ABELIANS PDF Print E-mail
Religion - Theology
Written by Ephraim Chambers   
Thursday, 01 January 1728 09:00
ABELONIANS, ABELOITES, a Sect of Hereticks in Africa, not far from Hippo, cotemporary with S. Augustin. See HERETICS.

What distinguish'd 'em, was, that they made it a Duty to marry, and yet liv'd with their Wives in a prosess'd Continence, without having any commerce together.

These Hereticks, inconsiderable in themselves, (for they were confin'd to a little compass, and lasted not long ;) are become considerable, by the great Pains the Learned have taken to ascertain the Principle they went upon, and the Reason of the Denomination.

Some will have 'em. to have built on that Text of St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 29. Let they that have Wives be as though they had none. A late Writer concludes, that they regulated their Marriage on the Foot of the terrestrial Paradise ; alledging, that there was no other Union between Adam and Eve, but that of Hearts. He adds, they had likewise an Eye to the Practice of Abel, whom they held to have been married, but never to have known his Wise : and from, him they deriv'd their Name.

Another Author observes, that it was a Tradition current throughout the East, That Adam conceiv'd so much Sorrow for the Death of Abel, that he was 130 Years without having to do with Eve. This, he shews, was the Sentiment of the Jewisb Doctors ; from whom the Fable was transmitted to the Arabs : And hence it was, according to Gigeus, that HEBREW Thabala, in Arabic, came to signify, to abstain from one's Wife. He concludes, that he is the most mistaken Person in the World, or the Story had reach'd Africa, and given occasion both to the Sect, and the Name.

'Tis true, the Rabbins do hold, that Adam, after the Death of Abel, remain'd a long time without any use of Marriage ; and till the Time when he begot Seth : but to say that this was 130 Years is a manifest Error, and contrary to their own Chronologies, which place Seth's Birth in the 130th Year of the World, or of Adam's Life ; as may be seen in their two Seder Olams.

Abarbanel says, it was 130 Years after Adam's Fall ; as believing, with the other Rabbins, that Cain and Abel were conceiv'd immediately after Adam's Transgression. But, say others, be this as it will, whether a Continence on occasion of the Fall, or of Abel's Death ; 'twas the Continence of Adam, not of Abel, that these Hereticks imitated ; who, on this footing, should have been call'd Adamites, rather than Abelians.

In effect, 'tis more than probable, they took their Name from Abel, for no other Reason, but because they had no Issue more than Abel: Not that he lived in Continence after Marriage ; but because he was kill'd before he had married.