« PreviousContinue »
medans or Christians of later times, and intimates that their account of the journey to heaven is taken from the history of Mohammed.* But this might equally have been imitated from the life of Zoroaster, who is said to have dwelt in a cavern, the sides of which he sculptured with mystical figures, and in that retirement may have written his book entitled the Zend, the Bible of the Zoroastrian Magi, which they called the book of life.t Khondemir, the Oriental historian quoted by D'Herbelot, asserted in reference to the pretension of Manes to be the Paraclete, that Manes wished to apply to himself what Jesus Christ intended for Mohammed, who was to establish a new religion after him. But it does not seem probable that Mohammedan writers would have taken passages from the life of their prophet, to deepen the interest of the Manichæan history.
While Manes was in Turquestan, the Emperor Sapor died, and Hormisdas his son reigned in his stead. Manes thereupon returned to Persia, and presented to the king the book of his revelations. Hormisdas embraced the doctrines of the new prophet, and under his protection the sect increased rapidly in numbers.ß Beausobre observes that all religionists hated
* Lardner on the History of Mani, Works, Vol. III. p. 311.
+ Ce mot de Zend signifie vivant ; de sorte qu'il semble que les Mages ayent qualifié leur livre qu'ils estiment sacré, du titre de Vie, ou Livre de Vie. The book of Zend was followed by another named Pazend, and both together have a commentary, which goes by the name of Abesta or Avesta, ordinarily ZENDAVESTA. The Magi attributed it to Abraham, whom they believed to be the saine with Zoroaster; and the three volumes, the Zend, the Pazend and the Avesta, or commentary, taken together, comprehend the whole of their religion. Their tradition is that Abraham read these books in the midst of the fiery furnace, into which Nimrod had cast him. In all probability the book of the revelations of Manes was an imitation. Bibl. Orient. Voc. Zend and Abesta.
I The Persians call it Er-Tengh-Mani, the book of the paintings of Manes. Beausobre, Tom. I. p. 190.
§ D’Herbelot observes that this emperor “ gave himself to study, but his science did only injure him, inasmuch as he fell into the errors of Manes, who pretended to have refined upon the doctrine of Zoroaster, the legislator of the Magi, in mingling it with that of the Christians.” This might have proved an injury to the monarch among his people, but surely not in
Manes to such a degree that the king was obliged to build him a strong castle to serve as a retreat from his persecutors. For the Christians and the Magi on the one hand pursued him as a heretic and an apostate, and the Jews and the Pagans, on the other, as the sworn enemy of their sects.* Hormisdas died in about two years, and Varanes I., his son, succeeded him. Under Varanes, who seems at first to have favored the heresiarch, a public dispute was appointed between Manes and the most learned of the Magi; a mere artifice, according to some, to draw him from his retreat into the power of his enemies. Be this as it may, the dispute was fatal to Manes, who was forthwith condemned as a heretic, and put to death in the most fearful manner.
TENETS AND DISCIPLINE OF THE MANICHÆANS.
remindin system, what herselves
In gathering into one view the absurdities of the scheme of Manes, we shall avail ourselves principally of the condensation by Beausobre of what he calls the whole Manichæan theology into a system, referring, however, to other authorities, and reminding our readers that Beausobre's view is more favorable than can be found in any other writer. He enumerates, in the first place, what may be called the external principles or features of Manichæism, four in number. First, the pretended authority of the heresiarch as the apostle and prophet of Jesus Christ, inspired by the Paraclete to reform all religions, and reveal to the world those truths, which the Saviour did not think proper to commit to his first disciples.t Paul himself knew but in part, and prophesied in part ; but for Manes was reserved to destroy what is partial, and establish what is perfect. I In the second place, in virtue of this pretended divine mission, Manes rejected the Old Testament, as being the work of the Principle or Deity of Evil, with innumerable blasphemous
reference to any sprinkling of Christian truth which he received, unless the monstrous mixture of the Manichæan system be regarded as worse than the simple Paganism of Zoroaster. Bibl. Orient. Voc. Hormouz.
* Hist. du Manich. Tom. I. p. 201. † Pref. à l'Hist. du Manich. p. 10. | Archelai et Manetis Disputatio. 13. Rel. Sac. Vol. IV. 174. objections, which are detailed in the writings of Augustine and others, and may be found in Lardner's section of the Manichæan doctrine concerning the Scriptures. He pretended to receive the New Testament,* and to argue from parts of it, but rejected what he pleased, on the ground that the Evangelists were not really the apostolic men whose names they bear, or that if they were, their books had been falsified by the Christians, who were half Jews.t In the third place, having denied the inspiration and authority of the prophets of the Old Testament, he proposed, in opposition to them, and in place of the Old Testament, other false prophets, whose books the Orientals pretended to possess. Seth, Enoch and other patriarchs, having been instructed by good angels, had transmitted to their descendants the truths thus gained. These instructions were preserved either in books, or in the schools of Oriental philosophers. All nations have their own prophets, and the Christian church, being composed of the Gentiles, ought not to listen to the Hebrew prophets, who were not intended for them. In the fourth place, the Manichæans seem to have adopted certain apocryphal books, composed in the second century to sustain the heresies of the Docetæ and the Eucratites, whose principles were similar to those of the system of Manes. His own gospel, under the appellation of Erteng, Manes set up in place of the New Testament, as a revelation direct from God.
As to the dogmas of Manichæism, its theological and philosophical hypotheses were drawn, like those of Pythagorism and Platonism, from the theology and philosophy of the East. The artifice of Manes was to baptize a system so composed, into the name and authority of the Gospel of Christ. He could not conceive of the supreme God as a holy, spiritual being, but regarded him as a living, immaterial light, residing from all eternity in the supreme heavens, and always accompanied by those pure and immortal intelligences, or emanations from the Divinity, to which he gave the name of Æons. The luminous substance from which heaven was formed, the residence of Deity, had the same eternity as God, but the heaven so formed, and the Æons,
* See also on this point, Titus of Bostra. “ The Manichæ. ans merely pretend to honor the Evangelists, in order, by that pretence, to deceive others.” Titus Contr. Man. L. III. Bibl. Patrum IV. 468.
† Lardner on the Manichees, $ 6.
had but a second eternity, the eternity of the world, according to Plato.*
From the essence of the Father there emanated two persons, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Since the creation of the material world, the Son resides in the sun and moon;t in the sun as power, in the moon as wisdom. The Holy Spirit resides in the air. Here they execute the orders of the Father, and here they will remain till the consummation of all things.
Manes held the Persian view of two first principles, the Light and the Darkness, and a Lord over each from eternity. One of the books of Manes is represented as commencing with this tenet: “ Erat Deus et Materia, Lux et Tenebræ, Bonum et Malum, penitus sibi invicem contrariæ," etc. The malignant power Manes called, in the philosophical style, matter, in the vulgar style, the demon or devil, and in the mystical style, the darkness. This malignant power would never have known the existence of the world of light, but for an insurrection in his own kingdom of darkness, in the progress of which, the troops under his command, having perceived the light, made an irruption into the kingdom of light, with intent to possess themselves of some portion of it. God opposed to them a power named the first man, armed with the five elements of the celestial substance. This first man being worsted in the contest, God sent a second general, the Living Spirit, for his assistance. Nevertheless, the powers of darkness got possession of a certain portion of the celestial substance, the light, and mingled it with the evil substance, the hyle (can) or matter. In order to keep possession of it, the prince of darkness formed two organized material bodies, the parents of the human race, and shut up in those bodies the portions of the celestial substance which he had plundered from the world of light. The souls, thus united to depraved matter, and involved in sensual delights, forget their celestial origin, and love their prisons, as in the Platonic scheme. It was conceived that there were two distinct souls in man, the one sensitive and concupiscent, from the prince of darkness, the
* Beausobre, Pref. 25.
$ This contest between darkness and light, and the consequent loss of the divine substance, the reader may find referred to in Augustine. Confessions, VII. 1.
other rational and immortal, from the kingdom of light. To this Augustine repeatedly refers in his writings on the Manichæan heresy. One of his works,-De Duabus Animabus, was upon this subject.*
The two substances of light and darkness being thus mingled, the Living Spirit, to make the best of it, created the world for the residence of the human race thus formed by the power of evil. Out of those parts of the celestial substance which had been preserved from the contagion of matter, he formed the sun and moon. To deliver the imprisoned souls from their bondage, God, by the ministry of good angels, instructed the patriarchs, and inspired a succession of prophets and sages in all nations. At length he sent his Son to teach and deliver them, taking upon himself the appearance, but not the reality, of a body, and showing by his mystical crucifixion, which the Jews, instigated by the prince of darkness, accomplished, how to mortify the flesh, die to the passions, and set at liberty the soul.
Manes denied the incarnation of the Saviour, for that would have been a union with depraved matter. He denied the reality of his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection. He denied the resurrection of the flesh, because this would be to perpetuate the inherent evil of matter. He disapproved of marriage, as invented by the devil to bind souls in the flesh, and hinder their return to heaven. He recommended all sorts of austerity and maceration of the body; for the weaker it becomes, the less able it is to resist the Spirit. He divided his followers into two classes, the elect, or perfect ones, and the hearers, presenting for the first a rule of life and discipline severe and rigid in the extreme, which was somewhat relaxed for the others. The elect were to abstain not only from wine and meats, but eggs and milk, and to live upon bread, herbs and pulse, in a community of voluntary poverty, apart from all secular affairs. He permitted only the most spiritual of the pleasures of the senses, such, for
* In his Confessions, as well as in his book of heresies, Augustine speaks of those “vain talkers, who observing two wills in deliberation, affirm that there are two minds of two · kinds, good and evil.” L. VIII. 22. And again : “Let no man say, when he perceives two conflicting wills in the man. that the conflict is between two contrary souls, of two contrary substances, from two contrary principles, one good, and the other bad.” Confess. VIII. 24. Also, De Hæres. 46.