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railed, and wrangled, and declaimed, and preached, and written against one another, and eased themselves that way, they would at last sit down and be quiet for very weariness, or for want of hearers and readers : which advice seemed not at all amiss to the pope, and was favourably received, but not followed.
Postellus was a scholar and a fanatic, two things that are seldom found together. Latin and Greek helped to damage his head, and Hebrew quite overset him. He gave into cabbalistic interpretations of the Old Testament, and believed in the revelations of some Sibyl, ‘some daughter of Esdras, who prophesied in his days, and was one of those who want to let in new light upon the church, whilst they want more to have the light shut out, and the flaws and crevices patched and stopped in the nepwov, in the
chamber at home. The poor man was accused of heresy; upon which, he entered boldly into the lion's den, surrendered himself a prisoner to the inquisitors at Venice, offering to take his trial, and to demonstrate his innocence; and thus gave an additional proof of his disorder, whilst, with the adventurous lover in the fable,
• Tænarias etiam fauces, alta ostia Ditis,
Et caligantem nigra formidine lucum
Pastellus, like Orpheus, found favour in the sight of the infernal powers : they behaved themselves, who would believe it ! as philosophers - and Christians upon the occasion, and did him justice; for, after a fair hearing, they passed sentence on him, declaring that he was not a heretic,
but only mad; Postellum non esse hæreticum, sed tantum amentem.' Lettres de Simon, i. 23. If the inquisitors would act thus, it would be better for their prisoners in this world, and for themselves in the next. It will then be found a poor excuse for their cruelty, that it helped to fill the church with nominal catholics, and to keep up an unity of exoteric faith in the bond of ignorance, fear, and hypocrisy.
Men will compel others, not to think with them, for that is impossible; but to say they do : upon which they obtain full leave, not to think or reason at all, and this is called Unity; which is somewhat like the behaviour of the Romans, as it is described by a brave countryman of ours in Tacitus, -- Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.'
Disputing enflames fiery zeal, and men bestow blows
upon their antagonists, especially when arguments fall short.
• Invalidum ursis caput, vis maxima in brachiis et in lumbis,' says Solinus. If their hands be tied, they bestow a plentiful effusion of curses, and denounce divine judgments ; but if they be at full liberty, they bestow both: and then cruelty is called charity, charity to the soul; and this same charity, as it is of a fruitful and diffusive nature, produces ana-, themas, informations, calumnies, banishments, imprisonments, confiscations, inquisitions, and so forth.
Tillemont, speaking of the scandalous persecution in the reign of Constantius, when the Arians oppressed the Consubstantialists, and warmed with his subject, breaks
subject, breaks out into these reflections : Conviction and persuasion cannot be
brought about by the imperious menaces of princes; nor is there any room left for the exercise of reason, when a refusal to submit brings on banishment and death. Such doctrines proceed from the invention of men, not from the Spirit of God, who forces and compels no one against his will.' His observations are just : you can no more subdue the understanding with blows, than beat down a castle with syllogisms. A lucid ray shot through the soul of this superstitious, though else valuable writer, as a flash of lightning in a dark night. There is, indeed, between the human understanding and truth, a natural and eternal alliance, which is suspended and disordered by ignorance, passion, bigotry, prejudice, and selfishness, but can never be totally broken. When a man suffers, and sees his friends suffer, for conscience sake, he perceives the beauty of the sacred rule, Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them :'. but when the orthodox persecute the heterodox, this pious author winks hard, and can see no great harm in it. No more could Augustin, when upon second thoughts, but not the wisest, he contended for the doctrine of persecution, in some letters which Bayle has taken to pieces very handsomely, in his Philosophical Commentary; happy, if he had always so exercised his abilities, and had left his Manichæans to shift for themselves ! Sarah, says Augustin, and Hagar, are types of the catholic church, and of the heretics. When Hagar offends her mistress, this is downright rebellion: when Sarah beats Hagar, this is due correction. So is it with the spiritual and the ungodly; they are always at variance,
always buffeting and bruising each other; but the bastinadoes of the righteous are sanctified by the good intention, and by the salutary effects.
Socrates the historian, like an honest man, censures Theodosius, an orthodox bishop, for per secuting the Macedonians, vii. 3.; upon which Valesius thus delivers his opinion: • Celebris quæstio est,' &c. It is a celebrated and much controverted question, whether it be lawful for catholics, and particularly for bishops, to perse-> cute heretics. I think it is necessary to have recourse to a distinction. It is certainly unlawful to vex them, as Theodosius did, for the sake of extorting money; and also to prosecute them as criminals, and to thirst after their blood, as Idatius, and some other bishops of Spain, acted towards the Priscillianists. But it is and ever was permitted to the catholics to implore the aid of princes and magistrates against heretics, that they may be restrained, and kept in order, and that they may not insolently exalt themselves above the catholics, or insult and deride the catholic religion. Augustin, indeed, confesses that he had formerly been of opinion, that heretics should not be harassed by catholics, but rather allured by all kind of gentle methods. Yet afterwards he changed his opinion, having learned by experience that the laws made by the emperors against. heretics had proved the happy occasion of their conversion; and he observes that the converted Donatists had acknowledged that they never should have returned to the church, but have lived and diéd in their errors, if they had not been, in a manner, incited and attracted by the punishments and mulcts of the imperial laws. This passage of Augustin, which is very elegant, is in Vol. I.
the xlviiith Epistle to Vincentius, to which may
be added, what he has said in the xxiiid ch. of the first book against Gaudentius.
In some places which Valesius knew, and in some places which he knew not, the Odium Theologicum,' like a poisonous tree, has reared its head and spread its arms, and the neighbouring plants, instead of receiving shelter and protection, have sickened and withered beneath its baleful inAuence ; yet was it a friendly covering to weeds and nettles, and the fox lodged safely at its root, and birds of ill omen screained in its branches.
The groundless surmises of a booby, or of a bigot, have hurt many a man of sense, and qualified him to be registered in an Appendix to • Pierius de Infelicitate Literatorum.' Where arbitrary power has prevailed, nothing has proved more profitable than either obsequious dulness, or a political palsy in the head, nodding and assenting to all,
« Omnia omnibus annuens;'
as Catullus says of old age.
Opinions start up, and flourish, and fall into disgrace, and seem to die ; but, like Alpheus and Arethusa, they only disappear for a time, and rise into light, and into favour again.
What men call heresy, is often a local and a secular crime; for what is heresy in one century, and in one country, is sound doctrine in another : and in some disputes, as in the Nestorian and the Pelagian controversies, to mention none besides, it is a nice thing to settle the boundaries between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, and the only way to be safe is to have recourse to s implicit faith,' and to imitate the prudent monk, who when Satan would have drawn him into heresy, by asking him