Christian and Pagan Beliefs Compared

The Egyptian Isis was also represented as a Virgin Mother by her devotees, and as holding her infant son, Horus, in her arms. In some statues and basso-relievos, when she appears alone she is either completely nude or veiled from head to foot. But in the Mysteries, in common with nearly every other goddess, she is entirely veiled from head to foot, as a symbol of a mother's chastity. It would not do us any harm were we to borrow from the ancients some of the poetic sentiment in their religions, and the innate veneration they entertained for their symbols.

It is but fair to say at once that the last of the true Christians died with the last of the direct apostles. Max Müller forcibly asks: "How can a missionary in such circumstances meet the surprise and questions of his pupils, unless he may point to that seed,+ and tell them what Christianity was meant to be? unless he may show that, like all other religions, Christianity too, has had its history; that the Christianity of the nineteenth century is not the Christianity of the middle ages, and that the Christianity of the middle ages was not that of the early Councils; that the Christianity of the early Councils was not that of the Apostles, and that what has been said by Christ, that alone was well said? "J

f Referring to the seed planted by Jesus and his Apostles. J "Chips," vol. i., p. 26, Preface.

Thus we may infer that the only characteristic difference between modern Christianity and the old heathen faiths is the belief of the former in a personal devil and in hell. "The Aryan nations had no devil," says Max Müller. "Pluto, though of a sombre character, was a very respectable personage; and Loki (the Scandinavian), though a mischievous person, was not a fiend. The German Goddess, Hell, too, like Proserpine, had once seen better days. Thus, when the Germans were indoctrinated with the idea of a real devil, the Semitic Seth, Satan or Diabolus, they treated him in the most good-humored way."

The same may be said of hell. Hades was quite a different place from our region of eternal damnation, and might be termed rather an intermediate state of purification. Neither does the Scandinavian Hel or Hela, imply either a state or a place of punishment; for when Frigga, the grief-stricken mother of Bal-dur, the white god, who died and found himself in the dark abodes of the shadows (Hades) sent Hermod, a son of Thor, in quest of her beloved child, the messenger found him in the inexorable region — alas! but still comfortably seated on a rock, and reading a book.* The Norse kingdom of the dead is moreover situated in the higher latitudes of the Polar regions; it is a cold and cheerless abode, and neither the gelid halls of Hela, nor the occupation of Baldur present the least similitude to the blazing hell of eternal fire and the miserable "damned" sinners with which

* Mallet, "Northern Antiquities."

the Church so generously peoples it. No more is it the Egyptian Amenthes, the region of judgment and purification; nor the onderah — the abyss of darkness of the Hindus; for even the fallen angels hurled into it by Siva, are allowed by Parabrahma to consider it as an intermediate state, in which an opportunity is afforded them to prepare for higher degrees of purification and redemption from their wretched condition. The Gehenna of the New Testament was a locality outside the walls of Jerusalem; and in mentioning it, Jesus used but an ordinary metaphor. whence then came the dreary dogma of hell, that Archimedean lever of Christian theology, with which they have succeeded to hold in subjection the numberless millions of Christians for nineteen centuries? Assuredly not from the Jewish Scriptures, and we appeal for corroboration to any well-informed Hebrew scholar.

The only designation of something approaching hell in the Bible is Gehenna or Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem, where was situated Tophet, a place where a fire was perpetually kept for sanitary purposes. The prophet Jeremiah informs us that the Israelites used to sacrifice their children to Moloch-Hercules on that spot; and later we find Christians quietly replacing this divinity by their god of mercy, whose wrath will not be appeased, unless the Church sacrifices to him her unbaptized children and sinning sons on the altar of "eternal damnation"!

whence then did the divine learn so well the conditions of hell, as to actually divide its torments into two kinds, the p&na damni and p^n^ sensus, the former being the privation of the beatific vision; the latter the eternal pains in a lake of fire and brimstone? If they answer us that it is in the Apocalypse (xx. 10), we are prepared to demonstrate whence the theologist John himself derived the idea, "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented for ever and ever," he says. Laying aside the esoteric interpretation that the "devil" or tempting demon meant our own earthly body, which after death will surely dissolve in the fiery or ethereal elements,* the word "eternal" by which our theologians interpret the words "for ever and ever" does not exist in the Hebrew language, either as a word or meaning. There is no Hebrew word which properly expresses eternity; Q^IV oulam, according to Le Clerc, only imports a time whose beginning or end is not known. While showing that this word does not mean infinite duration, and that in the Old Testament the word forever only signifies a long time, Archbishop Tillotson has completely perverted its sense with respect to the idea of hell-torments. According to his doctrine, when Sodom and Gomorrah are said to be suffering "eternal fire," we must understand it only in the sense of that fire not being extinguished till both cities were entirely consumed. But, as to hell-fire the words must be understood in the strictest

* Ether is both pure and impure fire. The composition of the latter comprises all its visible forms, such as the "correlation of forces" — heat, flame, electricity, etc. The former is the Spirit of Fire. The difference is purely alchemical.

sense of infinite duration. Such is the decree of the learned divine. For the duration of the punishment of the wicked must be proportionate to the eternal happiness of the righteous. So he says, "These (speaking of the wicked) shall go away £ig oAaaiv aiwviov into eternal punishment; but the righteous £ig aiwviov into life eternal."

The Reverend T. Surnden,+ commenting on the speculations of his predecessors, fills a whole volume with unanswerable arguments, tending to show that the locality of Hell is in the sun. We suspect that the reverend speculator had read the Apocalypse in bed, and had the nightmare in consequence. There are two verses in the Revelation of John reading thus: "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and power was given him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God."J This is simply Pythagorean and kabalistic allegory. The idea is new neither with the above-mentioned author nor with John. Pythagoras placed the "sphere of purification in the sun," which sun, with its sphere, he moreover locates in the middle of the universe,§ the allegory having a double meaning:

1. Symbolically, the central, spiritual sun, the Supreme Deity. Arrived at this region every soul becomes purified of its sins, and unites itself forever with its spirit, having f See "Inquiry into the Nature and Place of Hell," by Rev. T. Surnden. J Revelation xvi. 8-9.

§ Aristotle mentions Pythagoreans who placed the sphere of fire in the sun, and named it Jupiter's Prison. See "De Coelo," lib. ii.

previously suffered throughout all the lower spheres.

2. By placing the sphere of visible fire in the middle of the universe, he simply taught the heliocentric system which appertained to the Mysteries, and was imparted only in the higher degree of initiation. John gives to his Word a purely kabalistic significance, which no "Fathers," except those who had belonged to the Neo-platonic school, were able to comprehend. origen understood it well, having been a pupil of Ammonius Saccas; therefore we see him bravely denying the perpetuity of hell-torments. He maintains that not only men, but even devils (by which term he meant disembodied human sinners), after a certain duration of punishment shall be pardoned and finally restored to heaven.* In consequence of this and other such heresies origen was, as a matter of course, exiled.

Many have been the learned and truly inspired speculations as to the locality of hell. The most popular were those which placed it in the centre of the earth. At a certain time, however, skeptical doubts which disturbed the placidity of faith in this highly refreshing doctrine arose in consequence of the meddling scientists of those days. As a Mr. Swinden in our own century observes, the theory was inadmissible because of two objections: 1st, that a fund of fuel or sulphur sufficient to maintain so furious and constant a fire could not be there supposed; and, 2d, that it must want the nitrous particles in the air to sustain and keep it alive.

"And how," says he, "can a fire be eternal, when, by degrees, the whole substance of the earth must be consumed thereby? "t

The skeptical gentleman had evidently forgotten that centuries ago St. Augustine solved the difficulty. Have we not the word of this learned divine that hell, nevertheless, is in the centre of the earth, for "God supplies the central fire with air by a miracle"? The argument is unanswerable, and so we will not seek to upset it.

The Christians were the first to make the existence of Satan a dogma of the Church. And once that she had established it, she had to struggle for over 1,700 years for the repression of a mysterious force which it was her policy to make appear of diabolical origin. Unfortunately, in manifesting itself, this force invariably tends to upset such a belief by the ridiculous discrepancy it presents between the alleged cause and the effects. If the clergy have not over-estimated the real power of the "Arch-Enemy of God," it must be confessed that he takes mighty precautions against being recognized as the "Prince of Darkness" who aims at our souls. If modern "spirits" are devils at all, as preached by the clergy, then they can only be those "poor" or "stupid devils" whom Max Müller describes as appearing so often in the German and Norwegian tales.

Notwithstanding this, the clergy fear above all to be forced to relinquish this hold on humanity. They are not willing to let us judge of the tree by its fruits, for that might sometimes f "Demonologia and Hell," p. 289.

force them into dangerous dilemmas. They refuse, likewise, to admit, with unprejudiced people, that the phenomena of Spiritualism has unquestionably spiritualized and reclaimed from evil courses many an indomitable atheist and skeptic. But, as they confess themselves, what is the use in a Pope, if there is no Devil?

And so Rome sends her ablest advocates and preachers to the rescue of those perishing in "the bottomless pit." Rome employs her cleverest writers for this purpose — albeit they all indignantly deny the accusation — and in the preface to every book put forth by the prolific des Mousseaux, the French Tertullian of our century, we find undeniable proofs of the fact. Among other certificates of ecclesiastical approval, every volume is ornamented with the text of a certain original letter addressed to the very pious author by the world-known Father Ventura de Raulica, of Rome. Few are those who have not heard this famous name. It is the name of one of the chief pillars of the Latin Church, the ex-General of the Order of the Theatins, Consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Examiner of Bishops, and of the Roman Clergy, etc., etc., etc. This strikingly characteristic document will remain to astonish future generations by its spirit of unsophisticated demonolatry and unblushing sincerity. We translate a fragment verbatim, and by thus helping its circulation hope to merit the blessings of Mother Church:*

* "Les Hauts Phenomenes de la Magie," p. v., Preface.

"Monsieur And Excellent Friend:

"The greatest victory of Satan was gained on that day when he succeeded in making himself denied.

"To demonstrate the existence of Satan, is to reestablish one of the fundamental dogmas of the Church, which serve as a basis for Christianity, and, without which, Satan would be but a name. . .

"Magic, mesmerism, magnetism, somnambulism, spiritualism, spiritism, hypnotism . . . are only other names for Satanism.

"To bring out such a truth and show it in its proper light, is to unmask the enemy; it is to unveil the immense danger of certain practices, reputed innocent; it is to deserve well in the eyes of humanity and of religion.

"Father Ventura De Raulica"

This is an unexpected honor indeed, for our American "controls" in general, and the innocent "Indian guides" in particular. To be thus introduced in Rome as princes of the Empire of Eblis, is more than they could ever hope for in other lands.

Without in the least suspecting that she was working for the future welfare of her enemies — the spiritualists and spiritists — the Church, some twenty years since, in tolerating des Mousseaux and de Mirville as the biographers of the

Devil, and giving her approbation thereto, tacitly confessed the literary copartnership.

M. the Chevalier Gougenot des Mousseaux, and his friend and collaborateur, the Marquis Eudes de Mirville, to judge by their long titles, must be aristocrats pur sang, and they are, moreover, writers of no small erudition and talent. Were they to show themselves a little more parsimonious of double points of exclamation following every vituperation and invective against Satan and his worshippers, their style would be faultless. As it is, the crusade against the enemy of mankind was fierce, and lasted for over twenty years.

What with the Catholics piling up their psychological phenomena to prove the existence of a personal devil, and the Count de Gasparin, an ancient minister of Louis Philippe, collecting volumes of other facts to prove the contrary, the spiritists of France have contracted an everlasting debt of gratitude toward the disputants. The existence of an unseen spiritual universe peopled with invisible beings has now been demonstrated beyond question. Ransacking the oldest libraries, they have distilled from the historical records the quintessence of evidence. All epochs, from the Homeric ages down to the present day have supplied their choicest materials to these indefatigable authors. in trying to prove the authenticity of the miracles wrought by Satan in the days preceding the Christian era, as well as throughout the middle ages, they have simply laid a firm foundation for a study of the phenomena in our modern times.

Though an ardent, uncompromising enthusiast, des

Mousseaux unwittingly transforms himself into the tempting demon, or — as he is fond of calling the Devil — the "serpent of Genesis." In his desire to demonstrate in every manifestation the presence of the Evil one, he only succeeds in demonstrating that Spiritualism and magic are no new things in the world, but very ancient twin-brothers, whose origin must be sought for in the earliest infancy of ancient India, Chaldea, Babylonia, Egypt, Persia, and Greece.

He proves the existence of "spirits," whether these be angels or devils, with such a clearness of argument and logic, and such an amount of evidence, historical, irrefutable, and strictly authenticated, that little is left for spiritualist authors who may come after him. How unfortunate that the scientists, who believe neither in devil nor spirit, are more than likely to ridicule M. des Mousseaux's books without reading them, for they really contain so many facts of profound scientific interest!

But what can we expect in our own age of unbelief, when we find Plato, over twenty-two centuries ago, complaining of the same? "Me, too," says he, in his Euthyphron, "when I say anything in the public assembly concerning divine things, and predict to them what is going to happen, they ridicule as mad; and although nothing that I have predicted has proved untrue, yet they envy all such men as we are. However, we ought not to heed, but pursue our own way."

The literary resources of the Vatican and other Catholic repositories of learning must have been freely placed at the disposal of these modern authors. When one has such treasures at hand — original manuscripts, papyri, and books pillaged from the richest heathen libraries; old treatises on magic and alchemy; and records of all the trials for witchcraft, and sentences for the same to rack, stake, and torture, it is mighty easy to write volumes of accusations against the Devil. We affirm on good grounds that there are hundreds of the most valuable works on the occult sciences, which are sentenced to eternal concealment from the public, but are attentively read and studied by the privileged who have access to the Vatican Library. The laws of nature are the same for heathen sorcerer as for Catholic saint, and a "miracle" may be produced as well by one as by the other, without the slightest intervention of God or devil.

Hardly had the manifestations begun to attract attention in Europe, than the clergy commenced their outcry that their traditional enemy had reappeared under another name, and "divine miracles" also began to be heard of in isolated instances. First they were confined to humble individuals, some of whom claimed to have them produced through the intervention of the Virgin Mary, saints and angels; others — according to the clergy — began to suffer from obsession and possession; for the Devil must have his share of fame as well as the Deity. Finding that, notwithstanding the warning, the independent, or so-called spiritual phenomena went on increasing and multiplying, and that these manifestations threatened to upset the carefully-constructed dogmas of the Church, the world was suddenly startled by extraordinary intelligence. In 1864, a whole community became possessed of the Devil. Morzine, and the awful stories of its demoniacs, Valleyres, and the narratives of its well-authenticated exhibitions of sorcery, and those of the Presbytere de Cideville curdled the blood in Catholic veins.

Strange to say, the question has been asked over and over again, why the "divine" miracles and most of the obsessions are so strictly confined to Roman Catholic dioceses and countries? Why is it that since the Reformation there has been scarcely one single divine "miracle" in a Protestant land? Of course, the answer we must expect from Catholics is, that the latter are peopled by heretics, and abandoned by God. Then why are there no more Church-miracles in Russia, a country whose religion differs from the Roman Catholic faith but in external forms of rites, its fundamental dogmas being identically the same, except as to the emanation of the Holy Ghost? Russia has her accepted saints and thaumaturgical relics, and miracle-working images. The St. Mitrophaniy of Voroneg is an authenticated miracle-worker, but his miracles are limited to healing; and though hundreds upon hundreds have been healed through faith, and though the old cathedral is full of magnetic effluvia, and whole generations will go on believing in his power, and some persons will always be healed, still no such miracles are heard of in Russia as the Madonna-walking, and Madonna letter-writing, and statuetalking of Catholic countries. Why is this so? Simply because the emperors have strictly forbidden that sort of thing. The Czar, Peter the Great, stopped every spurious "divine" miracle with one frown of his mighty brow. He declared he would have no false miracles played by the holy icons (images of saints), and they disappeared forever.*

There are cases on record of isolated and independent phenomena exhibited by certain images in the last century; the latest was the bleeding of the cheek of an image of the Virgin, when a soldier of Napoleon cut her face in two. This miracle, alleged to have happened in 1812, in the days of the invasion by the "grand army," was the final farewell. +

* Dr. Stanley, "Lectures on the Eastern Church," p. 407. f In the government of Tambov, a gentleman, a rich landed proprietor, had a curious case happen in his family during the Hungarian campaign of 1848. His only and much-beloved nephew, whom, having no children, he had adopted as a son, was in the Russian army. The elderly couple had a portrait of his — a water-color painting — constantly, during the meals, placed on the table in front of the young man's usual seat. one evening as the family, with some friends, were at their early tea, the glass over the portrait, without any one touching it, was shattered to atoms with a loud explosion. As the aunt of the young soldier caught the picture in her hand she saw the forehead and head besmeared with blood. The guests, in order to quiet her, attributed the blood to her having cut her fingers with the broken glass. But, examine as they would, they could not find the vestige of a cut on her fingers, and no one had touched the picture but herself. Alarmed at her state of excitement the husband, pretending to examine the portrait more closely, cut his finger on purpose, and then tried to assure her that it was his blood and that, in the first excitement, he had touched the frame without any one remarking it. All was in vain, the old lady felt sure that Dimitry was killed. She began to have masses said for him daily at the village church, and arrayed the whole household in deep mourning. Several weeks later, an official communication was received from the

But since then, although the three successive emperors have been pious men, their will has been respected, and the images and saints have remained quiet, and hardly been spoken of except as connected with religious worship. in Poland, a land of furious ultramontanism, there were, at different times, desperate attempts at miracle-doing. They died at birth, however, for the argus-eyed police were there; a Catholic miracle in Poland, made public by the priests, generally meaning political revolution, bloodshed, and war.

is it then, not permissible to at least suspect that if, in one country divine miracles may be arrested by civil and military law, and in another they never occur, we must search for the explanation of the two facts in some natural cause, instead of attributing them to either god or devil? in our opinion — if it is worth anything — the whole secret may be accounted for as follows. in Russia, the clergy know better than to bewilder their parishes, whose piety is sincere and faith strong without miracles; they know that nothing is better calculated than the latter to sow seeds of distrust, doubt, and finally of skepticism which leads directly to atheism. Moreover the climate is less propitious, and the magnetism of the average population too positive, too healthy, to call forth independent phenomena; and fraud would not answer. On the other hand, neither in Protestant Germany, nor England, nor yet in America, since the days of the Reformation, has the clergy had access to any of the Vatican secret libraries. Hence they colonel of the regiment, stating that their nephew was killed by a fragment of a shell which had carried off the upper part of his head.

are all but poor hands at the magic of Albertus Magnus.

As for America being overflowed with sensitives and mediums, the reason for it is partially attributable to climatic influence and especially to the physiological condition of the population. Since the days of the Salem witchcraft, 200 years ago, when the comparatively few settlers had pure and unadulterated blood in their veins, nothing much had been heard of "spirits" or "mediums" until 1840.* The phenomena then first appeared among the ascetic and exalted Shakers, whose religious aspirations, peculiar mode of life, moral purity, and physical chastity all led to the production of independent phenomena of a psychological as well as physical nature. Hundreds of thousands, and even millions of men from various climates and of different constitutions and habits, have, since 1692, invaded North America, and by intermarrying have substantially changed the physical type of the inhabitants. Of what country in the world do the women's constitutions bear comparison with the delicate, nervous, and sensitive constitutions of the feminine portion of the population of the United States? We were struck on our

* Executions for witchcraft took place, not much later than a century ago, in other of the American provinces. Notoriously there were negroes executed in New Jersey by burning at the stake — the penalty denounced in several States. Even in South Carolina, in 1865, when the State government was "reconstructed" after the civil war, the statutes inflicting death for witchcraft were found to be still unrepealed. It is not a hundred years since they have been enforced to the murderous letter of their text.

arrival in the country with the semi-transparent delicacy of skin of the natives of both sexes. Compare a hard-working Irish factory girl or boy, with one from a genuine American family. Look at their hands. One works as hard as the other; they are of equal age, and both seemingly healthy; and still, while the hands of the one, after an hour's soaping, will show a skin little softer than that of a young alligator, those of the other, notwithstanding constant use, will allow you to observe the circulation of the blood under the thin and delicate epidermis. No wonder, then, that while America is the conservatory of sensitives the majority of its clergy, unable to produce divine or any other miracles, stoutly deny the possibility of any phenomena except those produced by tricks and juggling. And no wonder also that the Catholic priesthood, who are practically aware of the existence of magic and spiritual phenomena, and believe in them while dreading their consequences, try to attribute the whole to the agency of the Devil.

Let us adduce one more argument, if only for the sake of circumstantial evidence. In what countries have "divine miracles" flourished most, been most frequent and most stupendous? Catholic Spain, and Pontifical Italy, beyond question. And which more than these two, has had access to ancient literature? Spain was famous for her libraries; the Moors were celebrated for their profound learning in alchemy and other sciences. The Vatican is the storehouse of an immense number of ancient manuscripts. During the long interval of nearly 1,500 years they have been accumulating, from trial after trial, books and manuscripts confiscated from their sentenced victims, to their own profit. The Catholics may plead that the books were generally committed to the flames; that the treatises of famous sorcerers and enchanters perished with their accursed authors. But the Vatican, if it could speak, could tell a different story. It knows too well of the existence of certain closets and rooms, access to which is had but by the very few. it knows that the entrances to these secret hiding-places are so cleverly concealed from sight in the carved frame-work and under the profuse ornamentation of the library-walls, that there have even been Popes who lived and died within the precincts of the palace without ever suspecting their existence. But these Popes were neither Sylvester II., Benedict IX., John XX., nor the Vlth and Vllth Gregory; nor yet the famous Borgia of toxicological memory. Neither were those who remained ignorant of the hidden lore friends of the sons of Loyola.

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