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viz.“ Because it is neither mentioned by Eusebius, Jerome,
of the ancient writers ;" for that it was long before mentioned by Jerome in the place above cited, every one may perceive.
CHAP. XI. The Gospel of Basilides : his age and tenets: his twenty-four
books upon the Gospel.
No. IX. The Gospel of Basilides. CONCERNING this Gospel we have very little account in any Christian histories; it is only just named among the apocryphal books of the New Testament: 1. By Origena:
Origena: “ The church hath but four Gospels, the “ heretics many--Basilides was so impudent as to write a
Gospel, and prefix his own name io it.”
2. By Ambroseb: “ Many have attempted to write Gospels, “ which the orthodox do not approve-Basilides had the im
pudence to write one, which is called The Gospel according 66 to Basilides." 3. By Jeromec: “ Many have endeavoured without the
: “ grace and Spirit of God to publish Gospels, among which is “ that of Basilides," &c.
There are not now any fragments of this Gospel any where extant, nor am I able to make any conjecture concerning it; besides that it was calculated to promote the heterodox sentiments of its author; of which it may not be foreign to my purpose to give the following account.
He was one of the first noted heretics of the Christian church, and lived very near the apostles' times, though the precise time of his age has been much disputed by bishop Pearson d against Daillée. He was the scholar of Menander, and one of the main authors of the known sect of the Gnostics, à quo Gnostici, says Eusebius in his Chroniconb. His principal tenets were,
a Ecclesia quatuor habet Evangelia, hæreses plurima-Ausus est Basilides scribere Evangelium, et sno illud nomine titulare. Homil. in Luc. i. 1. in init.
• See the passage at length above,
N°. V. in Luc. i.
c Præfat. in Comment. in Matth. produced at large above, N°. IV.
d Vindic. Igoat. Epist. par. 2. c.7.
That there was only one being or creature made by God; this being formed the next, and that another, and so on, in a ridiculous series of gods or angels proceeding from each other, to the number of 365, each of which created a heaven to answer to the number of the days of the year, over which he presided. That the angel who presided in that heaven which is nearest to us, made this earth and its inhabitants; that the angel, or god of the Jews was more obstinate than the rest, and endeavoured to make that people superior to all other; at which the angels of other nations being provoked, incited their respective countries to wage war with the Jeros ; that the unbegotten Father sent his Son, in the shape of a man, to prevent the Jewish tyranny; that he was not really flesh, or a man, but only appeared to be so; that he did not himself suffer on the cross, but Simon the Cyrenian in his stead. He denied the resurrection, allowed of the Pythagorean transmigration of souls, of sodomy, and all sorts of uncleanness, &c. He that would read more of this sort may consult Irenæus", Tertulliand, Clemens Alexandrinuse, Eusebiusf, Epiphaniuss, Jeromeh, and Austini, among the ancients; Mr. Spanheim (who has obliged the world with a specimen of their images and magical hieroglyphics, neatly engraved on copper platesk) and Dr. Grabe among the moderns!
? I have been the more large in reciting the tenets of Basilides, because it may perhaps be not absurd to suppose them as so many fragments of his Gospel. Eusebiusm tells us of an excellent piece wrote by Agrippa Castor, wherein he confuted all the subtle principles of this impious heretic, and mentions his having wrote twenty-four books upon the Gospel; but whether he means upon either or all the Gospels which
b Ad ann. Christi 136.
• Adv. Hæres. l. 1. c. 23. &c. et 1. 2. c. 65.
d De Præscript. adv. Hæret. c. 46.
e In the third and fourth books of his Stromata, he is often refuted.
f Hist. Eccl. 1. 4. c. 7. & Hæres. 24.
h Catal. Vir. Illustr. in Agrippa Castor.
i De Hæres. ad Quodvultd. 0.4.
m Hist. Eccl. lib. 4. c. 7. Eis kis sò Ευαγγέλιον τέσσαρα προς τους είκοσι συντάξαι βιβλία.
we now have, or upon his own Gospel, is utterly uncertain. Valesius n, and after him Dr. Caveo and Dr. Grabe P suppose it to have been his own Gospel, and not any of ours, which is indeed much the more probable opinion; for it cannot be imagined that heresiarch would shew so great respect to ours. But perhaps neither of these opinions is true, but rather that the twenty-four books upon the Gospel, which Agrippa Castor
speaks of, were the very Gospel of Basilides itself, which Origen and Jerome mention in the places above cited. There are indeed some considerable fragments of this work in Clemens Alexandrinus9, which because I cannot certainly prove to have been the Gospel of Basilides, I shall think it sufficient to refer the reader to, as they are collected by the learned writer last mentioned.
CHAP. XII. The Gospel of Cerinthus ; his age and principles. A story of
St. John the apostle and him at Ephesus. That he is referred to Acts xv. His Gospel proved to be the very same with the Gospel of the Ebionites and Nazarenes.
C. No. X. The Gospel of Cerinthus. This is mentioned only by Epiphanius under this name, though under other names by several of the first writers, as will appear hereafter. He mentions it
the sion as many other of the Christian writers do the apocryphal books; viz. expounding the first words of St. Luke's Gospel". Φάσκων, επειδήπερ πολλοί επε- Saying, Forasmuch as many have ,
, χείρησαν, ίνα τινάς μεν επιχειρη- taken in hand, by which he would τας δείξη, φημι δε τους περί ΚήTás delgn, anul tè TOÙS Tepi Ký- intimate, that there had been ρινθον, και Mήρινθον, και άλλους. many undertakers of the like
work, among which, I suppose, were Cerinthus, Merinthus, and
others. Aunot. in loc. Eus. jam citat. p. putation of Archelaus and Manes pub62.
lished at Rome by Laurentius Alexan• Hist. Literar. p. 30.
der Zacagoius, library-keeper of the p Spicileg. Patr. tom. 2. p. 37, 38. Vatican. See Grab. loc. cit.
9 Strom. 1. 4. p. 506, &c. There is Apoëtoruid seu Alogorum, Hæres. also another fragment of it in the Dis- 51. §. 7.
That which makes it worth while critically to inquire into this Gospel is, that it seems to follow from these words of Epiphanius, that he thought it was composed before St. Luke wrote his, and that the heretics, against whom he is in that chapter writing, maintained, that the Gospel which is received as St. John's was written by this same Cerinthus.
In order to introduce what I conjecture concerning this matter, I shall first premise some account of Cerinthus and his tenets. He appears to have been one of the first who troubled the Christian church with his heretical opinions; for, if we may credit Irenæuss, “ St. John wrote his Gospel with this “ particular view, that he might confute the errors which were “ spread abroad by Cerinthus;" and in another placet he tells us, “ that there were some in being in his time who heard Po“ lycarp, a companion of the said apostle, relate the following
story, viz." That when St. John was in a certain bath at “ Ephesus, and saw Cerinthus also in, he immediately leaped “ out of the bath, saying, Let us go away, lest the bath-should “ fall down, in which is Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth.”” Epiphanius u adds, “ That he made frequent opposition to the “ apostles themselves at Antioch, Cæsarea, and Jerusalem ; 6 that he was one of those condemned in the council of Jeru“ salem, Acts xv. and referred to in the synodical letter to the “ church of Antioch, ver. 24. as one who had troubled them 6 with words subverting their souls, &c. that he reproached " St. Peter for going to Cornelius, a Gentile, and other uncir“cumcised persons, and St. Paul upon the very same account " at Jerusalem.” His principal tenets were the same with the Carpocratians and Ebionites, a few of which, as far as they are serviceable to my design, I shall mention ; viz. He denied the divinity of our Saviour, asserting that Jesus was but a mere man, not born of a virgin, but of Mary, begotten by Joseph in the ordinary way of generation; that circumcision and the other rites of the Mosaic law were still in force and obligatory upon
Christians. This short account of this heretic and his principles does very plainly intimate, what we are to determine concerning the Gospel now under consideration, to which his
& Adv. Hæres. lib. 3. C. II. p. 257.
1. 4. c. 14.
u Hæres. 28. Cerinth. $. 2, 3.
name was prefixed, viz. that it was either entirely the same, or very little different from the Gospel of the Ebionites or Nazarenes, which was most certainly calculated to these sentiments, as will appear hereafter, and was no other than St. Matthew's Gospel translated into Hebrew, with diverse interpolations and corruptions. This conjecture will appear probable to those who consider,
1. That the Cerinthians and Ebionites agreed in almost all the same heretical principles, but chiefly in maintaining the continuing obligation of Moses's law, denying our Saviour's divinity, and asserting him to be a mere man. This has been already hinted, and will undeniably appear by a bare casting of the eye upon the places of Epiphanius cited at the bottom
of the page.
2. Agreeable to these principles, they both received only St. Matthew's Gospel, rejecting the other parts of scripture. Concerning the Ebionites, we have the testimony of Irenæusy, but more large in Eusebius 2: “ They utterly reject all Paul's
epistles, styling him an apostate from the law, and receive
only that which is called The Gospel according to the He66 brews; i. e. that under St. Matthew's namea." As to the Cerinthians, we are told the same, more than once, by Epiphanius; so Hæres. 28. “ They receive only the Gospel of “ Matthew," &c. and Hæres. 30. 9. 14. he expressly tells us, (which puts the matter past all doubt,) that they received the same Gospel of Matthew as the Ebionites did, and that it was called The Gospel according to the Hebrews.
3. The Gospel of St. Matthew, which Cerinthus and the Ebionites made use of, was in the very same respects altered and corrupted; for instance, the genealogy of our Saviour, and some more in the beginning of St. Matthew's Gospel, were left out in the copies of both these heretics. As to the Ebionites, it is expressly asserted by Epiphanius“, “ In the Gospel which
they use, and which they call by Matthew's name, and the “ Hebrew Gospel; which is not perfect, but adulterated and “imperfect,” &c. And as to the Cerinthians, no less evidently * Compare Hæres. 28. and 30. toge.
2 Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. C. 27. ther. See also Philastr. Hæres. 36. and August. de Hæres. N. 8.
b Hæres. 30. §. 13. ŷ Adv. Hæres. lib. 3. c. II. p. 258.
a Vid. Iren. loc. cit.