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The object then of the present Lectures, is to consider the heresies which infested the church in the first century, while some of the apostles were still alive: and though the inquiry will bring to our notice many persons and events, which are not recorded in the New Testament, yet the illustration of that book is an object of which I shall never lose sight; and I should wish to advert to every passage, which is connected directly or remotely with any heretical opinion.
It is not difficult to perceive the utility of such an inquiry. If false doctrines were disseminated in the church, while the apostles were alive, it is at least highly probable that they would allude to them in their writings: and the meaning of such allusions must necessarily be obscure, unless we know something of the principles, which the writers were confuting. We cannot rightly understand the antidote, unless we know something of the poison which it is
third year of Trajan, A. D. 100. has been quoted as saying that at the age of 101 or 102. But St. John lived to the age of nothing is said of his death in 120: but the work, in which the Armenian edition of the this statement occurs, is conChronicon of Eusebius, though fessedly spurious. (Vol. VIII. in the Greek text, as published Op. p. 131. Append.) The same by Scaliger, we read that he is said in anotherspurious work, lived 72 years after the ascen. Synopsis de Vita et Morte Pro. sion, and died in the consulship phetarum &c. which has been of Syrianus and Marcellus, at falsely ascribed to Dorotheus the age of 100 years and 7 Tyrius, who lived A. D. 303. months. Jerom states that The Paschal Chronicle, which John lived to the reign of Scaliger probably followed, Trajan, and died in the 68th places the death of St. John 72 year after the crucifixion : (De years after the crucifixion : but Vir. Illust. vol. II. p. 831. Adv. the date of this work cannot be Jovin. p. 279.) by which he ap- earlier than A. D. 630. See pears to mean, as he is under. Dodwell, Addit. ad Pearsoni stood by Cave, that John died Diss. II. c. 5. p. 178. about A. D. 100. Chrysostom
intended to destroy. That there were heresies in the days of the apostles, is expressly asserted by the apostles themselves. St. Paul in the text said to the elders of Ephesus, Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. To the Corinthians he writes, There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you : (1 Cor. xi. 19.) and if it be said that these predictions, like those of our Saviour concerning false Christs and false prophets, referred to a future and distant period, we may remember that the same apostle speaks of false teachers having already broken into the fold. Thus he mentions heresies among the works of the flesh, which were most to be avoided : (Gal. v. 20.) and he instructs Titus to reject an heretic after the first and second admonition. (iii. 10.) St. John also says in plain terms, Even now are there many Antichrists : they went out from us, but they were not of us : for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. (1 John ii. 18, 19) If we only read the Bible with the same interest, which is produced by other ancient writings, our curiosity would naturally be raised to know something more of these false teachers. The desire of information will be increased, when we find St. Paul saying so earnestly to the Colossians, Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit. (ii. 8.) The term philosophy may excite attention, though heresy and schism pass unnoticed : and it is plain, that the
For the meaning of the Titus iii. 10. see Mosheim, terms aipédels and aipetikos in Instit. Maj. p. 311. Gal. v. 20. 1 Cor. xi. 19. and
influence of heathen learning upon the simplicity of the gospel had already been felt, when St. Paul ended an Epistle with those impressive words, O T'imothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (1 Tim. vi. 20, 21.) The most careless reader would wish to know something more of the Nicolaitans, who are only twice mentioned by St. John, (Rev. ii. 6, 15.) and with scarcely any marks to characterize their creed. We read also of Hymenæus and Philetus, who said that the resurrection is past already. (2 Tim. ii. 17, 18.) The name of Hymenæus is also coupled with that of Alexander, as persons who had made shipwreck of their faith. (1 Tim. i. 19, 20.) Phygellus and Hermogenes are mentioned as persons, who had turned away from St. Paul. (2 Tim. i. 15.) Diotrephes evidently gave great trouble to St. John in the church of Ephesus: (3 John 9.) and though the names, which only live as coupled with error or crime, might well be forgotten, yet these names are rescued from oblivion, and have been stamped upon the eternal pages of that book, which still records them wheresoever the gospel shall be preached in the whole world.
The inquiry, which I propose to institute, would be useful, if it merely enabled us to understand these passages, and if it only increased our materials for illustrating the scriptures. But a knowledge of the heresies of the apostolic age becomes highly important, if not essentially necessary, when we look to the controversies, which in later times have agitated the Christian church. It has been said, and
the bold assertion has been repeated in our own day, that the Unitarian doctrines were the doctrines of the primitive church. It has been asserted with a positiveness, which ignorance alone can rescue from the charge of wilful mistatement, that the Ebionites, who believed Jesus to be a mere man, were not spoken of as heretics by the earliest Fathers. If these assertions be true, the pillars of our faith are shaken even to the ground. Names of party are always to be deprecated, and never more so than in religion. But where sects exist, they must have names : and if the statements of the Unitarians be true, the orthodox and the heretical must change their ground: we are no longer built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets : with shame and with reproach we must take the lowest room: we must retire-in the company indeed of fathers and of councils, those venerable names, which have adorned and spread the doctrine of God our Saviour—we must retire, not even to the rear of that host which fights under the banners of the Lamb; but we must range ourselves in the ranks of the enemy, with those who have corrupted and perverted the pure word of truth; and the charge of heresy, with all the woes denounced against it, must fall upon ourselves. In the name therefore of Truth, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sake of our own souls and of those who will succeed us, let us go to the fountain from whence the living waters flow, let us see who they were that with unhallowed hands polluted its holy stream: let us learn, whether we are now drinking it pure and undefiled, or whether we have hewed out broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jerem. ii. 13.)
Before we proceed further, it is perhaps necessary that we should come to a right understanding of the term heresy: for since this, like other terms, from a twofold or general signification, has been restricted to one, and that a bad one, mistakes and confusions may arise, if we do not consider the different senses in which the word has been used. It is not necessary to observe, that the Greek term, (aipeous) in its primary signification, implies a choice or election, whether of good or evild. It seems to have been principally applied to what we should call moral choice, or the adoption of one opinion in preference to another. Philosophy was in Greece the great object, which divided the opinions and judgments of men: and hence the term aiperis, (heresy,) being most frequently applied to the adoption of this or that particular dogma, came by an easy transition to signify the sect or school in which that dogma was maintained. Thus though the heresy of the Academy or of Epicurus would sound strange to our ears, and though the expression was not common with the early Greek writers, yet in later
• The writings of the Fathers “suscipiendas eas utitur." (de supply some good definitions Præscript. 6. p. 204.) Diogenes of the term hæresis. The Pseu- Laërtius, who wrote early in do-Athanasius (vol. II. Op. p. the third century, gives two 316.) says, tódev Néyerai aipe- definitions ; Ι. πρόσκλισις εν σις; από του αιρείσθαι τι ίδιον και δόγμασιν ακολουθίαν έχουσιν· but τούτο εξακολουθείν. Isidorus His. he prefers the 2nd, ή λόγω τινί palensis defines it, “Quod unus- κατά το φαινόμενον ακολουθούσα, ,
quisque id sibi eligat, quod h dokovoa åkolovdeiv. (Proæm. p. “ melius sibi esse videtur.” 5.) Casaubon says, “ Omne (Orig. VIII. 3. p. 64. ed. 1617.) " studium, quod semel amplexi But the words of Tertullian are “ firmiter deinceps tenemus, most expressive:
“ Haereses “ Græci aipeow, Latini sectam “ dictæ Græca voce ex inter- vocant.” (ad Polyb. vol. III. “pretatione electionis, qua quis p. 154. ed. 1670.) “ sive ad instituendas sive ad