Joseph Betty, Tertullian's Prescription against Hereticks. Oxford (1722) pp. 1-87
BISHOP of ANTIOCH
Translated from their respective Originals,
with Notes and Preliminary Dissertations.
By JOSEPH BETTY M. A. Fellow of
Exeter College, OXON.
Ta a)rxai=a Ezh kratei/tw, VI. Can. Concil. Nic.
Printed at the Theatre, MDCCXXII.
Maii 15. 1722.
THE MOST REVEREND
FATHER IN GOD
By Divine Providence
with the most devout Reverence
the most fervent Zeal, and the
most profound Humility
PAG. 13. Line 14. for Wastes read wastes. Pag. 16. Line 3. for authoriz'd. authoriz'd ? Pag. 49, Line 26. for a)r)r(h&sa a)r)r(h&ta.
Pag. 66. Line 31. for Luxuriousness Uxoriousness. Pag. 68. Line l6. for of Angels, from among the Order of Angels.
PAG. 164. 13. for Perfections Perfection. Pag. 115. Line 8. for Ballos Ballas, for Barsos Barsas. Pag. 248. for Apologettck Apologetick.
SHALL not stand to make any Excuse for Publishing this Prescription of Tertullian against Hereticks. The great Variety of Heresies and Schisms which have of late arose in the Church will abundantly speak for me. The same unreasonable Objections, the fame groundless and unjust Cavils, and the like vain Pretences to Scriptural Authority, have been vehemently urg'd by every Sect: among us, as (according to this Fathers Information) were rais'd and inculcated |2 by the Hereticks of old, the Marcionites and Valentinians. And why then may not the fame reasons and Arguments, which formerly stop'd the Mouths of those fierce Combatants against the Faith, those profess'd and daring Enemies to Truth, and which have firmly stood the Test of so many Ages; why (I say) may not the fame reasons and Arguments happily put to silence the Clamours of our Modern Adversaries?
This Difcourfe of Prescription was wrote in the Year of Christ two hundred and three, which was some Years before our Author commenc'd Montanist. And tho' upon this account I might justly plead his Authority in the Case; yet I shall humbly desire the Reader to lay aside that Consideration with his Prejudices, the fruitful Causes of the most destructive Errors.
For what if the powerful Force of Prejudice may perhaps induce some men to object that Tertullian fell into the most dangerous Errors, and at last went over to the Hereticks? And what if his Testimony seems by some of the 1 Ancients to have been rejected upon this account? Will these reasons be thought sufficient to lessen and invalidate his Authority, or to withdraw and disengage our just Esteem and Veneration for those excellent Writings with which he so highly oblig'd the World, whilst he continu'd Sound and Orthodox in the Faith? Can |3 it possibly be thought a good Argument to reject and explode the Opinions and Writings of a Man of the most inquisitive and fagacious Spirit, whose extensive and unlimited Genius had carried him thro' all human Sciences, and that for no other reason but because sometime after the Publishing his Writings, he by some unlucky Accident lost his right senses. We are only to consider the Validity of the reasoning, the Truth, and Soundness of the Arguments in the Writings of any Author. We should not suffer our selves upon any account to be prejudic'd with respect to Character, Time, Place, Temper, or any other Circumstance of the Writer.
As for the reasons and Arguments offer'd by our Author, if they are not sufficient to convince any reasonable man that maturely weighs them; sure I am, that the Authority of no single person will ever have any influence over him, tho' it may come attended with the greatest recommendation, and sett off to the best advantage.
The Design of this little Treatise is to shew, that the Appeal to Scripture is very injust in Hereticks, who not being Christians, can therefore have no Claim or Title to the Scriptures. these were carefully committed in trust by the Apostles to their Successors; and that to whom the Scriptures were committed, to them also was committed the Interpretation of Scripture. He afterwards goes on to prove the Truth of that Doctrine the Church of Africk then held, by |4 shewing that no Doctrine could be True, which was nbt conformable to the Faith taught in the Churches planted by the Apostles. And likewise, that the African Doctrine did actually conspire in the same Faith with the Apostolick Churches. All then says he, to be prov'd, in short is this viz. That 2 the Doctrine we preach has a right, a just, and indisputable Title to Apostolick Tradition. And this will at the same time be a Demonstration of it's own Truth, and a Confutation of the Error of all Heretical Innovation. Now our Title to Apostolick Tradition will from hence appear certain and indisputable, because we communicate with the Apostolick Churches, and because there is not any one of our Churches which maintains any Doctrine inconsistent with that which is taught in the Churches planted by the Apostles themselves. This entire Harmony, this perfect Agreement, this general Consent is therefore the most convincing Proof imaginable, that we are Orthodox and Sound in the Faith.
It was not enough to plead the Authority of Scripture, either to confute or convince Hereticks of the Error of their Innovations. The Testimonies brought from thence were obnoxious to Cavil, and liable to a wrong Interpretation. And who should be Judge whether the receiv'd Faith, or the Heretical Exposition was the true and genuine Meaning of the Passage in Dispute? The universal Agreement of the |5 Fathers of the Church from the Apostles days down to those of our Author, was an Argument that would admit of no just Exception. Nor could the Hereticks otherwife evade it's force, than by calling in question the Integrity of all Holy Men, who had gone before them. Yet strange, exceeding strange must it be, that for so long a time together, during this Combination and Conspiracy in Iniquity, not one should be found who ever repented of, or protested against the Forgery; not one who attempted to restore and revive that Faith which the Apostles delivered. And yet still more miraculously strange must it be, that God should by conferring so many Gifts, Graces and Powers upon them, set the great Seal of Heaven to the Confirmation of a Lye. And withal that they should so earnestly, even to death, contend for that Faith, which they never believ'd, and which all the while they knew to be an Error.
I am confidently perswaded there are very few or none among us, excepting those who have bid farewell both to their Reason and their Faith, and upon that account have consecrated their Lives to the Service of Impiety, and have sworn Allegiance to the great Enemy of Truth as well as of Mankind, who will refute to give suffrage to the Integrity of the Fathers. Let us then see; whether, supposing these Holy Men not entirely devoid of common Honesty, the Church could have fallen into an univerfal Error within the times of the three first Centuries. And this truly will scarce seem |6 possible, if we thoughly consider the words of Tertullian.
3 Now as from that one Church which was originally planted by the Apostles, sprung up so many great and flourishing Churches; so to all these is the Title of Primitive and Apostolick Churches due also, while they live in the Unity of the same Faith and Discipline; and while they religiously observe, and strictly keep up true brotherly Love and constant Communion One with another. And Nothing could make them do so, and preserve these sacred Rites entire, but the Tradition and Observation of one and the same Doctrine and Difcipline.
All Christians how widely soever dispers'd had constantly maintain'd one Doctrine and Fellowship; and from this one Fellowship an uniform Tradition of the Faith was convey'd down to latter ages.
For in order to perferve an Union firm and inviolate, Correspondencies by Epistles were kept up between the Churches. They had their 4 Koinwnika_ Sugra&mmata, Communicatory Letters in case of emergent Business. Whereby all the communicable Churches of the Christian World were acquainted with the Proceedings which happen'd in every particular Church. Was a new Bishop elected? By these the Churches were certify'd of his Election, and Orthodoxy in the Faith, and by these they gave unto him |7 the right hand of Fellowship. Were Innovations either attempted or effected ? Notice was hereby immediately given to the other Churches, that by their consenting Votes the Sound in the Faith might be approved, and the Innovators cenfur'd and rejected. Was a person cut off from the Communion of a particular Church? The Excommunication was by these made known to other Christian Societies; and the excommunicated person excluded the Communion of all, until by the same Letters Communicatory from that particular Church his Reconciliation was notified and confirm'd. And thus did one uniform Faith and Discipline obtain all the world over.
I shall give Instances of these in their turns. Of the first sort is the Instance from St Cyprian, of Cornelius's, Election to the Bishoprick of Rome, who immediately upon his Consecration sent his Communicatory Letters to all Catholick Bishops, and among the rest to St. Cyprian, in testimony of his Advancement to that See, and his stedfast Adherence to the Apostolick 5 Faith. And Novatian tho' consecrated uncanonically, and in Schism, judg'd it expedient to dispatch the like Letters Communicatory to St. Cyprian also, as tho' his Consecration had been Canonical, and in the Unity of the 6 Church. This indeed was a disputed Case, and St. Cyprian before he acknowedg'd either of them as his Collegue, enquired into the Rights of the elected |8 Persons, and having 7 sent to Rome two Bishops, who were well able to examine the Matter, and receiv'd Letters from the sixteen Bishops, who ordain'd Cornelius in favour of his Consecration and Orthodoxy, he admitted him into the Episcopal College, and rejected Novatian as a Schismatical Intruder. But where the person promoted met with no Opposition, his Communicatory Letters were sent to all his Fellow Bishops, and by these he was joyn'd to the rest of his 8 Collegues. And thus Optatus in his second Book against Parmenian, having given us a Catalogue of the Roman Bishops down to Damasus, adds, "9 Syricius is at this day the Successor of Damasus with whom both we and the whole World agree together in one Fellowship of Communion, by the Intercourse of Communicatory Letters."
Secondly, in case of Innovation the Primitive Bishops acquainted all other Churches herewith, that the whole Christian World might by the same Communicatory Letters concur in censuring the Innovators. Of this we have an early Instance in the Story of Paulus Samosatenus, and the Circular Letter of the Synod of Antioch. This Paulus had advanc'd an opinion concerning Christ, that he was by nature no more than a 10 meer Man. Hereupon a Synod of the neighbouring Bishops was conven'd, |9 Paulus was convicted of Heresy, and depos'd, and Domnus elected to succeed him. Upon this the Bishops assembled write their Synodical Epistle, which we 11 have in Eusebius, in the Names of their respective Churches, to notify to all other Christian Churches the Deposition of Paulus, and the Consecration of Domnus: adding withal, 12 "This have we given you notice of, that you may write to him (Domnus) and receive from him Communicatory Letters. But let him (who is deposed) write to Artemon; and let the followers of Artemon (a condemn'd Heretick) communicate with him." Thus we see the Receiving of Communicatory Letters from Domnus, was a Recognition of his Right, a Condemnation of Paulus, and a full Testimony of an exact Agreement in Faith throughout the whole World.
Thirdly, Excommunicates from a Particular Church were not admitted, unless the person excommunicated brought along with him these Communicatory Letters to notify his Reconciliation. The thirteenth Apostolick Canon is full to this Purpose. 13 "If a Clergyman, or a Layman be separated from any one Church, or not admitted to it's Communion, and going into another City, be there receiv'd without |10 Communicatory Letters, let the person re-ceiv'd and those who receiv'd him, be both excommunicated." And thus, as 14 Epiphanius informs us, when Marcion had been excluded the Church by his own Father the Bishop of Synope in Pontus, and had made Application to the Church of Rome for Admission to Communion, he receiv'd this Answer, "14 We cannot admit you without the consent of your venerable Father; for there is one Faith and one Concord, and we cannot act in Opposition to our worthy Collegue, your Father."
In this manner was the One Faith and one Discipline preserv'd inviolate by a constant Tradition of all Bishops, whose Communicatory Letters were a continued Testimony of the Doctrine they held, and the Practices they maintain'd. By these an entire Harmony and perfect Agreement were kept up in the Churches. And Tertullian was undoubtedly Just in his Argument, when in the name of the African Churches, he claim'd an indisputable Title to Apostolick Tradition "because he communicated with the Apostolick Churches."
I shall prosecute this Point no farther, than to make one useful and necessary Observation. Whatever Doctrine or Practice, wherein The common Christianity was immediately concern'd, we can shew to have been the Receiv'd |11 Doctrine or Practice of any Particular Church, and which was never censur'd by any other sound Branch of the Christian Church, during the Age of Communicatory Letters, this Doctrine or Practice will from hence appear to have been the Doctrine and Practice of all other Churches, and consequently will have an unquestionable Claim to Apostolick Tradition.
And hence it is that our 15 Church wisely directs Preachers to teach Nothing to the People, as necessary to be held and believ'd, except what is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and explain'd by the Catholick Fathers, and Antient Bishops.
I earnestly pray God to answer the Ends of this Version, and open the eyes of all Hereticks and Schismaticks, that they may clearly see the Titles of Holy and Apostolick to be Due to that Church alone which agrees in it's Doctrine and Discipline with the Apostolick Church of the first Ages.
HE State and Condition of these Times demand of Us to give this Admonition, viz. That we ought not to be surpriz'd at the Rise of the present 16 Heresies either that they are, for they were presignified; or that they subvert and undermine the Faith of some Men; for For this Cause |13 Heresies are, that our Faith by suffering Temptation might shew itself approved. The Rise and Progress then of Heresies is by no Means a just Cause of Offence, tho' many are rashly and inconsiderately offended at them. How much greater Reason would they have for Wonder and Astonishment, were there no such Thing as Heresy to be met with in the World? Whatever has a Being, has also a Cause of that Being. It has a certain Energy whereby it is, and which implies an Impossibility of it's not being.
We are not surpriz'd at the Being of a Fever, which among other dreadfully tormenting and deadly Distempers, Wastes, and destroys the Health of Men. We are satisfied It hath a Being, and are not struck with Wonder and Amazement to find a Man in a Fever oppress'd with Pain, which is the natural and necessary Effect of that Disease. If therefore we wonder, we ought first to wonder at the Nature of Heresies. We ought not to be astonish'd that Heretics which are the very Pest and Destruction of the Faith, should produce such dismal Effects; which, whilst they are in being, they cannot but produce, and whilst they have it in their power to produce, cannot but be. We rather dread a Fever as an Evil both from it's Cause and Influence, than wonder at it when it hath befallen us; and as much as in us lies, |14 we take all possible Care to prevent it, tho we have not an absolute Power of breaking it's Force, or removing the Malady. But Heresies which carry along with them Death eternal, and the Burnings of a much more intense Fire, some Men had rather be surpriz'd at upon account of their great Prevalence, than endeavour to prevent their spreading Growth, which by Virtue of a little Consideration they would be enabled to do. Now Heresies would not prevail, if Men were not so much lost in Wonder at their Prevailing. For either by being Matter of Wonder, they give also Occasion for Offence; or by being the Occasion of Offence, they are therefore wonder'd at, as if their great Advances were owing to the invincible Power of their Truth. It were strange indeed that Evil should thus prevail, were it not that Heresies flourish most among those who are Weak and not Confirm'd in the Faith. In the Combats of Wrestlers and Gladiators, we often find, that He who is the Conquerour is not always so upon this Account only, that he is strong or cannot well be overcome; but because the conquer'd Party might possibly be very Weak; and so this Conquerour being afterwards oppos'd to an exceeding strong Man is overcome, and shamefully leaves the Field. And thus it is with Heresies, They insensibly gain Ground from the Infirmities of some Men, but would soon lose all their pretended Force and boasted Efficacy, if set in Opposition to a firm and well-establish'd Faith. |15
But allowing this to be so, yet it must be granted that the Weaker sort of Christians, and Pretenders to Religion are wont by the Insinuation of Hereticks to be seduced and instructed to their own Ruin. And thus it is not only with these Persons, but it may also be ask'd, why hath This or That most Faithful, and Prudent, and useful Member of the Church gone over to the other Party? But why rather doth not He who put the Question, return this Answer to himself, That no Men ought to be esteem'd Faithful, Wise, or usefull, who have at any Time degenerated into Heresy? But wherein (I pray) confifts the mighty Wonder, that he who formerly was approved should afterwards fall away? Was not that very Saul to whom there was none like in Goodness among the People, afterwards overcome by Envy? David a Man after God's own Heart, did afterwards involve himself in the heinous Guilt of Murder and Adultery. And Solomon tho' endued by God with all the Heavenly Graces of Wisdom and Understanding, was by the Delusions of strange Women irresistibly drawn into Idolatry. Impeccability was the privilege of the Son of God only, to him alone it was given to persevere in universal Holiness, without contracting any the least Spot or Blemish from the Pollutions of Sin. What then if a Bishop, a Deacon, a Widow, a Virgin, a Teacher, or even a Martyr shall |16 fall away from the Faith? Will therefore Heresies by these Means, and by these Examples seem to be confirm'd or authorizd. Do we judge of the Faith by the Persons, or of Persons by their Faith? No Man is Wise who holds not the Faith; nor is he perfectly Excellent who is not a Christian; nor is he a Christian who perseveres not unto the End. You, as a Man, have known another outwardly; you judge from what you see, but you see only as far as your eyes can reach. But what say the Scriptures? "The eyes of the Lord are high. Man looketh on the outward Appearance, but the Lord looketh on the Heart. And therefore the Lord knoweth who are His; and the Plant which the Father hath not planted, he plucketh up; he maketh the First to be last, and his Fan is in his hand wherewith he will throughly purge his Floor." Let the Chaff then of little Faith be blown away by every Blast of Temptation; and by so much the more will the purer Heap of Corn be laid up in the Floor of the Lord. Were not many of our Lord's Difciples offended with his Doctrine, and departed from him : and yet the other Disciples thought not this a sufficient reason, why they too should forsake him. But knowing him to be the Word of Life, and that he came forth from God, they stedfastly adhered to him, even to the End, although he had made them this mild, this gentle Offer, that if they pleas'd they also might go away. Much less then is it to be wonder'd at by us if a |17 17 Phygellus, or an Hermogenes, 18 a Philetus or an Hymeneus forsook his Apostle. He that impiously betray'd Christ himself was of the number of the Apostles. Why then are we furpriz'd that the Churches are forsaken by some of their own Members, feeing, that these Things shew us to be Christians, which we suffer after Christ's Example? "They went out from us, says the Scripture, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us."
Wherefore let us be Mindful of the Prophecies of our Lord, and the Writings of the Apostles, who have foretold that Heresies would arise, and have forewarned us to avoid them. And as we are not astonish'd that there are Heresies; let us not wonder at those direful Effects, with which they are generally attended, and for which they are carefully to be avoided. Our Lord hath instructed us that many Ravening Wolves shall come in Sheep's Cloathing. |18 Now what is here meant by Sheep's Cloathing, but the external Appearance, the pretended Form of Godliness, and the specious Shew of Christianity? Who are these Ravening Wolves but Cunning and Deceitful Spirits, lurking in Secret to prey upon and devour the Flock of Christ? Who are false Prophets, but false Preachers? Who are false Apostles but the Introducers of new Gospels ? Who are AntiChrists both now and ever, but such as live in Opposition to, and Rebellion against Christ? And indeed the Heresies which now are, do not less infest the Church by their obstinate Diversity of Opinions, than AntiChrist when he cometh shall do by the Violence of his Persecutions; this Difference only being excepted that Persecution makes Martyrs, but Heresy Apostates. And therefore also must Heresies be, that those who are approved should be made Manifest; as well those who have kept the Faith in Times of the most dreadful and shocking Persecution, as those who have not plunged themselves headlong into Heresy. For we are not to judge Them approved, who hold an Heretical Opinion instead of the Faith, as some Men seem to infer from that saying, "Try all Things, hold fast that which is Good." For a Man may by a bad Examination fall thro' involuntary Error into the Choice of false Doctrines.
Moreover, if in blaming Schisms and Divisions, which without doubt are Evil, he |19 forthwith subjoins Heresies; That, which the Apostle has joyned to Evils, he likewise declares to be an Evil, and indeed the greater Evil, in that he says concerning Schisms and Divisions, that he partly believes them, because he knew that Heresies must necessarily be. By the certain Prospect of a greater Evil he shews that he easily gave Credit to the less. He did not say that he believ'd the Evil, because Heresies were Good; but that he might premonish them not to be amaz'd at the Rise of gross Temptations; which were of very great use to make Manifest the approved, who could not be drawn aside by any Blast of powerful Temptation, or the furious Efforts of false Doctrine. In short, if the Principal Aim of the whole Chapter be to preach up and inculcate Unity, and to discountenance Divisions; and if Heresies do not less break the Unity of the Church, than Schisms and Divisions do, then hath St. Paul rank'd Heresies in the same Blame-worthy order, as he hath Divisions and Schisms. And he therefore makes not them approved, who have fallen into Heresies, in that he strictly charges the Faithful in an especial manner to mark and avoid them, teaching that all ought to think and speak the same Thing, which Thing Heresies permit not.
But we have no great occasion to enlarge much upon this head; since the same St. Paul |20 doth in another place, writing to the Galatians reckon Heresies among the "Works of the Flesh:" and gives order to Titus to reject the "Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, knowing, that he that is such, is perverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself." And indeed in almost every Epistle exhorting us to avoid false Doctrines, he rebukes and exposes Heresies, the Works whereof are false Doctrines. For we are to understand that 19 Heresy is a Greek Word, which by Interpretation signifies Election, whereby any Man makes Choice of, and embraces some peculiar Doctrines, and strenuously maintains them. And the Apostle doth therefore pronounce an Heretick condemned of himself, because he hath chosen That to himself, wherein he is thus condemned. For we have it not in our own Power to introduce what Doctrine we please; nor are we allowed to make Choice of That, which another hath thus introduced. We are the Followers of our Lord's Apostles, who did not of themselves invent or introduce any Doctrine, but faithfully and honestly deliver'd to the World the Doctrine and Practices they had |21 received from Christ. Wherefore should an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel, he would by us be accounted Anathema. The Holy Ghost had even at that time foreseen that there would arise in the Virgin 20 Philumena a seducing Spirit, transforming himself into an Angel of Light, by whose Miracles and Impostures 21 Apelles being strangely led away, hath broach'd, and unhappily brought in a new Heresy.
These are the Doctrines of Men and Devils, derived from the Wisdom of this World, by Men who have curiously itching Ears; to which Wisdom our Lord having given the distinguishing Term and Denomination of Folly, "hath chosen the foolish Things of the World to confound the Wise." For a rash Explication both of the Divine Nature and Dispensations, and the Manner of God's Proceeding in |22 the Work of Creation is the subject Matter of all wordly Philosophy. And from this corrupt Fountain did Heresies originally flow. 22 Valentinus was educated in the School of Plato; and thence he drew his Notions of the Aeones, and his, I know not what, strange Forms, and his Trinity of Man. 23 Marcion had long convers'd among the 24 Stoicks, and from thence he taught that an idle, unactive Life, unconcern'd with either the Virtues or Vices of Men, and entirely wrapp'd up in the Complacency and Enjoyment of itself, became the supreme God. The Notion of the Soul's Mortality had it's Rise from the 25 Epicureans, And that our Flesh cannot be 26 restored after Death is an Opinion maintain'd by every Sect of Philosophers. Where |23 we find Matter to be equal with God, there we are presented with a Sketch of 27 Zeno's Doctrine. And where an Opinion is started concerning a God, whole Substance is of Fire, we may be well assured that the Author is a professed Follower of 28 Heraclitus. The same Subjects are treated upon by Hereticks and Philosophers; and the same insuperable Difficulties occur to Both. From whence springs Evil, and what is the Cause and Principle of it? What was Man's Original, and how was he made ? And what Valentinus hath last of all proposed, whence is God ? And the Answer will be from the 29 Enthymesis and the 29 Ectroma. Unhappy Aristotle! who hath furnish'd them with Sophistry, skillful in forming and destroying Schemes, artful in it's Sentences, forced in it's Conjectures, |24 Difficult in it's Arguments, full of Equivocations, full of Strifes, Burdensome even to, and Inconsistent with itself, Retracting every Thing, that so it may not seem to have throughly handled and fully determined any Thing. Hence arose these vain Fables and endless Genealogies, these unprofitable and unedifying Questions, these deceitful Words which spread as a Cancer; from which the Apostle restraining us, hath especially bid us to beware of Philosophy, in his Epistle to the Colossans, saying, "Beware lest any Man spoil you thro' Philosophy and vain Deceit, after the Tradition of Men, and not after Christ." The Apostle had been at Athens, and from his learned Conversation there, had become acquainted with that human Wisdom, Which carries with it an Affectation and Pretence, as well as a Corruption of the Truth; and which is divided into a Multiplicity of Sects that strenuously oppose and contradict each other. But what Relation is there between Athens and Jerusalem? What Communion hath the Academy with the Church? or what part have Hereticks with Christians? Our Institution is from Solomons Porch, who hath taught us to seek the Lord in Simplicity of Heart. And let Them look to this who have introduced a Stoical, a Platonick, or a Sophistical Christianity.
We have no Need of a scrupulously nice Enquiry, after we have found Christ Jesus, or |25 any curious and earnest Search, after we have learn'd the Gospel. If we believe, we desire nothing further than to be Believers. For this is a very distinguishing Property of our Belief, that it contains in it all things necessary to be believ'd. I proceed therefore to that Article, which some among our selves offer as an Argument, why they should continue to seek on, and which the Hereticks inculcate as a very great Reason for Scruple. It is written, say they, "seek and ye shall find." But let us remember the time, when our Lord spake these Words. I think it was in the very Infancy of the Gospel, when it was as yet doubted by all whether he were the Christ or not; when as yet Peter had not declared him to be the Son of God, and when John had not as yet left off making Enquiry about him, nor did rest fully assured concerning him. Well therefore and with very just reason was it said "seek and ye shall find," in that he who was not yet known was to be fought. And this with respect to the Jews , for to them appertains the whole of this Reproof, in whose hands were the Scriptures lodg'd, wherein Christ was to be fought. They have, says he, Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets, and they speak of Christ accordingly he elsewhere expressly commands them to "search the Scriptures, and in them ye have eternal Life, for they speak of me." This then is the Meaning of "seek and ye shall find." And that the following Words belong unto the Jews is very plain and evident, "Knock and it shall |26 be open'd unto you." The Jews had formerly been the favourite Children of God; but were now by reason of their Sins cast out, and began to be alienated from God. The Gentiles had never been in Covenant with God, except it "were as one Drop out of the Bucket, or a single Grain out of the Floor," but were always out of the Pale of the Church. How therefore could he who had been always without, knock where he never was ? What Gate could he be acquainted with, who had never been either admitted in, or cast out by any? Was not he who knew, that he had been within, and was now without, rather the person who ought to have knock'd, and who knew the Door? So also, "Ask and ye shall have," belongs unto them, who knew of whom it was to be asked, even of him, from whom they had receiv'd the Promises, viz. the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom the Nations were no more acquainted with than they were with the Promises. And therefore was it, that he said to the Israelites, " I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." He had not as yet cast the Children's Bread unto Dogs, nor as yet had he commanded his Disciples to enter into the way of the Gentiles. He afterwards indeed commanded his Apostles to go and Teach, and Baptize all Nations, when he was about to send unto them the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who would lead them into all Truth; and who effectually performed and executed his Office. If then the Apostles were |27 appointed Teachers to the Nations, and Themselves were the Disciples of the Holy Ghost, much less may the Expression, "seek and ye shall find," be applied to us; to whom the Doctrine of Christianity was freely taught by the Apostles, and to the Apostles by the Holy Ghost. What our Lord said, he spake indeed unto all. But his Words were first spoken to the Jews, from whence they were derived down to us; and many Things respecting the Persons of the Jews do not so properly bring with them an Admonition to us, as they contain in them the powerful Force of an Example.
But admitting this to be the true Acceptation of the Passage contended for; let us then (if you please) suppose these Words, "seek and ye shall find," to be spoken to all Mankind. Yet undoubtedly we ought to interpret them according to Sense and reason. No Scripture is of so large and universal an Extent, as that we ought to defend the Letter without paying some Regard to the Reason and Disposition of the Words. This then I assert, that there is one certain positive Rule of Faith taught by Christ, which all Nations are bound to believe, and consequently obliged to seek, that so when they have found, they may believe. Now the search after one certain positive Rule cannot possibly be infinite. You must seek therefore |28 till you can find, and when you have found, you must believe. There is then nothing more required of you, than to keep That firm and inviolate which you have believ'd; and moreover to believe that no other Thing is to be believ'd, and therefore not to be fought, because you have already found, and do at present believe what Christ hath taught, who requires not of you to search after any other Thing than what he hath taught. And now if any one shall doubt what That is, it shall be sufficiently made appear, that it is That which we have in our keeping, and that it is the sacred Depositum which was committed to our Trust. In the mean Time Relying upon the Validity of my future Proof, I shall give this Admonition to some Men, viz. That they seek not farther than that Rule, which they have believ'd to be the very Thing, for which they ought to seek; and that they would not interpret the Words, "seek and ye shall find," after any other Manner, than according to Sense and Reason.
Now the Reason of this Proportion consists in these three Points, viz. in the Thing, in the Time, and in the Manner. In the Thing, that you may consider what it is that is to be fought. In the Time, that you may know when it is to be fought; and in the Manner, that you may be certified how long you are to seek. You must seek therefore That which Christ hath |29 taught; and tho' you find it not, you must however go on to seek until you find. But you have found when you believe, for otherwise you would not have believ'd, if you had not found; as neither would you have fought, but that you might find. For this end then you seek that you may find, and for this end you find, that you may believe. By Believing you have put a Stop to all further Endeavours of seeking and finding. This Bar hath He put in your way, who willeth not that you believe any other Thing than what he hath taught. But if because so many other Things are taught by Others, we are therefore bound to seek so long as we can find, we shall then be always seeking, and never come to any fix'd and settl'd Belief. For where will be the End of seeking? Where shall I firmly fix my Belief? Or what shall be my Period, and what my compleat Standard of finding ? Shall Marcion? But then Valentinus also loudly calls upon me with a "seek and ye shall find." Shall Valentinus? But then Apelles thunders in my Ears the very same Thing; and Ebion and Simon, and All of them in order do offer the same Pleas; they All alledge the same Reasons, whereby insinuating themselves into me, they may make me a Convert to their respective Party. I shall therefore make no End of seeking, whilst I every where meet with "seek and ye shall find;" and be, as if I had no where, and at no Time learn'd what Christ hath taught, what All Men are bound to seek, and what All Men are bound to believe. |30
He is safely Curious, who wanders not out of the way thro' his Curiosity, altho' to be exceedingly Curious is in itself a Fault, and such an one as is generally attended with the most pernicious Confequences. He, I say, safely seeketh, whose Faith is not endanger'd by his Enquiry. Bat if I have believ'd what I ought to believe, and then again think my self bound to seek for some other Thing, I hope also to find that other Thing, which in no respect I should have reason to hope for, unless I had not believ'd all that I seem'd to have believ'd, or else had fallen from that very Belief and so Rejecting the Faith I am found to be a Denier of it. Again, I say that no Man seeketh but for that, which either he never had, or for that, which he hath already lost. The old Woman, who had lost one of her ten pieces of Silver, diligently fought it, but when she had found it, she left off seeking. The Neighbour, who wanted Bread, knocked, but after it was open'd unto him, and he had received the Bread, he ceased from Knocking. The Widow importunately besought the Judge to hear her, because for a while he would not, but when she was heard, she no longer follicited him with her earnest Importunities. There is then an End of seeking, and of knocking, and of asking. For it is said, "to him that asketh it shall be given, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened, |31 and he that seeketh findeth." He that seeketh always, will see that he never findeth, for he seeketh there, where it is not to be found. To him that always knocketh, it will never be opened, for he knocketh where no Man is. He that always asketh will never be heard, for he asketh of him that heareth not.
But if we must for ever seek on, (as according to these Men we must always continue to seek on) yet where must we seek? Must it be from Hereticks, where all Things are opposite to and estranged from the Truth, and with whom we are forbid to have any the least Intercourse or Correspondence? Doth a Servant expect Victuals from a Stranger, much less from his Masters Adversary? Doth a Souldier receive a Donative, Stipend, or Pay from such as are not Confederate with, much less from the professed and open Enemies of his King, except he be a Deserter, a Revolter, and a Rebel? The old Woman in the Gospel fought for the piece of Silver she had lost within her own House. The Man that knocked, knocked at the Gate of his Neighbour. And the Widow Woman besought a Judge, who, tho' he was unjust, yet was not her Enemy. No Man can be rightly instructed by Another, who hath no Power, and who likewise hath no Design or Inclination but to destroy, nor can Light be well communicated by him, whose very Light is |32 Darkness. Let us therefore seek in our and from our own, and of our own; and then it will certainly follow, that no other than the found Rule of Faith can possibly be the Subject of our Enquiry.
Now we have a Rule of Faith, which teaches us what we are to defend and maintain, and by that very Rule we believe, that there is one God, and no other than the Creator of the World; who created all Things out of Nothing by his Word, whom before all Things he sent out from him; that This Word was call'd the Son; and at sundry Times and after different Manners appear'd to the Patriarchs in the Person of God; that he spake by the Prophets; and was afterward carried by the Spirit and Power of God the Father into the Virgin Mary; was in her Womb made Flesh, and was born of her in the person of Jesus Christ; that he taught a new Law, and a new Promise of the Kingdom of Heaven; that he wrought Miracles, was nail'd to the Cross, rose again the third day, and being taken up into Heaven sat down at the right hand of the Father; that he confer'd upon the Believers the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost, which was the Representative of himself; that he will come again with Glory to receive his Saints into the Rewards of eternal Life, and the Promises of Heaven; and to condemn and adjudge the Wicked to eternal |33 Flames, the Just and the Unjust being first rais'd again, and their Flesh fully restored.
This is the Rule of Faith laid down by Christ, about which there have been no Cavils, no Disputes, no Questions moved or proposed among us, but what have been raised by Hereticks; and an obstinate Opposition to this Rule is That which makes and constitutes an Heretick. Now this Rule being inviolably kept compleat and entire, you may seek and enquire, dispute and debate, you may gratify and indulge your Curiosity in it's greatest Range, if there be any thing that seems to you either ambiguous and uncertain, or dark and obscure. You may perhaps have a Brother highly skill'd in Learning; or you may converse with Men intimately acquainted with Letters; or it may be, that you your self are naturally of a very curious Disposition and inquisitive Temper; and for these reasons you still seek on. But if in reality, you do already hold all that is absolutely necessary to be known, it is much better for you to be ignorant of other Matters, left by chance, You, in the Progress of your Enquiry, fall upon That which you ought not by any Means to know. Christ said, "Thy Faith hath saved Thee," not a too critically nice Enquiry, not a too curious 30 Search into the Scriptures. |34 A certain Rule of Faith is given you, you have a Law, and the Observation of that Law will undoubtedly save you. Curiosity and an affected Ostentation of much Knowledge is the Foundation of all these vain Searches and Researches. But let Curiosity yield to Faith, and vain Glory give way to your Salvation. Put an end to all these Clamours, think it your greatest Interest to submit, and learn at last, to be Quiet and Content. To know Nothing contrary to the Rule of Faith is in Effect to know all Things. Let us now suppose that Here ticks were not at all Enemies to the Truth; let us likewise (if you please) suppose that we our selves were not forewarn'd to avoid them; yet where (I pray) would be the mighty Advantage of disputing with Men who profess themselves to be only Seekers. For if they do yet truly seek, they have then found out nothing certain, whereon firmly to rely; and therefore whatsoever they may seem to assert, or pretend to hold, yet by their seeking, they evidently shew their Doubt and Distrust of it. And so you, who are your self doubtful, blind, and uncertain, making Application to Men, who |35 themselves seek, cannot but by such doubtful, uncertain, and blind Guides be infallibly led into a Ditch. Seeing then, that under the Pretext of seeking, they carry on their Designs to deceive, and this too, to the end that they may intrude their Books upon us by laying us under immoderate Scruples; and since upon our nearer Approach to them, we find them undertaking That, which by their own Concessions they are uncertain of; we ought therefore to behave our felves towards them in such a Manner, as to let them see, that we chuse not to deny Christ but them. For in that they yet seek, they therefore hold no settled Opinion; and in that they hold no settled Opinion, they have not believ'd; and in that they have not believ'd, they therefore are not Christians. Even They who have framed to themselves fixed Tenets, and a settled Form of Belief, do yet say, that we must seek on, in order to defend them: but before they enter upon That Defence, They are obliged to acknowledge that they have believ'd, which yet by the very Ad: of Seeking they openly deny. If then they cannot, even in their own Opinion, be accounted Christians, how much greater reason have we for not esteeming them as such? What Faith are They capable of Defending, who endeavour to impose upon, and circumvent us by Fallacy? What Truth can They pretend to Patronize, who begin their Defence of Truth with a Lye? But then the Appeal to Scripture is what They so highly insist upon, the Scripture is |36 continually in their Mouths, and by Scripture only will They be tried.
Here then we come to the Point. For the Thing which we have hitherto aim'd at, and which we have all along had in our Eye, hath been to enter upon that very Question, which our Adversaries so loudly demand of us to answer. The Scripture is what they pretend to; and by being steel'd with such studied Boldness as to make their Appeal to Scripture, they have made very strong Impressions upon some Men. In the Process of their Disputes, they tire out the Strong, lead captive the Weak, and fill the Minds of moderate Christians with extravagant and unreasonable Scruples. This therefore in the first place we lay down as an unalterable Principle to regulate our Conduct by, That They (viz. Hereticks) ought not to be admitted by us to a scriptural Disputation. For, if with these Arms they fight, we ought, before they take possession of them, to enquire, whose the Scriptures are, and to whom they properly belong, left we bestow upon them That, to which they can lay no lawful Claim, and to which they can upon no account make any Pretension.
But that they might not think me in any respect Distrustful of the Merits of my Cause, or as if by giving my self an Air of Affectation, I |37 might seem only to differ from them in Religion; I should have readily chose to enter into a Controversy with them, were it not, that the profound Obedience which I owe to the Apostle's Command, requires of me to avoid foolish Questions, and not to lend an Ear to new Doctrines; as also, "to reject an Heretick after the first Admonition," and not after Disputation. He hath therefore forbidden Disputation; and hath order'd Rejection to be the Way and Method of treating Hereticks, and this too hath he order'd after the first or second Admonition, because an Heretick is no Christian: that so he might not seem after the Manner of a Christian to be censured in the Prefence of two or three Witnesses; and more especially since That very Thing which calls for a Censure upon him, forbids also disputing with him. But after all, what Good is like to arise, or what will be the Result of such a Scriptural Combat, but an Excess of Passion, and a Defect of reason?
Now This 32 Heresy receives not some Scriptures, or if it does receive them, yet it |38 receives them not entire; but by Strange, Unaccountable Additions, and Diminutions, turns and adapts them to the Sense of it's own Tenets : or if it does receive them 33 entire, the true Meaning, and the natural Import of them is then commented, and explain'd away. Their deceitful Explications, their adulterated Expressions, their vain, and various Conjectures, are all equal Obstacles and Impediments to Truth. For what Conviction soever they may lie under, they can never be brought to an ingenuous Confession of the Truth, but obstinately adhere to their own Adulterations, and their false and ambiguous Expositions. What Advantage therefore will you obtain, tho' you be extremely well skill'd in the Scriptures, when if you maintain any part of them, That very part is immediately denied you; or if on the contrary, you deny any Part That very Part will be |39 strenuously defended. You will indeed lose Nothing but your Breath in the Contention, nor will you probably get any Thing, but hard Words, Hatred, and ill Will.
It is to be consider'd also, which Part he most favours, for the sake of whom, to solve whose Doubts, and to remove whose Scruples, you enter into this Controversy, whether he candidly inclines to Truth on the one hand, or is by a perverse Biass drawn towards Heresy on the other. For when he sees that you have made no considerable Progress in this Affair, Both sides being, as it were, upon an equal Foot of Affirming and Denying, he will depart much more doubtful and uncertain than he was before, not knowing where to fix, not knowing where to adjudge the Heresy. And They moreover, are always ready, and think themselves obliged to retort, and say, that we are the Persons, who have adulterated the Scriptures, and imposed false Glosses upon them.
We must not therefore in this Case permit Hereticks to make their Appeal to Scripture; neither must we admit them to a scriptural Disputation; in which the Victory, is either none, or uncertain, or at least precarious, and very liable to Uncertainty. Which, |40 notwithstanding tho' it were not so, yet the Order of Things would require of us to make out our grand Point, and which now alone remains to be settled; viz. To whom The Faith itself appertaineth; in whose hands were the Scriptures deposited, from whom, and by whom, and when, and to whom That Doctrine was first delivered, which makes Men Christians? For wherever this true Doctrine and Discipline shall appear to be, There the true, genuine Scriptures, the true, right, and natural Interpretation of those Scriptures, and all the true Christian Traditions will appear to be also.
Here then let it carefully be remembred, that Jesus Christ, our Lord, whilst he was upon Earth, taught either publickly and openly to the People, or privately and separately to his Disciples. That to these (I say) he taught, of what God he was the Son; in what Manner he was God and Man; what Faith he preach'd; what Rewards he promised; what he was ; and what he had been; wherein he performed the Will of his Father; and what he required to be done by Men. these Things he taught to his Disciples, Twelve of whom were continually attending upon him, whom he also set apart, and appointed to preach his Gospel throughout the whole habitable World. And when One of them was cut off, upon his leaving the World, and going up to the Father after his |41 Resurrection, he commissioned the remaining eleven "to go and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Accordingly The Apostles (which Word by Interpretation signifies the Sent) having chose by lot Matthias into the Room of Judas, as it was, of old, prophesied in the Psalm of David, and having received the promised Assistance of the Holy Spirit to work Miracles, and speak with various Tongues, proclaimed the Faith in Jesus first in Judea; There planted Churches, and went out into all the Ends of the Earth, and publish'd the same Faith to the Gentiles, and constituted Churches in every City; From whom the other Churches derived their first Principles and Seeds of Doctrine; and from whom also other Churches do daily derive, or they could not possibly be true Churches. For this reason it is then, that they have the Reputation of Apostlick, because they are the Off-spring of Apostolick Churches. For every kind must certainly be traced up to it's Original. Now as from that one Church which was originally planted by the Apostles, sprung up so many great, and flourishing Churches; so to all these is the Title of Primitive, and Apostolick Churches due also, while they live in the Unity of the same Faith and Discipline; and while they religiously observe, and strictly keep up true brotherly Love, and constant Communion one with another. And Nothing could make them do so, and preserve these sacred Rites entire, but |42 the Tradition and Observation of one and the same Doctrine and Discipline.
Here then we prescribe and fix. For if our Lord Jesus Christ lent out Apostles to preach the Gospel, then no other Preachers are to be received, than those whom Christ hath sent. For "no other hath known the Father but the Son, and he, to whom the Son hath reveal'd him:" nor hath the Son revealed him to any others than to the Apostles, whom he sent out to preach That which he hath thus reveal'd unto them. But That, which They preach'd, that is, what Christ reveal'd, can no otherwise be proved, than by these very Churches, which the Apostles planted, and to which they themselves Then preach'd personally and by Word of Mouth, as well as afterwards by Epistle. If This then be the Cafe, it is evident that every Doctrine, which conspires in the same Faith, with these Apostolick, Mother Churches, is to be receiv'd for the true, and for the very same undoubted Doctrine, which the Churches receiv'd from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God. And for this reason it is, that every other Doctrine is to be receiv'd as false and spurious, and consequently to be rejected, that favours not of the Truth of these Churches, and of the Apostles, and of God. All then to be proved, in short is This viz. that The Doctrine we preach, has a |43 right, a just, and indisputable Title to Apostolick Tradition. And This will at the same Time be a Demonstration of it's own Truth, and a Confutation of the Error of all Heretical Innovation. Now our Title to Apostolick Tradition, will from hence appear certain and indisputable, because we communicate with the Apostolick Churches , and because there is not any one of our Churches, that maintains any Doctrine different from, or inconsistent with That, which is taught in the Churches planted by the Apostles themselves. This entire Harmony, this perfect Agreement, this general Content, is therefore,the most convincing Proof imaginable, that we are Orthodox and Sound In the Faith.
But now because the Proof hereof is so clear, and full, that if it be produced, no just Objection can possibly be form'd against it; and if it be not produced, we may perhaps in some Measure seem to leave Room for Hereticks to find Fault with our Prescription, we will therefore go on to give a more full and satisfactory Demonstration of it, The Hereticks then are generally used to say, that The Apostles were not acquainted with all necessary Truth; and likewise, whilst They are possesed with this Fit of Madness, They do at the same Time proceed farther to assert that The Apostles did |44 indeed 34 know all Things, but that They did not 34 teach all they knew to the World. In both these Cases They bring Christ under the abominably scandalous Imputation of sending out Apostles either not so well qualified and instructed, or not altogether so faithful and honeft as they ought to be. But what Man in his right Senses can possibly be induced to believe, that any necessary Thing was conceal'd from them, whom our Lord lent out to teach the World, who were his inseparable Companions, who always liv'd and constantly convers'd with him, to whom in private he fully explain'd whatever was obscure in any Part of his Doctrine, saying, that to them it was "given to understand the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven," which to the People was denied, and lay conceal'd in the dark Womb of Obscurity? Was not Peter acquainted with all Revelation, whom our Lord named the Rock whereon he would build his Church, to whom he committed the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and gave Power to lose both in Earth and Heaven? Did our Lord privately lock up his Secrets from John his favourite Disciple, who so lovingly lean'd upon his Breast, whilst he |45 sat at supper, to whom he discover'd the Traytor Judas, and whom he so warmly recommended as a Son in his own stead to his Mother Mary? What would our Lord willingly keep hid from them, before whom he convers'd with Moses and Elias, and who were allow'd even to hear the Voice from Heaven? This was a Favour he confer'd not on Them, as if he thought the Rest unworthy of it, but because "in the Mouth of three Witnesses shall every Word be establish'd." And were They also ignorant, to whom after his Resurrection, as they were in the Way to Emaus, he expounded the Scriptures? He indeed plainly told them, "I have many Things to say unto you, but you cannot hear them now," but then he added "when the Spirit of Truth shall come, He shall lead you into all Truth." By This he shewed them that They were, They could be unacquainted with Nothing, to whom He had promised the Spirit of Truth, "who should lead them into 35 all Truth." And he truly fullfilled his Promise, by causing the Holy Ghost to descend upon them, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles; which Scripture, They who receive not, cannot be Partakers of the Gifts, Graces, |46 and Operations of the Holy Ghost, who have not wherewithal to prove His Descent, who have not wherewithal to defend the Church, and who cannot shew when, and from what Beginnings That Body took it's Rise.
It is a Matter of no small Moment, and of no inconsiderable Service to the Orthodox Cause, to shew, that The Hereticks have it not in their Power to give a sufficient Proof even of those Truths, they teach, and much less of the palpably false Tenets, which they impose upon the World. In Order then to set an heinous Mark of Infamy upon the Apostles, and to expose their Ignorance, They urge, that Peter and his Companions were reprimanded by Paul, and therefore, say They, there must certainly be some Defect, some Failure or other in them. Now, This They say in Order to make way for the following Conclusion, viz. That a more plentiful Effusion of Wisdom might possibly have since come down upon them, just after the same Manner, as it happen'd to Paul, when he reprimanded his Predecessors in the Faith. But here we may reasonably demand of these Men, who reject the Acts of the Apostles, to shew us first who this Paul is, concerning whom they so mightily talk, what he was before he was an Apostle, and how he came to be an Apostle? For it is not enough to fix our Belief, to say, that Paul himself hath |47 declared, that of a Persecuter he was made an Apostle; for our Lord thought not his own Testimony of himself sufficient. But They will be readily inclined to believe any Thing without Scripture, rather than be prevail'd upon not to believe against Scripture. For whilst They urge that Peter was reprimanded by Paul, They teach that another Gospel was preach'd by him, than what had been before preach'd by Peter and his Companions; whereas Paul, being made instead of a Persecuter a Preacher of the Gospel, was brought in unto the Brethren by the Brethren, and was as one of the Brethren, and was thus introduced to them by such, as had received the Faith from the Apostles. And afterwards, as He himself informs us, He went op to Jerusalem to see and converse with Peter, viz. by Virtue of the same Faith and their joynt Commission to preach the Gospel. For They would not at all have wondred that He who had persecuted them in times past, was now become a Preacher, if he had preach'd any new Faith, or any different Doctrine; nor would they have had any Reason to glorify God, because Paul an Enemy was come up unto them. Wherefore They gave unto him the right hand of Fellowship, which was an evident Token of the Harmony and Agreement both of themselves and their Doctrine; and moreover They order'd a Distribution of the Office not a Separation of the Gospel. They order'd not that One should preach One Thing and a Second Another, but that One should preach unto |48 Some, and Another unto Others; that Peter should go unto the Circumcision and Paul unto the Heathen. But if Peter was blamed for having eat with the Gentiles, and also for separating himself from them out of Respect of Persons, after thus having eat with them ; This at the most was an Error only in Conversation, and not in the Faith that was preach'd. Here was no other God introduced than the Creator of the World; no other Christ than He that was born of the Virgin; and no other Hope than That of the Resurrection of the Dead.
I am not arrived to that prodigious Height of Wisdom, or rather sunk into such a desperate Degree of Folly, as to pass any Censure upon the Apostles, or to place them in any Opposition One to the Other. But since these strangely obstinate and perverse Men do urge this Reprimand of St. Peter with a design to render the former Faith suspected, I will boldly give this Answer on Peter's side, that Paul himself hath said, that "He was made all Things to all Men, to the Jews he became as a Jew, to those that were not under the Law, as not under the Law, that he might gain all." So that They blamed some Things done out of Respect to Seasons, Persons, and Causes, which at other Times out of respect to the same Circumstances of Causes, Persons, and Seasons, they nevertheless thought fit to do. But after |49 all, what if Peter should in his turn too reprimand Paul for circumcising Timothy, after he had prohibited Circumcision? Let Men take especial Care what Censures they impiously pass upon Apostles. It is well that Peter was equall'd with Paul in Martyrdom. For altho' Paul was carried up into the third Heaven, and taken up into Paradise, and there heard certain 36 Voices, yet we must not suppose, that he learn'd any new Doctrine, since the Voices he heard were such, as it was lawful for no Man to utter. But if any one vainly pretends that these unspeakable Words have by some Means or other become known unto him, or if any Heresy rashly assumes to itself this Pretext, it must then necessarily follow, that either Paul betray'd the Secret he was entrusted with, or another must be produced, who hath in like Manner been taken up into Paradise, and freely permitted to speak That, which was not upon any account lawful for Paul to utter.
But as I have before observ'd, it is owing to the same unaccountable Fit of Madness, that |50 They advance the following Assertion, viz. that the Apostles did indeed know all Things, and their Doctrines were tolerably consistent, and agreed well enough together, but that they reveal'd not all Things to all Men: that They taught some Things openly and to all, others in secret, and to a small and select Number of Persons. And This is what St. Paul hinted at, when he thus charged Timothy, "O Timothy keep That which is commited to thy Trust." And again, "That 37 good Thing, that was committed unto thee, keep." But what (I desire to be informed) was this secret Depositum, that it must thus necessarily be interpreted of a new Doctrine? Was it the Charge, of which he says, "This Charge I commit unto thee, Son Timothy." Or was it the Commandment whereof he thus writes, "I give thee Charge in the fight of God, who quickeneth all Things, and by Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witness'd a good Confession, that Thou keep This Commandment." But what Commandment, and what Charge (I pray) could This be ? For, from what goes before and follows after, it will appear, that St. Paul spake not here of any remote Opinion, or hidden Doctrine, but rather |51 earnestly enforced and inculcated a strict Observance of the Doctrine He heard from him, and I think, openly too, as he says, "before "many Witnesses." By which Witnesses, it matters not at all, whether They will understand the Church or no; since Nothing can long be kept as a very great Secret, which is declared before many Witnesses. And likewse tho' He "wills him to commit the same to faithful Men, who should be able to teach others also," This can by no Means be interpreted as an Argument in Favour of some conceal'd and hidden Doctrine. For by using the Words "The same," he has expressly restrain'd and limited them to the Subject which he was then writing upon; whereas if He had meant some secret Matter, which was only privately known to Timothy, He would have said These Things, instead of the Expression he has now chose to make use of.
But besides all this, one might in such a Case have reasonably imagined, that to whom, the Apostle had committed the Administration of the Gospel with such extraordinary Care, such exceedingly earnest Caution, to him also He would have superadded this useful and absolutely necessary Advice, "that he should not cast Pearls before Swine, nor give the Holy Thing to Dogs." Our Lord himself taught openly, he never mentioned, or in the least took Notice of any such hidden or conceal'd |52 Discipline. On the contrary, He commanded his Disciples to preach That in the Light, and upon the House tops, which they had heard of him in Darkness and in Secret. He had by a Parable foreshewn, "that not one Talent, not so much as one Word of his, ought to be laid up in a Napkin without Usury." "He taught that Men do not light a Candle, and put it under a Bushel, but set it upon a Candlestick, that it may give light to all them that are in the House." these Things then the Apostles either neglected, or understood not, if they did not fulfill them, but hid under a Bushel some Part of the Light, that is, of the Word of God, and the Religion of Christ; yet notwithstanding This, They stood not (as far as we can be apprized of) in any Fear of Men, nor dreaded either the cruel Malice of the Jews, or the fatal Rage of the Gentiles. And if in the Synagogues and publick Places They kept not Silence, what should withold them from speaking freely in the Church ? Or indeed how could They have converted either the Jew or the Gentile, if they made no methodical and regular Exposition of what they would have them believe? Much less then did They forbear to acquaint the believing Churches with what they had privately given in Charge to a small and select Number of Persons. For altho' among their 38 Domesticks, as I may so call them, they |53 discours'd more fully and clearly, yet we are not to imagine, that the Things whereof they discours'd were of such a Nature, as to superinduce another Rule of Faith different from, or repugnant to That which They had universally taught; or that They spake of one God in the Church, and Another at Home; that they declared the Substance of Christ to be one Thing in publick, and Another in private; that they preach'd in general to all Men one Hope of the Resurrection, and a very different one to a few, when at the same time They in their Epistles earnestly besought the Believers, that they would all think the same Thing, that there might be no Schisms and Divisions in the Church, feeing, that Paul, and the other Apostles all taught the same Doctrine. They might in such a Case have remembred the Words of our Lord, "Let your Conversation be yea, yea, nay, nay for whatsoever is more than This cometh of Evil," and not have differently expounded the Gospel.
If therefore it be incredible, either that the Apostles understood not the Extent and Plenitude of their Commission; or that they did not deliver the Rule of Faith perfect and entire to all, let us then see, whether supposing |54 the Apostles to have express'd themselves clearly and fully, The Churches did not misunderstand and misconstrue them. For all these Provocations to Scruple you will find greatly urged, and vehemently insisted upon by the Hereticks. And that The Churches did fall from their first Faith, they say, is evident from these Reproofs, "O Foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" and again, "Ye did run well, who did hinder you? I marvel, that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the Grace of Christ unto another Gospel." And so likewise to the Corinthians, he says, "that they were Carnal, and were only to be fed with Milk, not being as yet fit for stronger Meats; who thought they knew something, when indeed, as yet, they knew Nothing as they ought to know." But these Objecters would do well to remember that there are several other famous Churches, for whose Faith, Knowledge, good Converfation and Conversion the Apostle rejoiceth and giveth thanks to God and moreover, that these celebrated Churches are in strict Communion with Those reproved by St. Paul.
But let it be granted that They have all err'd; that The Apostle himself was mistaken in the Character he gave of them; that the Holy Spirit took no Care to lead any of them into the Way of Truth, tho' for this Cause was |55 he sent by Christ, tho' for this Cause was he ask'd of the Father, viz. " That he might lead them into all Truth." Let it be also granted that the Steward of God, the Representative, and Vicar of Christ shamefully neglected his Office, and scandalously permitted all the Churches to misunderstand the Apostles, and to believe otherwise than the Apostles themselves taught. But then, how came it to pass, that so many great and flourishing Churches, how (I say) could it possibly come to pass, that all of them in general should light upon the very same Faith? For such a prodigious Number of Men could never come by chance to agree upon one and the same Thing; and one Error in Faith would soon have been the fruitful Cause, and prolifick Parent of many others. And therefore one and the same Doctrine and Discipline in so many Churches can never be esteem'd as a lucky Hit of Error only, but mull be the necessary Effect of Tradition. Let them therefore speak out, and boldly say that They were in an Error, who first deliver'd the Doctrine.
However it be, an Error it seems there was, and all the Time This Error reign'd, not so much as an Heretick to be heard of. There was no Marcionite, or Valentinian to be found, who would kindly set the captive Truth at Liberty, and happily direct mistaken Wanderers |56 In the Way to Heaven. But all this while the Gospel was preach'd amiss; Men believ'd amiss; so many Thousands of Thousands were baptized amiss; so many Works of Faith were administer'd amiss; so many Miracles, Gifts, Graces, and Operations were wrought and confer'd amiss; so many sacerdotal and ministerial Functions were perform'd amiss; so many, so inexpressibly many,were crown'd with Martyrdom; and All, (O wretched and unhappily mistaken Mortals!) All in the Wrong. And if They were not in the Wrong, I would gladly know how the Affairs of God came to go on all this Time so prosperously, so miraculously successful, before Men knew who was the God They were to worship? How there came to be such a prodigious Increase of Christians before the right Christ was discover'd? And how Heresy came to get the start of the true Doctrine ? For in other Things Truth is always before Imitation, as the Substance is always before the Shadow. But it is absurd, that Heresy should at any Time get the start of the true Doctrine, in that Truth itself hath forewarn'd and preadmonish'd us against Heresy. And it was written to the Church that held the true Doctrine by a Powerful Preacher of Truth, "That if an Angel from Heaven should preach any other Gospel, than what he had preach'd, he should be accounted Anathema." |57
Where then was that Pontick Mariner, 39 Marcion ,the Stoick ? Where then was the Platonist 40 Valentinus? these Alass! were of a very modern Date, They flourish'd not till the reign of Antoninus, and were first at Rome admitted into the Catholick Church, when the Blessed Eleutherius presided in that See. And at last by reason of a restless Itch of Curiosity, by which they vitiated the pure Minds of the Orthodox, and for which they were equally abhorr'd both by Clergy and Laity, they were a second Time |58 excommunicated; The two hundred Sesterces, which Marcion had given to the Church, were returned to him again; and after They were thus by perpetual Separation cut off from the Church, They widely spread abroad the contagious Poyson of their novel Doctrines. Marcion indeed did afterwards make a publick Confession of his Crime, and the Terms of his pro-posed Reconciliation were to restore and bring back to the Church the Persons, whom by his delusive Insinuations he had drawn aside, and train'd up to Perdition, but before he could happily accomplish his intended Design, he dy'd. For "tho' there must be Heresies in the Church," yet it is not by Reason of any Worth or Value in them that they must be, for Evil must sometimes necessarily be. It was expedient that our Lord should be betray'd, but great was the Woe, which was denounced against that Man who betray'd him. Let not then any one attempt to draw any conclusion from these Words of the Apostle, which may seem in any respect to defend or countenance Heresies. If the Off-spring of Apelles be objected against us, He truly will be found not quite so ancient as his Guide and Instructer Marcion. For being first a Marcionite, and committing Fornication with a naughty Woman, he afterwards retired to Alexandria, in order to screen himself from the Eyes and Observation of his 41 sanctified Master. |59 From whence after the Revolution of some Years he return'd, but was in no respect amended, except that he came back less a Marcionite than he was when he went over; and after this his Return he was again captivated and enslaved by a Woman, and had carnal Knowledge of the Virgin 42 Philumena, who was mention'd by us before, and who was afterwards the vilest of Prostitutes; by whose Miracles Apelles being deceiv'd and led away, wrote the Phaneroses or Revelations which he learn'd from her. There are at this Day many alive who have convers'd with them, nay even their own 43 Disciples and Successors are still living; of so late, so little standing must They acknowledge themselves to be, altho' according to the saying of our Lord, "from their Works ye may know them." For if Marcion separated the new Testament from the Old, it is plain that before that Time They were joyn'd together, how otherwise could he separate them, if they were never united? They |60 were undoubtedly united then before they were dis-joyn'd, and their Separation evidently proves their Union to have been more ancient than their Separator. So likewise may it be said with respect to Valentinus's expounding in a different Manner, and without all doubt making wonderful Corrections in the receiv'd Expositions of Scripture. What He finds Fault with as wanting Correction is a full Proof that it was receive into the Church long before this his pretended Correction. I mention these Hereticks especially upon account of their being the most celebrated, the most frequent, and general Corrupters of the Truth. But let 44 Nigidius also, and 45 Hermogenes, and many others; who walk about perverting the Ways of the Lord, tell me by what Authority They do these Things? If they preach up another God, why then do they use the Property of our God, his Word, his Names, and his Attributes, against whom they thus preach? If it be the same God, why therefore do they preach in a different Manner from us ? Let them prove themselves to be 46 new |61 Apostles; let them say, that Christ came down again from Heaven, that he taught again upon Earth, that he was crucify'd again, that he dy'd again, and that he rose a second Time from the Dead; for these are the genuine Marks, these are the true Characteristicks of an Apostle. Let them prove therefore that Christ gave Power to them to work the same Miracles which he himself wrought. Let them also produce their Miracles, for I know of none they have, one great one only being excepted, by which they act diametrically opposite to the Apostles, and it is this, as The Apostles rais'd Men up from the Grave, so these bring them down into the Chambers of Death.
But to proceed without making too long a Digression. The Precedency of Truth, and the later Introduction of Error may be sufficiently evinced from the Parable of our Saviour, wherein the good Seed was first sown in the Field by our Lord, before the Tares were intermixed with the Wheat by his grand Enemy the Devil. For the Distinction of Doctrine is hereby plainly figured, as also in another Place our Lord hath chose to express his Word by the same Similitude of Seed. And it is therefore from the Order itself manifest, that what was first deliver'd was the Doctrine of our Lord, and of Truth; and what was of later Date could be no other than the Tenets of Falshood, meer |62 Fictions, and unaccountably strange Opinions. Now This Observation will stand firm and immoveable against all novel Heresies, which Labour under the Consciousness of not having this Antiquity to plead in their Defence.
But if any of these Hereticks have the Confidence to put in their Claim to Apostolick Antiquity, that may thereby entitle themselves to the seeming Appearance of having existed in the Time of the Apostles; Let them, say we, shew us a Catalogue of their Bishops successively derived down from the first Foundation of Churches; let them prove, that their 47 first Bishop was either consecrated by an Apostle, or an Apostolick Man, who constantly adhered to the Apostles, and moreover that he had such a Predecessor in his See. For thus it is that the Apostolick Churches derive their Descent. The Church of Smyrna produceth her Polycarp placed there by St. John; The Church of Rome has her Clemens placed there by St. Peter; and so do all the rest of the Churches exhibit their |63 first Bishops ordain'd by the Apostles, by whom the Apostolick Seed was propagated, and convey'd to others, and deliver'd down to the present Age. Now let your Hereticks produce any Thing like This, if they can; and what indeed may they not attempt to produce after so much Blasphemy? But should they vainly pretend to any such Thing, yet what mighty Advantage will they gain to their Cause? For if you will be at the Pains of comparing their Doctrine with That of the Apostles, you will find such a monstrous Difference and Incongruity between them, that it is hardly possible to believe that such abominable Absurdities should come either from an Apostle or an Apostolical Person. For as the Apostles would not teach Doctrines different from and inconsistent one with another, so neither would the Men of these Times have taught any Thing contrary to the Apostles, unless it were such only as went out from them, because they were not of them, and therefore taught Doctrines contrary to them. And by this very Rule They will be approved of other Churches also, which are every Day planted, and which tho' They do not derive immediately from the Apostles, or Apostolical Men, as being much inferior to them in Time, do yet agree with them in the very same Faith, and by Virtue of that Harmony and Agreement, have no less a Right and Title (than the Churches planted by the Apostles) to be call'd Apostolical. But alass! They cannot possibly make out any Claim or |64 Title to their being Apostolical in any Sense, either from a Succession of Bishops, or a Conformity in Doctrine, nor are they admitted into Fellowship and Communion with any Churches, that are in any Respect Apostolical, by reason of their Disagreement in Doctrine and of their being upon no account whatsoever Apostolical.
To This also we add, that the Apostles themselves took notice of, and rejected such of their Docttrines, as in the Apostolick Times were introduced. And thus we may easily trace them up to their Original, whilst we either shew that they were then in being, or that they sprung from the corrupted Seed that was then sown. St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians writes against such Persons as deny'd, or were doubtful of the Resurredtion. This Opinion was properly the Doctrine of the 48 Sadduces; but Marcion, and Appelles, and Valentinus, |65 and Others, who go about to impugn and invalidate the Resurrection of the Flesh, have borrowed Part of their Notions from them. In his Epistle to the Galatians he inveighs against the Observers and Maintainers of Circumcision, and the Law; but This is the Heresy of 49 Ebion. In his Instructions to Timothy, he warns him against, and exposes such 50 Persons as do forbid and deny Marriage; and among these are found Marcion, and his Disciple Apelles. He is equally severe upon Them who say that the Resurrection is already past; Yet this is what the Valentinians also hold. When he nameth endless Genealogies doth he not openly strike at 51 Valentinus? According to whose Hypothesis a certain new invented something, or Aeon of various Names, begets of Grace these Two |66 viz, Sense and Truth; and of these are born other Two, The Word, and Life, from whence descend Man and the Church. And this is the first Octave of Aeons. From hence arise ten other Aeons, and after these twelve more, equally surprizing, and all, all of them with like wonderful Names, and of these is composed the fabulous Genealogy of thirty Aeons. In blaming such as serve the Elements 52 Hermogenes's Heresy is hinted at, who introducing an unbegotten Matter, compares it to the unbegotten God; and then complementing this Mother of the Elements with the Title and Dignity of a Goddess, why may not he (if he pleases) worship That, which he thus equals with God? In the Apocalipse John is commanded to punish such Persons, as sacrificed to Idols, and committed Fornication. And have we not among us other 53 Nicolaitans, which is commonly call'd the Heresy of Caius? In his Epistle, |67 he calleth Them AntiChrists, who deny Christ to have come in the Flesh, and who teach that Jesus is not the Son of God. But one of these is the Doctrine of Marcion the other the Opinion of Ebion. The Heresy of the Simonians, which teaches the Worshipping of Angels, was reckoned among the several Species of Idolatry, and condemn'd by Peter the Apostle in his Condemnation of 54 Simon himself. |68
These are, I think, the several false Doctrines, which, as the Apostles inform us, crept into the Church in their Days. And yet among all this Variety of perverse Opinions not one Sect is to be found, which moves any Dispute or Controversy concerning the God who made the World. There was not so much as one person who dared even to suspect the being of any other God. It seem'd indeed a much easier Matter to raise Doubts concerning the Son than the Father, till Marcion at length arose, and beside the World's Creator invented another God, a Principle of all Goodness; till 55 Apelles hammer'd out a God of a fiery Substance, and superinduced a certain glorious Creator of Angels, for the supreme Deity, whom he makes to be the Giver of the Law, and the God of Israel; till Valentinus spread abroad his Aeons, and from the fall of one of them deduced the Original of God the Creator. To these alone, it seems, the true Notion of the Deity was first reveal'd, to these was it first made known, who have obtain'd so large a Grace and Plenitude of Favours from the Devil, thus rivalling in his Dispensations the God of Heaven, that what our Lord hath refused and |69 denied to do, He hath wrought by the powerful Force of his seducing Tenets, and "hath set the Disciples, above their Master." Let then the Hereticks produce the Original of their Opinions , and at what Time soever they shall be shewn to have taken their Rise, they shall from that very moment be convicted of Falshood, But perhaps they were not named by the Apostles, and if so, then were they not in being; for if they had been in being, the Apostles would have named them, and caution'd us against them. For such as were in being in the Times of the Apostles are mention'd, and in the very Mention which is made of them, they are condemned. Whether then the present Heresies be the same with these, which were introduced in the Days of the Apostles, and are only somewhat more refined and polished in the Revival, or whether they be different and of a later Extraction, yet having borrow' d some Part from them, they have by their Conformity of Doctrine obtaind a like Condemnation with them; and withal by reason of their late Introduction, tho' in nothing perhaps they may partake of the Errors condemned, yet from their novelty are they confuted; and by so much the more are they false, as they have escaped the Notice of the Apostles. From whence we may more clearly infer, that these are they which were then foretold should be. |70
And thus then may be confuted, from their Difference and Disagreement with the Doctrine the Apostles taught, all Heresies, which either have arose since the Apostolick Age, or were Co-eval with the Apostles themselves; and likewise from their being pre-condemned, all such as were in general, or an especial Manner taken notice of by them. And now let the Hereticks in their turn, if they can, prescribe in like Manner against the Faith we hold. For if they deny our Tenets to be the Doctrines of Truth, they ought to convict them of Heresy, as we have done by their Opinions; and withal to shew us where the Truth is to be found, which most certainly is not among them. Our Institution is not of a modern Date, or of a later Introduction, but far, exceedingly far superior in Time to all others; and this will be an evident Testimony of it's Truth, which doth always precede Falshood. Besides, our Faith is not at all condemned by the Apostles, nay it is maintain'd by them, and this will be a Demonstration of it's being theirs. For that very Opinion which is not condemned by those, who have condemned all false Opinions, They Themselves shew to be their own, and do therefore defend it. |71
If then you will indulge your Curiosity, and give it both an useful and extensive Range in the Affair of your Salvation, be pleas'd to take a view of, and run over the Apostolick Churches, where the Chairs of the Apostles do now preside in their respective places; where their Authentick and Original Epistles, the very Images of their Voice and Person are now recited and exhibited. Do you live in Achaea? There is Corinth. Are you not far removed from Macedonia ? You have Philippi and Thesalonica. Are you nigh unto Asia? There is Ephesus. Or if you border upon Italy; there is Rome, from whence also we have Authority. Oh! how happy, how extremely happy was That Church, in which the Apostles seal'd and confirm'd all their Doctrines with a virtuously lavish, a gloriously prodigal Effusion of their Blood ? There was Peter, as our Lord, crucify'd; There, like John the Baptist, was Paul beheaded; There was the Apostle St. John immers'd in a Caldron of boiling Oyl, and having receiv'd no Harm from thence, was afterwards sent in banishment to the Isle of Patmos. If we examine into what that Church hath learnt, and see what it hath taught, we shall find an exact Conformity and Agreement both in Discipline and Doctrine between the Roman Church and the Churches of Africk. That Church has acknowledg'd but one God, the Creator of the Universe; it hath |72 believ'd in Jesus Christ his Son born of the Virgin Mary, and it hath taught the Resurrection of the Flesh. That Church hath united the old and the new Testament together, and from thence hath it imbibed the Faith. It receives by Baptism, It invests with the Holy Spirit, It feeds with the Eucharist, It exhorts to Martyrdom, and admits of none to it's Communion, who bring not with them these Recommendations and Credentials. This, I say, is the Institution, which not only foretold the Rise of future Heresies, but from whence all Heresies have originally gone out. But they were not therefore of it, because they went out from it, and have since turn'd all the Malice of their united Powers against it. For as from the Stem of a pure and rich and natural Olive Tree springs the wild Olive Tree, and as from the Seed of the most delicious and grateful Fig Tree branches out the Wild Fig Tree, so also do Heresies arise from our Stock, tho' of very different Race and Nature from us; They grow up from the Seed of Truth but thro' the Poison of Falshood become corrupt and degenerate.
If then these Things be really so in Fact; and if the Truth be adjudg'd to us, who walk in the very same Rule which the Church hath convey d down from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God, the |73 Certainty of our Proportion will clearly be made out, viz. That Hereticks ought not to be admitted to a scriptural Disputation, to whom even without Scripture we have proved that the Scriptures do not of right belong. For if they be Hereticks, they cannot be Christians, in that they adhere not to Christ, but thro obstinate perverseness assume to themselves Heretical Names. And if they are not Christians they therefore cannot have any Right to the Christian Doctrines, which undoubtedly are contain'd in the Scriptures. To these Men the Church might thus fitly address her self, Who are ye? when, and from whence came ye? What do Ye in my Pastures who are none of mine ? By what Authority do you Marcion break in upon my Inclosures? By what right do you Valentinus stain and pollute the clear Streams of my pure Fountains? Whence, O Apelles, is your Power to remove my Landmarks? This Field is mine of Right, why then do ye at your Pleasure sow and seed therein ? It is my Possession; I held it in times past; I first had it in my Hands; my Title to it is firm and indisputable, and derived from these Persons whose it was, and to whom it properly belong'd. I am the Heir of the Apostles; as they provided in their Testament, as they committed and deliver d to my Trust, as they charg'd and order'd me, so I hold. But you have they cut off, disinherited, and rejected as Strangers and utter Enemies. Now whence (I pray) comes it to pass, that Hereticks are Strangers and Enemies |74 to the Apostles, but from the Diversity of Doctrine, which every Heretick thro' his own perverse Will hath advanced or receiv'd in Opposition to the Doctrine taught by the Apostles?
There then the Scriptures are to be esteem'd erroneous, the Glosses upon them false, and the Expositions adulterated, where there is found any manifest Difference or Disagreement in Doctrine. For necessity hath obliged Them differently to dispose the Records of Doctrine, who have resolv'd to alter the Doctrine itself. For how could they preach any new Doctrine, unless they invented a new Instrument or Engine thro' which That Doctrine might be convey'd ? And as their false Tenets could never have succeeded without the Adulteration of the Scriptures; so the Soundness and Orthodoxy of our Doctrine could not have belonged to us, or been derived down to us from our Ancestors in the Faith, unless the Instruments had been also found thro' which it was derived. But what Contradiction can we be charg'd with ? or what Inconsistency can we be said to have among our selves? What have we inserted of our own, that hath compell'd us by it's Contrariety to make any Addition, or Diminution, or Change in the Scriptures ? What we are, have the Scriptures been from the Beginning; from them we derived our Doctrine, before an |75 Attempt was ever made towards any Change or Alteration, or before they had ever suffer'd thro' your Interpolation. For seeing that all Interpolation must in the Order of Time be supposed to follow after, and not precede, or be of the same Antiquity with the Thing interpolated; so is it incredible, that We who are first and from the Beginning should have at any Time adulterated the Scriptures, and not They who are in Time inferior and opposite to us. Now of these Men some have perverted them either by Addition or Diminution, and others by imposing false Interpretations and false Comments upon them. Marcion openly cut off part from them, for he found That Excision to be highly serviceable to his Cause. Valentinus indeed spared the Letter, and prepared not Scriptures to prove his Point, but cunningly devised subject Matter to work upon from the Scriptures; and yet notwithstanding this he hath taken away more, and hath also made larger Additions than Marcion, by his altering the Propriety of Words, and by opening the Way for the Admission of such Things as do not sufficiently appear.
These, my Brethren, are the Powers of Spiritual Wickedness, with which we are to contend; and deservedly too they merit our utmost Consideration, and are absolutely necessary for a right Establishment of the Faith, that the |76 Approved may be made manifest, and the Reprobate detected. And for this Cause have they obtain'd a Sufficiency, and are endued with a wonderfull Facility of inventing and maintaining their Errors. Nor is this to be look'd upon as an extremely difficult Matter, or very hard to be explain'd. For even in profane and secular Writings we have Instances of it's being practicable. At this Day we see the Fable of 56 Virgil thrown into quite another Form, new Matter being artfully adapted to the Verses, and the Verses nicely fitted to the new Matter. From this Fountain also did 57 Hosidius Geta extract the Tragedy which he names Medea. And a Relation of mine by Way of Amusement in his leisure Hours has after the same Manner wrote a Comment upon 58 Cebes's Table. There are also who are call'd Homerocentones, Persons that applying to some other purpose the Shreds of Verses they have pick'd up and down from the Works of Homer, do from thence compose a different Poem. And indeed the Holy Scriptures will more abundantly supply the Authors of such Compositions with proper Materials for their Designs. Nor will I scruple to affirm, that the Scriptures themselves are so disposed |77 by the Will of God, as to afford Matter for Hereticks to work upon, when I read that Heresies must be, and which cannot posibly be without the Scriptures.
But lastly, from whence (I pray) comes That Interpretation which is the immediate Cause of Heresies ? From the Devil most certainly, whose grand Affair it is to corrupt the Truth; and who in his idolatrous Mysteries pretends to imitate the sacred Rites of the true Religion. He in his turn too baptizes some, namely his own Disciples and Followers; by washing he promises a Purgation from Sin, and if I yet remember, 59 Mithra signs his Soldiers in their Foreheads; he makes an Oblation of Bread, puts on the Form of the Resurrection, and withal he crowns them with a mimick Martyrdom. To this also may be added, that his Chief Priest is the Husband of one Wife, that he hath his Virgins and his 60 Continentes. But if we look back upon the Superstitions of 61 Numa Pompilius; if we take a view of the |78 sacerdotal Offices, the Marks of Honour, and the Privileges; if we reflect upon the sacrifical Performances, the Instruments and Vessels for Sacrifices, the Variety of Vows, and the numerous Expiations, we shall manifestly see, that the Devil hath had in his Eye throughout the whole Institution the scrupulous nicety of imitating the Jewish Law. It is He who hath affected so exactly to express the Rites wherewith the Christian Sacraments are administer'd; It is He (I say) that makes use of the same Artifice in corrupting the Instruments of Divine Truth and of Christianity, by drawing one Sense from another, taking Words from Words, Parables from Parables, and adapting all to a profane Faith, which bears some faint, some languid Resemblance to the True. And therefore no one has any Reason to doubt, but that these Spiritual Wickednesses, from whence Heresies proceed, have sprung from the Devil, and that they differ not from Idolatry, feeing they both have their Rise from the same Author, and are both of a like Nature. For either |79 Hereticks feign another God in Opposition to the Creator, or if they confess and acknowledge one Creator, they do not allow him these Perfections which are truly and properly his; and therefore every Lye they tell of God is a Species of Idolatry.
I shall not in this Place omit to describe the Conversation of Hereticks, how vain, and earthly, and frail it is, without Weight, without Authority, without Discipline, tho' at the same Time we shall readily allow it to be in every respect suitable to the Faith They profess. In the first Place then it is not easy to distinguish who are 62 Catechumens, and who the 63 Faithful. There is no Difference or Distinction among them, but they come, and hear, and pray altogether promiscuously; nay if Heathens |80 happen to fall in with them, they cast the holy Things to Dogs, and Pearls, tho' not the true Pearls, to Swine. The neglect and Prostitution of all Discipline they call the Simplicity of the Gospel, and our studious and earnest Concern for Discipline they will have to be running a whoring after our own Inventions. They are likewise Men of such an extensive Moderation as to keep Peace with all Men. For however they may disagree among themselves, they never fail of being unanimous in combining against the Truth, and if they can but beat down That, they rest themselves very well contented. They are all mightily puft up; they all, all of them highly promise Mountains of Knowledge. Their Catechumens commence compleat Christians before Instruction. Then for your Female Hereticks, how petulant are They? They take upon them to teach, to dispute, to exercise, to heal the Sick, nay perhaps to 64 baptize too. How rash, how fickle, how |81 inconstant are they in their Ordinations ? Sometimes they admit meer Novices, sometimes Men encumber d and distracted with secular Affairs, and sometimes even Apostates from us, that so they may invert and oblige those with splendid and imaginary Titles, whom they cannot oblige with the real Truth. A Man never fares better than in the Camp of Rebels, where only to be, is to be meritorious. And therefore to day they have one Bishop, to morrow Another; He is a Deacon to day, who to morrow shall be a Reader; a Presbyter to day, who to morrow shall be a Laick again. For they scandalously prostitute the sacerdotal Functions even to 65 Laymen. |82
But what shall I say of the Administration of the Word among them, when it is their chief Bussness not to convert the Heathen but to pervert our People? They reckon it more for the Advancement of their Honour to pull down those that stand, than to lift up those that are already down. Instead of repairing their own Breaches they make it their whole Employment to demolish the Truth. They are very industrious in digging up our Foundations that they may build upon the Ruines thereof. Strike out but the Law and the Prophets and God the Creator, and they will then agree very well with you. And if you will but allow them to go on in this destructive Employment, they profess themselves to be very much your humble Servants, so kind, so gentle, and so condescending a People are they. But with regard to their own Bishops they observe no Deference or Respect; and this is the reason why we never hear of Schisms among Hereticks. For when Schisms arise they pay no sacred Reverence to Authority, but Schism with them is Unity. And I am very much mistaken, if they are governed by any Rules even of their own making, but every one models and adapts the Doctrines he has receiv'd according to his Fancy, as the first Founder framed them to his, and to serve his own turn. The Progress of every particular Heresy was form'd upon the footsteps of it's |83 first Introducers. And the same Liberty, which was assumed by Valentinus and Marcion of Innovating in Religion, was generally made use of by their Followers. In a Word, if you search narrowly into all sorts of Heresies, you will find that they differ in many Things from the first Authors of their own Sect. They have few of them any Church, but without Mother, without See, without the Faith, they wander up and down like exiled Men entirely devoid of House and Home.
The Conversation of Hereticks is infamously notorious. They are almost continually with Magicians, with Juglers, with Astrologers, with Philosophers. For the enchanting Pleasure of Curiosity must be gratify'd; "seek and ye shall find", is with them a Precept never to be forgotten, a Precept eternally to be insisted upon. Now from such kind of Conversation you may easily judge of the Nature and Quality of their Faith, for Discipline is a certain Indication of Doctrine. They deny that God is to be fear'd, and then what should hinder them from giving a Loose to every evil Imagination, and to every irregular Appetite? But where is the Fear of God absent, if he himself be present? And where God is not present, there Truth itself must necessarily be absent. And where Truth is not, it is no wonder, that such is the Nature of their Faith, and that such is the Quality of |84 their Discipline. For where God is, there is the "Fear of God, which is the Beginning of Wisdom." And where the Fear of God is, there is a decent Gravity, a Diligence fearfull of offending, a Carefull Sollicitude to perform any Duty, a well-examin'd Choice of Persons to serve in sacred Functions, a deliberate Reception to Communion, a cautious but certain Advancement of real Worth to Dignities, a strict Submission to Superiors, a devout Attendance of the lower Orders, a pious, modest, and humble Behaviour, an united Church, and in short, every Thing consonant and agreeable to the Will of God.
Now these evident Marks of this exact Discipline among us are very good Arguments that the Faith we prosess is true. And This Faith will no Man ever forsake, who is mindful of a future Judgement, when we must all stand before the Tribunal of Christ, to give an especial Account of our Faith, and that too in the most minute Circumstances of it. But what Account (I pray) will They be then able to give, who have defiled the divinely pure Spouse of Christ with an Heretical Adultery? Will they presume to say, that Christ and his Apostles had never foretold to them that in future Times false Doctrines should be introduced, or that they had never been forewarn'd against them ? Let them rather confess and acknowledge the Perversness of |85 their own obstinate Wills than charge Christ and his Apostles with Blame, who upon this Head have kindly given us more abundant Caution. Or will they boldly alledge the Authority of the Heretick they follow'd, and say that their Masters confirm'd their Doctrine by Miracles, that they rais'd the Dead, heal'd the Sick, foretold Things to come, and brought with them the uncontested Credentials of Apostles. Alas ! This will stand them in little Stead, seeing it is written that "Many should come, and Work great Signs and Miracles in proof of false Doctrines." But no doubt then (according to these Hereticks) They shall all receive Mercy, and Such as have been mindful of the Commands of our Lord and his Apostles, and have continued found and orthodox in the Faith will then be in Danger of being rejected of Him, who will then say unto them, It is true indeed, I did foretell the Coming of false Teachers in my Name, and in the Names of my Apostles and Prophets; I commanded my Disciples to preach one uniform Doctrine unto you; I certainly gave to my Apostles one Gospel, and one fix'd Rule of Faith; but seeing Men did not readily come into a Belief of it, I wisely chose in some Points to alter it. I promised indeed a Resurrection, and that of the Flesh too, but have since further consider'd of it, and find I cannot well acquit my self of my Promise. I then openly declared my self to have been born of a Virgin, but have since look'd upon That Declaration as a most |86 egregious Piece of Folly and Delusion. With an assuming Air of Confidence I call'd Him my Father who made the Rain and the Sun, but another and much better Father hath since adopted me; I earnestly charg'd you not to give Ear to Hereticks, but in that Charge, I was widely mistaken. Such monstrous Extravagancies, such blasphemous Absurdities must they frame to themselves, who wander out of the Way of Truth, and take no Care to keep sacred and entire the establish'd Rule of Faith.
And thus have we PRESCRIBED against all Hereticks in General, and shewn that upon sure, and just, and necessary Grounds they are not to be admitted to a Scriptural Disputation.
I cannot take leave of my Reader without acquainting him that in this Translation of our difficult Author I have not closely follow'd any one particular Edition of Tertullian. I have chiefly consulted and compared Pamelius, Priorius, Rigaltius, and Lupus. I am likewise to acquaint my Reader that I have chose to make use of some Expressions, some Sentences, and perhaps some few Sections from the Learned and Ingenious Mr. Reeves's Preliminary Discourse to Vincentius Lerinensis. This Gentleman has so eminently distinguish'd himself by a fine Taste of the Primitive Writers, and has shewn such an admirable Judgment in his Translation of the Apologists, that for the Benefit of the Publick I could heartily wish he had prevented me in my Design, and obliged the World with |87 our Author's Prescription as well as his Apology. It is now indeed too late for me to make any Apology for Myself or my Translation. I have nothing left but to flatter Myself with pleasing Hopes that either my good Intention will in some measure justify my Undertaking, or that my weak Performance will be an Encouragement for some Person of much greater Abilities to enter upon a new Version of this most excellent Author.
THE END OF TERTULLIAN'S PRESCRIPTION AGAINST HERETICKS.
[Footnotes moved to end and numbered. The long-s has been converted to normal 's': the OCR generally recognised it as 'f' or 'l'. Orthography otherwise unchanged. Greek text was very hard to read and may not be accurate]
1. a Cyprian, Jerome.
2. a See Section 21.
3. a. See Section 20.
4. b See Eusebius lib. 7. cap. 30. with Valesius's notes upon the same.
5. a Cyprian Epist. 45.
6. b Cyprian Epist. 44.
7. a Cyprian Epist. 45, 55.
8. b Cyprian 59.
9. c Damaso Syricius ho die, cum quo nobis totus Orbis commercio Formatarum, in una Communionis Societate concordat. Optatus Milev. lib.2. adversus Parmen.
10. d Euseb. Hist. Eccles, lib. 7. cap. 27.
11. a, 12. b, 13. c,
15. a See Bp. Sparrow's Collection of Canons sub Tit. Concionat. p. 238.
16. a. If no Benefit or Advantage did accrue to the Church from Heresies, God would never have permitted Heresies to arise, or Hereticks to have been born. He would by some means or other have prevented them., or have cut them off in the very Moment of their commencing Hereticks. See St. Austin Epist.48. ad Maxim.
There are many Things of great Moment in the Catholick Doctrines which by reason of the crafty Wiles., the subtle Cavils, and furious Objections of turbulent Hereticks are therefore throughly discuss'd and examin'd in order to a Vindication and Defense of them, and by these Means come to be more carefully consider'd, more clearly understood, and more earnestly inculcated. St. Austin. de Civitate Dei cap. 8.
17. a All they which are in Asia be turned away from me, of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 2 Epist. to Tim cap. 1. v. 15. Phygellus and Hermogenes falsly pretended a very great zeal, respect, and esteem for the Apostle St. Paul, in order to have a more free, familiar, and easy access to him. And this they did with hope and design of getting something out of him, whereby either they themselves might the better expose him, or encourage others so to do.
18. b Hymeneus and Philetus concerning the Truth have erred, saying that the Resurrection is past already, and overthrow the Faith of some Men. 2 Epist. to Tim. cap. 1. v. 17. 18.
19. a The word Heresy (as our Author has observ'd) in the Original signifies only Election or Choice ( ai/resij from ai1resmein to chuse) and it was used formerly to denote a Sect; thus St. Paul said that he was of the Heresy, that is of the Sect of the Pharisees, but now Heresy is deservedly taken in an ill sense, and thereby is understood a fundamental Error in Religion. Nevertheless to constitute the Heresy, the Error must be follow'd by Obstinacy, and no Man can properly be call'd an Heretick unless he is obstinate in his Opinion, and continues so, after sufficient means, of Conviction have been us'd.
20. a The History of Philumena may be seen in Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib.5, cap. 13. St. Austin de Haeresibus, and St. Jerome lib. contra Pelagianos.
21. b Apelles was a Disciple of Marcian, and first maintain'd the same Errors in common with his Master, but being expell'd his Communion he afterwards invented a new Heresy, or rather learn'd it of Philumena a young Woman of Alexandria, who was possess'd with an Evil Spirit, which she pretended was the Holy Ghost. After which he admitted but of One God made up of infinite Parts. He despised the Law and the Prophets, and allowed Jesus but a Body of Air, which he distributed among the Elements, when he ascended into Heaven. He also denied the Resurrection of the Body. He composed a Book, the Title of which was, The Prophesies and Revelations of Philumena. See St. Austin, Philastrius, Euseb. &c.
22. a. Valentinus, the Founder of the Sect denominated from him, was an Aegyptian. He was very Learned, Eloquent, and a Wonderful Admirer of the Platonick Philosophy, of which also he made Profession. It is said that his Dissatisfaction that Another was preferr'd before him to a Bishoprick, made him quit his Faith, and collect his Dreams of certain Gods to the Number of Thirty, which he call'd Aeones, i. e. Ages, out of the Poet Hesiod's Fables. He would have fifteen of his Aeones to be Male, the other fifteen Female; and that our Saviour sprung like another Pandora out of their Correspondence. He added, that Christ passed with a Body brought out of Heaven through the Virgin, as a Conduit or Pipe, and that all Men would not rise to Life again. He came to Rome and abjured his Errors, but it was but for a short Time, for he relapsed and maintain'd them with greater Obstinacy than before. See Irenaeus, Theodoret, Epiphanius, Eusebius, and St. Austin.
23. b See an Account of Marcion in the Note upon Section 30.
24. c Concerning the Doctrine of the Stoicks see Diog. Laert.
25. d Life of Epicurus by Diog. Laert.
26. e The Restoration of a Person from the Dead was one of those Things that were thought insuperable even to the Omnipotence of God himself. See Pliny Nat. Hist. lib. 2. c. 7. Plutarch de Placitis Philosophorum lib. 1. cap. 3. Theodoret Ekklwikw~j pazkma&twn Serm. 4.
27. a Zeno was the Author of the Sect of the Stoicks. He spake of God, as if he acknowledged but One, and held that the Names of the others belonged to him as Titles by which the Grecians understood the different Effects of his Goodness and Power. But then he maintain'd a most gross Error which is here pointed at by our Author, viz. his asserting. that God was nothing else but the Soul of the World, which he consider'd as his Body, and Both of them together as making up the perfect Animal. That the whole World and Heaven is the Substance of God, is not only affirm'd by Zeno, but the same Opinion is maintain'd by Chrysippus, and insisted upon by Posidonius. See Diog. Laert. and Suidas.
28. b Heraclitus taught that All Things are composed of Fire, and capable of being refolv'd into Fire; That every thing was done by Chance ; That what is contrary, is united by Alteration ; That every Thing is full of Spirits ; That every thing that happens is done by various Changes : That all the Universe is finite : That there is but one World, form'd of Fire; and That all Things by frequent Revolutions shall became Fire, Diog. Laert.
29. c See Irenaeus lib. I. cap. I. Epiphan. St. Jerom's Comm. lib. 11. in Amos Proph. and our Author's Treatise against the Valentinians.
30. a Tertullian must not here be understood to censure any studious Disquisition, any serious Enquiry, any earnest Search into the Scriptures, provided it be done upon an honest and good Principle. He only inveighs against the Gnosticks, whose elaborate Searches, whose curious Hypotheses, and whose refined Speculations in Divinity did not so much tend to the Acquisition of Truth, as that of vain Glory, and the empty Applause of Men. Every one of them pretended to excell his Brother in Wisdom and Knowledge, and not only his Brother, but even the Apostles, and Christ himself. This is the Wisdom which (according to St.James) is Earthly, Sensual, Devilish.
31. a Our Author proceeds in this Section, which is directly levell'd at the Gnosticks, to offer his reasons why it is not expedient to admit Hereticks to a Scriptural Disputation. And This he urges chiefly from hence, viz. because they receive not the whole and entire Canon of Scripture, and because They reject several of the Divinely inspired Books. For this reason therefore it is, that if you admit Hereticks to such a Dispute, their Errors cannot then be so readily and easily confuted, because They deny the Authority of those Arguments by which their false Notions must be confuted. See Lupus, Priorius, Rigaltius.
32. b Marcion, who was follow'd by the Manichees and Priscillianists, disallows, condemns, and rejects the Old Testament. Of the New Testament also, they receive only St. Luke's Gospel, and St. Paul's Epistles, and of these not all. See Irenaeus lib. 3. cap. 12. lib. 1. c. 29. Clemens Alexandrinus lib. 3. Strom.
33. a Tertullian here points at the Valentinians, who pretended to receive All the Scriptures, but then after a most shameful Manner they explained them away. Their absurd Glosses, their abominable Wresting, and their unnatural Torturing of Scripture may be seen at large in Irenaeus.
The reason (beside these common ones which are generally alledg'd, viz. Pride, Ambition, and the Desire of being either the Author or Leader of any Sect) why Heretical Doctrines are broach'd, is, because the Scriptures are not rightly understood, and because that which is not rightly understood, is confidently asserted, and strenuously maintain'd. Iren. lib. 5. c. 21. For a larger and more explanatory Account of this Section, see Iren. lib. 3, c. 5. Cyprian lib. de Unitate Ecclesiae.
34. a This was the grand Objection of the Gnosticks, who pretended that They were the only Persons that knew God, and that no one understood the Scriptures, and the true Meaning of them but themselves. See Clemens Alexandrinus Strom. lib. 3. The Gnosticks say further, that not only the Apostles, but even Christ himself conceal'd the true Meaning of his Doctrine. See Iren. lib, 3, cap. 2.
35. a By All Truth we are here to understand All Spiritual Truth, such as was absolutely necessary to be known by Men in order to work out their Salvation in a proper Way. The Lord did not say, I will send unto you the Spirit of Truth, who should inform you of the Motions of the Sun, and of the Moon, and of the Celestial Bodies. His Design was not to make you Philosophers but Christians. St. Austin lib. i. contra Manich.
36. a This, is what the Gnosticks pretend, makes so mightily for them and their Cause ; and that their Doctrine had its Rise and Foundation from what St. Paul receiv'd when he was caught up into the third Heaven, where he heard the a)r)r(hza eh&mata, or unspeakable Words. This Valentinus boasts of, and says that his Master Theodades, an Intimate of St. Paul's reveal'd the whole Matter of this secret History. See Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom. lib. 7. Theophylact, Comm. in 2 Epift. ad Cor.
37. a By the Depositum our Author must necessarily be understood to mean the Catholick Doctrine of Jesus Christ. See Vincentius Lerinensis.
By the Depositum or Charge, which St. Paul charges Timothy with, some however are willing to understand the Gifts and Graces of the Holy Spirit, which Timothy received by Ordination or Imposition of Hands. See Theodoret.
38. a. By Domesticks our Author here means Those who assisted the Apostles in founding and visiting Churches. These Persons had the same Relation to the other Apostles, that Luke and Barnabas had to Paul. See Lupus.
39. a Marcion was the Son of the Bishop of Sinope in Pontus, for which reason he is sometimes stiled Ponticus. In his younger Years, he closely followed the Philosophy of the Stoicks ; but being convicted of Uncleanness with a Virgin, he was excommunicated by his Father. After this he immediately fled to Rome, where he broach'd many damnable Errors. And among the rest, that there were two Gods, One the Creator of the World, whom he made to be the God of the Old Testament, and the Author of Evil; the Other a more Sovereign and Supreme Being, Creator of more excellent Things, The Father of Christ, whom he sent into the World to dissolve the Laws and the Prophets, and to destroy the Works of the Other Deity whom he stiled the God of the Jews. Some of the Ancients (especially Origen) make him to have established Three different Principles or Beings, an ar)xh_ agaqh_, or Good Principle, The Father of Christ and This was the God of the Christians; an a)rxh_ dhmiagk_, or Creating Principle, that made the visible Frame of Things, and which presided over the Jews; and an a)rxh_ ponh&ra, an Evil Principle, which was the Devil, and ruled over the Gentiles. He likewise affirmed that Jesus Christ was not cloathed with true Flesh, and by Consequence did not suffer really but only in Appearance. He denied the Resurrection, condemned Marriage, and excluded Married People from Salvation. See Justin Martyr, Iren. Clement Alex. Origen, Theod. Epiphan. Euseb. St. Austin. Philast. our Author against Marcion, and Dr. Cave.
40. b See Note upon Section 7. and our Author's Tract against the Valentinians.
41. a This Passage of our Author must not be understood as if Marcion lived within the Strict Bounds of Sobriety Modesty, and Virtue, for he was very Loose, Corrupt, and Profligate in his Morals, but must be understood of his falsly pretended Continency, and of his forbidding and denying Marriages. See Priorius.
42. a See Note upon Section 6.
43. b Our Author by proving that the Disciples of the Hereticks were then alive, does from thence plainly evince their Heretical Innovations. The same Argument is made use of by several of the Ancients, and particularly by Clemens Alexandrinus, who demonstrates that Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, and Other Hereticks were later than the Times of the Apostles; from whence (says he) it is plain that these Opinions and Heresies, which are of later Date than the ancient and True Church, could be nothing but Innovations; from all which he concludes, that there is one only true Church, viz. That which is most Ancient. See Clemens Strom, lib. 7.
44. a Nigidius was a famous Pythagorean Philosopher, and a Magician. He wrote several Books upon Various Subjects, but they were most of them so difficult and obscure, that they were generally neglected. Those of them that were capable of being understood were mightily cry'd up. See Euseb. in Chron. Macrob. lib. 3. Satur. Aulus Gellius, Sueton. Dion. Cicero, Arnob. contra Gentes.
45. b See Note upon Section 53.
46. c Manes in order to evade the Force of this Argument, and to avoid the Title of Dogmatist, or a Founder of a Sect, or Heresy, stiled himself a New Apostle, and begun an Epistle thus, Manes the Apostle of Jesus Christ by the Providence of God the Father, &c. See Lupus.
47. a From hence we may observe that the Apostles as soon as they had founded Churches, immediately settled in them that absolutely necessary and essential Order of Men, viz. the Bishops. This might at that time be proved from the Records and Archives of every Church, the most of which were probably remaining, when Tertullian made this Challenge to All the Hereticks, and appeal'd to these Original Records, in behalf of the Catholick Church. See Binghams Antiquities Vol. I. Book 2. c. 1.
48. a. The Sadduces were a Sect among the Jews which took it's Rise from one Sadoc. They denied the Existenc'e of Spirits, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection of the Dody. They observ'd the Law, to enjoy the temporal Blessings it promised, and to escape the Punishments denounced to it's Transgressors. They rejected all Manner of Traditions, and absolutely denying all Fatality, asserted, that as it was impossible for God to do any Evil, so neither did he take any Notice of that which Men committed : and thence concluded, that it was wholly in our will to do Good or Evil. Tho' This Sect was not very numerous, yet it was very considerable, as being composed of Persons of the greatest Eminence, There was an irreconcileable Hatred between these and the Pharisees. They were Men of a very savage Humour, behaving themselves with great Rudeness, to one another as well as to Strangers. See Josephus, Philastrius, Drusius and Scaliger.
49. a. Ebion taught that Christ was a meer Man, and propagated those Impieties which are charg'd upon the Carpocratians. He allow'd Polygamy, and composed false Acts of the Apostles. He abstain'd from several Meats, and prefer'd the Law before the Gospel, laught at the NewTestament, and made use only of St.Matthew's Gospel, which he falsify'd as he pleas'd. Some will have it that St. John wrote his Gospel against Ebion, and Cerinthus, but Origen and Others think Ebion to be the Name of a Sect, and not of a Man, the Jews having call'd some of the Primitive Christians by that Name out of Contempt, because the Word signifies Poor. See Iren. Euseb. St. Austin, Philastrius, Epiphan.
50. b Menander was the Successor of Simon Magus, who had for his Disciples Basilides of Alexandria, and Saturninus of Antioch; concerning the latter Theodoret writes that Saturninus was the first who call'd Marriage the Doctrine of the Devil. See Theod. Irenaeus also says of them that they assert that Marriage had it's Rise from the Devil, and that many of their Followers by their feigned Continency and seeming Sanctity seduced some Persons. See Iren.
51. c The Valentinian Hypothesis is such an unintelligible Medley, such an extravagant Heap of confused Ideas
and inconsistent Notions, and is so abundantly replete with Absurdities, that I shall neither trouble my self nor my Reader in endeavouring to give any Explanation of it. The Curious may Consult Iren. St. Austin. Epiphan. Philast. Euseb. Dr. Cave, and Pamelius's elegantly delineated Scheme of this Doctrine.
52. a Hermogenes maintain'd that Matter was eternal, and that God did not create it when he made the World, but that he only made use of it to form Things in the present State we now see Them. This is not the same Hermogenes mention'd by St. Paul in Epist. to Tim.
53. b The Sect of the Nicolaitans had it's Rise from Nicolas one of the seven Deacons. He was accused of Luxuriousness and Jealousy upon account of his having an exceedingly beautiful Wife ; but in order to clear himself, he offer'd her to the Service of any one that would make use of her, and gave her leave to marry whom she pleas'd. Many Libertines have from hence pleaded this example in favour of a Community of Wives. But for a Confutation of Nicolaitism, and a Vindication of Nicolas, see Clemens, Iren, Origen, Theod.
54. a Simon being the first of all the Hereticks, the Reader perhaps may not be displeas'd, if he is presented with a short Account of him. He was Chief of the Simoniacks and Gnosticks, was of Samaria., where he was baptized by Philip one of the Deacons : but observing that the Apostles spoke Languages which they had never learn'd, and perform'd many Miracles, he would very willingly have purchased the same Power ; and being rebuked by St.Peter for his wicked Thought, he broach'd his new Errors, and pretending that he was the High Power or Virtue of God, endeavour'd to impose upon the Jews., whom he found much bent against the Faithful, and to perswade them into a Belief that He was the Son of God sent to them, and the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles. Then he set forth for Rome, to undermine the true Miracles with his false and Magical Illusions, which were so very surprizing, that the Romans erected to him a Statue, as to a God, and gave him the Title of Holy, as appears from Justin Martyr, and our Author's Apology. To these Follies he added abominable Errors, teaching that all Impurities were lawful, even Those condemned by Nature it self. That Women might be common, that there would be no Resurrection, that God did not create the World, but other Celestial Spirits, which left it defective; that an evil Spirit dictated the ancient Law, which could not be received without incurring Death. Nor did he stop here, but endeavour'd to perswade the World, that his Concubine call'd Helene, or Selene, was the Holy Ghost. He invented strange Titles for Angels, which he placed in the New Celestial Spheres, and added, that the only means to be saved, was to practise his secret Mysteries, wherein he mixed such abominable Indecencies, that it would be offering Violence to the Reader's Modesty, to render them in common Language. His Folly in offering the Apostles Money to receive the Holy Ghost, is the reason why the Commerce and Sale of Holy Things has obtain'd the Appellation of Simony. See Iren. Epiphan. Arnob. Si Austin, Euseb. Baronius in Annal.
55. a Our Author seems indeed in this Place to assert that Apelles was the first that ascribed the Creation of the World to Angels; but it must be remember'd that This was at the same time the Doctrine of Simon, and one of the chief Tenets of Cerinthus, and which gave occasion to that of St. John, All things mere made by him ( viz. the Son) and without him was not any thing made that was made. See Lupus.
56. a For an account of the Imitation of the Virgiliocentones and Homerocentones by the Hereticks see Iren. and Epiphan.
57. b See Salmasius, and Scriverius in Collectan. Vet. Trag.
58. c Cebes was a Native of Thebes, was also a Philosopher, and a Disciple of Socrates. He wrote three Dialogues one call'd Hebdomas, another Phrynicus and the third Pinax, or his Tablet, which contains an Account of the Birth, Life, and Death of Mankind. See Diog. Laert.and Gronov.
59. a The God Mithras Ceremonies were perform'd in Caves and Places under Ground. Bulls and Human Creatures were offer'd in Sacrifice to him. See Justin Mart, and St. Jerom.
60. b For an Account of the Continentes see St. Jerom. lib. i. contra. Jovin. Tertull. lib. I. ad Uxorem, & lib. de Monagam.
61. c Numa Pompilius was the second King of the Romans3 who had so great an Opinion of him, that immediately after the Death of Romulus they made him their King. He instituted a vast Number of Rites and Ceremonies. He built a Temple to Vesta and appointed Vestal Virgins who had the Care of preserving the holy Fire. He created several Colleges of Priests, viz. of Jupiter, whom he call'd Flamen Dialis; of Mars, Martialis, and of Romulus, Quirinalis, the Salii, Augures, Feciales, and Curiones. He erected also a Temple to double faced Janus, which was to stand open in time of War, and shut in time of Peace. To the end that all his Institutions might gain the greater Respest and Veneration among an extremely credulous and superstitious People; he perswaded them that he convers'd by night with the Nymph Aegeria, from whose Instructions he pretended, that he receiv'd all the Rites, Ceremonies, Laws, Injunctions, and Institutions which he prescrib'd them. For a more perfect Account see Florus, Livy, Dion. Hal. Plutarch.
62. a The Catechumens were but imperfect Christians, tho' in some meafure they were owned to be within the Pale of the Church. St. Austin says of them,that they were not yet Sons but Servants; They belonged indeed to the House of God, but were not yet admitted to all the Privileges of it; being only Christians at large, and not In the most strict and proper Acceptation. See Mr. Bingham's Origines Eccl. Vol. i .Book i .c. 3.
63. b The Faithful were such as were baptized, and thereby made compleat and perfect Christians; they were upon that account dignified with several Titles and Marks of Distinction above the Catechumens. They were hence also called Fwpzo&mymoi, or the Illuminate; The reason of this Name is given by Justin Martyr, who says that they were so called, because their Understandings were enlighten'd by the Knowledge that was consequent to Baptism. For all the Mysteries of Religion were unveil'd to the Baptized, which were kept secret from the Catechumens. Baptism was also attended with extraordinary Illuminations of the Holy Ghost, as in those whom St. Paul caused to be baptized at Ephesus. Acts 19, 6. See Bingham's Orig. Ecc. Vol. i. Book i. c. 4.
64. a "With respect to Womens Baptizing, we let you know, that there is no small Peril to those that undertake it. We therefore do not advise you to it; for it is dangerous, or rather wicked and impious : for if the Man be the head of the Woman, and he be originally ordain'd for the Priesthood, it is not just to abrogate the Order of the Creation, and leaving the Principal to come to the extreme part of the Body. For the Woman is the Body of the Man, taken from his Side, and subject to him, from whom she was separated for the Procreation of Children. For says He, He shall rule over thee. For the principal Part of the Woman is the Man, as being her Head : But if in the foregoing Constitutions we have not permitted them to teach, how will any one allow them, contrary to Nature, to perform the Office of a Priest ? For this is one of the ignorant Practices of the Gentile Atheism, to ordain Women Priests to the Female Deities, not one of the Conftitutions of Christ. For if Baptism were to be administer'd by Women, certainly our Lord would have been baptized by his own Mother, and not by John ; or when he sent us to baptize he would have sent along with us Women also for this purpose. But now he has no where, either by Constitution or by Writing deliver'd to us any such thing, as knowing the Order of Nature, and the Decency of the Action; as being the Creator of Nature, and the Legislator of the Constitution. Nay further, we do not permit to the' rest of the Clergy to Baptize ; as for instance neither to Readers, nor Singers, nor Ministers, but to the Bishops and Presbyters alone, yet so that the Deacons are to minister to them therein. But those who venture upon it shall undergo the Punishment of the Companions of Corah." See The third Book of the Apostolical Constitutions by Mr.Whiston.
65. a "We do not permit the Laity to perform any of the Offices belonging to the Priesthood as for instance, neither the Sacrifice, nor Baptism, nor the Laying on of Hands, nor the Blessing, whether the smaller or the greater ; for No one taketh this Honour to himself, but he that is call'd of God. For such sacred Offices are confer'd by the Laying on the hands of the Bishop. But a Person to whom such an Office is not committed, but seizes upon it for himself, he shall undergo the Punishment of Uzziah. Constitut. Apostol. Lib. 2.
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