Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 181

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."[307:5]

[Pg 308]

The words of St. Justin, wherein he alludes to this ceremony, are as follows:

"The apostles, in the commentaries written by themselves, which we call Gospels, have delivered down to us how that Jesus thus commanded them: He having taken bread, after he had given thanks,[308:1] said, Do this in commemoration of me; this is my body. And having taken a cup, and returned thanks, he said: This is my blood, and delivered it to them alone. Which thing indeed the evil spirits have taught to be done out of mimicry in the Mysteries and Initiatory rites of Mithra.

"For you either know, or can know, that bread and a cup of water (or wine) are given out, with certain incantations, in the consecration of the person who is being initiated in the Mysteries of Mithra."[308:2]

This food they called the Eucharist, of which no one was allowed to partake but the persons who believed that the things they taught were true, and who had been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sin.[308:3] Tertullian, who flourished from 193 to 220 A. D., also speaks of the Mithraic devotees celebrating the Eucharist.[308:4]

The Eucharist of the Lord and Saviour, as the Magi called Mithra, the second person in their Trinity, or their Eucharistic sacrifice, was always made exactly and in every respect the same as that of the orthodox Christians, for both sometimes used water instead of wine, or a mixture of the two.[308:5]

The Christian Fathers often liken their rites to those of the Therapeuts (Essenes) and worshipers of Mithra. Here is Justin Martyr's account of Christian initiation:

"But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and assented to our teachings, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and the illuminated person. Having ended our prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water. When the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those that are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water."[308:6]

[Pg 309]

In the service of Edward the Sixth of England, water is directed to be mixed with the wine.[309:1] This is a union of the two; not a half measure, but a double one. If it be correct to take it with wine, then they were right; if with water, they still were right; as they took both, they could not be wrong.

The bread, used in these Pagan Mysteries, was carried in baskets, which practice was also adopted by the Christians. St. Jerome, speaking of it, says:

"Nothing can be richer than one who carries the body of Christ (viz.: the bread) in a basket made of twigs."[309:2]

The Persian Magi introduced the worship of Mithra into Rome, and his mysteries were solemnized in a cave. In the process of initiation there, candidates were also administered the sacrament of bread and wine, and were marked on the forehead with the sign of the cross.[309:3]

The ancient Greeks also had their "Mysteries," wherein they celebrated the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Rev. Robert Taylor, speaking of this, says:

"The Eleusinian Mysteries, or, Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, was the most august of all the Pagan ceremonies celebrated, more especially by the Athenians, every fifth year,[309:4] in honor of Ceres, the goddess of corn, who, in allegorical language, had given us her flesh to eat; as Bacchus, the god of wine, in like sense, had given us his blood to drink. . . .

"From these ceremonies is derived the very name attached to our Christian sacrament of the Lord's Supper,—'those holy Mysteries;'—and not one or two, but absolutely all and every one of the observances used in our Christian solemnity. Very many of our forms of expression in that solemnity are precisely the same as those that appertained to the Pagan rite."[309:5]

Prodicus (a Greek sophist of the 5th century B. C.) says that, the ancients worshiped bread as Demeter (Ceres) and wine as Dionysos (Bacchus);[309:6] therefore, when they ate the bread, and drank the wine, after it had been consecrated, they were doing as the Romanists claim to do at the present day, i. e., eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their god.[309:7]

Mosheim, the celebrated ecclesiastical historian, acknowledges that:

[Pg 310]

"The profound respect that was paid to the Greek and Roman Mysteries, and the extraordinary sanctity that was attributed to them, induced the Christians of the second century, to give their religion a mystic air, in order to put it upon an equal footing in point of dignity, with that of the Pagans. For this purpose they gave the name of Mysteries to the institutions of the Gospels, and decorated particularly the 'Holy Sacrament' with that title; they used the very terms employed in the Heathen Mysteries, and adopted some of the rites and ceremonies of which those renowned mysteries consisted. This imitation began in the eastern provinces; but, after the time of Adrian, who first introduced the mysteries among the Latins, it was followed by the Christians who dwelt in the western part of the empire. A great part, therefore, of the service of the Church in this—the second—century, had a certain air of the Heathen Mysteries, and resembled them considerably in many particulars."[310:1]

Eleusinian Mysteries and Christian Sacraments Compared.

1. "But as the benefit of Initiation was great, such as were convicted of witchcraft, murder, even though unintentional, or any other heinous crimes, were debarred from those mysteries."[310:2] 1. "For as the benefit is great, if, with a true penitent heart and lively faith, we receive that holy sacrament, &c., if any be an open and notorious evil-liver, or hath done wrong to his neighbor, &c., that he presume not to come to the Lord's table."[310:3]
2. "At their entrance, purifying themselves, by washing their hands in holy water, they were at the same time admonished to present themselves with pure minds, without which the external cleanness of the body would by no means be accepted."[310:4] 2. See the fonts of holy water at the entrance of every Catholic chapel in Christendom for the same purpose.

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."[310:5]
3. "The priests who officiated in these sacred solemnities, were called Hierophants, or 'revealers of holy things.'"[310:6] 3. The priests who officiate at these Christian solemnities are supposed to be 'revealers of holy things.'
4. The Pagan Priest dismissed their congregation with these words:

"The Lord be with you."[310:7]
4. The Christian priests dismiss their congregation with these words:

"The Lord be with you."

These Eleusinian Mysteries were accompanied with various rites, expressive of the purity and self-denial of the worshiper, and were therefore considered to be an expiation of past sins, and to place the initiated under the special protection of the awful and potent goddess who presided over them.[310:8]

These mysteries were, as we have said, also celebrated in honor of Bacchus as well as Ceres. A consecrated cup of wine was handed around after supper, called the "Cup of the Agathodaemon"[Pg 311]—the Good Divinity.[311:1] Throughout the whole ceremony, the name of the Lord was many times repeated, and his brightness or glory not only exhibited to the eye by the rays which surrounded his name (or his monogram, I. H. S.), but was made the peculiar theme or subject of their triumphant exultation.[311:2]

The mystical wine and bread were used during the Mysteries of Adonis, the Lord and Saviour.[311:3] In fact, the communion of bread and wine was used in the worship of nearly every important deity.[311:4]

The rites of Bacchus were celebrated in the British Islands in heathen times,[311:5] and so were those of Mithra, which were spread over Gaul and Great Britain.[311:6] We therefore find that the ancient Druids offered the sacrament of bread and wine, during which ceremony they were dressed in white robes,[311:7] just as the Egyptian priests of Isis were in the habit of dressing, and as the priests of many Christian sects dress at the present day.

Among some negro tribes in Africa there is a belief that "on eating and drinking consecrated food they eat and drink the god himself."[311:8]

The ancient Mexicans celebrated the mysterious sacrament of the Eucharist, called the "most holy supper," during which they ate the flesh of their god. The bread used at their Eucharist was made of corn meal, which they mixed with blood, instead of wine. This was consecrated by the priest, and given to the people, who ate it with humility and penitence, as the flesh of their god.[311:9]

Lord Kingsborough, in his "Mexican Antiquities," speaks of the ancient Mexicans as performing this sacrament; when they made a cake, which they called Tzoalia. The high priest blessed it in his manner, after which he broke it into pieces, and put it into certain very clean vessels. He then took a thorn of maguery, which resembles a thick needle, with which he took up with the utmost reverence single morsels, which he put into the mouth of each individual, after the manner of a communion.[311:10]

The writer of the "Explanation of Plates of the Codex Vaticanus,"—which are copies of Mexican