The Roman Catholic Church In The Time Of The Reformation
No other society known to history has so clothed itself with honor and dishonor. Soon after its establishment, it was found to be a unique blending of good and evil; and such it has been ever since. In the Jesuits we see marks of liberality joined with intense bigotry, more than average enlightenment in union with rank fanaticism, astonishing self-sacrifice combined with the most artful endeavors after self-aggrandizement. Their fortunes have been as mixed as their moral record. They have figured alternately as the Isaac and the Ishmael of the ecclesiastical household; one day favored sons, the next wandering outcasts; at one time the preferred counselors of popes and princes, at another the object of their censure and proscription. Their foes have not been found in one church, but in all churches. Roman Catholic countries have scored more decrees against them than have Protestant nations. The sharpest criticisms and most cutting satires which have assailed the Society have emanated from Romish authors.
Apologists for the Jesuits have confessed the exceptional odium which has fallen to the lot of the Order. In some instances they have distinctly advertised their recognition of the historical fact by prefacing their works with the Scriptural sentence, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." A discreet application of Scripture, surely, for the followers of Loyola! But how can the Roman Catholic allow it to stand, when he reflects that from the precincts of his own communion the Jesuits have received as much anathema as benediction? He must naturally be led to look elsewhere for an explanation of the unusual measure of censure and Proscription. And it is not necessary to look far. One supreme fact affords the major part of the explanation. The Jesuits in their central idea and essential spirit are the Pretorian Guard of ecclesiastical monarchy and spiritual despotism. They are and always have been the standing army of Ultramontanism.
1 Counter manifestations have been only as eddies in a current, and are sufficiently explained by special causes.As often, therefore, as a Roman Catholic people has displayed a quickened national feeling or incentive to independence, it has felt that the Jesuit was in the way, a foe to every movement that might not be in harmony with abject obeisance at the footstool of Peter.
1 Joseph II. of Austria spoke as an exponent of this feeling when, in 1773, he then described the Order: "An institution which the heated imagination of a Spanish veteran contrived for the purpose of bringing the mind of man under one tyrant, and reducing all to be slaves of the Lateran." (Quoted in History of the Protestant Church in Hungary, translated by J. Craig.)Prized for the pressing exigency, the time of special conflict with exterior foes, his presence, like that of the armed soldier in a republic, has often been felt as a menace after the passing away of the crisis.
1. THE RISE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE ORDER.
"In the year 1537, three men craved audience of the Pope. The spokesman of the party was a Spaniard; rather short of stature, complexion olive dark; eyes deep-set, but full of fire, broad forehead, nose aquiline; he limps, but it is scarcely perceptible." 2 Steinmetz, History of the Jesuits, i. 138. Such is the description of Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, or Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits.
Early inducted into the use of arms, Loyola partook largely of that spirit of knighthood which his countrymen more than any other nation of Europe had continued to foster. His ideal was that of the mediæval warrior. The trophies of the battle-field, and the smile and the homage which his deeds of valor might win from some fair divinity, were the prizes upon which his imagination dwelt most vividly. He was still full of this spirit of romance and chivalry, when a wound which he received while engaged in the defence of Pampeluna against the French (1521) put an end to his visions of martial glory. A confirmed lameness, as the result of his wound, inclined him to turn his ambition into a new field. The legends of the saints which he read during his convalescence taught him that honor was to be won in a religious as well as in a worldly profession. More from the desire of emulating the deeds and gaining the renown of a Francis or a Dominic, than from any profound religious emotions, he consecrated himself to the ascetic life. Having deposited his arms in the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat, Loyola sought a religious retreat in Manresa. During his sojourn in this place, he is supposed to have outlined the Spiritual Exercises, which, in their perfected form, embraced a long series of meditations, designed to stimulate and guide the religious imagination, and to develop a peculiarly enthusiastic type of piety. If he had entered upon the new order of life without deep religious convictions, Loyola was not destined to proceed far without such incentives. Meditation and introspection stirred up his conscience, and a sense of his sins drove him wellnigh to despair. The cure to which he resorted was not like that of Luther in a similar exigency. He resolved finally to banish his disturbing thoughts as a persecution of Satan, and, instead of turning to the Scriptures and the free grace which they disclose, he turned to the visions of his ardent fancy and to works of self-denial, as the source of his confidence before God.
After a brief and fruitless sojourn in Palestine, Loyola studied for several years in Spain, where he was treated with little regard and much suspicion. The interval between 1528 and 1537 was spent mainly in the prosecution of his studies in Paris. Here was gathered the nucleus of the future Society. His unfailing enthusiasm and inborn spirit of leadership attracted to Loyola several men of ability. Six united with him (1534) in a vow of special service to the Church. These were the four Spaniards, Francis Xavier, James Laynez, Alphonse Salmeron, and Nicholas Bobadilla, the Portuguese, Simon Rodriguez, and the Savoyard, Peter Faber. To this group were added, before the year 1537, three others, namely, Claude le Jay, John Codure, and Paschase Brouet. It was their intention on leaving Paris in 1537 to embark from Venice for the Holy Land. But they were prevented from doing this by a war with the Turks. Loyola and his comrades, therefore, presented themselves before the Pope, and prayed him to sanction their project for a new order. The Pope gave his sanction in 1540, and renewed it, with less restrictions, three years later.
The Jesuits were not designed to be a body of recluses, consuming the greater part of their time and energies in the devotions of the cloister. They were designed for the world, for conquest, for propagandism, for the promotion of the Roman Catholic Church by every species of practical effort. They were to serve as an instrument of tremendous practical efficiency.
At every point this leading design revealed itself. It might be observed in the appearance and the occupation of the members. They were not obliged to conform to a special style of dress characteristic of the monastic profession. 1 Constitutiones Societatis Jesu, pars vi. cap, ii. § 15. Except during a portion of the season of preliminary training, they were not required to spend a great length of time in devotions. Bodily macerations were to be practised with moderation.
1 "Corporis castigatio immoderata esse non debet, nec indiscreta in vigiliis et abstinentiis, et allis poenitentiis ac laboribus externis; quae et nocumentum afferre, et majora bona impedire solent." (Const., pars iii.cap. ii. § 5.)The chief stress was laid upon work bearing upon men and upon society, upon preaching, hearing confessions, instructing the youth, and winning converts by an effective use of personal influence. Indeed, the Jesuits can scarcely be reckoned among monastic orders.
2 Suarez, a distinguished member, aptly described the Society when he said, "Est quorundam militum societas."
The aim at practical efficiency was made to appear also in the choice of members. Attractive looks and manners were far from being counted matters of indifference.
3 Species honesta is distinctly mentioned among desirable qualifications. (Const., pars i. cap. ii. §§ 3, 10.) Wealth and noble rank are described as desirable adjuncts, though not by themselves adequate recommendations. (Ibid., § 13.)Fervent piety was valued as a most useful stimulant to a persevering employment of personal abilities, but mere piety was a small recommendation to membership. Special abilities and aptitudes were counted of prime importance; indeed, the emphasis upon these qualifications was carried so far that friends of the Order began to fear that piety within its ranks would be placed at a discount. The first generation in the history of the Order was hardly completed when the General, Francis Borgia, found occasion to write as follows: "Truly, if, disregarding the inner vocation and spirit of the candidate, we make account only of his literary attainments, his opportunities, and his bodily accomplishments, the time will come when the Society will find itself indeed much occupied with literature, but without any zeal for virtue, and pride will have free rein, with no one to hold it in check. ... Therefore let this be the foremost counsel and hold the leading place, lest experience shall at length teach that which the mind deduces by reasoning. And would that, before now, undeniable experience had not more than once taught all this."
1 "Atque utinam jam non ante hoc totum experientia ipsa saepius testata docuisset." (Quoted by Steinmetz, ii. 518, 319.)That the Jesuits afterwards thought it necessary to falsify the text of this part of their General's message must be regarded as the very opposite of an evidence against the tendency which it specifies.
The general organization of the Society also reveals, in a signal manner, the great, leading design of practical efficiency. A government at once more strong and more flexible could not well be conceived. It is made especially strong by the prominence given in its whole scheme to the duty of obedience, by the care taken to prevent the admission of any who would not be likely to imbibe the spirit of the Order, by the extensive prerogatives assigned to the General, and by the close relations established between him and his subordinates. At the same time, though there is no lack of regulations specified in the written Constitution, the General has so large a dispensing or discretionary power that he can readily provide for exceptional cases, and so manage affairs as to suit present demand.
The General is elected for life, and is practically the autocrat of the Society, though in certain specified cases he may be deposed by the General Congregation. This body elects five Assistants (primarily four), who serve as the General's cabinet; also the Admonisher, "whose duty it is ever to be by the side of the General, like the personification of a pursuing conscience," and the Confessor. Aside from these officers, the whole official patronage is in the hands of the General. Under him are the Provincials or heads of provinces, appointed for a term of years. Below the Provincials are the Rectors of colleges, the Superiors of the houses of the Professed, etc. The Rectors and Superiors, if dwelling in Europe, are required to report in writing every week to the Provincial. The Provincial must report once a month to the General, who has his official residence in Rome. To guard against any possible suppression of facts on the part of the Provincial, all Rectors, Superiors, and Masters of Novitiates are bound to report to the General himself once in three months. In view of such connections, it is no exaggerated metaphor which speaks of the Order of Jesuits as a sword whose hilt is at Rome and whose point is everywhere.
The first stage in preparation for membership is a novitiate of two years. The training during this interval is directed rather to religious than to intellectual results. The candidate is disciplined in obedience by the performance of menial offices, and in devotion by much exercise in meditation and self-examination. Great pains are taken to eliminate every item of insubordination and to penetrate the individual with the spirit of the Order. To this end, no communication is allowed with the outside world, not even with the nearest relatives, except under the close supervision of a Superior. A part of the Novices, not being destined to the priesthood, pass on to the secular wing of the Society, and are ranked with the Temporal Coadjutors, who conduct the different forms of manual industry which are needed in the various establishments. After a considerable term of service, the Temporal Coadjutor takes the public vows and has formatus added to his title. The remainder of the Novices pass from the first stage of their probation into the class of approved Scholars or Scholastics (Scholastici approbati), at which time they take the simple as distinguished from the solemn vows. The solemn vows are taken only by the Professed. The simple vows obligate the candidate, so far as he is concerned, to continue in the Society, and in the practice of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but do not bind the Society to regard his membership as a finality. The Scholastics pass through an extended course of study, commencing with the classics, proceeding through mathematics, ethics, philosophy, logic, physics, metaphysics, and ending with scholastic theology. Meanwhile this class includes masters as well as scholars proper, their service being much used in teaching. The Scholastic at his ordination becomes a Spiritual Coadjutor. When he takes his public vows he completes his standing as Coadjutor (receiving the title Coadjutor Spiritualis formatus), or passes into one or the other division of the Professed. Besides engaging in preaching and instruction, the Spiritual Coadjutors share in the administration of colleges and residences. The Professed Fathers of the three vows, differ little in their functions from the Spiritual Coadjutors. They are the least numerous of all the ranks. The Professed Fathers of the four vows are a select class, the core of the Order, who take, in addition to the threefold monastic vow, a fourth vow of unhesitating obedience to the Pope in relation to missionary work. The higher officials all come from their midst, --the General, the Assistants, the Provincials. They also compose the Congregation, which chooses the General and the Assistants. Only a moderate fraction of the Society is admitted to this supreme rank.
The question has been raised whether the scheme of the Jesuits provides for occult affiliation. A discriminating writer remarks on this subject as follows: "The Jesuits have on all occasions stoutly denied the existence of a clandestine grade of membership; but we are not acquainted with any writer of the Order who has effectually grappled with the particular texts and incidents which can be pointed to as giving color to the allegation that to affiliate by secret profession, and to allow those thus affiliated to live in the guise of seculars, is neither contrary to the letter of the rules, nor has been absolutely foreign to the practice of the Order."
1 W. C. Cartwright, Constitution and Teaching of the Jesuits, p. 40. Mr. Cartwright notes the concession of a Roman Catholic critic, that a very few cases of secret affiliation, beside that of Borgia, have occurred (p. 47).As the written regulations for the Professed of the three vows do not involve very definite limitations, it has been surmised that secret affiliation, if in reality it has place, is connected with this class.
2. ACHIEVEMENTS AND REVERSES. --The Jesuits marched at once to victory. New recruits sought admission to the Order. Numerous colleges arose under its supervision. By the death of Loyola, in 1556, the Order numbered thirteen provinces and a thousand members, and had laid the foundation of great missionary enterprises. At the celebration of its first centennial, it could boast of more than thirteen thousand members and thirty-two provinces. In the Roman Catholic reaction, which turned back the tide of a victorious Protestantism, the Jesuits were leading agents. Other orders, to be sure, participated in that great uprising of the mediæval Church. The Capuchins, a branch of the Franciscans, labored with marked zeal. But no other order wrought with such wide-spread effect as the Jesuits. In some instances, they urged on the temporal power to measures of persecution and repression. They were eager allies of the League in its designs to exterminate the Huguenots. Their agents were prominent instigators of the armed invasion which was expected to destroy Protestant rule in England. They were in the ascendant at the Bavarian and Austrian courts when Protestantism was forced out of Southern Germany, and stirred up and sustained the aggressive spirit which precipitated the Thirty Years' War. But they also made extensive use of more creditable weapons. In particular, their service in teaching, which was given gratuitously, was made an effective means of propagandism. While they have been outstripped in later times, and are no longer conspicuous for their educational methods,they surpassed all rivals in their early days. Much account was made by them of the preliminary and intermediate stages in training. Interest was stimulated by the offer of prizes. Repetition of exercises was prescribed, in order to give the student a facile management of his acquisitions. In general, a system was employed which, if it did not develop the pupil most fully, made him ready and expert in the use of his abilities. This naturally won patronage. The sons of the nobility in great numbers became attendants at the schools of the Jesuits. Of course, in the majority of instances they graduated from such tuition as zealous Romanists.
In estimating the missionary successes of the Jesuits a good degree of caution is needed. Many of the accounts which have come from the Oriental field seem to have reached the West by the way of Crete. The large figures given are not sufficiently accredited. And even were they adequately vouched for, they would still afford a very indefinite measure of results; for those numbered as converts were in too many instances little better than whitewashed heathen. Still, it is to be allowed that the missionary successes of the Jesuits were remarkable.
Francis Xavier, the first great apostle of the Jesuits in the foreign field, has fitly been styled the Alexander of missions. More ambitious for breadth than for completeness of conquest, restless, devoted, armed with unusual powers of address and persuasion, he pushed his labors over a vast stretch of territory, and left his impress upon widely separated regions. A beginning was made by him in India in connection with the Portuguese settlement at Goa. Thence he proceeded to different parts of the country, as well as to the adjacent islands. His success among the Indian populations was not such as to be specially gratifying. To be sure, he speaks of baptizing whole villages in a single day, 1 Letter of Dec. 31, 1543, quoted by H. J. Coleridge, Life and Letters of Francis Xavier, 2d ed. and testifies that in a certain district he applied the rite to more than ten thousand within the space of a month. 2 Letter of Jan. 27, 1545. But how substantial were these acquisitions? Let his own words testify. We find him at a later date writing to his co-laborers in this strain: "Trust my experience; all of any moment that we can do among this nation, all that is worth our labor, comes in the end to these two kinds of service, baptizing infants and teaching the children who have any capacity of learning." 3 Letter of February, 1548. Equally significant are the words which he addressed to Ignatius Loyola: "The whole race of the Indians, as far as I have been able to see, is very barbarous; and it does not like to listen to anything that is not agreeable to its own manners and customs. It troubles itself very little to learn anything about divine things rind things which concern salvation. ... The natives are so enormously addicted to vice as to be little adapted to receive the Christian religion. They so dislike it that it is most difficult to get them to hear us if we begin to speak about it, and they think it like death to be asked to become Christians. So, for the present, we devote ourselves to keeping the Christians whom we have." 1 Letter of Jan. 14, 1549.
It was in Japan that the energetic and gifted missionary left the best monument of his evangelistic enterprise. Xavier himself complimented the Japanese as the most intelligent, receptive, and steadfast of the heathen that he had visited.
1 "The Japanese are certainly of remarkably good dispositions, and follow reason wonderfully." (Letter of July, 1551.) "As I perceive in the Japanese a happy disposition for approving the Christian religion when sufficiently explained to them, and for persevering with constancy therein when they have received it, as well as handing it on to their posterity, I think that even the greatest labor would be well employed in cultivating them." (Letter of Jan. 29, 1552.)A Christian Church arose and reached a flourishing condition, when it was ruined by a persecution which raged fiercely at intervals during a period of fifty years (1587-1637). If accounts may be trusted, a hundred Jesuits lost their lives, and native Christians were slaughtered by the hundred thousand. This outbreak of violence is not without an explanation. The Japanese government had, in fact, considerable grounds of jealousy. Some of the subordinate rulers who espoused Christianity became intolerant of the heathen religion, destroying its temples, banishing its priests, and forcing their subjects to adopt the Christian worship.
2 The evidence for these facts comes in large part from the missionaries themselves, and not merely from the testimony of opponents. (Charlevoix, Histoire du Japon. See also Rein, Dixon, and Griffis on Japan.)The desire of different classes of Europeans to save to themselves a favored place naturally helped the suspicion of the Emperor. The Portuguese were not willing that the Spaniards should have the preference; while English and Dutch voyagers, fresh from the memories of deadly strife with the Papal Church at home, had no disposition to recommend it to the Japanese. These causes united precipitated the persecution.
Xavier's ten years' career in the East was brought to an end by death, in 1552, as he was about to set foot within the borders of China. Naturally, the characteristic pride of the Jesuits over the exploits of their heroes has been exhibited to an extraordinary degree over his career. Eulogy, in fact, has been carried to an extreme which passes over into caricature. The moment we step away from authentic documents we sink into a bottomless ooze of the fabulous. The letters of Xavier give the real picture of the missionary. We see mirrored therein, not a man of great intellectual breadth or high religious intelligence, but a man of great enterprise and most ardent devotion, and withal endowed with a good share of keen practical sense.
The successors of Xavier in India were scarcely inferior to him in zeal. In expedients they outranked him. For the sake of gaining converts, great concessions were made to the prejudices, customs, and beliefs of the natives. Some even went to the length of subjecting themselves to the caste system of the Hindoos. Nobili, a distinguished Jesuit, and several others, assumed the habit and life of Brahmins. Some allied themselves with the opposite extreme of society, and became identified with the despised Pariahs. On these strange expedients the Rev. W.S. Mackay has commented as follows: "The high-born Robert de' Nobili and the martyred Britto, Father Tachard and Bishop Lainez, Fathers Bouchet, Martin, Turpin, De Bourges, Mauduit, Calmette, the learned Beschi, the noble De la Fontaine, and the veteran Père Le Gac, in a word, every Jesuit who entered within these unholy bounds [Madura], bade adieu to principle and truth,--all became perjured imposters; and the lives of all ever afterwards were but one long, persevering, toilsome lie. Upon the success of a lie their mission depended. Its discovery -- we have it under their own hands -- was fraught with certain and irremediable ruin. Yet they persevered. Suspected by the heathen, they persevered. Through toils, austerities, and mortifications, almost intolerable to human nature, disowned and refused communion by their own brother missionaries, condemned by their own General, stricken by Pope after Pope with the thunders of the Vatican, knowing that the apostolic damnation had gone forth against all who do evil that good may come,'-yet they persevered. For one hundred and fifty years was enacted this prodigious falsehood, continually spreading and swelling into more portentous dimensions, and engulfing within its fatal vortex zeal, talents, self-denial, and devotion, unsurpassed in modern times. Men calling themselves the servants of the true God went forth clad in the armor of hell; and, sowing perjury and falsehood, they expected to reap holiness and truth." 1 Quoted by Steinmetz, iii. 491, 492.
As indicated by the above, the broad concessions made to heathenism by the Jesuits met with disapprobation in their own Church,-- a disapprobation which finally deepened into unmistakable prohibition. But the representatives of the Order in the Orient generally, in China as well as in India, were pertinacious in the policy of accommodation. Pleading that the conceded rites had a civil rather than a religious import, they were slow to yield assent to commands which their Constitution bound them to accept with ready submission. As late a Pope as Benedict XIV. found occasion (1741-1744) to issue the most decisive decrees against the obnoxious practices.
In China, where the Jesuits found entrance about thirty years after the death of Xavier, they won a great number of converts. Aside from their approximation to heathen customs, they were greatly aided in that country by their knowledge of science. The teachings and inventions of such geniuses as Ricci and Adam Schall made them great favorites, even at the imperial court. The native Christians in China are said to have numbered several hundred thousand before the close of the seventeenth century.
In South America, also, the Jesuits won remarkable trophies of missionary activity. They began early to labor in Brazil and Peru. Thence, in the later years of the sixteenth century, they advanced to Paraguay. Here in the next century they built up a kind of theocracy. Sheltered in large measure from the interference of the neighboring Spaniards, whom they justly regarded as foes to the welfare and improvement of the Indians, they endeavored to mould them into a civilized commonwealth. Gathering the natives into villages, called reductions, they exercised over them a minute supervision, religious, civil, and industrial. At one time there were thirty or more reductions, comprising between one and two hundred thousand inhabitants. The condition of these subjects of the Jesuits, while not so ideal as has sometimes been represented, was no doubt paradise compared with the slavish lot which fell to them under the ordinary Spanish rule; and it may be allowed that the régime was not ill-suited to a state of transition from barbarism to civilization; but, of course, a tutelage so minute and patronizing cannot be commended, except as a temporary expedient. The Jesuit government in Paraguay continued beyond the middle of the eighteenth century, but was finally overthrown by Spanish interference. The armed resistance which the reductions had presented to the scheme of Spain and Portugal in running a boundary through their precincts (1750-1758) had greatly prejudiced the standing of their priestly superintendents.
The Jesuits shared conspicuously in the missionary labors conducted among the North American Indians. In no field were their sacrifices greater in proportion to their successes. The names of Brébeuf, Jogues, Garnier, Lallemant, Daniel, and others, who labored in the first half of the seventeenth century among the fierce northern tribes, are justly treasured in the records of martyr courage and steadfastness. Their zeal, it is true, was sufficiently mixed with superstition. No less than the untutored savages, they believed in magical charms, as may be judged from their painful and, oft times crafty diligence to apply the baptismal water to dying infants. But a generous mind will have little interest to measure the sand that was mixed with the gold. The patience and heroism of these evangelists, who exchanged the civilization of France for the hospitality of savages and the pains of martyrdom, must ever command sympathy and respect. That a larger harvest was not won by them was due to no lack of skill or devotion on their part. To bring the intractable Indian under the yoke was no easy task. Moreover, there was a special and most formidable obstacle in the way of success. Inter-tribal warfare, urged on by the incarnate fury of the Iroquois, blasted their most hopeful undertakings. Thus the work among the Hurons was ruined. After the lapse of a century we find, aside from some slight amelioration of barbaric asperity in unconverted tribes, the results of all the heroic toil of the Jesuits summed up in "the obedient Catholicity of a few hundred tamed savages gathered at stationary missions in various parts of Canada." 1 Parkman, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, 22d edition, p. 320.
To some peculiar natures the life among the wild men of the forest, however much of sacrifice it may have involved at the outset, became at last positively attractive. Thus we find one giving this enthusiastic description: "My friend, you know not what it is to be the king- almost even the God -- of a number of men, who owe you the small portion of happiness they enjoy, and who are ever assiduous in assuring you of their gratitude. After they have been ranging through immense forests, they return overcome with fatigue, and fainting. If they have killed but one piece of game, for whom do you suppose it is intended? It is for the Father, -- for it is thus they call us; and indeed they are really our children. Their dissensions are suspended at our appearance. A sovereign does not rest in greater safety in the midst of his guards, than we do surrounded by our savages. It is amongst them that I will go and end my days." 2 Steinmetz, ii. 21, 22
The reverses of the Jesuits have been on a scale corresponding with their successes. Before the death of Loyola, they were denounced by the University and Parliament of Paris. 1 De Thou, lib. xxxvii.; Crétineau-Joly, Histoire de la Compagnie de Jésus, i. 308-320. They were driven out of England, under the severest penalties, in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Toward the close of the same century they suffered a very trying crisis on the Continent, brought on by national jealousies within the Order, the desire of a considerable faction to limit the absolute power of the General, and the hostility of the Dominicans. All the skill and energy of an Aquaviva, one of the ablest generals that ever ruled the Order, were required to allay the storm. They suffered a temporary banishment from France under Henry IV. A banishment from Venice occurred at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Soon after the middle of the eighteenth century they were banished from Portugal, France, and Spain, their heavy mercantile speculations and management at court having brought them into great disfavor. Distinct tokens of papal disapprobation were mixed at intervals with the enormous privileges bestowed upon the Jesuits. Sixtus V. was minded to bring down their pride a few degrees. Expressing an intense dislike of their name, he exclaimed, "Society of Jesus! ah indeed! What kind of men are these fathers, that one cannot name them except with uncovered head!" The obnoxious title, he asserted, must be relinquished. The sons of Loyola might call themselves Jesuits, but that they should subscribe themselves the Society of Jesus was intolerable. A decree expressing his pleasure in the matter received the signature of Aquaviva, and nothing but the timely death of the Pope (1590) prevented its authoritative promulgation. 1 Buss, Die Gesellschaft Jesu, ii. 872, 873. Innocent XI., in 1679, published a list of forbidden propositions, in which he plainly meant to stamp some of the characteristic teachings of the Jesuits with the apostolic malediction. At length, in 1773, Clement XIV. declared the Order dissolved, and it remained without a legal existence, in most regions, until 1814. Since its restoration, it has been banished for a longer or shorter time from Italy, Spain, France, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, Bavaria, Austria, the German Empire, and various Roman Catholic States in America.
In the literary field also the Order has received severe handling. In 1610 caustic animadversions upon Jesuit principles were published under the title "Anti-Cotton." Two years later appeared the cutting satire, "Monita Secreta Societatis Jesu," a treatise which may be pronounced a shade too clever, since its satirical intent was not so manifest but that some have taken it for a genuine specimen of secret counsels. A little less than a half-century later there was issued the most scathing of all anti-Jesuit writings, the "Provincial Letters," one of the products of Pascal's genius. Individual criticisms from Roman Catholic sources have been scattered all along the history of the Order. As one of the earliest specimens, we may quote the language of the distinguished Spanish theologian, Melchior Cano. "Would to God," he wrote in 1560, "that I might not incur the same fate which fable imputes to Cassandra, whose predictions no one would believe till Troy had been taken and burned. If the members of the Society continue as they have begun, God grant that the time may not come when kings will wish to resist them, and will find no means of doing so."
1 Crétineau-Joly, i. 290 Melchior Cano gave also an account of the unfavorable impression made upon him by Ignatius Loyola during a personal interview at Rome. "Multa etiam et magna praedicabat de revelationibus quas divinitùs habuisset, idque nullâ ejus rei necessitate; quae fuit occasio cur eum pro homine vano haberem, nec de revelationibus suis quicquam ei crederem" (Bayle, Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, ii., 1737, art. sur Loyola.)
3. PRINCIPLES AND CONDUCT. -- Obedience to a superior has always claimed great emphasis from the Jesuits. It might be termed the corner stone of their constitution. Loyola was never weary of insisting upon this principle. In 1553 he wrote to the Portuguese houses that true obedience binds the judgment only in a less degree than the will, and requires the submission of the former to the decision of the superior whenever that is not in plain conflict with evidence of compelling force. 2 Original given by Isaac Taylor, Loyola and Jesuitism in its Rudiments, Appendix. Shortly before his death he dictated, as fitting sentiments for each disciple, such maxims as these: "On my first entrance into religion, and at all times after, I ought to resign myself into the hands of the Lord my God and of him who governs me. I ought to desire to be ruled by a superior who endeavors to subjugate my judgment and subdue my understanding. When it seems to me that I am commanded by my superior to do a thing which my conscience revolts against as sinful, and my superior judges otherwise, it is my duty to yield my doubts to him unless I am otherwise constrained by evident reasons. If submission does not appease my conscience, I must impart my doubts to two or three persons of discretion, and abide by their decision. If this does not content me, I am very far from having attained the perfection required by a religious life. In a word, I ought not to be my own, but His who created me, and his too by whose means He governs me, yielding myself to be moulded in his hands like so much wax," 1 Quoted by Stewart Rose, in Ignatius Loyola and the Early Jesuits, p. 482. In the Constitutions of the Society we read: "Let every one persuade himself that they who live under obedience should permit themselves to be moved and directed by Divine Providence through their superiors, just as if they were a dead body, which allows itself to be moved and handled in any way; or as an old man's staff, which serves him who holds it in his hand wherever and in whatever thing he wishes to use it."
2 Pars vi. cap. i. § 1. "Et sibi quisque persuadeat, quòd qui sub obedientia vivunt, se ferri ac regi a Divina Providentia per superiores suos sinere debent perinde, ac si cadaver essent, quod quoqnoversus ferri, et quacunque ratione tractari se sinit; vel similiter, atque senis baculus, qui, ubicunque et quacunque in re velit eo uti, qui eum manu tenet, ei inservit."
It has sometimes been concluded that the Jesuits carried the principle of obedience to the extent of obligating a member to commit sin at the command of a superior. But the statement in the Constitutions upon which this inference has been based is not to be interpreted in that sense.
3 The passage reads: "Visum est nobis in Domino praeter expressum votum, quo Societas summo Pontifici pro tempore existenti tenetur, ac tria alia essentialia paupertatis, castitatis, et obedientiae, nullas constitutiones, declarationes, vel ordinem ullum vivendi posse obligationem ad peccatum mortale vel veniale inducere; nisi superior ea in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi, vel in virtute sanctae obedientiae juberet." (Pars vi. cap. v.) This means simply that a regulation of the Order does not so strictly bind the conscience that he violation must involve sin, unless the regulation has been imposed in the solemn manner specified.The Jesuits never taught outright that obedience is to be rendered to a sinful command. They have reached, however, by a little circumlocution, a result which practically is not remote from such an obligation. In enthroning the conscience of the Pope over all other consciences, and requiring every judgment to bow to his dictum, they leave the scruples of the individual at the mercy of the papal mandates. If the sentence of the Pope is not binding upon the subject in contradiction to his conscience, it is because he is not allowed to have any conscience as against a papal decision. This was asserted in all its length and breadth by their great dogmatist, Bellarmin. "If the Pope," he says, "might err in prescribing vices, or in prohibiting virtues, the Church would be bound to believe that vices are good and virtues evil, unless it should be willing to sin against conscience; for in doubtful matters the Church is bound to acquiesce in the judgment of the supreme pontiff, and to do what he prescribes, and to forbear to do what he prohibits. And that it may not perchance act against conscience, it is bound to believe that to be good which he prescribes, that to be evil which he prohibits." 1 De summo Pontif., lib. iv. cap. 5. Such a scheme might answer if the Pope were indefectible deity. But history, as we have been reminded in more than one instance, does not invite to that conclusion.
In estimating the moral teaching of the Jesuits, it is but just to remember that they were heirs to a system in which dubious tendencies were inherent. The notion of penance combined with that of dependence on priestly absolution had given occasion for measuring and weighing sins to an abnormal degree. In order that the confessor might be duly equipped for his office and know what satisfactions to require of the penitent, hypothetical cases of all descriptions were discussed. The industry and ingenuity of theologians were taxed to make out an inventory of all earthly offenses, and to rate them under their proper categories. Now in this extended and intricate task the logical faculty is likely to be overworked and to be led astray by its own subtlety. It is far from being the sole requisite for moral discernment. While it may argue down the spontaneous impressions of a healthy mind, it is no substitute for them. Its place is secondary in practical morals. Common sense, braced and enlightened by close contact with the incisive words of Christ and the apostles, is the safer guide. An exaggerated spirit of calculation in dealing with sins tends at once to dull the moral sensibility and to entangle the judgment. This had been illustrated in no inconsiderable degree before the Jesuits entered the lists. As in the old Pharisaic legalism elements of laxity found place alongside the mass of rigorous prescriptions, so was it in the elaborate system of legality which came down from the mediaeval Church. The conscience was at once overloaded and given undue license, the burden of the non-essential hindering the due recognition of the essential. What gave the Jesuits their bad reputation was the fact that they brought out the lax side of this overgrown legalism with more boldness and decision than any body of their predecessors. It was not that they had any set purpose to work corruption of morals. The result came about for a twofold reason. While, as ambitious teachers, they exercised their acuteness to a great extent on the details of casuistry, as zealous propagandists, intent on forwarding the interests of the Church, and at the same-time of their own Order, they had a practical incentive to lighten the yoke of Christ and to present a conciliatory attitude to the world. The scope given in the Romish system to sacramental magic, as a means of salvation, naturally helped on the bent to a perverse accommodation, since it tended to lower regard for the inward rectitude of the individual as compared with his continuous connection with an ecclesiastical mechanism.
Three tenets pertaining to Jesuit casuistry are of special notoriety, namely, probabilism, the lawfulness of mental reservation in affirmations and oaths, and the doctrine that the end justifies the means.
The essence of probabilism is the license in questions whose solution admits of some doubt to make election of any opinion that is accounted probable, or presumed to be safe, though a different and antagonistic opinion may be the more probable and the more safe. In its most extreme form, the doctrine assumes that a single author, reputed to be learned and discreet, can render an opinion probable, though the mass of writers may take the opposite view. Thus eleven authors may forbid me to fight a duel, but if a twelfth, who is deemed to be possessed of great learning and insight, sanctions the duel under the supposed circumstances, I am authorized to elect his opinion as probably safe and right, and in acting upon it I shall not prejudice my claim to absolution when I come to the confessional. As presented by many writers, probabilism approaches to this example in the degree of license which it concedes to the individual. It provides, in short, a cheap and easy method of avoiding inward heart-searchings, of relaxing the stern sense of duty, of following inclination rather than the subtle monitions of conscience.
That this doctrine has been characteristic of Jesuitism is undeniable. To be sure, it was not invented by the Society of Jesus. It first appeared in distinct form in the writings of a Dominican near the end of the sixteenth century. The fact is also to be noted, that individual Jesuits strongly condemned the doctrine. Nevertheless, probabilism is properly given a special association with the Jesuits. They embraced it with an exceptional ardor, and applied it with marked boldness. It dominated the teaching of the Order in the first half of the seventeenth century. The censures of Alexander VII. (1665, 1666) and Innocent XI. (1679) placed upon it only a moderate check. They did not strike with sufficient decision at the principle, and moreover were issued in a form which allowed their ecumenical character to be questioned. The General Gonzales strove against the doctrine in vain. Writings in opposition to probabilism which he attempted to issue before his election were rejected by the Revisers of the Order, on the express charge that they were hostile to this favorite tenet; and subsequently his position as General failed to bring him the desired opportunity to publish his sentiments. His Assistants violently opposed his design (1691-1693), and raised a commotion which threatened at one time to rob him of the functions of the generalship. Surviving all opposition, the doctrine of probabilism continued to be asserted by the Jesuits, though in somewhat more guarded terms than were employed at first. As will be shown in another connection, it remains in the Order substantially intact up to this day.
1 A reference to the later teaching of the Order will be found in the present volume, Second Period, chap. i For a full historical outline of the subject, see Döllinger and Reusch, Geschichte der Moralstreitigkeiten in der römisch-katholischen Kirche seit dem sechzehnten Jahrhundert. Many extracts illustrating the teaching on probabilism are given in French by Paul Bert, La Morale des Jésuites, pp. 33-42.
As illustrating the way in which prominent casuists expounded the matter, we subjoin a few extracts in the original.
"Probabilis sententia, uti communiter accipitur, its definiri potest, quae certitudinem non habens, tamen vel gravi auctoritate, vel non modici momenti ratione nititur. Auctoritas gravis hoc loco censeri debet, quae est saltem unius viri docti et probi: qui tamen talem doctrinam non inconsideratè ac temere, sed post perspecta rationum pondera, quae in oppositum afferri possunt, amplexus est. . . . Ex duabus contradicentibus probabilibus opinionibus, quae versantur circa actionem humanum, an ea licita sit nec ne, quisque in praxi, sive operatione sequi potest, quam maluerit; etsi ipsi operanti speculativè minùs probabilis videatur. . . . Doctor alteri consulenti consilium dare potest non solùm ex propria, sed etiam ex opposita probabili aliorum sententia, si fortè haec illí favorabilior sen exoptatior sit." (Laymann, Theologia Moralis, lib. i. tract. i. cap. v. § 2, ed. 1625.)
"Probabilis opinio dicitur, quae rationibus innititur alicujus momenti. Unde aliquando unus tantùm Doctor gravis admodum, opinionem probabilem potest efficere; quia vir doctrinae specialiter addictus, hand adhaerebit sententiae cuilibet, nisi praestantis, seu sufficientis rationis vi electus. ... Possum me probabili aliorum sententiae aptare mea probabiliore ac tutiore relicta? Ita planè, nec sic operans contra conscientiam agam, modò existimem alienam opinionem, quam sequor, esse probabilem." (Escobar, Theologia Moralis, Gen. Prin., exam. iii. cap, iii., editio quadragesima, 1646.)
"Confessarius, aut alius vir doctus, potest consulenti respondere secundum probabilem aliorum sententiam, si forte ei haec sit favorabilior, praetermissa efiam propria prohabiliore et tutiore. . . . Non sunt damnandi, qui adeunt varios Doctores, donec unum reperiant faventem sibi: dummodo is prudens, ac pius, et non singularis habeatur. Ratio est, quia intendunt sequi opinionem probabilem. . . . Qui in dubio constitutus post diligens examen se nequit resolvere, non tenetur semper eligere partem tutiorem, sed potest amplecti partem faventem suae libertati, (etiam minus tutam,) dummodo sit in possessions suae libertatis." (Busenbaum, Medulla Theologiae Moralis, lib. i. tract, i. cap. ii. dub ii., iii., ed. 1730.)
The doctrine of probabilism may be regarded as the most mischievous factor in the casuistry of the Jesuits; for it raised to the character of a permissible standard for the individual the worst maxims anywhere sanctioned among the distinguished writers of the Order or of the Romish Church. Grant that on many points the maxims of this or that writer are sufficiently severe; what safeguard does this provide for the interests of morality? As a reviewer of their teachings has well said, "These expressions of rigorous sentiment are practically reduced to mere figures of speech through the all-covering action of the principle of probabilism, which runs continuously through the volume of Jesuit doctrine like a gloss that wholly modifies the force of the text. ... Through the slides of a side-proposition artfully masked, the Jesuit doctors have provided a mechanism for converting at will the whole series of moral principles into a set of dissolving views." 1 Cartwright, "Constitution and Teaching of the Jesuits," p. 223. Compare the equally cogent strictures of the Jesuit Elizalde (Döllinger and Reusch, Moralstreitigkeiten, i. 55, 56).
The doctrine of mental reservation, or the maxim that one may make void a seeming affirmation or oath by using ambiguous and misleading words, which conceal rather than express the intention, may not have been formally sanctioned by the Order. Nevertheless, in virtue of probabilism, it holds at least the place of a tolerated doctrine among the Jesuits. Writers of eminence in works approved at head-quarters, and enjoying wide patronage, have expressed it in very positive terms. These same writers, it is true, have not entirely ignored the demands of truthfulness. They have professed to rule out the lie; but in reality they have brought it in again under the name of allowable amphibology.
1 "Quandocunque aliquis injustè cogitur ad juramentum, vel aliàs habet justam causam celandi mentem suam oratione ambigua vel tacita restrictione, non peccat, etiamsi alieno sensu juret. Quod intellige, si necessitas vel utilitas juramentum exigat. . . . Omne mendacium prohibetur in Scripturis.... Adverte tamen, mendacium per se non esse peccatum mortale, sed solum veniale, quia inordinatio illa neminem graviter lædit." (Lessius, De Justitia et Jure, lib. ii. cap. xlii. dub. 9; cap. xlvii. dub. 6.)The difficulty of relieving Jesuitism of responsibility for this piece of unchristian laxity is sufficiently indicated by the fact that distinguished apologists for the Order openly approve it, excusing on principle the prevarication, for example, which was practised by Garnet in connection with his trial for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.
"Quaestio est: Utrum is, qui scienter alteri enuntiat, aut exhibet signum, seu vocis, seu facti, quod ex se, et secundùm omnes circumstantias ad unum sensum, eumque falsum, determinatum est, à mendacio excusari possit idcirco, quòd mente sua aliquid aliud concipiendo adjungat, per quod oratio vera efficiatur? Affirmant Angelus, Navarra, Salon, Valentia, Sanchez, Lessius. Sed contraria sententia, à mendacio id excusari non posse, mihi vera videtur. ...Veritatem aliquam per verbi aequivocationem, aut facti dissimulationem, alterum celare, non est per se malum; sed interdum licitum, si ob justam causam fiat.... Qui pecuniam mutuò sibi datam fideliter solvit, is postea in judicio conventus, si aliae probationes et exceptiones desiut, juratus dicere potest, se hunc mutui contractum non instituisse; intellige tali obligatione, ut bis solvere debeat. . . . Qui sub juramento interrogatur, utrum veniat ex loco, qui falsò existimatur peste infectus, jurare potest, se inde non venirs, intelligendo ex loco, qualis existimatur, sicuti docent Sylvester, Navarra, Azor, Suarez, Toletus, Sanchez, Rodriguez. Imò plerique addunt, tametsi locus infestus sit, si tamen celeriter transiens certò credat, se peste infectum non esse, jurare eum posse, non transiisse." (Laymann, lib. iv. tract. iii. cap. xiii., xiv.)
"Uti in juramento amphibologia, hoc est, verbis alio sensu, quàm alius accipiat, est ne peccatum? Malum intrinsecè non est, saepe peccatum esse potest. Ex causa quidem honesta perjurium dici non potest, et si verba sint aeqnivoca, ex honesta causa amphibologia uti licitum est. Si tantum hujusmodi aequivocatio sit in mente, nec eam verba ipsa includant, probabilis sententia est, haud licitum esse jurare : sed probabilius, illicitum non esse. . . . Sacerdos interrogatus de peccato in confessione audito potest respondere, etiam (si opus est) addito juramento, se nihil tale in confessione audisse, subintelligendo, tanquam privatum hominem. Aliqua bona tibi necessaria abscondis, ne `a creditore capiantur, et cogaris mendicare: potes interrogatus à judice jurare, te nulla abscondita habere, subintelligendo, quae manifestare tenearis." (Escobar, tract. i. exam. iii. cap. iv., vii.)
"Licet aequivoè jurare, si juramentum exigatur injustè; ut v. g. si quis exigat juramentum, qui jus non habet, v. g. judex incompetens; vel si non servet ordinem juris." (Busenbaum, lib. iii. tract, ii, cap. ii. dub. iv.)
1 Crétineau-Joly, referring to Garnet's apology for equivocation and Lingard's strictures on the same, adds that the executed Jesuit simply declared the approved doctrine of the Church. "‘L’homme qui professait de telles opinions,’ ainsi s’exprime le docteur Lingard dans son Histoire, ‘ne pouvait raissonablement se plaindre si le Roi refusait de croire à ses protestations d’innocence et s’il laissait agir les lois.’ Ces paroles de l’historien anglais ont de la gravité: tout en chargeant le Père Garnett, elles n’empêchent pas de dire que la doctrine des Jésuites est approuvée par l’Église entière, et qu’elle fait même partie intégrante de la jurisprudence. Personne, en effect, n’est tenu de s’accuser soi-même." (Tome iii. p. 117.)
The maxim that the end justifies the means has been declared by the Jesuits foreign to their teaching. No doubt, the Society as a whole has never accorded it a formal sanction. But very prominent writers from their ranks have given quite an explicit statement of the maxim. Thus, for example, we find it with "Busenbaum whose 'Medulla' has gone through more than fifty editions, and, by its reprint not many years ago in Rome, at the press of the Propaganda, can claim the continued and solemn approval of the supreme authority of the Church. 'Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita,' are his words, and again, 'Cui licitus est finis, etiam licent media' (ed. Francoforti, 1653). Amongst Jesuit luminaries of the first magnitude ranks Laymann. In his 'Theologia Moralis,' (Munich, 1625,) we meet with the same proposition in almost the identical formula, 'Cui concessus est finis, concessa etiam sunt media ad finem ordinate.'" 1 Cartwright, Constitution and Teaching of the Jesuits, pp. 161, 168. However, we are not inclined to lay very great stress upon these formal statements. If the present attainment of an end is justifiable, then there must be certain means whose present use is justifiable, though other means to the same end might be excluded. It is only as the maxim is understood to sanction indifference or arbitrariness in the choice of means to an end, that it becomes vicious and detestable. More than the bare statement of the maxim, therefore, we are disposed to emphasize those actions and those solutions of cases of conscience, which, in an unpleasant number of instances, have indicated a disposition in the Jesuits to harbor the maxim in the loose and pernicious sense.
Very radical ground was taken by individual casuists in connection with a number of specific requisitions of the moral code. The command, "Thou shalt not steal," became in their rendering an injunction not to steal except under pressure of extreme or grave need, or in a case where unjust erection has been made, or where insufficient pay has been given for service. The same class of writers also taught that purloining is only a venial offence, even when there is no question of need or recompense, provided the thefts are not of large amounts, are distributed over a sufficient area of wealthy people, and do not follow each other too quickly. In fine, a very fair starting-point for the development of communistic teaching was provided.
1 "Probabile est, non solùm in extrema, sed etiam in gravi necessitate morbi, famis, nuditatis, posse te clanculum surripere ab opulentis, si aliter grave illud malum avertere nequeas." (Lessius, lib. ii, cap. xii. dub. xii.)Duelling and homicide were treated with nearly as great indulgence by a number of casuists, the conclusion being drawn that a serious affront to honor or attempt upon property may justify the offering of a challenge. Even the informal killing of a personal enemy was declared permissible in a case of special insult or danger.
"Sint v. g. triginta mercatores, quibus singulis auferas pazium, fieri potest, ut mortaliter non delinquas, quia nulli eorum grave damnum infers. . . .Qui rem ablatam, vel apud se depositam, commodatam, &c. urgente extrema necessitate absumpsit, nihil restituere debet, postquam ad meliorem fortunam pervenit. . . . Si debitum certum ac liquidum sit, nec alia ratione, puta extra, vel intra judicium petendo, moraliter recuperari possit, per se loqnendo, illicitum non est, propria auctoritate illud, vel ejus aequivalens occultè accipere." (Laymann, lib. iii sect. v tract. iii, pars i. cap. i.)
"Surripere ne possum rem meam, quae injusto tilulo apud alium est? Delinquis qnidem, si aliter recuperare possis; sed tamen ad restitutionem non teneris; quia tua est. . . . Principis sum creditor, qui ab eo solutionem non possum obtinere: possum ne vectigalia in compensationem defraudare? Potes: valetque hujusmodi doctrina etiam in censibus, decimis, et aliis juribus alteri elocatis. . . . Servus ne peccat mortaliter, quando in quantitate notabili à suo Domino aufert? Peccat, nisi fortè Dominus sit irrationabiliter invitus: v. g. si necessaria non snppeditet; tunc enim servus habet jus sibi succurendi, ita jure naturae dictante." (Escobar, tract, i. exam. ix. cap. iii.)
2 "Non solùm pro defensione vitae, ac honoris, sed etiam facultatum, quae non modici momenti sunt, et alia ratione liberari, aut recuperari non poterunt, permissum est aggressorem, vel raptorem vulnerare, interficere. . . . Petrus Navarra et Sanchez universim aiunt, licitum esse tam offerre, quàm acceptare duellum, etiam propria auctoritate; et non solùm ob de fensionem vitae, sed etiam honoris, ac fortunarum. Deinde addunt, in tali casu praestare calumniatorem clàm è medio tollere, quàm duelli periculo se committere." (Laymann, lib. iii. sect. v. tract, iii. pars iii. cap. iii., v.)As if ambitious to reduce Christianity as nearly as possible to the rank of a heartless mechanism, some argued that there is no such necessity for loving God under the New Dispensation as existed under the Old, since now the virtue of the sacraments compensates for the lack of love. Attrition as distinguished from contrition, or a repentance whose motive is rather the unseemliness of sin and the dread of punishment than supreme love to God, was declared to be sufficient for salvation. Love to God in the sense of a positive affection was not counted indispensable, except at special eras or crises in one's moral career. Indeed, the more extreme advocates of the doctrine drew the conclusion that one might live a sinful life, and still, by an exercise of simple attrition in the article of death, gain admission to heaven, without having once experienced an emotion of love to God.
"Dico, Fas etiam est viro honorato occidere invasorem, qui fustem vel alapam nititur impingere, ut ignominiam inferat, si aliter haec ignominia vitari nequit. . . . Si nomini meo falsis criminationibus apud principem, judicem, vel viros honoratos detrahere nitaris, nec ulla ratione possim illud damnum famae avertere, nisi te occultè interficiam; Petrus Navarra inclinat, licitnm esse, talem è medio tollere. Eamdem tanquam probabiliorem defendit Bannes addens, idem dicendum, etiamsi crimen sit verum; si tamen est occnltum, ita ut secundùm justitiam legalem non possis pandere. Idem tenant quidam alii reentiores. Verùm haec quoque sententia mihi in praxi non probatur; quia multis occultis caedibus praeberet occasionem." (Lessius, lib. ii. cap, ix. dub. xii.)
The doctrine of attrition did not become so prevalent as that of probabilism. It had nevertheless many advocates in the seventeenth century.
"Hoc discrimen est inter statum legis Evangelicae, et statum ante gratiam Evangelii; quòd ante legem gratiae nemo adultus à mortali peccato liberari et justificari poterat sine vera contritione, includente charitatem Dei super omnia; propterea, quòd sacramenta veteris legis inania signa erant, quae gratiam Dei per se non conferebant; sed excitabant fidem in Christum, quae si formata fuerat per actum charitatis, et contritionis, vim habuit justificandi. In lege autem nova post commissum peccatum mortale non est necessaria vera contritio homini suscepturo sacramentum baptismi, vel poenitentiae; sed sufficit attritio, etiam cognita: qnamobrem dici solet, ex attrito virtute sacramenti fieri hominem contritum. Quod non ita intelligi debet, quasi actus attritionis transeat in actum contritionis; sed quòd peccator per attritionem, cum sacramento baptismi, aut poenitentiae, perinde justificetur, atque per veram contritionem extra sacramentum ... Praeceptum affirmativum de Deo super omnia diligendo certis tantùm temporibus obligat. Ita omnes. Sed quaenam sint illa obligationis tempora, difficile est definire. Valentia septem recenset ex Soto. Sanchez vero ex iisdem et aliis auctoribus novem enumerat; sed pleraque rejicit, quia incerta ac dubia sint. Quatnor tamen mihi certiora videntur, quorum duo priora continent obligationem per se; alia per accidens." (Laymann, lib. v. tract. vi. cap, ii.; lib. ii. tract. iii, cap. ii. Compare Escobar, tract. v. exam. iv. cap. i.)
The reflection which is naturally called out by the preceding paragraphs is aptly expressed in the following words of Cardinal Bausset: "In reading these strange decisions, one is tempted to ask if their authors made profession of Christianity, or even if they understood the first principles of natural law."
1 "Lorsqu’une fois ils eurent établi en principe qu’nn seul écrivain suffisoit pour rendre une opinion probable, toutes les digues furent rompues; et rien ne peut être comparé aux prodiges d’extravagance ct d’immoralité que quelques casuistes osèrent proposer comma règles de conduite et de morale. En lisant ces étranges décisions, on est tenté de demander si leurs auteurs faisoient profession du Christianisme, ou même s’ils connoissoient les premiers principes de la loi naturelle." (Histoire de Bossuet, livre xi. § 10.)
In theology the Jesuits came very soon to represent the most anti-Augustinian wing of the Roman Catholic Church. They were not all indeed equally interested to honor human ability over against Divine grace and sovereignty. But after Molina, in 1588, had taken a radical position on this subject, there was a general tendency in the Order to sustain his views. By the favor of the Pope, Molinist teachings were at last given the preferred place in the Church, as may be judged from the tenor of the bull Unigenitus.
The Jesuits were early distinguished in politics by their advocacy of popular sovereignty and tyrannicide. While they exalted the authority of the Pope as the immediate gift of God, and claimed for him the right to constrain or even to depose kings when they acted contrary to the interests of the Church, they represented that the power of the sovereign comes, not directly from God, but from the will of the people. Bellarmin espoused this doctrine, and taught that, in as much as the temporal power is the property of the people, they may delegate it to one or to several, or recall it to their own hands. This stress, however, upon the prerogatives of the people, is not to be taken as indicative of any permanent bias of the Jesuits towards popular government. Like the Romish hierarchy in general, the Jesuits have treated politics as a mere instrument, and have sided with monarchy or democracy as has best suited their interests. In the revolutionary movements of 1848, they were commonly reckoned as enemies of democratic tendencies and principles. In advocating the doctrine of tyrannicide, they were animated by precisely the same motives. Of course, according to the Jesuit definition, any king who seriously threatened the interests of the Romish Church was to be accounted a detestable tyrant, and worthy of the assassin's knife. So distinguished a Jesuit writer as Mariana patronized this doctrine, and exhibited a practical zeal in its behalf by passing a glowing eulogy upon the murderer of Henry III. "Splendid boldness of soul!" he exclaims over the assassination. "Memorable exploit! By killing the King, he achieved to himself a mighty name." At length, however, the bloody maxim brought such opprobrium upon the Society, that the General, Aquaviva, forbade (1614) its farther advocacy, at least within the bounds of France.
In conduct, as well as in principles, the first Jesuits may be ranked considerably higher than those who figured a generation or two later. They possessed great religious earnestness, whatever discount may be placed upon their religious intelligence. A vein of mystical piety was clearly perceptible in them. They exhibited, indeed, something of that leaning to mere expediency which endangers the suppression of conscience and principle in the striving for outward success. But it was left to those who came after them to develop this tendency to its full proportions, and to make Jesuitism a synonym for an unscrupulous propagandism.
The craft and accommodation practised by the Jesuits were not limited to the heathen populations of the Orient. Courts and confessionals in Europe witnessed the ample employment of the same means. In Sweden, for example, during the reign of John III., who exhibited at one time a strong leaning to a modified Romanism, a scene transpired which reminds of a Nobili in the garb of a Brahmin. In 1576 two Jesuits from Louvain arrived at Stockholm. By the advice of the intriguing monarch they concealed their true character, entered into confidential relations with the clergy, and conveyed the impression that they were genuine Lutherans. Their learning gave them a certain prestige, and a place was secured for them in the college which the King had just founded at the capital. In the lectures which they delivered here, and which the clergy were advised by the King to attend, they rendered a show of respect to the writings of the Reformers, but at the same time sought artfully to undermine their teaching. Public disputations, in which John posed as an assailant of the Pope, were used to the same end. A temporary reward of hypocrisy was won in a number of conversions.
1 Geyer, Geschichte Sehwedens, Kap. xii.; Maimbourg, Histoire du Lutheranisme, livre vi.; Crétineau-Joly, Histoire de la Compagnie de Jésus, ii. 192.
In their management of the confessional, the Jesuits seem to have surpassed every other class in illustrating how easy is the yoke of Christ. Very likely they had an honest conviction respecting the need of a compromise between the inherent slavery of the institution and the demands of a liberty-loving world. At any rate, they showed themselves indulgent lords over the conscience, especially in their relations to kings and nobles. We learn from Bossuet, that Louis XIV. had reached mature life before being apprised that to love God was a fundamental Christian duty. His conscience had doubtless found an "easy chair" in the predecessors of La Chaise, as well as in this lenient confessor. The most scandalous indulgence, as the world reckons scandal, was that conceded by Cheminot, who allowed Charles IV., Duke of Lorraine, to have two wives, and stubbornly defended his course in so doing (1645-). It was reported that fourteen Jesuit doctors sided with the accommodating confessor; but this item, though mentioned by several writers, needs confirmation. 1 Crétineau-Joly, iii. 455-457.
The style in which the Jesuits have glorified their Order and its more distinguished representatives does not require to be greatly emphasized. They have shared here in the creative faculty which has characterized other societies and parties in the Romish Church. The facility with which they have heaped up miracles for their heroes has its marked historical parallels. A part of the responsibility for this abnormal development may be charged upon the pernicious rule of the canonizing court which makes miracles a prominent test of saintship. This serves naturally as a standing bid for the fabulous trumpery of the miracle-monger, that unworthy pedestal upon which more than one imperfect mortal has been elevated to superhuman honors.
While the fact is undeniable that the Jesuits have given a wide range to a lax accommodation, it is by no means to be concluded that, as a body, they have abandoned themselves to all manner of unrighteousness. The ends sought by the Society have made imperative a certain stringency in discipline. As respects fidelity to the vow of chastity and abstinence from gross vices, the Jesuits probably have not compared unfavorably with other orders in the Romish Church.