Chapter IV - Section II
Justification by Works
The worshippers of Nimrod and his queen were looked upon as regenerated and purged from sin by baptism, which baptism received its virtue from the sufferings of these two great Babylonian divinities. But yet in regard to justification, the Chaldean doctrine was that it was by works and merits of men themselves that they must be justified and accepted of God. The following remarks of Christie in his observations appended to Ouvaroff's Eleusinian Mysteries, show that such was the case: "Mr. Ouvaroff has suggested that one of the great objects of the Mysteries was the presenting to fallen man the means of his return to God. These means were the cathartic virtues--(i.e., the virtues by which sin is removed), by the exercise of which a corporeal life was to be vanquished. Accordingly the Mysteries were termed Teletae, 'perfections,' because they were supposed to induce a perfectness of life. Those who were purified by them were styled Teloumenoi and Tetelesmenoi, that is, 'brought...to perfection,' which depended on the exertions of the individual." In the Metamorphosis of Apuleius, who was himself initiated in the mysteries of Isis, we find this same doctrine of human merits distinctly set forth. Thus the goddess is herself represented as addressing the hero of his tale: "If you shall be found to DESERVE the protection of my divinity by sedulous obedience, religious devotion and inviolable chastity, you shall be sensible that it is possible for me, and me alone, to extend your life beyond the limits that have been appointed to it by your destiny." When the same individual has received a proof of the supposed favour of the divinity, thus do the onlookers express their congratulations: "Happy, by Hercules! and thrice blessed he to have MERITED, by the innocence and probity of his past life, such special patronage of heaven." Thus was it in life. At death, also, the grand passport into the unseen world was still through the merits of men themselves, although the name of Osiris was, as we shall by-and-by see, given to those who departed in the faith. "When the bodies of persons of distinction" [in Egypt], says Wilkinson, quoting Porphyry, "were embalmed, they took out the intestines and put them into a vessel, over which (after some other rites had been performed for the dead) one of the embalmers pronounced an invocation to the sun in behalf of the deceased." The formula, according to Euphantus, who translated it from the original into Greek, was as follows: "O thou Sun, our sovereign lord! and all ye Deities who have given life to man, receive me, and grant me an abode with the eternal gods. During the whole course of my life I have scrupulously worshipped the gods my father taught me to adore; I have ever honoured my parents, who begat this body; I have killed no one; I have not defrauded any, nor have I done any injury to any man." Thus the merits, the obedience, or the innocence of man was the grand plea. The doctrine of Rome in regard to the vital article of a sinner's justification is the very same. Of course this of itself would prove little in regard to the affiliation of the two systems, the Babylonian and the Roman; for, from the days of Cain downward, the doctrine of human merit and of self-justification has everywhere been indigenous in the heart of depraved humanity. But, what is worthy of notice in regard to this subject is, that in the two systems, it was symbolised in precisely the same way. In the Papal legends it is taught that St. Michael the Archangel has committed to him the balance of God's justice, and that in the two opposite scales of that balance the merits and the demerits of the departed are put that they may be fairly weighed, the one over against the other, and that as the scale turns to the favourable or unfavourable side they may be justified or condemned as the case may be. Now, the Chaldean doctrine of justification, as we get light on it from the monuments of Egypt, is symbolised in precisely the same way, except that in the land of Ham the scales of justice were committed to the charge of the god Anubis instead of St. Michael the Archangel, and that the good deeds and the bad seem to have been weighed separately, and a distinct record made of each, so that when both were summed up and the balance struck, judgment was pronounced accordingly. Wilkinson states that Anubis and his scales are often represented; and that in some cases there is some difference in the details. But it is evident from his statements, that the principle in all is the same. The following is the account which he gives of one of these judgment scenes, previous to the admission of the dead to Paradise: "Cerberus is present as the guardian of the gates, near which the scales of justice are erected; and Anubis, the director of the weight, having placed a vase representing the good actions of the deceased in one scale, and the figure or emblem of truth in the other, proceeds to ascertain his claims for admission. If, on being weighed, he is found wanting, he is rejected, and Osiris, the judge of the dead, inclining his sceptre in token of condemnation, pronounces judgment upon him, and condemns his soul to return to earth under the form of a pig or some unclean animal...But if, when the SUM of his deeds are recorded by Thoth [who stands by to mark the results of the different weighings of Anubis], his virtues so far PREDOMINATE as to entitle him to admission to the mansions of the blessed, Horus, taking in his hand the tablet of Thoth, introduces him to the presence of Osiris, who, in his palace, attended by Isis and Nepthys, sits on his throne in the midst of the waters, from which rises the lotus, bearing upon its expanded flowers the four Genii of Amenti." The same mode of symbolising the justification by works had evidently been in use in Babylon itself; and, therefore, there was great force in the Divine handwriting on the wall, when the doom of Belshazzar went forth: "Tekel," "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting." In the Parsee system, which has largely borrowed from Chaldea, the principle of weighing the good deeds over against the bad deeds is fully developed. "For three days after dissolution," says Vaux, in his Nineveh and Persepolis, giving an account of Parsee doctrines in regard to the dead, "the soul is supposed to flit round its tenement of clay, in hopes of reunion; on the fourth, the Angel Seroch appears, and conducts it to the bridge of Chinevad. On this structure, which they assert connects heaven and earth, sits the Angel of Justice, to weigh the actions of mortals; when the good deeds prevail, the soul is met on the bridge by a dazzling figure, which says, 'I am thy good angel, I was pure originally, but thy good deeds have rendered me purer'; and passing his hand over the neck of the blessed soul, leads it to Paradise. If iniquities preponderate, the soul is meet by a hideous spectre, which howls out, 'I am thy evil genius; I was impure from the first, but thy misdeeds have made me fouler; through thee we shall remain miserable until the resurrection'; the sinning soul is then dragged away to hell, where Ahriman sits to taunt it with its crimes." Such is the doctrine of Parseeism. The same is the case in China, where Bishop Hurd, giving an account of the Chinese descriptions of the infernal regions, and of the figures that refer to them, says, "One of them always represents a sinner in a pair of scales, with his iniquities in the one, and his good works in another." "We meet with several such representations," he adds, "in the Grecian mythology." Thus does Sir J. F. Davis describe the operation of the principle in China: "In a work of some note on morals, called Merits and Demerits Examined, a man is directed to keep a debtor and creditor account with himself of the acts of each day, and at the end of the year to wind it up. If the balance is in his favour, it serves as the foundation of a stock of merits for the ensuing year: and if against him, it must be liquidated by future good deeds. Various lists and comparative tables are given of both good and bad actions in the several relations of life; and benevolence is strongly inculcated in regard first to man, and, secondly, to the brute creation. To cause another's death is reckoned at one hundred on the side of demerit; while a single act of charitable relief counts as one on the other side...To save a person's life ranks in the above work as an exact set-off to the opposite act of taking it away; and it is said that this deed of merit will prolong a person's life twelve years."
While such a mode of justification is, on the one hand, in the very nature of the case, utterly demoralising, there never could by means of it, on the other, be in the bosom of any man whose conscience is aroused, any solid feeling of comfort, or assurance as to his prospects in the eternal world. Who could ever tell, however good he might suppose himself to be, whether the "sum of his good actions" would or would not counterbalance the amount of sins and transgressions that his conscience might charge against him. How very different the Scriptural, the god-like plan of "justification by faith," and "faith alone, without the deeds of the law," absolutely irrespective of human merits, simply and solely through the "righteousness of Christ, that is unto all and upon all them that believe," that delivers at once and for ever "from all condemnation," those who accept of the offered Saviour, and by faith are vitally united to Him. It is not the will of our Father in heaven, that His children in this world should be ever in doubt and darkness as to the vital point of their eternal salvation. Even a genuine saint, no doubt, may for a season, if need be, be in heaviness through manifold temptations, but such is not the natural, the normal state of a healthful Christian, of one who knows the fulness and the freeness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace. God has laid the most solid foundation for all His people to say, with John, "We have KNOWN and believed the love which God hath to us" (1 John 4:16); or with Paul, "I am PERSUADED that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:38,39). But this no man can every say, who "goes about to establish his own righteousness" (Rom 10:3), who seeks, in any shape, to be justified by works. Such assurance, such comfort, can come only from a simple and believing reliance on the free, unmerited grace of God, given in and along with Christ, the unspeakable gift of the Father's love. It was this that made Luther's spirit to be, as he himself declared, "as free as a flower of the field," when, single and alone, he went up to the Diet of Worms, to confront all the prelates and potentates there convened to condemn the doctrine which he held. It was this that in every age made the martyrs go with such sublime heroism not only to prison but to death. It is this that emancipates the soul, restores the true dignity of humanity, and cuts up by the roots all the imposing pretensions of priestcraft. It is this only that can produce a life of loving, filial, hearty obedience to the law and commandments of God; and that, when nature fails, and when the king of terrors is at hand, can enable poor, guilty sons of men, with the deepest sense of unworthiness, yet to say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 15:55,57).
Now, to all such confidence in God, such assurance of salvation, spiritual despotism in every age, both Pagan and Papal, has ever shown itself unfriendly. Its grand object has always been to keep the souls of its votaries away from direct and immediate intercourse with a living and merciful Saviour, and consequently from assurance of His favour, to inspire a sense of the necessity of human mediation, and so to establish itself on the ruins of the hopes and the happiness of the world. Considering the pretensions which the Papacy makes to absolute infallibility, and the supernatural powers which it attributes to the functions of its priests, in regard to regeneration and the forgiveness of sins, it might have been supposed, as a matter of course, that all its adherents would have been encouraged to rejoice in the continual assurance of their personal salvation. But the very contrary is the fact. After all its boastings and high pretensions, perpetual doubt on the subject of a man's salvation, to his life's end, is inculcated as a duty; it being peremptorily decreed as an article of faith by the Council of Trent, "That no man can know with infallible assurance of faith that he HAS OBTAINED the grace of God." This very decree of Rome, while directly opposed to the Word of God, stamps its own lofty claims with the brand of imposture; for if no man who has been regenerated by its baptism, and who has received its absolution from sin, can yet have any certain assurance after all that "the grace of God" has been conferred upon him, what can be the worth of its opus operatum? Yet, in seeking to keep its devotees in continual doubt and uncertainty as to their final state, it is "wise after its generation." In the Pagan system, it was the priest alone who could at all pretend to anticipate the operation of the scales of Anubis; and, in the confessional, there was from time to time, after a sort, a mimic rehearsal of the dread weighing that was to take place at last in the judgment scene before the tribunal of Osiris. There the priest sat in judgment on the good deeds and bad deeds of his penitents; and, as his power and influence were founded to a large extent on the mere principle of slavish dread, he took care that the scale should generally turn in the wrong direction, that they might be more subservient to his will in casting in a due amount of good works into the opposite scale. As he was the grand judge of what these works should be, it was his interest to appoint what should be most for the selfish aggrandisement of himself, or the glory of his order; and yet so to weigh and counterweigh merits and demerits, that there should always be left a large balance to be settled, not only by the man himself, but by his heirs. If any man had been allowed to believe himself beforehand absolutely sure of glory, the priests might have been in danger of being robbed of their dues after death--an issue by all means to be guarded against. Now, the priests of Rome have in every respect copied after the priests of Anubis, the god of the scales. In the confessional, when they have an object to gain, they make the sins and transgressions good weight; and then, when they have a man of influence, or power, or wealth to deal with, they will not give him the slightest hope till round sums of money, or the founding of an abbey, or some other object on which they have set their heart, be cast into the other scale. In the famous letter of Pere La Chaise, the confessor of Louis XIV of France, giving an account of the method which he adopted to gain the consent of that licentious monarch to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by which such cruelties were inflicted on his innocent Huguenot subjects, we see how the fear of the scales of St. Michael operated in bringing about the desired result: "Many a time since," says the accomplished Jesuit, referring to an atrocious sin of which the king had been guilty, "many a time since, when I have had him at confession, I have shook hell about his ears, and made him sigh, fear and tremble, before I would give him absolution. By this I saw that he had still an inclination to me, and was willing to be under my government; so I set the baseness of the action before him by telling the whole story, and how wicked it was, and that it could not be forgiven till he had done some good action to BALANCE that, and expiate the crime. Whereupon he at last asked me what he must do. I told him that he must root out all heretics from his kingdom." This was the "good action" to be cast into the scale of St. Michael the Archangel, to "BALANCE" his crime. The king, wicked as he was--sore against his will-consented; the "good action" was cast in, the "heretics" were extirpated; and the king was absolved. But yet the absolution was not such but that, when he went the way of all the earth, there was still much to be cast in before the scales could be fairly adjusted. Thus Paganism and Popery alike "make merchandise of the souls of men" (Rev 18:13). Thus the one with the scales of Anubis, the other with the scales of St. Michael, exactly answer to the Divine description of Ephraim in his apostacy: "Ephraim is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand" (Hosea 12:7). The Anubis of the Egyptians was precisely the same as the Mercury of the Greeks--the "god of thieves." St. Michael, in the hands of Rome, answers exactly to the same character. By means of him and his scales, and their doctrine of human merits, they have made what they call the house of God to be nothing else than a "den of thieves." To rob men of their money is bad, but infinitely worse to cheat them also of their souls.
Into the scales of Anubis, the ancient Pagans, by way of securing their justification, were required to put not merely good deeds, properly so called, but deeds of austerity and self-mortification inflicted on their own persons, for averting the wrath of the gods. The scales of St. Michael inflexibly required to be balanced in the very same way. The priests of Rome teach that when sin is forgiven, the punishment is not thereby fully taken away. However perfect may be the pardon that God, through the priests, may bestow, yet punishment, greater or less, still remains behind, which men must endure, and that to "satisfy the justice of God." Again and again has it been shown that man cannot do anything to satisfy the justice of God, that to that justice he is hopelessly indebted, that he "has" absolutely "nothing to pay"; and more than that, that there is no need that he should attempt to pay one farthing; for that, in behalf of all who believe, Christ has finished transgression, made an end of sin, and made all the satisfaction to the broken law that that law could possibly demand. Still Rome insists that every man must be punished for his own sins, and that God cannot be satisfied * without groans and sighs, lacerations of the flesh, tortures of the body, and penances without number, on the part of the offender, however broken in heart, however contrite that offender may be.
* Bishop HAY'S Sincere Christian. The words of Bishop Hay are: "But He absolutely demands that, by penitential works, we PUNISH ourselves for our shocking ingratitude, and satisfy the Divine justice for the abuse of His mercy." The established modes of "punishment," as is well known, are just such as are described in the text.
Now, looking simply at the Scripture, this perverse demand for self-torture on the part of those for whom Christ has made a complete and perfect atonement, might seem exceedingly strange; but, looking at the real character of the god whom the Papacy has set up for the worship of its deluded devotees, there is nothing in the least strange about it. That god is Moloch, the god of barbarity and blood. Moloch signifies "king"; and Nimrod was the first after the flood that violated the patriarchal system, and set up as "king" over his fellows. At first he was worshipped as the "revealer of goodness and truth," but by-and-by his worship was made to correspond with his dark and forbidding countenance and complexion. The name Moloch originally suggested nothing of cruelty or terror; but now the well known rites associated with that name have made it for ages a synonym for all that is most revolting to the heart of humanity, and amply justify the description of Milton (Paradise Lost):
"First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears,
Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children's cries unheard, that passed through fire
To his grim idol."
In almost every land the bloody worship prevailed; "horrid cruelty," hand in hand with abject superstition, filled not only "the dark places of the earth," but also regions that boasted of their enlightenment. Greece, Rome, Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, and our own land under the savage Druids, at one period or other in their history, worshipped the same god and in the same way. Human victims were his most acceptable offerings; human groans and wailings were the sweetest music in his ears; human tortures were believed to delight his heart. His image bore, as the symbol of "majesty," a whip, and with whips his worshippers, at some of his festivals, were required unmercifully to scourge themselves. "After the ceremonies of sacrifice," says Herodotus, speaking of the feast of Isis at Busiris, "the whole assembly, to the amount of many thousands, scourge themselves; but in whose honour they do this I am not at liberty to disclose." This reserve Herodotus generally uses, out of respect to his oath as an initiated man; but subsequent researches leave no doubt as to the god "in whose honour" the scourgings took place. In Pagan Rome the worshippers of Isis observed the same practice in honour of Osiris. In Greece, Apollo, the Delian god, who was identical with Osiris, * was propitiated with similar penances by the sailors who visited his shrine, as we learn from the following lines of Callimachus in his hymn to Delos:
"Soon as they reach thy soundings, down at once
They drop slack sails and all the naval gear.
The ship is moored; nor do the crew presume
To quit thy sacred limits, till they've passed
A fearful penance; with the galling whip
Lashed thrice around thine altar."
* We have seen already, that the Egyptian Horus was just a new incarnation of Osiris or Nimrod. Now, Herodotus calls Horus by the name of Apollo. Diodorus Siculus, also, says that "Horus, the son of Isis, is interpreted to be Apollo." Wilkinson seems, on one occasion, to call this identity of Horus and Apollo in question; but he elsewhere admits that the story of Apollo's "combat with the serpent Pytho is evidently derived from the Egyptian mythology," where the allusion is to the representation of Horus piercing the snake with a spear. From divers considerations, it may be shown that this conclusion is correct: 1. Horus, or Osiris, was the sun-god, so was Apollo. 2. Osiris, whom Horus represented, was the great Revealer; the Pythian Apollo was the god of oracles. 3. Osiris, in the character of Horus, was born when his mother was said to be persecuted by the malice of her enemies. Latona, the mother of Apollo, was a fugitive for a similar reason when Apollo was born. 4. Horus, according to one version of the myth, was said, like Osiris, to have been cut in pieces (PLUTARCH, De Iside). In the classic story of Greece, this part of the myth of Apollo was generally kept in the background; and he was represented as victor in the conflict with the serpent; but even there it was sometimes admitted that he had suffered a violent death, for by Porphyry he is said to have been slain by the serpent, and Pythagoras affirmed that he had seen his tomb at Tripos in Delphi (BRYANT). 5. Horus was the war-god. Apollo was represented in the same way as the great god represented in Layard, with the bow and arrow, who was evidently the Babylonian war-god, Apollo's well known title of "Arcitenens,"--"the bearer of the bow," having evidently been borrowed from that source. Fuss tells us that Apollo was regarded as the inventor of the art of shooting with the bow, which identifies him with Sagittarius, whose origin we have already seen. 6. Lastly, from Ovid (Metam.) we learn that, before engaging with Python, Apollo had used his arrows only on fallow-deer, stags, &c. All which sufficiently proves his substantial identification with the mighty Hunter of Babel.
Over and above the scourgings, there were also slashings and cuttings of the flesh required as propitiatory rites on the part of his worshippers. "In the solemn celebration of the Mysteries," says Julius Firmicus, "all things in order had to be done, which the youth either did or suffered at his death." Osiris was cut in pieces; therefore, to imitate his fate, so far as living men might do so, they were required to cut and wound their own bodies. Therefore, when the priests of Baal contended with Elijah, to gain the favour of their god, and induce him to work the desired miracle in their behalf, "they cried aloud and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and with lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them" (1 Kings 18:28). In Egypt, the natives in general, though liberal in the use of the whip, seem to have been sparing of the knife; but even there, there were men also who mimicked on their own persons the dismemberment of Osiris. "The Carians of Egypt," says Herodotus, in the place already quoted, "treat themselves at this solemnity with still more severity, for they cut themselves in the face with swords" (HERODOTUS). To this practice, there can be no doubt, there is a direct allusion in the command in the Mosaic law, "Ye shall make no cuttings in your flesh for the dead" (Lev 19:28). * These cuttings in the flesh are largely practised in the worship of the Hindoo divinities, as propitiatory rites or meritorious penances. They are well known to have been practised in the rites of Bellona, ** the "sister" or "wife of the Roman war-god Mars," whose name, "The lamenter of Bel," clearly proves the original of her husband to whom the Romans were so fond of tracing back their pedigree.
* Every person who died in the faith was believed to be identified with Osiris, and called by his name. (WILKINSON)
** "The priests of Bellona," says Lactantius, "sacrificed not with any other men's blood but their own, their shoulders being lanced, and with both hands brandishing naked swords, they ran and leaped up and down like mad men."
They were practised also in the most savage form in the gladiatorial shows, in which the Roman people, with all their boasted civilisation, so much delighted. The miserable men who were doomed to engage in these bloody exhibitions did not do so generally of their own free will. But yet, the principle on which these shows were conducted was the very same as that which influenced the priests of Baal. They were celebrated as propitiatory sacrifices. From Fuss we learn that "gladiatorial shows were sacred" to Saturn; and in Ausonius we read that "the amphitheatre claims its gladiators for itself, when at the end of December they PROPITIATE with their blood the sickle-bearing Son of Heaven." On this passage, Justus Lipsius, who quotes it, thus comments: "Where you will observe two things, both, that the gladiators fought on the Saturnalia, and that they did so for the purpose of appeasing and PROPITIATING Saturn." "The reason of this," he adds, "I should suppose to be, that Saturn is not among the celestial but the infernal gods. Plutarch, in his book of 'Summaries,' says that 'the Romans looked upon Kronos as a subterranean and infernal God.'" There can be no doubt that this is so far true, for the name of Pluto is only a synonym for Saturn, "The Hidden One." *
* The name Pluto is evidently from "Lut," to hide, which with the Egyptian definite article prefixed, becomes "P'Lut." The Greek "wealth," "the hidden thing," is obviously formed in the same way. Hades is just another synonym of the same name.
But yet, in the light of the real history of the historical Saturn, we find a more satisfactory reason for the barbarous custom that so much disgraced the escutcheon of Rome in all its glory, when mistress of the world, when such multitudes of men were
"Butchered to make a Roman holiday."
When it is remembered that Saturn himself was cut in pieces, it is easy to see how the idea would arise of offering a welcome sacrifice to him by setting men to cut one another in pieces on his birthday, by way of propitiating his favour.
The practice of such penances, then, on the part of those of the Pagans who cut and slashed themselves, was intended to propitiate and please their god, and so to lay up a stock of merit that might tell in their behalf in the scales of Anubis. In the Papacy, the penances are not only intended to answer the same end, but, to a large extent,they are identical. I do not know, indeed, that they use the knife as the priests of Baal did; but it is certain that they look upon the shedding of their own blood as a most meritorious penance, that gains them high favour with God, and wipes away many sins. Let the reader look at the pilgrims at Lough Dergh, in Ireland, crawling on their bare knees over the sharp rocks, and leaving the bloody tracks behind them, and say what substantial difference there is between that and cutting themselves with knives. In the matter of scourging themselves, however, the adherents of the Papacy have literally borrowed the lash of Osiris. Everyone has heard of the Flagellants, who publicly scourge themselves on the festivals of the Roman Church, and who are regarded as saints of the first water. In the early ages of Christianity such flagellations were regarded as purely and entirely Pagan. Athenagoras, one of the early Christian Apologists, holds up the Pagans to ridicule for thinking that sin could be atoned for, or God propitiated, by any such means. But now, in the high places of the Papal Church, such practices are regarded as the grand means of gaining the favour of God. On Good Friday, at Rome and Madrid, and other chief seats of Roman idolatry, multitudes flock together to witness the performances of the saintly whippers, who lash themselves till the blood gushes in streams from every part of their body. They pretend to do this in honour of Christ, on the festival set apart professedly to commemorate His death, just as the worshippers of Osiris did the same on the festival when they lamented for his loss. *
* The priests of Cybele at Rome observed the same practice.
But can any man of the least Christian enlightenment believe that the exalted Saviour can look on such rites as doing honour to Him, which pour contempt on His all-perfect atonement, and represent His most "precious blood" as needing to have its virtue supplemented by that of blood drawn from the backs of wretched and misguided sinners? Such offerings were altogether fit for the worship of Moloch; but they are the very opposite of being fit for the service of Christ.
It is not in one point only, but in manifold respects, that the ceremonies of "Holy Week" at Rome, as it is termed, recall to memory the rites of the great Babylonian god. The more we look at these rites, the more we shall be struck with the wonderful resemblance that subsists between them and those observed at the Egyptian festival of burning lamps and the other ceremonies of the fire-worshippers in different countries. In Egypt the grand illumination took place beside the sepulchre of Osiris at Sais. In Rome in "Holy Week," a sepulchre of Christ also figures in connection with a brilliant illumination of burning tapers. In Crete, where the tomb of Jupiter was exhibited, that tomb was an object of worship to the Cretans. In Rome, if the devotees do not worship the so-called sepulchre of Christ, they worship what is entombed within it. As there is reason to believe that the Pagan festival of burning lamps was observed in commemoration of the ancient fire-worship, so there is a ceremony at Rome in the Easter week, which is an unmistakable act of fire-worship, when a cross of fire is the grand object of worship. This ceremony is thus graphically described by the authoress of Rome in the 19th Century: "The effect of the blazing cross of fire suspended from the dome above the confession or tomb of St. Peter's, was strikingly brilliant at night. It is covered with innumerable lamps, which have the effect of one blaze of fire...The whole church was thronged with a vast multitude of all classes and countries, from royalty to the meanest beggar, all gazing upon this one object. In a few minutes the Pope and all his Cardinals descended into St. Peter's, and room being kept for them by the Swiss guards, the aged Pontiff...prostrated himself in silent adoration before the CROSS OF FIRE. A long train of Cardinals knelt before him, whose splendid robes and attendant train-bearers, formed a striking contrast to the humility of their attitude." What could be a more clear and unequivocal act of fire-worship than this? Now, view this in connection with the fact stated in the following extract from the same work, and how does the one cast light on the other: "With Holy Thursday our miseries began [that is, from crowding]. On this disastrous day we went before nine to the Sistine chapel...and beheld a procession led by the inferior orders of clergy, followed up by the Cardinals in superb dresses, bearing long wax tapers in their hands, and ending with the Pope himself, who walked beneath a crimson canopy, with his head uncovered, bearing the Host in a box; and this being, as you know, the real flesh and blood of Christ, was carried from the Sistine chapel through the intermediate hall to the Paulina chapel, where it was deposited in the sepulchre prepared to receive it beneath the altar...I never could learn why Christ was to be buried before He was dead, for, as the crucifixion did not take place till Good Friday, it seems odd to inter Him on Thursday. His body, however, is laid in the sepulchre, in all the churches of Rome, where this rite is practised, on Thursday forenoon, and it remains there till Saturday at mid-day, when, for some reason best known to themselves, He is supposed to rise from the grave amidst the firing of cannon, and blowing of trumpets, and jingling of bells, which have been carefully tied up ever since the dawn of Holy Thursday, lest the devil should get into them." The worship of the cross of fire on Good Friday explains at once the anomaly otherwise so perplexing, that Christ should be buried on Thursday, and rise from the dead on Saturday. If the festival of Holy Week be really, as its rites declare, one of the old festivals of Saturn, the Babylonian fire-god, who, though an infernal god, was yet Phoroneus, the great "Deliverer," it is altogether natural that the god of the Papal idolatry, though called by Christ's name, should rise from the dead on his own day--the Dies Saturni, or "Saturn's day." *
* The above account referred to the ceremonies as witnessed by the authoress in 1817 and 1818. It would seem that some change has taken place since then, caused probably by the very attention called by her to the gross anomaly mentioned above; for Count Vlodaisky, formerly a Roman Catholic priest, who visited Rome in 1845, has informed me that in that year the resurrection took place, not at mid-day, but at nine o'clock on the evening of Saturday. This may have been intended to make the inconsistency between Roman practice and Scriptural fact appear somewhat less glaring. Still the fact remains, that the resurrection of Christ, as celebrated at Rome, takes place, not on His own day--"The Lord's day"--but--on the day of Saturn, the god of fire!
On the day before the Miserere is sung with such overwhelming pathos, that few can listen to it unmoved, and many even swoon with the emotions that are excited. What if this be at bottom only the old song of Linus, of whose very touching and melancholy character Herodotus speaks so strikingly? Certain it is, that much of the pathos of that Miserere depends on the part borne in singing it by the sopranos; and equally certain it is that Semiramis, the wife of him who, historically, was the original of that god whose tragic death was so pathetically celebrated in many countries, enjoys the fame, such as it is, of having been the inventress of the practice from which soprano singing took its rise.
Now, the flagellations which form an important part of the penances that take place at Rome on the evening of Good Friday, formed an equally important part in the rites of that fire-god, from which, as we have seen, the Papacy has borrowed so much. These flagellations, then, of "Passion Week," taken in connection with the other ceremonies of that period, bear their additional testimony to the real character of that god whose death and resurrection Rome then celebrates. Wonderful it is to consider that, in the very high place of what is called Catholic Christendom, the essential rites at this day are seen to be the very rites of the old Chaldean fire-worshippers.