Sixteen Crucified Saviours
(Christianity Before Christ, by Kersey Graves. 1875)
This document has been edited and modernised for easier reading. The original version is available from: http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/kersey_graves/16/
Web’ append the following note:
Inversely to the remoteness of time has been man’s ascent toward the temple of knowledge. Truth has made its ingress into the human mind in the ratio by which man has attained the capacity to receive and appreciate it. Hence, as we tread back the meandering pathway of human history, every step in the receding process brings us to a lower plane of intelligence and a state of mind more thoroughly encrusted with ignorance and superstition. It is, therefore, no source of surprise to learn, when we take a survey of the world two or three thousand years in the past, that every religious writer of that era committed errors on every subject which employed his pen, involving a scientific principle. Hence, the bible, or sacred book, to which he was a contributor, is now found to bear the marks of human imperfection. For the temple of knowledge was but partially reared, and its chambers but dimly lighted up. The intellectual brain was in a dark, feeble and dormant condition. Hence, the moral and religious feelings were drifted about without a pilot on the turbulent waves of superstition, and finally stranded on the shoals of bigotry.
The Christian bible, like other bibles, having been written in an age when science was but budding into life, and philosophy had attained but a feeble growth, should be expected to teach many things incompatible with the principles of modern science. And accordingly it is found to contain, like other bibles, numerous statements so obviously at war with present established scientific truths that almost any school-boy, at the present day, can demonstrate their falsity. Let the unbiased person examine and compare the oriental and Christian bibles together, and he will note the following facts:
That the cardinal religious conceptions of all bibles are essentially the same – all running in parable grooves.
That every chapter of every bible is but a transcript of the mental chart of the writer.
That no bible, pagan or Christian, contains anything surpassing the natural, mental and moral capacity of the writer to originate. And hence no divine aid or inspiration was necessary for its production.
That the moral and religious teachings of no bible reach a higher altitude than the intelligence and mental development of the age and country which produced it.
That the Christian bible, in some respects, is superior to some of the other bibles, but only to the extent to which the age in which it was written was superior in intelligence and natural mental capacity to the era in which the older bibles were penned; and that this superiority consists not its more exalted religious conceptions, but only in the fact that, being of more modern origin, the progress of mind had worn away some of the legendary rubbish of the past. Being written in a later and more enlightened age, it is consequently a little less encrusted with mythological tradition and oriental imagery. Though not free from these elements, it possesses them in less degree.
And by comparing Christ’s history with those of the oriental Gods, it will be found:
It is hoped this work will ultimately effect something towards achieving the important end sought to be attained by its publication – the banishment of that wide-spread delusion comprehended in the belief in an incarnate, virgin-born God, called Jesus Christ, and the infallibility of his teachings, with the numerous evils growing legitimately out of this belief – among the most important of which is, its cramping effect upon the mind of the possessor, which interdicts its growth, and thus constitutes a serious obstacle to the progress both of the individual and of society. And such has been the blinding effect of this delusion upon all who have fallen victims to its influence, that the numerous errors and evils of our popular system of religious faith, which constitutes its legitimate fruits, have passed from age to age, unnoticed by all except scientific and progressive maids, who are constantly bringing these errors and evils to light. This state of things has been a source of sorrow and regret to every philanthropist desiring the welfare of the race.
Ignorance of science and ignorance of history are the two great bulwarks of religious error. There is scarcely a tenet of religious faith now propagated to the world by the professed disciples of Christ but that, if subjected to a rigid test in the ordeal of modern science, would be found to contain more or less error. Vast acquisitions have been made in the fields of science and history within the last half century, the moral lessons of which have done much to undermine and unsettle our popular system of religious faith, and to bring into disrepute or effectively change many of its long-cherished dogmas. The scientific and historical facts thus brought before the intelligent public, have served as keys for explaining many of the doctrines comprised in the popular creed. They have poured a flood of light upon our whole system of religion as now taught by its popular representatives, which have had the effect to reveal many of its errors to those who have had the temerity, or the curiosity, to investigate it upon these grounds. Many of the doctrines and miraculous events which have always been assigned a divine emanation by the disciples of the Christian faith, are, by these scientific and historical disclosures, shown to be explainable upon natural grounds, and to have exclusively a natural basis. Some of them are shown to be solvable by recently developed ‘spiritual laws,’ while others are proven to be founded wholly in error. The intelligent community are now acquainted with many of these important facts, so that no man of science can be found in this enlightened age who can popularly be termed a Christian. No man can be found in any Christian country who has the established reputation of being a man of science, or who has made any proficiency in the whole curriculum of the sciences, whose creed, when examined by an orthodox committee, would not be pronounced unsound. It is true that many of the scientific class, not possessing the conviction that duty imposes the moral necessity of making living martyrs of themselves, have refrained from fully avowing or disclosing to the public their real convictions of the popular faith.
The changes and improvements in religious ideas now observant in the most intelligent portion of the community, are due in part to the rapid progress of scientific discovery and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in Christian countries. The explorer in the field of religious history, however, comes in here for his need of praise. New stores of historic facts and data may be reckoned among the recent acquisitions of the laborious archaeologist; new fountains of religions history have recently been unsealed, which have had the effect to reveal many errors and false claims set up for the current religion of Christendom – a religion long regarded as settled and stereotyped. For many centuries subsequent to the establishment of the Christian religion, but little was known by its disciples of the character, claims and doctrines of the oriental systems of worship. These religions, in fact, were scarcely known to exist, because they had long been veiled in secrecy. They were found, in some cases, enshrined in religious books printed or written in a language so very ancient and obscure, as to bid defiance for centuries to the labours of the most indefatigable, profound and erudite archaeological scholar to decipher it. That obstacle is now partially surmounted.
The recent translation for the first time of the Hindu Vedas into the English language (the oldest bible now extant or ever written) has revealed to the unwelcome gaze of the Christian the startling fact that ‘the heathen’ had long been in possession of ‘holy books,’ possessing essentially the same character, and teaching essentially the same doctrines as the Christian bible – there being, as Horace Greeley expressed it, ‘No doctrine of Christianity but what has been anticipated by the Vedas.’
If, then, this heathen bible (compiled, according to the Christian missionary, Rev. D.G. Allen, 1400 BC), contains all the doctrines of Christianity, then away goes over the damn all claim for the Christian bible as an original bible as an original revelation, or a work of divine inspiration.
Bibles are thus shown to be of heathen and human origin, instead of heavenly and divine authorship, as claimed for them by their respective disciples – the Christian bible forming no exception to this statement. The latter, being essentially like other bibles, it must, of course, have had the same or a similar origin – a fact which, though it may be new and startling to millions, will be universally accepted as truth before the lapse of many generations, and a fact which confronts with open denial the claims of two hundred millions of Christian professors, who assert with unscrupulous boldness that every doctrine, principle and precept of their bible is of divine emanation.
How utterly groundless and untenable is such a claim when arranged by the side of modern discoveries in religious history!
Equally insupportable is the declaration that ‘there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can be saved, than that of Jesus Christ and him crucified,’ when viewed in the light of the modern explorations of Sir Godfrey Higgins, which have disclosed the history of nearly a score of crucified Gods and sin-atoning Saviours, who, we have equal proof, died for the sins of mankind.
Thus, the two prime articles of the Christian faith – Revelation and Crucifixion – are forever established as human and heathen conceptions. And the hope might be reasonably entertained that the important historical facts disclosed in this work will have the effect to open the eyes of Christians to see their serious error in putting forth such exalted claims for their bible and their religion as that of being perfect products of infinite wisdom, did not the past history of all religious countries furnish sad proof that reason and logic, and even the most cogent and convincing facts of science and history often prove powerless when arrayed against a religious conviction, stamped upon the mind for thousands of years in the past, and transmitted from parent to child until it has grown to a colossal stature, and become a part of the living tissues of the soul.
No matter how glaringly absurd, how palpably erroneous, or how demonstrably false an opinion or doctrine is shown to be, they cannot see it, but will still continue to hug it to their bosoms as a divinely-revealed truth. No facts or evidence can prove an overmatch for the inherited convictions of a thousand generations. In this respect the Mohammed, the Hindu and the Christian all stand upon a level. It is about as easy to convince one as the other of their easily demonstrated errors.
Among the numerous errors traceable in the history of every religious sect, commemorated in the annals of the world, none possesses a more serious character, or has been attended with more deplorable consequences, than that of assigning a wrong origin to religion. Every bible, every sect, every creed, every catechism, and every orthodox sermon teaches that ‘religion is the gift of God,’ that ‘it is infused into the soul by the spirit and power of the Lord.’ Never was a greater mistake ever committed. Every student of anthropology, every person who has read any of the numerous modern works on mental science, and tested their easily-demonstrated facts, knows that religion is of natural and not supernatural origin; that it is a natural element of the human mind, and not a ‘direct gift from God;’ that it grows as spontaneously out of the soul as flowers spring out of the ground. It is as natural as eating, sleeping or breathing. This conclusion is not the offspring of mere imagination. It is no hastily-concocted theory, but an oft-demonstrated and scientifically-established fact, which any person can test the truth of for himself.
And this modern discovery will, at no distant day, revolutionise all systems of religious faith in existence, and either dissolve and dissipate them, or modify and establish them upon a more natural and enduring basis, expurgated of their dogmatic errors.
Let us, then, labor to banish the wide-spread delusion believed and taught by a thousand systems of worship – Jew, Pagan and Christian – that ‘religion is of supernatural or divine origin,’ and the many ruinous errors; senseless dogmas and deplorable soul-crushing superstitions so thoroughly inwrought into the Christian system will vanish like fog before the morning sun.
These facts demonstrate beyond all cavil and criticism, and with a logical force which can leave not the vestige of a doubt upon any unbiased mind, that all its doctrines are an outgrowth from older heathen systems. Several systems of religion essentially the same in character and spirit as that religion now known as Christianity, and setting forth the same doctrines, principles and precepts, and several personages filling a chapter in history almost identical with that of Jesus Christ, it is now known to those who are up with the discoveries and intelligence of the age, were venerated in the East centuries before a religion called Christian, or a personage called Jesus Christ were known to history.
The following propositions are established beyond confutation by the historical facts cited in this work:
All these doctrines and declarations, and many others not here enumerated, the historical citations of this work abundantly prove, were taught in various oriental heathen nations centuries before the birth of Christ, or before Christianity, as a religion, was known in the world.
Two causes are obviously assignable for Christianity in all its essential features and phases, being so strikingly similar to the ancient pagan systems which preceded it, as also the close analogies of all the principal systems, whose doctrines and practical teachings have found a place on the pages of history.
In conclusion, please note the following points:
It is claimed by the disciples of Jesus Christ, that he was of supernatural and divine origin; that he had a human being for a mother, and a God for his father; that, although he was woman-conceived, he was Deity-begotten, and moulded in the human form, but comprehending in essence a full measure of the infinite Godhead; thus making him half human and half divine in his sublunary origin. It is claimed that he was full and perfect God, and perfect man; and while he was God, he was also the son of God, and as such was sent down by his father to save a fallen and guilty world; and that thus his mission pertained to the whole human race; and his inspired seers are made to declare that ultimately every nation, tongue, kindred, and people under heaven will acknowledge allegiance to his government, and concede his right to reign and rule the world; that ‘every knee must bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
But we do not find that this prophecy has ever been or is likely to be fulfilled. We do not observe that this claim to the infinite deityship of Jesus Christ has been or is likely to be universally conceded. On the contrary, it is found, that by a portion, and a large portion of the people of even those nations now called Christian, this claim has been steadily and unswervingly controverted, through the whole line of history, stretching through the nearly two thousand years which have elapsed since his advent to earth.
Even some of those who are represented to have been personally acquainted with him – some of his own brethren in the flesh, children in the same household, children of the same mother – had the temerity to question the tenableness of his claim to a divine emanation. And when we extend our researches to other countries, we find this claim, so far from being conceded, is denied and contested by whole nations upon other grounds. It is met and confronted by rival claims.
Upon this ground hundreds of millions of the established believers in divine revelation – hundreds of millions of believers in the divine character and origin of religion – reject the pretentious set up for Jesus Christ. They admit both a God and a Saviour, but do not accept Jesus of Nazareth as being either. They admit a Messiah, but not the Messiah; these nations contend that the title is misplaced which makes ‘the man Christ Jesus’ the Saviour of the world. They claim to have been honoured with the birth of the true Saviour among them and defend this claim upon the ground of priority of date. They aver that the advent of their Messiahs were long prior to that of the Christians’, and that this circumstance adjudicates for them a superiority of claim as to having had the true Messiah born upon their soil.
It is argued that, as the story of the incarnation of the Christians’ Saviour is of more recent date than that of these oriental and ancient religions (as is conceded by Christians themselves), the origin of the former is thus indicated and foreshadowed as being an outgrowth from, if not a plagiarism upon the latter – a borrowed copy, of which the pagan stories furnish the original. Here, then, we observe a rivalship of claims, as to which of the remarkable personages who have figured in the world as Saviours, Messiahs, and Sons of God, in different ages and different countries, can be considered the true Saviour and ‘sent of God;’ or whether all should be, or the claims of all rejected.
For researches into oriental history reveal the remarkable fact that stories of incarnate Gods answering to and resembling the miraculous character of Jesus Christ have been prevalent in most if not all the principal religions heathen nations of antiquity; and the accounts and narrations of some of these deific incarnations bear such a striking resemblance to that of the Christian Saviour – not only in their general features, but in some cases in the most minute details, from the legend of the immaculate conception to that of the crucifixion, and subsequent ascension into heaven – that one might almost be mistaken for the other.
More than twenty claims of this kind – claims of beings invested with divine honour (deified) – have come forward and presented themselves at the bar of the world with their credentials, to contest the verdict of Christendom, in having proclaimed Jesus Christ, ‘the only son, and sent of God:’ twenty Messiahs, Saviours, and Sons of God, according to history or tradition, have, in past times, descended from heaven, and taken upon themselves the form of men, clothing themselves with human flesh, and furnishing incontestable evidence of a divine origin, by various miracles, marvellous works, and superlative virtues; and finally these twenty Jesus Christs (accepting their character for the name) laid the foundation for the salvation of the world, and ascended back to heaven.
These have all received divine honours, have nearly all been worshiped as Gods, or sons of God; were mostly incarnated as Christs, Saviours, Messiahs, or Mediators; not a few of them were reputedly born of virgins; some of them filling a character almost identical with that ascribed by the Christian’s bible to Jesus Christ; many of them, like him, are reported to have been crucified; and all of them, taken together, furnish a prototype and parallel for nearly every important incident and wonder-inciting miracle, doctrine and precept recorded in the New Testament, of the Christian’s Saviour. Surely, with so many Saviours the world cannot, or should not, be lost.
We have now presented before us a two-fold ground for doubting and disputing the claims put forth by the Christian world in behalf of ‘Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ In the first place, allowing the question to be answered in the affirmative as to whether he was really a Saviour, or supernatural being, or more than a mere man, a negative answer to which seems to have been sprung (as previously intimated) at the very hour of his birth, and that by his kindred, his own nearest relatives; as it is declared, ‘his own brethren did not believe on him’ – a skepticism which has been growing deeper and broader from that day to this.
And now, upon the heel of this question, we find another formidable query to be met and answered: Was he (Christ) the only Saviour, seeing that a multitude of similar claims are now upon our council-board to be disposed of?
We shall, however, leave the theologians of the various religious schools to adjust and settle this difficulty among themselves. We shall leave them to settle the question as best they can as to whether Jesus Christ was the only son and sent of God – ‘the only begotten of the Father,’ as John declares him to be (John i. 14) – in view of the fact that long prior to his time various personages, in different nations, were invested with the title ‘Son of God,’ and have left behind them similar proofs and credentials of the justness of their claims to such a title, if being essentially alike – as we shall prove and demonstrate them to be – can make their claims similar.
We shall present an array of facts and historical proofs, drawn from numerous histories and the Holy Scriptures and bibles appertaining to these various Saviours, and which include a history of their lives and doctrines, that will go to show that in nearly all their leading features, and mostly even in their details, they are strikingly similar.
A comparison, or parallel view, extended through their sacred histories, so as to include an exhibition presented in parallels of the teachings of their respective bibles, would make it clearly manifest that, with respect to nearly every important thought, deed, word, action, doctrine, principle, receipt, tenet, ritual, ordinance or ceremony, and even the various important characters or personages, who figure in their religious dramas as Saviours, prophets, apostles, angels, devils, demons, exalted or fallen genii – in a word, nearly every miraculous or marvellous story, moral precept, or tenet of religious faith, noticed in either the Old or New Testament Scriptures of Christendom – from the Jewish cosmogony, or story of creation in Genesis, to the last legendary tale in St. John’s ‘Arabian Nights’ (alias the Apocalypse) – there is to be found an anti-type for, or outline of, somewhere in the sacred records or bibles of the oriental heathen nations, making equal if not higher pretension to a divine emanation and divine inspiration, and admitted by all historians, even the most orthodox, to be of much more ancient date; for while Christians only claim, for the earthly advent of their Saviour and the birth of their religion, a period less than nineteen hundred years in the past, on the contrary, most of the deific or divine incarnations of the heathen and their respective religions are, by the concurrent and united verdict of all history, assigned a date several hundred or several thousand years earlier, thus leaving the inference patent that so far as there has been any borrowing or transfer of materials from one system to another, Christianity has been the borrower.
And as nearly the whole outline and constituent parts of the Christian system are found scattered through these older systems, the query is at once sprung as to whether Christianity did not derive its materials from these sources – that is from heathenism, instead of from high heaven – as it claims.
Nearly all religious history is prophetic of the coming of Saviours, Messiahs, Redeemers, and virgin-born Gods. Most religious countries, and more than a score of religious systems, had a standing prophecy that a divine deliverer would descend from heaven and relieve them from their depressed state, and ameliorate their condition. And in most cases that prophecy was believed to have been fulfilled by the birth of a being, who, as he approached the goal of moral and intellectual manhood exhibited such remarkable proof of superiority of mind as to be readily accepted as the promised Messiah.
We can only find room for a few citations and illustrations in proof of this statement. Many texts have been hunted out and marked in the Christian bible, by interested priests, as prophetic of the coming and mission of Christ. But a thorough, candid, and impartial investigation will convince any person that none of these texts have the remotest allusion to Christ, nor were they intended to have. On the contrary, most of them refer to events already past. The others are the mere ebullitions of pent-up feelings hopefully prayerful in their anticipation of better times, but very indefinite as to the period and the agencies or means in which, or by which, the desired reformation was to be brought about. A divine man was prayed for and hopefully expected. But no such being as Jesus Christ is anticipated, or alluded to, or dreamed of, by the prophecies. And it requires the most unwarrantable distortion to make one text refer to him.
But this perversion has been wrought on many texts. We will cite one case in proof. In Isaiah’s ‘famous prophecy’ so-called, the phrase ‘Unto us a child is born’ (Isa. ix. 6), the context clearly shows, refers to the prophet’s own child, and the past tense, ‘is born,’ is an evidence the child was then born. And the title ‘Mighty God,’ found in the text, Dr. Beard shows should have been translated ‘the Mighty Hero,’ thus proving it has no reference to a God. And ‘the Everlasting Father’ should have been rendered, according to this Christian writer, ‘the Father of the Everlasting Age.’ And other texts often quoted as prophecies by biased Christian writers, the doctor proves, are erroneously translated, and have no more reference to Christ than to Mohammed.
It is true the Jews, in common with other nations, cherished strong anticipations of the arrival of a Mighty Deliverer amongst them; and this august personage some of them supposed would be a God, or a God-man (a demi-God). Hence, such prophetic utterances as ‘Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness’ (Isa. xxxii. i), ‘And all nations shall flow unto Zion’ (Isa. ii. 2).
The Hindu Buddhists long previously indulged similar anticipations with respect to the triumph of their religion. Hence, their seers prophesied that at the end of the Kali Yuga period, a divine child (Avatar, or Saviour) would be born, who would understand the divine writings (the Holy Scriptures) and the sciences, without the labor of learning them. ‘He will supremely understand all things.’ ‘He will relieve the earth of sin, and cause justice and truth to reign everywhere. And will bring the whole earth into the acceptance of the Hindu religion.’ And the Hindu prophet Bala also predicted that a divine Saviour would ‘become incarnate in the house of Yadu, and issue forth to mortal birth from the womb of Devaci (a Holy Virgin), and relieve the oppressed earth of its load of sin and sorrow.’ Much more similar language may be found in their holy bible, the Vedas. Colonel Wilford tells us the advent of their Saviour Krishna occurred in exact fulfillment of prophecy found in their sacred books.
And the Chinese bible also contains a number of Messianic prophecies. In one of the five volumes a prophecy runs thus: ‘The Holy one, when he comes, will unite in himself all the virtues of heaven and earth. By his justice the world will be established in righteousness. He will labor and suffer much … and will finally offer up a sacrifice worthy of himself,’ … that is, worthy of a God. And a singular animal, called the Kilin (signifying the Lamb of God), was seen in the yard, with a stone in its mouth, on which was inscribed a prophecy of the event … ‘And when the young God (Chang-ti) was born, in fulfillment of this prophecy, heavenly music, and angels and shepherds attended the scene.’
We will also give place to a Messianic prophecy of Persia. Mr. Faber, an English writer, in his ‘History of Idolatry,’ tells us that Zoroaster prophetically declared, that ‘A virgin should conceive and bear a son, and a star would appear blazing at midday to signalise the occurrence.’ ‘When you behold the star,’ said he to his followers, ‘follow it whithersoever it leads you. Adore the mysterious child, offering him gifts with profound humility. He is indeed the Almighty Word which created the heavens. He is indeed your Lord and everlasting King’ (Faber, vol. ii. p. 92). Abulfaragius, in his ‘Historia Dynastarium,’ and Maurice, in his ‘Indian Skeptics Refuted,’ both speak of this prophecy, fulfilled, according to Mr. Higgins, by the advent of the Persian and Chaldean God Josa. And Chalcidus (of the second century), in his ‘Comments on the Timeas of Plato,’ speaks of ‘a star which presaged neither disease nor death, but the descent of a God amongst men, and which is attested by Chaldean astronomers, who immediately hastened to adore the new-born deity, and present him gifts.’
We are compelled to omit, for the want of room, the notice of numerous Messianic prophecies found in the sacred writings of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mexico, Arabia, and other countries, all of which tend to show that the same prophetic spirit pervaded all religious countries, reliable only to the extent it might have issued from an interior spiritual vision, or have been illuminated by departed spirits. And we find as much evidence that these pagan prophecies were inspired, and also fulfilled, as those found in the Jew-Christian bible, thus reducing all to a common level.
‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.’ (Gen. iii. 15.) This text is often cited by Christian writers and controversialists as prefiguring the mission of the Christian Saviour, viz., the destruction of the serpent, alias the devil. St. John calls ‘the grand adversary of souls which deceiveth the whole world,’ ‘the dragon, the serpent, the devil, and Satan.’ (Rev. xii. 8.). The serpent, then, is the devil; that is, the dragon, the serpent, the devil and Satan are all one. The object of this chapter is to show the origin of the singular figure set forth in the first text quoted, and to prove that those Christian writers who assume it to be a revelation from heaven were profoundly ignorant of oriental history, as the same figure is found in several heathen systems of older date, as we will now cite the facts to prove.
Some of the saviours or demigods of Egypt, India, Greece, Persia, Mexico and Etruria are represented as performing the same drama with the serpent or devil. ‘Osiris of Egypt (says Mr. Bryant) bruised the head of the serpent after it had bitten his heel.’ Descending to Greece, Mr. Faber relates that, ‘on the spheres Hercules is represented in the act of contending with the serpent, the head of which is placed under his foot; and this serpent guarded the tree with golden fruit in the midst of the garden Hesperides’ – Eden. (Origin of Idolatry, vol. ix. 443.) ‘And we may observe,’ says this author, ‘the same tradition in the Phoenician fable of Option or Options.’ (Ibid.) In Genesis the serpent is the subject of two legends. But here it will be observed that they are both couched in one.
Again, it is related by more than one oriental writer that Krishna of India is represented on some very ancient sculptures and stone monuments with his heel on the head of a serpent. Mr. Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, vol. ii., speaks of ‘Krishna crushing the head of a serpent with his foot,’ and pronounces the striking similarity of this story with that found in the Christian bible as ‘very mysterious.’ Another author tells us ‘The image of Krishna is sculptured in the ancient temples of India, sometimes wreathed in the folds of a serpent which is biting his foot, and sometimes treading victoriously on the head of a serpent.’ (Prog. Rel. Ideas, vol. i.) In the Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi., we are told, ‘A messenger from heaven announced to the first woman created (Suchiquecul), that she should bear a son who should bruise the serpent’s head, and then presented her with a rose.’ Here is the origin of the Genesis legend, the rose being the fruit of the tree of ‘the knowledge of good and evil.’ ‘The ancient Persians,’ says Volney, in his ‘Ruin of Empires,’ p. 169, ‘had the tradition of a virgin, from whom they predicted would be born, or would spring up, a shoot (a son) that would crush the serpent’s head, and thus deliver the world from sin.’ And both the serpent and the virgin, he tells us, are represented imaginably in the heavens, and pictured on their astronomical globes and spheres, as on those of the Romish Christian. (See Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens.)
In the ancient Etrurian story, instead of ‘the seed of the woman’ (the virgin), it is the woman herself who is represented as standing with one foot on the head of a serpent, which has the twig of an apple tree in its mouth to which an apple is suspended (the forbidden fruit), while its tail is twisted around a celestial globe, thus reminding us of St. John’s dragon hauling down one-third of the stars with his tail, (See Rev. xii. 4.) In the ancient celestial diagram of the Etrurian, the head of the virgin is surmounted with a crown of stars – doubtless the same legend from which St. John borrowed his metaphor of a ‘a woman with a crown of twelve stars on her head.’ (Rev. xiii.) ‘The Regina Stellarum’ (Queen of the Stars), spoken of in some of the ancient systems appertains to the same fable. Also the tradition of Achilles of Greece being invulnerable in the heel, as related by Homer. The last clause of the first text quoted reads ‘It shall bruise thy head’ – a very curious prophetic reference to the saviour of the world, if the text refers to him, to represent him as being of the neuter gender, for the neuter pronoun it always refers to a thing without sex.
In the further exposition of the serpent tradition, we are now brought to notice, and will trace to its origin, the story of the original transgression and fall of man – two cardinal doctrines of the Christian religion. Like every other tenet of the Christian faith, we find these doctrines taught in heathen systems much older than Christianity, and whose antiquity antedates even the birth of Moses. We will first notice the Persian tradition. ‘According to the doctrine of the Persians,’ says the Rev. J.C. Pitrat, ‘Meshia and Meshiane, the first man and first woman, were pure, and submitted to Ormuzd, their maker. But Ahriman (the evil one) saw them, and envied them their happiness. He approached them under the form of a serpent, presented fruits to them, and persuaded them that he was the maker of man, of animals, of plants, and of the beautiful universe in which they dwelt. They believed it. Since that time Ahriman was their master. Their natures became corrupt, and this corruption infested their whole posterity.’ This story is taken from the Vandidatsade of the Persians, pp. 305 and 428.
The Indian or Hindu story is furnished us by the Rev. Father Bouchat, in a letter to the bishops of Avranches, and runs thus: ‘Our Hindus say the Gods tried by all means to obtain immortality. After many inquiries and trials, they conceived the idea that they would find it in the tree of life, which is the Chorcan (paradise). In fact they succeeded, and by eating once in a while of the fruits of that tree, they kept the precious treasure they so much valued. A famous snake, named Cheiden, saw that the tree of life had been found by the Gods of the second order. As probably he had been entrusted with guarding that tree, he became so angry because his vigilance had been deceived, that he immediately poured out an enormous quantity of poison, which spread over the whole earth.’ How much like this story is the story of St. John, ‘And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood!’ (Rev. xii. 15.)
The idea of a snake or serpent inundating the earth from its mouth, as taught in both stories is so novel, and so far removed from the sphere of natural causes and possible events, that we are compelled to the conclusion that one is borrowed from the other, or both from a common original.
And as facts cited in other chapters prove beyond dispute that the Hindu system, containing this story, extends in antiquity far beyond the time of Moses, the question is thus settled as to which system borrowed the story from the other.
Three out of four of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith are taught in the two heathen mythological stories of creation just presented:
The ancients very naturally concluded that an offspring of God (a son of God) should have a purer, higher and holier maternal origin than is incident to the lot of mortals, and this was to constitute one of the evidences of his emanation from the Deity – that is, of his supernatural or divine origin. He, as a matter of course, must not only have a different origin, but one in the highest degree superior and supernatural. He must not only be able to claim the highest paternal origin, but the highest maternal also. And on the part of the mother, a sexual connection with the great Potentate of heaven would evince for her offspring the very acme of superiority with respect to his origin, moral perfection and authority. That the Saviour was born of a woman could not possibly be made a matter of concealment. But his paternal parentage was not so obvious and apparent to general observation, being cognisant alone to the mother. This circumstance furnished the most propitiates opportunity to concoct the story that ‘The Most High’ had condescended and descended to become both a father and a grandfather to a human being, or a being apparently human at least.
We say grandfather, because, if God (as the Christian bible itself frequently asserts, both directly and by implication) is father of the whole human family, then he was father to the maternal parent; so that her son, though deriving existence from him, would be his grandson as well as his son. Hence the corollary, Jesus Christ was a grandson of God as well as a son of God, and Jehovah both his father and grandfather.
Again, to make the origin and character of the God and Saviour stand higher for purity, and partake in the highest degree of the miraculous, the impression must go abroad that he was born of a woman while she was yet a maiden – that is, before she was contaminated by illicit association with the masculine sex. Hence, nearly all the saviours were reputedly born of virgins. And the process of birth, too, was out of the line of natural causes, in order to invest the character of the saviour with the ‘ne plus ultra’ of the miraculous.
And hence it is related of Jesus Christ (in an Apocryphal Gospel), of Krishna of India, and other saviours, that they were born through the mother’s side.
It is true our present canonical gospels are silent as to the manner of Christ’s birth; but one of the Apocryphal gospels, which gives the matter in fuller detail, and whose authority in the earlier ages of the Christian church was not disputed, declares that the manner of his birth was as related above. And, besides, some of the early Christian fathers fully endorsed the story. The same is related in the pagan bibles of heathen Gods. The motives which originated the reports of the immaculate conception of the Saviours, it may be further remarked, were of a two-fold character:
And we may observe here that it is not the Saviours alone who are reported to have been ushered into tangible existence without a human father, but it is declared of beings known and acknowledged to be men, as Plato, Pythagoras, Alexander, Augustus and a number of others. Of Plato an author remarks, ‘He was born of Paretonia, and begotten of Apollo, and not Ariston, his father.’ Both the manner, or process, and the source of the influence by which the Gods and Saviours were generated, seem to have been different in different countries, though the idea of ‘overshadowing with the Holy Ghost’ seems to have been most current. Mr. Higgins says that ‘the Supreme First Cause was generally believe to overshadow, or in some other mysterious manner to impregnate, the mother of the God, or personage’ (vol. i. 378). We are told that Pythais, the mother of Pythagoras, five hundred and fifty years BC, conceived by a spectre or ghost (of course the Holy Ghost) of the God Apollo, or God Sol.
In Malcolm’s ‘History of Persia’ (vol. i. 494) the author tells us that ‘Zoroaster was born of an immaculate conception by a ray from the Divine Reason.’ The immaculate conception of Juno of Greece is thus described by the poet:
This case may certainly be set down as the ‘ne plus ultra’ of etiquette with respect to sexual commerce or purity of conception. The sweet odour of an expanded flower, we are here taught, is adequate to the conception and production of a God. Here we have ‘the immaculate conception’ in the superlative degree, and while much more beautiful and grand it cannot be more senseless or unreasonable than the conception by a ghost. It proves at least that the doctrine of the immaculate conception is of very ancient date. And this fastidious maiden lady and immaculate virgin, Juno, not only conceived the God Mars by the touch of a flower, but she also (so the story reads) conceived Vulcan by being overshadowed by the wind – exactly a parallel case with that of the virgin Mary, as we find that ghost, in the original, means wind. Thus we observe that Vulcan, long before Jesus Christ, was ‘born of the Holy Ghost, that is, both were conceived by the ‘Holy Wind.’ And the author of the ‘Perennial Calendar’ speaks of the miraculous conception of Juno Jugulis, ‘the blessed virgin queen of heaven,’ and describes it as falling on the second of February, the very day which the early Christians celebrated with a festival, as being the date of the conception of the ‘ever Blessed Virgin Mary.’
Of the ancient Mexicans, it is said ‘they had the immaculate conception, the crucifixion, and the resurrection after three days.’ (Mex. Antiq., vol. i.) And in an ancient work called ‘Codex Vaticanus,’ the immaculate conception is spoken of as a part of the history of Quexalcote, the Mexican Saviour. ‘Suchiquecal,’ says the Mexican Antiquities, ‘was called the Queen of Heaven. She conceived a son without connection with a man’ – a very obvious case of immaculate conception.
Alvarez Semedo, in his ‘History of China’, page 89, speaks of a sect in that country who worshiped a Saviour known as Xaca, who was reputedly conceived of his mother, Maia, by a white elephant, which she saw in her sleep, and ‘for greater purity, she brought him forth from one of her sides.’ Colonel Tod, of England, tells us in his ‘History of the Rajahs,’ page 57, that Yu, the first Chinese monarch, was conceived by his mother being struck with a star while travelling.
In the case of Christ, it will be recollected, the star did not appear till after his birth. But here the star is the author and agent of the conception.
According to Ranking’s ‘History of the Moguls,’ page 178, Tamerlane’s mother (of Bermuda) professedly conceived by having had sexual intercourse with ‘the God of Day.’ The mother of Ghengis Khan, of Tartar, ‘being too modest to claim that she was the mother of the son of God, said only that he was the son of the sun.’ (History of Mogul, page 65.)
Both Julius and Osiris of Egypt are spoken of by some authors as having been honoured with a divine immaculate conception – the former being the son of the beautiful virgin Cronis Celestine, and ‘begotten by the Father of all Gods.’
Both Buddha and Krishna, of India, are reported as having been immaculately conceived. The mother of the latter (God) was (as the Hindu Holy Book declares) overshadowed by the Supreme God, Brahma, while the spirit-author of the conception (that is, the Holy Ghost) was Naraan. The mother of Apollonius of Cappadocia, who was contemporary with Jesus Christ (according to his history by Philostratus – and his (Apollonius’) disciple Damis testifies to the same effect (gave birth to this God and rival Saviour of Jesus Christ, by having been previously ‘overshadowed’ by the supreme God Proteus. For the corporeal existence and earthly career of Augustus Caesar, the world has ostensibly to acknowledge itself indebted to the ‘overshadowing’ influence and generating power of Jove, by whose divine influence he was immaculately conceived in the temple of Apollo, according to the statement of Nimrod, his biographer. The virgin mother Shing-Mon of China furnishes another case of immaculate conception. Possessing a sensibility too lofty and too refined to descend to the ordinary routine of the world, she gave birth to the God Yu from previous conception by a water lily. This case, with respect to the degree of procreative delicacy and refinement evinced, may be classed with that of Juno of Greece. Here it may be noted as a curious circumstance, that several of the virgin mothers of Gods and great men are specifically represented as going ten months between conception and delivery. The mothers of Hercules, Saki, Gautam, Scipio, Arion, Solomon and Jesus Christ may be mentioned as samples of this character. This tradition probably grew out of the established belief in the ten sacred cycles which constitute the great prospective and portentous millennial epoch. Arion, mentioned above, is represented as being both miraculously and immaculately conceived by the Gods in the citadel of Byrsa.
In view of the foregoing facts, drawn from accredited histories, it will readily conceded that the tradition of the miraculous conceptions of Gods (sons of God), Saviours and Messiahs was very prevalent in the world at a very ancient period of time, and long before the mother of Jesus was ‘overshadowed by the Most High.’ Indeed, says Mr. Higgins, ‘the belief in the immaculate conception extended to every nation in the world.’ And Grote, referring to Greece, makes the remarkable declaration, that ‘the furtive pregnancy of young women, often by a God, is one of the most frequently recurring incidents in the legendary narratives of the country.’ And we find that both the prevalence and great antiquity of the doctrine of the immaculate conception among the heathen is conceded by Christian writers themselves (of former ages) in their attempts to find arguments and commendatory precedents to justify their own belief in the doctrine. For proof of this, we need only cite the Christian writer Mr. Bailey, who remarks, ‘What I have said of St. Augustine is applicable also to Origan and Lactanius, who have endeavoured to persuade us of the immaculate virginity of the mother of Jesus Christ by the example of similar events stored by the heathen.’ Here we have several Christian authorities cited by another writer, also a Christian, for placing the doctrine of the immaculate conception among the heathen legends in ages long anterior to Christ.
With respect to the degree of credence to be attached to the story of the immaculate conception of the mother of Jesus, it need only be observed that there was no other person concerned in the transaction but herself who could possess positive, absolute knowledge of the parentage. And she, let it be noted, settles the matter forever, by virtually affirming that Joseph was his father in the declaration addressed to Jesus when she found him in the temple, ‘I and thy father have sought thee sorrowing.’ (Luke ii. 48.) No one will dispute that the father here spoken of was Joseph, which amounts to a positive declaration by the mother, that Joseph was Jesus’ father.
The following considerations exhibit some of the numerous absurdities involved in the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
The report in authentic history of a case of a virtuous woman giving birth to a child with the usual form, and possessing the usual characteristics of a human being, and who should testify she had no male partner in the conception, might in an age of miracles and ignorance of natural law, be believed with implicit credulity. But in an age of intelligence, when the keys of science have unlocked the sacred shrines and hallowed vaults of sacerdotal mysteries, and modern researches of history have laid bare the fact that most ancient religious countries abound in reports of this character, a profound and general skepticism must be the result, and a total rejection of their truth by all men of science and historic intelligence.
Many are the cases noted in history of young maidens claiming a paternity for their male offspring by a God.
In Greece it became so common that the reigning king issued an edict, decreeing the death of all young women who should offer such an insult to deity as to lay to him the charge of begetting their children. The virgin Alcmene furnishes a case of a young woman claiming God as the father of her offspring, when she brought forth the divine Redeemer Alcides, 1280 years BC And Ceres, the virgin mother of Osiris, claimed that he was begotten by the ‘father of all Gods.’ Mr. Kenrick tells us the likeness of this virgin mother, with the divine child in her arms, may now be seen represented in sculpture on some of the ancient, ruined temples of that ruined empire. And Mr. Higgins makes the broad declaration that ‘the worship of this virgin mother, with her God-begotten child, prevailed everywhere.’ This author also quotes Mr. Riquord as saying, this son of God ‘was exhibited in effigy, lying in a manger, in the same manner the infant Jesus was afterward laid in the cave at Bethlehem.’ Mr. Higgins further testifies that the worship of this virgin God-mother (that is, the God and the mother) is of very ancient date and universal prevalence in all the eastern countries, as is proved by sculptured figures bearing the marks of great age.
In corroboration of this statement we might cite many cases, if our space would permit, from the religious records of India, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Mexico, Tibet, etc. Maia, mother of Saki and Yasoda of Krishna; Celestine, mother of the crucified Zunis; Chimalman, mother of Quexalcote; Semele, mother of the Egyptian Bacchus, and Minerva, mother of the Grecian Bacchus; Prudence, mother of Hercules; Alcmene, mother of Alcides; Shing-Mon, mother of Yu, and Mayence, mother of Hesus, were all as confidently believed to be pure, holy and chaste virgins, while giving birth to these Gods, sons of God, Saviours and sin-atoning Mediators, as was Mary, mother of Jesus, and long before her time.
Mr. Higgins remarks that the mother was still held to be a virgin, even after she had given birth to other children besides the deity-begotten bantling, which furnishes another striking parallel to the history of Mary, as she was still called a virgin after she had given birth to Jesus and his brothers James and John. And it is an incident worth noticing here, that, in the case of Mayence, virgin-mother of the God-sired Hesus of the Druids, the ancient traditions of the country, more than two thousand years old, represent her body as being enveloped in light, and a crown of twelve stars upon her head, corresponding exactly to the apocalyptic figure described by the mystagogue, St. John, in the twelfth chapter of his Revelation. She is also represented with her foot on the head of a serpent, according to Davie’s ‘Universal Etymology.’ (Vide the case of the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, Gen. iii. 15.)
Auguste Nichols tells us, in his ‘Philosophical Essays on Christianity,’ that Io is called, in Eschylus, ‘the Chaste Virgin,’ and her son ‘the Son of God.’ (For other similar cases, see Guigne’s History of the Huns.) Gonzales informs us he found on an ancient temple in India the Latin inscription ‘Partura, virginis,’ ‘the virgin about to bring forth.’ And similar inscriptions have been found on pagan temples in the country of the ancient Gauls. (For proof, see Riquord’s Theology of the Ancient Gauls, Chapter X.) ‘He who hath ears to hear, let him hear,’ and treasure up these facts. According to Chinese history there were two beings – Tien and Chang-Ti – worshiped in that country as Gods more than twenty-five hundred years ago, born of virgins ‘who knew no man.’ The mother of the mighty and the almighty God Hercules, we are told, ‘knew only Jove.’
If history and tradition, then, are to be credited, God had many ‘well-beloved sons,’ born of pious and holy virgins, besides Jesus Christ. And some of them are represented as being his only begotten,’ and others his ‘first begotten,’ sons. And all these cases appear to be equally as well authenticated as the story of Jesus Christ. All stand upon a level, the same kind and the same amount of evidence being offered in each case.
Here we will note it as a curious circumstance, that several of the above-named Saviours are represented as being black, Jesus Christ included with this number. There is as much evidence that the Christian Saviour was a black man, or at least a dark man, as there is of his being the son of the Virgin Mary, or that he once lived and moved upon the earth. And that evidence is the testimony of his disciples, who had nearly as good an opportunity of knowing what his complexion was as the evangelists, who omit to say anything about it. In the pictures and portraits of Christ by the early Christians, he is uniformly represented as being black. And to make this the more certain, the red tinge is given to the lips; and the only text in the Christian bible quoted by orthodox Christians, as describing his complexion, represents it as being black. Solomon’s declaration, ‘I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem’ (Sol. i. 5), is often cited as referring to Christ. According to the bible itself, then, Jesus Christ was a black man.
Let us suppose that, at some future time, he makes his second advent to the earth, as some Christians anticipate he will do, and that he comes in the character of a sable Messiah, how would he be received by our Negro-hating Christians, of sensitive olfactory nerves? Would they worship a Negro God? Let us imagine he enters one of our fashionable churches, with his ‘rough and ready,’ linsey-woolsey, seamless garment on, made of wild sea-grass, thus presenting a very forbidding appearance and what would be the result? Would the sexton show him to a seat? Would he not rather point to the door, and exclaim, ‘Get out of here; no place here for niggers?’ What a ludicrous series of ideas is thus suggested by the thought that Jesus Christ was a ‘darkie.’
And the tradition of divine Saviours being born of undefiled and undeflowered virgins has an astronomical chapter we must not omit to notice. The virgin, with her God-begotten child, was pictured imaginably in the heavens from time immemorial. They are represented on the Hindu zodiac, at least three thousand years old, and on the ancient Egyptian planispheres. And if you will examine ‘Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens,’ you will find the infant God-son (the sun) is represented as being born into a new year on the 25th of December (the very date assigned for Christ’s birth), and may be seen rising over the eastern horizon, out of Mary, Maria, or Mare (the Latin for sea), with the infant God in her arms, being heralded and preceded by a bright star, which rises immediately preceding the virgin and her child, thus suggesting the text, ‘We have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.’ (Matt. ii. 8.) Such facts led the learned Alphonso to exclaim, ‘The adventures of Jesus Christ are all depicted among the stars.’
And such facts fasten the conviction on our mind that the stories of Gods cohabiting with young maids or virgins, and begetting other Gods, is of astrological origin – the story of Jesus Christ included. A critical research shows that astronomy and religion were interblended, interwoven, and confounded together at a very early period of time, so indissolubly, that it now becomes impossible to separate them.
A profusion of evidence is furnished at every step, along the devious pathway of sacred history, tending to show that all the systems of worship which have existed in the past have had a dip in ‘the halo of the heavenly orbs,’ and hence shine with a light derived from that source.
We find the stars acting directly a conspicuous part at the births of several of the Saviours, besides figuring in some cases by marking important events in their subsequent history.
Mr. Higgins remarks that ‘Among the ancients there seems to have been a very general idea that the arrival of Gods and great personages who were expected to come, would be announced by a star.’ And the cases of Abraham, Caesar, Pythagoras, Yu, Krishna, and Christ, may be cited in proof of this declaration. A star figured either before or at the birth of each, according to their respective histories.
And it is a historical fact that should be noted here that the practice of calculating nativities by the stars was in vogue in the era and country of Christ’s birth, and had been for a long period previously in various countries. ‘We have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.’ (Matt. ii. i.) Now mark, here, it was not the star, nor a star, but ‘his star;’ thus disclosing its unmistakable astrological features. Mr. Faber (in his ‘Origin of Idolatry,’ vol. ii. p. 77) reports Zoroaster (600 BC) as prophetically announcing to ‘the wise men’ of that country that a Saviour would be born, ‘attended by a star at noonday.’
In the history of the Hindu Saviour Krishna, we are told that ‘as soon as Nared, who, having heard of his fame, had examined the stars, he declared him to be from God; that is, the Son of God. The Roman Calcidius speaks of it a wonderful star, presaging the descent of a God amongst men.’ (See Maurice’s Indian Skeptics Refuted, p. 62.) Quite suggestive of the star ‘apprising the wise men’ of Christ’s descent from above. And a star is said to have foretokened the birth of the Roman Julius Caesar. The Chinese God Yu was not only heralded by a star, but conceived and brought to mortal birth by a star.
In Numbers xxiv. 17, it is declared ‘There shall come a star out of Jacob,’ etc. This is a text often quoted by Christian writers as having a prophetic reference to the Christian Messiah. But the same text declares further, ‘It shall destroy the children of Seth,’ a prediction which no rational interpretation can make apply to Jesus Christ. And then we find this star of Jacob or Judah (the same) represented on astronomical maps as a prominent star in the constellation Virgo (the Virgin), fancifully termed by the Hebrew Ephraim.
It was known in the Syrian, Arabian and Persian Systems of astronomy as Messaeil (suggestive of Messiah), and was considered the ruling genius of the constellation.
The ‘star of Jacob,’ then, was simply a figure borrowed from the ancient pagan systems of astronomy, in which they fancifully represent a virgin rising with an infant Messiah (Messaeil) in her arms. Messaeil is, when analysed, Messaeh-el (Messiah-God), and is found in the constellation Virgo, which commences rising at midnight, on the 25th of December, with this ‘star in the east’ in her arms – the star which piloted ‘the wise men.’ The whole thing, then, is evidently an astronomical legend.
Albert the Great, in his ‘Book on the Universe,’ tells us, ‘The sign of the celestial virgin rises above the horizon, at the moment we find fixed for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ To which we will add the declaration of Sir William Drummond, who, in his ‘CEdipus Judaicus,’ p. 27, most significantly remarks, ‘The anointed of El, the male infant, who rises in the arms of Virgo, was called Jesus by the Hebrews, ... and was hailed as the anointed king or Messiah’ – still further proof of the astrological origin of the story.
Dr. Hales, in his ‘Chronology,’ calls Christ ‘the star of our salvation, the true Apollo, the sun of righteousness’ – all of which are astronomical terms.
And here we may recur to the fact that some of the early inhabitants of the earth regarded a star as a thing of life, because it appeared to move, and acted as though controlled by a living spirit. And this fetching idea we observe lurking amongst the borrowed orientalisms of the Jewish Old Testament. The representation of the morning stars joining in a chorus and singing together (see Job xxxviii. 9), is an instance of this kind of fetching conception.
And then we find a much stronger and more conclusive case in the New Testament, where Matthew represents a star as breaking loose from its orbit, and travelling some millions of miles, in order to stand over the young child Jesus, as he lay amongst the oxen and asses in a stable. (See Matt. ii. 7.) Wonderfully accommodating star indeed! How did its inhabitants feel while thus travelling with the velocity of lightning? This achievement would not only require life, but an active intelligence, on the part of the star, as it is represented as being an act of the planet itself.
‘All nations,’ says Mr. Higgins, ‘once believed that the planetary bodies or their inhabitants controlled the affairs of men, and even their births.’ Hence the cant phrases, ‘My stars,’ ‘He is ill-starred,’ etc., in use then, and still in use at the present day. The good or ill luck of a person was attributed to the good or evil stars which it was believed ruled at the hour of his birth.
We find a counterpart to the story of Matthew’s travelling star in Virgil’s writings, who declares (60 BC) that a star guided Aeneas in a journey westward from Troy. In the days of Pliny (see his ‘Natural History,’ Book II.), the people of Rome fancied they saw a God in a star or comet in the form of a man. The Apocryphal book of Seth relates that a star descended from heaven and lighted on a mountain, in the midst of which a divine child was seen bearing a cross. Christ betrays the same ignorance of astronomy, when he speaks of ‘the stars falling from heaven to the earth.’ (See Matt. xxiv. 29.) For if there could be any falling in the case, the falling would be in the other direction and the earth would fall to the stars, as larger bodies always attract smaller ones.
As shown above, the stupendous orbs of night were represented by Jew, Pagan and Christian as breaking away from their orbits, and running hither and thither, like a fly on a ceiling, or a ball from a sky-rocket, being regarded as mere jack-a-lanterns, that could appear anywhere at any time creative fancy might dictate or require; while science teaches that the stars are stupendous orbs, some of them a thousand times larger than the planet on which we live, and that they could not depart one rod from their accustomed orbits without breaking up the whole planetary system, and destroying the universe.
And then observe the absurdity in Matthew’s story, which teaches that the wise men followed the star in the east, when they, coming from the east, were, as a matter of course, travelling westward, which would place the star to their backs. That must be a ‘sui generis’ pilot or guide which follows after, instead of going before. Omitting further citations from history, we will only observe further that the ancient Hindus, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Syrians, Mexicans, etc., took great account of stars, and employed them on all important occasions, especially on long journeys and at the births of Gods and great personages – a circumstance which aids in explaining the star chapter in the gospel history of Christ.
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