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CENT. XIII. IX. The feverity which the court of Rome employed in the extirpation of The Brethren herefy, and the formidable arguments of fire and fword, racks and gibers, and Sifters of the with which the popes and their creatures reafoned against the enemies of the free spirit. church, were not fufficient to prevent the rife of new and moft pernicious fects in feveral places. Many of thefe fects were inconfiderable in themfelves, and tranfitory in their duration, while fome of them made a noife in the world, and were fuppreffed with difficulty. Among the latter we may reckon that of the Brethren and fifters of the free spirit, which about this time gained ground fecretly and imperceptibly in Italy, France, and Germany, and feduced

into its bofom multitudes of persons of both sexes, by the appearance of piety that was obferved in the conduct of the members that compofed it. How far the councils of this century proceeded against this new fect, we cannot fay with any certainty because we have upon record but a few of the decrees that were inued out upon that occafion. Perhaps the obfcurity of the rifing faction kreened it, in a great measure, from public view. But this was not the cafe in the following age; the Brethren and Sifters abovementioned came forth from their retreats in proportion as their numbers increated; they drew upon them the eyes of the world, and particularly those of the inquifitors, who committed to the flames fuch of thefe unhappy enthufiafts as fell into their hands; while the councils, held in Germany and other nations, loaded them with excommunications and damnatory edicts.

This new feet took their denomination from the words of St. PAUL [r], and maintained that the true children of God were invefted with the privilege of a full and perfect freedom from the jurifdiction of the law [s]. They were called by the Germans and Flemish, Beghards and Beguttes, which, as we have feen already, was a name usually given to those who made an extraIntrowon beer voldion

Lignals, des Vaudois et des Barbets, published at Paris, in 1691, in two volumes 12mo-J. BAPT.
LANGLO
Lois, a jefuit, who compofed the Hiftoire des Croisades contre les Albigeois, which was published
in 129 at Rouen, in 1703, to which we must add Jo. JAC. PERCINI Monumenta Conventus Tolofani
Ordinis FF Prædicator. in quibus Hiftoria hujus Conventus diftribuitur et refertur totius Albigenfium
falli markatib, Tolose, 1693 Fol Thele writers are chargeable with the greatest partiality and in-
juftice in the reproaches and calumnies they throw out fo liberally against the RAYMONDS and the
Albigenfes, while they difguife, with a perfidious dexterity, the barbarity of SIMON of Montfort,
and the ambitious views of extending their dominions that engaged the kings of France to enter
into this war. The molt ample and accurate account of this expedition against the Heretics is
that which is given by the learned Benedictines CLAUDE LE VIC and JOSEPH VAISSETTE in
Their Hiftoire Generale de Languedoc, Paris 1730. tom. iii. in which, however, there are feveral
ominions which render that valuable work defective.

Romans vill. 2, 14

of

are, for

She accounts we here give of thefe wretched Fanatics for the most part, taken from sur thentic records, which have not been as yet publifhed, from the decrees of fynods and councils held in France and Germany, from the Diploma's of the Roman pontifs, the fentences pronounced by the inquifitors, and the other fources, of information to which I have had accefs. I have alfo a collection of extracts from certain books of thefe enthufiafts, and more efpecially from that which treated of the Nine Spiritual rocks, and which was in the highest efteem among the free brethren, who confidered it as a treasure of divine wisdom and doctrine. As I cannot expofe here thefe records to the examination of the curious reader, I beg leave to refer him to a long and ample edict bed out against thefe Brethren by HENRY I, archbishop of Calogn, and published in the Statuta Colonienfia, A. 1554 p. 58. This edict is in every refpect, conformable to thofe published, on the fame occafion, at Menz, Haffenburg, Paderborn, B.zers, Triers, and other places. ordinary

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ordinary profeffion of piety and devotion. They received from others the reproachful denomination of Bicorni, i. e. Ideots. In France they were known by the appellation of Beghins and Beghines, while the multitude diftinguished them by that of Turlupins, the origin and reafon of which title I have not been able to learn []. Nothing carried a more fhocking air of Junacy and distraction than their external afpect and manners. They ran from place to place cloathed in the most fingular and fantastic apparel, and begged their bread with wild fhouts and clamours, rejecting with horror every kind of industry and labour, as an obftacle to divine contemplation, and to the afcent of the foul towards the father of fpirits. In all their excurfions they were followed by women, with whom they lived in the moft intimate familiarity [u]. They diftributed among the people books, which contained the fubftance of their doctrine, held nocturnal affemblies in places remote from public view, and feduced many from frequenting the ordinary institutions of divine worship.

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CENT. XIII.

doctrines of this

X. These brethren, who gloried in the freedom which they pretended to The mystical have obtained, through the spirit, from the dominion and obligation of the fa law, adopted a certain rigid and fantastic fyftem of Myftic theology, built upon pretended philofophical principles, which carried a ftriking refemblance of the impious doctrines of the Pantheifts. For they held,

"That

things followed by emanation from God, and were finally to return to their divine fource: that rational fouls were fo many portions of the fupreme "Deity, and that the univerfe, confidered as one great whole, was God: "that every man by the power of contemplation, and by calling off his "mind from fenfible and terreftrial objects,, might be united to the Deity "in an ineffable manner, and become one with the fource and parent of "all things: and that they, who, by long and affiduous meditation, had plunged themselves, as it were, into the abyss of the divinity, acquired thereby a most glorious and fublime liberty, and were not only delivered. "from the violence of finful lufts, but even from the common instincts of "nature." From these and fuch like doctrines the brethren, under con-fideration, drew this impious and horrid conclufion, "That the perfon who "had afcended to God in this manner, and was abforbed by contemplation. in the abyss of Deity, became thus a part of godhead, commenced God, "was the Son of God in the fame fenfe and manner that CHRIST was, and. was thereby rajfed to a glorious independance, and freed from the obli"gation of all laws human and divine." It was in confequence of all this,. that they treated with contempt the ordinances of the gofpel, and every

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[] Many have written, but none with accuracy and precifion, concerning, the Turlupins. See: BEAUSOBRE'S Differtation fur les Adamites, part. II. p. 384, where that learned author has fallen into several errors, as ufually happens to him when he treats fubjects of this kind. I know not the origin of the word Turlupin, but I am able to demonftrate by the most authentic records, that the perfons fo called, who were burnt at Paris and in other parts of France, were no other than the Brethren of the free fpirit, who were condemned by the Roman pontifs, and alfo by various.

councils.

[u] Hence they were called, in Germany, Schweftriones, as appears by the decrees of feveral councils.

externali

CEST. XII external act of religious worship, looking upon prayer, fafting, baptifm, and the facrament of the Lord's fupper, as the firft elements of piety adapted to the state and capacity of children, and as of no fort of ufe to the perfect man, whom long meditation had raifed above all external things, and carried into the bofom and effence of the Deity [w].

Among thefe 'heretics there

were fome that diftinguished

their eminent

probity, and others that were licentious in an

XI. Among these Fanatics there were feveral perfons of eminent probity, who had entered into this fect with the moft upright intentions, and who extended that liberty of the Spirit, which they looked upon as the privilege themfelves by of true believers, no farther than to an exemption from the duties of external worship, and an immunity from the pofitive laws of the church. The whole of religion was placed by this clafs of men in internal devotion, infamous degree, and they treated with the utmost contempt the rules of monaftic difcipline, and all other external rites and inftitutions, as infinitely beneath the attention of the perfect. Nor were their exhortations and their examples without effect; for about the middle of this century they perfuaded a confiderable number of monks and devout perfons, in Swabia, to live without any rule, and to ferve God in the liberty of the fpirit, which was the maft acceptable fervice that could be prefented to the Deity [x]. The inquifitors, however, ftopped thefe poor enthufiafts in the midft of their career, and committed feveral of them to the flames, in which they expired, not only with the most unclouded feverity, but even with the moft triumphant feelings of chearfulness and joy.

[w] It may not be improper to place here a certain number of fentences tranflated faithfully from feveral of the more fecret books of thefe Heretics. The following will be fufficient to give the curious reader a full idea of their impiety:

Every pious and good man is the only begotten fon of God, whom God engendred from all eternity for thefe Heretics maintained, that what the fcriptures taught concerning the diftinction of Thre Perfons in the divine nature, is by no means to be understood literally, and therefore explained it according to the principles of their myftical and fantastic fyftem.)

All created things are non-entities or nothing: I do not say that they are small and minute; but that they are abfolutely nothing.

There is in the foul of man fomething that is neither created, nor fufceptible of creation, and that is, rationality, or the power of reafoning.

God is neither good, nor better, nor beft: whofoever therefore calls the Deity good, does as foolishly as he who calls an object black, which he knows to be white.

God fill engenders his only-begotten Son, and begets fill the fame fon, whom he had begotten from eternity. For every operation of the Deity is uniform and one; and therefore be engenders his fon without any divifion.

What the fcriptures fay concerning Chrift is true of every good, of every divine man. And every quality of the divine nature belongs equally to every perfon, whofe piety is genuine and fincere.

To these horrid pallages we may add the following fentences, in which JoHN, bishop of Strasbourg (in an edict he publifhed against the Brethren of the free fpirit or Beghards, in the year 1317, the Sunday before the feaft of the affumption of the Virgin Mary) difcovers farther the blafphemous doctrines of this impious feet. Deus (fay thefe Heretics) eft formaliter omne quod eft. Quiliber bomo perfectus eft Chriftus per naturam. Home perfectus eft liber in totum, nec tenetur ad fervan dum præcepta ecclefia data à Deo. Multa funt poetica in evangelio, quæ non funt vera, et homines credere magis debent conceptibus ex anima fua Deo junta profelis, quam evangelio, &c.

[x] See MART. CRUSIUS Annal. Suevitorum, part. III. lib. ii. cap. xiv. ad 4. 1261. p. 99. edit. Vet.-This author has taken his materials from Felix Faber, an impartial writer.

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But there were among thefe Brethren of the free spirit another clafs of CENT. XIL Fanatics very different from thefe now mentioned, and much more extravagant, whofe fyftem of religion was as dangerous, as it was ridiculous and abfurd, fince it opened a door to the moft licentious manners. Thefe wretched enthufiafts maintained, that, by continual contemplation, it was poffible to eradicate all the inftincts of nature out of the beaven-born mind, and to introduce into the foul a certain divine ftupor, and holy apathy, which they looked upon as the great characteristics of Chriftian perfection, The perfons, who adopted thefe fentiments, took ftrange liberties in confequence of their pretended fanctity, and fhewed, indeed, by their conduct that they had little regard to external appearances; for they held their fecret affemblies ftark naked, and lay in the fame beds with their fpiritual Lifters, or, indiscriminately, with other women, without the smallest scruple or hesitation. This fhocking violation of decency was a confequence of their pernicious fyftem. They looked upon decency and modefty as marks of inward corruption, as the characters of a foul that was ftill under the dominion of the fenfual, animal, and lafcivious fpirit, and that was not, as yet, re-united to the divine nature, its center and fource. And they confidered, as at a fatal distance from the Deity, all fuch as either felt the carnal fuggeftions of nature, or were penetrated with warm emotions at the view or approach of perfons of a different fex, or were incapable of vanquishing and fuppreffing the rifing fervor of luft and intemperance [y].

There were moreover, in this fanatical troop, certain enthufiafts, who far furpaffed in impiety the two claffes we have been now mentioning, who abused the fyftem and doctrines of the fect, fo as to draw from them an apology for all kinds of wickedness, and who audaciously maintained that the divine man, or the believer, who was intimately united to God, could not fin, let his conduct be ever fo horrible and atrocious. This execrable doctrine was not, indeed, explained in the fame manner by all the Brethren of the free fpirit that were fo outrageous as to adopt it. Some held, that the motions and actions of the body had no relation at all to the foul, which,

[y] Certain writers, whofe principal zeal is employed in the defence of these heretics, and who have accustomed themselves to entertain a high idea of the fanctity of all thofe, who, in the middle age feparated themselves from the communion of the church of Rome, fufpect the inquifitors of having attributed falfely these impious doctrines to the Brethren of the free fpirit, with a view to blacken these pious men, and to render them odious. But this fufpicion is entirely groundless; and the account of this matter, which we have given in the text, is conformable to the strictest truth. The inquifitors have been lefs fabulous in their accufations of these heretics, than many are apt to imagine. They acknowledge that the Beghards, though deftitute of fhame, were not chargeable, generally speaking, with a breach of the duties of chastity and abftinence. They were indeed of opinion, that this firmness and infenfibility of heart, which rendered them proof against female charms and deaf to the voice of nature, was a privilege granted them by the devil. For they adopted the opinion of honeft NIEDER, (Formicar. lib. iii. cap. v. p. 346.) and affirmed, that it was in the power of that evil spirit to render men cold, and to extinguish the warm and lafcivious follicitations of nature; and that Satan wrought this miracle upon his friends and adherents in order to precure them a high reputation of fanctity, and make them appear fuperior in virtue to the reft of mankind. Credo (faith NIEDER, who was both a Dominican and an inquifitor) quafdam ex eis damonis opere affettos fuiffe, ne moverentur ad naturales altus incontinentiæ, Facillimum enim ef demonibus infrigidare. 4 X

VOL. I.

by

ENT. XIII. by its union with God, was blended with the divine nature: others fell into a notion infinitely injurious to the fupreme Being, and maintained, that the propenfities and paffions, that arole in the foul of the divine man after his union with the Deity, were the propenfities and affections of God himself, and were therefore, notwithstanding their apparent deformity and oppofition to the law, holy and good, feeing that the fupreme Being is infinitely exalted above all law, and all obligation [2]. It is neceffary to obferve, before we leave this fubject, that flagitious and impious impoftors mingled themselves fometimes with this fect, and took the name of Beghards, that by a feigned piety they might impofe upon the multitude, and deceive the fimple into their fnares [4].

མམས

[*] This acccount will be confirmed by the following paffage faithfully tranflated from the famous book of the Nine Rocks, written originally in German: Moreover the divine man operates and engenders whatever the Deity operates and engenders. For in God he produced and formed the heavens and the earth. He is alfo the father of the eternal word. Neither could God produce any thing without this divine man, who is therefore obliged to render his will conformable to the will of God, that fo whatsoever may be agreeable to the Deity, may be agreeable to him alfo. If therefore it be the will of God that I fhould commit fin, my will must be the fame, and I must not even defire to abfrain from fin. This is true tontrition. And although a man, who is well and truly united to God, may have committed a thousand mortal (ms, he ought not even to wish that be bad not committed them; nay, he should rather die a thousand deaths than gmit one of thefe mortal fins. Hence the accufation brought by the inquifitors against this impious fect, whom they reproach with maintaining, that the fin of a man united to God, is not fin, fince God works in him and with him whatever he does. HENRY SUSO, a Dominican monk, and one of the most celebrated Myftic writers, compofed, in the following century, another Book concerning the Nine Rocks, which is to be found in the edition of his works published by LAURENT. SURIUS. But this book is entirely different from that, which was in fuch high esteem among the Beghards, though it bears the title. The latter is of much older and was in vogue 'n Germany, along the Brethren of the free fpirit, long before Suso was born. There fell fome time ago into my hands an ancient manufcript, compofed in Alface during the xvth century, and containing an account of various Revelations and Vifions of that age. In this manufcript I found a piece entitled, Declaratio Religiofi cujufdam fuper revelatione Carthufiano cuidam de Ecclefiæ per gladium reformatione, Leodii, A. 1453, fatta; and almost in the beginning of this declaration the following pallage relating to the Book of the Nine Rocks: Homo quidam de potiffimas, licet Laicas, Librum de novem Rapibas confcripfit à Deo compulfus, ale multa ad praefens pertinentia continentur de Ecclefiæ renovatione et prævia gravi perfecutione. Thele Nine Rocks fignified, according to the fanatical doctrine of this wrong-headed feet, the different freps by which the divine man afcended to the Deity.

fa) The founder of this famous fect, the place of its origin, and the precife date of its first appearance the not known with any degree of certainty. I have actually in my poffeffion Eighty mine Sentences of the Beghards, vulgarly called Schweftrones, but who flyle themselves Brethren of the feel of the Free Spirit and of voluntary Poverty, with a Refutation of the faid Sentences, written at Worms towards the conclufion of this century by fome one or other of the inquifitors. The 79 of these fentences runs thus: To fay that the truth is in Rhetia, is to fall into the herefy of Donatus, who faid, that God was in Africa, and not elsewhere. From thefe words it appears evident, that Rhetia was the place, where the church of the Brethren of the free fpirit was fixed and established, and that from this province they paffed into Germany. I am not however of opinion, that this fect had its firft tife in that province; but am rather inclined to think that Italy was its country, and that, being driven from thence, it took refuge in Rhetia. Nor is it at all improbable, that Italy, which faw to natry religious factions arife in its bofom, was alfo the nurfing mother of this blafphemous feet. We shall be almoft fully confirmed in this opinion when we confider that, in a long letter from CLEMENT V to RAINER bishop of Cremona (published by ODOR. RAYNALDUS Annal. tom. xv. A. 1311, n. 66. p. 90.) the zealous pontif exhorts that prelate to fupprefs and extirpate, with all his might, the fect of the Brethren. of the free fpirit, which was fettled in feveral parts of Italy, and XII. The

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