Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/233

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213
1TS COMMENCEMENT


'There is an instructive illustration of theological perversity in the watchful energy with which these provisions were enforced to the suppression of heresy while yet the pagan temples and ceremonies remained undisturbed. Yet while the churchmen might feel it to be a duty thus to obstruct the development and dissemination of teachings which they regarded as destructive to religion, they still shrank from pushing intolerance to extremity and enforcing uniformity with blood, although the Emperor Julian declared that he had found no wild beasts so cruel to men as most of the Christians were to each other. Constantine, it is true, commanded the surrender of all copies of the writings of Arius under penalty of death, but it does not appear that any executions actually took place in consequence; and at last, tired of the endless strife, he ordered Athanasius to admit all Christians to the churches without distinction. No effort of the sovereign, however, could soothe the bitterness of doctrinal strife, which grew fiercer and fiercer. In 370 Valens is said to have put to death eighty orthodox ecclesiastics who had complained to him of the violence of the Arians, but this was not a judicial execution, but in pursuance of a secret order of the Prefect Modestus, who decoyed them on board of a vessel and caused it to be burned at sea.[1]

It was in 385 that the first instance was given of judicial capital punishment for heresy, and the horror which it excited shows that it was regarded everywhere as a hideous innovation. The Gnostic and Manichæan speculations of Priscillian were looked upon with the peculiar detestation which that group of heresies ever called forth; but when he was tried by the tyrant Maximus, at Trèves, with the use of torture, and was put to death with six of his disciples, while others were banished to a barbarous island beyond Britain, there was a most righteous burst of indignation. Of the two prosecuting bishops, Ithacius and Idacius, one was expelled from the episcopate and the other resigned. The saintly Martin of Tours, who had done all in his power to prevent the atrocity, refused to join in communion with them, or with any who communed with them. If he finally yielded, in order to save the lives of some men for whom he had come to Maximus to beg

  1. *Lib. xvI. Cod. Thcod. Tit. v. l. 1, 2.-8ozomen H. E. I. 21; II. 20, 33, 30 ii. 5, Socrat. H. E. 1. 9; Iv. 16.-Ammian. Marcell. xxii, 5