Chief Factors In The Religious And Intellectual Life Of The Gallican Church
Among the interesting characters which this affluent era affords, it is not unfitting to mention an apostle of practical benevolence. The increased interest in works of charity which animated the monastic orders after the conclusion of the wars of religion, found a leader and organizer in Vincent de Paul. For the first sixty years of the seventeenth century his name was a synonym for untiring philanthropy. Neglected children, the ignorant, the poor, condemned criminals, prisoners of the cell and the galley, all classes of the unfortunate, received from him a sympathy as practical as it was warm and persevering. Consecrated activity he regarded as the essence of religion. The spirit of his life is well expressed in his own words: "The genuine mark of love to God is the good and perfect action. It is only our works which accompany us into the other life." 1 Martin, Histoire de France, tome xii. p. 67.
A brief reference to the moralists mill suffice, their relative eminence not being so striking as that of some other classes among the celebrated representatives of the age. La Rochefoucauld in his "Maxims," or moral aphorisms, exhibits s subtle power of analysis. But unhappily his insight is divorced from sympathy and from faith in human nature. He dissects the seeming virtues of men only to destroy their title to be called virtues, and traces them to the same all-dominating motive of self-love. To be sure, he does not formally deny the existence of real virtue. He explains to his readers that he considers men in their natural state rather than in that to which they may be raised by the special aids of Divine grace. 2 Avis au Lecteur, édition 1666. Nevertheless, his cynical critique tends to make virtue a banished name, and, where it does not divert by its sharpness and ingenuity, chills by the merciless diligence with which it cuts away from man and society every element of esteem. La Bruyère in his "Characters" deals largely in the aphoristic style of La Rochefoucauld. His irony, however, is more sparing. He does not persecute human nature into such abjectness, and relieves his criticism by a larger display of literary art. Neither of these writers made any attempt to cover methodically the whole subject of morals. In the "Ethical Essays" of Nicole, on the other hand, there is a perceptible endeavor after thorough elaboration. But this formal distinction expresses the lesser part of the difference. Nicole, it is true, paints the wretchedness of man with a strong hand, and is hardly more complimentary than La Rochefoucauld; for, while Jansenism does not find in him one of its most austere disciples, his mind is imbued with the Augustinianism of that school. But with Nicole man's moral poverty is only one part of the field of vision. The completing zone, the illuminated region of Divine grace, comes repeatedly into view. The general impression, accordingly, is vastly different from that which is conveyed by the procedure of La Rochefoucauld, who casts human virtues into the crucible only to show that they are dross.
In sacred eloquence the age of Louis XIV. is probably to be ranked as the most illustrious in the annals of the Gallican Church. The Abbot of Clairvaux had in his day, it is true, a marvelous faculty of persuasive address. But what reign beside that of Louis XIV. can name three such masters of the pulpit as Bossuet, Bourdaloue, and Massillon, not to mention a fourth in the person of Fléchier?
The tongue of Bossuet was assisted to eloquence by a mind well stored with noble sentiments. While he attacked nothing which was definitely included within the circle of Romish beliefs, he dwelt little among the objects which the compromise with heathenism had offered to a weak and superstitions faith. Saints, relics, and images were for the most part below the plane of his vision. Attracted by the strength and sublimity of the Bible, he moved largely within its circle of thought. He imbibed a Hebraic sense of Divine Providence, and put in strong contrast to the futility of human ambitions the certainty and might with which God marches forward to the accomplishment of His grand purposes. While he was not willing to take the full creed of the Jansenists, he had only moderate emendations to offer. He was fundamentally averse to Pelagian representations of man's sufficiency in himself, and was deeply convinced that the heir of salvation is, and needs to be, in the grasp of a power mighty and sovereign, though tender and persuasive in its mode of working. To this order of thought and feeling the style of Bossuet was harmoniously adjusted. Two words, strength and majesty, describe its dominant characteristics. His discourse moves forward like the full stream of a great river. Occasionally, it may be, the limit of discretion is a little transcended, and the majestic ie carried over into the declamatory. But for the most part the style is wisely guided at a level with the theme and the occasion. The subject matter, like that of successful oratory in general, shows depth enough to satisfy minds fairly thoughtful, while, at the same time, it does not tax the understanding overmuch by abstruse or subtle speculation.
Among the sermons of Bossuet his funeral orations are especially celebrated, - a species of composition cultivated in the age of Louis XIV. as in no other period. As employed by Bossuet, it was s sort of compromise between the pride of the great men of earth and the severity of religion. "It shows religion consenting to display the pomp of human glory, on condition of withering it before the breath of God and opposing to the greatness of a day the greatness that endures forever." Such an order of discourses was naturally in the hands of a master like Bossuet, a vehicle of many profound and impressive thoughts on the relation of the two worlds. Nevertheless, he ran close upon the border of serious dangers. A lengthy and rhetorica1 portraiture of those esteemed great by the world involves a temptation to gloss over detracting features, -to round out panegyric at the expense of truth.
Bossuet's fame as a pulpit orator began in 1659. For ten years he commanded the admiration of Parisian audiences. After his elevation to the episcopal office-first at Condom and then at Meaux-the great tasks devolved upon him abridged his leisure for sermonic efforts.
Bourdaloue, the successor of Bossuet in the Parisian pulpit, while falling below him in capacity for eloquent and powerful outbursts, was a worthy rival as respects symmetry and uniform excellence. He was less daring, less cogent, less at home in the region of the grand and the sublime; but he was more true to the life in his portraiture of manners and his analysis of human passions, more in sympathy with the common people and with ordinary experiences, more politic in the deferential tone with which he addressed the reason of his hearers. His sermons appear at full advantage to the reader, while a large proportion of those of Bossuet depended much for their effect upon their delivery. In character, Bourdaloue was sincere and straight-forward, a man whom all praise, whether friends or foes of the Order of Jesuits to which be belonged.
Massillon, the third member in the triumvirate of the French pulpit, made his appearance in Paris in 1696. His great talent at once caused him to be regarded as the peer of Bourdaloue. If less thoughtful than the Jesuit orator, he surpassed him in pathos, tenderness, and grace. His greatest efforts wrought with magic power upon his audiences. It is recounted of his sermon on the small number of the elect, that, during the peroration, the whole assembly, impelled by a common and overmastering impulse, rose to their feet.
The place of Bourdaloue and Massillon in history is sufficiently expressed when they have been characterized as pulpit orators. With Bossuet the case is very different. In him the Oriental faculty of speech was joined with the Roman aptitude for rule. One of the strongest personalities which the French Church has produced, he exercised a commanding influence in various directions.
1 Probably no representative of the Gallican Church has approached nearer to the ideal which is pictured in the following eulogy by Massillon: "The possessor of a vast and happy genius; endowed with the candor which always characterizes grand souls and spirits of the first rank; the ornament of the episcopate, from whom the clergy of France will derive honor in all coming centuries; a bishop in the midst of the court; a man of all talents and all sciences; the teacher of all the churches; the terror of all the sects; the father of the seventeenth century, who only needed to have been born in the primitive times to have been the light of councils, the soul of patristic assemblies, the dictator of canons, the president at Nicæa and Ephesus." (Oraison Funèbre de Louis, Dauphin.)His inborn tendency to leadership was usually joined with a fair degree of moderation; it cannot be denied, however, that in one and another instance it passed over into a species of intolerance and dictatorship.
The principles of Gallicanism as opposed to Ultramontanism found in Bossuet their most stalwart champion. The papal claim to absolute monarchy he regarded as a usurpation standing in glaring contradiction with the history of the Church for its first thousand years. In like manner, he esteemed the boasted infallibility of the Pope a baseless fiction. He allowed, indeed, that indefectibility belongs to the chair of Peter, in the sense that heresy cannot find there any continuous and stubborn support. But this, he maintained, in no wise precludes the temporary aberration of an individual pontiff, or the competency of the universal Church to administer correction to a pontiff. Such principles had been at home in France ever since the era of the great reform councils of the fifteenth century. They were naturally favored by the strong feeling of nationality which dominated the French people in the reign of Louis XIV. The Sorbonne took pains to proclaim them in 1663 and 1675; but the most noted era of Gallicanism was the year 1682, when the Four Articles formulating the opposition of France to high papal claims were subscribed by an assembly of the clergy, and confirmed by the civil authorities. These articles were drawn up by Bossuet, who was the leading spirit in the assembly. They contained in substance the following specifications: (1) The Pope's authority, as also that of the Church in general, is confined to things spiritual. He has no prerogative to depose kings and princes, or to release their subjects from oath of fidelity. (2) The decrees promulgated at Constance respecting the authority of ecumenical councils subsist in full force and virtue. (3) In the use of his power, the Pope must respect the ecclesiastical canons, and also such constitutions as are received in the kingdom and Church of France. (4) While the Pope has a principal voice in matters of faith, his judgment is subject to amendment, until it has been approved by the Church. 1 The full text of the Four Articles may be seen in Bausset, Histoire de Bossuet, liv. vi. § 14
The assembly which promulgated these articles provoked the disgust of the Pope still further by siding with the King in the matter of the régale, that is, the asserted right of the crown to the revenue and the patronage connected with vacant sees. This right had long been exercised over a large part of the realm. Louis insisted upon extending it to all the provinces. Most of the bishops acquiesced, but two protested. The Pope heartily espoused the cause of the appellants. The limitations which the assembly had thought fit to impose upon his prerogatives in general probably inclined him to be less yielding on the special point in dispute. He pronounced the decision on the régale null and void, and refused bulls of confirmation to those members of the assembly of 1682 whom the King nominated to episcopal sees. Affairs remained in this unsettled condition for a considerable interval. In the final settlement (1693), the action of the government, while not annulling the Four Articles, qualified their force as national maxims. The Pope also gained advantage from the bitter partisan conflicts within the Gallican Church in the closing years of Louis XIV. But these backward steps from the platform of 1682 were not accompanied in the convictions of Bossuet by any retreat from the principles then enunciated. One of the most elaborate and best reasoned of his works, one which he diligently perfected in his closing years, was devoted to a defence of the teachings laid down in the Four Articles.
1 "Defensio Declarationis Conventus Cleri Gallicani Anni MDCLXXXII."In this line of effort he was seconded to a considerable extent by the distinguished church historians of the era, Natalis Alexander, Fleury, and Tillemont.
Space may properly be given to a few of the noteworthy points in this treatise, Bossuet emphaticslly reprobates the discreditable shuffling which has been indulged over the case of Honorius I: "Incredibile dictu est, de decretis apostolicis quantos ludos faciant, dum eos aut ex cathedrâ aut non ex cathedrâ prolata esse definiunt. . . . Quando igitur ex cathedrâ pronuntiatum fuit, nisi cùm à toto Oriente consultam Petri successorem confirmare fratres et teterîmum errorem compescere oportebat?" (Praevia Dissertatio, liv.)
Having shown from a comparison of sessions iv. and v. of the Council of Constance that the asserted superiority of an ecumenical council was meant to have a general application. Bossuet thus sets forth the grounds for the conclusion that this decision received the consent of Martin V., and also that of Eugenius IV., as later it was repeated by the Council of Basle:
"Stat concilii certa confirmatio, ipsâ executione, ipsa consensione, imò ipsâ Papae praesentiâ; valerentque ea quaecunque conciliariter gesta essent, tametsi Poloni nihil rogassent, ac Martinus non eam vocem edidisset. Ne quis tamen scrupulus superesse possit, addimus decreta ea sessionum iv. et v. de quibus agimus, et ad fidem pertinere, et conciliariter facta esse. Ad fidem quidem pertinent, quae pertinent ad interpretationem divini juris, et ad traditam immediatè à Christo Petri successoribus atque episcopis in concilio generali sedentibus, potestatem; neque Bellarminus aut alii diffitentur. Quòd autem conciliariter facta sint, constat, cùm in publicâ sessione, imò in duabus publicis sessionibus, prolata sint, ut vidimus. Bellarminus ludit conciliariter factum dici quod more conciliorum, maturâ deliberatione factum esset; quasi Martinus V. Constantiensis concilii primis sessionibus, quarum ipse pars fuerat, indiligentiam exprobare vellet. Alii vanum commentum aspernati, conciliariter gestum dicunt, adunatis obedientiis gestum; neque aliud quidquam à Martino probatum. Quasi verò in Viclefum et Hussum et in Joannem Parvum gesta reprobentur, quae ante adunatas obedientias gesta sunt. Sed profectò nos ludunt: Martinus enim conciliariter gesta memorabat, vulgari et populari sensu. . . . Eugenius noverat è sessionibus ii., iii., xii. Basiliensibus, ante et post dissolutionem, Constantiensis decreta sessionis v. repetita et constabilita esse, ut quae vera certaque concilii ubique approbati decreta essent: atqui concilio Basiliensi ita praedicanti ac decernenti adhaeret, et legitimè continuatum esse confirmat: ergo Constantiensia decreta valere intellexit, valere voluit, nedum suspecta, aut infirma, aut revocanda putaret." (Lib. v., cap. xxviii., xxix.; lib. vi. cap. ii.)
Bossuet in his own day was a famous apologist. In his "History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches," and also in other treatises, he made out what was considered a very strong defence of the Roman Catholic faith. But the glory of Bossuet as an apologist has suffered a great eclipse. Historical criticism and historical fact are now arrayed against his fundamental propositions. The uniformity of belief which he predicated, and which he made a mark of the true Church, was a fiction of the imagination, made plausible only by overlooking the fact, that under a strong government, a despotic hierarchy, change is likely to proceed by slow accretion, rather than by the rapid strides which are possible under a system of liberty, where individuality has full play. Moreover, in defending his notion of uniformity, Bossuet undermined his whole argument by maintaining, as of decisive consequence, a specific historical assumption which is clearly untenable. This appeared in his animadversions upon Richard Simon's statements respecting the innovating character of Augustine's predestinarianism. Agreeing with Simon in the conclusion that the Latin Church received Augustine as a teacher of paramount authority, Bossuet declared that to call Augustine an innovator in the doctrines of grace, including predestination, was to destroy tradition and break down all church authority.
1 "On soit donc bien qu’il ne s’agit pas de Saint Augustin seulement ou de sa doctrine, mais encore de l’autorité et de la doctrine de l’Église, puisque s’il a été permis à Saint Augustin de la changer dans une matière capitale, et que pendant qu'il la changeoit, les papes et tout l’0ccident lui aient applaudi, il n'y a plus d'autorité, il n’y a plus de doctrine fixe; il faut tolérer tous les errans, et ouvrir la porte de l’Église à tous les novateurs." (Defénse de la Tradition, liv. i. chap. vi. Compare Instructions sur la Version du Nouveau Testament.)What was this but giving away his cause? Bossuet's attempt to show that Augustine introduced no novelty, in teaching unconditional predestination, is signally feeble. Unbiased scholarship pronounces to-day, with entire assurance, that this doctrine never had place in the theology of the Greek Church, and was also foreign to that of the Latin Church before the Bishop of Hippo gave it his powerful sanction. While thus discredited by historical criticism, the apologetic work of Bossuet has been undermined by the progress of events. As was indicated in the preceding paragraph, he devoted the best resources of his scholarship and the best powers of his mind, for years, to the task of proving that in all the preceding centuries the Church had taken ground inconsistent with the absolute monarchy and infallibility of the Popes. What then, from his standpoint, must be said of the decrees of the Vatican Council, except that they constitute a stupendous variation, before which the high claims of tradition and church authority pass away as lying vanities? In fine, Bossuet's vaunted defence of the Romish faith is thoroughly wrecked, his own premises being witnesses. Protestantism has no cause to entertain a grudge against the great athlete.
1 Among the French Protestants who replied to Bossuet, a conspicuous place was held by Claude, Jurieu, and Basnage. The asperity of Jurieu earned him an evil reputation, although he was a writer of no mean scholarship or ability. Claude, on the other hand, secured much esteem by his exemplary temper. Cardinal Bausset awards him a high encomium (Histoire de Bossuet, liv. v. § 4).
The efforts of Bossuet to drive out the lax casuistry of the age deserve a passing mention. It had been his intention to commit the assembly of 1682 to an explicit condemnation of probabilism and the related doctrines; but the act of the King in dissolving the assembly had forestalled his purpose. He did not forsake his design, however, and in the assembly of 1700 had the satisfaction of seeing it accomplished.
While Bossuet was the most powerful and commanding among the churchmen of the age of Louis XIV., he has claimed from subsequent generations only a divided attention. Fénelon has rivalled him in the degree in which he has engrossed their thought, and far surpassed him in the measure in which he has won their love.
Fénelon was for a time closely connected with the court as the educator of the King's grandson, the Duke of Burgundy. After 1695, he held the episcopal see of Cambray. As being a younger man than Bossuet, Fénelon at first reckoned himself in some sort as his disciple. But their minds were very diverse. In fact, they had little in common, except that both were men of conscience and devotion. Their educational methods were different. Bossuet, to whom the tuition of the Dauphin was intrusted, would prepare the scion of royalty for the sceptre by imbuing him with a becoming sense of the dignity of royalty. Fénelon would reach the same end by filling the mind of the prospective ruler with the sentiment that the true sovereign is the servant of the people, enthroned for their sakes, and not for his own pleasure. Bossuet was not unfriendly to that type of absolute rule which was illustrated by Louis XIV. The political ideal of Fénelon included marked limitations of the royal prerogative. The older theologian conceded to the State no inconsiderable right of supervision over the domain of the Church; the younger, inclining somewhat to Ultramontanism, preferred in this range to exalt the Pope rather than the King. In Bossuet's conception of religion, law held a prominent place; his moral code was austere; he emphasized greatly the demands of external order. Fénelon was altogether a prophet of the New Dispensation. Possessing a temper more Hellenic than Hebraic, disposed to see things chiefly in their amiable aspect, he contemplated religion under the guise of privilege, and regarded it as a pathway to the heart of God, where all selfishness is consumed and all desire is satisfied in the radiance and blessedness of a holy love. In a word, Fénelon was by impulse and conviction a mystic. As such, he naturally gave a wider sweep to the subjective side of religion than Bossuet's order of thought allowed.
Under ordinary circumstances, such a type of mysticism as was represented by Fénelon would probably have caused him no difficulty. But the recent condemnation in Italy of the mystical quietism of Molinos and his followers had aroused jealousy against the mystical school. The theological mind was in a suspicious mood, when it was found that an apostle of quietism was winning disciples in the heart of France. This was Madame Guyon, whose record makes such an enigma in religious history. One scarcely knows how to judge this aspiring representative of mystical devotion. On the one side, there is an appearance of unbridled extravagance. Not only did Madame Guyon teach that there is an exalted state, an abiding condition, in which the soul, absorbed in God, loses all self-motion and finds in Him the spring of its activity, but she explicitly and repeatedly claimed for herself the realization of this state. Moreover, she affirmed that she possessed the faculty of discerning spirits, so as to be apprised with unerring certainty of the spiritual state of those to whom her attention was directed. She believed also that she spoke often by the direct inspiration of God, and claimed that whole volumes were written by her under an overmastering and guiding impulse from above. A sufficient list of assumptions, surely, for a prophetess of the seventeenth century! But, on the other hand, there is such an outbreathing of lofty thoughts and feelings in the utterances of Madame Guyon, such devotion was exhibited by her, such meekness and gentleness through a long train of persecutions, that one cannot find it in his heart to accuse her of spiritual pride, or to doubt the habitual flight of her soul toward the inner circle of divine fellowship. She was sincere. The trouble was a too confident interpretation of her experiences, and a too ready proclamation of that interpretation,-a lack of the reserve which put a seal upon the lips of a Paul.
Madame Guyon had already experienced opposition, and suffered a brief term of imprisonment, when the attention of Bossuet was called to her case. This high-minded but imperious prelate, after some show of moderation, resolved upon a thorough suppression of the distinguished mystic and her doctrines. As an offset to her teachings, he prepared his "Instruction on the States of Orison." The tone of this treatise was decidedly disparaging to Madame Guyon, nor did the attack stop with criticism. The prison became her abode, until at length she was allowed to go forth under the restriction that she should lead a life of seclusion.
The censure visited upon Madame Guyon was but the prelude to an attack upon Fénelon. The Bishop of Meaux suspected that he was not duly orthodox in relation to mysticism, though he had subscribed a list of articles on the subject, after some changes, which he suggested, had been introduced (1695). Bossuet surmised also that he had a more friendly feeling toward Madame Guyon than was fitting. Herein he was not wholly mistaken, if his own views are allowed to be the standard. Fénelon, it is true, did not coincide with Madame Guyon in all respects. He took no account of her visions, or other extraordinary exercises. But, judging her rather according to the spirit which he found in her than according to the letter of her own testimonies, he believed her to be a woman of deep piety, and far from deserving the prison. His inward dissatisfaction with the prosecution at length found open manifestation. Rejecting the demand of Bossuet that he should subscribe to his "Instruction on the States of Orison," he published, on his own side, a defence or exposition of mysticism, entitled, "Explanation of the Maxims of the Saints on the Internal Life." The teaching of this treatise was no more extreme than is necessarily implied in the inculcation of the principle of disinterested love, -a love of God entirely for His own sake, --a supreme affection which casts out fear, and with it all solicitude for self. Fénelon did not deny the worth of a love which leaves some regard for self, provided the pleasure and the glory of God are the dominant interest. He taught also that the purely disinterested love is rarely attained so as to become habitual, and even then may be subject to interruptions. But it was enough that he had committed himself at all in favor of a disinterested love. His book was decried as eliminating hope, and thus blotting out one of the three theological virtues. Bossuet, sustained by the court, brought every means into requisition to humble the mystic and to condemn his teaching. As Fénelon appealed to the Pope(l697), an abundant pressure was brought to bear on the mind of the pontiff, culminating at last in the scandalous expedient of a downright threat from the French monarch, that the consequences would be far from agreeable to his Holiness if the desired decision was not rendered. Happily for Innocent XII., a condemnatory sentence had already been issued against Fénelon's book (1699), before the royal fiat had a chance to prove its virtue. The adverse sentence was received by the author with humility and submission.
No doubt the principle of disinterested love, as set forth by Fénelon, is somewhat strained, and a soul needs to be well balanced that attempts to soar to that transcendent height. Still it is a chilling reflection, that the authority which condemned this speculation of a most loving and devout spirit has virtually sanctioned such frigid and unchristian discourse on the love of God as is found in the books of casuistry. The only saving consideration is, that the condemnation of the "Maxims" was expressed in moderate terms, -that is, for the Roman vocabulary,-and that the Pope, if report may be trusted, rendered, in the course of the controversy, the very complimentary judgment, that Fénelon had erred from excess of love to God, whereas his antagonist had transgressed from lack of love to his neighbor.
1 "Erravit Camarensis excessu amoris Dei: peccavit Meldensis defectu amoris proximi." (Bausset, Histoire de Fénelon, liv. iii. § 67.) Griveau is disposed to question the authority for attributing this sentence to the Pope. (Étude sur la Condamnation du Livre des Maximes des Saints, tome ii. p. 193.)
Apart from the merits of the censured treatise, Fénelon appears as one of the most engaging among the mystical writers. He rises almost uniformly into the region of catholic thought and feeling, and presents a type of piety which may find a home wherever earnest religion is welcome. Hierarchy, sacraments, and penances are left so far in the background, that they scarcely at all obstruct the view. The ever recurring thought is that of entire abandon to God, a giving up of self so complete that even the reflex action of the surrender upon the emotional states of the subject passes out of consideration. Now and then a sentence inculcating this thought may seem to be too strongly worded. But it should be remembered that the mystical dialect, from the days of Paul and John to the present, has included expressions which were not meant for the mere logician.
The same fertile age which contributed a prince of the mystics furnished a pioneer of Biblical criticism. With an independence that was startling to the champions of tradition, Richard Simon applied his broad learning and acute understanding to the investigation of the books of Scripture. The first notable product of his study appeared in 1678, and was entitled a "Critical History of the Old Testament." In this work Simon made no attack upon the authority of the Bible. He allowed the inspiration of the various books. Aside from a rather emphatic view respecting the uncertainties of the text, the weight of his criticism fell upon traditional opinions about authorship. While he could not persuade himself that Moses wrote the whole of the Pentateuch, and found traces of a plural authorship in some other books, he allowed that the scribes had been divinely directed in the additions which they made to the primitive memorials. But his professed intent to conserve the authority of Scripture was an ineffectual shield. The "eagle of Meaux" was too sharp-eyed a watchman to overlook his adventurous opinions, and with characteristic decision appealed to the secular arm for the suppression of the offending book. Subsequent works of the industrious critic on the history of the text, the versions, and the commentators of the New Testament were scarcely more agreeable to Bossuet. He complained bitterly of the liberties which he took with renderings and opinions sanctified by long use, and reckoned it a special mark of a lawless mind that he allowed himself to be indebted, for various suggestions, to such heretics as Grotius and the Socinian exegetes.
Criticism of a more general and miscellaneous cast found an exponent in Peter Bayle, whose name is naturally suggested in this connection, though it lies beyond the limits which are here assigned to the Gallican Church. A Protestant by early education, like Gibbon and Tindal converted temporarily to Romanism, he soon returned to Protestantism, taught in the Huguenot seminary of Sedan, and on the extinction of this school by the decree of Louis XIV., found an asylum in Holland, where he was occupied mainly with the tasks of the author. He has been termed by some the later Montaigne. He certainly resembled the sprightly essayist in the free and independent way in which he descanted on various topics; he was, however, while possessing more logical force, less polished in style. His great work was the "Historical and Critical Dictionary" (1696). Martin has characterized it as "a learned chaos, threaded by innumerable flashes which render the darkness still blacker, an arsenal of doubt, in which are mingled all the truths and all the errors which have been current among mankind." 1 Martin, History of France, Age of Louis XIV., ii. 284.
The champion of no system and of no party, Bayle was both friend and foe of all things and all men. He wished to see nowhere a monopoly of praise or blame. He could say good words for Turks and Manichæans, and even had the hardihood to maintain that an atheist might be an honest man. The unbelievers of the next century found abundant weapons in his writings, but the same treasury was open to their opponents, and might have served them nearly as well. He was the incarnated spirit of contradiction. He contradicted, however, without excess of bitterness, and with a higher design than mere personal diversion. The events of his age and his own experience had inspired him with a horror of an intolerant bigotry; and he designed to further the interests of tolerance by showing how much uncertainty attaches to human beliefs.
1 Lenient, in his discriminating critique on Bayle, credits him with continuous fidelity to certain truths of religion. "The existence of God and of His providence, the immortality of the soul, and the future life, are facts which he admits a priori" (Étude sur Bayle, p. 62.)
Alongside the groups already depicted there is another, which is as well entitled as any of those named to fill the attention; for it played a conspicuous part in the ecclesiastical drama which was enacted under Louis XIV., and left an imperishable legacy, not only to the Gallican Church, but to the religious world at large. Judged very diversely in its own day, it is still the subject of widely contracted estimates. Recent writings show how powerfully the name of Jansenists incites either to eulogy or to invective, according to the sympathies of the reviewer.
Jansenism may be defined with reference to a number of aspects. Viewed on its negative side, it was anti-Jesuitism. Viewed on its positive and dogmatic side, it was a revival of the Augustinian doctrines of grace. As respects church polity, it sided with Gallican liberties, and was at the same time somewhat jealous of state control. As respects morals and life, it was the advocate of rigid self-discipline, the foe of luxury, the reprover of the theatre and of all doubtful pleasures. In point of ability and culture, it furnished some of the best minds of France, and produced some of the best models of literary excellence that came from the fruitful age of Louis XIV. While it was conscious of no disloyalty to Romanism, it had its points of affinity with Protestantism. The views of the Jansenists upon human inability and Divine sovereignty were by no means remote from those taught in the school of Calvin. In their opposition to a merely formal righteousness, in their advocacy of inner preparation in order to receive benefits from the sacraments, and in their stress upon the reading of the Scriptures, they stood near to Protestants in general. But they were themselves totally averse to acknowledging any sympathy or kinship with those who had broken the bonds of ecclesiastical unity. No pens were more industrious than theirs in attempts to undermine the foundation of Protestantism, and to discredit its doctrinal system. Their lips were as void of protests against the Dragonnades as were those of other parties in the Gallican Church. In truth, they hated Protestantism none the less because of their manifest approach to some of its principles. The very fact of such approach was productive of a species of animosity, inasmuch as it exposed them to a galling criticism.
The Jansenists found sympathy in a much wider circle than that which had any regard for their Augustinianism. Some favored them as able combatants against Jesuitism and Ultramontanism. Others were doubtless moved to favorable consideration by indications that they were not quite so ready as the majority to surrender everything to the absolute sovereignty of the King. This temper recommended them to many of the Parliamentarians. To the King it was, of course, the reverse of a recommendation. A supreme egotist, he could tolerate none who did not come before him with full censers. The intractable conscientiousness of the Jansenists inspired him with a deep and lasting dislike.
In looking for the origin of the party we need to carry back our review to the year 1588, when a Spanish Jesuit by the name of Louis Molina published a treatise on "The Concord of the Free Will with the Gifts of Grace." Views were expressed therein which were quite out of accord with Augustine and Aquinas. The Dominicans were forthwith ready with a charge of semi-Pelagianism. The Pope was urged to condemn the obnoxious teachings, but responded with a policy of delay and indecision. After the dispute had raged for some time, two young men, Cornelius Jansenius and Jean Duvergier (commonly called Saint Cyran), were incited to inquire into its merits. Their investigation led them to a very positive conviction that the Molinists were in the wrong. In the course of their researches a strong admiration was awakened in their minds for Augustine. The partiality of Jansenius for that theologian found expression in his, "Augustinus," a work to which he devoted many years. This was published in 1640, two years after the death of the author, who had been teaching at Louvain for a considerable period. The Augustinus was very odious to the Jesuits, as containing an emphatic reflection on the doctrines which they had harbored, and which a part at least of their society had earnestly championed. At their instigation, Urban VIII. condemned the work. Of more note in the controversy was the act of Innocent X, about eleven years later (1653), in condemning five propositions extracted, or pretended to have been extracted, from the work of Jansenius. These propositions were substantially as follows: (1) There are Divine precepts, for keeping which righteous men, though they may be willing and desirous to fulfill them, have not in the present the requisite ability or grace. (2) No one resists interior grace in the state of corrupt nature. (3) For merit or demerit in the fallen state, freedom from necessity is not required, but only freedom from constraint, (4) The semi-Pelagian heresy consisted in allowing grace to be such that the human will can resist it or comply with its influence. (5) To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men is to utter a semi-Pelagian error.
The Jansenists denied that the five propositions in the sense imputed were to be found in the work of Jansenius, and refused to regard the bull of Innocent as a condemnation of themselves, inasmuch as that bull was founded on an error with regard to facts. But Alexander VII., the Pope who succeeded Innocent, was very favorable to the Jesuits, and declared that the Five Propositions were taken from the book of Jansenius, and had been condemned in the sense of that author. In these straits, the Jansenists had no means of vindicating their cause save in the denial that the Pope is infallible in questions of fact. This certainly was not a violent supposition, and ought not to have been specially obnoxious to any party. It accorded with the teachings of the Gallicans, and the Ultramontanists could not well challenge it in the face of the notorious truth that various Popes had anathematized Honorius I. as an inculcator and patron of heresy. Still, the shifting of the controversy was not without a serious disadvantage to the Jansenists. To contend over the question whether a book contained certain propositions was not an inspiring task.
1 As to the merits of the question of fact, this much may be said. Since the work of Jansenius was an elaborate compound of history and speculation, there was room for a conscientious difference of opinion as to whether its teaching coincided with the Five Propositions, or with the sense attached to those propositions in the papal censures. It would be rash to charge the Jansenists with dishonesty in their denial. On the other hand, it must be allowed that the opposing party had ostensible ground for their allegation. The first of the condemned propositions appears almost word for word in the Angustinus (tom. iii. lib. iii. cap. 13). The remainder, so far as we have been able to discover, are not contained there in the exact form in which they are stated. However, representations are given which seem to imply an equivalent sense (tom. i lib. viii. cap. 3, 7; tom. ii. lib. iv. cap. 25; tom. iii. lib. ii. cap. 5, 25; tom. iii. lib. iii. cap. 1, 20; tom. iii. lib. vi. cap. 5, 6).
Before the condemnatory sentence had been received from Rome, persecution had commenced against the Jansenists. Their leader, Saint Cyran, fell under the displeasure of Richelieu, and was cast into prison as early as 1638. After the death of the despotic minister, he recovered his liberty, but was granted only a few months for its enjoyment before being ushered into a larger freedom (1643). The spirit of Saint Cyran had made, however, its indelible impress. He had a peculiar faculty of inspiring his associates with an austere enthusiasm. His unmerited sufferings only served to enlarge his influence. Through Angelique Arnauld, Abbess of Port Royal, his teachings and inflexible spirit obtained in that convent a sort of stronghold. A number of talented men also continued to cherish the decided impulse which they had received from him. In the neighborhood of Port Royal de Champs, about six leagues from Paris, they formed themselves into a religious and literary association. Among those who sojourned for a time at this celebrated seat, we find the names of Antoine Arnauld, brother of the Abbess, Nicole, Lemaitre, De Sacy, Fontaine, and Pascal. We may also add the names of Racine and Tillemont, who obtained in this retreat an important share of their education. Without subjecting themselves to regular monastic vows, the brethren lived a kind of monastic life in the neighborhood of the convent.
Meanwhile it became manifest that the enemies of the Jansenists had no design of contenting themselves with the simple condemnation of abstract propositions. In 1655 a nobleman was refused absolution because of friendly relations with the Port Royalists. As this called forth a spirited dissertation from Antoine Arnauld, who was henceforth a leading mind among the Jansenists, he was arraigned before the Sorbonne. His defence proved unavailing, and it seemed as though the Jesuits, who formed the main phalanx of the assailants, would carry matters with a high hand. But at this juncture a stroke fell upon them which brought confusion into their ranks. That stroke came from the hand of Blaise Pascal, and the instrument by which it was effected was the "Provincial Letters" (1656-57).
Pascal, a man in whom a genius for the exact sciences, literary talent, and a passionate religious devotion held equal place, had given marked demonstration of the first while yet he had scarcely reached the years of manhood. At the time that he set his hand to the Provincial Letters he was about thirty-three years of age. Religion was then the all-absorbing aim of his spirit. It was this which had led him shortly before to the Port Royal community.
In opening the Provincial Letters we are introduced to one of the most unique memorials of creative genius. No work of the modern era more forcibly reminds of the elasticity, strength, and fertility of mind which have immortalized the Platonic Dialogues. If the oft-repeated verdict of French critics can be accepted, no nearer approach, as respects language and style, to the ideal of French prose has ever been made. Thus Perrault says: "There is more wit in these eighteen letters than in Plato's Dialogues; more delicate and artful raillery than in those of Lucian; and more strength and ingenuity of reasoning than in the orations of Cicero. We have nothing more beautiful in this species of writing." 1 Quoted by M'Crie, Introduction to Translation of the Provincial Letters. It is from this spirited translation that the citations, which follow have been taken. Voltaire remarks: "The first work of genius that appeared in prose was the Provincial Letters. Herein may be found every species of eloquence. Though a hundred years have passed since its publication, not a single word in it has undergone the change to which all living languages are liable. ... The best comedies of Molière have not more wit in them than the first letters; Bossuet has nothing more sublime than the last ones." 2 Siècle de Louie XIV., chap. xxxii., xxxvii.
In these letters, Pascal assumes to give to a friend in the Provinces an account of the disputes of the day. The dialogue is much employed, especially in the first letters; assumed conversations are reported; the Jesuits are made to testify at length respecting their principles, and to bring forward extract after extract from the writings of their most noted casuists. For example, from Sanchez the following is quoted: "It is perfectly reasonable to hold that a man may fight a duel to save his life, his honor, or any considerable portion of his property, when it is apparent that there is a design to deprive him of these unjustly, by lawsuits and chicanery, and when there is no other way of preserving them. Navarre justly observes, that in such cases it is lawful either to accept or to send a challenge. The same author adds, that there is nothing to prevent one from despatching one's adversary in a private way. Indeed, in the circumstances referred to, it is advisable to avoid employing the method of the duel, if it is possible to settle the affair by privately killing our enemy." Again, Molina is quoted: "Judges may receive presents from parties when they are given them either for friendship's sake, or in gratitude for some former act of justice, or to induce them to give justice in future, or to oblige them to pay particular attention to their case, or to engage them to despatch it promptly." From Father Bauny is derived this luminous ides of justice: "A person asks a soldier to beat his neighbor, or to set fire to the barn of a man who has injured him. The question is, whether, in the absence of the soldier, the person who employed him to commit these outrages is bound to make reparation out of his own pocket for the damage that has followed. My opinion is that he is not. For none can be held bound to restitution, where there has been no violation of justice; and is justice violated by asking another to do us a favor?" The same writer also offers us a very liberal precept about falling in the way of temptation: "Any one may frequent profligate houses with the view of converting their unfortunate inmates, though the probability should be that he fall into sin, having often experienced that he has yielded to their fascinations. Some doctors do not approve of this opinion; yet I decidedly embrace the opinion which they controvert." Testimony is again taken from Sanchez, who teaches that a sorcerer who makes money by recourse simply to astrology and like means, ought to restore the money. -But one who employs diabolical arts, and thus puts himself to great trouble, ought not to be required to make restitution. The same author is also quoted on the doctrine of intention: "A man may swear that he never did such a thing (though he actually did it), meaning within himself that he did not do so on a certain day, or before he was born, or understanding any other such circumstance, while the words which he employs have no such sense as would discover his meaning. And that is very convenient in many cases, and quite innocent, when necessary or conducive to one's health, honor, or advantage."
A number of writers are cited on the question, When is one obliged to have an actual affection for God? "Suarez says, it is enough if one loves Him before being at the point of death, without determining the exact time. Vasquez, that it is sufficient even at the very point of death. Others, when one has received baptism. Others, again, when one is bound to exercise contrition. And others, on festival days. But our Father Castro Palao combats all these opinions, and with good reason. Hurtado de Mendoza insists that we are obliged to love God once a year; and that we ought to regard it as a great favor that we are not bound to do it oftener. But our Father Coninck thinks that we are bound to it only once in three or four years; Henriquez, once in five years; and Filiutius says that it is probable that we are not strictly bound to it even once in five years. Father Pinterau says, It was reasonable that, under the law of grace in the New Testament, God should relieve us from that troublesome and arduous obligation which existed under the law of bondage, to exercise an act of perfect contrition, in order to be justified; and that the place of this should be supplied by the sacraments, instituted in aid of an easier disposition. Otherwise, indeed, Christians, who are the children, would have no greater facility in gaining the good graces of their Father than the Jews, who were the slaves, had in obtaining the mercy of their Lord and Master." Here the wrath of Pascal overcomes his reserve, as well it might, and breaks forth in the exclamation: "This is the very climax of impiety. The price of the blood of Jesus Christ paid to obtain us a dispensation from loving Him! Before the incarnation, it seems, men were obliged to love God; but since 'God had so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son,' the world redeemed by Him is released from loving Him! Strange divinity of our days,-to dare to take off the 'anathema' which St. Paul denounces on those 'that love not the Lord Jesus'! To cancel the sentence of St. John, 'He that loveth me not abideth in death'! and that of Jesus Christ Himself, 'He that loveth me not keepeth not my precepts'!"
Pascal made out the case against the Jesuits with overwhelming evidence. The correctness and fairness of his citations have, indeed, been brought into question. But exceptions can properly be taken to only a few details. Any candid investigator who has looked into the old books of casuistry cannot fail to be impressed with the conspicuous fidelity with which Pascal has sought to express the exact opinions of the Jesuit teachers, not sparing any essential limitations by which they were accompanied. There is no good reason to doubt that his own statement of his method accords with the facts. "I am asked," he says, "if I myself have read all the books which I have cited. I reply, No. To do this I had need have passed a great part of my life in reading very bad books. But I have twice read Escobar throughout, and, for the others, I had some of my friends read them; but I have never used a single passage without having read it myself in the book quoted, without having examined the case in which it is brought forward, and without having read the preceding and subsequent context." Pensées, part ii. art. xvi. § 78.
Blame has been thrown upon Pascal for teaching that the whole Order of Jesuits had a settled design of corrupting society. This is an exaggerated statement of Pascal's teaching, quite unworthy of Voltaire, on whose authority it has industriously been repeated. 2 Siècle de Louis XIV., chap. xxxviii. In the very work in which he makes his onslaught upon Jesuit morals he says: "Know, then, that their object is not the corruption of manners, - that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them, - that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this. They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essential to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. . . . Accordingly, having to deal with persons of all classes, they find it necessary to have casuists cut out to match this diversity." 1 Letter v.
Attempts have been made to defend the Jesuits, on the ground that the bad maxims quoted by Pascal were not sanctioned by the whole Order, and that others of s very different tenor might be found in their writings. Pascal himself encountered such attempts. But he replied that the Order, far from discountenancing the offending works, had sanctioned their repeated publication.
2 Pascal very properly calls attention to this point in more than one instance. A society which claims to exercise a strict censorship over the writings of its members has a special responsibility for the published opinions of the individual. Such a censorship the Jesuits had from the start as is seen in the following provision of their Constitution: "Qui talento praeditus ad scribendos libros communi bono utiles, eos conscriberet in lucem edere non debet, nisi prius Praepositus Generalis eos videat, et aliorum etiam judicio et censurae subjiciat; ut, si ad aedificationem fore videbuntur, et non aliter in publicum prodeant." (Pars vii. cap. iv. § 11.)As respects the good maxims, he declared that they were no offset to the bad, inasmuch as, on the Jesuitical doctrine of probabilism, any individual could make his own choice of maxims, needing only the opinion of a respectable author to confirm his choice. Referring to some of the better sayings of their casuists, he says: "These testimonies, disjoined from the rest of your doctrine, may hoodwink those who know little about it; but we, who know better, put your principles and maxims together. You say, then, that Vasquez condemns murders; but what say you on the other side of the question, my reverend fathers? Why, 'that the probability of one sentiment does not hinder the probability of the opposite sentiment; and that it is warrantable to follow the less probable and less safe opinion, giving up the more probable and more safe one.' What follows from all this taken in connection, but that we have perfect freedom of conscience to adopt any one of these conflicting judgments which pleases us best? And what becomes of all the effect which you fondly anticipate from your quotations? It evaporates in smoke, for we have no more to do than to conjoin for your condemnation the maxims which you have disjoined for your exculpation. Why, then, produce those passages of your authors which I have not quoted to qualify those which I have quoted, as if the one could excuse the other? What right does that give you to call me an 'imposter'? Have I said that all your fathers are implicated in the same corruptions? Have I not, on the contrary, been at pains to show that your interest lay in having them of all different minds? Do you wish to kill your man? - here is Lessius for you. Are you inclined to spare him?-here ie Vasquez. Nobody need to go away in ill-humor, - nobody without the authority of a grave doctor. Lessius will talk to you like a heathen on homicide, and like a Christian, it may be, on charity. Vasquez, again, will descant like a heathen on charity, and like a Christian on homicide. But, by means of probabilism, which is held by both Vasquez and Lessius, and which renders all your opinions common property, they will lend their opinions to one another, and each will be found to absolve those who have acted according to principles which each of them has condemned." 1 Letter xiii.
Doubtless Pascal overlooked the connection of the loose casuistry with the system of the Romish Church. He did not duly weigh the incentive which came from the slavery and mechanism of the confessional. But otherwise, his critique was well-founded. It is no small item in support of his fairness, that a number of the doctrines which earned the lash of his irony still have currency in the standard works of the Order. Whoever doubts this needs only to read the writings of Lacroix, Liguori, and Gury, belonging respectively to the early part of the eighteenth century, the latter part of that century, and the middle of the present century. Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, was not, it is true, a member of the Order of Jesuits. It is right, nevertheless, to regard him as an exponent of their teaching. He built largely on the works of their casuists. His canonization (1839) has been claimed by them as a justification of their system of morals. Gury refers to him on almost every page. In a word, the laxer side of his teaching is simply the common Jesuitism which had been penned scores of times before his day. As respects the teachings of Liguori and Gury, the Jesuits are, indeed, largely shielded from criticism within the Romish communion. The one has been proclaimed by papal authority (1871) a doctor ecclesiae, a title which is explained to signify that any of his opinions may be followed without peril. The "Moral Theology" of the other has passed through more than a score of editions, is extensively used in Roman Catholic seminaries, and has all the sanction which goes with the fact of issue from the presses of the Propaganda at Rome. This may bind the judgment of one inside the circle of infallibility, and compel him to reproach Pascal as the vilifier of sound ethics. But obviously, to one outside it can only seem that the mirror of the Provincial Letters is now held up to the Roman Catholic Church at large, instead of giving back the lineaments of a single party.
Turning to these authors, we find them inculcating the doctrine of probabilism with only slight abatement. Liguori, it is true, was wavering on this question. While some Jesuits have recently claimed him as a representative of genuine probabilism, and he appears as such in various details, he seems in his final theory to have held the tenet in a restricted form. If Lacroix and Gury fall short of the doctrine of the more extreme among the old probabilists, they do not escape the essential taint of this prime dissolvent of moral obligation.
1 "Nos vero opinantes licitum esse sequi opinionem etiam minus probabilem libertati faventem, hanc apponimus restictionem, scilicet: modo ercessus probabilitatis sententiae tutioris non sit valde notabilis." (Gury, Theol. Moral., n. 60, edit. 1857.)On the subject of mental reservation there is little reason for preferring these later authors to those who wrote in the time of Sanchez and Escobar. Scarcely one of those whom Pascal impaled allowed a wider range to innocent lying than is given by Liguori and Gury.
2 "Amphibologia triplici modo esse potest: I. Quando verbum habet duplicem sensum, prout volo significat velle, et volare. II. Quando sermo duplicem sensum principalem habet, v. gr. hic liber est Petri, significare potest, quod Petrus sit libri dominus, aut sit libri auctor. III. Quando verba habent duplicem sensum, unum magis communem, alium minus, vel unum literalem, alium spiritualem . . . Sic quis interrogatus de aliquo, quod expedit celare, potest respondere, dico non, id est dico verbum non. Cardenas de hoc dubitat, sed, salvo meliori consilio, videtur immerito, cum verbum dico vere duplicem sensum habeat; significat enim proferre, et asserere, in nostro autem sensu dico idem est ac profero. His positis, certum est et commune apud omnes, quod ex justa causa licitum est uti aequivocatione modis expositis, et eam juramento firmare." (Liguori, Theol. Moral., lib. iii. tract. ii. dub. iv. n. 151.)The reverend casuists also grant a wide scope to private discretion in settling property rights, teaching very explicitly that servants who are insufficiently paid, and litigants, who are condemned in court to hand over moneys which are not truly owed, may obtain justice to themselves by clandestine compensation.
"Reus, aut testis, a judice non legitime interrogatus, potest jurare, se nescire crimen, quod revera scit; subintelligendo, nescire crimen, de quo legitime possit inquiri, vel nescire ad deponendam." (Ibid., n. 154.)
"Quaeritar an reus legitime interrogatus possit negare crimen, etiam cum juramento, si grave damnum ex confessione ipsi immineat? Negant Elbel cum D. Thom. et quidem probabilius, quia reus tenetur tunc pro communi bono damnum illud subire. Sed satis probabiliter, Lugo, Tamb., Sanch., Sporer item Elbel, Carden. cum Nav., Less., Sa et Fill. et aliis pluribus, dicunt posse reum, si sibi immineat poena mortis, vel carceris, aut exilii perpetui, amissionis omnium bonorum, triremium, et similis, negare crimen, etiam cum juramento (saltem sine peccato gravi), subintelligendo se non commisse guatenus teneatur illud fateri, modo sit spes vitandi poenam." (Ibid, n. 156.)
"Possunt uti restrictione late mentali omnes personae publice interrogatae de rebus suae fidei commissis; ut sunt secretarii, legati principum, duces exercituum, magistratus, advocati, medici, chirurgi, obstetrices. . . . Potest famulus jussu domini negare ipsum esse domi, quamvis adsit; quia talis locutio generatim est usu recepta ad significandum eum non esse domi quatenus videri possit." (Gury, Theol. Moral., n. 458.)
"Anna, cum adulterium commisisset, viro de hoc suspicanti et sciscitanti respondit prima vice, se matrimonium non fregisse; secunda vice, cum jam a peccato fuisset absoluta, respondit: Innocens sum a tali crimine. Tandem tertia vice, adhuc instante viro, adulterium prorsus negavit dixitque: non commissi intelligendo adulterium tale, quod tenear revelare seu: non commisi adulterium tibi revelandam. Quaeritur, An damnanda Anna? Responditur, In triplici memorato casu Anna a mendacio excusari potest." (Gury, Casus Conscientiae, p. 129, edit. 1865.)
1 Famuli non peccant, si sustentationem vel mercedem justam domino negante, utantur compensatione occulta, dummodo tamen alius modus non sit impetrandi; nec plus accipiatur, quam debetur; neque scandalum, aut aliud incommodum grave timeatur. (Liguori, lib. iii. tract. iii. dub. iv. n. 349.)Various other points might be mentioned in which the later writers repeat the likeness of the earlier. They speak of the obligation to love God in the same soulless fashion, and exhibit the same crude materialism in the measurement of sin. But enough has been said to confirm the impression that Pascal did not mistake the trend of Jesuitical casuistry.
"Qui vero in extrema egestate rem alienam consumpsit, ad nihil post usum rei tenetur, si nec spem habeat fore ut aliquando restituere possit, etsi postea ad meliorem perveniat conditionem." (Gury, Theol. Moral., n. 601.)
"Augustinus a judice damnatur ad solvendum Antonio debitum, quod contraxit quidem, sed quod certissime solvit. Obtemperat judicis sententiae coactus; sed mox, data occasione, occulta compensatione erga Antonium utitur. Quaeritur, An Augustinus potuerit compensatione uti? Responditur, De jure naturali Augustinus occulta compensatione uti potuit, si alio modo, quod suum est, repetere non potuerit. Nec obstat, quod judicis sententia, intervenerit. Judex enim non gaudet facultate tribuendi alicui id, quod suum non est." (Gury, Casus Cons., pp. 177, 178.)
The death of Pascal occurred about five years after the Provincial Letters were written. In this interval he composed his "Pensées," or thoughts on the topics of philosophy and religion. Though left in an incomplete state, this book reveals the same unique mind which glows through the Provincial Letters. Perhaps even more than in the earlier production one sees the man back of the writer, an energy of soul which expresses itself well because expression is a congenial means of relief. Not a little has been said respecting a skeptical vein in the Pensées. There is some ground for this line of remark, but important qualifications need to be noted. Cousin, who has made considerable account of this trait, is careful to state that it did not infringe upon the domain of religious conviction. "It is in philosophy," he says, "that Pascal is a skeptic, and not in religion. Indeed, it is because he is a skeptic in philosophy that he attaches himself the more closely to religion as the only refuge." 1 Des Pensées, Avant-Propos., 1844. Even as respects philosophy, too, Pascal's scepticism seems not to have been unmitigated. He does not so much challenge first principles here, as refer them back to the heart, to spontaneous belief, to intuition.
2 What else is the import of the following passage? "Nous connoissons la vérité, non-seulement par la raison, mais encore par le cœur; c´est de cette dernière mannière que nous connoissons les premiers, principes, et c´est en vain que le raisonnement, qui n´y a point de part, essaye de les combattre. Les pyrrhoniens, qui n'ont que cela pour objet, y travaillent inutilement. Nous savons que nous ne rêvons point, quelque impuissance où nous soyons de le prouver par raison. Cette impuissance ne conclut autre chose que la foiblesse de notre raison, mais non pas l'incertitude de toutes nos connoissances, comme ils le prétendent. Car la connoissance des premiers principes, comme qu´il y a espace, temps, mouvement, nombres, est aussi ferme qu´aucuune de celles que nos raissonnements nous donnent; et, c´est sur ces connoissances du cœur et de l´instinct qu´il faut que la raison s´appuie, et qu’elle y fonde tout son discours."
That the pen of Pascal served as a shield to the Jansenists cannot be questioned. While his exposure of Jesuit teaching had no immediate effect upon the intentions of the authorities, and an unseemly pressure was brought to bear upon the nuns of Port Royal, and upon others, to constrain their subscription to the papal sentence, it nevertheless created a public opinion which held back the instigators of persecution. As the Papacy in 1668, in the person of Clement IX., assumed a less exacting position, allowing a formula of subscription which did not so definitely charge Jansenius with heresy, comparative peace was established. Arnauld was, indeed, compelled to spend his last years in exile; but the Jansenists as a body suffered little molestation for the remainder of the century.
At the beginning of the next century, however, a case of conscience, which passed from the confessional to the consideration of the Sorbonne, reopened the miserable controversy on the question of fact. The Pope, Clement XI., now fully enlisted in favor of the Molinist or Jesuitical party, refused to remain on the ground of the pacification of his predecessor, and renewed (1705) the severest constitutions which had been promulgated against the Jansenists. Port Royal de Champs was laid utterly waste (1709), the nuns were banished to other convents, and even the bones of the dead were exhumed and transferred to other resting-places. The "Moral Reflections" of Quesnel, censured rather ineffectually, a few years before, as tinged with Jansenism, was assailed in 1713 by Clement XI. in the famous bull Unigenitus, and one hundred and one of its propositions were condemned. The censuring of some of these propositions would not have been specially discreditable to the Roman tribunal, had it not still kept up the vain pretence of honoring Augustine as a great theological authority. But there were other sentences in the list which were by no means so ill deserving, and whose formal reprobation was an assault upon common morality and religion. On the whole, the bull Unigenitus must be pronounced a rather disgraceful explosion of infallibility. Among the condemned propositions were the following:-
44. "There are but two loves, from which spring all our volitions and all our actions: the love of God, which does everything for His sake, and which He rewards; and the love of ourselves and the world, which does not refer to God that which ought to be referred to Him, and which for that very reason becomes evil."
54. "It is charity alone that speaks to God; it is to charity alone that God listens."
79. "It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for all classes of persons, to study Holy Scripture, and to become familiar with its spirit and its mysteries."
91. "The fear of an unjust excommunication ought never to hinder us from doing our duty. We are not severed from the Church, even when we appear to be cast out of it by the wickedness of men, so long as we are united to God, to Christ, and likewise to the Church, by means of charity."
94. "Nothing gives a worse opinion of the Church to its enemies, than to see tyranny exercised therein over the faith of the faithful, and division encountered for the sake of things which injure neither faith nor morals." 1 W. H. Jervis, History of the Church of France, ii.pp. 213-215.
Most of the French bishops subscribed to the bull Unigenitus. Cardinal de Noailles, Archbishop of Paris, honored himself and atoned for previous inconstancy by a steadfast opposition for a number of years, and only gave way when the imbecility of age had slackened his vigor. Fifteen bishops shared his determination. In other ranks a much larger percentage was enrolled in the opposition, not because they had any special regard for Jansenism pure and simple, but because they detested Ultramontanism. Several universities, a number of the religious orders, a large proportion of the parochial clergy and of the more intelligent citizens, supported the protest against an unqualified acceptance of the Unigenitus. Means were thus found for prolonging the struggle into the next reign. But Jensenism had seen its best days. In the later times its religious earnestness succumbed to political finesse, or was corrupted by superstitious enthusiasms.
In our glance at the Gallican Church, we omit the departments of philosophy and dogmatics, as the consideration of these belongs more appropriately to doctrinal history. The names of Descartes and Malebranche, on the one hand, and of Thomassin and Petau (or Petavius), on the other, indicate the main achievements in these fields. Respecting Descartes, however, it is to be noticed that his association with the reign of Louis XIV. was more through the medium of his system of thought than through personal connection. During most of his philosophical career, which ended in 1650, he dwelt upon foreign soil.