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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: 236

[409:1]

Melito (a Christian bishop of Sardis), in an apology delivered to the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, in the year 170, claims the patronage of the emperor, for the now called Christian religion, which he calls "our philosophy," "on account of its high antiquity, as having been imported from countries lying beyond the limits of the Roman empire, in the region of his ancestor Augustus, who found its importation ominous of good fortune to his government."[409:2] This is an absolute demonstration that Christianity did not originate in Judea, which was a Roman province, but really was an exotic oriental fable, imported from India, and that Paul was doing as he claimed, viz.: preaching a God manifest in the flesh who had been "believed on in the world" centuries before his time, and a doctrine which had already been preached "unto every creature under heaven."

Baronius (an eminent Catholic ecclesiastical historian) says:

"It is permitted to the Church to use, for the purpose of piety, the ceremonies which the pagans used for the purpose of impiety in a superstitious religion, after having first expiated them by consecration—to the end, that the devil might receive a greater affront from employing, in honor of Jesus Christ, that which his enemy had destined for his own service."[409:3]

Clarke, in his "Evidences of Revealed Religion," says:

"Some of the ancient writers of the church have not scrupled expressly to call the Athenian Socrates, and some others of the best of the heathen moralists, by the name of Christians, and to affirm, as the law was as it were a schoolmaster, to bring the Jews unto Christ, so true moral philosophy was to the Gentiles a preparative to receive the gospel."[409:4]

Clemens Alexandrinus says:

"Those who lived according to the Logos were really Christians, though they have been thought to be atheists; as Socrates and Heraclitus were among the Greeks, and such as resembled them."[409:5]

And St. Augustine says:

"That, in our times, is the Christian religion, which to know and follow is the most sure and certain health, called according to that name, but not according [Pg 410]to the thing itself, of which it is the name; for the thing itself which is now called the Christian religion, really was known to the ancients, nor was wanting at any time from the beginning of the human race, until the time when Christ came in the flesh, from whence the true religion, which had previously existed, began to be called Christian; and this in our days is the Christian religion, not as having been wanting in former times, but as having in later times received this name."[410:1]

Eusebius, the great champion of Christianity, admits that that which is called the Christian religion, is neither new nor strange, but—if it be lawful to testify the truth—was known to the ancients.[410:2]

How the common people were Christianized, we gather from a remarkable passage which Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian, has preserved for us, in the life of Gregory, surnamed "Thaumaturgus," that is, "the wonder worker." The passage is as follows:

"When Gregory perceived that the simple and unskilled multitude persisted in their worship of images, on account of the pleasures and sensual gratifications which they enjoyed at the Pagan festivals, he granted them a permission to indulge themselves in the like pleasures, in celebrating the memory of the holy martyrs, hoping that in process of time, they would return of their own accord, to a more virtuous and regular course of life."[410:3]

The historian remarks that there is no sort of doubt, that by this permission, Gregory allowed the Christians to dance, sport, and feast at the tombs of the martyrs, upon their respective festivals, and to do everything which the Pagans were accustomed to do in their temples, during the feasts celebrated in honor of their gods.

The learned Christian advocate, M. Turretin, in describing the state of Christianity in the fourth century, has a well-turned rhetoricism, the point of which is, that "it was not so much the empire that was brought over to the faith, as the faith that was brought over to the empire; not the Pagans who were converted to Christianity, but Christianity that was converted to Paganism."[410:4]

Edward Gibbon says:

[Pg 411]

"It must be confessed that the ministers of the Catholic church imitated the profane model which they were impatient to destroy. The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves, that the ignorant rusties would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. 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 arts of their vanquished rivals."[411:1]

Faustus, writing to St. Augustine, says:

"You have substituted your agapæ for the sacrifices of the Pagans; for their idols your martyrs, whom you serve with the very same honors. You appease the shades of the dead with wine and feasts; you celebrate the solemn festivities of the Gentiles, their calends, and their solstices; and, as to their manners, those you have retained without any alteration. Nothing distinguishes you from the Pagans, except that you hold your assemblies apart from them."[411:2]

Ammonius Saccus (a Greek philosopher, founder of the Neo-platonic school) taught that:

"Christianity and Paganism, when rightly understood, differ in no essential points, but had a common origin, and are really one and the same thing."[411:3]

Justin explains the thing in the following manner:

"It having reached the devil's ears that the prophets had foretold that Christ would come . . . he (the devil) set the heathen poets to bring forward a great many who should be called sons of Jove, (i. e., "The Sons of God.") The devil laying his scheme in this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ was of the same character as the prodigious fables and poetic stories."[411:4]

Cæcilius, in the Octavius of Minucius Felix, says:

"All these fragments of crack-brained opiniatry and silly solaces played off in the sweetness of song by (the) deceitful (Pagan) poets, by you too credulous creatures (i. e., the Christians) have been shamefully reformed and made over to your own god."[411:5]

Celsus, the Epicurean philosopher, wrote that:

"The Christian religion contains nothing but what Christians hold in common with heathens; nothing new, or truly great."[411:6]

This assertion is fully verified by Justin Martyr, in his apology to the Emperor Adrian, which is one of the most remarkable admissions ever made by a Christian writer. He says:

"In saying that all things were made in this beautiful order by God, what do we seem to say more than Plato? When we teach a general conflagration, what do we teach more than the Stoics? By opposing the worship of the works of men's hands, we concur with Menander, the comedian; and by declaring the [Pg 412]Logos, the first begotten of God, our master Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin, without any human mixture, to be crucified and dead, and to have rose again, and ascended into heaven: we say no more in this, than what you say of those whom you style the Sons of Jove. For you need not be told what a parcel of sons, the writers most in vogue among you, assign to Jove; there's Mercury, Jove's interpreter, in imitation of the Logos, in worship among you. There's Æsculapius, the physician, smitten by a thunderbolt, and after that ascending into heaven. There's Bacchus, torn to pieces; and Hercules, burnt to get rid of his pains. There's Pollux and Castor, the sons of Jove by Leda, and Perseus by Danae; and not to mention others, I would fain know why you always deify the departed emperors and have a fellow at hand to make affidavit that he saw Cæsar mount to heaven from the funeral pile?

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

"As to the objection of our Jesus's being crucified, I say, that suffering was common to all the forementioned sons of Jove, but only they suffered another kind of death. As to his being born of a virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that. As to his curing the lame, and the paralytic, and such as were cripples from birth, this is little more than what you say of your Æsculapius."[412:1]

The most celebrated Fathers of the Christian church, the most frequently quoted, and those whose names stand the highest were nothing more nor less than Pagans, being born and educated Pagans. Pantaenus (A. D. 193) was one of these half-Pagan, half-Christian, Fathers. He at one time presided in the school of the faithful in Alexandria in Egypt, and was celebrated on account of his learning. He was brought up in the Stoic philosophy.[412:2]

Clemens Alexandrinus (A. D. 194) or St. Clement of Alexandria, was another Christian Father of the same sort, being originally a Pagan. He succeeded Pantaenus as president of the monkish university at Alexandria. His works are very extensive, and his authority very high in the church.[412:3]

Tertullian (A. D. 200) may next be mentioned. He also was originally a Pagan, and at one time Presbyter of the Christian church of Carthage, in Africa. The following is a specimen of his manner of reasoning on the evidences of Christianity. He says:


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