« PreviousContinue »
But though the Papal power numbered vastly more souls under its dominion after the reformation than it did before, and seemed at one time to be more formidable than ever, yet through a series of unexpected events, it has on all sides been weakened until its ancient power, wealth, and splendour have entirely passed away.
Its richest foreign conquests were soon lost. For failing in any good influence over the heart and conscience—and guilty themselves of fraudulent practices, and abominable dissoluteness, and often deeply immersed in civil and military affairs, citing seditions and tumults, its emissaries rather provoked a revolt than otherwise. In China the Jesuits and Dominicans quarrelled violently. Each appealed to the Pope. His-interference excited the jealousy of ihe government, and imprisonment, banishment and death, became the order of the day, until the name of Christian was almost unknown in the empire. In Japan a still more tremendous reverse took place in 1615. The utter extermination of Christianity, root and branch, was effected in one month. Such as would not renounce it, were immediately banished or put to death. Vast multitudes of both sexes expired under the most cruel torments. The name of Christian has ever since been repeated with the utmost abhor
And none bearing it have been permitted to place their foot there, excepting a few Dutch merchants who had been allowed a factory in one of the extremities of the kingdom. From Abyssinia, the Jesuits were for ever banished, for their insolence and ambition, in 1634.
At home the Catholic power was weakened by unsuccessful contests with several European governments. In 1606,
Paul V, nearly lost the rich republic of Venice. Peace was made, but the Pope relinquished many of his pretensions, and the Jesuits were banished. Naples, Sardinia, Portugal and Spain, all in their turn withheld some immunities which had before been freely granted. But the disputes with the king of France, were the most violent and destructive. Lewis XIV. convened in 1682, a council of the Gallican church, in which it was decreed, " That the power of the Pope was merely spiritual, and did not at all extend to temporalities ; that a general council was superior to the Pope; that the power of the Pope was also limited by the Canons, and that his decisions are not infal
More than 1500 were burnt during the last century, but none after the year 1783. Besides these, an incredible number suffered in the Spanish possessions in America, Italy, Flanders, Goa, &c.
SUPPRESSION OF THE JESUITS.
lible, without the consent of the Church.” This was a most severe blow.
But the downfal of modern Popery is to be dated from the suppression of the order of the Jesuits. This great event was owing to a variety of causes; chiefly, however, to their conduct in South America. Over the immense country of Paraguay, they had established an almost independent sovereignty. The Spanish and Portuguese were excluded from it, lest they should corrupt the converts. An immense trade was wholly monopolized, and the European monarchs found themselves deprived of all revenue from that country. In 1750, a treaty was made between Spain and Portugal, in which the boundaries of the two kingdoms in South America were accurately defined. The Jesuits forbade the approach of either party into Paraguay. But an army was sent, which soon broke through all resistance, and in 1758, the Jesuits were banished from the kingdom of Portugal, and soon after, from that of Spain and their estates were confiscated. "In ship loads they returned from foreign countries, and in crowds they pressed from the great peninsula,to seek some new employment from their sinking patron.
In France, they fell into disgrace, in a religious controversy. In sentiment they were Pelagians. In 1640, Jansenius poblished the doctrines of Augustine, concerning depravity and free grace. The publication was condemned by the Inquisition, and the Pope. But Jansenius had many followers. All united with him, who were disgusted with the Roman superstitions, and wished the promotion of vital piety. About the same time, a French translation of the New Testament was made by Quesnel, accompanied with annotations, containing the principles of Augustine. Its circulation was rapid. The Jesuits took fire, and compelled Pope Clement XI., in 1713, to issue the bulí UNIGENITUS, condemning that and its notes. The Jansenists were inflamed; but Parliament confirmed the bull, and the Jansenists felt the horrors of persecution. They became enthusiastic, and pretended to supernatural succours; to revelations and miracles, and declared that to show the truth of their cause, God had ordered the bones of their dead, especially of the Abbe of Paris, to work miracles. Thousands flew to the Abbe's tomb, to behold the wonders, and the Jansenists grew popular. They exposed the moral corruptions of the Jesuits, and turned the tide against them, so that the order was abolished in France, by royal edict in 1762, and all their colleges and possessions were confiscated and sold.
Still they were upheld by the Pope, as he had felt their
worth ; but their cause had grown desperate, and in compliance with the universal demand, Ganganelli or Clement XIV. suppressed them entirely in all the Papal countries, July 21, 1773.
With the Jesuits fell the amazing power of Papal Rome. But she fell into the fangs of a monster, more horrible than ever stalked forth upon the bloody arena of depraved man. About the middle of the last century, a set of most ferocious infidels, headed by Voltaire, D'Alembert, Rousseau, and Frederic II. king of Prussia, resolved upon the annihilation of Christianity. Berlin was the centre of their operations; but the Gallican church was the first object of their attack. Her Clergy were amazingly numerous and rich, being no less than eighteen archbishops, one hundred and eleven bishops, one hundred and fifty thousand priests, with a revenue of five millions sterling annually, besides three thousand and four hundred wealthy convents. But they were an easy prey.
The revocation of the edict of Nantez, had driven experimental religion from the kingdom, and, with a most splendid church, the nation was given up to infidelity.. Her priests themselves, from the vast increase of light, were ashamed of their tricks and pious frauds. The absurdities of indulgence, penance, and purgatory, could no longer be swallowed by a nation full of intelligence. The conspirators saw this, and drew out the monster. The wealth of the church was a fine object of attack. It was soon made the property of the nation. A civil constitution was formed for the clergy, to which all were required to swear, on pain of death, or banishment. The great body refused, and priest and altar were overturned, and blood once esteemed sacred, flowed to the horses' bridles. Such as could, escaped through a thousand dangers and found an asylum in foreign countries. No tongue can tell the woes of the nation.
The revolutionary torrent overflowed the neighbouring countries, and laid waste the Roman church with all her trumpery. Her priests were massacred. Her silver shrines and saints were turned into money for the payment of troops. Her bells were converted into cannon, and her churches and convents, into barracks for soldiers. From the Atlantic to the Adriatic, she presented but one most appalling spectacle. She had shed the blood of saints and prophets, and God now gave her blood to drink.
The emperor Napoleon despised the Pope and the whole system of monkery. To secure the reverence of the people he compelled Pius the Seventh, in 1804, to place the crown upon his head, but in less than four years after, he dispossessed him of
his ecclesiastical state, and reduced him to a mere cipher in the political world. The Pope issued against him and his troops a bull of excommunication, but it was the pitiable bluster of the decayed old man. The Dominicans in Spain felt his vengeance, and he there, in 1808, abolished the Inquisition. With the return of the Bourbons, the Gallican church has again reared her head, and fell superstition has appeared in high places. In Spain, the infernal Inquisition has been in part re-established, * and the Pope has sent out again some of the order of the Jesuits.
The principles of the Roman church are expressed in the decrees of the council of Trent and the confession of Pius IV.; but they have been always subject to an exposition of the Pope, who has claimed to be infallible. Her rites and ceremonies have varied but little for centuries. A stranger in papal countries now feels himself transported back into the dark ages.
Her Pontiffs, since the reformation, have generally sustained a better character than before. Some have been weak. Some ambitious. A few, respectable for talent and piety.
The same may be said of her clergya Baronius and Bellarmin have been her most emigent controyersialists. Father Paul of Venice, has been her most distinguished historian. Bossuet, Bourdaloue and Massillon her greatest orators.f Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray, was the Enoch of his age.” He walked with God, and by his writings did much for the promotion of piety. Pascal and Quesnel were eminent for learning and piety. The letters of Pascal first exposed the arts of the Jesuits. Many of the Jansenists appeared to be possessed of the faith and holiness of the gospel. But the great mass of the Bishops have spent their time amid the cabals and luxuries of
* In 1820, the inquisition at Valencia was broken open by the revolutionists, and five hundred were released from its dark and humid dungeons.
+ Bossuet died in 1704, bishop of Meaux. He distinguished himself by his funeral orations in honour of the princes and great men of his age.
Such was the eloquence of Bourdalou that on the revocation of the edict of Nantez, Lewis XIV. sent him to preach the Catholic doctrines to the Protestants. He had more solidity and close reasoning than Massilion, but less imagination and less of the pathetic and persuasive. He died 1704, aged 72.
Massillon was born at Hieres in Provence, 1663. His powers of eloquence early brought him to Paris, where he long carried captive crowded audiences. His oratory was peculiarly his own, and such his fidelity as to bring the gay court of Lewis XIV. and the monarch himself to serious reflection. * Father,” said the king to him, " when I hear other preachers I go away mueh pleased with them, but whenever I hear you, I go away much displeased with myself.” In 1717, he was made bishop of Clermont. He died 1742, aged 79.
courts—the slaves of temporal princes; and the lower order of priests have bad little but their habit, title, and a few ceremonies to show that they had any connexion with Him whose kingdom is not of this world.
Monastic orders have continued to arise. The two most famous since the reformation have been - The Fathers of the oratory of the Holy Jesus," 1613, and the monks of La Trappe, 1664. Laziness, ignorance, voluptuousness, and discord have continued to characterize all those establishments. The popularity of the Jesuits threw into the back ground the whole tribe of monks and friars. All experienced in the French revolution a tremendous overtbrow.
The Catholics continue to be very numerous in the worldprobably not less than 100 millions, an immense power if brought to act under one head. Multitudes in Asia know no other religion than that of the Pope. A large part of Europe is still sunk in ignorance and Papal superstition. In Spain the Papal power has never lost much of its force. The Inquisition has in a degree, been suppressed, but efforts are now making to re-estabJish it. In South America too, the Catholic church remains very splendid and imposing. The number of her priests, monks, temples, festivals, and idle ceremonies is immense, and the ig. norance and superstition of the people are beyond conception. But a free government must sap her foundations, or at least entirely change her character. Already the wealth and power of the priesthood are diminished, monks are ridiculed, feast days are much disregarded, the sale of indulgences is partially stopped, the Bible is getting into free circulation, and protestants live and die undisturbed. In Great Britain and her dependencies, Catholics are numerous. From the reign of Queen Elizabeth they have there been guarded by the most severe enactments, and numbers have been put to death. Some of these laws have of late been repealed. In England there has been for two centuries no regular Romish hierarchy. The whole church is under the superintendence of the congregation De Propaganda Fide at Rome. The clergy here are regarded as missionaries
, each of the stations is called a mission, and all are included in the phrase 66 The whole mission to England.” The church is governed by four vicars apostolic, appointed by the Pope, with the rank of bishops. In Ireland there are bishops and priests. The Catholics have sixsevenths of the population. In Canada they are sunk in the grossest ignorance. In the United States they have one archbishop, four bishops, 260 priests, and about 500,000 souls, chiefly foreigners. They have colleges at Balti