"Of the tenets of the Druzes, nothing authentic has ever come to light; the popular belief amongst their neighbors is, that they adore an idol in the form of a calf." — King: The Gnostics and their Remains.
"O ye Lords of Truth without fault, who are forever cycling for eternity . . . save me from the annihilation of this Region of the Two Truths." — Egyptian Ritual of the Dead.
"Pythagoras correctly regarded the 'Ineffable Name' of God . . . as the Key to the Mysteries of the universe." — Pancoast: Blue and Red Light.
In the next two chapters we shall notice the most important of the Christian secret sects — the so-called "Heresies" which sprang into existence between the first and fourth centuries of our era.
Glancing rapidly at the Ophites and Nazareans, we shall pass to their scions which yet exist in Syria and Palestine, under the name of Druzes of Mount Lebanon; and near Basra or Bassorah, in Persia, under that of Mendaeans, or Disciples of St. John. All these sects have an immediate connection with our subject, for they are of kabalistic parentage and have once held to the secret "Wisdom Religion," recognizing as the One Supreme, the Mystery-God of the Ineffable Name. Noticing these numerous secret societies of the past, we will bring them into direct comparison with several of the modern. We will conclude with a brief survey of the Jesuits, and of that venerable nightmare of the Roman Catholic Church — modern Freemasonry. All of these modern as well as ancient fraternities — present Freemasonry excepted — were and are more or less connected with magic — practically, as well as theoretically; and, every one of them — Freemasonry not excepted — was and still is accused of demonolatry, blasphemy, and licentiousness.
Our object is not to write the history of either of them; but only to compare these sorely-abused communities with the Christian sects, past and present, and then, taking historical facts for our guidance, to defend the secret science as well as the men who are its students and champions against any unjust imputation.
One by one the tide of time engulfed the sects of the early centuries, until of the whole number only one survived in its primitive integrity. That one still exists, still teaches the doctrine of its founder, still exemplifies its faith in works of power. The quicksands which swallowed up
every other outgrowth of the religious agitation of the times of Jesus, with its records, relics, and traditions, proved firm ground for this. Driven from their native land, its members found refuge in Persia, and to-day the anxious traveller may converse with the direct descendants of the "Disciples of John," who listened, on the Jordan's shore, to the "man sent from God," and were baptized and believed. This curious people, numbering 30,000 or more, are miscalled "Christians of St. John," but in fact should be known by their old name of Nazareans, or their new one of Mendaeans.
To term them Christians, is wholly unwarranted. They neither believe in Jesus as Christ, nor accept his atonement, nor adhere to his Church, nor revere its "Holy Scriptures." Neither do they worship the Jehovah-God of the Jews and Christians, a circumstance which of course proves that their founder, John the Baptist, did not worship him either. And if not, what right has he to a place in the Bible, or in the portrait-gallery of Christian saints? Still further, if Ferho was his God, and he was "a man sent by God," he must have been sent by Lord Ferho, and in his name baptized and preached? Now, if Jesus was baptized by John, the inference is that he was baptized according to his own faith; therefore, Jesus too, was a believer in Ferho, or Faho, as they call him; a conclusion that seems the more warranted by his silence as to the name of his "Father." And why should the hypothesis that Faho is but one of the many corruptions of Fho or Fo, as the Thibetans and Chinese call Buddha, appear ridiculous? In the North of Nepaul, Buddha is more often called Fo than Buddha. The Book of Mahawansa shows how early the work of Buddhistic proselytism began in Nepaul; and history teaches that Buddhist monks crowded into Syria* and Babylon in the
century preceding our era, and that Buddhasp (Bodhisatva) the alleged Chaldean, was the founder of Sabism or baptism.*
What the actual Baptists, el-Mogtasila, or Nazareans, do believe, is fully set forth in other places, for they are the very Nazarenes of whom we have spoken so much, and from whose Codex we have quoted. Persecuted and threatened with annihilation, they took refuge in the Nestorian body, and so allowed themselves to be arbitrarily classed as Christians, but as soon as opportunity offered, they separated, and now, for several centuries have not even nominally deserved the appellation. That they are, nevertheless, so called by ecclesiastical writers, is perhaps not very difficult to comprehend. They know too much of early Christianity to be left outside the pale, to bear witness against it with their traditions, without the stigma of heresy and backsliding being fastened upon them to weaken confidence in what they might say.
But where else can science find so good a field for biblical research as among this too neglected people? No doubt of their inheritance of the Baptist's doctrine; their traditions are without a break. What they teach now, their forefathers taught at every epoch where they appear in history. They are the disciples of that John who is said to have foretold the advent of Jesus, baptized him, and declared that the latchet of his shoe he (John) was not worthy to unloose. As they two — the Messenger and the Messiah — stood in the Jordan, and the elder was consecrating the younger — his own cousin, too, humanly speaking — the heavens opened and God Himself, in the shape of a dove, descended in a glory upon his "Beloved Son"! How then, if this tale be true, can we account for the strange infidelity which we find among these surviving Nazareans? So far from believing Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God, they actually told the Persian missionaries, who, in the seventeenth century, first discovered them to Europeans, that the Christ of the New Testament was "a false teacher," and that the Jewish system, as well as that of Jesus (?), came from the realm of darkness! Who knows better than they? Where can more competent living witnesses be found? Christian eccle-
siastics would force upon us an anointed Saviour heralded by John, and the disciples of this very Baptist, from the earliest centuries, have stigmatized this ideal personage as an impostor, and his putative Father, Jehovah, "a spurious God," the Ilda-Baoth of the Ophites! Unlucky for Christianity will be the day when some fearless and honest scholar shall persuade their elders to let him translate the contents of their secret books and compile their hoary traditions! It is a strange delusion that makes some writers think that the Nazareans have no other sacred literature, no other literary relics than four doctrinal works, and that curious volume full of astrology and magic which they are bound to peruse at the sunset hour, on every Sol's day (Sunday).
This search after truth leads us, indeed, into devious ways. Many are the obstacles that ecclesiastical cunning has placed in the way of our finding the primal source of religious ideas. Christianity is on trial, and has been, ever since science felt strong enough to act as Public Prosecutor. A portion of the case we are drafting in this book. What of truth is there in this Theology? Through what sects has it been transmitted? Whence was it primarily derived? To answer, we must trace the history of the World Religion, alike through the secret Christian sects as through those of other great religious subdivisions of the race; for the Secret Doctrine is the Truth, and that religion is nearest divine that has contained it with least adulteration.
Our search takes us hither and thither, but never aimlessly do we bring sects widely separated in chronological order, into critical juxtaposition. There is one purpose in our work to be kept constantly in view — the analysis of religious beliefs, and the definition of their descent from the past to the present. What has most blocked the way is Roman Catholicism; and not until the secret principles of this religion are uncovered can we comprehend the iron staff upon which it leans to steady its now tottering steps.
We will begin with the Ophites, Nazareans, and the modern Druzes. The personal views of the author, as they will be presented in the diagrams, will be most decidedly at variance with the prejudiced speculations of Irenaeus, Theodoret, and Epiphanius (the sainted renegade, who sold his brethren), inasmuch as they will reflect the ideas of certain kabalists in close relations with the mysterious Druzes of Mount Lebanon. The Syrian okhals, or Spiritualists, as they are sometimes termed, are in possession of a great many ancient manuscripts and gems, bearing upon our present subject.
The first scheme — that of the Ophites — from the very start, as we have shown, varies from the description given by the Fathers, inasmuch as it makes Bythos or depth, a female emanation, and assigns her a place
answering to that of Pleroma, only in a far superior region; whereas, the Fathers assure us that the Gnostics gave the name of Bythos to the First Cause. As in the kabalistic system, it represents the boundless and infinite void within which is concealed in darkness the Unknown Primal motor of all. It envelops Him like a veil: in short we recognize again the "Shekinah" of the En-Soph. Alone, the name of [[IAO]], Iao, marks the upper centre, or rather the presumed spot where the Unknown One may be supposed to dwell. Around the Iao, runs the legend, [[CEMEC EILAM ABRASAX]]. "The eternal Sun-Abrasax" (the Central Spiritual Sun of all the kabalists, represented in some diagrams of the latter by the circle of Tiphereth).
From this region of unfathomable Depth, issues forth a circle formed of spirals; which, in the language of symbolism, means a grand cycle, [[kuklos]], composed of smaller ones. Coiled within, so as to follow the spirals, lies the serpent — emblem of wisdom and eternity — the Dual Androgyne: the cycle representing Ennoia or the Divine mind, and the Serpent — the Agathodaimon, Ophis — the Shadow of the Light. Both were the Logoi of the Ophites; or the unity as Logos manifesting itself as a double principle of good and evil; for, according to their views, these two principles are immutable, and existed from all eternity, as they will ever continue to exist.
This symbol accounts for the adoration by this sect of the Serpent, as the Saviour, coiled either around the Sacramental loaf or a Tau. As a unity, Ennoia and Ophis are the Logos; when separated, one is the Tree of Life (Spiritual); the other, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, we find Ophis urging the first human couple — the material production of Ilda-Baoth, but which owed its spiritual principle to Sophia-Achamoth — to eat of the forbidden fruit, although Ophis represents Divine Wisdom.
The Serpent, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, are all symbols transplanted from the soil of India. The Arasa-Maram, the banyan tree, so sacred with the Hindus, since Vishnu, during one of his incarnations, reposed under its mighty shade, and there taught humanity philosophy and sciences, is called the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. Under the protective umbrage of this king of the forests, the Gurus teach their pupils their first lessons on immortality and initiate them in the mysteries of life and death. The Java-Aleim of the Sacerdotal College are said, in the Chaldean tradition, to have taught the sons of men to become like one of them. To the present day Foh-tchou,* who lives in his Foh-Maeyu, or temple of Buddha, on the
top of "Kouin-long-sang,"* the great mountain, produces his greatest religious miracles under a tree called in Chinese Sung-Ming-Shu, or the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, for ignorance is death, and knowledge alone gives immortality. This marvellous display takes place every three years, when an immense concourse of Chinese Buddhists assemble in pilgrimage at the holy place.
Ilda-Baoth, the "Son of Darkness," and the creator of the material world, was made to inhabit the planet Saturn, which identifies him still more with the Jewish Jehovah, who was Saturn himself, according to the Ophites, and is by them denied his Sinaitic name. From Ilda-Baoth emanate six spirits, who respectively dwell with their father in the seven planets. These are Saba — or Mars; Adonai — Sol, or the Sun;† Ievo — the Moon; Eloi — Jupiter; Astaphoi — Mercury (spirit of water); and Ouraios — Venus, spirit of fire.‡
In their functions and description as given, these seven planets are identical with the Hindu Sapta-Loca, the seven places or spheres, or the superior and inferior worlds; for they represent the kabalistic seven spheres. With the Ophites, they belong to the lower spheres. The monograms of these Gnostic planets are also Buddhistic, the latter differing, albeit slightly, from those of the usual astrological "houses." In the explanatory notes which accompany the diagram, the names of Cirenthius (the disciple of Simon Magus), of Menander, and of certain other Gnostics, whose names are not to be met with in the Patristic writings, are often mentioned; such as Parcha (Ferho), for instance.§
The author of the diagram claims, moreover, for his sect, the greatest antiquity, bringing forward, as a proof, that their "forefathers" were the builders of all the "Dracontia" temples, even of those beyond "the great waters." He asserts that the "Just One," who was the mouth-piece of the Eternal AEon (Christos), himself sent his disciples into the world, placing them under the double protection of Sige (Silence, the
Logos), and Ophis, the Agathodaemon. The author alludes no doubt, to the favorite expression of Jesus, "be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." On the diagram, Ophis is represented as the Egyptian Cnuphis or Kneph, called Dracontiae. He appears as a serpent standing erect on its tail, with a lion's head, crowned and radiated, and bearing on the point of each ray one of the seven Greek vowels — symbol of the seven celestial spheres. This figure is quite familiar to those who are acquainted with the Gnostic gems,* and is borrowed from the Egyptian Hermetic books. The description given in the Revelation, of one "like unto the Son of Man," with his seven stars, and who is the Logos, is another form of Ophis.
The Nazarene diagram, except in a change of names, is identical with that of the Gnostics, who evidently borrowed their ideas from it, adding a few appellations from the Basilidean and Valentinian systems. To avoid repetition, we will now simply present the two in parallel.
Thus, we find that, in the Nazarene Cosmogony, the names of their powers and genii stand in the following relations to those of the Gnostics:
First Unity in a Trinity.
Lord Ferho — the Life which is no Life — the Supreme God. The Cause which produces the Light, or the Logos in abscondito. The water of Jordanus Maximus — the water of Life, or Ajar, the feminine principle. Unity in a Trinity, enclosed within the Ish Amon.
(The manifestation of the first.)
1. Lord Mano — the King of Life and Light — Rex Lucis. First Life, or the primitive man.
2. Lord Jordan — manifestation or emanation of Jordan Maximus — the waters of grace. Second Life.
3. The Superior Father — Abatur. Third Life.
This Trinity produces also a duad — Lord Ledhoio, and Fetahil, the genius (the former, a perfect emanation, the latter, imperfect).
Iao -- the Ineffable Name of the Unknown Deity — Abraxas, and the "Eternal Spiritual Sun." Unity enclosed within the Depth, Bythos, feminine principle — the boundless circle, within which lie all ideal forms. From this Unity emanates the
1. Ennoia — mind.
2. Ophis, the Agathodaemon.
3. Sophia Androgyne — wisdom; who, in her turn — fecundated with the Divine Light — produces
Christos and Sophia-Achamoth (one perfect, the other imperfect), as an emanation.
Lord Jordan — "the Lord of all Jordans," manifests Netubto (Faith without Works).*
Sophia-Achamoth emanates Ilda-Baoth — the Demiurge, who produces material and soulless creation. "Works without Faith" (or grace).*
Moreover, the Ophite seven planetary genii, who emanated one from the other, are found again in the Nazarene religion, under the name of the "seven impostor-daemons," or stellars, who "will deceive all the sons of Adam." These are Sol; Spiritus Venereus (Holy Spirit, in her material aspect),† the mother of the "seven badly-disposed stellars," answering to the Gnostic Achamoth; Nebu, or Mercury, "a false Messiah, who will deprave the ancient worship of God";‡ Sin (or Luna, or Shuril); Kiun (Kivan, or Saturn); Bel-Jupiter; and the seventh, Nerig, Mars (Codex Nazaraeus, p. 57).
The Christos of the Gnostics is the chief of the seven AEons, St. John's seven spirits of God; the Nazarenes have also their seven genii or good Eons, whose chief is Rex Lucis, Mano, their Christos. The Sapta Rishis, the seven sages of India, inhabit the Sapta-Poura, or the seven celestial cities.
What less or more do we find in the Universal Ecclesia, until the days of the Reformation, and in the Roman Popish Church after the separation? We have compared the relative value of the Hindu Cosmogony; the Chaldeo, Zoroastrian, Jewish Kabala; and that of the so-termed Haeretics. A correct diagram of the Judaico-Christian religion, to enforce which on the heathen who have furnished it, are expended such great sums every year, would still better prove the identity of the two; but we lack space and are also spared the necessity of proving what is already thoroughly demonstrated.
In the Ophite gems of King (Gnostics), we find the name of Iao repeated, and often confounded with that of Ievo, while the latter simply represents one of the genii antagonistic to Abraxas. In order that these names may not be taken as identical with the name of the Jewish Jehovah we will at once explain this word. It seems to us surpassingly strange that so many learned archaeologists should have so little insisted that there was more than one Jehovah, and disclaimed that the name origin-
ated with Moses. Iao is certainly a title of the Supreme Being, and belongs partially to the Ineffable Name; but it neither originated with nor was it the sole property of the Jews. Even if it had pleased Moses to bestow the name upon the tutelar "Spirit," the alleged protector and national deity of the "Chosen people of Israel," there is yet no possible reason why other nationalities should receive Him as the Highest and One-living God. But we deny the assumption altogether. Besides, there is the fact that Yaho or Iao was a "mystery name" from the beginning, and never came into use before King David. Anterior to his time, few or no proper names were compounded with iah or jah. It looks rather as though David, being a sojourner among the Tyrians and Philistines (2 Samuel), brought thence the name of Jehovah. He made Zadok high-priest, from whom came the Zadokites or Sadducees. He lived and ruled first at Hebron , Habir-on or Kabeir-town, where the rites of the four (mystery-gods) were celebrated. Neither David nor Solomon recognized either Moses or the law of Moses. They aspired to build a temple to , like the structures erected by Hiram to Hercules and Venus, Adon and Astarte.
Says Furst: "The very ancient name of God, Yaho, written in the Greek [[Iao]], appears, apart from its derivation, to have been an old mystic name of the Supreme deity of the Shemites. (Hence it was told to Moses when initiated at Hor-eb — the cave, under the direction of Jethro, the Kenite or Cainite priest of Midian.) In an old religion of the Chaldeans, whose remains are to be found amongst the Neo-platonists, the highest divinity enthroned above the seven heavens, representing the Spiritual Light-Principle (nous)* and also conceived as Derniurgus,† was called [[Iao]] , who was, like the Hebrew Yaho, mysterious and unmentionable, and whose name was communicated to the initiated. The Phoenicians had a Supreme God whose name was trilateral and secret, and he was [[Iao]]."‡
But while Furst insists that the name has a Semitic origin, there are other scholars who trace it farther than he does, and look back beyond the classification of the Caucasians.
In Sanscrit we have Jah and Jaya, or Jaa and Ja-ga, and this throws light on the origin of the famous festival of the car of Jaga-nath, commonly called Jaggernath. Javhe means "he who is," and Dr. Spiegel traces even the Persian name of God, "Ahura," to the root ah,§ which
in Sanscrit is pronounced as, to breathe, and asu, became, therefore, in time, synonymous with "Spirit."* Rawlinson strongly supports the opinion of an Aryan or Vedic influence on the early Babylonian mythology. We have given, a few pages back, the strongest possible proofs of the identity of Vishnu with Dag-on. The same may be adduced for the title of [[Iao]], and its Sanscrit root traced in every country. Ju or Jovis is the oldest Latin name for God. "As male he is Ju-piter, or Ju, the father, pitar being Sanscrit for father; as feminine, Ju-no or Ju, the comforter — being the Phoenician word for rest and comfort."† Professor Max Muller shows that although "Dyaus," sky, does not occur as a masculine in the ordinary Sanscrit, yet it does occur in the Veda, "and thus bears witness to the early Aryan worship of Dyaus, the Greek Zeus" (The Veda).
To grasp the real and primitive sense of the term [[IAO]], and the reason of its becoming the designation for the most mysterious of all deities, we must search for its origin in the figurative phraseology of all the primitive people. We must first of all go to the most ancient sources for our information. In one of the Books of Hermes, for instance, we find him saying that the number ten is the mother of the soul, and that the life and light are therein united. For "the number 1 (one) is born from the spirit, and the number 10 (ten) from matter";‡ "the unity has made the ten, the ten the unity."§
The kabalistic gematria — one of the methods for extracting the hidden meaning from letters, words, and sentences — is arithmetical. It consists in applying to the letters of a word the sense they bear as numbers, in outward shape as well as in their individual sense. Moreover, by the Themura (another method used by the kabalists) any word could be made to yield its mystery out of its anagram. Thus, we find the author of Sepher Jezira saying, one or two centuries before our era:|| "One, the spirit of the Alahim of Lives."¶ So again, in the oldest kabalistic diagrams, the ten Sephiroth are represented as wheels or circles, and Adam Kadmon, the primitive man, as an upright pillar. "Wheels and
seraphim and the holy creatures" (chioth), says Rabbi Akiba.* In another system of the same branch of the symbolical Kabala, called Athbach — which arranges the letters of the alphabet by pairs in three rows — all the couples in the first row bear the numerical value ten; and in the system of Simeon Ben-Shetah,† the uppermost couple — the most sacred of all, is preceded by the Pythagorean cipher, one and a nought, or zero — 10.
If we can once appreciate the fact that, among all the peoples of the highest antiquity, the most natural conception of the First Cause manifesting itself in its creatures, and that to this they could not but ascribe the creation of all, was that of an androgyne deity; that the male principle was considered the vivifying invisible spirit, and the female, mother nature; we shall be enabled to understand how that mysterious cause came at first to be represented (in the picture-writings, perhaps) as the combination of the Alpha and Omega of numbers, a decimal, then as IAO, a trilateral name, containing in itself a deep allegory.
IAO, in such a case, would — etymologically considered — mean the "Breath of Life," generated or springing forth between an upright male and an egg-shaped female principle of nature; for, in Sanscrit, as means "to be," "to live or exist"; and originally it meant "to breathe." "From it," says Max Muller, "in its original sense of breathing, the Hindus formed 'asu,' breath, and 'asura,' the name of God, whether it meant the breathing one or the giver of breath."‡ It certainly meant the latter. In Hebrew, "Ah" and "Iah" mean life. Cornelius Agrippa, in his treatise on the Preeminence of Woman, shows that "the word Eve suggests comparison with the mystic symbols of the kabalists, the name of the woman having affinity with the ineffable Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name of the divinity." Ancient names were always consonant with the things they represented. In relation to the mysterious name of the Deity in question, the hitherto inexplicable hint of the kabalists as to the efficacy of the letter H, "which Abram took away from his wife Sarah" and "put into the middle of his own name," becomes clear.
It may perhaps be argued, by way of objection, that it is not ascertained as yet at what period of antiquity the nought occurs for the first time in Indian manuscripts or inscriptions. Be that as it may, the case presents circumstantial evidence of too strong a character not to carry a conviction of probability with it. According to Max Muller "the two words 'cipher' and 'zero,' which are in reality but one . . . are sufficient
to prove that our figures are borrowed from the Arabs."* Cipher is the Arabic "cifron," and means empty, a translation of the Sanscrit name of the nought "synya," he says. The Arabs had their figures from Hindustan, and never claimed the discovery for themselves.† As to the Pythagoreans, we need but turn to the ancient manuscripts of Boethius's Geometry, composed in the sixth century, to find in the Pythagorean numerals‡ the 1 and the nought, as the first and final cipher. And Porphyry, who quotes from the Pythagorean Moderatus,§ says that the numerals of Pythagoras were "hieroglyphical symbols, by means whereof he explained ideas concerning the nature of things."
Now, if the most ancient Indian manuscripts show as yet no trace of decimal notation in them, Max Muller states very clearly that until now he has found but nine letters (the initials of the Sanscrit numerals) in them — on the other hand we have records as ancient to supply the wanted proof. We speak of the sculptures and the sacred imagery in the most ancient temples of the far East. Pythagoras derived his knowledge from India; and we find Professor Max Muller corroborating this statement, at least so far as allowing the Neo-Pythagoreans to have been the first teachers of "ciphering" among the Greeks and Romans; that "they, at Alexandria, or in Syria, became acquainted with the Indian figures, and adapted them to the Pythagorean abacus" (our figures). This cautious allowance implies that Pythagoras himself was acquainted with but nine figures. So that we might reasonably answer that although we possess no certain proof that the decimal notation was known to Pythagoras, who lived on the very close of the archaic ages,|| we yet have sufficient evidence to show that the full numbers, as given by Boethius, were known to the Pythagoreans, even before Alexandria was built.¶ This evidence we find in Aristotle, who says that "some philosophers hold that ideas and numbers are of the same nature, and amount to ten in all."** This, we believe, will be sufficient to show that the decimal notation was known among them at least as early as four centuries B.C., for Aristotle does not seem to treat the question as an innovation of the "Neo-Pythagoreans."
Besides, as we have remarked above, the representations of the archaic deities, on the walls of the temples, are of themselves quite suggestive enough. So, for instance, Vishnu is represented in the Kurmavatara (his second avatar) as a tortoise sustaining a circular pillar, on which the semblance of himself (Maya, or the illusion) sits with all his attributes.
While one hand holds a flower, another a club, the third a shell, the fourth, generally the upper one, or at the right — holds on his forefinger, extended as the cipher 1, the chakra, or discus, which resembles a ring, or a wheel, and might be taken for the nought. In his first avatar, the Matsyavatam, when emerging from the fish's mouth, he is represented in the same position.* The ten-armed Durga of Bengal; the ten-headed Ravana, the giant; Parvati — as Durga, Indra, and Indrani, are found with this attribute, which is a perfect representation of the May-pole.†
The holiest of the temples among the Hindus, are those of Jaggarnath. This deity is worshipped equally by all the sects of India, and Jaggarnath is named "The Lord of the World." He is the god of the Mysteries, and his temples, which are most numerous in Bengal, are all of a pyramidal form.
There is no other deity which affords such a variety of etymologies as Iaho, nor a name which can be so variously pronounced. It is only by associating it with the Masoretic points that the later Rabbins succeeded in making Jehovah read "Adonai" — or Lord. Philo Byblus spells it in Greek letters [[IEUO]] — IEVO. Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it Iabe (Yahva) and the Jews Yaho; which would make it as we have shown I-ah-O. Diodorus states that "among the Jews they relate that Moses called the God [[Iao]]." It is on the authority of the Bible itself, therefore, that we maintain that before his initiation by Jethro, his father-in-law, Moses had never known the word Iaho. The future Deity of the sons of Israel calls out from the burning bush and gives His name as "I am that I am," and specifies carefully that He is the "Lord God of the Hebrews" (Exod. iii. 18), not of the other nations. Judging him by his own acts, throughout the Jewish records, we doubt whether Christ himself, had he appeared in the days of the Exodus, would have been welcomed by the irascible Sinaitic Deity. However, "The Lord God," who becomes, on His own confession, Jehovah only in the 6th chapter of Exodus (verse 3) finds his veracity put to a startling test in Genesis xxii. 14, in which revealed passage Abraham builds an altar to Jehovah-jireh.
It would seem, therefore, but natural to make a difference between the mystery-God [[Iao]], adopted from the highest antiquity by all who participated in the esoteric knowledge of the priests, and his phonetic counterparts, whom we find treated with so little reverence by the Ophites and other Gnostics. Once having burdened themselves like the Azazel of the
wilderness with the sins and iniquities of the Jewish nation, it now appears hard for the Christians to have to confess that those whom they thought fit to consider the "chosen people" of God — their sole predecessors in monotheism — were, till a very late period, as idolatrous and polytheistic as their neighbors. The shrewd Talmudists have escaped the accusation for long centuries by screening themselves behind the Masoretic invention. But, as in everything else, truth was at last brought to light. We know now that Ihoh must be read Iahoh and Iah, not Jehovah. Iah of the Hebrews is plainly the Iacchos (Bacchus) of the Mysteries; the God "from whom the liberation of souls was expected — Dionysus, Iacchos, Iahoh, Iah."* Aristotle then was right when he said: "Joh was Oromasdes and Ahriman Pluto, for the God of heaven, Ahura-mazda, rides on a chariot which the Horse of the Sun follows."† And Dunlap quotes Psalm lxviii. 4, which reads:
"Praise him by his name Iach (),
Who rides upon the heavens, as on a horse,"
and then shows that "the Arabs represented Iauk (Iach) by a horse. The Horse of the Sun (Dionysus)."‡ Iah is a softening of Iach, "he explains." ch and h interchange; so s softens to h. The Hebrews express the idea of Life both by a ch and an h; as chiach, to be, hiah, to be; Iach, God of Life, Iah, "I am."§ Well then may we repeat these lines of Ausonius:
"Ogugia calls me Bacchus; Egypt thinks me Osiris;
The Musians name me Ph'anax; the Indi consider me Dionysus;
The Roman Mysteries call me Liber; the Arabian race Adonis!"
And the chosen people Adoni and Jehovah — we may add.
How little the philosophy of the old secret doctrine was understood, is illustrated in the atrocious persecutions of the Templars by the Church, and in the accusation of their worshipping the Devil under the shape of the goat — Baphomet! Without going into the old Masonic mysteries, there is not a Mason — of those we mean who do know something — but has an idea of the true relation that Baphomet bore to Azaze, the scapegoat of the wilderness,|| whose character and meaning are entirely per-
verted in the Christian translations. "This terrible and venerable name of God," says Lanci,* librarian to the Vatican, "through the pen of biblical glossers, has been a devil, a mountain, a wilderness, and a he-goat." In Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, the author very correctly remarks that "this word should be divided into Azaz and El," for "it signifies God of Victory, but is here used in the sense of author of Death, in contrast to Jehovah, the author of Life; the latter received a dead goat as an offering."† The Hindu Trinity is composed of three personages, which are convertible into one. The Trimurti is one, and in its abstraction indivisible, and yet we see a metaphysical division taking place from the first, and while Brahma, though collectively representing the three, remains behind the scenes, Vishnu is the Life-Giver, the Creator, and the Preserver, and Siva is the Destroyer, and the Death-giving deity. "Death to the Life-Giver, life to the Death-dealer. The symbolical antithesis is grand and beautiful," says Gliddon.‡ "Deus est Daemon inversus" of the kabalists now becomes clear. It is but the intense and cruel desire to crush out the last vestige of the old philosophies by perverting their meaning, for fear that their own dogmas should not be rightly fathered on them, which impels the Catholic Church to carry on such a systematic persecution in regard to Gnostics, Kabalists, and even the comparatively innocent Masons.
Alas, alas! How little has the divine seed, scattered broadcast by the hand of the meek Judean philosopher, thrived or brought forth fruit.
He, who himself had shunned hypocrisy, warned against public prayer, showing such contempt for any useless exhibition of the same, could he but cast his sorrowful glance on the earth, from the regions of eternal bliss, would see that this seed fell neither on sterile rock nor by the way-side. Nay, it took deep root in the most prolific soil; one enriched even to plethora with lies and human gore!
"For, if the truth of God hath more abounded, through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?" naively inquires Paul, the best and sincerest of all the apostles. And he then adds: "Let us do evil, that good may come!" (Romans iii. 7, 8). This is a confession which we are asked to believe as having been a direct inspiration from God! It explains, if it does not excuse, the maxim adopted later by the Church that "it is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the Church might be promoted."§ A maxim
applied in its fullest sense by that accomplished professor in forgery, the Armenian Eusebius; or yet, that innocent-looking bible-kaleidoscopist — Irenaeus. And these men were followed by a whole army of pious assassins, who, in the meanwhile, had improved upon the system of deceit, by proclaiming that it was lawful even to kill, when by murder they could enforce the new religion. Theophilus, "that perpetual enemy of peace and virtue," as the famous bishop was called; Cyril, Athanasius, the murderer of Arius, and a host of other canonized "Saints," were all but too worthy successors of Saint Constantine, who drowned his wife in boiling water; butchered his little nephew; murdered, with his own pious hand, two of his brothers-in-law; killed his own son Crispus, bled to death several men and women, and smothered in a well an old monk. However, we are told by Eusebius that this Christian Emperor was rewarded by a vision of Christ himself, bearing his cross, who instructed him to march to other triumphs, inasmuch as he would always protect him!
It is under the shade of the Imperial standard, with its famous sign, "In hoc signo vinces," that "visionary" Christianity, which had crept on since the days of Irenaenus, arrogantly proclaimed its rights in the full blaze of the sun. The Labarum had most probably furnished the model for the true cross, which was "miraculously," and agreeably to the Imperial will, found a few years later. Nothing short of such a remarkable vision, impiously doubted by some severe critics — Dr. Lardner for one — and a fresh miracle to match, could have resulted in the finding of a cross where there had never before been one. Still, we have either to believe the phenomenon or dispute it at the risk of being treated as infidels; and this, notwithstanding that upon a careful computation we would find that the fragments of the "true Cross" had multiplied themselves even more miraculously than the five loaves in the invisible bakery, and the two fishes. In all cases like this, where miracles can be so conveniently called in, there is no room for dull fact. History must step out that fiction may step in.
If the alleged founder of the Christian religion is now, after the lapse of nineteen centuries, preached — more or less unsuccessfully however — in every corner of the globe, we are at liberty to think that the doctrines attributed to him would astonish and dismay him more than any one else. A system of deliberate falsification was adopted from the first. How determined Irenaeus was to crush truth and build up a Church of his own on the mangled remains of the seven primitive churches mentioned in the Revelation, may be inferred from his quarrel with Ptolemaeus. And this is again a case of evidence against which no blind faith can prevail. Ecclesiastical history assures us that Christ's
ministry was but of three years' duration. There is a decided discrepancy on this point between the first three synoptics and the fourth gospel; but it was left for Irenaeus to show to Christian posterity that so early as A.D. 180 — the probable time when this Father wrote his works against heresies — even such pillars of the Church as himself either knew nothing certain about it, or deliberately lied and falsified dates to support their own views. So anxious was the worthy Father to meet every possible objection against his plans, that no falsehood, no sophistry, was too much for him. How are we to understand the following; and who is the falsifier in this case? The argument of Ptolemaeus was that Jesus was too young to have taught anything of much importance; adding that "Christ preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month." In this Ptolemaeus was very little at variance with the gospels. But Irenaeus, carried by his object far beyond the limits of prudence, from a mere discrepancy between one and three years, makes it ten and even twenty years! "Destroying his (Christ's) whole work, and robbing him of that age which is both necessary and more honorable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also, as a teacher, he excelled all others." And then, having no certain data to furnish, he throws himself back on tradition, and claims that Christ had preached for over ten years! (book ii., c. 22, pp. 4, 5). In another place he makes Jesus fifty years old.
But we must proceed in our work of showing the various origins of Christianity, as also the sources from which Jesus derived his own ideas of God and humanity.
The Koinobi lived in Egypt, where Jesus passed his early youth. They were usually confounded with the Therapeutae, who were a branch of this widely-spread society. Such is the opinion of Godfrey Higgins and De Rebold. After the downfall of the principal sanctuaries, which had already begun in the days of Plato, the many different sects, such as the Gymnosophists and the Magi — from whom Clearchus very erroneously derives the former — the Pythagoreans, the Sufis, and the Reshees of Kashmere, instituted a kind of international and universal Freemasonry, among their esoteric societies. "These Rashees," says Higgins, "are the Essenians, Carmelites, or Nazarites of the temple."* "That occult science known by ancient priests under the name of regenerating fire," says Father Rebold, " . . . a science that for more than 3,000 years was the peculiar possession of the Indian and Egyptian priesthood, into the knowledge of which Moses was initiated at Heliopolis, where he was educated; and Jesus among the Essenian priests of Egypt or Judea;
and by which these two great reformers, particularly the latter, wrought many of the miracles mentioned in the Scriptures."*
Plato states that the mystic Magian religion, known under the name of Machagistia, is the most uncorrupted form of worship in things divine. Later, the Mysteries of the Chaldean sanctuaries were added to it by one of the Zoroasters and Darius Hystaspes. The latter completed and perfected it still more with the help of the knowledge obtained by him from the learned ascetics of India, whose rites were identical with those of the initiated Magi.† Ammian, in his history of Julian's Persian expedition, gives the story by stating that one day Hystaspes, as he was boldly penetrating into the unknown regions of Upper India, had come upon a certain wooded solitude, the tranquil recesses of which were "occupied by those exalted sages, the Brachmanes (or Shamans). Instructed by their teaching in the science of the motions of the world and of the heavenly bodies, and in pure religious rites . . . he transfused them into the creed of the Magi. The latter, coupling these doctrines with their own peculiar science of foretelling the future, have handed down the whole through their descendants to succeeding ages."‡ It is from these descendants that the Sufis, chiefly composed of Persians and Syrians, acquired their proficient knowledge in astrology, medicine, and the esoteric doctrine of the ages. "The Sufi doctrine," says C. W. King, "involved the grand idea of one universal creed which could be secretly held under any profession of an outward faith; and, in fact, took virtually the same view of religious systems as that in which the ancient philosophers had regarded such matters."§ The mysterious Druzes of Mount Lebanon are the descendants of all these. Solitary Copts, earnest students scattered hither and thither throughout the sandy solitudes of Egypt, Arabia, Petraea, Palestine, and the impenetrable forests of Abyssinia, though rarely met with, may sometimes be seen. Many and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples of that mysterious school, and many the side-shoots of that
one primitive stock. The secresy preserved by these sub-lodges, as well as by the one and supreme great lodge, has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious persecutions; and now, in the face of the growing materialism, their very existence is becoming a mystery.*
But it must not be inferred, on that account, that such a mysterious brotherhood is but a fiction, not even a name, though it remains unknown to this day. Whether its affiliates are called by an Egyptian, Hindu, or Persian name, it matters not. Persons belonging to one of these sub-brotherhoods have been met by trustworthy, and not unknown persons, besides the present writer, who states a few facts concerning them, by the special permission of one who has a right to give it. In a recent and very valuable work on secret societies, K. R. H. Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, we find the learned author himself, an honorary member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2 (Scotland), and a Mason not likely to be imposed upon, stating the following, under the head, Hermetic Brothers of Egypt:
"An occult fraternity, which has endured from very ancient times, having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs, and passwords, and a peculiar method of instruction in science, religion, and philosophy. . . . If we may believe those who, at the present time, profess to belong to it, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility, and the power of communication directly with the ultramundane life, are parts of the inheritance they possess. The writer has met with only three persons who maintained the actual existence of this body of religious philosophers, and who hinted that they themselves were actually members. There was no reason to doubt the good faith of these individuals — apparently unknown to each other, and men of moderate competence, blameless lives, austere manners, and almost ascetic in their habits.
They all appeared to be men of forty to forty-five years of age, and evidently of vast erudition . . . their knowledge of languages not to be doubted. . . . They never remained long in any one country, but passed away without creating notice."*
Another of such sub-brotherhoods is the sect of the Pitris, in India. Known by name, now that Jacolliot has brought it into public notice, it yet is more arcane, perhaps, than the brotherhood that Mr. Mackenzie names the "Hermetic Brothers." What Jacolliot learned of it, was from fragmentary manuscripts delivered to him by Brahmans, who had their reasons for doing so, we must believe. The Agrouchada Parikshai gives certain details about the association, as it was in days of old, and, when explaining mystic rites and magical incantations, explains nothing at all, so that the mystic L'om, L'Rhum, Sh'hrum, and Sho-rim Ramaya-Namaha, remain, for the mystified writer, as much a puzzle as ever. To do him justice, though, he fully admits the fact, and does not enter upon useless speculations.
Whoever desires to assure himself that there now exists a religion which has baffled, for centuries, the impudent inquisitiveness of missionaries, and the persevering inquiry of science, let him violate, if he can, the seclusion of the Syrian Druzes. He will find them numbering over 80,000 warriors, scattered from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast. They covet no proselytes, shun notoriety, keep friendly — as far as possible — with both Christians and Mahometans, respect the religion of every other sect or people, but will never disclose their own secrets. Vainly do the missionaries stigmatize them as infidels, idolaters, brigands, and thieves. Neither threat, bribe, nor any other consideration will induce a Druze to become a convert to dogmatic Christianity. We have heard of two in fifty years, and both have finished their careers in prison, for drunkenness and theft. They proved to be "real Druzes,"† said one
of their chiefs, in discussing the subject. There never was a case of an initiated Druze becoming a Christian. As to the uninitiated, they are never allowed to even see the sacred writings, and none of them have the remotest idea where these are kept. There are missionaries in Syria who boast of having in their possession a few copies. The volumes alleged to be the correct expositions from these secret books (such as the translation by Petis de la Croix, in 1701, from the works presented by Nasr-Allah to the French king), are nothing more than a compilation of "secrets," known more or less to every inhabitant of the southern ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. They were the work of an apostate Dervish, who was expelled from the sect Hanafi, for improper conduct — the embezzlement of the money of widows and orphans. The Expose de la Religion des Druzes, in two volumes, by Sylvestre de Sacy (1828), is another net-work of hypotheses. A copy of this work was to be found, in 1870, on the window-sill of one of their principal Holowey, or place of religious meeting. To the inquisitive question of an English traveller, as to their rites, the Okhal,* a venerable old man, who spoke English as well as French, opened the volume of de Sacy, and, offering it to his interlocutor, remarked, with a benevolent smile: "Read this instructive and truthful book; I could explain to you neither better nor more correctly the secrets of God and our blessed Hamsa, than it does." The traveller understood the hint.
Mackenzie says they settled at Lebanon about the tenth century, and "seem to be a mixture of Kurds, Mardi-Arabs, and other semi-civilized tribes. Their religion is compounded of Judaism, Christianity, and Mahometanism. They have a regular order of priesthood and a kind of hierarchy . . . there is a regular system of passwords and signs. . . . Twelve month's probation, to which either sex is admitted, preceded initiation."
We quote the above only to show how little even persons as trustworthy as Mr. Mackenzie really know of these mystics.
Mosheim, who knows as much, or we should rather say as little, as any others, is entitled to the merit of candidly admitting that "their religion is peculiar to themselves, and is involved in some mystery." We should say it was — rather!
That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric philosophy is at the bottom of it. But the characteristic dogma of the Druzes is the absolute unity
of God. He is the essence of life, and although incomprehensible and invisible, is to be known through occasional manifestations in human form.* Like the Hindus they hold that he was incarnated more than once on earth. Hamsa was the precursor of the last manifestation to be (the tenth avatar)† not the inheritor of Hakem, who is yet to come. Hamsa was the personification of the "Universal Wisdom." Bohaeddin in his writings calls him Messiah. The whole number of his disciples, or those who at different ages of the world have imparted wisdom to mankind, which the latter as invariably have forgotten and rejected in course of time, is one hundred and sixty-four (164, the kabalistic s d k). Therefore, their stages or degrees of promotion after initiation are five; the first three degrees are typified by the "three feet of the candlestick of the inner Sanctuary, which holds the light of the five elements"; the last two degrees, the most important and terrifying in their solemn grandeur belonging to the highest orders; and the whole five degrees emblematically represent the said five mystic Elements. The "three feet are the holy Application, the Opening, and the Phantom," says one of their books; on man's inner and outer soul, and his body, a phantom, a passing shadow. The body, or matter, is also called the "Rival," for "he is the minister of sin, the Devil ever creating dissensions between the Heavenly Intelligence (spirit) and the soul, which he tempts incessantly." Their ideas on transmigration are Pythagorean and kabalistic. The spirit, or Temeami (the divine soul), was in Elijah and John the Baptist; and the soul of Jesus was that of H'amsa; that is to say, of the same degree of purity and sanctity. Until their resurrection, by which they understand the day when the spiritual bodies of men will be absorbed into God's own essence and being (the Nirvana of the Hindus), the souls of men will keep their astral forms, except the few chosen ones who, from the moment of their separation from their bodies, begin to exist as pure spirits. The life of man they divide into soul, body, and intelligence, or mind. It is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul the divine spark from its H'amsa (Christos).
They have seven great commandments which are imparted equally to all the uninitiated; and yet, even these well-known articles of faith have been so mixed up in the accounts of outside writers, that, in one of the best Cyclopaedias of America (Appleton's), they are garbled after the fashion that may be seen in the comparative tabulation below; the spurious and the true order parallel:
Correct Version of the Command-
Garbled Version Reported by the
ments as Imparted Orally by
Christian Missionaries and
given in Pretended Expositions.†
1. The unity of God, or the infinite oneness of Deity.
1. (2) " 'Truth in words,' meaning in practice, only truth to the religion and to the initiated; it is lawful to act and to speak falsehood to men of another creed."‡
2. The essential excellence of Truth.
2. (7) "Mutual help, watchfulness, and protection."
3. Toleration; right given to all men and women to freely express their opinions on religious matters, and make the latter subservient to reason.
3. (?) "To renounce all other religions."§
4. Respect to all men and women according to their character and conduct.
4. (?) "To be separate from infidels of every kind, not externally but only in heart."||
|5. Entire submission to God's decrees.||
5. (1) "Recognize God's eternal unity."
6. Chastity of body, mind, and soul.
6. (5) "Satisfied with God's acts."
7. Mutual help under all conditions.
7. (5) "Resigned to God's will."
As will be seen, the only expose in the above is that of the great ignorance, perhaps malice, of the writers who, like Sylvestre de Sacy, undertake to enlighten the world upon matters concerning which they know nothing.
"Chastity, honesty, meekness, and mercy," are thus the four theological virtues of all Druzes, besides several others demanded from the initiates: "murder, theft, cruelty, covetousness, slander," the five sins, to which several other sins are added in the sacred tablets, but which we must abstain from giving. The morality of the Druzes is strict and
uncompromising. Nothing can tempt one of these Lebanon Unitarians to go astray from what he is taught to consider his duty. Their ritual being unknown to outsiders, their would-be historians have hitherto denied them one. Their "Thursday meetings" are open to all, but no interloper has ever participated in the rites of initiation which take place occasionally on Fridays in the greatest secresy. Women are admitted to them as well as men, and they play a part of great importance at the initiation of men. The probation, unless some extraordinary exception is made, is long and severe. Once, in a certain period of time, a solemn ceremony takes place, during which all the elders and the initiates of the highest two degrees start out for a pilgrimage of several days to a certain place in the mountains. They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sects as a place of worship during the religious persecutions. The ruins above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentation, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like "a dream of glory," according to the expression of an initiate. As the lamaseries of Mongolia and Thibet are visited upon grand occasions by the holy shadow of "Lord Buddha," so here, during the ceremonial, appears the resplendent ethereal form of Hamsa, the Blessed, which instructs the faithful. The most extraordinary feats of what would be termed magic take place during the several nights that the convocation lasts; and one of the greatest mysteries — faithful copy of the past — is accomplished within the discreet bosom of our mother earth; not an echo, nor the faintest sound, not a glimmer of light betrays without the grand secret of the initiates.
Hamsa, like Jesus, was a mortal man, and yet "Hamsa" and "Christos" are synonymous terms as to their inner and hidden meaning. Both are symbols of the Nous, the divine and higher soul of man — his spirit. The doctrine taught by the Druzes on that particular question of the duality of spiritual man, consisting of one soul mortal, and another immortal, is identical with that of the Gnostics, the older Greek philosophers, and other initiates.
Outside the East we have met one initiate (and only one), who, for some reasons best known to himself, does not make a secret of his initiation into the Brotherhood of Lebanon. It is the learned traveller and artist, Professor A. L. Rawson, of New York City. This gentleman has passed many years in the East, four times visited Palestine, and has trav-
elled to Mecca. It is safe to say that he has a priceless store of facts about the beginnings of the Christian Church, which none but one who had had free access to repositories closed against the ordinary traveller could have collected. Professor Rawson, with the true devotion of a man of science, noted down every important discovery he made in the Palestinian libraries, and every precious fact orally communicated to him by the mystics he encountered, and some day they will see the light. He has most obligingly sent us the following communication, which, as the reader will perceive, fully corroborates what is above written from our personal experience about the strange fraternity incorrectly styled the Druzes:
Before we close the subject we may add that if a stranger ask for admission to a "Thursday" meeting he will never be refused. Only, if he is a Christian, the okhal will open a Bible and read from it; and if a Mahometan, he will hear a few chapters of the Koran, and the ceremony will end with this. They will wait until he is gone, and then, shutting well the doors of their convent, take to their own rites and books, passing for this purpose into their subterranean sanctuaries. "The Druzes remain, even more than the Jews, a peculiar people," says Colonel Churchill,* one of the few fair and strictly impartial writers. "They marry within their own race; they are rarely if ever converted; they adhere tenaciously to their traditions, and they baffle all efforts to discover their cherished secrets. . . . The bad name of that caliph whom they claim as their founder is fairly compensated by the pure lives of many whom they honor as saints, and by the heroism of their feudal leaders."
And yet the Druzes may be said to belong to one of the least esoteric of secret societies. There are others far more powerful and learned, the existence of which is not even suspected in Europe. There are many branches belonging to the great "Mother Lodge" which, mixed up with certain communities, may be termed secret sects within other sects. One of them is the sect commonly known as that of Laghana-Sastra. It reckons several thousand adepts who are scattered about in small groups in the south of the Dekkan, India. In the popular superstition, this sect is dreaded on account of its great reputation for magic and sorcery. The Brahmans accuse its members of atheism and sacrilege, for none of them
will consent to recognize the authority of either the Vedas or Manu, except so far as they conform to the versions in their possession, and which they maintain are professedly the only original texts; the Laghana-Sastra have neither temples nor priests, but, twice a month, every member of the community has to absent himself from home for three days. Popular rumor, originated among their women, ascribes such absences to pilgrimages performed to their places of fortnightly resort. In some secluded mountainous spots, unknown and inaccessible to other sects, hidden far from sight among the luxurious vegetation of India, they keep their bungalows, which look like small fortresses, encircled as they are by lofty and thick walls. These, in their turn, are surrounded by the sacred trees called assonata, and in Tamul arassa maram. These are the "sacred groves," the originals of those of Egypt and Greece, whose initiates also built their temples within such "groves" inaccessible to the profane.*
It will not be found without interest to see what Mr. John Yarker, Jr., has to say on some modern secret societies among the Orientals. "The nearest resemblance to the Brahmanical Mysteries, is probably found in the very ancient 'Paths' of the Dervishes, which are usually governed by twelve officers, the oldest 'Court' superintending the others by right of seniority. Here the master of the 'Court' is called 'Sheik,' and has his deputies, 'Caliphs,' or successors, of which there may be many (as, for instance, in the brevet degree of a Master Mason). The order is divided into at least four columns, pillars, or degrees. The first step is that of 'Humanity,' which supposes attention to the written law, and 'annihilation in the Sheik.' The second is that of the 'Path,' in which the 'Murid,' or disciple, attains spiritual powers and 'self-annihilation' into the 'Peer' or founder of the 'Path.' The third stage is called 'Knowledge,' and the 'Murid' is supposed to become inspired, called 'annihilation into the Prophet.' The fourth stage leads him even to God, when he becomes a part of the Deity and sees Him in all things. The first and second stages have received modern subdivisions, as 'Integrity,' 'Virtue,' 'Temperance,' 'Benevolence.' After this the Sheik confers upon him the grade of 'Caliph,' or Honorary Master, for in their mystical language, 'the man must die before the saint can be born.' It will be seen that this kind of mysticism is applicable to Christ as founder of a 'Path.' "
To this statement, the author adds the following on the Bektash Dervishes, who "often initiated the Janizaries. They wear a small marble cube spotted with blood. Their ceremony is as follows: Before reception a year's probation is required, during which false secrets are
given to test the candidate; he has two godfathers and is divested of all metals and even clothing; from the wool of a sheep a cord is made for his neck, and a girdle for his loins; he is led into the centre of a square room, presented as a slave, and seated upon a large stone with twelve escallops; his arms are crossed upon his breast, his body inclined forward, his right toes extended over his left foot; after various prayers he is placed in a particular manner, with his hand in a peculiar way in that of the Sheik, who repeats a verse from the Koran: 'Those who on giving thee their hand swear to thee an oath, swear it to God, the hand of God is placed in their hand; whoever violates this oath, will do so to his hurt, and to whoever remains faithful God will give a magnificent reward.' Placing the hand below the chin is their sign, perhaps in memory of their vow. All use the double triangles. The Brahmans inscribe the angles with their trinity, and they possess also the Masonic sign of distress as used in France."*
From the very day when the first mystic found the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible host, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, he concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the profanation of the rabble was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with explosive batteries, and furnishing them with matches. The first self-made adept initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes. He recognized his God and felt the great Being within himself. The "Atman," the Self,† the
mighty Lord and Protector, once that man knew him as the "I am," the "Ego Sum," the "Ahmi," showed his full power to him who could recognize the "still small voice." From the days of the primitive man described by the first Vedic poet, down to our modern age, there has not been a philosopher worthy of that name, who did not carry in the silent sanctuary of his heart the grand and mysterious truth. If initiated, he learnt it as a sacred science; if otherwise, then, like Socrates repeating to himself, as well as to his fellow-men, the noble injunction, "O man, know thyself," he succeeded in recognizing his God within himself. "Ye are gods," the king-psalmist tells us, and we find Jesus reminding the scribes that the expression, "Ye are gods," was addressed to other mortal men, claiming for himself the same privilege without any blasphemy.* And, as a faithful echo, Paul, while asserting that we are all "the temple of the living God,"† cautiously adds, that after all these things are only for the "wise," and it is "unlawful" to speak of them.
Therefore, we must accept the reminder, and simply remark that even in the tortured and barbarous phraseology of the Codex Nazaraeus, we detect throughout the same idea. Like an undercurrent, rapid and clear, it runs without mixing its crystalline purity with the muddy and heavy waves of dogmatism. We find it in the Codex, as well as in the Vedas, in the Avesta, as in the Abhidharma, and in Kapila's Sankhya Sutras not less than in the Fourth Gospel. We cannot attain the "Kingdom of Heaven," unless we unite ourselves indissolubly with our Rex Lucis, the Lord of Splendor and of Light, our Immortal God. We must first conquer immortality and "take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence," offered to our material selves. "The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is from heaven. . . . Behold, I show you a mystery," says Paul (1 Corinthians, xv. 47). In the religion of Sakya-Muni, which learned commentators have delighted so much of late to set down as purely nihilistic, the doctrine of immortality is very clearly defined, notwithstanding the European or rather Christian ideas about Nirvana. In the sacred Jaina books, of Patuna, the dying Gautama-
Buddha is thus addressed: "Arise into Nirvi (Nirvana) from this decrepit body into which thou hast been sent. Ascend into thy former abode, O blessed Avatar!" This seems to us the very opposite of Nihilism. If Gautama is invited to reascend into his "former abode," and this abode is Nirvana, then it is incontestable that Buddhistic philosophy does not teach final annihilation. As Jesus is alleged to have appeared to his disciples after death, so to the present day is Gautama believed to descend from Nirvana. And if he has an existence there, then this state cannot be a synonym for annihilation.
Gautama, no less than all other great reformers, had a doctrine for his "elect" and another for the outside masses, though the main object of his reform consisted in initiating all, so far as it was permissible and prudent to do, without distinction of castes or wealth, to the great truths hitherto kept so secret by the selfish Brahmanical class. Gautama-Buddha it was whom we see the first in the world's history, moved by that generous feeling which locks the whole humanity within one embrace, inviting the "poor," the "lame," and the "blind" to the King's festival table, from which he excluded those who had hitherto sat alone, in haughty seclusion. It was he, who, with a bold hand, first opened the door of the sanctuary to the pariah, the fallen one, and all those "afflicted by men" clothed in gold and purple, often far less worthy than the outcast to whom their finger was scornfully pointing. All this did Siddhartha six centuries before another reformer, as noble and as loving, though less favored by opportunity, in another land. If both, aware of the great danger of furnishing an uncultivated populace with the double-edged weapon of knowledge which gives power, left the innermost corner of the sanctuary in the profoundest shade, who, that is acquainted with human nature, can blame them for it? But while one was actuated by prudence, the other was forced into such a course. Gautama left the esoteric and most dangerous portion of the "secret knowledge" untouched, and lived to the ripe old age of eighty, with the certainty of having taught the essential truths, and having converted to them one-third of the world; Jesus promised his disciples the knowledge which confers upon man the power of producing far greater miracles than he ever did himself, and he died, leaving but a few faithful men, only half way to knowledge, to struggle with the world to which they could impart but what they half-knew themselves. Later, their followers disfigured truth still more than they themselves had done.
It is not true that Gautama never taught anything concerning a future life, or that he denied the immortality of the soul. Ask any intelligent Buddhist his ideas on Nirvana, and he will unquestionably express himself, as the well-known Wong-Chin-Fu, the Chinese orator, now
travelling in this country, did in a recent conversation with us about Niepang (Nirvana). "This condition," he remarked, "we all understand to mean a final reunion with God, coincident with the perfection of the human spirit by its ultimate disembarrassment of matter. It is the very opposite of personal annihilation."
Nirvana means the certitude of personal immortality in Spirit, not in Soul, which, as a finite emanation, must certainly disintegrate its particles a compound of human sensations, passions, and yearning for some objective kind of existence, before the immortal spirit of the Ego is quite freed, and henceforth secure against further transmigration in any form. And how can man ever reach this state so long as the Upadana, that state of longing for life, more life, does not disappear from the sentient being, from the Ahancara clothed, however, in a sublimated body? It is the "Upadana" or the intense desire which produces will, and it is will which develops force, and the latter generates matter, or an object having form. Thus the disembodied Ego, through this sole undying desire in him, unconsciously furnishes the conditions of his successive self-procreations in various forms, which depend on his mental state and Karma, the good or bad deeds of his preceding existence, commonly called "merit and demerit." This is why the "Master" recommended to his mendicants the cultivation of the four degrees of Dhyana, the noble "Path of the Four Truths," i.e., that gradual acquirement of stoical indifference for either life or death; that state of spiritual self-contemplation during which man utterly loses sight of his physical and dual individuality, composed of soul and body; and uniting himself with his third and higher immortal self the real and heavenly man merges, so to say, into the divine Essence, whence his own spirit proceeded like a spark from the common hearth. Thus the Arhat, the holy mendicant, can reach Nirvana while yet on earth; and his spirit, totally freed from the trammels of the "psychical, terrestrial, devilish wisdom," as James calls it, and being in its own nature omniscient and omnipotent, can on earth, through the sole power of his thought, produce the greatest of phenomena.
"It is the missionaries in China and India, who first started this falsehood about Niepang, or Niepana (Nirvana)," says Wong-Chin-Fu. Who can deny the truth of this accusation after reading the works of the Abbe Dubois, for instance? A missionary who passes forty years of his life in India, and then writes that the "Buddhists admit of no other God but the body of man, and have no other object but the satisfaction of their senses," utters an untruth which can be proved on the testimony of the laws of the Talapoins of Siam and Birmah; laws, which prevail unto this very day and which sentence a sahan, or punghi (a learned man; from the Sanscrit pundit), as well as a simple Talapoin, to death by
decapitation, for the crime of unchastity. No foreigner can be admitted into their Kyums, or Viharas (monasteries); and yet there are French writers, otherwise impartial and fair, who, speaking of the great severity of the rules to which the Buddhist monks are subjected in these communities, and without possessing one single fact to corroborate their skepticism, bluntly say, that "notwithstanding the great laudations bestowed upon them (Talapoins) by certain travellers, merely on the strength of appearances, I do not believe at all in their chastity."*
Fortunately for the Buddhist talapoins, lamas, sahans, upasampadas,† and even samenairas,‡ they have popular records and facts for themselves, which are weightier than the unsupported personal opinion of a Frenchman, born in Catholic lands, whom we can hardly blame for having lost all faith in clerical virtue. When a Buddhist monk becomes guilty (which does not happen once in a century, perhaps) of criminal conversation, he has neither a congregation of tender-hearted members, whom he can move to tears by an eloquent confession of his guilt, nor a Jesus, on whose overburdened, long-suffering bosom are flung, as in a common Christian dust-box, all the impurities of the race. No Buddhist transgressor can comfort himself with visions of a Vatican, within whose sin-encompassing walls black is turned into white, murderers into sinless saints, and golden or silvery lotions can be bought at the confessional to cleanse the tardy penitent of greater or lesser offenses against God and man.
Except a few impartial archaeologists, who trace a direct Buddhistic element in Gnosticism, as in all those early short-lived sects we know of very few authors, who, in writing upon primitive Christianity, have accorded to the question its due importance. Have we not facts enough to, at least, suggest some interest in that direction? Do we not learn that, as early as in the days of Plato, there were "Brachmans" — read Buddhist, Samaneans, Saman, or Shaman missionaries — in Greece, and that, at one time, they had overflowed the country? Does not Pliny show them established on the shores of the Dead Sea, for "thousands of ages"? After making every necessary allowance for the exaggeration, we still have several centuries B.C. left as a margin. And is it possible that their influence should not have left deeper traces in all these sects than is generally thought? We know that the Jaina sect claims Buddhism as derived from its tenets — that Buddhism existed before Siddhartha, better known as Gautama-Buddha. The Hindu Brahmans who, by the
European Orientalists, are denied the right of knowing anything about their own country, or understanding their own language and records better than those who have never been in India, on the same principle as the Jews are forbidden, by the Christian theologians, to interpret their own Scriptures — the Brahmans, we say, have authentic records. And these show the incarnation from the Virgin Avany of the first Buddha — divine light — as having taken place more than some thousands of years B.C., on the island of Ceylon. The Brahmans reject the claim that it was an avatar of Vishnu, but admit the appearance of a reformer of Brahmanism at that time. The story of the Virgin Avany and her divine son, Sakyamuni, is recorded in one of the sacred books of the Cinghalese Buddhists — the Nirdhasa; and the Brahmanic chronology fixes the great Buddhistic revolution and religious war, and the subsequent spread of Sakya-muni's doctrine in Thibet, China, Japan, and other places at 4,620 years B.C.*
It is clear that Gautama-Buddha, the son of the King of Kapilavastu, and the descendant of the first Sakya, through his father, who was of the Kshatriya, or warrior-caste, did not invent his philosophy. Philanthropist by nature, his ideas were developed and matured while under the tuition of Tir-thankara, the famous guru of the Jaina sect. The latter claim the present Buddhism as a diverging branch of their own philosophy, and themselves, as the only followers of the first Buddha who were allowed to remain in India, after the expulsion of all other Buddhists, probably because they had made a compromise, and admitted some of the Brahmanic notions. It is, to say the least, curious, that three dissenting and inimical religions, like Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Jainism, should agree so perfectly in their traditions and chronology, as to Buddhism, and that our scientists should give a hearing but to their own unwarranted speculations and hypotheses. If the birth of Gautama may, with some show of reason, be placed at about 600 B. C., then the preceding Buddhas ought to have some place allowed them in chronology. The Buddhas are not gods, but simply individuals overshadowed by the spirit of Buddha — the divine ray. Or is it because, unable to extricate themselves from the difficulty by the help of their own researches only, our Orientalists prefer to obliterate and deny the whole, rather than accord to the Hindus the right of knowing something of their own religion and history? Strange way of discovering truths!
The common argument adduced against the Jaina claim, of having been the source of the restoration of ancient Buddhism, that the principal
tenet of the latter religion is opposed to the belief of the Jainas, is not a sound one. Buddhists, say our Orientalists, deny the existence of a Supreme Being; the Jainas admit one, but protest against the assumption that the "He" can ever interfere in the regulation of the universe. We have shown in the preceding chapter that the Buddhists do not deny any such thing. But if any disinterested scholar could study carefully the Jaina literature, in their thousands of books preserved — or shall we say hidden — in Rajpootana, Jusselmere, at Patun, and other places;* and especially if he could but gain access to the oldest of their sacred volumes, he would find a perfect identity of philosophical thought, if not of popular rites, between the Jainas and the Buddhists. The Adi-Buddha and Adinatha (or Adiswara) are identical in essence and purpose. And now, if we trace the Jainas back, with their claims to the ownership of the oldest cave-temples (those superb specimens of Indian architecture and sculpture), and their records of an almost incredible antiquity, we can hardly refuse to view them in the light which they claim for themselves. We must admit, that in all probability they are the only true descendants of the primitive owners of old India, dispossessed by those conquering and mysterious hordes of white-skinned Brahmans whom, in the twilight of history, we see appearing at the first as wanderers in the valleys of Jumna and Ganges. The books of the Srawacs — the only descendants of the Arhatas or earliest Jainas, the naked forest-hermits of the days of old, might throw some light, perhaps, on many a puzzling question. But will our European scholars, so long as they pursue their own policy, ever have access to the right volumes? We have our doubts about this. Ask any trustworthy Hindu how the missionaries have dealt with those manuscripts which unluckily fell into their hands, and then see if we can blame the natives for trying to save from desecration the "gods of their fathers."
To maintain their ground Irenaeus and his school had to fight hard with the Gnostics. Such, also, was the lot of Eusebius, who found himself hopelessly perplexed to know how the Essenes should be disposed of. The ways and customs of Jesus and his apostles exhibited too close a resemblance to this sect to allow the fact to pass unexplained. Eusebius tried to make people believe that the Essenes were the first Christians. His efforts were thwarted by Philo Judaeus, who wrote his historical account of the Essenes and described them with the minutest care, long before there had appeared a single Christian in Palestine. But, if there were no Christians, there were Christians long before the era of Christianity; and the Essenes belonged to the latter as well as to all other initi-
ated brotherhoods, without even mentioning the Christnites of India. Lepsius shows that the word Nofre means Chrestos, "good," and that one of the titles of Osiris, "Onnofre," must be translated "the goodness of God made manifest."* "The worship of Christ was not universal at this early date," explains Mackenzie, "by which I mean that Christolatry had not been introduced; but the worship of Chrestos — the Good Principle — had preceded it by many centuries, and even survived the general adoption of Christianity, as shown on monuments still in existence. . . . Again, we have an inscription which is pre-Christian on an epitaphial tablet (Spon. Misc. Erud., Ant., x. xviii. 2). [[Uachinthe Larisaion Demosie Eros Chreste Chaire]], and de Rossi (Roma Sotteranea, tome i. tav. xxi.) gives us another example from the catacombs — 'AElia Chreste, in Pace.' "† And, Kris, as Jacolliot shows, means in Sanscrit "sacred."
The meritorious stratagems of the trustworthy Eusebius thus proved lost labor. He was triumphantly detected by Basnage, who, says Gibbon, "examined with the utmost critical accuracy the curious treatise of Philo, which describes the Therapeutae," and found that "by proving it was composed as early as the time of Augustus, he has demonstrated, in spite of Eusebius and a crowd of modern Catholics, that the Therapeutae were neither Christians nor monks."
As a last word, the Christian Gnostics sprang into existence toward the beginning of the second century, and just at the time when the Essenes most mysteriously faded away, which indicated that they were the identical Essenes, and moreover pure Christists, viz.: they believed and were those who best understood what one of their own brethren had preached. In insisting that the letter Iota, mentioned by Jesus in Matthew (v. 18), indicated a secret doctrine in relation to the ten aeons, it is sufficient to demonstrate to a kabalist that Jesus belonged to the Free-masonry of those days; for I, which is Iota in Greek, has other names in other languages; and is, as it was among the Gnostics of those days, a pass-word, meaning the Sceptre of the Father, in Eastern brotherhoods which exist to this very day.
But in the early centuries these facts, if known, were purposely ignored, and not only withheld from public notice as much as possible, but vehemently denied whenever the question was forced upon discussion. The denunciations of the Fathers were rendered bitter in proportion to the truth of the claim which they endeavored to refute.
"It comes to this," writes Irenaeus, complaining of the Gnostics,
"they neither consent to Scripture nor tradition."* And why should we wonder at that, when even the commentators of the nineteenth century, with nothing but fragments of the Gnostic manuscripts to compare with the voluminous writings of their calumniators, have been enabled to detect fraud on nearly every page? How much more must the polished and learned Gnostics, with all their advantages of personal observation and knowledge of fact, have realized the stupendous scheme of fraud that was being consummated before their very eyes! Why should they accuse Celsus of maintaining that their religion was all based on the speculations of Plato, with the difference that his doctrines were far more pure and rational than theirs, when we find Sprengel, seventeen centuries later, writing the following? — "Not only did they (the Christians) think to discover the dogmas of Plato in the books of Moses, but, moreover, they fancied that, by introducing Platonism into Christianity, they would elevate the dignity of this religion and make it more popular among the nations."†
They introduced it so well, that not only was the Platonic philosophy selected as a basis for the trinity, but even the legends and mythical stories which had been current among the admirers of the great philosopher — as a time-honored custom required in the eyes of his posterity such an allegorical homage to every hero worthy of deification — were revamped and used by the Christians. Without going so far as India, did they not have a ready model for the "miraculous conception," in the legend about Periktione, Plato's mother? In her case it was also maintained by popular tradition that she had immaculately conceived him, and that the god Apollo was his father. Even the annunciation by an angel to Joseph "in a dream," the Christians copied from the message of Apollo to Ariston, Periktione's husband, that the child to be born from her was the offspring of that god. So, too, Romulus was said to be the son of Mars, by the virgin Rhea Sylvia.
It is generally held by all the symbolical writers that the Ophites were found guilty of practicing the most licentious rites during their religious meetings. The same accusation was brought against the Manichaeans, the Carpocratians, the Paulicians, the Albigenses — in short, against every Gnostic sect which had the temerity to claim the right to think for itself. In our modern days, the 160 American sects and the 125 sects of England are not so often troubled with such accusations; times are changed, and even the once all-powerful clergy have to either bridle their tongues or prove their slanderous accusations.
We have carefully looked over the works of such authors as Payne
Knight, C. W. King, and Olshausen, which treat of our subject; we have reviewed the bulky volumes of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Sozomen, Theodoret; and in none but those of Epiphanius have we found any accusation based upon direct evidence of an eye-witness. "They say"; "Some say"; "We have heard" — such are the general and indefinite terms used by the patristic accusers. Alone Epiphanius, whose works are invariably referred to in all such cases, seems to chuckle with delight whenever he couches a lance. We do not mean to take upon ourselves to defend the sects which inundated Europe at the eleventh century, and which brought to light the most wonderful creeds; we limit our defense merely to those Christian sects whose theories were usually grouped under the generic name of Gnosticism. These are those which appeared immediately after the alleged crucifixion, and lasted till they were nearly exterminated under the rigorous execution of the Constantinian law. The greatest guilt of these were their syncretistic views, for at no other period of the world's history had truth a poorer prospect of triumph than in those days of forgery, lying, and deliberate falsification of facts.
But before we are forced to believe the accusations, may we not be permitted to inquire into the historical characters of their accusers? Let us begin by asking, upon what ground does the Church of Rome build her claim of supremacy for her doctrines over those of the Gnostics? Apostolic succession, undoubtedly. The succession traditionally instituted by the direct Apostle Peter. But what if this prove a fiction? Clearly, the whole superstructure supported upon this one imaginary stilt would fall in a tremendous crash. And when we do inquire carefully, we find that we must take the word of Irenaeus alone for it — of Irenaeus, who did not furnish one single valid proof of the claim which he so audaciously advanced, and who resorted for that to endless forgeries. He gives authority neither for his dates nor his assertions. This Smyrniote worthy has not even the brutal but sincere faith of Tertullian, for he contradicts himself at every step, and supports his claims solely on acute sophistry. Though he was undoubtedly a man of the shrewdest intellect and great learning, he fears not, in some of his assertions and arguments, to even appear an idiot in the eyes of posterity, so long as he can "carry the situation." Twitted and cornered at every step by his not less acute and learned adversaries, the Gnostics, he boldly shields himself behind blind faith, and in answer to their merciless logic falls upon imaginary tradition invented by himself. Reber wittily remarks: "As we read his misapplications of words and sentences, we would conclude that he was a lunatic if we did not know that he was something else."*
So boldly mendacious does this "holy Father" prove himself in many instances, that he is even contradicted by Eusebius, more cautious if not more truthful than himself. He is driven to that necessity in the face of unimpeachable evidence. So, for instance, Irenaeus asserts that Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, was a direct hearer of St. John;* and Eusebius is compelled to show that Papias never pretended to such a claim, but simply stated that he had received his doctrine from those who had known John.†
In one point, the Gnostics had the best of Irenaeus. They drove him, through mere fear of inconsistency, to the recognition of their kabalistic doctrine of atonement; unable to grasp it in its allegorical meaning, Irenaeus presented, with Christian theology as we find it in its present state of "original sin versus Adam," a doctrine which would have filled Peter with pious horror if he had been still alive.
The next champion for the propagation of Apostolic Succession, is Eusebius himself. Is the word of this Armenian Father any better than that of Irenaeus? Let us see what the most competent critics say of him. And before we turn to modern critics at all, we might remind the reader of the scurrilous terms in which Eusebius is attacked by George Syncellus, the Vice-Patriarch of Constantinople (eighth century), for his audacious falsification of the Egyptian Chronology. The opinion of Socrates, an historian of the fifth century, is no more flattering. He fearlessly charges Eusebius with perverting historical dates, in order to please the Emperor Constantine. In his chronographic work, before proceeding to falsify the synchronistic tables himself, in order to impart to Scriptural chronology a more trustworthy appearance, Syncellus covers Eusebius with the choicest of monkish Billingsgate. Baron Bunsen has verified the justness if not justified the politeness of this abusive reprehension. His elaborate researches in the rectification of the Egyptian List of Chronology, by Manetho, led him to confess that throughout his work, the Bishop of Caesarea "had undertaken, in a very unscrupulous andarbitrary spirit, to mutilate history." "Eusebius," he says, "is the originator of that systematic theory of synchronisms which has so often subsequently maimed and mutilated history in its procrustean bed."‡ To this the author of the Intellectual Development of Europe adds: "Among those who have been the most guilty of this offense, the name of the celebrated Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea . . . should be designated!"§
It will not be amiss to remind the reader that it is the same Eusebius who is charged with the interpolation of the famous paragraph concerning
Jesus,* which was so miraculously found, in his time, in the writings of Josephus, the sentence in question having till that time remained perfectly unknown. Renan, in his Life of Jesus, expresses a contrary opinion. "I believe," says he, "the passage respecting Jesus to be authentic. It is perfectly in the style of Josephus; and, if this historian had made mention of Jesus, it is thus that he must have spoken of him."
Begging this eminent scholar's pardon, we must again contradict him. Laying aside his cautious "if," we will merely show that though the short paragraph may possibly be genuine, and "perfectly in the style of Josephus," its several parentheses are most palpably later forgeries; and "if" Josephus had made any mention of Christ at all, it is not thus that he would "have spoken of him." The whole paragraph consists of but a few lines, and reads: "At this time was Iasous, a 'wise man,'† if, at least, it is right to call him a man! ([[andra]]) for he was a doer of surprising works, and a teacher of such men as receive 'the truths' with pleasure. . . . This was the Anointed (!!). And, on an accusation by the first men among us, having been condemned by Pilate to the cross, they did not stop loving him who loved them. For he appeared to them on the third day alive, and the divine prophets having said these and many other wonderful things concerning him."
This paragraph (of sixteen lines in the original) has two unequivocal assertions and one qualification. The latter is expressed in the following sentence: "If, at least, it is right to call him a man." The unequivocal assertions are contained in "This is the Anointed," and in that Jesus "appeared to them on the third day alive." History shows us Josephus as a thorough, uncompromising, stiff-necked, orthodox Jew, though he wrote for "the Pagans." It is well to observe the false position in which these sentences would have placed a true-born Jew, if they had really emanated from him. Their "Messiah" was then and is still expected. The Messiah is the Anointed, and vice versa. And Josephus is made to admit that the "first men" among them have accused and crucified their Messiah and Anointed!! No need to comment any further upon such a preposterous incongruity,‡ even though supported by so ripe a scholar as Renan.
As to that patristic fire-brand, Tertullian, whom des Mousseaux apotheosizes in company with his other demi-gods, he is regarded by Reuss, Baur, and Schweigler, in quite a different light. The untrustworthiness of statement and inaccuracy of Tertullian, says the author
of Supernatural Religion, are often apparent. Reuss characterizes his Christianism as "apre, insolent, brutal, ferrailleur."It is without unction and without charity, sometimes even without loyalty, when he finds himself confronted with opposition. "If," remarks this author, "in the second century all parties except certain Gnostics were intolerant, Tertullian was the most intolerant of all!"
The work begun by the early Fathers was achieved by the sophomorical Augustine. His supra-transcendental speculations on the Trinity; his imaginary dialogues with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the disclosures and covert allusions about his ex-brethren, the Manicheans, have led the world to load Gnosticism with opprobrium, and have thrown into a deep shadow the insulted majesty of the one God, worshipped in reverential silence by every "heathen."
And thus is it that the whole pyramid of Roman Catholic dogmas rests not upon Proof, but upon assumption. The Gnostics had cornered the Fathers too cleverly, and the only salvation of the latter was a resort to forgery. For nearly four centuries, the great historians nearly cotemporary with Jesus had not taken the slightest notice either of his life or death. Christians wondered at such an unaccountable omission of what the Church considered the greatest events in the world's history. Eusebius saved the battle of the day. Such are the men who have slandered the Gnostics.
The first and most unimportant sect we hear of is that of the Nicolaitans, of whom John, in the Apocalypse, makes the voice in his vision say that he hates their doctrine.* These Nicolaitans were the followers, however, of Nicolas of Antioch, one of the "seven" chosen by the "twelve" to make distribution from the common fund to the proselytes at Jerusalem (Acts ii. 44, 45, vi. 1-5), hardly more than a few weeks, or perhaps months, after the Crucifixion;† and a man "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom"(verse 3). Thus it would appear that the "Holy Ghost and wisdom" from on high, were no more a shield against the accusation of "haeresy" than though they had never overshadowed the "chosen ones" of the apostles.
It would be but too easy to detect what kind of heresy it was that offended, even had we not other and more authentic sources of information in the kabalistic writings. The accusation and the precise nature of the "abomination" are stated in the second chapter of the book of Revelation, verses 14, 15. The sin was merely — marriage. John was a
"virgin"; several of the Fathers assert the fact on the authority of tradition. Even Paul, the most liberal and high-minded of them all, finds it difficult to reconcile the position of a married man with that of a faithful servant of God. There is also "a difference between a wife and a virgin."* The latter cares "for the things of the Lord," and the former only for "how she may please her husband." "If any man think that he behaveth uncomely towards his virgin . . . let them marry. Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, and hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed . . . that he will keep his virgin, doeth well." So that he who marries "doeth well . . . but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better." "Art thou loosed from a wife?" he asks, "seek not a wife" (27). And remarking that according to his judgment, both will be happier if they do not marry, he adds, as a weighty conclusion: "And I think also that I have the spirit of God" (40). Far from this spirit of tolerance are the words of John. According to his vision there are "but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth," and "these are they which were not defiled with women; for they were virgins."† This seems conclusive; for except Paul there is not one of these primitive Nazari, there "set apart" and vowed to God, who seemed to make a great difference between "sin" within the relationship of legal marriage, and the "abomination" of adultery.
With such views and such narrow-mindedness, it was but natural that these fanatics should have begun by casting this iniquity as a slur in the faces of brethren, and then "bearing on progressively" with their accusations. As we have already shown, it is only Epiphanius whom we find giving such minute details as to the Masonic "grips" and other signs of recognition among the Gnostics. He had once belonged to their number, and therefore it was easy for him to furnish particulars. Only how far the worthy Bishop is to be relied upon is a very grave question. One need fathom human nature but very superficially to find that there seldom was yet a traitor, a renegade, who, in a moment of danger turned "State's evidence," who would not lie as remorselessly as he betrayed. Men never forgive or relent toward those whom they injure. We hate our victims in proportion to the harm we do them. This is a truth as old as the world. On the other hand, it is preposterous to believe that such persons as the Gnostics, who, according to Gibbon, were the wealthiest, proudest, most polite, as well as the most learned "of the Christian name," were guilty of the disgusting, libidinous actions of which Epiphanius delights to accuse them. Were they even like that "set of tatterde-
malions, almost naked, with fierce looks," that Lucian describes as Paul's followers,* we would hesitate to believe such an infamous story. How much less probable then that men who were Platonists, as well as Christians, should have ever been guilty of such preposterous rites.
Payne Knight seems never to suspect the testimony of Epiphanius. He argues that "if we make allowance for the willing exaggerations of religious hatred, and consequent popular prejudice, the general conviction that these sectarians had rites and practices of a licentious character appears too strong to be entirely disregarded." If he draws an honest line of demarcation between the Gnostics of the first three centuries and those mediaeval sects whose doctrines "rather closely resembled modern communism," we have nothing to say. Only, we would beg every critic to remember that if the Templars were accused of that most "abominable crime" of applying the "holy kiss" to the root of Baphomet's tail,† St. Augustine is also suspected, and on very good grounds, too, of having allowed his community to go somewhat astray from the primitive way of administering the "holy kiss" at the feast of the Eucharist. The holy Bishop seems quite too anxious as to certain details of the ladies' toilet for the "kiss" to be of a strictly orthodox nature.‡ Wherever there lurks a true and sincere religious feeling, there is no room for worldly details.
Considering the extraordinary dislike exhibited from the first by Christians to all manner of cleanliness, we cannot enough wonder at such a strange solicitude on the part of the holy Bishop for his female parishioners, unless, indeed, we have to excuse it on the ground of a lingering reminiscence of Manichean rites!
It would be hard, indeed, to blame any writer for entertaining such suspicions of immorality as those above noticed, when the records of many historians are at hand to help us to make an impartial investigation. "Haeretics" are accused of crimes in which the Church has more or less openly indulged even down to the beginning of our century. In 1233 Pope Gregory ix. issued two bulls against the Stedingers "for various heathen and magical practices,"§ and the latter, as a matter of course, were exterminated in the name of Christ and his Holy Mother. In 1282 a parish priest of Inverkeithing, named John, performed rites on Easter day by far worse than "magical." Collecting a crowd of young girls, he forced them to enter into "divine ecstasies" and Bacchanalian fury, danc-
ing the old Amazonian circle-dance around the figure of the heathen "god of the gardens." Notwithstanding that upon the complaint of some of his parishioners he was cited before his bishop, he retained his benefice because he proved that such was the common usage of the country.* The Waldenses, those "earliest Protestants," were accused of the most unnatural horrors; burned, butchered, and exterminated for calumnies heaped upon them by their accusers. Meanwhile the latter, in open triumph, forming their heathen processions of "Corpus Christi," with emblems modelled on those of Baal-Peor and "Osiris," and every city in Southern France carrying, in yearly processions on Easter days, loaves and cakes fashioned like the so-much-decried emblems of the Hindu Sivites and Vishnites, as late as 1825!†
Deprived of their old means for slandering Christian sects whose religious views differ from their own, it is now the turn of the "heathen," Hindus, Chinese, and Japanese, to share with the ancient religions the honor of having cast in their teeth denunciations of their "libidinous religions."
Without going far for proofs of equal if not surpassing immorality, we would remind Roman Catholic writers of certain bas-reliefs on the doors of St. Peter's Cathedral. They are as brazen-faced as the door itself; but less so than any author, who, knowing all this, feigns to ignore historical facts. A long succession of Popes have reposed their pastoral eyes upon these brazen pictures of the vilest obscenity, through those many centuries, without ever finding the slightest necessity for removing them. Quite the contrary; for we might name certain Popes and Cardinals who made it a life-long study to copy these heathen suggestions of "nature-gods," in practice as well as in theory.
In Polish Podolia there was some years ago, in a Roman Catholic Church, a statue of Christ, in black marble. It was reputed to perform miracles on certain days, such as having its hair and beard grow in the sight of the public, and indulging in other less innocent wonders. This show was finally prohibited by the Russian Government. When in 1585 the Protestants took Embrun (Department of the Upper Alps), they found in the churches of this town relics of such a character, that, as the Chronicle expresses it "old Huguenot soldiers were seen to blush, several weeks after, at the bare mention of the discovery." In a corner of the Church of St. Fiacre, near Monceaux, in France, there was — and it still is there, if we mistake not — a seat called "the chair of St. Fiacre,"
which had the reputation of conferring fecundity upon barren women. A rock in the vicinity of Athens, not far from the so-called "Tomb of Socrates," is said to be possessed of the same virtue. When, some twenty years since, the Queen Amelia, perhaps in a merry moment, was said to have tried the experiment, there was no end of most insulting abuse heaped upon her, by a Catholic Padre, on his way through Syra to some mission. The Queen, he declared, was a "superstitious heretic!" "an abominable witch!" "Jezebel using magic arts." Much more the zealous missionary would doubtless have added, had he not found himself, right in the middle of his vituperations, landed in a pool of mud, outside the window. The virtuous elocutionist was forced to this unusual transit by the strong arm of a Greek officer, who happened to enter the room at the right moment.
There never was a great religious reform that was not pure at the beginning. The first followers of Buddha, as well as the disciples of Jesus, were all men of the highest morality. The aversion felt by the reformers of all ages to vice under any shape, is proved in the cases of Sakya-muni, Pythagoras, Plato, Jesus, St. Paul, Ammonius Sakkas. The great Gnostic leaders — if less successful — were not less virtuous in practice nor less morally pure. Marcion, Basilides,* Valentinus, were renowned for their ascetic lives. The Nicolaitans, who, if they did not belong to the great body of the Ophites, were numbered among the small sects which were absorbed in it at the beginning of the second century, owe their origin, as we have shown, to Nicolas of Antioch, "a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." How absurd the idea that such men would have instituted "libidinous rites." As well accuse Jesus of having promoted the similar rites which we find practiced so extensively by the mediaeval orthodox Christians behind the secure shelter of monastic walls.
If, however, we are asked to credit such an accusation against the Gnostics, an accusation transferred with tenfold acrimony, centuries later, to the unfortunate heads of the Templars, why should we not believe the same of the orthodox Christians? Minucius Felix states that "the first Christians were accused by the world of inducing, during the ceremony of the "Perfect Passover," each neophyte, on his admission, to plunge a knife into an infant concealed under a heap of flour; the body then serving for a banquet to the whole congregation. After they had become the dominant party, they (the Christians) transferred this charge to their own dissenters."†
The real crime of heterodoxy is plainly stated by John in his Epistles and Gospel. "He that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh . . . is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 Epistle 7). In his previous Epistle, he teaches his flock that there are two trinities (7, 8) — in short, the Nazarene system.
The inference to be drawn from all this is, that the made-up and dogmatic Christianity of the Constantinian period is simply an offspring of the numerous conflicting sects, half-castes themselves, born of Pagan parents. Each of these could claim representatives converted to the so-called orthodox body of Christians. And, as every newly-born dogma had to be carried out by the majority of votes, every sect colored the main substance with its own hue, till the moment when the emperor enforced this revealed olla-podrida, of which he evidently did not himself understand a word, upon an unwilling world as the religion of Christ. Wearied in the vain attempt to sound this fathomless bog of international speculations, unable to appreciate a religion based on the pure spirituality of an ideal conception, Christendom gave itself up to the adoration of brutal force as represented by a Church backed up by Constantine. Since then, among the thousand rites, dogmas, and ceremonies copied from Paganism, the Church can claim but one invention as thoroughly original with her — namely, the doctrine of eternal damnation, and one custom, that of the anathema. The Pagans rejected both with horror. "An execration is a fearful and grievous thing," says Plutarch. "Wherefore, the priestess at Athens was commended for refusing to curse Alkibiades (for desecration of the Mysteries) when the people required her to do it; for, she said, that she was a priestess of prayers and not of curses."*
"Deep researches would show," says Renan, "that nearly everything in Christianity is mere baggage brought from the Pagan Mysteries. The primitive Christian worship is nothing but a mystery. The whole interior police of the Church, the degrees of initiation, the command of silence, and a crowd of phrases in the ecclesiastical language, have no other origin. . . . The revolution which overthrew Paganism seems at first glance . . . an absolute rupture with the past . . . but the popular faith saved its most familiar symbols from shipwreck. Christianity introduced, at first, so little change into the habits of private and social life, that with great numbers in the fourth and fifth centuries it remains uncertain whether they were Pagans or Christians; many seem even to have pursued an irresolute course between the two worships." Speaking further of Art, which formed an essential part of the ancient religion, he says that "it had to break with scarce one of its traditions. Primitive Christian art is
really nothing but Pagan art in its decay, or in its lower departments. The Good Shepherd of the catacombs in Rome is a copy from the Aristeus, or from the Apollo Nomius, which figure in the same posture on the Pagan sarcophagi, and still carries the flute of Pan in the midst of the four half-naked seasons. On the Christian tombs of the Cemetery of St. Calixtus, Orpheus charms the animals. Elsewhere, the Christ as Jupiter-Pluto, and Mary as Proserpina, receive the souls that Mercury, wearing the broad-brimmed hat and carrying in his hand the rod of the soul-guide (psychopompos), brings to them, in presence of the three fates. Pegasus, the symbol of the apotheosis; Psyche, the symbol of the immortal soul; Heaven, personified by an old man, the river Jordan; and Victory, figure on a host of Christian monuments."
As we have elsewhere shown, the primitive Christian community was composed of small groups scattered about and organized in secret societies, with passwords, grips, and signs. To avoid the relentless persecutions of their enemies, they were obliged to seek safety and hold meetings in deserted catacombs, the fastnesses of mountains, and other safe retreats. Like disabilities were naturally encountered by each religious reform at its inception. From the very first appearance of Jesus and his twelve disciples, we see them congregating apart, having secure refuges in the wilderness, and among friends in Bethany, and elsewhere. Were Christianity not composed of "secret communities," from the start, history would have more facts to record of its founder and disciples than it has.
How little Jesus had impressed his personality upon his own century, is calculated to astound the inquirer. Renan shows that Philo, who died toward the year 50, and who was born many years earlier than Jesus, living all the while in Palestine while the "glad tidings" were being preached all over the country, according to the Gospels, had never heard of him! Josephus, the historian, who was born three or four years after the death of Jesus, mentions his execution in a short sentence, and even those few words were altered "by a Christian hand,"says the author of the Life of Jesus. Writing at the close of the first century, when Paul, the learned propagandist, is said to have founded so many churches, and Peter is alleged to have established the apostolic succession, which the Irenaeo-Eusebian chronology shows to have already included three bishops of Rome,* Josephus, the painstaking enumerator and careful historian of even the most unimportant sects, entirely ignores the existence of a Christian sect. Suetonius, secretary of Adrian, writing in the first quarter of the second century, knows so little of Jesus or his history as to say that the Emperor Claudius "banished all the Jews, who were continually
making disturbances, at the instigation of one Crestus" meaning Christ, we must suppose.* The Emperor Adrian himself, writing still later, was so little impressed with the tenets or importance of the new sect, that in a letter to Servianus he shows that he believes the Christians to be worshippers of Serapis.† "In the second century," says C. W. King, "the syncretistic sects that had sprung up in Alexandria, the very hot-bed of Gnosticism, found out in Serapis a prophetic type of Christ as the Lord and Creator of all, and Judge of the living and the dead."‡ Thus, while the "Pagan" philosophers had never viewed Serapis, or rather the abstract idea which was embodied in him, as otherwise than a representation of the Anima Mundi, the Christians anthropomorphized the "Son of God" and his "Father," finding no better model for him than the idol of a Pagan myth! "There can be no doubt," remarks the same author, "that the head of Serapis, marked, as the face is, by a grave and pensive majesty, supplied the first idea for the conventional portraits of the Saviour."§
In the notes taken by a traveller — whose episode with the monks on Mount Athos we have mentioned elsewhere — we find that, during his early life, Jesus had frequent intercourse with the Essenes belonging to the Pythagorean school, and known as the Koinobi. We believe it rather hazardous on the part of Renan to assert so dogmatically, as he does, that Jesus "ignored the very name of Buddha, of Zoroaster, of Plato"; that he had never read a Greek nor a Buddhistic book, "although he had more than one element in him, which, unawares to himself, proceeded from Buddhism, Parsism, and the Greek wisdom."|| This is conceding half a miracle, and allowing as much to chance and coincidence. It is an abuse of privilege, when an author, who claims to write historical facts, draws convenient deductions from hypothetical premises, and then calls it a biography — aLife of Jesus. No more than any other compiler of legends concerning the problematical history of the Nazarene prophet, has Renan one inch of secure foothold upon which to maintain himself; nor can any one else assert a claim to the contrary, except on inferential evidence. And yet, while Renan has not one solitary fact to show that Jesus had never studied the metaphysical tenets of Buddhism and Parsism, or heard of the philosophy of Plato, his oppo-
nents have the best reasons in the world to suspect the contrary. When they find that — 1, all his sayings are in a Pythagorean spirit, when not verbatim repetitions; 2, his code of ethics is purely Buddhistic; 3, his mode of action and walk in life, Essenean; and 4, his mystical mode of expression, his parables, and his ways, those of an initiate, whether Grecian, Chaldean, or, Magian (for the "Perfect," who spoke the hidden wisdom, were of the same school of archaic learning the world over), it is difficult to escape from the logical conclusion that he belonged to that same body of initiates. It is a poor compliment paid the Supreme, this forcing upon Him four gospels, in which, contradictory as they often are, there is not a single narrative, sentence, or peculiar expression, whose parallel may not be found in some older doctrine or philosophy. Surely, the Almighty — were it but to spare future generations their present perplexity — might have brought down with Him, at His first and only incarnation on earth, something original — something that would trace a distinct line of demarcation between Himself and the score or so of incarnate Pagan gods, who had been born of virgins, had all been saviours, and were either killed, or otherwise sacrificed themselves for humanity.
Too much has already been conceded to the emotional side of the story. What the world needs is a less exalted, but more faithful view of a personage, in whose favor nearly half of Christendom has dethroned the Almighty. It is not the erudite, world-famous scholar, whom we question for what we find in his Vie de Jesus, nor is it one of his historical statements. We simply challenge a few unwarranted and untenable assertions that have found their way past the emotional narrator, into the otherwise beautiful pages of the work — a life built altogether on mere probabilities, and yet that of one who, if accepted as an historical personage, has far greater claims upon our love and veneration, fallible as he is with all his greatness, than if we figure him as an omnipotent God. It is but in the latter character that Jesus must be regarded by every reverential mind as a failure.
Notwithstanding the paucity of old philosophical works now extant, we could find no end of instances of perfect identity between Pythagorean, Hindu, and New Testament sayings. There is no lack of proofs upon this point. What is needed is a Christian public that will examine what will be offered, and show common honesty in rendering its verdict. Bigotry has had its day, and done its worst. "We need not be frightened," says Professor Muller, "if we discover traces of truth, traces even of Christian truth, among the sages and lawgivers of other nations."
After reading the following philosophical aphorisms, who can believe that Jesus and Paul had never read the Grecian and Indian philosophers?
Sentences from Sextus the Pythag-
orean and other Heathen.
Verses from the New Testament.*
1. "Possess not treasures, but those things which no one can take from you."
1. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matthew vi. 19).
2. "It is better for a part of the body which contains purulent matter, and threatens to infect the whole, to be burnt, than to continue so in another state (life)."
2. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter unto life maimed, than go to hell," etc. (Mark ix. 43).
3. "You have in yourself something similar to God, and therefore use yourself as the temple of God."
3. "Know ye not ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians, iii. 16).
4. "The greatest honor which can be paid to God, is to know and imitate his perfection."
4. "That ye may be the children of your Father, which is in Heaven, be ye perfect even as your Father is perfect"(Matthew v. 45-48).
5. "What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men" (Analects of Confucius, p. 76; See Max Muller's The Works of Confucius).
5. "Do ye unto others as ye would that others should do to you."
6. "The moon shines even in the house of the wicked" (Manu).
6. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew v. 45).
7. "They who give, have things given to them; those who withhold, have things taken from them" (Ibid.).
7. "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given . . . but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away" (Matthew xiii. 12).
8. "Purity of mind alone sees God" (Ibid.) — still a popular saying in India.
8. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew v. 8).
Plato did not conceal the fact that he derived his best philosophical doctrines from Pythagoras, and that himself was merely the first to reduce them to systematic order, occasionally interweaving with them metaphysical speculations of his own. But Pythagoras himself got his recondite doctrines, first from the descendants of Mochus, and later, from the Brahmans of India. He was also initiated into the Mysteries among the hierophants of Thebes, the Persian and Chaldean Magi. Thus, step by step do we trace the origin of most of our Christian doctrines to Middle Asia. Drop out from Christianity the personality of Jesus, so sublime, because of its unparalleled simplicity, and what remains? History and
comparative theology echo back the melancholy answer, "A crumbling skeleton formed of the oldest Pagan myths!"
While the mythical birth and life of Jesus are a faithful copy of those of the Brahmanical Christna, his historical character of a religious reformer in Palestine is the true type of Buddha in India. In more than one respect their great resemblance in philanthropic and spiritual aspirations, as well as external circumstances is truly striking. Though the son of a king, while Jesus was but a carpenter, Buddha was not of the high Brahmanical caste by birth. Like Jesus, he felt dissatisfied with the dogmatic spirit of the religion of his country, the intolerance and hypocrisy of the priesthood, their outward show of devotion, and their useless ceremonials and prayers. As Buddha broke violently through the traditional laws and rules of the Brahmans, so did Jesus declare war against the Pharisees, and the proud Sadducees. What the Nazarene did as a consequence of his humble birth and position, Buddha did as a voluntary penance. He travelled about as a beggar; and — again like Jesus — later in life he sought by preference the companionship of publicans and sinners. Each aimed at a social as well as at a religious reform; and giving a death-blow to the old religions of his countries, each became the founder of a new one.
"The reform of Buddha," says Max Muller, "had originally much more of a social than of a religious character. The most important element of Buddhist reform has always been its social and moral code, not its metaphysical theories. That moral code is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known . . . and he whose meditations had been how to deliver the soul of man from misery and the fear of death, had delivered the people of India from a degrading thraldom and from priestly tyranny." Further, the lecturer adds that were it otherwise, "Buddha might have taught whatever philosophy he pleased, and we should hardly have heard his name. The people would not have minded him, and his system would only have been a drop in the ocean of philosophic speculation by which India was deluged at all times."*
The same with Jesus. While Philo, whom Renan calls Jesus's elder brother, Hillel, Shammai, and Gamaliel, are hardly mentioned — Jesus has become a God! And still, pure and divine as was the moral code taught by Christ, it never could have borne comparison with that of Buddha, but for the tragedy of Calvary. That which helped forward the deification of Jesus was his dramatic death, the voluntary sacrifice of his life, alleged to have been made for the sake of mankind, and the later convenient dogma of the atonement, invented by the Christians. In
India, where life is valued as of no account, the crucifixion would have produced little effect, if any. In a country where — as all the Indianists are well aware — religious fanatics set themselves to dying by inches, in penances lasting for years; where the most fearful macerations are self-inflicted by fakirs; where young and delicate widows, in a spirit of bravado against the government, as much as out of religious fanaticism, mount the funeral pile with a smile on their face; where, to quote the words of the great lecturer, "Men in the prime of life throw themselves under the car of Juggernath, to be crushed to death by the idol they believe in; where the plaintiff who cannot get redress starves himself to death at the door of his judge; where the philosopher who thinks he has learned all which this world can teach him, and who longs for absorption into the Deity, quietly steps into the Ganges, in order to arrive at the other shore of existence,"* in such a country even a voluntary crucifixion would have passed unnoticed. In Judea, and even among braver nations than the Jews — the Romans and the Greeks — where every one clung more or less to life, and most people would have fought for it with desperation, the tragical end of the great Reformer was calculated to produce a profound impression. The names of even such minor heroes as Mutius Scaevola, Horatius Cocles, the mother of the Gracchi, and others, have descended to posterity; and, during our school-days, as well as later in life, their histories have awakened our sympathy and commanded a reverential admiration. But, can we ever forget the scornful smile of certain Hindus, at Benares, when an English lady, the wife of a clergyman, tried to impress them with the greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus, in giving his life for us? Then, for the first time the idea struck us how much the pathos of the great drama of Calvary had to do with subsequent events in the foundation of Christianity. Even the imaginative Renan was moved by this feeling to write in the last chapter of his Vie de Jesus, a few pages of singular and sympathetic beauty.†
Apollonius, a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth, was, like him, an enthusiastic founder of a new spiritual school. Perhaps less metaphysical and more practical than Jesus, less tender and perfect in his nature, he nevertheless inculcated the same quintessence of spirituality, and the same high moral truths. His great mistake was to confine them too closely to the higher classes of society. While to the poor and the humble Jesus preached "Peace on earth and good will to men," Apollonius was the friend of kings, and moved with the aristocracy. He was born among the latter, and himself a man of wealth, while the "Son of man," representing the people, "had not where to lay his head"; nevertheless, the two "miracle-workers" exhibited striking similarity of purpose. Still earlier than Apollonius had appeared Simon Magus, called "the great Power of God." His "miracles" are both more wonderful, more varied, and better attested than those either of the apostles or of the Galilean philosopher himself. Materialism denies the fact in both cases, but history affirms. Apollonius followed both; and how great and renowned were his miraculous works in comparison with those of the alleged founder of Christianity as the kabalists claim, we have history again, and Justin Martyr, to corroborate.*
Like Buddha and Jesus, Apollonius was the uncompromising enemy of all outward show of piety, all display of useless religious ceremonies and hypocrisy. If, like the Christian Saviour, the sage of Tyana had by preference sought the companionship of the poor and humble; and if instead of dying comfortably, at over one hundred years of age, he had been a voluntary martyr, proclaiming divine Truth from a cross,† his
blood might have proved as efficacious for the subsequent dissemination of spiritual doctrines as that of the Christian Messiah.
The calumnies set afloat against Apollonius, were as numerous as they were false. So late as eighteen centuries after his death he was defamed by Bishop Douglas in his work against miracles. In this the Right Reverend bishop crushed himself against historical facts. If we study the question with a dispassionate mind, we will soon perceive that the ethics of Gautama-Buddha, Plato, Apollonius, Jesus, Ammonius Sakkas, and his disciples, were all based on the same mystic philosophy. That all worshipped one God, whether they considered Him as the "Father" of humanity, who lives in man as man lives in Him, or as the Incomprehensible Creative Principle; all led God-like lives. Ammonius, speaking of his philosophy, taught that their school dated from the days of Hermes, who brought his wisdom from India. It was the same mystical contemplation throughout, as that of the Yogin: the communion of the Brahman with his own luminous Self — the "Atman." And this Hindu term is again kabalistic, par excellence. Who is "Self"? is asked in the Rig-Veda; "Self is the Lord of all things . . . all things are contained in this Self; all selves are contained in this Self. Brahman itself is but Self,"* is the answer. Says Idra Rabba: "All things are Himself, and Himself is concealed on every side."‡ The "Adam Kadmon of the kabalists contains in himself all the souls of the Israelites, and he is himself in every soul," says the Sohar.§ The groundwork of the Eclectic School was thus identical with the doctrines of the Yogin, the Hindu mys-
tics, and the earlier Buddhism of the disciples of Gautama. And when Jesus assured his disciples that "the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him," dwells with and in them, who "are in Him and He in them,"* he but expounded the same tenet that we find running through every philosophy worthy of that name.
Laboulaye, the learned and skeptical French savant, does not believe a word of the miraculous portion of Buddha's life; nevertheless, he has the candor to speak of Gautama as being only second to Christ in the great purity of his ethics and personal morality. For both of these opinions he is respectfully rebuked by des Mousseaux. Vexed at this scientific contradiction of his accusations of demonolatry against Gautama-Buddha, he assures his readers that "ce savant distingue n'a point etudie cette question."†
"I do not hesitate to say," remarks in his turn Barthelemy St. Hilaire, "that, except Christ alone, there is not among the founders of religions, a figure either more pure or more touching than that of Buddha. His life is spotless. His constant heroism equals his convictions. . . . He is the perfect model of all the virtues he preaches; his abnegation, his charity, his unalterable sweetness of disposition, do not fail him for one instant. He abandoned, at the age of twenty-nine, his father's court to become a monk and a beggar . . . and when he dies in the arms of his disciples, it is with the serenity of a sage who practiced virtue all his life, and who dies convinced of having found the truth."‡ This deserved panegyric is no stronger than the one which Laboulaye himself pronounced, and which occasioned des Mousseaux's wrath. "It is more than difficult," adds the former, "to understand how men not assisted by revelation could have soared so high and approached so near the truth."§ Curious that there should be so many lofty souls "not assisted by revelation"!
And why should any one feel surprised that Gautmna could die with philosophical serenity? As the kabalists justly say, "Death does not exist, and man never steps outside of universal life. Those whom we think dead live still in us, as we live in them. . . . The more one lives for his kind, the less need he fear to die."|| And, we might add, that he who lives for humanity does even more than him who dies for it.
The Ineffable name, in the search for which so many kabalists — unacquainted with any Oriental or even European adept — vainly consume their knowledge and lives, dwells latent in the heart of every man. This
mirific name which, according to the most ancient oracles, "rushes into the infinite worlds [[achoimeto srophaligni]]," can be obtained in a twofold way: by regular initiation, and through the "small voice" which Elijah heard in the cave of Horeb, the mount of God. And "when Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood in the entering of the cave. And behold there came the voice."
When Apollonius of Tyana desired to hear the "small voice," he used to wrap himself up entirely in a mantle of fine wool, on which he placed both his feet, after having performed certain magnetic passes, and pronounced not the "name" but an invocation well known to every adept. Then he drew the mantle over his head and face, and his translucid or astral spirit was free. On ordinary occasions he wore wool no more than the priests of the temples. The possession of the secret combination of the "name" gave the hierophant supreme power over every being, human or otherwise, inferior to himself in soul-strength. Hence, when Max Muller tells us of the Quiche "Hidden majesty which was never to be opened by human hands," the kabalist perfectly understands what was meant by the expression, and is not at all surprised to hear even this most erudite philologist exclaim: "What it was we do not know!"
We cannot too often repeat that it is only through the doctrines of the more ancient philosophies that the religion preached by Jesus may be understood. It is through Pythagoras, Confucius, and Plato, that we can comprehend the idea which underlies the term "Father" in the New Testament. Plato's ideal of the Deity, whom he terms the one everlasting, invisible God, the Fashioner and Father of all things,* is rather the "Father" of Jesus. It is this Divine Being of whom the Grecian sage says that He can neither be envious nor the originator of evil, for He can produce nothing but what is good and just,† is certainly not the Mosaic Jehovah, the "jealous God," but the God of Jesus, who "alone is good." He extols His all-embracing, divine power,‡ and His omnipotence, but at the same time intimates that, as He is unchangeable, He can never desire to change his laws, i.e., to extirpate evil from the world through a miracle.§ He is omniscient, and nothing escapes His watchful eye.|| His justice, which we find embodied in the law of compensation and retribution, will leave no crime without punishment, no virtue without its reward;¶ and therefore he declares that the only way to honor God is to cultivate moral purity. He utterly rejects not only the anthropomorphic
idea that God could have a material body,* but "rejects with disgust those fables which ascribe passions, quarrels, and crimes of all sorts to the minor gods."† He indignantly denies that God allows Himself to be propitiated, or rather bribed, by prayers and sacrifices.‡
The Phaedrus of Plato displays all that man once was, and that which he may yet become again. "Before man's spirit sank into sensuality and was embodied with it through the loss of his wings, he lived among the gods in the airy [spiritual] world where everything is true and pure." In the Timaeus he says that "there was a time when mankind did not perpetuate itself, but lived as pure spirits." In the future world, says Jesus, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage," but "live as the angels of God in Heaven."
The researches of Laboulaye, Anquetil Duperron, Colebrooke, Barthelemy St. Hilaire, Max Muller, Spiegel, Burnouf, Wilson, and so many other linguists, have brought some of the truth to light. And now that the difficulties of the Sanscrit, the Thibetan, the Singhalese, the Zend, the Pehlevi, the Chinese, and even of the Burmese, are partially conquered, and the Vedas, and the Zend-Avesta, the Buddhist texts, and even Kapila's Sutras are translated, a door is thrown wide open, which, once passed, must close forever behind any speculative or ignorant calumniators of the old religions. Even till the present time, the clergy have, to use the words of Max Muller — "generally appealed to the deviltries and orgies of heathen worship . . . but they have seldom, if ever, endeavored to discover the true and original character of the strange forms of faith and worship which they call the work of the devil."§ When we read the true history of Buddha and Buddhism, by Muller, and the enthusiastic opinions of both expressed by Barthelemy St. Hilaire, and Laboulaye; and when, finally, a Popish missionary, an eye-witness, and one who least of all can be accused of partiality to the Buddhists — the Abbe Huc, we mean — finds occasion for nothing but admiration for the high individual character of these "devil-worshippers"; we must consider Sakya-muni's philosophy as something more than the religion of fetishism and atheism, which the Catholics would have us believe it. Huc was a missionary and it was his first duty to regard Buddhism as no better than an outgrowth of the worship of Satan. The poor Abbe was struck off the list of missionaries at Rome,|| after his
book of travels was published. This illustrates how little we may expect to learn the truth about the religions of other people, through missionaries, when their accounts are first revised by the superior ecclesiastical authorities, and the former severely punished for telling the truth.
When these men who have been and still are often termed "the obscene ascetics," the devotees of different sects of India in short, generally termed "Yogi," were asked by Marco Polo, "how it comes that they are not ashamed to go stark naked as they do?" they answered the inquirer of the thirteenth century as a missionary of the nineteenth was answered. "We go naked," they say, "because naked we came into the world, and we desire to have nothing about us that is of this world. Moreover, we have no sin of the flesh to be conscious of, and therefore, we are not ashamed of our nakedness any more than you are to show your hand or your face. You who are conscious of the sins of the flesh, do well to have shame, and to cover your nakedness."*
One could make a curious list of the excuses and explanations of the clergy to account for similarities daily discovered between Romanism and heathen religions. Yet the summary would invariably lead to one sweeping claim: The doctrines of Christianity were plagiarized by the Pagans the world over! Plato and his older Academy stole the ideas from the Christian revelation — said the Alexandrian Fathers!! The Brahmans and Manu borrowed from the Jesuit missionaries, and the Bhagaved-gita was the production of Father Calmet, who transformed Christ and John into Christna and Arjuna to fit the Hindu mind!! The trifling fact that Buddhism and Platonism both antedated Christianity, and the Vedas had already degenerated into Brahmanism before the days of Moses, makes no difference. The same with regard to Apollonius of Tyana. Although his thaumaturgical powers could not be denied in the face of the testimony of emperors, their courts, and the populations of several cities; and although few of these had ever heard of the Nazarene prophet whose "miracles" had been witnessed by a few apostles only, whose very individualities remain to this day a problem in history, yet Apollonius has to be accepted as the "monkey of Christ."
If of really pious, good, and honest men, many are yet found among the Catholic, Greek, and Protestant clergy, whose sincere faith has the best of their reasoning powers, and who having never been among heathen populations, are unjust only through ignorance, it is not so with the missionaries. The invariable subterfuge of the latter is to attribute to demonolatry the really Christ-like life of the Hindu and Buddhist ascetics and many of the lamas. Years of sojourn among "heathen" nations, in China, Tartary, Thibet, and Hindustan have furnished them with ample evidence how unjustly the so-called idolators have been slandered. The missionaries have not even the excuse of sincere faith to give the world that they mislead; and, with very few exceptions, one may boldly paraphrase the remark made by Garibaldi, and say that: "A priest knows himself to be an impostor, unless he be a fool, or have been taught to lie from boyhood."