Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/234

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mercy, and also to prevent the tyrant from persecuting the Priscillianists of Spain (where, like the subsequent Cathari, they were detected by their pallor), yet, in spite of the consoling visit of an angel, he was overcome with grief at what he had done, and he found that he had lost for some time the power to expel devils and heal the sick.[1]

If the Church thus still shrank from shedding blood, it had by this time reached the point of using all other means without scruple to enforce conformity. Early in the fifth century we find Chrysostom teaching that heresy must be suppressed, heretics silenced and prevented from ensnaring others, and their conventicles broken up, but that the death-penalty is unlawful. About the same time St. Augustin entreats the Prefect of Africa not to put any Donatists to death because, if he does so, no ecclesiastic can make complaint of them, for they will prefer to suffer death themselves rather than be the cause of it to others. Yet Augustine approved of the imperial laws which banished and fined them and deprived them of their churches and of testamentary power, and he consoled them by telling them that God did not wish them to perish in antagonism to Catholic unity. To constrain any one from evil to good, he argued, was not oppression, but charity; and when the unlucky schismatics urged that no one ought to be coerced in his faith, he freely admitted it as a general principle, but added that sin and infidelity must be punished.[2]

Step by step the inevitable progress was made, and men easily found specious arguments to justify the indulgence of their passions. The fiery Jerome, when his wrath was excited by Vigilantius forbidding the adoration of relics, expressed his wonder that the bishop of the hardy heretic had not destroyed him in the flesh for the benefit of his soul, and argued that piety and zeal for God

  1. Sulp. Sever. Hist. Sacrn TI. 47-51; Ejusd. Dial. I. 11-13.-Prosp. Aquitan Chrou. ann. 385-6.-St. Martin could hardly have anticipated that a time would come when a pope would cite the murder of Priscillian as an example to be fol lowed in the case of Luther; and, in spite of Maximus's excommunication by St. Ambrose, characterizo him as one of the veteros ac pii imperatores." (Epist Adriani PP. VI. Nov. 15, 1522 ap. Lutheri Opp. T. II. fol. 538 a.)
  2. Chrysostomi in Mattheum Homi. XLVI. c. 2. CL Homil. de Anathemate e 4.-Augustini Epist. 100 ad Donatum c. 2; Epist. 139 ad Marcellinum; Epist. 105 c. 13 Enchirid, c. 72; Contra Litt. Petiliani Lib. I. c. 83.