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Munter, Essay upon the ecclesiastical Antiquities of Gnosticism, Anspach. 1790.
Neander, Development of the principal Systems of Gnosticism, Berlin, 1818.
The two last works are written in German: and some other references are given by M. Matter in vol. I. p. 25, 26.
· I would also particularly recommend another work, written by M. Matter, Essai historique sur l'Ecole d Alexandrie, Paris, 1820, which contains a summary of nearly all the information necessary for an acquaintance with that union of philosophical sects, which led the way to Gnosticism.
In tracing the causes of Gnosticism, I have considered the opinions of those writers who have connected it either with the Jewish Cabbala, the Oriental doctrine of two principles, or the Platonic philosophy. References to the principal works, which illustrate the Cabbala, will be found in note 14. The book, which is generally recommended as explanatory of the eastern doctrines, is Hyde's Veterum Persarum et Parthorum et Medorum Religionis Historia, the second edition of which was printed at Oxford in 1760. There is such a depth of learning displayed in this work, and the quotations from Arabian and other oriental writers are so copious, that no person, who is engaged in investigating this subject, can neglect the perusal of it. He must indeed derive from it a variety of information : and yet
few persons could read it without lamenting in it the want of order and arrangement: even the usual assistance of an index is absent: and truth compels me to add, that the authority of Hyde for matters contained in this history has of late years been gradually diminishing. Beausobre complained nearly a century ago, that “les extraits, que M. Hyde “ nous a donnez de ses auteurs Arabes, sont si obscurs, et “ si embarrassez d'idées, qui paroissent contraires, que je “ n'ose presque me flatter d'avoir attrapé leur pensée m." Brucker has spoken still more strongly of the little dependence which is to be placed upon these extracts from Arabian writers: “ Id enim a doctissimo Hydeo potissimum factum
m Hist. de Manichée. tom. I. p. 175.
"esse, illumque lectionis exoticæ amore occupatum apud “ Arabas certissimas veritates vidisse, quæ aliis conjecturæ “ levissimæ et traditiones suspectæ videntur, indigestam “ quoque admirandæ lectionis molem accurato judicio non “ digessisse, et ipsa libri eruditissimi inspectio docet, et ma"gnis viris, rem sine præjudicio et admiratione eruditionis “ insolitæ et peregrinæ æstimantibus, recte judicatum est n." Lastly, the French writer, whom I have quoted above, says openly, “ Tant que l'on a jugé la doctrine de Zoroastre sur “ l'ouvrage de Hyde, il a été impossibile de juger le Gnosti “ cisme 0."
With respect to the third source, to which I have traced the doctrines of the Gnostics, it is necessary, as I have ob served more than once, to make a careful distinction between the writings of Plato himself and of his later followers. Plato is perhaps more admired than read by many persons, who are really scholars and fond of classical pursuits. In investigating the philosophical tenets of the Gnostics, I consider it to be very essential, that the original writings of Plato should be studied. The reader may then pass on to the works of the later Platonists: and it is to be regretted, that so few materials have come down to us, which enable us to follow the philosophy of Plato through all its changes. The works of writers, who called themselves Platonists, and who lived subsequent to the rise of Christianity, are neither few nor unimportant. But of the followers and Successors of Plato for upwards of three hundred years before the Christian era, we unfortunately know little from any writings of their own. To supply this deficiency, the Præparatio Evangelica of Eusebius is a most valuable resource: and though Eusebius, as I have taken occasion to observe, misunderstood the sentiments of Plato upon some points, he enables us to form our own opinion as to many of the Grecian philosophers, by having preserved copious
Hist. Philosoph. vol. I. p. 144. p In almost every instance I have lo the note he gives references to referred to the pages of Stephens' other writers wbo have spoken fa edition of Plato, which are also vourably or unfavourably of Hyde. marked in the margin of Bekker's
• Maiter, Hist. du Gnosticisme, edition. tom. I. p. 25. note 1.
extracts from their works, which would otherwise have been lost. The study of the later Platonists, such as Plotinus, Proclus, &c. is neither popular, nor, in the general sense of the term, edifying. But in inquiries like the present it cannot be altogether dispensed with: and I am rather wishing to make the task light and easy, than to impose a too heavy burden, when I point out the following authors as most serviceable upon the present occasion. The commentary of Chalcidius upoh the Timæus is less intricate in its language, and is at the same time a truer and fairer representation of Plato's real sentiments, than most of the works which proceeded from the later Platonists. The many and violent changes, which they had made in their master's tenets, are fully exhibited in the great work of Plotinus: and since few persons would have patience to read the whole of it, a sufficient specimen of the obscurity of these writers, and of the effect which Christianity had produced upon the thoughts and language of the heathen, may be seen in the fifth book, which is entitled, nepi tõv tpoã ápxixcõv ÚTOO TÁDEWY. The work of Porphyry, de Abstinentia ab esu Animalium, is directed to a much less abstruse subject, and will afford some curious information.
It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the works of Philo Judæus are particularly valuable in an inquiry into the early history of the Christian church. Coinciding as they do in their date with the first promulgation of the Gospel, and recording the opinions of a man, who was deeply versed in Jewish and heathen literature, they cannot fail to throw much light upon that mixture of philosophical systems, which forms so peculiar a feature of the early heresies.
. There is however one work, which may not only be called indispensable to a person making an investigation like the present, but which may supersede the necessity of consulting many other authors. I allude to Brucker's Historia Critica Philosophiæ, the second edition of which was published in six volumes at Leipsic in 1767. It may almost be said with truth, that all the information which had been collected, and every opinion which had been entertained,
up to that time, concerning philosophy and philosophers in every part of the world, are brought together in these volumes. The variety of reading, and the patience of investigation, which were necessary for making this collection, have perhaps never been surpassed: and though a person, who examines the original sources, to which Brucker appeals, will often have to lament the inaccuracy of his references, and sometimes to question the soundness of his judgment, it is difficult to name any subject connected with the opinions of ancient times, which is not copiously illustrated in this work. The use which I have made of it in tracing the early heresies, will be seen in almost every page of the following Lectures: and I can truly say that the benefit, which I have derived from it, is much greater than it would be possible to express by any quotations or acknowledgments however numerous.
I have also examined with some attention Cudworth's celebrated work upon the Intellectual System, which has been considered, both by our own and by foreign writers, to be a valuable storehouse for inquiries into ancient philosophy. The best edition was published at Leyden in two volumes 40. in 1773, by Mosheim, who translated it into Latin, and added very copious notes and dissertations of his own. These notes have greatly increased the value of the work; and furnish perhaps as many proofs of profound learning and critical accuracy, as any thing which Mosheim ever published. It is remarkable, however, that the annotator more frequently differs from his author, than agrees with him: and I cannot but observe, that though Cudworth has collected vast materials, and brought together a great mass of information, his views are often erroneous, and his conclusions quite untenable. No person has proved this more fully than Mosheim himself: and whoever studies the Intellectual System of Cudworth, will find himself in danger of being often led into error, unless he reads it in the edition and with the notes of Mosheim.
I have now pointed out the principal works, which I consider to be of use, in tracing the history of early heresies. In the course of these Lectures references are given to
many other authors: and one of the objects which I have had in view, is to furnish the reader with access to the best and fullest information upon every subject which is discussed. Where a topic has been amply illustrated and exhausted by writers of note, I have sometimes thought it sufficient merely to refer to their works: and the reader, who may not agree with me in opinion, or who may wish for more knowledge than I have been able to supply, will thus be enabled to consult the best authorities. I know but of one objection to this system of references, which I have carried to so great a length. It may expose me to a charge of ostentation, and of wishing to have it imagined that I have read all the works which are named in the following pages. I can only answer, that if the plan is really one, which is likely to benefit the reader, I do not regard the objection which applies only to myself. It would have been the greatest of all presumptions to have entered upon an inquiry like the present, without attempting at least to know the sentiments of the best and most approved writers upon the same subject. There is little merit in following the steps of others, in picking up the information which they have chanced to let fall, and in laying it again before the public in a new form. This is all which I pretend to have done: and in arranging my materials, I have been studiously anxious to point out the sources to which I was indebted, and at the same time to direct the reader to the same means of gaining information, and of detecting any error in my quotations or my conclusions. There is nothing so suited to make an author diffident of his own work, as to examine minutely the labours of others, and to verify their references. The errors and inaccuracies which such an examination brings to light, might almost deter any other writer from venturing upon the same field, and risking similar detections. Truth is perhaps the first requisite in an author; but accuracy is the second : and since there is little use in making professions of honesty and impartiality, I shall content myself with stating, that I have been particularly careful in referring to passages in other writers; and I have never copied a quotation without at least searching