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piety of the Jansenists.
These latter still persevere with the utmost steadiness in the principles of Jansenism; and, secured under the protection of the Dutch government, defy the threats, and hold in derision the resentment of the Roman pontiffs."
XLVI. It is not only on account of their embracing the The austere doctrine of Augustine concerning divine grace, the a doctrine which bears a striking resemblance
with that of the Calvinists, that the Jansenists have incurred the displeasure and resentment of the Jesuits. They are charged with many other circumstances, which appear intolerable to the warm votaries of the church of Rome. And indeed it is certain, that the various controversies, which have been mentioned above, were excited in that church principally by the Jansenists, and have been propagated and handed down by them, even to our times, in a prodigious multitude of their books published both in France and in the Netherlands. But that which offends most the Jesuits and the other creatures of the pontiff, is the austerity of this party, and the severity that reigns in their system of moral discipline and practical religion. For the Jansenists cry out against the corruptions of the church of Rome, and complain that neither its doctrines nor morals retain any traces of their former purity. They reproach the clergy with a universal depravation of sentiments and manners, an entire forgetfulness of the dignity of their character and the duties of their vocation. They censure the licentiousness of the monastic orders, and insist upon the necessity of reforming their discipline according to the rules of sanctity, abstinence, and selfdenial, that were originally prescribed by their respective founders. They maintain also, that the people ought to be carefully instructed in all the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, and that, for this purpose, the holy Scriptures and public liturgies should be offered to their perusal in their mother tongue; and finally, they look upon it as a matter of the highest moment to persuade all Christians that true piety does not consist in the observance of pompous rites, or in the performance of external acts of devotion, but in inward holiness and divine love.
Py It must however be observed, that, notwithstanding the ascendapt the Jansenists have in Holland, the Jesuits, for some time past, have by artifice and disguise got a considerable footing among the Romish churches that are tolerated by the republic,
2 See Hist. Eccles. Rom. xvi. $ xxxi.
These sentiments of the Jansenists, on a general view, seem just and rational, and suitable to the spirit and genius of Christianity ; but, when we examine the particular branches into which they extend these general principles, the consequences they deduce from them, and the manner in which they apply them, in their rules of discipline and practice, we shall find, that the piety of this famous party is deeply tinged both with superstition and fanaticism; that it more especially favours the harsh and enthusiastical opinion of the mystics ; and of consequence, that the Jansenists are not undeservedly branded by their adversaries with the denomination of rigourists. This denomination
a They who desire to form a just notion of the dismal piety of the Jansenists, which carries the unseemly features of that gloomy devotion that was formerly practised by fanatical hermits in the deserts of Syria, Lybia, and Egypt, but is entirely foreign from the dictates of reason and the amiable spirit of Christianity, have only to peruse the cpistles and other writings of the Abbot of St. Cyran, who is the great oracle of the party. This abbot was a well-meaning man; and his piety, such as it was, carried in it the marks of sincerity and servour ; he was also superior, perhaps, as a pastor, to the greatest part of the Roman catholic doctors; and his learning, more especially his knowledge of religious antiquity, was very considerable ; but to propose this man as a complete and perfect model of genuine piety, and as a most accurate and accomplished teacher of Christian virtue, is an absurdity peculiar to the Jansenists, and can be adopted by no person who knows what gemine piety, and Christian virtue are. That we may not seem to detract rashly, and without reason, from the merit of this eminent man, it will not be improper to confirm what we have said by some instances. This good abbot, having undertaken to vanquish the heretics, i.e. the protestants, in a prolix and extensive work, was obliged to read, or at least to look into, the various writings published by that impious tribe ; and this he did in company with his nephew Martin de Barcos, who resembled him entirely in his sentiments and manners. But before he would venture to open a book composed by a protestant, he constantly marked it with the sign of the cross, to expel the evil spirit. What weakness and superstition did this ridiculous proceeding discover! for the good man was persuaded that Satan had fixed his residence in the books of the protestants ; but it was not so easy to determine where he imagined the wicked spirit lay, whether in the paper, in the letters, between the leaves, or in the doctrines of these infernal productions. Let us see the account that is given of this matter by Lance. lot, in his Memoires touchant la vie de M. l'Abbe de S. Cyran, tom. i. p. 226. His words are as follows: “Il lisoit ces livres avec tant de picte, qu'en les prenant il les exercisoit toujours en faisant la signe de la Croix dessus, ne doutant point que lc Demon n'y residoit actuellement.” His attachment to Angustine was so excessive, that he looked uport as sacred and divine even those opinions of that great man, which the wiser part of the Romish doctors had rejected,as erroneous and bighly dangerous. Such,among others, was that extravagant and pernicious tenet, that “the saints are the only lawful proprietors of the world;" and " that the wicked have no right, by the divine law, to those things which they possess jus:ly, in consequence of the decisions of human law.” To this purpose is the following assertion of our abbot, as we find it in Fontaine's Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire de Port Royal, tom. i. p. 201. “Jesus Christ n'est encoro entre dans la possession de son Royaume temporel, et des biens du monde qui lui appartiennent, que par cette petite portion qu'en tient l'Eglise par les benefices de ses Clercs, qui ne sont que les seriniers et les depositaires de Jesus Christ.” If therefore we are to give credit to this visionary man, the golden age is approaching, when Jesus Christ, having pulled down the mighty from their seats, and dethroned the kings and princes of the earth, shall reduce the whole world under his sole dominion, and give it over to the government of priests and monks, who are the princes of his church. After we have seen such sentiments as these maintained by their oracle and chief, it is but natural to be surprised when we hear the Jansenists boasting of their zeal in defending sovereign states, and in general the civil rights of mankind, against the stratagems and usurpations of the Roa man pontiffs,
they merited, in a peculiar manner, by their doctrine concerning repentance and penance, whose tendency, considered both in a civil and religious point of view, is singularly pernicious. For they make repentance consist chiefly in those voluntary sufferings, which the transgressor inflicts upon himself, in proportion to the nature of his crimes and the degree of his guilt. As their votions of the extent of man's original corruption are greatly exaggerated, they prescribe remedies to it that are of the same nature. They look upon Christians as bound to expiate this original guilt by acts of mortification performed in solitude and silence, by torturing and macerating their bodies, by painful labour, excessive abstinence, continual prayer and contemplation; and they hold every person obliged to increase these voluntary pains and sufferings, in proportion to the degree of corruption they have derived from nature, or contracted by a vicious and licentious course of life. Nay, they carry these austerities to so high a pitch, that they do not scruple to call those holy self-tormentors, who have gradually, put an end to their days by excessive abstinence or labour, the sacred victims of repentance, that have been consumed by
The notions of the abbot of St. Cyran concerning prayer, which breathe the fanatical spirit of mysticism, will further confirm what we have said of his propensity to enthusiasm. It is for example a favourite maxim with him, that the Christian who prays, ought never to recollect the good things he stands in need of in order to ask them of God, since true prayer does not consist in distinct notions and clear ideas of what we are doing in that solemn act, but in a certain blind impulse of divine lore. Such is the account given of the abbot's sentiments on this head by Lancelot, in his Me moires touchant la vie de l'Abbe de S. Cyran, tom. ii. p. 44. “Il ne croyoit pas," says that author, “que l'on put faire quelque effort pour s'appliquer a quelque point, ou a quelque pensee particuliere--parce que la veritable priere est plutot un attrait de son amour, qui emporte notre cæur vers lui, et nous enleve comme hors de nous memes, que non pas une occupation de notre esprit, qui se remplisse de l'idee de quelque objet quoique divin." According to this hypothesis, the man prays best who neither thixks nor asks in that act of devotion. This is indeed a very extraordinary account of the matter, and contains an idea of prayer which seems to have been quite unknown to Christ and his apostles ; for the former bas commanded us to address our prayers to God in a set form of words; and the latter frequently tell us the subjects of their petitions and supplications.
But of all the errors of this arch Jansenist, none was so pernicious as the fanatical notion he entertained of his being the residence of the Deity, the instrument of the Godhead, by which the divine nature itself essentially operated. It was in consequence of this dangerous principle, that he recommends it as a duty incumbent on all pious men to follow, without consulting their judgment or any other guide, the first motions and inpuses of their minds, as the dictates of hcaven. And indeed the Jansenists, in general, are intimately persuaded, that God operates immediately upon the minds of those who have composed, or rather suppressed, all the motions of the understanding and of the will, and that to such he declares, from above, his intentions and commands; since whatever thoughts, designs, or inclinations arise with them, in this calm state of tranquillity and silence, are to be considered as the direct suggestions and oracles of the divine wisdom. See, for a furtber account of this rectilential doctrine, Memoires de Port Royal, tom. ni p. 246.
the best ole vample of this
exhibited the convent of
the fire of divine love. Not satisfied with this fanatical language, they go still farther, and superstitiously maintain, that the conduct of these self-murderers is peculiarly meritorious in the eye of heaven; and that their sufferings, macerations, and labours, appease the anger of the Deity, and not only contribute to their own felicity, but draw down abundant blessings upon their friends and upon the church. We might confirm this account by various examples, and more especially by that of the famous abbe de Paris, the great wonder-worker of the Jansenists, who put himself to a most painful death, in order to satisfy the justice of an incensed God;" such was the picture he had formed of the best of beings in his disordered fancy.
XLVII. A striking example of this austere, forbidding, and extravagant species of devotion, was exhibited the con in that celebrated female convent called Port Port Royal. Royal in the fields, which was situated in a retired, deep, and gloomy vale, not far from Paris. The inspection and government of this austere society was given by Henry IV. about the commencement of this century, to Jaqueline, daughter of Anthony Arnaud, who, after her conversion, assumed the name of Marie Angelique de la St. Madelaine. This lady had at first led a very dissolute life,' which was the general case of the cloistered fair in France, about this period; but a remarkable change happened in her sentiments and manners, in the year 1609, when she resolved no more to live like a nun, but to consecrate her future days to deep devotion and penitential exercises. This holy resolution was strengthened by her acquaintance with the famous Francois de Sales, and the abbot of St. Cyran. The last of these pious connexions she formed in the year 1623, and modelled both her own conduct and the manners of her convent after the doctrine and example of these
b See Morinus, Com. de Pænitentia, Præf. p. 3, in which there is a tacit censure of the penance of the Jansenists. See, on the other hand, the Memoires de Port Royal, p. 483. The Jansenists, among all the meritorious actions of the abbot of St. Cyran, find none more worthy of admiration and applause than his restoring from oblivion the true system of penitential discipline; and they consider him as the se cond author or parent of the doctrine of penance. See Memoires de Port Royal, tom. iii. p. 445, 504. This very doctrine however of penance was one of the principal reasons of his being committed to prison by the order of cardinal Richelieu.. Ibid. tom.i. p. 233, 452.
c An eminent lawyer, and father to the famous Arnaud, doctor in the Sorbonne.
LPd The dissolute life imputed to this abbess by Dr. Mosheim is an egregious mis. take, which seems to have proceeded from his misunderstanding a passage in Bayle's Dictionary, vol. i. p. 338, note F, fourth edition in French. VOL. III.
devout men. Hence it happened, that during the whole course of this century, the convent of Port Royal excited the indignation of the Jesuits, the admiration of the Jansenists, and the attention of Europe. The holy virgins of this famous society observed, with the utmost rigour and exactness, that ancient rule of the Cistercians, which had been almost every where abrogated on account of its excessive and intolerable austerity; nay, they even went beyond its most cruel demands. Such was the fame of this devout nunnery, that multitudes of pious persons were ambitious to dwell in its neighbourhood, and that a great part of the
e There is a prodigious multitude of books still extant, in which the rise, progress, laws, and sanctity of this famous convent are described and extolled by eminent Jan senists, who, at the same time, deplore its fate in the most doleful strain. of this multitude, we shall mention those only which are easy to be acquired, and which contain the most modern and circumstantial accounts of that celebrated establishment. The Benedictines of St. Maur have given an exact, though dry history of this content, is their Gallia Christiana, tom. vii. p. 910. A more elegant and agreeable account of it, but an account charged with imperfection and partiality, was composed by the famous poet Racine, under the title of Abrege de l'Histoire de Porte Royal, and was published, after having passed through many preceding editions, in the year 1750, at Amsterdam, among the works of his son, Lewis Racine, tom. ii. p. 275-366. The external state and form of this convent are professedly described by Moleon, in his 'Voyages Litur giques,' p. 234. Add to these Nic. Fontaine, Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire de Port Royal,' published at Cologn, or rather at Utrecht, in two volumes 8vo. in the year 1738. Du Fosse, Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire de Port Royal.' 'Recueil de plusieurs pieces pour servir a l'Histoire de Port Royal,' published at Utrecht, in 8vo. in the year 1740. The editor of this last compilation promises, in his preface, further collections of pieces relative to the same subject, and seems to insinuate, that a complete bistory of Port Royal, drawn from these and other valuable and authentic records, will sooner or later see the light. See, beside the authors above mentioned, Lancelot, Me moires touchant la Vie de l'Abbe de S. Cyran.' All these autbors confine their relations to the external form and various revolutions of this famous convent. Its internal state, its rules of discipline, the manners of its virgins, and the incidents and transactions that have happened between them and the holy neighbourhood of Jansenists, are de scribed and related by another set of writers ; see 'Memoires pour servir a PHistoire de Port Royal, et a la Vie de Marie Angelique d'Arnaud,' published at Utrecbt, in five volumes 8vo. in the year 1742. Vies interessantesjet edifiantes des religieuses de Port Royal, et de plusieurs personnes qui leur etoient attachees.' There are already four volumes of this work published, of which the first appeared at Utrecht, in the year 1750, in 8vo, and it must be acknowledged, that they all contain several anecdotes and records that are interesting and curious. For an account of the suppression and abo lition of this convent, see the 'Memoires sur la destruction de l'Abbaye de Port Royal des Champs, published in 8vo. in 1711. If we are not much mistaken, all these histories and relations have been much less serviceable to the reputation of this famous convent than the Jansenist party are willing to think. When we view Arnaud, Tillemonte, Nicole, Le Maitre, and the other authors of Port Royal, in their learned produc tions, they then appear truly great; but when we lay aside their works, and taking up these histories of Port Royal, see these great men in private life, in the constant prae tice of that austere discipline of which the Jansenists boast so foolishly, they indeed then shrink almost to nothing, appear in the contemptible light of fanatics, and seem totally unworthy of the fame they have acquired. When we read the Discourses that Isaac Le Maitre, commonly called Sacy, pronounced at the bar, together with his other ingenious productions, we cannot refuse him the applause that is due to such an elegant and accomplished writer ; but when we meet with this polite author at Port Royal, mixed with labourers and reapers, and with the spade and the sickle in his hand, he then certainly makes a comical figure, and can scarcely be looked upon as perfectly right in his head.