Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

PART

CENT.received from others, the reproachful denomina, XIII. ution of Bicorni, i. e. Ideots. In France, they

were known by the appellation of Begbins, and Beghines, while the multitude distinguished them by that of Turlupins, the origin and reason of which title I have not been able to learn st). Nothing carried a more shocking air of lunacy and distraction than their external aspect and manners. They ran from place to place cloathed in the most singular and fantastic apparel, and beg, ged their bread with wild shouts and clamours, rejecting with horror every kind of industry and labour, as an obstacle to divine contemplation, and to the assent of the soul towards the Father of spirits. In all their excursions they were followed by women, with whom they lived in the most intimate familiarity [u]. They distributed among the people, books, which contained the substance of their doctrine, held nocturnal assemblies in places remote from public view, and seduced many from frequenting the ordinary institutions of divine worship.

X. The brethren who gloried in the freedom cal doctrines of which they pretended to have obtained, through this sect. the spirit, from the dominion and obligation of

the law, adopted a certain rigid and fantastic system of Mystic theology, built upon pretended phics losophical principles, which carried a striking resemblance of the impious doctrines of the

Pantheists,

[1] Many have written, but none with accuracy and precision, concerning the Turlupins. See BEAUSOBRE's Dissertation sur les Adamiies, part II. p. 384. where that learned author has fallen into several errors, as usually happens to him when he treats subjects of this kind. I know not the origin of the word Turlupin, but I am able to demonstrate, by the most authentic records, that the persons so called, who were burnt at Paris and in other parts of France, were no other than the Brethren of the free spirit, who were condemned by the Roman pontifs, and also by various councils.

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

PART II.

Pantheists. For they held, “ That all things C E N T.

. XIII. " flowed by emanation from God, and were finally p " to return to their divine source: that rational or

souls were so many portions of the Supreme Deity, and that the universe, considered as one great whole, was God: that every man, by the

power of contemplation, and by calling off his “ mind from sensible and terrestrial objects, might “ be united to the Deity in an ineffable manner, " and become one with the Source and Parent " of all things : and that they, who, by long and " assiduous meditation, had plunged themselves,

as it were, into the abyss of the Divinity, ac“ quired thereby a most glorious and sublime

liberty, and were not only delivered from the “ violence of sinful lusts, but even from the com

mon instincts of nature.” From these and such like doctrines, the brethren under consideration drew this impious and horrid conclusion, " That the person who had ascended to God in " this manner, and was absorbed by contem“ plation in the abyss of Deity, became thus a " part of the Godhead, commenced God, was the " Son of God in the same sense and manner that “ CHRisT was, and was thereby raised to a glo“ rious independence, and freed from the obli

gation of all laws human, and divine.” It was in consequence of all this, that they treated with contempt the ordinances of the gospel, and every external act of religious worship, looking upon prayer, fasting, baptism, and the sacrament of the Lord's sopper, as the first elements of piety adapted to the state and capacity of children, and as of no sort of use to the perfect man, wliom long meditation had raised above all external things, and carried into the bosom and essence of the Deity [w].

[w] It may not be improper to place here a certain nurabe: of sentences translated faithfully from several of the more secret

books

[ocr errors]

thege

were some

CENT. XI. Among these Fanatics there were several

XIII. Parfu. persons of eminent probity, who had entered into w this sect with the most upright intentions, and Among

ere. who extended that liberty of the spirit, which they tics there looked upon as the privilege of true believers, no that distin

me farther than to an exemption from the duties of guished external worship, and an immunity from the po

selves sitive laws of the church. by their e

The whole of religion minent pro- was placed by this class of men in internal devobity and.. tion, and they treated with the utmost contempt others that were licen- the rules of monastic discipline, and all other extious in an

ternal infamous degrec.

books of these heretics. The following will be sufficient to give the curious reader a full idea of their impiety.

Every pious and good man is the only begotten Son of God, whom God engendered from all eternity :' (for these heretics maintained, that what the scriptures taught concerning the distinction of Three Persons in the divine nature, is by no means to be understood literally, and therefore explained it according to the principles of their mystical and fantastic system).

• All created things are non-entities, or nothing: I do not say that they are small or minute, but that they are absolutely nothing.

• There is in the soul of man something that is neither created, nor susceptible of creation, and that is, rationality, or the power of reasoning.

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

God still engenders his only begotten son, and begets still the same son, whom he had begotten from eternity, For every operation of the Deity is uniform and one ; and therefore he engenders his son without any division.

• What the scriptures say concerning Christ is true of every good, of every divine man : And every quality of the divine nature belongs equally to every person whose piety is genuine and sincere.?

To these horrid passages we may add the following sentences, in which John, bishop of Strasbourg, (in an edict he published against the Brethren of the free Spirit, or Beghards, in the year 1317, the Sunday before the feast of the assumption of the Virgin MARY) discovers farther the blasphemous doctrine of this impious sect. “Deus (say these Heretics) est formaliter omne quod est. Quilibet homo perfectus est Christus per naturam. Homo perfectus est liber in totum, nec tenetur ad servandum præcepta ecclesiæ data à Deo. Multa sunt poetica in evangelio, quæ non sunt vera, et homines credere magis debent conceptibus ex anima sua Deo juncta profectis, quam evangelio,' &c.

ternal rites and institutions, as infinitely beneath C E N T. the attention of the perfect. Nor were their ex. XIll.

PART JI. hortations and their examples without effect ; for about the middle of this century they persuaded a considerable number of monks and devout persons, in “ Swabia, to live without any rule, and to “ serve God in the liberty of the spirit, which was “ the most acceptable service that could be pre* sented to the Deity” [w]. The inquisitors, howe. ver, stopped these poor enthusiasts in the midst of their career, and committed several of them to the flames, in which they expired, not only with the most unclouded serenity, but even with the most triuinphant feelings of cheerfulness and joy.

But there were among the Brethren of the free spirit another class of Fanatics very different from these now mentioned, and much more extravagant, whose system of religion was as dangerous, as it was ridiculous and absurd, since it opened a door to the most licentious manners. These wretched enthusii ts, maintained, that, by continual contemplation, it was possible to eradicate all the instincts of nature out of the heaven-born mind, and to introduce into the soul a certain divine stupor, and holy apathy, which they looked upon as the great characteristics of Christian perfection. The persons who adopted these sentiments, took strange liberties in consequence of their pretended sanctity, and shewed, indeed, by their conduct, that they had little regard to external appearances; for they held their secret assemblies stark naked, and lay in the same beds with their spiritual sisters, or, indiscriminately, with other women, without the smallest scruple or hesitation. This shocking violation of decency was a consequence of their pernicious

system.

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

XIII. PART

CE N T. system. They looked upon decency and modesty

y, as marks of inward corruption, as the characters - of a soul that was still under the dominion of the

sensual, animal, and lascivious spirit, and that was not, as yet, re-united to the divine nature, its centre and source. And they considered, as at a fatal distance from the Deity, all such as either felt the carnal suggestions of nature, or were penetrated with warm emotions at a view or approach of persons of a different sex, or were incapable of vanquishing and suppressing the rising fervour of lust and intemperance [y].

There were, moreover, in this fanatical troop, certain enthusiasts, who far surpassed in impiety the two classes we have been now mentioning, who abused the system and doctrines of the sect, so as to draw from them an apology for all kinds

of [y] Certain writers, whose principal zcal is employed in the defence of these heretics, and who have accustomed themselves to entertain a high idea of the sanctity of all those who, in the middle age, separated themselves from the communion of the church of Rome, suspect the inquisitors of having attributed falsely these impious doctrines to the Brethren of the free spin rit, with a view to blacken these pious men, and to render them odious. But this suspicion is entirely groundless; and the account of this matter, which we have given in the text, is conformable to the strictest truth. The inquisitors have been less fabulous in their accusations of these heretics, than many are apt to imagine. They acknowledge that the Beghards, though destitute of shame, were not chargeable, generally speaking, with a breach of the duties of chastity and abstinence. They were indeed of opinion, that this firmness and insensibility 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 honest NEIDER, (For. micar. 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 lascivious solicitations of nature; and that Satan wrought this miracle upon his friends and adherents, in order to procure them a high reputation of sanctity, and make them appear superior in virtue to the rest of mankind. “ Credo (saith 5, NEIDER, who was both a Dominican and an inquisitor) quos66 dam ex eis dæmonis opere affectos fuisse, ne moverentur ad “ naturales actus incontinentice.... Facillimum enim est de6 monibus infrigidare."

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »