Page images
PDF
EPUB

continuing the historical chain, we shall quickly and clearly see, that popery and Arminianism have been ever since, as good friends as they were in the days of Wickliff, or at the breaking up of the council of Trent. I shall give two famous instances. The conduct of the Romish church toward Jansenius; and, more recently, toward father Quesnell, will plainly show, that popery and Calvinism are as far from shaking hands as ever.

SECTION IV.

The Arminianism of the Church of Rome farther

evinced, in her treatment of Jansenius and Quesnell.

Cornelius JANSEN, bishop of Ypres, flourished about fifty years after the dissolution of the above execrable synod. Though born of popish parents, and conversant with papists all his life, it pleased God to open the eyes of this prelate, in such a manner, as gave the most serious alarm to the friends of Rome; and with a success, which has probably lain the basis of a future reformation in the church of France. This great man, naturally of a studious turn, applied himself with peculiar diligence, to the works of Austin. On reading them carefully, he saw, and was surprised to see, how enormously the church, which calls herself catholic, had deviated from the system of that ancient father, whom, nevertheless, she has justly honoured with the titles of saint, and doctor of grace; and to whose authority, she has often been so audacious as to carry her appeal. Many of the enlightened clergy and laity of our own church, can easily form a judgment of Jansenius' feelings on this occasion,, by the astonishment which themselves have experienced,

when, on a careful review of her admirable liturgy, articles, and homilies, they first began to discern the vastness of that doctrinal chasm, which severs her real from her reputed sons.

The farther Jansenius advanced, the more he read, prayed, and reflected, the deeper and the clearer was his conviction of the general apostasy from truth. Yet, determined to make no rash conclusions, and resolved to have firm ground for every step he took, he devoted more than twenty years to the momentous enquiry. He went through the whole works of the voluminous father, ten times. Those parts of them, which professedly treat of grace, predestination, and free-will, he read thirty times over: making such large and laborious extracts from those valuable writings, as, when properly arranged, and digested into a regular synopsis, might ascertain the doctrine of St. Austin, concerning these points, beyond all possibility of doubt.

In a world like the present, but especially in those parts of it where popery is the reigning superstition, it is often extremely difficult to connect integrity with prudence. The man who will be honest, must run some risk. Jansenius, having been sent on a kind of academic embassy, to negotiate some business of importance with the Spanish king, in favour of the university of Louvain, the good fathers of the inquisition appeared extremely desirous to sacrifice Jansenius to the manes of Pelagius. Probably, during his residence in Spain, Jansen might have rendered himself suspected of heresy, by talking too freely in favour of predestination, and by imprudently hinting, how much he wished to see his church really espouse the principles of that saint, whose works she pretended to revere as oracles. However this was, the inquisitors were alarmed; and actually applied to Basil de Leon, at whose house he had lodged, to furnish them with such materials against him, as might justify their citing him before the tribunal of

the holy office. But, by the blessing of providence on the courage and address of Basil, the rising storm was dispelled ; and Jansenius, then lately returned to Flanders, continued unmolested in his college : from whence, a few years after, he was (not for his religious, but for his secular services) raised to the mitre. In his consecration to the see of Ypres, the Romanists have had the mortification to behold a heretical bishop of an infallible church. Nay, he was the very bishop, by the imposition of whose hands cardinal Bellamine himself received the order of priesthood. Misfortunes these, which the zeal of the good Spanish inquisitors would willingly have rendered impossible, by laying the axe to the root in due season.

Let no reader imagine, that I am either blind to the dark parts of this eminent prelate's conduct, or willing to conceal them. Intimidated, very probably, by the narrowness of his escape in Spain, Janse. nius did not venture to publish his collections from St. Austin. Nay, (such is man!) he even waged å paper war with the protestants of Holland, and sought to retrieve his character at Rome, by ridiculously attempting to prove, that the doctrine of grace maintained by Austin, was not that doctrine of grace maintained by Calvin. To such wretched shifts, and palpable contradictions, are even great and good men reduced, when they have not a sufficient portion of intrepidity, to assert the truth at all events. And what did he gain by this duplicity? What all trimmers deserve, and most of them meet with : hatred and contempt.

His memory is execrated by the general voice of the Romish church, who have, without scruple, branded heresy on his name, and whose bigotry would not suffer his very (h) tomb to be left

(h) Mr. Bayle, from Leydecker gives the following account of the demolition of Jansenius' monument. “ Francis de Robes," who succeeded Jansen in the bishopric of Ypres, “ caused the tombr

standing in his own cathedral of Ypres. For, his valuable Excerpta from St. Austin, which he had not the courage to publish himself, appeared within two years after his decease: and raised such a ferment among the papists, particularly in France and Flanders, as all the arts and efforts of infallibility knew not how to lay. Light shone in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. She, who affects to pride herself on being the “centre of unity,” found herself agitated with all the discord and distractions of a chaotic war. The book asserted, from St. Austin, that "there are no remains of purity or goodness, in human nature, since the fall : that the influence of grace is irresistible : and that, in the work of conversion and sanctification, all is to be ascribed to grace, and nothing to human nature. On the contrary, the Jesuits maintained, as they still do” (would to God that Jesuits were the only ones), “that human nature is far from being deprived of all power of doing good; and that man, born free, may resist the operations of grace (i);" i. e, so resist them, as to render them eventually ineffectual.

“ In the year 1641," continues the last cited historian, “the Jesuits, adding to their arguments the interest they had at the court of Rome, got the book • Augustinus' prohibited by the Inquisition; and,

stone of his predecessor to be taken away silently by night, on which were written the praises of his virtue and learning, and, particularly, of his book intitled Augustinus.” The epitaph, it seems, imported, that “this most faithful interpreter of St. Augustin's most secret thoughts, had employed, upon that work, a divine wit, an indefatigable labour, and all the time of his life;" adding, that “ the church would receive the fruit of it upon earth, as he did the reward of it in heaven.” Words these, which were not only totally incompatible with the decisions of the council of Trent; but moreover, as Mr. Bayle observes, “ Injurious to the bulls of pope Urban VIII. and Innocent X. who bad condemned that book.” He adds, that “the destruction of the grave-stone was made by an express order of pope Alexander VII.” Bayle's Dict. vol. iii.

p.

548. (i) Bower's Hist. of the Popes, vol. vii. p.

480.

the following year, solemnly condemned by the pope, as reviving the errors which his predecessors had banished.” This pope was Urban VIII. His successor, Innocent X. went still farther in his opposition to the synopsis of St. Austin ; for he condemned,

By a bull, dated May 31, 1653, the five following propositions, selected, by the Jesuits, out of Jansenius' Augustinus, as the most proper to discredit that work. These propositions were,

“ I. There are divine precepts which good men, notwithstanding their desire to observe them, are absolutely unable to obey, &c.

“ II. No person, in this corrupt state of nature, can resist the influence of divine grace.

“ III. In order to render human actions (k) meritorious or otherwise, it is not requisite that they be exempt from necessity, but only that they be free from constraint.

“ IV. The Semipelagians admitted preventing grace to be necessary to every” (good) “ action; and their heresy consisted in this, that they allowed the human will to be indued with a power of resisting that grace, or of complying with its influence (1).

(k) Jansenius was, certainly, a man of too great penetration, and too weil versed in the theory of consequences, not to know that absolute grace cuts up human merit by the roots. But, being determined to keep up some appearance of attachment to the Roman see, that these truths, he ventured to assert, might have the wider and securer spread among the people of that communion; he found, or thought he found it needful, to open their eyes by degrees, and not pour too much light upon them at once. He contented himself, therefore, on some occasions, with establishing certain premises, from whence, indeed, certain conclusions naturally and necessarily follow; but which he prudently left to the illation of his disciples. This was sbrewd; but all the candour in the world cannot call it honest.

(1) The learned Mastricht cites this fourth proposition with a little variation : Semipelagiani admittebant prævenientes gratiæ interioris necessitatum ad singulos actus, etiam ad initium fidei : et in hoc erant hæretici, quòd vellent, eam gratiam talem esse cui posset humana voluntas resistere, vel obtemperare. Operum, p. 1176. Amstel. 1724.

« PreviousContinue »