Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/424

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402
SPINOZA.

heard that the almost universal opinion was that the accused, by thus demurring to recognize their authority unconditionally, ought to be laid under the greater excommunication without further trial. Rabbi Saul Morteira called for silence.

"Let us see," he said, "how far the corruption of his heart goes. Say, renegade, hast thou not sinned against God in the enjoyment of forbidden meat and drink, and by laboring on the Sabbath? Hast thou not deserted the assembly of the faithful, and defamed the sacred name of God and His laws? And it is written, 'He who profaneth the name of God in secret shall be punished openly.'"

A pause ensued. Spinoza looked down, then looking up he replied in a calm voice:

"I cannot do miracles and signs, or call upon nature to stand by and witness for me. In me alone must be shown the power which proves the presence of God in every human heart. That I stand here before you, accused by you who believe another manner of life well pleasing to God, that I do not tremble and accuse myself of aught, accept as a sign of my love to God, which I consider my highest good. I defend myself only on the accusation of Sabbath-breaking, because this may appear an offence against the sacred law of God in nature. It is well and advantageous to oppressed men that they should have one day in seven for rest. And it is wise, for the privilege of humanity consists in