Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/425

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
403
THE EXCOMMUNICATION.

free regulation of its powers; but who gives you the right to punish a man for a sin which he commits against himself?"

Those assembled all rose from their seats and cried out that they wowld no longer listen to such blasphemy; but Rabbi Isaak Aboab said:

"Let him speak. From every word he speaks a demon rises that will cling round his soul in his extremity; and when he dies the death of a sinner, they will hang on to him, and drag him down to the pit of hell. It is our duty to hear his whole guilt. Step forward and speak, witnesses."

Chisdai and Ephraim advanced; the one proudly looking up, the other looking down ashamed.

"He has blasphemed God and the prophets in our hearing, denied the angels, and mocked at the miracles; and that he has done all this I swear before the face of the eternal God."

"I swear, too, that Chisdai has spoken the truth," said Ephraim in a low voice.

"What answer do you make?" asked Morteira; and Spinoza replied:

"I have not blasphemed the prophets. Indeed I honor them better than those who wreathe their heads with the false glory of infallibility; who rob them of the divine majesty of human greatness, and degrade them to idols. Go forth and see, did the sun stand still in Gibeon? I have denied the angels? Has not Rabbi Joseph Albo already said