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to have been made by an evil being or an inferior Æon, and Christ was sent to oppose the evil which was caused by the Demiurgus. St. John on the other hand says, All things were made by him, i. e. by the Logos: and without him was not any thing made. The time would fail me, were I to attempt to shew that every clause in this passage was directed against a Gnostic error: but enough perhaps has been said to prove, that though the term itself was borrowed from the Platonists, nothing could be more opposite than the Platonic or Gnostic doctrine concerning the Logos, and that which was declared by St. John%. The apostle may be supposed to have said to his converts, You have all learnt to speak of Jesus Christ as the Word of God: but beware lest that term should lead you to false and impious notions concerning him : remember that Jesus Christ our Logos has a real and substantial existence: he is not merely the mind of God, still less is he like a word, put forth from the mouth, which vanishes away: our Logos existed always with God; he is God, and the only begotten Son of God: it was he who created all things : and in these latter times it was he who came down from heaven, was made flesh and dwelt among us, even Jesus, who is the Christ, the Son of God.
If we take this view of the beginning of St. John's Gospel, we may be inclined to believe the very prevalent tradition, that he directed it against the heresies of Cerinthus and Ebion. It would be more correct perhaps to say, that he wrote it against all the Gnostics and their notions concerning Christ: and the words which I have chosen for my text, have not perhaps been sufficiently considered, when
St. John himself declares, These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his namem. The Cerinthians and Ebionites, as we have seen, did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. St. John here tells us that he wrote to establish this fundamental point. Jesus was not an unsubstantial phantom, nor was he a mere human being, upon whom Christ, one of the Æons, descended at his baptism : but Jesus was the Christ, when he first became flesh and dwelt among us : and Jesus Christ was the Son of God. If we believe this, we may have life through his name: for as the same St. John says at the beginning of his Gospel, As many as received him, to them gave
m Michaelis has said of these as the other Evangelists, to words, “ But the purport ex
“ shew that Jesus was the
pro“ pressed in this passage was “ mised Messiah, and to con“ the general purport of all the “ vince the world of the truth
Evangelists, not that of St. “ of Christianity. But whoever “ John alone.” vol. III.
compares this passage with It is true that all the Evange “ his First Epistle, v. 1–6, will lists wished to prove that we “ find it to be a declaration, are to have life through the " that he wrote in order to name of Christ; and I should “ convince the Gnostics in parhave thought that Michaelis “ ticular.” Lampe maintained had not understood St. John's most paradoxically, that St. peculiar object in asserting that John did not make the asserJesus was the Christ : but at tion, Jesum esse Christum, with P. 282 he expresses himself as the same intent in his Gospel follows: “St. John himself has and in his Epistles. (Proleg. in " really declared, though not Joan. II. 3, 34. p. 192.) but “ in express terms, that he Lampe had decided, that the “ wrote with a view of con- Gospel was not written against “ futing errors maintained by the Gnostics. Irenæus says of " the Gnostics. He says, c. xx.
the words in John xx. 31. that “ 31. These are written, &c. To the apostle wrote them, pro
most readers this will appear videns has blasphemas regu" to be nothing more than a las, quæ dividunt Dominum, " declaration, that he wrote “ &c.” III. 16, 5. p. 206. “ with the same general view
he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (i. 12, 13.)
Heb. x. 23.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without
wavering THE review which I have taken of the heresies of the first century being finished, and the principal passages of the New Testament examined, in which those heresies are noticed, it only remains for me shortly to recapitulate the conclusions which have been drawn, and to offer such remarks as seem to arise from the subject under discussion.
I would begin with observing, what must have been apparent throughout the course of these Lectures, that no heresy has been noticed which was not connected in some points with the Gnostic philosophy. I have already said enough concerning the definition of the term heresy; and have shewn that it was not restricted by the Fathers to the sense which it bears now. According to the modern signification of the term, there was no heretic in the time of the apostles : for the Gnostics, who, whether they believed Jesus to be a phantom or no, all agreed in believing that Christ descended upon Jesus at his baptism, would not now be spoken of as Christians in any sense of the term. The Fathers have expressly stated, that they were not Christians : and yet they called them heretics : which shews very plainly in what sense the term heretic was then used. But if we mean by an heretic, a man who
professes to receive the whole of Christianity; who appeals to the same scriptures as the standard of his faith; but who holds opinions which have been pronounced by the church to be erroneous, in this sense there was no heretic in the time of the apostles; at least there was none to whom allusion is made in the apostolic writings. It may perhaps be contrary to preconceived opinions, that every passage in the New Testament, concerning false doctrines and false teachers, should be referred to the Gnostics. But such is the unanimous and unvarying language of all the Fathers : nor can we be surprised if there were no persons who believed the divine commission of the apostles, and yet presumed to alter the doctrine which the apostles preached. The heresies of the first century were introduced by men who did not acknowledge the apostles: they took as much of Christianity as suited their purpose, and engrafted it upon a philosophy which had already been compounded out of several different systems.
I have endeavoured to point out the sources from which the Gnostic philosophy was derived : and I have observed, that conflicting hypotheses may be reconciled, if we suppose it to have arisen from three different quarters. The basis of this heterogeneous system I conceive to be the philosophy of Plato. Of the two other sources, which have been mentioned, the Oriental doctrine of the two principles did not for a long time spread itself in the west : and the
a I do not mean to refer to doubtedly caused divisions and the Gnostics what is said in dissensions in the Church, but the Epistle to the Galatians, or they were not the heretics in other places, of Judaizing spoken of by the Fathers. Christians. These persons un