The Gnostics and Their Detractors

"It comes to this," writes Ireneus, complaining of the Gnostics, "they neither consent to Scripture nor tradition."* And why should we wonder at that, when even the commentators of the nineteenth century, with nothing but fragments of the Gnostic manuscripts to compare with the voluminous writings of their calumniators, have been enabled to detect fraud on nearly every page? How much more must the polished and learned Gnostics, with all their advantages of personal observation and knowledge of fact, have realized the stupendous scheme of fraud that was being consummated before their very eyes! Why should they accuse Celsus of maintaining that their religion was all based on the speculations of Plato, with the difference that his doctrines were far more pure and rational than theirs, when we find Sprengel, seventeen centuries later, writing the following? — "Not only did they (the Christians) think to discover the dogmas of Plato in the books of Moses, but, moreover, they fancied that, by introducing Platonism into Christianity, they would elevate the dignity of this religion and make it more popular among the nations."+

They introduced it so well, that not only was the Platonic philosophy selected as a basis for the trinity, but even the legends and mythical stories which had been current among

* "Adv. Hœr." iii., 2, § 2. f Sprengel, "Histoire de la Medecine."

the admirers of the great philosopher — as a time-honored custom required in the eyes of his posterity such an allegorical homage to every hero worthy of deification — were revamped and used by the Christians. Without going so far as India, did they not have a ready model for the "miraculous conception," in the legend about Periktionè, Plato's mother? In her case it was also maintained by popular tradition that she had immaculately conceived him, and that the god Apollo was his father. Even the annunciation by an angel to Joseph "in a dream," the Christians copied from the message of Apollo to Ariston, Periktionè's husband, that the child to be born from her was the offspring of that god. So, too, Romulus was said to be the son of Mars, by the virgin Rhea Sylvia.

It is generally held by all the symbolical writers that the Ophites were found guilty of practicing the most licentious rites during their religious meetings. The same accusation was brought against the Manichœans, the Carpocratians, the Paulicians, the Albigenses — in short, against every Gnostic sect which had the temerity to claim the right to think for itself. In our modern days, the 160 American sects and the 125 sects of England are not so often troubled with such accusations; times are changed, and even the once all-powerful clergy have to either bridle their tongues or prove their slanderous accusations.

We have carefully looked over the works of such authors as Payne Knight, C. W. King, and Olshausen, which treat of our subject; we have reviewed the bulky volumes of Irenœus,

Tertullian, Sozomen, Theodoret; and in none but those of Epiphanius have we found any accusation based upon direct evidence of an eye-witness. "They say"; "Some say"; "We have heard" — such are the general and indefinite terms used by the patristic accusers. Alone Epiphanius, whose works are invariably referred to in all such cases, seems to chuckle with delight whenever he couches a lance. We do not mean to take upon ourselves to defend the sects which inundated Europe at the eleventh century, and which brought to light the most wonderful creeds; we limit our defense merely to those Christian sects whose theories were usually grouped under the generic name of Gnosticism. These are those which appeared immediately after the alleged crucifixion, and lasted till they were nearly exterminated under the rigorous execution of the Constantinian law. The greatest guilt of these were their syncretistic views, for at no other period of the world's history had truth a poorer prospect of triumph than in those days of forgery, lying, and deliberate falsification of facts.

But before we are forced to believe the accusations, may we not be permitted to inquire into the historical characters of their accusers? Let us begin by asking, upon what ground does the Church of Rome build her claim of supremacy for her doctrines over those of the Gnostics? Apostolic succession, undoubtedly. The succession traditionally instituted by the direct Apostle Peter. But what if this prove a fiction? Clearly, the whole superstructure supported upon this one imaginary stilt would fall in a tremendous crash.

And when we do inquire carefully, we find that we must take the word of Ireneus alone for it — of Ireneus, who did not furnish one single valid proof of the claim which he so audaciously advanced, and who resorted for that to endless forgeries. He gives authority neither for his dates nor his assertions. This Smyrniote worthy has not even the brutal but sincere faith of Tertullian, for he contradicts himself at every step, and supports his claims solely on acute sophistry. Though he was undoubtedly a man of the shrewdest intellect and great learning, he fears not, in some of his assertions and arguments, to even appear an idiot in the eyes of posterity, so long as he can "carry the situation." Twitted and cornered at every step by his not less acute and learned adversaries, the Gnostics, he boldly shields himself behind blind faith, and in answer to their merciless logic falls upon imaginary tradition invented by himself. Reber wittily remarks: "As we read his misapplications of words and sentences, we would conclude that he was a lunatic if we did not know that he was something else."*

So boldly mendacious does this "holy Father" prove himself in many instances, that he is even contradicted by Eusebius, more cautious if not more truthful than himself. He is driven to that necessity in the face of unimpeachable evidence. So, for instance, Ireneus asserts that Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, was a direct hearer of St. John;+ and Eusebius is compelled to show that Papias never pretended to such a

* "Christ of Paul," p. 188. f "Adv. Hxr," v. 33, § 4.

claim, but simply stated that he had received his doctrine from those who had known John.*

In one point, the Gnostics had the best of Iren^us. They drove him, through mere fear of inconsistency, to the recognition of their kabalistic doctrine of atonement; unable to grasp it in its allegorical meaning, Iren^us presented, with Christian theology as we find it in its present state of "original sin versus Adam," a doctrine which would have filled Peter with pious horror if he had been still alive.

The next champion for the propagation of Apostolic Succession, is Eusebius himself. Is the word of this Armenian Father any better than that of Iren^us? Let us see what the most competent critics say of him. And before we turn to modern critics at all, we might remind the reader of the scurrilous terms in which Eusebius is attacked by George Syncellus, the Vice-Patriarch of Constantinople (eighth century), for his audacious falsification of the Egyptian Chronology. The opinion of Socrates, an historian of the fifth century, is no more flattering. He fearlessly charges Eusebius with perverting historical dates, in order to please the Emperor Constantine. In his chronographic work, before proceeding to falsify the synchronistic tables himself, in order to impart to Scriptural chronology a more trustworthy appearance, Syncellus covers Eusebius with the choicest of monkish Billingsgate. Baron Bunsen has verified the justness if not justified the politeness of this abusive reprehension. His

elaborate researches in the rectification of the Egyptian List of Chronology, by Manetho, led him to confess that throughout his work, the Bishop of C^sarea "had undertaken, in a very unscrupulous and arbitrary spirit, to mutilate history." "Eusebius," he says, "is the originator of that systematic theory of synchronisms which has so often subsequently maimed and mutilated history in its procrustean bed."+ To this the author of the Intellectual Development of Europe adds: "Among those who have been the most guilty of this offense, the name of the celebrated Eusebius, the Bishop of C^sarea . . . should be designated!"}

It will not be amiss to remind the reader that it is the same Eusebius who is charged with the interpolation of the famous paragraph concerning Jesus,§ which was so miraculously found, in his time, in the writings of Josephus, the sentence in question having till that time remained perfectly unknown. Renan, in his Life of Jesus, expresses a contrary opinion. "I believe," says he, "the passage respecting Jesus to be authentic. It is perfectly in the style of Josephus; and, if this historian had made mention of Jesus, it is thus that he must have spoken of him."

Begging this eminent scholar's pardon, we must again contradict him. Laying aside his cautious "if," we will merely show that though the short paragraph may possibly be f Bunsen, "Egypt," vol. i., p. 200. J "Intellectual Development of Europe," p. 147.

genuine, and "perfectly in the style of Josephus," its several parentheses are most palpably later forgeries; and "if Josephus had made any mention of Christ at all, it is not thus that he would "have spoken of him." The whole paragraph consists of but a few lines, and reads: "At this time was Iasous, a 'wise MAN,'* if, at least, it is right to call him a man! (avSpa) for he was a doer of surprising works, and a teacher of such men as receive 'the truths' with pleasure. . . . This was the ANOINTED (!!). And, on an accusation by the first men among us, having been condemned by Pilate to the cross, they did not stop loving him who loved them. For he appeared to them on the third day alive, and the divine prophets having said these and many other wonderful things concerning him."

This paragraph (of sixteen lines in the original) has two unequivocal assertions and one qualification. The latter is expressed in the following sentence: "If, at least, it is right to call him a man." The unequivocal assertions are contained in "This is the ANOINTED," and in that Jesus "appeared to them on the third day alive." History shows us Josephus as a thorough, uncompromising, stiff-necked, orthodox Jew, though he wrote for "the Pagans." It is well to observe the false position in which these sentences would have placed a true-born Jew, if they had really emanated from him. Their "Messiah" was then and is still expected. The Messiah is the Anointed, and vice versa. And Josephus is made to admit that

* Wise man always meant with the ancients a kabalist. It means astrologer and magician. "Israelite Indeed," vol. iii., p. 206. Hakim is a physician.

the "first men" among them have accused and crucified their Messiah and Anointed!! No need to comment any further upon such a preposterous incongruity,+ even though supported by so ripe a scholar as Renan.

As to that patristic fire-brand, Tertullian, whom des Mousseaux apotheosizes in company with his other demigods, he is regarded by Reuss, Baur, and Schweigler, in quite a different light. The untrustworthiness of statement and inaccuracy of Tertullian, says the author of Supernatural Religion, are often apparent. Reuss characterizes his Christianism as "apre, insolent, brutal, ferrailleur." It is without unction and without charity, sometimes even without loyalty, when he finds himself confronted with opposition. "If," remarks this author, "in the second century all parties except certain Gnostics were intolerant, Tertullian was the most intolerant of all!"

The work begun by the early Fathers was achieved by the sophomorical Augustine. His supra-transcendental speculations on the Trinity; his imaginary dialogues with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the disclosures and covert allusions about his ex-brethren, the Manicheans, have led the world to load Gnosticism with opprobrium, and have thrown into a deep shadow the insulted majesty of the one God, worshipped in reverential silence by every "heathen."

And thus is it that the whole pyramid of Roman Catholic f Dr. Lardner rejects it as spurious, and gives nine reasons for rejecting it.

dogmas rests not upon Proof, but upon assumption. The Gnostics had cornered the Fathers too cleverly, and the only salvation of the latter was a resort to forgery. For nearly four centuries, the great historians nearly cotemporary with Jesus had not taken the slightest notice either of his life or death. Christians wondered at such an unaccountable omission of what the Church considered the greatest events in the world's history. Eusebius saved the battle of the day. Such are the men who have slandered the Gnostics.

The first and most unimportant sect we hear of is that of the Nicolaitans, of whom John, in the Apocalypse, makes the voice in his vision say that he hates their doctrine.* These Nicolaitans were the followers, however, of Nicolas of Antioch, one of the "seven" chosen by the "twelve" to make distribution from the common fund to the proselytes at Jerusalem (Acts ii. 44, 45, vi. 1-5), hardly more than a few weeks, or perhaps months, after the Crucifixion;+ and a man "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" (verse 3). Thus it would appear that the "Holy Ghost and wisdom" from on high, were no more a shield against the accusation of "heresy" than though they had never overshadowed the "chosen ones" of the apostles.

It would be but too easy to detect what kind of heresy it was that offended, even had we not other and more authentic

* Revelation i and ii.

f Philip, the first martyr, was one of the seven, and he was stoned about the year A.D. 34.

sources of information in the kabalistic writings. The accusation and the precise nature of the "abomination" are stated in the second chapter of the book of Revelation, verses 14, 15. The sin was merely — marriage. John was a "virgin"; several of the Fathers assert the fact on the authority of tradition. Even Paul, the most liberal and high-minded of them all, finds it difficult to reconcile the position of a married man with that of a faithful servant of God. There is also "a difference between a wife and a virgin."} The latter cares "for the things of the Lord," and the former only for "how she may please her husband." "If any man think that he behaveth uncomely towards his virgin . . . let them marry. Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, and hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed . . . that he will keep his virgin, doeth well." So that he who marries "doeth well . . . but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better." "Art thou loosed from a wife?" he asks, "seek not a wife" (27). And remarking that according to his judgment, both will be happier if they do not marry, he adds, as a weighty conclusion: "And I think also that I have the spirit of God" (40). Far from this spirit of tolerance are the words of John. According to his vision there are "but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth," and "these are they which were not defiled with women; for they were virgins."§ This seems conclusive; for except Paul there is not one of these primitive Nazari, there "set apart" and vowed to God, who seemed to make a great difference between "sin" within the relationship of legal marriage, and the "abomination" of adultery.

With such views and such narrow-mindedness, it was but natural that these fanatics should have begun by casting this iniquity as a slur in the faces of brethren, and then "bearing on progressively" with their accusations. As we have already shown, it is only Epiphanius whom we find giving such minute details as to the Masonic "grips" and other signs of recognition among the Gnostics. He had once belonged to their number, and therefore it was easy for him to furnish particulars. Only how far the worthy Bishop is to be relied upon is a very grave question. One need fathom human nature but very superficially to find that there seldom was yet a traitor, a renegade, who, in a moment of danger turned "State's evidence," who would not lie as remorselessly as he betrayed. Men never forgive or relent toward those whom they injure. We hate our victims in proportion to the harm we do them. This is a truth as old as the world. On the other hand, it is preposterous to believe that such persons as the Gnostics, who, according to Gibbon, were the wealthiest, proudest, most polite, as well as the most learned "of the Christian name," were guilty of the disgusting, libidinous actions of which Epiphanius delights to accuse them. Were they even like that "set of tatterdemalions, almost naked, with fierce looks," that Lucian describes as Paul's followers,* we

* Philopatris, in Taylor's "Diegesis," p. 376.

would hesitate to believe such an infamous story. How much less probable then that men who were Platonists, as well as Christians, should have ever been guilty of such preposterous rites.

Payne Knight seems never to suspect the testimony of Epiphanius. He argues that "if we make allowance for the willing exaggerations of religious hatred, and consequent popular prejudice, the general conviction that these sectarians had rites and practices of a licentious character appears too strong to be entirely disregarded." If he draws an honest line of demarcation between the Gnostics of the first three centuries and those medieval sects whose doctrines "rather closely resembled modern communism," we have nothing to say. Only, we would beg every critic to remember that if the Templars were accused of that most "abominable crime" of applying the "holy kiss" to the root of Baphomet's tail,+ St. Augustine is also suspected, and on very good grounds, too, of having allowed his community to go somewhat astray from the primitive way of administering the "holy kiss" at the feast of the Eucharist. The holy Bishop seems quite too anxious as to certain details of the ladies' toilet for the "kiss" to be of a strictly orthodox nature.} Wherever there lurks a true and sincere religious feeling, there is no room for worldly details.

f King's "Gnostics and their Remains."

J "Aug. Serm." clii. See Payne Knight's "Mystic Theology of the Ancients," p. 107.

Considering the extraordinary dislike exhibited from the first by Christians to all manner of cleanliness, we cannot enough wonder at such a strange solicitude on the part of the holy Bishop for his female parishioners, unless, indeed, we have to excuse it on the ground of a lingering reminiscence of Manichean rites!

It would be hard, indeed, to blame any writer for entertaining such suspicions of immorality as those above noticed, when the records of many historians are at hand to help us to make an impartial investigation. "Heretics" are accused of crimes in which the Church has more or less openly indulged even down to the beginning of our century. In 1233 Pope Gregory IX. issued two bulls against the Stedingers "for various heathen and magical practices,"* and the latter, as a matter of course, were exterminated in the name of Christ and his Holy Mother. In 1282 a parish priest of Inverkeithing, named John, performed rites on Easter day by far worse than "magical." Collecting a crowd of young girls, he forced them to enter into "divine ecstasies" and Bacchanalian fury, dancing the old Amazonian circle-dance around the figure of the heathen "god of the gardens." Notwithstanding that upon the complaint of some of his parishioners he was cited before his bishop, he retained his benefice because he proved that such was the common usage of the country. + The Waldenses, those "earliest Protestants," were accused of the most unnatural horrors; burned, butchered,

* Baronius, "Annales Ecclesiastici," t. xxi., p. 89. f "Chron. de Lanercost," ed. Stevenson, p. 109.

and exterminated for calumnies heaped upon them by their accusers. Meanwhile the latter, in open triumph, forming their heathen processions of "Corpus Christi," with emblems modelled on those of Baal-Peor and "Osiris," and every city in Southern France carrying, in yearly processions on Easter days, loaves and cakes fashioned like the so-much-decried emblems of the Hindu Sivites and Vishnites, as late as 1825!}

Deprived of their old means for slandering Christian sects whose religious views differ from their own, it is now the turn of the "heathen," Hindus, Chinese, and Japanese, to share with the ancient religions the honor of having cast in their teeth denunciations of their "libidinous religions."

Without going far for proofs of equal if not surpassing immorality, we would remind Roman Catholic writers of certain bas-reliefs on the doors of St. Peter's Cathedral. They are as brazen-faced as the door itself; but less so than any author, who, knowing all this, feigns to ignore historical facts. A long succession of Popes have reposed their pastoral eyes upon these brazen pictures of the vilest obscenity, through those many centuries, without ever finding the slightest necessity for removing them. Quite the contrary; for we might name certain Popes and Cardinals who made it a lifelong study to copy these heathen suggestions of "nature-gods," in practice as well as in theory.

In Polish Podolia there was some years ago, in a Roman

J Dulaure, "Histoire Abregee des Differents Cultes," vol. ii., p. 285; Martezzi, "Paganie Christiani," p. 78.

Catholic Church, a statue of Christ, in black marble. It was reputed to perform miracles on certain days, such as having its hair and beard grow in the sight of the public, and indulging in other less innocent wonders. This show was finally prohibited by the Russian Government. When in 1585 the Protestants took Embrun (Department of the Upper Alps), they found in the churches of this town relics of such a character, that, as the Chronicle expresses it "old Huguenot soldiers were seen to blush, several weeks after, at the bare mention of the discovery." In a corner of the Church of St. Fiacre, near Monceaux, in France, there was — and it still is there, if we mistake not — a seat called "the chair of St. Fiacre," which had the reputation of conferring fecundity upon barren women. A rock in the vicinity of Athens, not far from the so-called "Tomb of Socrates," is said to be possessed of the same virtue. When, some twenty years since, the Queen Amelia, perhaps in a merry moment, was said to have tried the experiment, there was no end of most insulting abuse heaped upon her, by a Catholic Padre, on his way through Syra to some mission. The Queen, he declared, was a "superstitious heretic!" " an abominable witch!" "Jezebel using magic arts." Much more the zealous missionary would doubtless have added, had he not found himself, right in the middle of his vituperations, landed in a pool of mud, outside the window. The virtuous elocutionist was forced to this unusual transit by the strong arm of a Greek officer, who happened to enter the room at the right moment.

There never was a great religious reform that was not pure at the beginning. The first followers of Buddha, as well as the disciples of Jesus, were all men of the highest morality. The aversion felt by the reformers of all ages to vice under any shape, is proved in the cases of Sakya-muni, Pythagoras, Plato, Jesus, St. Paul, Ammonius Sakkas. The great Gnostic leaders — if less successful — were not less virtuous in practice nor less morally pure. Marcion, Basilides,* Valentinus, were renowned for their ascetic lives. The Nicolaitans, who, if they did not belong to the great body of the Ophites, were numbered among the small sects which were absorbed in it at the beginning of the second century, owe their origin, as we have shown, to Nicolas of Antioch, "a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." How absurd the idea that such men would have instituted "libidinous rites." As well accuse Jesus of having promoted the similar rites which we find practiced so extensively by the medieval orthodox Christians behind the secure shelter of monastic walls.

If, however, we are asked to credit such an accusation against the Gnostics, an accusation transferred with tenfold acrimony, centuries later, to the unfortunate heads of the Templars, why should we not believe the same of the orthodox Christians? Minucius Felix states that "the first Christians were accused by the world of inducing, during the ceremony of the "Perfect Passover," each neophyte, on his admission, to plunge a knife into an infant concealed under a

* Basilides is termed by Tertullian a Platonist.

heap of flour; the body then serving for a banquet to the whole congregation. After they had become the dominant party, they (the Christians) transferred this charge to their own dissenters."*

The real crime of heterodoxy is plainly stated by John in his Epistles and Gospel. "He that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh . . . is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 Epistle 7). In his previous Epistle, he teaches his flock that there are two trinities (7, 8) — in short, the Nazarene system.

The inference to be drawn from all this is, that the made-up and dogmatic Christianity of the Constantinian period is simply an offspring of the numerous conflicting sects, half-castes themselves, born of Pagan parents. Each of these could claim representatives converted to the so-called orthodox body of Christians. And, as every newly-born dogma had to be carried out by the majority of votes, every sect colored the main substance with its own hue, till the moment when the emperor enforced this revealed olla-podrida, of which he evidently did not himself understand a word, upon an unwilling world as the religion of Christ. Wearied in the vain attempt to sound this fathomless bog of international speculations, unable to appreciate a religion based on the pure spirituality of an ideal conception, Christendom gave itself up to the adoration of brutal force as represented by a Church backed up by Constantine. Since then, among the thousand rites, dogmas, and ceremonies copied from

Paganism, the Church can claim but one invention as thoroughly original with her — namely, the doctrine of eternal damnation, and one custom, that of the anathema. The Pagans rejected both with horror. "An execration is a fearful and grievous thing," says Plutarch. "Wherefore, the priestess at Athens was commended for refusing to curse Alkibiades (for desecration of the Mysteries) when the people required her to do it; for, she said, that she was a priestess of prayers and not of curses."+

"Deep researches would show," says Renan, "that nearly everything in Christianity is mere baggage brought from the Pagan Mysteries. The primitive Christian worship is nothing but a mystery. The whole interior police of the Church, the degrees of initiation, the command of silence, and a crowd of phrases in the ecclesiastical language, have no other origin.. . . The revolution which overthrew Paganism seems at first glance . . . an absolute rupture with the past . . . but the popular faith saved its most familiar symbols from shipwreck. Christianity introduced, at first, so little change into the habits of private and social life, that with great numbers in the fourth and fifth centuries it remains uncertain whether they were Pagans or Christians; many seem even to have pursued an irresolute course between the two worships." Speaking further of Art, which formed an essential part of the ancient religion, he says that "it had to break with scarce one of its traditions. Primitive Christian art is really nothing but Pagan art in its decay, or in

* C. W. King, "The Gnostics and their Remains," p. 197, foot-note 1.

its lower departments. The Good Shepherd of the catacombs in Rome is a copy from the Aristeus, or from the Apollo Nomius, which figure in the same posture on the Pagan sarcophagi, and still carries the flute of Pan in the midst of the four half-naked seasons. On the Christian tombs of the Cemetery of St. Calixtus, Orpheus charms the animals. Elsewhere, the Christ as Jupiter-Pluto, and Mary as Proserpina, receive the souls that Mercury, wearing the broad-brimmed hat and carrying in his hand the rod of the soul-guide (psychopompos), brings to them, in presence of the three fates. Pegasus, the symbol of the apotheosis; Psyche, the symbol of the immortal soul; Heaven, personified by an old man, the river Jordan; and Victory, figure on a host of Christian monuments."

As we have elsewhere shown, the primitive Christian community was composed of small groups scattered about and organized in secret societies, with passwords, grips, and signs. To avoid the relentless persecutions of their enemies, they were obliged to seek safety and hold meetings in deserted catacombs, the fastnesses of mountains, and other safe retreats. Like disabilities were naturally encountered by each religious reform at its inception. From the very first appearance of Jesus and his twelve disciples, we see them congregating apart, having secure refuges in the wilderness, and among friends in Bethany, and elsewhere. Were Christianity not composed of "secret communities," from the start, history would have more facts to record of its founder and disciples than it has.

How little Jesus had impressed his personality upon his own century, is calculated to astound the inquirer. Renan shows that Philo, who died toward the year 50, and who was born many years earlier than Jesus, living all the while in Palestine while the "glad tidings" were being preached all over the country, according to the Gospels, had never heard of him! Josephus, the historian, who was born three or four years after the death of Jesus, mentions his execution in a short sentence, and even those few words were altered "by a Christian hand," says the author of the Life of Jesus. Writing at the close of the first century, when Paul, the learned propagandist, is said to have founded so many churches, and Peter is alleged to have established the apostolic succession, which the Ireneo-Eusebian chronology shows to have already included three bishops of Rome,* Josephus, the painstaking enumerator and careful historian of even the most unimportant sects, entirely ignores the existence of a Christian sect. Suetonius, secretary of Adrian, writing in the first quarter of the second century, knows so little of Jesus or his history as to say that the Emperor Claudius "banished all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances, at the instigation of one Crestus" meaning Christ, we must suppose. + The Emperor Adrian himself, writing still later, was so little impressed with the tenets or importance of the new sect, that in a letter to Servianus he shows that he

* Linus, Anacletus, and Clement. f "Life of Claudius," sect. 25.

believes the Christians to be worshippers of Serapis.* "In the second century," says C. W. King, "the syncretistic sects that had sprung up in Alexandria, the very hot-bed of Gnosticism, found out in Serapis a prophetic type of Christ as the Lord and Creator of all, and Judge of the living and the dead."+ Thus, while the "Pagan" philosophers had never viewed Serapis, or rather the abstract idea which was embodied in him, as otherwise than a representation of the Anima Mundi, the Christians anthropomorphized the "Son of God" and his "Father," finding no better model for him than the idol of a Pagan myth! "There can be no doubt," remarks the same author, "that the head of Serapis, marked, as the face is, by a grave and pensive majesty, supplied the first idea for the conventional portraits of the Saviour."}

In the notes taken by a traveller — whose episode with the monks on Mount Athos we have mentioned elsewhere — we find that, during his early life, Jesus had frequent intercourse with the Essenes belonging to the Pythagorean school, and known as the Koinobi. We believe it rather hazardous on the part of Renan to assert so dogmatically, as he does, that Jesus "ignored the very name of Buddha, of Zoroaster, of Plato";

* "Vita Saturnini Vopiscus." f "The Gnostics and their Remains," p. 68.

J In Payne Knight's "Ancient Art and Mythology," Serapis is represented as wearing his hair long, "formally turned back and disposed in ringlets falling down upon his breast and shoulders like that of women. His whole person, too, is always enveloped in drapery reaching to his feet" (§ cxlv.). This is the conventional picture of Christ.

that he had never read a Greek nor a Buddhistic book, "although he had more than one element in him, which, unawares to himself, proceeded from Buddhism, Parsism, and the Greek wisdom." § This is conceding half a miracle, and allowing as much to chance and coincidence. It is an abuse of privilege, when an author, who claims to write historical facts, draws convenient deductions from hypothetical premises, and then calls it a biography — a Life of Jesus. No more than any other compiler of legends concerning the problematical history of the Nazarene prophet, has Renan one inch of secure foothold upon which to maintain himself; nor can any one else assert a claim to the contrary, except on inferential evidence. And yet, while Renan has not one solitary fact to show that Jesus had never studied the metaphysical tenets of Buddhism and Parsism, or heard of the philosophy of Plato, his opponents have the best reasons in the world to suspect the contrary. When they find that — 1, all his sayings are in a Pythagorean spirit, when not verbatim repetitions; 2, his code of ethics is purely Buddhistic; 3, his mode of action and walk in life, Essenean; and 4, his mystical mode of expression, his parables, and his ways, those of an initiate, whether Grecian, Chaldean, or, Magian (for the "Perfect," who spoke the hidden wisdom, were of the same school of archaic learning the world over), it is difficult to escape from the logical conclusion that he belonged to that same body of initiates. It is a poor compliment paid the Supreme, this forcing upon Him four gospels, in which,

contradictory as they often are, there is not a single narrative, sentence, or peculiar expression, whose parallel may not be found in some older doctrine or philosophy. Surely, the Almighty — were it but to spare future generations their present perplexity — might have brought down with Him, at His first and only incarnation on earth, something original — something that would trace a distinct line of demarcation between Himself and the score or so of incarnate Pagan gods, who had been born of virgins, had all been saviours, and were either killed, or otherwise sacrificed themselves for humanity.

Too much has already been conceded to the emotional side of the story. What the world needs is a less exalted, but more faithful view of a personage, in whose favor nearly half of Christendom has dethroned the Almighty. It is not the erudite, world-famous scholar, whom we question for what we find in his Vie de Jesus, nor is it one of his historical statements. We simply challenge a few unwarranted and untenable assertions that have found their way past the emotional narrator, into the otherwise beautiful pages of the work — a life built altogether on mere probabilities, and yet that of one who, if accepted as an historical personage, has far greater claims upon our love and veneration, fallible as he is with all his greatness, than if we figure him as an omnipotent God. It is but in the latter character that Jesus must be regarded by every reverential mind as a failure.

Notwithstanding the paucity of old philosophical works now extant, we could find no end of instances of perfect identity between Pythagorean, Hindu, and New Testament sayings. There is no lack of proofs upon this point. What is needed is a Christian public that will examine what will be offered, and show common honesty in rendering its verdict. Bigotry has had its day, and done its worst. "We need not be frightened," says Professor Müller, "if we discover traces of truth, traces even of Christian truth, among the sages and lawgivers of other nations."

After reading the following philosophical aphorisms, who can believe that Jesus and Paul had never read the Grecian and Indian philosophers?

Sentences From Sextus, Verses From The New The Pythagorean, And Testament*

Other Heathen

1. "Possess not treasures, but those things which no one can take from you."

1. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." (Matthew vi. 19)

2. "It is better for a part of the body which contains purulent matter, and threatens to infect the whole, to be burnt, than to continue

2. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter unto life maimed, than go to hell," etc. (Mark ix. 43).

* See "Pirke Aboth"; a Collection of Proverbs and Sentences of the old Jewish Teachers, in which many New Testament sayings are found.

so in another state (life)."

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