Sorcery in Christian Countries

Sorcery In Christian Countries.

In early times those who gave themselves to magic and sorcery were usually termed venefici and malefici, because either by poison or by means of fascination they wrought pernicious effects upon others. The laws of the Theodosian Code (lib. 9 tit. 16, De Meficiis) frequently brand them with this name of malefici. Constantius (Cod. Theod. leg. 5) charges them with disturbing the elements or raising of tempests, and practicing abominable arts in the evocation of the infernal spirits to assist men in destroying their enemies. These he therefore orders to be executed, as unnatural monsters, and quite divested of the principles of humanity. They were also excepted at the granting of indulgence to criminals at the Easter festivals, as guilty of too heinous a crime to be comprised within the general pardon granted to other offenders. The Council of Laodicea (can. 36) condemns them under the name of magicians and enchanters, and orders their expulsion from the Church. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. bk. 16, ch. 5, § 5.

The early Christians were derided as sorcerers in accordance with the impious charge brought by Celsus and others against our Lord, that he practiced magic, which they supposed him to have studied in Egypt. Augustine (De Consens. Evang. 1, 9) says that it was generally believed among the heathens that our Savior wrote some books upon magical arts, which he delivered to Peter and Paul for the use of the disciples.

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