A MOST fatal distrust is thrown upon the miraculous portions of the history of Jesus Christ, as found in his Gospel narratives, by the discovery of the fact (brought to light through recent archaeological researches), that the same marvelous feats, the same miraculous incidents, which were recorded in his life, were long previously ingrafted into the sacred biographies of Gods and demigods no less adored and worshipped as beings possessing divine attributes. We shall leave the reader to account for the long list of astonishing coincidences, as we proceed to recapitulate and abridge from previous chapters, the almost innumerable parallel incidents running through the legendary history of the many demigods and sin-atoning saviors of antiquity. The historical vouchers are given. We shall first direct attention to the long string of corresponding events recorded in the sacred histories of ancient Hindoo Gods, as compared with those of Jesus Christ at a much later period.
As far back as 1,200 B.C., sacred records were extant and traditions were current, in the East, which taught that the heathen Savior (Chrishna) was, 1st, Immaculately conceived and born of a spotless virgin, "who had never known man." 2d, That the author of, or agent in, the conception, was a spirit or ghost (of course a Holy Ghost). 3d, That he was threatened in early infancy with death by the ruling tyrant, Cansa. 4th, That his parents had, consequently, to flee with him to Gokul for safety. 5th, That all the young male children under two years of age were slain by an order issued by Cansa, similar to that of Herod in Judea. 6th, That angels and shepherds attended his birth. 7th, That his birth and advent occurred on the 25th of December. 8th, That it occurred in accedence with previous prophecy. 9th, That he was presented at birth with frankincense, myrrh, &c. 10th, That he was saluted and worshipped as "the Savior of men," according to the report of the late Christian Missionary Huc. 11th, That he led a life of humility and practical moral usefulness. 12th, That he wrought various astounding miracles, such as healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, casting out devils, raising the dead to life, &c. 13th, That he was finally put to death upon the cross (i.e., crucified) between two thieves. 14th. After which he descended to hell, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven "in the sight of all men," as his biblical history declares. For hundreds of other similar parallels, including his doctrines and precepts, see Chapter XXXII.
Now, all these were matters of the firmest belief, more than three thousand years ago, in the minds of millions of the most devout worshippers that ever bowed the knee in humble prayer to the Father of Mercies. The reader can draw his own deduction.
And then we have presented similar brief lists of parallels in Chapter XXIII, comprised in a comparative view of the miraculous lives of the Judean and Egyptian Saviors, Christ, Alcides, Osiris, Tulis, &c. In this analogous exhibition, it will be observed the Egyptian Gods are reported, as remotely as 900 B.C., as performing, besides several of the miraculous achievements enumerated above, other miracles equally indicative of divine power, such as converting water into wine, causing "rain to descend from heaven," &c. And on the occasion of the crucifixion of Tulis we are told "the sun became darkened and the moon refused to shine."
We find, also, several well-authenticated instances of raising the dead to life, in works portraying the miraculous achievements of the Egyptian Gods, the relation being given in such specific detail in some cases that the names of the reanimated dead are furnished. Tyndarus and Hypolitus were instances of this kind, both (according to Julius) having been raised from the dead. Descending the line of history, until we arrive at the confines of Grecian theology, we find here the same train of marvelous events recorded in the histories of their virgin-born Gods, as we have shown in Chapter XXXIII, such as their healing the sick and the cripples, causing the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dead to be resuscitated to life, &c. And cases, as we have shown, are reported of their reading the thoughts of their disciples, as Jesus did those of the woman of Samaria. Apollonius declares he knew many Hindoo saints to perform this achievement with entire strangers.
Likewise Apollonius of Tyana and Simon Magus, both contemporary with Jesus Christ, we have arranged in the historic parallel (see Chapter XXXIII), with their long train of miracles, constituting an exact counterpart with those related in the Gospel history of Christ, and including in Apollonius's case, besides those specified in the histories of the Gods above named, the miracle of transfiguration, the resurrection from the dead, his visible ascent to heaven, &c., while Simon Magus was very expert in casting out devils, raising the dead, allaying storms, walking on the sea, &c.
But without recapitulating further, we will recite some new historic facts not embraced in any of the preceding chapters of this work, and tending to demonstrate still further the universal analogy of all religions, past and present, in their claims for a miraculous power for their Gods and incarnate Saviors. The "New York Correspondent," published in 1828, furnishes us the following brief history of an ancient Chinese God, known as Beddou: --
"All the Eastern writers agree in placing the birth of Beddou 1027 B.C. The doctrines of this Deity prevailed over Japan, China, and Ceylon. According to the sacred tenets of his religion, 'God is incessantly rendering himself incarnate,' but his greatest and most solemn incarnation was three thousand years ago, in the province of Cashmere, under the name of Fot, or Beddou. He was believed to have sprung from the right intercostal of a virgin of the royal blood, who, when she became a mother, did not the less continue to be a virgin; that the king of the country, uneasy at his birth, was desirous to put him to death, and hence caused all the males that were born at the same period to be put to death, and also that, being saved by shepherds, he lived in the desert to the age of thirty years, at which time he opened his commission, preaching the doctrines of truth, and casting out devils; that he performed a multitude of the most astonishing miracles, spent his life fasting, and in the severest mortifications, and at his death bequeathed to his disciples the volume in which the principles of his religion are contained."
Here, it will be observed, are some very striking counterparts to the miraculous incidents found related in the Gospel history of Jesus Christ. And no less analogous is the no less well- authenticated story of Quexalcote of Mexico, which the Rev. Mr. Maurice concedes to be, and Lord Kingsborough and Niebuhr (in his history of Rome) prove to be much older than the Gospel account of Jesus Christ. According to Maurice's "Ind. Ant.," Humboldt's "Researches in Mexico," Lord Kingsborough's "Mexican Ant.," and other works, the incarnate God Quexalcote was born (about 300 B.C.) of a spotless virgin, by the name Chimalman, and led a life of the deepest humility and piety; retired to a wilderness, fasted forty days, was worshipped as a God, and was finally crucified between two thieves; after which he was buried and descended into hell, but rose again the third day. The following is a part of Lord Kingsborough's testimony in the case: "The temptation of Qtlexalcote, the fast of forty days ordained by the Mexican ritual, the cup with which he was presented to drink (on the cross), the reed which was his sign, the 'Morning Star,' which he is designated, the 'Teoteepall, or Divine Stone,' which was laid on his altar, and which was likewise an object of adoration, -- all these circumstances, connected with many others relating to Quexalcote of Mexico, but which are here omitted, are very curious and mysterious." (Vol. Vi. p. 237, of Mexican Ant.)
Again "Quexalcote is represented, in the painting of Codex Borgianus, as nailed to the cross." (See Mex. Ant. vol. vi. p. 166.) One plate in this work represents him as being crucified in the heavens, one as being crucified between two thieves. Sometimes he is represented as being nailed to the cross, and sometimes as hanging with the cross in his hands. The same work speaks of his burial, descent into hell, and his resurrection; while the account of his immaculate conception and miraculous birth are found in a work called "Codex Vaticanus."
Other parallel incidents could be cited, if we had space for them, appertaining to the history of this Mexican God. And parallels might also be constructed upon the histories of other ancient Gods, -- as that of Sakia of India, Salivahana of Bermuda, Hesus, or Eros, of the Celtic Druids, Mithra of Persia, Hil and Feta of the Mandaites, &c.
But we will close with the testimony of a French philosopher (Bagin) on the subject of deific incarnations. This writer says, "The most ancient histories are those of Gods who became incarnate in order to govern mankind. All those fables are the same in spirit, and sprang up everywhere from confused ideas, which have universally prevailed among mankind, -- that Gods formerly descended upon earth."
Now, we ask the Christian reader, -- and it will be the first query of every man whose religious faith has not made shipwreck of his reason, -- "What does all this mean? How are you going to sustain the declaration that Jesus Christ was the only son and sent of God, in view of these historic facts? Where are the superior credentials of his claim? How will you prove his apparently legendary history (that is, the miraculous portion of his history) to be real, and the others false?" We boldly aver it cannot be done. Please answer these questions, or relinquish your doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ.