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the purity of their lives, and are sometimes censured for too rigid a piety."
THE ROMISH CHURCH.
The reformation had deprived the Roman church of the half part of the dominion in Europe, and seemed to have impaired very considerably her authority over the nations still subject to her superstition. The reformers had suffered themselves to be fully persuaded that the mystic Babylon was about to fall, and they erroneously applied to themselves the symbol of the stone cut from the mountain without hands, which was to destroy the whole fabric of human power, by which the apostate was supported ; and that they were to become the “great mountain which was to fill the wuole earth." And when we consider the wonderful
progress made by their principles in so short a period, over a system of falsehood and superstition which the custom of ages had rivetted on the human mind, but which now seemed every where to give way at the slightest touch, it must be acknowledged that the prospect exhibited much that had a tendency to flatter them. But the Protestants very soon became weakened by their divisions, and contentions among themselves. They were guilty also of an important error, in not respecting the sacred principle of order in the church, which it was far more easy, in their ardent zeal, to pull down, than to erect in its place a new ecclesiastical fabrie which could command the respect of mankind. The wealth of which the church had been robbed in Protestant countries, was more than ever needful for her support ; needful for the independence of her ministers, who were no longer to be exempted from the common cares of life, by being " forbidden to marry;"needful as a fund of education, for without instruction, the golden canon of protestantism," the right of private judgment,” might prove very mischievous and hurtful to some of its possessors, Luther soon perceived a multitude around him, whom he wished had continued Papists. The gift of religious liberty to the people, required that the "key of knowledge" should be well invested; for the preservation of this blessing, a generally respected church order, which the spiritually ambitious could not hope to violate, was more than ever necessary. The pressure of the former church authority, had indeed been too great to admit the becoming liberty of the Christian mind, and for honest inquiry to have sufficient play ; but, altogc
Buchanan's Christian Researches.
ther relaxed, it threatened the dissolution of the community. True piety clothed with humility would not wander far; but the external church, which is to be governed under “ the Chief Shepherd,” in every country and under every form and regimen, is found to be composed of other elements than those. The Protestant community, considered generally, suffered for the want of order and well-regulated public authority. In some parts also of the Protestant world, an infringement was made upon the Divine precept, and recourse was had to the weapons of a carnal warfare. This rarely prospered long; and it ever seemed entailed with the curse, “ He that killeth with the sword shall perish with the sword; and he that leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity.” By the careful reader of history, even the military successes of Protestants will be found, in their fruits, to have had a baneful effect on their religion, as to its true interest. Little has been won in arms, but much has been brought about for the welfare of religion, by that Providence which“ setteth up kings and putteth down kings,” and “ turneth the hearts of princes whithersoever he pleaseth.
But above all, that TRUTH, which in the early days of protestantism was so “ mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong holds” of idolatry and superstition, was not long retained in purity, every where in the reformed part of the world. The first generation had hardly fallen asleep, when several deyiations from the original doctrines began to make their appearance; and, though the same hostility remained against the grosser corruptions of the papacy, the united arm no longer struck at the foundation, and the blows were much enfeebled.
On the other hand, the superstition of Rome, when restored from the paralysing effects of the first attack, recovered strength, and supplied by artifice and political craft what it had lost of direct authority. “The vital principle,” which the historian'has attributed to the “ Eternal City," was yet to put forth new animation ; or, to speak in allusion to the language of Scripture, whose prophetic parts the reformers had too hastily expounded, the “mystery of iniquity” was still to operate ; the “working of Satan with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” was yet to last longer. Nor was "all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish,” yet exhausted : “ because men received not the love of the truth,” “ God's judgment would still send a strong delusion that they might believe a lie.” How often, in the
history of the apostate church, has she appeared on the point of being unmasked, by her covetousness and profligacy, in the eyes of her superstitious votaries, and they ready to spoil her, and
strip her naked, and burn her with fire!” But when, at the very eve apparently of a revolution, something extraordinary has saved her from ruin. When the corruption and luxurious negligence of her secular clergy had almost exposed her to shame, the fictitious piety of the ancient monks, exhibited in their voluntary humility, and austerity, and pretended miracles, redeemed her character with the people. And when these were sunk in sloth and ignorance, and were corrupted by the wealth which they had amassed, so that the delusion again seemed ready to burst, the two famous orders of “begging and preaching friars” arose, the Franciscans and Dominicans, and the policy of Rome adopted them; and they, with the ardour of new societies, practised the arts of superstition, and strengthened afresh her spiritual dominion. But these new orders were at length themselves corrupted from the strictness of their original discipline, and often disgraced the cause they should have supported. The veil of superstition again seemed about to be torn. At this period, the truth of the reformation blazed forth, and penetrated every corner of the Roman Catholic world. Had men then "received the love of the truth,' and not still " had pleasure in unrighteousness,” the magic sceptre of Rome had been broken. But this was not the case, and the powers of darkness once more came to her assistance. At this critical period there arose suddenly, and in a most remarkable manner, a new order and society, exactly suited to the times, and most admirably adapted to supply the very instrument needed to uphold the declining cause of Rome.
This new order was the society of the Jesuits. It originated in the extraordinary fanaticism of Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish knight. Having been wounded in the siege of Pampeluna, in 1521, during his convalescence he began to read the lives of the saints, and the illiterate soldier resolved to quit the military for the ecclesiastical profession. He dedicated himself to the Virgin Mary, as her knight, and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After studying in the Spanish universities, he began to project this new order, - by the immediate inspiration of Heaven as he pretended, -and assisted, as it is supposed, by some more wise than himself, who saw the importance of such a fanatic. He laid down its rudiments with wonderful success. In 1540, the pope confirmed the society; Loyola presided over it for fifteen years, and under the next succeeding generals of the order,
465 Laynez and Aquaviva, men greatly superior to him in abilities, its institutions were brought to perfection. Thus, contemporary with the reformation, or immediately following its steps, an instrument was preparing, which was well calculated to check its progress, to counteract its influence, and, in an indirect way, to destroy its sources.
The plan of this society, which soon spread over all the Roman world, and had its secret agents in all Protestant countries, was laid with wonderful wisdom and sagacity, in order to meet the exigencies of the times, and to avail itself of every advance which had been in the recent improvements of civilisation. The Jesuits were to retain all that was useful in the ancient monkish institutions; accordingly, they bound themselves by vows of poverty, celibacy, and of the most implicit obedience to the superior of the order; and to these was added a most rigorous obligation to go without deliberation or delay wherever the pope should think fit to send them. But it was perceived that the times were past, when, by monkish austerities and the religious devotions of the recluse, they could win the veneration of mankind, and by that means insinuate themselves into the government of their opinions; the Jesuits were therefore to spend their time in a different manner. They were to study man in his now improving state, emerging from the barbarity and ignorance of the dark ages, and to calculate upon
his new wants and propensities, as the means of their success. They were particularly to fit themselves for the education of youth, especially of the higher orders, according to the late improvements. The revival of classical literature had hitherto been of great assistance to the Protestants, and had been most assiduously cultivated by them; but now they were no longer to possess this superiority. The vast importance of the press, in the hands of the enemies of Rome, had also been seen in this inquiring age; the Jesuits were therefore to be trained to use this engine of war in her defence. An activity had indeed been recently given to the human mind in every rank and pursuit of life. Governments studied a more refined policy; the arts and sciences were throwing off the shackles of ages; the intercourse of nations was opened by adventurous travellers; speculations of trade and commerce were enlarged, and received new directions; and inventions to increase the convenience and enjoyments of life, were every where multiplied. To every pursuit of man in all the business of life, the Jesuit was to accommodate himself, and to cultivate the talents which would make him agreeable, useful, or necessary; or fit to et counsellor and the guide in every department.
left of the ancient superstition, which could be emo advantage, was not neglected ; and in particular, they A after the office of confessors to the Catholic princes, and le leading persons in society. And, indeed, by their dexAy and address, they contrived, in a very short time, to engross this profession to themselves; and thus, the consciences of those who ruled mankind being put within their keeping, they acquired an unbounded influence.
Whatever advantage the Jesuits acquired as instructers of youth, as arbiters of literature and of public manners, as ministers of religion or as teachers of philosophy, as the companions or advisers of mankind - all was faithfully turned and applied to one point — the interest of their order, and to its great object - the aggrandisement of the Roman pontiff.
Numerous as they were, and composed of men of such a variety of character, one spirit animated the whole, and every order was received and circulated throughout the world, and executed with military exactness. No affair of importance, which happened in the next two hundred years, from the time of their institution, escaped their observation; and there were very few that were entirely free from their intermeddling or management. · Commanding such resources, they knew how to fix the proper man in his right station, and could select and bring him from the remotest regions. The reformers, after being accustomed to the easy defeat of the Romish doctors, found a new body of well disciplined troops - brought into the field against them, trained for argument and disputation, often their superiors in the knowledge of the world, and “ well informed to make the worse appear the better reason.” These were united; the Protestants were divided. The former had no room to dispute about indifferent and subordinate matters; they had a single eye to their great object. The Protestants did not so serve the cause of truth; they quarrelled among themselves about trifles, and fought against each other. Neither their camp nor their councils were free from the spies and secret emissaries of the enemy. In all their civil dissensions and religious disputes, it has been suspected that the Jesuits had a hand; and it more than once appeared as probable, that the reformation, instead of pursuing its victories to the destruction of Rome, would fall before her, sapped and undermined, and overcome by artful policy.
All the active powers of the Romish church were concentrated in this society, and directed through its channels. - It