6. This mixture of Pagan and Christian ideas should cause us no surprise. Jesus could not, at once, destroy beliefs that had taken firm root in the human mind. The people of this day lacked the scientific knowledge that alone could enable them to conceive of the infinity of space and the infinity of worlds. The Earth was, for them, the center of the universe. They knew nothing of its form or of its internal structure; for them, the universe was limited to what they saw around them, and their notions, in regard to the future, could not extend beyond the narrow circle of their knowledge. It was, consequently, impossible for Jesus to initiate them into the truth of things; and being unwilling, on the other hand, to give the sanction of his authority to the prejudices of his hearers, he abstained from touching on subjects for which they were unprepared. Leaving to time the work of rectifying their ideas, he confined himself to vague allusions to the future happiness of the good, and to the punishments that await the wicked; but we nowhere find, in his teachings, the distinct pictures of corporeal tortures which the Christians churches have made an article of their creed.
We have seen how it is that the ideas of the Pagan hell have been perpetuated to the present day. The diffusion of knowledge, which is the characteristic of modern times, and the general development of human intelligence, were indispensable to the clearing away of those ideas. But as, up to this time, no sound and rational basis of belief has been substituted in place of those old ideas, the long period of blind belief has been followed by a transitional period of unbelief, to which the new revelation is destined to put an end. It was necessary to demolish the old belief before bringing in the new; for true ideas are more readily accepted by those who have no belief and who feel the need of some sound basis of conviction, than by those who cherish a robust belief in absurdities.