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est thoughts in the unknown tongue of allegory. The conclusions of his research into the philosophical character of Swedenborg were given to the world one year later, in a second volume, called "Swedenborg a Hermetic Philosopher." By this time General Hitchcock was deep in the allegorical literature. He was introduced to the mystical fathers of the Church; they passed him on to the Alexandrine chambers of imagery, and brought him into acquaintance with Philo, the metaphorical; he told him of the Essenes, that strange sect among the Jews, whose character has given rise to much speculation, whose relation to Christianity has been the ground of so much uneasy surmise, but whose name cannot be traced certainly to its origin, and whose very existence, as a Hebrew sect flourishing when Christ was born, has been denied.

The Essenes, it was discovered, on evidence which only literary Quixotism, like De Quincey's, could think of calling in question, were a small body of Jews, numbering about four thousand, at least one hundred and fifty years old at the time Jesus lived, and perhaps much older, who lived. in the "wilderness" bordering the Dead Sea. They were "Come-outers" from the Hebrew Church and State, took no part in national affairs, withdrew from the centres of the popular life, and passed their days in homely industry, in the cultivation of personal, domestic, and social virtue, and in the performance of religious duty. In many respects they resembled the Shakers, in the western part of Massachusetts. There was a mystery about them, about their forms, their opinions, their origin, and their purpose, the mystery that always attaches to the unknown, the solitary, -the mystery of the desert. It was reported of them by Philo and Josephus, that they had occult doctrines, which they covered over by cabalistic signs, and protected from the vulgar gaze by solemn oaths and initiations; that they used figurative speech,. - dealt in symbols and parables, which veiled the naked form of high spiritual truths. This was interesting.

But this would never have drawn the Essenes from their obscurity, or fixed on them the gaze of Christendom, had it not been for the wonderful resemblance of some of their moral teachings and practices to those of the early Christians. This

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resemblance attracted our author, as it has attracted a great many before him. He found that the Essenes, as the cardinal principles of religion, announced Love of God, love of Goodness, love of Man. De Quincey, who exercises his utmost ingenuity in establishing the identity of the Essenes with the Christians, sums up the points of similarity in the following order. They were both distinguished for their close affection towards one another. They both had all things in common. They both were "given to hospitality." In travelling they carried no purse, but went from house to house among the brotherhood. They held solemn worship before sunrise, with prayers and hymns. They neglected marriage, though they did not absolutely condemn it, giving more praise to continence. They were eminent for fidelity to personal trusts. They were peacemakers, denouncing war, in usage and principle. They abjured oaths, except in their initiations, discountenanced all exaggerations of speech, were scrupulously true to their word, and held a promise to be as holy as a bond. By temperance in food, drink, and all sensual indulgence, they lived to a great age, a hundred years and more, so says Josephus of the Essenes, and so reports tradition of St. John. They exhibited a wonderful contempt for pain and death, a fact which attracted particular notice in the case of the Christians, and which goes far to establish their identity with these old mystics, of whom the same is recorded.

Nor was this all. Eusebius found a striking similarity between the religious practices of the Essenes and those of the Christians. The meetings of both, and the exercises performed at their meetings, were in all main respects precisely the same. In Passion Week, preceding the Easter, they held a solemn festival, when they passed the time in fasting, watching, and the study of the Divine Word. They had a mystical supper, too, and sung hymns, precisely as the Christians did, and the Christians alone.

There was something startling in this close resemblance this more than resemblance this identity of thought and practice in points of fundamental importance and distinctive. character. It raised a very serious question, Who were these Essenes, and what relation existed between them and

the Christians? We must pass over the answers given to this question from different sides; the answer given by the enemies of the religion, that Essenism anticipated Christianity in its most essential features; that Christianity was but Essenism under another name, having no claim to originality, and no title to peculiar respect, being in fact but a republication of an old idea; — the answer given by the defenders of the religion, that the priority of teaching belonged to Christianity, of which Essenism was only a poor imitation; — the answer of Eusebius, that the Essenes existed as a sect, but subsequently to the time of Christ; and the answer of De Quincey, that they never existed as a Jewish sect at all, but that the early Christians, in order to protect themselves from their foes, to preserve their organization, and to promulgate secretly their opinions, assumed this name of Essenes as a mask; so that Josephus, in describing the Essenes, describes the Christians, and does, after all, bear testimony to the existence and the power of the Church. All these answers, and others that invite remark, must be left uncriticised. We must proceed at once to the answer suggested by the author of "Christ the Spirit."

That the Essenes could claim priority of the Christians was certain. That they constituted a distinct sect in Palestine admitted of no doubt. That their ethical principles and religious observances were in some respects almost identical with those of the New Testament, was very clear. What then? Why, they were one and the same people,- that is to say, the Christians were Essenes; the New Testament writings were Essene writings.


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Philo, in his report of the Essenes, speaks of their custom of assembling to hear interpretations of the Hebrew sacred writings from their elders, which interpretations "are delivered by mystic expressions in allegories; for the whole of the law appears to these men to resemble a living animal, the express commandments being the body, and the invisible meaning lying beneath the plain words resembling the soul." In another place, they are described as "taking up the Sacred Scriptures, and philosophizing concerning them, investigating the allegories of their national philosophy, since they look on

their literal expressions as symbols of some secret meaning of nature intended to be conveyed in those figurative signs." Philo also mentions writings which their ancient men had left behind them, of an allegorical character, intimating at the same time that the allegorical style of composition was still fashionable among them. Then comes in Eusebius, with a statement made in the interest of Christianity, but easily turned against him, that in all probability the commentaries which the Essenes had were the very Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament.

What follows? This, of course that Essenes composed the books — the biographical books at least of the New Testament. But inasmuch as the Essenes composed none but allegorical writings, these writings must be allegorical; and, since the Essenes used allegory to veil their interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures, and wrote allegorical books with the design of conveying thus the interior sense of the law as they understood it, it must be the design of these books to convey that interior sense, to teach, under the form of mythus and parable, the spirit of the Scriptures.

This, then, in brief, is the theory of the work under review. "The Gospels were designed originally as interpretations of the Hebrew Sacred Scriptures, after a mystical method, for the use or edification of a secret society among the Jews." In fulfilment of this design, the spirit of the sacred writings is brought into a temporal scene, under the form of a person, whose introduction is accomplished poetically by the help of supernatural machinery. Once on the stage, the writers of the seeming histories invent situations, put in according to fancy the graphic or dramatic details, devise symbolical deeds and sayings, so as to make Jesus, their chief personage, represent by his words and actions what, in their opinion, the Hebrew Scriptures in their spirit say to the believing soul, and work in the believing heart. Christ is the personified spirit of the ancient Law; he is the heart of the Bible in a figure; he is the interior Word, represented as moving about among men. Whether a person bearing his name actually lived or not, is of no consequence. In the intention of the Gospel writers, he was a mythus; his biography is not a biography, but a

metaphor; his life is not a life, but a sermon; his actions are emblems; his experiences are tropes; his miracles are parables in the guise of history; the men and women who surround him are figures of rhetoric.

We ought to say, perhaps, that, before pushing his conclusion to this length, our author had been struck by the evidently allegorical character of much of the New Testament. There was a great deal of metaphorical language, and there were at least some metaphorical facts. The words water and spirit, flesh and blood, bread and wine, used in contrast, conveyed a palpable hint of the distinction between the literal and the spiritual sense. The miracle of the water changed into wine, of the penny found in the mouth of the fish, of the multiplication of loaves, the stilling of the tempest, the walking on the sea, the flowing of the water and blood from the wounded side of the Crucified, suggest at once the doctrine of the hidden sense, and have always been "improved" for teaching. Once on the scent of mystical interpretation, the chase is endless; one starts a symbol at every turn; the whole field is covered with emblematic pearls. The larger part of these two volumes is devoted to the allegorical interpretation of the Gospels under the light of the author's hypothesis. The second volume is given entirely to the mystical exposition of the Gospel of John. We cannot commend very highly General Hitchcock's success in these illustrations: we are presumptuous enough to fancy that we could do this part of his work a great deal better. Some of his explanations are strained, some are prosaic, some are flat, some are trivial. This, however, is his defect, not the defect of his theory, which should not be burdened with the sin of his imperfect imagination. He argues better than he illustrates, and is far more ingenious in defending his view than he is brilliant in setting it forth.

That the Gospels are not historical books, containing the authentic biography of Jesus, may be made to appear, he thinks, altogether apart from the intrinsic probability of the case. The strange silence of history respecting so wonderful a person as Jesus under their representation must have been, is a staggering fact, never yet explained, and alone sufficient

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