« ForrigeFortsæt »
would be the god of war, of battle, and of victory, in whose cause and for whose honour the wars would be carried on.
But no trace of any such custom is to be discovered under the laws of the Bible. War and its weapons were ranked among the great calamities on man; and war, famine and the pestilence were classed together as the severest scourges of the human race. The custom of depositing standards and ensigns taken from an enemy in battle, within the walls of Christian churches, as we see in London and other places, is borrowed entirely from heathen people, and is therefore dishonouring to God, and unworthy of modern civilisation.
The remarkable original connection between the Egyptian Tau,
the Heathen Crescent, and the Roman Labarum.—The War Cross sprang out of those Symbols.—The four great Ensigns of the Conquering Races, the Eagle, the Labarum, the Crescent, and the Cross.—The Military Ensigns of the Heathen were their idols.-Curious Mythological connection between the Crescent, the Labarum, and the Cross.—The sign of the Crescent was the Symbol of Diana, and the Symbol of the Crescent is affixed to the images of the Virgin Mary of the Roman Church, thus establishing their identity as the Queen of Heaven.
It is a remarkable circumstance in the investigation into the origin of the Cross as an ensign of war, to find it in close connection with, and actually springing out from, the mysterious heathen symbol of the Crescent, and the celebrated Roman Labarum. This is an interesting and curious subject of research, to which we invite the attention of the reader.
We have already gone into the history of the cross as an instrument of punishment and torture, and have shown that its use was general, and almost universal, before the Christian era. But there is to be found in the depths of antiquity, and among the great peoples who first attained civilisation, and spread it through the world, the figure and use of the cross in a manner very distinct from its use as an instrument of cruelty. We find it preserved on the imperishable sculptures in the temples of Egypt; and Mr. Layard has de
picted it as he found it on the sculptures of Khorsabad, and cut on the ivories from Nimroud; and he describes in one of his pictures an ornament shaped like a Maltese cross on one of the warriors.* This figure of the cross is the well-known but mysterious symbol of the Tau, or the “ Sign of Life," seen on the Egyptian hieroglyphics, invariably placed in the bands of the gods. The Tau is the plain Cruxansata, or small cross, with a round or oval-shaped handle at the top of it, by which the deity, whoever he may be, holds it in his hand. It is foreign to the design of this part of our subject, to give the speculations on the symbolical meaning of the Egyptian and Ninevite crosses. In the sculptured caves of Hindustan, the figure of the Tau has been discovered ; and in the caves of Ajunta, about 200 miles to the north-east of Bombay, there is the sculptured head of a person, with a richly-ornamented crown, surmounted by several small crosses. Mr. Layard remarks that the emblems on the sculptured figures of the kingly priests of Nineveh, and the ancient cities of Assyria, are precisely similar, with the exception of the horned cap, to the symbols found on the sacred monuments of India. f In another section, we have alluded to the cross discovered among the sculptures in the great temple of the ruined city of Palenque, in Central America.
Whatever opinions may be entertained of the origin and nature of the Egyptian cross, there can be no doubt of its striking resemblance to the Christian figure, and of its significance ; for the early Christians of Egypt actually adopted the Tau, or Cruxansata, until it was supplanted by the cross in later ages. On this very interesting subject, we will quote the words of
* Layard’s “ Nineveh,” vol. ii. p. 213, and vol. i. p. 336. † Ibid., vol. ii. p. 446.
Sir J. G. Wilkinson, in his learned work, “On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians.” Writing of the Tau, he says :-“A still more curious fact
may be mentioned respecting this hieroglyphical character, that the early Christians of Egypt adopted it in lieu of the cross, which was afterwards substituted for it, prefixing it to inscriptions in the same manner as the cross in later times. For though Dr. Young had some scruples in believing the statement of Sir A. Edmonstone, that it holds this position in the sepulchres of the great Oasis, I can attest that such is the case, and that numerous inscriptions, headed by the Tau, are preserved to the present day on early Christian monuments.'
Considering war as the grand development of demonism in man, and overruled by Almighty God for the accomplishment of certain objects of his providence in society, we perceive in the military history of mankind four races or peoples, who, under celebrated standards, as the symbols and signs of their respective civilisation, have overrun and conquered a great part of the world in ancient and modern times. Those military ensigns are the EAGLE, the LABARUM, the CRESCENT, and the Cross, carried by the Persians, the Romans, the Saracens, and the modern European nations. We do not in this catalogue include the Macedonian wars under Alexander. The military expedition of that conqueror, from the Bosphorus to the Indus, the Euphrates, and the Nile, was successful in every respect; and by the division, after his death, of the vast countries within those rivers, among his generals, it terminated in the establishment of four great empires, which ruled Greece, Asia, and Africa,
* Wilkinson's “ Manners and Customs," vol. ii. pp. 283, 284, Second Series.
until the Romans, at the advent of Christ, had subdued all under their power. There was, however, no unity in Alexander's empire as he left it, and his successors passed their existence in wars with each other.
The standard of the eagle was first used by the great Cyrus. It was a golden eagle held up on the top of a long lance; and, on marching to the battle of Sardis, the orders to the army were, to have their eyes fixed on the ensign; and the watch-words given for that decisive engagement were these remarkable words, “Jove, our Saviour and Leader."* Although this is the first notice, we believe, of the figure of the eagle being used as a military standard, we know that there is in that bird—in its form, in its lofty and daring flight, and in its habits, something that powerfully affects the imagination; and the eagle has been used in the prophetical Scriptures, as an emblem of the great military powers, which from Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Egypt, were to conquer the Jewish nation, and trample under foot its three-coloured banners of blue, purple, and scarlet. The military standard of the eagle thus becomes the symbol of the various peoples of the vast plains watered by the Euphrates, and the Tigris, and the Nile; and those peoples acted prominent parts on the great theatre of the ancient world. Ever since the age of the great Cyrus, between four and five hundred years before the Christian era, the eagle, as a national symbol, or as a standard in war, has been very generally used in various countries of the world down to the present time. The most celebrated of the war standards under that sign was the Roman legionary eagle, and hence “ Aquila,” the name of the bird, was given to that division of the
Xenophon's "Cyropædia," book vii. chap. i.