Massalians (from מצלין) or Messalians, also called Enthusiasts, were a sect which sprung up about the year A.D. 360, in the reign of the emperor Constantius. They were mainly roaming mendicant monks, and flourished in Mesopotamia and Syria. They maintained that men have two souls, a celestial and a diabolical; and that the latter is driven out by prayer. They consequently conceived the Christian life as an unintermitted prayer, despised the moral law and the sacraments, and claimed to enjoy perfection. The Gospel history they declared a mere allegory. But they concealed their pantheistic mysticism and antinomianism under external conformity to the Catholic Church. From those words of our Lord, "Labor not for the meat that perisheth," it is said that they concluded they ought not to do any work to get their bread. We may suppose, says Dr. Jortin, that this sect did not last long; that these sluggards were soon starved out of the world; or, rather, that cold and hunger sharpened their wits, and taught them to be better interpreters of Scripture. Towards the close of the 4th century the Church discovered the real tendency of the Massalians, and they were sorely persecuted; but, notwithstanding all opposition, they perpetuated themselves to the 7th century, and reappeared in the Euchites and Bogomiles (q.v.) of the Middle Ages. See Buck, Theol. Dict. s.v.; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2:240-247; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2:199.

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