Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/26

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4
SPINOZA.

youth, "and the little man there with a hump on his back, who scoffs at him now, enjoyed much of his bounty; for his generosity was boundless. Gabriel came to Amsterdam, submitted to every precept, and entered our faith. Henceforth he bore the name of Uriel Acosta. He followed zealously what is written: 'Thou shalt search therein day and night.' I have often been told that it was affecting to see how the stately man was not ashamed to be instructed in Hebrew or the Holy Scriptures by the merest boy. But an unclean spirit entered into him, and he began to scoff at our pious Rabbis. You have heard here that he was one of those who deny the foundations of our faith; he has set down the sins of his heart in his writings, and would prove them from the Holy Word. Rabbi Solomon de Silva, our celebrated physician, has refuted his errors. Acosta was excommunicated, but freed himself by recantation. The contrary spirit in him, however, rested not. He not only opposed our holy religion, in that, as his own nephew said, he violated the Sabbath, and enjoying forbidden meats, and dissuaded two Christians, who would have changed to Judaism, but he spoke openly, as a very apostate, against all religion. For seven years he refused to live according to the precepts of our faith, or undergo the penance laid upon him. He should have been laid forever under the greater excommunication, and expelled from among our people. On