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plaidoyer of Antoine Arnauld, that the Jesuits had been expelled from Paris in 1594; and now the day of relentless vengeance was rapidly approaching. The envy of the Order of Jesus had been also aroused, from the fact, that the literary productions and extensive influence of the Jansenists, endangered their own long undisputed supremacy in these departments of labor, and bid fair, in fact, to eclipse them.
Unfortunately, Jansenius had declared, in a passage in his " Augustine," that he should be disposed to prefer the judgment of that father to the decision of the pope, on the ground, that frequently, his Holiness decided with a view to the promotion of peace, while Augustine's decisions were always based on the in
, herent principles of truth. Urban VIII., was prevailed upon, by the ceaseless intrigues and falsehoods of the Jesuits, to condemn a work, which contained a proposition so injurious to the papal authority. But this decision accomplished little for the interests of the Jesuits; for it only tended to make the persecuted party, for a time, more popular. Their friends increased, and the Jesuits saw themselves under the necessity of renewing the attack, under a more direct and compact form. Accordingly, they pretended to condense the doctrines of Jansenius into five propositions, and called upon Pope Innocent X., who had succeeded to the papal throne, to pronounce his supreme decision in reference to them. He first endeavored to evade the necessity laid upon him; for he well knew that, should he decide either way, the evils of discord would not be removed. But, urged on by the restless and bigoted Cardinal Chigi, who afterward became pope, under the title of Alexander VII., and tormented also, by the ceaseless importunities of the Jesuits, he published a bull, in which he declared these five propositions to be heretical, blasphemous, and accursed. But this sentence had not been pronounced with the unanimous consent of those whom the pope consulted on the occasion. A few men, of great consequence, earnestly represented such a decision as inexpedient in the highest degree.
The pope declares, in this bull, containing the Damnatio Errorum Jansenii, that “the first desire of his heart, filled with so many and such tender cares, was, that the Church of God, which had been entrusted to his guidance by Divine Providence, might be preserved from every false opinion ; that she might safely struggle, and, as a vessel cruising in a tranquil sea, might securely evade all storms and tempests, and attain at last the wished-for haven; that in consequence of the importance of the subject, he had often publicly assembled the sacred college of cardinals, and discussed the matter with them, as well as many doctors of theology; and had attentively heard and weighed
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The reader will be curious to know what these propositions were, concerning which such wise counsel and sage deliberation was held; and he will be surprised to find, that they contain the quintessence of all pure and Scriptural theology. Whether they were found in the 16 Augustine » of Jansenius, or not, (and on this point there are well-grounded disputes) the very fact that they were urged against the Jansenists as a heinous crime and an actionable offence before the tribunals of the Romish church, proves the state of doctrinal purity which then, and since, existed in it. If they were found in the writings of Jansenius, they should have been made ground for commendation. If they were not found there, it was as wrong to forge them as it was to condemn them, when unjustly ascribed to the Jansenists. They are as follows: I. There are some commandments of God, which good men are wholly unable to perform, according to the strength which they now have; because the grace is wanting, by the aid of which these acts become possible. II. In a state of fallen nature, the influence of inward grace can never be resisted. III. To render themselves meritorious in the sight of God, it is not necessary that men should be exempt from inward necessity, but only from outward constraint. IV. The Semi-pelagians are heretical when they affirm, that the human will is able to resist or obey the influences of Divine grace, even such as appertain to the beginning of faith. V. He is a Semi-pelagian who affirms, that Christ died and shed his blood for all mankind. In regard to all these propositions, his Holiness declares that they are “impias, blasphemas, contumeliosas, divinæ pietati derogantes, et uti tales damnamus;" and in case his own curses and terrors are insufficient, he hands all such heretics over to, in this same bull, as well as invokes the aid of, brachii sæcularis.
But for this new emergency the Jansenists were prepared. They denied that these propositions had been held and understood by Jansen, in the sense in which they had been condemned by the Pontiff; and they further denied that the latter, not withstanding his infallibility, could undertake accurately to decide what was the sense in which they were understood by their author. Here again was another bone of contention, as to whether the papal infallibility extends to a judgment respecting extraneous facts, having no reference to the establishment of the dogmas of the church. The Jansenists steadfastly resisted the papal decree, regarding themselves as misrepresented and misunderstood; while their numbers and fame daily increased. . Even dignitaries of the church sent in their protests against the
* See Appendix to Canones et decreta, Conc. Trid., p. 279, Rome and Leipsig, 1842, where this declaration is preserved.;
decision of the Roman court. Nineteen bishops declared that “some persons had set up a new and unprecedented doctrine, namely, that papal decrees deciding on every day matters, having no reference to divine revelation, were regarded as certain and infallible truths.” For a time their opposition only made them more liable to the vengeance of the pope, and of Louis XIV., the views of whose court they had condemned and exposed. The evil was increased when Alexander VII., in 1656, by a bull, declared that these five propositions were held by Jansenius, in the sense in which they had been attributed to him; and as such, were entirely and forever accursed. He also ordained that, in France, all who aspired to ecclesiastical stations should be compelled to make oath of their abhorrence of these heresies. Gradually, however, the supporters of the Jansenists increased even among the French clergy. At length, Clement IX., prevailed on by Anne de Bourbon, was constrained to allow them toleration; and though he condemned the five propositions, he cautiously abstained from ascribing them at all, in any sense, to Jansenius. This concession was indeed a remarkable one, though urged upon the sovereign pontiffs by the force of necessity; although the agreeable respite which it insured, was for a time interrupted by the death of Anne de Bourbon, who was a sister of the great Conde.
The Jansenists gradually arose to greater esteem, by their commendable efforts to free theology from the trammels of papal authority. They endeavored to advance an acquaintance with the Scriptures among the . people. They deprecated in a just measure, the influence of ceremonies, and proclaimed the necessity of engaging the heart in the exercises of religion. They represented purity of life as indispensable; and though they carried their asceticism too far, as was natural for one extreme to produce another, that extreme was far more commendable than the looseness and laxity which prevailed among the Jesuits.
The Commentaries of Paschasius Qnesnell, a member of the society, on the New Testament, now introduced a new era in the history of Jansenism. They were a
. They were a great ornament and defence of the Jansenist cause, and became the most popular work of the time. Through the influence of the Jesuits, Louis XIV. solicited its condemnation from Pope Clement XI., and the result of this application was, the publication of the celebrated bull termed Unigenitus Dei Filius, in which one hundred and one propositions from Quesnell's work were condemned. This event occurred in 1713. In consequence of this condemnation, he was struck off from the list of the Fathers of the Oratory, and driven into exile. He died, at length, at Amsterdam. The monastery of Port Royal, which was the favorite abode, as well as the securest home of Jansenism, was violently suppressed.
That we may form an idea of what it is to be a heretic in the eyes of the Romish church, it may be well to quote some of the propositions of Quesnell which were thus condemned. Among the one hundred and one, scarcely any can be pointed out which do not accord with the plain teachings of the Bible, as well as form part of the purest system of theology which could be constructed. Among them we find such as the following: The grace of Christ is the efficient source of all good actions, and is absolutely necessary to the performance of every good deed. We can have no connexion with the new covenant, unless we become partakers of its new grace, which produces such effects in us as God requires. In as far as God determines to purify the soul, and imparts to it his inward grace, no human will can possibly resist him. There are no temptations which do not yield to the influences of grace; because nothing can resist Omnipotence. No grace is given unless through faith. Faith is the first grace, and the source of all others. The sinner is not free, unless to sin, without the free grace of God. Without grace we can love nothing, except to our ruin. The grace of God alone prepares men to render the sacrifice of faith ; without this he can offer nothing save impunity. All the other means of salvation are contained'in faith, as in its germ, but this faith is not without love. The goodness of God condenses the way of salvation. by including all in faith and prayers. The signs of the Christian church are, that it is Catholic; comprehending all the angels in heaven, all the elect, and all the just on earth, during all ages. (This proposition is important, because it excludes one portion of the Catholic church, as usually defined by Romish theologians, namely, Ecclesia quæ purgatur in locis subterraneis). The study of the Scriptures is proper for all. To take away the New Testament from Christians, or to withhold from them the means of understanding it, is to shut up the mouth of Christ. To oppose the study of the Scriptures, especially of the gospels, is to withdraw the use of light from the children of light, and place the Scriptures themselves under excommunication.*
Against these and similar propositions, his Holiness issued his apostolic thunders, which are preserved for our astonishment and edification in his famous bull, just referred to. It is a beautiful specimen of fraternal love, and Christian charity for erring brethren; and that we may learn how heartily he can curse and execrate, who professes to be the successor of those who, like their master, went about only doing good, it may be well to quote a portion of it. “Having learned, therefore, partly by word of
These condemned propositions and the whole bull are founded in the appendix to the Decret. et Canon, Con, Trid. p. 281, in the edition published at Rome and Leipsig, 1842.
mouth, and partly being informed by the testimony both of cardinals and other theologians; and especially having sought for that end, by secret prayers, the Divine direction, both in public and in private, we do hereby curse and condemn all and each of the propositions herein already mentioned, by this our perpetual and irresistible edict, as being false, deceitful, of evil report, offensive to pious ears, disgraceful, pernicious, audacious, injurious to the church and her ordinances, hurtful not only to the church, but also to secular powers, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, not only among heretics themselves, but producing other heresies and schisms, erroneous, accursed over and over again; and among all these damnable heresies, especially also, those which are contained in the five famous propositions of Jansenius, and that, too, in the very sense in which they were before condemned by us, and understood by him."
But these persecutions again reacted favorably toward the Jansenists. The propositions condemned in Quesnell's book, were mainly Scripture explanations, or passages, directly quoted from the Fathers and the ancient liturgies. If the Pope was aware of this fact, in condemning the propositions, he condemned the acknowledged authorities of the Church. If he did not know it, it exhibited an ignorance in itself still more culpable. General indignation was excited. The archbishop of Paris, Anthony Noailles, was favorably disposed toward the Jansenists, and had all along regarded them with partiality. He now boldly appealed from this absurd decision, and demanded the convocation of a general council. The cry to this effect became widely extended; while all who participated in this feeling became known in contemporary history, by the term Appellants.
But this appeal, as might have been expected, was evaded, and eventually denied. Accordingly, many Jansenists emigrated to the Netherlands, as the ministers Dubois and Fleury persisted in the execution of the bull. Now comes the most unfavorable era in the history of Jansenism. In consequence of these varied persecutions, these persons began to regard themselves as the especial favorites of heaven. The gift of miracles, therefore, became entrusted to them. Around the tombs of their departed and venerated saints, the fanatical multitude assembled, where extraordinary and miraculous cures were supposed to be wrought upon the faithful. The most remarkable of these saints was the renowned Abbé de Paris, a deacon of the church in Paris : a man of noble birth, but of gloomy temperament, and amazingly superstitious. He had brought on his own death by his religious and devotional severities; and wonderful cures were supposed to have taken place at his grave. Indeed, the miracles to which the Jansenists laid claim, began to be performed in the convent