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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

And a modern Rabbi is modestly assured


[Footnote

6: The metaphysics of the soul are disengaged by Cicero (Tusculan. l. i.) and Maximus of Tyre (Dissertat. xvi.) from the intricacies of dialogue, which sometimes amuse, and often perplex, the readers of the Phoedrus, the Phoedon, and the Laws of Plato.]

[Footnote 7: The disciples of Jesus were persuaded that a man might have sinned before he was born, (John, ix. 2,) and the Pharisees held the transmigration of virtuous souls, (Joseph. de Bell. Judaico, l. ii. c. 7;) and a modern Rabbi is modestly assured, that Hermes, Pythagoras, Plato, &c., derived their metaphysics from his illustrious countrymen.]

[Footnote 8: Four different opinions have been entertained concerning the origin of human souls: 1. That they are eternal and divine. 2. That they were created in a separate state of existence, before their union with the body. 3. That they have been propagated from the original stock of Adam, who contained in himself the mental as well as the corporeal seed of his posterity. 4. That each soul is occasionally created and embodied in the moment of conception.--The last of these sentiments appears to have prevailed among the moderns; and our spiritual history is grown less sublime, without becoming more intelligible.]

[Footnote 9: It was one of the fifteen heresies imputed to Origen, and denied by his apologist, (Photius, Bibliothec. cod. cxvii. p. 296.) Some of the Rabbis attribute

one and the same soul to the persons of Adam, David, and the Messiah.]

II. The seeds of the faith, which had slowly arisen in the rocky and ungrateful soil of Judea, were transplanted, in full maturity, to the happier climes of the Gentiles; and the strangers of Rome or Asia, who never beheld the manhood, were the more readily disposed to embrace the divinity, of Christ. The polytheist and the philosopher, the Greek and the Barbarian, were alike accustomed to conceive a long succession, an infinite chain of angels or daemons, or deities, or aeons, or emanations, issuing from the throne of light. Nor could it seem strange or incredible, that the first of these aeons, the Logos, or Word of God, of the same substance with the Father, should descend upon earth, to deliver the human race from vice and error, and to conduct them in the paths of life and immortality. But the prevailing doctrine of the eternity and inherent pravity of matter infected the primitive churches of the East. Many among the Gentile proselytes refused to believe that a celestial spirit, an undivided portion of the first essence, had been personally united with a mass of impure and contaminated flesh; and, in their zeal for the divinity, they piously abjured the humanity, of Christ. While his blood was still recent on Mount Calvary, [10] the Docetes, a numerous and learned sect of Asiatics, invented the phantastic system, which was afterwards propagated by the Marcionites,


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