« ElőzőTovább »
This, in religion, is a pure and enlightened attachment to the maintenance and progress of the worship which is due to the Divinity; but when this zeal is persecuting, blind, and false, it becomes the greatest scourge of humanity.
See what the emperor Julian says of the christians of his time : “ The Galileans," he observes,* “ have suffered exile and imprisonment under my predecessor : those who are by turns called heretics, have been mutually massacred. I have recalled the banished, liberated the prisoners; I have restored their property to the proscribed; I have forced them to live in peace; but such is the restless rage of the Galileans, that they complain of being no longer able to devour each other.”
This picture will not appear extravagant, if we attend to the atrocious calumnies with which the christians reciprocally blackened each other. For instance, St. Augustin accusest the Manicheans of forcing their elect to receive the eucharist, after having obscenely polluted it. After him, St. Cyril of Jerusalems has accused them of the same infamy in these terms : “ I dare not mention in what these sacrilegious wretches wet their ischas, which they give to their unhappy votaries, and exhibit in the midst of their altar, and with which the Manichean soils his mouth and tongue. Let the men call to mind what they are accustomed to experience in dreaming, and the women in their periodical affections.” Pope St. Leo, in one of his sermons, also calls the sacrifice of the Manicheans the same turpitude. Finally, Suidas || and Cedrenus I have still further improved upon the calumny, in asserting that the Manicheans held nocturnal assemblies, in which, after extinguishing the
Letter iii. + Chapter xlvi. of Heresies.
N. xiii. of the Sixteenth Catechism. Sermon v. on the Fasting of the Tenth Month. On Manes,
1 Annals, p. 260.
flambeaux, they committed the most enormous indecencies.
Let us first observe, that the primitive christians were themselves accused of the same horrors which they afterwards imputed to the Manicheans; and that the justification of these equally applies to the others. “In order to have pretexts for persecuting us,” said Athenagoras, in his Apology for the Christians,* “ they accuse us of making detestable banquets, and of committing incest in our assemblies. It is an old trick, which has been employed from all time to extinguish virtue. Thus was Pythagoras burnt, with three hundred of his disciples ; Heraclitus expelled by the Ephesians ; Democritus by the Abderitans; and Socrates condemned by the Athenians.”
Athenagoras subsequently points out, that the principles and manners of the christians were sufficient of themselves to destroy the calumnies spread against them. The same reasons apply in favour of the Manicheans. Why else is St. Augustin, who is positive in his book on heresies, reduced in that on the morals of the Manicheans, when speaking of the horrible ceremony in question, to say simplyt-“They are suspected of — The world has this opinion of them If they do not commit what is imputed to them — Rumour proclaims much ill of them; but they maintain that it is false?"
Why not sustain openly this accusation in his dispute with Fortunatus? who publicly challenged him in these terms :-" We are accused of false crimes; and as Augustin has assisted in our worship, I beg him to declare before the whole people, whether these crimes are true or not.” — St. Augustin replied,
" It is true that I have assisted in your worship; but the question of faith is one thing, the question of morals another; and it is that of faith which I brought forward. However, if the persons present prefer that we should discuss that of your morals, I shall not oppose myself to hem."
Fortunatus addressing the assembly_“I wish," said he,“ above all things, to be justified in the minds of those who believe us guilty; and that Augustin should now testify before you, and one day before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, if he has ever seen, or if he knows, in any way whatever, that the things imputed have been committed by us?" St. Augustin still replies—“You depart from the question ; what I have advanced turns upon faith, not upon morals.” At length, Fortunatus continuing to press St. Augustin to explain himself, he does so in these terms—“ I acknowledge that in the prayer at which I assisted, I did not see you commit any thing. impure.”
The same St. Augustin, in his work on the Utility of Faith,* still justifies the Manicheans. 66 At this time,” he says to his friend Honoratus,“ when I was occupied with Manicheism, I was yet full of the desire and the hope of marrying a handsome woman,t and of acquiring riches; of attaining honours, and of enjoying the other pernicious pleasures of life. For when I listened with attention to the Manichean doctors, I had not renounced the desire and hope of all these things. I do not attribute that to their doctrine ; for I am bound to render this testimony-that they seduously exhorted men to preserve themselves from those things. That is indeed what hindered me from attaching myself altogether to the sect, and kept me in the rank of those who are called auditors. I did not wish to renounce secular hopes and affairs.” And in the last chapter of this book, where he represents the Manichean doctors as proud men, who had as gross minds as they had meagre and skinny bodies, he does not say a word of their pretended infamies.
But on what proofs were these imputations founded? The first which Augustin alleges is, that these indecencies were a consequence of the Manichean system, regarding the means which God makes use of to wrest
* Chapter i.
+ The attendance upon similar assemblies to pick up rich and handsome women, it seems, was then prevalent in the days of St. Augustin.-T.
from the prince of darkness the portion of his substance. We have spoken of this in the article GeneALOG Y, and these are horrors which one may dispense with repeating. It is enough to say here, that the passage from the seventh book of the Treasure of Manes, which Augustin cites in many places, is evidently falsified. The arch heretic says, if we can believe it, that these celestial virtues, which are transformed sometimes into beautiful boys, and sometimes into beautiful girls, are God the Father himself. This is false: Manes has never confounded the celestial virtues with God the Father. St. Augustin, not having understood the Syriac phrase of 'a virgin of light' to mean a virgin light, supposes that God shows a beautiful maiden to the prince of darkness, in order to excite their brutal lust: there is nothing of all this talked of in ancient authors; the question concerns the cause of rain.
The great prince, says Tirbon, cited by St. Epiphanius,* sends out from himself, in his passion, black clouds, which darken all the world; he chafes, worries himself, throws himself into a perspiration, and that it is which makes the rain, which is no other than the sweat of the great prince. St. Augustin must have been deceived by a mis-translation, or rather by a garbled unfaithful extract from the Treasure of Manes, from which he only cites two or three passages. The Manichean Secundinus also reproaches him with comprehending nothing of the mysteries of Manicheism, and with attacking them only by mere paralogisms. How otherwise, says
the learned M. de Beausobre-whom we here abridge+ would St. Augustin have been able to live so many years among a sect in which such abominations were publicly taught? And how would he have had the face to defend it against the catholics?
From this proof by reasoning, let us pass to the proofs of fact and evidence alleged by St. Augustin, and see if they are more substantial. It is said, pro
Heresy, lxvi. chap. xxv. + History of Manicheism, book ix. chap. viii. ix
ceeds this father,* that some of them have confessed this fact in public pleadings, not only in Paphlagonia, but also in the Gauls, as I have heard say at Rome by a certain catholic.
Such hearsays deserve so little attention, that St. Augustin dared not make use of them in his conference with Fortunatus, although it was seven or eight years after he had quitted Rome: he seems even to have forgotten the name of the catholic from whom he learnt them. It is true, that in his book of Heresies, he speaks of the confessions of two girls, the one named Margaret, the other Eusebia, and of some Manicheans who, having been discovered at Carthage, and taken to the church, avowed, it is said, the horrible fact in question.
He adds, that a certain Viator declared, that they who committed these scandals were called Catharistes, or purgators; and that when interrogated on what scripture they founded this frightful practice, they produced the passage from the Treasure of Manes, the falsehood of which has been demonstrated. But our heretics, far from availing themselves of it, have openly disavowed it, as the work of some impostor who wished to ruin them. That alone casts suspicion on all these acts of Carthage, which“ Quod-vult-Deus” had sent to St. Augustin; and these wretches who were discovered and taken to the church, have very much the air of persons suborned to confess all they were wanted to confess.
In the 47th chapter on the Nature of Good, St. Augustin admits, that when our heretics were reproached with the crimes in question, they replied that one of their elect, a seceder from the sect, and become their enemy, had introduced this enormity. Without inquiring whether this was a real sect whom Viator calls Catharistes, it is sufficient to observe here, that the first christians likewise imputed to the Gnostics the horrible mysteries of which they were themselves accused by the Jews and Pagans; and if this defence
* Chapter xlvii. of the Nature of Good.