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bik else : there is no God beside me: I form the light, Bed and create darkness; I make peace, and create

evil? (Isaiah xlv. 4—7.)

Such then was the doctrine of the two Principles subsequent to the time of Zoroaster: and if this doctrine had any effect in producing the Gnostic philosophy, we must expect to find in the latter some traces of the Persian system. The notion of the Good and Evil Principles being distinct and contrary to each other would be in accordance with the sentiments of the Gnostics, who believed the supreme God and the Demiurgus to be perpetually at variance: but still there were some essential differences between the two systems. The Good Principle of the Gnostics was not produced from God, but was the supreme God himself, who was in no way concerned with the creation or government of the world: so also the Evil Principle of the Gnosties, or Demiurgus, though ultimately deriving his origin from God, derived it through several successive generations. We have seen, that the Æons or Emanations of the Gnostics were invented, that as many degrees as possible might be interposed between the supreme God and the Creator of the world. It might perhaps be shewn, that the religion of the Magi would suggest the idea of successive emanations : but if the Gnostics borrowed any thing from the Persians, it would be by investing their Demiurgus or Creator with those attributes of malignity, which were assigned to the Evil Principle. There may be good reasons for thinking that

This is referred to the Per- p. 486. ed. Amst, and by Wolsian doctrine of two Principles fius, Manichæismus ante Maniby Spencer de Leg. Heb. III. chæos II. 3. p. 38.


this was the case : and while Valentinus was perfecting and spreading the Gnostic system which I have described above, Cerdon, who was also classed with the Gnostics, was propagating a doctrine, which bore some resemblance to that of the Persians. This doctrine became better known under his successor Marcion, who has been charged with holding two Principles, and with believing that there was one supreme God, and another produced by him, who became evil, and created the world. These two branches of Gnostics agreed in teaching, that the Father of Jesus Christ was not the Creator of the world, nor the God of the Old Testament. They agreed also in believing, that Christ had not a real body, and in denying the inspiration of the prophets, and the resurrection of the body. The Oriental doctrines became better known in the world at large, when Manes or Manichæus at the end of the third century came direct from Persia, and blended the religion of the Magi with that of the gospel. The Manichæan doctrines however lead us to a period too remote from our present subject : and I only mention them at present to observe, that the fact of Manes being placed so decidedly at the head of a party shews that his doctrines were different in some points from those of the rest of the Gnostics. They most nearly resembled those of Marcion; and Marcion is represented as a native of Pontus; which would be more likely to bring him into contact with the Persian doctrines. Gnosticism however had certainly taken deep root long before : and upon the whole I conclude, that the Oriental doctrines were not the principal cause which led to Gnosticism, though those who embraced Gnosticism

would find much in the notion of a Good and Evil Principle, which was in accordance with their own opinions".

We come next to consider the mystical philosophy of the Jews, which has been known by the name of Cabbala. But this part of our subject need not detain us long: for though some persons may have ascribed too much influence to the Cabbalistic doctrines, none perhaps have meant to argue, that the Cabbala was the only source of Gnosticism : and on the other hand, if the Cabbala contained any points of resemblance to the leading tenets of the Gnostics, few persons would deny that those who mixed Judaism with Gnosticism would be likely to draw from the Cabbalam. In one sense all the Gnostics borrowed from the Jewish religion, as they did from the Christian; that is, they considered the Jewish and Christian revelations to have been made by beings of a superior order to man. Here then we have a distinction between the Gnostic philosophy, and every other that preceded it. It admitted the Mosaic dispensation to be part of that great system, which proceeded from the Beings who governed the world : and when we consider the period at which Gnosticism arose, we should expect to find in it the opinions of the later Jews rather than of the more ancient.

The Jewish Cabbala may be loosely defined to be a mystical system, affecting the theory and practice of religion, founded upon oral tradition. It has

** In note ? I have mention- that several of the Gnostic sects ed some of the writers, who were founded by Jews. De rereferred Gnosticism to the Cab. bus ante Const. Introd. II. 18. bala. Mosheim has observed,

been disputed, at what time the Cabbala may be said to have begun: and it has been argued, because a Kabbi at the end of the second century was the first to make a collection of the scattered traditions of his countrymen, that the Cabbala, as a system, did not exist before, and that therefore it could not have contributed to the rise of Gnosticism. It has however been satisfactorily shewn, that the Presidents of the Sanhedrim, for several years before the birth of Christ, had gradually been raising unwritten tradition to a level with the written law. If we would believe the Cabbalists themselves, a collection of those traditions had already been made by Ezra: but such a document has never been produced. They say also, that God revealed some secret doctrines to Adam, which were received from him by tradition : similar doctrines were received from Abraham and Moses: and hence these unwritten traditions were known by the name of Cabbala, from a Hebrew word signifying to receive. It will perhaps be conceded, that some communications were made to the Patriarchs beyond those which the sacred books have recorded. Thus the history of the Creation, if it was known to the Jews before the time of Moses, must have been preserved among them by an unwritten tradition. It is also plain, that a mystical interpretation of scripture, which is another important part of the Cabbala, did not rest entirely upon a false and artificial foundation. St. Paul has taught us, that under certain restrictions we are authorized in extracting a double sense from scripture: and I say this to shew, what has been the conclusion of learned men, and which seems in fact to be the fair and rational conclusion, that there

was once a pure Cabbala, that is, there were some genuine unwritten traditions; and there was a sober and rational mode of allegorizing scripture: but in both these points the later Jews sadly departed from the simplicity of their fathers 14. In both these points there was a striking resemblance between the Cabbalists and the Gnostics. With the latter, to interpret scripture literally was the exception; and they only did it, when it suited their purpose : their rule was to extort a hidden meaning from every passage ; and to make every word, and almost every letter, contain a mystical allusion. The Gnostics also resembled the Cabbalists in appealing to oral tradition. They said, that Christ taught two doctrines; one, the common and popular; and another, which he delivered to his disciples only's. But this was a small part of the resemblance between the Cabbalists and the Gnostics : nor would it have been inferred, that the two doctrines were connected, if the Cabbala had not contained a system of emanations, which bears some affinity to that adopted by the Gnostics.

Few subjects are more perplexing, than to explain the ten Sephiroth or Emanations, which according to the Cabbala proceeded from the first Cause: and we ought to be very cautious of theorising upon the subject, because the system of the Cabbala approaches so near to that of Spinoza, that the one as well as the other may be open to the charge of atheism. Very strong proof should be brought, before we persuade ourselves, that the Jews admitted a system which led even indirectly to atheism : and the whole perhaps may be solved by that unfortunate desire, which we have already seen to have perplexed the

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