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Christians; and for this reason the apostle Paul might think it necessary to urge the obligation of christian slaves to continue in subjection to their masters, 1 Tim. vi. 1-4: “ Let as many slaves as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.--If any man teach otherwise (from which it is evident that some had done so), and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words," &c. This circumstance clearly marks the Gnostics, and therefore makes it highly probable, that the other doctrine, concerning freedom from servitude, was taught by the same persons.
SECTION XI. Of Public Worship among the Gnostics. As the Gnostics were philosophical and speculative people, and affected refinement, they did not made much account of public worship, or of positive institutions of any kind. They are said to have had no order in their churches. - We do not hear much of their having regular bishops among them; and, making themselves by this means much less conspicuous than other Christians, they were not so much exposed to persecution, even though they had not been disposed to make improper compliances in order to avoid it.
A particular account of the disorderly state of church discipline among the Gnostics may be seen in Tertullian. He describes it as “ without dignity, authority, or strictness. It is uncertain," he says, “ who is a catechumen, or who, one of the faithful, as they all attend the worship, hear and pray in common. They are all conceited, and promise to instruct others. They are proficients before they are properly catechumens. How noisy are their women; how they have the assurance to teach, to dispute, exorcise, undertake cures, and perhaps baptize! Their ordinations are hasty, light and inconstant. Sometimes they advance mere novices, sometimes persons engaged in secular business, and sometimes apostates from us. To-day one man is the bishop, to-morrow another. To-day he is a deacon, who to-morrow will be a reader. To-day he is a presbyter, who to-morrow will be a layman; for they impose on the laity the functions of
the clergy. They have no reverence for their clergy. Many of them have no churches," &c.*
In an epistle ascribed to Ignatius, we read that “ some abstained from the eucharist, and from prayer, because they did not acknowledge the eucharist to be the flesh of the body of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father in his goodness raised up. It is proper, therefore,” he says, “ to abstain from such, nor speak of them in private, or publicly, but attend to the prophets, and especially the gospel, in which the suffering (of Christ) is manifest to us, and the resurrection completed, and avoid divisions as the principal beginning of evils.”+ Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of the heresy of Prodicus, who rejected prayer. $ Origen also says, there “ are some who say that men ought not to pray, admitting of no external signs, using neither baptism nor the Lord's supper; perverting the Scriptures, saying that something else than prayer is meant by them.”'S
As many of the Gnostics thought that Christ had no real body, and therefore had not proper flesh or blood, it should seem that, on this account, when they did celebrate the eucharist, they made no use of wine, which represents the blood of Christ, but of water only. Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of some who used water only in the eucharist, and they were evidently Gnostics, or heretics who had quitted
“ Non omittam ipsius etiam conversationis hæreticæ descriptionem quam futilis, quam terreva, quam humana sit, sine gravitate, sine authoritate, sine disciplina, ut fidei suæ congruens. In primis quis catechumenus, quis fidelis, incertum est; pariter adeunt, pariter audiunt, pariter orant.- Omnes tument, omnes scientiam pollicentur. Ante sunt perfecti catechumeoi quam edocti. Ipsæ mulieres hæreticæ quam procaces; quæ audeant docere, contendere, exorcismos agere, curationes repromitiere, forsitan et tingere. Ordinationes eorum temerariæ, leves, inconstantes. Nunc neophytos conlocant, nunc sæculo obstrictos, nunc apostatas nostros. Alius hodie episcopus, cras alius; hodie diaconus qui cras lector; hodie presbyter qui cras laicus; nam et laicis sacerdotalia munera injungunt.Nec suis præsidibus reverentiam noverint. Plerique nec ecclesias habent,” &c. De Præscriptione, Sect. xli. p. 217. (P.)
* Ευχαριςιας και προσευχης απεχονίαι, δια το μη ομολογειν την ευχαριςιαν σαρκα ειναι τα σωμαις ημών Ιησε Χριςο, την υπερ αμαρλιων ημων σαθεσαν, ήν τω χριςοληθ. ο Παλης eyes pey.
Πρεπον εν εςιν απεχεσθαι των τοιείων, και μηδε κατ' ιδίαν περι αυλων λαλείν, μηδε κοινη προσεχειν δε τοις προφηίαις, εξαιρειως δε το ευα/γελιφ, ενώ το παθο ήμιν δεδηλώθαι, και η αναςασις τελελειωιαι· τες δε μερισμος φευγείε, ως αρχην κακων. Smyrn. Sect. vii. p. 37. (P.) Wake, p. 117.
1 Ενlαυθα γενομενος υπεμνεσθην των περι τε μη δειν ευχεσθαι προς τινων ελερoδοξων, τελεσιν των αμφι την Προδικό αίρεσιν παρεισαγομενων δογματα. Strom. vii. p. 793. (Ρ.)
5 Και σερι τα μη δειν ευχεσθαι δεδυνηαι σεισαι τινες ης γνωμης προιςανlαι οι τα αισθηλα σανλη αναιρείες, και μηζε βαπισμαλι, μη/ε ευχαρισια χρωμενοι, συκοφανlevlες τας γραφας ως και το ευχεσθαι τelo e βελομενας, αλλ' ελερον τι σημαινομενον παρα τalo διδασ Xucaç. De Oratione, Sect. xv. (P.)
the church.* With a view to this, Cyprian orders that wine be used in the eucharist, and not water.t Chrysostom says, that “ Christ drank wine after his resurrection, in order to eradicate the pernicious heresy of those who used water instead of wine in the eucharist.”
It is not improbable, however, but that many of the Gnostics might decline the use of wine in the celebration of the eucharist, on account of their abstaining from wine altogether, as a part of their system of bodily austerity. Such, says Beausobre, were the principles of the Encratites, who abstained from wine, flesh meat, and marriage.
We have fewer accounts of what the Gnostics thought or did with respect to baptism, but it seems that some of them at least, disused it. Tertullian speaks of the Cajanan heresy, as excluding baptism. || Valentinus, Jerome says, pleaded for two baptisms. But what he meant by this does not appear. Perhaps he might say that there was a spiritual baptism, as well as a carnal one, and that the former superseded the latter, which is the doctrine of the Quakers.**
The Gnostics did not reject the Scriptures; but, as I have already shewn, they appealed to them, and defended their doctrines from them. But as they did not consider them as written by any proper inspiration, they seem to have thought themselves at liberty to adopt what they approved, and to neglect the rest, without disputing their genuineness. This, indeed, was not peculiar to them, but seems to have been a liberty taken by other primitive Christians, who, living near the times of the great transactions recorded in the gospel
• Αρίων και υδωρ 8κ επ' αλλων τινων, αλλ' η επι των αρίων και υδαλι καλα την προσφοραν, μη καλα τον κανονα της εκκλησιας, χρωμενων αιρεσεων, εμφανως, τατίεσης της γραφης εισι γαρ δι και υδωρ ψιλον ευχαριςασιν. Strom. L. i. p. 317. (Ρ.)
† “ Admonitos autem nos scias, ut in calice offerendo dominica traditio servetur, neque aliud fiat à nobis quam quod pro nobis. Dominus prior fecerit: ut calix qui in commemoratione offertur mixtus vino offeratur. Nam cum dicat Christus, Ego sum ritis vera, sanguis Christi, non aqua est utique, sed vinum. Non potest videri sanguis ejus, quo redempti et vivificati sumus, esse in calice, quando vinum desit calici, quo Christi sanguis ostenditur; qui, scripturarum omnium sacramento ac testimonio, effusus prædicatur." Epist. p. 148. (P.)
1 Και τινος ένεκεν εχ υδωρ επιεν αναςας αλλ' οινον, αλλην αίρεσιν πονεραν προοριζον ανασπων" επειδη και τινες εισι εν τοις μυςηριους υδαίο κεχρημενοι. In Μatt. xxvi. Opera, VII. p. 700. (P.)
Histoire de Manicheisie, II. p. 724. (P.) “Côtoient ceux qu'on a nommez Encratites, c'est-à-dire Abstinens et Continens, parce qu'ils s'abstenoient de vin, de viande et du marriage." L. ix. Ch. vii. Sect. v. See also Vol. III. p. 445, Note.
# “ Atque adeo nuper conversata istic quædam de Caiana hæresi vipera venenatissima doctrina sua plerosque rapuit, in primis baptisnum destruens.” De Baptismo, Sect. i. Opera, p. 224. (P.)
“ Unum baptisma et contra Valentinum facit, qui duo baptismata esse contendit.” In Eph. C. iv. Opera, VI. p. 177. (P.)
** See Barclay's Apol. Prop. xii. Sect. vi.
history, might think themselves as good judges with respect to them as those who undertook to write histories. Thus the Ebionites made no public use of any other gospel than that of Matthew, though they might easily have had the other gospels, and the rest of the books of the New Testament, translated for their use; and it appears from Jerome, who saw that gospel as used by them, that it was not exactly the same with our copies. It is well known, that their copies of Matthew's gospel had not the story of the miraculous conception; and they also added to the history such circumstances as they thought sufficiently authenticated. No less liberty was taken by the Gnostics. Cerinthus, says Philaster, enjoined the observance of the Mosaic law, rejected Paul, and admitted the gospel of Matthew only, agreeing with Carpocrates with respect to the nativity of Christ.*
Making any alteration in the books of Scripture was called corrupting them; and this, no doubt, was done by the Gnostics; but they could not thereby intend to impose their alterations upon the world, as the genuine writings of the apostles ; for that they must have known to be impossible. It is, therefore, rather to be supposed, that they retained only such parts of them as they thought the most useful; and in this they would naturally be biassed by their peculiar principles.
This charge of corrupting the Scriptures does not affect all the Gnostics. “I know of none," says Origen, “wbo corrupt the gospel, except the disciples of Marcion and Valentinus, and those of Lucian.” + “ The Marcionites, " says Chrysostom,“ use only one gospel, which they abridge, and mix as they please.” What were all the particulars of Marcion’s alterations of the gospel, we are not informed, but he began the gospel of Luke with the third chapter, thus, “In the 15th year of Tiberius Cæsar;" and this was owing to his not giving credit to the history of the miraculous conception, contained in the two first chapters.
We could not, however, have concluded, from this omis. sion, that Marcion thought them not to have been written
“ Carpocras-Christum de semine Joseph natum arbitratur. Cerinthus suc. cessit huic errori, docens de generatiope itidem Salvatoris, docet circumcidi et sabbatizari-apostolum Paulam non accipit-Evangelium secundum Matthæum solum accipit," &c. Bib. Pat. V. p. 15. (P.)
+ Μελαχάραξανίας δε το ενα/γελουν αλλες 8κ οιδα η τες απο Μαριωνος, και της απο Βαλενλινε, οιμαι δε και τις απο Λεκανε. Αd. Cels. L. ii. p. 77. (Ρ.)
γαρ παραδεχονlαι τες ευα/γελιςας απανίας, αλλ' ένα μονον, και αν7ον τερικοψανlες και συγχεανίες ως εθελον7ο. Ιη Gal. i. Opera, Χ. p. 971. (Ρ.)
και Ταυλα σανία περικοψας απεπηδησε και αρχην τε ενα γελια ελαξε ταυλην.-Bν το Fly enaidexalo dle T. Bepse Kairaço. Epiphanius, Hørxlii. Opera, I. p. 312. (P.)
by Luke, if he had not expressly maintained this, as we are informed by Tertullian, who, speaking of the two copies of Luke's gospel, his own and Marcion's, says,
“ I say that mine is the true copy, Marcion, that his is so. I affirm that Marcion's copy is adulterated; he, that mine is so."*
He adds, that his own copy was the more ancient, because Marcion himself did for some time receive it. But this he might do till, on examination, he thought he saw sufficient reason to reject it. Cerinthus, Carpocrates and other early Gnostics rejected the history of the miraculous conception, as well as Marcion and the Ebionites.
THE GNOSTICS WERE THE ONLY HERETICS IN
It appears, from the evidence of all antiquity, that the Gnostics were always considered by other Christians as hereties; and though there were some of them in the church of Corinth, and also in that of Ephesus, and other churches at first, they either soon separated themselves from the communion of other Christians, or were expelled from it; so that when the apostle John wrote, they were a distinct body of men, distinguished by peculiar names. It is easy to shew, from ecclesiastical history, not only that the Gnostics were considered as heretics, but that they were the only persons who were considered in that light for two or three centuries after Christ. But before I enter on the proof of this, it may not be amiss to make a few observations relating to heresy, and the ideas of the ancients concerning it.
Of Heresy in general. Heresy properly signifies a division, or separation, and therefore was used to express a part detached from a large body of men. In this case, the larger body, or majority, would, of course, entertain an unfavourable opinion of them;
Ego meam dico verum, Marcion suum. Ego Marcionis affirmo adulteratum, Marcior meum." Adv. Marcionem, L. iv. C. iv. p. 415. “ Quod vero pertinet ad evangelium interim Lucæ adeo antiquius Marcione est ut et ipse illi Marcion aliquando crediderit." Ibid. (P.)