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for Delphidius that he died young; for he had not the misfortune to see the debauchery of his daughter, and the execution of his wife : every body knows that Euchrocia and Priscillian were put to death at the same time.
Several other females were seduced by these heretics, and left also to accompany them on their journey. Some wonder how Priscillian could draw in so many devout women, since his pretended devotion was attended with such offensive lewdness. He confessed at his trial that he had had lewd meetings with women in the night-time, and that he was stark naked when he prayed. But others say, that he drew in the fair sex by that very thing: it is Maimbourg's opinion. I shall again set down his paraphrase upon the words of Sulpicius Severus. “When people are prepossessed with an opinion of a man's holiness, they will blindly submit to all his orders, and look upon all his decisions as so many oracles, especially when they indulge the inclinations of corrupt nature : and therefore that profligate wretch found it no difficult thing to persuade his followers that, when the spirit which comes from God was perfectly united to them, by a certain form of prayer, which he taught them, they might lawfully give a full scope to the lusts of the flesh; and that God is not offended at it, since the flesh does not proceed from him, but from the wicked principle, as well as marriage. By virtue of that abominable doctrine, the women who did not love their husbands, left them against their will, and husbands likewise left their wives of whom they were weary; and all of thein, and in general all his followers, prayed together as he did, as if they had been in the state of innocency, and then defiled themselves with all sorts of pollutions. Such is commonly the end of the new doctrines, enthusiasms, and new ways of praying, more fanatical than mysterious, of some men, who pretend to be extraordinarily enlightened, and who, beginning with the spirit to deceive the world, seldom fail to end with the flesh."
The pope refused to hear the Priscillianists, and so did St Ambrose ; but the imperial court was more indulgent, and granted them a rescript, importing that their churches should be restored to them. They returned into Spain, where they had so great an interest, that Ithacius their accuser, being summoned to give an account of his conduct as a disturber of the peace of the church, fled into Gaul. He so exasperated the tyrant Maximus against these sectaries, that they were ordered to repair to the council of Bourdeaux. Instantius was condemned in it, and Priscillian, seeing the condemnation of his companion, desired to be referred to Maximus; which was granted him. His enemies followed him to the court, and prosecuted him so warmly, that he was condemned to death.
I will here give the character of Ithacius, the chief promoter of Priscillian's death. That Spanish bishop was a debauched and impudent man, and sacrificed every thing to his passions. He plainly shewed, that he was not actuated by the love of truth, and that his violent persecutions of those heretics proceeded only from a principle of vanity. The first steps he made engaged him to go through with it; he was fond of obtaining a complete victory, and of showing his great interest and authority; the loss of his cause would have been intolerable to hiin: he left nothing unattempted with the tyrant Maximus, in order to triumph by the favour of the secular arm; and, because he was afraid of being thwarted in his design by wise and judicious men, he was so impudent and malicious as to accuse of Priscillianism all those whom he did not like. Whoever fasted, or applied himself to the reading of pious books, was cried down by this violent persecutor as an accomplice of that sect. He was so bold as to accuse St Martin of favouring these heretics, because he exhorted him to leave off his prosecutions, and entreated Maximus not to shed the blood of those sectaries. Such are the abominable devices of most of those, who charge others with heresy : they are renewed in every age, and yet the world is imposed upon by them to this very day, as if they had never been practised before. Sulpicius Severus deserves to be highly commended for saying, that the Priscillianists were not more unacceptable to him than their accusers.
St Martin's intercession proved so powerful that, whilst he was at Triers, these heretics were not brought to their trial; but as soon as he went away, some bishops gained Maximus, and prevailed with him to break his word to him. Priscillian was condemned to death, and then Ithacius, being fully satisfied, desisted from his accusation ; that is, he did not appear against him before the judges, when the sentence came to be confirmed : a gross artifice, which Sulpicius Severus justly laughs at.
There is another thing to be observed in Ithacius, in which the most violent accusers resemble him. No bishop would have found it a more difficult thing than he to give an account of his own conduct, and yet he was the warmest in defaming and prosecuting others. This unaccountable behaviour has been observed by the heathens, who say that innocence is the most necessary qualification of an accuser. nosce quam multa esse oporteat in eo qui alterum accuset. -Primum integritatem atque innocentiam singularem. Nihil est enim quod minus ferendum sit, quam rationem ab altero vitæ reposcere eum, qui non possit suæ reddere.*--Consider how many things are requisite in him who accuses another: first, integrity and singular innocence; for nothing is more intolerable than for him to call another to an account for his actions, who cannot give an account of his own."
Cicero, in Verrem, lib. i, fol. 22, B.
“ CogBut those who set up for accusers, are generally the least concerned about it. There are persons whose books are full of absurdities, contradictions, prophanations, innovations, and dangerous paradoxes and heresies, and yet they fail not to charge many people with heresy; and had they a Maximus at their disposal, we should hear of nothing but men deposed, proscribed, anathematised, to say no worse. It is probable these irregular and unjust proceedings will last as long as the world.
Pope Leo was not so nice as St Martin, for he approved Priscillian's execution. Maimbourg acknowledges that heretics had not been punished with death till then; but he maintains “ that they may be justly treated with that severity, as it has been frequently practised since.” The same Maimbourg adds, “ that the greatest fault of Ithacius was his applying himself to a secular court in a cause merely ecclesiastical, and procuring the death of those heretics to the utmost of his power, which is contrary to the laws of the church; and therefore,” says he, " when the clergy implore the assistance of princes and magistrates against them, they always protest they do so earnestly wish for their amendment, that they do not desire they should be punished with death, but rather that they should find mercy, leaving it however to the judges to act according to the laws for the goodot the church and state.” This is mere grimace; it is at least a conduct so opposite to the solemnity of a serious tribunal, that no one can think it strange that the Inquisition should be ridiculed upon that account. You require of princes, that they should make laws against heretics ; you highly commend them, when they appoint a capital punishment for them ; you deliver up to them those whom you declare to be heretics: you therefore, properly speaking, are the cause of their death. When you tell the magistrates that you are not for their being put to death, you act a farce. Why do you not
ask the same favour for assassins ? For you say, that a heretic is worse than a poisoner and a murderer. Aristotle's maxim, “posito uno absurdo multa sequuntur,-one absurdity established, a multitude succeed,” was never truer than in the present case: the absurdity of maintaining that menought to be punished with the sword for their opinions, is attended with a thousand absurdities; and those who advance it fall into a thousand contradictions. It is to be observed that the inquisitors condemn people to death, and are not contented to declare that a man is a heretic.
In countries where the inquisition prevails, heretics are punished with burning. Now, as in such punishment, there are neither bones broken nor blood spilt, the question is, to know whether the maxim, “ecclesia non novit sanguinem," expressed here in equivalent terms by St Leo, is in this respect observed, or only eluded.*- Art. PrisciLLIAN.
(Honest one.) MICHAEL Stifelius a Lutheran minister in the village of Holtzdorff near Wirtemberg lived in the sixteenth century. He persuaded his hearers that the end of the world would come on the third of October, 1533, at ten in the morning. He had made this fine discovery by the computation of square numbers, but he gave it out as a revelation from heaven. A great number of country people suffered themselves to be so infatuated with this notion, that they neglected their work and spent their substance. The day appointed being come, Stifelius got into the pulpit and exhorted his hearers to be ready, for that the moment was at hand in which they were to ascend into heaven with the same clothes they had on. The
Bayle knew very well, that to ask this question is to answer it. Ed.