« AnteriorContinuar »
he acknowledged the patriarchs, and some of the earlier prophets : but not the later ones, nor the whole of the Pentateuch 8. Like Cerinthus, he is said to have believed in a millenniumy; and his moral practice has been stated to have been equally licentious : but if it be true, that he abstained from eating animal food, it might be thought that the accounts of his sensuality are exaggerated or misrepresented”. With respect to the difference of opinion between Cerinthus and Ebion, we are not bound to suppose it to have been great, though they are named as leaders of two distinct sects. They both differed from the rest of the Gnostics in not believ. ing Jesus to be a phantom: and it is certain that the Ebionites were divided among themselves in their notion concerning Jesus. Some of them believed with Cerinthus that he was a mere man, born of human parents : while others, though they do not appear to have believed his preexistence, taught that he was conceived miraculously of the Virgin Mary. It is not unlikely that Ebiop himself maintained this latter doctrine, and this may account for his
y This is stated by Jerom in enjoined celibacy, but that Esaiam lxvi. and we may continence of this kind was perhaps infer it from an ex afterwards prohibited by them: pression in Irenæus, · Quæ (p. 126.) and that they even “ autem sunt prophetica, cu compelled their young men to “ riosius exponere nituntur.” marry at an early age, and alI. 26. 2. p. 105.
lowed divorces with such faci. 1 I know of no author, ex- lity, that a man might marry cept Epiphanius, who speaks seven wives : “ for they do of the profligacy of the Ebion even this without scruple." ites. He says that they com- (p. 142.) And yet in the same bined the bad principles of all page he mentions their abstiheresies, and he specifies “ the nence from animal food, which “ loose morality (kakorporiav) circumstance is also recorded “ of the Carpocratians.” (p. by Damascenus and Timotheus 125.) He adds, that they once Presbyter.
holding so conspicuous a place in the list of heretics. It has been observed, that he ascribed the creation of the world to God, while Cerinthus supposed it to be the work of Angels S3 : but we know too little of Ebion's philosophy to put this distinction in a strong light : and I should rather make the difference between them to have consisted in their notion concerning Jesus. It seems probable that the first Ebionites believed in the miraculous conception, though not in the full sense which was attached to those words by the orthodox Christians. The Cerinthians believed Jesus to be born in the ordinary way: and I should suspect that in course of time many of the Ebionites came over to that opinion, so as to leave little or no difference between them; but some still adhered to the original notion that Jesus was born of a Virgin, though they denied that he was the Son of God 84.
In speaking of the doctrines of these heretics, we must be careful always to observe their distinction between Jesus and Christ. Concerning the person of Jesus they differed, but concerning the descent of Christ upon Jesus at his baptism they were perfectly agreed. They therefore made Jesus and Christ two distinct persons; and they would neither have said that Christ was born, nor that Jesus was the Son of God. Unless we bear this in mind, we shall not see the full force of some of the expressions in St. John's First Epistle. There he says, Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (ii. 22.) And again, Whosoever shall confess that JESUS is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (iv. 15.) I have already observed, that there is much in this Epistle which refers to the Docetæ : but the two passages which I have just quoted may perhaps be considered as directed rather against Cerinthus or Ebion! Whatever St. John might say against the notion of Christ descending upon Jesus at his baptism, would apply to these two heretics as well as to the Docetæ : for in that point they were all agreed : and the words which I have chosen for my text contain, as I imagine, a direct allusion to that doctrine.
The passage in the fifth chapter, concerning the water and the blood, is justly held to be obscure: and I am aware of the mystical allusions which have been traced between the water and blood in this place, and the same substances flowing from our Saviour's side, and the two sacraments of the Christian Church". The Fathers were fond of such allusions as these. But I say
But I say it with deference, that such exercises of the imagination are more suited to the infancy of biblical criticism than to the more profound and rational speculations of the present day. Without examining any of these interpretations, I shall proceed to consider whether we cannot refer the whole passage much more satisfactorily to the Gnostic notion concerning Christ.
a “ In Epistola eos maxime descended upon Jesus at his
antichristos vocat, qui Chris. baptism. See note 84. “ tum negarent in carne ve- b See Waterland, vol. V. “ nisse, et qui non putarent 190. “ Jesum esse Filium Dei. Illud c Tertullian connects i John “ Marcion, hoc Hebion vin- v. 6. with John xix. 34. and “ dicavit.” Tertull. de Præ- adds, venerat per aquam et script. 33. p. 214. I should “ sanguinem, ut aqua tingerequote this as another proof tur, sanguine glorificaretur." that Tertullian considered Ebi- De Baptismo, 16. p. 230. See on as believing Christ to have above, p. 171
The fifth chapter begins with these words, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. It will perhaps be allowed, that to be born of God means to be a Christian, to have that faith which Christ requires when he admits a person into his covenant. St. John therefore here says, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, has the true faith of a Christian ; from which it follows, that whosoever does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, has not the true faith of a Christian. Now this was precisely the point which all the Gnostics, whether Cerinthians or Docetæ, refused to believe. They would not say that Jesus is the Christ, at least they would not say that he was the Christ at his birth, or before his baptism. They held that Jesus was one person, and Christ another.
The two were united for a time, when Christ had descended upon Jesus at his baptism : but they had existed separately before his baptism, and they were again separated before his crucifixion. It was with good reason therefore that St. John made this point the test of a Christian's belief: it was necessary for him to say explicitly that Jesus is the Christd: and St. John is only proposing a similar test, when he says in the fifth verse, Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of
d I cannot imagine what sus came in the flesh. (iv. 3.) Mosheim could mean by as He conceived the first to be serting that “ no Gnostics de- Jews, who denied our Saviour's “ nied Jesus to be the Christ.” divine nature ; and the second (Instit. Maj. p. 314.) He sup- to be Gnostics. But no Gnosposes St. John to have alluded tic, whether a Docetist or no, to two different descriptions of believed Jesus to be the Christ heretics, those who denied Je- before his baptism ; and theresus to be the Christ, (ii. 22.) fore I consider both expresand those who denied that Je. sions to refer to the Gnostics.
1 x puri es te bind explained what e E Ferromene te uurid. This is the vic74. = 19. mut eercometa tu zorld, eren. our Ellebo 1922. veepCome die wurth and to be born
rod I u Tum jr i same thing, for e MCI I SUSSIT for a Christian
aus den t the true Chris29 Denve a sissetu Christ, and that -8. mesto. " 'Eustic would have
IL FIT en Diss at his baptism, :: Oui are con las own meaning
U: tas Is To the Sun of God: but u isese preth and evasive confes
14. LIT e Tersian to say une2012". as 2's 'iters and that Jesus
te te ontsnes, This is he tetet e Boui, men Jesus Christ :
guter und blood : and it we SEAS. necause the Spirit
wene had heard in the Nani w. This time they had
wires II when Jesus rose nin sek. : WATU Essed upon him like
wake wa kari, vinch said. This is
2x as he foundation upon iesa se rede vuit ar batrine concerning CRA has the thee ile Sur which descended
ove vas u de Xues called Christ: that sa me 12e6 ile var uchar a delusive phan003 Here Tutar Rüy: tow that when he came
the water, as is residing in him. St. denies as the res which I have read: The shut came by water and blood,
Classe Jesus only, nor Christ only,