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11 He came unto his own, and his own received him Written at
appearance of Christ, and dwelt in a remote heaven called
Bearing these dogmas in mind, we shall find that St. John's
Part I. contains doctrines laid down in opposition to those of
Part II. delivers the proofs of those doctrines in an historieal
Part III. is a conclusion, or appendix, giving an account of the person of the writer, and of his design in writing his Gospel, (xx, 30, 31. xxi.)
Besides refuting the errors of Cerintbus and his followers, Michaelis is of opinion that St. John also had in view to confute the erroneous tenets of the Sabeans, a sect wbich acknowledged John the Baptist for its founder. He has adduced a variety of terms and phrases, which he has applied to the explanation of the first fourteeu verses of St. John's Gospel, in such a manner as renders bis conjecture not improbable. Perhaps we shall not greatly err if we conclude with Rosenmüller, that St. John had both these classes of heretics in view, and that be wrote to confute their respective tenets( t).
The Docetæ (u) taught that Christ was a man in appearance only, and not in reality. In opposition to these, St. Joon says, in his Epistles, which were published before his Gospel, “Every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God;" and, in his Gospel, “the Word was made flesh.” From this sect originated the Ebionites, whom Bishop Horsley bas proved to bave a great affinity to the Simonians: observing, with equal force and truth, “that as the ancient Ebionæan doctrine passes by a single step, the dismission
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he Written at
Ephesus. of the superangelic Being, into the modern Unitarianism, that too is traced to its source in the chimæras of the Samaritan sorcerer. And thus both the Ebionites of antiquity, and the Unitarians of our own time, are the offspring of the ancient Goosticism” (x).
The general prevalence of these erroneous notions concerning the Logos, and the frequent mistakes of the primitive converts, who united their own philosophical opinions with the inferences deducible from Revelation, produced an ample stock of other heresies; many of which did not obtain celebrity, till the Church became so extended, that the greater number of any particular sect attracted public attention: and frequently the heresiarchs, or leaders themselves, were not generally distinguished, till their opinions had been widely disseminated. Thus we often find the several errors they adopted bad been long in existence before even the names of their principal supporters were known. Those, for instance, embraced by Cerinthus, Saturninus, the Docetæ, Basilides, and many others, may be traced to the perversions of Jewish tradition, the reveries of Platonism, and the fancies of the half converted and speculative(y).
The Gnostics (Z), among many errors on the origin and continuance of evil, anticipated with eagerness the arrival of an eminent personage, who should deliver the souls of men from the bondage of the flesh; and rescue them from the evil Genii who goverued the world. Some of these, being struck with the miracles of Christ, conceived Him to be the Being they expected. Many of his doctrines, therefore, they willingly embraced; while they refused to believe in the reality of his apparently material body. To these, or to such as these, that passage might have been addressed, " the Word was made flesh.” He, who descended from an invisible state to deliver man from evil, was made flesh. Whether the Evangelist alluded to the Gnostics or Docetæ, we cannot positively decide.
Saturninus (aa) was another philosophizing heretic, who believed in the existence of an independent, eternal, evil principle. He supposed the world to have been created by seven angels, which were the same as the people of the East believed to reside in the seven planets. One of these angels he supposed to be the ruler of the Hebrew nation, the Being that brought them up out of the land of Egypt, &c. and whom the Jews, not having knowledge of the Supreme Being, ignorantly worshipped as God. His other reveries may be found in Mosheim.
Upon bis conversion to Christianity, if his foolish attempt to engraft bis absurd, and, falsely called, philosophical opinions on Christianity, may be so denominated, he endeavoured to reconcile his former efforts to account for that baffling mystery, the origin and continuance of evil, with his new creed. In consequence, he supposed a rebellion of these seven angels and their dependents, against the Supreme Being, and on their involving mankind in their revolt, the Son of God descended from above, and took upon him a body, not indeed composed of depraved matter, but merely the shadow or resemblance of a body. He came to overthrow all evil, its authors, and agents, and to restore man, in whom existed a divine soul, to the Supreme Being. His notions on this point, therefore, might likewise have been alluded to by St. John in the Preface to his Gospel: He who came from God, the true Logos, was made flesh, and they beheld his glory.
power to become the sons of God, even to them that be- Written at lieve on his name:
Carpocrates, an Alexandrian, was also a cotemporary of St. John." Baronius speaks of his followers as distinguished for their opinions in the year 120-Basnage 122—Tillemont 130Dodwell 140. He taught that the world was made by angels, much inferior to the eternal Father ; that Jesus was the real son of Joseph and Mary; and he consequently denied his divinity, though he considered Christ as superhuman. In opposition to Carpocrates, St. John taught that the world was created not by angels, but by the Logos, who was revealed to man, as the Christ, the divine personage promised by the prophets, and expected by the world.
i omit much more that might be made applicable to this argument; concerning the Elcesaites, Valentinians, and other heretics, enumerated by Irenæus, and Epiphanius, and dis. cussed by Mosheim and Lardner, as well as the arguments of Michaelis respecting the Sabians, as too long to extract, and too condensed to be further abridged.-Marsh's Michaelis, vol ii. part 2. p. 288, &c.
Neither is it necessary to enter here upon the question so warmly discussed by Bishop Horsley and Dr. Priestley, concerning the ancient Ebionites.
The sentiments of Basilides, of Alexandria (bb), who lived about this time, may, in the same way, be traced to the per. version of the doctrine of the Logos. This writer was the cotemporary of St. John. He is supposed to have forsaken the communion of the Church about the time of Trajan, or Adrian. Basnage speaks of him at the year 121. Mill, that he flourished 123— Čave 112. Clement, of Alexandria, tells us, that Basi. lides was accustomed to boast, that he had been taught by a disciple of St. Peter,
Irenæus observes, that Basilides, in order to appear to have a more sublime and probable scheme than others, outstepped them all; and taught, that from the self-existent Father was born Nous, or Understanding; of Nous Logos; of Logos Phronesis ; of Phronesis, Sopbia and Dunamis; of Dunamis and Sophia, powers, principalities, and angels, that is, the superior angels, by whom the first heavens were made;' from these proceeded other angels, which made all things. The first of these angels he represents as the God of the Jews, who desiring to bring other nations under the dominion of his people, was so effectually opposed, that the Jewish nation was in danger of being totally ruined, when the self-existent and ineffable Father sent þis first begotten Nous, who is also said to be Christ, for the salvation of those who believed in him. He appeared in the world as a man--taught-worked miracles -but did not suffer for Simon of Cyrene was-transformed into his likeness, and was crucified: after which Christ ascended into heaven. Basilides taught also, that men ought not to confess him who was in reality crucified, but him who came in the form of man, and was supposed to be crucified. Any reader of St. John's Gospel, who acknowledges the authority of that Evangelist, must be convinced of tho errors of Basilides, as this inspired writer plainly declares, that the Logos itself was made flesh, had become a teacher of the Jews, bad dwelt among them, and as a man among men was crucified.
Basilides taught, says Vitringa (cc), according to the testimony of Irenæus, (Adv. Heres. c. 23.) and Epiphanius (Hær. 24. s. 1.) that Nous was first born from the self-existent Father
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of Written at the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
-then succeeded the Logos-from the Logos Phronesis-from
Vitringa gives the following scheme of the opinions or theory
Και οι εξής.
sive Προαρχή, Εννοια, et
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among Written at
Vitringa concludes his dissertation (dd) by summing up the precise objects for which each verse of St. John's Introduction might have been more especially written, in allusion to the heresies prevalent at the time of the writing of his Gospel. They will be found, he concludes, to overthrow all the subtilties of each of the Gnostic heresies.
I. Tbere was one true God, witbout cause, or origin, or birth, or procession. In opposition to the doctrine that He sprung from Σίγη and Βύθος. .
II. The Son existed with the Father in the essence of the same real divinity, the second ümosaois of Deity, which, in the language of the Scriptures, is justly called o lóyos. Ratio, Sapientia, vel oraculum Divinitatis.
III. That this Logos was the first offspring of procession' from the Father, primam processionem patris, truly, and porsonally existing; the Logos EVUTÓSatov, the only begotten Son of the Father, who was in the beginning with the Father. In opposition to the opinion of the Gnostics, who placed between the Father and the Logos, Nőç and 'Axvdeia, and called the former, both only begotten, and first begotten.
IV. That the Logos was very God, and partaker of the perfection of the divine nature. In opposition to the sentiments of the Platonists, who represent the Logos as inferior to the most high God, and produced by him at his pleasure.
V. That all things were made by the Logos, and that he is the Anutapyòs of all things. Here St. John condemns the notion which distinguishes between the Demiurgus, the maker of this world, and the Logos ; and which denies also that the world was made by the Logos.
VI. Without the Logos nothing was made that was made : that is, the Patriarchal and Levitical dispensations, which were enacted before the incarnation were appointed by the Logos, the Son and Ambassador of God. This clause was written to confute that error of the Gnostics, which distinguishes between God, or the Angel, the author of the old covenant, who came from God the Father of Christ, and from his son Christ, by whom the new or Christian dispensation was instituted.
VII. The Logos was the Life of Man. Against the subtilty which in the Gnostic system of divine emanations, distin. guished between Zwr), Life, and the Logos, and made it inferior to the other.
VIII. That the Logos was always in the world, and from the very beginning of all things, and from the fall of man had frequently manifested himself in the Church which he had in the world, that he was the true light; that as such he had illumined his own, the members of that Church, although by the greater part of the world, and by the carnal minded Jews, he was not acknowledged. The Evangelist here wrote against those who would assert, that the Son of God before his incarnation had not manifested himself to the world; nor was known to it.
IX. That the Logos, (which had thus manifested itself occasionally as the Angel Jehovah) became flesh: that is, assumed from his mother a buman nature similar to our own, sin only excepted. Refuting those who deny that Christ, the Logos, put on real flesh; or who separate Christ, from Jesus the person of the Man, the Mediator.
X. Lastly, from the fullness, (ampójati, the favourite word among the Gnostics,) of this only and first begotten Son of