« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
persons imagined the God of the Christians was an ass's head, and that others imagined they worshipped the Cross, sayeth: “ Others again, with more pretensions to probability, believe that the Sun is our God.” The learned father then alludeth to the Christian practise of praying towards the East, and of keeping Sunday as a festival. In a third treatise he alludeth to the points of similarity between the Religion of Christ and that of Mithra. The Priests of the Persian God had a species of sacraments. Their baptism procured a remission of sins to the believers and the faithful; who besides received marks upon their foreheads as the soldiers of their Deity. There was also an oblation of bread, and an image of a resurrection. The Soldier of Mithra refused the crown which was offered him, saying, that Mithra was his crown, The High Priest could only marry once, and many persons of both sexes devoted themselves to continence.
St. Justinus (another great Apologist of Christianism) alludeth to the mystical consecrations of the two Religions, and to the similarity of the birth of Christ to that of his Persian rival.
We are therefore authorized by two of the most respectable fathers of the Church to perceive some little similarity between the Religion of the Lord Jesus, and that of Mithra, whose name is considered by many to denote “ Master” or “ Lord,” a title which all nations, in their different languages, have conferred on their Deity.
Our author here abridgeth what he hath said in a former treatise concerning the mystical care of Zoroaster, to whom the books are attributed which treat upon the Mithriac Religion. This cave was typical of the world, whose soul is the Sun. The roof was vaulted like the heavens, and exhibited, not only the motion of the firmament, but also the contrary one of the planets. Here were seen the symbolical gates, through which the souls descended from the Empyreum, into the terrestrial matter, which they animated on coming to inhabit our bodies. The twelve Signs of the Zodiac, the climates, the division of the sublunary matter into four elements, all the distributions of the visible world, and even of the intellectual (of which this world was considered an image) were they emblematically represented, according to the descriptions of Origenes, Porphyrius, and Celsus.
But this letter is already rather too long. I will write to thee again in a few days. In the mean time,
Believe me, Fellow Citizen,
P.S. I beg leave to observe, that in my last letter there were a variety of false prints, such as “ Comical” for “ Cosmical,” and “ he-” for “ he-goat,” &c.
CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN A DOCTOR OF MEDICINE AND A UNITARIAN PREACHER, BOTH OF DUNDEE, IN CONSEQUENCE OF A LOAN, FROM THE FORMER TO THE LATTER, OF A COPY OF NUMBER 1, VOL. IX. OF “ THE REPUBLICAN."
PRIEST TO THE DOCTOR. Sir,
January 24, 1824. I have perused the tract which you, yesterday night, put into my hand, with all the candour which I could muster-but with all that candour, I am obliged to confess that I have been disappointed. Instead of poignancy I have found only insipidity, and instead of sound logic only rash assertion, or contemptible sophistry. You may think me too severe, but it is the severity of impartiality and not of bigotry. I consider that those, who by their persecution of Carlile have given his writings an importance which they do not deserve—have enlisted the sympathy, and through the sympathy the intellect, of many on his side, who would otherwise have despised his writings. I consider those who are his persecutors more meritorious of indignation than he is.
I will not deny that Carlileis sincerely disgusted at priests, he may have become disgusted at Christianity; and the prejudice against Christianity once excited, he would hardly take that leisure for studying the evidences of Christianity apart from men and from sects, which might have justified her to his judgment. If I allow him to be sincere, I cannot allow him the merit of surveying matters on all their sides and in all their bearings. He seems to be a man capable of jumping to a conclusion very nimbly, and without much hesitation. I would define him to be a credulous sceptic (a strange composite no doubt); but he seems to have as much faith when employed in rooting up all faith, as the most fanatical Methodist, could wish to have. I assure you, I would feel the necessity of a vast deal of faith, before I could part with the faith that no such being as Jesus ever really existed.
The first question, says Carlile, which arises is “how did he support himself and his followers?" What has this to do with his existence ? Even though this question could not be answered, even though ignorant how he existed, that would not be sufficient to induce us to deny that he did exist. But, if he had read, unbiassedly the history of Jesus, he would find an answer even to that question.
What Carlile says about the disciples plucking the ears of corn
indicates an ignorance of the laws of the Jews—and what he says of the barrenness of Judea, an ignorance of its geography'.
He cavils with the Evangelists for not writing minutely on the infancy of Jesus. Now this I consider an argument in their behalf, rather than an argument against them. It shows that they were impressed with more important aims than that of amusing their readers. It proves that their aim was to edify and not to amuse. What a difference in this respect between their histories and the spurious gospel to which Carlile refers! Any dispassionate enquirer would by a comparison of the two pronounce that the former had a stamp of truth upon them that gives them a high degree of credibility above the latter.
Who would not pity the man that can write such an analysis of the morality of the gospel, as that of Carlile'? Let the gospel speak for itself-I will ensure the credit of the gospel morality against the scrutiny of the most perspicuous critic. Buonaparte was no enthusiast, and had a sharper eye than Carlile has; and yet as he read what is called Christ's Sermon on the mount, he could not help exclaiming-what fine morality! This fact we learn from Las Casas' Journal.
Carlile supposes that Christianity had its rise first in AntiochWhere is his proof of this? Suppose now, that it had its origin in Jerusalem. What was there to make the people of Antioch, or the people of any other country believe that there was one Jesus crucified in Jerusalem-that in Jerusalem he rose from the dead—that in Jerusalem he founded a church-to believe all this, I say, in spite of early prejudice, in spite of the contempt of the world, in spite of every sacrifice-not excepting that of life itself? Would not this have been highly miraculous ?
Besides, is it likely, that a forger would have fabricated a story so unwelcome to the feelings and the prejudices of mankind, as that he, whom they were to receive as the founder of their religion, lived a life of poverty, and died the death of a slave-a death more ignominious in those days than that of being hung up by the neck by the hangman as in ours'. Carlile contends, that
'I challenge this priest, who complains of want of logic and too much assertion in me, to produce the authority of any one traveller for his assertion.
R. C. My analysis is compiled not composed. It is the Gospel itself dissected.
R. C. 3 There was no novelty in this doctrine, which the following article taken from Mr. Taylor's CLERICAL REVIEW will shew.
R. C. PARALLEL BETWEEN CABALISTICAL CHRISTIANITY AND
THE ANCIENT PAGAN STORY OF PROMETHEUS. In the celebrated apology of Marcus Minutius Felix, the faithful advocate there were no Christians in Jerusalem when entered by the Roman army. Well ! but if this were the case there was a good reason of pure and genuine Christianity, as opposed to the system of romance and mystery, which, even before his age, (about A. D. 211) had supplanted the true religion, are these words :-* Oye Pagans, very far are ye out of the way of truth, to imagine either that a criminal could deserve to be taken for a deity, or that a mere mau could possibly be a God.” Reeves' Christian Apologists, page 134.
He tells thein, moreover, that the story of the cross had its foundation in their own, (the Pagan religion,) and therefore ought not to be objected against Christians. Page 129. The learned translator, however, in a note, p. 99, remarks, that it was a Catholic opinion among the philosophers, that pious frauds were good things, and that the people ought to be imposed on in matters of religion; and this was certainly the principle avowed and acted on by the apostolic chief of sinners; “ for if the truth of God, said he, hath more abounded through my lie, unto bis glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner? Romans chap. iii. ver. 7, that is, lying to the glory of God! What harm in it? Surely the morality of this Cilician was as mysterious as his divinity!
It is well known that the monks in the fifth and sixth centuries exerted themselves to propagate what they misiook for Christian knowledge, by means of theatrical representations. An order, called the brothers of the holy passion, was instituted; the story was reduced to the form of a drama, and regularly acted throughout Europe. This could not fail of edifying the vulgar, while the intelligent would not fail to recognize in it a new edition of the celebrated tragedy of Æschylus, which had been acted with unbounded applause in the theatre of Athens, five hundred years before the Christian æra. The monks could not claim the merit of invention; every circumstance, and many sentiments and expressions, which it would be necessary to introduce in such a new-fangled drama, and which they pretended to draw from the Gospels, may be found in the Athenian original. Prometheus, whose very name is identical in signification with that of the Logos, or word of God, and who was himself a God, was brought on the stage between two personages, force and strength, who answer to the evangelical thieves, and by them, not between them, at the appointment of Jupiter, the supreme God, he was crucified on Mount Caucasus, not mourt Calvary.—The cause for which he suffered, was his great love for the human race-to rescue them from eternal death, he ventured to expose himself to the wrath of the almighty Father, and as their advocate and intercessor, and standing in their stead, he was condemned to suffer himself, as far as his divine nature was capable of suffering. In the midst of his agony, an angel was sent from heaven, to to reason with bim, but in vain-the chorus, or band of virgin sisters (the woman accompquied him to the place of execution) and wept at the sight of his sufferings. . Prometheus addresses much of his discourse to these affectionate sympathizers in his distress; and being duly warned they stand afar off, to behold what should happen to him, at a time when his disciples and former friends had forsaken him. At length, his pains provoking him to utter the most audacious blasphemy against Jove, a great convulsion of the whole frame of nature took place, and in a dreadful storm and preturnatural darkness, he was sent to hell.
But there is still another feature of coincidence, that cannot but astonish the Christian scholar; it is, that bis relation and especial friend Oceanus, who had another name, PETREUS, and who, as presiding over the sea, might be called a fisherman, had professed peculiar friendship for him.
for it. They knew the prophecy of their Lord, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and had of course the wisdom to depart
For never shalt thou say, thou hast a friend, “More firm, more con-
“When shall these sufferings find their destined end.
To struggle with necesity's strong power."
All that approaches now is dreadful to me.—Prom.
-On his Father's throne,