The Most Ancient of Christian Orders
Theosophist, April, 1881
Bent upon searching for the origin of all things, the etymology of names included, and giving every religious and philosophical system, without prejudice, stint, or partiality its due, we are happy to inform the world of a new discovery just made in that direction by a young Christian subscriber of ours. Evidently a biblical scholar of no meagre merit—an ex-pupil of St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, his gratitude to the “good Jesuit Fathers” led him, as it appears, to devote his time and labour to discover means, the most conducive to the greater glorification of his late professors. He collects “as many historical and unimpeachable facts” as he can possibly find; facts destined to form, as he says “at some distant future (when money is less scarce in India, and the rupee more appreciated in Europe?) the requisite materials for a new and more ample biographical and genealogical sketch of that most remarkable body of clever men than has been hitherto possessed by their admirers.” Meanwhile, having discovered one “of the utmost importance,” he kindly sends it to us for insertion in our “estimated journal.”
We hasten to comply with his innocent and just desire; the more so, as the subject runs parallel with the line of study we pursue most devotedly, i.e., the glorification and recognition of everything pertaining to, and respected by hoary antiquity, but now rejected, vilified, and persecuted by the ingrate humanity of our own materialistic age. He finds, then, on the authority of the Holy Bible, that the Societas Jesu, that most famous and influential of all the religious orders, was not founded, as now generally but wrongfully supposed, by Ignatius Loyola, but only “revived and restored under the same name” by that saint, and then “confirmed by Pope Paul III, in 1540.” This promising young etymologist, vindicating the antiquity of the order, hence its right to our respect and to universal authority, shows it looming up through the mists of what he calls the “first historical census,” made at the command of the Lord God himself, in consequence of “Israel’s whoredom and idolatry.” We beg our readers’ pardon, but we are quoting from the letter which quotes in its turn from the Holy Scriptures (Numbers, xxv). Our pious young friend must not take offence if, out of regard for the reader we sift the simple facts from his long communication.
It appears then, that the Lord God having said to Moses, “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the Sun (?), that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel,” then Phinehas (the grandson of Aaron, the priest) taking a javelin, thrust it, agreeably to the Lord’s desire, through “the man of Israel” and the Midianitish woman “through her belly”; and the plague which had carried away 24,000 people was immediately “stayed from the children of Israel.” This direct interference of the hand of Providence had the happiest results, and we commend the javelin plan of sanitation to the Board of Health. By this meritorious act of thrusting the weapon through the woman’s body (whose guilt, we understand, was in being born a Midianite), having made “an atonement for the children of Israel,” Phinehas, besides “the covenant of peace” received on the spot “even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God.” And this led to further historical and politico-economical developments.
The Lord God commanding Moses “to vex the Midianites, and smite them,” as they were so disagreeable as to “vex” the chosen people, “with their wiles . . . in the matter of Cosbi,” the slain woman and—“daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister”—forthwith ordains a census.
Now there is nothing very extraordinary in a census except that it is more or less a nuisance to the enumerated. We have just safely passed through one at Bombay, ordered by a less divine, yet equally imperative authority. Nor would it be safe to prophesy that it will not furnish as startling developments as its Hebraic prototype. The discovery which our correspondent has lighted upon will doubtless afford to Dr. Farr, who, we believe, is the Registrar-General of Great Britain and Ireland, a fresh proof of the importance of statistical science, since it enables us at once to afford needed help to our archæologists, and prove the vast antiquity of the Jesuit maxim that “the end justifies the means.” But what is for real importance in the Mosaic census is the undoubted service it has enabled our young scholar to render to the Roman Catholic world, and the old French marchionesses of the Faubourg St. Germain, in Paris—those pious aristocrats, who have so recently been submitted to the inconvenience of a lock-up at the station for having propria manu knocked down and furnished with a black eye or two the policemen who were expropriating the reticent sons of Loyola from their fortified domiciles.
To furnish the Jesuit religious world with such a proof of ancient descent is to give them the strongest weapons against the infidels, and deserve all the blessings of the Holy See. And that our friend has done—this no skeptic will dare deny in the face of the following evidence:—
When Moses and Eleazar, the son of Aaron, proceeded to number the children of Israel, all that were “able to go to war,” they took “the sum of the people,” including all the descendants of those “which went forth out of the land of Egypt.” After enumerating 502,930 men, we find them (Numbers, xxvi) counting up the sons of “Asher” (verse 44); “of the children of Asher after their families: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites . . . of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites”!! These numbered 53,400 men, and are included in the “six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty” (verse 51) that “were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho” (verse 63).
The inference from the above is simply crushing——to the Protestants, the good Jesuit Fathers’ natural-born enemies. Not only do we see that the holy order of the Jesuits had the honour of originating on the authority of the Revealed Book, near and coming from Jericho, while the fatherland of the reformed faith can boast but of a Baron Munchausen, but the text gives a fatal blow to the work of Protestant proselytism likewise. No lover of antiquity, or respecter of ancient and noble lineage will care to link his fate with a denomination which has only the quasi-modern Luther or Calvin for its founder, when he can espouse the cause of the sole surviving descendants of one of the “lost tribes,” which “went forth out of the land of Egypt.” Nor can they recover this irreparably lost ground unless—we hardly dare suggest it—they make friends and ally themselves with some of the theosophical archæologists. For, then, indeed, in our well-known impartiality to, not to say utter indifference for, both Catholics and Protestants, we might give them the friendly hint to claim kinship for their revered Bishop Heber with the family of the “Heberites,” the descendants of “Heber, the son of Beriah” (verse 45), whose reckoning follows just after that of Jesui and the “Jesuites”; and in case the noble bishop of Transvaal should refuse to have his ancestors summed up in such motley company, our friends, the Protestant Padris, can always claim that the dissector of the Pentateuch has pulled to pieces this chapter in the Numbers along with the rest, which—we verily believe he has.