Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

is good on their behalf, why should it not be so on that of the Manicheans?

It is however these vulgar rumours which M. de Tillemont, who piques himself on his exactness and fidelity, ventures to convert into positive facts. He asserts,* that the Manicheans had been made to confess these disgraceful doings in public judgments, in Paphlagonia, in the Gauls, and several times at Carthage.

Let us also weigh the testimony of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, whose narrative is altogether different from that of St. Augustin; and let us consider that the fact is so incredible and so absurd, that it could scarcely be credited, even if attested by five or six witnesses who had seen and would affirm it on oath. St. Cyril stands alone; he had never seen it; he advances it in a popular declamation, wherein he gives himself a licenset to put into the mouth of Manes, in the conference of Cascar, a discourse, not one word of which is in the Acts of Archelaus, as M. Zaccagnit is obliged to allow; and it cannot be alleged, in defence of St. Cyril, that he has taken only the sense of Archelaus, and not the words; for neither the sense nor the words can be found there.

Besides, the style which this father adopts is that of an historian who cites the actual words of his author.

Nevertheless, to save the honour and good faith of St. Cyril, M. Zaccagni, and after him M. de Tillemont, suppose, without any proof, that the translator or copyist has omitted the passage in the Acts quoted by this father; and the journalists of Trévoux haveimagined two sorts of Acts of Archelaus— the authentic ones which Cyril has copied, and others invented in the fifth century by some historian. When they shall have proved this conjecture, we will examine their

reasons.

Finally, let us come to the testimony of pope Leo touching these Manichean abominations. He

in

says,

* Manich. Art. xii. p. 795.
+ N. xv.
# Preface, n. 13.

his sermons,* that the sudden troubles in other countries had brought into Italy some Manicheans, whose mysteries were so abominable, that he could not expose them to the public view without sacrificing modesty: That in order to ascertain them, he had introduced male and female elect into an assembly composed of bishops, priests, and some lay noblemen. That these heretics had disclosed many things respecting their dogmas and the ceremonies of their feast, and had confessed a crime which could not be named, but in regard to which there could be no doubt, after the confession of the guilty parties--that is to say, of a young girl only ten years of age; of two women who had prepared her for the horrible ceremony of the sect; of a young man who had been an accomplice; of the bishop who had ordered and presided over it. He refers those among his auditors who desire to know more, to the informations which had been taken, and which he communicated to the bishops of Italy, in his second letter.

This testimony appears more precise and more decisive than that of St. Augustin; but it is anything but conclusive, in regard to a fact belied by the protestations of the accused, and by the ascertained principles of their morality. In effect, what proofs have we, that the infamous persons interrogated by Leo were not bribed to depose against their sect?

It will be replied, that the piety and sincerity of this pope will not permit us to believe that he has contrived such a fraud. But if,—as we have said in the article Relics,—the same St. Leo was capable of supposing, that pieces of linen and ribbons, which were put in a box, and made to descend into the tombs of some saints, shed blood when they were cut;-ought this pope to make any scruple in bribing, or causing to be bribed, some abandoned women, and I know not what Manichean bishop, who, being assured of pardon, would make confessions of crimes which might be true as regarded themselves, but not as regarded their sect, from whose seduction St. Leo wished to protect his people? At all times, bishops have considered themselves authorised to employ those pious frauds which tend to the salvation of souls. The conjectural and apocryphal scriptures are a proof of this; and the readiness with which the fathers have put faith in those bad works, shows that, if they were not accomplices in the fraud, they were not scrupulous in taking advantage of it.

* Sermon iv. on the Nativity and the Epiphany.

In conclusion, St. Leo pretends to confirm the secret crimes of the Manicheans, by an argument which destroys them. These execrable mysteries, he says,* which the more impure they are, the more carefully they are hid, are common to the Manicheans and to the Priscillianists. There is in all respects the same sacrilege, the same obscenity, the same turpitude. These crimes, these infamies, are the same which were formerly discovered among the Priscillianists, and of which the whole world is informed.

The Priscillianists were never guilty of the crimes for which they were put to death. In the works of St. Augustint is contained the instructionary remarks which were transmitted to that father by Orosius, and in which this Spanish priest protests, that he has plucked out all the plants of perdition which sprang up in the sect of the Priscillianists; that he had not forgotten the smallest branch or root; that he exposed to the surgeon all the diseases of the sect, in order that he might labour in their cure. Orosius does not say a word of the abominable mysteries of which Leo speaks; an unanswerable proof that he had no doubt they were pure calumnies. St. Jeromes also says, that Priscillian was oppressed by faction, and by the intrigues of the bishops Ithacus and Idacus. Would a man be thus spoken of, who was guilty of profaning religion by the most infamous ceremonies ? Nevertheless, Orosius and St. Jerome could not be ignorant of crimes of which all the world had been informed.

St. Martin of Tours and St. Ambrosius, who were at

. Letter xciii. chap. 16. + Vol. viii. col. 430,

In the Catalogue.

Treves when Priscillian was sentenced, would have been equally informed of them. They however instantly solicited a pardon for him ; and not being able to obtain it, they refused to hold intercourse with his accusers and their faction. Sulpicius Severus relates the history of the misfortnnes of Priscillian. Latronian, Euprosyne, widow of the poet Delphidius, his daughter, and some other persons, were executed with him at Treves, by order of the tyrant Maximus, and at the instigation of Ithacus and Idacus, two wicked bishops, who, in reward for their injustice, died in excommunication, loaded with the hatred of God and

man.

The Priscillianists were accused, like the Manicheans, of obscene doctrines, of religious nakedness and immodesty. How were they convicted ? Priscillian and his accomplices confessed, as is said, under the torture. Three degraded persons, Tertullus, Potamius, and John, confessed without awaiting the question. But the suit instituted against the Priscillianists would have been founded on other depositions, which had been made against them in Spain. Nevertheless these latter informations were rejected by a great number of bishops and esteemed ecclesiastics; and the good old man Higimis, bishop of Cordova, who had been the denouncer of the Priscillianists, afterwards believed them so innocent of the crimes imputed to them, that he received them into his communion, and found himself involved thereby in the persecution which they endured.

These horrible calumnies, dictated by a blind zeal, would seem to justify the reflection which Ammianus Marcellinus* reports of the emperor Julian. The savage beasts, he said, are not more formidable to men, than the christians are to each other, when they are divided by creed and opinion.

It is still more deplorable when zeal is false and hypocritical, examples of which are not rare. It is told of a doctor of the Sorbonne, that in departing from a sitting of the faculty, Tourneli, with whom he was

# Book xxii.

[ocr errors]

strictly connected, said to him “ You see that for two hours I have maintained a certain opinion with warmth: well, I assure you there is not one word of truth in all I have said !"

The answer of a jesuit is also known, who was employed for twenty years in the Canada missions, and who himself not believing in a God, as he confessed in the ear of a friend, had faced death twenty times for the sake of a religion which he preached to the savages. This friend representing to him the inconsistency of his zeal,—“Ah!” replied the jesuit missionary, have no idea of the pleasure a man enjoys in making himself heard by twenty thousand men, and in persuading them of what he does not himself believe.

you

It is frightful to observe how many abuses and disorders arise from the profound ignorance in which Europe has been so long plunged. Those monarchs who are at last sensible of the importance of enlightenment, become the benefactors of mankind in favouring the progress of knowledge, which is the foundation of the tranquillity and happiness of nations, and the finest bulwark against the inroads of fanaticism.

ZOROASTER. Is it is Zoroaster who first announced to mankind that fine maxim—“ In the doubt whether an action be good or bad, abstain from it”—Zoroaster was the first of men after Confucius.

If this beautiful lesson of morality is found only in the hundred gates of the Sadder, let us bless the author of the Sadder. There may

be
very

ridiculous dogmas and rites united with an excellent morality.

Who was this Zoroaster? The name has something of Greek in it, and it is said he was a Mede. The Persees of the present day call him Zerdust, or Zerdast, or Zaradast, or Zarathrust. He is not reckoned to have been the first of the name, We are told of two other Zoroasters, the former of whom has an antiquity of nine thousand years,—which is much for us,

but may be very little for the world.

d th

« ElőzőTovább »