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which in addition to much valuable information, and many judicious reflections, contains copious and accurate references to the works of other writers.
There is another work, which is indispensable in the history of Manicheism, and which is full of information upon many points connected with earlier heresies. This is the well-known work of Beausobre, in two volumes 4o. Histoire critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme, Amsterdam, 1734. This may truly be characterized as one of the most extraordinary productions which ever came from the pen of a writer, who professed to be a believer in the truth of the Gospel. We have no right to doubt, whether this was the case with M. De Beausobre: and yet there never was a work, which required from us a larger portion of charity, when forming a judgment of the author's religious belief; or which should be read with greater caution, both for the principles which it inculcates and the conclusions which it draws. The object of Beausobre may be described in a few words to have been, to depreciate the Fathers, and to prove that their statements are worthy of no credit; while on the other hand he justified the tenets and the conduct of every heretic, and shewed that their characters had been most unjustly calumniated. To a certain extent, and within certain limits, such an attempt is serviceable and even praiseworthy. · I am most willing to admit, that the Fathers have in many cases misrepresented the early heretics, and circulated calumnies concerning their enormities. Beausobre has shewn the most unwearied industry, and the most profound critical acuteness, in detecting these falsehoods, and in placing several points of history in a new and a truer light: but it would be an outrage upon historical candour and upon philosophical criticism to deny that he has often run into paradox, and that he has sometimes laboured to defend his favourite heretics at the expense of truth. I am aware, that the present age lays claim to particular merit for discarding prejudices, and for casting off the shackles of authority in matters of ecclesiastical antiquity. There is an air of sincerity, as well as of originality, in the declaration
of a modern writer, who says, “I must acknowledge a con“ sciousness of something like a bias in favour of a heretic, “ whether ancient or modern d.” Such appears to have been the feeling entertained by Beausobre: and it would be most irrational to deny, that a freedom from prejudice is one of the fundamental requisites in a search after truth: but a preconceived “ bias” must necessarily be connected with prejudice, whether it lead us to orthodoxy or to hetero doxy; and I have yet to learn, that there is any merit in feeling an inclination for heretics rather than for the Fathers. Our object should be to arrive at truth: if the inquiry should enable us to clear the character of any persons, who have hitherto been condemned, the discovery should give us pleasure: but if we are at the same time obliged to convict other persons of falsehood, the discovery should give us pain. This is the duty of a critical, and I would add, of an honest mind : and I have made these remarks upon the work of Beausobre, because it is so full of information, it so completely exhausts the subject of which it treats, that it is impossible not to recommend it to every reader of ecclesiastical history, though it is impossible also not to lament the spirit in which it is written.
Though our own country, as I have already observed, has not produced any good ecclesiastical history, I must not omit to mention the name of Lardner among who have contributed to the more accurate knowledge of early heresies. His great work upon the Credibility of the Gospel History contains many biographical sketches, and much judicious criticism upon the tenets of heretics : but he also wrote a distinct work, entitled, History of Heretics, in which he has shewn the same extent of reading, and the same unwearied industry in collecting his scattered materials, which characterise all his other writings. For minuteness and accuracy of reference Lardner stands almost unrivalled; and I should be most unwilling to detract from the praise which he has so deservedly obtained for candour and im
• Mr. Belsham.
partiality. I cannot however but regret, that in so many instances he has adopted the views and sentiments of Beausobre: and I am casting no imputation upon the honesty or sincerity of Lardner, when I merely remind the reader, that the particular view,which Lardner had taken of Christianity, was likely to make him see the events of those early times in a different view from ourselves.
The works of Waterland will throw considerable light upon the tenets of the early heretics : and they are so well known, and so highly valued, that I need only specify his Judgment of the primitive Churches, which forms the sixth chapter of The Importance of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, vol. V. p. 174. The heresies of Cerinthus and Ebion are here treated at great length; and the conclusions drawn from the writings of the Fathers are often the reverse of those of Beausobre and Lardner.
The two first of the following Lectures will be sufficient to shew, that an investigation into the primitive heresies requires a particular acquaintance with the errors of the Gnostics. It is unnecessary to add, that Gnosticism cannot be understood without a perusal of Irenæus, and some at least of the other Fathers, whose works I have specified above. I would also mention a short treatise written against the Gnos tics in the third century by the Platonist Plotinus. This forms the ninth book of the second Ennead in the great work of that philosopher; and is extremely interesting from the time at which it was written, though it does not in fact supply us with much information; and it is remarkable, that the name of Gnostic does not occur throughout the book. We are indebted to Porphyry, in his Life of Plotinus, for a knowledge of the fact, that the Gnostics were the persons intended to be attacked : and the same writer also states, that the title of the book, against the Gnostics, was added by himself.
A difference of opinion has existed as to the allusions to Gnosticism which are to be found in the New Testament. A French writer expresses himself upon this subject in the following manner: “Il est aujourd'hui hors de doute que, “ des deux côtés, on est allé trop loin : les uns, les Ham
mond, les Brucker, les Michaelis e, les Mosheim et les “ Herder, en montrant, presque sur chaque page du Nou“ veau Testament, des traces de la soi-disant philosophie ori6 entale, du Gnosticisme et du Zoroastrisme; les autres, les “ Ernesti, les Tittman et leurs sectateurs, en allant jusqu'à “nier, que les auteurs des volumes sacrés aient fait quelque " allusion à ces doctrines f.” Of the two last mentioned writers, Ernesti has delivered his opinion against these allusions to Gnosticism in his Instit. Interp. Novi Testamenti, part. III. c. 10. g. ult. and in Bibl. Theolog. Nova. vol. III. p. 430. 493. vol. V. p. 7. vol. VIII. p. 538. Tittman has maintained the same argument at greater length in a special treatise, the object of which is explained by the title, de Vestigiis Gnosticorum in Novo Testamento frustra quæsitis, Lipsiæ, 1773. In addition to the writers upon the other side, who are named above, Tittman also mentions Grotius, Walchiuss, and Semlerh: and I am perfectly willing to agree with Tittman; that some of these writers have shewn much too great a facility in discovering allusions to Gnosticism in the New Testament. No person has gone further in applying these passages to the Gnostics than Hammond : and we are told, that Usher and others expressed themselves afraid of meeting him, lest they should again be troubled with this eternal mention of the Gnostics i Hammond has shewn bis propensity to this method of interpetation in his Annotations upon the New Testament: but he has carried the principle beyand all bounds in his treatise upon Antichrist, which is the first of four Dissertations written by him in defence of Episcopacy against Blondell. This treatise will be found to contain many valuable observations concerning the early Gnostics; and though I agree with the writers mentioned
e He wrote a treatise de Indiciis i This anecdote is told by Le Gnosticæ Philosophiæ tempore LXX Moyne in his Varia Sacra, vol. II. Interpretum et Philonis, which is the p. 598. Complaints have been brought 13th Dissertation in part II. Syn- against Hammond in this particular tagm. Comment. p. 249.
by Ittigius, de Heresiarchis, p. 168. Matter, Hist. du Gnosticisme, Wolfius, Manichæismus ante Manitom. I. p. 124.
chæos, p. 182. Le Clerc, Epist. Crit. & Hist. Hæres. See above, p. xx. p. 327. Mosheim, Instit. Maj. p.316.
Hist. Dogmat. Fidei. Selecta Ca Weismannus, Hist. Eccles. Nori pita Historiæ ecclesiasticæ. Comment. Testamenti, sec. I. §. 17. p. 125. Hist. de antiquo Christianorum Statu.
above, that Hammond has gone too far, I must also subscribe to the opinion of the French writer quoted above, that those persons are equally mistaken, who have denied that any traces of Gnosticism are to be found in the New Testament k. In the following Lectures I have endeavoured to keep clear of both these extremes. The dissertations prefixed by Massuet to his edition of Irenæus supply a learned and valuable Commentary upon the history of Gnosticism.
M. J. Matter, professor at Strasburg, whose words I have lately quoted, has published a learned and valuable history of Gnosticism in two volumes, with a third volume containing plates and illustrations. The title of this work is as follows, Histoire critique du Gnosticisme, et de son influence sur les Sectes religieuses et philosophiques des six premiers siècles de Tère Chrétienne. Paris, 1828. There is perhaps no work which treats this obscure subject at so much length, or which contains so much information concerning it; though the reader should be cautioned against some mistakes and inaccuracies, which are truly astonishing, and can only be attributed to carelessnessl. For the benefit of the reader I may transcribe the titles of some other works upon the same subject, which are mentioned by this author, which I regret that I have not been able to meet with.
Lewald, Commentatio de doctrina Gnostica, Heidelberg. 1818.
I have not seen a work published (Syrus), and died at the beginning by professor Horn of Dorpat in Latin of the fourth century: whereas lie and in German, the subject of which died in the year 402, and since he is to inquire into the Gnosticism of was then pearly one hundred years tbe Old and New Testament.
old, he probably flourished earlier 1 Thus to speak of Origen as than Ephrem, though he survived << émule et contemporain de S. Clé. him by twenty years. But the most ** ment d'Alexandrie" (vol. I. p. 34.) extraordinary confusion, if I rightly is a very vague expression, when Ori
understand the passage, is at p. 210, gen was pupil of Clement, and flou where be speaks of Gregory of Nazirished thirty or forty years later. At apzum,“qui suit ici les renseigneP. 36. he speaks with praise of Ori mens d'Elie de Crète;"' upon which gen's work against Marcion ; by I sball only observe, that Gregory which he can only mean the Dialogue flourished in the middle of the fourth de recla in Deum Fide, which has century, and Elias Cretensis wrote a been long decided not to be a work conmentary upon his works in the of Origen. At p. 38. he says that middle of the eighth. Epiphanius lived later than Ephrem