SPEAKING to an educated woman of the ancient meaning and remarkable origin of the cross, she inquired, "What, the cross of Christ?" Her unconsciousness that it had any other relation than that pertaining to the crucifixion of Jesus illustrates a prevailing lack of historical knowledge in most people throughout Christendom. The hope to bring within the reach of the average man of letters a chapter of mythological lore which has heretofore been confined to the few is one motive for offering these pages to the public.
There is no truth but is productive of good. The dynamics of knowledge are impatient of rest and mental inertia. Science and historical criticism are opening many fields long hid in myth and conjecture.
It is hoped the line of discussion here adopted will explain some portions of Bible literature which have always stood in the attitude of offensive enigma to cultured thought. Improved taste of modern time must question the crudities of former days, and ask the reason why. Natural forces give direction to usage, and type to habits. The same agencies modify and polish them. The hallowed powers of one era become. detritus of a later one; and in still later eons of time those decayed objects reappear as relies, and show, to our surprise, how
much that is held to be original in our age is really the unconscious inheritance of a bygone ancestry. They also show early religious ideas were cast in a mold denoting a childlike apprehension, in conformity with things palpable, and roundly pronounced, with the child's direct bluntness of expression.
Ancient religious literature is conspicuous for the number of Gods held in veneration. We find in Christendom but three, or, at most, four. Explanation of the "Trinity" and the natural origin of those four great creative, all-absorbing Gods are here elucidated upon historic and well-nigh scientific bases. As all science demands illustrations addressed to the eye, as well as argument to the mental perception, so, in the treatment of our theo-scientific theme, over twenty-five illustrations are introduced to aid the text.
The Phallic and Yonijic remains found in California, are in these pages, for the first time, so fur as known to the author, introduced to public attention as ancient religious relies belonging to the prehistoric stone age.
Those who have perused Inman's "Ancient Faiths," Higgins' "Anacalypsis" and his "Celtic Druids," Payne Knight's "Worship of Priapus," Layard's "Nineveh," papers of Dr. G. L. Ditson and others relating to kindred subjects, know the authentic sources of much of the information here briefly uttered.
January 1, 1874.