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CENT. by an edict of the same prince, to his country and IV.
his functions. His sufferings did not end here; PART II.
for he was accused a second time in the year 384 , before Maximus, who had procured the assassination of Gratian, and made himself master of Gaul; and by the order of that prince, was put to death, at Treves, with some of his associates. The agents, however, by whose barbarous zeal this sentence was obtained, were justly regarded with the utmost abhorrence by the bishops of Gaul and Italy [m]; for Christians had not yet learned that giving over heretics to be punished by the magistrates, was either an act of piety or justice [n]. [No: This abominable doctrine was reserved for those times, when religion was to become an instrument of despotism, or a pretext for the exercise of malevolence, vengeance, and pride.]
The death of Priscillian was less pernicious to the progress of his opinions, than might na
turally (*  Upon the death of Gratian, who had favoured Priscillian, towards the latter end of his reign, Ithacius presented to Maximus a petition against him; whereupon this prince appointed a council to be held at Bourdeaux, from which Priscillian appealed to the prince himself. Sulp. Sever. lib. ii. cap. xlix. p. 287.
[m] It may be interesting to the reader to hear the character of the first person that introduced civil persecution into the Christian church. “ He was a man abandoned to the “ most corrupt indolence, and without the least tincture of “true piety. He was audacious, talkative, impudent, luxuri
ous, and a slave to his belly. He accused as heretics, and “as protectors of Priscillian, all those whose lives were “ consecrated to the pursuit of piety and knowledge, or dis“ tinguished by acts of mortification and abstinence,” &c. Such is the character which Sulpitius Severus, who had an extreme aversion to the sentiments of Priscillian, gives us of Ithacius, bishop of Sossuba by whose means he was put to death.
[n] See Sulp. Sever. Hist. Sacr. edit. Leips. 8vo, 1709. where Martin, the truly apostolical bishop of Tours, says to Maximus, Novum esse et inauditum nefas ut causam ecclesiæ judex seculi judicaret. See also Dial. iii. De vita Martini, cap. xi. p. 495.
IV. PART II.
turally have been expected. His doctrine not only CENT. survived him, but was propagated through the greatest part of Spain and Gaul. And even so far down as the sixth century, the followers of this unhappy man gave much trouble to the bishops and clergy in these provinces.
XXII. None of the ancient writers have given their docan accurate account of the doctrine of the Pris- trine. cillians. Many, on the contrary, by their injudicious representations of it, have highly disfigured it, and added new degrees of obscurity to a system which was before sufficiently dark and perplexed. It appears, however, from authentic records, that the difference between their doctrine, and that of the Manicheans, was not very considerable. For, they denied the reality of “ Christ's birth and incarnation ; maintained, “ that the visible universe was not the production “ of the Supreme Deity, but of some dæmon, “ or malignant principle; adopted the doctrine “ of cons, or emanations, from the divine nature; “ considered human bodies as prisons formed
by the author of evil, to enslave celestial “ minds; condemned marriage, and disbelieved “ the resurrection of the body.” Their rule of life and manners was rigid and severe; and the accounts which many have given of their lasciviousness and intemperance deserve not the least credit, as they are totally destitute of evidence and authority. That the Priscillianists were guilty of dissimulation upon some occasions, and deceived their adversaries by cunning stratagems, is true; but that they held it as a maxim, that lying and perjury were lawful, is a most notorious falsehood, without even the least shadow of probability , however commonly this odious
[o] See Simon de Vries, Dissert. Critica de Priscillianistis, printed at Utrecht, in the year 1745, in 4to. The only des sect in this dissertation is the implicit manner in which the
CENT. doctrine has been laid to their charge. In the
IV., heat of controversy, the eye of passion and prePART II.
judice is too apt to confound the principles and
opinions of men with their practice. Inferior XXIII. To what we have here said concerning
those famous sects which made a noise in the world, it will not be improper to add some account of those of a less considerable and inferior kind.
Ardæus, a man of remarkable virtue, being excommunicated in Syria, on account of the freedom and importunity with which he censured the corrupt and licentious manners of the clergy, formed an assembly of those who were attached
him, and became, by his own appointment, their bishop. Banished into Scythia, by the emperor, he went among the Goths, where his sect Hourished, and augmented considerably. The ancient writers are not agreed about the time in which we are to date the origin of this sect. With respect to its religious institutions, we know that they differed in some points from those observed by other Christians: and, particularly, that the followers of Ardæus celebrated Easter, or the Paschal feast, with the Jews, contrary to the express decree of the council of Nice. With respect to their doctrine, several errors have been imputed to them [p], and this, among others, that they attributed to the Deity a human form.
XXIV. author follows Beausobre's History of the Manicheans, taking every thing for granted which is affirmed in that work. See also Franc. Girvesii Historia Priscillianistarum Chronologica, published at Rome in the year 1750, in 8vo. We find, moreover, in the twenty-seventh volume of the Opusculum Scientificum of Angelus Calogera, a treatise entitled, Bachiarus Ilustratus, seu de Priscilliana Hæresi dissertatio ; but this dissertation appears rather intended to clear up the affair of Bachiarus, than to give a full account of the Priscillianists and their doctrine.
[p] Epiphanius, Hæres. lxx. p. 811. Augustin. De Hæres. cap. 1. Theodoret. Fabul. Hæret. lib. iv. cap.
IV. PART II.
XXIV. The Grecian and Oriental writers place, CENT. in this century, the rise of the sect of the Messalians, or Euchites, whose doctrine and discipline were, indeed, much more ancient, and subsisted, Messalians, even before the birth of Christ, in Syria, Egypt, or Euchites. and other eastern countries, but who do not seem to have been formed into a religious body before the latter end of the age of which we now write. These fanatics, who lived after the monkish fashion, and withdrew from all commerce and society with their fellow-creatures, seem to have derived their name from their habit of continual prayer. “ They imagined, that the mind of
every man was inhabited by an evil dæmon, “ whom it was impossible to expel by any other “ means than by constant prayer and singing of
hymns: and that, when this malignant spirit “ was cast out, the pure mind returned to God, “ and was again united to the Divine Essence from “ whence it had been separated.” To this leading tenet they added many other enormous opinions, which bear a manifest resemblance of the Manichean doctrine, and are evidently drawn from the same source from whence the Manicheans derived their errors, even from the tenets of the Oriental philosophy . In a word, the Euchites were a sort of Mystics, who imagined, according to the Oriental notion, that two souls resided in man, the one good, and the other evil; and who were zealous in hastening the return of the good
p. 671. Jo. Joach. Schroder. Dissertat. de Ardæanis, published in Voigt's Bibliothecæ Historia Hæresiolog. tom. i. part III. p. 578.
 Epiphanius, Hæres. lxxx. p. 1067. Theodoret. Hæret. Fabul. lib. iv. cap. x. p. 672. Timotheus, Prese byter de receptione Hæreticor. published in the third volume of Cotelerius' Monumenta Ecclesia Græcæ, p. 403. Jac. Tolli. Insignia ilineris Italici, p. 110. Assemanni Bibliotheca Orientalis Vaticana, tom. i. p. 128. tom. iii. part II. p.
CENT. spirit to God, by contemplation and prayer.
external air of piety and devotion, which accomPART II.
panied this sect, imposed upon many, while the Greeks, on the other hand, opposed it with vehemence in all succeeding ages.
It is proper to observe here, that the title of Messalians and Euchites had a very extensive application among the Greeks and the Orientals
, who gave it all to those who endeavoured to raise the soul to God by recalling and withdrawing it from all terrestrial and sensible objects; however these enthusiasts might differ from each other in
their opinions and other subjects. The Anti
XXV. Towards the conclusion of this century, dico-maria- two opposite sects involved Arabia and the adja
and the Cully. cent countries in the troubles and tumults of a ridians.
new controversy. These jarring factions went by the names of Antidico-marianites and Collyridians. The former maintained, that the Virgin Mary did not always preserve her immaculate state, but received the embraces of her husband Joseph after the birth of Christ. The latter, on the contrary, who were singularly favoured by the female sex, running into the opposite extreme, worshipped the Blessed Virgin as a goddess, and judged it necessary to appease her anger, and seek her favour and protection, by libations, sacrifices, and oblations of cakes (collyridce), and such like services [r].
Other sects might be mentioned here, but they are too obscure and siderable to deserve notice.
[r] See Epiphan. Hæres. lxxviii, lxxix. p. 1003. and 1001