« הקודםהמשך »
ther corroborates the Grecian origin ; for Pliny bad to trá. vel into the Grecian cities of Asia Minor, joto Bithynia, to find this sect of Christians, of whom he before knew nothing by his own confession, a proof, that there were done then at Rome; and this ten or twelve years into the second century.
There were then no books among these Christians, and all the information that Pliny could get of them, was that they were a few slaves, who assembled by night or early in the morning to sing, pray and hold love-feasts.
Josephus and Philo could not have been ignorant of such a sect, if it had existed and was known within the first cen. tury. Their works had no mention of such a sect, tbough they mentioned every sect that was known among the Jews, or that had any thing of Jewish origin. Pbilo must have been born about the time that Jesus Christ is said to bave been born, and Josephus some twenty or tbirty years later: so that, between them, they must have filled out that centu. ry and have been its competent historians. Were the contents of the Gospels true, they could not as historians, have been silent on such occurrences. It is evident, that they had no knowledge of the matters there fabulously related.
There is another fact worthy of notice, that no Christian writer, until we come to Eusebius in the fourth century, has narrated the destruction of Jerusalem. Had Christianity existed within that period, what a fine topic it would have been for Christian eloquence and for the truths of its tenets. But it is clear, that to the first Christians, the old Jerusalem was, what the New Jerusalem has been to their insane successors-a spiritual city. They knew nothing of it as a babitable place, though, doubtless, they heard it often medtioned by the Jews among them : and, finally, it became a place of Christian pilgrimage, where excited fancy soon
found a cross, a sepulchre and even a manger, that corres. 'ponded with those mentioned in the Gospels. In the Old
Testament, we read nothing of a place called Golgotha, or mount Calvary, or of the pool of Siloam, in or about Jeru• salem: and it is altogether probable, that the names of these places were of Christian invention ; though Christian piety soon found the places that resembled the descriptions, as might be fondd in or about any town that ever existed.
So far, I have said nothing about the the miracles, baving rested upon historical facts; but it may be safely adopted, as a criterion of historical truth, that it will admit of nothing miraculous, such as giving life to a dead and rotting! carcase, feeding thousands to satiety with the quantity of
food that one or two hungry men would eat, walking upon water, checking a tempest by a word, fasting forty days aud flying in the air without mechanism. Wherever we find any thing of this kind, we may rest assured, that it is fable. Nothing of the kind ever happened. There are no spiritual powers in existence qualified to perform any such miracles. Design is a power confined to animals; and though there are material phenomeua wbich we cannot comprehend, all experience teaches us, that they are but material. Spiritualities are the inventions of ignorance, the persopification of powers, on which ignorance, might rest and save itself the labour of investigation, or moderate its fears by prayer and offerings.'
The close similarity between the fable of Jesus and that of Prometheus is another proof, that the former contains no literal trutb; but that it is an allegorical truth, which bas at all times pervaded mankind, more particularly where any thing like literature has existed among them. The associa. tion of the word Logos with the pame of Jesus Christ is a proof of this, and another proof, that Christianity is a Grecian origin. Prometheus and Logos or Jesus Christ was the spiritual principal of reason crucified by the power of pre-existing error. The Materialists form the Prometheus, the Logos, the Jesus Christ of this country, at this time. They are persecuted by those who have given a literal interpretation to the same allegory ; but who have surrounded that interpretation, or have found it surrounded, with much power and profit. The change, the relinquishment of this power and profit, the holders dread, and persecute with a bope of holding it. They must yield, after all their persecutions: and they will persecute to their own disadvantage, as well as to that of the persecuted.
If this be vot evidence, that no such person as Jesus Christ lived or died within the province of Judea, at the time fabled, I know not what would be a sufficieut detection of tbe errors of bistory. I may be referred to Tacitus, as a proof that there were Christians at Rome in the reign of Nero. I ackpowledge the difficulty; but I cannot make it weigh against greater difficulties on the other side. I consider the time at wbich Tacitus first wrote that passage. I find, according to Gibbon, that it was between the years 120 and 130. At this time, I can suppose the sect of Cbristians increasing in Rome. The wars in Judea had also brougbt a number of Jews to Rome, as captives, or as speculators fleeing from a desolated country. These Jews and
the first Christians passed alike in Rome under the common name of Galileans. Tacitus, writing of an affair that occur. red in his infancy, and of which he could have had no accurate knowledge, public records being then very rare, might have identified the Christians with the Galileans who were persecuted by Nero: and still those Galileans might have been purely Jews. If there were Christians in Rome, during the reign of Nero, why should Trajan, who studiously deviated from the public conduct of Nero and Domitian, persecute the Christians which he found in the Grecian Provinces, and not persecute those which existed in Rome? The persecution and martyrdom of Ignatius, sent from antioch to Rome by Trajan to be destroyed by beasts, is an account scarcely to be doubted; though we have no authentic record of it, like the letter of Pliny to Trajan. Pliny admits, that Trajan had done sometbing of the kind during the Dacian war, in passing through Bythinia, aud this justifies the belief, that the martyrdom of Ígratius is authentic. But here we have the whole affair of Christianity confined to the Grecian provinces; and I care not so much about the year, or the century, in which it began, as for the proof, that the story of Jesus Christ is a fable, and that no facts of the kind varrated happened in Judea. What I want is to sticw the present bud foundalion of Christianity, iucluding your order of Masonic Knights Templars; and, if I could induce all to consider and to rest upon the fact, that matter and not spirit is the sum of the things about us and of which we are a part, I would be the last to trouble myself and readers about the history of the Christian or any other idolatry.
Origen, the inost intelligent Christian writer whicb we have in the third century, and who was about the first critical Christian, treats nearly the whole of the Old Testament as allegorical, and very much of the New: Indeed, be was very much of such a Christian as I now declare myself to be.
In 1819, some anonymous correspondent wanted me to · adopt and espouse the Christianity of Origen, but being · ignorant of what it meant, I rejected or neglected the proposition. I have now no objection to the general character of the Christianity of Origen, always excepting bis taste in depriving himself of virility to subdue the inost powerful of his passions.
If no such person as Jesus Christ lived or died at Jerusalem, your allegorical war against the jutidels, my Royal Duke, is like the rest of allegorical masonry, a mischievous error and a burlesque: and the very memory of what the blood-thirsty christian fools did against the Saracens and Turks and Moors, for several centuries, had better be discouraged than encouraged. To imitate them, or to play at Knights Templars in a chamber is a game almost too low for children. And for such nonsense to be espoused by men, who in other respects, claim a peculiar respect from a people, such as a Royal Family does, is enough to set up a general booting against them, by every sensible man, woman and child in .. the country.
I must now proceed to describe such degrees of Masonry as I have remaining, and, after this, I shall scarcely fill another number of “The Republican” witb similar nonsense. The degrees which remain are called Rosicrucian degrees; but the first appears to me to have been a Roman Catholic degree. Constantine was assuredly the founder of Christianity, as a part and parcel of the law of Rome or of any other country; but his interference is far from being creditable to the Christians. He was a treacherous, ignorant, foppish and generally detestable character. As for the sign of the cross being shewn to him in the clouds, it is a Christian legend or trick, or if ever he declared any thing of the kind, it was the better to make the Christians subservient to his ambitious purpose of being sole master of the Roman Empire. If the cross had been once shewn in the sky, as it is called, why was it not kept there, as a standing proof of the good foundation of Christianity? I proceed to A DESCRIPTION OF THE DEGREE OF RED CROSS OF
ROME AND CONSTANTINE. The Grand Master of this degree is called Constantine; his depu-" iy Eusebius. There are also a Senior General, a Junior General, a Grand Standard bearer, and a Janetor or Tyler. We have seen that the forms of opening and closing in all the degree are alike, the object being to ascertain that the members are not overlooked : that none but members of the degree are present. In this degree, there is difference only in the names of the officers, and the opening proceeds thus :
Constantine. Sir Knights Companions, assist me to open the conclave of Sir Knights Companions of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine. (All the knights rise, draw their swords and stand in due order.)
C. Sir Knight Eusebius, what is the first duty of the Compauions of this order ?
E. To see the conclave is properly cemented and that the Janetor is at his post, duly armed and clothed.
C. Sir Knight, Junior General, see that duty done. This is done with two reports,' in the usual form: and the same inter
nally, as in the other degrees; after which, the conclava is declared open, in the name of Constantine its noble and royal founder by, giving sixteen knocks and the grand honours.
Catechism. Q. Why do we open and close in this degree with sixteen reports.
A. In allusion to the sixteen stars, surrounding the sixteen letters, composing the Grand Words, In hoc signovinces, in the form of the cross of Constantine, in the heavens.
Q. How do we prepare our candidates for this degree.
A. In the clothing of a Roman Soldier: the cross of Constantine in his right hand and in his left a New Testament.
Q. For what reason.
A. To hold in commemoration the miracle that wrought the conversion of Constantine and his enemies, his pious zeal for Christianity, and to denote, that he was the first Roman Emperor to embrace the christian faith and to propagate the same by the force of arms.
Q. Why do we enter the conclave with two reports.
A. In commemoration of the famous cross and vision seen by Constantine in the heavens.
Q, Be pleased to explain them.
A. One evening, the army being upon its march towards Rome, Constantine, intent upon various considerations upon the fate of sublunary things and the dangers of his approaching expedition, sensible of his own incapacity to succeed without divine assistance employed his meditations upon the opinions which were then agitated among mankind and sent up his ejaculations to heaven for an inspiration with wisdom to be able to choose the path proper to be pursued. As the sun was declining, there suddenly appeared a pillar of light in the heavens, in the fashion of a cross, with this inscription ;-In hoc signo vinces, By this thou shalt overcome.-So extraordinary an appearance did not fail to create astonishment, both in the emperor and his whole army, who reflected on it as their various dispositions led them. They who were attached to Paganism, prompted by their auspices, pronounced it to be a most inauspicious omen, portending the most unfortunate events. But it made a different impression on the Emperors mind, who was further encouraged, by the visions of the same night. He, therefore, the following day, caused a royal standard to be made, like that which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded it to be carried before him in his wars, as an ensign of victory and celestial protection.
Q: Was there any other thing remarkable in the life of our royal founder.
A. The arms of his soldiers, the public prayer, his charity and tomb.