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On the other hand, in his writings against the Donatists he upholds the rights of the State: sometimes, he says, a salutary severity would be to the interest of the erring ones themselves and likewise protective of true believers and the community at large (Vacandard, 1. It seems certain, however, that Priscillian, Bishop of Avila in Spain, was accused of heresy and sorcery, and found guilty by several councils. At length he appealed to Emperor Maximus at Trier, but to his detriment, for he was there condemned to death. i): "To consign a heretic to death is to commit an offence beyond atonement "; and in the next chapter he says that God forbids their execution, even as He forbids us to uproot cockle, but He does not forbid us to repel them, to deprive them of free speech, or to prohibit their assemblies.Priscillian himself, no doubt in full consciousness of his own innocence, had formerly called for repression of the Manichæans by the sword. In 447 Leo the Great had to reproach the Priscillianists with loosening the holy bonds of marriage, treading all decency under foot, and deriding all law, human and Divine. The help of the "secular arm" was therefore not entirely rejected; on the contrary, as often as the Christian welfare, general or domestic, required it, Christian rulers sought to stem the evil by appropriate measures. Isidore of Seville expresses similar sentiments (Sententiarum, III, iv, nn. How little we are to trust the vaunted impartiality of Henry Charles Lee, the American historian of the Inquisition, we may here illustrate by an example.Jewish Christians, if sincere, could no longer conform to all of the Mosaic law ; hence they were no longer at liberty to kill their enemies or to burn and stone violators of the Christian Law. Cyprian of Carthage, surrounded as he was by countless schismatics and undutiful Christians, also put aside the material sanction of the Old Testament, which punished with death rebellion against priesthood and the Judges. For nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion."Nunc autem, quia circumcisio spiritalis esse apud fideles servos Dei coepit, spiritali gladio superbi et contumaces necantur, dum de Ecclesia ejiciuntur" (Ep. 4) religion being now spiritual, its sanctions take on the same character, and excommunication replaces the death of the body. Naturally, therefore, he stood for the most absolute freedom of religion. Surely there is no connection between truth and violence, between justice and cruelty . ( Divine Institutes V:20) The Christian teachers of the first three centuries insisted, as was natural for them, on complete religious liberty; furthermore, they not only urged the principle that religion could not be forced on others -- a principle always adhered to by the Church in her dealings with the unbaptised -- but, when comparing the Mosaic Law and the Christian religion, they taught that the latter was content with a spiritual punishment of heretics (i.e.Historically it is a phase in the growth of ecclesiastical legislation, whose distinctive traits can be fully understood only by a careful study of the conditions amid which it grew up.
He sought their return only through public and private acts of submission, and his efforts seem to have met with success. Yet was it not in the name of God that Moses and Phineas consigned to death the worshippers of the Golden Calf and those who despised the true religion?
masters of the temporal and material conditions of the Church. iv), protested vigorously against any use of force in the province of religion, whether for the spread of Christianity or for preservation of the Faith.
At the same time they retained the traditional authority of "Pontifex Maximus", and in this way the civil authority inclined, frequently in league with prelates of Arian tendencies, to persecute the orthodox bishops by imprisonment and exile. They repeatedly urged that in this respect the severe decrees of the Old Testament were abrogated by the mild and gentle laws of Christ. 438) was the protection of religion and so, with terrible regularity, issued many penal edicts against heretics.
By this term is usually meant a special ecclesiastical institution for combating or suppressing heresy.
Its characteristic mark seems to be the bestowal on special judges of judicial powers in matters of faith, and this by supreme ecclesiastical authority, not temporal or for individual cases, but as a universal and permanent office.
Lactantius was yet smarting under the scourge of bloody persecutions, when he wrote this Divine Institutes in A. He writes: Religion being a matter of the will, it cannot be forced on anyone; in this matter it is better to employ words than blows [verbis melius quam verberibus res agenda est]. with excommunication ), while Judaism necessarily proceeded against its dissidents with torture and death.