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and the appalling vicissitudes of three thousand years are forgotten, in the midst of a civilisation created by Aryan Races, once classed, by Hebrew intolerance, among the enemies of God?
In modern times we hear of reformed, as distinguished from orthodox,' Judaism. But we have omitted all reference to Semitic Protestantism, as we consider that, if the Mosaic dispensation be a personal communication from the Hebrew Deity, it admits of no modification except through a new revelation; and that modern Jews who sanction the appeal to Reason against Mosaic teaching, have practically surrendered Semitic pretensions to the possession of a supernatural religion.
Having thus briefly reviewed and rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism on their own merits, we can imagine orthodox theologians exclaiming, 'How profound the spiritual darkness which thus rashly judges Moses and the prophets, apart from that Christian dispensation through which alone we can interpret the divine mysteries imperfectly revealed in Hebrew Scripture!' Let us, therefore, no longer dwell on Judaism, but seek revelation in the School of Galilee.
BOOK II. JESUS OF NAZARETH.
NEARLY nineteen centuries have elapsed since Jesus of Nazareth was born to the destiny of Divinity, as the future Deity of the western branch of that great Aryan race whose illustrious teacher, Sakya-Muni, anticipated the Kingdom of Heaven by the Kingdom of Righteousness, five hundred years before the Christian era ; and now commands the reverence of one-third of the world's inhabitants, through varying forms of modern Buddhism.
Filled with admiration of the moral genius of the great Jew who has exercised so vast an influence on the fortunes of Humanity, we feel an absorbing curiosity to learn all that is possible respecting the career of Jesus on earth ; but as he omitted to transmit to posterity any autographic or authenticated record of his life, our scanty sources of knowledge respecting his character and teaching are limited to the anonymous Gospels reaching us through the Christian Church.
Evangelical theologians formerly assigned to the versions of these books in our possession an authenticity as indisputable as if our modern editions were printed in heaven and Jesus himself revised the proof sheets. But the Gospels have not reached us as divine editions. Jesus never wrote nor edited them, nor did he instruct apostles or disciples to compose sacred books the contents of which should be binding on the reason and conscience of posterity. On the contrary, so unsuggestive of dogma and mysticism was the simple theology of Jesus, that the necessity for written records seems never to have occurred to him. Had he foreseen the future growth of a Christian literature, of authorship so doubtful and interpretation so conflicting as to originate the antagonistic creeds of hostile churches, fruitful in anathemas involving eternal perdition, Jesus would have placed on record, in a few brief words, as intelligible to the multitude as his formula of prayer, the simple articles of faith which, in his opinion, qualify members for the kingdom of heaven.
The sacred books of the Hebrews were the only Scriptures of primitive Christianity. Whilst the religion of Jesus was yet innocent of creeds and dogmas, and its votaries were expecting the early re-appearance of the Messiah, they felt no need of written documents, and were content to hold their simple theology through oral traditions recording with verbal freedom and varying version the acts and teaching of Jesus and his apostles.
The Apostolic Fathers freely quote the Hebrew Scriptures, but traces of reference to evangelical language in their works are too faint to indicate knowledge of extant written Gospels.
In the second century, Papias, although acquainted with early versions of Matthew and Mark, discloses his ignorance of a present or future New Testament of infallible authority, by assigning a higher place to oral traditions than to written records.
The first reliable traces of the existence of Evangelists are found in the writings of the Fathers succeeding the Apostolic Age, who, however, adopt a freedom of expression irreconcilable with the theory of an infallible New Testament.
Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) was acquainted with versions of the first and third Gospels. He was ignorant of, or rejected Pauline literature, spoke of Revelations as the work of a man among us named John,' and assigned to books, which we now call apocryphal, the same authority as to works now deemed infallible.
Polycarp (A.D. 150-166), in his epistle to the Philippians, cites the first three Gospels, 1 Peter, and several Pauline epistles, but gives no indication of having ever heard of an infallible New Testament.
The second epistle of Peter, written in the name of that apostle about a century after his death, refers to the Pauline epistles as Scripture; but the author of this pious fiction probably wrote with the laudable design of reconciling the conflicting claims of Pauline and Petrine theology, by depicting Peter canonising in his lifetime the literary productions of his great rival.
The age of oral traditions was followed by a period prolific in Gospels, Acts, and Revelations, ostensibly written by Apostles or men of the Apostolic age, but varying in version with the divergent views of antagonistic sects, mutually suspected of corrupting the text of Christian records. If, therefore, Christianity was ever to assume the form of a definite theology, it became necessary to select and authenticate specific versions as