The Second Sermon, Seven Sermons to the Dead

Sermones ad Mortuos
Seven Sermons to the Dead

Seven exhortations to the dead, written by Basilides in Alexandria, the city where East and West meet.

The Second Sermon

During the night the dead stood along the walls and shouted: "We want to know about god! Where is God? Is God dead?"

--God is not dead; he is as much alive as ever. God is the created world, inasmuch as he is something definite and therefore he is differentiated from the Pleroma. God is a quality of the Pleroma and everything that I have stated in reference to the created world is equally true of him.

God is distinguished from the created world, however, inasmuch as he is less definite and less definable than the created world in general. He is less differentiated than the created world, because the ground of his being is effective fullness; and only to the extent that he is definite and differentiated is he identical with the created world; and thus he is the manifestation of the effective fullness of the Pleroma.

Everything that we do not differentiate falls into the Pleroma and is cancelled out along with its opposite. Therefore if we do not discern God, then the effective fullness is cancelled out for us. God also is himself the Pleroma, even as every smallest point within the created world, as well as within the uncreated realm, is itself of the Pleroma.

The effective emptiness is the being of the Devil. God and Devil are the first manifestations of the nothingness, which we call the Pleroma. It does not matter whether the Pleroma is or is not, for it cancels itself out in all things. The created world, however, is different. Inasmuch as God and Devil are created beings, they do not cancel each other out, rather they stand against each other as active opposites. We need no proof of their being ; it is sufficient that we must always speak about them. Even if they did not exist, the created being would forever (because of its own differentiated nature) bring them for out of the Pleroma.

All things which are brought forth from the Pleroma by differentiation are pairs of opposites; therefore God always has with him the Devil.

This interrelationship is so close, as you have learned, it is so indissoluble in your own lives, that it is even as the Pleroma itself. The reason for this is that these two stand very close to the Pleroma, in which all opposites are cancelled out and unified.

God and Devil are distinguished by fullness and emptiness, generation and destruction. Activity is common to both. Activity unites them. It is for this reason that activity stands above both, being God above God, for it unites fullness and emptiness in its working.

There is a God about whom you know nothing, because men have forgotten him. We call him by his name : ABRAXAS. He is less definite than God or Devil. In order to distinguish God from him, we call God HELIOS, or the Sun.

Abraxas is activity; nothing can resist him but the unreal, and thus his active being unfolds. The unreal is not, and therefore cannot truly resist. Abraxas stands above the sun and above the devil. He is the unlikely likely one, who is powerful in the realm of unreality. If the Pleroma were capable of having a being, Abraxas would be its manifestation.

Although he is activity itself, he is not a particular result but result in general.

He is active non-reality, because he has no definite result.

He is still a created being, inasmuch as he is differentiated from the Pleroma.

The sun has a definite effect and so does the devil; therefore they appear to us more effective than the undefinable Abraxas.

For he is power, endurance, change.

--At this point the dead caused a great riot, because they were Christians.

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