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CENT. acts of obedience, that do not proceed from the XVI. love of God, can be acceptable to that pure and
holy Being. Nor is the doctrine of the Jesuits only chargeable with the corrupt tenets already mentioned. They maintain farther, that a man never sins, properly speaking, but when he transgresseth a divine law, which is fully known to him, which is present to his mind, while he acts, and of which he understands the true meaning and intent. And they conclude from hence, that, in strict justice, the conduct of that transgressor cannot be looked upon as criminal, who is either ignorant of the law, or is in doubt about its true signification, or loses sight of it, through forgetfulness, at the time that he violates it. From these propositions they deduce the famous doctrines of probability and philosophical sin, that have cast an eternal reproach upon the schools of the Jesuits [a].
Their adversaries behold these pernicious tenets with the utmost abhorrence, and assert that neither ignorance, nor forgetfulness of the law, nor the doubts that may be entertained with respect to its signification, will be admitted as sufficient to justify transgressors before the tribunal of God. This contest, about the main and fundamental points of morality, has given rise to a great variety of
[a] The doctrine of probability consists in this : “That an opinion or precept may be followed with a good conscience, when it is inculcated by four, or three, or two, nay even by one doctor of any considerable reputation, even though it be contrary to the judgment of him that follows it, and even of him that recommends it. This doctrine rendered the Jesuits capable of accommodating themselves to all the different passions of men, and to persons of all tempers and characters, from the most austere to the most licentious. Philosophical sin (according to the Jesuits' doctrine) is an action, or course of actions, that is repugnant to the dictates of reason, and yet not offensive to the Deity.
See a fuller account of these two odious doctrines in the following part of this work, Cent. XVII, Sect. II. Part I. Chap. I. Sect. XXXV. and in the author's and translator's notes.
XVI. SECT. IIL
debates concerning the duties we owe to God, our CENT. neighbour, and ourselves; and produced two sects of moral doctors, whose animosities and divisions have miserably rent the church of Rome in all parts of the world, and involved it in the greatest perplexities.
XXXVI. The administration of the sacraments, The fifth especially those of penance and the eucharist, forms subject of the fifth subject of controversy in the church of Rome. The Jesuits and many other doctors are of opinion, that the salutary effects of the sacraments are produced by their intrinsic virtue and immediate operation [b] upon the mind at the time they are administered, and that consequently it requires but little preparation to receive them to edification and comfort; nor do they think that God requires a mind adorned with inward purity, and a heart animated with divine love, in order to the obtaining of the ends and purposes of these religious institutions. And hence it is, that according to their doctrine, the priests are empowered to give immediate absolution to all such as confess their transgressions and crimes, and afterwards to admit them to the use of the sacraments, But such sentiments are rejected with indignation by all those of the Romish communion who have the progress of vital and practical religion truly at
heart. 6  This is the only expression that occurred to the translator, as proper to render the true sense of that phrase of the scholastic divines, who say, that the sacraments produce their effect opera operato. The Jesuits and Dominicans maintain that the sacraments have in themselves an instrumental and efficient power, by virtue of which they work in the soul (independently on its previous preparation or propensities) a disposition to receive the divine grace; and this is what is commonly called the opus operatum of the sacraments. Thus, according to their doctrine, neither knowledge, wisdom, humility, faith, nor devotion, are necessary to the efficacy of the sacraments, whose victorious energy nothing but a mortal sin can resist. See Dr. Courrayer's Translation of Paul Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent, tom. i. livr. ii. p. 423, 424. edit. Amsterdam,
SECT. III. .
CENT. heart. These look upon it as the duty of the XVI. clergy to use the greatest diligence and assiduity
in examining the characters, tempers, and actions of those who demand absolution and the use of the sacraments, before they grant their requests; since, in their sense of things, the real benefits of these institutions can extend to those only whose hearts are carefully purged from the corruptions of iniquity, and filled with that divine love that casteth out fear. Hence arose that famous dispute in the church of Rome, concerning a frequent approach to the holy communion, which was carried on with such warmth in the last century, between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, with Arnauld [c] at the head of the latter, and has been renewed in our times by the Jesuit Pichon, who thereby incurred the indignation of the greatest part of the French bishops [d]. The frequent celebration of the Lord's supper is one of the main duties, which the Jesuits recommended with peculiar earnestness to those who are under their spiritual direction, representing it as the most certain and infallible method of appeasing the Deity, and obtaining from him the entire remission of their sins and transgressions. This manner of proceeding the Jansenists censure with their usual severity; and it is also condemned by many other learned and pious doctors of the Romish communion, who reject that intrinsic virtue and efficient operation that is attributed to the sacraments, and wisely maintain that the receiving the sacrament of the Lord's supper can be profitable to those only whose minds are prepared, by faith, repentance, and the love of God, for that solemn service.
[c] Arnauld published, on this occasion, his famous book concerning the Practice of communicating frequently. The French title is, “ Traité de la frequente Communion.'
[d] See Journal Universal, tom. xiii. p. 148. tom. xv. p. 363. tom, xvi. p. 124.
XXXVII. The sixth and last controversy turns CENT. upon the proper method of instructing Christians XVI. in the truths and precepts of religion. One part PART I. of the Romish doctors, who have the progress of religion truly at heart, look upon it as expedient, The sixth and even necessary, to sow the seeds of divine subject of truth in the mind, in the tender and flexible state of infancy, when it is most susceptible of good impressions, and to give it by degrees, according to the measure of its capacity, a full and accurate knowledge of the doctrines and duties of religion. Others, who have a greater zeal for the interests of the church than the improvement of its members, recommend a devout ignorance to such as submit to their direction, and think a Christian sufficiently instructed when he has learned to yield a blind and unlimited obedience to the orders of the church. The former are of opinion, that nothing can be so profitable and instructive to Christians as the study of the Holy Scriptures, and consequently judge it highly expedient that they should be translated into the vulgar tongue of each country. The latter excluded the people from the satisfaction of consulting the sacred oracles of truth, and look upon all vernacular translations of the Bible as dangerous, and even of a pernicious tendency. They accordingly maintain, that it ought only to be published in a learned language, to prevent its instructions from becoming familiar to the multitude. The former compose pious and instructive books to nourish a spirit of devotion in the minds of Christians, to enlighten their ignorance, and dispel their errors; they illustrate and explain the public prayers and the solemn acts of religion in the language of the people, and exhort all, who attend to their instructions, to peruse constantly these pious productions, in order to improve their knowledge, purify their affections, and to learn the method of worshipping the Deity
CENT. in a rational and acceptable manner. All this,
XVI. however, is highly displeasing to the latter kind SECT. II. of doctors, who are always apprehensive, that the
blind obedience and implicit submission of the people will diminish in proportion as their views are enlarged, and their knowledge increased [e].
XXXVIII. All the controversies that have
been here mentioned did not break out at the with Baius same time. The disputes concerning divine grace, &c. grace, the natural power of man to perform good actions, original sin, and predestination, which
The disputes car
[e] The account here given of the more momentous controversies that divide the church of Rome, may be confirmed, illustrated, and enlarged, by consulting a multitude of books published in the last and present centuries, especially in France and Flanders, by Jansenists, Dominicans, Jesuits, and others. All the productions, in which the doctrine and precepts of the Jesuits, and the other creatures of the Roman pontiff
, are opposed and refuted, are enumerated by Dominick Colonia, a French Jesuit, in a work published, in 1735, under the following title: “ Bibliotheque Janseniste, ou Catologue Alphabetique des principaux livres Jansenistes, ou suspects de Jansenisme, avec des notes critiques.” This writer is led into many absurdities by his extravagant attachment to the Roman pontiff, and to the cause and tenets of his order. His book, however, is of use in pointing out the various controversies that perplex and divide the church of Rome. It was condemned by the late Pope Benedict XIV. but was, nevertheless, republished in a new form, with some change in the title, and additions, that swelled it from one octavo volume to four of the same size. This new edition appeared at Antwerp in the year 1752, under the following title : “ Dictionaire des livres Jansenistes, ou qui favorisent le Jansenisme, à Anvres ches J. B. Verdussen.” And it must be acknowledged, that it is extremely useful, in shewing the intestine divisions of the church, the particular contests that divide its doctors, the religious tenets of the Jesuits, and the numerous productions that relate to the six heads of controversy here mentioned. It must be observed, at the same time, that this work abounds with the most malignant invectives against many persons of eminent learning and piety, and with the most notorious instances of partiality and injustice *.
23 * See a particular account of this learned and scandalous work in the first and second volumes of the “ Bibliotheque des Sciences et des Beaux Arts,” printed at the Hague.