Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/28

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17
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

It was natural that such men could not have been left in peace, either by their neighbours or by the Government itself, the more so that no one knew or understood their spirit. From every side they suffered almost incessant persecution; every encounter with a priest, police agent, or magistrate caused them to be brought before the law and imprisoned; every opposition from the neighbouring population was accompanied with dreadful abuse and outrage; their every action rendered them, in the eyes of others, monsters and breakers of the general peace. The higher Government formed its opinion about them principally from the reports of the lower authorities, and they were often sent off into exile as State offenders. Thus, the persecution of the Spirit- Wrestlers endured until the mild and peaceful reign of Alexander I.[1]

In 1801, the Senators Lopoukine and Neledinski, who were sent to examine two of the provinces

  1. The persecution of the Spirit-Wrestlers commenced in 1792, when the governor of Ekaterinoslaff reported to Petersburg that "all those infected by this movement merit no mercy"; the sect being represented as particularly dangerous and enticing to adherents, because "the mode of life of the Spirit-Wrestlers is founded on the most honest observances, and their greatest care is the general welfare, and they find salvation in good works." The Spirit-Wrestlers were condemned to be burned, but that sentence was remitted, and they were exiled to Siberia. (Note in the original MS. )