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12. Bardesanes, a native of Edessa, in Syria, lived in this age also. He was celebrated in the time of Marcus Aurelius for his learning and constancy in defending the faith. He told the Philosopher Apollonius, the favourite of the Emperor, who endeavoured to pervert him, that he was ready to seal his belief with his blood. He opposed the errors of Valentine; but, being educated in his school, he was infected with some of them, especially disbelieving the resurrection of the dead. He wrote many works in refutation of the heresies of his day, especially an excellent treatise on fate, which St.
Jerome, in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers, praises highly. We may truly say, with Noel Alexander, that the fall of so great a man is to be lamented (20).
13. Theodotus the Currier, so called on account of his trade, was a native of Byzantium, and he, along with Artemon, asserted, like Ebion and Cerinthus, that Christ was mere man. Besides this there was another Theodotus, called Argentarius, or the Banker, who taught that Melchisadech was Christ, or even greater than Christ, on account of that verse of the Psalms—"Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisadech ;” and his followers were afterwards called Melchisadechites (21).
14. Hermogenes said that matter was uncreated and eternal. Tertullian, Eusebius, and Lactantius refuted this error. He also taught that the devils would hereafter be united with matter, and that the body of Jesus Christ was in the sun (22).
HERESIES OF THE THIRD CENTURY.
1. Praxeas. 2. Sabellius. 3. Paul of Samosata. 4. Manes. 5. Tertullian. 6. Origen.
7. Novatus and Novatian. 8. Nipos. The Angelicals and the Apostolicals.
1. PRAXEAS, a native of Phrygia, was at first a Montanist, but afterwards becoming an enemy of Montanus, he caused him to be condemned by Pope Zepherinus, concealing his own heresy at the same time. Being soon discovered, he retracted his opinions, but soon afterwards openly proclaimed them. He denied the mystery of the Trinity, saying that in God there was but one person and one nature, whom he called the Father. This sole person, he said, descended into the womb of the Virgin, and being born of her by means of the incarnation, was called Jesus Christ. According to this impious doctrine, then, it was the Father who suffered death,
(20) Nat. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 9 ; Van Ranst, p. 24. (21) N. Alex. loc. cit. ar. 10; Fleury, t. 1, l. 4, n. 33, 34. (22) Fleury, loc. cit. n. 21 ; Alex. loc. cit. ar. 15.
and on that account his followers were called Patripassionists. The most remarkable among his disciples were Berillus, Noetus, and Sabellius. Berillus was Bishop of Bostris in Arabia; he said that Christ, before his incarnation, had no divinity, and in his incarnation had no divinity of his own, but only that of the Father. Noel Alexander says that Origen refuted him, and brought him back to the Catholic faith (1). Noetus, more obstinate in error, said that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were but one person and one God; he and his followers were cut off from the Church, and, as he died impenitent, he was refused Christian burial (2). The most celebrated promoter of this error was Sabellius.
2. Sabellius was born in the Ptolemais in Africa, and lived in the year 227. He shed a greater lustre, if we may say so, on the heresy of his master, and on that account this impious sect was called Sabellians. He denied the distinction of the three
persons in the Trinity, and said they were but three names to distinguish the different operations of the Divinity. The Trinity, he said, was like the sun, in which we distinguish the light, the heat, and the form, though the sun be but one and the same. The light represents the Son, the heat the Holy Ghost, and the figure or substance of the sun itself the Father, who, in one person alone, contained the Son and the Holy Ghost (3). This error we will refute in the last part of the work.
3. Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch. Before his appointment to the see he was poor, but afterwards, by extortion and sacrilege, by selling justice, and making false promises, he amassed a great deal of wealth. He was so vain and proud that he never appeared in public without a crowd of courtiers; he was always preceded by one hundred servants, and followed by a like number, and his own praises were the only subjects of his sermons; he not only abused those who did not flatter him, but frequently also offered them personal violence; and at length his vanity arrived at such a pitch that he had a choir of courtezans to sing hymns in his praise in the church; he was so dissolute in his morals that he had always a number of ladies of lax morals in his train. In fine, this impious prelate crowned all his crimes with heresy. The first of his blasphemies was, that Jesus Christ never existed until he was born of the Virgin, and hence he said he was a mere man; he also said that in Jesus there were two persons and two sons of God, one by nature and the other by adoption; he also denied the Trinity of the Divine persons, and although he admitted the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, not, however, de
(1) Nat. Alex. t. 7, s. 3, c. 3, ar. 1, ex Euseb. ; Van Ranst, p. 65. (2) Nat. Alex. ibid. c. 3, ar. 7; Van Ranst, p. 48. (3) Nat. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 7; Orsi, t. 2, l. 5, n. 14; Hermant, l. 1, C, 60; Fleury, l. 7, n. 35.
nying, as Orsi thinks, personal existence to the Son and the Holy Ghost, yet he did not recognize either one or the other as persons of the Trinity, attributing to the Father alone the incarnation and passion (4). His disciples inserted those errors in their profession of faith, and in the formula of Baptism, but Noel Alexander says
that it is uncertain whether Paul was the author of this heresy.
4. Manes was the founder of the Manicheans, and he adopted this name on account of taking to himself the title of the Paraclete, and to conceal the lowliness of his condition, since he was at first only a slave in Persia, but was liberated and adopted by an old lady of that country. She sent him to the public academy to be educated, but he made little progress in learning. Whatever he wanted in learning, he made up in impudence, and on that account he endeavoured to institute a new sect; and, to enlist the peasantry under the banner of his heresy, he studied magic with particular attention. To acquire a name for himself he undertook to cure the King of Persia's son, who was despaired of by the physicians. Unfortunately for him, however, the child died, notwithstanding all his endeavours to save him, and he was thrown into prison, and would have been put to death only he bribed the guards to let him escape. Misfortune, however, pursued him; after travelling through various countries, he fell again into the King's hands, who ordered him to be flayed alive with a sharp-pointed reed; his body was thrown to the beasts, and his skin hung up in the city gate, and thus the impious Manes closed his career. followers after him, among whom was St. Augustin, in his youth, but, enlightened by the Almighty, he abandoned his errors, and became one of his most strenuous opponents (5).
The errors of Manes can be classed under the following heads: 1st. He admitted the plurality of Gods, alleging that there were two principles, one of good and the other of evil. Another of his errors was, that man had two souls—one bad, which the evil principle created together with the body; and another, good, created by the good principle, which was co-eternal, and of the same nature with God. All the good actions which man performs he attributes to the good soul, and all the evil ones he commits to the bad soul. He deprived man of free will, saying that he was always carried irresistibly forward by a force which his will could not resist. He denied the necessity of baptism, and entirely abolished that sacrament. Among many other errors, the Manicheans detested the flesh, as being created by the evil principle, and, therefore, denied that Jesus Christ ever took a body like ours, and they were addicted to every sort of impurity (6). They spread almost over the
He left many
(4) Orsi, t. 3, l. 8, n. 15; Gotti de Vera Rel. t. 2, c. 11, s. 2 ; N. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 8, sec. 2 ; Hermant, t. 1, c. 63 ; Fleury, t. 2, l. 8, n. 1. (5) Baron. Ann. 277, ex n. 1; Nat. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 9, sec. 1. (6) Nat. Alex. ibid. vide sec. 2 ; Hermant, t. 1, c. 65; Fleury, t. 2, 1. 8, n. 10-12; Baron. Ann. 277, n. 1, & seq. ; Graves in sec. 3.
entire world, and though condemned by many Popes, and persecuted by many Emperors, as Dioclesian, Gratian, and Theodosius, but especially by Justin and Justinian, who caused many of them to be burned alive in Armenia, still they were not annihilated till the year 1052, when, as Baronius relates, Henry II., finding some of them lurking in France, caused them to be hanged. The refutation of this heresy we have written in the book called the Truth of the Faith (7).
5. Tertullian was born, as Fleury (8) relates, in Carthage, and his father was a centurion in the Pretorian Bands. He was at first a Pagan, but was converted about the year 197, and was a priest for forty years, and died at a very advanced age. He wrote many works of the highest utility to the Church, on Baptism, Penance, Idolatry, on the Soul, on Proscriptions, and an Apology for the Christians, which has acquired great celebrity; Although in his book on Proscriptions he calls Montanus a heretic, still, according to the general opinion of authors, he fell into Montanism himself. Baronius says that he was cut off from the Church, and excommunicated by Pope Zepherinus (9). Tertullian was a man of the greatest austerity; he had the greatest veneration for continence; he practised extraordinary watchings, and on account of a dispute he had with the clergy of Rome, he attached himself to the Montanists, who, to the most rigid mortification, joined the belief that Montanus was the Holy Ghost. Noel Alexander proves, on the authority of St. Jerome, St. Hilary, St. Pacianus, St. Optatus, and St. Augustin, that he asserted the Church could not absolve adulterers, that those who married a second time were adulterers, and that it was not lawful to fly from persecution. He called the Catholics, Psichici, or Animals. Fleury says (10), that Tertullian taught that the soul was a body, of a palpable form, but transparent, because one of the Prophetesses heard so in a vision. Both Fleury and Noel Alexander say (11), that he forsook the Montanists before his death, but a sect, who called themselves Tertullianists after him, remained in Carthage for two hundred years, until the time of St. Augustin, when they once more returned to the bosom of the Church.
6. Origen was an Egyptian, and his early days were spent in Alexandria. His father was St. Leonidas the Martyr, who had him educated in every branch of sacred and profane literature (12). It is said his own father held him in the highest veneration, and that often while he slept he used to kiss his bosom, as the temple where the Holy Ghost dwelt (13). At the age of eighteen he was
(7) Verità della Fede, part 3, c. 2, sec. 2. (8) Fleury, t. 1, l. 4, n. 47. (9) Baron. Ann. 201, n. 3, & seq. ad 11; Fleury, t. 1, l. 25 & 26 ; Orsi, t. 3; l. 8, n. 28. (10) Fleury, t. 1, l. 5, n. 25. (11) Fleury, t. 1, l. 6, n. 3, cum St. Augus. & Nat. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 8, n. 9. (12) Nat. Alex. t. 7, ar. 12. (13) Fleury, l. 5, n. 2; Orsi, l. 5, n. 27.
made Catechist of the Church of Alexandria, and he discharged his duties so well that the very pagans flocked to hear him. Plutarch, who afterwards became an illustrious martyr of the faith of Christ, was one of his disciples. In the height of the persecution he never ceased to assist the confessors of Christ, despising both torments and death. He had the greatest horror of sensual pleasures, and it is related of him that for fear of offending against chastity, and to avoid temptation, he mutilated himself, interpreting the 12th verse of the 19th chapter of St. Matthew in a wrong sense (14). He refuted the Arabians, who denied the immortality of the soul, and converted Berrillus, as we have already seen, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. He also converted Ambrose from the errors of the Valentinians. He was so desirous of martyrdom, that his mother was obliged to take away his clothes, to prevent him from going to his father, who was in prison for the faith. All this, however, was to no purpose; he avoided her vigilance, flew to his father, and when he would not be allowed to speak to him, he exhorted him by letter to persevere in the faith. At the age of eighteen he was Prefect of the studies of Alexandria. When he was composing his Commentaries on the Scriptures, he dictated to seven or eight amanuenses at the same time. He edited different editions of the Scriptures, compiling the Tetrapla, the Hexapla, and the Octapla. The Tetrapla had four columns in each page; in the first was the version of the Seventy, or Sep
; tuagint, in the second that of Aquila, in the third that of Simmachus, and the fourth that of Theodotian. The Hexapla had six columns, and, besides the former, contained the Hebrew text and a Greek translation. Finally, the Octapla contained, besides the
, former, two other versions, compiled by some Hebrews. His name was so famous at that time that all the priests and doctors consulted him in any difficult matter. Presuming too much on his wisdom, he fell into different errors, by wishing to interpret many texts of Scripture in a mystical, rejecting the literal, sense. Those, he says, who adhere to the letter of the Scripture will never see the kingdom of God (15), hence we should seek the spirit of the word, which is hidden and mysterious. He is defended by some; but the majority condemn him, although he endeavoured to clear himself by saying that he wrote his sentiments merely as opinions, and subjected them to the judgment of his readers (16).
He was obliged to go into Achaia, a country at that time distracted by various heresies. In his journey he persuaded two bishops of Palestine whom he visited, that it would be of great service to the Church if he was ordained priest (17). Yielding to his suggestions they ordained him, and this so displeased Demetrius,
(14) Nat. Alex. t. 7, ar. 12. (15) Origen, Stromata, I, 10. n. 61.
(17) Nat. Alex. ibid. ; Orsi, n. 30.
(16) Orsi, l. 6,