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church, and restraining the corruption and liceri- CENT. IVUI. tiousness of the clergy; and for this purpose, in 1725, he held a council in the palace of the Lateran, whose acts and decrees have been made public. But the event did not answer his expectations; nor is it probable that Benedict XIV. who is attempting the execution of the same worthy purpose, though by different means, will meet with better success.
We must not omit observing here, that the modern bishops of Rome make but an indifferent figure in Europe, and exhibit little more than an empty shadow of the authority of the ancient pontiffs. Their prerogatives are diminished, and their power is restrained within very narrow bounds. The sovereigne princes and states of Europe, who embrace their communion, no longer tremble at the thunder of the Vatican, but treat their anathemas with contempt. They, indeed, load the holy father with pompous titles, and treat him with all the external marks of veneration and respect; yet they have given a mortal blow to his authority, by the prudent and artful distinction they make between the court of Rome and the Roman pontiff; for, under the cover of this distinction, they buffet him with one hand, and stroke him with the other; and, under the most respectful profession of attachment to his person, oppose the measures, and diminish still more, from day to day, the authority of his court. A variety of modern transactions might be alleged in confirmation of this, and more especially the debates that have arisen in this century, between the court of Rome and those of France, Portugal, Naples, and Sardinia, in all of which that ghostly court has been obliged to yield, and to discover its insignificancy and weakness.
VIII. There have been no serious attempts made All prospect in recent times to bring about a reconciliation between the Protestant and Romish churches; for, notwith-tween the standing the pacific projects formed by private per- and Romish sons with a view to this union, it is justly consi-communions
entirely redered as an impracticable scheme. The difficulties moved
of a reconciliation be
CENT. XVI. that attend its execution were greatly augmented by
the bull Unigenitus, which deprived the peace-makers of the principal expedient they employed for the accomplishment of this union, by putting it out of their power to soften and mitigate the doctrines of popery, that appeared the most shocking to the friends
, of the Reformation. This expedient had been frequently practised in former times, in order to remove the disgust that the Protestants had conceived against the church of Rome ; but that edict put an end to all these modifications, and, in most of those points that had occasioned our separation from Rome, represented the doctrine of that church in the very same shocking light in which it had been viewed by the first reformers. This shews, with the utmost evidence, that all the attempts the Romish doctors have made, from time to time, to give an air of plausibility to their tenets, and render them palatable, were so many snares insidiously laid to draw the Protestants into their communion ; that the specious conditions they proposed as the terms of a reconciliation, were perfidious stratagems; and that, consequently, there can be no firm dependence upon the promises and declarations of such a disingenuous set
of men. Intestine di- IX. The intestine discords, tumults, and divisions, the Romish that reigned in the Romish church, during the pre
ceding century, were so far from being terminated in this, that new fuel was added to the flame. These divisions still subsist; and the animosities of the contending parties seem to grow more vehement from day to day. The Jesuits are at variance with the Dominicans, and some other religious orders, though these quarrels make little noise, and are carried on with some regard to decency and prudence; the Dominicans are on bad terms with the Franciscans; the controversy concerning the nature, lawfulness, and expediency of the Chinese ceremonies, still continues, at least in Europe ; and were we to mention all the debates that divide the Romish church, which
boasts so much of its unity and infallibility, the cENT. XVIII, enumeration would be almost endless. The controversy relating to Jansenism, one of the principal sources of that division which reigned within the papal jurisdiction, has been carried on with great spirit and animosity in France and in the Netherlands. The Jansenists, or, as they rather choose to be called, the disciples of Augustin, are inferior to their adversaries the Jesuits, in number, power, and influence; but they equal them in resolution, prudence, and learning, and surpass them in sanctity of manners and superstition, by which they excite the respect of the people. When their affairs take an unfavorable turn, and they are oppressed and persecuted by their victorious enemies, they find an asylum in the Low-Countries; for the greatest part of the catholics in the Spanish Netherlands, and all the Romanists who live under the jurisdiction of the United Provinces, embrace the principles and doctrines of Jansenius f. The latter have almost renounced their allegiance to the pope, though they profess a warm attachment to the doctrine and communion of the church of Rome; nor are either the exhortations or threats of the holy father, sufficient to subdue the obstinacy of these wayward children,
W This assertion is too general. It is true, that the greatest
f part of the catholics in the United Provinces are Jansenists, and that there is no legal toleration of the Jesuits in that republic. It is, nevertheless, a known fact, and a fact that cannot be indifferent to those who have the welfare and security of these provinces at heart, that the Jesuits are daily gaining ground among the Dutch papists. They have a flourishing chapel in the city of Utrecht, and have places of worship in several other cities, and in a great number of villages. It would be worthy of the wisdom of the rulers of the republic to put a stop to this growing evil, and not to suffer, in a protestant country, a religious order which has been suppressed in a popish one, and declared hostile to the state *.
* This note is left for the purpose of shewing the state of affairs, at the time when Dr. Maclaine inserted it; but its purport is superseded by the effects of the French revolution. EDIT,
CENT. xvm.or to reduce them to a state of subjection and obedi
X. The cause of the Jansenists acquired a peculiar pocasioned, degree of credit and reputation, both in this and the New Testa. preceding century, by a French translation of the
New Testament, made by the learned and pious Pasquier Quesnel, a priest of the Oratory, and accompanied with practical annotations, adapted to excite lively impressions of religion in the minds of men. The quintessence of Jansenism was blended, in an elegant and artful manner, with these annotations, and was thus presented to the reader under the most pleasing aspect.
The Jesuits were alarmed at the success of Quesnel's book, and particularly at the change it had wrought in many, in favor of the doctrines of Jansenius; and, to remove out of the way an instrument which proved so advantageous to their adversaries, they engaged that weak prince Louis XIV. to solicit the condemnation of this production at the court of Rome. Clement XI. granted the request of the French monarch, because he considered it as the request of the Jesuits; and, in 1713, issued the famous bull Unigenitus, in which Quesnel's New Testament was condemned, and a hundred and one propositions contained in it were pronounced heretical 8. This bull, which is also known by the
W s To shew what a political weathercock the infallibility of the holy father was upon this occasion, it may not be improper to introduce an anecdote which is related by Voltaire in his Siecle de Louis XIV. vol.ii. The credit of the narrator, indeed, weighs lightly in the balance of historical fame; but the anecdote as well attested, and is as follows: “ The abbé Renaudot, a * learned Frenchman, happening to be at Rome in the first year “ of the pontificate of Clement XI., went one day to see
pope, * who was fond of men of letters, and was himself a learned
man, and found his holiness reading Father Quesnel's book. « On seeing Renaudot enter the apartment, the pope said, in a “ kind of rapture, . Here is a most excellent book: we have
no-body at Rome that is capable of writing in this manner :
I wish I could engage the author to reside here !'” And yet this same book was condemned afterwards by this same
A in France
name of The Constitution, gave a favorable turn to CENT. XVIII. the affairs of the Jesuits ; but it was highly detrimental to the interests of the Romish church, as many of the wiser members of that communion candidly acknowlege; for it not only confirmed the Protestants in their separation, by convincing them that the church of Rome was resolved to adhere obstinately to its ancient superstitions and corruptions, but also offended many of the catholics who had no particular attachment to the doctrines of Jansenius, and were only bent on the pursuit of truth and the advancement of piety. It must also be observed, that the controversy relating to Jansenism was much heated and augmented, instead of being mitigated or suspended, by this despotic and ill-judged edict.
XI. The dissensions and tumults excited in France Commotions by this edict were violent in the highest degree. A
occasioned considerable number of bishops, and a large body by the bull
Unigenitus. composed of persons eminently distinguished by their piety and erudition, both among the clergy and laity, appealed from the bull to a general council. more particularly opposed by the cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles, archbishop of Paris, who, equally unmoved by the authority of the pontiff, and by the resentment and indignation of Louis XIV., made a noble stand against the despotic proceedings of the court of Rome. These defenders of the ancient doctrine and liberties of the Gallican church were persecuted by the popes, the French monarch, and the Jesuits, from whom they received a series of injuries and affronts. Even their total ruin was aimed at by these unrelenting adversaries; but this inhuman purpose could not be entirely effected. Some of the Jansenists, however, were obliged to fly for refuge to their brethren in Holland; others were forced, by the terrors of penal laws, and by various acts of tyranny and violence, to receive the papal edict; while a considerable number, deprived of their places, and ruined in their fortunes, looked for subsistence and tranquillity at a greater distance from their