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MODERN JESUITISM. I have been reading lately the Provincial Letters of Pascal, a work unrivalled for wit, logic and eloquence. It is said to have been a fatal blow in the side of the Jesuit order. But in reading it, I have been struck with the reflection that opinions and practices are perpetually reproducing themselves under new names. There is enough of Jesuitism in the Protestant churches, as has indeed been shown by a late ingenious writer. Two points of resemblance between modern practices and ancient ones especially struck me.
The modes of speculating and deciding upon the next power and upon sufficient grace have a striking family resemblance to those now employed with respect to the Trinity and Human Ability.
Thus in the first letter Pascal describes his endeavour, by conversing with the Jesuits and Jansenists to find out what the dispute between them was. He discovered that the Jansenists were entirely agreed with the Jesuits in doctrine, and admitted the point in dispute that the just possessed full power to obey God. He therefore expected that the dispute would end. But he was mistaken.
6. He was so serious that I could not disbelieve him, and I instantly returned to my first doctor to assure him, with the utmost satisfaction, that I was confident peace would be restored in the Sorbonne; that the Jansenists were agreed upon the just possessing power to perform the commandments; that I would answer for it, and would make them all sign it with their blood. Hold,” said he,
a man must be an excellent divine to discriminate these niceties ; so fine and subtle is the difference between us, that we can scarcely discern it ourselves: you therefore cannot be supposed to comprehend it, but rest satisfied that the Jansenists will tell you, that the just always possess a power of fulfilling the divine commandments, which we do not dispute, but they will not inform you that this is
This is the point.” This term was to me quite new and unintelligible. I understood the matter till this moment, but now all was obscurity, and I could imagine no otherwise than that this kind of phraseology was invented solely to confuse the subject. I therefore requested some explanation, but he made a great mystery of it, and dismissed me without any further satisfaction, to inquire of the Jansenists whether they admitted this next power. My memory, you will observe, retained the expression; but, as to my understanding, verily it had no concern with it. Fearful of forgetting it, I hastened off to my Jansenist, and after the first compliments, “ Pray,” said I,“ do you admit of a next power?” He fell á laughing, and coldly replied, " Tell me
yourself in what sense you understand it, and I am then prepared to say what I believe.” But as I was not wise enough for this, I could find no answer; but unwilling to lose my visit, I answered at random, “I understand it in the sense of the Molinists.” “0,"returned my gentleman, without the least emotion, “and to which of the Molinists would you refer me ? ” “ All of them,” said I,“ as they constitute but one body and are animated by one spirit.”
“ You know little,” said he, “ of the subject. They are so much disunited in opinion, that they are quite opposite to each other. In one thing, however, they are all agreed, to ruin Mr. Arnauld ; and accordingly have determined by mutual consent, to use the term next, though they understand it in very different senses, that by a similarity of language and an external conformity, they may seem to constitute a more considerable body, and be able to seek his ruin with the greater confidence of success."
How exactly this corresponds with the state of things in regard to the Trinity. The Unitarians believe that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,” but they will not use the word Trinity. This barbarous, unscriptural, and unintelligible term is the Shibboleth of faith. Those who will use it are true believers, no matter what they understand by it. If they understand nothing by it so much the better. Those who profess to believe in the Trinity differ as widely from each other as those who professed to believe in the next power. They are so much disunited in opinion, that they are quite opposite to each other. In one thing thing however, they are all agreed, to ruin” the Unitarians, "and accordingly have determined, by common consent, to use the term” Trinity," though they understand it in very different senses, that by a similarity of language and an external conformity, they may seem to constitute a more considerable body, and be able to seek their ruin with the greater confidence of success.
The following passage is yet more entirely after the manner of modern controversialists. Here the object is to maķe people use a particular term even though they use it in an exactly opposite sense to what we do ourselves. So long as they use the word, all is well with them. The heresy consists in not pronouncing this phrase with the lips. Thus, there are an immense number of Trinitarians who believe Christ a distinct being from God and dependent and inferior. But they do not reject the word Trinity. So they are perfectly Orthodox.
Excellent, indeed, very excellent,” exclaimed I, in my turn : “but according to your opinion, the Jansenists are orthodox and M. le Moine a heretic; for they affirm that the just have power to pray,
but efficacious grace is nevertheless essential, which you approve : he
says that the just can pray without efficacious grace, which is the statement you condemn.” “ True," said they, “but then M. le Moine calls that power by the distinguishing epithet of next power."
“But really, good Father,” continued I, “it is a mere play upon words, to say that you agree respecting the same common term, but use it in a contrary sense.” To this I had no reply ; but most fortunately, in came the disciple of M. le Moine I had before consulted. This struck me at the time as a marvellous coincidence ; but I have since learned that these fortunate accidents are not uncommon, as they are in the habit of perpetual intercourse.
Addressing myself instantly to M. le Moine's disciple, "I know a gentleman," said I, “who maintains that all the just have always the power to pray, but that nevertheless they never will pray without an efficacious grace to impel them, which God does not always vouchsafe to all the just. Is this heretical ? ” “ Stop,” said the doctor, "you take me by surprise-hold a little-distinguo—if he call that power next power he is a Thomist, and therefore orthodox; if not, he is a Jansenist, and consequently a heretic.” “ But he neither calls it next, nor not next.” " Then he is a heretic-I appeal to these good Fathers.” Ilowever, I did not take the opinion of these judges, for they had already given consent by a significant nod, but proceeded—“ The gentleman refuses to adopt the term next, because he can obtain no explanation of it." One of the Fathers, upon this, was going to favor us with a definition, but the disciple of M. le Moine interrupted him, saying, “Why do you wish to renew our quarrelsome disputations ? Have not we agreed not to explain the term nert, and to use it on both sides without defining what it signifies ?” To this he instantly assented.
I was now let into the secret; and rising to take my leave, “Fathers," I exclaimed, “ verily I feel extremely apprehensive, that the whole of this affair is mere chicanery, and whatever may result from your meetings, I will venture to predict that, whatever censure may be inflicted, peace will not be established. For, if it should be agreed to pronounce the syllable next, who does not perceive that, as no explanation is given, each party will claim the victory? The Dominicans will say it is understood in their sense. M. le Moine will affirm it is in his, and there will arise more disputes respecting the signification of the word, than about its being introduced; for after all, there would be no great hazard in receiving it without affixing any meaning, since it can only do mischief by its meaning. It would, however, be unworthy of the Sorbonne and the faculty of theology to make use of ambiguous terms without giving some explanation ; but, Fathers, I beseech you, only this once, what must I believe in order to be an orthodox Catholic ?” “You must,” said they, all speaking together, "you must say, that all the just possess the next power, without attaching any meaning to the words—Abstrahendo a sensu Thomistarum, et a sensu aliorum Theologorum.”
* That is to say,” returned I, taking my leave, * this word must be pronounced with the lips through fear of being stigmatized with the name of heretic. Is it a scriptural term?" "No." Is it used by the Fathers, the Councils, or the Popes?” “No." "Is it patronised by St. Thomas?” “No," 6 Whence then arises the necessity of using it at all, since it is neither supported by any authority, nor has any peculiar signification of its own?” “You are prodigiously obstinate,” they exclaimed, you
pronounce it or be accounted a heretic, and Mr. Arnauld also ; for our party constitutes the majority, and, if it be necessary, we can compel as many of the Cordeliers to vote as will carry the point.”
So might we say of the Trinity. “This word must be pronounced with the lips, through fear of being stigmatized with the name of heretic. Is it a scriptural word? No." Should Protestants be compelled to follow any thing but the scriptures? No. “ Whence then arises the necessity of using" the word Trinity “at all, since it is neither supported by any authority, nor has any peculiar signification of its own?” “You are prodigiously obstinate, they exclaim, but you shall pronounce it, or be accounted a heretic, for our party constitutes the majority."
The other point debated in the Sorbonne, related to sufficient grace. This is precisely the dispute which has been raging in ihe Presbyterian church. Our readers may find a resemblance between what follows and that which is contained in Dr. Beccher's trial and defence.
The difference, then, on the subject of sufficient grace is chiefly this ; the Jesuits maintain that there is a general grace bestowed upon all mankind, but in such a sense subordinated to free will, that this grace is rendered efficacious or inefficacious as the will chooses, without any additional assistance from God, and without needing any thing exterior to itself to make its operations effectual; on which account it is distinguished by the epithet sufficient. The Jansenists, on the contrary, affirm that no grace is actually sufficient, inless it be also efficacious, that is, that all those principles which do not determine the will to act effectively, are insufficient for action, because, they say, no one can act without efficacious grace.
Wishing afterwards to be informed respecting the doctrine of the new Thomists, “It is," exclaimed he, “quite ridiculous; for they agree with the Jansenists, to admit of a sufficient grace given to all men, but insist that they can never act with this alone, and that it is still necessary that God should bestow an efficacious grace really to intluence the will, and which is not bestowed upon all." Then," said I,
“this grace is at once sufficient and insufficient.” “ Very true,” he answered ; " for is it be sufficient, nothing more is requisite to produce the action, and if not, it cannot be called sufficient."
“ But," I inquired “where is the difference between them and the Jansenists?” “ They differ,” said he, “in this, that the Dominicans at least acknowledge that all men have sufficient grace.”. “I understand you; but they say so without thinking so, because they proceed inmediately to state, that in order to act, we must possess efficacious grace, which is not given to all; and hence, although they agree with the Jesuits in using the same nonsensical terms, they contradict them in the substantial meaning, and agree with the Jansenist.” " True.”
How entirely this resembles the controversy between the Unitarians, the genuine Calvinists, and the modern, new school, half and half Calvinists. Unitarians say that man is able to obey God with the help of that grace, which is freely bestowed on all. The Calvinists say that man is unable to obey God at all, or to do any thing to prepare himself for repentance. The new school men agree with Unitarians that man has full power to obey God and do his duty, but then they say that he has not the will to do this, and never can have the will till God shall change his heart. So that he is at once able and unable. They admit he has full power, but go on to say that he never can exercise this power. Was ever resemblance more exact than exists between these Doctors and Pascal's Dominicans? Thus again.
“ But to the point, Father. Is this grace, which is given to all men, sufficient?»
“ Yes,” said he, “and yet it is of no avail without efficacious grace!” 6 No." “ And all men have sufficient,
but all have not efficacious grace?" “ Exactly so."
66 That is to say, all men have grace enough, and all have not grace enough-this grace is sufficient and it is not sufficient—that is, in fact, it is nominally sufficient and really insufficient. Upon my word, Father, this is a very, fine doctrine! Have you forgot since you quitted the world, what the term sufficient signifies? Do you recollect that it includes all that is necessary to an action? You cannot have forgotten this; for, to take a very obvious illustration, if your table were only supplied with two ounces of bread and a glass of water per day, should you be satisfied with your Prior, upon his pleading, that with one thing more, which however he would not furnish, you would have quite sufficient for your support?
How then can you state that all men have sufficient grace for acting, while you
confess something more, which all do not possess, is absolutely necessary?”
Dr. Beecher's school would also do well to consider the following:
· Pray,” said he, “in what respects do you agree with the Jesuits?" He replied, “ In this, that we both acknowledge that sufficient grace is given to all men.” But,” returned he," there are two things in