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the doctrines of Christianity, rejecting or corrupting any part of the Sacred Writings which op

posed

main body. When an army has marched through a country, and only some stragling parties belonging to that army remain behind, the army may be truly said to be gone. And a few locusts may remain behind, (than which nothing is more common in natural history,) when the swarm, the great body, has disappeared, and may properly be affirmed to be no more.

But further to shew that the remains of the Gnostics, after the time specified, (about the year 260, or 270,) were very inconsiderable, I shall add a few additional authorities, all taken from writers of those times.

Celsus, the Epicurean Philosopher, who is supposed to have written bis book against the Christian Religion about the times of Antoninus Pius, when the Gnostics had already put forth their grand swarm, mentioned many sects of them under various denominations, which in the year 252, when Origen wrote his famous answer to that book, were so entirely gone, that this learned Father professes an utter ignorance of them. And he blames Celsus for ascribing to the Christians the strange dreams and inventions of these heretics, in particular of the Opbiani, who, he says, in his time, had altogether disappeared, or were very few indeed. (Origen. cont. Cels. lib. vi. p. 293.) Origen is said by Eusebius, to have converted many of the Gnostics. (Eccl. Hist. vi. 18, 20.) This able and active Father flourished in the times when they were rapidly declining, and returning to sober principles. Some of his early works were written against the Gnostics. But from his last production, the work already quoted, written about the year 252, we perceive the Gnostics to be sinking into disrepute, if not entirely sunk. Of the Simonians, he says in one passage, he does not believe thirty are to be found in the world: (Cont. Celsum, lib. i. p. 44.) and in another place, that there are none left. (lib. vi. p. 282.) The Simonians certainly were Gnostics; all of whom were comprehended by some writers under this generic

Cerdo and other distinguished Gnostics are called so by Irenæus; (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. iv. c. 11.) who, together with Tertullian and Eusebius, derives all the Gnostics from Simon. (Iren. lib. 1. 20. 30. 33. i.; Pref. iii. c. 4. ad fin. Tertullian, de Animâ, 325. Euseb, H. E. ii. 13. iv. 7.) OG2

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posed their tenets, many of them added, as might be expected, the most immoral and indecent practices. The particulars of these it is not necessary to adduce ; they may be collected from Irenæus and Tertullian; from Plotinus also, the Platonic Philosopher,

The Platonic Philosopher, Plotinus, flourished in the former part of the third century, and wrote against the Gnostic philosophy; and in the latter part of that century, his disciple Porphyry published his works. In his preface to that book, by way of explaining the matter of it, he

says, at that time there were many Christians, not only of " the common sort, but heretics, deriving their notions from the an" cient philosophy." Why does he say there were at that time, such philosophical Christians (in other terms Gnostics), but because they were not to be found at the later period when he wrote ? And he wrote after the death of Plotinus; which happened in 270.

In the times of Cyprian, who died a martyr in 258, the Gnostics were returning into the body of the Church. Among the numerous heretics, to be rebaptized, are mentioned Valentinians and Marcionites, who were certainly Gnostics. (Cyprian. Epist. 73.)

Eusebius wrote his history in the former part of the next century. He describes Manes, the founder of the Manichæans, as “collecting “ false and impious doctrines from an infinite number of heresies, which “ had been a long time extinct.And there can be no doubt, but that he intended those of the numerous Gnostic tribes. (Euseb. H. E. lib. viii. c. 31.) He mentions, in another passage, the manner in which these sects arose one upon another, and, taking new and various forms, perished, (Eccl. Hist. lib. iv. c. 7.) In these times of Eusebius, and of the Emperor Constantine, the Valentinians and Marcionites are once mentioned, among the subsisting heresies by another Ecclesiastical Historian, (Sozomen. lib. vi. c. 32). But, about 50 years afterwards, when the Emperor Gratian excepted all such pernicious heretics from the general toleration, they are no longer remeinbered. (Socrates, v. c. 2. Sozomen. vii. c. 1.) Thus the grand swarm of Gnostics passed over and was gone, about 150 years after its invasion of the Christian world, leaving a few scattered locusts behind; who, occasioning little trouble and alarm, are seldom mentioned by the ecclesistical writers; and, in another century, are heard of no more.

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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 writers, 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,” lias 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 (ο μισοκαλος Adipw), 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 Bulov åTOREIUS, to the deep of destruction ; in which 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

sents

* Clem. Alex, Strom. lib. iii. 2, 3, 4. Epipb. Hær. 23, 24, 27. 31, 32. iii. 6. Fragm. Agrip. Castor, in Euseb. Ilist. Eccl. lib. iv. e. 7.

+ In another passage of the same historian, the Gnostical philosophy is called toy a nepov Bugoy : and Irenæus speaking of the Carpo3

cratians,

sents this attack also as a warlike invasion, calling the leader wonej wlekłos, 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 ; coms paring the Churches of Christ to the most resplendent luminaries before that attack $; 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 80 striking, that historians, who did not entertain the most distant thought of applying to them this prophecy, and merely related what they found record, ed 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

" and

cratians, an eminent sect of the Gnostics, says, à Sataná præmissi sunt.-Again; Amarum et malignum principis apostasiæ serpentis venenum porrigentis eis : (lib. i. 30.)

· Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. iv. c. 7. 11.
+ Lib, ii. c. 26.

Eccl, Hist, lib. iv. 7.

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“ 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 laments 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.

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Exque eâ sectâ plures, cùm ad Christianain religiouem se contulissent, præceptaque sua cum hâc preposterè conjungere conati 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, sententiaruin monstra excogitarunt, fanaticisinum latè regnantem confirmârunt et auxerunt, librorum spuriorum segetes disseminarunt, pessimisque doctrinis totum commacularunt orbem. (Brucker. Hist, Crit. Philosoph. tom. ii. p. 639.) † P. 639.

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