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obtained from Benedict, alleging that it was too favorable to the civil and temporal power ".
This pontiff was a man of respectable abilities; had a regard for justice; was cautious and prudent, yet not destitute of spirit; oeconomical, without being meanly parsimonious; easy of access, without rendering himself indecorously familiar. He had a taste for the polite arts, and was an encourager of literary merit. Dying in his eighty-eighth year, he was succeeded by Prosper Laurence Lambertini, archbishop of Bologna, who entered upon his high office under the designation of Benedict XIV.
Lambertini had acquired the character of religious moderation, and the fame of learning; and, during a pontificate of eighteen years, he acted in general with prudence and propriety. He did not profess himself a politician, or claim the merit of activity and address in the important concerns of temporal government: yet he was not so negligent or remiss as his patron, the thirteenth Benedict. His chief minister was cardinal Valenti, who was at once a virtuoso and a man of business.
In the administration of the church, Benedict XIV. was mild and conciliatory, rather than rigid or severe. He was aware of the relaxed morality of the clergy in the catholic states: but, however he might wish to check their licentiousness, he did not take any strong or violent measures for that purpose. He was disposed to promote an union or accommodation between the Roman see, and the Greek and protestant churches; and, if he could have succeeded by concession or compromise, he would have reconciled all religious differences among Christian communities : but that was a task which exceeded his
powers of exertion, and which, indeed, no man can expect to accomplish. He was censured by
Guarnacci, tom. ii. p. 579, 580, &c. • In February, 1740.
many of the Romanists for attempting to diminish the number of festivals, and to abolish some cere. monies which appeared to him to be useless, improper, or absurd *; and he also gave offence by the occasional levity of his conversation, which, however, was unaccompanied with immorality or profligacy.
With the catholic courts he had no violent disputes. During the war in which the French were opposed to the house of Austria, he seemed inclined to favor the former; but he endeavoured to avoid giving offence to either of the rival families. He carried on a negotiation, for some years, with Ferdinand, king of Spain, on a subject which had frequently been a cause of altercation. His catholic majesty claimed the right of presentation to all the benefices in his ample dominions; but he at length consented to the disposal of fifty-two of the number by the pontiff, on condition that they should be given to Spaniards alone, and that no pensions should be exacted from the occupants. By the compact then adjusted “, the revenues of vacant benefices were left to a clergyman named by the king, not to the rapacity of a committee of papal agents; and, in some other respects, the receipts of the apostolical chamber were considerably diminished.
At the solicitation of those princes who were displeased at the intrigues, and offended at the malpractices of the Jesuits, Benedict promised to exert his authority for the reform of that order; and the bull which he issued for this purpose was one of the last acts of his life. He died in 1758, when he had attained the age of eighty-three years. He was an
+ He had prepared bulls for these purposes : but the monks excited such a clamor on the occasion, that he did not carry them into effect. Voyages en différens Pays de l'Europe. Haye, 1777 ; lettre 15.
It has been affirmed, that he abolished autos da fe in Portugal, at the desire of king Joseph; and, if he had, such a suppression would have been honorable to his memory: but the assertion appears to be untrue.
u In the year 1753.
erudite and able theologian, as his numerous works evince; a liberal patron of learning and the elegant arts; a lively companion, a benevolent and friendly man, Cardinal Rezzonico, bishop of Padua, who succeeded him as Clement XIII., had a greater reputation for piety, and was more zealous for the high claims of the church : but he was not so generally esteemed as his amiable predecessor.
The doctrines of the Romish church, at this period, remained in the same state in which they had long subsisted. The worship of the Virgin Mary, the tenet of transubstantiation, the idea of purgatory, the propriety of invoking saints, the right and power of absolution, and other parts of the catholic creed, were still retained, and still had considerable influence. The pageantry of procession, the multitude of ceremonies, and the forms of worship, were nearly the same as they had been in the preceding century; and the church-government and discipline were not materially altered. But the majority of the people entertained less exalted ideas of the pope's supremacy, and preferred the authority of general councils. The higher classes rather seemed to admit, than really believe, the doctrine of a priest's being the maker of his God in the eucharist, and gave an outward credence to other absurdities, which they secretly deemed an insult to their understandings. The catholic sovereigns were more enlightened, and more disposed to tolerate other religions; and the ecclesiastics themselves were less bigoted, and more indulgent to the supposed errors of those who differed from them.
While the affairs of the church were in this predicament, the conduct of the Jesuits, and the proceedings against that society, drew the public attention more particularly to ecclesiastical concerns. The rise and progress of that celebrated fraternity, and the chief incidents of its history, have been well related by Dr. Mosheim; and, in our continuation of
his work", we have given a concise (but, we hope, a satisfactory) account of that renewal of contest, with the advocates of Jansenism, which distinguished the pontificate of Clement XI. The effect was, in appearance, favorable to the Jesuits : yet they im, paired their interest by the violent proceedings of their party against the Jansenists. After a long interval of comparative tranquillity, the animosities of contest were revived by the refusal of sacramental favors to dying persons, who were supposed to be attached to the Jansenian heresy.
But, before we enter into any detail upon this subject, it may not be improper to advert to the progress of that infidel philosophy, which had no inconsiderable effect in promoting the ruin of the Jesuits. Bayle, and other writers, in the reign of Louis XIV., had propagated a freedom of opinion on religious topics, which had shaken the faith of many readers; and Voltaire, following more openly a similar course, had disseminated an anti-christian spirit, which menaced the establishment with peril. Diderot and d'Alembert, who, in 1751, sent the Encyclopédie into the world, insinuated scepticism and impiety in the midst of scientific discussions ; and free-thinking became so prevalent, as to alarm the clergy, and call forth their zeal in the defence of an endangered church. The Jesuits, nursed in priest-craft, and devoted to the holy see, were peculiarly exposed to these profane attacks. Their arts and intrigues were developed, and their selfish policy was reprobated with pointed severity. Their Jansenist opponents, at the same time, were not spared, as they had too much religion to be in favor with sceptics.
w This term has been used, as being, upon the whole, the most applicable: but, in some parts, it is a supplement, rather than a sequel. For instance, in addition to Dr. Mosheim's sketch of the contest between the church and the Jansenists in the reign of Louis XIV., and under the following regency, we have given a more detailed account of the proceedings on that occasion.
The archbishop of Paris was a friend to the Jesuits; and, therefore, when he was desired by the court to allay, by his high authority, the dispute between them and the Jansenists, he replied, that it was customary to with-hold the sacraments of the church from such as could not produce certificates of confession, signed by an orthodox priest; a refusal which had been originally introduced with a view of stigmatising the Huguenots. The parliament of Paris fined a priest for having repeatedly evinced this kind of bigotry, and issued an ordinance, in 1752, prohibiting all acts tending to schism, and all refusal of sacraments on pretence of non-adherence to the bull Unigenitus. The king wavered between the parties, and hoped to keep them so well poised, that no serious inconvenience would ensue from the ferment: but he did not steadily preserve the balance; and both the church and state were con. yulsed.
The archbishop of Paris took the lead, as a supporter of the cause of orthodoxy, against the encroachments of Jansenism; and he exhorted the court to oppose with vigor the presumptuous magistrates who countenanced that heresy. Louis, however, by the advice of the chancellor Lamoignon, adopted the expedient of an arbitration, and appointed delegates of both parties, to accommodate the dispute; a measure which only inflamed mutual acrimony. The parliament persisted in prosecuting such priests as withheld the sacraments; and, when the king commanded a discontinuance of these pro. cesses, an animated remonstrance was voted by the magistrates. He punished their disobedience by dispersion and exile, and instituted temporary tribunals to act in their stead. But the clamors of the public soon induced him to recall them; and an ordinance was then registered, for a cessation of all religious disputes *.
x Vie Privée de Louis XV.