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of Alexandria : but he chose to correct Clement by Irenæus, rather than Irenæus by Clement. • But,' says · Beausobre, · I cannot be of that mind. The testimony of Clement appears to me
vastly more valuable than that of Irenæus, because he knew the Basilidians, and had read their • books and cites them : especially is his testimony preferable here upon this occasion, as it is * not so much Clement that speaks as Basilides himself.'
The argument is this : Basilides acknowledged that the attributes of goodness, holiness, and righteousness belong to God. As good, he can never do evil to any one; as holy, he cannot but hate sin, of which he never is the author; as righteous, he may and will correct sinners; but for the same reason he never will permit the innocent to be punished. The orthodox acknowledged the same divine attributes ; but they did not approve of the consequences which Basilides drew from them. They believed God to be righteous, and yet supposed that he might permit innocent beings to suffer. As a proof of this, they instanced in the martyrs delivered up to the most grievous pains, for the exercise of their virtue, and the confirming the gospel. Basilides answered that, martyrs are not perfectly innocent, forasmuch as there is no man without • fault: and if any suffer, God punisheth in them evil desires, or actual sin, though secret and * unknown to others; or sins which the soul had been guilty of in some other body. God,
who knows all things the most secret, never punishes any who have not deserved it. The • favour shewn to martyrs lies in this, that their pains appear to have an honourable cause, . though they are indeed the punishment of their sins, committed either in this life, or in a preexistent state.'
For overturning this notion, which must tend to discourage martyrdom, and lessen the virtue of it, the catholics alleged the example of Jesus Christ, who had undergone the pain of the cross, and whose innocence Basilides could not contest. This argument reduced him to great distress; for it was difficult for him to extricate himself without blasphemy. However, Clement thus represents his manner of evading it : • Basilides, speaking of our Lord as a man, explains • himself openly in these terms: “ If without attending to what I have said, and in order to " throw me into confusion, you allege certain persons : for example, this person has suffered, * therefore he has sinned; you must allow me to answer, in the first place, that he has not sinned, but he has suffered like infants. If you still press me, I will add, of whatever man you
can inention, that he is man, and God is just. For there is no man free from spot, as one says. . And I would say any thing rather than censure Providence." Clement confutes this opinion, • and concludes in this manner: • Must we not reckon that man profane who dares to say that the Lord was a sinner, or capable of sinning!
All this, as Beausobre o farther argues, is inconsistent with what is said by Irenæus. If we rely upon him, Basilides taught that Jesus did not suffer, and was not crucified; but Simon the Cyrenian was crucified in his stead ; and the Lord triumphed over the Jews, who thought they had crucified him. But if that had been the sentiment of Basilides, what ground had the catholic writers to instance in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus? If they did, his answer was easy: What do you mean? Did I ever say that Jesus suffered ? Do not all know that my opinion is that the Lord was not a man, and that Simon, a miserable sinner, suffered in his stead? Having been called to bear the cross, Providence put him in the room of the Saviour. So, to refer to an ancient history, Providence formerly substituted a ram in the place of Isaac. .
Since therefore Basilides, as appears from his own words cited by Clement, was greatly pressed by the example of the Lord insisted on by the catholics, we are led to conclude that he supposed Jesus to have really suffered, and that someliow or other Irenæus has been mistaken.
a Hist. de Manich. T. ii.
ελθης επι το δυσαπειν με, δια προσωπον τινιαν, ει τυχοι, λεγων" και Αλλα τω Βασιλειδη η υποθεσις προαμαρτησασαν φησι την
“Ο δεινα αν ήμαρτεν: επαθεν γαρ ο δεινα εαν μεν επιτρεπης, ψυχην εν έτερω βια, την κολασιν υπομενειν ενταυθα: την μεν ερω εχ ήμαρτεν μεν, όμοιος δε εν τω πασχoντι νηπιω. Ει εκλεκτην επιτιμως δια μαρτυρια' την άλλην δε, καθαρομενην μεν τοι σφοδρότερον εκβιασαιο τον λογον, ερω, ανθρωπον, οντιν' OSKELQ XOldOct. Clem. Al. Strom. p. 506. D. 507.
αν ονομασης, ανθρωπον ειναι, δικαιον δε τον θεον. καθαρος γαρ • Ουτωσι δε και τον αναμαρτητον, ον λεγω, εαν ιδω σασ- 8 d'EIS, WJTIEP EITE 715, ATO QUTH' Ibid. lib. 4. p. 506. C. D.' χοντα, καν μηδες η κακον πεπραχως, κακον ερω τω θελειν • Πως δε εκ αθεος-ανθρωπον αμαρτητικον τολμησας ειπειν αμαρτάνειν. Παντ' ερω γαρ μαλλον, η κακον το προνοεν ερω. τον κυριον. Ιb. p. 507. Β. Είθ' υποβας, και, ωερι τα κυρια αντικρυς, ώς περι ανθρωπο e Ibid. p. 27. n. vii. λεγει. Εαν μεγτοι παραλιπων τατος απαντας τες λογές,
Beausobre's View of the Sentiments of Basilides concerning Christ.
After this argument Beausobre sums up the sentiment and doctrine of Basilides concerning thc Saviour : 1. According to him Jesus was a real true man since he suffered: but whether he believed Jesus to be born of a virgin does not appear. 2. The Divine Understanding, Nus, , which is the same as the Son of God, descended into this man, and made use of him as an instrument, to give to mankind the knowledge of the true God and the means of salvation. By him he published his doctrine, and wrought great miracles in confirmation of it. 3. The exact manner in which he conceived of the divine intelligence with the human nature of Jesus, we cannot say; but he did not think him to partake of any of the infirmities of the human nature, or to be so united as to suffer. 4. Jesus being a man only, though a most excellent man, in whom the first-begotten of the Father chose to dwell, it may be said without blasphemy, not that he ever sinned, but that it is not impossible that he might. And it is better to make this supposi- . tion, than to allow Providence to be the cause of any evil, as it would be if an innocent person suffered. 5. If Jesus committed any fault (which Basilides did not affirm) it must have been before the Christ or the Spirit descended upon him at his baptism. 6. The ministry of the Saviour being finished, Jesus was taken and crucified, but not the Christ, or the first-begotten of the Father, who was no farther united to Jesus than was necessary for the functions of his charge. The Jews therefore fastened to the cross a man only, who for some time had been the organ of the divinity. _7. From whence it might possibly be concluded by some, that Basilides did, or would, say, as Irenæus tells us, that we ought not to believe in him that was crucified. For the Son of God is the only object of faith, not a man, who was only his instrument during the course of his ministry. 8. As Basilides believed the death of Jesus, though not of the Son of God, probably he believed his resurrection : that is, that his soul ascended to heaven, and the body was left to lie in the grave, or was dissipated into the air, and among the elements of which it was composed. As the ancient catholic writers do not particularly say that he denied the resurrection of Jesus, though they assure us he and his followers denied 'the resurrection of the body, it is not unlikely that he admitted the resurrection, or the advancement and glorification of the soul of Jesus.
He believed the Baptism of Jesus.
The examining what Irenæus says of the substituting Simon the Cyrenian in the room of Jesus, has carried us a great way. But we must not forget to observe that Basilides believed the fact of the baptism of Jesus. Clement says that his followers celebrated the day of his baptisın as a festival , spending the whole preceding night in reading, and very likely
likely in prayer. They placed it on the fifteenth day of the Egyptian month Tubi, which answers, as is supposed, to the ninth or tenth of our January, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius. It is probable that this was with them the time of the coming of the Son of God into the world: then Jesus was consecrated by baptism ; then the Christ or Spirit descended, and took up his abode in Jesus, filled him with abundance of gifts, and qualified him for teaching his doctrine and working miracles. The same Clement informs us that the Valentinians supposed the dove at Christ's baptism to have been the Spirit himself; but the Basilidians the minister of the Spirit.
• Ibid. p. 28. n. viii.
και οι δε απο Βασιλειδε και τα βαπτισματος αυτό την ημεραν εορταζεσι προδιαγυκτερευοντες αναγνωσεσι. κ. λ. Str. lib. 1, p. 340. B.
-ήν οι μεν το αγιον πνευμα φασιν, οι δε απο Βασιλειδα τον διακονον. Οι δε από Ουαλεντινα το πνευμα της ενθυμήσεως 78 Watpos. %. a. Exc. Theod. n. xvi.
There is a passage of Basilides concerning our Lord's baptism, quoted by Clement of Alexandria, - upon which Beausobre has made curious remarks.
He is said to have partaken of Things offered to Idols, and to have denied the Necessity or
Reasonableness of suffering Martyrdom.
IRENÆUS, in the place above cited, says they make light of things offered to idols, and partake of them without scruple. But how far they did so, we cannot certainly say. St. Paul forbids eating of them at some times, and upon some occasions only, and undoubtedly he enjoins this agreeably to the directions of the council of Jerusalem.
Basilides is supposed by some to have denied the necessity or reasonableness of our suffering martyrdom for Jesus. Irenæus is thought to point at his followers when he speaks of some heretics, who had a like opinion; and he may be supposed also to intend the same thing when he says they make no scruple to eat of things offered to idols. Origen too informs us that at least they detracted from the honour of martyrdom. The author of the additions to Tertullian's Prescriptions plainly says they denied the necessity of it; as ' doth Philaster and Epiphanius, & who all probably copied one from another. However, I do not think that we ought hence to conclude that there were no martyrs among the Basilidians; or that they thought themselves excused from suffering for the truth's sake. But we perceive from the notion of Basilides before taken notice of, that he might be reasonably said to have detracted from the honour of the martyrs. And some might be willing to conclude that he denied martyrdom to be a duty, or that confessing Jesus in times of danger was required of us. But this is a consequence drawn for him by others, from some of his opinions, and not what he himself allows. I'or it appears from several passages before quoted from Clement, that he esteemed martyrdom an honourable suffering, though some sins were therein accounted for..
He believed that only the Soul would be saved.
IRENÆvs also assures us that Basilides taught that the soul only would be saved; but the body is in its nature corruptible, and incapable of immortality. And here undoubtedly we may rely upon Irenæus. All in general who held two principles, and had a disadvantageous opinion of matter, as evil in itself, and the cause of all evils in this sublunary world, denied the resur. rection of the flesh, or the body. And possibly this too was one reason why some said that Basilides discouraged martyrdom, and denied that we ought to confess the name of Jesus in times of danger. For to deny that the body which suffered should have any share in future recompenses, was to discourage martyrdom, and to take away one motive for engaging men to submit to death in the cause of Christ.
a Str. lib. 2. p. 315.
Prohibet etiam pati martyriam homines pro nomine: b Hist. Manich. T. ii. p. 31, 32.
Christi, diceps ita : Ignoras, quid desideras. Non enim natus • Et cum hæc ita se habeant, ad tantam temeritatem pro- est, inquit Christus, neque crucifixus est. Philast. H. 32. gressi sunt quidam, ut etiam martyres sperpant, et vituperent και Διδασκει δε- -μη δειν μαρτυρειν. Epiph. H. 24. n. iv. eos qui propter Domini confessionem occiduntur. Iren. lib. 3.
Vide note', in p. 535. cap. 18. n. 4.
i Carnis resı rrectionem graviter impugnat, negans salutem * Basilidis quoque sermones detrahentes quidem iis qui corporibus repromissam. Tertull. Pr. cap. 46. p. 250. B. p. usque ad mortem certant pro veritate, ut confiteantur coram 215. 3. ηρνηθη δε και έτος της σαρκος την ανασασιν. The. hominibus Jesum. Ir. Matt. Tom. äi. p. 856. F. Bened. H, F. lib. 1. cap. 4. p. 195. C.
© Martyria negat esse facienda. De Pr. c. 46. p. 250. D. 215. 3.
He is falsely accused of believing that Actions are indifferent in their own Nature.
IRENÆUS farther says of the Basilidians that all actions whatever, and all kinds of lewdness are looked upon by them as indifferent. To the like purpose some other ancient writers, as Philaster and Epiphanius.
On this last assertion of Irenæus, from whom the other copied, it is proper to observe,
1. That the making no difference in things, or saying that all actions are indifferent, is absolutely inconsistent with the notions of Basilides concerning the Deity, expressed in the passage before cited, that no evil thing was to be imputed to Providence : and his great aversion to allow what seemed to be the consequence of this doctrine, relating to martyrs, farther confirms this. Certainly such an one could not esteem all actions alike, or make no difference between virtue and vice, righteousness and unrighteousness. No; he thought that the one ought to be inviolably adhered to, and the other to be abhorred. Moreover in the article of Saturninus, from whom Basilides, it is likely, did not differ on this head, Irenæus expressly says that it was his opinion that the Saviour came for the condemnation of bad men and dæmons, and for the salvation of good men; and that many of his followers practised great temperance. Therefore there are good and bad actions from which men are denominated ; and God approves those who do the one, and dislikes those who do the other.
2. There are still in Clement of Alexandria remaining passages of Basilides, wherein he shews that he had right sentiments concerning these matters, and condemns the thought and intention of evil, as well as the outward action. In the passage which I refer to " he seems to have an eye to our Lord's words in Matt. v. 21–28, and his doctrine is the same. In another place Clement represents the comment of Basilides and his followers upon Matt. xix. 10–15, to be to this purpose : Some,' say they, have a natural aversion for womer. They who have this * constitution, do well not to marry. These,' say they, are such as are eunuchs from their * birth. Others are so out of necessity, as they who exercise in the theatre, who for the * sake of glory practise continence. Some have been mutilated by some accident, and are also * eunuchs by necessity, not by choice. Finally, there are some who make themselves eunuchs - for the kingdom of heaven's sake, who, though they have a desire of marriage, decline it, fearing the incumbrances of that state.'
Whereupon Beausobre observes: Here'we see the true sentiments of Basilides upon the subject of continence, about which men thought differently at that time. Some made • it a necessary virtue, and condemned marriage as a work of the Hesh. Others exalted conti« nence as the most sublime virtue, though they did not condemn marriage as evil and sinful. • Others considered it not as a virtue in itself, but as a state of life which had its usefulness and • convenience, especially in times of persecution, because it delivered a Christian from the • cares and concerns inseparable from a marriage state. This last seems to have been the sen• timent of Basilides. He did not esteem continence a virtue in itself. If there were two ho
nest and faithful men, he did not give the preference to him who continued single above the • other who lived in lawful marriage. He was willing that all. should follow the condition 6 to which they were called by nature. He despised an affected and hypocritical continence. * He set no value upon forced virginity, or upon those who made ostentation of it, that they
va Habere autem et reliquarum operationum usunı indifferentem et universæ libidinis. Iren. ubi sup. I. 1. c. 23. 98. Gr.
6 Hic etiam male permittit vivere, et dat licentiam vitiis secularibus adhærere. Philast. H. 32. p. 69.
« Πασαν επιτηδευσιν κακομηχανίας και ασελγειας επιτρεπει τις αυτα μαθηματευομενες, επιτελείν ανδρας, μετα γυναικων mohupigav. Epiph. H. 24. n. iii. p. 71 B.
« Ως γαρ ο μοιχευσαι θελων μοιχος εσι, καν το μοιχευσαι
μη επιτυχη και ο ποιησαι φονον θελων, ανδρoφoνος εσι, καν μη δυνηται φονευσαι. κ. λ. Str. 1. 4. p. 506. C.
• Θι δε απο Βασιλειδε, πυθομενων, φασι, των αποστολων μη ποτε αμεινον εςι το μη γαμείν, αποκρινασθαι λεγεσι τον xugior -οι δε ένεκα της αιωνια βασιλειας ευνουχισαντες εαυτες, δια τα εκ τ8 γαμο φασι συμβαινόντα. Strom. lib. 3. P. 426. A. B..
| Hist. Manich. T. ii. p. 43.
• might be preferred to others; but he approved of that continence which was pure, free, and • chosen for the kingdom of heaven's sake. There needs no great penetration to discern that • all the fault of Basilides lay in not extolling continence to the heavens, in not giving it the preference above honest marriage, in not promising particular crowns and thrones to such as inade profession of it. This too was the fault of Jovinian, And the manner in which Jerom • treated him gives just ground to think that he treated Basilides no better for an opinion that
was very right, at least very innocent. Few persons of antiquity thought justly of marriage « and continence, and abstinences in general, and all that is called the ascetic life. So Beausobre.
3. Finally, Clement of Alexandria has borne testimony to the moral principles of Basilides and his son Isidore. There were Basilidians at Alexandria that were vicious. Having put down the passage before taken notice of, and some others from Isidore, I have alleged these pas• sages,' says Clement, to confound those Basilidians who live ill; for the first authors of their sect did not allow them to do so.' I cannot help observing farther that there is another passage of Basilides in Clement of Alexandria, expressing great strictness, if not severity, whichi must surely shew that he did not favour corruption of manners: for he held that of sins committed even before faith, or baptisın, those only would be forgiven which were involuntary, andi done through ignorance.
A probable Account of the Foundation of this Charge:
It may be here asked, if this be so, how came it to pass that Irenæus and others charge Basilides and his followers with immoral doctrines and practices ?
I answer, this may have proceeded from divers causes. Men are too susceptible of wrong impressions to the prejudice of such as are of different sentiments, and whom they think to be in error; and if some professors of it are bad, they are ready to infer that all are so, or that they act upon principle. Besides, some of the ancient heretics did hold principles which were liable to be abused, and their adversaries might possibly conclude that they actually were abused by those who maintained them. The Basilidians and some others." had a notion that God was not to be feared, but loved only. Tertullian indeed represents it as the common opinion of heretics that God was not to be feared ; and thence he infers that they were given up to all kinds of licentiousness. I therefore entirely agree with Beausobre, who thinks it to be highly probable that this induced many to impute licentiousness of manners to the Basilidians and other Gnostics. Another principle liable to be abused was the doctrine concerning two natures, one good in itself, the other bad; which was the opinion of Saturninus, and with which agreed the Basilidian doctrine concerning election. Clement seems to have thought that possibly some of the Basilidians did abuse this last mentioned doctrine, and reckoned themselves licensed to sin; but then he assures us that their first leaders did not allow of this consequence, or encou-rage their followers to act as these corrupt ones did. Nor does Clement impute this to them as what was really their opinion. He only says of those who did not live well, that “ they lived & as if they had liberty to sin, because of their perfection, or as if they must certainly be saved .by nature, and through election, however they sin now.'
* Tautas Tagessumy Tas QuYas els $7.87 WON TWY P. n Biertus et soluta. De Præs Hær. c. 43. p. 248. B. p. 213. 43. See ορθως Βασιλιδιανων-επει μηδε ταυτα αυτους πραττειν also many quotations to the same purpose under the chapter συγχαμασιν οι προπατορες των δογματων. Str. lib.3. p. 427. of Marcion. C.ed. Paris. p. 510. ed Porteri.
i Il est bien vraisemblable, que c'est là ce qui fit attribuer • ΓΙλην εδε πασας και Βασιλειδης φησι, μονας δε τας ακουσιος, aux Basilidiens, et aux autres Gnostiques, des neurs impures και κατα αγνοιαν, αφιεσθαι. Str. lib. 4. p. 536. Β.
et profanes. Que doit-on penser de gens, qui font profession c Vid. Clem. Sır. 375. C. D. ed. Paris. p. 448. ed. Potteri. de ne point craindre Dieu ? Hist. Manich. T. ii. p. 32. n. 2.
Ναι, φησιν, ου χρη θεον φοβείσθαι, αλλα αγαπαν----Αλλ' 8 Ως ητοι εχοντων εξασιαν και τα αμαρτειν δια την τελειο» • POGOS EXTTA700E try yuxqu. Simon ap. Hom. Clem. 17. τητα, η παντως γε σωθησομενων φυσει, καν νυν αμαρτωσι δια 13. xi. p. 735.
TYY EL QUTUY EX20799. Clem. Strom. 1. 3. p. 127. C. ed. Paris, Negant Deum timendum. Itaque libera sunt illis omnia p. 510. ed. Potteri,