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BERNARD of THURINGIA—was a hermit of the tenth century.
Towards the middle of this century he announced with great of
energy the approaching dissolution of the world. This he col
lected from the Apocalypse which says, that after a thousand Id
years are elapsed the old serpent shall be let loose. This old serpent the hermit took to be antichrist. Consequently, as the
term of one thousand years, mentioned in the Apocalypse, was ose, nearly expired, his appearance could not be very distant; and,
of course, the final dissolution must be at hand. To make his for
conceit appear more plausible, he supported it by a very singular d's
kind of argument which, however, seemed conclusive to the maby jority of his audience. When the day of the annunciation of the
blessed Virgin shall fall on Good Friday; know for certain, exclaims the hoary enthusiast, that the day of judgment is very near. In a word, he at length persuaded himself, and proclaimed aloud in his sermons and discourse—that God had actually revealed to him the awful circumstance. A lively picture of that dreadful day; the passage of the Apocalypse ; and, above all, that effrontery with which the impostor announced his pretended revelation, alarmed the credulity of infinite numbers of all ranks of people. Even the ministers of religion gave into the general delusion, and by their sermons contributed to diffuse a universal panic. An eclipse of the sun which happened to take
place, threw all into confusion. Multitudes of people fled for f refuge to the rocks, and hid themselves in caverns.
Nor were they altogether tranquillized by the return of light, till theologians were engaged to show, that the coming of antichrist was yet very distant. At the commencement of the eleventh century the alarm completely ceased, when people saw the world continue to subsist as in the preceding ages; and the hermit's prophecy was no longer current.
BERYLLUS, bishop of Bostra in Arabia--after having worthily governed his diocese for some years, fell into the dangerous error--that Jesus Christ had no existence before the incarnation ; imagining that he became God only at his temporal birth of the Virgin Mary. He added, that our blessed Redeemer was no otherwise to be esteemed God, but only in as much as the Father dwelt within him, as formerly he abode in a special manner with the prophets. The famous Origen was sent to Bostra to undeceive him; and, having entered into conversation with him, and learnt what were his sentiments from his own mouth, happily succeeded in reclaiming him from his errors, which Beryllus without hesitation instantly renounced.
BLASTUS—was a Jew who embraced the sect of the Valentinians, and to the system of Valentinus added some Jewish practices, to which he still remained attached. Such, for instance,
was the celebration of Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon. (Vide Autor. Append. apud Tert. de Præscrip. c. 53.)
BOGOMILIANS—a term signifying, in the Sclavonian tongue, solicitors of the divine mercy, and appropriated to certain sectaries of Bulgaria, the followers of one Basil a physician, who in the reign of Alexis Comnenus renewed the errors of the Paulicians. The inroads of barbarians, and the persecution of the Iconoclasts, had nearly extinguished learning throughout the empire of the Greeks. It had, however, begun to revive a little under Basil the Macedonian, Leo the philosopher, and his successors. But superstition and the love of the marvellous were still almost universally predominant.
In these ages of ignorance and of childish credulity, some germs of the Paulician heresy not yet extinct, began insensibly to unfold, conjointly with the errors of the Messalians. Basil made up a compound of these errors; selected twelve disciples, whom he stiled apostles, and commissioned them to propagate his doctrine; although—with the utmost caution and reserve. He was advanced in years,—-of a modest countenance, and habited like a monk. The emperor Alexis Comnenus signified a wish to see him ; affected a desire of becoming his disciple; and thus engaged him to reveal to him without disguise—the whole tenor of his impious doctrines. Alexis had concealed behind a curtain in the apartment where he gave him audience, one of his amanuenses; who took down in writing all that Basil said. The emperor called an assembly of the senate, the military officers, the patriarch and the clergy; and caused the paper which contained the obnoxious system, to be read in their presence. Basil did not disavow it. He offered to maintain whatever he had said, and declared his readiness to suffer the most cruel torments, and death itself,—under the delusive expectation that the angels would protect him. Every effort to undeceive him was tried in vain; and he was ultimately condemned to the stake. The emperor ratified the sentence; and, after fresh endeavours to reclaim him, an immense pile was constructed in the middle of the Hippodrome; and near to it was placed a cross. Basil had his choice; but-not less obstinately than impiously--preferred the flames.
The populace demanded aloud that all his sectarists should undergo the like chastisement. But Alexis was content to order them into custody; where some renounced their errors, while others persisted to the end incorrigible. A professor of Wirtemberg published a history of these fanatics, in the See also Baronius, Euthymius, Anna Comnena, &c. and the articles PAULICIANS and MESSALIANS.
BROWNISTS-a sect of presbyterians, the followers of one Brown.
CABALISM—a word derived from the Hebrew, signifying Tradition. The Cabalistic art consists in the supposed know. ledge and explanation of the essence and the operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers, &c. &c. ; and in determining their energies by symbolical figures, the arrangement of the alphabet,—the combination of numbers, and the pretended method of discovering the hidden sense of scripture by the decomposition of the letters of which it is composed.
The Chaldees had retained the belief of a Supreme Being whom they conceived to be self-existent, and to have originally created, as also still to govern, the universal world. As they acknowledged this Supreme Being to be the very source of existence and fecundity, they thought he was with respect to the universe, much the same thing as the heat of the sun was in regard of our earth. Hence they compared the Divinity to a fire or principle of light. But their reason not suffering them to place God on the list of material beings, they considered this light as infinitely more resplendent, more active, and more penetrating than the light of the sun. Thus does human ingenuity and systematic pride attempt to substitute a wild imagination for the dictates of right reason.
Having proceeded thus far in their investigations of the first cause of all things, the Chaldees pursued their fanciful theorisms, and deemed the creation of the universe to be a kind of emanation from this great principle of light. The various emanations of the primitive light, in proportion as they receded from their source had forfeited, they would have it, something of their activity; and, by the progressive decrease of this activity, they had lost their original levity,-had insensibly condensed themselves, or, if we may be allowed the expression had weighed each other down. Hence, they became material, and formed the different species of beings which we see contained within the range of nature.
Thus, in the system of the Chaldees, the First Cause or the Supreme Being, was environed with light, the splendor and the purity of which is inconceivable. This luminous region is full, say they, of pure and most blissful intelligences. Next in order succeeds the corporeal world, or the empyreal heaven ; which is an immense space illumined by the light immediately emanating from the Supreme Being. It is full of a fire less pure by infinite degrees than the primitive light; although infinitely more subtile and more rarefied than any matter whatever. Under the empyreum is the ethereal expanse, or another vast region in the heavens occupied by a fire still more dense than that of the em
pyreum, but which nevertheless receives its heat from the empyric element. Below the ether are situated the fixed stars, scattered through an immense plain, in which the denser particles of fie de the ethereal fire have concurred to form these heavenly luminaron ries. The planetary world comes next in succession to the re- niu gion of the stars; and this is the space in which are contained in the sun, the moon and the planets, together with the lowest or- ri der of beings compounded of matter; which matter not only is sedie devoid of all activity, but even resists the motions and im- peel pressions of the light.
ber In the system of emanations the luminous particles were bey spirits, the various orders of which inhabited the spaces extending from the moon to the lightsome mansions of the Supreme In- have telligence. The sublunary region which enlightens the earth, the Chaldean philosophers imagined to contain those spirits ; se which being united to etherial bodies descended upon earth, and oth constituted the human species. Thus united-agreeably to the Th will of the Supreme Being, with human bodies, they entered in- mi to other animal bodies when set at liberty by death. Consequently the Chaldees held the transmigration of souls. They agi conceived moreover, that the goodness of the Supreme Being in Š uniting these etherial spirits to human bodies, had consulted their felicity; and that, as matter was totally incapable of giving motion to itself, it was this same order of spirits that influence 1 and bilo regulated the course of the sun ; fertilized the earth with seasonable rains; and were the authors of all the gifts of nature. They termed them the good genii. Other spirits which they beast considered as the authors of thunder and lightning -of fiery Drie volcanos, earthquakes, storms and all disasters, they denominated evil genii, and supposed them to be essentially malignant. To each of these two orders of spirits they ascribed a kind of hierarchy, and a certain gradation of jurisdiction and
power. But why did not the Supreme Intelligence, essentially bene, doll ficent and good, at once crush to atoms that multitude of evil IB genii-by the weight of his omnipotence? Some there were, that deemed it below the dignity of the Supreme Being, personally to encounter these malicious spirits, and fancied he had laid this charge upon the good genii: others thought, that the evil genii, naturally depraved, were indestructible ; and that the Supreme Intelligence, equally unable to annihilate or to reclaim them, had hurled them down to the centre of the earth, and confined them to the sublunary world, where they exercised their inbred propensity to evil; and that, in order to protect mankind from enemies--so dangerous, so numberless and so formidable, he had sent into the terrestrial world friendly spirits who incessantly defended men against the attacks of these material demons. To both they allotted names expressive of their different functions and degrees of power. -- These names it was sufficient to pro
nounce, to evoke or chace them away, as circumstances should imppi require. To find out the proper names of each genius, the cate Chaldees pretended, was the result of certain combinations of icles: the letters of the alphabet, of which they were composed. The uma pronunciation of the magic name was a kind of prayer which the the genius was unable to withstand ; and in this the origin of Cabainel lism which ascribes to certain arbitrary and enigmatical terms este the virtue of raising spirits, and of working miracles through their on medium, seems chiefly to consist. Sometimes the same names dit were used as a sort of exorcism, in consequence of the idea that
the evil genii were banished to the centre of the earth, and that Tere they could do no harm but by eluding the vigilance of the good ten genii
, and thus escaping from their prison to the atmosphere e above. When they heard the name of those spirits whose office at it was to keep them shut up in the centre of the earth, they fled ris; away like criminals who had escaped from their dungeons,-up
on the calling of the watch. the They moreover fancied, that the name or the motto of the in genii written or engraved upon medals, obliged those spirits not
to quit the person that wore them; and hence, it is probable, les originated the superstitious use of talismans.
Such was the philosophic system of the Chaldees; and it was lei in general estimation throughout almost all the oriental nations,
as is attested by every historical monument of their theology and 2nd od philosophy. These all concur in justifying our conjectures of the
origin of Cabalism; although the Jews with whom the term itself originated, were unacquainted with this pretended art, at least till the eighth or ninth century. (See Stanley's History of Oriental Philosophy, Bergeri Cabalismus, &c.)
Inferior deities or genii made a part also of the Platonic system; while the Pythagorean philosophy ascribed a pecular virtue and efficacy to certain numbers. The first philosophers that acquired any knowledge of christianity, wished to reconcile the doctrines of the apostles with the Chaldaic, the Platonic and Pythagorean opinions, and with the tenets of Judaism ; and from this heterogeneous compound originated the Eons of the Valentinians, the pretended mysteries of the Gnostics, and the black art, which the greatest part of ancient heretics were not ashamed openly to profess. This accommodating passion perpetuated itself among the eclectic philosophers of the third and fourth
age: it was renewed at the period when the Arabs introduced into Europe the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato; and even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there have been found--some learned abettors of the idle reveries of the Jewish Cabalism. (Vide Scharmii Introduct. in dialectic. Caballæorum.)
CAINITES-were fanatics of the second age, who had an extraordinary veneration for Cain and other miscreants represent