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bad the ambition to be the founder of a sect, contrived the following modification of the heresy of the Gnostics. He pretended that God, from his own essence, had produced seven angels, or Æons. Two of these, called “power” and “wisdom," engendered the angels of the highest order, who having formed heaven for their own residence, produced other angels of a subordinate nature, and these again produced others, till three hundred and sixty-five different orders or ranks were succe
cessively formed; all of which had one Abraxas for their common head. The lowest order living on the confines of the eternal, malignant, and self-animated matter, created this world, and the inhabitants thereof. God added rational souls to men, and subjected them to the government of angels. At length the angels fell off from their allegiance to God, and into terrible contests among themselves. He who governed the Jewish pation was the most turbulent of all. In pity, therefore, to mankind, who groaned under their oppression and discordant influence, God sent forth his son Christ, a principal Æon, to enter into the man Jesus, and by him restore the knowledge of God, and destroy the dominion of the angels, particularly of him who governed the Jews. Alarmed at this, the god of the Jews caused apprehend and crucify the man Jesus, but could not hurt the Æon who dwelt in him. Such souls as obey Jesus Christ shall at death be delivered from matter, and ascend to the supreme
God: but disobedient souls shall successively pass into new bodies, till they at last become obedient.
This doctrine, in point of morals, if we may credit the accounts of most ancient writers, was favourable to the lusts and passions of mankind, aud permitted the practice of all sorts of wickedness. But those whose testimonies are equally worthy of regard, give a quite different account of this teacher, and represent him as recommending the practice of virtue and piety in the strongest manner, and as having condemned not only the actual commission of iniquity, but even every inward propensity of the mind to a vicious conduct. But in some respects he certainly gave offence to all real Christians. He affirmed it to be lawful for them to conceal their religion, to deny Christ, when their lives were in danger, and to partake of the feasts of the Gentiles that were instituted in consequence of the sacrifices offered to idols. He endeavoured also to diminish the character of those who suffered martyrdom for the cause
of Christ, impiously maintaining, that they were more heinous sinners than others, and that their sufferings were to be looked upon as a punishment inflicted upon them by the divine justice. He was led into this enormous error, by a notion that all the calamities of this life were of a penal nature.
This rendered his principles greatly suspected: and the irregular lives of some of his disciples seemed to justify the unfavourable opinion that was entertained of their master. Beausobre, in his history of Manicheism, discusses these points with great candour. Basilides wrote many books, which are now lost. Clemens Alexandrinus, cites the 23d of his explications of the gospel, but of what gospel is doubtful: probably it might be one written by him, and which bore his name. In imitation of Pythagoras he obliged his scholars to a five years silence, teaching them to know all, and penetrate all; themselves being invisible, and unknown. “Know yourself, says he, and let nobody know you. The many must not, and cannot know their affairs; but only one of a thousand, and two of ten thousand. It is not at all
for discover openly your mysteries, but to retain them in silence.” After he had spread his doctrine over the greatest part of Egypt, he died at Alexandria about the year 130, according to Fleury, and in the year 133, according to Jerom and Tillemont.
BASIN, or BASINIO, of Parma, was a celebrated Italian poet of the fifteenth century. He was born at Parma, about 1421, and was educated under Victorin of Feltro at Mantua, and afterwards by Theodore Gaza and Guarino at Ferrara, where he became himself professor. From Ferrara, he went to the court of Sigismond Pandolph Malatesta, lord of Rimini, and there passed the few remaining years of his life, dying at the age of thirty-six, in 1457. He had scarcely finished his studies, when he composed a Latin poem, in three books, on the death of Meleager, which exists in manuscript in the libraries of Modena, Florence, and Parma. In this last repository there is also a beautiful copy of a collection of poems printed in France, to which Basinio appears to have been the greatest contributor. This collection was written in honour of the beautiful Isotta degli Atti, who was first mistress and afterwards wife to the lord of Rimini. If we may believe these poeti
cal testimonies, she had as much genius as beauty; she was also in poetry, another Sappho, and in wisdom and virtue another Penelope. Basinio was one of the three poets, who composed the praises of this lady. The collection was printed at Paris, under the title of “ 'Trium poetarum elegantissimorum, Porcelii, Basinii, et Trebanii Opuscula nunc primum edita," Paris, by Christ. Preudhomme, 1549. In this edition, the collection is divided into five books, all in praise of the lady, but the first is entitled “De amore Jovis in Isottam,” and no distinction is preserved as to the contributors. In the copy, however, preserved at Parma, and which was transcribed in 1455, during the life-time of Basinio, almost all the pieces which compose the three books are attributed to him. In the same library is a long poem by him in thirteen books, entitled “ Hesperidos;" another, in two books only, on astronomy; a third, also in two books, on the conquest of the Argonauts : a poem under the title of " An epistle on the War of Ascoli, between Sigismond Malatesta, and Francis Sforza,” and other unpublished performances. It is rather surprising, that none of these have been published in a city where there are so many celebrated presses, and which may boast the honour of being the native place of pne of the best poets of his time."
BASIER, or BASIRE (ISAAC), a learned divine of the moyenteenth century, was born in 1607, in the island of Jersey, according to Wood, which an annotator on the Biog. Britannica contradicts without informing us of the place of his nativity. Grey, in his MS notes, says he was born at Rouen, in Normandy, but quotes no authority, nor do we know in what school or university he received his education. For some time, he was master of the college or free-school at Guernsey, and became chaplain to Thomas Morton bishop of Durham, who gave him the rectory of Stanhope, and the vicarage of Egglescliff, both in the county of Durham. In July 1640, he had the degree of doctor of divinity conferred upon him at Cambridge, by mandate; and was incorporated in the same at Oxford, the November following, about which time he was made chaplain in ordinary to king Charles I. ; Dec. 12, 1643, he was installed into the seventh prebend of Durham, to which he was collated by his generous patron bishop Morton. The
Tiraboschi, vol. VI.--Ginguene Hist, Litteraire d'Italie, cap. xxi. vol. III.
next year, August 24, he was also collated to the arch. deaconry of Northumberland, with the rectory of Howick annexed. But he did not long enjoy these great preferments, as in the beginning of the civil wars, being sequestered and plundered, he repaired to king Charles at Oxford, before whom, and his parliament, he frequently preached. In 1646, he had a licence granted him under the public seal of the university, to preach the word of God throughout England. Upon the surrender of the Oxford garrison to the parliament, be resolved with all the zeal of a missionary to propagate the doctrine of the English church in the East, among the Greeks, Arabians, &c. Leaving therefore his family in England, he went first to Zante, an island near 'the Morea, where he made some stay ; and had good success in spreading among the Greek inhabitants the doctrine of the English church, the substance of which he imparted to several of them, in a vulgar Greek translation of our church-catechism. The success of this attempt was so remarkable, that it drew persecution upon him from the Latins, as they are called, or those members of the Romish church, throughout the East, who perform their service in Latin. On this he went into the Morea, where the metropolitan of Achaia prevailed upon him to preach twice in Greek, at a meeting of some of his bishops and clergy, which was well received. At his departure, he left with him a copy of the catechism above mentioned. From thence, after he had passed through Apulia, Naples, and Sicily again (in which last, at Messina, he officiated for some weeks on board a ship) he embarked for Syria; and, after some months stay at Aleppo, where he had frequent conversation with the patriarch of Antioch, then resident there, he left a copy of our church-catechism, translated into Arabic, the native language of that place. From Aleppo he went in 1652 to Jerusalem, and so travelled over all Palestine. At Jerusalem he received much honour, both from the Greek Christians and Latins. The Greek patriarch (the better to express his desire of communion with the church of England, declared by the doctor to him) gave bim his bull, or patriarchal seal, in a blank, which is their way of credence, and shewed him other instances of respect, while the Latins received him courteously into their convent, though he did openly profess himself a priest of the church of England. After some disputes about the validity of our
English ordinations, they procured him entrance into the temple of the sepulchre, at the rate of a priest, that is balf of the sum paid by a layman; and, at his departure from Jerusalem, the pope's vicar gave him his diploma in parchment, under his own hand and public seal, styling bim, a priest of the church of England, and doctor of divinity, which title occasioned some surprise, especially to the French ambassador at Constantinople. Returning to Aleppo, he passed over the Euphrates and went into Mesopotamia, where he intended to send the church-catechism in Turkish, to some of their bishops, who were mostly Armenians. This Turkish translation was procured by the care of sir Thomas Bendyshe, the English ambassador at Constantinople. After his return from Mesopotamia, he wintered at Aleppo, where he received several courtesies from the consul, Mr. Henry Riley. In the beginning of 1653, he departed from Aleppo, and came to Constantinople by land, being six hundred miles, without any person with him, that could speak any of the European languages. Yet, by the help of some Arabic he had picked up at Aleppo, he performed that journey in the company of twenty Turks, who used him courteously, because he acted as physician to them and their friends : a study (as he says) to which the iniquity of the times and the opportunity of Padua drove him. After his arrival at Constan. tinople, the French Protestants there desired him to be their minister, and though he declared to them his resolution to officiate according to the English liturgy (a translation whereof, for want of a printed copy, cost him no little labour) yet they orderly submitted to it, and promised to settle on him, in three responsible men's hands, a competent stipend : and all this, as they told him, with the express consent of the French ambassador, but still under the roof and protection of the English ambassador. Before he quitted the Eastern parts, he intended to pass into Egypt, in order to take a survey of the churches of the Cophties, and confer with the patriarch of Alexandria, as he had done already with the other three patriarchs, partly to acquire the knowledge of those churches, and partly to publish and give them a true notion of the church of England; but whether he accomplished his design, is not certain. He went next into Transilvania, where he was entertained for seven years by George Ragotzi the Second, prince of that country; who honoured him with the divinity-chair in