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Secr. also formed the bodies of men, and in
closed within them rational fouls, which were particles of the pure and ethereal light, that composed the essence of God. Such imprisonment is equally against the will of God, and the inclination of the soul, which loaths its base and terrestrial companion, and perpetually struggles to regain its native freedom.
The same evil being, whom they fometimes called demiurge, was the God of the Old Testament, and the author of the Jewish law; a law consisting of carnal ordinances and ceremonies, which, as they concern matter, must necessarily partake of its evil properties. Such a law was solely calculated to debase that nation into the most abject slavery, and to withdraw their souls from the contemplation of their celestial origin, by plunging them into the midst of ceremonial observances relating merely to the body.
The author of light and goodness at length pitied the miserable state of mankind, who all, as well as the Jews, were under the tyranny of the prince of darkness. The modes indeed of their servitude
might vary, but the minds of all were CHAP. equally darkened, and they all bowed their necks beneath the galling yoke of this powerful ufurper. The supreme Being sent a celestial messenger from the fulness o of happiness and glory, in which he dwelt, and invested him with a human form 4. The name of this heavenly delegate was Chrift; and, though in appearance a man, yet he was in reality only a shadowy phantom. . His body was not like our bodies, but merely visionary; since it would be contradictory to imagine, that he, who came to oppose the influence of matter, should be clothed in matter
Epiph. adv. Hær. lib. ii.
Epiph. adv. Hær. lib. i. Dr. Lardner, in his Supplement to the Credibility, is unwilling to allow, that St. John wrote his Gospel in opposition to the Docetæ; but the general opinion, respecting the purport of that Gospel, is certainly strengthened very confiderably by the words of Ignatius of Antioch, the disciple of St. John, and who confequently may be supposed, in an especial manner, to have entered into the views of his mafter. Δοξαζω Ιησεν Χρις ον τον Θεον τον ύτως υμας σοφισαντα. Ενοησα γαρ υμας κατηρτισμενες εν ακινητω σισει, ώσπερ καθηλωμενες
εν τω Σαυρω. τ8 κυριε Ιησε Χρισε, σαρκι Tε και πνευματι, και έδρασμενες εν αγαπη εν τω αιματι Χρισ8, πεπληροφορημενους εις τον κυριον ημων, αληθως οντα εκ κατα σαρκα,
υιον θεα κατα θελημα και δυναμιν θεου, γεγενημενον αληθως εκ παρθενου, βεβαπτισμενον υπο Ιωαννου, ένα
This illustrious personage immediately attacked the strong holds of the prince of darkness, and ridiculed the authority and inefficacy of his rites and ceremonies f. While he attempted to withdraw the human soul from the intolerable thraldom imposed upon her, he laboured also to raise her thoughts to the bounteous author of light and goodness, and to elevate her conceptions above the fordid views of the material world. Since the foul was for a feafon linked to a gross and sluggish yokefellow, she was to anticipate with joy the moment of her emancipation from so difgraceful a fervitude ; and in the mean time was to cooperate with the heavenly teacher, by making such a progress towards internal purity, as her present scanty powers would permit. . This could only be effected by a vigorous resistance to the passions and appetites of the body; and the most effectual
πληρωθη πασα δικαιοσυνη υπ' αυτο. Αληθως επι Ποντια Πιλατε και
way to subdue this domestic and conse- CHAP. quently more dangerous enemy, was to practise continual abstinence and mortification. Thus, even in this world, it was possible to attain to a considerable degree of abstraction from the concerns of the flesh, by macerating the evil matter of which the body is composed, till every gross and impure inclination died away within it.
& The doctrine of the metempsychosis was likewise maintained by the Gnoftics, for the purpose of purification from the taints contracted in the flesh. The peculiar manner, in which they expressed this tenet, fingularly agrees with the notions of the philosophers of the east, from whom indeed their fantaftic system of theology was borrowed. Epiphanius informs us, that “ They conceive the Ruler of this “ world to be in shape like a Dragon, and that the souls of “ men, during a state of unconsciousness, are first abforbed
by him, and afterwards again emitted upon the earth. “ They next pass through the forms of swine, and other “ animals, and are then again hurried through the same “lofty revolution as before.”. Epiph. adv. Hær. lib. i. In this passage may be evidently discovered that belief in a kind of fidereal metempfychosis, which formed lo prominent a feature in the religion of the Oriental world. The Dragon here spoken of appears to allude to the Draco and Serpentarius of the sphere, which were introduced into the Eleusinian and Mithratic mysteries, where the paffage of the soul through the different fidereal orbs in its progress to purity was exhibited. Maurice’s Ind. Ant. vol. v. p. 956. and 996. Porphyry, in his treatise
the Homeric cave of the nymphs, accurately describes the whole of this ima
A doctrine fo fpiritualized as this, and so opposite to, and destructive of, the religion of the God of the Jews, could not fail both to alarm and irritate that usurper. Burning with rage to see his dominions thus invaded, he stirred up his faithful adherents, the Priests and Pharisees, to a bitter and determined opposition of these innovations, and transfused all his own venom into their bosoms". The consequence was, that they apprehended Christ, condemned him to death, and crucified him. But, though he appeared to the eyes of the spectators to die, the whole scene of his torments was a mere delusion ; for his body being visionary, and not substantial, it was impoffible, that he should really suffer, for the sins of the world, the pains which he seemed to undergo upon the cross. This however did not happen, till Christ had sojourned a sufficient length of
ginary metempfychofis. Δυο 8ν ταυτας εθεντο πυλας, Καρκι-