Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

but the Reformed faith was first proclaimed by a professor named Lefèvre d'Etaples, at the College of Cardinal Le Moine, Paris, in some notes on the Epistle of Paul, in which he maintained the dogma of justification by faith. This was as early as 1512, five years before Luther set up his creed at Wittemberg. Briçonnet, abbé of St. Germain des Prés, supported the tenet in question, and on becoming Bishop of Meaux gave Lefèvre the post of high rector at his cathedral, and received into his diocese several priests who sympathized with the new movement, including Gérard Roussel and Michel d'Arande. The Protestant doctrines, when once established at Meaux, made rapid progress, accompanied nevertheless with much long-suffering and persecution, followed by a momentary phase of tolerance which, disarming suspicion, facilitated the work achieved with such terrible success on the night of St. Bartholomew, 1572. By an edict of July 1573 Protestant worship was allowed in three towns only-La Rochelle, Montauban, and Nîmes. Protestants elsewhere were forbidden to assemble in greater numbers than ten, and at Paris they were compelled to go two leagues beyond the city walls. The Protestants living in the capital met at Noisy-le-Sec, where a small street still bears the name of Rue du Temple. Three years later twelve of their adherents were massacred in that street, but the Church nevertheless continued to meet in secret. At Easter, in 1576, one of their meetings was broken up and fourteen persons put to the sword. The spirit of persecution increased for some time, and in 1585 Henry III. issued an edict compelling the Huguenots to abjure their faith or to leave the kingdom within a fortnight. How some of the most intelligent workers in art manufacture and various other industries carried their labour and skill into England, to the great advantage of our own nation, has been the subject of narrative for all time. Enough to add that the last sad end of those who remained behind—and among them was the illustrious Bernard Palissy, who died of want and misery at the Bastille at the age of eighty-extinguished the feeble hopes of the Church at Paris, for nothing more is heard of its members for several years afterwards. Then came the Edict of Nantes, in 1598, affording a temporary but very inadequate relief until 1685, when its Revocation was the signal for renewed persecutions, and the scattering of many a little flock wandering without a recognised fold or shepherd. Malzac, Giraud, and Givry, who successively endeavoured to revive the Reformed Church at the capital, were imprisoned in 1692 and afterwards transported to one of the colonies. Those who were still traditionally attached to the despised creed were simply allowed to claim the assistance of the chaplains attached to the foreign embassies for the services connected with the rites of baptism and marriage. It was not until November 1787 that Louis XVI. promulgated certain edicts of tolerance, restoring their civil rights and permitting them to meet for private worship. The persecution of a cruel Church was followed by that of a heartless State. Although the Constituent Assembly proclaimed "liberty of conscience" in 1789, all forms of

worship were shortly afterwards suppressed. After this long category of sufferings, is it to be wondered at if religion assumes a more subdued form in France, and if its apostles are less anxious to proclaim it on the house-tops and in the market-places, than in freedomloving England?

We shall next consider the recognition of the Protestant Church by the State, and its constitution and work.

SCRAPS OF CHURCH HISTORY.

NO. VI. THE BASILIDEANS.

THE Basilideans derive their name from one Basilides, a native of Alexandria, who in the early part of the second century set up a school in Egypt for the promulgation of a peculiar form of Gnosticism.

One of the features of his system was a belief in a series of 365 heavens, inhabited by intelligences of different degrees. From the Supreme Being was born Nous (Intelligence); from Nous, Logos (the Word); from Logos, Phronesis (Prudence), and so on down to the creation of angels. From the first creation of angels the first or highest heaven came into existence, and from each successive grade of angels corresponding heavens were formed to the number of 365. The angels of this 365th heaven formed this world and divided it among themselves. The God of the Jews was the chief of these

angels.

Basilides sought to connect his system with Christianity (according to Irenæus) by teaching that the Supreme Being being anxious to deliver the people of this world from the contest between the God of the Jews and the angels of the 365th heaven, who watched over the nations, sent down His Son (Nous) to redeem the world from the power of the God of the Jews. According to Irenæus, Basilides further taught that the Nous did not Himself suffer death on the cross, but that Simon the Cyrenian was crucified in His stead, Simon being transformed into the image of Christ, and Christ taking the form of Simon. Other writers, however, incline to the opinion that this latter view was a corruption of the system evolved by the Basilideans after the death of their leader, and that Basilides himself taught a doctrine very similar to that propounded by Cerinthus in relation to the death upon the cross.

In order to account for the conflict between human reason and human passions, Basilides propounded the theory that a man possesses two souls. He also believed in the metempsychosis, or the passage of each soul through various human and animal bodies according to its deserts; this passage being regarded (1) as a punishment for past sins, (2) as a means of purification, and (3) for the purpose of gradually effecting a development of spiritual life.

Basilides rejected the Scriptures of the Old Testament as the work of the chief angel of the lowest heaven, the God of the Jews, who was the chief enemy of the Nous. He professed to recognise the authority of the New Testament Scriptures, and it is said that he himself wrote a Gospel, which is however not now extant.

It is said that Basilides was a believer in magic or enchantment, and that he invented as a symbol or talisman the famous word Abraxas. This word is formed of the letters which make up the number 365, the number of the heavens and of the days of the year, the number declared by Basilides to be most agreeable to the Deity (the Supreme Being). This word ABRAXAS was regarded as the symbol of the sect of the Basilideans, pretty much in the same way that the cross is serenaded by Romanists of the present day; it was frequently engraved, together with an image of the sun, on jewels and ornaments which were worn as amulets or charms. This device of the Sun and Abraxas was in those days regarded as quite as efficacious for the protection of the soul from the power of the God of the Jews, as a horse-shoe nailed upon the door of a house has been regarded in later times.

Basilides died in the year 130, leaving many disciples, of whom the most famous was Marcion, who added the heresies of Cerdon to those of Basilides, and obtained a large following in Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and other places.

In the theories of Basilides we have much that is suggestive of many phases of more modern thought. The theory of antagonism between the God of the Jews and Jesus finds a counterpart in the orthodox doctrine of the Atonement as preached by the Revivalists. We have also the idea that angels were created as such; and the further idea that in some way or another there is an incompatibility between the teaching of the Old Testament and that of the New.

On these points we would yield the palm of logicalness to the views of the heresiarch rather than to those of modern orthodoxy. Certainly if the orthodox view of the Atonement is the true one, we would rather believe that Jesus is superior to Jehovah (as did Basilides) than regard Jehovah as the Supreme Deity. The moral tone set forth in the life of Jesus Christ is so superior to the attitude attributed by orthodoxy to the Father, that if we are to make a choice between one and the other, we must regard the Saviour (the Nous) as our Friend, and the other being as our Enemy.

Again, Basilides did not regard angels as "the spirits of just men made perfect," but as being created in the angelic world and state, as a superior order of beings. In this we believe he was decidedly in the wrong. But he was logical even in his error, and gave to his superior creatures a power commensurate with their higher dignity and estate. Again, Basilides recognised an incompatibility between the demands and claims of the law of the Old Testament and the demands and claims of the law of the New Testament. Modern orthodoxy holds pretty much the same idea, believing that the Saviour

came to deliver us from the law of Moses (which law is the very life of the Scriptures of the Old Testament). Basilides logically rejected the authority of the Old Testament; modern orthodoxy will not recognise its laws as binding, but hesitates to avow the entire rejection of the old canon containing the old covenant.

The "two-soul" theory attributed to Basilides may have been the same doctrine as that taught by the Apostle Paul concerning the old man and the new, the law of the members warring against the law of the spirit, the external man in opposition to the internal.

The heresy of Saturninus of Antioch was similar in many respects to that of Basilides. Saturninus, however, had a strong belief in dualism, i.e. in the existence of good and evil principles in God, in angels, and in men. He taught his followers to practise asceticism by abstinence from marriage and animal food.

FERMENTATION AND ITS CORRESPONDENCE.

HAVING heard what our correspondents have thought it necessary to say on the subject of fermentation and its respondence, we think it incumbent on us to offer a few remarks in conclusion. We would not have offered a single remark on the subject had not our correspondent brought us personally into connection with it. He remarked in his first paper that the Editor had taught the readers of the Repository to believe that Swedenborg's science was not necessarily in all cases to be relied on. On this point we have seen no reason to change our opinion. But we see no ground for questioning the soundness of Swedenborg's statement respecting either fermentation or its correspondence. His teaching on this subject is so clear and decided that there is no room for doubt, and it is due to him to hear what he has said upon it. "The purification of truth from falsity in man can never take place without leavening or fermentation, so to speak, that is, without the combat of falsity with truth, and of truth with falsity; but after the combat has taken place, and the truth has conquered, falsity falls down like dregs, and truth becomes purified, like wine, which becomes clear after fermentation, the dregs falling to the bottom. Spiritual combats or temptations are fermentations in the spiritual sense, for falsities then desire to join themselves to truths; but truths reject them, and at length cast them down as it were to the bottom, consequently refine. In this sense is to be understood what the Lord teaches respecting leaven in Matthew: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened," where meal denotes the truth which gives birth to good. Because such combats as are signified by leavenings or fermentations have place with man in the state which precedes newness of life, therefore it was appointed that when “the

new meat-offering at the feast of the first-fruits, the wave-bread, was brought, it should be baked leavened, and should be the first-fruits to the Lord" (Lev. xxiii. 16, 17).

If, notwithstanding this, it could be proved that, from beginning to end, in its cause and in its effects, fermentation is only evil, it could not correspond to any spiritual process that results in purification; and Swedenborg must have made two very serious mistakes-a mistake in science, and a mistake in its correspondence. It is true that Swedenborg did know the cause of fermentation as it is known now. The torula or fungus plant has been discovered since his time. But he knew all that was essentially necessary to know about fermentation to see its correspondence. He knew that fermentation was an internal commotion, and that after fermentation wine becomes clear, the dregs falling to the bottom. He knew, therefore, that fermentation corresponds to temptation; that "temptations are fermentations in the spiritual sense, for falsities then desire to join themselves to truths; but truths reject them, and cast them down as it were to the bottom, and thus refine."

Our correspondent states correctly that Swedenborg says the ferment itself corresponds to falsity. But he calls in question the soundness of Swedenborg's doctrine, by demanding how that which is false can be a means of purification. On this subject the author is his own best interpreter. In explaining Joseph's words to his brethren, when speaking to them of their wicked deed in selling him into slavery, he says to them, "As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save, or make, much people alive." On this the author says: "These words contain a heavenly mystery. The mystery is this. The Lord permits infernals in the other life to lead the good into temptation, consequently to infuse evils and falsities, which they use every effort to do, for when they do so they are in the delight of their life; but on such occasions the Lord, Himself immediately and mediately by the angels, is present with those who are in temptation, by refuting the falsities of evil spirits, and by dissipating their evil, whence come refreshment, hope, and victory; thus the truths of faith and the goods of charity, with those who are in the truths of good, are more inwardly implanted and more strongly confirmed. This is the means by which spiritual life is bestowed. From these considerations it may be manifest what is signified in the internal sense by the words of this verse, that those who are alienated from truth and good, as are the spirits who induce temptations, intend nothing but evil, but that the Divine Being turns it into good, and this according to eternal order, whence there is life to those who are in the truths of good. For it is to be observed that infernal spirits, to whom it is thus permitted to teaze the good, intend nothing but evil, for they will with all their might to withdraw them from heaven and plunge them into hell, it being the very delight of their life to destroy any one as to the soul, thus eternally; but the smallest permission is not given them by the Lord, except for the

« ForrigeFortsæt »