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During every seventh year (^the Sabbath year) the fields must re-
main unploughed ; to the fruits which then spontaneously grew,
the poor and the stranger were entitled ; besides, the native slaves
were manumitted, and all debts remitted. Every fiftieth year was
a jubilee, in which every family recovered its former landed prop-
erty.

In later times this religion was yet enlarged by many additions,
e. g., by the doctrine of a devil (satan, temptor), of angels, etc.
In many respects it resembles that of the Egyptians, e. g., in
their country there was once a temple with the inscription : I am
that which ever was, is and will be — a conception of God, which
also the word "Jevovah" expresses. Their priests, too, carried,
like the Jewish ones, an ephod with two images, and their temples
were built like the portable tabernacle of the Israelites ; like this
they had their entrance towards the East, and contained also a
reservoir for the ablutions of the priests, a curtain, a sanctuary, a
most holy sanctuary, which always remained veiled to the looks of
the people, and an ark of covenant with winged beings. Finally,
with regard to the narrative part of the Mosaic books, it is cer-
tainly interwoven with many incredible legends ; to these belong-
all the miraculous reports of the Egyptian plagues, of the circum-
stances which are told to have happened during the legislation
upon Mount Sinai ; of the creation of the world, and particularly
of that of woman, etc. In general, they assert that those five books,
the author of which Moses was formerly thought to be, were not



composed by himself, and that the ten principal commandments
never were written on two tablets. — (Cf. Bibl. narrat.)

§ 10. Mohammedan Religion— Arabian Culture.

Moha7?wied was born (571 A. D.) of poor parents in Mecca, a
town of Arabia. He was a mumber of the noble tribe Koreish,
and of the family Hashim, which formerly had to protect the prin-
cipal temple (the Kaaba). He lost his parents early. When a
a youth, he devoted himself to poetry ; then entered the mercan-
tile service of a rich widow, and obtained her hand by his ability
and faithfulness. At a latter time he retired into solitude, and in-
tended to establish a new religion which ought to ally the three
religious parties of his country, Jews, Christians and Heathens.

He communicated his idea first to his friends, and soon gained
their approbation. He then stepped forth publicly as a prophet ;
but the multitude paid little attention to him. The inhabitants
of Mecca, earning great profits from the pilgrimage of*the Arabs,
declared against him. But most decidedly the Koreishites, the asso-
ciates of his tribe, opposed him, because being the priests of the
Kaaba, they were anxious for the loss of their authority and rev-
enues. They conspired against his life. The family OmeJJah,
since olden times fostering adversed feelings towards his relatives,
headed them. They resolved that in an appointed night one
member of every family ought to thrust his sword in Mohammed's
breast. His enemies surrounded his house ; but A/i, his relative,
reasoned him from their hands. He fled to Medina, where he had
got already several votaries (the i6th of July, 622 A. D. ).
From the day of his flight the Mohammedan nations count their
years .

Now he resolved to propagate his doctrine by force of arms.
According to Arabian usage he began to fight his tribe, the
Koreishites, and he issued the command to make war upon all in-
fidels. Supported by the inhabitants of Medina he gave battle to
the members of his tribe and to their allies, the inhabitants of
Mecca, in which he was victorious, and got a rich booty. Finally
they agreed to conclude peace with him. He continued his con-
quests. Afier some years he was already so redoubtable that he



dared to summon even the Grecian Emperor and other powerful
Princes to embrace his religion. When, then, the inhabitants of
Mecca had violated the concluded peace, he marched against them,
and conquered the town (630). But he used the vanquished
mildly. He purified the Kaaba of idols. Mecca acknowledged
him as prophet and sovereign. In the following years he subdued
almost the whole of Arabia.

His manner ot life was very simple. He lived on barley, bread
and dates. His couch was a carpet on the bare ground. He re-
quired no marks of honor; he did not even permit his associates
to rise in his presence, when he came to see them. He would say:
" I am a servant of God, like you ; I eat and drink like you, and I
get seated like every other man." Both he and his first successors
often preached at the head of the armies. When he felt that death
approached him, he set his slaves free. He died probably from ad-
ministered poison. (632).

His successors conquered Egypt and other parts of Africa, Pales-
tine, Syria and Persia, and other countries in Asia, Spain, and in
more recent time (about 1400) the South-Eastern part of Europe,
which now is called Turkey. Their capital first was Damask,
afterwards the magnificent city of Bagdad, close to the ancient
Babylon

Mohammed's doctrine, called Islam (creed, faith), is contained
in the Koran, the book of religion of his followers, who call them-
selves Mussulmans or Moslems (the faithful ones) The principal
articles of his doctrine are the following : There is only one God
(Allah), and Mohammed is his prophet. God has given man his
revelation by six prophets, viz : Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses,
Christ and Mohammed ; but the last is the greatest of them.
The Koran promises the elect superabundant joys in the future life,
and renounces the reprobate to eternal penalties. The joys are of
the most sensual kind ; heaven is a beautiful garden, a paradise.
Mohammed allowed his adherents polygamy, and would make them
indifferent to all dangers of death by the belief in an immutable
fate. Therefore they fought for their creed with courageous con-
tempt of death. Among other duties the Koran commands
principally : prayers, abstinence from crime, fasts, charity, cleanli-



22

ness and ablutions of the body, pilgrimage, and above all virtues,
justice. During prayers their eyes ought to be turned towards the
country where Mecca and its temple are situated. During the
month of Ramadan (the ninth of their year), they ought to fast
rigidly. Each one ought to spend the tenth part of his fortune for
alms ; also to pilgrim to Mecca, if possible, at least once in his life.
The Friday of every week is ordered for public worship, which
consists in prayers and sermons. It is a princij)al precept of the
Koran to propagate its doctrine everywhere with fire and sword,
and to destroy the infidels. Mohammed did not perform miracles;
but his followers attribute them to him in order to confirm the
faith of the blind multitude. He did not like to have any monks ;
nevertheless the Fakirs, Dervis, etc., have also intruded in his
church. Among the Mohammedans, also, different sects arose,
which made terrible religious wars against each other.

Arts and sciences for a long time found a protective abode
among the Arabs. Several of their Califs (sovereigns) favored
them in a high degree; some of them were themselves artists and
scholars. At the time of their rule in Spain, there were alone in
Andalusia seventy public libraries. The Arabs acquired great
merit for geography, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, — which
science was by them created, — and for medicine. They translated
the mathematical, medical and philosophical works of the Greeks.
In mathematics they excelled their teachers. Their astronomical
writings have become the foundation of modern astronomy. In
most of the cities of their dominion there were observatories, and
institutes for mathematics and astronomy. The Gothic architec-
ture also was invented by them. In poetry they produced peculiar
tales (e. g., the renowned "Thousand and One Nights"), but no
dramatic works. " The Arabs may in one respect be justly con-
sidered the restorers of learning in Europe. All the knowledge,
whether of physics, astronomy, philosophy, or mathematics,
which flourished in Europe from the tenth century, was originally
derived from them."— Mosheim, eccl. history.



CHAPTER SECOND.



CHRISTIAN RELIGION,



FIEST PEEIOD (1-1024).



From the Foundation of the Christian Eeligion Until the
Time of the Universal Government of the Popes.



§ 11. Origin of the Christian Esligion— Causes of its Fast
Propagation.

During the Government of the Emperor Augustus, Jesus of
Nazareth, in Palestine, was born, who constructed anew and better
religion on the foundation of the old Judaic. Of his origin and
youth nothing is known with certainty; his father is said to have
been a carpenter. In his full, manly age he began to teach the
people publicly. His method of teaching moved his hearers
deeply, as he nearly always supported his propositions by reasons,
and illustrated them by parables. As he attacked the ruling abuses
of the religious government, and severely censured the vices of the
priests and Pharisees, who formed a powerful sect, he became the
object of their hatred, and perished by the violent death of cruci-
fixion.

After his death his confessors preached his doctrine (most with
the additions of the Apostle Paul) in all parts of the Roman
Empire, and founded associations of their creed. After some
centuries it was spread everywhere. Emperor Constantine was
converted to it, and declared it to be the religion of the State (about
300 after Christ); it then became predominant in his realm. His
flatterers called him the Great, but he v/as indeed a monster in
human form. He drowned his wife in boiling water ; put to death
his son ; murdered the husbands of his two sisters, his father-in-
law, and his nephew, a boy of twelve years of age. And this man



24

was the first patron of Christianity ! Its confessors were called
Christians, because its author, Jesus, was called Christ (the an-
nointed, the King). Most of the German tribes embraced his
religion. In Germany it was propagated by Winfried (called
Boniface); in Switzerland by Gallus and Columban ; in Ireland by'
St. Patrick. In Saxony, Emperor Charles I. established it by force
of arms (771-785). He killed all who refused to be baptized.
Thousands were driven to the rivers, and baptized, or drowned in
the floods.

The causes of the fast prapagation of Christianity were internal
and external ; among those the excellence of the doctrine is to be
mentioned. The Greek and Roman religion had lost their author-
ity ; the more culture and enlightenment increased, the lower was
the contempt int^vhich they sank. The Jews themselves did not
more closely adhere to the Mosaic creed ; sectarianism had gained
ground among them, and void ceremonies had taken the place of
true religion. As Jesus taught that all men are members of one
family, his religion gained a great many proselytes among the poor,
the humble and the slaves, who felt themselves raised higher by
such principles. Besides, these people were supported by collec-
tions from the Christians, destined for the comfort of the dis-
tressed. Other external causes were the dispersion of the Jews,
the religion of whom is the foundation ot Christendom, and
the preservation ot the Christians, by which their moral force was
nerved. The blood of the martyrs grew the seed of new confessors.
Still sometimes the Christians themselves were to be blamed, if
they incurred persecutions, either disturbing the established relig-
ious rites, or being disobedient to the laws of the country, or
pressing to the tribunals of their enemies in order to be victims of
their creed. Most severely were they persecuted for some time by
the Emperor Gabrius; still later he was reconciled with them.

§ 12. Origin of the Evangelies— Life and Character of Jesus—
His Doctrine— Paulinism.

It is doubtful by whom, when, and in which idiom the doctrine
of Jesus has been written down. Jesus himself has left nothing in
writing ; his apostles probably did not know how to write, being



25

illiterate men ; only little by little were his precepts collected and
recorded ; meanwhile, probably a hundred years or more passed
away. It is certain that the evangely of John was not written
before the second century. It is generally believed that only three
evangelies originally were composed in Greek ; but they doubt
now, whether Matthew wrote his in Hebrew. From the way these
writings have taken origin, it may already be inferred that the
truth of their contents cannot fully be proved. Besides them, in
the first epochs of Christianity, many other evangelies were in
vogue, which in their form and tenor vary much from those, and
among themselves ; finally, the church agreed to choose those four
as the most authentic, and to accept them as the foundation of its
doctrine, viz : the evangelies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
But neither do the old copies of these correspond ; scholars have
collected 30,000 different versions of the divers manuscripts. To
the evangelies yet other writings were joined : the epistles of the
apostle Paul, of John^, a history of the acts of the apostles, etc.

Neither does history relate any trustworthy particulars of the life
of Jesus ; his cotemporaries having been ignorant and superstitious,
it is natural that they related many marvellous stories of him, in a
similar way as it happened with regard to Mohammed, Numa
Pompilius, and other founders of religions. His adorers desired to
extol him over Moses and the prophets, consequently they gave
him credit for such exploits as are more admirable than the
miracles reported to have beeti wrought by those men. As the
authors of the evangelies were not cotemporaries of Jesus, they
were not eye-witnesses of his miracles, therefore their reports are
not worthy to be trusted. Neither can it be assumed that on the
ground of the miracles at least a nucleus of-^^ the facts lieswhich in
later times have been wonderfully ornated : for the number of the
pretended miracles is too great, and it may be plainly understood
that the composers had the intention to create a thaumaturgic hero.
Like other stories of this kind, the miracles of Jesus, therefore,
belong to the province of pious myths. (Cf. Views of the Univ.,
§ 3, and Bibl. Nam, II., 4-)

The most wonderful stories of the life of Jesus are the following :
He did not descend from man, but from the Holy Ghost. His



26

birth had been announced by a star to three wise Kings, and was
celebrated by anthems of angels. When he was baptized, the
Holy Ghost appeared in the form of a dove over his head. The
devil tempted him in the desert. During his crucifixion the sun
was eclipsed, an earthquake opened the graves, and many who
were dead walked around. Jesus himself cured the sick by his
sole word, by the touch of his hand, or from a great distance ; he
resuscitated the dead, transformed water into wine, satiated 5,000
or 6,000 persons with a few loaves of bread, arose from his grave,
and ascended to Heaven.

His conduct was strictly moral and pure, in 'general, and even
his enemies could not blame him. Still the sublimity of his char-
acter is diminished by some features of his life; e. g., he is to be
blamed for having damned such men as did not believe in his
doctrine ; for having wandered about without a certain business,
and for having suffered himself to be supported by kind-hearted
women. He proposed to induce Jerusalem to accpt his doctrine
by means of revolution. The demons whom he expelled from a
sick man^ entered at his command into a heard of swine, and
drove them into the lake. By some of his miracles, his character
appears ridiculous, e. g. , when he is walking on a lake, or expels
legions of demons.

The principal tenets of his religion are these : There is a Su-
preme Being, a God. He is a spirit, the loving Being, the father
of men, all-perfect, all-just, all-gracious, and all-merciful. His
providence embraces both the smallest and the greatest things. His
essence is incomprehensible, for he lives in an inaccessible light.
Man is immortal, and after this life he is forever rewarded in
heaven, or punished in hell, according as he deserves. There are
also a devil and demons. Ceremonies and sacrifices are not neces-
sary.

In ethics Jesus taught these principal precepts : Love God
above all, and thy fellow-creatures like thyself. Do unto others
as thou wishest to be done by. He commends meekness, mercy,
placability, love of enemies, trust in God, and short prayers.
According to his persuasion all men are equal in the presence of
God, and members of one family.



27

The ethics of Jesus were much disfigured by the nonsensical
dogmas of the apostle Paul and his followers, namely : According
to Paul the first parents committed sin in the Paradise by eating the
fruit of a certain tree which they were by God forbidden to eat.
Their sin has passed to their descendants like an heritage ; now,
as Adam and Eve were guilty of eternal damnation, this punish-
ment was also extended to their descendants, and all men deserve
to be eternally damned. True, God is merciful, and therefore m-
clined to pardon the sinners; but being also all-just, he could
pardon only with the condition that his only son, Jesus Christ,
rendered satisfaction for the sins of mankind on the cross. That
expiation has happened ; therefore man becomes again guiltless and
just before God by Christ's death. Nevertheless God has pre-
destined some men, without their merit, to eternal bliss, and
innumerable others, without their guilt, to everlasting damnation.
To this frantic, abominable doctrine, the Christians of our age yet
adhere !

Paul also taught that all parts of the Bible have been revealed to
man by God, but he did not prove his assertion. In later times
the priests built the divine authority of the biblical dictates on
miracles as its foundation, miracles performed by Clirist, Moses,
the Apostles and others, in order to prove that they are well
worthy to be believed. But the stories of the miracles themselves
do not deserve to be believed ; not even the cotemporaries of
Jesus believed in his miracles, according to the report of the
evangelists; much less men after 2,000 years can be expected to
consider them to be genuine facts. If^ then, the divine authority
of the Bible gives way, we have a right to censure its contents like
those of any other book, and to put human reason as judge above it.

§ 13. State of the Church— Ecclesiastic Councils— Clergj^— Monks.

When the Christians had been acknowleged as the prevailing
party of religious belief, they began soon to quarrel among them-
selves about obscure dogmas. So they did especially "in their
ecclesiastic councils (synods). From words they went sometimes
on to bloody affrays, and even to wars. Since Emperor Constan-
tin had conceded the Christian Church the same rights as the



28

ancient State religion, the persecuted grew persecuting, e. g.,
as Arius, a priest of Alexandria, taught that Jesus has not existed
from eternity, and that he is less than God, he was expelled in the
Council of Nice from the communion with the Church, and
exiled, and his writings were burned. His followers were also
punished. In later times the Church declared that the Holy
Ghost is also a divine person. Thus the dogma of the trinity orig-
inated, the fallacy of which may be easily demonstrated ; for three
times one are not one, but three.

Many ceremonies and holidays were established, pious persons
idolized, images adored, miraculous stories slyly invented, and
stupidly believed. The ecclesiastic laws turned despotic ; true
piety and moral conduct were little minded. The worship of
images also caused bloody hatred, as some rejected them entirely,
while others even adored them.

The clergymen obtained great privileges and riches, and soon
formed a special class, the priesthood, separating from the people
(the laity). They discontinued civil business, took salaries and ap-
pointments for life; to the communities only the right of confirm-
ation was left. Many degrees of rank were established. The
highest priests were styled patriarchs. These made their residences
in the most important cities of the Empire, and usurped the pre-
rogative of superintending the Bishops. The property of the
clergy became free from taxes, their persons exempt from civil
jurisdiction, and their residences and the churches turned asylums
of criminals, sometimes, too, of the innocent; in this way they
established a State in the State. Tlie Popes soon acquired the
superiority over the other Bishops, because the capital of the Empire
(Rome) was their residence. After the Empire had been separated
into the eastern and western part, a vehement quarrel about rank
began, which finished with the victory of the Popes over the
Patriarchs of Constantinople.

Finally, the institution of the convents and monasteries must be
mentioned here also. Since olden times there lived fantastic hermits
in Egypt and Hindoostan. In Palestine the Essenes had led a
solitary life. Among the Christians, Antonius and Paul are said to
have been the first anachorets ; both lived in Egypt, in the second



29

century. The anachorets lived generally on the banks of rivers
and in deserts ; but otten also in caverns. One time in Egypt
76,000 of them, partly men, partly women, are said to have lived,
and at the close of the fourth century the monastic population of
this country equalled the entire population of its cities.

From Egypt and Syria they spread like a pest to Italy, where
Aihanasius introduced them. Some settled in the vicinity of Rome,
others moved farther, even as far as the Black Sea and Palestine.
Among them were also rich ladies. The first hermits lived
frugally; they fed on fruits and bread, and drank only water.
They indulged in an indolent, contemplative life, and passed the
most of their time in prayers. Some braided mats and baskets.
They despised matrimony, and were for the most part visionaries ;
rather often they became even insane. It is said, e. g., that
Simon Stylite stood on a column, sixty feet high, during thirty
years, in summer and winter. In Mesopotamia they crept during
spring over the meadows, and ate grass, like cattle. But when
monasteries were built by the funds of pious bequests, the
anachorets retired there, and became monks. Since, they ceased
almost wholly from work ; few copied the manuscripts of the
classical Greek and Roman literature. Monastic life soon grew
exuberant. Benedict of JVarsia, indeed, reformed (529) the de-
generated convents in Italy, by obliging the lazy monks, besides
praying, to cultivate the fields, and to instruct youth ; but they
were soon corrupted again. They fostered the belief in miracles,
forged an infinite number of legends, advanced the relics' traffic,
stupefied the multitude, and often indulged in luxury and debauch-
es Some mortified their bodies with voluntary torments. The
holy mother Passidea of Siena hung herself like a bat up in the
chimney. In order to conquer the natural aversion of man against
all nauseous objects, monks devoured dead mice and rats ; the
brethren of St. Mary's ate even the swill in the kitchen, and licked
off the limbs which the leprosy had infected. In the following
periods the monks frequently preached revolt against civil power,
opposed the light of intelligent instruction, and were blind tools
of the Popes. According to the diversity of their monastic regu-
lations there were hundreds of Orders, the names of which were



30

often rather strange, e. g., the order of the Carmelites, of Black
and White Spaniards, of Cistercians, Carthusians, etc. The
Dominicans were the most redoubtable Judges of the Inquisition
Tiibunals. The most learned monks belonged to the Orders of
Benedict and of the Jesuits. The former Order is said to have
furnished the Catholic Church 24 Popes, 200 Cardinals, 7,000
Archbishops, 25,000 Bishops, 4,000 Saints, 20 Emperors, 100
Kings and Queens. It possessed 37^000 convents. As to Jesuits,
see § 32.

SECOND PEEIOD (1024-1300).



From the Universal Government of the Popes Unto the End
of the Crusades.



§ 14. Germany— Henry IV. and Gregory VII.

Emperor Henry IV. (1056 — 1106) is in history especially known
by his struggles against Pope Gregory VII. Being already Ger-
man King, when only six years old, he was torn from the hands of
his mother by the ambitious Archbishop of Cologne. Afterwards
he came to the luxurious Court of the x\rchbishop of Bremen.
The priests gave him a bad education. The latter especially


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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 12 of 28)