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: 251Even the orthodox Doctor Burnet, an eminent English author, in his treatise "De Statu Mortuorum," purposely written in Latin, [Pg 437]that it might serve for the instruction of the clergy only, and not come to the knowledge of the laity, because, as he said, "too much light is hurtful for weak eyes," not only justified but recommended the practice of the most consummate hypocrisy, and would have his clergy seriously preach and maintain the reality and eternity of hell torments, even though they should believe nothing of the sort themselves.[437:1]
The incredible and very ridiculous stories related by Christian Fathers and ecclesiastical historians, on whom we are obliged to rely for information on the most important of subjects, show us how untrustworthy these men were. We have, for instance, the story related by St. Augustine, who is styled "the greatest of the Latin Fathers," of his preaching the Gospel to people without heads. In his 33d Sermon he says:
"I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads."[437:2]
This same holy Father bears an equally unquestionable testimony to several resurrections of the dead, of which he himself had been an eye-witness.
In a book written "towards the close of the second century, by some zealous believer," and fathered upon one Nicodemus, who is said to have been a disciple of Christ Jesus, we find the following:
"We all know the blessed Simeon, the high priest, who took Jesus when an infant into his arms in the temple. This same Simeon had two sons of his own, and we were all present at their death and funeral. Go therefore and see their [Pg 438]tombs, for these are open, and they are risen; and behold, they are in the city of Arimathæa, spending their time together in offices of devotion."[438:1]
Eusebius, "the Father of ecclesiastical history," Bishop of Cæsarea, and one of the most prominent personages at the Council of Nice, relates as truth, the ridiculous story of King Agbarus writing a letter to Christ Jesus, and of Jesus' answer to the same.[438:2] And Socrates relates how the Empress Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem for the purpose of finding, if possible, "the cross of Christ." This she succeeded in doing, also the nails with which he was nailed to the cross.[438:3]
Beside forging, lying, and deceiving for the cause of Christ, the Christian Fathers destroyed all evidence against themselves and their religion, which they came across. Christian divines seem to have always been afraid of too much light. In the very infancy of printing, Cardinal Wolsey foresaw its effect on Christianity, and in a speech to the clergy, publicly forewarned them, that, if they did not destroy the Press, the Press would destroy them.[438:4] There can be no doubt, that had the objections of Porphyry,[438:5] Hierocles,[438:6] Celsus,[438:7] and other opponents of the Christian faith, been permitted to come down to us, the plagiarism in the Christian Scriptures from previously existing Pagan documents, is the specific charge they would have presented us. But these were ordered to be burned, by the prudent piety of the Christian emperors.
In Alexandria, in Egypt, there was an immense library, founded by the Ptolemies. This library was situated in the Alexandrian Museum; the apartments which were allotted for it were beautifully sculptured, and crowded with the choicest statues and pictures; the building was built of marble. This library eventually comprised [Pg 439]four hundred thousand volumes. In the course of time, probably on account of inadequate accommodation for so many books, an additional library was established, and placed in the temple of Serapis. The number of volumes in this library, which was called the daughter of that in the museum, was eventually three hundred thousand. There were, therefore, seven hundred thousand volumes in these royal collections.