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they can be imagined to correspond beside that of the æons. It is, no doubt, the same thing to which the apostles alludes, 2 Tim. ii. 23 : “ But foolish and unlearned questions avoid; knowing that they do gender strifes.” Tit. iii. 9, 10: “ But avoid foolish questions and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition, reject.” The Gnostics, as will be shewn hereafter, were the only heretics of that age; and therefore the genealogies here mentioned must have been some part of their system.
It is probable, that the apostle Paul might allude to the great respect paid to these invisible æons, by what he says, Col. ii. 18, of the “ worshipping of angels,” and “intruding into those things which a man hath not seen, vainly puffed up in his fleshly mind,” as the last circumstance evidently marks the Gnostics. And as they pretended to great spirituality and dislike of the flesh, the apostle might intend a farther rebuke to them by insinuating that their minds were fleshly.
Lastly, it is possible that the apostle Peter might allude to these idle Gnostic fables, when he said, 2 Pet. i. 16, “ We have not followed cunningly-devised fables,” &c.
SECTION III. The Doctrine of the Gnostics concerning the Soul. THERE was something peculiar in the doctrine of the Gnostics, with respect to the soul. As it was a fundamental principle with all the ancients, that there could be no proper creation, and consequently that souls, not being material, nor yet created out of nothing, were either parts detached from the soul of the universe, or emanations from the divine mind, this doctrine was held by the Gnostics. And as some men are vicious and others virtuous, it was supposed that their souls had two different origins, and were therefore good or bad by nature, the good having sprung from the divine mind, mediately, or immediately, and the bad having had some other origin, the sanie from which every thing evil was supposed to have sprung. They likewise held that the future fates of men depended upon their original nature. Saturninus, Theodoret says, held that “there were two kinds of souls, the one good, and the other bad ; and that they had this difference from nature, and that as the evil demon assisted the
bad, so the Saviour came to assist the good.”* Origen says, that the disciples of Basilides and Valentinus, held that " there is a kind of souls that are always saved, and never perish, and others that always perish, and are never saved.”+ He also says, that " Marcion introduced different kinds of souls."I This doctrine of the original difference of souls, is likewise well known to have been part of the Manichean system ; and therefore a considerable topic of argument with Austin, and others who wrote against the Manicheans, is, to prove that men are not wicked by nature, but from the abuse of free-will. On this subject Austin, who wrote against the Manicheans in the early part of his life, advanced many excellent things in favour of free-will, and the natural power of man to do good and evil, which he contradicted when he afterwards wrote against the Pelagians. We find this doctrine of fate ascribed to Simon in the Recognitions.
As the Gnostics were always ready to allege the Scriptures in support of their doctrines, they pretended to have an authority in thein even for this part of their system ; for Cyril of Jerusalem says, that “ some inferred from John, (1 Ep. iii. 10,) · By this we know the children of God, and the children of the devil,' that some men were to be saved, and others to be damned by nature. But this holy sonship," he says, “ we arrive at, not from necessity, but choice. Neither,” adds he,“ was Judas, the traitor, the son of the devil, or destruction, by nature.”ll
As these Gnostics held that the souls of all good men were derived from the divine mind, they could have no difficulty in admitting that Christ, whom they supposed to be one of the greater æons, was of the same substance with the Father. Accordingly, Beausobre observes, that, on this principle, they escaped all censure at the Council of Nice. They even used the famous term (ģuo86 109) consubstuntial, with respect to the human soul; in opposition to which principle Theodoret says, “ The soul is not consubstantial with God, as the wicked Marcionites hold, but was created out of
Δυω των ανθρωπων ειναι λεγει διαφορας, και τες μεν ειναι αγαθές, τες δε πονηρες, και ταυτην εν φυσει την διαφοραν ειληφεναι· των δε πονηρων δαιμονων τους πονηροις συμπρατ: 7ονίων, ηλθε, φησιν, ο Σωτηρ επαμυναι τοις αγαθοις. Ηer. Fab. L. i. c. iii. IV.
(P.) † “ Nescio quomodo qui de schola Valentina et Basilidis veniunt, hæc ita à Paulo dicta non audientes, putent esse naturam animarum quæ seviper salva sit, et uun. quam pereat, et aliam quæ semper pereat et nunquam salvetur." In Rom. Opera, II. p. 596. (P.)
" Marcion tamen, et omnes qui diversis figmentis varias introducunt animarum paturas." Ibid. p. 479. (P.)
“ Et Simon nescio inquit si vel hoc ipsum sciam. Unusquisque enim sicut ei • fato decernitur vel sapit aliquid, vel intelligit, vel patitur." L. iii. C. xxii. p. 523. (P.)
| Ου γαρ ανεξoμεθα των κακως εισλαμβανονίων το ειρημενον εκεινο το εκ τ872 γινωσκομεν τα τεκνα το Θεό, και τα τεκνα το διαβολο, ως ονλων φυσει τινων, και σωζομενων και απολλυμενων εν ανθρωπους 87ε γαρ επαναγκες, αλλ' εκ προαιρεσεως εις την τοιαυλην αγιαν υιοθεσιαν ερχομεθα ελε εκ φύσεως και προδολης, Ιεδας, υιος ην διαβολο και απωλειας. Cat, vii. p. 108. (P.)
This doctrine concerning the soul seems to have been peculiar to the Gentile Gnostics. The Jewish Gnostics do not appear ever to have departed from their proper principles, so far as to suppose that any souls had a proper divine origin ; but either thought that they were created out of nothing, or, if they were so far philosophers as to deny this, they would probably say, with some others, that they were only the breath of God, and not any proper part of his substance. Accordingly, we do not find any allusion to this doctrine, of two kinds of souls, in the apostolical writings.
SECTION IV. The Doctrine of the Gnostics concerning the Maker of the
World, and the Author of the Jewish Dispensation. ANOTHER article which was probably peculiar to the Gentile Gnostics, and which makes the greatest figure in their history, is, that the Supreme Being, the Father of Jesus Christ, was not the maker of the world, or the author of the Jewish dispensation ; for that these were derived from some inferior and malevolent being. This was the distinguishing tenet of all the celebrated Gnostics who arose about the time of Adrian; and as they derived their principles not from Platonism, but from the oriental philosophy, Clemens Alexandrinus, speaking of them in general, says, “ The heresies, which are according to a barbarous philosophy, though they teach one God, and sing hymns to Christ, do it in pretence only, and not in truth; for they have invented another God, and shew another Christ, than him who is announced by the prophets.”+ Again, he says, “ Some pretend that the Lord,” meaning the God of the Old Testament, “ could not be a good being, on account of the rod, the threatening, and the fear,'
yao καλα τον δυσσεβεος Μαρκιωνος λογον ομοεσιος εςιν η ψυχη το πεποιηκολος Θεε, , whX' Ekum olwy exlu09m. Hær. Fab. L. v. C. v. Opera, IV. p. 264. (P.)
+ Διοπερ, αι καλα την βαρβαρον φιλοσοφιαν αιρεσεις, καν Θεον λεγωσιν ένα, καν Χριςον ύμνωσι, καλα περιληψιν λεγεσιν, και προς αληθειαν αλλον τε γαρ θεον παρευρισκεσι, και τον χριςον εχ ως οι προφηται παραδιδοασιν εκδεχονται. Strom. L. vi. p. 675
Porphyry in his life of Plotinus, speaking of the Christians, and ihe heretics, says, that the latter were of the old philosophy. Γεγονασι δε κατ' αυλον των Χριςιανων πολλοι μεν και αλλοι αιοελικοι δε εκ της παλαιας φιλοσοφιας ανηγμενοι. (Ρ.)
;"* meaning his justice and severity. And Tertullian says, they deny that God, meaning the Supreme Being, is to be feared. +
According to the Gnostics, the god of the Jews was so far from being a good being, or in any respect subservient to the designs of the Supreme Being, that he was at open variance with him ; so that the true God was obliged to take measures in order to counteract his designs. Saturninus says, that “ the Father of Christ, willing to destroy the god of the other angels, and of the Jews, sent Christ into the world, for the salvation of those who were to believe on him." Basilides said, that “ the god of the Jews, willing to reduce all nations to his power, and opposing other principalities, the Supreme Being seeing this, sent his first-born nous, whom he called Christ, to save those who believed on him." Valentinus said, that " the true God was not known till our Saviour announced him ;"|| and Eusebius inforins us, that “ Cerdon, of the school of Simon, coming to Rome in the time of Hyginus, the ninth bishop from the time of the apostles, taught that the God who was preached in the law and the prophets was not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for that the one was known, the other unknown; the one was just, the other good. He was succeeded by Marcion of Pontus, who increased the school, blaspheming without blushing.” Of Marcion, Justin Martyr says, that“ he was living in his time, teaching his followers that there is a god greater than he that made the world, who is every where, by the instigation of the demon, teaching many blasphemies."** It was on account of the Gnostics reviling the maker of the world, whom the other Christians justly considered as the true God, that they are so generally charged with blasphemy; so that in those early ages, a heretic, a blasphemer, and a Gnostic, were synonymous terms.
Contradictory as these principles manifestly are to those of the Scriptures, the Gnostics were not sensible of it, and even did not scruple to argue from thein. Marcion argued from its being said, that no man knows the Father but the Son,' that Christ preached a God who had not been known either to the Jews by revelation, or to the Gentiles by nature.”*
ΕΝΤΑΥΘΑ επιφυονlαι τινες, θκ αγαθον ειναι φαμενοι τον Κυριον δια την ραβδον, και Thy amesany, kai to pobor. Ped. L. i. C. viii. p. 113. (P.) + “Negant Deum timendum.” De Præscrip. Sect. xliii. p. 218. (P.)
! Τον Παλερα φησι τα Χριςο, καλαλυσαι βελομενον μεία των αλλων αγγελων και τον των Ιεδαιων θεον, αποςειλαι τον Χριςον εις τον κοσμον επι σωληρια των εις αυλον πιςευονίων avt pwtwr. Theodoret, Hær. Fab. L. i. C. ii. IV. p. 194. (P.)
$ Βουληθεν δε τελω τους οικείους απανία υπολαξαι τα έθνη, τις αλλες αρχονίας ανιπραξασθαι, τον δε αγεννηθον ταυλα θεωμενον τον πρωτογονον αυλα ναν αποςειλαι, αν και Χριςον προσηγορευσεν, ωςε σωσαι τις πιςευσαι προαιρεμενες. Ιbid. L. i. C. iv. IV. p. 195. (P.)
Η Αγνος ω» ην τους πασι πριν της το Χριςο παρεσιας. Ireneus, L. 1. C. xvi. p. 85. (Ρ.) T See supra, p. 77, Note.
** See Ibid. Note t.
He also alleged in support of his doctrine concerning the author of the Jewish dispensation, Paul's saying, (Gal. iii. 13,) “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.”'t According to Austin, the Manicheans said, that " the Old and New Testament contradicted each other, by the former ascribing the creation to God the Father, and the latter to Christ.”+
To these arguments the Catholic Christians found no difficulty in making very satisfactory replies, especially from our Saviour's acknowledging the God of the Jews to be his Father, as in John vii. 54: “ Jesus answered, if I honour myself, my honour is nothing. It is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say that he is your
God.” Even the Platonic philosophers were much offended at this part of the Gnostic system, because, in order to prove that the world was not made by the supreme and essentially good Being, they represented it as abounding with all evil, and took pleasure in vilifying it. Plotinus wrote a tract against the Gnostics, in which he speaks of the world as exhibiting marks of goodness. He says, “it is not to be admitted that this world is a bad one, because there are many disagreeable things in it.” S Though, according to the prin. ciples of Platonism, the world was made of matter, and inen and animals were not made by the Supreme Being himself, they were, however, made by his direction, and with a great mixture of good in them ; whereas the Gnostics held, that the world was not only made of bad and intractable materials, but
* Sed, nemo scit qui sit Pater, nisi Filius; et qui sit Filius, nisi Pater, et cuiconque Filius revelaverit. Atque ita Christus ignotum Deum prædicavit. Hinc enim et alii hæretici fulciuntur, opponentes creatorem omnibus notum; et Israeli, secundum familiaritatem; et nationibus, secundam naturam." Tertullian Adv. Marcionitas, L. iv. Sect. xxv. p. 441. (P.)
+ “ Christus nos redemit de maledicto legis. Subrepit in hoc loco Marcion de potestate creatoris, quem sanguinarium, crudelem infamat, et vindicem, asserens mos redemptos esse per Christum, qui alterius boni Dei filius sit.” Jerom. In Gal. C. ii. VI. p. 184. (P.)
“ Hoc capitulum legis adversum esse evangelio stultissimi Manichæi arbitrantur ; dicentes in Genesi scriptum esse, quod Deus per seipsum fecerit cælum et terram, in evangelio autem scriptum esse per dominum nostrum Jesum Christum fabricatum esse mundom; ubi dictum est, et mundus per ipsum factus est.” Contra Adimantum, VI. p. 174. (P.)
και Ου δε το κακως γεγονεναι τον δε τον κοσμον δοθεον, το πολλα ωναι εν αυτω δυοχερη. En. ii. Lix. C. iv. p. 202. (P.)