"King. — Let us from point to point this story know." -- All's Well That Ends Well. — Act v., Scene 3.
"He is the One, self-proceeding; and from Him all things proceed.
And in them He Himself exerts His activity; no mortal
Beholds Him, but He beholds all!" — Orphic Hymn.
"And Athens, O Athena, is thy own!
Great Goddess hear! and on my darkened mind
Pour thy pure light in measure unconfined;
That sacred light, O all-proceeding Queen,
Which beams eternal from thy face serene.
My soul, while wand'ring on the earth, inspire
With thy own blessed and impulsive fire!" — Proclus; Taylor: To Minerva.
"Now faith is the substance of things. . . . By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies in peace." — Hebrews xi. 1, 31.
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? . . . Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" — James ii. 14, 25.
Clement describes Basilides, the Gnostic, as "a philosopher devoted to the contemplation of divine things." This very appropriate expression may be applied to many of the founders of the more important sects which later were all engulfed in one — that stupendous compound of unintelligible dogmas enforced by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others, which is now termed Christianity. If these must be called heresies, then early Christianity itself must be included in the number. Basilides and Valentinus preceded Irenaeus and Tertullian; and the two latter Fathers had less facts than the two former Gnostics to show that their heresy was plausible. Neither divine right nor truth brought about the triumph of their Christianity; fate alone was propitious. We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of all these sects — Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included — but sprung from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the once universal religion, which antedated the Vedaic ages — we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism.
The religion which the primitive teaching of the early few apostles most resembled — a religion preached by Jesus himself — is the elder of these two, Buddhism. The latter as taught in its primitive purity, and carried to perfection by the last of the Buddhas, Gautama, based its
moral ethics on three fundamental principles. It alleged that 1, every thing existing, exists from natural causes; 2, that virtue brings its own reward, and vice and sin their own punishment; and, 3, that the state of man in this world is probationary. We might add that on these three principles rested the universal foundation of every religious creed; God, and individual immortality for every man — if he could but win it. However puzzling the subsequent theological tenets; however seemingly incomprehensible the metaphysical abstractions which have convulsed the theology of every one of the great religions of mankind as soon as it was placed on a sure footing, the above is found to be the essence of every religious philosophy, with the exception of later Christianity. It was that of Zoroaster, of Pythagoras, of Plato, of Jesus, and even of Moses, albeit the teachings of the Jewish law-giver have been so piously tampered with.
We will devote the present chapter mainly to a brief survey of the numerous sects which have recognized themselves as Christians; that is to say, that have believed in a Christos, or an anointed one. We will also endeavor to explain the latter appellation from the kabalistic stand-point, and show it reappearing in every religious system. It might be profitable, at the same time, to see how much the earliest apostles — Paul and Peter, agreed in their preaching of the new Dispensation. We will begin with Peter.
We must once more return to that greatest of all the Patristic frauds; the one which has undeniably helped the Roman Catholic Church to its unmerited supremacy, viz.: the barefaced assertion, in the teeth of historical evidence, that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome. It is but too natural that the Latin clergy should cling to it, for, with the exposure of the fraudulent nature of this pretext, the dogma of apostolic succession must fall to the ground.
There have been many able works of late, in refutation of this preposterous claim. Among others we note Mr. G. Reber's, The Christ of Paul, which overthrows it quite ingeniously. The author proves, 1, that there was no church established at Rome, until the reign of Antoninus Pius; 2, that as Eusebius and Irenaeus both agree that Linus was the second Bishop of Rome, into whose hands "the blessed apostles" Peter and Paul committed the church after building it, it could not have been at any other time than between A.D. 64 and 68; 3, that this interval of years happens during the reign of Nero, for Eusebius states that Linus held this office twelve years (Ecclesiastical History, book iii., c. 13), entering upon it A.D. 69, one year after the death of Nero, and dying himself in 81. After that the author maintains, on very solid grounds, that Peter could not be in Rome A.D. 64, for he was then in Babylon; wherefrom he
wrote his first Epistle, the date of which is fixed by Dr. Lardner and other critics at precisely this year. But we believe that his best argument is in proving that it was not in the character of the cowardly Peter to risk himself in such close neighborhood with Nero, who "was feeding the wild beasts of the Amphitheatre with the flesh and bones of Christians"* at that time.
Perhaps the Church of Rome was but consistent in choosing as her titular founder the apostle who thrice denied his master at the moment of danger; and the only one, moreover, except Judas, who provoked Christ in such a way as to be addressed as the "Enemy." "Get thee behind me, Satan!" exclaims Jesus, rebuking the taunting apostle.†
There is a tradition in the Greek Church which has never found favor at the Vatican. The former traces its origin to one of the Gnostic leaders — Basilides, perhaps, who lived under Trajan and Adrian, at the end of the first and the beginning of the second century. With regard to this particular tradition, if the Gnostic is Basilides, then he must be accepted as a sufficient authority, having claimed to have been a disciple of the Apostle Matthew, and to have had for master Glaucias, a disciple of St. Peter himself. Were the narrative attributed to him authenticated, the London Committee for the Revision of the Bible would have to add a new verse to Matthew, Mark, and John, who tell the story of Peter's denial of Christ.
This tradition, then, of which we have been speaking, affirms that, when frightened at the accusation of the servant of the high priest, the apostle had thrice denied his master, and the cock had crowed, Jesus, who was then passing through the hall in custody of the soldiers, turned, and, looking at Peter, said: "Verily, I say unto thee, Peter, thou shalt deny me throughout the coming ages, and never stop until thou shalt be old, and shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldst not." The latter part of this sentence, say the Greeks, relates to the Church of Rome, and prophesies her constant apostasy from Christ, under the mask of false religion. Later, it was inserted in the twenty-first chapter of John, but the whole of this chapter had been pronounced a forgery, even before it was found that this Gospel was never written by John the Apostle at all.
The anonymous author of Supernatural Religion, a work which in two years passed through several editions, and which is alleged to have been written by an eminent theologian, proves conclusively the spuriousness of the four gospels, or at least their complete transformation in the hands
of the too-zealous Irenaeus and his champions. The fourth gospel is completely upset by this able author; the extraordinary forgeries of the Fathers of the early centuries are plainly demonstrated, and the relative value of the synoptics is discussed with an unprecedented power of logic. The work carries conviction in its every line. From it we quote the following: "We gain infinitely more than we lose in abandoning belief in the reality of Divine Revelation. Whilst we retain, pure and unimpaired, the treasure of Christian morality, we relinquish nothing but the debasing elements added to it by human superstition. We are no longer bound to believe a theology which outrages reason and moral sense. We are freed from base anthropomorphic views of God and His government of the Universe, and from Jewish Mythology we rise to higher conceptions of an infinitely wise and beneficent Being, hidden from our finite minds, it is true, in the impenetrable glory of Divinity, but whose laws of wondrous comprehensiveness and perfection we ever perceive in operation around us. . . . The argument so often employed by theologians, that Divine revelation is necessary for man, and that certain views contained in that revelation are required for our moral consciousness, is purely imaginary, and derived from the revelation which it seeks to maintain. The only thing absolutely necessary for man is Truth, and to that, and that alone, must our moral consciousness adapt itself."*
We will consider farther in what light was regarded the Divine revelation of the Jewish Bible by the Gnostics, who yet believed in Christ in their own way, a far better and less blasphemous one than the Roman Catholic. The Fathers have forced on the believers in Christ a Bible, the laws prescribed in which he was the first to break; the teachings of which he utterly rejected; and for which crimes he was finally crucified. Of whatever else the Christian world can boast, it can hardly claim logic and consistency as its chief virtues.
The fact alone that Peter remained to the last an "apostle of the circumcision," speaks for itself. Whosoever else might have built the Church of Rome it was not Peter. If such were the case, the successors of this apostle would have to submit themselves to circumcision, if it were but for the sake of consistency, and to show that the claims of the popes are not utterly groundless, Dr. Inman asserts that report says that "in our Christian times popes have to be privately perfect,"† but we do not know whether it is carried to the extent of the Levitical Jewish law. The first fifteen Christian bishops of Jerusalem, commencing with James and including Judas, were all circumcised Jews.‡
In the Sepher Toldos Jeshu,* a Hebrew manuscript of great antiquity, the version about Peter is different. Simon Peter, it says, was one of their own brethren, though he had somewhat departed from the laws, and the Jewish hatred and persecution of the apostle seems to have existed but in the fecund imagination of the fathers. The author speaks of him with great respect and fairness, calling him "a faithful servant of the living God," who passed his life in austerity and meditation, "living in Babylon at the summit of a tower," composing hymns, and preaching charity. He adds that Peter always recommended to the Christians not to molest the Jews, but as soon as he was dead, behold another preacher went to Rome and pretended that Simon Peter had altered the teachings of his master. He invented a burning hell and threatened every one with it; promised miracles, but worked none.
How much there is in the above of fiction and how much of truth, it is for others to decide; but it certainly bears more the evidence of sincerity and fact on its face, than the fables concocted by the fathers to answer their end.
We may the more readily credit this friendship between Peter and his late co-religionists as we find in Theodoret the following assertion: "The Nazarenes are Jews, honoring the anointed (Jesus) as a just man and using the Evangel according to Peter."† Peter was a Nazarene, according to the Talmud. He belonged to the sect of the later Nazarenes, which dissented from the followers of John the Baptist, and became a rival sect; and which — as tradition goes — was instituted by Jesus himself.
History finds the first Christian sects to have been either Nazarenes like John the Baptist; or Ebionites, among whom were many of the relatives of Jesus; or Essenes (Iessaens) the Therapeutae, healers, of which the Nazaria were a branch. All these sects, which only in the days of Irenaeus began to be considered heretical, were more or less kabalistic. They believed in the expulsion of demons by magical incantations, and practiced this method; Jervis terms the Nabatheans and other such sects "wandering Jewish exorcists,"‡ the Arabic word Nabae, meaning to wander, and the Hebrew [[Heb char]] naba, to prophesy. The Talmud indiscrimi-
nately calls all the Christians Nozari.* All the Gnostic sects equally believed in magic. Irenaeus, in describing the followers of Basilides, says, "They use images, invocations, incantations, and all other things pertaining unto magic." Dunlap, on the authority of Lightfoot, shows that Jesus was called Nazaraios, in reference to his humble and mean external condition; "for Nazaraios means separation, alienation from other men."†
The real meaning of the word nazar signifies to vow or consecrate one's self to the service of God. As a noun it is a diadem or emblem of such consecration, a head so consecrated.‡ Joseph was styled a nazar.§"The head of Joseph, the vertex of the nazar among his brethren." Samson and Samuel ( Semes-on and Sem-va-el) are described alike as nazars. Porphyry, treating of Pythagoras, says that he was purified and initiated at Babylon by Zar-adas, the head of the sacred college. May it not be surmised, therefore, that the Zoro-Aster was the nazar of Ishtar, Zar-adas or Na-Zar-Ad,|| being the same with change of idiom? Ezra, or , was a priest and scribe, a hierophant; and the first Hebrew colonizer of Judea was Zeru-Babel or the Zoro or nazar of Babylon.
The Jewish Scriptures indicate two distinct worships and religions among the Israelites; that of Bacchus-worship under the mask of Jehovah, and that of the Chaldean initiates to whom belonged some of the nazars, the theurgists, and a few of the prophets. The headquarters of these were always at Babylon and Chaldea, where two rival schools of Magians can be distinctly shown. Those who would doubt the statement will have in such a case to account for the discrepancy between history and Plato, who of all men of his day was certainly one of the best informed. Speaking of the Magians, he shows them as instructing the Persian kings of Zoroaster, as the son or priest of Oromasdes; and yet Darius, in the inscription at Bihistun, boasts of having restored the cultus of Ormazd and put down the Magian rites! Evidently there were two distinct and antagonistic Magian schools. The oldest and the most esoteric of the two being that which, satisfied with its unassailable knowledge and secret power, was content to apparently relinquish her exoteric popularity, and concede her supremacy into the hands of the reforming Darius. The later Gnostics showed the same prudent policy by accommodating themselves in every country to the prevailing religious forms, still secretly adhering to their own essential doctrines.
There is another hypothesis possible, which is that Zero-Ishtar was the high priest of the Chaldean worship, or Magian hierophant. When the Aryans of Persia, under Darius Hystaspes, overthrew the Magian Gomates, and restored the Masdean worship, there ensued an amalgamation by which the Magian Zoro-astar became the Zara-tushra of the Vendidad. This was not acceptable to the other Aryans, who adopted the Vedic religion as distinguished from that of Avesta. But this is but an hypothesis.
And whatever Moses is now believed to have been, we will demonstrate that he was an initiate. The Mosaic religion was at best a sun-and-serpent worship, diluted, perhaps, with some slight monotheistic notions before the latter were forcibly crammed into the so-called "inspired Scriptures" by Ezra, at the time he was alleged to have rewritten the Mosaic books. At all events the Book of Numbers was a later book; and there the sun-and-serpent worship is as plainly traceable as in any Pagan story. The tale of the fiery serpents is an allegory in more than one sense. The "serpents" were the Levites or Ophites, who were Moses' body-guard (see Exodus xxxii. 26); and the command of the "Lord" to Moses to hang the heads of the people "before the Lord against the sun," which is the emblem of this Lord, is unequivocal.
The nazars or prophets, as well as the Nazarenes, were an anti-Bacchus caste, in so far that, in common with all the initiated prophets, they held to the spirit of the symbolical religions and offered a strong opposition to the idolatrous and exoteric practices of the dead letter. Hence, the frequent stoning of the prophets by the populace and under the leadership of those priests who made a profitable living out of the popular superstitions. Otfried Muller shows how much the Orphic Mysteries differed from the popular rites of Bacchus,* although the Orphikoi are known to have followed the worship of Bacchus. The system of the purest morality and of a severe asceticism promulgated in the teachings of Orpheus, and so strictly adhered to by his votaries, are incompatible with the lasciviousness and gross immorality of the popular rites. The fable of Aristaeus pursuing Eurydike into the woods where a serpent occasions her death, is a very plain allegory, which was in part explained at the earliest times. Aristaeus is brutal power, pursuing Eurydike, the esoteric doctrine, into the woods where the serpent (emblem of every sun-god, and worshipped under its grosser aspect even by the Jews) kills her; i.e., forces truth to become still more esoteric, and seek shelter in the Underworld, which is not the hell of our theologians. Moreover, the fate of Orpheus, torn to pieces by the Bacchantes, is
another allegory to show that the gross and popular rites are always more welcome than divine but simple truth, and proves the great difference that must have existed between the esoteric and the popular worship. As the poems of both Orpheus and Musaeus were said to have been lost since the earliest ages, so that neither Plato nor Aristotle recognized anything authentic in the poems extant in their time, it is difficult to say with precision what constituted their peculiar rites. Still we have the oral tradition, and every inference to draw therefrom; and this tradition points to Orpheus as having brought his doctrines from India. As one whose religion was that of the oldest Magians — hence, that to which belonged the initiates of all countries, beginning with Moses, the "sons of the Prophets," and the ascetic nazars (who must not be confounded with those against whom thundered Hosea and other prophets) to the Essenes. This latter sect were Pythagoreans before they rather degenerated, than became perfected in their system by the Buddhist missionaries, whom Pliny tells us established themselves on the shores of the Dead Sea, ages before his time, "per saeculorum millia."But if, on the one hand, these Buddhist monks were the first to establish monastic communities and inculcate the strict observance of dogmatic conventual rule, on the other they were also the first to enforce and popularize those stern virtues so exemplified by Sakya-muni, and which were previously exercised only in isolated cases of well-known philosophers and their followers; virtues preached two or three centuries later by Jesus, practiced by a few Christian ascetics, and gradually abandoned, and even entirely forgotten by the Christian Church.
The initiated nazars had ever held to this rule, which had to be followed before them by the adepts of every age; and the disciples of John were but a dissenting branch of the Essenes. Therefore, we cannot well confound them with all the nazars spoken of in the Old Testament, and who are accused by Hosea with having separated or consecrated themselves to Bosheth; which implied the greatest possible abomination. To infer, as some critics and theologians do, that it means to separate one's self to chastity or continence, is either to advisedly pervert the true meaning, or to be totally ignorant of the Hebrew language. The eleventh verse of the first chapter of Micah half explains the word in its veiled translation: "Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, etc.," and in the original text the word is Bosheth. Certainly neither Baal, nor Iahoh Kadosh, with his Kadeshim, was a god of ascetic virtue, albeit the Septuaginta terms them, as well as the galli — the perfected priests — [[tetelesmenous]], the initiated and the consecrated.*
The great Sod of the Kadeshim, translated in Psalm lxxxix. 7, by "assembly of the saints," was anything but a mystery of the "sanctified" in the sense given to the latter word by Webster.
The Nazireate sect existed long before the laws of Moses, and originated among people most inimical to the "chosen" ones of Israel, viz., the people of Galilee, the ancient olla-podrida of idolatrous nations, where was built Nazara, the present Nazareth. It is in Nazara that the ancient Nazoria or Nazireates held their "Mysteries of Life" or "assemblies," as the word now stands in the translation,* which were but the secret mysteries of initiation,† utterly distinct in their practical form from the popular Mysteries which were held at Byblus in honor of Adonis. While the true initiates of the ostracised Galilee were worshipping the true God and enjoying transcendent visions, what were the "chosen" ones about? Ezekiel tells it to us (chap. viii) when, in describing what he saw, he says that the form of a hand took him by a lock of his head and transported him from Chaldea unto Jerusalem. "And there stood seventy men of the senators of the house of Israel. . . . 'Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients . . . do in the dark?' " inquires the "Lord." "At the door of the house of the Lord . . . behold there sat women weeping for Tammuz" (Adonis). We really cannot suppose that the Pagans have ever surpassed the "chosen" people in certain shameful abominations of which their own prophets accuse them so profusely. To admit this truth, one hardly needs even to be a Hebrew scholar; let him read the Bible in English and meditate over the language of the "holy" prophets.
This accounts for the hatred of the later Nazarenes for the orthodox Jews — followers of the exoteric Mosaic Law — who are ever taunted by this sect with being the worshippers of Iurbo-Adunai, or Lord Bacchus. Passing under the disguise of Adoni-Iachoh (original text, Isaiah lxi. 1), Iahoh and Lord Sabaoth, the Baal-Adonis, or Bacchus, worshipped in the groves and public sods or Mysteries, under the polishing hand of Ezra becomes finally the later-vowelled Adonai of the Massorah — the One and Supreme God of the Christians!
"Thou shalt not worship the Sun who is named Adunai," says the Codex of the Nazarenes; "whose name is also Kadush‡ and El-El. This Adunai will elect to himself a nation and congregate in crowds (his worship will be exoteric) . . . Jerusalem will become the refuge and city of the Abortive, who shall perfect themselves (circumcise) with a sword . . . and shall adore Adunai."§
The oldest Nazarenes, who were the descendants of the Scripture nazars, and whose last prominent leader was John the Baptist, although never very orthodox in the sight of the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem were, nevertheless, respected and left unmolested. Even Herod "feared the multitude" because they regarded John as a prophet (Matthew xiv. 5). But the followers of Jesus evidently adhered to a sect which became a still more exasperating thorn in their side. It appeared as a heresy within another heresy; for while the nazars of the olden times, the "Sons of the Prophets," were Chaldean kabalists, the adepts of the new dissenting sect showed themselves reformers and innovators from the first. The great similitude traced by some critics between the rites and observances of the earliest Christians and those of the Essenes may be accounted for without the slightest difficulty. The Essenes, as we remarked just now, were the converts of Buddhist missionaries who had overrun Egypt, Greece, and even Judea at one time, since the reign of Asoka the zealous propagandist; and while it is evidently to the Essenes that belongs the honor of having had the Nazarene reformer, Jesus, as a pupil, still the latter is found disagreeing with his early teachers on several questions of formal observance. He cannot strictly be called an Essene, for reasons which we will indicate further on, neither was he a nazar, or Nazaria of the older sect. What Jesus was, may be found in the Codex Nazaraeus, in the unjust accusations of the Bardesanian Gnostics.
"Jesu is Nebu, the false Messiah, the destroyer of the old orthodox religion," says the Codex.*He is the founder of the sect of the new nazars, and, as the words clearly imply, a follower of the Buddhist doctrine. In Hebrew the word naba means to speak of inspiration; and is nebo, a god of wisdom. But Nebo is also Mercury, and Mercury is Buddha in the Hindu monogram of planets. Moreover, we find the Talmudists holding that Jesus was inspired by the genius of Mercury.†
The Nazarene reformer had undoubtedly belonged to one of these sects; though, perhaps, it would be next to impossible to decide absolutely which. But what is self-evident is that he preached the philosophy of Buddha-Sakyamuni. Denounced by the later prophets, cursed by the Sanhedrim, the nazars — they were confounded with others of that name "who separated themselves unto that shame,"‡ they were secretly, if not openly persecuted by the orthodox synagogue. It be-
comes clear why Jesus was treated with such contempt from the first, and deprecatingly called "the Galilean." Nathaniel inquires — "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John i. 46) at the very beginning of his career; and merely because he knows him to be a nazar. Does not this clearly hint, that even the older nazars were not really Hebrew religionists, but rather a class of Chaldean theurgists? Besides, as the New Testament is noted for its mistranslations and transparent falsifications of texts, we may justly suspect that the word Nazareth was substituted for that of nasaria, or nozari. That it originally read "Can any good thing come from a nozari, or Nazarene"; a follower of St. John the Baptist, with whom we see him associating from his first appearance on the stage of action, after having been lost sight of for a period of nearly twenty years. The blunders of the Old Testament are as nothing to those of the gospels. Nothing shows better than these self-evident contradictions the system of pious fraud upon which the super-structure of the Messiahship rests. "This is Elias which was for to come," says Matthew of John the Baptist, thus forcing an ancient kabalistic tradition into the frame of evidence (xi. 14). But when addressing the Baptist himself, they ask him (John i. 21), "Art thou Elias?" "And he saith I am not"! Which knew best — John or his biographer? And which is divine revelation?
The motive of Jesus was evidently like that of Gautama-Buddha, to benefit humanity at large by producing a religious reform which should give it a religion of pure ethics; the true knowledge of God and nature having remained until then solely in the hands of the esoteric sects, and their adepts. As Jesus used oil and the Essenes never used aught but pure water,* he cannot be called a strict Essene. On the other hand, the Essenes were also "set apart"; they were healers (assaya)and dwelt in the desert as all ascetics did.
But although he did not abstain from wine he could have remained a Nazarene all the same. For in chapter vi. of Numbers, we see that after the priest has waved a part of the hair of a Nazorite for a wave-offering before the Lord, "after that a Nazarene may drink wine" (v. 20). The bitter denunciation by the reformer of the people who would be satisfied with nothing is worded in the following exclamation: "John came neither eating nor drinking and they say: 'He hath a devil.' . . . The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say: 'Behold a man gluttonous and a wine-bibber.' " And yet he was an Essene and Nazarene, for we not only find him sending a message to Herod, to say that he was one of those who cast out demons, and who performed
cures, but actually calling himself a prophet and declaring himself equal to the other prophets.*
The author of Sod shows Matthew trying to connect the appellation of Nazarene with a prophecy,† and inquires "Why then does Matthew state that the prophet said he should be called Nazaria?" Simply "because he belonged to that sect, and a prophecy would confirm his claims to the Messiahship. . . . Now it does not appear that the prophets anywhere state that the Messiah will be called a Nazarene."‡The fact alone that Matthew tries in the last verse of chapter ii. to strengthen his claim that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth merely to fulfil a prophecy, does more than weaken the argument, it upsets it entirely; for the first two chapters have sufficiently been proved later forgeries.
Baptism is one of the oldest rites and was practiced by all the nations in their Mysteries, as sacred ablutions. Dunlap seems to derive the name of the nazars from nazah, sprinkling; Bahak-Zivo is the genius who called the world into existence§ out of the "dark water," say the Nazarenes; and Richardson's Persian, Arabic, and English Lexicon asserts that the word Bahak means "raining." But the Bahak-Zivo of the Nazarenes cannot be traced so easily to Bacchus, who "was the rain-god," for the nazars were the greatest opponents of Bacchus-worship. "Bacchus is brought up by the Hyades, the rain-nymphs," says Preller;|| who shows, furthermore, that¶ at the conclusion of the religious Mysteries, the priests baptized (washed) their monuments and anointed them with oil. All this is but a very indirect proof. The Jordan baptism need not be shown a substitution for the exoteric Bacchic rites and the libations in honor of Adonis or Adoni — whom the Nazarenes abhorred — in order to prove it to have been a sect sprung from the "Mysteries" of the "Secret Doctrine"; and their rites can by no means be confounded with those of the Pagan populace, who had simply fallen into the idolatrous and unreasoning faith of all plebeian multitudes. John was the prophet of these Nazarenes, and in Galilee he was termed "the Saviour," but he was not the founder of that sect which derived its tradition from the remotest Chaldeo-Akkadian theurgy.
"The early plebeian Israelites were Canaanites and Phoenicians, with
the same worship of the Phallic gods — Bacchus, Baal or Adon, Iacchos — Iao or Jehovah"; but even among them there had always been a class of initiated adepts. Later, the character of this plebe was modified by Assyrian conquests; and, finally, the Persian colonizations superimposed the Pharisean and Eastern ideas and usages, from which the Old Testament and the Mosaic institutes were derived. The Asmonean priest-kings promulgated the canon of the Old Testament in contradistinction to the Apocrypha or Secret Books of the Alexandrian Jews — kabalists.* Till John Hyrcanus they were Asideans (Chasidim) and Pharisees (Parsees), but then they became Sadducees or Zadokites — asserters of sacerdotal rule as contradistinguished from rabbinical. The Pharisees were lenient and intellectual, the Sadducees, bigoted and cruel.
Says the Codex: "John, son of the Aba-Saba-Zacharia, conceived by his mother Anasabet in her hundredth year, had baptized for forty-two years† when Jesu Messias came to the Jordan to be baptized with John's baptism. . . . But he will pervert John's doctrine, changing the baptism of the Jordan, and perverting the sayings of justice."‡
The baptism was changed from water to that of the Holy Ghost, undoubtedly in consequence of the ever-dominant idea of the Fathers to institute a reform, and make the Christians distinct from St. John's Nazarenes, the Nabatheans and Ebionites, in order to make room for new dogmas. Not only do the Synoptics tell us that Jesus was baptizing the same as John, but John's own disciples complained of it, though surely Jesus cannot be accused of following a purely Bacchic rite. The parenthesis in verse 2d of John iv., " . . . though Jesus himself baptized not," is so clumsy as to show upon its face that it is an interpolation, Matthew makes John say that he that should come after him would not baptize them with water "but with the Holy Ghost and fire." Mark, Luke, and John corroborate these words. Water, fire, and spirit, or Holy Ghost, have all their origin in India, as we will show.
Now there is one very strange peculiarity about this sentence. It is flatly denied in Acts xix. 2-5. Apollos, a Jew of Alexandria, belonged to the sect of St. John's disciples; he had been baptized, and instructed others in the doctrines of the Baptist. And yet when Paul, cleverly profiting by his absence at Corinth, finds certain disciples of Apollos' at Ephesus, and asks them whether they received the Holy Ghost, he is naively answered, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost!" "Unto what then were you baptized?" he inquires. "Unto John's baptism," they say. Then Paul is made to repeat the words attributed to John by the Synoptics; and these men "were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," exhibiting, moreover, at the same instant, the usual polyglot gift which accompanies the descent of the Holy Ghost.
How then? St. John the Baptist, who is called the "precursor," that "the prophecy might be fulfilled," the great prophet and martyr, whose words ought to have had such an importance in the eyes of his disciples, announces the "Holy Ghost" to his listeners; causes crowds to assemble on the shores of the Jordan, where, at the great ceremony of Christ's baptism, the promised "Holy Ghost" appears within the opened heavens, and the multitude hears the voice, and yet there are disciples of St. John who have "never so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost"!
Verily the disciples who wrote the Codex Nazaraeus were right. Only it is not Jesus himself, but those who came after him, and who concocted the Bible to suit themselves, that "perverted John's doctrine, changed the baptism of the Jordan, and perverted the sayings of justice."
It is useless to object that the present Codex was written centuries after the direct apostles of John preached. So were our Gospels. When this astounding interview of Paul with the "Baptists" took place, Bardesanes had not yet appeared among them, and the sect was not considered a "heresy." Moreover, we are enabled to judge how little St. John's promise of the "Holy Ghost," and the appearance of the "Ghost" himself, had affected his disicples, by the displeasure shown by them toward the disciples of Jesus, and the kind of rivalry manifested from the first. Nay, so little is John himself sure of the identity of Jesus with the expected Messiah, that after the famous scene of the baptism at the Jordan, and the oral assurance by the Holy Ghost Himself that "This is my beloved Son" (Matthew iii. 17), we find "the Precursor," in Matthew xi., sending two of his disciples from his prison to inquire of Jesus: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another"!!
This flagrant contradiction alone ought to have long ago satisfied reasonable minds as to the putative divine inspiration of the New Testa-
ment. But we may offer another question: If baptism is the sign of regeneration, and an ordinance instituted by Jesus, why do not Christians now baptize as Jesus is here represented as doing, "with the Holy Ghost and with fire," instead of following the custom of the Nazarenes? In making these palpable interpolations, what possible motive could Irenaeus have had except to cause people to believe that the appellation of Nazarene, which Jesus bore, came only from his father's residence at Nazareth, and not from his affiliation with the sect of Nazaria, the healers?
This expedient of Irenaeus was a most unfortunate one, for from time immemorial the prophets of old had been thundering against the baptism of fire as practiced by their neighbors, which imparted the "spirit of prophecy," or the Holy Ghost. But the case was desperate; the Christians were universally called Nazoraens and Iessaens (according to Epiphanius), and Christ simply ranked as a Jewish prophet and healer — so self-styled, so accepted by his own disciples, and so regarded by their followers. In such a state of things there was no room for either a new hierarchy or a new God-head; and since Irenaeus had undertaken the business of manufacturing both, he had to put together such materials as were available, and fill the gaps with his own fertile inventions.
To assure ourselves that Jesus was a true Nazarene — albeit with ideas of a new reform — we must not search for the proof in the translated Gospels, but in such original versions as are accessible. Tischendorf, in his translation from the Greek of Luke iv. 34, has it "Iesou Nazarene"; and in the Syriac it reads "Iasoua, thou Nazaria."Thus, if we take in account all that is puzzling and incomprehensible in the four Gospels, revised and corrected as they now stand, we shall easily see for ourselves that the true, original Christianity, such as was preached by Jesus, is to be found only in the so-called Syrian heresies. Only from them can we extract any clear notions about what was primitive Christianity. Such was the faith of Paul, when Tertullus the orator accused the apostle before the governor Felix. What he complained of was that they had found "that man a mover of sedition . . . a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes";* and, while Paul denies every other accusation, he confesses that "after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers."† This confession is a whole revelation. It shows: 1, that Paul admitted belonging to the sect of the Nazarenes; 2, that he worshipped the God of his fathers, not the trinitarian Christian God, of whom he knows nothing, and who was not invented until after his death; and, 3, that this unlucky confession satisfactorily explains why the treatise, Acts of the Apostles, together with John's Revelation, which at one
period was utterly rejected, were kept out of the canon of the New Testament for such a length of time.
At Byblos, the neophytes as well as the hierophants were, after participating in the Mysteries, obliged to fast and remain in solitude for some time. There was strict fasting and preparation before as well as after the Bacchic, Adonian, and Eleusinian orgies; and Herodotus hints, with fear and veneration about the lake of Bacchus, in which "they (the priests) made at night exhibitions of his life and sufferings."* In the Mithraic sacrifices, during the initiation, a preliminary scene of death was simulated by the neophyte, and it preceded the scene showing him himself "being born again by the rite of baptism."A portion of this ceremony is still enacted in the present day by the Masons, when the neophyte, as the Grand Master Hiram Abiff, lies dead, and is raised by the strong grip of the lion's paw.
The priests were circumcised. The neophyte could not be initiated without having been present at the solemn Mysteries of the Lake. The Nazarenes were baptized in the Jordan; and could not be baptized elsewhere; they were also circumcised, and had to fast before as well as after the purification by baptism. Jesus is said to have fasted in the wilderness for forty days, immediately after his baptism. To the present day, there is outside every temple in India, a lake, stream, or a reservoir full of holy water, in which the Brahmans and the Hindu devotees bathe daily. Such places of consecrated water are necessary to every temple. The bathing festivals, or baptismal rites, occur twice every year; in October and April. Each lasts ten days; and, as in ancient Egypt and Greece, the statues of their gods, goddesses, and idols are immersed in water by the priests; the object of the ceremony being to wash away from them the sins of their worshippers which they have taken upon themselves, and which pollute them, until washed off by holy water. During the Aratty, the bathing ceremony, the principal god of every temple is carried in solemn procession to be baptized in the sea. The Brahman priests, carrying the sacred images, are followed generally by the Maharajah — barefoot, and nearly naked. Three times the priests enter the sea; the third time they carry with them the whole of the images. Holding them up with prayers repeated by the whole congregation, the Chief Priest plunges the statues of the gods thrice in the name of the mystic trinity, into the water; after which they are purified.† The Orphic hymn calls water the greatest purifier of men and gods.
Our Nazarene sect is known to have existed some 150 years B.C., and to have lived on the banks of the Jordan, and on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, according to Pliny and Josephus.* But in King's Gnostics, we find quoted another statement by Josephus from verse 13, which says that the Essenes had been established on the shores of the Dead Sea "for thousands of ages" before Pliny's time.†
According to Munk the term "Galilean" is nearly synonymous with that of "Nazarene"; furthermore, he shows the relations of the former with the Gentiles as very intimate. The populace had probably gradually adopted, in their constant intercourse, certain rites and modes of worship of the Pagans; and the scorn with which the Galileans were regarded by the orthodox Jews is attributed by him to the same cause. Their friendly relations had certainly led them, at a later period, to adopt the "Adonia," or the sacred rites over the body of the lamented Adonis, as we find Jerome fairly lamenting this circumstance. "Over Bethlehem," he says, "the grove of Thammuz, that is of Adonis, was casting its shadow! And in the grotto where formerly the infant Jesus cried, the lover of Venus was being mourned."‡
It was after the rebellion of Bar Cochba, that the Roman Emperor established the Mysteries of Adonis at the Sacred Cave in Bethlehem; and who knows but this was the petra or rock-temple on which the church was built? The Boar of Adonis was placed above the gate of Jerusalem which looked toward Bethlehem.
Munk says that the "Nazireate was an institution established before the laws of Musah."§ This is evident; as we find this sect not only mentioned but minutely described in Numbers (chap. vi.). In the commandment given in this chapter to Moses by the "Lord," it is easy to recognize the rites and laws of the Priests of Adonis.|| The abstinence and purity strictly prescribed in both sects are identical. Both allowed
their hair to grow long* as the Hindu coenobites and fakirs do to this day, while other castes shave their hair and abstain on certain days from wine. The prophet Elijah, a Nazarene, is described in 2 Kings, and by Josephus as "a hairy man girt with a girdle of leather."† And John the Baptist and Jesus are both represented as wearing very long hair.‡ John is "clothed with camel's hair" and wearing a girdle of hide, and Jesus in a long garment "without any seams" . . . "and very white, like snow," says Mark; the very dress worn by the Nazarene Priests and the Pythagorean and Buddhist Essenes, as described by Josephus.
If we carefully trace the terms nazar, and nazaret, throughout the best known works of ancient writers, we will meet them in connection with "Pagan" as well as Jewish adepts. Thus, Alexander Polyhistor says of Pythagoras that he was a disciple of the Assyrian Nazaret, whom some suppose to be Ezekiel. Diogenes Laertius states most positively that Pythagoras, after being initiated into all the Mysteries of the Greeks and barbarians, "went into Egypt and afterward visited the Chaldeans and Magi"; and Apuleius maintains that it was Zoroaster who instructed Pythagoras.
Were we to suggest that the Hebrew nazars, the railing prophets of the "Lord," had been initiated into the so-called Pagan mysteries, and belonged (or at least a majority of them) to the same Lodge or circle of adepts as those who were considered idolaters; that their "circle of prophets" was but a collateral branch of a secret association, which we may well term "international," what a visitation of Christian wrath would we not incur! And still, the case looks strangely suspicious.
Let us first recall to our mind that which Ammianus Marcellinus, and other historians relate of Darius Hystaspes. The latter, penetrating into Upper India (Bactriana), learned pure rites, and stellar and cosmical sciences from Brahmans, and communicated them to the Magi. Now Hystaspes is shown in history to have crushed the Magi; and introduced — or rather forced upon them — the pure religion of Zoroaster, that of Ormazd. How is it, then, that an inscription is found on the tomb
of Darius, stating that he was "teacher and hierophant of magic, or Magianism?" Evidently there must be some historical mistake, and history confesses it. In this imbroglio of names, Zoroaster, the teacher and instructor of Pythagoras, can be neither the Zoroaster nor Zarathustra who instituted sun-worship among the Parsees; nor he who appeared at the court of Gushtasp (Hystaspes) the alleged father of Darius; nor, again, the Zoroaster who placed his magi above the kings themselves. The oldest Zoroastrian scripture — the Avesta — does not betray the slightest traces of the reformer having ever been acquainted with any of the nations that subsequently adopted his mode of worship. He seems utterly ignorant of the neighbors of Western Iran, the Medes, the Assyrians, the Persians, and others. If we had no other evidences of the great antiquity of the Zoroastrian religion than the discovery of the blunder committed by some scholars in our own century, who regarded King Vistaspa (Gushtasp) as identical with the father of Darius, whereas the Persian tradition points directly to Vistaspa as to the last of the line of Kaianian princes who ruled in Bactriana, it ought to be enough, for the Assyrian conquest of Bactriana took place 1,200 years B.C.*
Therefore, it is but natural that we should see in the appellation of Zoroaster not a name but a generic term, whose significance must be left to philologists to agree upon. Guru, in Sanscrit, is a spiritual teacher; and as Zuruastara means in the same language he who worships the sun, why is it impossible, that by some natural change of language, due to the great number of different nations which were converted to the sun-worship, the word guru-astara, the spiritual teacher of sun-worship, so closely resembling the name of the founder of this religion, became gradually transformed in its primal form of Zuryastara or Zoroaster? The opinion of the kabalists is that there was but one Zarathustra and many guruastars or spiritual teachers, and that one such guru, or rather huru-aster, as he is called in the old manuscripts, was the instructor of Pythagoras. To philology and our readers we leave the explanation for what it is worth. Personally we believe in it, as we credit on this subject kabalistic tradition far more than the explanation of scientists, no two of whom have been able to agree up to the present year.
Aristotle states that Zoroaster lived 6,000 years before Christ; Hermippus of Alexandria, who is said to have read the genuine books of the Zoroastrians, although Alexander the Great is accused of having destroyed
them, shows Zoroaster as the pupil of Azonak (Azon-ach, or the Azon-God) and as having lived 5,000 years before the fall of Troy. Er or Eros, whose vision is related by Plato in the Republic, is declared by Clement to have been Zordusth. While the Magus who dethroned Cambyses was a Mede, and Darius proclaims that he put down the Magian rites to establish those of Ormazd, Xanthus of Lydia declares Zoroaster to have been the chief of the Magi!
Which of them is wrong? or are they all right, and only the modern interpreters fail to explain the difference between the Reformer and his apostles and followers? This blundering of our commentators reminds us of that of Suetonius, who mistook the Christians for one Christos, or Crestos, as he spells it, and assured his readers that Claudius banished him for the disturbance he made among the Jews.
Finally, and to return again to the nazars, Zaratus is mentioned by Pliny in the following words: "He was Zoroaster and Nazaret." As Zoroaster is called princeps of the Magi, and nazar signifies separated or consecrated, is it not a Hebrew rendering of mag?Volney believes so. The Persian word Na-zaruan means millions of years, and refers to the Chaldean "Ancient of Days." Hence the name of the Nazars or Nazarenes, who were consecrated to the service of the Supreme one God, the kabalistic En-Soph, or the Ancient of Days, the "Aged of the aged."
But the word nazar may also be found in India. In Hindustani nazar is sight, internal or supernatural vision;nazar band-i means fascination, a mesmeric or magical spell; and nazaran is the word for sightseeing or vision.
Professor Wilder thinks that as the word Zeruana is nowhere to be found in the Avesta, but only in the later Parsi books, it came from the Magians, who composed the Persian sacred caste in the Sassan period, but were originally Assyrians. "Turan, of the poets," he says, "I consider to be Aturia, or Assyria; and that Zohak (Az-dahaka, Dei-okes, or Astyages), the Serpent-king, was Assyrian, Median, and Babylonian — when those countries were united."
This opinion does not, however, in the least implicate our statement that the secret doctrines of the Magi, of the pre-Vedic Buddhists, of the hierophants of the Egyptian Thoth or Hermes, and of the adepts of whatever age and nationality, including the Chaldean kabalists and the Jewish nazars, were identical from the beginning. When we use the term Buddhists, we do not mean to imply by it either the exoteric Buddhism instituted by the followers of Gautama-Buddha, nor the modern Buddhistic religion, but the secret philosophy of Sakyamuni, which in its essence is certainly identical with the ancient wisdom-religion of the sanctuary, the pre-Vedic Brahmanism. The "schism" of Zoroaster, as it is called, is a
direct proof of it. For it was no schism, strictly speaking, but merely a partially-public exposition of strictly monotheistic religious truths, hitherto taught only in the sanctuaries, and that he had learned from the Brahmans. Zoroaster, the primeval institutor of sun-worship, cannot be called the founder of the dualistic system; neither was he the first to teach the unity of God, for he taught but what he had learned himself with the Brahmans. And that Zarathustra and his followers, the Zoroastrians, "had been settled in India before they immigrated into Persia," is also proved by Max Muller. "That the Zoroastrians and their ancestors started from India," he says, "during the Vaidik period, can be proved as distinctly as that the inhabitants of Massilia started from Greece. . . . Many of the gods of the Zoroastrians come out . . . as mere reflections and deflections of the primitive and authentic gods of the Veda."*
If, now, we can prove — and we can do so on the evidence of the Kabala and the oldest traditions of the wisdom-religion, the philosophy of the old sanctuaries — that all these gods, whether of the Zoroastrians or of the Veda, are but so many personated occult powers of nature, the faithful servants of the adepts of secret wisdom — Magic — we are on secure ground.
Thus, whether we say that Kabalism and Gnosticism proceeded from Masdeanism or Zoroastrianism, it is all the same, unless we meant the exoteric worship — which we do not. Likewise, and in this sense, we may echo King, the author of the Gnostics, and several other archaeologists, and maintain that both the former proceeded from Buddhism, at once the simplest and most satisfying of philosophies, and which resulted in one of the purest religions of the world. It is only a matter of chronology to decide which of these religions, differing but in external form, is the oldest, therefore the least adulterated. But even this bears but very indirectly, if at all, on the subject we treat of. Already some time before our era, the adepts, except in India, had ceased to congregate in large communities; but whether among the Essenes, or the Neo-platonists, or, again, among the innumerable struggling sects born but to die, the same doctrines, identical in substance and spirit, if not always in form, are encountered. By Buddhism, therefore, we mean that religion signifying literally the doctrine of wisdom, and which by many ages antedates the metaphysical philosophy of Siddhartha Sakyamuni.
After nineteen centuries of enforced eliminations from the canonical books of every sentence which might put the investigator on the true path, it has become very difficult to show, to the satisfaction of exact science, that the "Pagan" worshippers of Adonis, their neighbors, the Naza-
renes, and the Pythagorean Essenes, the healing Therapeutes,* the Ebionites, and other sects, were all, with very slight differences, followers of the ancient theurgic Mysteries. And yet by analogy and a close study of the hidden sense of their rites and customs, we can trace their kinship.
It was given to a contemporary of Jesus to become the means of pointing out to posterity, by his interpretation of the oldest literature of Israel, how deeply the kabalistic philosophy agreed in its esoterism with that of the profoundest Greek thinkers. This contemporary, an ardent disciple of Plato and Aristotle, was Philo Judaeus. While explaining the Mosaic books according to a purely kabalistic method, he is the famous Hebrew writer whom Kingsley calls the Father of New Platonism.
It is evident that Philo's Therapeutes are a branch of the Essenes. Their name indicates it — [[Essaioc]], Asaya, physician. Hence, the contradictions, forgeries, and other desperate expedients to reconcile the prophecies of the Jewish canon with the Galilean nativity and god-ship.
Luke, who was a physician, is designated in the Syriac texts as Asaia, the Essaian or Essene. Josephus and Philo Judaeus have sufficiently described this sect to leave no doubt in our mind that the Nazarene Reformer, after having received his education in their dwellings in the desert, and been duly initiated in the Mysteries, preferred the free and independent life of a wandering Nazaria, and so separated or inazarenized himself from them, thus becoming a travelling Therapeute, a Nazaria, a healer. Every Therapeute, before quitting his community, had to do the same. Both Jesus and St. John the Baptist preached the end of the Age;† which proves their knowledge of the secret computation of the priests and kabalists, who with the chiefs of the Essene communities alone had the secret of the duration of the cycles. The latter were kabalists and theurgists; "they had their mystic books, and predicted future events," says Munk.‡
Dunlap, whose personal researches seem to have been quite successful in that direction, traces the Essenes, Nazarenes, Dositheans, and some other sects as having all existed before Christ: "They rejected pleasures, despised riches, loved one another, and more than other sects, neg-
lected wedlock, deeming the conquest of the passions to be virtuous,"* he says.
These are all virtues preached by Jesus; and if we are to take the gospels as a standard of truth, Christ was a metempsychosist "or re-incarnationist" — again like these same Essenes, whom we see were Pythagoreans in all their doctrine and habits. Iamblichus asserts that the Samian philosopher spent a certain time at Carmel with them.† In his discourses and sermons, Jesus always spoke in parables and used metaphors with his audience. This habit was again that of the Essenians and the Nazarenes; the Galileans who dwelt in cities and villages were never known to use such allegorical language. Indeed, some of his disciples being Galileans as well as himself, felt even surprised to find him using with the people such a form of expression. "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?"‡ they often inquired. "Because, it is given unto you to know the Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," was the reply, which was that of an initiate. "Therefore, I speak unto them in parables; because, they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand." Moreover, we find Jesus expressing his thoughts still clearer — and in sentences which are purely Pythagorean — when, during the Sermon on the Mount, he says:
"Give ye not that which is sacred to the dogs,
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine;
For the swine will tread them under their feet
And the dogs will turn and rend you."
Professor A. Wilder, the editor of Taylor's Eleusinian Mysteries, observes "a like disposition on the part of Jesus and Paul to classify their doctrines as esoteric and exoteric, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God 'for the apostles,' and 'parables' for the multitude. 'We speak wisdom,' says Paul, 'among them that are perfect' (or initiated)."§
In the Eleusinian and other Mysteries the participants were always divided into two classes, the neophytes and the perfect. The former were sometimes admitted to the preliminary initiation: the dramatic performance of Ceres, or the soul, descending to Hades.|| But it was
given only to the "perfect" to enjoy and learn the Mysteries of the divine Elysium, the celestial abode of the blessed; this Elysium being unquestionably the same as the "Kingdom of Heaven." To contradict or reject the above, would be merely to shut one's eyes to the truth.
The narrative of the Apostle Paul, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians (xii. 3, 4), has struck several scholars, well versed in the descriptions of the mystical rites of the initiation given by some classics, as alluding most undoubtedly to the final Epopteia.* "I knew a certain man — whether in body or outside of body, Iknow not: God knoweth — who was rapt into Paradise, and heard things ineffable [[arheta remata]], which it is not lawful for a man to repeat." These words have rarely, so far as we know, been regarded by commentators as an allusion to the beatific visions of an "initiated"seer. But the phraseology is unequivocal. These things "which it is not lawful to repeat," are hinted at in the same words, and the reason for it assigned, is the same as that which we find repeatedly expressed by Plato, Proclus, Iamblichus, Herodotus, and other classics. "We speak wisdom only among them who are perfect," says Paul; the plain and undeniable translation of the sentence being: "We speak of the profounder (or final) esoteric doctrines of the Mysteries (which were denominated wisdom) only among them who are initiated."† So in relation to the "man who was rapt into Paradise" — and who was evidently Paul himself‡ — the Christian word Paradise having replaced that of Elysium. To complete the proof, we might recall the words of Plato, given elsewhere, which show that before an initiate could see the gods in their purest light, he had to become liberated from his body; i.e., to separate his astral soul from it.§ Apuleius also describes his initiation into the Mysteries in the same way: "I approached the confines of death; and, having trodden on the threshold of Proserpina, returned, having been carried through all the elements. In the depths of midnight I saw the sun glittering with a splendid light, together with the infernal and supernal gods, and to these divinities approaching, I paid the tribute of devout adoration."||
Thus, in common with Pythagoras and other hierophant reformers, Jesus divided his teachings into exoteric and esoteric. Following faithfully the Pythagoreo-Essenean ways, he never sat at a meal without saying "grace." "The priest prays before his meal," says Josephus, describing the Essenes. Jesus also divided his followers into "neophytes," "brethren," and the "perfect," if we may judge by the difference he made between them. But his career at least as a public Rabbi, was of a too short duration to allow him to establish a regular school of his own; and with the exception, perhaps, of John, it does not seem that he had initiated any other apostle. The Gnostic amulets and talismans are mostly the emblems of the apocalyptic allegories. The "seven vowels" are closely related to the "seven seals"; and the mystic title Abraxas, partakes as much of the composition of Shem Hamphirosh, "the holy word" or ineffable name, as the name called: The word of God, that "no man knew but he himself,"*as John expresses it.
It would be difficult to escape from the well-adduced proofs that the Apocalypse is the production of an initiated kabalist, when this Revelation presents whole passages taken from the Books of Enoch and Daniel, which latter is in itself an abridged imitation of the former; and when, furthermore, we ascertain that the Ophite Gnostics who rejected the Old Testament entirely, as "emanating from an inferior being (Jehovah)," accepted the most ancient prophets, such as Enoch, and deduced the strongest support from this book for their religious tenets, the demonstration becomes evident. We will show further how closely related are all these doctrines. Besides, there is the history of Domitian's persecutions of magicians and philosophers, which affords as good a proof as any that John was generally considered a kabalist. As the apostle was included among the number, and, moreover, conspicuous, the imperial edict banished him not only from Rome, but even from the continent. It was not the Christians whom — confounding them with the Jews, as some historians will have it — the emperor persecuted, but the astrologers and kabalists.†
The accusations against Jesus of practicing the magic of Egypt were numerous, and at one time universal, in the towns where he was known. The Pharisees, as claimed in the Bible, had been the first to fling it in his
face, although Rabbi Wise considers Jesus himself a Pharisee. The Talmud certainly points to James the Just as one of that sect.* But these partisans are known to have always stoned every prophet who denounced their evil ways, and it is not on this fact that we base our assertion. These accused him of sorcery, and of driving out devils by Beelzebub, their prince, with as much justice as later the Catholic clergy had to accuse of the same more than one innocent martyr. But Justin Martyr states on better authority that the men of his time who were not Jews asserted that the miracles of Jesus were performed by magical art — [[magike phantasia]] — the very expression used by the skeptics of those days to designate the feats of thaumaturgy accomplished in the Pagan temples. "They even ventured to call him a magician and a deceiver of the people," complains the martyr.† In the Gospel of Nicodemus (the Acta Pilate), the Jews bring the same accusation before Pilate. "Did we not tell thee he was a magician?"‡ Celsus speaks of the same charge, and as a Neo-platonist believes in it.§ The Talmudic literature is full of the most minute particulars, and their greatest accusation is that "Jesus could fly as easily in the air as others could walk."|| St. Austin asserted that it was generally believed that he had been initiated in Egypt, and that he wrote books concerning magic, which he delivered to John.¶ There was a work called Magia Jesu Christi, which was attributed to Jesus** himself. In the Clementine Recognitions the charge is brought against Jesus that he did not perform his miracles as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, i.e., an initiate of the "heathen" temples.††
It was usual then, as it is now, among the intolerant clergy of opposing religions, as well as among the lower classes of society, and even among those patricians who, for various reasons had been excluded from any participation of the Mysteries, to accuse, sometimes, the highest hierophants and adepts of sorcery and black magic. So Apuleius, who
had been initiated, was likewise accused of witchcraft, and of carrying about him the figure of a skeleton — a potent agent, as it is asserted, in the operations of the black art. But one of the best and most unquestionable proofs of our assertion may be found in the so-called Museo Gregoriano. On the sarcophagus, which is panelled with bas-reliefs representing the miracles of Christ,* may be seen the full figure of Jesus, who, in the resurrection of Lazarus, appears beardless "and equipped with a wand in the received guise of a necromancer (?) whilst the corpse of Lazarus is swathed in bandages exactly as an Egyptian mummy."
Had posterity been enabled to have several such representations executed during the first century when the figure, dress, and every-day habits of the Reformer were still fresh in the memory of his contemporaries, perhaps the Christian world would be more Christ-like; the dozens of contradictory, groundless, and utterly meaningless speculations about the "Son of Man" would have been impossible; and humanity would now have but one religion and one God. It is this absence of all proof, the lack of the least positive clew about him whom Christianity has deified, that has caused the present state of perplexity. No pictures of Christ were possible until after the days of Constantine, when the Jewish element was nearly eliminated among the followers of the new religion. The Jews, apostles, and disciples, whom the Zoroastrians and the Parsees had inoculated with a holy horror of any form of images, would have considered it a sacrilegious blasphemy to represent in any way or shape their master. The only authorized image of Jesus, even in the days of Tertullian, was an allegorical representation of the "Good Shepherd,"† which was no portrait, but the figure of a man with a jackal-head, like Anubis.‡ On this gem, as seen in the collection of Gnostic amulets, the Good Shepherd bears upon his shoulders the lost lamb. He seems to have a human head upon his neck; but, as King correctly observes, "it only seems so to the uninitiated eye." On closer inspection, he becomes the double-headed Anubis, having one head human, the other a jackal's, whilst his girdle assumes the form of a serpent rearing aloft its crested head. "This figure," adds the author of the Gnostics, etc., "had two meanings — one obvious for the vulgar; the other mystical, and recognizable by the initiated alone. It was perhaps the signet of some chief
teacher or apostle."* This affords a fresh proof that the Gnostics and early orthodox (?) Christians were not so wide apart in their secret doctrine. King deduces from a quotation from Epiphanius, that even as late as 400 A.D. it was considered an atrocious sin to attempt to represent the bodily appearance of Christ. Epiphanius† brings it as an idolatrous charge against the Carpocratians that "they kept painted portraits, and even gold and silver images, andin other materials, which they pretended to be portraits of Jesus, and made by Pilate after the likeness of Christ. . . . These they keep in secret, along with Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, and setting them all up together, they worship and offer sacrifices unto them after the Gentiles' fashion."
What would the pious Epiphanius say were he to resuscitate and step into St. Peter's Cathedral at Rome! Ambrosius seems also very desperate at the idea — that some persons fully credited the statement of Lampridius that Alexander Severus had in his private chapel an image of Christ among other great philosophers. "That the Pagans should have preserved the likeness of Christ," he exclaims, "but the disciples have neglected to do so, is a notion the mind shudders to entertain, much less to believe."
All this points undeniably to the fact, that except a handful of self-styled Christians who subsequently won the day, all the civilized portion of the Pagans who knew of Jesus honored him as a philosopher, an adept whom they placed on the same level with Pythagoras and Apollonius. Whence such a veneration on their part for a man, were he simply, as represented by the Synoptics, a poor, unknown Jewish carpenter from Nazareth? As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of human history. His age may, with every day, be receding farther and farther back into the gloomy and hazy mists of the past; and his theology — based on human fancy and supported by untenable dogmas may, nay, must with every day lose more of its unmerited prestige; alone the grand figure of the philosopher and moral reformer instead of growing paler will become with every century more pronounced and more clearly defined. It will reign supreme and universal only on that day when the whole of humanity recognizes but one
father — the unknown one above — and one brother — the whole of mankind below.
In a pretended letter of Lentulus, a senator and a distinguished historian, to the Roman senate, there is a description of the personal appearance of Jesus. The letter itself, written in horrid Latin, is pronounced a bare-faced forgery; but we find therein an expression which suggests many thoughts. Albeit a forgery it is evident that whosoever invented it has nevertheless tried to follow tradition as closely as possible. The hair of Jesus is represented in it as "wavy and curling . . . flowing down upon his shoulders," and as "having a parting in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazarenes."This last sentence shows: 1. That there was such a tradition, based on the biblical description of John the Baptist, the Nazaria, and the custom of this sect. 2. Had Lentulus been the author of this letter, it is difficult to believe that Paul should never have heard of it; and had he known its contents, he would never have pronounced it a shame for men to wear their hair long,* thus shaming his Lord and Christ-God. 3. If Jesus did wear his hair long and "parted in the middle of the forehead, after the fashion of the Nazarenes (as well as John, the only one of his apostles who followed it), then we have one good reason more to say that Jesus must have belonged to the sect of the Nazarenes, and been called Nasaria for this reason and not because he was an inhabitant of Nazareth; for they never wore their hair long. The Nazarite, who separated himself unto the Lord, allowed "no razor to come upon his head." "He shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow," says Numbers (vi. 5). Samson was a Nazarite, i.e., vowed to the service of God, and in his hair was his strength. "No razor shall come upon his head; the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb" (Judges xiii. 5). But the final and most reasonable conclusion to be inferred from this is that Jesus, who was so opposed to all the orthodox Jewish practices, would not have allowed his hair to grow had he not belonged to this sect, which in the days of John the Baptist had already become a heresy in the eyes of the Sanhedrim. The Talmud, speaking of the Nazaria, or the Nazarenes (who had abandoned the world like Hindu yogis or hermits) calls them a sect of physicians, of wandering exorcists; as also does Jervis. "They went about the country, living on alms and performing cures."† Epiphanius says that the Nazarenes come next in heresy to the Corinthians whether having existed "before them or after them, nevertheless synchronous,"and then adds that "all Christians at that time were equally called Nazarenes"!‡
In the very first remark made by Jesus about John the Baptist, we find him stating that he is "Elias, which was for to come." This assertion, if it is not a later interpolation for the sake of having a prophecy fulfilled, means again that Jesus was a kabalist; unless indeed we have to adopt the doctrine of the French spiritists and suspect him of believing in reincarnation. Except the kabalistic sects of the Essenes, the Nazarenes, the disciples of Simeon Ben Iochai, and Hillel, neither the orthodox Jews, nor the Galileans, believed or knew anything about the doctrine of permutation. And the Sadducees rejected even that of the resurrection.
"But the author of this restitutionis was Mosah, our master, upon whom be peace! Who was the revolutio (transmigration) of Seth and Hebel, that he might cover the nudity of his Father Adam — Primus," says the Kabala.*Thus, Jesus hinting that John was the revolutio, ortransmigration of Elias, seems to prove beyond any doubt the school to which he belonged.
Until the present day uninitiated Kabalists and Masons believe permutation to be synonymous with transmigration and metempsychosis. But they are as much mistaken in regard to the doctrine of the true Kabalists as to that of the Buddhists. True, the Sohar says in one place, "All souls are subject to transmigration . . . men do not know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He; they do not know that they are brought before the tribunal, both before they enter this world and after they quit it," and the Pharisees also held this doctrine, as Josephus shows (Antiquities, xviii. 13). Also the doctrine of Gilgul, held to the strange theory of the "Whirling of the Soul," which taught that the bodies of Jews buried far away from the Holy Land, still preserve a particle of soul which can neither rest nor quit them, until it reaches the soil of the "Promised Land." And this "whirling" process was thought to be accomplished by the soul being conveyed back through an actual evolution of species; transmigrating from the minutest insect up to the largest animal. But this was an exoteric doctrine. We refer the reader to the Kabbala Denudata of Henry Khunrath; his language, however obscure, may yet throw some light upon the subject.
But this doctrine of permutation, or revolutio, must not be understood as a belief in reincarnation. That Moses was considered the transmigration of Abel and Seth, does not imply that the kabalists — those who were initiated at least — believed that the identical spirit of either of Adam's sons reappeared under the corporeal form of Moses. It only shows what was the mode of expression they used when hinting at one of the profoundest mysteries of the Oriental Gnosis, one of the most majestic arti-
cles of faith of the Secret Wisdom. It was purposely veiled so as to half conceal and half reveal the truth. It implied that Moses, like certain other god-like men, was believed to have reached the highest of all states on earth: — the rarest of all psychological phenomena, the perfect union of the immortal spirit with the terrestrial duad had occurred. The trinity was complete. A god was incarnate. But how rare such incarnations!
That expression, "Ye are gods," which, to our biblical students, is a mere abstraction, has for the kabalists a vital significance. Each immortal spirit that sheds its radiance upon a human being is a god — the Microcosmos of the Macrocosmos, part and parcel of the Unknown God, the First Cause of which it is a direct emanation. It is possessed of all the attributes of its parent source. Among these attributes are omniscience and omnipotence. Endowed with these, but yet unable to fully manifest them while in the body, during which time they are obscured, veiled, limited by the capabilities of physical nature, the thus divinely-inhabited man may tower far above his kind, evince a god-like wisdom, and display deific powers; for while the rest of mortals around him are but overshadowed by their divine self, with every chance given to them to become immortal hereafter, but no other security than their personal efforts to win the kingdom of heaven, the so chosen man has already become an immortal while yet on earth. His prize is secured. Henceforth he will live forever in eternal life. Not only he may have "dominion"* over all the works of creation by employing the "excellence" of the name (the ineffable one) but be higher in this life, not, as Paul is made to say, "a little lower than the angels."†
The ancients never entertained the sacrilegious thought that such perfected entities were incarnations of the One Supreme and for ever invisible God. No such profanation of the awful Majesty entered into their conceptions. Moses and his antitypes and types were to them but complete men, gods on earth, for their gods (divine spirits) had entered unto their hallowed tabernacles, the purified physical bodies. The disembodied spirits of the heroes and sages were termed gods by the ancients. Hence, the accusation of polytheism and idolatry on the part of those who were the first to anthropomorphize the holiest and purest abstractions of their forefathers.
The real and hidden sense of this doctrine was known to all the initiates. The Tanaim imparted it to their elect ones, the Isarim, in the solemn solitudes of crypts and deserted places. It was one of the most esoteric and jealously guarded, for human nature was the same then as it is now, and the sacerdotal caste as confident as now in the supremacy of its knowledge, and ambitious of ascendancy over the weaker masses; with the difference perhaps that its hierophants could prove the legitimacy of their claims and the plausibility of their doctrines, whereas now, believers must be content with blind faith.
While the kabalists called this mysterious and rare occurrence of the union of spirit with the mortal charge entrusted to its care, the "descent of the Angel Gabriel" (the latter being a kind of generic name for it), the Messenger of Life, and the angel Metatron; and while the Nazarenes termed the same Abel-Zivo,* the Delegatus sent by the Lord of Celsitude, it was universally known as the "Anointed Spirit."
Thus it is the acceptation of this doctrine which caused the Gnostics to maintain that Jesus was a man overshadowed by the Christos or Messenger of Life, and that his despairing cry from the cross "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani," was wrung from him at the instant when he felt that this inspiring Presence had finally abandoned him, for — as some affirmed — his faith had also abandoned him when on the cross.
The early Nazarenes, who must be numbered among the Gnostic sects, believing that Jesus was a prophet, held, nevertheless, in relation to him the same doctrine of the divine "overshadowing," of certain "men of God," sent for the salvation of nations, and to recall them to the path of righteousness. "The Divine mind is eternal," says the Codex,† "and it is pure light, and poured out through splendid and immense space (pleroma). It is Genetrix of the AEons. But one of them went to matter (chaos) stirring up confused (turbulentos) movements; and by a certain portion of heavenly light fashioned it, properly constituted for use and appearance, but the beginning of every evil. The Demiurge (of matter) claimed divine honor.† Therefore Christus ("the anointed"), the prince of the AEons (powers), was sent (expeditus), who taking on the person of a most devout Jew, Iesu, was to conquer him; but who having laid it (the body) aside, departed on high." We will explain further on the full significance of the name Christos and its mystic meaning.
And now, in order to make such passages as the above more intelligible, we will endeavor to define, as briefly as possible, the dogmas in
which, with very trifling differences, nearly all the Gnostic sects believed. It is in Ephesus that flourished in those days the greatest college, wherein the abstruse Oriental speculations and the Platonic philosophy were taught in conjunction. It was a focus of the universal "secret" doctrines; the weird laboratory whence, fashioned in elegant Grecian phraseology, sprang the quintessence of Buddhistic, Zoroastrian, and Chaldean philosophy. Artemis, the gigantic concrete symbol of theosophico-pantheistic abstractions, the great mother Multimamma, androgyne and patroness of the "Ephesian writings," was conquered by Paul; but although the zealous converts of the apostles pretended to burn all their books on "curious arts," [[ta perierga]], enough of these remained for them to study when their first zeal had cooled off. It is from Ephesus that spread nearly all the Gnosis which antagonized so fiercely with the Irenaean dogmas; and still it was Ephesus, with her numerous collateral branches of the great college of the Essenes, which proved to be the hot-bed of all the kabalistic speculations brought by the Tanaim from the captivity. "In Ephesus," says Matter, "the notions of the Jewish-Egyptian school, and the semi-Persian speculations of the kabalists had then recently come to swell the vast conflux of Grecian and Asiatic doctrines, so there is no wonder that teachers should have sprung up there who strove to combine the religion newly preached by the apostle with the ideas there so long established."
Had not the Christians burdened themselves with the Revelations of a little nation, and accepted the Jehovah of Moses, the Gnostic ideas would never have been termed heresies; once relieved of their dogmatic exaggerations the world would have had a religious system based on pure Platonic philosophy, and surely something would then have been gained.
Now let us see what are the greatest heresies of the Gnostics. We will select Basilides as the standard for our comparisons, for all the founders of other Gnostic sects group round him, like a cluster of stars borrowing light from their sun.
Basilides maintained that he had all his doctrines from the Apostle Matthew, and from Peter through Glaucus, the disciple of the latter.* According to Eusebius,† he published twenty-four volumes of Interpretations upon the Gospels,‡ all of which were burned, a fact which makes us suppose that they contained more truthful matter than the school of Irenaeus was prepared to deny. He asserted that the unknown,
eternal, and uncreated Father having first brought forth Nous, or Mind, the latter emanated from itself — the Logos. The Logos (the Word of John) emanated in its turn Phronesis, or the Intelligences (Divine-human spirits). From Phronesis sprung Sophia, or feminine wisdom, and Dynamis — strength. These were the personified attributes of the Mysterious godhead, the Gnostic quinternion, typifying the five spiritual, but intelligible substances, personal virtues or beings external to the unknown godhead. This is preeminently a kabalistic idea. It is still more Buddhistic. The earliest system of the Buddhistic philosophy — which preceded by far Gautama-Buddha — is based upon the uncreated substance of the "Unknown," the A'di Buddha.* This eternal, infinite Monad possesses, as proper to his own essence, five acts of wisdom. From these it, by five separate acts of Dhyan, emitted five Dhyani Buddhas; these, like A'di Buddha, are quiescent in their system (passive). Neither A'di, nor either of the five Dhyani Buddhas, were ever incarnated, but seven of their emanations became Avatars, i.e., were incarnated on this earth.
Describing the Basilidean system, Irenaeus, quoting the Gnostics, declares as follows:
"When the uncreated, unnamed Father saw the corruption of mankind, he sent his first-born Nous, into the world, in the form of Christ, for the redemption of all who believe in him, out of the power of those who fabricated the world (the Demiurgus, and his six sons, the planetary genii). He appeared amongst men as the man, Jesus, and wrought miracles. This Christ did not die in person, but Simon the Cyrenian suffered in his stead, to whom he lent his bodily form; for the Divine Power, the Nous of the Eternal Father, is not corporeal, andcannot die. Whoso, therefore, maintains that Christ has died, is still the bondsman of ignorance; whoso denies the same, he is free, and hath understood the purpose of the Father."*
So far, and taken in its abstract sense, we do not see anything blasphemous in this system. It may be a heresy against the theology of Irenaeus and Tertullian,† but there is certainly nothing sacrilegious against the religious idea itself, and it will seem to every impartial thinker far more consistent with divine reverence than the anthropomorphism of actual Christianity. The Gnostics were called by the orthodox Christians, Docetae, or Illusionists, for believing that Christ did not, nor could, suffer death actually — in physical body. The later Brahmanical books contain, likewise, much that is repugnant to the reverential feeling and idea of the Divinity; and as well as the Gnostics, the Brahmans explain such legends as may shock the divine dignity of the Spiritual beings called gods by attributing them to Maya or illusion.
A people brought up and nurtured for countless ages among all the psychological phenomena of which the civilized (!) nations read, but reject as incredible and worthless, cannot well expect to have its religious system even understood — let alone appreciated. The profoundest and most transcendental speculations of the ancient metaphysicians of India and other countries, are all based on that great Buddhistic and Brahmanical principle underlying the whole of their religious metaphysics — illusion of the senses. Everything that is finite is illusion, all that which is eternal and infinite is reality. Form, color, that which we hear and feel, or see with our mortal eyes, exists only so far as it can be conveyed to each of us through our senses. The universe for a man born blind does not exist in either form or color, but it exists in its privation (in the Aristotelean sense), and is a reality for the spiritual senses
of the blind man. We all live under the powerful dominion of phantasy. Alone the highest and invisible originals emanated from the thought of the Unknown are real and permanent beings, forms, and ideas; on earth, we see but their reflections; more or less correct, and ever dependent on the physical and mental organization of the person who beholds them.
Ages untold before our era, the Hindu Mystic Kapila, who is considered by many scientists as a skeptic, because they judge him with their habitual superficiality, magnificently expressed this idea in the following terms:
"Man (physical man) counts for so little, that hardly anything can demonstrate to him his proper existence and that of nature. Perhaps, that which we regard as the universe, and the divers beings which seem to compose it, have nothing real, and are but the product of continued illusion — maya — of our senses."
And the modern Schopenhauer, repeating this philosophical idea, 10,000 years old now, says: "Nature is non-existent, per se. . . . Nature is the infinite illusion of our senses." Kant, Schelling, and other metaphysicians have said the same, and their school maintains the idea. The objects of sense being ever delusive and fluctuating, cannot be a reality. Spirit alone is unchangeable, hence — alone is no illusion. This is pure Buddhist doctrine. The religion of the Gnosis (knowledge), the most evident offshoot of Buddhism, was utterly based on this metaphysical tenet. Christos suffered spiritually for us, and far more acutely than did the illusionary Jesus while his body was being tortured on the Cross.
In the ideas of the Christians, Christ is but another name for Jesus. The philosophy of the Gnostics, the initiates, and hierophants understood it otherwise. The word Christos, [[Christos]], like all Greek words, must be sought in its philological origin — the Sanscrit. In this latter language Kris means sacred,* and the Hindu deity was named Chris-na (the pure or the sacred) from that. On the other hand, the Greek Christos bearsseveral meanings, as anointed (pure oil, chrism)and others. In all languages, though the synonym of the word means pure or sacred essence, it is the first emanation of the invisible Godhead, manifesting itself tangibly in spirit. The Greek Logos, the Hebrew Messiah, the
Latin Verbum, and the Hindu Viradj (the son) are identically the same; they represent an idea of collective entities — of flames detached from the one eternal centre of light.
"The man who accomplishes pious but interested acts (with the sole object of his salvation) may reach the ranks of the devas (saints);* but he who accomplishes, disinterestedly, the same pious acts, finds himself ridden forever of the five elements" (of matter). "Perceiving the Supreme Soul in all beings and all beings in the Supreme Soul, in offering his own soul in sacrifice, he identifies himself with the Being who shines in his own splendor" (Manu, book xii., slokas 90, 91).
Thus, Christos, as a unity, is but an abstraction: a general idea representing the collective aggregation of the numberless spirit-entities, which are the direct emanations of the infinite, invisible, incomprehensible First Cause — the individual spirits of men, erroneously called the souls. They are the divine sons of God, of which some only overshadow mortal men — but this the majority — some remain forever planetary spirits, and some — the smaller and rare minority — unite themselves during life with some men. Such God-like beings as Gautama-Buddha, Jesus, Tissoo, Christna, and a few others had united themselves with their spirits permanently — hence, they became gods on earth. Others, such as Moses, Pythagoras, Apollonius, Plotinus, Confucius, Plato, Iamblichus, and some Christian saints, having at intervals been so united, have taken rank in history as demi-gods and leaders of mankind. When unburthened of their terrestrial tabernacles, their freed souls, henceforth united forever with their spirits, rejoin the whole shining host, which is bound together in one spiritual solidarity of thought and deed, and called "the anointed." Hence, the meaning of the Gnostics, who, by saying that "Christos" suffered spiritually for humanity, implied that his Divine Spirit suffered mostly.
Such, and far more elevating were the ideas of Marcion, the great "Heresiarch" of the second century, as he is termed by his opponents. He came to Rome toward the latter part of the half-century, from A.D. 139-142, according to Tertullian, Irenaeus, Clemens, and most of his modern commentators, such as Bunsen, Tischendorf, Westcott, and many others. Credner and Schleiermacher† agree as to his high and irreproachable personal character, his pure religious aspirations and elevated views. His influence must have been powerful, as we find
Epiphanius writing more than two centuries later that in his time the followers of Marcion were to be found throughout the whole world.*
The danger must have been pressing and great indeed, if we are to judge it to have been proportioned with the opprobrious epithets and vituperation heaped upon Marcion by the "Great African," that Patristic Cerberus, whom we find ever barking at the door of the Irenaean dogmas.† We have but to open his celebrated refutation of Marcion's Antitheses, to acquaint ourselves with the fine-fleur of monkish abuse of the Christian school; an abuse so faithfully carried through the middle ages, to be renewed again in our present day — at the Vatican. "Now, then, ye hounds, yelping at the God of Truth, whom the apostles cast out, to all your questions. These are the bones of contention which ye gnaw," etc.‡ "The poverty of the Great African's arguments keeps pace with his abuse," remarks the author of Supernatural Religion.§ "Their (the Father's) religious controversy bristles with misstatements, and is turbid with pious abuse. Tertullian was a master of his style, and the vehement vituperation with which he opens and often interlards his work against 'the impious and sacrilegious Marcion,' offers anything but a guarantee of fair and legitimate criticism."
How firm these two Fathers — Tertullian and Epiphanius — were on their theological ground, may be inferred from the curious fact that they intemperately both vehemently reproach "the beast" (Marcion) "with erasing passages from the Gospel of Luke which never were in Luke at all."|| "The lightness and inaccuracy," adds the critic, "with which Tertullian proceeds, are all the better illustrated by the fact that not only does he accuse Marcion falsely, but he actually defines the motives for which he expunged a passage which never existed; in the same chapter he also similarly accuses Marcion of erasing (from Luke) the saying that Christ had not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them, and he actually repeats the charge on two other occasions.¶ Epiphanius also commits the mistake of reproaching Marcion with omitting from Luke what is only found in Matthew."†
Having so far shown the amount of reliance to be placed in the Patristic literature, and it being unanimously conceded by the great majority of biblical critics that what the Fathers fought for was not truth, but their own interpretations and unwarranted assertions,†† we will now
* "Epiph. Haera.," xlii., p. 1.
† Tertullian: "Adv. Marc.," ii. 5; cf. 9.
‡ Ibid., ii. 5.
§ Vol. ii., p. 105.
|| Ibid., vol. ii., p. 100.
proceed to state what were the views of Marcion, whom Tertullian desired to annihilate as the most dangerous heretic of his day. If we are to believe Hilgenfeld, one of the greatest German biblical critics, then "From the critical standing-point one must . . . consider the statements of the Fathers of the Church only as expressions of their subjective view, which itself requires proof."*
We can do no better nor make a more correct statement of facts concerning Marcion than by quoting what our space permits fromSupernatural Religion, the author of which bases his assertions on the evidence of the greatest critics, as well as on his own researches. He shows in the days of Marcion "two broad parties in the primitive Church" — one considering Christianity "a mere continuation of the law, and dwarfing it into an Israelitish institution, a narrow sect of Judaism"; the other representing the glad tidings "as the introduction of a new system, applicable to all, and supplanting the Mosaic dispensation of the law by a universal dispensation of grace." These two parties, he adds, "were popularly represented in the early Church, by the two apostles Peter and Paul, and their antagonism is faintly revealed in the Epistle to the Galatians."†
Marcion, who recognised no other Gospels than a few Epistles of Paul, who rejected totally the anthropomorphism of the Old Testament, and drew a distinct line of demarcation between the old Judaism and Christianity, viewed Jesus neither as a King, Messiah of the Jews, nor the son of David, who was in any way connected with the law or prophets, "but, a divine being sent to reveal to man a spiritual religion, wholly new, and a God of goodness and grace hitherto unknown." The "Lord
God" of the Jews in his eyes, the Creator (Demiurgos), was totally different and distinct from the Deity who sent Jesus to reveal the divine truth and preach the glad tidings, to bring reconciliation and salvation to all. The mission of Jesus — according to Marcion — was to abrogate the Jewish "Lord," who "was opposed to the God and Father of Jesus Christ asmatter is to spirit, impurity to purity."
Was Marcion so far wrong? Was it blasphemy, or was it intuition, divine inspiration in him to express that which every honest heart yearning for truth, more or less feels and acknowledges? If in his sincere desire to establish a purely spiritual religion, a universal faith based on unadulterated truth, he found it necessary to make of Christianity an entirely new and separate system from that of Judaism, did not Marcion have the very words of Christ for his authority? "No man putteth a piece of new cloth into an old garment . . . for the rent is made worse. . . . Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." In what particular does the jealous, wrathful, revengeful God of Israel resemble the unknown deity, the God of mercy preached by Jesus; — his Father who is in Heaven, and the Father of all humanity? This Father alone is the God of spirit and purity, and, to compare Him with the subordinate and capricious Sinaitic Deity is an error. Did Jesus ever pronounce the name of Jehovah? Did he ever place his Father in contrast with this severe and cruel Judge; his God of mercy, love, and justice, with the Jewish genius of retaliation? Never! From that memorable day when he preached his Sermon on the Mount, an immeasurable void opened between his God and that other deity who fulminated his commands from that other mount — Sinai. The language of Jesus is unequivocal; it implies not only rebellion but defiance of the Mosaic "Lord God." "Ye have heard," he tells us, "that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Ye have heard that it hath been said [by the same "Lord God" on Sinai]: Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you; Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew v.).
And now, open Manu and read:
"Resignation, the action of rendering good for evil, temperance, probity, purity, repression of the senses, the knowledge of the Sastras (the holy books), that of the supreme soul, truthfulness and abstinence from anger, such are the ten virtues in which consists duty. . . . Those who
study these ten precepts of duty, and after having studied them conform their lives thereto, will reach to the supreme condition" (Manu, book vi., sloka 92).
If Manu did not trace these words many thousands of years before the era of Christianity, at least no voice in the whole world will dare deny them a less antiquity than several centuries B.C. The same in the case of the precepts of Buddhism.
If we turn to the Pratimokska Sutra and other religious tracts of the Buddhists, we read the ten following commandments:
1. Thou shalt not kill any living creature.
2. Thou shalt not steal.
3. Thou shalt not break thy vow of chastity.
4. Thou shalt not lie.
5. Thou shalt not betray the secrets of others.
6. Thou shalt not wish for the death of thy enemies.
7. Thou shalt not desire the wealth of others.
8. Thou shalt not pronounce injurious and foul words.
9. Thou shalt not indulge in luxury (sleep on soft beds or be lazy).
10. Thou shalt not accept gold or silver.*
"Good master, what shall I do that I may have eternal life?" asks a man of Jesus. "Keep the commandments." "Which?" "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,"† is the answer.
"What shall I do to obtain possession of Bhodi? (knowledge of eternal truth)" asks a disciple of his Buddhist master. "What way is there to become an Upasaka?" "Keep the commandments." "What are they?" "Thou shalt abstain all thy life from murder, theft, adultery, and lying," answers the master.‡
Identical injunctions are they not? Divine injunctions, the living up to which would purify and exalt humanity. But are they more divine when uttered through one mouth than another? If it is god-like to return good for evil, does the enunciation of the precept by a Nazarene give it any greater force than its enunciation by an Indian, or Thibetan philosopher? We see that the Golden Rule was not original with Jesus; that its birth-place was India. Do what we may, we cannot deny Sakya-Muni Buddha a less remote antiquity than several centuries before the birth of Jesus. In seeking a model for his system of ethics why should Jesus have gone to the foot of the Himalayas rather than to the foot of
† Matthew xix. 16-18.
‡ "Pittakatayan," book iii., Pali Version.
Sinai, but that the doctrines of Manu and Gautarna harmonized exactly with his own philosophy, while those of Jehovah were to him abhorrent and terrifying? The Hindus taught to return good for evil, but the Jehovistic command was: "An eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth."
Would Christians still maintain the identity of the "Father" of Jesus and Jehovah, if evidence sufficiently clear could be adduced that the "Lord God" was no other than the Pagan Bacchus, Dionysos? Well, this identity of the Jehovah at Mount Sinai with the god Bacchus is hardly disputable. The name is Yava or Iao, according to Theodoret, which is the secret name of the Phoenician Mystery-god;* and it was actually adopted from the Chaldeans with whom it also was the secret name of the creator. Wherever Bacchus was worshipped there was a tradition of Nysa and a cave where he was reared. Beth-San or Scythopolis in Palestine had that designation; so had a spot on Mount Parnassus. But Diodorus declares that Nysa was between Phoenicia and Egypt; Euripides states that Dionysos came to Greece from India; and Diodorus adds his testimony: "Osiris was brought up in Nysa, in Arabia the Happy; he was the son of Zeus, and was named from his father (nominative Zeus, genitive Dios) and the place Dio-Nysos" — the Zeus or Jove of Nysa. This identity of name or title is very significant. In Greece Dionysos was second only to Zeus, and Pindar says:
"So Father Zeus governs all things, and Bacchus he governs also."
But outside of Greece Bacchus was the all-powerful "Zagreus, the highest of gods." Moses seems to have worshipped him personally and together with the populace at Mount Sinai; unless we admit that he was an initiated priest, an adept, who knew how to lift the veil which hangs behind all such exoteric worship, but kept the secret. "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi"! or Iao-Nisi. What better evidence is required to show that the Sinaitic god was indifferently Bacchus, Osiris, and Jehovah? Mr. Sharpe appends also his testimony that the place where Osiris was born "was Mount Sinai, called by the Egyptians Mount Nissa." The Brazen Serpent was a nis, , and the month of the Jewish Passover nisan.
If the Mosaic "Lord God" was the only living God, and Jesus His only Son, how account for the rebellious language of the latter? Without hesitation or qualification he sweeps away the Jewish lex talionis and substitutes for it the law of charity and self-denial. If the Old Testament
is a divine revelation, how can the New Testament be? Are we required to believe and worship a Deity who contradicts himself every few hundred years? Was Moses inspired, or was Jesus not the son of God? This is a dilemma from which the theologians are bond to rescue us. It is from this very dilemma that the Gnostics endeavored to snatch the budding Christianity.
Justice has been waiting nineteen centuries for intelligent commentators to appreciate this difference between the orthodox Tertullian and the Gnostic Marcion. The brutal violence, unfairness, and bigotry of the "great African" repulse all who accept his Christianity. "How can a god," inquired Marcion, "break his own commandments? How could he consistently prohibit idolatry and image-worship, and still cause Moses to set up the brazen serpent? How command: Thou shalt not steal, and then order the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians of their gold and silver?" Anticipating the results of modern criticism, Marcion denies the applicability to Jesus of the so-called Messianic prophecies. Writes the author of Supernatural Religion:* "The Emmanuel of Isaiah is not Christ; the 'Virgin,' his mother, is simply a 'young woman,' an alma of the temple; and the sufferings of the servant of God (Isaiah lii. 13 - liii. 3) are not predictions of the death of Jesus."†