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wonderment. It was invariably considered to be attainable only by the especial gift of heaven,* and no cure of any sort, or in any way effected, was ever ascribed to natural causes merely. Those who, after due training in the ascetic discipline, were sent out from the University of Alexandria to practice their divinely acquired art in the towns and villages, were recognized as regular or canonical apostles: while those who had not obtained their credentials from the college, who set up for themselves, or who, after having left the college, ceased to recognise its appointment, were called false apostles, quacks, heretics, and empirics. And in several of the early apocryphal scriptures, we find the titles Apostolici and Apostactici (apostolical, and apostactical, i. e. of the monkish order of Apostactites, or Solitaires,) perfectly synonimous. Eusebius emphatically calls the apostactical Therapeuts apostolical. "Philo (he says) wrote also a treatise on the contemplative life, or the Worshippers; from whence, we have borrowed those things, which we allege concerning the manner of life of those apostolical men."+ Indeed, Christ himself, is represented as describing his apostles as members of this solitary order of monks, and being one himself:-" They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”—John xvii. 16. What then but monks? The seceders or dissenters (and of this class was St. Paul), upon finding the advantage of setting up in the trade upon their own independent foundation, pleaded their success in miracles of healing, as evidence of their divine commission; and abundantly returned the revilings of the Therapeutan college.
Unaided by the lights of anatomy, and unfounded on any principles of rational science; recovery from disease could only be ascribed to supernatural powers. A fever was supposed to be a dæmon that had taken up his abode in the body of the unfortunate patient, and was to be expelled, not by any virtue of material causes; but by incantations, spells, and leucomancy, or white magic; as opposed to necromancy, or black magic, by which diseases and evils of all sorts were believed to be incurred. The white magic consisted of prayers, fastings,§ baptisms,
"To another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit. Have all the gifts of healing?" 1 Cor. xii.-Query. How did he spend three years in Arabia, but in a course of study for the ministry?
† Ο (λόγος) περι βια θεωρητικό, η ικετών, εξ 8, τα περί το βιο των αποστολικόν avdpwv dieλniveauer.-Eccl. Hist. lib. 2, c. 17, Á. Galat. i. 17. "Howbeit this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting." Matt. xviii. 21.
sacraments, &c. which were believed to have the same power over good dæmons, and even over God himself, as the black magic had over evil dæmons and their supreme head, the Devil. The trembling patient was only entitled to expect his cure in proportion to his faith, to believe without understanding, and to surrender his fortune and life itself to the purposes of his physician, and to the business of imposing upon others, the deceits that had been practiced upon himself.
Even to this day, the name retained by our sacred writings, is derived from the belief of their magical influence, as a spell or charm of God, to drive away diseases. The Irish peasantry still continue to tie passages of St. John's Spell, or St. John's God's-spell, to the horns of cows to make them give more milk; nor would any powers of rational argument shake their conviction of the efficacy of a bit of the word, tied round a colt's heels, to prevent them from swelling.
It will become physicians of higher claims to science and rationality, to triumph over the veterinary piety of the Bog of Allen, when their own forms of prescription shall no longer betray the wish to conceal from the patient the nature of the ingredients to which he is to trust his life, nor bear, as the first mark of the pen upon the paper, the mystical hieroglyphic of Jupiter, the talismanic B, under whose influence the prescribed herbs were to be gathered, and from whose miraculous agency their operation was to be expected.
The Thereapeutæ of Egypt, from whom are descended the vagrant hordes of Jews and Gypsies, had well found by what arts mankind were to be cajoled; and as they boasted their acquaintance with the sanative qualities of herbs of all countries; so in their extensive peregrinations through all the then known regions of the earth, they had not failed to bring home, and remodel to their own purposes, those sacred spells or religious romances, which they found had been successfully palmed on the credulity of remote nations. Hence the Indian Chrishna might have become the Therapeutan head of the order of spiritual physicians.
No principle was held more sacred than that of the necessity of keeping the sacred writings from the knowledge of the people. Nothing could be safer from the danger of discovery than the substitution, with scarce a change of names, "of the incarnate Deity of the Sanscrit
Romance" for the imaginary founder of the Thereapeutan college. What had been said to have been done in India, could be as well said to have been done in Palestine. The change of names and places, and the mixing up of various sketches of the Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman mythology, would constitute a sufficient disguise to evade the languid curiosity of infant scepticism. A knowledge within the acquisition only of a few, and which the strongest possible interest bound that few to hold inviolate, would soon pass entirely from the records of human memory. A long continued habit of imposing upon others would in time subdue the minds of the impostors themselves, and cause them to become at length the dupes of their own deception, to forget the temerity in which their first assertions had originated, to catch the infection of the prevailing credulity, and to believe their own lie.
In such, the known and never-changing laws of nature, and the invariable operation of natural causes, we find the solution of every difficulty and perplexity that remoteness of time might throw in the way of our judgment of past events.
But when, to such an apparatus of rational probability, we are enabled to bring in the absolute ratification of unquestionably testimony,-to show that what was in supposition more probable than any thing else that could be supposed, was in fact that which absolutely took place,—we have the highest degree of evidence of which history is capable; we can give no other definition of historical truth itself.
The probability, then, that that sect of vagrant quackdoctors, the Therapeuta, who were established in Egypt and its neighbourhood many ages before the period assigned by later theologians as that of the birth of Christ, were the original fabricators of the writings contained in the New Testament; becomes certainty on the basis of evidence, than which history hath nothing more certain-by the unguarded, but explicit-unwary, but most unqualified and positive, statement of the historian Eusebius, that "those ancient Therapeuta were Christians, and that their ancient writings were our Gospels and Epistles."* The wonder with which Lardner quotes this astonishing confession of the great
*The above most important passage of all ecclesiastical records, is in the 2d book, the 17th chapter, and 53d and following pages of his History. The title of a whole chapter (the fourth of the first book) of this work is, THAT THE RELIGION PUBLISHED BY JESUS CHRIST TO ALL NATIONS IS NEITHER NEW NOR STRANGE.
pillar of the pretended evidences of the Christian religion,* only shows how aware he was of the fatal inferences with which it teems.
It is most essentially observable, that the Essenes or Thereapeuts, in addition to their monopoly of the art of healing, professed themselves to be Eclectics; they held Plate in the highest esteem, though they made no scruple to join with his doctrines, whatever they thought conformable to reason in the tenets and opinions of the other philosophers.
"These sages were of opinion that true philosophy, the greatest and most salutary gift of God to mortals, was scattered, in various portions, through all the different sects; and that it was, consequently, the duty of every wise man to gather it from the several corners where it lay dispersed, and to employ it, thus re-united, in destroying the dominion of impiety and vice." The principal seat of this philosophy was at Alexandria; and "it manifestly appears," says Mosheim,§" from the testimony of Philo the Jew, who was himself one of this sect, that this (Eclectic) philosophy (of this Essenian or Therapeutan sect) was in a flourishing state at Alexandria when our Saviour was upon earth."-Eccl. Hist. Cent. 1, p. 1.
1. We have only to collate the admission of the orthodox Lactantius, that Christianity itself was the Eclectic Philosophy, inasmuch as that " if there had been any one to have collected the truth that was scattered and diffused among the various sects of philosophers and divines into one, and to have reduced it into a system, there would indeed be no difference between him and a Christian:"|| 2. To compare the various tenets and speculations of the different philosophers and religionists of antiquity with the strong and particular smatch of the Platonic philosophy, which we actually see pervading the New Testament: and to add the weight in all reason and fairness due to the positive testimony of that unquestionably learned and intelligent Manichæan Christian and bishop, Faustus, that "it is an undoubted fact, that the New Testament was not written by Christ himself, nor by his
Credibility, vol. 2, 4to. p. 361.
+ Observe well, the phrases, the philosophy-our philosophy," and the a true philosophy," occur throughout the Fathers, in a hundred passages for one, where "Christianity" should have been the word.
Mosheim, vol. 1, p. 169.
Ibid, p. 37.
Admission No. 10 in the chapter of Admissions.
apostles, but a long while after their time, by some unknown persons, who, lest they should not be credited when they wrote of affairs they were little acquainted with, affixed to their works the names of apostles, or of such as were supposed to have been their companions, and then said that they were written according to them."Faust. lib. 2.
To this important passage, of which I reserve the original text for my next occasion of quoting it,* I here subjoin what the same high authority objects, if possibly with still increasing emphasis, against the arguments of St. Augustine:+-" For many things have been inserted by your ancestors in the speeches of our Lord, which, though put forth under his name, agree not with his faith; especially since,—as already it has been often proved by us,-that these things were not written by Christ, nor his apostles, but a long while after their assumption, by I know not what sort of HALF-JEWS, not even agreeing with themselves, who made up their tale out of reports and opinions merely; and yet, fathering the whole upon the names of the apostles of the Lord, or on those who were supposed to have followed the apostles; they mendaciously pretended that they had written their lies and conceits, according to them.' The conclusion is irre
THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, DOCTRINES, DISCIPLINE. AND ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY, LONG ANTERIOR TO THE PERIOD ASSIGNED AS THAT OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
FROM the more general account of that remarkable sect of philosophical religionists, the Egyptian Thereapeuts, which we have collected from the admissions of the most
* In chapter 15.
"Multa enim a majoribus vestris, eloquiis Domini nostri inserta verba sunt; quæ nomine signata ipsius, cum ejus fide non congruant, præsertim, quia, ut jam sæpe probatum a nobis est, nec ab ipso hæc sunt, nec ab ejus apostolis scripta, sed multo post eorum assumptionem, a nescio quibus, et ipsis inter se non concordantibus SEMI-JUDEIS, per famas opinionesque comperta sunt; qui tamen omnia eadem in apostolorum Domini conferentes nomiua, vel eorum qui secuti apostolos viderentur, errores ac mendacia sua secundum eos se scripsisse mentiti sunt."-Faust. lib. 33, c. 3.