|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 2||Part 1|
An argument has been adduced by Christians, to the effect, that the Almighty has rejected the Israelitish nation, because they would not listen to the teachings of the Messiah, his messenger, and because they executed judgment on him. The Lord has, therefore, say they, chosen the Christian nation, and he permitted Christ to suffer martyrdom for their sake and for the salvation of their souls, because they had acknowledged him and put faith in him.
This argument is unfounded; for the Christians themselves confess, that before the coming of Jesus, they (as Gentiles) denied the Almighty, and were idolaters. Even after the coming of Jesus, he was not received as a God, nor believed to be such until some hundred years subsequent to his existence. Yea, they (the Gentiles) themselves carried on exterminating persecution against him, his disciples, apostles, and followers. Nero, the emperor of Rome, for instance, caused Peter and Paul to die an unnatural death, on account of their endeavors to persuade and urge the people to believe in Jesus. Decius, the Roman emperor, caused, in a like spirit, Laurentius to be roasted alive in the year 254 of the vulgar era, because he persuaded people to embrace Christianity. So acted all the emperors that followed him; they persecuted the Christians, and killed the popes, and those who followed the religion of Jesus, as may be gathered from their ecclesiastical histories. The first Byzantine emperor who adopted the Christian faith, was Constantine, who established laws for his co-religionists 300 years after the death of Jesus. In his days lived Arius who composed a controversial work against the Christian dogmas, but Constantine lent no ear to his opinions. After the death of this monarch, Constantine the Second attached himself to the sect of Arius, and slighted the established doctrines; and his succeeding relative Julian, likewise adhered to the Arian views, and rejected the general principles of the Christian Faith. His example was imitated by several of his successors. There are, even in our times, people who acknowledge the authority of Arius, and who constitute the sect called by his name. This (the original repudiation of Christianity by the Gentiles) is also to be noticed among the [ancient] inhabitants of Prussia; when bishop Adelbert of Prague came to them to instruct them in his religion in the year 990, of the Christian era, they cut him in pieces. The Prussians and Poles were not converted to the Christian religion before the eleventh century, and the Scandinavians not until after the 1400th year of the vulgar era, as is stated in the Ecclesiastical histories. The majority of the followers of Christianity continue even at the present day to adore in their places of worship images of gold and silver, wood, and stone, and many of them show divine reverence to the wafer, or sacramental bread by prostrating themselves before it. These practices they keep up in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus: who rigorously impressed upon his disciples and apostles to abstain from them, as well as from the eating of the sacrifices offered up to idols. We also find in the Gospel, they are forbidden to eat blood, or the flesh of strangled animals; which interdictions are disregarded even by the most scrupulous Christians. They likewise desecrate the true Sabbath day, the stringent commandment of which, was kept by Jesus, and subsequently by his disciples and his followers, during the period of 500 years. From that period, the ancient law was superseded by the Pope enjoining to celebrate the first day of the week, Sunday, as the sacred day. Hence arises the question: How can they boast to be the preferred nation, selected in reward of their homage to Jesus; or how can they assume the name of Christians, since there exists among them, no longer any observer of the Mosaical precepts, which Jesus himself declared inviolable? Besides, they deviate from his statutes by adding to, and diminishing from the dictates of the Gospel, while he pronounced severe maledictions against those who should venture to add or to diminish from his words, as may be learned from the passages above referred to, and will be set forth more fully in chapter 49 of this work.