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tion of the body, as borrowed by the Hebrews from heathen philosophy and religion. The Sadducees, however, adopted an ingenious device for testing his views on these important subjects.
According to a most objectionable law of Moses, when a married man died without issue, it became obligatory on his brother to marry the widow. The Sadducees logically inferring that a woman might thus become the wife of seven brothers in succession, inquired of Jesus what would be the relationship of one wife to seven husbands at the resurrection. Jesus answered, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.'1
What scriptures? The Book of Enoch, in which we read, “And all the righteous shall become angels in heaven.' From this book, therefore, as inspired scripture, Jesus drew his ideas of the life hereafter. He, however, added, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.' Jehovah, therefore, in excluding any direct reference to immortality from the Pentateuch, left men to guess at this important doctrine by an ingenious adaptation of words spoken without any apparent allusion to the subject. Could Jehovah have said, 'I was the God of Abraham'? Or if a man should now say, 'I am the descendant of William the Conqueror,' would we accept these words as proof of his belief in the immortality of the soul?
1 Matt. xxii.
Can we imagine a more destructive blow to the doctrine of immortality, than that he who, according to orthodox faith, existed from eternity, could suggest no more convincing proof of the life hereafter than the forced construction of an isolated passage in an ancient book, which he accepted as the inspired work of Moses, with the same unquestioning faith which canonised the Hebrew fiction of Enoch?
According to orthodox chronology, this discussion of the doctrine of the resurrection as a' theoretical question dependent on the interpretation of Scripture, occurred about two years after Jesus had publicly raised the young man of Nain from the dead. What clearer proof can we hold of the purely legendary character of the miracle?
Jesus borrowed his conceptions of the final judgment, the joy of the righteous, and the everlasting torments of the wicked from the Book of Enoch. When we consider his own tender and compassionate nature, and his beneficent ideal of Divinity, his condemnation of sinners to eternal fire becomes incomprehensible until we discover that he is merely reproducing the ideas of an author whom he accepts as an inspired prophet. The independent judgment of Jesus would have detected the fiction of eternal fire in the beneficence of his Father in heaven; but how could he who, in humble reverence for the authority of Scripture, had accepted unmerited persecution and death at the hands of Isaiah, question the inspired oracles of Enoch, whose language left no room for doubt that an appalling futurity of agonising torment was the inevitable doom of all but the elect?
Jesus, therefore, taught that the tares should be cast into a ' furnace of fire;' that it was better for men to enter the kingdom of heaven as cripples, than to be cast into 'everlasting fire ;' and that, in the day of judgment, he should say to those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world;'1 and to the unhappy beings on his left, • Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels :' words of appalling import, which, when adopted by Christianity as the inevitable consequences of theological error, so hardened the hearts of saints and martyrs, that they rejoiced in the hope of witnessing the awful torments of unbelieving sinners. What exulta tion of angelic hosts and risen saints,' says Tertullian, ' when, in the last judgment, I shall be excited by admiration, joy, exultation, derision, as I behold provincial governors and illustrious monarchs groaning in fiercer fires than they kindled for the followers of Christ! What philosophers ! poets! tragedians ! tossing on the rolling billows of dissolving flame!'2 In later generations this theoretical ferocity assumed the more practical form of anticipating eternal fire, by committing Jews and heretics to the flames before the natural termination of their lives. What more pious duty could Christians perform than to follow the example of angels by contemplating, with callous indifference or joyous exultation, the dying agonies of men passing from temporal to eternal flames?
1 Matt. xxv. 34.
2 De Spectaculis.
As enthusiastic faith in his supernatural mission made Jesus intolerant of all who differed from him in opinion; he could not submit his pretensions to the test of rational criticism, and was, therefore, deprived of the companionship and possible co-operation of men of ability and culture. This social isolation, therefore, caused the selection of his friends and future apostles from a class so humble and ignorant that their credulous assent to the imaginative creations of his exuberant fancy was a foregone conclusion. As, however, men of knowledge, wisdom, and experience are generally chosen for important duties, Jesus explained this deviation from the ordinary rules of prudence by the supernatural. His Father had concealed the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes.
Does the history of Christianity confirm this pious illusion ?
Within the lifetime of the Apostles we find a member of the sect which Jesus abhorred, presuming to prove by Hellenistic disquisitions that gospel for which Jesus demanded unquestioning faith. And the writings of Saul of Tarsus—the trained pupil of blind leaders of the blind'-exercises, to this day, a greater influence on Christian doctrine than the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, or the brief utterances of that very limited minority of the apostles who have not as absolutely vanished out of Christianity as if they had never existed.
In fact, so insensible were the apostles to the sacred duty which they owed to their master and posterity, that they most culpably omitted to jointly compile and unanimously attest an authentic version of the life and teaching, of Jesus for transmission to future generations; and thus they thoughtlessly handed over Christianity to the constructive ingenuity of Pharisees, Platonists, Ascetics, Sophists, Dialecticians, Gnostics, Manichæans, Sabellians, Arians, Trinitarians, Scholastics, and heretics of so many divergent creeds, sustained by conflicting gospels, that the Christian Church became the arena of hostile sects struggling for incomprehensible dogmas and sacred mysteries, until the epoch had arrived when the united forces of temporal and spiritual despotism ruthlessly crushed divergent heresies into the nominal Catholicity of Rome, which embodies, not the original teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, but a marvellous combination of Egyptian, Hebrew, Persian, Indian, and Grecian superstitions with the intellectual dreams of Grecian and Roman philosophy.
Such were the disappointing results of making Galilean fishermen the custodians of sacred mysteries, and of relying on supernatural inspiration for issues attainable only through the functions of human reason, to which the final appeal is inevitably made when we contest the usurped authority of sacerdotal despotism.
Do modern Christians concur with Jesus in reliance on simplicity and ignorance? Apparently not; for when our statesmen choose a bishop for consecration, they do