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tion of the Society in France, and shall now proceed to the consideration of some of the charges brought against them.
The great subjects of reproach against the Jesuits may be classed under these heads,-the vows which they pronounced and the casuists they have produced the crimes they have caused and the privileges they have obtained; which have been ramified into an infinity of accusations, some trifling, some absurd, and some most atrocious. The vows of poverty, chastity, and humility, were common to all the religious orders; but the Jesuits have, in a particular manner, been reproached for the absoluteness of their vows of obedience.“ Be," says their maxim on this subject, “ in the hands of your superiors, like a stick in that of an old man, whom it supports." But obedience, in point of fact, is the very essence of monachism; all orders are founded upon this very maxim, which caused so much alarm when it was pronounced by the Jesuits. The same thing may be said of their casuists; all orders have produced similar authors. Is it credible, that the Jesuits should, as imputed to them, seriously set about organizing a plan to corrupt the morals of the whole world, to sap the foundations of that Society on which they themselves depended. Have they had more complaisance for the peccadilloes of the great and noble than other ecclesiastics?-Have the clergy of our days shewn less indulgence for the failings of their rich patrons ? But if they had had such a design, was this the right course to accomplish it?-Is the great mass of mankind pleased with a lax system of morality ?
- The contrary appears from the history of this very period. Multitudes, at this time, deserted the masses and absolutions of the Pope for the harsh and crabbed sermons of Calvin,the brilliant ceremonies and paintings and carvings of churches and cathedrals, for the plain offices and unadorned walls of the conventicle. Nobody can deny, that their books of casuistry abound with subtile distinctions, inconsequential reasoning, and erroneous conclusions, - with discussions, not only useless in themselves, but offensive to decency; but the other monastic orders were no more free from this most just accusation than the Jesuits; the only difference between them is, that the Jesuits put a finer edge on their dialectics, and that they published them at a time less auspicious for their quiet reception. Good Catholics suffered preceding casuists to misemploy their own time, and publish, for the misemployment of the time of other people, whole reams of cases of conscience, without suspecting any evil in them, and, most probably, without attempting to find any.
But when the Jesuits appeared upon the stage, the reason of mankind, after a sleep as long as that of the seven sleepers, suddenly awoke, to the astonishment and dismay of good mother church, who was totally unable to
endure the investigations of this all busy and meddling faculty. It is probable, therefore, that the Jesuits owed both the success they met with and the hatred they experienced, to the circumstances of the time which saw their birth, and which scrutinized their actions with an interest and acuteness, that had never been applied to the reverend fathers of other establishments.
In answer to the articles exhibited against them at the bar of reason, the Jesuits alleged that their books of casuistry were written for the use of their confessors, in order that they might be always ready to apply a remedy to their penitents in every sort of emergency. This, in point of fact, is no justification at all for giving birth to such a foul brood of prurient imaginations; matters like those to which we have alluded, ought
to be voluntarily presented to the mind, either of the confessors themselves, or the persons confessing; to nicely balance the distinctions in the shades of vice and impurity is unworthy of the character of Christian teachers ; they had better rest in undistinguished abhorrence, than be multiplied, to afford excuses for having committed crimes, or pretences for committing them. This censure, of course, only applies to the most pernicious of these childish abuses of talent and of religion. After all, however, it must be allowed, that these fine-spun subtleties of monkish brains were rather the result of perverted reasoning than of corrupt principles; for the correctness of their manners has never been questioned; they are allowed, on all hands, to have been sober, discreet, and even rigid in their demeanour,answering, in all respects, to the directions of their founder. The mode adopted by them of treating the subject of morals, by first considering the abstract nature of actions, and then, in relation to the various circumstances accompanying them, has certainly put a dangerous weapon into the hands of their enemies; for example, if the question be—" Can one man lawfully kill another ?” the simple answer will be—“Yes.” Now, if the question and answer only were cited, what would be the impression upon the mind of a person reading them ?-What else could it be, than that the author was teaching a most corrupt and dangerous rule of action ? But if the reader, as he went on, found it laid down that its legality dépended entirely upon the circumstances connected with the action,-as that a man may lawfully slay his enemy who attacks him, in order to save his own life,---as a soldier in war, &c. the first impression would be effaced, and he might probably only conclude, that the man was an ingenious trifler. We do not mean to say, that all their questions and solutions were equally simple or innocent; but, undoubtedly, the partial manner in which the opponents to the Society have cited their books of casuistry, has made them appear
in a much more atrocious light than in fair and impartial history they ought to do. That most ingenious and triumphant satire“ Les Lettres Provinciales," is no more to be considered as a just representation of the Jesuits, than the description of the Yahoos of Swift is of the British nation.
The very year of the death of Ignatius, the society was refused admission into Flanders, and a partial opposition was made to it in Spain by the archbishop of Toledo, who had formerly condemned the Spiritual exercises, and was by no means satisfied with the consecration, with which the approbation of the successor of St. Peter had favoured them; and by Melchior Cano, a Dominican, who has rendered his name immortal by his furious zeal against the Jesuits. The Society was engaged in a continual struggle, for many years, before it gained a settlement in France. Various attempts were made for this purpose, and it was at length accomplished in the following manner :-Laynez and Salmeron having insinuated themselves into the favour of William Duprat, bishop of Clermont, obtained from him a college at Billom, a small town in Auvergne. They arrived at Paris in the year 1549; but they were unable to obtain favour, or even to command attention. Duprat having, at his death, left them a legacy, which, as aliens, they could not enjoy, they commenced a law-suit, under the pretence of substantiating their claim to it. As this suit, they were aware, must be decided against them, unless they could interest the higher powers in their favour, they appealed to the Pope, who applied to the Cardinal Lorraine to espouse their cause--an application which proved successful. This churchman obtained letters patent for the delivery of the legacy, and for the building of a college. At this appearance of favour to an obnoxious body, the Parliament (in which the affair was discussed) the bishops and the parsons, with one common voice, loudly declared their disapprobation of the society. was in
consequence refused, and the college not built. In the following year, the fathers obtained second letters patent, which met with the same resistance, and shared the same fate as the first. A third time they appeared with letters patent in their hands, and the Parliament, at length, thought it necessary to consult the Doctors of the Sorbonne. These learned theologians,
“ With eyes that only serv'd at most
To guide their master 'gainst a post," on the 1st Dec. 1554, after due preparation, pronounced their judgment, in which the Jesuits are accused of presumptuously assuming the name of the Society of Jesus, of licentiously admitting into their order all sorts of persons, however wicked
or infamous they might be; of using none of the religious observances which distinguish other orders ; of having privileges injurious to the bishops, against the rights of the universities, and against secular and ecclesiastical superiors : for these reasons, and, as the decree expresses, “ many other besides," these illuminati, who were afterwards distinguished for their complaisance to the Jesuits, pronounced the society “extremely dangerous in what concerns Faith, an enemy to the church, fatal to the monastic state, and born for the ruin rather than the edification of the faithful.” The decree was also published in Spain, where the society was excommunicated by its ancient enemies.
This sentence, which is, in point of fact, the foundation of all the charges since brought against the society, is sufficiently explanatory of the motives which led to this anathema against it. As to the arrogance of the name, the doctors seem to have forgotten the Trinitarians, the Daughters of the Holy Sacrament, and the Daughters of God; all of which savour more of pride than that of the Society of Jesus. The charge of admitting licentious persons into the society is an absolute calumny. The head and front of their offending, in fact, is this: they were exempt from tithes, which was a convincing proof to the parsons, who had a right to receive them, that the institution must be contrary to religion; they were obnoxious to the bishops, for they were declared exempt from their jurisdiction-a demonstration that they were inimical to the Divine will; they were detested by the universities, for they also had the privilege of teaching--an unanswerable argument to shew that they must be enemies to the diffusion of knowledge and good morals : the Jesuits gave that instruction which the universities sold-the forms of the schools of the latter were deserted for the colleges of the Jesuits; the universities were therefore driven, by the principle of self-preservation, to exterminate these wicked and ignorant intruders into their peculiar province; and, as they had no just charge against them, they were compelled to resort to calumnies. With regard to the active part which the Parliament took, in opposing the introduction of this order, if it were not chiefly influenced by the rival orders, by the secular clergy, bishops, and universities, it rested upon much better reasons; the Jesuits derived their origin from Spain, were most of them Spaniards, and were in a peculiar manner devoted to the Pope, by whom they were not only exempted from taxes, but from temporal jurisdiction; and were not, in fact, amenable to the laws of the country in which they were domiciled—an anomaly which it is highly impolitic in any kingdom to tolerate in its own territories. But the adoption of this principle, in its full
extent, would have put an end altogether to the unnatural and unprofitable state of monachism.
Laynez, who had, on the death of Ignatius, succeeded to the office of general, feeling deeply the vast importance to the order of obtaining a footing in France, solicited and obtained permission to be present at the “ Colloquy of Poissy,” (a sort of national council for the settlement of religious differences), where he acted his part with so much zeal and discretion, that the society of Jesuits was ultimately admitted into that kingdom, and the letters patent duly registered by the Parliament. The condition on which their admission was allowed was a fatal one to a privileged order of the Romish Church, to which none but the Jesuits would have consented, and which probably none but they would have dared to have broken-it was, that they should renounce all their privileges, and submit to the laws of the kingdom. But although they assented, or seemed to assent, to this condition, they were at this time secretly receiving from the Pope more extensive privileges and larger powers. They manifested equal want of good faith in the manner in which they contrived to gain permission to open a college at Paris, a measure which was effected by the aid of Julian de St. Germain, the rector of the university, who, without the authority of that body, and without saying a syllable to any one, delivered to them letters, empowering them to open a college in that city. At the expiration of the rector's office, his successor summoned the fathers to answer for their surreptitious intrusion into the privileges of the university. This jealous body instituted a law-suit, in order to determine the question, whether the Jesuits ought to be received into France and the University of Paris, a proceeding which, by the great exertion and interest of the society, terminated without any absolute decision, although the termination was virtually in their favour, for they were allowed permission to open a college for teaching youth, without being incorporated with the university, or having any dependence upon
it. The society now began to receive various favours, to gain a great increase of revenue, and considerable accession of power. The Council of Trent having been resumed, Laynez there made himself conspicuous by his zeal for the Pope. It is worthy of observation, as shewing the spirit of the order, that the Council having, amongst other regulations, granted to the mendicant orders the right of possessing landed property, the Capuchins, the friars minors, and the Jesuits refused to participate in this concession; but the next day, Laynez, having considered the affair, wished, like the rest, to be authorized to possess landed estates, “ in order,” he said, " that having the power of profiting by this permission, and not availing themselves of it, his society might have more merit before God.”