8;
    on “lights” used in worship, 263, 264.

  Baur, F. C., describes influence of gnosticism on Christianity, 38.

  Benares, city of, surrounded by sacred wells, 89.

  Bible, the, written wholly by “Jews,” 177;
    must be more fully reinstated as the standard of Christian faith
      and practice, 283.

  Bingham, Rev. Joseph, compares Sunday with other pagan festivals, 222;
    uses “Lord’s day” where it does not belong, 222, 223;
    on sign of the cross as an enchantment among Christians, 246 _f_;
    on “unction” and sign of the cross in baptism, 249;
    on baptism as a cure for disease, 255;
    on “delayed baptism,” 256;
    on “orientation” at baptism, 267.

  Blake, W. W., the cross as a pagan “standard,” 241.

  Blood, mithraic baptism in, 82;
    baptism in, practised by the ancient Germans and Norsemen, 100.

  Blunt, Rev. John James, describes pagan use of human saliva as a
      “charm,” 124.

  Boissier, Gaston, describes Constantine the Great, 205;
    describes Chi-Ro standard of Constantine, 245, _note_.

  Bonwick, James, describes Egyptian baptism, 87.

  Brock, Rev. Mourant, describes kinds of “holy water,” and how
      prepared, 148;
    quoted on pre-Christian cross in Mexico, 242.

  Bryant, Jacob, describes pagan water-worship, 73.

  Buddhistic baptism, described by Sir Monier-Williams, 94 _f_.

  Bunsen, C. C. J., summarizes teachings of Apostolic Constitutions
      concerning baptism, 137 _f_.

  “Buns,” hot cross, a remnant of pagan phallicism, 238 _f_.

  Burmah, the “New Year” in, is a great water-worship festival, 95.


  Centuries, the early ones often misjudged, 1.

  Child, Mrs. Lydia M., describes Hindu baptism, 96 _f_.

  Children, pagans named them at baptism, 100.

  Choul, de, William, defends the transfer of paganism to
      Christianity, 9.

  Christ, his resurrection allegorically foreshadowed in the deluge, 56;
    allegorically typified by a bullock, 63;
    the central character in both “dispensations,” 166;
    did not destroy the law, 167;
    taught full obedience to the Decalogue, 167, 168;
    resurrection of, not associated with Sunday observance, in the
      Bible, 173;
    did not rise from the grave on Sunday, 173;
    did not live and teach simply as a “Jew,” 176;
    his attitude toward civil power, 188;
    His kingdom, spiritual, 189.

  Christianity, weakened in the work of reform, because corrupted, 6;
    deeply corrupted by pagan influence before the fifth century, 23;
    contrast between that of the N. T. and that of the fourth
      century, 31;
    first developed within the Jewish Church, 32;
    primarily and essentially a new life, born of love, 32;
    immensely changed in character under influence of Greek thought, 33;
    fundamentally corrupted through allegory, 48;
    passed a terrible ordeal when it became united with the
      State, 68, 196;
    first recognition by Roman law was not full toleration, 195;
    was controlled and regulated by civil law under Roman
      Empire, 195, 196;
    new era in history of, began with fourth century, 203;
    deeply corrupted by paganism, 231 _f_;
    united with the State, according to pagan theories, 295, 296;
    Christ forbade its union with the state, 296;
    tendency towards union with civil power in the U. S. A., 296;
    proved its divine origin by surviving the conflict with
      paganism, 299;
    what it will be when paganism is fully eliminated, 299 _f_.

  Christians, comparatively few in number when Sunday legislation
      began, 218.

  Christian, the, needs to be broad-viewed, 1.

  Christmas, date of, borrowed from sun-worship festival, 278, 279.

  Chrysostom, on the use of water for cleansing, 147;
    condemns low standards of life in the Church, 232;
    considers the sign of the cross the greatest of all magical
      charms, 247, 248.

  Circumcision, spiritual meaning of, according to allegory, 50.

  Clement of Alex., his philippic against the Sophists, 46, 47;
    his gnostic exegesis of the N. T., 47;
    his gnostic exposition of the Decalogue, 60;
    gives pagan reasons for observing Sunday, 181;
    defends “orientation,” 266.

  Clement of Rome, examples of myth and allegory from the
      writings of, 59.

  “Conclusion,” First, 285;
    Second, 289;
    Third, 291;
    Fourth, 295;
    Fifth, 298.

  “Conclusions,” 282-300.

  Congregations, the earliest Christian, were guilds for holy
      living, 32;
    had no settled form of doctrines, 33.

  Constantine the Great, was a superstitious pagan, 4;
    character of, 206 _ff_;
    murdered his own son, 206;
    baptized on his death-bed, 207;
    his Christianity loose and accommodative, 207;
    objectionable interference with affairs of the Church, 207;
    a pagan while favoring Christianity for political purposes, 214;
    falsely praised by Eusebius, 214, 215;
    his character not transformed by Christianity, 215;
    was by no means a Christian emperor, 216;
    his legislation touching Christianity was pagan, 217;
    always remained pagan _Pontifex Maximus_, 217;
    character of his Sunday edict, 321 A.D., 218 _ff_;
    special worshipper of the Sun-god, 219;
    favored Christianity from “policy,” and not from principle, 227;
    made no effective legislation against paganism, 228;
    established Sunday as a “market day,” 229;
    how he placed the cross on his military standard, 244 _f_.

  Creed, early Church had none, 33;
    an elaborate one used at baptism, as shown in _Apostolic
      Constitutions_, 139.

  Criticism, the higher, offers cure for false interpretation of
      Bible, 288 _f_;
    together with study of Bible, is bringing the second stage of
      Protestant movement, 289;
    ought to be fully applied to Bible, 290.

  Cross, the, allegorically found in the O. T., 53, 54;
    an ancient pagan symbol, 237 _f_;
    known among Assyrians, Egyptians, Etruscans, etc., 239;
    pagan origin of, shown in _Edinburgh Review_, 240;
    how Constantine combined it on his military standard, 244, 245;
    the “handled cross” the ancient phallic symbol of Egypt, 246;
    sign of, used as a “charm,” 246 _f_;
    the sign of, in baptism, 249;
    made on all occasions, 250.

  Cumbhacum, a sacred lake in Hindustan, 97.

  Cyprian, condemns Christians who frequent public shows, 233;
    extremely superstitious concerning baptismal regeneration, 252.


  Dead, baptism for, of pagan origin, 83;
    was transferred to Christianity, 84;
    praying for, was borrowed from paganism, 275.

  Decalogue, gnostic exposition of, by Clement of Alex., 60;
    allegorically compared with man’s senses, 61;
    Christ enforced obedience to it, 167, 168;
    Paul declared it to be binding, 169;
    if it be abolished there can be no sin, 170;
    how it was perverted by gnostic exposition, 184.

  Demi-gods, the pagan, were the progenitors of Christian “saints,” 16.

  Demiurge, the, was creator of “matter” and author of evil, 48.

  Devil, the, cast out by anointing one possessed, with oil, and tears
      of a presbyter, 261.

  Diocletian, emperor, a devotee of the Sun-god, 200.

  Diseases, miraculous curing of, in connection with baptism, 258 _f_.

  Domville, Sir William, shows that early Sunday observance was not
      Sabbatic, 180.

  Dyer, Thomas H., describes introduction of paganism into
      Christianity, 3.


  Earth, sacred, from Jerusalem, cures paralysis, 260.

  Easter, grew in part from Jewish passover, 279 _f_;
    changed so as to coincide with festival of Goddess of
      Spring, 279 _f_;
    primarily a Chaldean sun-worship festival, 280.

  “Eighth Day,” pagan origin of argument for, 184, 185;
    a day of “indulgence for the flesh,” 187.

  Eleusis, city of, the chief seat of Greek “mysteries,” 117.

  Elviri, synod of, condemned use of “lights” in cemeteries, 263.

  Empire, the Roman, disintegrated under decay of pagan
      religion, 203 _f_.

  Europe, Northern, pagan water-worship in, 98.

  Eusebius, his dishonest eulogy of Constantine, 215.

  Exorcism, used in baptism, 138;
    resorted to in preparing “holy water,” 149.


  Facts, denying does not remove them, 29.

  Farrar, Canon, describes corruption of Christianity through
      syncretism, 22;
    on Cyprian’s theories concerning baptism, 252.

  “Fasts,” the pagan, transferred to Christianity, 26.

  “Fathers,” the, were uncritical in exegesis of Scripture, 66, 67.

  Fauchet, defends the introduction of paganism into Christianity, 8.

  Festivals, those of pagans transferred to Christianity, 5, 28.

  Fires, “Easter,” borrowed from sun-worship, 267;
    described by Grimm, 268, 269;
    “Midsummer,” a pagan festival identical with “St. John’s Day,” 270;
    “Baal,” yet continued in Scotland, 271.


  Gale, Theophilus, on pagan origin of “orientation,” 265.

  Galerius, emperor, persecution of Christians by, and death of, 205.

  Ganges, the most sacred stream in India, 88 _f_.

  Geikie, Rev. Cunningham, shows union of sun-worship _cultus_ with
      Christianity, 201.

  Gibbon, Edward, describes sun-worship under Heliogabalus, 197 _f_;
    recounts devotion of Aurelian to sun-worship, 199 _f_.

  Gnostics, the link between Christianity and Greek culture, 37.

  Gnosticism, the product of Oriental philosophy, 34;
    effect on Jewish thought, 34;
    claimed a hidden meaning in all things, 34, 35;
    destroyed authority of the O. T. by false exegesis, 35;
    permeated Greek philosophy, 35;
    assailed infant Christianity, 36;
    Schaff’s description of, 36, 37;
    generally antinomian, 36;
    “vulgarized” Christianity, and made it “worldly,” 37;
    Baur’s description of, 38;
    introduced allegory into N. T. exegesis, 40, 41;
    sought a hidden meaning in N. T., 44;
    applied numerical mysteries to the Psalms, 58;
    widely spread in second century, 69;
    complete supremacy would have annihilated Christianity, 69;
    fundamentally antinomian, 159;
    destructively applied to the Decalogue, 184.

  Gould, S. Baring, describes pagan baptism in Scandinavia, 100;
    on baptism among the ancient Greeks, 114.

  Gratian, Emperor, edicts of, against paganism, inoperative, 212.

  Greeks, named and “purified” children when seven days old, 102;
    water-worship among, 112.

  Greek thought, thoroughly permeated by gnosticism, 35.

  Grimm, Jacob, on superstitions concerning water, 104;
    on use of sacred water in Germany, 105, 106;
    on “Easter fires” in Northern Europe, 268 _f_;
    on “Midsummer fires,” 270;
    on “Baal fires” in Scotland, 271.


  Hall, Rev. E. E., on paganism in Roman Catholic Church, 208 _f_.

  Hardwick, Rev. Charles, on the reproduction of paganism in early
      Christianity, 14.

  Harnack, Prof. Adolph, on influence of gnosticism on Christianity, 37;
    on the future of Protestantism, 288.

  Hatch, Prof. Edwin, D.D., describes pagan elements in early methods
      of exegesis, 42;
    on the rejection of O. T. by many Christians, 48;
    describes effect of “Greek mysteries” on early Christianity, 119;
    shows identity between the Eleusinian mysteries and Roman
      Catholic baptism, 122;
    declares pagan origin of anointing in baptism, 123.

  Heifer, the red, allegorically made a type of Christ, 49.

  Heliogabalus, emperor, submitted to pagan baptism in blood, 83;
    degraded character of, 197;
    his costly offerings to the Sun-god, 198;
    triumph of sun-worship at Rome under his reign, 199.

  Herodotus, describes sun- and water-worship by Xerxes, 76.

  Hippolytus, fanciful commentary on the Psalms, 57, 58.

  Hislop, Rev. Alexander, on corruption of Christianity by pagan
      sun- and water-worship, 150;
    describes pagan origin of “Mariolatry,” 274;
    on “prayers for the dead,” 276;
    on pagan origin of “Lent,” 281.

  Holda, a German water-goddess, 107.

  Holy water, pagans refused it to wrong-doers, 144;
    magical virtues attributed to, 144;
    catalogue of its effects, 145;
    animals sprinkled with, 146;
    Roman Catholics defend its use, 146 _f_;
    methods of preparing, salt, ashes, and wine used, 148.


  India, extent of water-worship in, 88 _f_.

  Isis, extensively worshipped at Rome, 19.


  Jairus, Gnostics made raising of his daughter a type of Achamoth, 45.

  Jamblicus describes sacred fountains, 73, 74.

  Janus, God of the Keys, and prototype of St. Peter, 277 _f_.

  Jew, a paralytic, reported cured by means of baptism, 254;
    an impostor detected by a miracle at baptism, 254.

  Judaism, Christ enlarged and purified, without destroying, 31, 32;
    strongly opposed by the pagan-bred “Fathers,” 165.

  Justin, Martyr, educated a pagan philosopher, 44;
    perverted the Scriptures by false exegesis, 54;
    teaches much pagan error concerning baptism, 134, 135;
    the first to teach anti-Sabbathism, and to tell of Sunday
      observance, 159, 178;
    always partially pagan, 160;
    no-Sabbathism taught in his “Dialogue with Trypho,” 161;
    taught the abrogation of the Sabbath law, 162.

  Juvenal, describes baptism of Roman prostitutes, 77.


  Kabbalists, were Jewish gnostics, 81.

  Keys, St. Peter’s, borrowed from pagan god Janus, 277 _f_.

  Killen, Prof. W. D., shows that there was no paganism in the earliest
      Christianity, 20;
    tells how baptism was corrupted by pagan influences, 21;
    declares the incompetency of the “Fathers” as critics or
      exegetes, 67;
    on character of Constantine, 206.

  King, C. W., describes Mithraic baptism, 78-81;
    on pagan baptism for the dead, 83;
    on serpent worshippers, 85;
    on Egyptian water-worship, 87.


  Labor, prohibited on many pagan days besides Sunday, 225.

  Lechler, G. V., shows the relative influence of paganism and Judaism
      on Christianity, 29.

  “Lent,” originated in pagan fast, 280;
    early character of, 281;
    devoutly observed by many at present time, 281.

  Lightfoot, Bishop, on the tendency to misjudge early history, 2.

  “Lights,” use of in worship borrowed from pagans, 263.

  Lord, Prof. John, on paganism in the early Church, 4.


  Maitland, Dr. Charles, shows worship of martyrs borrowed from
      paganism, 15;
    on pagan origin of “lights” in worship, 264.

  Mallet, P. H., describes pagan baptism in Scandinavia, 99 _f_.

  Mariolatry, pagan origin of, 273.

  Martyr-worship, the product of paganism, 15.

  “Mass,” the, derived from paganism, 274.

  Maurer, Konrad, shows similarity between pagan and Christian
      baptism, 101 _f_.

  Maurice, Rev. F. W., describes corrupted Christianity under
      Constantine, 210.

  Merivale, Charles, on corruption of Christianity under Leo the
      Great, 23;
    on Constantine’s relation to Christianity, 211 _f_;
    on paganism under Gratian, 212.

  Mexico, pagan baptism in, 109 _f_.

  Middleton, Rev. Conyers, on paganism in the early Church, 11;
    on pagan origin of “holy water,” 141 _f_.

  Milman, Rev. H. H., describes Diocletian’s sun-worship, 200;
    shows pagan character of first Sunday law, 223;
    shows Constantine made little opposition to paganism, 228.

  Miracles, reported as wrought through baptism, 253;
    newly baptized persons reputed to work, 258 _f_.

  _Mirror, The Catholic_, on paganism in Christianity, 286 _f_;
    on inability of Protestantism to return to Bible alone, 287.

  Mithraicism, extent of, in the second century, 19;
    had ceremonies of purification, and a “holy table,” 119.

  Monasticism, the product of Oriental paganism, 14.

  Mongolia, pagan baptism in, 93.

  Moses, his rod made a type of Christ, by allegory, 54-56.

  “Mysteries,” the Greek, supposed to bring salvation, 117;
    embodied confession, baptism, and sacrifices, 117 _f_;
    did much to corrupt baptism and the Lord’s Supper, 120.

  Müller, Prof. Max, paganism of first three Christian centuries, 11.


  _Nation, The_, quoted on Teutonic baptism, pagan and Christian, 101.

  Neale, E. V., shows non-Christian character of Constantine’s
      Sunday law, 224 _f_;
    designates other pagan days with similar restrictions, 225.

  Niebuhr, historian, shows that Constantine was not a Christian, 229.

  Nile, the river, regarded as highly sacred by the Egyptians, 88.


  “Orientation,” the product of pagan sun-worship, 157, 257;
    defended by Clement of Alexandria, 266;
    explained and defended by Tertullian, 267.

  Osiris, regarded as the counterpart of Noah, 150.

  _Outlook, The_, quotations from, 208, 285.

  Ovid, describes water-worship and sun-worship at feast of
      “Pales,” 75;
    describes water-worship at temple of “Themis,” 76;
    describes Grecian baptism, 116;
    describes god Janus, 277 _f_.


  Pagans, many baptized without conversion, 24;
    eminent ones as semi-Christians, 25.

  Paganism, not found in Catholic Church alone, 3, 143;
    some of its lowest forms mingled with Christianity, 6;
    “Oriental,” in early Christianity, 6;
    much, in Christianity before the “Papacy,” 18;
    in “Alexandrian” Christianity, 22;
    extent of, in early churches, 68;
    customs of, continued under Christian names, 210;
    employed various forms of baptism, 290;
    opposed Sabbath-keeping, 293.

  “Pales,” feast of, a combination of sun-worship and water-worship, 75.

  Paul, observed and upheld “the law,” 169, 170.

  Penance required for sins after baptism, 253;
    demanded by pagan theory of “baptismal regeneration,” 272.

  Persecution of Christians under Diocletian, 204.

  Perseus satirizes the pagan use of spittle as a “charm,” 124.

  Phallicism, associated with water-worship in India, 90;
    a department of sun-worship, 157.

  Philo blended Greek philosophy with O. T. exegesis, 40.

  Phœnix, fable of, used as a type of man’s resurrection, 59.

  Pilgrimages, made to sacred streams for salvation, 90.

  “Pistis-Sophia,” the gnostic gospel, 78.

  Pliny, the historian, describes virtue of spittle, and its use as a
      charm, 125 _f_.

  Potter, Rev. John, D. D., describes Grecian water-worship and
      purifications, 112.

  Poynder, John, quoted in “Pagano-Papismus,” 9.

  Prescott describes Aztec baptism, 109.

  Priestley, Dr. Joseph, on pagan origin of “holy water,” 141.

  Protestants, do not understand their relation to Catholicism, 2;
    work of, but fairly begun, 3.

  Protestantism, an unconscious reaction against paganism in
      Christianity, 282 _f_;
    has never wholly discarded “tradition,” 284;
    must accept Bible wholly or be overcome, 285;
    must act promptly to overcome loss already sustained, 285;
    cannot survive except on purely Biblical basis, 288.

  Psalms, “Fathers” made whole number of, a type of the
      “Trinity,” 57, 58;
    meaning of, perverted by gnostic allegorizing, 65.

  Purgatory, borrowed from paganism, 275.

  Purification, Greeks sought, by dipping and sprinkling, 115.

  Purity, spiritual, pagans sought, by bathing in sacred
      streams, 88 _f_.


  Reformations begin when evils reach their lowest point, 283.

  Regeneration, baptismal, 87.

  “Relics,” faith in, borrowed from paganism, 235;
    became widely spread in the Church, 236 _f_.

  Religion, Roman, conception of, as a department of civil
      government, 190;
    all forms recognised in Roman Empire, were regulated by civil
      law, 201.

  Renan, Ernest, on Oriental paganism and Christianity, 18.

  Residuum, pagan, minor forms of, in Christianity, 231.

  _Review, The Edinburgh_, on pagan origin of the cross, 240.

  Reville, Albert, on civil character of Roman religion, 192 _f_.

  Rivers, confluence of, makes water sacred, 92;
    banks of, sacred, 92.

  Roman Catholic writers, honesty of, 7.

  Romanized Christianity identical with paganized, 17.


  Sabbath, the, observed by Christ, 168;
    observance of, 174;
    never associated with Christ’s resurrection, 172 _f_;
    “change of,” never spoken of in the Bible, 173;
    its recognition in the New Testament, 174;
    observed by the Apostles, 174;
    abolition of, taught by Tertullian, 186, 187;
    divine authority necessary to create, 295.

  Sabbathism, 291;
    sacred time, the essence of, 292;
    spiritual life the end of, 292;
    Jews did not understand, 293;
    Christ exalted it, 293;
    destroyed by Sunday legislation, 297.

  Sahagun de Bernardino, describes pagan baptism in Mexico, 110 _f_.

  Saints, worship of, a revival of pagan mythology, 27.

  Sandars on “civil” character of Roman paganism, 191, 192.

  “Saturnalia,” disorder of, at Burmah’s “water-festival,” 95.

  Scandinavia, ancient baptism in, 99, 100.

  Schaff, Dr. Philip, description of gnosticism, 36, 37;
    on Roman idea of state religion, 190 _f_;
    describes Heliogabalus and Severus, 197;
    on Constantine’s attitude towards Christianity, 213 _f_;
    on the origin of “penance,” 272, 273.

  Scotland, “Baal fires” continue there, 271.

  Serpent-worship, a branch of gnosticism closely associated with
      water-worship, 85.

  Severus, Alex., emperor, character of, 197.

  Seymore, Rev. Hobart, on heathen origin of saint-worship, 16;
    on pagan origin of “holy water,” 140, 141;
    on virtues of “holy water,” 144;
    sprinkling of animals, 146.

  Simeon, a type of the Demiurge, 44.

  Simon Magus, on gnostic baptism, 81.

  Socrates, historian, superstition of, concerning baptism, 253 _f_.

  Sozomen, had great faith in “relics,” 236;
    relates foolish myths as facts, 236, 237.

  Spelman, Sir Henry, finds origin of English “court terms” in
      paganism, 225 _f_.

  Spittle, use of, in baptism borrowed from pagans, 124;
    more efficacious if “fasting,” 125;
    various superstitions related by Pliny, 125-7.

  Springs, water of, specially sacred, 98.

  Sprites, water-, superstitious fear of, 108.

  State-religion, pagan origin of, 188.

  Sunday law, text of Constantine’s first, 220;
    permitted manumission of slaves, 220;
    associated with one for consulting soothsayers, 220 _f_;
    not unlike laws concerning other pagan days, 222 _f_;
    designates only the “Venerable Day of the Sun,” 222;
    purely pagan in form and spirit, 227.

  Sunday, observance of, weakens Decalogue, 158;
    first observance coupled with anti-Sabbathism, 159;
    observance based on tradition, 171;
    popular errors concerning, 171 _f_;
    observance unknown before middle of second century, 171 _f_;
    never called Sabbath in the Bible, 172 _f_;
    definitely referred to in N. T. but three times, 172;
    only six passages from N. T. quoted in favor of, 173;
    observance originated outside of the Bible, 177;
    first mentioned by Justin Martyr, 150 A.D., 178 _f_;
    pagan reasons for its observance, 181 _f_;
    the “puritan,” a compromise between the Sabbath and the Sunday, 294;
    legislation concerning a prominent feature in the puritan
      movement, 294;
    earliest laws concerning, pagan in form and concept, 294;
    no scriptural or Protestant ground for its observance, 295.

  Sun-worship, a myth of, used as a type of man’s resurrection, 59, 60;
    excessive and costly under Heliogabalus, 197 _f_;
    a popular cult at Rome, 201.

  Superstitions, excessive pagan, associated with baptism, 258.

  Syncretism, tendency to in early centuries, 12;
    a large factor in corrupting Christianity, 194.

  Synesius, Bishop, uncertain whether a pagan or a Christian, 24.


  Tammuz, worship of, condemned by Jeremiah, 238.

  Taylor, Isaac, on pagan element in Christianity, 6.

  Tertullian, sometimes opposed allegorical interpretation of
      the N. T., 46;
    unmeaning interpretation of “types,” 62;
    teaches pagano-Christian theory of baptism, 129 _f_;
    denies the power of pagan gods to sanctify water, 132;
    taught abrogation of the Decalogue, 163 _f_;
    ideas concerning the Sabbath, 163 _f_;
    superstitious faith in the sign of the cross, 248;
    explains “orientation,” 267.

  Testament, the Old, rejected by many Christians on gnostic
      grounds, 48.

  Teutons, pagan baptism among, 101 _f_.

  Thebaud, Rev. Aug., on paganism at Rome in fifth century, 13.

  Thibet, baptismal customs in, 93;
    autumn water-worship festival in, 96.

  Tiele, C. P., on Oriental paganism in Christianity, 6;
    on political character of Roman religion, 193, 194.

  Traditionalism largely pagan in origin, 289.


  Uhlhorn, Dr. Gerhard, on corruption of Christianity by
      gnosticism, 68, 70.

  Usages, pagan, adopted almost without stint by Christians, 26.


  Virgil, Polydore, claims that Christianity “meliorated” pagan
      customs by accepting them, 8.

  Virgil shows union of water-worship and sun-worship, 74, 75.


  Water, pagans believed it contained divine power to cleanse the
      soul, 72, 73;
    power to inspire, 74;
    river, especially sacred, 91;
    changes to wine on Easter and Christmas at midnight, 99;
    “holy,” if drawn at sacred seasons, 99;
    “holy,” cures evils and averts danger, 104;
    “sacred,” prevents physical disease, 105;
    superstitious value of, from mill-wheel, 106;
    endued with divine power at creation, 129;
    produces life by divine power, 131;
    “holy,” borrowed directly from paganism, 140;
    used at doors of heathen temples, 140, 142;
    use of, by Christians condemned, 143;
    use of, defended by Cardinal Wiseman, 146, 147;
    “baptismal,” prepared according to pagan formula, 152;
    sanctified by the sign of the cross, 251;
    at first used as a “charm,” 252.

  Water-worship, the pagan, corrupted Christianity fundamentally, 71;
    of Oriental origin, 72;
    prominent among serpent worshippers, 85;
    a special feature in Egyptian religion, 86;
    associated with Osiris worship, 87;
    superstitions connected with, in time of drouth, 106 _f_;
    universal in Northern Europe, 109;
    coupled with sun-worship among the Greeks, 112;
    summary of its influence on Christian baptism, 153-155.

  Wells, “sacred,” described by Sir Monier-Williams, 89.

  Westropp and Wake on gnosticism in Christianity, 27.

  Wilkins, W. J., describes water-worship festival of “Dasahara,” 94.

  Williams, Sir Monier-, on water-worship in India, 88;
    on baptism in Thibet and Mongolia, 93;
    on Buddhistic baptism, 94.

  Wiseman, Cardinal, value of his testimony, 10;
    defends the introduction of paganism in early Christianity, 10;
    on retention of paganism in English Church, 10;
    defends the use of “holy water,” 146, 147.


  Xerxes describes water- and sun-worship at the “Hellespont,” 76.

       *       *       *       *       *


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Transcriber’s Notes:

Footnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter and relabeled
consecutively through the document.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

The following changes were made:

p. 78: ἐριδᾶιοι changed to ἐριδαῖοι (of Contentions (ἐριδαῖοι)[70])

p. 86: Footnote anchor inserted (of carnal concupiscence.’”[75])

p. 113: πεῤιῥαίνειν changed to περιῤῥαίνειν and περιμάττεοθαι changed
to περιμάττεσθαι (thus: περιῤῥαίνειν, περιμάττεσθαι, περιθειοῦν)

p. 121: φωτιξεσθαι changed to φωτιζεσθαι (ψωτισμός, φωτιζεσθαι,

p. 142: περιρραντηριον changed to περιῤῥαντήριον (called
περιῤῥαντήριον; two)

p. 193: Footnote anchor inserted (essentially political motives.”[177])

p. 197: Footnote anchor inserted (patroness of Origen.”[179])

p. 236: formerly inserted, as in the quoted source (city formerly

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