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    Contents

    CHAPTER XVII. THE GREAT APOSTASY (CONTINUED)

    SUN-WORSHIP AND SUNDAY

    We have already seen that in the adoption of the Christmas festival the ancient church allied itself with heathen sun-worship. We shall now proceed to show how, in the adoption of the Sunday festival, the church as a body became paganized, and reached the lowest depth of apostasy. To do this, it will be necessary briefly to trace the worship of the sun from ancient times.FACC 304.1

    That the worship of the sun was the most abominable form of heathenism, is evident from the words of the Lord to the prophet Ezekiel. While the prophet was with the captives in Babylon, he was taken in vision to Jerusalem, and shown the abominable deeds of the Jews who still remained in that city. He was first shown the “image of jealousy” at the door of the inner court of the temple, and the Lord said to him: “Seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.” Ezekiel 8:6.FACC 304.2

    Then he was shown “every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall” of the temple, and seventy elders offering incense, and was again told that he should see even greater abominations.FACC 304.3

    Next he was brought to the door of the temple, and there saw the women “weeping for Tammuz,” the Babylonian Adonis, whose worship was conducted with the most lascivious rites, but was told that he should be shown greater abominations still. These last and greatest abominations are thus described:—
    “And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east.” Verse 16.
    FACC 305.1

    From this we must conclude that the worship of the sun was regarded by the Lord as the most abominable form of idolatry. We shall see the reason for this, as we trace the nature and extent of sun-worship. In the Old Testament Student, January, 1886, there appeared a valuable article by Talbot W. Chambers, D. D., entitled, “Sun Images and the Sun of Righteousness,” to which we shall make frequent reference in this study. The testimony of Dr. Chambers is that the worship of the sun is “the oldest, the most widespread, and the most enduring of all the forms of idolatry known to man.” He continues:—
    “The universality of this form of idolatry is something remarkable. It seems to have prevailed everywhere. The chief object of worship among the Syrians was Baal—the sun, considered as the giver of light and life, the most active agent in all the operations of nature. But as he sometimes revealed himself as a destroyer, drying up the earth with summer heats and turning gardens into deserts, he was in that view regarded with terror, and appeased with human sacrifices.... In Egypt the sun was the kernel of the State religion. In various forms he stood at the head of each hierarchy. At Memphis he was worshiped as Phtah, at Heliopolis as Tum, at Thebes as Amun Ra. Personified by Osiris, he became the foundation of the Egyptian metempsychosis.”
    FACC 305.2

    “In Babylon the same thing is observed as in Egypt. Men were struck by the various stages of the daily and yearly course of the sun, in which they saw the most imposing manifestation of Deity. But they soon came to confound the creature with the Creator, and the host of heaven became objects of worship, with the sun as chief.... In Persia the worship of Mithra, or the sun, is known to have been common from an early period. No idols were made, but the inscriptions show ever-recurring symbolic representations, usually a disk or orb with outstretched wings, with the addition sometimes of a human figure. The leading feature of the Magian rites derived from ancient Media was the worship of fire, performed on altars erected upon high mountains, where a perpetual flame, supposed to have been originally kindled from Heaven, was constantly watched, and where solemn services were daily rendered. The remnant of the ancient Persians who escaped subjugation by Islam, now known as Parsees, unite with their reverence for the holy fire equal reverence for the sun as the emblem of Ormuzd.”FACC 306.1

    The “Encyclopedia Britannica” (art. Baal) has the following concerning sun-worship in ancient Assyria:—
    “The Baal of the Syrians, Phoenicians, and heathen Hebrews is a much less elevated conception than the Babylonian Bel. He is properly the sun-god Baal-Shamem, Baal (lord) of the heavens, the highest of the heavenly bodies, but still a mere power of nature, born like the other luminaries from the primitive chaos. As the sun-god he is conceived as the male principle of life and reproduction in nature, and thus in some forms of his worship is the patron of the grossest sensuality, and even of systematic prostitution. An example of this is found in the worship of Baal-Peor (Numbers 25), and in general in the Canaanitish high places, where Baal, the male principle, was worshiped in association with the unchaste goddess Ashera, the female principle of nature. The frequent references to this form of religion in the Old Testament are obscured in the English version by the rendering ‘grove’ for the word Ashera, which sometimes denotes the goddess, sometimes the tree or post which was her symbol. Baal himself was represented on the high places not by an image, but by obelisks or pillars (Macceboth E. V. wrongly ‘images’), sometimes called chammanim or sun pillars, a name which is to be compared with the title Baal-Chamman, frequently given to the god on Phoenician inscriptions.”
    FACC 306.2

    Concerning Ashtoreth, or Astarte, the female counterpart of Baal, Prof. George Rawlinson says:—
    “The especial place of her worship in Phoenicia was Sidon. In one of her aspects she represented the moon, and bore the head of a heifer with horns curving in a crescent form, whence she seems to have been sometimes called Ashtoreth Karnaim, or, ‘Astarte of the two horns.’ But, more commonly, she was a nature goddess, ‘the great mother,’ the representation of the female principle in nature, and hence presiding over the sexual relation, and connected more or less with love and with voluptuousness. The Greeks regarded their Aphorodite, and the Romans their Venus, as her equivalent. One of her titles was, ‘Queen of Heaven,’ and under this title she was often worshiped by the Israelites.”—Religions of the Ancient World (John B. Alden), pp. 106, 107.
    FACC 307.1

    Enough has already been given to show why sun-worship was so great an abomination. It was simply the worship of the reproductive function. All the sun images had an obscene signification. While Baal, among the Assyrians, was the emblem of the generative power of the sun, and was worshiped by lascivious rites, Moloch was the emblem of the destructive heat of the sun, and so human sacrifices were offered to him. The prohibitions laid upon the Israelites, against making their children pass through the fire, were simply injunctions against this cruel form of sun-worship.FACC 307.2

    Professor Rawlinson has the following, concerning sun-worship in Egypt:—
    “Ra was the Egyptian sun-god, and was especially worshiped at Heliopolis [city of the sun]. Obelisks, according to some, represented his rays, and were always, or usually, erected in his honor. Heliopolis was certainly one of the places which were thus adorned, for one of the few which still stand erect in Egypt is on the site of that city. The kings for the most part considered Ra their special patron and protector; nay, they went so far as to identify themselves with him, to use his titles as their own, and to adopt his name as the ordinary prefix to their own names and titles. This is believed by many to have been the origin of the word Pharaoh, which was, it is thought, the Hebrew rendering of Ph’ Ra—’the sun.’”—Ib., p. 20.
    FACC 308.1

    Those who have seen the obelisk in Central Park, New York, which was brought from Egypt a few years ago, have had the privilege of beholding one of the ancient sun images. What those sun images signified, we shall have to leave the reader to imagine from what has already been said about the nature of sun-worship.FACC 308.2

    On page 21, Rawlinson says: “No part of the Egyptian religion was so much developed and so multiplex as their sun worship. Besides Ra and Osiris there were at least six other deities who had a distinctly solar character.” Concerning Osiris, the “Encyclopedia Britannica” (art. Egypt), says:— “Abydos was the great seat of the worship of Osiris, which spread all over Egypt, establishing itself in a remarkable manner at Memphis. All the mysteries of the Egyptians, and their whole doctrine of the future state, attach themselves to this worship. Osiris was identified with the sun.... Sun-worship was the primitive form of the Egyptian religion, perhaps even pre-Egyptian.”FACC 308.3

    The bull, Apis, which was worshiped by the Egyptians was simply a form of Osiris. On this we have the following testimony from the “Encyclopedia Britannica:—
    “According to the Greek writers Apis was the image of Osiris, and worshiped because Osiris was supposed to have passed into a bull, and to have been soon after manifested by a succession of these animals. The hieroglyphic inscriptions identify the Apis with Osiris, adorned with horns or the head of a bull, and unite the two names as Hapi-Osor, or Apis Osiris. According to this view the Apis was the incarnation of Osiris manifested in the shape of a bull.”—Art. Apis.
    FACC 309.1

    Whenever a sacred bull was discovered, and there were certain well-defined marks by which he was known, he was conducted in state to the temple, and for forty days was attended by nude women. When the reader remembers that this animal was the representative of the sun, and of the sun as the great generative power in nature, he will readily see that Egyptian sun-worship must have been a religion of licentiousness.FACC 309.2

    The following from “Anthon’s Classical Dictionary” (art. Hercules), gives in brief space as good an idea of the nature and extent of sun-worship as anything that can be found:—
    “The mythology of Hercules is of a very mixed character in the form in which it has come down to us. There is in it the identification of one or more Grecian heroes with Melcarth, the sun-god of the Phoenicians. Hence we find Hercules so frequently represented as the sun-god, and his twelve labors regarded as the passage of the sun through the twelve signs of the zodiac. He is the powerful planet which animates and imparts fecundity to the universe, whose divinity has been honored in every quarter by temples and altars, and consecrated in the religious strains of all nations. From Meroe, in Ethiopia, and Thebes in Upper Egypt, even to Britain, and the icy regions of Scythia; from the ancient Taprobana and Palibothra in India, to Cadiz and the shores of the Atlantic; from the forests of Germany to the burning sands of Africa; everywhere, in short, where the benefits of the luminary of day are experienced, there we find established the name and worship of a Hercules. Many ages before the period when Alcmena is said to have lived, and the pretended Tyrinthian hero to have performed his wonderful exploits, Egypt and Phoenicia, which certainly did not borrow their divinities from Greece, had raised temples to the sun, under a name analogous to that of Hercules, and had carried his worship to Thasus and to Gades. Here was consecrated a temple to the year, and to the months which divided it into twelve parts, that is, to the twelve labors or victories which conducted Hercules to immortality. It is under the name of Hercules Astrochyton, or the god clothed with a mantle of stars, that the poet Nonnus designates the sun, adored by the Tyrians. ‘He is the same god,’ observes the poet, ‘whom different nations adore under a multitude of different names: Belus on the banks of the Euphrates, Ammon in Libya, Apis in Memphis, Saturn in Arabia, Jupiter in Assyria, Serapis in Egypt, Helios among the Babylonians, Apollo at Delphi, AEsculapius throughout Greece.’”
    FACC 309.3

    The same authority says also that “it is impossible to deny the identity of Bacchus with Osiris,” and adds that “they both have for their symbols the head of a bull.” From all these things, therefore, we learn that sun-worship was the primitive form of idolatry, that no matter what names were given to the gods of any country, they were simply different representatives of the sun, or the host of heaven, and that all their worship was nothing but the deification of lust. The following, also from “Anthon’s Classical Dictionary,” bears directly on the last point:—“At Erythrae, on the coast of Ionia, was to be seen a statue of Hercules, of an aspect completely Egyptian. The worship of the god was here celebrated by certain Thracian females, because the females of the country were said to have refused to make to the god an offering of their locks on his arrival at Erythrae. The females of Byblos sacrificed to Adonis their locks and their chastity at one and the same time, and it is probable that the worship of Hercules was not more exempt, in various parts of the ancient world, from the same dissolute offerings. In Lydia, particularly, it seems to have been marked by an almost delirious sensuality. Married and unmarried females prostituted themselves at the festival of the god. The two sexes changed their respective characters; and tradition reported that Hercules himself had given an example of this, when, assuming the vestments and occupation of a female, he subjected himself to the service of the voluptuous Omphale.”FACC 310.1

    In the light of this it is easy to see why the Lord said to the Israelites: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 22:5.FACC 311.1

    One more citation must suffice for the testimony concerning the most ancient sun-worship. It is from the “Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia,” (art. Sun):—FACC 311.2

    “The worship of the sun as the most prominent and powerful agent in the kingdom of nature was widely diffused throughout the countries adjacent to Palestine. This worship was either direct, without the intervention of any statue or symbol, or indirect. Among the Egyptians the sun was worshiped under the title of Ra.... Among the Phoenicians the sun was worshiped under the title of Baal. At Tyre, Gaza, and Carthage, human sacrifices were offered to him. Among the Chaldeans the sun was worshiped under the title of Tammuz; and that the Arabians worshiped the sun we know from Theophrastus. Still more propagated was the worship of the sun among the Syrians (Aramaeans). Famous temples were at Heliopolis, Emesa, Palmyra, Hierapolis. Sun-worship there was very old, and direct from the beginning; and even in later times, sun and moon were worshiped at Hierapolis without the intervention of any image. Among the pure Semites, or Aryans, direct worship to the sun was paid from the beginning, and still later. Thus among the Assyrians, and afterwards among the Persians, whose sun-worship is one and the same.... In later times the sun was worshiped among the Persians under the form of Mithras, which finally became the Sol Deus Invictus [the invincible sun-god] throughout the West, especially through the Romans.”FACC 312.1

    This brings us down to the time of the Romans, but before we consider the worship of the sun in the Roman Empire, we must stop to note the fact that when God’s ancient people apostatized, sun-worship, with its abominations, was always the form of idolatry into which they fell. This was very natural, because they were surrounded by it.FACC 312.2

    What has been given concerning the bull Apis as the representative of Osiris, the Egyptian sun-god, is sufficient to prove that when the Israelites made and worshiped the golden calf, while Moses was in the mount, they were simply taking up the Egyptian sun-worship, and its lascivious orgies, with which they must have been so familiar.FACC 312.3

    In later times Jeroboam made two calves of gold, setting one up in Bethel, and the other in Dan, in order to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship God. Knowing, as we do, the nature of sun-worship, we can readily understand why he “made priests of the lowest of the people,” and how it was that he “made Israel to sin.” (See 1 Kings 12:26-31; 2 Kings 10:29.)FACC 313.1

    We have found out what Baal-worship was; and so when we read that in the time of Ahab Elijah was the only prophet of God, while Baal had four hundred and fifty prophets, and that the people had gone after Baal so generally that Elijah supposed himself to be the only man in the nation who was loyal to God, we know that sun-worship had at that time almost entirely supplanted the worship of Jehovah.FACC 313.2

    Still later we find that Manasseh “reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove [sun image]” and “worshiped all the host of heaven,” and placed the sun images and altars in the house of the Lord. 2 Kings 21:1-7. We also find that a part of Josiah’s good works was to clear the temple of the obscene images to the sun, and to take from it the horses “that the kings of Judah had given to the sun,” and had stabled in the sacred building, thus turning the house of the Lord into a temple for heathen lewdness. (See 2 Kings 23:4-14.)FACC 313.3

    Many other scriptures might be cited, but these are sufficient to show the form of idolatry with which the true religion had to contend in the most ancient times. We may now take a brief glance at sun-worship among the Romans, and how it affected the Christian church. If we multiply evidence on any point, it is simply that it may not be considered as one-sided.FACC 313.4

    Dr. T. W. Chambers, in the article previously referred to (Old Testament Student, January, 1886), says that at Baalbek, in the ancient Coele-Syria, “the most imposing of the huge edifices erected upon a vast substruction, unequaled anywhere on earth in the size of its stones, some of them being sixty feet long and twelve feet in both diameters, is a great temple of the sun, two hundred and ninety feet by one hundred and sixty, which was built by Antoninus Pius.” This emperor reigned from 138 to 160 A. D.FACC 314.1

    Sun-worship in Rome, however, reached its highest point under the reign of Elagabalus, A. D. 218-222. Of him and his times Milman says:—
    “The pontiff of one of the wild forms of the nature worship of the East, appeared in the city of Rome as emperor. The ancient rites of Baal-Peor, but little changed in the course of ages, intruded themselves into the sanctuary of the Capitoline Jove, and offended at once the religious majesty and the graver decency of Roman manners. Elagabalus derived his name from the Syrian appellative of the sun; he had been educated in the precincts of the temple; and the emperor of Rome was lost and absorbed in the priest of an effeminate superstition. The new religion did not steal in under the modest demeanor of a stranger, claiming the common rights of hospitality as the national faith of a subject people: it entered with a public pomp, as though to supersede and eclipse the ancestral deities of Rome. The god Elagabalus was conveyed in solemn procession through the wondering provinces; his symbols were received with all the honor of the Supreme Deity.”
    FACC 314.2

    “It was openly asserted, that the worship of the sun, under his name of Elagabalus, was to supersede all other worship. If we may believe the biographies in the Augustan history, a more ambitious scheme of a universal religion had dawned upon the mind of the emperor. The Jewish, the Samaritan, even the Christian, were to be fused and recast into one great system, of which the sun was to be the central object of adoration.”—History of Christianity, book 2, chap. 8. (See also Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. 6, paragraphs 20-25.)FACC 314.3

    The successors of Elagabalus had not, like him, been brought up in a temple of the sun, and consequently the worship of the sun received less attention after his death; but it always remained the prevailing idolatry in Rome. The Emperor Aurelian (A. D. 270-274), however, gave it a new impetus. Returning from his victory over Zenobia, the queen of the East, he made magnificent presents to the temple of the sun, which he had begun to build in the first year of his reign. Says Gibbon:—
    “A considerable portion of his oriental spoils was consecrated to the gods of Rome; the capitol, and every other temple, glittered with the offerings of his ostentatious piety; and the temple of the sun alone received above fifteen thousand pounds of gold. This last was a magnificent structure, erected by the emperor on the side of the Quirinal hill, and dedicated, soon after the triumph, to that deity whom Aurelian adored as the parent of his life and fortunes. His mother had been an inferior priestess in the chapel of the sun; a peculiar devotion to the god of light was a sentiment which the fortunate peasant imbibed in his infancy; and every step of his elevation, every victory of his reign, fortified superstition by gratitude.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 11, paragraph 43.
    FACC 315.1

    To Aurelian the bishops of Syria appealed in their contest with Paul of Samosata, an account of which is given by Milman, “History of Christianity,” book 2, chap. 8. In this appeal is seen the first open step toward putting Christianity under the patronage of a sun-worshiper. It was a step toward bringing about what Elagabalus desired,—a fusion of Christianity and paganism.FACC 315.2

    We pass to the time of Diocletian, who ascended the throne in 284 A. D., under whose reign Constantine was appointed Caesar. The first act of his reign showed his devotion to the sun-god, and afforded evidence of the fact that the sun was recognized by the Roman people as the highest deity. It was thought that the Emperor Numerian had been murdered, and Diocletian felt that suspicion might attach to him, since he profited by the vacancy that was thus made. Accordingly he “ascended the tribunal, and, raising his eyes towards the sun, made a solemn profession of his own innocence, in the presence of that all-seeing deity.”—Gibbon, chap. 12, paragraph 41.FACC 316.1

    In this connection Milman has a most suggestive passage. He says:—
    “From Christianity, the new paganism had adopted the unity of the Deity, and scrupled not to degrade all the gods of the older world into subordinate demons or ministers.... But the Jupiter Optimus Maximus was not the great Supreme of the new system. The universal deity of the East, the sun, to the philosophic was the emblem or representative; to the vulgar, the Deity. Diocletian himself, though he paid so much deference to the older faith as to assume the title of Jovius, as belonging to the Lord of the world, yet, on his accession, when he would exculpate himself from all concern in the murder of his predecessor Numerian, appealed in the face of the army to the all-seeing deity of the sun. It is the oracle of Apollo of Miletus, consulted by the hesitating emperor, which is to decide the fate of Christianity. The metaphorical language of Christianity had unconsciously lent strength to this new adversary; and, in adoring the visible orb, some, no doubt, supposed that they were not departing far from the worship of the ‘Sun of Righteousness.’”—History of Christianity, book 2, chap. 9.
    FACC 316.2

    This passage is not simply suggestive; it is quite explicit, showing that before the beginning of the fourth century, Christianity had united with paganism on sun-worship. After this testimony from so learned a prelate as Dean Milman, we need not carry the subject much farther, although it is full of interest. But we must not omit Constantine from the list. We quote from Gibbon:FACC 317.1

    “Whatever symptoms of Christian piety might transpire in the discourses or actions of Constantine, he persevered till he was near forty years of age in the practice of the established religion; and the same conduct which in the court of Nicomedia might be imputed to his fear, could be ascribed only to the inclination or policy of the sovereign of Gaul. His liberality restored and enriched the temples of the gods; the medals which issued from his imperial mine are impressed with the figures and attributes of Jupiter and Apollo, of Mars and Hercules; and his filial piety increased the council of Olympus by the solemn apotheosis of his father Constantius. But the devotion of Constantine was more peculiarly directed to the genius of the sun, the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology; and he was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the god of light and poetry. The unerring shafts of that deity, the brightness of his eyes, his laurel wreath, immortal beauty, and elegant accomplishments, seem to point him out as the patron of a young hero. The altars of Apollo were crowned with the votive offerings of Constantine; and the credulous multitude were taught to believe that the emperor was permitted to behold with mortal eyes the visible majesty of their tutelar deity; and that, either waking or in a vision, he was blessed with the auspicious omens of a long and victorious reign. The sun was universally celebrated as the invincible guide and protector of Constantine.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 20, paragraph 3.FACC 317.2

    Dr. Talbot W. Chambers makes a brief statement which covers the same ground as the above, and adds the link which connects the Christianity of the Roman world with pagan sun-worship. He testifies as follows:—
    “The Emperor Constantine, before his conversion, reverenced all the gods as mysterious powers, especially Apollo, the god of the sun, to whom, in the year 308, he presented munificent gifts; and when he became a monotheist the god whom he worshiped was, as Uhlhorn says, rather the ‘Unconquered Sun’ than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And indeed, when he enjoined the observance of the Lord’s day, it was not under the name of Sabbatum or Dies Domini, but under its old astronomical and heathen title, Dies Solis, so that the law was as applicable to the worshipers of Apollo and Mithras as to the Christians.”—Old Testament Student, January, 1886.
    FACC 318.1

    That in this Constantine was acting not as a disciple of Christ, but as a worshiper of the sun, will presently be made to appear. As proof that Sunday was the heathen festival day, we quote from “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.” That book says that Sunday is “so called because the day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship.” The North British Review (vol. 18, p. 409), calls Sunday “the wild solar holiday of all pagan times.” And Gibbon, in a note to paragraph 2, chapter 20, says that “Constantine styles the Lord’s day Dies Solis [day of the sun], a name which could not offend the ears of his pagan subjects.” Dr. Chambers, also, in the passage quoted above, says that Constantine’s Sunday law “was as applicable to the worshipers of Apollo and Mithras as to the Christians.” And the “Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia” has the following on the subject of “Sunday:”—FACC 318.2

    “Sunday (Dies Solis, of the Roman calendar; ‘day of the sun,’ because dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship. The ‘sun’ of Latin adoration they interpreted as the ‘Sun of Righteousness.’ ...No regulations for its observance are laid down in the New Testament, nor, indeed, is its observance even enjoined.”FACC 319.1

    Of course there are no regulations for its observance laid down in the New Testament, for, as “Chamber’s Encyclopedia” truly says:—
    “Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day [Sunday] is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, A. D. 321.”
    FACC 319.2

    The above citations most clearly connect the Sunday festival with pagan sun-worship. That it has no connection whatever with New Testament Christianity is evident from the utter silence of the New Testament concerning the day, with the exception of a few passing references to “the first day of the week” as a secular day, and from the fact that the Sabbath of creation and of the forth commandment,—the seventh day of the week,—is the only Sabbath recognized by Christ or by any of the writers either of the Old Testament or the New. It only remains, therefore, for us to show that when Constantine issued his decree, and, indeed, ever after, he was a pagan,—a worshiper of the sun and of himself.FACC 319.3

    Eusebius, who was the friend and eulogist of Constantine, gives the following account of the church which he erected to the memory of the apostles:— “All these edifices the emperor consecrated with the desire of perpetuating the memory of the apostles of our Saviour. He had, however, another object in erecting this building; an object at first unknown, but which afterwards became evident to all. He had, in fact, made choice of this spot in the prospect of his own death, anticipating with extraordinary fervor of faith, that his body would share their title with the apostles themselves, and that he should thus even after death become the subject, with them, of the devotions which should be performed to their honor in this place. He accordingly caused twelve coffins to be set up in this church, like sacred pillars in honor and memory of the apostolic number, in the center of which his own was placed, having six of theirs on either side of it. Thus, as I said, he had provided with prudent foresight an honorable resting-place for his body after death, and, having long before secretly formed this resolution, he now consecrated this church to the apostles, believing that this tribute to their memory would be of no small advantage to his own soul.”—Life of Constantine, book 4, chap. 60.FACC 319.4

    This, be it remembered, was long after Constantine’s Sunday edict, and after he is popularly supposed to have embraced Christianity. What “extraordinary fervor of faith” this “most Christian emperor” had—in himself—to be sure. This act places him where he belongs, among heathen rulers. Alexander, calling himself Hercules, and desiring to be worshiped as a god, was not more pagan than was Constantine, who expected that both pagans and Christians would pay him divine honors after his death. The man was utterly incapable of a thought for anything outside of himself and his own selfish interest. As proof that this is not a prejudiced conclusion, read the following from a first-day observer:—
    “Of religious convictions Constantine had none. But he possessed an intellect capable of penetrating the condition of the world. He perceived the conclusion of the great syllogism in the logic of events. He saw that Destiny was about to write Finis at the bottom of the last page of paganism. He had the ambition to avail himself of the forces of the new and old, which, playing on the minds and consciences of men, were about to transform the world. As yet the Christians were in the minority, but they had zeal and enthusiasm. The enthusiasm of paganism, on the contrary, had yielded to a cold and formal assent quite unlike the pristine fervor which had fired to human action in the time,
    FACC 320.1

    ’When the world was new and the gods were young.’FACC 321.1

    So, for policy, the emperor began to favor the Christians. There was now an ecclesia, a church, compact, well-organized, having definite purposes, ready for universal persuasion, and almost ready for universal battle. Against this were opposed the warring philosophic sects of paganism. While biding his time, watching the turns of the imperial wheel, and awaiting the opportunity which should make him supreme, he was careful to lay hold of the sentiments and sympathies of budding Christendom, by favoring the sect in Gaul.”FACC 321.2

    “In the same year of his triumph, the emperor issued from Milan his famous decree in favor of the Christian religion. The proclamation was in the nature of a license to those professing the new faith to worship as they would, under the imperial sanction and favor. Soon afterwards he announced to the world that the reason for his recognition of Christianity was a vision which he had seen while marching from Gaul against Galerius. Gazing into heaven, he had seen a tremendous and shining cross with this inscription: ‘In Hoc Signo Vinces,’ ‘Under this sign conquer.’ The fiction served the purpose for which it was invented. As a matter of fact, the double-dealing moral nature of Constantine was incapable of any high devotion to a faith either old or new.FACC 321.3

    “His insincerity was at once developed in his course respecting the Roman Senate. That body was the strong-hold of paganism. Any strong purpose to extinguish heathenism would have led Constantine into irreconcilable antagonism with whatever of senatorial power still remained. Instead of hostility, however, he began to restore the ancient body to as much influence in the State as was consistent with the unrestricted exercise of his own authority. In order further to placate the perturbed spirits of paganism, he himself assumed the office of Pontifex Maximus; and when the triumphal arch was reared commemorative of his victory, he was careful to place thereon the statues of the old gods, as well as the emblems of the new faith.”—History of the World, by John Clark Ridpath, LL.D., Prof. of History in De Pauw University, vol. 1, chap. 63, pp. 881-883.FACC 322.1

    If this is true, and no one can deny it, then Constantine was never a Christian emperor. Even so strict a churchman as Bishop Arthur Cleveland Coxe, is constrained to say of Constantine:—
    “He permitted heathenism, and while he did so, how could he be received as a Christian? The Christian church never became responsible for his life and character, but strove to reform him and to prepare him for a true confession of Christ at some ‘convenient season.’ In this, there seems to have been a great fault somewhere, chargeable perhaps to Eusebius or to some other Christian counselor; but, when could anyone say—’The emperor is sincere and humble and penitent, and ought now to be received into the church.’ It was a political conversion, and as such was accepted, and Constantine was a heathen till near his death. As to his final penitence and acceptance—’Forbear to judge.’”—“Elucidation” 2 of Tertullian against Marcion, book 4.
    FACC 322.2

    Then let us never again hear of Constantine as the first Christian emperor. But we wish to add one more testimony concerning his heathenism. The “Encyclopedia Britannica” says of him:—“Paganism must still have been an operative belief with the man who, down almost to the close of his life, retained so many pagan superstitions. He was at best only half heathen, half Christian, who could seek to combine the worship of Christ with the worship of Apollo, having the name of the one and the figure of the other impressed upon his coins, and ordaining the observance of Sunday under the name Dies Solis in his celebrated decree of March 321, though such a combination was far from uncommon in the first Christian centuries. Perhaps the most significant illustration of the ambiguity of his religious position is furnished by the fact that in the same year in which he issued the Sunday decree he gave orders that, if lightning struck the imperial palace or any other public building, ‘the haruspices, according to ancient usage, should be consulted as to what it might signify, and a careful report of the answer should be drawn up for his use.’”FACC 322.3

    The original of this heathen Sunday edict is in the library of Harvard College, and reads as follows:—
    Omnes Judices, urbanaeque plebes, et cunctarum artium officia venerabili die solis quiescant. Ruri tamen positi agrorum culturae libere licenterque inserviant: quoniam frequenter evenit, ut non aptius alio die frumenta sulcis, aut vineae scrobibus mandentur, ne occasione momenti pereat commoditas coelesti provisione concessa. Dat. Nonis Mart. Crispo. 2 & Constantio 2. Coss. 321. Corpus Juris Civilis Codicis lib. iii tit. 12. 3.”
    FACC 323.1

    “Let all judges and town-people, and all artisans, rest on the venerable day of the sun. But let those who are situated in the country freely and at full liberty attend to the cultivation of their fields: because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn or planting vines; lest, by neglecting the proper occasion, they should lose the benefits granted by divine bounty.”FACC 323.2

    Given the seventh day of March, 321, Crispus and Constantine being consuls for the second time.

    There can be no question but that the Christian church as a body had been drawing toward paganism and sun-worship before the days of Constantine, else that wily politician would not have issued his Sunday edict. Many pages back we gave the passage in which Mosheim says that the Christian bishops purposely multiplied rites for the purpose of rendering the pagans more friendly to them. This, together with the statement that a large part of the Christian observances and institutions, even in the second century, had the aspect of the pagan mysteries, is evidence that the bishops would very readily adopt the most popular heathen festival day, in order to gain the favor of the pagans. We have also learned that Elagabalus designed to unite the Christian and pagan religions around one common deity, the sun. In the time of Diocletian the heathen sun-god and Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, were confounded by both pagans and Christians.FACC 324.1

    This blending of paganism and Christianity was, as we have already see, furthered by the heathen philosophers who nominally accepted Christianity, and who are as a consequence honored as Fathers of the Christian church. We have quoted what Mosheim says of Ammonius Saccas, but the attention of the reader must right here be again directed to the statement that “being possessed of great fecundity of genius as well as eloquence, he undertook to bring all systems of philosophy and religion into harmony; or, in other words, to teach a philosophy, by which all philosophers, and the men of all religions, the Christian not excepted, might unite together and have fellowship.” Origen was the enthusiastic disciple of Ammonius; and the writings of Justin Martyr and Tertullian show that they likewise labored to show that there was after all no difference in principle between paganism and Christianity. Surely they well deserve the title of Fathers of the Catholic Church.FACC 324.2

    One quotation from Milman, and one from Eusebius, must close the case concerning the paganizing of Christianity. After speaking of the heathen ceremonies connected with the dedication of Constantine’s city, Constantinople, Milman says:—
    “The lingering attachment of Constantine to the favorite superstition of his earlier days may be traced on still better authority. The Grecian worship of Apollo had been exalted into the oriental veneration of the sun, as the visible representative of the Deity; and of all the statues which were introduced from different quarters, none were received with greater honor than those of Apollo. In one part of the city stood the Pythian, in the other the Sminthian deity. The Delphic Tripod, which, according to Zosimus, contained an image of the god, stood upon the column of the three twisted serpents, supposed to represent the mythic Python. But on a still loftier, the famous pillar of porphyry, stood an image in which Constantine dared to mingle together the attributes of the sun, of Christ, and of himself. According to one tradition, this pillar was based, as it were, on another superstition. The venerable Palladium itself, surreptitiously conveyed from Rome, was buried beneath it, and thus transferred the eternal destiny of the old to the new capital. The pillar, formed of marble and of porphyry, rose to the height of a hundred and twenty feet. The colossal image on the top was that of Apollo, either from colossal image on the top was that of Apollo, either from Phrygia or from Athens. But the head of Constantine had been substituted for that of the god. The scepter proclaimed the dominion of the world; and it held in its hand the globe, emblematic of universal empire. Around the head, instead of rays, were fixed the nails of the true cross. Is this paganism approximating to Christianity, or Christianity degenerating into paganism?”—History of Christianity, book 3, chap. 3.
    FACC 325.1

    Truly the learned prelate may be pardoned for asking that question. It is plain, however, that the answer must be that it was Christianity degenerating into paganism, for which the Fathers had so assiduously worked.FACC 326.1

    And now in the light of all this testimony, can anybody have a doubt as to what form of paganism degenerate Christianity took? When true religion degenerates, it always assumes the form of error with which it is surrounded. The history of the Jews shows that their apostasy always took the form of sun-worship. But the paganism of Rome was devotion to the sun. How then could apostate Christianity assume any other form than that of sun-worship? And that being the case, what else but Sunday, “the wild solar holiday of all pagan times,” could be the grand connecting link between the two religions? The case would be clear, even without the positive testimony that has been adduced.FACC 326.2

    Having helped the bishops thus far in their attempts to paganize Christianity, Constantine exerted himself to root out the last vestige of the religion of Jehovah, by toning down the wild solar holiday so as to make it fully take the place of the true Sabbath. Says Eusebius:—
    “He enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman Empire to observe the Lord’s day as a day of rest, and also to honor the day which precedes the Sabbath; in memory, I suppose, of what the Saviour of mankind is recorded to have achieved on that day. And since his desire was to teach his whole army zealously to honor the Saviour’s day (which derives its name from light and from the sun), he freely granted to those among them who were partakers of the divine faith, leisure for attendance on the services of the church of God, in order that they might be able, without impediment, to perform their religious worship.
    FACC 326.3

    “With regard to those who were as yet ignorant of divine truth, he provided by a second statute that they should appear on each Lord’s day on an open plain near the city, and there, at a given signal, offer to God with one accord a prayer which they had previously learned. He admonished them that their confidence should not rest in their spears, or armor, or bodily strength, but that they should acknowledge the supreme God as the giver of every good, and of victory itself; to whom they were bound to offer their prayers with due regularity, uplifting their hands toward heaven, and raising their mental vision higher still to the King of Heaven, on whom they should call as the author of victory, their preserver, guardian, and helper. The emperor himself prescribed the prayer to be used by all his troops, commanding them to pronounce the following words in the Latin tongue:—
    “‘We acknowledge thee the only God; we own thee as our king, and implore thy succor. By thy favor have we gotten the victory; through thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for thy past benefits, and trust thee for future blessings. Together we pray to thee, and beseech thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our emperor and his pious sons.’
    FACC 327.1

    “Such was the duty to be performed on Sunday by his troops, and such the prayer they were instructed to offer up to God.”—Life of Constantine, book 4, chap. 18-20.FACC 327.2

    This testimony is exceedingly valuable as showing how Sunday was elevated from a heathen festival to the place of the “Christian Sabbath,” and also the wholesale manner in which the heathen were made “Christian.” One god more or less made no difference to the heathen, who were accustomed to follow the lead of the emperor in matters of religion; and so Constantine found no opposition in his scheme of making the religion of Rome just Christian enough to please and bind to him his numerous and powerful Christian subjects, and just pagan enough to avoid displeasing his pagan subjects. As Bishop Coxe says, it was a shrewd political move to preserve the unity of his empire.FACC 327.3

    We have now shown: (1) That the fact that Sunday was observed to a certain extent by many professed Christians very early in the Christian era, is in itself no evidence that it was by divine sanction, since the same people practiced many pagan abominations; and (2) That the observance of Sunday was itself a pagan custom which was brought into the church by “converts” from heathenism; and was fostered, together with other pagan customs, in order that the heathen might be the more readily disposed to join the church. The worship which had formerly been rendered to Apollo, the sun-god, was transferred, together with the solar holiday, to the Sun of Righteousness, and in this way the Christians pleased the heathen by adopting their chief festival day, and at the same time they satisfied their own consciences by making the heathen holiday a “Christian” institution. Thus, when the papacy was fully established, it could be truly said to be only “paganism baptized,” and even the “baptism” was a sham.FACC 328.1

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