PDF Version | Preface | Table of Contents | Chapter 1 Remains Of Paganism In Christianity | Chapter 2 Pagan Methods Of Interpreting The Scriptures | Chapter 3 Asiatic Pagan Water-Worship | Chapter 4 Water-Worship In Northern Europe and in Mexico | Chapter 5 Greek Water-Worship | Chapter 6 Pagan Water-Worship Transferred to Christianity | Endnotes Part 1 | Part 2
ABRAM HERBERT LEWIS, D.D.
"BIBLICAL TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE SABBATH AND THE SUNDAY,"
"A CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE SABBATH AND THE SUNDAY IN THE
CHRISTIAN CHURCH," "A CRITICAL HISTORY OF SUNDAY
LEGISLATION FROM 321 TO 1888, A.D.," ETC.
G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
27 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND,
The Knickerbocker Press
GEORGE H. BABCOCK
CO-WORKER IN HISTORIC RESEARCH AND FRIEND
THROUGH MANY YEARS, THIS VOLUME
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
ABRAM HERBERT LEWIS
Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
Transcribed from the original by David Hill, edited by Richard C. Nickels
The Bible Sabbath Association
3316 Alberta Drive
Gillette, WY 81718
HE who judges the first century by the nineteenth will fall into countless errors. He who thinks that the Christianity of the fourth century was identical with that of the New Testament period, will go widely astray. He who does not look carefully into the history of religions before the time of Christ, and into the pagan influences which surrounded infant Christianity, cannot understand its subsequent history. He who cannot rise above denominational limitations and credal restrictions cannot become a successful student of early Church history, nor of present tendencies, nor of future developments. History is a series of results, not a medley of happenings. It is the story of the struggle between right and wrong; the record of God's dealing with men. The "historic argument" is invaluable, because history preserves God's verdicts concerning human choices and actions. Events and epochs, transitions and culminations, are the organized causes and effects, which create the never-ceasing movement, and the organic unity called history. Hence we learn that ideas and principles, like apples, have their time for development and ripening; that the stains of sin, the weakness of error, and the influence of truth commingle and perdure through the centuries; that good and evil, sin and righteousness, persist, or are eliminated, in proportion as men heed God's voice, and listen to His verdicts.
The scientific study of history reveals the norm by which ideas, creeds, movements, and methods are to be tested. Such a standard, when contrasted with the speculations of philosophy, is granite, compared with sand. God's universal law, enunciated by Christ, is "By their fruits ye shall know them."
The efforts of partisans to manipulate early history in the interest of special views and narrow conceptions, have been a fruitful source of error. Equally dangerous has been the assumption that the Christianity of the third, fourth, and fifth centuries was identical with that of the New Testament, or was a fair representative of it. The constant development of new facts shows that at the point where the average student takes up the history of Western Christianity, it was already fundamentally corrupted by pagan theories and practices. Its unfolding, from that time to the present, must be studied in the light of this fact. The rise, development, present status, and future history of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, cannot be justly considered, apart from this fact. The fundamental principles, and the underlying philosophy of these divisions of Christendom originated in the paganizing of early Christianity. This fact makes the re-study of the beginnings of Christianity of supreme importance. The pagan systems which ante-dated Christ, exercised a controlling influence on the development of the first five centuries of Western Christianity, and hence, of all subsequent times. This field has been too nearly "an unknown land," to the average student, and therefore correct answers have been wanting to many questions which arise, when we leave Semitic soil, and consider Christianity in its relation to Greek and Roman thought. "Early Christianity" cannot be understood except in the light of these powerful, pre-Christian currents of influence; and present history cannot be separated from them.
This book presents a suggestive rather than an exhaustive treatment of these influences, and of their effect on historic Christianity. The author has aimed to make a volume which busy men may read, rather than one whose bulk would relegate it to the comparative silence of library shelves. The following pages treat four practical points in Christianity, without attempting to enter the field of speculative theology, leaving that to a future time, or to the pen of another viz.: The influence of pagan thought upon the Bible, and its interpretation; upon the organized Church, through the pagan water-worship cult; upon the practices and spiritual life of the Church by substituting pagan holidayism for Christian Sabbathism, through the sun-worship cult; and upon the spiritual life and subsequent character of the Church, by the union of Church and State, and the subjugation of Christianity to the civil power, according to the pagan model. Facts do not cease to be facts, though denied and ignored. They do not withdraw from the field of history, though men grow restive under their condemnation. I have dealt mainly with facts, giving but brief space to "conclusions." I have written for those who are thoughtful and earnest; who are anxious to know what the past has been, that they may the better understand the duties of the present and the unfolding issues of the future. Such will not read the following pages with languid interest nor careless eyes.
The issues involved are larger than denominational lines, or the boundaries of creeds. They are of special interest to Protestants, since they involve not only the reasons for the revolt against Roman Catholicism, but the future relations of these divisions of Christendom, to each other, and to the Bible. The supreme source of authority in religion is directly at issue in the questions here treated. That is a definite and living question which cannot be waived aside. At this threshold, the author extends the welcome which each searcher after facts and fundamental truths gives to fellow investigators.
ABRAM HERBERT LEWIS
Room 100, Bible House
New York City, May, 1892
REMAINS OF PAGANISM IN CHRISTIANITY
Preliminary Survey An Imaginary Past Issue between Protestantism and Romanism - General Testimony Relative to Pagan Elements in Christianity, from Dyer, Lord, Tiele, Baronius, Polydore Virgil, Fauchet, Mussard, De Choul, Wiseman, Middleton, Max Muller, Priestley, Thebaud, Hardwick, Maitland, Seymore, Renan, Killen, Farrar, Merivale, Westropp and Wake, and Lechler.
PAGAN METHODS OF INTERPRETING THE SCRIPTURES
Contrast between the Christianity of the New Testament and That of the Later Centuries Gnosticism and Allegorical Interpretation Testimony of Harnack and Bauer Concerning the "Helenization of Christianity" Hatch on "Pagan Exegesis" The "Fathers" as Allegorists Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Barnabas, and Others Examples: The Red Heifer a Type of Christ" "Spiritual Circumcision"; "Scriptural Significance of Foods" "The Cross in the Old Testament" "Why Are There One Hundred and Fifty Psalms?"; "The Phoenix a Type of the Resurrection"; "Gnostic Exposition of the Decalogue"; "Types of Christ"; Various Examples from Augustine.
ASIATIC PAGAN WATER-WORSHIP
Fundamental Corruption of Christian Baptism through Pagan Water-Worship "Baptismal Regeneration," the Product of Paganism Spiritual Purity Sought through Pagan Baptism Testimonies from Jamblicus, Virgil, Ovid, Herodotus, Juvenal, and Others Baptism and Serpent-Worship Baptism and Egyptian Sun-Worship The Sacred Nile The Prevalence of Water-worship in India Sacred Wells Sacred Rivers Modern Buddhistic and Modern Hindu Baptism.
WATER-WORSHIP IN NORTHERN EUROPE AND IN MEXICO.
Water-Worship Prominent in Many Ways, and Associated with Holy Seasons Infant Baptism among the Scandinavians and Teutons Pagan "Christening of Children" Sacred Water as a Safeguard against Disease, etc. Virtue of Water Used for Mechanical Purposes Water Sprites Similarity between Roman Catholicism and Paganism of Mexico Aztec Baptism Prayer for "Baptismal Regeneration" of Child by Mexican Midwife.
Sprinkling and Immersion Both Used Prominence of "Baptismal Regeneration" Lustral Water at Temple Doors Baptism of Animals Influence of "The Greek Mysteries" on Christian Baptism Initiatory Baptisms Scenic Illustrations Mithraic Baptism Engrafted on Grecian "Creed," "Symbol," Drawn from Grecian Water-Worship Cult Identity of Grecian and Roman Catholic Forms The Use of Spittle in Pagan Baptism.
PAGAN WATER-WORSHIP TRANSFERRED TO CHRISTIANITY.
Testimony from Tertullian, Barnabas, Justin, Methodius, the Apostolic Constitutions, etc.-Holy Water, or Repeated Baptism, Borrowed without Change Magical Effects of Holy Water, the Same in Christian as in Pagan Cult-Baptism of Animals by Holy Water, to Produce Magical Results Holy Water Prepared after the Pagan Method Consecration of Baptismal Waters Borrowed from Pagan Combination of Sun- and Water-Worship The Church Filled with Baptized but Unconverted Pagans, and so Passed under Pagan Control.
Sun-Worship the Oldest and Most Widely Diffused Form of Paganism Gnostic Antinomianism or Lawlessness Anti-Judaism, Mainly of Pagan Origin Anti-Sabbathism and Sunday Observance Synchronous Anti-Lawism and Anti-Sabbathism Unscriptural Christ's Teachings Concerning the Law of God; Paul's Teachings on the Same Destructive Effect of Pagan Lawlessness on Christianity.
SUNDAY OBSERVANCE UNKNOWN TO CHRISTIANITY BEFORE THE
MIDDLE OF THE SECOND CENTURY.
Mistaken Notions Concerning the Beginning of Sunday Observance No Sunday Observance in the New Testament Sunday Directly Referred to but Three Times It is Never Spoken of as a Sabbath, nor as Commemorative of Christ's Resurrection The Bible does Not State that Christ Rose on Sunday Christ and His Disciples Always Observed the Sabbath The Change of the Sabbath Unknown in the New Testament The Sabbath Never Called "Jewish " in the Scriptures, nor by Any Writer until after Paganism had Invaded the Church Origin of Sunday Observance Found in Paganism First Reference to Sunday Observance about 150 A.D. No Writer of the Early Centuries Claimed Scriptural Reasons for Its Observance Pagan Reasons and Arguments Adduced in Its Support; a Day of "Indulgence to the Flesh" Pretended Scriptural Reasons, ex post facto.
STATE RELIGION A PAGAN INSTITUTION
Christ's Attitude toward the State The Roman Conception of Religion as a Department of the State Roman Civil Law Created and Regulated All Religious Duties Effect of the Pagan Doctrine of Religious Syncretism on Christianity The Emperor a Demi-God, Entitled to Worship, and, ex officio, the Supreme Authority in Religion The Deep Corruption of Roman Morals and Social Life under Pagan State Religion.
THE CONTROL OF CHRISTIANITY BY THE STATE UNDER
CONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS
A New Epoch in the Paganizing of Christianity Paganism Seeking a New God, Strong Enough to Save the Empire Constantine Not a "Christian Emperor," but Superstitious, Time-Serving, and Ambitious Murdering His Kindred while Promoting Christianity as a Rising Political Influence Seeking Christianity Mainly for Ambitious Ends Professing Christianity Only on his Death-Bed Making the Most of Both Worlds Constantine Corrupted and Perverted Christianity More than He Aided It.
CONSTANTINE'S LEGISLATION CONCERNING THE PAGAN SUNDAY
All His Tolerative Legislation Essentially Pagan Christians did Not Seek for Sunday Laws The First Sunday Law, 321A.D., Pagan in Every Particular - Essentially Identical with Existing Laws Concerning Other Days Legislation against Heathen Religions Feeble and Unenforced Constantine Not a "Christian Prince."
OTHER FORMS OF PAGAN RESIDUUM IN CHRISTIANITY
A Low Standard of Religious Life Faith in Relics The Cross an Ancient Pagan (Phallic) Symbol A "Charm" Borrowed from Paganism Constantine's Use of the Composite Symbol as a Military Standard Prevalence of Faith in "Charms" Sign of the Cross in Baptism Baptism and Holy Water as "Charms" Stupendous Miracles, like Pagan Prodigies, through Baptism Delayed Baptism Orientation at Baptism, etc.
SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED
Lights in Worship Worshipping "toward the East" Easter Fires Beltane or Baal Fires Penance Mariolatry The Mass Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead Peter's Keys Christmas Easter Lent, etc.
CONCLUSIONS. THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF
PROTESTANTISM INVOLVED IN PRESENT ISSUES
Protestants must Accept the Bible in Fact, as well as in Theory, or be Overthrown The Bible must be Reinterpreted in the Light of "Higher Criticism" and Deeper Spiritual Life The Present Tendencies in Bible Study Mark the Opening of the Second Stage of the Protestant Movement Baptism must Cease to be the Foot-Ball of Denominational Polemics and be Raised to a Question of Obedience to the Example of Christ Protestants must Return to the Sabbath, Christianized by Christ, and to True Sabbathism, Which Is as Undenominational as Faith Such Sabbathism, and God's Sabbath, must be Restored to the Place from Which Pagan No-Sabbathism and the Pagan Sunday Drove Them "Sabbath" Is Unchristian All Union of Christianity with the State before the Normal Development of True Protestantism.
REMAINS OF PAGANISM IN
Preliminary Survey An Imaginary Past-Issue between Protestantism and Romanism General Testimony Relative to Pagan Elements in Christianity, from Dyer, Lord, Tiele, Baronius, Polydore Virgil, Faucher, Mussard, De Choul, Wiseman, Middleton, Max Muller, Priestley, Thebaud, Hardwick, Maitland, Seymore, Renan, Killen, Farrar, Merivale, Westropp and Wake, and Lechler.
A PRELIMINARY survey is the more necessary lest the general reader fail to grant the facts of history a competent hearing and a just consideration. Unconsciously men think of the earliest Christianity as being like that which they profess. They measure the early centuries by their own. Their Church, its doctrines, forms, creeds and customs, stands as the representative of all Christianity. It seems like a "rude awakening" to ask men to believe that there is a "pagan residuum" in their faith, or in the customs of their fathers. The average Christian must pass through a broadening process, before he can justly consider such a question. Unhappily, there are too many who are unwilling to undergo such an enlargement of their religious and historical horizon as will make them competent to consider those facts which every earnest student of history must face. But the Christian who believes in the immortality of truth, and in the certainty of its triumph, will welcome all facts, even though they may modify the creed he has hitherto accepted.
A writer in the Edinburgh Review and Critical Journal, commenting on the revised volumes of Bishop Lightfoot on Ignatius and Polycarp speaking of the tendency to judge the early centuries by our own, thus vitiating our conclusions, says:
"The danger of such inquiries lies in the difficulty of resisting the temptation to frame pictures of an imaginary past; and the passion for transferring to the past the peculiarities of later times may be best corrected by keeping in view the total unlikeness of the first, second, or third centuries to anything which now exists in any part of the world."
Protestants in the United States are poorly prepared to consider so great a question as that which this book passes under review, because they have not carefully considered the facts touching their relations to Roman Catholicism. The Anglo-Romish controversy, in England, in the earlier part of the present century made the question of paganism in Christianity prominent for a time. But the discussion was so strongly partisan and controversial that it could not produce the best results. Truth was much obscured by the determined effort of Protestant writers to show that the pagan residuum was all in the Catholic Church; whereas the facts show that there could have been no Roman Catholic Church had not paganism first prepared the way for its development by corrupting the earliest Christianity. The facts show, with equal vividness, that Protestantism has retained much of paganism, by inheritance. Protestantism, theoretically, means the entire elimination of the pagan residuum; practically, that work is but fairly begun. It must be pushed, or the inevitable backward drift, the historical "undertow" will re-Romanize the Protestant movement. The expectations and purposes of Roman Catholicism all point towards such a result.
This chapter will make a general survey of the field, as it is seen by men of different schools, that the reader may be the better prepared for a more specific treatment of the subject.
"The first Roman converts to Christianity appear to have had very inadequate ideas of the sublime purity of the gospel, and to have entertained a strange medley of pagan idolatry and Christian truth. The emperor Alexander Severus, who had imbibed from his mother, Mammaea, a singular regard for the Christian religion, is said to have placed in his domestic chapel the images of Abraham, of Orpheus, of Apollonius, and of Christ, as the four chief sages who had instructed mankind in the methods of adoring the Supreme Deity. Constantine himself, the first Christian emperor, was deeply imbued with the superstitions of paganism; he had been Pontifex Maximus, and it was only a little while before his death that he was formally received by baptism into the Christian Church. He was particularly devoted to Apollo, and he attempted to conciliate his pagan and his Christian subjects by the respect which he appeared to entertain for both. An edict enjoining the solemn observance of Sunday was balanced in the same year(1) by another directing that when the palace or any other public building should be struck by lightning, the haruspices should be regularly consulted."(2)
In a similar strain Professor LORD speaks yet more strongly:
"But the church was not only impregnated with the errors of pagan philosophy, but it adopted many of the ceremonials of Oriental worship, which were both minute and magnificent. If anything marked the primitive church it was the simplicity of worship, and the absence of ceremonies and festivals and gorgeous rites. The churches became in the fourth century as imposing as the old temples of idolatry. The festivals became authoritative; at first they were few in number and voluntary. It was supposed that when Christianity superseded Judaism, the obligation to observe the ceremonies of the Mosaic law was abrogated. Neither the apostles nor evangelists imposed the yoke of servitude, but left Easter and every other feast to be honored by the gratitude of the recipients of grace. The change in opinion, in the fourth century, called out the severe animadversion of the historian Socrates, but it was useless to stem the current of the age. Festivals became frequent and imposing. The people clung to them because they obtained a cessation from labor, and obtained excitement. The ancient rubrics mention only those of the Passion, of Easter, of Whitsuntide, Christmas, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. But there followed the celebration of the death of Stephen, the memorial of St. John, the commemoration of the slaughter of the Innocents, the feasts of Epiphany, the feast of Purification, and others, until the Catholic Church had some celebration for some saint and martyr for every day in the year. They contributed to create a craving for outward religion, which appealed to the sense and the sensibilities rather than the heart. They led to innumerable quarrels and controversies about unimportant points, especially in relation to the celebration of Easter. They produced a delusive persuasion respecting pilgrimages, the sign of the cross, and the sanctifying effects of the sacraments. Veneration for martyrs ripened into the introduction of images a future source of popular idolatry. Christianity was emblazoned in pompous ceremonies. The veneration of saints approximated to their deification, and superstition exalted the mother of our Lord into an object of absolute worship. Communion tables became imposing altars typical of Jewish sacrifices, and the relics of martyrs were preserved as sacred amulets. . . .
"When Christianity itself was in such need of reform, when Christians could scarcely be distinguished from pagans in love of display, and in egotistical ends, how could it reform the world? When it was a pageant, a ritualism, an arm of the state, a vain philosophy, a superstition, a formula, how could it save if ever so dominant? The corruptions of the Church in the fourth century are as well authenticated as the purity and moral elevation of Christianity in the second century. Isaac Taylor has presented a most mournful view of the state of Christian society when the religion of the cross had become the religion of the state, and the corruptions kept pace with the outward triumph of the faith, especially when the pagans had yielded to the supremacy of the cross."(3)
Many of the corrupting elements which entered into early Christianity came from the Orient, by way of Greece and Rome. TIELE speaks of the influx of these in the following words:
"The Greek deities were followed by the Asiatic, such as the Great Mother of the gods, whose image, consisting of an unhewn stone, was brought at the expense of the state from Pessinus to Rome. On the whole, it was not the best and loftiest features of the foreign religions that were adopted, but rather their low and sensual elements, and these too in their most corrupt form. An accidental accusation brought to light in the year 186 B.C. a secret worship of Bacchus which was accompanied by all kinds of abominations, and had already made its way among thousands. . . .
"The eyes of the multitude were always turned toward the East, from which deliverance was expected to come forth, and secret rites brought from there to Rome were sure of a number of devotees. But they were only bastard children, or at any rate the late misshapen offspring of the lofty religions which once flourished in the East, an un-Persian Mithra worship, an un-Egyptian Serapis worship, an Isis worship which only flattered the senses and was eagerly pursued by the fine ladies, to say nothing of more loathsome practices. And yet even these aberrations were the expression of a real and deep-seated need of the human mind, which could find no satisfaction in the state religion. Men longed for a God whom they could worship, heart and soul, and with this God they longed to be reconciled. Their own deities they had outgrown, and they listened eagerly therefore to the priests of Serapis and of Mithra, who each proclaimed their God as the sole-existing, the almighty, and the all good, and they felt especially attracted by the earnestness and strictness of the latter cultus. And in order to be secure of the eradication of all guilt, men lay down in a pit where the blood of the sacrificial animal flowed all over them; in the conviction that they would then arise entirely newborn."(4)
Many Roman Catholic writers, with an honesty which all classes might well emulate, openly recognise the paganizing of the Church, which took place before the organization of the papacy.
"It was permitted the Church to transfer to pious uses those ceremonies which the pagans had wickedly applied in a superstitious worship, after having purified them by consecration; so that, to the greater contumely of the devil, all might honor Christ with those rites which he intended for his own worship. Thus the pagan festivals, laden with superstition, were changed into the praiseworthy festivals of the martyrs; and the idolatrous temples were changed to sacred churches, as Theodoret shows."(5)
POLYDORE VIRGIL says:
"The Church has borrowed many customs from the religion of the Romans and other pagans, but it has meliorated them and applied them to a better use."(6)
"The bishops of this kingdom employ all means to gain men to Christ, converting to their use some pagan ceremonies, as well as they did the stones of their temples to the building of churches."(7)
PIERRE MUSSARD says:
"William de Choul,(8) counsellor to the king and bailiff to the mountains, composed, an age ago, a treatise of the religion of the ancient Romans, wherein he shows an entire conformity between old Rome and new. On the point of religion he closes with these words(9): 'If we consider carefully,' says he, 'we shall see that many institutions in our religion have been borrowed and transferred from Egyptian and Pagan ceremonies, such as tunics and surplices, priestly ornaments for the head, bowing at the altar, the solemnity at mass, music in churches, prayers, supplications, processions, litanies, and many other things. These our priests make use of in our mysteries, and refer them to one only God, Jesus Christ, which the ignorance of the heathen, their false religion, and foolish presumption perverted to their false gods, and to dead men deified'."(10)
During the Tractarian controversy in England, John Poynder wrote Popery in Alliance with Heathenism, to show that Roman Catholicism is essentially pagan. Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, then a professor in the University at Rome, replied under the title: Letters to John Poynder, Esq.. upon his Work Entitled "Popery in Alliance with Heathenism," London, 1836.
In Letter Second, WISEMAN says:
"I will, for a moment, grant you the full extent of your assumptions and premises; I will concede that all the facts you have brought forward are true, and all the parallels you have established between our rites and those of paganism, correct; and I will join issue with you on your conclusions, trying them by clearly applicable tests. . . . The first person who argued as you have done was Julian the Apostate, who said that the Christians had borrowed their religion from the heathens. This proves at once that even then the resemblance existed, of which you complain as idolatrous. So that it is not the offspring of modern corruption, but an inheritance of the ancient church. It proves that the alliance between Christianity and heathenism existed three hundred years after Christ, and that consequently so far popery and ancient Christianity are identical. The Manichees also are accused by St. Augustine, writing against Faustus, of having made the same charge."
Dr. Wiseman enumerates many items of resemblance which Poynder does not, and retorts by showing that the English Church yet retains the paganism which it inherited from papacy. He emphasizes the pagan characteristics which appear in the building, adornment, and services of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, claiming that if a Roman pagan were to be resurrected and brought to St. Paul's he would recognize the likeness to his ancient faith on every hand. Dr. Wiseman's testimony is of great value, since, as a defender of Romanism, he also defends the policy which corrupted early Christianity in the West by conforming it to the popular paganism in order to secure a nominal conversion of the pagans.
CONYER MIDDLETON, whose Letter from Rome forms one of the standard authorities concerning the paganism of the early Church, says:
"Aringhus, in his account of Subterraneous Rome, acknowledges this conformity between the pagan and popish rites, and defends the admission of the ceremonies of heathenism into the service of the Church, by the authority of their wisest popes and governors, who found it necessary, he says, in the conversion of the Gentiles to dissemble and wink at many things, and yield to the times and not to use force against customs which the people were so obstinately fond of; nor to think of extirpating at once everything that had the appearance of profane; but to supersede in some measure the obligation of the sacred laws, till these converts, convinced by degrees and informed of the whole truth by the suggestions of the Holy Spirit, should be content to submit in earnest to the yoke of Christ."(11)
Further important testimony is found in the following. Writing of the first three centuries after Christ, MAX MULLER says:
"That age was characterized far more than all before it, by a spirit of religious syncretism, an eager thirst for compromise. To mould together thoughts which differed fundamentally, to grasp, if possible, the common elements pervading all the multifarious religions of the world, was deemed the proper business of philosophy, both in the East and West. It was a period, one has lately said, of mystic incubation, when India and Egypt, Babylonia and Greece, were sitting together and gossiping like crazy old women, chattering with toothless gums and silly brains about the dreams and joys of their youth, yet unable to recall one single thought or feeling with that vigor which once gave it light and truth.
"It was a period of religious and metaphysical delirium, when everything became everything, when Maya and Sophia, Mithra and Christ, Viraf and Isaiah, Belus, Zarvan, and Kronos were mixed up in one jumbled system of inane speculation, from which at last the East was delivered by the positive doctrines of Mohammed, the West by the pure Christianity of the Teutonic nations."(12)
Dr. JOSEPH PRIESTLEY says:
"The causes of the corruptions were almost wholly contained in the established opinions of the heathen world, and especially the philosophical part of it; so that when those heathens embraced Christianity, they mixed their former tenets and predjudices with it . . . The abuse of the positive institutions of Christianity, monstrous as they were, naturally arose from the opinions of the purifying and sanctifying virtue of rites and ceremonies, which was the very basis of all the worship of the heathens."(13)
"Therefore this same 'high civilization,' as it is called, in the midst of which Christianity was preached, was a real danger to the inward life of the new disciple of Christ.
"How could it be otherwise, when it is a fact, now known to all, that, even at the beginning of the fifth century, Rome was almost entirely pagan, at least outwardly and among her richest classes; so that the poet Claudian, in addressing Honorius at the beginning of his sixth consulship, pointed out to him the site of the Capitol, still crowned with the temple of Jove, surrounded by numerous pagan edifices, supporting in air an army of gods; and all around, temples, chapels, statues without number; in fact, the whole Roman and Greek mythology, standing in the city of the catacombs and of the pope.
"The public calendars, preserved to this day, continued to note the pagan festivals, side by side with the feasts of the Saviour and his apostles. Within the city and beyond, throughout Italy and the most remote provinces, idols and their altars were still surrounded by the thronging populace, prostrate at their feet."(14)
HARDWICK describes the tendency to reproduce pagan theories and customs in the early Church as follows :
"Or take again the swarm of heresies that soon invaded almost every province of the early Church. Abandoning, as they did, the more essential of the supernatural truths of revelation, they were virtually and in effect revivals of paganism, and family likenesses may accordingly be traced among the older speculations current in the schools of heathen philosophy. In discussing, for example, the nature of the divine Son-ship, Sabellius and his party taught a doctrine very similar to that already noticed in the Trimurrti of India; while Docetism, starting from a notion that the spiritual and the material cannot permanently co-exist, had merely reproduced the Hindu doctrine of Avataras. The inward correspondence in the texture of ideas had issued in a similar deprivation of revealed truth. Or if, penetrating belong the surface, we investigate the elementary thoughts and feelings that hereafter found utterance in monastic institutions of the Church, we find that on one side those ideas are alien from the spirit of primitive Christianity, and on the other that they had long been familiar in the East, before they were appropriated or unconsciously reproduced among one class of Christians in Syria and Egypt. India was the real birthplace of monasticism, its cradle being in the haunts of earnest yogins, and self torturing devotees who were convinced that evil is inherent not in man only, but in all the various forms of matter, and accordingly withdrew as far as possible from contact with the outer world. At first, indeed, the Christian hermit, like the earliest of his Hindu prototypes, had dwelt alone on the outskirts of his native town, supporting himself by manual labor, and devoting all the surplus of his earnings to religious purposes.
"But during the fourth century of the present era many such hermits began to flock together in the forest, or the wilderness, where regular confraternities were organized upon a model more or less derived from the Egyptian Therapeutae, and the old Essenes of Palestine; the members in their dress and habits most of all resembling those of the religious orders who still swarm in Thibet and Ceylon."(15)
MAITLAND bears important testimony touching many points in which Christianity was paganized. He sums up the general results in the following concerning the worship of martyrs:
"The degrees of worship and adoration, since defined with fatal precision by the Romish Church, were not then fixed; and the heathen, even less willing than the Christian laity to enter into refinements on the subject, saw no distinction between one form and another. The consequences were disastrous in the extreme; the charge of idolatry, mutually urged by the contending parties, lost the force, or rather was effectively employed by the pagans, after it had become powerless in Christian hands. Thus it was that, although the pure doctrines of our faith speedily displaced the profligate polytheism of the empire, the after conflict was long doubtful, being maintained by a religion enfeebled by admixture with foreign elements, against one that had profited by adversity, and had not scrupled to borrow largely from its rival. We read in fable of the struggle between the man and the serpent, in which at length the combatants become transformed into the shapes of each other. In the last contest between paganism and Christianity we find the sophist contending for the unity of God, and accusing the Christian of undisguised polytheism; and on the other side the Christian insisting on the tutelary powers of glorified mortals, and the omniscience of departed spirits."(16)
Similar testimony is borne by SEYMORE, who says:
"The apostasy of the Church of Rome will be more apparent when we reflect that the character of the mediation which Romanism ascribes to its saints is precisely the same as that which heathenism ascribes to its demi-gods. It was believed among the heathen that when a man became illustrious for his deeds, his conquests, his inventions, or aught else that distinguished him as a benefactor of mankind, he could be canonized and enrolled among inferior deities. He thus became a mediator whose sympathies with his fellow-men on the one hand, and whose merits with the gods on the other fitted him for the mediatorial office of bearing the prayers and wants of mortals to the presence of the gods. The heathen philosophers, Hesiod, Plato, and Apuleius, all thus speak of those persons. The last named philosopher says: 'They are intermediate intelligences, by whom our prayers and wants pass unto the gods. They are mediators between the inhabitants of the earth and the inhabitants of heaven, carrying thither our prayers, and drawing down their blessings. They bear back and forwards prayers for us, and supplies for them; or they are those that explain between both parties, and who carry our adorations.' This was the creed of heathenism, and in nothing but the name does it differ from the corresponding creed of Romanism. When the Church of Rome finds members of her communion whom she regards as signally pious, or illustrious for supposed miraculous powers, she holds that they be canonized and enrolled among her saints that they can mediate between God and man; that they have sufficient favor or influence with God to obtain compliance with our prayers, and therefore they are fitting objects to whom our confessions, invocations, and prayers may be offered or, as she expresses it in her creed, 'that the saints reigning with Christ are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us.' The principle of heathen Romanism, and the principle of Christian Romanism are one and the same, the only difference is in the details of the names. And the origin of the practice is demonstrative of this; for when it was found, after the establishment of Christianity in the times of Constantine, when the great object of the court was to promote uniformity of religion, that many of the heathen would outwardly conform to Christianity if allowed to retain in private their worship of their guardian or tutelar divinities, they were so allowed, merely on changing the names of Jupiter to Peter or Juno to Mary, still worshipping their old divinities under new names, and even retain images that were baptized with Christian names. This is apparent in the writings of those times, and was thought a measure of wisdom, a stroke of profound policy, as tending to produce a uniformity of religion among the unthinking masses. The invocations of Juno have been transferred to Mary; the prayers to Mercury have been transferred to Paul. We see not how the substitution of the names of Damian or Cosmo, for those of Mercury or Apollo, or how the substitution of the names of Lucy or Cecelia, for those of Minerva or Diana, can alter the idolatrous character of the practice. In some instances they have not even changed the names, and Romulus and Remus are still worshipped in Italy, under the more modern names of St. Romulo and St. Remugio. The simple people believe them to have been two holy bishops. I have myself witnessed this near Florence, and even Bacchus is not without his votaries, under the ecclesiastical name of St. Bacco. The principle and practice of papal Rome are identical with the practice of pagan Rome. Every argument to justify one may be equally urged to justify or extenuate the other. And if the principle and practice of pagan Rome are to be pronounced as idolatrous, I see not why the very same principle and practice in papal Rome should not be pronounced as idolatrous likewise."(17)
In the light of all the facts Mr. Seymore cannot fasten the pagan residuum upon Romanism alone. The controlling trend into paganism was established before the papacy was developed; and if new forms of expression appeared afterward, they were but the fruitage of earlier tendencies.
RENAN, speaking of the relation between the religious cultus of the Orient and early Christianity, says:
"This is the explanation of the singular attraction which about the beginning of the Christian era drew the population of the ancient world to the religions of the East. These religions had something deeper in them than those of Greece and Rome; they addressed themselves more fully to the religious sentiment. Almost all of them stood in some relation to the condition of the soul in another life and it was believed that they held the warrant of immortality. Hence the favor in which the Thracian and Sabasian mysteries, the thiasi, and confraternities of all kinds, were held. It was not so chilly in these little circles, where men pressed closely together, as in the great icy world of that day. Little religions like the worship of Psyche, whose sole object was consolation for human mortality, had a momentary prevalence. The beautiful Egyptian worship, which hid a real emptiness beneath a great splendor of ritual, counted devotees in every part of the empire. Isis and Serapis had altars even in the ends of the world. A visitor to the ruins of Pompeii might be tempted to believe that the principal worship which obtained there was that of Isis. These little Egyptian temples had their assiduous worshippers, among whom were many of the same class as the friends of Catullus and Tibullus. There was a morning service; a kind of mass, celebrated by a priest, shorn and beardless. There were sprinklings of holy water; possibly benediction in the evening. All this occupied, amused, soothed. What could any one want more?
"But it was above all the Mithraic(18) worship which, in the second and third centuries, attained an extraordinary prevalence. I sometimes permit myself to say that, if Christianity had not carried the day, Mithraicism would have become the religion of the world. It had its mysterious meetings, its chapels, which bore a strong resemblance to little churches. It forged a very lasting bond of brotherhood between its initiates; it had a Eucharist, a supper so like the Christian mysteries that good Justin Martyr the Apologist can find only one explanation of the apparent identity, namely, that Satan, in order to deceive the human race, determined to imitate the Christian ceremonies, and so stole them. A Mithraic sepulchre in the Roman catacombs is as edifying, and presents as elevated a mysticism, as the Christian tombs."(19)
Describing the earliest Christianity, KILLEN bears valuable testimony to the fact that the features of paganism which became prominent at a later period were wholly wanting in the earliest Christianity. He shows that the Church was Judaistic in forms and practice.
These are his words :
"A Roman citizen, when present for the first time at the worship of the Church, might have remarked how profoundly it differed from the ritual of paganism. The services in the great heathen temples were but an imposing scenic exhibition. The holy water for lustration, the statues of the gods with wax tapers burning before them, the officials robed in white surplices, and the incense floating in clouds and diffusing perfume all around, could only regale the sense or light up the imagination. No stated time was devoted to instruct the assembly; and the liturgy often in a dead language as it was mumbled over by the priest, merely added to the superstition and the mysticism. But the worship of the Church was, in the highest sense, a 'reasonable service.' It had no parade, no images, no fragrant odors; for the first hundred years it was commonly celebrated in private houses or the open fields; and yet it addressed itself so impressively to the understanding and the heart that the congregations of the faithful frequently presented scenes incomparably more spirit-stirring and sublime than anything ever witnessed in the high places of Greek or Roman idolatry. . .
"No individual or church court is warranted to tamper with symbolic ordinances of divine appointment; for as they are the typical embodiment of great truths, any change essentially vitiates their testimony. But their early administrators overlooking this grave objection, soon ceased to respect the integrity of baptism and the Lord's Supper. In the third century a number of frivolous and superstitious ceremonies such as exorcism, unction, the making of the sign of the cross on the forehead, and the kiss of peace were already tacked to baptism so that the beautiful significance of the primitive observance could not be well seen under these strange trappings. Before the middle of the second century the wine of the Eucharist was mixed with water; fifty years afterwards the communicants participated standing; and at length the elements themselves were treated with awful reverence. The more deeply to impress the imagination, baptism and the Eucharist began to be surrounded with the secrecy of the heathen mysteries, and none save those who had received the ordinances were suffered to be present at their dispensation. The ministers of the Church sadly compromised their religion when they thus imitated the meretricious decorations of the pagan worship. As might have been expected, the symbols so disfigured were misunderstood and misrepresented. Baptism was called regeneration, and the Eucharist was designated a sacrifice. Thus a door was opened for the admission of a whole crowd of dangerous ero %7uoR %7» N_20_">(20)