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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;'l 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!'? 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?

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CHAPTER VII.

THE APOSTLES.

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

not seek him among the pious but ignorant men who address their humble auditors in our highways with confiding trust in their own election as chosen vessels, but they select his lordship from eminent candidates distinguished by learning, wisdom, and discretion, and his episcopal career generally justifies the choice of uninspired sagacity.

Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, and other silent members of the apostolic brotherhood may, however, plead extenuating circumstances, as how could it occur to them to provide for the religious instruction of posterity whilst expecting the second advent of their Lord and Master within their own generation ?

The apostles are, however, merely lay figures in the evangelical drama, except when depicted as envoys or heralds sent forth to announce the advent of the Kingdom, with

power to heal the sick, cast out devils, and raise the dead, the latter clause being an interpolation absent from the best manuscripts. When we, however, consider that these apostolic missionaries were to carefully avoid Samaritans and Gentiles, that they would not have got through their labours in the cities of Israel before the second Advent, and that none but the Hebrews would ever, consequently, receive the message of the Kingdom, we necessarily reject this episode as apocryphal, more especially as the Apostles almost immediately re-appeared in the society of Jesus.

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CHAPTER VIII.

THE SCRIBES AND THE PHARISEES.

It is disappointing to find, from his unconditional and persistent denunciation of the Pharisees, that Jesus had not risen above the error, so common among theologians, of denying the presence of conscientious belief and honesty of purpose in their religious opponents. The Sadducees were the conservative supporters of the old Mosaic system as defined in the Pentateuch, which is silent respecting the immortality of the soul, and retribution beyond the grave. The Pharisees had borrowed the great theories of Immortality and Resurrection from the theologies of foreign nations, and gradually invested them with the authority of Mosaic sanction, through the ingenious but untenable hypothesis that the great prophet of Israel had not only received a written, but also an oral law on Mount Sinai, which had been tradionally transmitted from generation to generation. Jesus accepted the heathen doctrines of Immortality and Resurrection at the hands of the Pharisees, without the slightest pretension to more definite knowledge of these great mysteries than was derivable from the popular theology of his age and generation. How, therefore, could he consistently condemn the Pharisees for utilising traditions, through the partial adoption of which he had attained his own most important convictions ? Might not the

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