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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: 228

[395:2]

The point to which our attention is forcibly drawn is, that the question of Sabbath-keeping is one of those that is left out. The point that Paul had been fighting for was conceded by the central church at Jerusalem, and he was to go out thenceforth free, so far as that was concerned, in his teaching of the churches that he should found.

There is no mention of the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, as binding in the New Testament. What, then, was the actual condition of affairs? What did the churches do in the first three hundred years of their existence? Why, they did just what Paul and the Jerusalem church had agreed upon. Those who wished to keep the Jewish Sabbath did so; and those who did not wish to, did not do so. This is seen from the fact that Justin Martyr, a Christian Father who flourished about A. D. 140, did not observe the day. In his "Dialogue" with Typho, the Jew reproaches the Christians for not keeping the "Sabbath." Justin admits the charge by saying:

"Do you not see that the Elements keep no Sabbaths and are never idle? Continue as you were created. If there was no need of circumcision before Abraham's time, and no need of the Sabbath, of festivals and oblations, before the time of Moses, neither of them are necessary after the coming of Christ. If any among you is guilty of perjury, fraud, or other crimes, let him cease from them and repent, and he will have kept the kind of Sabbath pleasing to God."

[Pg 396]

There was no binding authority then, among the Christians, as to whether they should keep the first or the seventh day of the week holy, or not, until the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor. "Constantine, a Sun worshiper, who had, as other Heathen, kept the Sun-day, publicly ordered this to supplant the Jewish Sabbath."[396:1] He commanded that this day should be kept holy, throughout the whole Roman empire, and sent an edict to all governors of provinces to this effect.[396:2] Thus we see how the great Pagan festival, in honor of Sol the invincible, was transformed into a Christian holy-day.

Not only were Pagan festival days changed into Christian holy-days, but Pagan idols were converted into Christian saints, and Pagan temples into Christian churches.

A Pagan temple at Rome, formerly sacred to the "Bona Dea" (the "Good Goddess"), was Christianized and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In a place formerly sacred to Apollo, there now stands the church of Saint Apollinaris. Where there anciently stood the temple of Mars, may now be seen the church of Saint Martine.[396:3] A Pagan temple, originally dedicated to "Cælestis Dea" (the "Heavenly Goddess"), by one Aurelius, a Pagan high-priest, was converted into a Christian church by another Aurelius, created Bishop of Carthage in the year 390 of Christ. He placed his episcopal chair in the very place where the statue of the Heavenly Goddess had stood.[396:4]

The noblest heathen temple now remaining in the world, is the Pantheon or Rotunda, which, as the inscription over the portico informs us, having been impiously dedicated of old by Agrippa to "Jove and all the gods," was piously reconsecrated by Pope Boniface the Fourth, to "The Mother of God and all the Saints."[396:5]

The church of Saint Reparatae, at Florence, was formerly a Pagan temple. An inscription was found in the foundation of this church, of these words: "To the Great Goddess Nutria."[396:6] The church of St. Stephen, at Bologna, was formed from heathen temples, one of which was a temple of Isis.[396:7]

At the southern extremity of the present Forum at Rome, and just under the Palatine hill—where the noble babes, who, miraculously preserved, became the founders of a state that was to command the world, were exposed—stands the church of St. Theodore.

[Pg 397]

This temple was built in honor of Romulus, and the brazen wolf—commemorating the curious manner in which the founders of Rome were nurtured—occupied a place here till the sixteenth century. And, as the Roman matrons of old used to carry their children, when ill, to the temple of Romulus, so too, the women still carry their children to St. Theodore on the same occasions.

In Christianizing these Pagan temples, free use was made of the sculptured and painted stones of heathen monuments. In some cases they evidently painted over one name, and inserted another. This may be seen from the following

Inscriptions Formerly in Pagan Temples. and Inscriptions now in Christian Churches.
1.
To Mercury and Minerva, Tutelary Gods.
1.
To St. Mary and St. Francis, My Tutelaries.
2.
To the Gods who preside over this Temple.
2.
To the Divine Eustrogius, who presides over this Temple.
3.
To the Divinity of Mercury the Availing, the Powerful, the Unconquered.
3.
To the Divinity of St. George the Availing, the Powerful, the Unconquered.
4.
Sacred to the Gods and Goddesses, with Jove the best and greatest.
4.
Sacred to the presiding helpers, St. George and St. Stephen, with God the best and greatest.
5.
Venus' Pigeon.
5.
The Holy Ghost represented as a Pigeon.
6.
The Mystical Letters I. H. S.[397:1]
6.
The Mystical Letters I. H. S.[397:2]

In many cases the Images of the Pagan gods were allowed to remain in these temples, and, after being Christianized, continued to receive divine honors.[397:3]

"In St. Peter's, Rome, is a statue of Jupiter, deprived of his thunderbolt, which is replaced by the emblematic keys. In like manner, much of the religion of the lower orders, which we regard as essentially Christian, is ancient heathenism, refitted with Christian symbols."[397:4] We find that as early as the time of St. Gregory, Bishop of Neo-Cesarea (A. D. 243), the "simple" and "unskilled" [Pg 398]multitudes of Christians were allowed to pay divine honors to these images, hoping that in the process of time they would learn better.[398:1] In fact, as Prof. Draper says:

"Olympus was restored, but the divinities passed under other names. The more powerful provinces insisted upon the adoption of their time-honored conceptions. . . . Not only was the adoration of ISIS under a new name restored, but even her image, standing on the crescent moon, reappeared. The well-known effigy of that goddess with the infant Horus in her arms, has descended to our days in the beautiful, artistic creations of the Madonna and child. Such restorations of old conceptions under novel forms were everywhere received with delight. When it was announced to the Ephesians, that the Council of that place, headed by Cyril, had declared that the Virgin (Mary) should be called the 'Mother of God,' with tears of joy they embraced the knees of their bishop; it was the old instinct cropping out; their ancestors would have done the same for Diana."[398:2]

"O bright goddess; once again
Fix on earth thy heav'nly reign;
Be thy sacred name ador'd,
Altars rais'd, and rites restor'd."

Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople from 428 A. D., refused to call Mary "the mother of God," on the ground that she could be the mother of the human nature only, which the divine Logos used as its organ. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, did all in his power to stir up the minds of the people against Nestorius; the consequence was that, both at Rome and at Alexandria, Nestorius was accused of heresy. The dispute grew more bitter, and Theodosius II. thought it necessary to convoke an Œcumenical Council at Ephesus in 431. On this, as on former occasions, the affirmative party overruled the negative. The person of Mary began to rise in the new empyrean. The paradoxical name of "Mother of God" pleased the popular piety. Nestorius was condemned, and died in exile.

The shrine of many an old hero was filled by the statue of some imaginary saint.

"They have not always" (says Dr. Conyers Middleton), "as I am well informed, given themselves the trouble of making even this change, but have been contented sometimes to take up with the old image, just as they found it; after baptizing it only, as it were, or consecrating it anew, by the imposition of a Christian name. This their antiquaries do not scruple to put strangers in mind of, in showing their churches, as it was, I think, in that of St. Agnes, where they showed me an antique statue of a young


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