The Persecution Of Dr Constantine
Dr. Constantine, an intimate acquaintance of the already mentioned Dr.
AEgidio, was a man of uncommon natural abilities and profound learning;
exclusive of several modern tongues, he was acquainted with the Latin,
Greek, and Hebrew languages, and perfectly well knew not only the
sciences called abstruse, but those arts which come under the
denomination of polite literature.
His eloquence rendered him pleasing, and the soundness of his doctrines
a profitable preacher; and he was so popular, that he never preached but
to a crowded audience. He had many opportunities of rising in the
church, but never would take advantage of them; for if a living of
greater value than his own was offered him, he would refuse it, saying,
I am content with what I have; and he frequently preached so forcibly
against simony, that many of his superiors, who were not so delicate
upon the subject, took umbrage at his doctrines upon that head.
Having been fully confirmed in protestantism by Dr. AEgidio, he preached
boldly such doctrines only as were agreeable to gospel purity, and
uncontaminated by the errors which had at various times crept into the
Romish church. For these reasons he had many enemies among the Roman
catholics, and some of them were fully determined on his destruction.
A worthy gentleman named Scobaria, having erected a school for divinity
lectures, appointed Dr. Constantine to be reader therein. He immediately
undertook the task, and read lectures, by portions, on the Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and was beginning to expound the book of
Job, when he was seized by the inquisitors.
Being brought to examination, he answered with such precaution that they
could not find any explicit charge against him, but remained doubtful in
what manner to proceed, when the following circumstances occurred to
Dr. Constantine had deposited with a woman named Isabella Martin several
books, which to him were very valuable, but which he knew, in the eyes
of the inquisition, were exceptionable.
This woman having been informed against as a protestant, was
apprehended, and, after a small process, her goods were ordered to be
confiscated. Previous, however, to the officers coming to her house, the
woman's son had removed away several chests full of the most valuable
articles; and among these were Dr. Constantine's books.
A treacherous servant giving intelligence of this to the inquisitors, an
officer was despatched to the son to demand the chests. The son,
supposing the officer only came for Constantine's books, said, I know
what you come for, and I will fetch them to you immediately. He then
fetched Dr. Constantine's books and papers, when the officer was greatly
surprised to find what he did not look for. He, however, told the young
man, that he was glad these books and papers were produced, but
nevertheless he must fulfil the end of his commission, which was, to
carry him and the goods he had embezzled before the inquisitors, which
he did accordingly; for the young man knew it would be in vain to
expostulate, or resist, and therefore quietly submitted to his fate.
The inquisitors being thus possessed of Constantine's books and
writings, now found matter sufficient to form charges against him. When
he was brought to a re-examination, they presented one of his papers,
and asked him if he knew the hand writing! Perceiving it was his own, he
guessed the whole matter, confessed the writing, and justified the
doctrine it contained: saying, "In that, and all my other writings, I
have never departed from the truth of the gospel, but have always kept
in view the pure precepts of Christ, as he delivered them to mankind."
After being detained upwards of two years in prison, Dr. Constantine was
seized with a bloody flux, which put an end to his miseries in this
world. The process, however, was carried on against his body, which, at
the ensuing auto de fe, was publicly burnt.
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