« הקודםהמשך »
of an ingenious writer, whose eloquence has been ill employed in a book, entitled Essential Religion distinguished from that which is only Accessory;" for the whole religious system of this author consists in the three following points : That there is a God; that the world is governed by his wise providence; and that the soul is immortal ; and he maintains, that it was to establish these three points by his ministry, that Jesus Christ came into the world.
vii. The church of Rome has been governed, since the commencement of this century, by Clement XI. Innocent XIII. Benedict XIII. Clement XII. and The Rumish Benedict XIV.who may be all considered as men its pontiffa. of eminent, wisdom, virtue, and learning, if we compare them with the pontiffs of the preceding ages. Clement XI. and Prosper Lambertini, who at present fills the Papal chair under the title of Benedict XIV. stand much higher in the list of literary fame, than the other pontiffs now mentioned; and Benedict XIII. surpassed them all in piety, or at least in its appearance, which, in the whole of this conduct, was extraordinary and striking. It was he that conceived the laudable design of reforming many disorders in the church, and restraining the corruption and licentiousness of the clergy; and for this purpose held a council, in the palace of the Lateran, in the year 1725, whose acts and decrees have been made public. But the event did not answer his expectations; nor is there any probability that Benedict XIV. who is attempting the exepution of the same worthy purpose, though by different means, will meet with better success.
We must not omit observing here, that the modern bi-" shops 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 sovereign princes and states of Europe, who embrace their communion, no longer tremble at the thun
The original title of this book, which is supposed to have been written by one Muralt, a Swiss, author of the "Lettres sur les Anglois et sur les François,” is as follows: " Lettres sur la Religion essentielle a l'Homme, distinguee de ce qui n'en est que l'accessoire.", There have been several excellent refutations of this book published on the continent, among which the “Lettres sur les vrais principes de la Religion," in two volumes 8vo. composed by the laté learned and ingenious Mr. Bouiller, deserve para ticular notice.
Te This history was published while Benedict XIV. was yet alive,
der of the Vatican, but treat their anathemas with indifference and 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 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, Naples, Sardinia, and Portugal, in all which that ghostly court has been obliged to yield, and to discover its extreme insignificancy and weakness. IvIII. There have been no serious attempts made in later
times to bring about a reconciliation between the afian reconcili- Protestant and Romish churches; for, notwiththe Boomstant standing the pacific projects formed by private
persons with a view to this union, it is justly con
sidered as an impracticable scheme. The difficulties that attend its execution were 'greatly augmented by the famous bull of Clement XI. entitled Unigenitus, which deprived the peacemakers 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 the bull Unigenitus put an end to all these modifications, and in most of those points that had occasioned our separation from Rome, represented the doctrines of that church in the very same shocking light in which they had been viewed by the first reformers. This shows, 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
communions entirely removeut.
perfidious stratagems; and that consequently there is no sort of dependence to be made upon the promises and declarations of such a disingenuous set of men.
ix. The intestine discords, tumults and divisions, that reigned in the Romish church, during the pre- Intestine di ceding century, were so far from being terminated within the in this, that new fuel was added to the flame, and the animosities of the contending parties grew more vehement from day to day. These divisions still subsist. 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 enumeration would be endless. The controversy relating to Jansenism, which was 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 numbers, 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 unfavourable turn, and they are oppressed and persecuted by their victorious enemies, they find an asylum in the Netherlands. For the greatest part of the Roman Catholics in Spanish Flanders, and all the members of that communion that live under the jurisdiction of the United Provinces, embrace the principles and doctrines of Jansenius.' Those that inhabit the United Provinces have almost renounced their allegiance to the
If This assertion is too general. It is true, that the greatest part of the Roman 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 wisdone 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 enemies of the state.
pope, though they profess a warm attachment to the doctrine and communion of the church of Rome; nor are either the exhortations or threatenings of the Holy Father sufficient to banish the obstinacy of these wayward children, or to reduce them to a state of subjection and obedience.
x. The cause of the Jansenists acquired a peculiar dThe debate: gree of credit and reputation, both in this and the Quenes de los preceding century, by a French translation of the
New Testament, made by the learned and pious Paschasius Quenel, 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 Quenel's book, and particularly at the change it had wrought in many, in favour of the theological 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 the year 1713, issued out the famous bull Unigenitus, in which Quenel's New Testament was condemned, and an hundred and one propositions contained in it pronounced heretical.“ This bull, which is also known by the name of the Constitution, gave a favourable turn to 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 acknowledge. For it not only confirmed the protestants in their separation, by convincing them that
og To show what a political weathercock the infallibility of the Holy Father was upon this occasion, it may not be improper to place here an anecdote which is related by Voltaire in bis Siecle de Louis XIV, vol. ii. under the article Jansenisme. The credit of the teller weighs but light in the balance of historical fame ; tbe anecdote however is well attested, and is as follows: "The abbe Renaudot, a learned Frenchman, happening to be at Rome the first year of the pontificate of Clement XI. went one day to see the Pope, who was fond of men of letters, and was himself a learned man, and found his holiness reading father Quenel's book. On seeing Renaudot enter the apartment, the pope said, in a kind of rapture : “Here is a most excellent book! we have nobody 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 afterward by this same pope.”
Commotions in France oć casioned by this bull.
the church of Rome was resolved to adhere obstinately to its ancient superstitions and corruptions; but also offended many
of the Roman catholics, who had no particular ata tachment 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 illjudged ediet.
xi. The dissensions and tumults excited in France by this edict were violent in the highest degree. A considerable number of bishops, and a large body composed of persons eminently distinguished by their piety and erudition, both among the clergy and laity, appealed from the bull to a general council. It was more particularly opposed by the cardinal 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 an uninterrupted series of injuries and affronts. Nay, their entire ruin was aimed at by these unrelenting adversaries, and was indeed accomplished in part, since some of them were obliged to fly for refuge to their brethren in Holland; others, 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 native country. The issue of this famous contest was favourable to the bull, which was at length rendered valid by the authority of the parliament, and was registered among the laws of the state. This contributed, in some measure, to restore the public tranquillity, but it was far from diminishing the number of those who complained of the despotism of the pontiff; and the kingdom of France is still full of appellants," who reject the authority of the bull, and only wait for a favourable opportunity of reviving a controversy, which is rather
DP h This was the name that was assumed by those who appealed from the bull and the court of Rome to a general council. VOL. IV.