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69Chapter XVIII.—The System of Justinus Antiscriptural and Essentially Pagan.

Justinus558558    What Hippolytus here states respecting Justinus is quite new. No mention occurs of this heretic in ecclesiastical history. It is evident, however, that, like Simon Magus, he was contemporary with St. Peter and St. Paul. Justinus, however, and the Ophitic sect to which he belonged, are assigned by Hippolytus and Irenæus a prior position as regards the order of their appearance to the system of Simon, or its offshoot Valentinianism. The Ophites engrafted Phrygian Judaism, and the Valentinians Gentilism, upon Christianity; the former not rejecting the speculations and mysteries of Asiatic paganism, and the latter availing themselves of the cabalistic corruptions of Judaism. The Judaistic element soon became prominent in successive phases of Valentinianism, which produced a fusion of the sects of the old Gnostics and of Simon. Hippolytus, however, now places the Ophitic sect before us prior to its amalgamation with Valentinianism. Here, for the first time, we have an authentic delineation of the primitive Ophites. This is of great value. [See Irenæus, vol. i., this series, p. 354; also Bunsen (on Baur), vol. i. p. 42.] was entirely opposed to the teaching of the holy Scriptures, and moreover to the written or oral teaching of the blessed evangelists, according as the Logos was accustomed to instruct His disciples, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles;”559559    Matt. x. 5. and this signifies that they should not attend to the futile doctrine of the Gentiles. This (heretic) endeavours to lead on his hearers into an acknowledgment of prodigies detailed by the Gentiles, and of doctrines inculcated by them.  And he narrates, word for word, legendary accounts prevalent among the Greeks, and does not previously teach or deliver his perfect mystery, unless he has bound his dupe by an oath. Then he brings forward (these) fables for the purpose of persuasion, in order that they who are conversant with the incalculable trifling of these books may have some consolation in the details of these legends. Thus it happens as when in like manner one making a long journey deems it expedient, on having fallen in with an inn, to take repose. And so it is that, when once more they are induced to turn towards studying the diffuse doctrine of these lectures, they may not abhor them while they, undergoing instruction unnecessarily prolix, rush stupified into the transgression devised by (Justinus); and previously he binds his followers with horrible oaths, neither to publish nor abjure these doctrines, and forces upon them an acknowledgment (of their truth). And in this manner he delivers the mysteries impiously discovered by himself, partly, according to the statements previously made, availing himself of the Hellenic legends, and partly of those pretended books which, to some extent, bear a resemblance to the foresaid heresies. For all, forced together by one spirit, are drawn into one profound abyss of pollution, inculcating the same tenets, and detailing the same legends, each after a different method. All those, however, style themselves Gnostics in this peculiar sense, that they alone themselves have imbibed the marvellous knowledge of the Perfect and Good (Being).


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