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moreover, flourished in Alexandria, where the early Gentile Christians propagated their faith and possessed themselves of all surrounding ingredients for its development.
The Egyptians held the doctrines of mediation and atonement. Their kings were also endowed with the priestly office, and were thus types of Christ, who is presented in this two-fold aspect.
Like him, “they were mediators between their subjects and the gods.” A common sculptural representation is that of a king “presenting his gift to the god as an atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people” (Sharpe, Egyp. Myth. 21). It is the exact position of the Jewish high priest said in the epistle to the Hebrews to be fulfilled in Christ. The dead were subjected to trial after death.
Mr Sharpe gives a picture of the scene as taken from an Egyptian painting. The judge is on his throne; before him are the offerings made to conciliate him ; the deceased is in prayer with four lesser gods interceding for him; on the other hand Typhon, the accuser of mankind, is demanding his punishment. His soul is weighed in scales against an image of truth, and judgment is pronounced upon him (Ibid. 50, 51). “The four lesser gods are themselves supposed to offer themselves as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the sinner.” Mr Sharpe gives a copy from a funeral tablet in the British Museum where the deceased is seen making this offering (Ibid. 52). Here is the very model of Christ as at once the mediator and the offering.
The Egyptian hopes and fears in the future state were described pictorially and in hieretic writing on a roll of papyrus, extending from five to as far as sixty feet, which was buried with the deceased. It spoke of his resurrection, the various trials and difficulties he had to meet with in his passage in the world to come, the garden of paradise in which he had to await the day of judgment, the trial on that day, and the punishment to be incurred by him if found guilty. The lake of fire prepared for the wicked is depicted, and also the tree of life in the paradise which the deceased enters if acquitted. In the branches of this tree is seated the goddess Neith, who is sometimes represented pouring the waters of life into an emancipated soul (Ibid. 20, 64-66).
belief was in the resuscitation of the natural body, which was preserved for this end by embalming. At a later time, but still long in advance of the Christian epoch, they held that there was
a “spiritual body” distinct from that which is “ natural," as taught in the 1st of Corinthians xv. 44 (Ibid. 45, 54). In the Egyptian Book of the Dead “very touching are some of the expressions in which the departed calls on Osiris to save him from his accusers, from the lake of fire, and from the tormentors" (Stuart-Glennie, In the Morning Land, 370).
The Trinity was a doctrine entertained by the Egyptians. “The gods were very much grouped in sets of three, and each city had its own trinity.” “At Philæ the trinity is Osiris, Isis, and Horus, a group, indeed, common to most parts of Egypt.” Mr Sharpe gives a representation of such a trinity, and says, that there is “a hieroglyphical inscription in the British museum as early as the reign of Sevechus of the eighth century before the Christian era, showing that the doctrine of Trinity in unity already formed part of their religion, and stating that ... the three gods only made one person ” (Egyp. Myth. 13, 14).
But transcending all their varied mythological representations, the Egyptians are found to have possessed a belief in the unity of God, as the author of everlasting life. In the Book of the Dead it is declared, “The Lord is God, there is but one God for me.” “I do not die again in the region of Sacred Repose.” “ Whosoever does what belongs to him, visibly (individually ?) his soul participates in life eternal.” “ Plait for thyself a garland, ... thy life is everlasting ” (Stuart-Glennie, In the Morning Land, 369, 370).
A leading feature in the Egyptian creed was a centralization of all hopes in their great divinity Osiris. He affords, in all essential particulars, a thorough representation of the central personage in the Christian creed, and was to the Egyptians all that Christ is to the adherents to Christianity. “Osiris was called the Manifester of Good,' or the Opener of truth, and was said to be full of goodness (grace), and truth.' He appeared on earth to benefit mankind, and after having performed the duties he came to fulfil, and fallen a sacrifice to Typho, the evil principle, (who was, at length, overcome by his influence, after his leaving the world), he rose again to a new life, and became the judge of the dead in a future state. The dead, also, after having passed their final ordeal, and been absolved from sin, obtained in his name, which they then took, the blessings of eternal felicity (Stuart-Glennie, 358, citing Wilkinson). “I will write upon him,” it is said, “ the name of my God” (Rev. iii. 12), a figure already realized by the Egyptians.
The doctrine of the incarnation, “God manifest in the flesh,” exhibited prominently in the god-man Osiris, was also displayed in lower forms. The bull Apis was believed to be born from a ray which darted from heaven on his mother. He was considered to be an image of the soul of Osiris, which migrated from one Apis to another. He was not the god, but the living shrine in which the divine nature had become incarnate (Kenrick, Ancient Egypt, II. 22, 25). His birth was thus ever miraculous, without an earthly father.
Every king of Egypt, even while living, was added to the number of the gods, and declared to be the son of Ra.”
“ He denied that he owed his birth to the father from whom he inherited the crown; he claimed to be born, like the bull Apis, by a miraculous conception." The author gives us an illustration of the birth of King Amunothph III., taken from the temple of Luxor, which he thus explains. “First, the god Thoth, with the head of an ibis, and with his ink and pen-case in bis left hand, as the messenger of the gods, like the mercury of the Greeks, tells the maiden queen Mautmes that she is to give birth to a son, who is to be King Amunothph III. Secondly, the god Kneph, the spirit, with a ram's head, and the goddess Athor, with the sun and cow's horns upon her head, both take hold of the queen by her hands, and put into her mouth the character for life, which is to be the life of the coming child." The process of the delivery is indicated.
Lastly, the several gods or priests attend in adoration upon their knees to present their gifts to this wonderful child, who is seated in the midst of them, and is receiving their homage (Sharpe, Egyp. Myth. 17-19). The models for the annunciation of the birth of Jesus, the miraculous conception of his virgin mother, and his adoration by the eastern Magi, are thus exactly supplied in the Egyptian figurations.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which so much appears illustrative of Christian doctrine, is considered “to have been written with the finger of Thoth himself.” One of its hymns, not in its original simplicity, but already mixed up with glosses and commentaries, has been found inscribed on the coffin of queen Mentuhept of the eleventh dynasty, the era of which is placed by Bunsen at 2782 B.C. * This hymn implies not only the worship of Osiris, but the whole system of doctrines connected with his redeeming life on earth and judicial office in heaven.” Thus, “in ancient Osirianism, as in modern Christianity, the Godhead is conceived as a Trinity, yet are the three Gods declared to be only one God. In ancient Osirianism, as in modern Christianism, we find the worship of a divine mother and child. In ancient Osirianism, as in modern Christianism, there is a doctrine of atonement. In ancient Osirianism, as in modern Christianism, we find the vision of a last judgment and resurrection of the body; and, finally, in ancient Osirianism, as in modern Christianism, the sanctions of morality are a lake of fire and tormenting demons, on the one hand, and, on the other, eternal life in the presence of God” (StuartGlennie, 366, 367, 371):
The task of the Christian delineators in the atmosphere of Alexandria was not a difficult one. There was not much left to them to create by efforts of the imagination. The materials to be worked upon were all at hand, rampant and greedily believed in by the surrounding population. They had merely to make their selection, and represent them in their newlydevised religion. The facts were all prepared ; a change of names was all that was requisite to make the appropriations their own.
No one, in the days of the projection, ventured to pass off those fanciful exhibitions as original and inspired; but as time progressed, and the believers became more and more separated and alienated from the period and the sources of the first beliefs, the character was given to the whole, which it has now borne for many centuries, of solid primitive truth, not derived from any field of human knowledge, but due to direct communication from above.
We have to turn now to the true masters in the art of developing religious beliefs, namely the Orientals of India, from whom, in all early ages, through an unfathomable antiquity, have flowed those currents of artificial doctrine and imaginative representation which have sown themselves, in varied forms, among the nations westward of them. I will begin with what relates to the Buddhist movement, as standing nearest to Christianity in point of time, and as known to have touched the field of Christianity in Alexandria.
The death of Buddha is considered to be an era of a properly historic character, and is placed ordinarily at B.C. 543.* Buddha is held to have lived till over the age of eighty, and to have passed the last forty or fifty years of his life as a religious reformer. His ministry, therefore, may be safely said to have begun fully six hundred years before that alleged for Christ. The creed prevailing in his name matured itself in a manner corresponding very exactly to that in which the doctrines of Christianity became fixed and established. Buddha adopted the ascetic principles that had long prevailed around him among the devout Hindús. The flesh was seen to be in warfare with the spirit, and bad to be kept down by abstinence from whatever fed its desires. He called upon all to devote themselves to the religious life, protesting against the domination of the Hindú priestly class, and the exclusiveness of Hinduism. He threw the door open to all to follow him in the path he offered them, and vast portions of the eastern nations in time adopted his views and called themselves after his name.
While the reformer was in life there was no necessity felt for recording his teachings. They were of a simple order, inculcating practical godliness to be exhibited chiefly in acts of goodwill towards mankind. After his death his followers complicated the system with elaborate theories and mystical imaginings. Discussions and dissensions ensued, and the need of authoritative records was felt. Then, about three hundred years after the founder's death, the secular power interposed. King Asoka, who had adopted the reformed faith, convoked a council for ascertaining the doctrines to be accepted as those of the great teacher, distinguishing between the heretical and the genuine, and thus the Buddhist canon was settled (Max Müller, Lectures on the Science of Religion, 29-31). We have all this repeated in the story of the Christian movement. Jesus is represented as appearing on
* “ The Legends of the Old Testament,” 15.