« AnteriorContinuar »
selves in the true spirit of their religion, without 'embroiling themselves with the affairs of the world.
Mosheim, and other writers, have given us the following account of the truly respectable and venerable Order of JANSENISTS, founded in France in the year 1640.
The founder of this Order was Cornelius Jansen, originally professor of divinity in the university of Louvain, and afterwards bishop of Ypres, in Flanders. "This eminent and learned person became early attached to the writings of St. Augustine, and had imbibed all that father's opinions concerning the nature of human liberty and divine grace. The chief labour of his life was exhausted in digesting these opinions into a regular treatise, which, in honour of his master, he entitled Augustinus. He left the work complete at his death, in 1638, and submitted it, by his last will, to the holy see. The publication might, possibly, have passed with little notice ; or, at most, like many other speculations, have enjoyed only a temporary celebrity, if the imprudence of the Jesuits, who were alarmed by an imaginary attack on their infallibility, had not selected it as an object on which they might display their unbounded influence. The famous cardinal Richelieu was not favourably disposed to the memory of its author, who, in a former work, had condemned the politics of France, and, therefore, uniting with the Jesuits, he procured the condemnation of the work of Jansen, by successive bulls. Persecution generally produces opposition ; and, perhaps, the unpopularity of the Jesuits might tend considerably to increase the disciples of Jansen. His doctrines were embraced by a considerable party, both in France and the Netherlands, and had the honour to rank among their defenders James Boonen, arch-bishop of Malines, Libertus Fromond, Anthony Arnauld, Blaise Pascal, Peter Nicholas, Pasquier du Quesnel, and many others of scarcely inferior reputation. The utmost vigilance of the church could not exclude the spirit of Jansenism from penetrating the convents themselves ; but none was so distinguished as the female convent of Port Royal, in the neighbourhood of Paris. These nuns observed the strict rules of the Cistertians : the vale in which the convent was situated soon became the retreat of the Jansenist penitents, and a nuinber of little huts were presently erected within its precincts. After various vicissitudes of persecution, in 1709, the nuns refusing to subscribe the declaration of Alexander VII., the weak and intolerant Louis XIV. ordered the whole building to be utterly demolished.
The principal tenets of the Jansenists are as follow : 1. That there are divine precepts, which good men, notwithstanding their desire to observe them, are, nevertheless, absolutely unable to obey : nor has God given them that measure of grace which is essentially necessary to render them capable of such obedience. 2. That no person, in this corrupt state of nature, can resist the influence of divine grace, when it operates upan the mind. 3. That, in order to render human actions merito
rious, it is not requisite that they be exempt from necessity, but that they be free from constraint. 4. That the Semipelagians err greatly in inaintaining that the human will is endowed with the power of either receiving or resisting the aids and influences of preventing grace. 5. That whoever affirms that Jesus Christ made expiation, by his sufferings and death, for the sins of all mankind, is a Semipelagian.
It will be observed, that the Jansenists hold some opinions not very much unlike some of the Calvinian tenets. Many of the English catholics are attached to Jansenism.
The history of the Roman Catholic Religious Orders may be concluded by the following account of a Society formed a few years ago in America, under the title of the Order of St. Sulpicius. The author is indebted for this information to an amiable Benedictine Monk.
The persons forming this society were fortunate enough to escape the horrors and dangers of the French Revolution, and saving a small remnant of their property, they took refuge in the United States, and established themselves at Baltimore ; where, conformably to their profession, they engaged themselves to communicate religious and literary instruction. In the beginning their labours were confined to the instruction of young men, destined for the church ; but the candidates for the priesthood being few in that country, they afterwards admitted respectable persons of every description, to the participation afforded by their institution. Those that profess the catholic communion are regularly instructed in the doctrines and prac. tices peculiar to their church ; whilst the Protestants are merely obliged to attend the places of Worship to which they respectively belong. By this impartial and equitable line of conduct, proper discipline, and a strict attention to their professional duties, they have founded one of the most respectable literary establishments of the present day. Their course of education is not limited to the study of Greek and Latin, Literature, Philosophy, and the different branches of the Mathematics ; but comprehends the liberal and ornamental arts ; as dancing, music, botany, natural history; and the living languages.
Besides these advantages that may be considered purely Icoal and academical, the benefits of this college are extended to the whole country. The inhabitants of Baltimore and its vicinity are particularly benefitted hy the residence of these worthy ecclesiastics; for, notwithstanding their professional duties, they do not neglect the cultivation of those arts which are subservient to the comforts of life. They have a regular portion of land, sufficient to furnish their numerous community with abundance of fruit and vegetables of every kind; and they have naturalized many exotics ; including a great number of the productions of the West Indies, without any shelter or arlificial heat. In their green and bot-houses they raise such plants as cannot thrive in the open air, for the purpose of botanical improvement, and the benefit of the curious. . They have
also erected an elegant little church, in the most ancient style of architecture. Thus they contribute to diffuse a taste for the fine arts; while the labouring and manufacturing parts of the cominunity are benefitted by obtaining employinent under them.
The following authorities have been consulted in describing the Roman Catholic religion, and religious ceremonies ;--The Creed of Pope Pius IV. :-The Decrees and Catechism of the Council of Trent :-The Catholic Christian Instructed—and many other authors.
In addition to the previous full details of the catholic religion and ceremonies, the reader will be gratified and instructed by the following eloquent passages from the Life of Chaucer :
The authors or improvers of the Romish religion were perfectly aware of the influence which the senses possess over the heart and the character. The buildings which they constructed for the purposes of public worship are exquisitely venerable. Their stained and painted windows admit only a “dim religious light.' The magnificence of the fabric, its lofty and concave roof, the massy pillars, the extensive aisles, the splendid choirs, are always calculated to inspire the mind with religious solemnity. Music, painting, images, decoration, nothing is omitted which may fill the soul with devotion. The uniform garb of the monks and nuns, their decent gestures, and the slowness of their processions, cannot but call off the most frivolous mind from the concerns of ordinary life. The solemn chaunt and the sublime anthem must compose and elevate the heart. The splendour of the altar, the brilliancy of the tapers, the smoke and fragrance of the incense, and the sacrifice, as is pretended, of God himself, which makes a part of every celebration of public worship, are powerful aids to the piety of every sincere devotee. He must have a heart more than commonly hardened, who could witness the performance of the Roman Catholic worship on any occasion of unusual solemnity, without feeling strongly moved.
Whatever effect is to be ascribed to such spectacles, was generated in ways infinitely more multiform in the time of Chaucer, than in any present country of the Christian world. Inmense sums of money had been bequeathed by the devout and the timorous to pious and charitable purposes. Beside the splendour of cathedrals and churches not now easily to be conceived, the whole land was planted with monastic establishments. In London stood the mitred abbeys of St. John and of Westminster, in addition to the convents of nuns, and the abodes of monks and of friars, black, white, and grey. Every time a man went from his house he met some of these persons, whose clothing told him that they had renounced the world, and that their lives were consecrated to God. The most ordinary spectacle which drew together the idle and the curious, was ihe celebration of some great festival, the performance of solemn masses for the dead, or the march of some religious