Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/230

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7), and he commands his chosen disciple, "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they engender strife" (II. Tim. II. 23). The Ebionitic section of the Church agreed with the Pauline branch in this simplicity of teaching—"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James, i. 27).

Yet already was the seed scattered which was to bear so abounding a harvest of wrong and misery. St. Paul will listen to no deviation from the strictness of his teachings - "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed" (Galat. I. 8); and he boasts of delivering unto Satan Hymenæus and Alexander "that they may learn not to blaspheme" (I. Tim. I. 20). How this spirit increased as time wore on may be seen in the apocalyptic threats with which the backsliders and heretics of the seven churches are assailed (Ref. II., III.). The process went on with accelerating rapidity. Theology could not form itself without starting a cloud of questions unsettled by the gospel: earnest disputants arose who, in the heat of controversy, magnified the points at issue till they assumed an importance rendering them the vital test of Christianity, and men believed with the most fervid conviction that their adversaries were not Christians because they differed on some infinitesimal dogma which only the mind trained in the dialectics of the schools could comprehend. When Quintilla taught that water was not necessary in baptism, Tertullian shrieks to her that there is nothing in common between them, not even the same God or the same Christ. The Donatist heresy with its deplorable results arose on the question of the eligibility of an individual bishop. When Eutyches, in his zeal against the doctrines of Nestorius, was led to confuse in some degree the double nature of Christ, thinking that he was only defending the dogmas of his friend St. Cyril, he suddenly found himself convicted of a heresy as damnable as Nestorianism; while his defence against the practised rhetoric of Eusebius of Dorylæum shows that he was not able to grasp the subtle distinction between substantia and subsistentia - a fatal failing which proved the ruin of thousands. Thus, during the first six centuries, as men explored the infinite problems of