« PreviousContinue »
Those who wish to see a pretty full account of the opinions of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and other sects among the Jews, may consult Prideaux, vol. iii. p. 353-389. See also Jahn's Arch. p. 402-404. 411. which my limits forbid quoting. Nor is it necessary for it would only be to repeat opinions already noticed.
8th. The history of the Christian church shows, that many heathen opinions were incorporated with Christianity, and increased from bad to worse, until what was called Christianity, became worse than heathenism itself. The first converts were Jews, and vast multitudes of converts were also made from among the Gentiles.-Such continued to retain many of their former false opinions. When Christianity became the religion of the Roman empire, men, formerly heathen priests and philosophers, became teachers in the Christian church, so that it soon became popular but greatly corrupted. Those who wish to see this gradual corruption traced and exposed, may consult Dr. Campbell's Ecclesiastical history, Mosheim's church history, Milner's, and others. The fact.is notorious, and universally admitted, and my limits forbid a more particular statement. We shall conclude this Section by noticing the following facts.
1st. The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy, which has so long been the Diana of the religious world was the invention of Zoroaster. Prideaux, vol. i. p. 230. thus writes. “And whether it were, that these Magians thought it would bring the greater credit to them, or the kings, that it would add a greater sacredness to their persons, or whether it were from both these causes, the royal family among the Persians, as long as this sect prevailed among them, was always reckoned of the sacerdotal tribe. They were divided into three orders. The lowest were the inferior clergy, who served in all the common offices of their di
vine worship: next above them were the superintendents, who in their several districts governed the inferior clergy, as the bishops do with us; and above all was the Archimagus, or arch-priest, who, in the same manner as the high priest among the Jews, or the Pope now among the Romanists, was the head of the whole religion. And, according to the number of their orders, the churches or temples in which they officiated were also of three sorts. The lowest sort were the parochial churches, or oratories, which were served by the inferior clergy, as the parochial churches are now with us; and the duties which they there performed were to read the daily offices out of their liturgy, and, at stated and solemn times, to read some part of their sacred writings to the people. In these churches there were no fire altars; but the sacred fire, before which they here worshipped, was maintained only in a lamp. Next above these were their fire temples, in which fire was continually kept burning on a sacred altar. And these were, in the same manner as cathedrals with us, the churches or temples where the superintendents resided. In every one of these were also several of the inferior clergy entertained, who, in the same manner as the choral vicars among us, performed all the divine offices under the superintendent, and also took care of the sacred fire, which they constantly watched day and night by four and four in their turns, that it might always be kept burning, and never go out. The highest church above all was the first temple, where the Archimagus resided, which was had in the same veneration with them as the temple of Mecca among the Mahometans, to which every one of that sect thought themselves obliged to make a pilgrimage once in their lives. Zoroaster first settled it at Balch, and there he, as their Archimagus, usually had his residence. But after the Mahometans had overrun Persia, in the 7th century
after Christ, the Archimagus was forced to remove from thence into Kerman, which is a province in Persia, lying upon the Southern ocean, towards India, and there it hath continued even to this day. And to the fire temple there erected, at the place of his residency, do they now pay the same veneration as formerly they did to that of Balch. This temple of the Archimagus, as also the other fire temples, were endued with large revenues in lands: but the parochial clergy depended solely on the tithes and offerings of the people; for this usage also had Zoroaster taken from the Jewish church, and made it one of the establishments among his Magians."
Let it be remembered, that Dean Prideaux was a prophet of their own, which forbids the slightest surmise that this account is either misrepresented or exaggerated. But, while eating the fat, and clothing himself with the wool, arising from such an establishment, he frankly confesses that it was invented by Zoroaster, concerning whom he says, p. 220_"He was the greatest impostor, except Mahomet, that ever appeared in the world, and had all the craft and enterprising boldness of that Arab.” A very good origin indeed for—"Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.? It was surely proper, that the greatest imposition ever palmed on the world, should be the invention of one of the greatest impostors the world ever produced. As it was invented at Babylon, published at Babylon, and imported from Babylon, it is very properly called—“Mystery Babylon the great.” After such a disclosure by one of the craftsmen, that man must. be dead drunk with the wine of her fornications, who still continues to cry--- great is Diana of the Ephesians."
2d. Another fact is, that all sects and parties in religion, are silent about the religion of Zoroaster.
The Ecclesiastical hierarchy has met with both as. sault and insult from almost every sect. But in the course of our reading we have never met with any one of them who ventured to expose it as an invention of Zoroaster. Many a prayer has been made for the downfal of Mahomet and the destruction of Paganism: but who ever heard a prayer made for the destruction of Magianism or the religion of Zoroaster? But why not? Is it not because the creeds of the different sects and that of Zoroaster are very similar ? From his Lord God the Pope down to the lowest dissenter all firmly hold some articles invented by Zoroaster. It would not do for any of the sects to insult the clergy by telling them that Zoroaster was the inventor of their ecclesiastical establishment, No, they could retort upon them, for if this was any argument against it, they must admit it was of equal force against such articles of their own creeds, as Zoroaster was the inventor of both. If they attacked the hierarchy with such a weapon as this a hey, wounded themselves, and if the building fell by such an assault their own ereeds must be demolished with it. The base born origin of the Mother of Harlots must be concealed, for every grade of relationship, however distant, must share in the disgrace. Dean Prideaux loved the inventions of Zoroaster but called him the greatest impostor that ever arose, Mahomet excepted. But instead of this kind of abuse, the religious world ought to erect a monument to his memory, for to him, more than to Jesus Christ, have they been indebted for much that has been counted great, glorious, and good in religion.
3d. It has been noticed by many as a remarkable fact, that before the captivity the Jews were prone to idolatry, but after their return and ever since, have held it in great abhorrence. Is not this great change in the Jews, partly at least, accounted for by their
imbibing Zoroaster's opinions, which were opposed to the worship of idols? But this I merely suggest for consideration, and leave the reader to his own reflections, on the topics which have been discussed in the present Section.
ALL THE PASSAGES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, WHERE THE TERM SATAN OCCURS,
The term Satan, among Christians, is as much a proper name for a fallen angel, as Peter and Paul are for two of Christ's apostles. In correction of this mistake, Dr. Campbell says, Dissert. 6. “Satan, though conceived by us as a proper name, was an appellative in the language spoken by our Lord; for, from the Hebrew it passed into the Syriac, and signified no more than adversary or opponent. It is naturally just as applicable to human as to spiritual agents, and is, in the Old Testament, often so applied.” The truth of this statement we have seen, Sect. 3.
It has been alleged that the New Testament speaks more frequently and explicitly about the devil and satan than the Old. Let us see how this matter stands. The term satan occurs thirty-four times in the Old Testament, and is fifteen times rendered adversary, or by some similar word. But though it occurs thirty-five times in the New Testament, it is not once rendered by any word. It is easily perceived then, that this circumstance gives to the New Testament the appearance of teaching the existence of such a being, which the Old has not.