This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1815 Excerpt: ...increasing severity, many of it's "most respectable adherents, who were "called upon to renounce, were provoked "to assert their private opinions, and open"ly to erect the standard of rebellion "against the unity of the church. The "Gnostics were distinguished as the most "polite, the most learned, and the most "wealthy of the Christian name; and their "principal founders seem to have been "natives of Syria or Egypt, where the "warmth of the climate disposes both "the mind and the body to indolent and contemplative devotion. The Gnostics "blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets, which they "derived from oriental philosophy, and ' even from the religion of Zoroaster, con cerning the eternity of matter, the exis"tence of two principles, and the mysteri ous hierarchy of the invisible world. As "soon as they launched out into that vast "abyss, they delivered themselves to the "guidance of a disordered imagination 5 "and, as the paths of error are various and « infinite, the Gnostics were imperceptibly divided into more than fifty particular "sects, of whom the most celebrated ap"pear to have been the Basilidians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites, and, in a "still later period, the Manichaeans. Each of these sects could boast of it's bishops "and congregations, of its doctors and "martyrs; and, instead of the four gospels "adopted by the church, the heretics pro"ducedj a multitude of histories, in which "the actions and discourses of Christ and of "his apostles, were adapted to their re"spective tenets. The success of the "Gnostics was rapid and extensive. They "covered Asia and ...
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