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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To expiate sin, offerings made to these priests are—according to the Buddhist idea—sufficient. To facilitate the release of some unfortunate from purgatory, they said masses. Their prayers are counted by means of a rosary, and they live in a state of celibacy.

Mr. Gutzlaff, in describing a temple dedicated to Buddha, situated on the island of Poo-ta-la, says:

"We were present at the vespers of the priests, which they chanted in the Pali language, not unlike the Latin service of the Romish church. They held their rosaries in their hands, which rested folded upon their breasts. One of them had a small bell, by the tingling of which the service was regulated."

The Buddhists in India have similar institutions. The French missionary, M. L'Abbé Huc, says of them:

"The Buddhist ascetic not aspiring to elevate himself only, he practiced virtue and applied himself to perfection to make other men share in its belief; and [Pg 403]by the institution of an order of religious mendicants, which increased to an immense extent, he attached towards him, and restored to society, the poor and unfortunate. It was, indeed, precisely because Buddha received among his disciples miserable creatures who were outcasts from the respectable class of India, that he became an object of mockery to the Brahmins. But he merely replied to their taunts, 'My law is a law of mercy for all.'"[403:1]

In the words of Viscount Amberly, we can say that, "Monasticism, in countries where Buddhism reigns supreme, is a vast and powerful institution."

The Essenes, of whom we shall speak more fully anon, were an order of ascetics, dwelling in monasteries. Among the order of Pythagoras, which was very similar to the Essenes, there was an order of nuns.[403:2] The ancient Druids admitted females into their sacred order, and initiated them into the mysteries of their religion.[403:3] The priestesses of the Saxon Frigga devoted themselves to perpetual virginity.[403:4] The vestal virgins[403:5] were bound by a solemn vow to preserve their chastity for a space of thirty years.[403:6]

The Egyptian priests of Isis were obliged to observe perpetual chastity.[403:7] They were also tonsured like the Buddhist priests.[403:8] The Assyrian, Arabian, Persian and Egyptian priests wore white surplices,[403:9] and so did the ancient Druids. The Corinthian Aphrodite had her Hierodoulio, the pure Gerairai ministered to the goddess of the Parthenon, the altar of the Latin Vesta was tended by her chosen virgins, and the Romish "Queen of Heaven" has her nuns.

When the Spaniards had established themselves in Mexico and Peru, they were astonished to find, among other things which closely resembled their religion, monastic institutions on a large scale.

The Rev. Father Acosta, in his "Natural and Moral History of the Indies," says:

"There is one thing worthy of special regard, the which is, how the Devil, by his pride, hath opposed himself to God; and that which God, by his wisdom, hath decreed for his honor and service, and for the good and health of man, the devil strives to imitate and pervert, to be honored, and to cause men to be damned: for as we see the great God hath Sacrifices, Priests, Sacraments, Religious Prophets, and Ministers, dedicated to his divine service and holy ceremonies, so likewise the devil hath his Sacrifices, Priests, his kinds of Sacraments, his Ministers appointed, his secluded and feigned holiness, with a thousand sorts of false prophets."[403:10]