« PreviousContinue »
existed. If these tenets were taken from the New Testament, it is certain Zoroaster taught them long before, and Jesus Christ and his apostles had not the honour of revealing such articles of faith to the world. For example, "they believe in one Supreme God, and in Jesus Christ under the name of an angel of light." They believe also in the Christian's devil, under the name of an angel of darkness.' They believe in the opposition of these two to each other, and which is to continue to the end of the world. They further believe in a resurrection of all the dead, a day of judgment and future retribution. And they believe in the everlasting happiness of all the good, and everlasting punishment of all the wicked." Pray, what more do orthodox people wish them to believe, to be as orthodox as themselves? What more could missionaries teach them, to perfect their Christian creed, which they received from Zoroaster? It is true, there are some articles in the Christian creeds of which they must be ignorant as they were not taught by Zoroaster. It does not appear that he knew any thing about hell-fire, as the place of everlasting punishment for his angel of darkness and his disciples. Nor had he learned that his angel of darkness was to be the everlasting tormentor of the wicked in this place. He was also ignorant that hell was paved with the skulls of infants a span long. His creed does not recognize, either, that it is necessary for people to be willing to be damned for the glory of God, in order to their being saved. As to his making God the author of evil or sin, he framed his system so as to avoid this absurdity. Being damned for Adam's transgression, divine retribution, three persons in one God, and other articles of modern theological discussion, Zoroaster seems to have known no more about, than about captain Symmes' theory of the earth. It deserves the serious consideration of the whole orthodox body,
whether missionaries ought not to come from Persia and India here, to examine into the innovations and additions made in the creed of their founder, the great Zoroaster.
We have now seen that the personality of the devil, and other tenets of the Magian religion are not taught in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. That Zoroaster did not learn them from this source is evident, by the fact that the orthodox, who still hold the same tenets, cannot find them there. That Zoroaster did not obtain them from the New Testament, is settled by the fact, that it was not written within 600 years of the time in which he flourished. Were they given to him by special revelation from God? No one will affirm this, for he is allowed to be a great imposter. Are they then of his invention, and did Jesus Christ and his apostles sanction these sentiments by adopting them? If they did, why do we still call him an impostor who introduced them, while Jesus is termed the high priest of our profession? As it is admitted by those who are best able to judge in these matters, that the writings of the Old Testament do not contain these sentiments, to what shall we attribute them? Shall we say that Jesus Christ and his apostles taught them by direction of God? If so, why was not Zoroaster, who taught the same six hundred years prior to the Christian dispensation, a true prophet? If the prophets of the Lord advocated these tenets, let us have chapter and verse for it. If not, and they are a part of the Christian system, then Zoroaster, and not Christ, is their promulgator. Christ, then, merely revived the Magian religion, as improved by that
arch impostor, and the moderns who hold these sentiments, are indebted to the greatest impostor that ever lived, excepting Mahomet, for the articles of the orthodox creed, and not to Christ. But will our orthodox friends allow this? And yet how will they avoid it? If Zoroaster did teach these tenets, and if the prophets in the Old Testament did not teach them, while they are considered as parts of the Christian theology, then are we indebted to Zoroaster, and not to those who came after him, for the sentiments which they merely revived.
"Let it now be remembered, that while the Jews dwelt in Canaan they knew nothing about the devil. If they did it was merely by report, that the Persians and other nations believed in such a being. They had precepts, guarding them against witchcraft, idolatry, and all the abominations of the Canaanites, but not one guarding them against that almost infinite being whom Christians call the devil. How our orthodox brethren account for this I am unable to say. On my views, it is easily and rationally accounted for. The devil was the principle of evil deified, transformed by Zoroaster into an angel of darkness, and the Jews go to Babylon to get acquainted with him. That the Jews spent seventy years in captivity there, is a fact disputed by no one."
How likely the Jews were to imbibe the principles of the Babylonians during their captivity of seventy years, is not very problematical. The time of their captivity, was while the Magian religion was in its zenith. They were always prone to go a whoring after strange gods, whom their fathers knew not. The manner of their captivity led in a great measure to this result, for they were scattered through that immense territory. Zoroaster's religion recognized one God, and so did theirs. The religion of Zoroaster was popular, and they had many inducements to embrace
it. A great similitude existed between the two reli. gions in respect to idols, which were discountenanced by both; and this makes it very probable, that Zoroaster was indeed a Jew, as has already been hinted.
As we have now seen that the similarity between the principles of Zoroaster and those professed at the present time by men who claim to be Christians, is very striking, why are not the moderns as properly called Mehestani, as were the followers of Zoroaster, and not after Christ, the mere servant of Zoroaster. If, as a master, Zoroaster taught what are now called the principles of the Christian religion, we see no propriety in naming men after him who merely kept in countenance doctrines which had been taught for half a dozen centuries.
That the Jews did embrace the religion of the Persians, viz. the worship of the sun, is evident from Ezek. 8; where the prophet saw in vision certain men standing between the porch and the altar, with their backs towards the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east; and they worshipped the sun."
But this is not the only source whence they derived superstitious ideas. The Grecian philosophy of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, had evidently made some considerable advances, as may be seen in John 9: 2. "And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, THIS MAN or his parents, that he was BORN BLIND?" The disciples, or others who could ask such a question, must be deeply imbued with the Pythagorian philosophy of metempsychosis. On no other principle can we account for a question which seems to set common sense at defiance.
The highly figurative language of the Orientals, has led the more prosing moderns to regard the figures used, as facts, and the frequency of prosopepeia, as proof of real existences. But is any thing we read of Aafonos of the New Testament, or the caravas of
either the Old or New, more clearly applied to personal existences, than the personification of demons, or wisdom, or death? Wisdom is represented as speaking, as sitting, as acting, and yet every one may know by the context, that this is but a personification of an attribute. Very superficial people have indeed mistaken this personification in certain instances, but their mistakes are not binding on us. Death, whether moral or natural, cannot be a real existence, a person having identity, and of course consciousness; and yet it is personified as riding, as having a sting, and as being destroyed by a victorious conqueror. An apostle represents death as a king, reigning in majesty, from Adam to Moses, and the prophet represents God as saying, O death I will be thy plagues. But who believes death to be a real entity? But why should we not with as much propriety believe this, as to credit the personality of the cause of diseases, which, being more than a match for the skill of physicians in those days, was imputed to the influence of demons, or the spirits of departed men? Missionaries in those eastern countries represent people as now using incantations over those diseased as were the demoniacs of old, and it is evident that the same belief still continues. Yet, in this country, a person who should impute epilepsy to a devil, or the devil, considered as the spirit of a deified dead man, or an infernal agent, would be " laughed to scorn," even in this devil-believing
But we need look no further back than to the fathers of New England for the mania of believing in witches and witchcraft, and real possessions by infernal spirits. The chronicles of those times exhibit a delusion in this respeet, almost unaccountable. So strong was the predilection for these vagaries, that the colony of Massachusetts was in a fair way to be depopulated. The minister in his desk, and the judge on the bench,