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JUNE 1, 1836.
... RISE AND PROGRESS OF JANSENISM. The term Jansenism was invented at a time when party spirit readily found names, not merely for systems of religious opinion, but for every modification of a system. It arose upon the publication (in 1641) of the “ Augustinus” of Jansen, or (as he was called, according to the fashion of his time,) Jansenius, Bishop of Yprès; in which he professed to set forth the views of St. Augustin upon the subjects of predestination and grace, But Jansenism, although first at that time so called, may be, with much better reason, dated from the foundation of the monastery of Port Royal, at the very beginning of the same century. Jansen's work was far more of the nature of a justification of prevalent opinions by the authority of an eminent father of the church, than the first promulgation of a system. Neither can we call Jansenism the revival of the Augustinian doctrine ; which seems to have flowed down in a continuous stream, from the time of the father who gives it his name, to the æra of the Reformation, as it has continued to do from that time to the present. Ecclesiastical history, indeed, which, like other history, exhibits the course of opinions only when represented in the person of some eminent individual, or as the characteristic of a conspicuous party, does no more than enable us to guess the continuity of the stream of Augustinian doctrine by the exhibition of its occasional outbreaking. But it is known to have been a prominent feature in the religious system of St. Bernard, in the twelfth century, and the progress of the reformation in the century before the appearance of Jansenism had given a fresh impulse to it. Its strong hold was in the University of Louvaipe, where, in 1552, Michael Baïus made it an objection to the prevalent tenets of the church of Rome, that they were at variance with the views of St. Augustin. Seventy-six propositions from the work of this divine were sent to Pope Pius V., and by him (according to the Jesuits) condemned as heretical, in 1567. This condemnation was followed, thirteen years later, by another from Gregory XIII. The Jansenists
Vol. IX.-June, 1836.
maintain that neither of these bulls was ever received by the church.
They seem to have been couched in ambiguous language, and the name of Basus was studiously omitted. Voltaire, in his “ Siècle de Louis XIV.,” says, that, in the first edition of the Bull of Pius V., there were passages which seemed to favour the opinions of Baïus; that it was returned to Rome with the view of getting a more definite statement of its object; but this was refused, and Baïus was ultimately advised to acquiesce in it, indefinite as it was. It would seem that, at that time, when the church had so much to fear from without, she did not like to be too explicit in condemning those who, whatever might be their opinions, were disposed to recognise her authority; while, on the other hand, it is probable that when so many were taking part against her, her dutiful, although dissatisfied, children were led, by a feeling of reverence, to controul, in the time of their parent's weakness, an impatience of her authority, which they would not have been backward to manifest in the days of her prosperity.
A similar unwillingness to adopt strong and decisive measures against the Augustinian doctrine (and arising probably from the same cause) was manifested, not long after, by Sixtus V., when the doctors of Louvaine (who, notwithstanding the censure passed upon the opinions of Baius, continued to maintain their own views,) condemned as heretical the statement of the doctrine of predestination put forth by the Jesuit Lessius and Hamelius. All which was done upon the occasion at Rome was to condemn the proceedings in the low countries, as an infringement of the papal authority. But there the matter rested ; and the Pope, having thus vindicated his authority, abstained from using it to condemn the theological views of the Louvaine doctors. He was satisfied with requiring both parties in the dispute to abstain from discussions injurious to the peace of the church.
The following year (1588) brought into notice the celebrated Spanish Jesuit, Molina. He published a work entitled “Liberi Arbitrii Concordia cum Gratiæ Donis ;" the object of which was to shew, not merely the consistency, but likewise the co-operation, of free will with the work of divine grace. Molina considered the divine predestination to be grounded upon human merit foreseen ; and divine grace to be given from respect to a certain fitness in the recipient (congruitas). The particular knowledge in the Divine Being by which he foresees the effect of his purposes, and forms them accordingly, he called “ scientia media.” This is the system which, under the name of Molinism, is the object of Pascal's powerful satire in the well-known « Lettres Provinciales," wherein he perpetually contrasts the system of the Jesuits in this matter with those of the Jansenists and Dominicans.
Of these last, since their opinions directly paved the way for Jansenism, we must now speak. The Dominicans, or (as they were also called, for adopting, with respect to this part of their religious system, the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas,) the Thomists, appear to have taken a course intermediate between Molinism and Jansenism. The Jesuits held that man was the originator of his own actions, good as well as bad, but that he needed the assistance of divine grace to bring the fruits of virtue to their full maturity. They believed (it would seem) in co-operating, but not in preventing grace. The Jansenists maintained the entire subjection of the will to the influence of divine grace, when once received into the heart. Whether they thought that grace could be, in the first instance, resisted, is not quite evident; but I am inclined to believe, from some expressions of Pascal, that he held man to possess the power of resistance. The Dominicans appear to have agreed substantially in the views of the Jansenists; but they coincided with the Jesuits in the use of certain phrases which the Jansenists disavowed; and were thus claimed in some sort as advocates by both parties. They spoke (with the Jesuits) of “ potestas proxima," and “gratia sufficiens ;” but by “potestas proxima," they understood a power residing in man (the ground of his responsibility), out of which, however, good can never come but by the operation of divine grace; whereas, by the same term, the Jesuits understood a power comprehending all which is necessary for action (qui renferme tout ce qui est nécessaire pour agir). By gratia sufficiens (again) the Dominicans meant, a grace given to all; but needing the addition of a farther grace (gratia efficax) to render it effectual; while, by the same term of gratia sufficiens, the Jesuits understood a grace given to all
, efficacious or not, according to man's pleasure, and wherever therefore) productive of good, deriving its efficacy from his use of it, not possessing it as an inherent quality. The Jansenists rejected the term gratia sufficiens, and used only that of gratia efficax. And they objected strongly to the Dominicans, the adoption (out of a principle of accommodation) of this word sufficiens, peculiarly inappropriate (they contended) to the views of those who maintained the necessity of a farther or efficacious grace.
It was characteristic of the theology of the day to multiply far beyond the bounds of necessity the use of these technical phrases, and they occur so perpetually in the discussions between the Jansenists and Jesuits, that some explanation of them is absolutely necessary towards the understanding of the present subject. It certainly (too) prepossesses us in favour of the Jansenist character, as compared both with the Jesuit and the Dominican, to find that they thus contended about things rather than words. The Jesuit said (it is the reproach of an opponent, but facts seem to justify it,) “ the world is misled by names; the few learned may know that we and the Dominicans are entirely opposite to each other in our religious views; but they will not betray us; and if the Dominicans will admit our phrases, we shall be supposed to have brought them over to our opinions." The Jansenists reproached the Jesuits with their dishonesty, and the Dominicans with their weakness.
It may be remarked in this place, that our opinion of the validity of the Jansenist objections to the views of divine grace entertained by the Jesuits would be a good deal influenced by knowing whether by their power of originating good actions, which the Jesuits called “potestas proxima,” they meant power in the regenerate, or in the unregenerate state. The baptized and regenerated Christian may certainly be said to originate good in his renewed nature ; while otherwise he could only originate actions partaking of inherent sinfulness. Doubtless, the main point is, that all good, whether immediately suggested by the Holy Spirit, or originating in a nature which is of his creation, should be ascribed ultimately to God. It was only in the degree in which they denied this truth that the Jesuits were in error. Many of their expressions, doubtless, appeared to favour Pelagianism—though it is but fair to suggest an explanation by which they might vindicate themselves from the charge of carrying these views to any dangerous extent. I will here anticipate my subject a little, by saying that the great excellence of Jansenism, as compared with the system which it opposed, consisted in its practically religious views. As'a doctrinal system it seems to have inclined too much, like all the theology of the time, to an excessive technicality; and in saying this, I trust I may not be thought to deny the necessity of accurate definition in theology as a remedy against loose and insufficient views.
The verbal agreement between the Jesuits and the Dominicans, to which this observation refers, was formed at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the Jansenists (though not as yet under that name) began to occupy the place in the contest which had previously belonged to the Dominicans. At the close of the sixteenth century the disputes between the Jesuits and Dominicans had been referred to the Council de Auxiliis, (summoned by Clement VIII.,) the proceedings of which, after having continued for three years, were suddenly terminated by the death of Clement, and the contending parties were left to conjectures (of which they were not sparing) as to the decision at which the council would, probably, have come, but for this check to its proceedings. Then it was that a treaty was made between the Jesuits and Dominicans, grounded upon the abovementioned verbal concessions upon the part of the latter.
The University of Louvaine, at this time, contained among its students the joint founders of Jansenism, Cornelius Jansen, afterwards Bishop of Yprès, and Jean du Verger de Hauranne, afterwards Abbé de St. Cyran, the father as he is called) of Port Royal. There is something very beautiful in the accounts given by all the Jansenist historians of the friendship subsisting between these two great and good men. After quitting the University, they studied together at Paris; and Jansen, being sent by his physicians to the south of France, was received into his friend's house at Bayonne, where he continued with him for six years. Their studies were directed chiefly to the elucidation of Holy Scripture, and to the writings of St. Augustin. It is recorded that the Scriptural character, by which both of them were especially attracted during their early friendship and intercourse as students of God's word, was that of Abraham, and that they both resolved at that time to make the patriarch's inflexible reliance upon God the object of their imitation through life. There seems no reason to doubt that in this resolution they were strengthened and upholden. Jansen's life was short, but eminently useful. When raised to the see of Yprès, he formed extensive plans for the improvement of his diocese, which were soon frustrated by his early death. A plague broke out in Flanders, and raged with peculiar violence at