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I.

SECT. alfo formed the bodies of men, and inclofed within them rational fouls, which were particles of the pure and ethereal light, that compofed the effence of God. Such imprisonment is equally against the will of God, and the inclination of the foul, which loaths its bafe and terreftrial companion, and perpetually struggles to regain its native freedom.

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The fame evil being, whom they fometimes called demiurge, was the God of the Old Teftament, and the author of the Jewish law; a law confifting of carnal ordinances and ceremonies, which, as they concern matter, must neceffarily partake of its evil properties. Such a law was folely calculated to debafe that nation into the most abject flavery, and to withdraw their fouls from the contemplation of their celestial origin, by plunging them into the midft of ceremonial obfervances 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 darknefs. The modes indeed of their fervitude

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might vary, but the minds of all were CHAP. equally darkened, and they all bowed their I. necks beneath the galling yoke of this powerful ufurper. The fupreme Being fent a celestial meffenger from the fulness of happiness and glory, in which he dwelt, and invested him with a human form d. The name of this heavenly delegate was Chrift; and, though in appearance a man, yet he was in reality only a fhadowy phanHis body was not like our bodies, but merely vifionary; fince it would be contradictory to imagine, that he, who came to oppose the influence of matter, fhould be clothed in matter ©.

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• Πλήρωμα.

Epiph. adv. Hær. lib. ii.

e Epiph. adv. Hær. lib. i. Dr. Lardner, in his Supplement to the Credibility, is unwilling to allow, that St. John wrote his Gospel in oppofition to the Docete; but the general opinion, respecting the purport of that Gospel, is certainly ftrengthened very confiderably by the words of Ignatius of Antioch, the difciple 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 έτως ὑμας σοφισαντα. Ενοησα γας ὑμας κατηρτισμένες εν ακινητῳ πιςει, ώσπες καθηλωμένες εν τῷ σαυρῷ. Το κύριο Ιησε Χρισε, σαρκι τε και πνευματι, και έδρασμένες εν αγαπη εν τω aiματι Χρις8, πεπληροφορημένους εις τον κύριον ήμων, αληθως οντά εκ γενες Δαβιδ κατα σαρκα, υἷον θεα κατα θέλημα και δυναμιν θεον, γεγενημένον αληθως εκ παρθενου, βεβαπτισμένον ὑπο Ιωαννού, ἵνα

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This illuftrious perfonage 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 foul from the intolerable thraldom impofed 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 grofs and fluggish yokefellow, she was to anticipate with joy the moment of her emancipation from so disgraceful a fervitude; and in the mean time. was to cooperate with the heavenly teacher, by making fuch a progrefs towards internal purity, as her present scanty powers would permit. This could only be effected by a vigorous refiftance to the paffions and appetites of the body; and the most effectual

πληρωθῇ πασα δικαιοσυνη ὑπ' αυτ8. Αληθως επι Ποντιο Πιλατε και
Ηρωδου τετραρχου καθηλωμένον ὑπες ήμων εν σαρκι-Ταυτα γαρ
παντα επαθεν δι' ἡμας ἵνα σωθώμεν. Και αληθως επαθεν, ὡς και
αληθως ανέσησεν ἑαυτον, ουχ ώσπερ απιςοι τινες λέγεσιν το δοκειν
αυτον πεπονθέναι, αυτοι το δοκειν οντες, και καθώς, φρονεσιν και
συμβήσεται αυτοίς, εσιν ασωματοις και δαιμονικοις. Εγω γαρ και
μετα την ανασασιν εν σαρκι αυτον οιδα, και πιςεύω οντα. Epift.
ad Smyrn.

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f Iren. lib. i. c. 29.

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way to fubdue this domestic and confe- CHAP. quently more dangerous enemy, was to practife continual abftinence and mortification. Thus, even in this world, it was poffible to attain to a confiderable degree of abftraction from the concerns of the flesh, by macerating the evil matter of which the body is compofed, till every grofs and impure inclination died away within it.

The doctrine of the metempfychofis was likewife maintained by the Gnoftics, for the purpose of purification from the taints contracted in the flesh. The peculiar manner, in which they expreffed this tenet, fingularly agrees with the notions of the philofophers of the eaft, from whom indeed their fantastic 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 fouls of men, during a ftate of unconfciousness, are first abforbed

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by him, and afterwards again emitted upon the earth. "They next pafs through the forms of fwine, and other "animals, and are then again hurried through the fame "lofty revolution as before." EPIPH. adv. Hær. lib. i. In this paffage may be evidently difcovered that belief in a kind of fidereal metempfychofis, which formed fo 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 fphere, which were introduced into the Eleufinian and Mithratic myfteries, where the paffage of the foul 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 upon the Homeric cave of the nymphs, accurately describes the whole of this ima

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A doctrine fo fpiritualized as this, and fo oppofite to, and deftructive of, the religion of the God of the Jews, could not fail both to alarm and irritate that usurper. Burning with rage to fee his dominions thus invaded, he stirred up his faithful adherents, the Priests and Pharifees, to a bitter and determined oppofition of these innovations, and transfused all his own venom into their bofomsh. The confequence was, that they apprehended Christ, condemned him to death, and crucified him. But, though he appeared to the eyes of the fpectators to die, the whole scene of his torments was a mere delufion; for his body being vifionary, and not fubftantial, it was impoffible, that he should really fuffer, for the fins of the world, the pains which he seemed to undergo upon the ́ crofs. This however did not happen, till Christ had fojourned a fufficient length of

ginary metempfychofis. Δύο εν ταύτας εθίντο πύλας, Καρκιτον, και Αιγοκερων, οἱ Θεολογοι Πλατων δε δυο σομια εφη· τουτων δε Καρκινον μεν ειναι, δι ̓ ὁ κατιασιν αἱ ψυχαι· Αιγοκερων δε, δι ̓ οὗ ανιασιν αλλα Καρκινος μεν, Βόρειος και καταβατικος" Αιγοκερως δε νοτιος, και αναβατικος· εςι δε τα μεν. Βόρεια, ψυχων εις γενεσιν καλεσων -Ta δε Νότια εκ θεών, αλλα των εις θεός ανιεσων. PofPH. de An. Nymph.

h Iren. lib. i. c. 34.

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