There was nothing in such a faith to attract the sensual and carnal-minded. In fact, it was far more repellant than attractive, and nothing but the discontent excited by the pervading corruption and oppression of the Church can explain its rapid diffusion and the deep hold which it obtained upon the veneration of its converts. Although the asceticism which it inculcated was beyond the reach of average humanity, its ethical teachings were
strong is the tendency in this direction of sensitive and ardent souls, who keenly
feel the imperfections of man's nature and its contrast with the possibilities of
an ideal. Thus Flacius Illyricus, the fervid reformer, about 1560, came perilously near to the Catharan myths, and gave rise to a warm controversy by maintaining that original sin was not an accident, but the substance in man ; that the original image of God was, through the Fall, not replaced, but metamorphosed into an image of Satan, a transformation of absolute good into absolute evil; a theory which, as he was warned by his friends Musaeus and Judex, must necessarily lead to Manichaeism. — See Herzog, Abriss der gesammten Kirchenge-
schichte, III. 313.
Orthodox asceticism also trenches closely on Manichgeism in its denunciation of the flesh, which it treats as the antagonist and enemy of the soul. Thus, St. Francis of Assisi says, "Many, when they sin or are injured, blame their enemy or neighbor. This should not be so, for every one has his enemy in his power, namely, the body through which he sins. Thus blessed is that servant who always holds captive and guards himself against that enemy delivered to him, for when he does thus no other visible enemy can hurt him " (8. Francisci Admonit. ad Fratres No. 9). And in another passage (Apoph. xxvii.) he describes his body as the most cruel enemy and worst adversary, whom he would willingly abandon to the demon. According to the Dominican Tauler, the leader of the German mystics in the fourteenth century, man in himself is but a mass of impurity, a being sprung from evil and corrupt matter, only fit to inspire horror; and this opinion was fully shared by his followers even though they were overflowing with love and charity (Jundt, les Amis de Dieu, Paris, 1879, pp. 77, 229).
Jean-Jacques Olier, the founder of the great theological seminary of St. Sulpice, in his "Catechisme Chr6tien pour la vie interieure," which I believe is still in use there as a text-book, goes as far as Manes or Buddha in his detestation of the flesh as the cause of man's sinful nature — " Je ne m' gtonne plus si vous dites qu'il faut hair sa chair, que I'on doit avoir horreur de soi même, et que I'homme, dans son état actuel, doit 6tre maudit. ... En verity, il n'y a aucune sorte de maux et de malheurs qui ne doivent tomber sur lui a cause de sa chair." — See Renan, Souvenirs de I'enfance et de jeunesse, p. 206.
With such views it is simply a question of words whether the creator of such an abomination as the crowning work of the terrestrial universe is to be called God or Satan ; he certainly cannot be the Good Principle.