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alleged errors in the doctrine of predestination, the Jesuits, although expelled by every Roman Catholic government in Europe, were sustained by the papal partiality until 1673, and then condemned with the greatest reluctance, and only because, as Ganganelli declared, “ It was better to sacrifice the Jesuits than live in constant dispute with the kings." Nothing can prove more plainly that their system was not regarded by the pontiffs as objectionable in itself, and that the rulers of the Roman hierarchy were far more hostile to the austere pretensions of the Jansenists than to the accommodating pliancy of the ingenious scheme which disposed of sin with so much ease by the doctrines of Probability and Intention.

For my own part, therefore, I have no doubt that the maxims of the Jesuits were a fair exponent of the general administration of the Confessional throughout the whole Roman communion. I admit the statement of Pascal, that they did not expressly design to corrupt mankind, that they were always ready to recommend the strictest morality to the few who preferred it, and that they only indulged the mass of sin among the majority under the assumed expediency or necessity of accommodation. And such, I presume, is still, and always will be, the practical operation of the system. But it is very certain that the frankness with which they formerly published their maxims will never be exhibited again. The Christian world can not expect the repetition of an avowal which was followed by such troublesome consequences. And yet the reasons by which their policy was supposed to be justified in the seventeenth century have lost none of their force. Nor is it possible for human ingenuity to imagine why the Confessional should now be administered on better or purer principles. True, indeed, the advocate of Rome may amuse the crafty and deceive the credulous by saying that the papal bull which condemned the sixty-five erroneous propositions of the Jesuits, in A.D. 1673, is a sufficient guard against their restoration. A powerful guard assuredly! when we have already seen how easily they evaded the canons and papal bulls of previous centuries, and with what admirable coolness they laid down the comprehensive rule thaT THE LAWS OF THE CHURCH LOSE THEIR FORCE WHEN MEN NO LONGER OBSERVE THEM!




The rise and progress of the Confessional have now been traced from the days of the apostles to the lat. ter part of the seventeenth century. We have seen that the modern doctrine of the Church of Rome was still unknown, until the fourth Council of Lateran sanctioned the despotic scheme of Pope Innocent III., by which auricular confession and private absolution were required of all persons, without exception, at least once a year, under the penalty of virtual excommunication. That this new and stringent enactment was the product of expediency, dictated by the determination of the pontiff and priesthood to secure their absolute power over the nations in that palmy age of papal supremacy, is manifest from its history; for at this time the domination of Rome was in danger from the progress of a strong opposition. T'he Albi, genses and Waldenses had become very numerous in the South of France, under the protection of the Counts of Thoulouse and Foix. The


had actually published a crusade against them six years before. Indulgences had been liberally promised to all who should enlist in this "holy war" of the Church, and vast armies, under the renowned Simon de Montfort, had been engaged in destroying the unhappy “heretics" with fire and sword, and every conceivable method of cruel barbarity. Yet still a host of them remained, who continued to declaim against the pope, the monks and nuns, the ignorance and vices of the clergy, the superstitions and impostures connected with the false worship of the Virgin and the saints, and all the other numerous corruptions of the papal system. And their opinions were gaining ground with such success, that the hierarchy of Rome thought it necessary to exert the utmost energy for their total extirpation.

To this end, the pontiff convened the fourth Council of Lateran, and used all his influence to render it the most numerous and imposing body of the kind which had ever met together. It consisted of four hundred and twelve bishops, of whom seventy-one were primates or metropolitans; eight hundred abbots and priors, besides a large number of proxies for absentees; the embassadors of the emperors of Germany and Constantinople, of the kings of Sicily, France, England, Hungary, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Arragon, and many other sovereigns; together with the patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem, the patriarch of the Maronites, and legates from the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. This immense body of dignitaries assembled in the Church of St. John Lateran at Rome, formerly the Church of the famous Constantine. The Council was opened in due pomp and form, and sat from the 11th to the 30th of November, A.D. 1215. And although the main objects for which it had been ostensibly summoned were the recovery of the Holy Land from the Saracens, and the reformation of the Church, yet the chief design of its legislation proved to be the extirpation of heresy. For this purpose, not only was it enjoined to make the strictest inquiry after heretics, with severe penalties of confiscation, banishment, &c., but the novel expedient was adopted of enforced annual confession, as the most reliable method of preventing the progress of ecclesiastical rebellion : •since by this means each individual of the laity was compelled to pass, once in every year, through the hands of the priest, who could thus effectually ascertain whether any one had tampered with his allegiance to popery. That this was a perfect innovation, is acknowledged by Fleury himself. “C'est le premier canon que je sçache,” saith he, “qui à ordonné generalement la confession sacramentelle ; et il y avoit raison particuliere de le faire alors, à cause des erreurs des Albigeois et des Vaudois touchant le sacrament de penitence."* 6 This is the first law that I know, which ordained a general sacramental confession, and there was a particular reason for enacting it at that time, on account of the errors of the Albigenses and the Waldenses concerning the sacrament of penitence."

We must doubtless make some allowance for the phraseology of our historian, whose Romanism has here led him to attempt a little mystification ; for it is quite evident that the errors of heresy could never justify the Church in changing her own system, by laying a new burden on her people, and attaching a

* Histoire Ecclesiastique, tome xvi., p. 375.

perilous increase of secret prerogative to her priests, against the whole doctrine and practice of antiquity. But he frankly admits that it was a complete novelty, introduced on account of the Albigenses and Waldenses; and for these, which are the important facts of the case, his authority is conclusive in our favor.

Thus, then, we have the real history of this monstrous innovation. The arguments now advanced to give it a semblance of truth, and to present it as the proper instrumentality for obtaining the pardon of sin and preparing the faithful for the reception of the Eucharist, were not suggested by the Council, but were gotten up afterward, as we have seen, by the schoolmen, of whom the angelio Doctor," Thomas Aquinas, was the most distinguished. And in order to sustain them in better consistency with the sacramental obligation, now first imposed, the old forms of prayer, that God would absolve the penitent, were not altogether abandoned, but the new form of “I absolve thee” was boldly introduced, and to this was attached the whole force of the absolution. I have already exhibited the proofs of this unhappy change, and have shown that it was not accomplished without complaint and remonstrance. But the power of the papacy and the zeal of the schoolmen soon conquered this feeble opposition, and the murmurers were silenced with little difficulty. The novel addition was in favor of priestly despotism. It was a common cause among the hierarchy, for a common benefit. The masses were profoundly ignorant. The papal scepter bore universal sway. Darkness covered the land, and gross darkness the people. And thus the blow was successfully struck against the last remaining wreck of Christian liberty, and the power of every priest was fastened upon the soul and conscience of his.trembling suppliants, and


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