Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science by John William Draper

Part 1 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science

By John William Draper

This eBook was prepared by Charles Keller with OmniPage Professional
OCR software




WHOEVER has had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the
mental condition of the intelligent classes in Europe and
America, must have perceived that there is a great and
rapidly-increasing departure from the public religious faith, and
that, while among the more frank this divergence is not
concealed, there is a far more extensive and far more dangerous
secession, private and unacknowledged.

So wide-spread and so powerful is this secession, that it can
neither be treated with contempt nor with punishment. It cannot
be extinguished by derision, by vituperation, or by force. The
time is rapidly approaching when it will give rise to serious
political results.

Ecclesiastical spirit no longer inspires the policy of the world.
Military fervor in behalf of faith has disappeared. Its only
souvenirs are the marble effigies of crusading knights, reposing
in the silent crypts of churches on their tombs.

That a crisis is impending is shown by the attitude of the great
powers toward the papacy. The papacy represents the ideas and
aspirations of two-thirds of the population of Europe. It insists
on a political supremacy in accordance with its claims to a
divine origin and mission, and a restoration of the mediaeval
order of things, loudly declaring that it will accept no
reconciliation with modern civilization.

The antagonism we thus witness between Religion and Science is
the continuation of a struggle that commenced when Christianity
began to attain political power. A divine revelation must
necessarily be intolerant of contradiction; it must repudiate all
improvement in itself, and view with disdain that arising from
the progressive intellectual development of man. But our opinions
on every subject are continually liable to modification, from the
irresistible advance of human knowledge.

Can we exaggerate the importance of a contention in which every
thoughtful person must take part whether he will or not? In a
matter so solemn as that of religion, all men, whose temporal
interests are not involved in existing institutions, earnestly
desire to find the truth. They seek information as to the
subjects in dispute, and as to the conduct of the disputants.

The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated
discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending
powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side,
and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human
interests on the other.

No one has hitherto treated the subject from this point of view.
Yet from this point it presents itself to us as a living
issue--in fact, as the most important of all living issues.

A few years ago, it was the politic and therefore the proper
course to abstain from all allusion to this controversy, and to
keep it as far as possible in the background. The tranquillity of
society depends so much on the stability of its religious
convictions, that no one can be justified in wantonly disturbing
them. But faith is in its nature unchangeable, stationary;
Science is in its nature progressive; and eventually a divergence
between them, impossible to conceal, must take place. It then
becomes the duty of those whose lives have made them familiar
with both modes of thought, to present modestly, but firmly,
their views; to compare the antagonistic pretensions calmly,
impartially, philosophically. History shows that, if this be not
done, social misfortunes, disastrous and enduring, will ensue.
When the old mythological religion of Europe broke down under the
weight of its own inconsistencies, neither the Roman emperors nor
the philosophers of those times did any thing adequate for the
guidance of public opinion. They left religious affairs to take
their chance, and accordingly those affairs fell into the hands
of ignorant and infuriated ecclesiastics, parasites, eunuchs, and

The intellectual night which settled on Europe, in consequence of
that great neglect of duty, is passing away; we live in the
daybreak of better things. Society is anxiously expecting light,
to see in what direction it is drifting. It plainly discerns that
the track along which the voyage of civilization has thus far
been made, has been left; and that a new departure, on all
unknown sea, has been taken.

Though deeply impressed with such thoughts, I should not have
presumed to write this book, or to intrude on the public the
ideas it presents, had I not made the facts with which it deals a
subject of long and earnest meditation. And I have gathered a
strong incentive to undertake this duty from the circumstance
that a "History of the Intellectual Development of Europe,"
published by me several years ago, which has passed through many
editions in America, and has been reprinted in numerous European
languages, English, French, German, Russian, Polish, Servian,
etc., is everywhere received with favor.

In collecting and arranging the materials for the volumes I
published under the title of "A History of the American Civil
War," a work of very great labor, I had become accustomed to the
comparison of conflicting statements, the adjustment of
conflicting claims. The approval with which that book has been
received by the American public, a critical judge of the events
considered, has inspired me with additional confidence. I had
also devoted much attention to the experimental investigation of
natural phenomena, and had published many well-known memoirs on
such subjects. And perhaps no one can give himself to these
pursuits, and spend a large part of his life in the public
teaching of science, without partaking of that love of
impartiality and truth which Philosophy incites. She inspires us
with a desire to dedicate our days to the good of our race, so
that in the fading light of life's evening we may not, on looking
back, be forced to acknowledge how unsubstantial and useless are
the objects that we have pursued.

Though I have spared no pains in the composition of this book, I
am very sensible how unequal it is to the subject, to do justice
to which a knowledge of science, history, theology, politics, is
required; every page should be alive with intelligence and
glistening with facts. But then I have remembered that this is
only as it were the preface, or forerunner, of a body of
literature, which the events and wants of our times will call
forth. We have come to the brink of a great intellectual change.
Much of the frivolous reading of the present will be supplanted
by a thoughtful and austere literature, vivified by endangered
interests, and made fervid by ecclesiastical passion.

What I have sought to do is, to present a clear and impartial
statement of the views and acts of the two contending parties. In
one sense I have tried to identify myself with each, so as to
comprehend thoroughly their motives; but in another and higher
sense I have endeavored to stand aloof, and relate with
impartiality their actions.

I therefore trust that those, who may be disposed to criticise
this book, will bear in mind that its object is not to advocate
the views and pretensions of either party, but to explain
clearly, and without shrinking those of both. In the management
of each chapter I have usually set forth the orthodox view first,
and then followed it with that of its opponents.

In thus treating the subject it has not been necessary to pay
much regard to more moderate or intermediate opinions, for,
though they may be intrinsically of great value, in conflicts of
this kind it is not with the moderates but with the extremists
that the impartial reader is mainly concerned. Their movements
determine the issue.

For this reason I have had little to say respecting the two great
Christian confessions, the Protestant and Greek Churches. As to
the latter, it has never, since the restoration of science,
arrayed itself in opposition to the advancement of knowledge. On
the contrary, it has always met it with welcome. It has observed
a reverential attitude to truth, from whatever quarter it might
come. Recognizing the apparent discrepancies between its
interpretations of revealed truth and the discoveries of science,
it has always expected that satisfactory explanations and
reconciliations would ensue, and in this it has not been
disappointed. It would have been well for modern civilization if
the Roman Church had done the same.

In speaking of Christianity, reference is generally made to the
Roman Church, partly because its adherents compose the majority
of Christendom, partly because its demands are the most
pretentious, and partly because it has commonly sought to enforce
those demands by the civil power. None of the Protestant Churches
has ever occupied a position so imperious--none has ever had such
wide-spread political influence. For the most part they have been
averse to constraint, and except in very few instances their
opposition has not passed beyond the exciting of theological

As to Science, she has never sought to ally herself to civil
power. She has never attempted to throw odium or inflict social
ruin on any human being. She has never subjected any one to
mental torment, physical torture, least of all to death, for the
purpose of upholding or promoting her ideas. She presents herself
unstained by cruelties and crimes. But in the Vatican-- we have
only to recall the Inquisition--the hands that are now raised in
appeals to the Most Merciful are crimsoned. They have been
steeped in blood!

There are two modes of historical composition, the artistic and
the scientific. The former implies that men give origin to
events; it therefore selects some prominent individual, pictures
him under a fanciful form, and makes him the hero of a romance.
The latter, insisting that human affairs present an unbroken
chain, in which each fact is the offspring of some preceding
fact, and the parent of some subsequent fact, declares that men
do not control events, but that events control men. The former
gives origin to compositions, which, however much they may
interest or delight us, are but a grade above novels; the latter
is austere, perhaps even repulsive, for it sternly impresses us
with a conviction of the irresistible dominion of law, and the
insignificance of human exertions. In a subject so solemn as that
to which this book is devoted, the romantic and the popular are
altogether out of place. He who presumes to treat of it must fix
his eyes steadfastly on that chain of destiny which universal
history displays; he must turn with disdain from the phantom
impostures of pontiffs and statesmen and kings.

If any thing were needed to show us the untrustworthiness of
artistic historical compositions, our personal experience would
furnish it. How often do our most intimate friends fail to
perceive the real motives of our every-day actions; how
frequently they misinterpret our intentions! If this be the case
in what is passing before our eyes, may we not be satisfied that
it is impossible to comprehend justly the doings of persons who
lived many years ago, and whom we have never seen.

In selecting and arranging the topics now to be presented, I have
been guided in part by "the Confession" of the late Vatican
Council, and in part by the order of events in history. Not
without interest will the reader remark that the subjects offer
themselves to us now as they did to the old philosophers of
Greece. We still deal with the same questions about which they
disputed. What is God? What is the soul? What is the world? How
is it governed? Have we any standard or criterion of truth? And
the thoughtful reader will earnestly ask, "Are our solutions of
these problems any better than theirs?"

The general argument of this book, then, is as follows:

I first direct attention to the origin of modern science as
distinguished from ancient, by depending on observation,
experiment, and mathematical discussion, instead of mere
speculation, and shall show that it was a consequence of the
Macedonian campaigns, which brought Asia and Europe into contact.
A brief sketch of those campaigns, and of the Museum of
Alexandria, illustrates its character.

Then with brevity I recall the well-known origin of Christianity,
and show its advance to the attainment of imperial power, the
transformation it underwent by its incorporation with paganism,
the existing religion of the Roman Empire. A clear conception of
its incompatibility with science caused it to suppress forcibly
the Schools of Alexandria. It was constrained to this by the
political necessities of its position.

The parties to the conflict thus placed, I next relate the story
of their first open struggle; it is the first or Southern
Reformation. The point in dispute had respect to the nature of
God. It involved the rise of Mohammedanism. Its result was, that
much of Asia and Africa, with the historic cities Jerusalem,
Alexandria, and Carthage, were wrenched from Christendom, and the
doctrine of the Unity of God established in the larger portion of
what had been the Roman Empire.

This political event was followed by the restoration of science,
the establishment of colleges, schools, libraries, throughout the
dominions of the Arabians. Those conquerors, pressing forward
rapidly in their intellectual development, rejected the
anthropomorphic ideas of the nature of God remaining in their
popular belief, and accepted other more philosophical ones, akin
to those that had long previously been attained to in India. The
result of this was a second conflict, that respecting the nature
of the soul. Under the designation of Averroism, there came into
prominence the theories of Emanation and Absorption. At the close
of the middle ages the Inquisition succeeded in excluding those
doctrines from Europe, and now the Vatican Council has formally
and solemnly anathematized them.

Meantime, through the cultivation of astronomy, geography, and
other sciences, correct views had been gained as to the position
and relations of the earth, and as to the structure of the world;
and since Religion, resting itself on what was assumed to be the
proper interpretation of the Scriptures, insisted that the earth
is the central and most important part of the universe, a third
conflict broke out. In this Galileo led the way on the part of
Science. Its issue was the overthrow of the Church on the
question in dispute. Subsequently a subordinate controversy arose
respecting the age of the world, the Church insisting that it is
only about six thousand years old. In this she was again
overthrown The light of history and of science had been gradually
spreading over Europe. In the sixteenth century the prestige of
Roman Christianity was greatly diminished by the intellectual
reverses it had experienced, and also by its political and moral
condition. It was clearly seen by many pious men that Religion
was not accountable for the false position in which she was
found, but that the misfortune was directly traceable to the
alliance she had of old contracted with Roman paganism. The
obvious remedy, therefore, was a return to primitive purity. Thus
arose the fourth conflict, known to us as the Reformation--the
second or Northern Reformation. The special form it assumed was a
contest respecting the standard or criterion of truth, whether it
is to be found in the Church or in the Bible. The determination
of this involved a settlement of the rights of reason, or
intellectual freedom. Luther, who is the conspicuous man of the
epoch, carried into effect his intention with no inconsiderable
success; and at the close of the struggle it was found that
Northern Europe was lost to Roman Christianity.

We are now in the midst of a controversy respecting the mode of
government of the world, whether it be by incessant divine
intervention, or by the operation of primordial and unchangeable
law. The intellectual movement of Christendom has reached that
point which Arabism had attained to in the tenth and eleventh
centuries; and doctrines which were then discussed are presenting
themselves again for review; such are those of Evolution,
Creation, Development.

Offered under these general titles, I think it will be found that
all the essential points of this great controversy are included.
By grouping under these comprehensive heads the facts to be
considered, and dealing with each group separately, we shall
doubtless acquire clear views of their inter-connection and their
historical succession.

I have treated of these conflicts as nearly as I conveniently
could in their proper chronological order, and, for the sake of
completeness, have added chapters on--

An examination of what Latin Christianity has done for modern

A corresponding examination of what Science has done.

The attitude of Roman Christianity in the impending conflict, as
defined by the Vatican Council.

The attention of many truth-seeking persons has been so
exclusively given to the details of sectarian dissensions, that
the long strife, to the history of which these pages are devoted,
is popularly but little known. Having tried to keep steadfastly
in view the determination to write this work in an impartial
spirit, to speak with respect of the contending parties, but
never to conceal the truth, I commit it to the considerate
judgment of the thoughtful reader.


December, 1878.




Religious condition of the Greeks in the fourth century before
Christ.-- Their invasion of the Persian Empire brings them in
contact with new aspects of Nature, and familiarizes them with
new religious systems.-- The military, engineering, and
scientific activity, stimulated by the Macedonian campaigns,
leads to the establishment in Alexandria of an institute, the
Museum, for the cultivation of knowledge by experiment,
observation, and mathematical discussion.--It is the origin of

GREEK MYTHOLOGY. No spectacle can be presented to the thoughtful
mind more solemn, more mournful, than that of the dying of an
ancient religion, which in its day has given consolation to many
generations of men.

Four centuries before the birth of Christ, Greece was fast
outgrowing her ancient faith. Her philosophers, in their studies
of the world, had been profoundly impressed with the contrast
between the majesty of the operations of Nature and the
worthlessness of the divinities of Olympus. Her historians,
considering the orderly course of political affairs, the manifest
uniformity in the acts of men, and that there was no event
occurring before their eyes for which they could not find an
obvious cause in some preceding event, began to suspect that the
miracles and celestial interventions, with which the old annals
were filled, were only fictions. They demanded, when the age of
the supernatural had ceased, why oracles had become mute, and why
there were now no more prodigies in the world.

Traditions, descending from immemorial antiquity, and formerly
accepted by pious men as unquestionable truths, had filled the
islands of the Mediterranean and the conterminous countries with
supernatural wonders-- enchantresses, sorcerers, giants, ogres,
harpies, gorgons, centaurs, cyclops. The azure vault was the
floor of heaven; there Zeus, surrounded by the gods with their
wives and mistresses, held his court, engaged in pursuits like
those of men, and not refraining from acts of human passion and

A sea-coast broken by numerous indentations, an archipelago with
some of the most lovely islands in the world, inspired the Greeks
with a taste for maritime life, for geographical discovery, and
colonization. Their ships wandered all over the Black and
Mediterranean Seas. The time-honored wonders that had been
glorified in the "Odyssey," and sacred in public faith, were
found to have no existence. As a better knowledge of Nature was
obtained, the sky was shown to be an illusion; it was discovered
that there is no Olympus, nothing above but space and stars. With
the vanishing of their habitation, the gods disappeared, both
those of the Ionian type of Homer and those of the Doric of

EFFECTS OF DISCOVERY AND CRITICISM. But this did not take place
without resistance. At first, the public, and particularly its
religious portion, denounced the rising doubts as atheism. They
despoiled some of the offenders of their goods, exiled others;
some they put to death. They asserted that what had been believed
by pious men in the old times, and had stood the test of ages,
must necessarily be true. Then, as the opposing evidence became
irresistible, they were content to admit that these marvels were
allegories under which the wisdom of the ancients had concealed
many sacred and mysterious things. They tried to reconcile, what
now in their misgivings they feared might be myths, with their
advancing intellectual state. But their efforts were in vain, for
there are predestined phases through which on such an occasion
public opinion must pass. What it has received with veneration it
begins to doubt, then it offers new interpretations, then
subsides into dissent, and ends with a rejection of the whole as
a mere fable.

In their secession the philosophers and historians were followed
by the poets. Euripides incurred the odium of heresy. Aeschylus
narrowly escaped being stoned to death for blasphemy. But the
frantic efforts of those who are interested in supporting
delusions must always end in defeat. The demoralization
resistlessly extended through every branch of literature, until
at length it reached the common people.

THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. Greek philosophical criticism had lent its
aid to Greek philosophical discovery in this destruction of the
national faith. It sustained by many arguments the wide-spreading
unbelief. It compared the doctrines of the different schools with
each other, and showed from their contradictions that man has no
criterion of truth; that, since his ideas of what is good and
what is evil differ according to the country in which he lives,
they can have no foundation in Nature, but must be altogether the
result of education; that right and wrong are nothing more than
fictions created by society for its own purposes. In Athens, some
of the more advanced classes had reached such a pass that they
not only denied the unseen, the supernatural, they even affirmed
that the world is only a day-dream, a phantasm, and that nothing
at all exists.

The topographical configuration of Greece gave an impress to her
political condition. It divided her people into distinct
communities having conflicting interests, and made them incapable
of centralization. Incessant domestic wars between the rival
states checked her advancement. She was poor, her leading men had
become corrupt. They were ever ready to barter patriotic
considerations for foreign gold, to sell themselves for Persian
bribes. Possessing a perception of the beautiful as manifested in
sculpture and architecture to a degree never attained elsewhere
either before or since, Greece had lost a practical appreciation
of the Good and the True.

While European Greece, full of ideas of liberty and independence,
rejected the sovereignty of Persia, Asiatic Greece acknowledged
it without reluctance. At that time the Persian Empire in
territorial extent was equal to half of modern Europe. It touched
the waters of the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Black, the
Caspian, the Indian, the Persian, the Red Seas. Through its
territories there flowed six of the grandest rivers in the
world--the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Indus, the Jaxartes, the
Oxus, the Nile, each more than a thousand miles in length. Its
surface reached from thirteen hundred feet below the sea-level to
twenty thousand feet above. It yielded, therefore, every
agricultural product. Its mineral wealth was boundless. It
inherited the prestige of the Median, the Babylonian, the
Assyrian, the Chaldean Empires, whose annals reached back through
more than twenty centuries.

THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. Persia had always looked upon European Greece
as politically insignificant, for it had scarcely half the
territorial extent of one of her satrapies. Her expeditions for
compelling its obedience had, however, taught her the military
qualities of its people. In her forces were incorporated Greek
mercenaries, esteemed the very best of her troops. She did not
hesitate sometimes to give the command of her armies to Greek
generals, of her fleets to Greek captains. In the political
convulsions through which she had passed, Greek soldiers had
often been used by her contending chiefs. These military
operations were attended by a momentous result. They revealed,
to the quick eye of these warlike mercenaries, the political
weakness of the empire and the possibility of reaching its
centre. After the death of Cyrus on the battle-field of Cunaxa,
it was demonstrated, by the immortal retreat of the ten thousand
under Xenophon, that a Greek army could force its way to and from
the heart of Persia.

That reverence for the military abilities of Asiatic generals, so
profoundly impressed on the Greeks by such engineering exploits
as the bridging of the Hellespont, and the cutting of the isthmus
at Mount Athos by Xerxes, had been obliterated at Salamis,
Platea, Mycale. To plunder rich Persian provinces had become an
irresistible temptation. Such was the expedition of Agesilaus,
the Spartan king, whose brilliant successes were, however,
checked by the Persian government resorting to its time-proved
policy of bribing the neighbors of Sparta to attack her. "I have
been conquered by thirty thousand Persian archers," bitterly
exclaimed Agesilaus, as he re-embarked, alluding to the Persian
coin, the Daric, which was stamped with the image of an archer.

THE INVASION OF PERSIA BY GREECE. At length Philip, the King of
Macedon, projected a renewal of these attempts, under a far more
formidable organization, and with a grander object. He managed to
have himself appointed captain-general of all Greece not for the
purpose of a mere foray into the Asiatic satrapies, but for the
overthrow of the Persian dynasty in the very centre of its power.
Assassinated while his preparations were incomplete, he was
succeeded by his son Alexander, then a youth. A general assembly
of Greeks at Corinth had unanimously elected him in his father's
stead. There were some disturbances in Illyria; Alexander had to
march his army as far north as the Danube to quell them. During
his absence the Thebans with some others conspired against him.
On his return he took Thebes by assault. He massacred six
thousand of its inhabitants, sold thirty thousand for slaves, and
utterly demolished the city. The military wisdom of this severity
was apparent in his Asiatic campaign. He was not troubled by any
revolt in his rear.

THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN. In the spring B.C. 334 Alexander crossed
the Hellespont into Asia. His army consisted of thirty-four
thousand foot and four thousand horse. He had with him only
seventy talents in money. He marched directly on the Persian
army, which, vastly exceeding him in strength, was holding the
line of the Granicus. He forced the passage of the river, routed
the enemy, and the possession of all Asia Minor, with its
treasures, was the fruit of the victory. The remainder of that
year he spent in the military organization of the conquered
provinces. Meantime Darius, the Persian king, had advanced an
army of six hundred thousand men to prevent the passage of the
Macedonians into Syria. In a battle that ensued among the
mountain-defiles at Issus, the Persians were again overthrown. So
great was the slaughter that Alexander, and Ptolemy, one of his
generals, crossed over a ravine choked with dead bodies. It was
estimated that the Persian loss was not less than ninety thousand
foot and ten thousand horse. The royal pavilion fell into the
conqueror's hands, and with it the wife and several of the
children of Darius. Syria was thus added to the Greek conquests.
In Damascus were found many of the concubines of Darius and his
chief officers, together with a vast treasure.

Before venturing into the plains of Mesopotamia for the final
struggle, Alexander, to secure his rear and preserve his
communications with the sea, marched southward down the
Mediterranean coast, reducing the cities in his way. In his
speech before the council of war after Issus, he told his
generals that they must not pursue Darius with Tyre unsubdued,
and Persia in possession of Egypt and Cyprus, for, if Persia
should regain her seaports, she would transfer the war into
Greece, and that it was absolutely necessary for him to be
sovereign at sea. With Cyprus and Egypt in his possession he felt
no solicitude about Greece. The siege of Tyre cost him more than
half a year. In revenge for this delay, he crucified, it is said,
two thousand of his prisoners. Jerusalem voluntarily surrendered,
and therefore was treated leniently: but the passage of the
Macedonian army into Egypt being obstructed at Gaza, the Persian
governor of which, Betis, made a most obstinate defense, that
place, after a siege of two months, was carried by assault, ten
thousand of its men were massacred, and the rest, with their
wives and children, sold into slavery. Betis himself was dragged
alive round the city at the chariot-wheels of the conqueror.
There was now no further obstacle. The Egyptians, who detested
the Persian rule, received their invader with open arms. He
organized the country in his own interest, intrusting all its
military commands to Macedonian officers, and leaving the civil
government in the hands of native Egyptians.

CONQUEST OF EGYPT. While preparations for the final campaign were
being made, he undertook a journey to the temple of Jupiter
Ammon, which was situated in an oasis of the Libyan Desert, at a
distance of two hundred miles. The oracle declared him to be a
son of that god who, under the form of a serpent, had beguiled
Olympias, his mother. Immaculate conceptions and celestial
descents were so currently received in those days, that whoever
had greatly distinguished himself in the affairs of men was
thought to be of supernatural lineage. Even in Rome, centuries
later, no one could with safety have denied that the city owed
its founder, Romulus, to an accidental meeting of the god Mars
with the virgin Rhea Sylvia, as she went with her pitcher for
water to the spring. The Egyptian disciples of Plato would have
looked with anger on those who rejected the legend that
Perictione, the mother of that great philosopher, a pure virgin,
had suffered an immaculate conception through the influences of
Apollo, and that the god had declared to Ariston, to whom she was
betrothed, the parentage of the child. When Alexander issued his
letters, orders, and decrees, styling himself "King Alexander,
the son of Jupiter Ammon," they came to the inhabitants of Egypt
and Syria with an authority that now can hardly be realized. The
free- thinking Greeks, however, put on such a supernatural
pedigree its proper value. Olympias, who, of course, better than
all others knew the facts of the case, used jestingly to say,
that "she wished Alexander would cease from incessantly
embroiling her with Jupiter's wife." Arrian, the historian of the
Macedonian expedition, observes, "I cannot condemn him for
endeavoring to draw his subjects into the belief of his divine
origin, nor can I be induced to think it any great crime, for it
is very reasonable to imagine that he intended no more by it than
merely to procure the greater authority among his soldiers."

GREEK CONQUEST OF PERSIA. All things being thus secured in his
rear, Alexander, having returned into Syria, directed the march
of his army, now consisting of fifty thousand veterans, eastward.
After crossing the Euphrates, he kept close to the Masian hills,
to avoid the intense heat of the more southerly Mesopotamian
plains; more abundant forage could also thus be procured for the
cavalry. On the left bank of the Tigris, near Arbela, he
encountered the great army of eleven hundred thousand men brought
up by Darius from Babylon. The death of the Persian monarch,
which soon followed the defeat he suffered, left the Macedonian
general master of all the countries from the Danube to the Indus.
Eventually he extended his conquest to the Ganges. The treasures
he seized are almost beyond belief. At Susa alone he found--so
Arrian says--fifty thousand talents in money.

EVENTS OF THE CAMPAIGNS. The modern military student cannot look
upon these wonderful campaigns without admiration. The passage of
the Hellespont; the forcing of the Granicus; the winter spent in
a political organization of conquered Asia Minor; the march of
the right wing and centre of the army along the Syrian
Mediterranean coast; the engineering difficulties overcome at the
siege of Tyre; the storming of Gaza; the isolation of Persia from
Greece; the absolute exclusion of her navy from the
Mediterranean; the check on all her attempts at intriguing with
or bribing Athenians or Spartans, heretofore so often resorted to
with success; the submission of Egypt; another winter spent in
the political organization of that venerable country; the
convergence of the whole army from the Black and Red Seas toward
the nitre- covered plains of Mesopotamia in the ensuing spring;
the passage of the Euphrates fringed with its weeping- willows at
the broken bridge of Thapsacus; the crossing of the Tigris; the
nocturnal reconnaissance before the great and memorable battle of
Arbela; the oblique movement on the field; the piercing of the
enemy's centre--a manoeuvre destined to be repeated many
centuries subsequently at Austerlitz; the energetic pursuit of
the Persian monarch; these are exploits not surpassed by any
soldier of later times.

A prodigious stimulus was thus given to Greek intellectual
activity. There were men who had marched with the Macedonian army
from the Danube to the Nile, from the Nile to the Ganges. They
had felt the hyperborean blasts of the countries beyond the Black
Sea, the simooms and sand-tempests of the Egyptian deserts. They
had seen the Pyramids which had already stood for twenty
centuries, the hieroglyph-covered obelisks of Luxor, avenues of
silent and mysterious sphinxes, colossi of monarchs who reigned
in the morning of the world. In the halls of Esar-haddon they had
stood before the thrones of grim old Assyrian kings, guarded by
winged bulls. In Babylon there still remained its walls, once
more than sixty miles in compass, and, after the ravages of three
centuries and three conquerors, still more than eighty feet in
height; there were still the ruins of the temple of cloud
encompassed Bel, on its top was planted the observatory wherein
the weird Chaldean astronomers had held nocturnal communion with
the stars; still there were vestiges of the two palaces with
their hanging gardens in which were great trees growing in
mid-air, and the wreck of the hydraulic machinery that had
supplied them with water from the river. Into the artificial lake
with its vast apparatus of aqueducts and sluices the melted snows
of the Armenian mountains found their way, and were confined in
their course through the city by the embankments of the
Euphrates. Most wonderful of all, perhaps, was the tunnel under
the river-bed.

EFFECT ON THE GREEK ARMY. If Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, presented
stupendous and venerable antiquities reaching far back into the
night of time, Persia was not without her wonders of a later
date. The pillared halls of Persepolis were filled with miracles
of art--carvings, sculptures, enamels, alabaster libraries,
obelisks, sphinxes, colossal bulls. Ecbatana, the cool summer
retreat of the Persian kings, was defended by seven encircling
walls of hewn and polished blocks, the interior ones in
succession of increasing height, and of different colors, in
astrological accordance with the seven planets. The palace was
roofed with silver tiles, its beams were plated with gold. At
midnight, in its halls the sunlight was rivaled by many a row of
naphtha cressets. A paradise--that luxury of the monarchs of the
East--was planted in the midst of the city. The Persian Empire,
from the Hellespont to the Indus, was truly the garden of the

EFFECTS ON THE GREEK ARMY. I have devoted a few pages to the
story of these marvelous campaigns, for the military talent they
fostered led to the establishment of the mathematical and
practical schools of Alexandria, the true origin of science. We
trace back all our exact knowledge to the Macedonian campaigns.
Humboldt has well observed that an introduction to new and grand
objects of Nature enlarges the human mind. The soldiers of
Alexander and the hosts of his camp-followers encountered at
every march unexpected and picturesque scenery. Of all men, the
Greeks were the most observant, the most readily and profoundly
impressed. Here there were interminable sandy plains, there
mountains whose peaks were lost above the clouds. In the deserts
were mirages, on the hill-sides shadows of fleeting clouds
sweeping over the forests. They were in a land of amber-colored
date-palms and cypresses, of tamarisks, green myrtles, and
oleanders. At Arbela they had fought against Indian elephants; in
the thickets of the Caspian they had roused from his lair the
lurking royal tiger. They had seen animals which, compared with
those of Europe, were not only strange, but colossal--the
rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the camel, the crocodiles of the
Nile and the Ganges. They had encountered men of many complexions
and many costumes: the swarthy Syrian, the olive-colored Persian.
the black African. Even of Alexander himself it is related that
on his death-bed he caused his admiral, Nearchus, to sit by his
side, and found consolation in listening to the adventures of
that sailor--the story of his voyage from the Indus up the
Persian Gulf. The conqueror had seen with astonishment the ebbing
and flowing of the tides. He had built ships for the exploration
of the Caspian, supposing that it and the Black Sea might be
gulfs of a great ocean, such as Nearchus had discovered the
Persian and Red Seas to be. He had formed a resolution that his
fleet should attempt the circumnavigation of Africa, and come
into the Mediterranean through the Pillars of Hercules--a feat
which, it was affirmed, had once been accomplished by the

INTELLECTUAL CONDITION OF PERSIA. Not only her greatest soldiers,
but also her greatest philosophers, found in the conquered empire
much that might excite the admiration of Greece. Callisthenes
obtained in Babylon a series of Chaldean astronomical
observations ranging back through 1,903 years; these he sent to
Aristotle. Perhaps, since they were on burnt bricks, duplicates
of them may be recovered by modern research in the clay libraries
of the Assyrian kings. Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer,
possessed a Babylonian record of eclipses, going back 747 years
before our era. Long-continued and close observations were
necessary, before some of these astronomical results that have
reached our times could have been ascertained. Thus the
Babylonians had fixed the length of a tropical year within
twenty-five seconds of the truth; their estimate of the sidereal
year was barely two minutes in excess. They had detected the
precession of the equinoxes. They knew the causes of eclipses,
and, by the aid of their cycle called Saros, could predict them.
Their estimate of the value of that cycle, which is more than
6,585 days, was within nineteen and a half minutes of the truth.

incontrovertible proof of the patience and skill with which
astronomy had been cultivated in Mesopotamia, and that, with very
inadequate instrumental means, it had reached no inconsiderable
perfection. These old observers had made a catalogue of the
stars, had divided the zodiac into twelve signs; they had parted
the day into twelve hours, the night into twelve. They had, as
Alistotle says, for a long time devoted themselves to
observations of star-occultations by the moon. They had correct
views of the structure of the solar system, and knew the order of
the emplacement of the planets. They constructed sundials,
clepsydras, astrolabes, gnomons.

Not without interest do we still look on specimens of their
method of printing. Upon a revolving roller they engraved, in
cuneiform letters, their records, and, running this over plastic
clay formed into blocks, produced ineffaceable proofs. From their
tile-libraries we are still to reap a literary and historical
harvest. They were not without some knowledge of optics. The
convex lens found at Nimroud shows that they were not
unacquainted with magnifying instruments. In arithmetic they had
detected the value of position in the digits, though they missed
the grand Indian invention of the cipher.

What a spectacle for the conquering Greeks, who, up to this time,
had neither experimented nor observed! They had contented
themselves with mere meditation and useless speculation.

ITS RELIGIOUS CONDITION. But Greek intellectual development, due
thus in part to a more extended view of Nature, was powerfully
aided by the knowledge then acquired of the religion of the
conquered country. The idolatry of Greece had always been a
horror to Persia, who, in her invasions, had never failed to
destroy the temples and insult the fanes of the bestial gods. The
impunity with which these sacrileges had been perpetrated had
made a profound impression, and did no little to undermine
Hellenic faith. But now the worshiper of the vile Olympian
divinities, whose obscene lives must have been shocking to every
pious man, was brought in contact with a grand, a solemn, a
consistent religious system having its foundation on a
philosophical basis. Persia, as is the case with all empires of
long duration, had passed through many changes of religion. She
had followed the Monotheism of Zoroaster; had then accepted
Dualism, and exchanged that for Magianism. At the time of the
Macedonian expedition, she recognized one universal Intelligence,
the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, the most holy
essence of truth, the giver of all good. He was not to be
represented by any image, or any graven form. And, since, in
every thing here below, we see the resultant of two opposing
forces, under him were two coequal and coeternal principles,
represented by the imagery of Light and Darkness. These
principles are in never-ending conflict. The world is their
battle-ground, man is their prize.

In the old legends of Dualism, the Evil Spirit was said to have
sent a serpent to ruin the paradise which the Good Spirit had
made. These legends became known to the Jews during their
Babylonian captivity.

The existence of a principle of evil is the necessary incident of
the existence of a principle of good, as a shadow is the
necessary incident of the presence of light. In this manner could
be explained the occurrence of evil in a world, the maker and
ruler of which is supremely good. Each of the personified
principles of light and darkness, Ormuzd and Ahriman, had his
subordinate angels, his counselors, his armies. It is the duty of
a good man to cultivate truth, purity, and industry. He may look
forward, when this life is over, to a life in another world, and
trust to a resurrection of the body, the immortality of the soul,
and a conscious future existence.

In the later years of the empire, the principles of Magianism had
gradually prevailed more and more over those of Zoroaster.
Magianism was essentially a worship of the elements. Of these,
fire was considered as the most worthy representative of the
Supreme Being. On altars erected, not in temples, but under the
blue canopy of the sky, perpetual fires were kept burning, and
the rising sun was regarded as the noblest object of human
adoration. In the society of Asia, nothing is visible but the
monarch; in the expanse of heaven, all objects vanish in presence
of the sun.

DEATH OF ALEXANDER. Prematurely cut off in the midst of many
great projects Alexander died at Babylon before he had completed
his thirty-third year (B.C. 323). There was a suspicion that he
had been poisoned. His temper had become so unbridled, his
passion so ferocious, that his generals and even his intimate
friends lived in continual dread. Clitus, one of the latter, he
in a moment of fury had stabbed to the heart. Callisthenes, the
intermedium between himself and Aristotle, he had caused to be
hanged, or, as was positively asserted by some who knew the
facts, had had him put upon the rack and then crucified. It may
have been in self-defense that the conspirators resolved on his
assassination. But surely it was a calumny to associate the name
of Aristotle with this transaction. He would have rather borne
the worst that Alexander could inflict, than have joined in the
perpetration of so great a crime.

A scene of confusion and bloodshed lasting many years ensued, nor
did it cease even after the Macedonian generals had divided the
empire. Among its vicissitudes one incident mainly claims our
attention. Ptolemy, who was a son of King Philip by Arsinoe, a
beautiful concubine, and who in his boyhood had been driven into
exile with Alexander, when they incurred their father's
displeasure, who had been Alexander's comrade in many of his
battles and all his campaigns, became governor and eventually
king of Egypt.

FOUNDATION OF ALEXANDER. At the siege of Rhodes, Ptolemy had been
of such signal service to its citizens that in gratitude they
paid divine honors to him, and saluted him with the title of
Soter (the Savior). By that designation--Ptolemy Soter--he is
distinguished from succeeding kings of the Macedonian dynasty in

He established his seat of government not in any of the old
capitals of the country, but in Alexandria. At the time of the
expedition to the temple of Jupiter Ammon, the Macedonian
conqueror had caused the foundations of that city to be laid,
foreseeing that it might be made the commercial entrepot between
Asia and Europe. It is to be particularly remarked that not only
did Alexander himself deport many Jews from Palestine to people
the city, and not only did Ptolemy Soter bring one hundred
thousand more after his siege of Jerusalem, but Philadelphus, his
successor, redeemed from slavery one hundred and ninety-eight
thousand of that people, paying their Egyptian owners a just
money equivalent for each. To all these Jews the same privileges
were accorded as to the Macedonians. In consequence of this
considerate treatment, vast numbers of their compatriots and many
Syrians voluntarily came into Egypt. To them the designation of
Hellenistical Jews was given. In like manner, tempted by the
benign government of Soter, multitudes of Greeks sought refuge in
the country, and the invasions of Perdiccas and Antigonus showed
that Greek soldiers would desert from other Macedonian generals
to join is armies.

The population of Alexandria was therefore of three distinct
nationalities: 1. Native Egyptians 2. Greeks; 3. Jews--a fact
that has left an impress on the religious faith of modern Europe.

Greek architects and Greek engineers had made Alexandria the most
beautiful city of the ancient world. They had filled it with
magnificent palaces, temples, theatres. In its centre, at the
intersection of its two grand avenues, which crossed each other
at right angles, and in the midst of gardens, fountains,
obelisks, stood the mausoleum, in which, embalmed after the
manner of the Egyptians, rested the body of Alexander. In a
funereal journey of two years it had been brought with great pomp
from Babylon. At first the coffin was of pure gold, but this
having led to a violation of the tomb, it was replaced by one of
alabaster. But not these, not even the great light-house, Pharos,
built of blocks of white marble and so high that the fire
continually burning on its top could be seen many miles off at
sea--the Pharos counted as one of the seven wonders of the
world--it is not these magnificent achievements of architecture
that arrest our attention; the true, the most glorious monument
of the Macedonian kings of Egypt is the Museum. Its influences
will last when even the Pyramids have passed away.

THE ALEXANDRIAN MUSEUM. The Alexandrian Museum was commenced by
Ptolemy Soter, and was completed by his son Ptolemy Philadelphus.
It was situated in the Bruchion, the aristocratic quarter of the
city, adjoining the king's palace. Built of marble, it was
surrounded with a piazza, in which the residents might walk and
converse together. Its sculptured apartments contained the
Philadelphian library, and were crowded with the choicest statues
and pictures. This library eventually comprised four hundred
thousand volumes. In the course of time, probably on account of
inadequate accommodation for so many books, an additional library
was established in the adjacent quarter Rhacotis, and placed in
the Serapion or temple of Serapis. The number of volumes in this
library, which was called the Daughter of that in the Museum, was
eventually three hundred thousand. There were, therefore, seven
hundred thousand volumes in these royal collections.

Alexandria was not merely the capital of Egypt, it was the
intellectual metropolis of the world. Here it was truly said the
Genius of the East met the Genius of the West, and this Paris of
antiquity became a focus of fashionable dissipation and universal
skepticism. In the allurements of its bewitching society even the
Jews forgot their patriotism. They abandoned the language of
their forefathers, and adopted Greek.

In the establishment of the Museum, Ptolemy Soter and his son
Philadelphus had three objects in view: 1. The perpetuation of
such knowledge as was then in the world; 2. Its increase; 3. Its

1. For the perpetuation of knowledge. Orders were given to the
chief librarian to buy at the king's expense whatever books he
could. A body of transcribers was maintained in the Museum, whose
duty it was to make correct copies of such works as their owners
were not disposed to sell. Any books brought by foreigners into
Egypt were taken at once to the Museum, and, when correct copies
had been made, the transcript was given to the owner, and the
original placed in the library. Often a very large pecuniary
indemnity was paid. Thus it is said of Ptolemy Euergetes that,
having obtained from Athens the works of Euripides, Sophocles,
and Aeschylus, he sent to their owners transcripts, together with
about fifteen thousand dollars, as an indemnity. On his return
from the Syrian expedition he carried back in triumph all the
Egyptian monuments from Ecbatana and Susa, which Cambyses and
other invaders had removed from Egypt. These he replaced in their
original seats, or added as adornments to his museums. When works
were translated as well as transcribed, sums which we should
consider as almost incredible were paid, as was the case with the
Septuagint translation of the Bible, ordered by Ptolemy

2. For the increase of knowledge. One of the chief objects of the
Museum was that of serving as the home of a body of men who
devoted themselves to study, and were lodged and maintained at
the king's expense. Occasionally he himself sat at their table.
Anecdotes connected with those festive occasions have descended
to our times. In the original organization of the Museum the
residents were divided into four faculties--literature;
mathematics, astronomy, medicine. Minor branches were
appropriately classified under one of these general heads; thus
natural history was considered to be a branch of medicine. An
officer of very great distinction presided over the
establishment, and had general charge of its interests. Demetrius
Phalareus, perhaps the most learned man of his age, who had been
governor of Athens for many years, was the first so appointed.
Under him was the librarian, an office sometimes held by men
whose names have descended to our times, as Eratosthenes, and
Apollonius Rhodius.

ORGANIZATION OF THE MUSEUM. In connection with the Museum were a
botanical and a zoological garden. These gardens, as their names
import, were for the purpose of facilitating the study of plants
and animals. There was also an astronomical observatory
containing armillary spheres, globes, solstitial and equatorial
armils, astrolabes, parallactic rules, and other apparatus then
in use, the graduation on the divided instruments being into
degrees and sixths. On the floor of this observatory a meridian
line was drawn. The want of correct means of measuring time and
temperature was severely felt; the clepsydra of Ctesibius
answered very imperfectly for the former, the hydrometer floating
in a cup of water for the latter; it measured variations of
temperature by variations of density. Philadelphus, who toward
the close of his life was haunted with an intolerable dread of
death, devoted much of his time to the discovery of an elixir.
For such pursuits the Museum was provided with a chemical
laboratory. In spite of the prejudices of the age, and especially
in spite of Egyptian prejudices, there was in connection with the
medical department an anatomical room for the dissection, not
only of the dead, but actually of the living, who for crimes had
been condemned.

3. For the diffusion of knowledge. In the Museum was given, by
lectures, conversation, or other appropriate methods instruction
in all the various departments of human knowledge. There flocked
to this great intellectual centre, students from all countries.
It is said that at one time not fewer than fourteen thousand were
in attendance. Subsequently even the Christian church received
from it some of the most eminent of its Fathers, as Clemens
Alexandrinus, Origen, Athanasius.

The library in the Museum was burnt during the siege of
Alexandria by Julius Caesar. To make amends for this great loss,
that collected by Eumenes, King of Pergamus, was presented by
Mark Antony to Queen Cleopatra. Originally it was founded as a
rival to that of the Ptolemies. It was added to the collection in
the Serapion.

SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL OF THE MUSEUM. It remains now to describe
briefly the philosophical basis of the Museum, and some of its
contributions to the stock of human knowledge.

In memory of the illustrious founder of this most noble
institution--an institution which antiquity delighted to call
"The divine school of Alexandria"--we must mention in the first
rank his "History of the Campaigns of Alexander." Great as a
soldier and as a sovereign, Ptolemy Soter added to his glory by
being an author. Time, which has not been able to destroy the
memory of our obligations to him, has dealt unjustly by his work.
It is not now extant.

As might be expected from the friendship that existed between
Alexander, Ptolemy, and Aristotle, the Aristotelian philosophy
was the intellectual corner-stone on which the Museum rested.
King Philip had committed the education of Alexander to
Aristotle, and during the Persian campaigns the conqueror
contributed materially, not only in money, but otherwise, toward
the "Natural History" then in preparation.

The essential principle of the Aristotelian philosophy was, to
rise from the study of particulars to a knowledge of general
principles or universals, advancing to them by induction. The
induction is the more certain as the facts on which it is based
are more numerous; its correctness is established if it should
enable us to predict other facts until then unknown. This system
implies endless toil in the collection of facts, both by
experiment and observation; it implies also a close meditation on
them. It is, therefore, essentially a method of labor and of
reason, not a method of imagination. The failures that Aristotle
himself so often exhibits are no proof of its unreliability, but
rather of its trustworthiness. They are failures arising from
want of a sufficiency of facts.

ETHICAL SCHOOL OF THE MUSEUM. Some of the general results at
which Aristotle arrived are very grand. Thus, he concluded that
every thing is ready to burst into life, and that the various
organic forms presented to us by Nature are those which existing
conditions permit. Should the conditions change, the forms will
also change. Hence there is an unbroken chain from the simple
element through plants and animals up to man, the different
groups merging by insensible shades into each other.

The inductive philosophy thus established by Aristotle is a
method of great power. To it all the modern advances in science
are due. In its most improved form it rises by inductions from
phenomena to their causes, and then, imitating the method of the
Academy, it descends by deductions from those causes to the
detail of phenomena.

While thus the Scientific School of Alexandria was founded on the
maxims of one great Athenian philosopher, the Ethical School was
founded on the maxims of another, for Zeno, though a Cypriote or
Phoenician, had for many years been established at Athens. His
disciples took the name of Stoics. His doctrines long survived
him, and, in times when there was no other consolation for man,
offered a support in the hour of trial, and an unwavering guide
in the vicissitudes of life, not only to illustrious Greeks, but
also to many of the great philosophers, statesmen, generals, and
emperors of Rome.

THE PRINCIPLES OF STOICISM. The aim of Zeno was, to furnish a
guide for the daily practice of life, to make men virtuous. He
insisted that education is the true foundation of virtue, for, if
we know what is good, we shall incline to do it. We must trust to
sense, to furnish the data of knowledge, and reason will suitably
combine them. In this the affinity of Zeno to Aristotle is
plainly seen. Every appetite, lust, desire, springs from
imperfect knowledge. Our nature is imposed upon us by Fate, but
we must learn to control our passions, and live free,
intelligent, virtuous, in all things in accordance with reason.
Our existence should be intellectual, we should survey with
equanimity all pleasures and all pains. We should never forget
that we are freemen, not the slaves of society. "I possess," said
the Stoic, "a treasure which not all the world can rob me of--no
one can deprive me of death." We should remember that Nature in
her operations aims at the universal, and never spares
individuals, but uses them as means for the accomplishment of her
ends. It is, therefore, for us to submit to Destiny, cultivating,
as the things necessary to virtue, knowledge, temperance,
fortitude, justice. We must remember that every thing around us
is in mutation; decay follows reproduction, and reproduction
decay, and that it is useless to repine at death in a world where
every thing is dying. As a cataract shows from year to year an
invariable shape, though the water composing it is perpetually
changing, so the aspect of Nature is nothing more than a flow of
matter presenting an impermanent form. The universe, considered
as a whole, is unchangeable. Nothing is eternal but space, atoms,
force. The forms of Nature that we see are essentially
transitory, they must all pass away.

STOICISM IN THE MUSEUM. We must bear in mind that the majority of
men are imperfectly educated, and hence we must not needlessly
offend the religious ideas of our age. It is enough for us
ourselves to know that, though there is a Supreme Power, there is
no Supreme Being. There is an invisible principle, but not a
personal God, to whom it would be not so much blasphemy as
absurdity to impute the form, the sentiments, the passions of
man. All revelation is, necessarily, a mere fiction. That which
men call chance is only the effect of an unknown cause. Even of
chances there is a law. There is no such thing as Providence, for
Nature proceeds under irresistible laws, and in this respect the
universe is only a vast automatic engine. The vital force which
pervades the world is what the illiterate call God. The
modifications through which all things are running take place in
an irresistible way, and hence it may be said that the progress
of the world is, under Destiny, like a seed, it can evolve only
in a predetermined mode.

The soul of man is a spark of the vital flame, the general vital
principle. Like heat, it passes from one to another, and is
finally reabsorbed or reunited in the universal principle from
which it came. Hence we must not expect annihilation, but
reunion; and, as the tired man looks forward to the insensibility
of sleep, so the philosopher, weary of the world, should look
forward to the tranquillity of extinction. Of these things,
however, we should think doubtingly, since the mind can produce
no certain knowledge from its internal resources alone. It is
unphilosophical to inquire into first causes; we must deal only
with phenomena. Above all, we must never forget that man cannot
ascertain absolute truth, and that the final result of human
inquiry into the matter is, that we are incapable of perfect
knowledge; that, even if the truth be in our possession, we
cannot be sure of it.

What, then, remains for us? Is it not this--the acquisition of
knowledge, the cultivation of virtue and of friendship, the
observance of faith and truth, an unrepining submission to
whatever befalls us, a life led in accordance with reason?

PLATONISM IN THE MUSEUM. But, though the Alexandrian Museum was
especially intended for the cultivation of the Aristotelian
philosophy, it must not be supposed that other systems were
excluded. Platonism was not only carried to its full development,
but in the end it supplanted Peripateticism, and through the New
Academy left a permanent impress on Christianity. The
philosophical method of Plato was the inverse of that of
Aristotle. Its starting- point was universals, the very existence
of which was a matter of faith, and from these it descended to
particulars, or details. Aristotle, on the contrary, rose from
particulars to universals, advancing to them by inductions.

Plato, therefore, trusted to the imagination, Aristotle to
reason. The former descended from the decomposition of a
primitive idea into particulars, the latter united particulars
into a general conception. Hence the method of Plato was capable
of quickly producing what seemed to be splendid, though in
reality unsubstantial results; that of Aristotle was more tardy
in its operation, but much more solid. It implied endless labor
in the collection of facts, a tedious resort to experiment and
observation, the application of demonstration. The philosophy of
Plato is a gorgeous castle in the air; that of Aristotle a solid
structure, laboriously, and with many failures, founded on the
solid rock.

An appeal to the imagination is much more alluring than the
employment of reason. In the intellectual decline of Alexandria,
indolent methods were preferred to laborious observation and
severe mental exercise. The schools of Neo-Platonism were crowded
with speculative mystics, such as Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus.
These took the place of the severe geometers of the old Museum.

PHYSICAL SCIENCE IN THE MUSEUM. The Alexandrian school offers the
first example of that system which, in the hands of modern
physicists, has led to such wonderful results. It rejected
imagination, and made its theories the expression of facts
obtained by experiment and observation, aided by mathematical
discussion. It enforced the principle that the true method of
studying Nature is by experimental interrogation. The researches
of Archimedes in specific gravity, and the works of Ptolemy on
optics, resemble our present investigations in experimental
philosophy, and stand in striking contrast with the speculative
vagaries of the older writers. Laplace says that the only
observation which the history of astronomy offers us, made by the
Greeks before the school of Alexandria, is that of the summer
solstice of the year B.C. 432. by Meton and Euctemon. We have,
for the first time, in that school, a combined system of
observations made with instruments for the measurement of angles,
and calculated by trigonometrical methods. Astronomy then took a
form which subsequent ages could only perfect.

It does not accord with the compass or the intention of this work
to give a detailed account of the contributions of the
Alexandrian Museum to the stock of human knowledge. It is
sufficient that the reader should obtain a general impression of
their character. For particulars, I may refer him to the sixth
chapter of my "History of the Intellectual Development of

EUCLID--ARCHIMEDES. It has just been remarked that the Stoical
philosophy doubted whether the mind can ascertain absolute truth.
While Zeno was indulging in such doubts, Euclid was preparing his
great work, destined to challenge contradiction from the whole
human race. After more than twenty-two centuries it still
survives, a model of accuracy, perspicuity, and a standard of
exact demonstration. This great geometer not only wrote on other
mathematical topics, such as Conic Sections and Porisms, but
there are imputed to him treatises on Harmonics and Optics, the
latter subject being discussed on the hypothesis of rays issuing
from the eye to the object.

With the Alexandrian mathematicians and physicists must be
classed Archimedes, though he eventually resided in Sicily. Among
his mathematical works were two books on the Sphere and Cylinder,
in which he gave the demonstration that the solid content of a
sphere is two-thirds that of its circumscribing cylinder. So
highly did he esteem this, that he directed the diagram to be
engraved on his tombstone. He also treated of the quadrature of
the circle and of the parabola; he wrote on Conoids and
Spheroids, and on the spiral that bears his name, the genesis of
which was suggested to him by his friend Conon the Alexandrian.
As a mathematician, Europe produced no equal to him for nearly
two thousand years. In physical science he laid the foundation of
hydrostatics; invented a method for the determination of specific
gravities; discussed the equilibrium of floating bodies;
discovered the true theory of the lever, and invented a screw,
which still bears his name, for raising the water of the Nile. To
him also are to be attributed the endless screw, and a peculiar
form of burning-mirror, by which, at the siege of Syracuse, it is
said that he set the Roman fleet on fire.

time had charge of the library, was the author of many important
works. Among them may be mentioned his determination of the
interval between the tropics, and an attempt to ascertain the
size of the earth. He considered the articulation and expansion
of continents, the position of mountain-chains, the action of
clouds, the geological submersion of lands, the elevation of
ancient sea-beds, the opening of the Dardanelles and the straits
of Gibraltar, and the relations of the Euxine Sea. He composed a
complete system of the earth, in three books--physical,
mathematical, historical--accompanied by a map of all the parts
then known. It is only of late years that the fragments remaining
of his "Chronicles of the Theban Kings" have been justly
appreciated. For many centuries they were thrown into discredit
by the authority of our existing absurd theological chronology.

It is unnecessary to adduce the arguments relied upon by the
Alexandrians to prove the globular form of the earth. They had
correct ideas respecting the doctrine of the sphere, its poles,
axis, equator, arctic and antarctic circles, equinoctial points,
solstices, the distribution of climates, etc. I cannot do more
than merely allude to the treatises on Conic Sections and on
Maxima and Minima by Apollonius, who is said to have been the
first to introduce the words ellipse and hyperbola. In like
manner I must pass the astronomical observations of Alistyllus
and Timocharis. It was to those of the latter on Spica Virginis
that Hipparchus was indebted for his great discovery of the
precession of the eqninoxes. Hipparchus also determined the first
inequality of the moon, the equation of the centre. He adopted
the theory of epicycles and eccentrics, a geometrical conception
for the purpose of resolving the apparent motions of the heavenly
bodies on the principle of circular movement. He also undertook
to make a catalogue of the stars by the method of alineations--
that is, by indicating those that are in the same apparent
straight line. The number of stars so catalogued was 1,080. If he
thus attempted to depict the aspect of the sky, he endeavored to
do the same for the surface of the earth, by marking the position
of towns and other places by lines of latitude and longitude. He
was the first to construct tables of the sun and moon.

THE SYNTAXIS OF PTOLEMY. In the midst of such a brilliant
constellation of geometers, astronomers, physicists,
conspicuously shines forth Ptolemy, the author of the great work,
"Syntaxis," "a Treatise on the Mathematical Construction of the
Heavens." It maintained its ground for nearly fifteen hundred
years, and indeed was only displaced by the immortal "Principia"
of Newton. It commences with the doctrine that the earth is
globular and fixed in space, it describes the construction of a
table of chords, and instruments for observing the solstices, it
deduces the obliquity of the ecliptic, it finds terrestrial
latitudes by the gnomon, describes climates, shows how ordinary
may be converted into sidereal time, gives reasons for preferring
the tropical to the sidereal year, furnishes the solar theory on
the principle of the sun's orbit being a simple eccentric,
explains the equation of time, advances to the discussion of the
motions of the moon, treats of the first inequality, of her
eclipses, and the motion of her nodes. It then gives Ptolemy's
own great discovery--that which has made his name immortal-- the
discovery of the moon's evection or second inequality, reducing
it to the epicyclic theory. It attempts the determination of the
distances of the sun and moon from the earth--with, however, only
partial success. It considers the precession of the equinoxes,
the discovery of Hipparchus, the full period of which is
twenty-five thousand years. It gives a catalogue of 1,022 stars,
treats of the nature of the milky-way, and discusses in the most
masterly manner the motions of the planets. This point
constitutes another of Ptolemy's claims to scientific fame. His
determination of the planetary orbits was accomplished by
comparing his own observations with those of former astronomers,
among them the observations of Timocharis on the planet Venus.

INVENTION OF THE STEAM-ENGINE. In the Museum of Alexandria,
Ctesibius invented the fire-engine. His pupil, Hero, improved it
by giving it two cylinders. There, too, the first steam-engine
worked. This also was the invention of Hero, and was a reaction
engine, on the principle of the eolipile. The silence of the
halls of Serapis was broken by the water-clocks of Ctesibius and
Apollonius, which drop by drop measured time. When the Roman
calendar had fallen into such confusion that it had become
absolutely necessary to rectify it, Julius Caesar brought
Sosigenes the astronomer from Alexandria. By his advice the lunar
year was abolished, the civil year regulated entirely by the sun,
and the Julian calendar introduced.

The Macedonian rulers of Egypt have been blamed for the manner in
which they dealt with the religious sentiment of their time. They
prostituted it to the purpose of state-craft, finding in it a
means of governing their lower classes. To the intelligent they
gave philosophy.

POLICY OF THE PTOLEMIES. But doubtless they defended this policy
by the experience gathered in those great campaigns which had
made the Greeks the foremost nation of the world. They had seen
the mythological conceptions of their ancestral country dwindle
into fables; the wonders with which the old poets adorned the
Mediterranean had been discovered to be baseless illusions. From
Olympus its divinities had disappeared; indeed, Olympus itself
had proved to be a phantom of the imagination. Hades had lost its
terrors; no place could be found for it.

From the woods and grottoes and rivers of Asia Minor the local
gods and goddesses had departed; even their devotees began to
doubt whether they had ever been there. If still the Syrian
damsels lamented, in their amorous ditties, the fate of Adonis,
it was only as a recollection, not as a reality. Again and again
had Persia changed her national faith. For the revelation of
Zoroaster she had substituted Dualism; then under new political
influences she had adopted Magianism. She had worshiped fire, and
kept her altars burning on mountain-tops. She had adored the sun.
When Alexander came, she was fast falling into pantheism.

On a country to which in its political extremity the indigenous
gods have been found unable to give any protection, a change of
faith is impending. The venerable divinities of Egypt, to whose
glory obelisks had been raised and temples dedicated, had again
and again submitted to the sword of a foreign conqueror. In the
land of the Pyramids, the Colossi, the Sphinx, the images of the
gods had ceased to represent living realities. They had ceased to
be objects of faith. Others of more recent birth were needful,
and Serapis confronted Osiris. In the shops and streets of
Alexandria there were thousands of Jews who had forgotten the God
that had made his habitation behind the veil of the temple.

Tradition, revelation, time, all had lost their influence. The
traditions of European mythology, the revelations of Asia, the
time-consecrated dogmas of Egypt, all had passed or were fast
passing away. And the Ptolemies recognized how ephemeral are
forms of faith.

But the Ptolemies also recognized that there is something more
durable than forms of faith, which, like the organic forms of
geological ages, once gone, are clean gone forever, and have no
restoration, no return. They recognized that within this world of
transient delusions and unrealities there is a world of eternal

That world is not to be discovered through the vain traditions
that have brought down to us the opinions of men who lived in the
morning of civilization, nor in the dreams of mystics who thought
that they were inspired. It is to be discovered by the
investigations of geometry, and by the practical interrogation of
Nature. These confer on humanity solid, and innumerable, and
inestimable blessings.

The day will never come when any one of the propositions of
Euclid will be denied; no one henceforth will call in question
the globular shape of the earth, as recognized by Eratosthenes;
the world will not permit the great physical inventions and
discoveries made in Alexandria and Syracuse to be forgotten. The
names of Hipparchus, of Apollonius, of Ptolemy, of Archimedes,
will be mentioned with reverence by men of every religious
profession, as long as there are men to speak.

THE MUSEUM AND MODERN SCIENCE. The Museum of Alexandria was thus
the birthplace of modern science. It is true that, long before
its establishment, astronomical observations had been made in
China and Mesopotamia; the mathematics also had been cultivated
with a certain degree of success in India. But in none of these
countries had investigation assumed a connected and consistent
form; in none was physical experimentation resorted to. The
characteristic feature of Alexandrian, as of modern science, is,
that it did not restrict itself to observation, but relied on a
practical interrogation of Nature.



Religious condition of the Roman Republic.--The adoption of
imperialism leads to monotheism.--Christianity spreads over the
Roman Empire.-- The circumstances under which it attained
imperial power make its union with Paganism a political
necessity.--Tertullian's description of its doctrines and
practices.--Debasing effect of the policy of Constantine on
it.--Its alliance with the civil power.--Its incompatibility with
science.--Destruction of the Alexandrian Library and prohibition
of philosophy.--Exposition of the Augustinian philosophy and
Patristic science generally.--The Scriptures made the standard of

IN a political sense, Christianity is the bequest of the Roman
Empire to the world.

At the epoch of the transition of Rome from the republican to the
imperial form of government, all the independent nationalities
around the Mediterranean Sea had been brought under the control
of that central power. The conquest that had befallen them in
succession had been by no means a disaster. The perpetual wars
they had maintained with each other came to an end; the miseries
their conflicts had engendered were exchanged for universal

Not only as a token of the conquest she had made but also as a
gratification to her pride, the conquering republic brought the
gods of the vanquished peoples to Rome. With disdainful
toleration, she permitted the worship of them all. That paramount
authority exercised by each divinity in his original seat
disappeared at once in the crowd of gods and goddesses among whom
he had been brought. Already, as we have seen, through
geographical discoveries and philosophical criticism, faith in
the religion of the old days had been profoundly shaken. It was,
by this policy of Rome, brought to an end.

MONOTHEISM IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The kings of all the conquered
provinces had vanished; in their stead one emperor had come. The
gods also had disappeared. Considering the connection which in
all ages has existed between political and religious ideas, it
was then not at all strange that polytheism should manifest a
tendency to pass into monotheism. Accordingly, divine honors were
paid at first to the deceased and at length to the living

The facility with which gods were thus called into existence had
a powerful moral effect. The manufacture of a new one cast
ridicule on the origin of the old Incarnation in the East and
apotheosis in the West were fast filling Olympus with divinities.
In the East, gods descended from heaven, and were made incarnate
in men; in the West, men ascended from earth, and took their seat
among the gods. It was not the importation of Greek skepticism
that made Rome skeptical. The excesses of religion itself sapped
the foundations of faith.

Not with equal rapidity did all classes of the population adopt
monotheistic views. The merchants and lawyers and soldiers, who
by the nature of their pursuits are more familiar with the
vicissitudes of life, and have larger intellectual views, were
the first to be affected, the land laborers and farmers the last.

THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY When the empire in a military and
political sense had reached its culmination, in a religious and
social aspect it had attained its height of immorality. It had
become thoroughly epicurean; its maxim was, that life should be
made a feast, that virtue is only the seasoning of pleasure, and
temperance the means of prolonging it. Dining-rooms glittering
with gold and incrusted with gems, slaves in superb apparel, the
fascinations of female society where all the women were
dissolute, magnificent baths, theatres, gladiators, such were the
objects of Roman desire. The conquerors of the world had
discovered that the only thing worth worshiping is Force. By it
all things might be secured, all that toil and trade had
laboriously obtained. The confiscation of goods and lands, the
taxation of provinces, were the reward of successful warfare; and
the emperor was the symbol of force. There was a social splendor,
but it was the phosphorescent corruption of the ancient
Mediterranean world.

In one of the Eastern provinces, Syria, some persons in very
humble life had associated themselves together for benevolent and
religious purposes. The doctrines they held were in harmony with
that sentiment of universal brotherhood arising from the
coalescence of the conquered kingdoms. They were doctrines
inculcated by Jesus.

The Jewish people at that time entertained a belief, founded on
old traditions, that a deliverer would arise among them, who
would restore them to their ancient splendor. The disciples of
Jesus regarded him as this long-expected Messiah. But the
priesthood, believing that the doctrines he taught were
prejudicial to their interests, denounced him to the Roman
governor, who, to satisfy their clamors, reluctantly delivered
him over to death.

His doctrines of benevolence and human brotherhood outlasted that
event. The disciples, instead of scattering, organized. They
associated themselves on a principle of communism, each throwing
into the common stock whatever property he possessed, and all his
gains. The widows and orphans of the community were thus
supported, the poor and the sick sustained. From this germ was
developed a new, and as the events proved, all-powerful
society--the Church; new, for nothing of the kind had existed in
antiquity; powerful, for the local churches, at first isolated,
soon began to confederate for their common interest. Through this
organization Christianity achieved all her political triumphs.

As we have said, the military domination of Rome had brought
about universal peace, and had generated a sentiment of
brotherhood among the vanquished nations. Things were, therefore,
propitious for the rapid diffusion of the newly-established--the
Christian-- principle throughout the empire. It spread from Syria
through all Asia Minor, and successively reached Cyprus, Greece,
Italy, eventually extending westward as far as Gaul and Britain.

Its propagation was hastened by missionaries who made it known in
all directions. None of the ancient classical philosophies had
ever taken advantage of such a means.

Political conditions determined the boundaries of the new
religion. Its limits were eventually those of the Roman Empire;
Rome, doubtfully the place of death of Peter, not Jerusalem,
indisputably the place of the death of our Savior, became the
religious capital. It was better to have possession of the
imperial seven hilled city, than of Gethsemane and Calvary with
all their holy souvenirs.

IT GATHERS POLITICAL POWER. For many years Christianity
manifested itself as a system enjoining three things--toward God
veneration, in personal life purity, in social life benevolence.
In its early days of feebleness it made proselytes only by
persuasion, but, as it increased in numbers and influence, it
began to exhibit political tendencies, a disposition to form a
government within the government, an empire within the empire.
These tendencies it has never since lost. They are, in truth, the
logical result of its development. The Roman emperors,
discovering that it was absolutely incompatible with the imperial
system, tried to put it down by force. This was in accordance
with the spirit of their military maxims, which had no other
means but force for the establishment of conformity.

In the winter A.D. 302-'3, the Christian soldiers in some of the
legions refused to join in the time-honored solemnities for
propitiating the gods. The mutiny spread so quickly, the
emergency became so pressing, that the Emperor Diocletian was
compelled to hold a council for the purpose of determining what
should be done. The difficulty of the position may perhaps be
appreciated when it is understood that the wife and the daughter
of Diocletian himself were Christians. He was a man of great
capacity and large political views; he recognized in the
opposition that must be made to the new party a political
necessity, yet he expressly enjoined that there should be no
bloodshed. But who can control an infuriated civil commotion? The
church of Nicomedia was razed to the ground; in retaliation the
imperial palace was set on fire, an edict was openly insulted and
torn down. The Christian officers in the army were cashiered; in
all directions, martyrdoms and massacres were taking place. So
resistless was the march of events, that not even the emperor
himself could stop the persecution.

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN EMPEROR. It had now become evident that the
Christians constituted a powerful party in the state, animated
with indignation at the atrocities they had suffered, and
determined to endure them no longer. After the abdication of
Diocletian (A.D. 305), Constantine, one of the competitors for
the purple, perceiving the advantages that would accrue to him
from such a policy, put himself forth as the head of the
Christian party. This gave him, in every part of the empire, men
and women ready to encounter fire and sword in his behalf; it
gave him unwavering adherents in every legion of the armies. In a
decisive battle, near the Milvian bridge, victory crowned his
schemes. The death of Maximin, and subsequently that of Licinius,
removed all obstacles. He ascended the throne of the Caesars--the
first Christian emperor.

Place, profit, power--these were in view of whoever now joined
the conquering sect. Crowds of worldly persons, who cared nothing
about its religious ideas, became its warmest supporters. Pagans
at heart, their influence was soon manifested in the paganization
of Christianity that forthwith ensued. The emperor, no better
than they, did nothing to check their proceedings. But he did not
personally conform to the ceremonial requirements of the Church
until the close of his evil life, A.D. 337.

appreciate the modifications now impressed on
Christianity--modifications which eventually brought it in
conflict with science--we must have, as a means of comparison, a
statement of what it was in its purer days. Such, fortunately, we
find in the "Apology or Defense of the Christians against the
Accusations of the Gentiles," written by Tertullian, at Rome,
during the persecution of Severus. He addressed it, not to the
emperor, but to the magistrates who sat in judgment on the
accused. It is a solemn and most earnest expostulation, setting
forth all that could be said in explanation of the subject, a
representation of the belief and cause of the Christians made in
the imperial city in the face of the whole world, not a querulous
or passionate ecclesiastical appeal, but a grave historical
document. It has ever been looked upon as one of the ablest of
the early Christian works. Its date is about A.D. 200.

With no inconsiderable skill Tertullian opens his argument. He
tells the magistrates that Christianity is a stranger upon earth,
and that she expects to meet with enemies in a country which is
not her own. She only asks that she may not be condemned unheard,
and that Roman magistrates will permit her to defend herself;
that the laws of the empire will gather lustre, if judgment be
passed upon her after she has been tried but not if she is
sentenced without a hearing of her cause; that it is unjust to
hate a thing of which we are ignorant, even though it may be a
thing worthy of hate; that the laws of Rome deal with actions,
not with mere names; but that, notwithstanding this, persons have
been punished because they were called Christians, and that
without any accusation of crime.

He then advances to an exposition of the origin, the nature, and
the effects of Christianity, stating that it is founded on the
Hebrew Scriptures, which are the most venerable of all books. He
says to the magistrates: "The books of Moses, in which God has
inclosed, as in a treasure, all the religion of the Jews, and
consequently all the Christian religion, reach far beyond the
oldest you have, even beyond all your public monuments, the
establishment of your state, the foundation of many great
cities--all that is most advanced by you in all ages of history,
and memory of times; the invention of letters, which are the
interpreters of sciences and the guardians of all excellent
things. I think I may say more--beyond your gods, your temples,
your oracles and sacrifices. The author of those books lived a
thousand years before the siege of Troy, and more than fifteen
hundred before Homer." Time is the ally of truth, and wise men
believe nothing but what is certain, and what has been verified
by time. The principal authority of these Scriptures is derived
from their venerable antiquity. The most learned of the
Ptolemies, who was surnamed Philadelphus, an accomplished prince,
by the advice of Demetrius Phalareus, obtained a copy of these
holy books. It may be found at this day in his library. The
divinity of these Scriptures is proved by this, that all that is
done in our days may be found predicted in them; they contain all
that has since passed in the view of men.

Is not the accomplishment of a prophecy a testimony to its truth?
Seeing that events which are past have vindicated these
prophecies, shall we be blamed for trusting them in events that
are to come? Now, as we believe things that have been prophesied
and have come to pass, so we believe things that have been told
us, but not yet come to pass, because they have all been foretold
by the same Scriptures, as well those that are verified every day
as those that still remain to be fulfilled.

These Holy Scriptures teach us that there is one God, who made
the world out of nothing, who, though daily seen, is invisible;
his infiniteness is known only to himself; his immensity
conceals, but at the same time discovers him. He has ordained for
men, according to their lives, rewards and punishments; he will
raise all the dead that have ever lived from the creation of the
world, will command them to reassume their bodies, and thereupon
adjudge them to felicity that has so end, or to eternal flames.
The fires of hell are those hidden flames which the earth shuts
up in her bosom. He has in past times sent into the world
preachers or prophets. The prophets of those old times were Jews;
they addressed their oracles, for such they were, to the Jews,
who have stored them up in the Scriptures. On them, as has been
said, Christianity is founded, though the Christian differs in
his ceremonies from the Jew. We are accused of worshiping a man,
and not the God of the Jews. Not so. The honor we bear to Christ
does not derogate from the honor we bear to God.

On account of the merit of these ancient patriarchs, the Jews
were the only beloved people of God; he delighted to be in
communication with them by his own mouth. By him they were raised
to admirable greatness. But with perversity they wickedly ceased
to regard him; they changed his laws into a profane worship. He
warned them that he would take to himself servants more faithful
than they, and, for their crime, punished them by driving them
forth from their country. They are now spread all over the world;
they wander in all parts; they cannot enjoy the air they breathed
at their birth; they have neither man nor God for their king. As
he threatened them, so he has done. He has taken, in all nations
and countries of the earth, people more faithful than they.
Through his prophets he had declared that these should have
greater favors, and that a Messiah should come, to publish a new
law among them. This Messiah was Jesus, who is also God. For God
may be derived from God, as the light of a candle may be derived
from the light of another candle. God and his Son are the
self-same God--a light is the same light as that from which it
was taken.

The Scriptures make known two comings of the Son of God; the
first in humility, the second at the day of judgment, in power.
The Jews might have known all this from the prophets, but their
sins have so blinded them that they did not recognize him at his
first coming, and are still vainly expecting him. They believed
that all the miracles wrought by him were the work of magic. The
doctors of the law and the chief priests were envious of him;
they denounced him to Pilate. He was crucified, died, was buried,
and after three days rose again. For forty days he remained among
his disciples. Then he was environed in a cloud, and rose up to
heaven--a truth far more certain than any human testimonies
touching the ascension of Romulus or of any other Roman prince
mounting up to the same place.

Tertullian then describes the origin and nature of devils, who,
under Satan, their prince, produce diseases, irregularities of
the air, plagues, and the blighting of the blossoms of the earth,
who seduce men to offer sacrifices, that they may have the blood
of the victims, which is their food. They are as nimble as the
birds, and hence know every thing that is passing upon earth;
they live in the air, and hence can spy what is going on in
heaven; for this reason they can impose on men reigned
prophecies, and deliver oracles. Thus they announced in Rome that
a victory would be obtained over King Perseus, when in truth they
knew that the battle was already won. They falsely cure diseases;
for, taking possession of the body of a man, they produce in him
a distemper, and then ordaining some remedy to he used, they
cease to afflict him, and men think that a cure has taken place.

Though Christians deny that the emperor is a god, they
nevertheless pray for his prosperity, because the general
dissolution that threatens the universe, the conflagration of the
world, is retarded so long as the glorious majesty of the
triumphant Roman Empire shall last. They desire not to be present
at the subversion of all Nature. They acknowledge only one
republic, but it is the whole world; they constitute one body,
worship one God, and all look forward to eternal happiness. Not
only do they pray for the emperor and the magistrates, but also
for peace. They read the Scriptures to nourish their faith, lift
up their hope, and strengthen the confidence they have in God.
They assemble to exhort one another; they remove sinners from
their societies; they have bishops who preside over them,
approved by the suffrages of those whom they are to conduct. At
the end of each month every one contributes if he will, but no
one is constrained to give; the money gathered in this manner is
the pledge of piety; it is not consumed in eating and drinking,
but in feeding the poor, and burying them, in comforting children
that are destitute of parents and goods, in helping old men who
have spent the best of their days in the service of the faithful,
in assisting those who have lost by shipwreck what they had, and
those who are condemned to the mines, or have been banished to
islands, or shut up in prisons, because they professed the
religion of the true God. There is but one thing that Christians
have not in common, and that one thing is their wives. They do
not feast as if they should die to-morrow, nor build as if they
should never die. The objects of their life are innocence,
justice, patience, temperance, chastity.

To this noble exposition of Christian belief and life in his day,
Tertullian does not hesitate to add an ominous warning to the
magistrates he is addressing-- ominous, for it was a forecast of
a great event soon to come to pass: "Our origin is but recent,
yet already we fill all that your power acknowledges--cities,
fortresses, islands, provinces, the assemblies of the people, the
wards of Rome, the palace, the senate, the public places, and
especially the armies. We have left you nothing but your temples.
Reflect what wars we are able to undertake! With what promptitude
might we not arm ourselves were we not restrained by our
religion, which teaches us that it is better to be killed than to

Before he closes his defense, Tertullian renews an assertion
which, carried into practice, as it subsequently was, affected
the intellectual development of all Europe. He declares that the
Holy Scriptures are a treasure from which all the true wisdom in
the world has been drawn; that every philosopher and every poet
is indebted to them. He labors to show that they are the standard
and measure of all truth, and that whatever is inconsistent with
them must necessarily be false.

From Tertullian's able work we see what Christianity was while it
was suffering persecution and struggling for existence. We have
now to see what it became when in possession of imperial power.
Great is the difference between Christianity under Severus and
Christianity after Constantine. Many of the doctrines which at
the latter period were preeminent, in the former were unknown.

PAGANIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY. Two causes led to the amalgamation
of Christianity with paganism: 1. The political necessities of
the new dynasty; 2. The policy adopted by the new religion to
insure its spread.

1. Though the Christian party had proved itself sufficiently
strong to give a master to the empire, it was never sufficiently
strong to destroy its antagonist, paganism. The issue of the
struggle between them was an amalgamation of the principles of
both. In this, Christianity differed from Mohammedanism, which
absolutely annihilated its antagonist, and spread its own
doctrines without adulteration.

Constantine continually showed by his acts that he felt he must
be the impartial sovereign of all his people, not merely the
representative of a successful faction. Hence, if he built
Christian churches, he also restored pagan temples; if he
listened to the clergy, he also consulted the haruspices; if he
summoned the Council of Nicea, he also honored the statue of
Fortune; if he accepted the rite of baptism, he also struck a
medal bearing his title of "God." His statue, on the top of the
great porphyry pillar at Constantinople, consisted of an ancient
image of Apollo, whose features were replaced by those of the
emperor, and its head surrounded by the nails feigned to have
been used at the crucifixion of Christ, arranged so as to form a
crown of glory.

Feeling that there must be concessions to the defeated pagan
party, in accordance with its ideas, he looked with favor on the
idolatrous movements of his court. In fact, the leaders of these
movements were persons of his own family.

worldling--a man without any religious convictions, doubtless it
appeared best for himself, best for the empire, and best for the
contending parties, Christian and pagan, to promote their union
or amalgamation as much as possible. Even sincere Christians do
not seem to have been averse to this; perhaps they believed that
the new doctrines would diffuse most thoroughly by incorporating
in themselves ideas borrowed from the old, that Truth would
assert her self in the end, and the impurity be cast off. In
accomplishing this amalgamation, Helena, the empress-mother,
aided by the court ladies, led the way. For her gratification
there were discovered, in a cavern at Jerusalem, wherein they had
lain buried for more than three centuries, the Savior's cross,
and those of the two thieves, the inscription, and the nails that
had been used. They were identified by miracle. A true
relic-worship set in. The superstition of the old Greek times
reappeared; the times when the tools with which the Trojan horse
was made might still be seen at Metapontum, the sceptre of Pelops
at Chaeroneia, the spear of Achilles at Phaselis, the sword of
Memnon at Nicomedia, when the Tegeates could show the hide of the
Calydonian boar and very many cities boasted their possession of
the true palladium of Troy; when there were statues of Minerva
that could brandish spears, paintings that could blush, images
that could sweat, and endless shrines and sanctuaries at which
miracle-cures could be performed.

As years passed on, the faith described by Tertullian was
transmuted into one more fashionable and more debased. It was
incorporated with the old Greek mythology. Olympus was restored,
but the divinities passed under other names. The more powerful
provinces insisted on the adoption of their time-honored
conceptions. Views of the Trinity, in accordance with Egyptian
traditions, were established. Not only was the adoration of Isis
under a new name restored, but even her image, standing on the
crescent moon, reappeared. The well-known effigy of that goddess,
with the infant Horus in her arms, has descended to our days in
the beautiful, artistic creations of the Madonna and Child. Such
restorations of old conceptions under novel forms were everywhere
received with delight. When it was announced to the Ephesians
that the Council of that place, headed by Cyril, had decreed that
the Virgin should be called "the Mother of God," with tears of
joy they embraced the knees of their bishop; it was the old
instinct peeping out; their ancestors would have done the same
for Diana.

This attempt to conciliate worldly converts, by adopting their
ideas and practices, did not pass without remonstrance from those
whose intelligence discerned the motive. "You have," says Faustus
to Augustine, "substituted your agapae for the sacrifices of the
pagans; for their idols your martyrs, whom you serve with the
very same honors. You appease the shades of the dead with wine
and feasts; you celebrate the solemn festivities of the Gentiles,
their calends, and their solstices; and, as to their manners,
those you have retained without any alteration. Nothing
distinguishes you from the pagans, except that you hold your
assemblies apart from them." Pagan observances were everywhere
introduced. At weddings it was the custom to sing hymns to Venus.

INTRODUCTION OF ROMAN RITES. Let us pause here a moment, and see,
in anticipation, to what a depth of intellectual degradation this
policy of paganization eventually led. Heathen rites were
adopted, a pompous and splendid ritual, gorgeous robes, mitres,
tiaras, wax-tapers, processional services, lustrations, gold and
silver vases, were introduced. The Roman lituus, the chief ensign
of the augurs, became the crozier. Churches were built over the
tombs of martyrs, and consecrated with rites borrowed from the
ancient laws of the Roman pontiffs. Festivals and commemorations
of martyrs multiplied with the numberless fictitious discoveries
of their remains. Fasting became the grand means of repelling the
devil and appeasing God; celibacy the greatest of the virtues.
Pilgrimages. were made to Palestine and the tombs of the martyrs.
Quantities of dust and earth were brought from the Holy Land and
sold at enormous prices, as antidotes against devils. The virtues
of consecrated water were upheld. Images and relics were
introduced into the churches, and worshiped after the fashion of
the heathen gods. It was given out that prodigies and miracles
were to be seen in certain places, as in the heathen times. The
happy souls of departed Christians were invoked; it was believed
that they were wandering about the world, or haunting their
graves. There was a multiplication of temples, altars, and
penitential garments. The festival of the purification of the
Virgin was invented to remove the uneasiness of heathen converts
on account of the loss of their Lupercalia, or feasts of Pan. The
worship of images, of fragments of the cross, or bones, nails,
and other relics, a true fetich worship, was cultivated. Two
arguments were relied on for the authenticity of these
objects--the authority of the Church, and the working of
miracles. Even the worn-out clothing of the saints and the earth
of their graves were venerated. From Palestine were brought what
were affirmed to be the skeletons of St. Mark and St. James, and
other ancient worthies. The apotheosis of the old Roman times was
replaced by canonization; tutelary saints succeed to local
mythological divinities. Then came the mystery of
transubstantiation, or the conversion of bread and wine by the
priest into the flesh and blood of Christ. As centuries passed,
the paganization became more and more complete. Festivals sacred
to the memory of the lance with which the Savior's side was
pierced, the nails that fastened him to the cross, and the crown
of thorns, were instituted. Though there were several abbeys that
possessed this last peerless relic, no one dared to say that it
was impossible they could all be authentic.

We may read with advantage the remarks made by Bishop Newton on
this paganization of Christianity. He asks: "Is not the worship
of saints and angels now in all respects the same that the
worship of demons was in former times? The name only is
different, the thing is identically the same, . . . the deified
men of the Christians are substituted for the deified men of the
heathens. The promoters of this worship were sensible that it was
the same, and that the one succeeded to the other; and, as the
worship is the same, so likewise it is performed with the same
ceremonies. The burning of incense or perfumes on several altars
at one and the same time; the sprinkling of holy water, or a
mixture of salt and common water, at going into and coming out of
places of public worship; the lighting up of a great number of
lamps and wax-candles in broad daylight before altars and statues
of these deities; the hanging up of votive offerings and rich
presents as attestations of so many miraculous cures and
deliverances from diseases and dangers; the canonization or
deification of deceased worthies; the assigning of distinct
provinces or prefectures to departed heroes and saints; the
worshiping and adoring of the dead in their sepulchres, shrines,
and relics; the consecrating and bowing down to images; the
attributing of miraculous powers and virtues to idols; the
setting up of little oratories, altars, and statues in the
streets and highways, and on the tops of mountains; the carrying
of images and relics in pompous procession, with numerous lights
and with music and singing; flagellations at solemn seasons under
the notion of penance; a great variety of religious orders and
fraternities of priests; the shaving of priests, or the tonsure
as it is called, on the crown of their heads; the imposing of
celibacy and vows of chastity on the religious of both sexes--all
these and many more rites and ceremonies are equally parts of
pagan and popish superstition. Nay, the very same temples, the
very same images, which were once consecrated to Jupiter and the
other demons, are now consecrated to the Virgin Mary and the
other saints. The very same rites and inscriptions are ascribed
to both, the very same prodigies and miracles are related of
these as of those. In short, almost the whole of paganism is
converted and applied to popery; the one is manifestly formed
upon the same plan and principles as the other; so that there is
not only a conformity, but even a uniformity, in the worship of
ancient and modern, of heathen and Christian Rome."

DEBASEMENT OF CHRISTIANITY. Thus far Bishop Newton; but to return
to the times of Constantine: though these concessions to old and
popular ideas were permitted and even encouraged, the dominant
religious party never for a moment hesitated to enforce its
decisions by the aid of the civil power-- an aid which was freely
given. Constantine thus carried into effect the acts of the
Council of Nicea. In the affair of Arius, he even ordered that
whoever should find a book of that heretic, and not burn it,
should be put to death. In like manner Nestor was by Theodosius
the Younger banished to an Egyptian oasis.

The pagan party included many of the old aristocratic families of
the empire; it counted among its adherents all the disciples of
the old philosophical schools. It looked down on its antagonist
with contempt. It asserted that knowledge is to be obtained only
by the laborious exercise of human observation and human reason.

The Christian party asserted that all knowledge is to be found in
the Scriptures and in the traditions of the Church; that, in the
written revelation, God had not only given a criterion of truth,
but had furnished us all that he intended us to know. The
Scriptures, therefore, contain the sum, the end of all knowledge.
The clergy, with the emperor at their back, would endure no
intellectual competition.

Thus came into prominence what were termed sacred and profane
knowledge; thus came into presence of each other two opposing
parties, one relying on human reason as its guide, the other on

Book of the day: