« ElőzőTovább »
Pope Sixtus V hated and dreaded the king of Spain, and therefore chose rather to see heresy supported in England, than Philip II become master of so good a country. Popes as sovereigns, follow the principles of a sovereign's religion, and consequently they sacrifice the interest of the Romish religion to the interest of their private power. What would they be the better, for instance sake, for a king of Spain's subduing the Protestants, if by that means he made himself so formidable to the court of Rome, that they should not dare to refuse the Spaniards any thing, for fear the year 1527, and the imprisonment of Clement VII should return again? It is a less disadvantage to the pope not to be acknowledged either in Holland or England, than if by such an acknowledgment any Catholic prince should be enabled to obtain all his demands at Rome, either by fair or foul means. If this principle of speculation be not sufficient to persuade, that Sixtus V did as much as in him lay to cross the enterprises of the king of Spain against Elizabeth, we shall soon find a practical argument which will complete the conviction. When Lewis XIV made such considerable and rapid progresses against the United Provinces in 1672, Cardinal Altieri (who was pope in reality, though another bore the name of pope Clement X) received this news with deep sorrow, because he did not love France, and because the Duke d'Estrée, ambassador of that crown, mortified him as much as he could. Of later days we have seen Innocent XI deaf to any thing that might have favoured the affairs of king James II, and a zealous promoter of any thing that was contrary to France. This was because he feared more the aggrandizing of Lewis XIV than he wished the enlarging of the Roman Catholic religion. He feared being crushed under the overgrown power of that prince, and therefore was glad to see the Protestants in a condition to check and lessen it; whence we may be better acquainted with the happy situation of the affairs of the Protestants, since not only the eternal jealousy between France and the house of Austria, will ever make them find allies and protectors in states of contrary religion, but even the court of Rome, according to the exigency of occasions, will do what Sixtus did to the prejudice of the king of Spain, and Innocent XI to the prejudice of Lewis XIV. That court is no less concerned than the others in maintaining a balance of power in Christendom.
But why need I search after examples ? It is sufficient to consider Sixtus himself with respect to Henry the great. It is certain that having taken norice how much the league added to the strength of the Spaniards, he shifted measures and favoured the Protestant party in France, and if death had not prevented him, he would have used all his endeavours to take the crown of Naples from the king of Spain. He crossed the league so openly, that the Spaniards threatened to protest against him, and to provide by other means for the preservation of the church which he abandoned. His death filled those of the league with joy, one of their preachers proclaiming it to the Parisians in these words: “God has delivered us from an ill pope and politician; had he lived some time longer, people had wondered to hear the pope exclaimed against in the pulpits of Paris, which however must have been done." It was not because he knew the great merit of Henry IV, or the false pretences of the league, that this pope took measures contrary to the interest of the Romish religion, but because the good successes of the heretics revenged him of the king of Spain, whom he hated.
PREDESTINATION. Father Rapin attacked the Jansenists on their weak side, in a Latin book published in the year 1658. His book is intitled “Dissertatio de nova doctrina, seu Evangelium Jansenistarum.” I confess I have not read it, and I think the most learned men in foreign countries may say the same, but a man of parts told me the turn which father Rapin had given it. He supposes a Jansenist who goes into the country of the infidels to preach the gospel to them, and who sincerely teaches his system concerning grace ; viz. that the greatest part of mankind have been predestinated to everlasting punishments from all eternity, and the rest to the joys of heaven ; that God, the author of this absolute predestination, being not willing to want some pretences to colour his decrees of damnation, declares to men that it is in their power to obtain salvation; that in order to it they need only obey his commands: he threatens them, he exhorts them, but at the same time he knows very well that it is impossible for them to do what he commands; that they cannot obey him for want of that efficacious grace which he refuses to all men excepting his elect, and without which they cannot mend their lives, nor even have a good thought. Father Rapin supposes that the infidels hearing such a gospel, are strangely surprised at such a description of God, and asks why he sends preachers to those whom he knows to be incapable of being converted, unless he bestow upon them a grace which he is obliged to refuse them by reason of his eternal decrees. Father Rapin's Jansenist answers, that God uses such a method to render men more inexcusable, and more obnoxious to bell torments. It is replied, that such a motive is not worthy of the Being infinitely good, and that this is not a proper way to make men inexcusable before the throne of God; that it may be pleaded that none is bound to do an impossibility, and that never any lawgiver inflicts punishments, but upon supposition that the transgressors of the laws had it in their power to have observed them; for which reason lunatics are never punished. One may easily guess what a Molinist, who knows how to make the best of his argument, may say pro and con, having entered upon the discourse as I have related it. But besides many other good answers he might be told, that if a Jansenist were to preach to the intidels of Japan or China for the first time, he would not be such a fool as to begin with the doctrine that denies man's free will, or with that of absolute predestination. He would preach as the Pelagians do, and as is recommended by one of our most rigid Predestinarians, and he would lay aside his Jansenism and conceal it until his young disciples stand no longer in need of milk, and are capable of solid nonrishment. They are mysteries which ought to be discovered to none but those that are initiated.
Art. Rapin. PRISCILLIAN. Priscillian, a Spanish heresiarch, lived in the fourth century. He was endowed with very fine qualities ; he had a quick wit, and a great deal of eloquence and learning, he was laborious, sober, and free from avarice. An eager thirst after knowledge, which induced him in his youth to study magic, made him listen to the rhetorician Delphidius and to a lady, who had embraced some errors of the Gnostics. He was infected with them, and employed his utmost skill to spread them. He gained over many people, especially women, who flocked to him; nay, some bishops followed his sect. This poison having spread itself in several towns, great endeavours were used to put a stop to it. A synod met at Sarragossa, at which the bishop of Aquitain assisted. Priscillian, and all his adherents were condemned, for refusing to appear at it, and the secular arm was employed to expel them from all the towns. These Heretics were so little concerned at this condemnation, that they made Priscillian a bishop. He left Spain with Instantius and Salvianus, two prelates of his party, in order to go to Rome, and justify himself to the pope. As they passed through Aquitain, they gained many disciples. Euchrocia, the wife of the rhetorician Delphidius, received them at her country-house, and was so charmed with Priscillian, that she followed him every where. If we believe what some say, they began in the spirit, and ended in the flesh. Euchrocia was at first charmed with the outward devotion and pious discourses of this heretic; but by degrees he charmed her with something else; he lay with her, and got her with child. If it be said that the Latin words which I shall quote presently, signify that he lay with Procula, Eucbrocia's daughter, I will not obstinately deny it: perhaps it is the best sense that can be put upon those words. The outward devotion which Priscillian had affected for a long time, did not make him forget that young Procula was preferable to her mother. “ They took their journey through Aquitain, where being splendidly received by the ignorant, they scattered the seeds of perfidiousness, and by wicked discourses perverted the minds of the good and pious people of Gascony. Being driven from Bourdeaux by the Dauphin, they stopped a little at the estate of Euchrocia, where they infected some persons with their errors. Thence they proceeded on their intended journey, with a shameful and scandalous retinue, with other men's wives and daughters, among whom was Euchrocia, and her daughter Procula ; concerning whom it was reported that, being with child by Priscillian, she was delivered in the grass.