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hides its head; unbroken harmony and holy enterprise prevail; security, opulence, the favor of the great, and the benignant smiles of heaven, cheer it onward in its triumphant way. While at another period, we behold it sadly and feebly struggling through the gloom, torn by factions and heresies within, harassed by implacable enemies without, coldness and formalism depressing its spirit, despair and coming disasters foredarkening the future.
Under such circumstances, the church of God, when pervaded and vivified by his Spirit, has ever exhibited an inherent energy, which has successively retrieved her falling fortunes; ever rising like the phenix from its ashes, to soar with increased splendor and invigorated pinion, in the clear sunshine of the divine favor. During its past career in the world, the church has been called to pass through a variety of such revolutionary struggles, of greater or less importance, in proportion to the magnitude of the evils to be removed, and the power of the purifying element employed. In the progress of time, tyranny and corruption, the consequences of its connexion with human things, deform the church, until they endanger the existence of the whole. Then it is, that the first, faint mutterings of contemplated struggling are heard, until the pent-up elements can no longer be controlled, and an explosion occurs, which rends the heavens, shakes principalities and popedoms to their centre, tears asunder the massive chains of tyranny which have bound the truth, purifies the spiritual atmosphere, and then enables the Church to enter on a new career, to feel the ecstasy of a new life.
Such an event, the greatest in the history of the Church, was the Reformation. Other ecclesiastical revolutions, of similar nature, but of less extent, have frequently occurred. These, doubtless, ever will occur, until the church has completed her earthly
Each such' revolution teaches us new lessons, and developes new phases of truth; and when the church shall have learned all those which Providence designs to teach her, she will be prepared to be merged into another and a heavenly element. Such a movement, as those in question, was Jansenism, the subject of our present investigation.
The existence of Jansenism, and the fact that it was called into being, and developed, to some extent, in the Romish church, is a proof that there is still some redeeming element even remaining in that church. It proves that God has not entirely deserted it; that it still possesses some seeds of truth, which, though surrounded by a luxuriant growth of noxious weeds, He still cares for and cultivates. It proves that God had a church in the world, from the sixth to the sixteenth centuries; that his word was not entrusted, during that wide waste of ages, to heathens; and it gives a rational surety, that portions of that church, after
all their purifications shall have been accomplished, will be eventually united with the company of God's redeemed. Those revolutions which have occurred in the church of Rome, have all been shaped by the peculiar circumstances in which they happened, and the peculiar evils which they were designed to obviate. This remark is illustrated by that interesting movement, which we now propose to examine. By the origin of Jansenism, by the
. struggles through which it passed, by the character of its men and its principles, by the character of those who opposed it, and by the very grounds of that opposition, we shall be taught truthy of importance, which are not so clearly developed by any other revolution which has transpired within the pale of the Romislı church.
In consequence of the great rent which occurred in that church in the sixteenth century, by which she lost one-half of her choicest domains, the hierarchy was taught the absolute necessity of organizing some bodies of bold, adventurous, and compact militia of the church, by whose ceaseless encroachments on Protestantism, as well as on Heathenism, these losses might be repaired. The fanatical zeal of one enthusiast, most opportunely supplied, what the coolest heads of the sacred conclave could have devised. The ardor of Loyola, rivalling that of Adalbert and Xavier, expended itself in the organization of an extensive society of able men, who were to become illustrious throughout the world, by their unexampled devotion to the apostolic see. The usual abuses which are connected with extensive ramifications, in any such religious associations, soon appeared. Secret crimes, fearful conspiracies, bloody tragedies, extortions, and assassinations, soon began to disgrace the annals of the Society of Jesus. The attention of the nations was beginning to be attracted toward it. They had just reason for alarm ; inqniries were started, fears were expressed, protests were sent in to the highest authorities of the church, demanding investigation and light on the subject. It was to the general distrust of the doctrines and measures of the Jesuits, which began to prevail extensively in the earlier portion of the seventeenth century, that Jansenism, to a great extent, owes its origin. But it is to be observed, that Jesuitism, in all its aspects, is a legitimate development of Romanism, generated by its genius, and fostered by its spirit. Hence, Jansenism, in originating from opposition to Jesuitism, originated from an opposition to pure Romanism, and, as such, doubtless deserves the greater confidence and respect.
The doctrines which are usually termed Augustinian, have frequently been made the occasion of the most virulent controversies in the church. Upon them, and their defence, great events have depended. The sects of Christendom, both ancient and modern, have often split upon them; and upon them, too, as distinctive bases, have been founded some of the purest portions of the Redeemer's fold, which have ever existed. Thus, in Augustine's day, they were the distinguishing badge between Orthodoxy and Pelagianism. In the era of the scholastic theology, the two great orders of Thomists and Scotists, Dominicans and Franciscans, were arrayed against each other in reference to them. In the Reformation, those who sought for a purer church and a better religion, in opposition to the old mass of established corruption, espoused them. In the German, Swiss, French, and Scotch reformed churches, they were, at first, universally prevalent. In the Church of England, the more pious and spiritual portion of the establishment, ever since the days of Laud, have been known as entertaining such sentiments, in opposition to Semi-Pelagianism, worldly formality, and stupid pomp. It is remarkable, that nearly every movement for reform, of any radical and thorough nature, which has occurred in the church, has espoused these doctrines, and given them a permanent position in their system and symbolical books.
It was thus also, on these doctrines that the sect or school of the Jansenists was established. The first period of its separate existence was the most commendable; for then its leaders were eminent and holy men; and then its friends were composed of the most spiritual and enlightened members of the Romish church. Then its doctrines were most pure; its disciplinary observances were best calculated to crush the world, and foster devotional feelings in the heart. Afterward, as will appear, when this school had run a career of persecuted purity, and commendable excellence, unwarrantable excesses crept in, which greatly detracted from its standing among its contemporaries, and make the perusal of its history less interesting to us. But these evils are incident to humanity. No system of opinion, possessed of so many excellent ingredients, and of so much which is creditable, is responsible as a system, for the perversions which may be engrafted upon it, by ignorant fanatics, who may have subsequently obtruded themselves into connexion with it. If this be any just ground for reprehending, or condemning any institution altogether, we would find it very difficult to exculpate genuine Christianity itself.
Cornelius Jansen, or Jansenius, from whom this movement takes its name, was a Hollander, born in 1585. Subsequently he pursued his studies at the University of Louvain, in intimate association with a friend of religious and intellectual tendencies with his own, Jean du Verger, from Gascony. They afterward retired together to Bayonne, subsisting on the means of the latter person, which, fortunately for them, were ample. There they pursued together their favorite studies, and entered deeply into the works and spirit of Augustine. Jansenius afterward became Professor of Theology in Louvain, and also Bishop of Ypres. Here he died in 1638, with a great reputation fo ability and sanctity. His friend Du Verger, was promoted to the Abbey of St. Cyrau, and carried out into more practical life, yet in a somewhat ascetic form, the principles so forcibly discussed by the more intellectual Jansenius.
The most remarkable event in the life of Jansenius, was the production of his principal work, his "Augustine,” in which his peculiar views are contained and developed, which are simply à reproduction of the sentiments of that great luminary of the early church. So nearly are the views of both 'allied, that the theologians of Paris were in the frequent habit of speaking of the Augustine of Ypres, as being the perfect counterpart of the Augustine of Hippo. The doctrines which are set forth in this celebrated work, may be thus epitomized : Jansenius starts out with the principle, that the human heart is not naturally in a state of moral freedom; that it is confined and constrained by sinful tendencies ; nor has it the power, when unaided from above, to throw off that bondage. The grace of God must operate upon the soul; and his influences will impart a capacity for spiritual enjoyments. The soul will then seek after such enjoyments, and will thus be brought, more and more, under moral and purifying influences, and make advances in the attainment of holiness. This holiness is found in God himself. He must be regarded as the centre of all purity, as the dispenser of all moral excellence. His law forms the standard of all holy living; and to love God, is to love and to obey his law. These two he regards as inseparable. In this love the freedom of the will consists; the heavenly influence of which extinguishes all our natural lusts. Thus is produced an inexpressible delight in holy things, and in spiritual exercises; which deliver the soul, by the influence of grace, from the desire and necessity of sinning, while it produces the contrary tendency to virtue.
Though this work is chiefly remarkable for its practical and moral excellence, yet this is not its only merit. It treats of some of the most abstruse dogmas of theology with remarkable clearness and philosophical acumen, which prove its author to have possessed rare intellectual endowments.
Du Verger, or St. Cyrau, as he is usually called from the name of his convent, enjoyed abundant leisure, in the retirement of the cloister, to carry out into more practical application, the opinions which he and his friends had espoused. The ordinary penances, and the usual disciplinary observances of the church, were not sufficient for him. Extraordinary exercises of a devotional nature, were commended and observed. The world was to be entirely crushed within the heart, and the all-transforming
power of religion was to be not only commenced, but completed there. The heart was first to be renewed, and forth from the centre and spring of action, the great work was to proceed into all the ramifications of our being, until the subject of this extraordinary change was transformed into a new and renovated moral agent.
Jansenius died before his “Augustine” was published. Upon its appearance it produced a wonderful sensation, and very soon numerous proselytes were added to the little community which clustered around Du Verger. These accessions were not confined to the obscure and the illiterate; for Arnauld d’Andilly, an associate of Richelieu, and in high confidence with Anne of Austria, was among the number. So also Le Maitre, the most eloquent and powerful member of the French Parliament, together with Angelique Arnaud and her nuns, of Port Royal, all united themselves with the rising and extending community.
But soon reverses came upon the heels of this good fortune. St. Cyrau was imprisoned, yet this disaster only increased the eventual popularity of the association. At the death of Richelieu he was liberated, though he died shortly afterward, in 1643. But he and his friend, Jansenius, had established a school, which was destined long to survive the earthly career of its founders; whose augmenting numbers and increasing influence spread abroad the principles which they had promulgated. The society soon assumed a definite form, and a prominent position before the world. The spirituality of their religion, the rigor of their ethics, the holiness of their lives, together with their increasing importance and numbers, marked them out as the natural foes of the Jesuits, whose conduct, whose principles, and whose influence were so directly the opposite of their own.
The Jansenists began now to excel both in useful and in elegant literature. They translated the Scriptures, and some of the Fathers, into the vernacular tongue; and they carefully improved the system of education at Port Royal. Their works on ancient and inodern languages, mathematics, and logic, possessed unusual merit, and became extensively popular. Especially their polemical works against their theological (but not on that account the less implacable) foes, the Jesuits, were written with extraordinary vigor of reasoning, brilliancy of intellect, and extent of erudition. They numbered among their community men no less distinguished than the scientific Pascal, the poetic Racine, and the learned Tillemont. Gradually many of the French and Dutch clergy became favorable to their doctrines, and fairer prospects seemed to open before the community in France, than under the administration of Cardinal de Retz.
These successes but increased the violence of their old enemies, the Jesuits. It had been by means of the able and skilful