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feet are lacerated by inflamed and festering wounds; swarming flies transform the sensory nerves into instruments of lingering torture; the slightest movement sends a thrill of agony through each quivering limb; the veins reject the superabundant flow from distended arteries; and the blood, turned from its course, presses with swollen vessels on the throbbing brain ; the exhaustion of hunger is welcomed as the harbinger of death, but the raging agony of thirst is ever craving for one drop of water to cool the burning tongue; arrested circulation forbids coherent thought, and fills the mind with distracting imagery of horror and despair.
Convinced that we hold the true version of the Messianic illusions of Jesus, we thus imaginatively reproduce his drifting thoughts : “ Nazareth-Galileethat peaceful life of dreams until the voice had spoken in the wilderness ! But what did the Baptist mean by doubt ?' “Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another?' Another Messiah ?-another Son of Man ? -another Christ? Am I, then, a dreamer-an impostor? No; these are the whisperings of Satan; the Son of Man shall come with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment on his enemies.—They said I was beside myself, but they knew not the Scriptures : “He is despised and rejected of men, oppressed and afflicted, yet lie opened not his mouth. He was taken from pri
Hark!'. If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross.'_'I healed the sick, I cast out demons, why not release this tortured body? No, the Son must obey the Father.—That group of women, faithful unto death, when men have fled the terrors
of the cross !—Mary! how that woman loves! but the Son of Man has no love to give.-Peter! John ! James ! _That voice again'! He is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him.'
- Not yet, not yet a king !-But the time cometh, and is even now at hand, when I shall sit on the throne of my glory.'— He saved others, himself he cannot save.'
- No, for no voice was heard or angel seen in the garden of Gethsemane.—But why this lingering agony —these ignoble horrors ? May not angels bathe this burning brow, or death come quickly to end this mental anguish, this unutterable torture ? Not yet, until the Scriptures are fulfilled.'
Thus come and go his drifting thoughts, until Isaiah adds yet another pang to mental anguish. He was numbered with the transgressors,' therefore must die as the companion of thieves, who snatch some moments from despair to jeer and scoff at virtue ending thus as crime. “Is this he who preached glad tidings, healed the sick, made demons tremble, and yet is crucified with us, whose gospel is murder—our heaven, the orgies purchased with the spoils of plundered travellers!' But Jesus has no answer for these railing thieves. He passes in lethargic stupor into the realm of phantoms, where smiling angels present a flowing cup dashed from his lips by grinning fiends; and Isaiah sings the death-song of the Messiah, interrupted by Enoch bearing a royal crown, which Satan seizes and ascends a throne, from which he is hurled by the archangel hastening to proclaim the final judgment.
Aroused to momentary consciousness of the appalling present, Jesus yields again to torpor, oblivious even of
dreams, to awake at the near approach of death, and hear his bitterest enemies exclaim, 'He trusted in God, let Him deliver him.' It is too much for overtasked humanity. He utters the terrible cry, ' My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?' and thus despairs and dies, the noblest Martyr of theology, sacrificed on the dual altar of prophetic superstition and sacerdotal intolerance.
Thus, after the lapse of nearly two thousand years, we discover the long-lost secret of the Messianic illusions of the Son of Man; and detect that, if the unknown author of the visions of Enoch had never existed, mankind would never have heard of the Christian religion. Jesus could not have accepted the Messianic office as the mere man of sorrows depicted by Isaiah ; and unless the visions of Enoch had suggested the theory of a second advent with its throne of glory, he would have inevitably rejected the nomination of John, and lived and died a Galilean peasant, as absolutely unknown to posterity as the humblest of his Nazarene compatriots.
If Jesus, therefore, was controlled by prophetic dreams, shown by their non-fulfilment to have been but vain illusions, how shall we explain the marvellous transformation of a simple-minded Galilean peasant into the Almighty Deity of the Gentiles, sharing, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the infinite attributes of Supreme Divinity ? Let us seek an answer to this momentous question through a candid and impartial inquiry into the further evolution of Christianity.
The history of Christianity begins with the alleged Resurrection, as recorded in the conflicting narratives of the Evangelists.
According to Mark, Mary Magdalene, with two companions, approached the tomb of Jesus early in the morning, on the first day of the week following the crucifixion, found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, entered and saw, with natural alarm, a young man clothed in a white robe, who informed them that Jesus had risen from the dead, and would meet the disciples in Galilee. “And they went out quickly and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed ; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.'1 Thus ends the second Gospel. The remaining twelve verses, absent from the oldest Greek MSS., are the interpolation of a later writer; and thus, the Evangelist, said to have written under the direction of the apostle Peter, is silent respecting the apparition and ascension of Jesus. In the Gospel according to
1 Mark xvi, 1-8.
Luke we read : Moreover, certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb ; and when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.'' This passage, read in connection with Mark's version, and amounting to nothing more than hearsay evidence, obviously reproduces one of the earliest legends of the Resurrection.
But let us test the interpolated passage of Mark by a reasonable criticism. The Apostles could not accept the truth of the Resurrection, on the evidence of three witnesses ; and yet, when Jesus subsequently appeared to the Eleven, he said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.' Salvation is, therefore, denied to all but baptized believers, possessed of a faith impossible to Apostles !
In the same passage we find, among the proposed evidences of Christianity, miracles which would have classed primitive Christians with snake-charmers and jugglers.
We furthermore learn that, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.' It seems strange that the position of honour should be the same in heaven as on earth ; but our surprise vanishes when we find that the interpolator is simply borrowing his ideas from Psalm cx.
Luke also mentions that Jesus was carried up into heaven ;'? but as these words are also an interpolation, we thus receive further confirmation of the 1 Luke xxiv. 22, 23.
2 Luke xxiv. 51.