John Muehleisen Arnold.

True and false religion : a compendious, scriptural and consecutive view of the origin, development, and character of different systems of belief online

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Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldTrue and false religion : a compendious, scriptural and consecutive view of the origin, development, and character of different systems of belief → online text (page 1 of 49)
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Theological Seminary.


BL 80 .A74 1853
Cas Arnold, John Muehleisen,
She 1817-1881.

I r. True and false religion




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Si tameii in eo erraverim et amice de errore monear, seu publice ieu
privatim, aures praebebo : in hoc unum intentus, ut hi aliique labores mei
cedant ad triumphum verifatis et fidei Evangelicse, ultimumqne fineni
omtiium actionum nostrarum gloriam solius et uniiis veri Dei, Patris-,
Filii et Spiritus Sancti.






The Author of the following pages contemplates pub-
lishing a series of smaller works upon some of the
most important subjects connected with the East. He
could not, however, seriously think of carrying out
his favourite plan without a number of grave but
desultory inquiries presenting themselves to his mind,
which seemed to require some preliminary consider-
ation. Hence the appearance of the present work,
which comprises a few general reflections upon the
History of Genuine and Spurious Religion.

The object of the present work being of a purely
practical nature and tendency, the Author has brought
its contents before a Christian public in a less scien-
tific and philosophical form than he could otherwise
have wished to do. His design has been to write


for the immediate benefit of those who have not
sufficient means, powers, opportunity, time, or inclina-
tion, to obtain direct information from the various
sources which are scattered abroad upon a vast field
of scientific research.

It is scarcely necessary to state that part of the
subject which constitutes the theme of the present
work, is beset with singular dangers and difficulties.
The student of Eastern systems of Mythology is, at
all times, encompassed with a series of disadvantages
of the first magnitude. The character of foreign
languages, the sometimes arbitrary theories of other-
wise able and zealous men on what has been rendered
accessible by translations from those languages; the
circumstance, that notions which have been errone-
ously formed from want of more explicit information,
are sometimes propagated from one authority to an-
other ; the fact that, however much has been done
in the department of Oriental research, much remains
yet to be achieved, to bring it beyond the state of
infancy ; the fact, moreover, that those very authori-
ties which we find in the East, and on which we
must chiefly depend, are strange compounds of facts
and fictions, mixtures of historic events and poetic



coruscations, — all these and many other circumstances
are highly unfavourable to the acquisition of a sound
view of spurious systems of Religion.

The advantages under which the Author has at-
tempted to give a general view of the leading systems
of ancient and modern Paganism have been neither
small nor few in number. He has enjoyed access for
a considerable time to English, Continental, Classical,
and Oriental resources. He was enabled, by a length-
ened and laborious sojourn in divers countries of
Africa and the East, to acquire to some extent a
knowledge of several Oriental languages ; to examine
the most magnificent, and at the same time the most
important, classical remains of Pagan antiquity ; to
ascertain the peculiar views and feelings of Heathen
and Mohammedan nations, from personal observation ;
to trace the actual working of the human mind, under
the various phases of religious error, and to study
spurious systems of belief, as they are practically ex-
pounded in the general character, and exemplified in
the moral complexion, of whole nations and commu-

The Author feels greatly indebted to the valuable
labours of several eminent writers, As it was, how-


ever, foreign to his plan to crowd the pages of this'
work with critical annotations and detailed references
to an endless variety of authorities, they have never
been acknowledged. Nor would it, under any circum-
stances, be in his power to determine, in numerous
instances, what has been derived from others, having
omitted to identify his authorities at a period when he
gathered his information for mere practical purposes,
without the remotest view of himself writing upon the
subject. For the satisfaction, however, of such per-
sons as may feel desirous of obtaining further infor-
mation respecting the numerous sources to which
the Author is indebted for part of his materials,
an imperfect catalogue has been added to the second
volume of the work.

There being nothing more detrimental and less
favourable to scientific inquiries than a systematical
spirit, or a mind stereotyped by a set of prejudices and
preconceived theories, pains have been taken to acquire
and preserve that kind of mental type which can
be changed, enlarged, or contracted, as may be found
expedient on the acquisition of additional light and
more accurate information. New discoveries suggest,
or may suggest, fresh theories ; new wine requires new


bottles, and new facts demand, or may demand, new
systems. It was by acting on this simple principle,
that a Baconian spirit emancipated the intellect of
Europe from the bondage of being guided by deep-
rooted prejudice and the authority of antiquated
systems. Whilst it is pleasant to agree at all times
with people who are looked upon as authorities in the
various paths of Literature, and who, indeed, have a
just claim upon our regard and veneration, there may
be circumstances in which it must be our motto : —
"Amicus Socrates, amicus Plato, amicus Aristoteles,
sed magis amica Veritas."

When, therefore, the author has deemed it neces-
sary to deviate occasionally from the mode in which
part of the subject has been hitherto represented in
this country, it was neither ignorance, nor vanity, nor
wantonness, which induced him to differ from vene-
rable Authors to whom he feels otherwise deeply

It is hoped that the very brief account respecting
the grand and marvellous Jubilee, which was cele-
brated in the brilliant orbits of our planetary system at
the time of our Saviour's advent, will tend to extol the
mystery of godliness, that God was manifested in the


flesh when the fulness of lime was come ! Such is
the result of astronomical calculations which have
been recently made by some of the most eminent men
of our age, and which has, as far as we know, never
before been brought before the British public. When
Uranus, the remotest of all the planets, had completed
the fiftieth of his revolutions around the sun, each of
which being a complete Theocratical year of the plane-
tary system, the multitude of the Heavenly host
sounded the evangelical silver trumpets of a universal
Jubilee on the fields of Bethlehem Ephratah, "praising
God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth ])eace, good-will toivards men.''

In perfect harmony with the original design of the
work, the Author has taken pains to preserve the
style of the argument free, as much as possible, from
the appearance of controversial elements. These may
well grace the pages of a more scientific perform-
ance ; but they are, unquestionably, stumbling-blocks
in works of a more simple and popular nature. There
w^ere, however, some few occasions in w^hich the
interests of divine truth demanded a peremptory
exposm'e of certain pernicious notions, by which the
poor victims of a spurious and infidel Philosophy have


recently attempted to impeach the originaUty of
revealed Religion. It was our object to expose, briefly
though it might be, certain plausible arguments, by
which it was made to appear as if some of the pecu-
liarities of our blessed Religion were plagiarized from
the Mythological systems of the ancient Egyptians,
Persians, and Phoenicians. Again, some palpable
errors, into which honest and intelligent writers were,
from unavoidable causes, at times betrayed, have been
invariably rectified, it is hoped, in the tone and spirit
of Christian authorship. " Homines sumus omnes et
erroribus obnoxii." If, however, in spite of the
general frailty of all human efforts, the following work
contribute another mite towards a sounder and more
comprehensive view of the actual and real History of
True and Counterfeit Religion, which is still desirable
to the comparative analysis of an important chapter of
the history of our race ; if it tend, under God's bless-
ing, to bring the deplorable character, the melancholy
position, and the just claims of the Pagan world, in a
new form and with more emphasis, before the Chris-
tian public ; if by any means the cause of Christianiza-
tio7i and Civilization, of science and humanity, be
advanced : in short, if in any measure glory result


" to God in the hi(/hest, and on earth peace and (jood-
will towards men,'' the arduous labour of thought, and
the toil of study and research bestowed upon the sub-
ject, will be considered abundantly rewarded. " In
magnis voluisse sat est."

Finally, the Author embraces the opportunity of this
his first appearance upon the field of literary enter-
prise, to express his very cordial thanks to a numerous
circle of generous friends, for the kind manner in which
they came forward to encourage him in his arduous
undertaking, by offering to subscribe for the work.
And he would fail in his duty were he to omit express-
ing his deep sense of obhgation to some of the Right
Reverend Prelates of our Chm'ch, and others distin-
guished by their position, learning, and piety, for the
encouragement, the kind advice, and the valuable
assistance with which they countenanced both the
composition and the eventual publication of this

Little Hampton,
Oct. 23, 1849.

CnHtnits nf tjit .first itDhiniL


JBcftnition, antJ iSrcIiminavi) l^emavlig upon tlje Subject of


Page 1—25.
Difficulty of defiiiiug Religion — Definition from etymology — Definition
upon the professedly liberal principle of eclecticism — The only safe
and legitimate method of defining Religion — Religion gradually deve-
loped — Its practical nature — Religion is one as God is one — Human
nature neither needs nor admits of various kinds of Religion — Analogy
between genuine and spurious Religion — An important feature in
which true and false Religion coincide — The most giievous errors in
Religion are perversions of most vital truths — Instances drawn from
the chronology and other branches of Pagan systems — To every
inquiry as to his nature, Jehovah replies, " I am that I am ; In the
name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Ghost" — Fellowship
with the eternal Father, through the blessed Son, by the Holy Spirit.

Historical JBcbtlopmcnt of Sivcligion in tf;f <BVii CfsStanmit.

Page 26—176.
The finite nature of man demanded always a special revelation — His
destiny implied a state of probation — Contrary to his high vocation,
man did faU— The two families of the human race — God as the right-
eous Judge— The dispersion and settlement of the nations— The cause


why divine revelatiou was heucefortli to assume a national character
— The training of a peculiar nation as the object of his choice — Re-
demption of a typical nature — A politico-religious, or a Theocratical
constitution — A divine symholical tuition to counteract and suppress
the s2mrious symbol — Difference between the genuine and spurious
symbol — Distinction between the true type of genuine Religion and the
fictitious elements of a spurious Mythology — The working of the Theo-
cratical Constitution amongst a chosen people in a chosen place —
Jehovah, amidst every vicissitude, is always the same — The opportune
revival of the Spirit of prophecy, to infuse new life into a dying people
— Melancholy ciFects of a separation of the priestly, prophetical, and
judicial functions — In its brightest day the Theocratical constitution
retains its exclusive character — Part of the salt of the earth, which has
lost its savour, is cast out — The remnant of God's people also go into
exile, but they return for important purposes — Progress under adverse
circumstances — A deep silence broods over the elements of revealed
Religion — The pagan world agitated by a convulsive and universal
expectation of the " Desire of all nations''' — Heavenly bodies the
" poetry of heaven" — Sympathy existing between man and the heavenly
bodies — Man bearing in his own mysterious nature the sole standard to
resolve the problematical anomaly between solar and lunar revolutions
— Remarkable coincidence of ancient systems of chronology — The
starry firmament was ever contemplated by passing generations as the
stupendous clock which has been suspended in the universe for sacred
and mysterious purposes — The glorious jubilee of the world — The
grand and marvellous jubilee of our planetary system coinciding
with the blessed advent of the Redeemer of the world — The star of
the wise men of the East probably the conjunction of Jupiter and


JScbflopmcnt of true ^Idcltgton tn ti)f J^ciu Cfstamrnt.

Page 177—286.

Retrospect of the condition of the world at the time when the grace
of God, which bringeth salvation, appeared unto all men— The Word


was made flesh — The character of tlie God-mau Jesus Christ — His ap-
pearance amongst Israel and liis ministerial character — The priestly
functions of the Messiah — Mors Christi, vita raundi — The outpouring
of the Spirit of life and of liberty, and the bursting of the preparatory
constitution — The Gospel transmitted from the Jews to the Gentiles
tlirough the medium of the Semi-Pagan Samaritatis and the Semi-
Jewish Ethiopians — Christ the adorable head, under whom all men and
all things were gathered together in the fulness of time — Retro-
spect of the history of true Religion in past ages — The reason why
Christianity appeared at so late a period of the history of the world
— The gathering of the elect under the new dispensation, and the
consummation of all things — The marvellous analogy existing between
the beginning and the end of the historical development of true


Natural i^tligioii roniiitJcrttr luitlj gpccial rtfcrntft to (©n'tntal
^agamsim, antf i\)t sipedfic rcsiiiltsi of ^asittin sipfnilattou in
mattcviS of 3l^tligton.

Page 287—439.

Preliminary remarks — Doubtful way of ascertaining the strength of
speculative reason in religious matters by reference to Christian philo-
sophers — The only safe and legitimate method of ascertaining the cha-
racter of natural Religion by reference to Pagan Mythology — The
character of the primitive form of Pagan Idolatry amongst the Ba-
bylonians — Review of the Iranian Pireworship, or the character of the
Persian Dualism — Plagiarism of Zoroaster's system exposed — Dis-
covery of the twenty sacred books, which were considered to be lost —
The heterogeneous elements of the Iranian superstition — The Bible has
adopted none of the elements of the Religion of the ancient Persians
— The Hebrew doctrine of angels — Natural Religion in India — Hindu-
ism as it was — Hinduism as it is — The Veda Religion — The Religion
of the Pooranas — The plurality of creations and destructions — The
philosophical system of Emanation and Metempsychosis reviewed and


exposed — Exposure of some of the scientific blunders of the Hindoos
— Moral Influence of the Hindoo Beligion — The natural Religion of
Buddhism — Review of the characteristic features and dogmas of Buddh-
ism — Strictures upon the system of Buddhism — Natural Religion
among the Chinese — The Confucian creed — The religious ideas of the
Tao-tse sect — The Buddhistical Religion in China.

Cnntrnb nf tjir Innnli 'Mmn,


£5atural 3^rItston, fon^^itJfrrtJ luitl) siprrtal vtfcvcncr to (©rn's
Ucntal ^aganisim, anU ti)c £ipcdftc vcsiultsi of ^ijilo^opi)ifal
^prculatton in mattrviS of 3tlfligion.

Page 1—145.

Natural Religion of the Egyptians — The primal deities — The first ranlc
of Egyptian deities — The second rank — The third rank — The war of
the giants, and the flood — The creation of man from clay — Transmigra-
tion of the soul — Animal worship —The Mosaic constitution not copied
from Egyptian Mythology — The tabernacle of the Hebrews, and the
Egyptian temples — The ark of the covenant, and the holy boat of the
Egyptians — The priesthood of Israel, and that of Egypt — The sacri-
fices and festivals of both contrasted — The natural Religion of the
ancient Phoenicians — The Phoenicians in Egypt — Baal in his threefold
character — Baal- Adonis — Baal- Saturnus, or Belitan — Baal-Chammon,
or Moloch — Baaltis, or MyUtta, with her idols Ashara — Ashtoreth to
be disti)iguished from Baaltis — Jao of the Phoenicians and Chaldeans
not to be confounded with Jehovah — Natural Religion of the Greeks —
The age of Krouos — Elemental worship — The new principle of the
Grecian Mythology — Olympian gods — Peculiarity of the Grecian My-
thology — Natural Religion amongst the ancient Romans — Character
of the Roman Mythology — Its final decay — Natural Religion in the
Western and Northern parts of Europe — Among the Piunish tribes —
Amongst tlie Slavonian family — Amongst the German tribes — Hebdo-


madal divisiou amongst all natious — Amougst the Celtic family — Com-
parative view of the Eastern and Western Mythologies — General
character of the natural Religion of the Pagan world — Remarkable
aspect of the East and West in modem days — Merits of the philoso-
pliical speculations of the Pagans — Philosophy in the Christian era —
Philosophy, reason, and revelation — Revelation and manifestation.


@tiural Witio of t\)t dTuntfamtntal ©rrov^ m l^fligion, antJ
tijc ^tantlartJ of Cruti; in J^cltgtou^ mattcrsi.

Page 146—196.

The corruption of human nature the prolific cause of every anomaly in
the natural history of Religion — General remarks on superstition and
unbelief as the radical errors in Religion — The cause, rise, and pro-
gress of scepticism, infidelity, atheism — The difficulties and incon-
gruities of infidelity — The nature of mysticism delineated — General
strictures upon the religious error of mysticism — Comparative view
of superstition, infidelity, and true religious belief — Necessity of
a standard — It cannot be the Holy Scriptures before their divine
character lias been acknowledged — The apostolic usage — The standard
to be acknowledged by all parties — Difficulty to invent and to agree
upon a test — It cannot be the universal prevalence of a Religion —
It cannot be general consent — It can neither be the antiquity nor the
novelty of a Religion — It cannot be the temporal prosperity of a
nation — It cannot be abstracted from human reason — It cannot a priori
be the internal evidence of the truth of a Religion — Certain principles
peculiar to human nature — It must be a matter of indifference to
others from whence we derive our standard — The standard brought
forward — The Christian Religion is irue in all its parts and bearings
— The Christian Religion is complete to all intents and purposes —
The Christian Religion is authenticated by a body of evidences
which will cari-y home conviction to every unprejudiced mind — The
Christian Religion is practically adapted to the moral and spiritual
wants of mankind at large — The characteristic excellences of revealed


Ifntcinal ©cbttopmcnt anU Cijaractcv of ^asauisim.

Page 197—229.
Original deuomiuatiou of Pagan and Heathen, and the meaning it
acquii-ed in the first centuries of the Christian era^-The anti-scriptural
sense which the term Pagan acquired amongst some of the early fathers
of the Church— The anti-scriptural sense the term Pagan acquired in
modern days, by which Islam is excluded — Exposure of the so-called
liberal view, which contemplates the various forms of Pagan idolatry
as innocent expressions of devotion and piety — Exposure of the erro-
neous view, which resolves Pagan Mythology into a mere mystification
of either astronomy, history, philosophy, politics, or even of physics
and chemistry — Several strictures upon the theory which makes man-
kind gradually emerge from Polytheism — Grand cause of Paganism in
man's separation from God — Man was created good and holy— Con-
current testimony of Pagan antiquity in favour of the historical fact,
that man degenerated from a comparatively far more perfect state —
The natural process by which Pagan idolatry was developed in the
human heart, and spread over the various ramifications of human
existence — Scriptural view of Pagan idolatry — Heathenism appears in
a double light — Paganism, on the one hand, embodies noble remnants
of divine truth, and retains some of the noblest features of a shattered
humanity : Paganism, on the other hand, with its vanity of mind, is
reprobated in Holy Scripture as an abominable thing — Accountability
of the Pagan world — Prospects of the heathen, and in what sense
inexcusable — Review of the characteristically painful efforts of Pagan-
ism ; their demerits and subsequent failure.


iffioial, Cibil, ant) Social Ifnflumrc of ^puiiousi Mdigion
tipon ti)c 2i2IoilU in genfral.

Page 230—308.
General reflections upon the effects of genuine and spurious Religion —
Material difference of Judaism and Paganism, as to their respective
character before and after the Christian era — Absence of every element


of genuine morality in Paganism, with a confirmed tendency to spiri-
tual decay and moral dissolution — The most obscene abominations
assume the form of practical piety and devotion — Strictures upon
Pa^an morality — Cwil influence upon the world — Exposure of the
arbitrary theory which makes mankind gradually emerge from a state
of \tdx\idx\'sm.— Social influence of spurious Religion — The universal
degradation of the tender sex — The anomaly of slavery a Pagan
institution — General review of the horrors of Paganism — Paganism at
all times enforced human sacrifices — Human sacrifices traced through-
out the length and breadth of Pagan Mythology — Conclusion.

Appendix • • • 309






1. The term "Religion" has been generally
adopted to express the highest and the happiest rela-
tion between God Almighty and man his dependent
creatiu'e. As it, however, never once occurs in Holy
Scripture in the sense in which it is commonly under-
stood, and as we have neither isolated historical, nor
yet abstract doctrinal definitions upon the subject in
Holy Writ, it cannot be a matter of surprise to find
a variety of opinions as to the precise import of the
term under consideration.

Religion, according to the definition of some, sim-
ply signifies our duty to God. According to others, it
implies those sentiments, affections, and feelings, which
relate to the Deity. Others, again, consider Religion

vol. i. b


to be synonymous with the worship, the fear, or the
knowledge of God. Again, others identify ReHgion
with devotion, with piety, or virtue. And according
to others, again, it consists in a reverence for divine
things, or in a feehng of dependence upon Ahiiighty
God. It will, however, easily appear that neither of
these and similar definitions can satisfy the enlightened
mind of the Christian believer. True Religion con-

Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldTrue and false religion : a compendious, scriptural and consecutive view of the origin, development, and character of different systems of belief → online text (page 1 of 49)