« הקודםהמשך »
who wrote successfully against their extravagant tenets; from other writers who lived after this rage had passed over, from Theodoret, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Epiphanius. The English reader may obtain a general notion of them from Mosheim's History of the Second Century, chap. v. *
From the account now deduced, first, of the Scriptural import of the figurative language of this Trumpet, and, secondly, of the character of the Gnostics, and their period, as extracted from cotemporary wri'ters, it may already appear, that in this first general and extensive apostacy, the prophetic representation of this Trumpet was fulfilled. But it may be satisfactory to descend to particulars. In ver. 1, the
, “ star “ fallen from heaven,” called afterwards the “ • king” or leader of the locusts, " the angel of the bottom“ less pit,” “the destroyer,” has been already shewn to be Satan, or some distinguished minister of that fallen angel. Now, the ancient writers of the Church, and her historian Eusebius, ascribe the introduction of the Gnostic heresy to the agency of the Devil (ồ uironados Adiw), who, having, as he says, attempted in vain to overthrow the Church by external persecutions, attacked it internally by his agents, by professed Christians, leading some of the faithful Eis Budov å Todels, to the deep of destruction ; in wbich expressions, we have a remarkable coincidence both with the origin of this woe, “the pit of the bottomless deep,” and with the name of the Leader, Apollyon t. He repre
* Clem. Alex, Strom. lib. iii. 2, 3, 4. Epiph. Hær. 23, 24, 27. 31, 32. iii. 6. Fragm. Agrip. Castor. in Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iv. c. 7.
+ In another passage of the same historian, the Gnostical philosophy is called TOY A Trespor Erdor ; and Irenæus speaking of the Carpo3
sents this attack also as a warlike invasion, calling the leader woleuwiał0s, which agrees with the description before us, and with the alarm by the trumpet *. Justin Martyr is also represented by the same author, as ascribing this invasion to diabolical operation t. In ver. 2, what can express so forcibly the dark, and perplexed, and uncomfortable philosophy of the oriental schools, which, mixing with Christianity, so obscured and debased it, as these dark fumes, arising from the infernal deep, and obscuring the Sun ? In describing the invasion of the Gnostic heresy, the historian makes use of nearly the same figures; comparing the Churches of Christ to the most resplendent luminaries before that attack ġ; by which he intimates that their splendour was darkened.
In verses 3 and 4, a swarm of locusts arises with the smoke. Now, the resemblance of the Gnostic teachers to such a swarm, in respect both of their numbers, and of the mischief occasioned by them, is 50 striking, that historians, who did not entertain the most distant thought of applying to them this prophecy, and merely related what they found recorded in the annals of those times, have described them in the very same terms by which the scorpion-locusts are described in this vision. Such is the relation of the learned Jacob Brucker, who, in his critical His. tory of Philosophy, after speaking of a sect of oriental philosophers in the first century, adds ; “ when many from that sect had betaken themselves
cratians, an eminent sect of the “Gnostics, says, à Sataná præmissi sunt.- Again ; Amarum et malignum principis apostasiæ serpentie venenum porrigentis eis : (lib. i. 30.)
I useb. Eccl. Hist. lib. iv. c.7. 11. + Lib. iii. c. 26.
Eccl. Hist. lib. iv. 7.
“ to the Christian Religion, and had preposterously
attempted to unite their precepts to it, hence there “ arose those swarms of heresies, which, priding " themselves in the name of Gnostics, like winged “ insects, went flying through all the churches of Asia " and Africa, and contaminated the simplicity of the
most holy Religion with the most absurd nonsense : " and, continuing their progress to the Jews also, " and even to the Gentiles, miserably corrupted the " national Philosophy of both of these; invented "wild and monstrous notions, confirmed and increased
a wide-reigning fanaticism, disseminated multitudes “ of spurious books, and corrupted the whole world “ with the very worst doctrines *
*.” This learned author lamenis t, that an accurate knowledge is not now to be obtained of this widespreading mischief; very few fragments reinaining of the writings which concern the Gnostics.
But if no more were known, than what this studious enquirer has presented to us in the above-cited passage, we should want little to convince us, that the marks and characters of them, as delivered in history, correspond most exactly with those of the scorpion-locusts under this Trumpet.
• Exque ea sectâ plures, cùm ad Christianam religionem se contulissent, præceptaque sua cum hâc præposterè conjungere conaty essent, exorta esse illa hæresium examina, quæ Gnosticorum nomine superbientia, muscarum instar, per omnes Asiæ atque Africæ ecclesias pervolitârunt, et nugis ineptissimis simplicitatem sanctissimæ Religionis contaminârunt. Ad Judæos quoque et ipsos Gentiles progressa, domesticam utrorumque Philosophiam miserè corruperunt, sententiarum monstra excogitarunt, fanaticismum latè regnantem confirmârunt et auxerunt, librorum spuriorum segetes disseminárunt, pessimisque doctrinis totum commacularunt orbem. (Brucker. Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. ii. p. 639.) + P. 639.
In verses 3, 5, and 10, the locusts are described as having the tails, the stings, the power of scorpions. We have already seen that scorpions, in Scriptural language, are represented as a part of the power of the infernal enemy, being nearly related in character and description to the race of serpents. Now Eusebius, giving an account of the rise and progress of the Gnostic heresy, ascribes it to some serpent-like power* : and again he compares the concealed mischief of that sect to that of a lurking reptile f. And Tertullian, in his treatise intitled Scorpiace, (that is, antidote against the scorpions,) directly compares the Valentinians, and other Gnostic teachers, to scorpions ; and he instances the points of resemblance, in the dangerous poison of a little and contemptible animal; in their infinite kinds and varieties, all armed in the same manner with a tail, and produced by heat. And then speaking of the hot persecution which had raged against the Christians ; — Tunc (says 'he) Gnostici erumpunt, tunc Valentiniani proserpunt, tunc omnes martyriorum refragatores ebulliunt, calentes et ipsi, offendere, figere, occidere | These quotations will tend to shew, that those Christian writers, who lived in, or nearest to, the times of the Gnostic heresy, conceived of it in such a manner as to represent it under the very same images as the army of the scorpion-locusts is described in this vision. The comparison need not be pursued farther. If the reader, while he peruses the remaining verses in which this prophecy is contained, will turn back to the comparison already exhibited in page 198, keeping in mind what he has learned of the Gnostic history, he will probably admit, that the Gnostics, springing up suddenly, in immense numbers, from the dark and proud philosophy of the East, and possessing themselves of many of the Christian Churches, darkening their primitive lustre, and poisoning their principles and morals, yet, not succeeding against all the members of the congregations, but only against the more corrupt part; and not destroying utterly in these the principles of their faith, but leaving room for their Tepentance and return into the bosom of the Church; and continuing to flourish about the space of 150 years, have wonderfully fulfilled this prophecy.
* Oduwèns tos durauis: Ecc). Hist. lib. iv. 7. + Ερπέλα δικην φωλευωνλος: lib. iv. c. 7.
1 Tertullian. Scorp. sub iuitio.-" Then (says he) the Gnostics “ burst forth, then the Valentinians creep out, then all the gainsayers “ of the martyrdoms boil up, themselves all in a beat, to burt, to “ sting, to kill." And again he says, (speaking of the swarm of the Gnostic Marcion,) faciunt favos et vespæ, faciunt ecclesias et Marcionitæ. (Adv. Marcion. lib. iv.) Tertullian composed his works against the Gnostics, about the year 207, when they were highly flourishing. Fleury, Eccl. Hist. book v.
Upon referring to the commentators I find, that this prophecy is generally supposed (in this country at least) to have received its completion in the rise and invasion of Mahomet and his Saracens. I will offer a few observations, to shew, why it cannot justly be so applied.
1. The star fallen cannot, as they pretend, be Mahomet; by no interpretation, literal or figurative, can this crafty enthusiast, bred in idolatry and worldly traffic, be said to have fallen from heaven. Mede, who has applied this prophecy to the Mahometans, was well aware that the star could not represent this