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

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BACCHUS, which, with a new name, and some little change of drapery, stands now worshiped under the title of a female saint."[398:3]

In many parts of Italy are to be seen pictures of the "Holy Family," of extreme antiquity, the grounds of them often of gold.

[Pg 399]

These pictures represent the mother with a child on her knee, and a little boy standing close by her side; the Lamb is generally seen in the picture. They are inscribed "Deo Soli," and are simply ancient representations of Isis and Horus. The Lamb is "The Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world," which, as we have already seen, was believed on in the Pagan world centuries before the time of Christ Jesus.[399:1] Some half-pagan Christian went so far as to forge a book, which he attributed to Christ Jesus himself, which was for the purpose of showing that he—Christ Jesus—was in no way against these heathen gods.[399:2]

The Icelanders were induced to embrace Christianity, with its legends and miracles, and sainted divinities, as the Christian monks were ready to substitute for Thor, their warrior-god, Michael, the warrior-angel; for Freyja, their goddess, the Virgin Mary; and for the god Vila, a St. Valentine—probably manufactured for the occasion.

"The statues of Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, Orpheus, did duty for The Christ.[399:3] The Thames River god officiates at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Peter holds the keys of Janus.[399:4] Moses wears the horns of Jove. Ceres, Cybele, Demeter assume new names, as 'Queen of Heaven,' 'Star of the Sea,' 'Maria Illuminatrix;' Dionysius is St. Denis; Cosmos is St. Cosmo; Pluto and Proserpine resign their seats in the hall of final judgment to the Christ and his mother. The Parcæ depute one of their number, Lachesis, the disposer of lots, to set the stamp of destiny upon the deaths of Christian believers. The aura placida of the poets, the gentle breeze, is personified as Aura and Placida. The perpetua felicitas of the devotee becomes a lovely presence in the forms of St. Perpetua and St. Felicitas, guardian angels of the pious soul. No relic of Paganism was permitted to remain in its casket. The depositories were all ransacked. The shadowy hands of Egyptian priests placed the urn of holy water at the porch of the basilica, which stood ready to be converted into a temple. Priests of the [Pg 400]most ancient faiths of Palestine, Assyria, Babylon, Thebes, Persia were permitted to erect the altar at the point where the transverse beam of the cross meets the main stem. The hands that constructed the temple in cruciform shape had long become too attenuated to cast the faintest shadow. There Devaki with the infant Crishna, Maya with the babe Buddha, Juno with the child Mars, represent Mary with Jesus in her arms. Coarse emblems are not rejected; the Assyrian dove is a tender symbol of the Holy Ghost. The rag-bags and toy boxes were explored. A bauble which the Roman schoolboy had thrown away was picked up, and called an 'agnus dei.' The musty wardrobes of forgotten hierarchies furnished costumes for the officers of the new prince. Alb and chasuble recalled the fashions of Numa's day. The cast-off purple habits and shoes of Pagan emperors beautified the august persons of Christian popes. The cardinals must be contented with the robes once worn by senators. Zoroaster bound about the monks the girdle he invented as a protection against evil spirits, and clothed them in the frocks he had found convenient for his ritual. The pope thrust out his foot to be kissed, as Caligula, Heliogabalus, and Julius Cesar had thrust out theirs. Nothing came amiss to the faith that was to discharge henceforth the offices of spiritual impression."[400:1]

The ascetic and monastic life practiced by some Christians of the present day, is of great antiquity. Among the Buddhists there are priests who are ordained, tonsured, live in monasteries, and make vows of celibacy. There are also nuns among them, whose vows and discipline are the same as the priests.[400:2]

The close resemblance between the ancient religion of Thibet and Nepaul—where the worship of a crucified God was found—and the Roman Catholic religion of the present day, is very striking. In Thibet was found the pope, or head of the religion, whom they called the "Dalai Lama;"[400:3] they use holy water, they celebrate a sacrifice with bread and wine; they give extreme unction, pray for the sick; they have monasteries, and convents for women; they chant in their services, have fasts; they worship one God in a trinity, believe in a hell, heaven, and a half-way place or purgatory; they make prayers and sacrifices for the dead, have confession, adore the cross; have chaplets, or strings of beads to count their prayers, and many other practices common to the Roman Catholic Church.[400:4]

[Pg 401]

The resemblance between Buddhism and Christianity has been remarked by many travelers in the eastern countries. Sir John Francis Davis, in his "History of China," speaking of Buddhism in that country, says:

"Certain it is—and the observance may be daily made even at Canton—that they (the Buddhist priests) practice the ordinances of celibacy, fasting, and prayers for the dead; they have holy water, rosaries of beads, which they count with their prayers, the worship of relics, and a monastic habit resembling that of the Franciscans" (an order of Roman Catholic monks).

Père Premere, a Jesuit missionary to China, was driven to conclude that the devil had practiced a trick to perplex his friends, the Jesuits. To others, however, it is not so difficult to account for these things as it seemed for the good Father. Sir John continues his account as follows: