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bloody sacrifices, were introduced from Syria, from Libya, from the most
remote countries, and the Romans tried to find for their consciences
some satisfaction in those rites. For instance, you all know they had a
custom of having their sins expiated by means of what they called
_taurobolium_. A man had a grave dug in the ground, and then over that
grave was put a marble slab, with a great many holes in it, like a
sieve. In that grave the man stretched himself at full length, and over
the marble slab a bull was killed, in such a way that the blood fell
through the holes into the grave. When the bull was taken away, and the
marble slab was lifted, the man rose out of that grave perfectly covered
with the blood of the bull, entirely bathed in that blood. Then he was
supposed to be a new man, supposed to be washed of all his sins. He
believed that from that moment the anger of the gods had passed to the
bull, and that the blood of the bull had been shed instead of his own.
We find in Ovid, one of the poets of the time, the prayer of a man for
whom was about to be offered up the sacrifice of the black hen. He asks
the gods to take the heart of the hen instead of his own, the fibres of
the hen's body instead of the fibres of his own body. The poor black hen
was sacrificed in the most cruel way they could find; she must suffer as
long as possible, because then the anger of some god who was supposed to
pursue the man found full satisfaction. The ferocity of the god had
ample satisfaction in the torture of the poor black hen, and the sins of
the man were expiated. Then there was superstition upon superstition,
because, when the mangled remains of the unfortunate hen were thrown
into the street, if any person unconsciously put his foot on that body,
then he became the inheritor of the crimes of the first man, and of the
anger of the gods. They had a special name for those bloody remains of
the sacrificed fowl: they called them _purgamentum_, because they
thought that such a sacrifice purged a man of his sins. As nobody dared
lift or touch the body of the victim, they put a fence around it; and,
as long as there remained on the ground in the streets of Rome a vestige
of the poor bird, nobody would tread on that place; and the fence was
put there to prevent this. These were the superstitions of that time;
and Plutarch wrote a treatise to which he gives the title
[Greek: Deisidaimonia], which is translated very often by the word
"superstition;" but it means more than that, it means "terror of the
gods." It means that feeling which was more and more prevailing in the
Roman world, that the gods were to be feared; that there was anger in
heaven; that the earth could not defend itself against the bad will of a
supernatural power. We can very well understand that when Christianity
was preached to those people they were happy to take that religion of
hope, that religion of regeneration and sanctification. It was to them a
marvellous deliverance to be out of that old doctrine and in the new
one. But they carried with them many habits of thought, many things
which were inherent in the ancient religion. Among those things was the
habit of multiplying the divine being. They had been for a long series
of centuries polytheists, believing in many gods. With their
superstitious fears, they were always afraid there were not gods enough.
That was saying a good deal, for they had more than 30,000 of them at
the time of Christ. It was recognized that nobody could even know them
all by name.

Again you will excuse me if I use here a very familiar illustration to
make the leading thought of polytheism understood.

You know that in fairy tales the fairies are always called in to the
festival at the baptism of the infant child. The intention is to invite
them all, but there is always one forgotten; and that one curses the
child in some way or other; and then all the gifts of all the good
fairies cannot prevent the child from suffering, at least for a time,
from the bad will of the one that has been forgotten. This involves the
essential idea of polytheists. They had always the thought that all the
good gods whom they worshipped could not prevent any malevolent one who
had been neglected from hurting them; and they were always in search of
that one. They were always making altars "to the unknown god or gods,"
to be certain in that way to include them all. They were constantly
asking what gods were worshipped in such a country, in such a place; and
if it was a god that was not known among them, straightway they prepared
a place for his worship. They said, "He has no existence, very likely;
but if he has, if he lives, then we must sacrifice to him, to prevent
his spoiling the happiness that the other good gods wish to give us." So
there was an incessant adding to the immense number of gods. At the time
of Christ, they had so many of them that, from the time a grain of corn
was put into the ground to the time the harvest commenced, they had nine
different deities who in succession took charge of the corn that had
been put into the ground, and thus it passed from one god to another.
Nine of them were necessary while the grain was in the ground. Thus,
when the heathen became Christians, they had been in the constant habit
of adding gods to their heaven, of adding good men to their gods, and
also men not good, but whom they feared, - for all the emperors were made
gods the moment they died, so that one of them, who was rather a wit,
when he was dying said, "I feel that I am becoming a god." The heathen
had become so habituated to this that, when they became Christians, they
continued very naturally to multiply the number of the objects of
worship. They soon ceased to make the slightest difference between
Christ and the Father. In good time they unconsciously put Mary, the
mother of Christ, above Christ; now, without ever having this intention,
they put, in fact, Mary above the Father. And so on, adding always a new
god to a new worship, and always making the new worship as binding and
as efficacious as possible, to satisfy that polytheistic craving. They
did not understand their error in keeping between the infinite God and
themselves an immense number of minor deities. This craving was
unwholesome, but very sincere. That unconscious wish to multiply gods
and make saints has continued to this day; and no pope has canonized so
many saints as the present one, who is always trying to show that he
does more in this way than any of his predecessors.

This will suffice to give you an idea of what the old spirit of Rome
was, the whole tendency of the Roman mind, and what was brought by them
into the church. I must now ask you to go in imagination with me to the
tomb of one of those old Romans, who were not burned, according to the
custom of that period, say the Scipios. Suppose one of the Scipios taken
out of his tomb; and bring him into a Roman Catholic Church: do you
think he will be very much astonished? He will be astonished at one
thing, - by the crucifix, the image of the crucified Son of God. That was
completely contrary to the Roman ideal and their habit of thought. But
all the other things he will see will not astonish him at all. He had
seen them all his life in his own time. You believe, perhaps, that the
shape of a Roman Catholic Church at Rome will astonish a pagan? Not at
all. Cato had given the Romans the pleasure of enjoying, for the first
time, a portico with three ranges of columns, the middle aisle being
broader than the others; and at the end was what we call an apse, but
the ancients a conch. The end was rounded off, and thrown into the form
of a semi-circle, and the tribunal for the prætor or judge was placed in
that half-circle at the end. This portico was called a _stoa basilica_,
and the first Roman Christian churches were built on that plan.
Afterwards, the idea came of making the church in the shape of a cross;
and then a smaller basilica was placed across the other, forming the
transept of the church. But those long ranges of columns remained, with
the same wide space in the middle, and narrower aisles on either side.
The basilica was the form of public buildings most in fashion in Rome at
that time. There the gothic style was never popular. Even now, of four
or five hundred churches in Rome, only one, the Minerva, is gothic. When
Christian architecture was born, Christian architecture accepted the
heathen plan.

In the new church, in that _basilica_, what do we find? We find holy
water at the door. That was exactly what you found in the pagan temple,
only it was called lustral water. In the temple, my Scipio, who goes
with me, recognizes all his old habits of thought, all the old emblems
of his religious devotion. He sees a number of statues, or images; but
he has seen those all his life. There is not only a central shrine, but
there are small chapels. The saints have a golden circle round their
heads: Christians call it the _aura_, the ancients called it the
_nimbus_; but it was exactly the same thing. They had it around the
heads of their deities in painting and sculpture, and so on. There are
censers and there are tapers burning there; and there are all the
ornaments a pagan was accustomed to see in his temple. All those things
had been kept, had been re-established, and the pagans had brought them
with them into the Catholic churches. When I went for the first time to
Naples, the man who showed me the museum there showed me feet, legs, and
arms, hands, eyes, and ears, in stone. He said, "These are _ex voto_."
People who were ill gave to some of the gods, the ones they chose, these
things as marks of gratitude for having been cured. The cicerone told
me, "You see, sir, it is exactly the same thing we have in our
churches." And so it is. In all the churches in Naples and Rome, and in
the Roman Catholic churches all over Spain and France, you see, in wax,
in gold, in silver, and in stone, such legs and arms, eyes and ears. It
is exactly the same thing. The heathen man said to his god, "I will pay
you by this mark of honor and gratitude, by this mark of your power and
your glory, if you cure me." The Roman Catholic says exactly the same
thing to a saint, to the Virgin, sometimes to Jesus, and very rarely to
God.

I cannot mention here all the other details, like funeral services at
the end of the year, like funeral chapels, like many other institutions
that exist in the Roman Catholic Church, that are practised every day in
it, and that are exactly the same, so far as religious ideas go, as were
practised in the pagan churches. But I must add something of more
consequence than that, about the worship of human beings, and especially
of the worship of the Virgin Mary. It was nothing new to the Pagans to
worship a woman, and especially to worship a virgin. That was one of the
ideas the most familiar to their devotion. In Rome they had the temple
of Hestia or Vesta, who was supposed to be a virgin; and she had around
her nuns who were pledged to live in celibacy, and punished by death if
they did not remain true to their vow. In Greece it was the same thing
with Pallas. Perhaps you all know that in Athens, the largest, most
perfect, and most beautiful of the Greek temples - immensely superior to
any edifice I ever saw in any country - is called the Parthenon, which
means the Virgin Temple. That temple is the temple of Pallas, - Athene,
or Minerva, - who was the principal deity of Athens. Thus that idea was
perfectly familiar to them, and they only kept it, and brought it with
them into Christianity.

I have spoken of monks. You must not believe that the monks are by any
means a Roman Catholic invention. In the East there have been monks in
all times and in all religions. It seems to have been a special habit or
taste of the people of the East to give some men no other business, no
other work to do, but to live in solitude, and pray for them; and some
men have always, in those very hot countries, where it is exceedingly
tiresome to work, liked to live in perpetual prayer better than any
other more fatiguing labor. We find the monk in all times and countries
in the East, then in the West; and he has been imported from paganism
into Christianity, like all the rest. I do not believe there is a
religion more completely contrary to the monastic feeling than the
religion of Christ. I do not think there was ever a type more radically
contrary to the type of the monk, than the figure of Christ as we find
it in the Bible. However, that old monkish spirit of the Orient was
always known to the Romans from the beginning; for they had priests and
monks from the time their city began. That spirit has, like other
things, been smuggled into the Church, though it was contrary to the
spirit of Christianity.

I must recall one last rite of great importance. Both the old Romans and
the old Jews had, as a principal part of their worship, the rite of
sacrifice. The origin of it was simply this: that men in the first place
possessed nothing but flocks, and they gave to God one head of their
flock, one sheep, or one bull, as being the only riches they had to
give. Before they had houses, before they had garments, before they had
any other thing, - money they were very far from having, - men had to eat,
and they had flocks because they wanted to have meat to eat; and thus
they gave to God the only necessity of life to them, the only thing they
understood the importance of. And they gave him the whole animal, not
reserving to themselves any part of it, in some cases; in other cases, a
part of it only, making a meal of the rest for themselves. To give a
part to God was one essential element of their worship, the rite of
sacrifice; and we find that the rite grew out of that, and nothing else.
It was a habit deeply rooted in the Roman mind, and at the same time
already familiar to the Jews; and when those Christians who had been
Jews spoke of Christ to the Romans, they could not prevent that Roman or
Jewish habit from taking double force, and double space in religion.
What happened? It happened that the old Romans and old Jews wanted a
sacrifice; wanted to give something to God; wanted a victim; and then
came this strange fact, very easy to understand however, of which we
find traces in the first days of Christianity, - that there was no better
victim to offer to God than Christ. When they had identified completely
Christ with the Father, then there was no greater victim to offer to
God than God himself. Therefore, they had a sacrifice that is called
"the mass." You know the official name is "sacrifice of the mass." It
consists in this. The priest takes the host, which is merely bread, - it
is nothing but a little flour and water, made into bread, - he pronounces
the consecrating words; then, after he pronounces them, there is no
bread, there is no flour; instead of the bread, instead of the flour,
there is Jesus Christ. According to the Council of Trent, that _is_
Jesus Christ, his body, his blood, his soul, and his divinity; it is
Jesus Christ; is perfect God. And this has been, by an old Roman
Catholic writer, very clearly expressed in these three words: "The
priest, what is he? what does he do? _Creatus Creatorem creat._" He is a
creature who creates the Creator. After that comes the second great part
of the sacrifice of the mass. There is God, and the priest sacrifices
God to God. And how? _Sacrificat manducando._ That is to say, according
to the formal explanation, he sacrifices God by eating God. This is the
sacrifice of the mass. If the Roman mind had not been accustomed, as I
have shown you, to superstition, to all literalism, to the love of the
law and the letter, even when the law or the letter was absurd, they
would not easily have accepted all this; but with their turn of mind,
with their way of taking things, that was exactly what they wished for,
and that was what they adopted. Not at once: it was very long in
elaborating itself. It was so completely, I cannot say otherwise, so
completely absurd, that it required a great deal of time to make it so
precise; but they attained to that at last, and they could not but do
so. See, then, what a man the priest is. He has before him bread, and he
makes God; he afterwards sacrifices God; he is almost a God himself. At
the moment when he makes God, he seems to be superior to God; at the
moment when he sacrifices God, by eating him, he seems superior to God.
Thence comes the immense power of the priesthood, of priestcraft. And as
if this were not enough, in the mass, as you know, the priest has not
only the host, but he has the wine, the cup. The other members of the
church have not the cup, because they must not be equal to the priest
even in the communion; even in the act of uniting themselves with God.
Laymen cannot arrive at the height of glory to which the priest arrives;
they must eat the host when it is given to them, but they cannot touch
the cup; that is reserved to the priest, a sort of heavenly, or divine,
or godlike character. Even as the Romans had respected their old
bridge-makers, their old _pontifices_, their old priests, whom they
considered the bulwarks of their town, they respected afterwards the
priests of the Roman Catholic Church. So the mass was established, with
all its consequences.

This is not all. I must explain exactly how a part of the heathenish
religion answered, in the time of Jesus, the wants of the heathen better
than the more natural religion of the Christians. At the time of Christ,
many Romans did not believe in thirty thousand gods and in all the
absurd and indecent history of those thirty thousand deities, but they
had a form of worship that had become purer and purer. They had what
they called "Mysteries." In Greece, and in Rome also, there were
"Mysteries." These were ceremonies in which great philosophic and
religious lessons were given. There exists a very touching letter from
Plutarch to his wife, written at the time he lost his only daughter, and
when they were in the deepest affliction and desolation. He writes to
his wife, who was separated from him at that time, a very kind and
loving letter, trying to give her comfort and hope. He says to her,
"Remember the beautiful things we have seen together in the Mysteries of
Bacchus." You must not believe, as many would at first believe, that the
Mysteries of Bacchus were nothing but drunkenness and disorder: they
were something else. They were like the Mysteries of Ceres, the Goddess
of Corn, and like the representations, in other cases, of the
immortality of the soul. They were a sort of tragedy in which, less by
word than by singing, and by acting especially, was shown to men that,
when the body is interred in the ground, the soul lives, and the soul
shall rise to fulness of life. A grain of wheat hidden in the ground
remained hidden there for weeks before coming to life. That was the
emblem of the new life of immortality. Now, this teaching, good in
itself, true in itself, but given in dramatic images, was at that time
the very best, soundest, most human, and most natural part of
heathenism. And then it happened that Mysteries were acted, not only in
the heathen churches, but in Christian churches; that the history of
Christ, that the death of Christ, that the resurrection of Christ, took
the place of the resurrection of Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, who
represented wheat and corn; and then Christianity became a sort of
subject of sacred myths, sacred plays, that were very devoutly acted,
and that kept their title of "Mysteries." As soon as we see something of
the dark ages, and what the practice of worship was, we see this same
thing. It is going on in all countries in some measure. You may see it
in the Roman Catholic churches during Easter week. You may see then
that, when Christ dies, all the lights are put out, save one very small
light, because that represents the moment when the sky was covered with
darkness at his death. And you hear in a choir some persons sing the
words of the people who screamed "Crucify him!" and others repeating the
words of Caiaphas and the words of Christ. This "Mystery," this serious,
devout play, is acted in all Roman Catholic churches. When Christ is
dead, the host is taken away from the altar, and it is carried into the
tomb, carried into some lower chapel, from which it comes back to the
great altar on Easter morning, on the day of the resurrection. That
solemn play is going on in all Roman Catholic countries at the present
time, and that is a "Mystery." Such is also the "Mystery" that was
played in Germany, at Oberammergau (Bavaria), during the last year, and
is played there every ten years. It is a devout, religious, serious,
dramatic representation of our Lord's suffering, death, and
resurrection. The mass in itself was in the beginning a Mystery; it is
often called so; it is often called in old Roman Catholic books and
often in modern ones the "Mystery of the Mass." It was a representation
of the death and sacrifice of Jesus; but the Roman Catholic spirit
coming in declared that this Mystery was not, like others, a mere
representation, a sacred play, but a reality; and according to the
doctrine proclaimed by the Council of Trent, three hundred years ago,
the sacrifice of the mass is much more than a representation of Christ's
death, of Christ's sacrifice, for he is sacrificed anew, he suffers
death really anew. And it has been declared, because some Protestant
opponents were astonished at it, that every time any priest says
mass, - and every priest must say mass at least once every day, - every
time a priest says mass, Christ suffers again, and dies again,
sacrificed by the priest for the redemption of human kind. This is the
doctrine of the mass, and this gives it a very tragic, grand, and solemn
effect in the eyes of those who believe in it. Yet this again is nothing
but Roman literalism, the Roman way of taking every thing literally.

Is all this real Christianity? At all events I have said enough, I hope,
to give you an idea of the way in which the religion of Jesus of
Nazareth, as he was called, preached by him on the hills of Galilee, - a
religion that was quite spirit, and quite truth; a religion that had at
that time no bleeding, no consecrated man, but that was alive by the
Spirit of God in the conscience and in the hearts of men, - how that
religion, purely spiritual as it was, became all the pomp, all the
exterior complications, all the dramatic intricacies of the Church of
Rome.

And here I stop to ask again, Can all this suit the urgent necessities
of our times? Is that the truth after which our souls hunger and thirst?

Now I must, before I end, say a few words to you about the late changes.
Do those changes make matters better or worse? Let us pass over ages and
centuries, and come to the present day, because I say we must make some
change in our way of resisting the Church of Rome. I must state, and
very rapidly, what these changes are. There are three of them. The first
is, that a new dogma has been established. The new dogma amounts to
this, without going into details, that Mary, the mother of Christ, was
created, at the moment she began to exist, exempt from original sin. All
human beings are guilty of Adam's sin, with one exception, and that
exception is Mary. That exception dates from the very first instant of
her existence. She never was, even in thought or in feeling, a sinner;
she is consequently out of the pale of humanity; she is not a human
being; she is more than a woman, she is something godlike from before
her birth. That is the dogma. It is not new; it was invented in Spain;
it is a Spanish, an Andalusian dogma. It was invented at a time when the
Catholics in Spain were laboring very hard to expel from their country
the Moors, the African Moslems, who were masters of a great part of
Spain, and who had more science, more art, and more literary culture
than the Christians of Spain, but who had absurd doctrines about the
family and about religion, as well you know. Nothing could displease
them more, could astonish them more, or could confound all their ideas
more, than to tell them that a woman was godlike. They thought, as all
Moslems have thought, that a woman had no soul; and here was a woman who
was a goddess before her birth, who was always a goddess. This was
something absolutely incredible to them, and it showed the great
difference between Christians and Moslems, between Spaniards and Arabs.
This became the general rule among the Spaniards of the southern part of
the country, in Andalusia especially; and when they met one another they


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