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Cabbala of the Jews was either confined to that peculiar people, or was equally late in making itself generally known.

But the Platonic philosophy, though divided into different branches, maintained its ground from the time of Plato to the very latest struggles of expiring paganism. The most important era in heathen philosophy, subsequent to the rise of the different schools, was the encouragement given to learning at Alexandria, and in the court of the Ptolemies. Then it was that the eclectic system really began ; though some centuries elapsed before it grew into a distinctive name. It was there that Academicians, Peripatetics, and Stoics discussed, but could not settle, the questions concerning the nature of the Deity, and the origin of matter and of evil. Even the Pythagorean philosophy was once more heard in those endless disputations : and the conquests of Alexander in the East had made the Greeks more acquainted than before with the ancient theology of the Magi. It was the founding of Alexandria which first threw open the Jewish scriptures to the world at large: and the religious tenets and customs of that peculiar people began to be made known in every country.

But the religion of the Jews, subsequent to their captivity, was very different from that which they had carried with them to Babylon. Tradition had usurped the place of the written law: and those who most reverenced the scriptures, distorted and obscured them by allegorical interpretations. A totally new system of theology was invented; founded, as they might pretend, upon the revelations of Moses, but encumbered with a load of extraneous and unintelligible mysteries. Such was the Jewish

religion, as it would be explained to the philosophers at Alexandria : and it is evident from the works of Philo, how the pure waters of Siloa had been infected by the troubled streams of heathenism.

It is plain, on the other hand, that Platonism received several modifications : and the Jews had certainly a great share in compounding the system, which afterwards assumed the name of Gnosticism. Plato undoubtedly believed in the unity of God: and in this the Jewish scriptures directly supported him. The same scriptures also maintained the existence of Angels; and these were easily identified with the Dæmons of Plato. The Platonists, however, maintained, that these angelic beings were employed by the first Cause to create the world : and the Platonizing Jews lent a willing ear to this most unscriptural speculation. The Platonists learnt by degrees to divest the language of their master of some of its mystery: and beings, which were supposed by him to be purely intellectual, if not entirely unsubstantial, came to assume a more real and tangible existence. Hence various orders of beings acted as connecting links between God and the world : a notion which the Jews would be able to enrich with a copious vocabulary brought by them from Babylon. Such was the process by which the Ideas of Plato were changed, as I have observed, into the Æons of the Gnostics. In Alexandria also, Jews and Platonists were not divided concerning the eternity of matter. It is plain, that Philo supposed Moses to have written, not of the creation, but merely of the arrangement of matter : and when the doctrines of Plato were so far changed, as that the world was said to be formed, not only by inferior beings, but

without the consent of God, then the Gnostic philosophy may be said properly to have begun. It was then that this branch of the Platonists would boast of having a purer knowledge of God than any other of their rivals. Plato had been anxious to rescue God from being the author of evil : but the Gnostics removed him still further from its contact : they supposed him to be even ignorant of its first existence; and hence the enmity which they imagined to exist between God and the Demiurgus. I conceive that this part of their system derived a considerable tinge from the Oriental philosophy: and though we cannot fix the precise period when Gnosticism began, we may say generally that it was taking deep root at the time of our Saviour's appearing upon earta.

I have observed at some length, that the Fathers were correct in speaking of Simon Magus as the parent of all heresies. Not that they meant to say that Simon Magus was a Christian ; they expressly say that he was not : but he was the first who introduced the name of Christ into the Gnostic philosophy. With the character of Gnosticism before that period we have nothing to do : but after the time of Simon Magus, there was no branch of the Gnostics which did not make great use of the name of Christ. This name was henceforth identified with one of the Gnostic Æons: and it was to him, that the office was ascribed of imparting that knowledge, which made the peculiar boast of the Gnostic philosophy. There was nothing in the writings of Plato which countenanced such a doctrine : though it is highly probable that the Gnostics would avail themselves of that remarkable passage, which seems to indicate the expectation of a person coming from heaven, who would teach mankind the knowledge of Godb. Such a person was Jesus Christ. We can prove, that the national expectation of the Jews was known in the world at large': and the apostles themselves announced Jesus Christ as a teacher sent from God. We can easily therefore understand, why the Gnostics so readily embraced the doctrine of Simon Mağus concerning Christ. Beside which I have observed, that his name was of great use in those magical and superstitious acts which the Gnostics are known to have practised. The miracles which were worked by the apostles were what first attracted the attention of Simon Magus; and hence he gave out that the same spirit, which had resided in Jesus, resided also in himself. It was in accordance with these pretensions, that the notion was invented of Christ having descended upon Jesus at his baptism, and having quitted him before his crucifixion. Simon also taught, as I have fully explained, that the apparent body of Jesus was an unsubstantial phantom : and it was under this disguise, that the name of Christ was known in several countries before they were visited by the apostles.

6 Alcibiad. II. p. 150. “We been doubted however, whe“must wait,” says Socrates, ther this passage has not been “ till we can learn our proper strained to bear a meaning “ conduct towards the Gods which was never intended to “ and men.” To which Alci- be given to it. Concerning the biades replies, " But when will genuineness of this Dialogue, “ this time arrive? and who is see Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. vol. II. “ to instruct us ? For I can p. 15 “ imagine no greater pleasure c Tacit. Hist. V. 13. Sueton. " than in seeing that person, Vespas. 4. Josephus, Bell. Jud. “ whoever he may be.” It has VI. 5. 4.

I observed that Simon Magus and the Gnostics were spreading their doctrines for fifteen years before St. Paul undertook his first journey : and he would find himself anticipated in many places which he visited by these erroneous notions concerning Christ It appears from the passages which we have considered in the apostolic writings, that the Gnostic doctrines made their way earlier in the East than in the West. Justin Martyr particularly mentions the Samaritans as having embraced the tenets of their countryman. The whole of Palestine seems to have been infected : and we may infer, though we cannot exactly assign the cause, that Asia Minor, and particularly Ephesus, very eagerly embraced the new philosophy. We find many allusions to the Gnostics in the two Epistles to Timothy, who was then residing at Ephesus : and the notion, that what is more specially called the Epistle to the Ephesians was a circular Epistle addressed to several churches, may be confirmed by the fact that all this neighbourhood was overrun by Gnostic teachers'. The Epistle to the Colossians contains the same allusions: and at a later period, the Epistles addressed to the seven churches in the Revelations lead us to the same con

See Recognit. III. 65. Clem. Minor: and in the Life of ApolHom. III. 59.

lonius Tyan. we read of EpheChrysostom speaks of St. sus as μεστην φροντισμάτων ούσαν John living at Ephesus, ένθα το φιλοσόφων τε και ρητορικών,υφ' ών παλαιών φιλοσόφουν οι της Ελλη- η πόλις ουχ ίππω μυρίασι δε ανθρώνικής συμμορίας άπαντες. En Joan. πως ισχύει, σοφίαν έπαινούσα. Hom. II. 2. vol. VIII. p. 9. VIII. 7. p. 339. The zeal with which the kings (A Dissertation has been of Perjamus encouraged lite. written by G. Fr. Gude, de Statue rature for a period of one hun. Ecclesia Ephesina Ævo Aposto. dred and sixty years may have lico. produced this effect in Asia

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