OF THE MAHUZZIMS, HONOURED BY THE KING WHO DOTH ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.
IN scripture we are told of some trusting in God and others trusting in idols, and that God is our refuge, our strength, our defense. In this sense God is the rock of his people, and false Gods are called the rock of those that trust in them, Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37. In the same sense the Gods of the King who shall do according to his will are called Mahuzzims, munitions, fortresses, protectors, guardians, or defenders. In his estate, saith Daniel, shall he honour Mahuzzims; even with a God whom his fathers knew not, shall he honour them with gold and silver, and with precious stones, and things of value. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds or temples; — and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land among them for a possession. Now this came to pass by degrees in the following manner.
Gregory Nyssen tells us, that after the persecution of the Emperor Decius, Gregory Bishop of Neocaesarea 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 unskillful 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, Martyrum gloriae consulens, constituit ut quotannis sacrificia eorum nomine celebrarentur; “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 though 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.