« EelmineJätka »
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MO.
SAICAL AND CHRISTIAN DISPENSA-
GNOSTICS. 2. CERINTHUS. 3. MANES. 4.
THERE is a most unfortunate propensity Error of in human nature, to adapt every theologi- the Gentile cal doctrine, which claims its attention, to converts the certain preconceived opinions, and imagi- of Judaifm nary established truths.
Instead of raising and Chriftia its ideas to the standard of revelation, it
secr. delights rather to reduce revelation to its
own level; and, instead of preparing itself to receive something. totally unexpected, it is unwilling to admit any position, which cannot be reconciled with prior and favourite systems. The natural consequence of such a temper of mind is, to mistake the plainest declarations of Scripture, and to overlook or contradict its clearest and most obvious assertions; to assume the authority of a judge, rather than to put on the submissive meekness of a disciple, and to reject with presumptuous boldness the decisions even of the Almighty himself.
This truth was never more forcibly exemplified, than in the manner in which Christianity was frequently received, at its first promulgation. Built professedly upon the Law of Moses, and replete with the most direct references to the Jewish types and prophecies, the Gospel sought not to overthrow, but to accomplish the venerable code of the Pentateuch. Throughout the whole of the sacred volume of the ancient Scriptures, the promised Messiah is perpetually kept in view ; his character is accurately delineated ; and his sufferings are described with a precifion, to which
no human foresight could have attained. CHAP. From the first mysterious prediction, that " the feed of the woman should bruise the “ head of the serpent,” to the concluding declaration of Malachi, that “ the sun of
righteousness should arise with healing « in his wings;" type is joined to type, and prophecy accumulated upon prophecy, till faith is raised to the highest pitch of anxious expectation. At length the wonderful Personage, whose advent had been so particularly announced, descends from the right hand of his father; and commences a life of patient suffering, for the fake of loft mankind. The Law now receives its accomplishment; and the Gof-, pel of Christ is discovered to be the end both of the simple worship of the Patriarchs, and of the gorgeous folemnities of the Temple. The dusky shadows of the morning are dispersed; and the fun of righteousness, blazing with ineffable lustre, pours forth the full flood of day upon a benighted world.
The connection between the two grand component parts of God's covenant with man, though so repeatedly pointed out in both, was nevertheless incomprehensible to
SECT. numbers of the Jewish, as well as of the
Gentile converts. This part of the wonderful scheme of revelation became, even to some of the converted Heathens, foolishness, and to some of the converted Israelites, a stumbling-block. The errors of the first arose, principally, from perverting and undervaluing the Mofaical dispensation : the errors of the second, from mistaking its intent. The Gentiles denied its divine origin ; 'the Jews ignorantly supposed it to be a perfect whole, when, in reality, it formed only one half of the grand plan of grace and redemption, predetermined by God from the foundation of the world.
1. The Gnostics.
1. The principal and most dangerous of the errors maintained by these Gentile converts sprung from that whimsical and fantastic system of theology, the Oriental philosophy. The Persian doctrine of two opposite principles seems to have been the true source both of Gnosticism and Manicheism ; and it is easy to conceive, what strange confusion such tenets would occafion, when applied to Christianity.
According to some of these philosophers, the good principle, whom they styled Or
muzd, and who was the fountain of life, CHAP, light, and happiness, was an eternal and necessarily existing being; while the evil principle denominated Ahriman was a created God, who presided over darkness, vice, and misery
Others again supposed them both to be eternal; and that, as' Ormuzd created a number of pure fpirits, or angels, similar to himself in disposition ; fo Ahriman produced a host of evil and corrupt Genii, whose temper resembled the depravity of their author a.
To these opinions the Gnostics adapted Christianity. Upon their scheme, the prince of darkness was the creator of the world, in which were inherent the seeds of all evil, composed as it is of stubborn and corrupt matter.
From this matter he
• Hyde de Rel. vet. Perf. cap. 9.
b This notion is hinted at by Clemens Alexandrinus, καθαπερ υπoιληφασιν οι τον κτιστην αλλον ειναι παρα τον πρωτα θεον δογματιζοντες' ουθ' ώς εβδελυγμενης και κακης ασης της γενε
aj dočcy autcy. Strom. lib. iv. According to the account given of this sect by Epiphanius, the Creator of the world was one of the seven princes of the spheres, whom they absurdly called Sabaoth. Epiph, adv. Här. lib. i.