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DIVESTED of all explanation, the announcement of the fact that the time of the birth of many of the incarnated Gods and Saviors of antiquity was fixed at the same period, and this period the twenty- fifth of December, celebrated all over Christendom as the birthday of Jesus Christ, would sound marvelously strange, especially when it is noticed that this period formerly dated the birth of a new year — the birth of King Sol. And when we find that the ancient pagans were in the habit of celebrating this venerated twenty-fifth of December as the birthday of their Gods in the same manner Christians now celebrate it as the birthday of Christ, we are driven to admit that something more than mere fortuitous accident must be adduced to account for the coincidence.
According to Dr. Lightfoot, the temple of Jerusalem was employed in celebrating the birthday of a pagan God (Adonis) on the very night Christians assign for the birth of Christ. And Robert Taylor informs us that nearly all the nations of the East were once in the habit of rising at midnight to celebrate the birthday of their Gods, on the twenty-fifth of December. And to this statement Mr. Higgins adds that, “At the first moment after midnight of the twenty-fourth of December, the ancient nations celebrated the accouchement of the queen of heaven and celestial virgin, and the birth of the God Sol, the Infant Savior, and the God of Day.
Bacchus of Egypt, Bacchus of Greece, Adonis of Greece, Chrishna of India, Chang-ti of China, Chris of Chaldea, Mithra of Persia, Sakia of India, Jao Wapaul (a crucified Savior of ancient Britain), were all born on the twenty-fifth of December, according to their respective histories. Chrishna is represented to have been born at midnight on the twenty-fifth of the month Savarana, which answers to our December, and millions of his disciples celebrated his birthday by decorating their houses with garlands and gilt paper, and the bestowment of presents to friends. The Rev. Mr. Barret tells us, “It was once common for the women in Rome to perambulate the streets on the twenty-fifth of December, singing in a loud voice, “Unto us a child is born this day.”
The twenty-fifth of December, then, it will be observed, was marked as the birthday of the incarnated Gods, Saviors, and Sons of God, of many of the religious systems of antiquity, long prior to the birth of Christ.
And why his birth was fixed at that date is not hard to account for. According to the celebrated Christian writer Mr. Goodrich, the Christian world had no chronology and recorded no dates for several centuries after the commencement of the Christian era. (See History of all Nations, p. 23.) No event of their history was marked by dates for nearly four hundred years. Hence, the time of Christ’s birth is altogether a matter of conjecture, as is also every other event noticed in the Christian bible. This is proved by the fact that the ablest Christian writers and chronologists differ to the extent of thirty-five hundred years in fixing the time of every event in the bible. A Mr. Kennedy presents us with three hundred different chronological systems, by different Christian writers, all founded on the bible, and proving that the date of its various events are inextricably involved in a labyrinth of doubt, darkness and uncertainty.
Relative to the time of Christ’s birth, the “Encyclopedia Britannica” says: “Christians count one hundred and thirty-three contrary opinions of different authors concerning the year the Messiah appeared on earth — many of them celebrated writers.” (Art. Chron.) Mark the declaration — one hundred and thirty-three different opinions as to the year Christ was born in; one hundred and thirty-three different years fixed on by different Christian chronologists as the time of the birth of the most extraordinary and most noted being, as Christians would have us believe, that ever appeared on earth. Think of an omnipotent God descending from heaven, performing astounding miracles, and presenting other proofs of being a God, and yet not one of the three hundred writers of that era take any notice of him, or make any note of his birth or any event of his life. This circumstance is of itself sufficient to banish and dissipate all faith in his divinity.
It is evident, from the facts just presented, that all systems of Christian chronology are founded on mere conjecture, and hence should be rejected as worthless. What event of Christ’s life, then, can be accepted as certain, when no record was made of it till the time was forgotten, and none for at least half a century after the dawn of the Christian era, according to Dr. Lardner, when nearly all who witnessed it must have been dead?
We think the most reasonable conclusion in the case is, that Christ, instead of performing those Munchausen prodigies attributed to him — such as casting out devils, raising the dead, controlling the elements of nature, etc. — led such an ordinary, obscure life — excelling only in healing the sick and other noble deeds of charity and philanthropy — that he attracted but little notice by the higher classes, or by anybody but those of a similar turn of mind, till he was deified by Constantine, in the year 325 A.D. Hence, the time of his birth was not recorded, and was forgotten. Consequently, the twenty-fifth of December was selected as his birthday, because it was the birthday of other Gods, and because it was regarded by the heathen, from time immemorial, as the birthday of Sol, the glorious luminary of heaven, it being the period he is born again into a new year, and “commences again his journey and his life;” and because, also, this epoch was, as Sharon Turner informs us, in his “History of the Anglo-Saxons,” the commencement of a new year up to the tenth century.
These events signalized the twenty-fifth of December, and made it a period of sufficient importance to lead the early Christians to suppose it must have been the birthday of their Messiah. Mosheim, however, confesses that the day or the year in which it happened “has not been fixed with certainty, notwithstanding the profound researches of the learned.” So that it is still an open question as to when Christ was born. What day of the month, what year, or what century it took place in, is still unknown. This circumstance is, as before suggested, sufficient of itself to utterly prostrate all faith in the divine claims for Jesus Christ. What would be thought of a witness who should testify in court to the truth of an occurrence of which he did not know the year, or even the century, in which it took place, or who could come no nearer than one hundred and thirty-three years in fixing or guessing at the time. Would the court accept such testimony?