By claiming to be divinely appointed for the propagation of a divinely authenticated religion, the priesthood of all forms of worship have ever labored to deceive and enslave the ignorant multitude; and in support of these fallacious assumptions have resorted to all manner of pious frauds, in reference to which we quote from both Pagan and Christian sources with the view to showing that the moderns have faithfully followed the ancient example. Euripedes, an Athenian writer, who flourished about 450 years before the beginning of our era, maintained that, "in the early state of society, some wise men insisted on the necessity of darkening truth with falsehood and of persuading men that there is an immortal deity who hears and sees and understands our actions, whatever we may think of that matter ourselves." Strabo, the famous geographer and historian of Greek extraction, who flourished about the beginning of the Christian era, wrote that "It is not possible for a philosopher to conduct by reasoning a multitude of women and the low vulgar, and thus to invite them to piety, holiness and faith; but the philosopher must make use of superstition and not omit the invention of fables and the performance of wonders. For the lightning and the ægis and the trident are but fables, and so all ancient theology. But the founders of states adopted them as bugbears to frighten the weak-minded." Varro, a learned Roman scholar, who also flourished about the beginning of our era, wrote that "There are many truths which it is useless for the vulgar to know, and many falsehoods which it is fit that the people should not know are falsehoods."
So much from Pagan authorities relative to the necessity of deceiving the ignorant masses. We will now present some Christian authorities upon the same subject; and first from Christ himself, who in addressing his disciples is made to say, in Mark iv, 11, 12, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand." Paul, in his fourteen Epistles, inculcates and avows the principle of deceiving the common people. He speaks of having been upbraided by his own converts with being crafty and catching them with guile and of his known and wilful lies abounding to the glory of God. See Romans iii. 7, and II. Cor. xii. 16. If Christ and Paul were guilty of deception, their followers had good excuse for the same course of conduct. Upon this subject Beausobre, a very learned ecclesiastical writer, who flourished about the beginning of the 18th century, says: "We see in the history which I have related a sort of hypocrisy that has been, perhaps, but too common at all times; that churchmen not only do not say what they think, but they do say the direct contrary of what they think. Philosophers in their cabinets; out of them they are content with fables, though they well know that they are fables." Historie de Manichee, vol. 2, page 568. Bishop Synesius, the distinguished author of religious literature and Christian father of the 5th century, said: "I shall be a philosopher only to myself, and I shall always be a bishop to the people." Mosheim, the distinguished author of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I., page 120, says: "The authors who have treated of the innocence and sanctity of the primitive Christians have fallen into the error of supposing them to have been unspotted models of piety and virtue, and a gross error indeed it is, as the strongest testimonies too evidently prove."
The same author, in Vol. I., page. 198, says in the fourth century "it was an almost universally adopted maxim that it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interest of the church might be promoted." In his Ecclesiastical History, Vol. II., page 11, he says that "as regards the fifth century, the simplicity and ignorance of the generality in those times furnished the most favorable occasion for the exercise of fraud; and the impudence of impostors in contriving false miracles was artfully proportioned to the credulity of the vulgar; while the sagacious and the wise, who perceived these cheats, were overawed into silence by the dangers that threatened their lives and fortunes if they should expose the artifice." Thomas Burnet, D.D., who flourished about the beginning of the 18th century, in his treatise entitled De Statu Mortuorum, purposely written in Latin that it might serve for the instruction of the clergy only, and not come to the knowledge of the laity, because, as he says, "too much light is hurtful for weak eyes," not only justifies, but recommends the practice of the most consummate hypocrisy, and that, too, on the most awful of all subjects; and would have his, clergy seriously preach and maintain the reality and eternity of hell torments, even though they should believe nothing of the sort themselves. See page 304. Hugo Grotius, the eminent writer of Holland in the 17th century, says in his 22d Epistle: "He that reads ecclesiastical history, reads nothing but the roguery and folly of bishops, and churchmen." In the language of Robert Taylor, from whom we have taken most of the quotations under this heading, we assert that "no man could quote higher authorities," to prove "the roguery and folly of bishops and churchmen."