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12 But as many as received him, to them gave he Written at
Ephesus. of the superangelic Being, into the modern Unitarianism, that too is traced to its source in the chimæras of the Samaritan sorcerer. And thus both the Ebionites of antiquity, and the Unitarians of our own time, are the offspring of the ancient Gnosticism” (a).
The general prevalence of these erroneous notions concerning the Logos, and the frequent mistakes of the primitive converts, who 'united their own philosophical opinions with the inferences deducible from Revelation, produced an ample stock of other heresies; many of which did not obtain celebrity, till the Church became so extended, that the greater pumber of any particular sect attracted public attention: and frequently the heresiarehs, or leaders themselves, were not generally distinguished, till their opinions had been widely disseminated. Thus we often find the several errors they adopted bad been long in existence before even the names of their principal supporters were known. Those, for instance, embraced by Cerinthus, Saturninus, the Docetæ, Basilides, and many others, may be traced to the perversions of Jewish tradition, the reveries of Platonism, and the fancies of the half converted and speculative(y).
The Gnostics (z), among many errors on the origin and continuance of evil, anticipated with eagerness the arrival of an eminent personage, who should deliver the souls of men from the bondage of the flesh; and rescue them from the evil Genii who governed the world. Some of these, being struck with the miracles of Christ, conceived Him to be the Being they expected. Many of his doctrines, therefore, they willingly embraced; while they refused to believe in the reality of his apparently material body. To these, or to such as these, that passage might have been addressed, “the Word was made Hesh.” He, who descended from an invisible state to deliver man from evil, was made flesh. Whether the Evangelist alluded to the Gnostics or Docetæ, we cannot positively decide.
Saturninus (aa) was another philosophizing heretic, who believed in the existence of an independent, eternal, evil principle. He supposed the world to have been created by seven angels, which were the same as the people of the East believed to reside in the seven planets. One of these angels he supposed to be the ruler of the Hebrew nation, the Being that brought them up out of the land of Egypt, &c. and whom the Jews, not having knowledge of the Supreme Being, ignorantly worshipped as God. His other reveries may be found in Mosheim.
Upon bis conversion to Christianity, if his foolish attempt to engraft his absurd, and, falsely called, philosophical opinions on Cbristianity, may be so denominated, he endeavoured to reconcile his former efforts to account for that baflling mystery, the origin and continuanoe of evil, with his new creed. In consequence, he supposed a rebellion of these seven angels and their dependents, against the Supreme Being, and on their involving mankind in their revolt, the Son of God descended from above, and took upon him a body, not indeed composed of depraved matter, but merely the shadow or resemblance of a body. He came to overthrow all evil, its authors, and agents, and to restore man, in whom existed a divine soul, to the Supreme Being. His notions on this point, therefore, might likewise have been alluded to by St. John in the Preface to his Gospel: He who came from God, the true Logos, was made flesh, and they bebeld his glory.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Written at Light, that all men through him might believe.
Messiah of the Christian and Jew, or the Angel Jehovah of the
The same opinion of a double signification of the Logos, a
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness Written at
Ephesus. of that Light.
of angels and guardian spirits, and because the Jews of Pales-
John Benedict Carpsovius and Stephen Nye, an English
The works of Philo had become so popular, that although the writer was a Jew, and therefore obnoxious to the Roman nation, they had been enrolled in the public libraries at Rome. From this circumstance we may infer that his ideas of the Word of God, the Jehovah Angel of the Old Testament, called by Philo, in his native language of Alexandria, dóyos rê deg, were as well known to the beatben or gentile converts, as the term
xon, or Memrah Jab, or Word was familiar to the Jews of Palestine: and as the same actions in the Targums, and in the works of Philo are given to this divine Personage, which the Scripture itself ascribes to the Angel Jehovah, we may justly conclude that the Targumists and Philo, intended to express the same idea, and to give to the Jehovah of the Old
Testament the attributes of Godhead, assigned to the Word. Philo confused the two ideas of a personal and conceptual Logos, because he derived his opinions from the two opposite sources of Heathenism and Judaism. The Logos of the Old Testament is plainly personal, the Logos of Heathenism conceptual. The same error was committed by the Targumists; their notions of a Logos being derived from two sources one of which was from the corrupted, the other the purer traditions of their Fathers ; and so confused was the popular opinion on this point, that we may almost say it was necessary, considering the importance of the subject, that an inspired teacher should correct the prevalent errors. St. Joho, therefore, writing at a period when the public opinions on the subject were so unsettled, begins bis Gospel by declaring to the Jews, that both the Logos of one
9 That was the true Light which lighteth every man Written at that cometh into the world.
party, and the Memra Jah of the other, possessed the very same
After establishing this truth, concerning which there may be
The double signification of the word Logos, unavoidably produced many heresies and divisions in the Christian Church. The Church, says Tillemont (9), was from the begioning disturbed with two opposite heresies, each of which produced different sects. Simon, the founder of the Gnostics, or Docetæ, held two principles, and taught that our Saviour was man in appearance only. The other heresy was that of the Cerinthians, who embraced Christianity in part only. These acknowledged one principle, and one God; and the reality of the human nature in Jesus Christ: but they denied his Divinity, and were food of the ceremonies of the law. Contrary as these opinions are to each other and to truth, the Cerinthians found means to unite them, and they were adopted in different forms, and with different variations by many others; to whom it will be necessary to allude.
It is possible that these contending opinions had begun to agitate the Church as early as the first date assigned to St. Jobn's Gospel. But it is more probable that they did not become sufficiently formidable to disturb its peace till towards the conclusion of the first century, when the Gospel of St. John is more generally allowed to have been written. The time when Cerinthus lived uncertain; but the earliest date assigned to him is after the year 70, with the exception of Baronius, who speaks of him as living within some few years after our Lord's ascension. Le Clerc asserts that he tlourished in the year 80. Basoage 101. Lampe (r), from the discrepancies in the accounts of Irenæus, and Epiphanius, entertains i he very erroneous opinion, that the Gospel of St. Jobn was valued by the Cerinthians; and endeavours to prove that Cerinthus was a heretic of the second century. Even this, however, does not invalidate the argument that St. John's Gospel was written to oppose the principles professed by Cerinthus; for they are said by Irenæus to have been inculcated by the Nicolaitans. Yet, us Irenæus, who asserted that St. John wrote against Cerinthus, was a disciple of Polycarp, who was personally acquainted with St. John; his testimony, which was given a hundred years after, appears most likely to be correct. The best evidence, therefore, that the scanty records of antiquity has handed down to us, corroborates the presumption that Cerinthus sowed the seeds of his principles during the life of the excellent Evangelist St.
Written at 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by
Ephesus. him, and the world knew him not.
John, and, we might well suppose, that the Apostle would be
Michaelis therefore observes, with equal force and justice, that
light' would be extremely dubious, unless it were determined
That we may understand the design and order of St. Jobn's Gospel, it will be necessary to take a brief review of the tenets of Cerinthus, in opposition to which the evangelist purposely wrote it. This will not only reflect considerable light on para ticular passages, but make the whole appear a complete workregular, clear, and conclusive.
Cerinthus was by birth a Jew, who lived at the close of the first century: having studied 'literature and philosophy at Alexandria, he attempted at length to form a new and singular system of doctrine and discipline, by a monstrous combination of the doctrines of Jesus Christ with the opinions and errors of the Jews and Gnostics. From the latter be borrowed their Pleroma or fulness, their Æons or spirits, their Demiurgus or creator of the visible world, &c. and so modified and tempered these fictions, as to give them an air of Judaism, which must have considerably favoured the progress of his heresy. Ho taught that the most high God was utterly unknown beforo tho