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teachers is no less plainly some philosophical system, which is stigmatized as being a vain deceit, merely according to human tradition and not after Christ. If then the philosophical system were according to human tradition, it evidently was not a newly excogitated system ; but on the contrary it claimed the sanction of high and venerable antiquity, professing to have been successively handed down from age to age : and, as to its particular nature, the apostle very distinctly points it out in his charge to Timothy.
I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some, that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to mythologic tales and endless genealogies, which minister speculative inquiries rather than the economy of God which is in faith. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned : from which some, having swerved, have turned aside to a vain discourse, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor: concerning what things they confidently affirm.'
Here we have this mischievous philosophy described, as resting upon mythologic tales and endless genealogies, which rather promote idle inquiries than the true economy of God; a term, used by St. Paul and after him by the early fathers, to denote the mystery of Christ's existence as the second person of the Godhead : the persons, who swerve
1 1 Tim. i. 3—7. ? See Tertull. ad Prax. sect. iii. p. 502.
from the faith, are said to turn aside to a vain discourse: and shortly after we are told, that the two ring-leaders of the philosophizing apostasy in the church of Ephesus were Hymenèus and Alexander; and their heresy is represented as being of so baneful a sort, that it is denominated blasphemy.'
In another place, St. Paul lets us still furtber into the nature of this early mystery of iniquity.
I am jealous over you, says he to the Corinthians, with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest, by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, 80 your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For in good sooth well might YP
bear with him, if hę, that cometh, preach another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another Spirit which ye have not received or another gospel which ye have not accepted."
We now find, that the philosophizing teachers are charged with introducing another Jesus, quite different from him whom the apostle had preached, and another Spirit, who had nothing in common with the Holy Ghost; so that their pretended gospel was not the genuine Gospel of Christ. This conduct was justly viewed in so heinous a light by St. Paul, that he stigmatizes men of such a stamp, as being false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ ;
even as their master Satan is transformed into an angel of light.'
The blasphemy then of Hymenèus and Alexander consisted in their proposing to the veneration of the faithful a different Christ and a different Holy Spirit from those set forth in the sincere Gospel : and, that this was really their offence, is sufficiently plain from the very circumstance of its being denominated blasphemy; for, in the New Testament, the word blasphemy is perpetually used to denote apostate idolatry.
: 1. We may now sum up the philosophizing heresy of the Gentiles, respecting which St. Paul expresses so much godly jealousy, in the following
The systein itself was a very ancient one, for it was according to old tradition. It dealt in mya thologic tales and endless genealogies, which ministered rather to an impious curiosity than to a sound knowledge of God's economy respecting the Son. They, who turned aside to it, did but turn aside to a vain discourse : and with reason might this be said of them; for they apostatised to another Christ, to another Spirit, to another Gospel. Christ however being the only-begotten Son of God, to transfer his honours to a different being, under a
' 2 Corinth. xi. 13, 14.
See Matt. ix. 2, 3. Acts xix. 37. Kev. xiii. 1. and compare John X. 30-33. with Levit. xx. 2. Deut. xjji. 10. xvii, 5. Stoning was the punishment ordained under the Law for blasphemy,
pretence that that being was the true Christ, was of course the most horrid blasphemy or apostate idolatry: whence the preachers of this ancient philosophy, thus daringly engrafted upon the Gospel, might well be stigmatized as the ministers of Satan himself; who is ever ready, under the specious form of a true angel or sacerdotal messenger of God, to introduce the worst of heresies into the bosom of the Church.
2. From this character I think it perfectly evident, that the apostle alludes to that system of philosophizing theology, which appeared and which still appears under its most perfect form in the east, which however was equally the basis of Paganism in the west, and which constituted the grand subject of the ancient Mysteries in every part of the world.
The system in question originated during the first ages after the deluge, and must have been regularly digested anterior to the dispersion from Babel. It dealt largely in mythologic tales; and it taught an eternal succession of similar worlds, cach transmigratively occupied by the same inhabitants the children of the same perpetually reappearing father: it inculcated, in short, what the apostle calls legendary fictions and endless genealogies, Yet was it built upon ancient tradition: and it contained many important truths, though fantastically exhibited in grotesque masquerade. The character of the god, whom it set forth as the chief object of adoration, was a very extraordinary compound: for it was made up, by joining together, in
a single transmigrating personage, the characters of the early patriarchs and of the promised Seed of the woman; while the Sun was deemed his astronomical représentative or symbol. This being the Pagans supposed to dwell in the fulness of celestial glory; which from time to time he left in a resplendent human body or in what bore the semblance of a human body, for the various purposes of creating a new world or of reforming or destroying the corrupt inhabitants of an old one: hence, in studied opposition to the gentile pleroma or fubness, St. Paul celebrates our blessed Saviour as being the true person, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Soinetiines he suddenly manifested himself, and again as suddenly withdrew himself: sometimes he appeared, as the general father of mankind at the commencement of a new mundane system: sometimes he was born from a woman by the obumbration of a celestial deity: and sometimes that woman was pronounced to be a virgin. He was occasionally identified with what was called the soul of the world ; and occa: sionally he was exhibited as something distinct from it, though himself cabalistically denominated Nous or Men or Intellect. In point of disposition, he was mild and benevolent, a mediator between God and man, the friend of the human species ; yet he sometimes appeared, armed with terrors, as the minister of vengeance. He was engaged in an eternal conflict with the evil principle, described as a rnalignant demon who was the immediate cause of the deluge; and his adversary sometimes pre