— Isaac Newton British physicist and mathematician and founder of modern classical physics 1643 - 1727
Vol. I, Ch. 14: Of the Mahuzzims, honoured by the King who doth according to his will
Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733)
Kontext: Gregory Nyssen tells us, that after the persecution of the Emperor Decius, Gregory Bishop of Neocæsarea in Pontus, instituted among all people, as an addition or corollary of devotion towards God, that festival days and assemblies should be celebrated to them who had contended for the faith, that is, to the Martyrs. And he adds this reason for the institution: When he observed, saith Nyssen, that the simple and unskilful multitude, by reason of corporeal delights, remained in the error of idols; that the principal thing might be corrected among them, namely, that instead of their vain worship they might turn their eyes upon God; he permitted that at the memories of the holy Martyrs they might make merry and delight themselves, and be dissolved into joy. The heathens were delighted with the festivals of their Gods, and unwilling to part with those delights; and therefore Gregory, to facilitate their conversion, instituted annual festivals to the Saints and Martyrs. Hence it came to pass, that for exploding the festivals of the heathens, the principal festivals of the Christians succeeded in their room: as the keeping of Christmas with ivy and feasting, and playing and sports, in the room of the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia; the celebrating of May-day with flowers, in the room of the Floralia; and the keeping of festivals to the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and divers of the Apostles, in the room of the solemnities at the entrance of the Sun into the signs of the Zodiac in the old Julian Calendar. In the same persecution of Decius, Cyprian ordered the passions of the Martyrs in Africa to be registered, in order to celebrate their memories annually with oblations and sacrifices: and Felix Bishop of Rome, a little after, as Platina relates... "consulting the glory of the Martyrs, ordained that sacrifices should be celebrated annually in their name." By the pleasures of these festivals the Christians increased much in number, and decreased as much in virtue, until they were purged and made white by the persecution of Dioclesian. This was the first step made in the Christian religion towards the veneration of the Martyrs: and tho it did not yet amount to an unlawful worship; yet it disposed the Christians towards such a further veneration of the dead, as in a short time ended in the invocation of Saints.