Christianism ("Christianity"), Etc.

The Christ

ADDITION 9

from: The Christ, A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence, John E. Remsberg [Remsburg], Prometheus, 1994 ("The Truth Seeker", 1909).

[a Classic!]. [See: #23, 481].

"John E. Remsburg (1848-1919) was one of the most popular and widely travelled freethought lecturers of the late nineteenth century. Raised in poverty in small-town Ohio and largely self-educated, Remsburg entered adulthood as one of the youngest soldiers in the Union Army. During the Civil War, he acquitted himself with distinction in the battle of Fort Stevens and received a special certificate of commendation from President Lincoln himself. After the war, he became a school teacher and eventually superintendent of public education in Kansas.

By 1880 Remsburg had become a committed freethinker when he published Thomas Paine: The Apostle of Religious and Political Liberty. At this time he also began lecturing on freethought and quickly proved to be a great success. When he retired, twenty years later, he had delivered more than 3,000 lectures and addressed audiences in over 1200 cities and towns in North America. Among Remsburg's other significant books were The Bible and Six Historic Americans." [dust jacket (end)].

PAGE 891


'1

Christ's Real Existence Impossible

The reader who accepts as divine the prevailing religion of our land may consider this criticism on "The Christ" irreverent and unjust. And yet for man's true saviors I have no lack of reverence. For him who lives and labors to uplift his fellow men I have the deepest reverence and respect, and at the grave of him who upon the altar of immortal truth has sacrificed his life I would gladly pay the sincere tribute of a mourner's tears. It is not against the man Jesus that I write, but against the Christ Jesus of theology; a being in whose name an Atlantic of innocent blood has been shed; a being in whose name the whole black catalogue of crime has been exhausted; a being in whose name five hundred thousand priests are now enlisted to keep

"Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne."

Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but THE JESUS OF BETHLEHEM, THE CHRIST OF CHRISTIANITY, IS AN IMPOSSIBLE CHARACTER AND DOES NOT EXIST.' [11].

'These [pages 12-13] and a hundred other miracles make up to a great extent this so-called Gospel History of Christ. To disprove the existence of these miracles is to disprove the existence of this Christ.

Canon Farrar makes this frank admission: "If miracles be incredible, Christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles, then the Gospels are untrustworthy" (Witness of History to Christ, p. 25).

Dean Mansel thus acknowledges the consequences of the successful denial of miracles: "The whole system of Christian belief with its evidences,...all Christianity in short, so far as it has any title to that name, so far as it has any special relation to the person or the teaching of Christ, is overthrown" (Aids to Faith, p. 3).

Dr. Westcott [Brooke Foss Westcott 1825 - 1901] says: "The essence of Christianity lies in a miracle; and if it can be shown that a miracle is either impossible or incredible, all further inquiry into the details of its history is superfluous" (Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 34)....

Christianity arose in what was preeminently a miracle-working age. Everything was attested by miracles, because nearly everybody believed in miracles and demanded them. Every religious teacher was a worker of miracles; and however trifling the miracle might be when wrought, in this atmosphere of unbounded credulity, the breath of exaggeration soon expanded it into marvelous proportions.' [14-15].

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'Alluding to Christ's miracles, M. [apparently, Monsieur] Renan [Ernest Renan 1823 - 1892], a reverential admirer of Jesus of Nazareth, says: "Observation...teaches...that miracles never happen but in times and countries in which they are believed, and before persons disposed to believe them. No miracle ever occurred in the presence of men capable of testing its miraculous character....It is not, then, in the name of this or that philosophy, but in the name of universal experience, that we banish miracles from history" (Life of Jesus, p. 29).' [15].

'With the advancement of knowledge the belief in the supernatural is disappearing. Those freed from Ignorance, and her dark sister, Superstition, know that miracles are myths. In the words of Matthew Arnold [1822 - 1888], "Miracles are doomed; they will drop out like fairies and witchcraft, from among the matter which serious people believe" (Literature and Dogma).' [16].

"Miracles must be dismissed from the domain of fact and relegated to the realm of fiction. A miracle, I [John E. Remsburg] repeat, is impossible. Above all THIS CHIEF OF MIRACLES, THE CHRIST, IS IMPOSSIBLE, AND DOES NOT, AND NEVER DID, EXIST."

[17] [End of Chapter 1]. [See (miracles): #3, 50-52; etc.].

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"2

Silence of Contemporary Writers"

"The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100]

Arrian

Philo-Judaeus

Petronius

Seneca

Dion Pruseus

Pliny the Elder

Paterculus

Suetonius [c. 69 - after 122]

Appian

Juvenal

Theon of Smyrna

Martial

Phlegon

Persius

Pompon Mela

Plutarch

Quintius Curtius

Justus of Tiberius

Lucian

Apollonius

Pausanias

Pliny the Younger [62 - 113]

Valerius Flaccus

Tacitus [c. 55 - 120]

Florus Lucius

Quintilian

Favorinus

Lucanus

Phaedrus

Epictetus

Damis

Silius Italicus

Aulus Gellius

Statius

Columella

Ptolemy

Dio Chrysostom

Hermogones

Lysias

Valerius Maximus

Appion of Alexandria

 

Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author [Josephus], and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers [Tacitus; Pliny the Younger], there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ." [18-19].

[from #3, 47, 224.: '..."Has Jewish tradition anything to teach us concerning Jesus?" This question must be answered in the negative. As far as the contemporaneous Jewish literature goes, it does not contain a single reference to the founder of Christianity....'].

[from: #3, 56, 281.: "There is no such thing as a really convincing witness in profane literature [see 244.]."].

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'Josephus
 

Late in the first century Josephus wrote his celebrated work, The Antiquities of the Jews, giving a history of his race from the earliest ages down to his own time. Modern versions of this work contain the following passage:

"Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Book XVIII, Chap. iii, sec. 3).

For nearly sixteen hundred years [since Eusebius c. 264 - 340 (see 22)] Christians have been citing this passage as a testimonial, not merely to the historical existence, but to the divine character of Jesus Christ. And yet a ranker forgery was never penned....' [20-21] [continues to page 27]. [See (Josephus): #3, 73-76; etc.].

'To these witnesses [Josephus; Tacitus; Pliny the Younger] is sometimes, though rarely, added a fourth, Suetonius, a Roman historian who, like Tacitus and Pliny, wrote in the second century. In his Life of Nero, Suetonius says: "The Christians, a race of men of a new and villainous superstition, were punished." In his Life of Claudius, he says. "He [Claudius [Roman Emperor 41 - 54 C.E.]] drove the Jews, who at the instigation of Chrestus were constantly rioting, out of Rome." Of course no candid Christian will contend that Christ was inciting Jewish riots at Rome fifteen years after he was crucified [dates vary from 29 - 35 C.E. (see 212-214)] at Jerusalem.' [32].

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"4

The Infancy of Christ

We have seen that THE FOUR GOSPELS are not authentic, that they are anonymous writings which APPEARED LATE IN THE SECOND CENTURY [see #25, 550]. If their contents seemed credible and their statements harmonized with each other this want of authenticity would invalidate their authority, because the testimony of an unknown witness cannot be accepted as authoritative. On the other hand, if their authenticity could be established, if it could be shown that they were written by the authors claimed, the incredible and contradictory character of their contents would destroy their authority.

As historical documents these books are hardly worthy of credit. The Arabian Nights is almost as worthy of credit as the Four Gospels. In both are to be found accounts of things possible and of things impossible. To believe the impossible is gross superstition; to believe the possible, simply because it is possible, is blind credulity. These books are adduced as the credentials of Christ. A critical analysis of these credentials reveals hundreds of errors. A presentation of these errors will occupy the five succeeding chapters of this work. If it can be shown that they contain errors, however trivial some of them may appear, this refutes the claim of inerrancy and divinity. If it can be shown that they abound with errors, this destroys their credibility as historical documents. Destroy the credibility of the Four Gospels and you destroy all proofs of Christ's divinity--all proofs of his existence." [44].
 

'1

When was Jesus born?

Matthew: "In the days of Herod" (ii, 1).

Luke: "When Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (ii, 1-7).

Nearly every biographer gives the date of his subject's birth. Yet not one of the Evangelists gives the date of Jesus' birth. Two, Matthew and Luke, attempt to give the time approximately. But between these two attempts there is a discrepancy of at least ten years; for Herod died 4 B.C., while Cyrenius did not become governor of Syria until 7 A.D. ....

At least ten different opinions regarding the year of Christ's birth have been advanced by Christian scholars. Dodwell places it in 6 B.C., Chrysostom 5 B.C., Usher, whose opinion is mostly commonly received, 4 B.C., Irenaeus 3 B.C., Jerome 2 B.C., Tertullian 1 B.C. Some modern authorities place it in 1 A.D., others in 2 A.D., and still others in 3 A.D.; while those who accept Luke as infallible authority must place it as late as 7 A.D.' [45-46]. [See: #9, 224-225].

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"3
 

In what month and on what day of the month was he [Jesus] born?

Not one of his biographers is prepared to tell; primitive Christians did not know; the church has never been able to determine this. A hundred different opinions regarding it have been expressed by Christian scholars. Wagenseil places it in February, Paulius in March, Greswell in April, Lichtenstein in June, Strong in August, Lightfoot in September, and Newcome in October. Clinton says that he was born in the spring; Larchur says that he was born in the fall. Some early Christians believed that it occurred on the 5th of January; others the 19th of April; others still on the 20th of May. The Eastern church believed that he was born on the 7th of January. The church of Rome, in the fourth century, selected the 25th of December on which to celebrate the anniversary of his birth; and this date has been accepted by the greater portion of the Christian world." [47]. [See: #9, 224-225].
 

'4
 

What determined the selection of this [when "Jesus was born"] date?

"There was a double reason for selecting this day. In the first place it had been observed from a hoary antiquity as a heathen festival, following the longest night of the winter solstice, and was called "the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun." It was a fine thought to celebrate on that day the birth of him whom the Gospel called "the light of the world." ...The second reason was, that at Rome the days from the 17th to the 23rd of December were devoted to unbridled merrymaking. These days were called the Saturnalia....Now the church was always anxious to meet the heathen, whom she had converted or was beginning to convert, half-way, by allowing them to retain the feasts they were accustomed to, only giving them a Christian dress, or attaching a new and Christian signification to them" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, pp. 66, 67).

Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794] says: "The Roman Christians, ignorant of the real time of the birth of Jesus, fixed the solemn festival on the 25th of December, the winter solstice when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of the sun."' [48]. [See: #13, 263-328].

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'6
 

Where was Jesus born?

Matthew and Luke: In Bethlehem of Judea (Matt. ii, 1; Luke ii, 1-7).

Aside from these stories in Matthew and Luke concerning the nativity, which are clearly of later origin than the remaining documents composing the books and which many Christian scholars reject, there is not a word in the Four Gospels to confirm the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Every statement in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as Acts, concerning his nativity, is to the effect that he was born in Nazareth of Galilee. He is never called "Jesus of Bethlehem," but always "Jesus of Nazareth." According to modern usage "Jesus of Nazareth" might merely signify that Nazareth was the place of his residence and not necessarily the place of his birth. But this usage was unknown to the Jews. Had he been born at Bethlehem, he would, according to the Jewish custom, have been called "Jesus of Bethlehem," because the place of birth always determined this distinguishing adjunct, and the fact of his having removed to another place would not have changed it.

Peter (Acts ii, 22; iii, 6) Paul (Acts xxvi, 9), Philip (John i, 45), Cleopas and his companion (Luke xxiv, 19), Pilate (John xix, 19), Judas and the band sent to arrest Jesus (John xviii, 5, 7), the High Priest's maid (Mark xiv, 67), blind Bartimaeus (Mark x, 47), the unclean spirits (Mark i, 24; Luke iv, 34), the multitudes that attended his meetings (Matt. xxi, 11; Luke xviii, 37), all declared him to be a native of Nazareth.

To the foregoing may be added the testimony of Jesus himself. When Paul asked him who he was he answered: "I am Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts xxii, 8).'

[49-50].

'That Jesus the man, if such a being existed, was not born at Bethlehem is affirmed by all critics. That he could not have been born at Nazareth is urged by many. Nazareth, it is asserted, did not exist at this time. Christian scholars admit that there is no proof of its existence at the beginning of the Christian era outside of the New Testament. The Encyclopedia [Encyclopaedia] Biblica, a leading Christian authority, says: "We cannot perhaps venture to assert positively that there was a city called Nazareth in Jesus' time."' [50]. [See (Nazareth): #20, 405].

PAGE 898


"8

His Character and Teachings"

'593
 

Who were his [Jesus] apostles?
 

"A dozen knaves, as ignorant as owls and as poor as church mice."--Voltaire.

"Palestine was one of the most backward of countries; the Galileans were the most ignorant of the inhabitants of Palestine; and the disciples might be counted among the most simple people of Galilee."--Renan.

"His followers were 'unlearned and ignorant men,' chosen from the humblest of the people."--Farrar.' [316].

[See (apostles): #15, 338].

PAGE 899


"9

The Christ a Myth

The conceptions regarding the nature and character of Christ, and the value of the Christian Scriptures as historical evidence, are many, chief of which are the following:

1. Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is a historical character, supernatural and divine; and that the New Testament narratives, which purport to give a record of his life and teachings, contain nothing but infallible truth.

2. Conservative Rationalists, like Renan, and the Unitarians, believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical character and that these narratives, eliminating the supernatural elements, which they regard as myths, give a fairly authentic account of his life.

3. Many radical [?] Freethinkers believe that Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis, but that these narratives are so legendary and contradictory as to be almost if not wholly, unworthy of credit.

4. Other Freethinkers believe that Jesus Christ is a pure myth--that he never had an existence, except as a Messianic idea, or an imaginary solar deity.

The first of these conceptions must be rejected because the existence of such a being is impossible, and because the Bible narratives which support it are incredible. The second cannot be accepted because, outside of these incredible narratives, there is no evidence to confirm it. One of the two last [3., or 4.] is the only true and rational conception of the Christ." [327].

"Count Volney's [1757 - 1820] portraiture [preceding, pages 331-333] of the second member [Jesus] of the Christian godhead is, for the most part, accurate. Numerous other analogies between him and the ancient sun gods might be named.

It is the belief of many, however, that these solar attributes of Christ are later accretions borrowed by the Roman Catholic church from the pagan religions which it supplanted. [?]

While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he [Jesus] is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable." [333].

[Note: the last sentence, is also the sentiment of Joseph McCabe 1867 - 1955]. [See (Xenophanes 6th century B.C.E.): 864-865].

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"10

Sources of the Christ Myth--Ancient Religions

CHRIST AND THE RELIGION HE IS SAID TO HAVE FOUNDED ARE COMPOSITE PRODUCTS, made up, to a great extent, of the attributes, the doctrines, and the customs of the gods and the religions which preceded them and existed around them....

To undertand the origin and nature of Christ and Christianity it is necessary to know something of the religious systems and doctrines from which they were evolved. The following, some in a large and others in but a small degree, contributed to mold this SUPPOSED divine incarnation and inspire this SUPPOSED revelation: Nature or Sex Worship. Solar Worship. Astral Worship. Worship of the Elements and Forces of Nature. Worship of Animals and Plants. Fetichism. Polytheism. Monotheism. The Mediatorial Idea. The Messianic Idea. The Logos. The Perfect Man." [344].

[See (conglomerate; composite; amalgam; etc.): #3, 85, 46]. [See: #12, 262].

'Solar Worship

Scarcely less prevalent than sex worship was the worship of the sun. While sex worship was confined chiefly to the generation of human life, sun worship comprehended the generation of all life. The sun was recognized as the generative power of the universe. He overshadows the receptive earth from whom all life is born. I quote from M. Soury [Jules Soury 1842 - 1906]:

"Amid all these forces, the mightiest is, without contradiction, the sun, the fire of heaven, father of earthy fire, unique and supreme cause of motion and life on our planet. There is no need or reason to understand that the very life, and as it were the blood of our celestial father flows in the veins of the Earth, our mother. In the time of love, when the luminous heaven embraces her, from her fertilized womb springs forth a world. It is she who quivers on the plains where the soft moist air waves gently on the grasses; it is she who climbs in the bush, who soars in the oak, who fills the solitude with the joyous twitter of birds beneath the cloudlet, or from the leaf-lined nests; it is she who in seas and in rurrning [running] waters, or mountains and in woods, couples the gorgeous male with the ardent female, throbs in every bosom, loves in every life. But all this terrestrial life, all this warmth and all this light are but effluents from the sun." (Religion of Israel, pp. 3, 4.)' [342].

PAGE 901


"The Perfect Man

The New Testament contains at least five different mythical types or conceptions of Jesus Christ: 1. The Messiah of the synoptics, omitting the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke. 2. The Son of God, or demi-god, introduced in these opening chapters. 3. The incarnate Logos or God of John. 4. The Christ of Paul. 5. Eliminating these more or less supernatural types, there remains in these writings, in addition to the purely natural and purely human Jesus of Nazareth, a type known as the Ideal or Perfect Man. This type is not only mythical, but, in the stricter sense, supernatural and superhuman; for the perfect man must always remain an ideal rather than a real type of man....The portrayal of the vicarious suffering and death of this [Fictional] man [Jesus] has been one of the most powerful agents in the propagation of Christianity." [365]. [See: #21, 413 (Sandmel)].

PAGE 902


'The molders of primitive Christianity were greatly influenced by various philosophical speculations--by the teachings of Pythagoras and Plato among the earlier, and by the writings of Philo and Seneca among the later philosophers. To Philo, we have seen, they were indebted largely for the Logos; to Seneca they were indebted chiefly for the Ideal or Perfect Man. The following extracts are from The Christ Myth [see #15, 336-343] of Mrs. Evans:

"Seneca advises the cherishing of a hope that victory in the form of a wise man will finally appear, because humanity requires that the exemplification of perfection should be visible."

"Seneca's conception of perfect humanity was a combination of the wise man of the Platonists and Stoics and the gentle sufferer who endures insult and sorrow."

"The Logos of Philo was too ethereal to answer all the demands of feeble humanity. The Godman must live and suffer and die among and for the people in order to make the sacrifice complete."

"Philo endowed the Logos of Heraclitus [fl. 500 B.C.E.] with the authority of a priestly mediator, who, floating between earth and heaven, brings God and man together; Seneca places this mediator as a suffering man among men. Philo, from his Jewish standpoint, made the Logos the priestly intercessor; Seneca, from the standpoint of his Stoical society, believed in the possibility of a perfect man as savior and guide of weaker men."' [365-366].

'Cognizant of the striking resemblance between some of the writings of the New Testament and the writings of the Stoics, particularly of Seneca, modern Christian apologists affect to believe that this philosopher was acquainted with the history and the gospel of Christ. But the Stoical philosophy propounded by Seneca had been forming ever since the time of Zeno, three centuries before the time of Christ. Seneca [Seneca the Younger 4 B.C.E.? - 65 C.E.] himself was born before the Christian era, and no part of the New Testament was in existence when he wrote. Relative to this contention Lecky [William Edward Hartpole Lecky 1838 - 1903] writes: "It is admitted that the greatest moralists of the Roman empire either never mentioned Christianity, or mentioned it with contempt....The Jews, with whom the Christians were then identified, he (Seneca) emphatically describes as 'an accursed race.'" (European Morals, Vol. 1 pp. 340, 342). During the second and third centuries Christian scholars ransacked pagan literature for recognitions of Christ and Christianity. Regarding this, Lecky says: "At the time, when the passion for discovering these connections was most extravagant, the notion of Seneca and his followers being inspired by the Christians was unknown" (ibid., p. 346). Gibbon says: "The new sect [Christians] is totally unnoticed by Seneca" (Rome, Vol. I, 587, note).

Out of all these various religious systems and doctrines--out of sex worship and sun worship--out of the worship of the stars and the worship of the elements--out of the worship of animals and the worship of idols--out of Polytheism and Monotheism--out of the Mediatorial and Messianic ideas--out of the Logos and the Ideal Man of the philosophers--this Christ has come.' [366] [End of Chapter 10].

[See (conglomerate; composite; amalgam; etc.): #3, 85, 46]. [See: #12, 262].

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"11

Sources of the Christ Myth--Pagan Divinities"

"The noted Assyriologist, George Smith [1840 - 1876], of the British Museum, who discovered the tablets containing these fragments of the Babylonian epic [of Gilgamesh], says that the original text of these legends cannot be later than the 17th century B.C., and may be much earlier, thus antedating the oldest books of the Bible nearly 1,000 years. From these and other Babylonian and Persian legends the most of the Old Testament legends were borrowed. This fact disproves the existence of the orthodox Christ. If the accounts of the creation, the fall of man, and the Noachian deluge, as given in the Bible, are not authentic, but merely BORROWED [APPROPRIATED] FABLES, then there remains no foundation for an atoning Savior." [384].

[See (Cyrus Gordon): #7, 182-188; etc.].

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"12

Sources of the Christ Myth--Conclusion"


'In the words of Jules Soury [1842 - 1906 ("French psychologist") ("studied Hebrew under Renan") (Joseph McCabe, A Rationalist Encyclopaedia)],

"Time, which condenses nebulae, lights up suns, brings life and thought upon planets theretofore steeped in death, and gives back ephemeral worlds to dissolution and the fertile chaos of the everlasting universe--TIME KNOWS NOUGHT OF GODS NOR OF THE DIM AND FALLACIOUS HOPES OF IGNORANT MORTALS."

With these sublime pictures--a retrospect and a prophecy--from the gallery of the great master [Robert Ingersoll 1833 - 1899], I close this long-drawn subject:

"When India is supreme, Brahma sits upon the world's throne. When the sceptre passes to Egypt, Isis and Osiris receive the homage of mankind. Greece, with her fierce valor, sweeps to empire, and Zeus puts on the purple of authority. The earth trembles with the trend of Rome's intrepid sons, and Jove grasps with mailed hand the thunderbolts of Heaven. Rome falls, and Christians, from her territory, with the red sword of war [see: Imperialism], carve out the ruling nations of the world, and now Christ sits upon the old throne. Who will be his successor?"

"I look again. The popes and priests are gone. The altars and the thrones have mingled with the dust. The aristocracy of land and cloud have perished from the earth and air. The gods are dead. A new religion sheds its glory on mankind. And as I look Life lengthens, Joy deepens, Love intensifies, Fear dies--Liberty at last is God, and Heaven is here."' [418-419] [End of text].

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