Project Canterbury

A History of the So-Called Jansenist Church of Holland;
with a Sketch of Its Earlier Annals,
And some Account of the Brothers of the Common Life.

By the Rev. J.M. Neale, M.A.

Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1858.



A.D. 1763 — 1767.

1. In the August of 1763, a young and obscure English traveller, afterwards destined to obtain a world-wide reputation, arrived in Utrecht. Would that Boswell had left us one of his own graphic descriptions of the remarkable event by which the following month was to be characterized!

It had long been in contemplation to hold a Provincial Council for the Church of Holland. The first Synod of Utrecht had been held, as we have seen, by Frederick Schenk, in the August of 1565. Van Neercassel had convened one in the place of his exile; but since that time, no such meetings had been thought possible. An event now occurred which seemed to afford a favourable opportunity of convoking such an assembly.

2. One Peter Le Clerc, a sub-deacon of the Church of Rouen, had printed at Amsterdam, in 1758, an Act of Protest to the whole Church, but especially to that of Holland, against various tenets of Rome; and, in attacking Ultramontane views, had also asserted doctrines utterly opposed to Catholic tradition, asserting the equality of bishops and priests, and denying the divine right of the former, and other matters of equal moment. It was thought that now was the time for the Church of Utrecht to prove her attachment to [295] Western unity; and that, while Le Clerc’s errors were condemned, a censure might be passed on the corrupted morals of the Jesuits, especially of their authors, Harduin and Berruyer. The Archbishop accordingly addressed a convocatory letter to his clergy, dated August 20, 1763, and fixing the opening of the Council for the 13th of the following September[1].

3. The Pastoral is short and simple; it quotes Van Neercassel’s encyclic on a similar occasion; refers to the various calumnies which had been so diligently propagated against the Church of Holland; alludes to the different errors which had been sown within her territory; and invites his clergy to reject these synodically, while also evincing their respect and veneration for the See of S. Peter, the centre of unity. He urges them for these causes to undertake the journey, and concludes by praying that the members of the Synod may have Him as the Companion of their travel, Whom they desire to possess as the Head, Light, and Unity of their gathering.

4. On the appointed day the Council assembled in the parish church of S. Gertrude at Utrecht, and the Archbishop celebrated a mass of the Holy Ghost, and recited the prayers appointed in the Pontifical. The assembly then adjourned into a little chapel adjacent to that church, where the names of the deputies were called over, and their powers verified. They were twenty in number: the three Prelates, the Dean and Canons of the Metropolitical Chapter, and deputies from the archpresbyteries of Schieland, Utrecht, Rhijnland, and Delfland, and the clergy of Haarlem. [296] Van Zeller, one of the Canons, was appointed procurator of the Synod. Van Maeren, pastor of S. James at Utrecht, and Mill, of S. Joseph at Amsterdam, were named secretaries. The Archbishop addressed the assembly. After expressing his thankfulness that it had at length been possible to meet, he gave a brief sketch of the fortunes of the Church of Holland, from the time of Sasbold Vosmeer and the irruption of the Jesuits: —

“Let us,” he continued, “be strong and courageous. If we have heretofore given way to undue timidity, let us correct that error; if we have neglected duties which our very office demanded from us, let us repair the fault. And that there is no more efficacious method of obtaining this end than the convocation of bishops and priests, may be known even to the least versed in ecclesiastical history, if he will look at the instances of all ages, and the injunctions of the sacred Canons. We have met, then,” he proceeds, “not to deplore the impoverished condition of our Church, nor to devise means for its better endowment. The loss of our goods, — what is it but our glory and our crown? No; we have assembled, beloved brethren, that, since we have been eye-witnesses of the evils which, having for their source a foreigner accidentally resident among us, have afflicted the Church of Holland, and of those which, arising from the impious men of whom we have already made mention, have lacerated not only this, but the universal Church, — we should come to its assistance as members of one and the same body. For they, fabricators of errors, have in their own workshop forged and dispersed so many, that nearly the whole Church is contaminated by them; so that we might believe it on the eve of destruction, had we not certain faith in God’s promise that it should remain for ever. They have left nothing untouched, they have left nothing unattempted, to overthrow the genuine sense of Holy Scripture, to impugn the sacred mysteries of the Christian religion, and to destroy all ecclesiastical discipline, and every rule of morals, by sophism and equivocation. [297] Let us be ashamed to have come forward the last in this contest. If, while others cry out, we hold our peace, we are worthy of being reckoned among those who are called in Holy Writ, Blind watchmen, dumb dogs that cannot bark.”

5. The Procurator then, in set terms, demanded whether it was the will of those present that, to the praise and glory of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, for the defence of the faith, for the increase of the good discipline of the Christian religion, for the amelioration of morals, correction of excesses, and composure of controversies, and other things permitted by the sacred Canons, the Holy Provincial Council of Utrecht should then be commenced? The Archbishop having formally assented, the Procurator demanded a rule of life for the members of the Synod during its continuance. And this also having been promulgated, Van Zeller made the following requisition, the spirit of which seems truly admirable: —

“Whereas there are many canons, pastors, and, it may be, other ecclesiastics in this metropolitical province of Utrecht, who should de jure have been summoned to, and who should have assisted at, this Synod of the Roman Catholic clergy of Holland, if they acknowledged the authority of their own bishops, — we demand that by some decree of the Council their rights may be preserved whole and inviolate, if hereafter — which we greatly desire — they shall please to assemble together with us.”

This also having been done, Van Zeller next required a decree for the convocation of triennial councils according to the injunction of that of Trent; and the canon — never hitherto from that time acted upon — was accordingly passed.

6. The third requisition was more important, and gave rise to a decree of great length and moment. Commencing by the quotation, that “without faith it is [298] impossible to please God,” it recites the Nicene Creed as that in use through the “One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church;” it anathematizes all errors and heresies anathematized by the Council of Trent; and it then accepts and adopts Bossuet’s Exposition de la Foi as the expression of the faith of the Council. This it does, “that those who are not of the Catholic communion may learn, by the experience of nearly a century, that this illustrious Bishop did not mitigate the dogmas of the Catholic Church, nor seek for compromises for the sake of procuring converts; but sincerely and fully handed down those heads of doctrine which have been based on the highest authority, and which all Roman Catholics are bound both to believe and to observe; and may allow, both on natural principles of equity, and from the authority of their own doctors, that ‘it is unjust to make an entire society answerable for the sentiments of private individuals,’ and therefore to attribute to the Roman Catholic Church doctrines held only by particular members of that Church, though their number may be considerable.”

The Exposition de la Doctrine Catholique is known to every one. The Protestant doctor alluded to in the above decree was Daillé, in his “Apology,” who fairly and frankly allows the fact here contended for.

7. The decree next adopts the letter of the Chapter of Utrecht to Benedict XIV., which has been noticed in its place, and which embraces the five Articles of the Bishop of Comminges, on the subject of Grace, of 1663, the forty-two Louvain Articles of 1677, and the twelve which, sent by Cardinal de Noailles to Rome, were by Benedict XIII. not only not censured, but had nearly obtained his public and positive approbation. The conclusion of the adopted letter may be taken [299] as exactly and fully expressing the sentiments of the Council: —

“But as we are most solicitous not only not to adhere to any opinion contrary to a definition or a profession of faith of the Catholic Church, but also among these systems of doctrine, in controversy among Catholics, to follow those which appear in closest conformity with perpetual tradition; so we are not less anxious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Hence, although in the Articles which we adopt there are not a few which are impugned by many theologians, not a few which we consider of no light moment for the integrity of Catholic doctrine, and of great advantage in the salvation of souls; God forbid that we should hold those to be aliens from the communion of the Church who hold the contrary opinion, until the Church herself shall have settled the points at issue by her supreme authority. God forbid — we say it still more earnestly — that we should condemn such as, in some of the aforesaid Articles, differ from us in words rather than in meaning. And, to sum up all in brief, — every doctrine which the Roman Catholic Church holds we hold; every doctrine which she condemns we condemn; every doctrine which she tolerates we tolerate.”

8. On the requisition of the Procurator, five congregations were appointed for the denunciation of the errors both of Le Clerc and of the Jesuit corrupters of morality. They were thus arranged: —

The first, under the presidency of Meganck, Dean of the Metropolitical Chapter, undertook the censure of Le Clerc.

The second, under that of the Bishop of Deventer, occupied itself with Harduin and Berruyer.

The third, of which De Haan, pastor at Rotterdam, was president, was charged with the examination of the errors of Pichon and other Jesuits, on the dispositions requisite to a due reception of the sacraments.

The fourth, under the care of Brons, Rector of the [300] Seminary at Amersfoort, undertook the corrupted morals of the modern casuists generally.

The fifth, of which Gyselinck, pastor at Hilversum, was chairman, had special reference to false teaching on the subject of obedience to the civil power.

The reports of these various congregations were received and adopted by the Council, and form the larger part of its acts[2]. It will now be necessary to touch on their most salient points.

9. The report of the first congregation was arranged under seven heads. The first treats of the Five Articles of Jansenius. Le Clerc had asserted these to contain the Catholic faith on the question of grace, and had affirmed that “the Bishops of Rome had reached such a pitch of iniquity and audacity as to condemn the true doctrine formally.” The decrees of the Synod on this point are as follow: —

“The holy Synod declares that the doctrine of grace efficacious per se and ab intrinseco, and of gratuitous predestination to glory without any prevision of merits, handed down by the holy doctors Augustine and Thomas, is consonant with Holy Scripture, the decrees of pontiffs and councils, and the sayings of the fathers.”

This is merely an extract from the Bull Demissas Preces of Benedict XIII. (Nov. 6, 1724), who uses the very same expressions: —

“The holy Synod detests the false criminations of those who assert that this wholesome and orthodox doctrine has been formally condemned by the Roman pontiffs.”

Then follows a condemnation of the denounced passages, two in number; and the same course is followed in all the reports.

10. I could wish that the Church of Utrecht had not thought it necessary to interfere in the question [301] of the schism between East and West. Le Clerc had given, on the whole, a not unfair account of the disputes both under Photius and under Michael Cerulanus; the congregation again goes through the subject, and treats the unfortunate Greeks at least as unjustly as they themselves had been treated by Rome. One sentence in this document must be confessed to cut away the whole ground from the Church of Utrecht herself: —

“It is in vain to assert that the Roman Pontiff, even assisted by a Roman council, had not authority to depose Photius from the episcopal dignity. But this deposition, grounded on most just and weighty considerations, was not separation from communion (!), for it did not prohibit Photius from communion in the article of death.”

Surely the Jesuits might well have retorted, If Nicholas I. had power to depose, unheard and untried, the Patriarch of the second see in the world, how can it be denied that Clement XI. might exercise the same right in regard to Peter Codde, the occupant of a see so infinitely less illustrious?

I pass over the rest of this report, and will only observe that eight extracts were selected for censure, and that the decree founded on them embraces five articles. Of these, it is truly wonderful to find the Council sanctioning the second and fifth: —

“That schism is one thing, heresy another; and that therefore, the profession of the true and orthodox faith is not, properly speaking, the centre of the external communion which ought to exist between all branches of the Catholic Church, but that this centre exists in the chair of Peter, established by that apostle at Rome, ‘whence is the source of sacerdotal unity[3].’

“That therefore the Greek Christians, who have severed this unity, and continue in that separation, are, whether or [302] not they profess the true and orthodox faith, truly and properly schismatics.”

It must be clear that if Utrecht were substituted for Greece in the last clause, the condemnation pronounced must be equally just. It is natural, therefore, to hope that an excessive desire to propitiate the Roman Pontiff suggested this chapter of the report, and led its framers to overlook not only their own inconsistency in adopting it, but the impossibility of a provincial assembly condemning a Church which could reckon up more millions than itself could count hundreds.

11. The third report goes further in its deference to Rome than the majority of writers in the Church of Utrecht would authorize, certainly further than the four celebrated Gallican Articles of 1682. Meganck, the president, had, some time before, distinguished himself by a work in support of the primacy, and held higher views on the subject than the greater part of his brethren; he was therefore probably brought forward with reference to this question, in order that the decrees of the Council might be as acceptable as possible to Rome. Eight extracts are condemned, and five propositions asserted: —

“That on the apostle Peter was bestowed by Christ the Lord the primacy over the other apostles, to the end that the Church and clergy of Christ might be shewn to be one[4].

“That S. Peter, in whom the primacy of the apostles is pre-eminent with so excellent a grace, on account of this primacy of his apostolate, represented the Church, an individual typifying a generality[5].

“That the Bishop of Rome, as successor of S. Peter, possesses jure divino the same right over other bishops.”

[303] In this statement, it may be observed, the Council goes beyond the teaching of many Gallican theologians, and of divines who distinguished themselves at Constance and Basle; that, though the successor of S. Peter has jure divino the primacy of the Church, it is not jure divino, but simply jure ecdesiastico, that the Bishop of Rome is S. Peter’s successor.

“That this primacy of the Bishop of Rome, as successor of S. Peter, is not merely a primacy of honour, but also of ecclesiastical power and authority.

“That the Roman Pontiff, as successor of S. Peter, is jure divino the visible and ‘ministerial head’” (they borrow the word from the Council of Basle) “of the Church founded by Christ, Who is its invisible and quickening Head, and therefore is the first vicar on earth of the same Christ, the care of the whole Church being committed to him[6].”

12. Le Clerc had asserted that the Church could not properly be said to be infallible, except when assembled in oecumenical council; and that, if every single doctor and bishop in its communion were to teach, while not thus assembled in council, any particular doctrine, it by no means ensues that such doctrine is infallibly true. The Council condemned two propositions, of which one is worth quoting, containing as it does the seeds of that great truth, from the development of which only can we hope for the future reconciliation of Christendom: —

“Je dis plus. Quand même un sentiment serait suivi generalement dans toute l’Eglise dispersée, sans aucune réclamation pendant beaucoup de siècles, il ne s’ensuivrait pas que ce sentiment fût une décision de l’Eglise Universelle; parce que l’Eglise dispersée ne fait pas de décisions dogmatiques, mais elle fait exécuter celles qu’elle a faites étant assemblée. Car elle n’en fait que quand elle est assemblée dans un concile général.”

[304] It seems scarcely consistent with its own principles that the opposite dogma should have been asserted by the Council: —

“That the Church is not less infallible in all things which the body of its pastors, though dispersed, sets forth as to be believed concerning faith and morals, than in those which are thus set forth by them when in a general council assembled.”

13. The fifth relation denounced four propositions of Le Clerc, in which he rejected the Creed of Pope Pius IV. The Council renewed its adhesion to that symbol, and condemned them.

The sixth condemned four propositions on the parity of bishops and priests, which Le Clerc had asserted in the strongest terms[7]. The seventh related to his attack on excommunications and indulgences. The Synod blames his “immoderate and bitter zeal in denouncing the indulgences granted at Rome, and the excommunications extorted there;” and contents itself by reaffirming the very moderate and well-weighed decrees of Trent on the subject, themselves the strongest bulwark against modern Ultramontanism. Thus ended the labours of the first congregation.

14. To the second, under the presidency of the Bishop of Deventer, had been committed the task of denouncing the gravest errors of De Berruyer and Hardouin.

Berruyer, a native of Rouen, and a Jesuit, had published in 1728 the first part of his “History of the People of God[8];” a second edition appeared in 1733, and in the year following the work was censured at Rome. Among the French bishops who condemned it, Colbert of Montpelier especially distinguished himself. [305] The Jesuits, however, who very little concerned themselves about Roman censures when directed against their society, openly supported the book. The second part, which appeared in 1753, was still more intolerable, was condemned by Benedict XIV., and denounced by some of the Jesuits themselves. Notwithstanding which, an edition appeared at Amsterdam, a translation was made in Italian; and in 1758 the third part appeared, still worse than the two former, and openly renewing Nestorianism by admitting a double personality in Jesus Christ. Fitz-James, Bishop of Soissons, condemned the whole in a Pastoral Instruction, extending to the prodigious length of seven volumes; the Sorbonne censured the two former parts, their condemnation of the third being interrupted by the fall of the Jesuits. Besides its open heresies, this unhappy book related the history of Holy Scripture with a flippancy and familiarity that were intolerable; travestied the simple accounts of the inspired writers into the language of the theatre; defended the grossest crimes — such as self-murder; and was often guilty of the most abominable indecency.

Hardouin, the master of Berruyer, is now principally known by his collection of councils, and by his eccentric belief that the classical authors were composed in the monasteries of the middle ages. The Council, quoting an epitaph, which is ascribed to Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, justly describes him as “asserting entire paradoxes, the destroyer of venerable antiquity, learnedly delirious, a sceptic, in credulity a child, in audacity a youth, in dotage an old man.”

15. The prefatory address is admirably well reasoned; and the errors of the Jesuits, being too numerous and ingrained to be dealt with in detached [306] passages, it sums them up in ten heads; the principal passages, more than 150 in number, being referred to, but not quoted. It appears, however, that the most monstrous of these were read by the Bishop of Deventer to the Council, and excited the greatest horror. The Congregation shews that the writers in question absolutely deny the necessity of the Christian religion; affirm that prophecies and miracles are no proof of its Divine origin; deny the Church to be One, Catholic, or Apostolic; reject both Scripture and tradition as the rule of faith; are guilty of the most fearful blasphemies on the doctrine of the Trinity[9]; deny that of original sin; utterly subvert the whole scheme of the Incarnation, of the Atonement, and of Free Grace; and corrupt not only religion, but morals: —

“At such a flood of blasphemies,” concludes the Bishop of Deventer, “who in this sacred Synod has not shuddered again and again? Which of the Fathers has not desired to stop his ears? ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners,’ saith the apostle. It has therefore seemed desirable to the Congregation, that —

“(1.) The holy Synod should oppose to this horrid scandal a brief summary of the certain and holy doctrine of the Catholic Church, by which the wicked attempts of erring men are daily and invincibly crushed by her.

“(2.) That the Synod should recommend the principal works by which, especially in France, truth hath shone forth triumphant: for example, the well known, and to us most familiar, work of the Bishop of Soissons, the unshaken bulwark, in our times, of the Church, and a precious monument to posterity. Also the excellent and recently published Pastoral of the Archbishop of Lyons … and the [307] learned first part, so acceptable to Catholic theologians, of the censure of the Faculty of Paris.

“(3.) And lastly, that a canon should be drawn up, briefly, but solemnly and absolutely, condemning the work of Berruyer, so justly condemned by Cardinal Migazzi, Archbishop of Vienna, in his Pastoral of July 3, as impious and wicked; and also that of Hardouin, in books by which the chief mysteries of the faith would be utterly destroyed, and the whole Christian religion overthrown from its base.”

16. The eighth decree, drawn up in accordance with the requisition of the Congregation, and comprised in twelve heads, is an admirable example of theological definitions. The first seven articles are on the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, and Original Sin; the remainder are as follows: —

“(8.) Jesus Christ, by His own unmerited sufferings and death, truly and superabundantly made satisfaction as well for original sin as for all the other transgressions of the sons of Adam. Which sufferings and death, as being those of the incarnate God, are of infinite value and price; and the same incarnate God was Redeemer, not only of those men who were born after His incarnation, but of those also who had preceded His advent; in one word, He poured forth His Blood for all men.” [Notice how emphatically they deny the heresy so constantly attributed to the Jansenists, that the Son of God died only for some men.]

“(9.) No man was ever justified, or could be justified, by the natural law, nor by the Mosaic Law, but only by faith in Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man; by whose blood and merits all righteous men, whether of the Old or of the New Testament, received remission of sins, the true adoption of sons, and the grace requisite to fulfil the divine commandments.

“(10.) This grace, absolutely necessary, either to begin that which is good, or to advance in it, and to persevere to the end in righteousness, is altogether free, and cannot be obtained by any human merits; and this grace lies not alone [308] in exhortations, examples, and incitements, external or internal, but in inspiratione dilectionis qua cognita sancto amore faciamus. [The quotation is from S. Augustine[10].] For it is God that, without any detriment to human will, worketh in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. In like manner, the predestination of the Saints to glory, the glorious pattern of which is the predestination itself of Christ our Head, is entirely gratuitous, and before prevision of merits; a most certain doctrine, which the holy Fathers affirm to be of the Catholic faith[11].

“(11.) There is an eternal and immutable law, which is only the Divine will commanding that natural order should be observed, forbidding that it should be violated[12], and which God has inscribed in indelible characters on the minds of men. Whatever is wilfully done against this invariable rule of morals, whether by ignorance, whether by inadvertence and forgetfulness, or whether by an erroneous conscience, lies under sin. Finally, concupiscence, which springs from sin, and induces to sin, (although it is not itself sin, unless it be consented to,) and all its motions, are in themselves evil and irregular, and the whole Christian life consists in its eradication, and the endeavour with our whole strength to fulfil the law of charity, by which we are bound to love God with our whole mind, with our whole heart, with our whole power, and to refer all our actions to Him as to their ultimate end.

“(12.) The rule of faith is the revealed Word of God, written in Holy Scripture, or handed down to us by continual succession of tradition; of which Word of God the infallible interpreter and uncorrupted guardian is the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

17. On the requisition of the Procurator of the Synod, the Third Congregation, under the presidency of Francis de Haan, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul at Rotterdam, reported on two books which had been committed to its investigation. The first of these was the notorious work of Pichon, L’Esprit de Jésus [309] Christ sur la fréquente Communion, on which a few words may not be out of place.

The efforts which the Jesuits had made to obtain from Rome the condemnation of Arnauld’s work on Holy Communion had proved unsuccessful. In 1745 one of their fathers, by name Pichon, published a volume under the above title, intended as a substitute for, and antidote to, the “Jansenism” of Arnauld. Its main scope was this: that to communicate, in and by itself, and as it were ex opere operato, was a cure for sin; that a man might, and should, communicate daily, though he had no love to God, and though he came with the deliberate intention of cleaving to venial sin; that no more excellent penance for the most detestable crimes could be enjoined, than immediate and frequent communion; and this though the penitent had no real contrition, and professed to have none, for his past wickedness. It followed that confession and absolution degenerated into a mere farce; and that satisfaction, an integral and essential part of penitence, was eliminated from the easier path of the Jesuit theologian.

18. Some extracts from this detestable book will give a better idea of its contents: —

“Let us compare it [Holy Communion] with the other methods which we find set forth in the holy Gospel: which would you choose? — Prayer? assiduous fasting? the distribution of your goods to the poor? the most humble exercises of charity in prisons and hospitals? the practice of virginal purity? — Each of these methods alarms self-love, terrifies the senses, throws into despair a will so weak as ours; but frequent Communion is an easier way[13].

“The only method of salvation which is left to most men — that which alone is proportioned to their weakness and their temperament — is frequent Communion.

[310] “Theophilus. This sacrament is then like Baptism, which operates on infants, and gives them grace, without any disposition on their part[14]?

The Doctor. Yes.

“Frequent Communion is the most efficacious and the briefest method of conversion and sanctification, and the most powerful bridle against vices and evil habits.”

Though every page abounded with sentiments like these, Marcilly, the censor, a doctor of the Sorbonne, but a creature of the Jesuits, characterized the work in the highest terms of approbation, and even ventured to say that the Spirit of Jesus Christ had been especially communicated to the author; and the Journal de Trevoux, the embodiment of Jesuit principles, pronounced a magnificent eulogium on its merits. The Gallican review, the Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques, was the first to point out the tendency of the book; but the French bishops, generally, took the alarm. The Archbishops of Sens and Aix, Languet and De Brancas, expressed themselves strongly against it; the Bishop of S. Pons, noted for his zeal against Jansenism, was even violent in his denunciations of its false teaching: more than twenty bishops followed in the same course. The prelate whose conduct was most annoying to the Jesuits was De Rastignac, Archbishop of Tours, who had up to that period been subservient to their views, and who, in his Instruction Pastorale sur la Justice Chrétienne[15], denounced and demolished the system of [311] Pichon. The Jesuits themselves, in a half-way, disavowed the book, but it continued to be circulated, and a fresh edition was issued.

19. The other work, committed to the same Congregation, was a Catechism for First Communion[16], written in Dutch, and published for the first time at Louvain in 1658, and for the last at Amsterdam in 1695. It had been condemned, indeed, at Rome (Jan. 17, 1703), but was still employed as a text-book by the Jesuits in Holland, and was conceived in the same spirit which characterizes every page of Pichon, and the propositions extracted from it were of the same nature as those which I have already selected from that. The Congregation further recommended that the Synod should adopt the Amor Poenitens of Van Neercassel, the Instructions of S. Charles Borromeo, and the Pastoral of De Rastignac, as its own.

20. The eleventh decree, which is well worth quoting, is as follows: —

“The holy Synod decrees the following rules as true, certain, and consonant with the intentions and doctrine of the Church: —

“1. That adults, before they are admitted to the reception of the sacraments, should not only be acquainted with the principal mysteries of the Christian religion, as they are contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but should also abstain from worldly lusts, and especially from those sins which ‘destroy the soul at one stroke[17],’ and exclude from the kingdom of God.

“2. The virtue of penitence was necessary at all times to all men, for the acquirement of grace and righteousness: the commencement of which is godly sorrow, which worketh repentance not to be repented of.

“3. It is contrary to the maxims of the holy Fathers, and [312] to the rules of Christian piety, to think that those sinners may be absolved in whom the love of self yet predominates, and who are satisfied with not hating God, or those who are moved to a certain hatred of sin only through the fear of temporal punishment, or even through the fear of hell alone, without any love of righteousness.

“4. For the worthy reception of the sacraments of baptism and penance there is required in adults, beside the acts of faith and hope, and the fear by which they are salutarily influenced, at least the beginning of that love of God above all things, by which God is loved as the Fountain of all righteousness.

“5. These previous dispositions are followed by justification on the reception, or even the desire, of the Sacrament; which justification consists not only in the remission of sins, but in the sanctification and renewal of ‘the inner man, which is created after God in righteousness and true holiness.’

“6. Although righteousness may be lost, it is not therefore desultory, so as to be lost and regained over and over again, but constant and stable. ‘How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ We are buried with Christ by baptism into the likeness of His death and resurrection; that, as ‘Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, so we also should walk in newness of life.’

“7. Again, this holiness, real, and not fictitious, acquired already, not to be acquired hereafter, is required as a necessary preparation and disposition for the worthy reception of the holy Eucharist, for Holy Things are to be for Holy Persons only: ‘and the more the sanctity and divinity of this Sacrament are understood by a Christian man, the more diligent must be his care, that he draw not near to receive without great reverence and holiness[18].’

“8. Let a man therefore be in a state of righteousness before receiving the holy Eucharist at all; let him be holier, if he would communicate frequently; let him be most holy, if he would approach the holy Table daily. This is the rule taught by the Fathers of the first ages, which we have also received as handed down by the holy doctors of later times.

[313] “9. As to confessors. It is not enough for a confessor to recognise in the penitent a cessation from external acts of sin: he must also require that there be in him a true, efficacious, and constant ‘resolution of not sinning again[19],’ made manifest, not only by doubtful signs, as tears and promises, or a declaration of sins, though this may be perfectly and sincerely made; but ‘by the beginning of a new life[20],’ and by the pre-performance of certain penal works, sometimes necessary to heal the diseases of the soul[21].

“10. The confessor, before he absolves a penitent, must have a kind of moral certitude that the constant ‘resolution of sinning no more, and the commencement of a new life,’ proceeds from the love of righteousness, predominating in the heart of the penitent.

“11. Since experience itself teaches that, for the most part, sinners, especially those who are oppressed with the heavy weight of sinful habits, do not all at once, but by degrees, and not without exceeding difficulty, pass from the predominance of the love of the creature to the predominance of the love of God, and a change of heart and life, — the confessor cannot easily have that moral certainty, unless, after a sufficient space of time, he is satisfied of the sincerity of the penitent’s love by fruits worthy of repentance.

“These rules are of such weight and value, that they cannot be sufficiently impressed on the mind.”

The decree concludes with a recommendation of the books which the Congregation had proposed for adoption.

It would not be easy, I think, to point to any canons which unite so much depth of piety with such dogmatical exactness, and so neat an expression of both.

21. The fourth Congregation was under the presidency of Wynandus Johannes Brons, pastor at Amersfoort, and president of the Seminary, and had for its subject the errors of the Casuists, especially on [314] the subject of probability, more particularly in the works of Busembaum, La Croix, Mazotta, and Neumayer — the last of whom had indeed been condemned at Rome by a decree of May 29, 1760. In their report they allude to the boast of the Jesuits, that no member of that Society can publish a work which is not consentient to the teaching of the Society itself; they thence argue that the doctrine contained in the works of one of these writers is not the doctrine of an individual, but of the body: they quote the words of Cardinal de Noailles, — “The question now-a-days is not what is true or false, what eternal truth forbids or commands, but only what is probable or not probable; that is, the law of God is set aside, and the only enquiry is what men may have babbled concerning the divine commandments; whence the doctrine of morals is by degrees degenerating into the doctrine of men, and the commandments of Pharisees;” and that immortal passage from the Provincials, which ends, “Let the Jesuits, therefore, who wickedly accuse others of denying the Incarnation, beware lest they themselves against their wish and desire” (“so,” says the writer, “the author speaks, perhaps, with over-kindness”) “be called at some future time the leaders of the Deists.” And then follows this noble passage — a passage worthy of the most eloquent of the Fathers of the Church: —

“As God is the Creator of men, so also is He their Master, and Lawgiver, and Judge; from Whose will alone emanate laws of whatever kind; ‘by Whom kings reign, and princes decree justice.’ Therefore every rational creature is so bound by the divine and eternal law, that none can ever escape its power. Why should we not apply to ourselves that which Augustine teaches even of the angels? — ‘By them,’ he writes, ‘immutable truth is consulted as the eternal law, … for they are not the Truth itself, but partakers of the Creator’s Truth. [315] To it they seek as to the fountain of life, that they may obtain from it that which they have not in themselves[22].’ Since, therefore, by the angels themselves the eternal Truth must be consulted as a law, how much more by man, especially fallen man, who, having nothing in himself ‘except falsehood and sin[23],’ cannot discover the truth in himself; and if he trusts to his own light to go before him, he will continually wander from the way! For in vain will they endeavour to ‘put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,’ who will not ‘put on the new man, which is renewed in God after the image of Him That created Him.’ This truth, this eternal law, which is nothing else than God Himself, alone ordains that which is right, that which is good. Sin consists in this: in saying, or doing, or seeking anything that is at variance with this. For ‘Sin,’ says Augustine, ‘is a deed, or speech, or wish against the eternal law.’ Of the same law Tertullian thus speaks: ‘At no time, and in no place, is that excused which God condemns:’ whence that theological axiom, — ‘That which is opposed to the natural law is prohibited because it is evil, and not evil because it is prohibited.’”

How sublime, how refreshing, is this bold vindication of the eternal law against the miserable sophistries, the wretched expediency, the probabilistic jargon of a Busembaum, a La Croix, a Bauny, a Lessius, a Vasquez, a Victoria, an Escobar, and — alas that we should have to say it — a Liguori! One breathes the free air after a close, medicated room; one sees the pure stars in the heavens after the tinsel ornaments of a theatrical sky.

22. Of twenty-six propositions extracted for condemnation, the following are some of the most remarkable: —

Of ignorance of the Natural Law. — “It is usually taught that man cannot be invincibly ignorant of God, at least not [316] for long. But, granted that the True and Only God might, through invincible ignorance, be unknown, a heathen would not formally sin against Him by worshipping idols. Hence also I will assert, that if any given man be supposed absolutely and invincibly ignorant of any God, such a man could not sin theologically, but, to make the most of it, only philosophically.” [Herman Busembaum, Theologia Moralis, with additions by Claude La Croix. Ed. Cologne, 1757. Tom. i. p. 104.]

Of inadvertency as to the gravity of sin. — “That we may recede as far as possible from Calvin, we must say that sin can never be committed without advertency as to its heinousness, never with a good intention.” [Antonio Casnedi, Crisis Theologica. Lisbon, 1711. Disp. viii. § 2.]

“We cannot grievously offend God when we believe, sincerely and entirely, that what we are doing is not evil.” [Hasart, Larger Catechism, tom. ii. p. 456.]

“A conscience which has no fear in committing an unlawful act, excuses from sin.” [Beon, Propugnaculum. Aix, 1686.]

Of Probabilism. — “It is lawful to follow the less probable opinion of another, against one’s own more probable opinion, even though it be still retained.” [Stoz, Tribunal Poenitentiae. Bamberg, 1756. Lib. i. par. 5. q. 2. a. 3. n. 112.]

“He does not sin who acts according to a less probable opinion as to the lawfulness of an action, and leaves that which is the safer and more probable. So, most commonly, more than two hundred doctors quoted by La Croix, against a few of the more ancient and rigid Probabilists.” [Mazotta, tom. i. tract, i. q. 4. cap. 4.]

23. The decree was as follows: —

“The holy Synod declares, —

“1. The eternal law, naturally implanted in all, can only be matter of ignorance from the blindness and corruptions of the heart: therefore this ignorance can never, in the case of adults who have the use of their reason, be properly, fully, and entirely invincible, nor can it excuse from sin. Wherefore the Psalmist saith, with tears, ‘O remember not the sins of my youth, and my ignorances.’ ‘Which class of [317] offences, unless they were imputed by a just God, would not need the prayers of a faithful man for forgiveness[24].’

“2. Since ignorance of the natural law can never excuse from sin, much less can simple inadvertency, or non-reflection, excuse the heinousness of sin. Wherefore, whatever is at variance with rational nature and right reason in an adult, who, acting deliberately, should either be ignorant of God, or should not, in the act, think of God, is a formal sin and offence against God, and not merely, as they say, a philosophical sin.

“3. A mistaken and erroneous conscience, although it may have no fear, never excuses from sin, when it opposes the Divine law. For ‘there is a way which seemeth right to a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death[25].’ Therefore whether thou considerest the good which thou doest to be evil, or the evil which thou doest to be good, it is in both cases sin.

“4. Since no opinion, even though held by eminent men, can be true, right, and safe, if it dissent from the truth, because ‘if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch;’ the greatest care is necessary lest an opinion which is false, and opposed to the natural law, but which appears probable, should in practice be considered safe; or that in a choice of opinions, the less safe be preferred to the more safe, the less probable to the more probable, the less probable and safe to the more probable and safe. For it is the law of God, not custom, nor probability, nor the opinion of masters, which is the truth.”

24. The government of the United Provinces had so often been irritated by the doctrines of the casuists as to the right of subjects to murder their princes, and the power possessed by Rome of dispensing from the law of civil obedience, that it was thought right to appoint a special congregation on this subject. It was presided over by John Baptist Eugenius Gyselinck, pastor at Hilversum. The nine passages they quote are far less striking than those adduced on the same subject [318] in the thirteenth Provincial. The decree strongly inculcates the divine right of kings, and repudiates the idea of any such dispensing power as the Jesuits claimed for the Roman Pontiff.

25. The twelfth decree sums up and sanctions those which had preceded it in the following terms: —

“The holy Synod, ‘assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Lord Jesus,’ mindful of the apostolic precept, ‘If any one that is a brother be … a railer,’ &c.; and again, ‘If any come unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not:’ —

“Judges them who for the future (which God forbid) shall adulterate the Word of God, and shall pertinaciously defend all or any of the errors condemned by the holy Synod, to be unworthy of the participation of the sacraments until, ‘having purged out the old leaven’ of their errors, they can ‘sacrifice the passover and keep the feast, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.’”

26. The Synod next turned its attention to the promulgation of certain canons of discipline, twenty-four in number, under the heads of the various sacraments. Of these, the most interesting are those which follow: —

Of Baptism. — “4. It is greatly to be desired that the faithful should be solidly instructed as to the effects and the obligations which they contract in it; that they may acknowledge in themselves the dignity of the sons of God, and shrink from ‘returning unto their former vileness by a degenerate life[26];’ and that they may often, with the deepest gratitude, render thanks for such benefits received from God. For which cause this holy Synod exhorts all those who have the cure of souls, and commands them, to teach their people most constantly what is the fruit of baptism, and what the obligation of a good life which springs from it. Let them frequently impress on their flocks that saying of Ambrose, ‘Remember the questions that were put to thee: thou hast renounced the devil [319] and his works, the world, and its luxuries and pleasures: and let the bond thou hast given never escape thy memory[27],’”

On Confirmation. — After having explained the nature of the sacrament, the canon adds: —

“What avails it to have been raised when fallen, unless thou art also strengthened when standing? Wherefore there is danger of their damnation, who by their negligence lose the occasion of the presence of a bishop, and receive not the sacrament of Confirmation.”

It must be remembered that from the suspension of Codde, in 1703, till the appointment of vicars-apostolic in consequence of the Concordat, the Catholics of Holland, in the communion of Rome, had no opportunity, except by going out of the country, of being confirmed.

On the Mass. — “ 2. It appears to us consistent with the intention of the Church, that from the elevation of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, till the Pater Noster is sung, the organ, and every kind of singing, should be still; and that every one should, in silence, on his knees, commemorate the passion and death of Christ, and render thanks to the redeemer for the benefits so largely acquired by His death.”

This is still the practice of the churches in the communion of Utrecht, and it gives a very singular effect to that part of the Liturgy.

Of Penance. — “1. Since, in these miserable times, many are lovers of the broad way that leadeth to destruction, and follow the principles of the laxer casuists, this holy Synod exhorts in the Lord and commands all pastors and confessors, that, in absolving or refusing absolution to sinners, they pay more regard to the law of the Gospel than to the corrupt opinions of the Casuists, — not a few of which have been condemned by Pope Alexander VII.: not endeavouring to accommodate the straitness of the Gospel to the crooked lusts of men, but heartily endeavouring to direct the distorted [320] wills of sinners to the inflexible equity of the divine law. Let them possess also the ‘Instruction to Confessors,’ composed by the most holy and most wise prelate, Charles Borromeo, for their use: and we desire that this work should be diligently perused and learnt by all, that they may bind or loose according to the instructions of the holy bishop.

Of Marriage. — “1. This holy Synod declares that it acknowledges, without any hesitation, the validity (at least quoad the contract) of the marriages contracted according to the laws of this country between non-Catholics; also between Catholics and non-Catholics, though the prescribed form of the Council of Trent has not been observed. 2. Since this holy Synod regards marriages contracted between Catholics and non-Catholics (which are displeasing also to the civil power) to be far from lawful, it exhorts all those who have the cure of souls that, as best they may, they induce the Catholic partner, be it man or woman, to perform penance, and ask forgiveness from God for the heinous crime that he or she have committed.”

They then quote the declaration of Benedict XIV., (Nov. 4, 1741,) in which he allows the validity of marriages contracted between heretics, or between a Catholic and a heretic, according to the law of the country, in the United Provinces. This declaration might well be a subject of just pride to the Church of Utrecht; for, as we have seen, the Roman use had previously been to deny the validity of such marriages; and it was by the exertions and the reputation of Van Neercassel that the present practice was introduced into the Church of Holland, and sixty years after his death sanctioned by the See of Rome.

27. The canons having been passed, the formal conclusion of the Council followed. The Procurator demanded, “Is it your will that the decrees of the Synod be promulgated?” All answered Placet. The Archbishop, as president, said, “Let the decrees of the Synod be read.” This having been done, he [321] enquired, “Is it your will, for the glory of God, and the spread of the Catholic Church, that the decrees of this Synod of the Province of Utrecht, which have been read by us, be approved, and that the Council itself be finished and concluded?” All replied, Placet.

28. The signatures follow. That of the Archbishop is in these words: “Ego Petrus Joannes, Arch. Ultrajectensis, Praeses, omnibus supra scriptis decretis circa fidem, mores et disciplinam, judicans subscripsi.” John of Haarlem and Bartholomew John of Deventer next sign; then Meganck, the Dean, and the canons; and then the deputies of the clergy: in all, exclusive of the prelates, fifteen. Six only of the canons sign as such, the suffragans completing the number; and it is a curious fact, that none of the deputies ever attained, in after years, the episcopate. The form of their signature, judicans subscripsi, was attacked, at the time, by the Roman party, and defended, and I think successfully, by the writers of the national communion.

29. At the conclusion of the Synod, a letter was addressed in its name by Archbishop Meindaerts, along with a copy of its acts, to Clement XIII., who then filled the chair of S. Peter. It is well and carefully written, and ingeniously urges on the Pontiff’s attention, how, “in the imminence of such grave perils, we have taken the shield of Faith, to defend so many and so weighty truths, and especially the divine institution by which the apostolic primacy has descended to your Holiness, and claims the same grace of pre-eminence for yourself that it did for S. Peter.” The acts of the Council were put into the hands of De Bellegarde, in order to preparation for the press. This ecclesiastic, whose family name was Gabriel Dupac, for many years one of the most strenuous and ablest defenders of the Church of Utrecht, was born in the castle of [322] Bellegarde, in the diocese of Narbonne, Oct. 17, 1717. He studied first at Toulouse, and then at Paris, where he formed a connection with Menedrieux, Boursier, and D’Étemare, then the acknowledged leaders of the Gallican party. When, in consequence of the persecution, D’Étemare was compelled to retire into Holland, our author accompanied him in his exile, and took up his abode along with him at Rhijnwyck, near Utrecht. Here he applied himself to the composition of many laborious and valuable works, the principal among which were his “Historic Memoirs of the reception of the Bull Unigenitus in the Low Countries,” his “History of the Church of Utrecht,” and his editions of the works of Van Espen, in three folio, and those of Arnauld in forty-six quarto, volumes. In 1761 he was presented to a canonry of the metropolitical church of Lyons, which, according to the then regime, conferred on him the title of Count. It is a remarkable proof of the little attention which was paid in France to the excommunications of the Court of Rome, that De Bellegarde, whose connection with the Church of Holland was so well known, should yet have received so important a preferment. He resigned it, however, at the end of a few years, in order to be able to devote himself more exclusively to the interests of the Church of Utrecht. To his hands, then, as I have said, the acts of the Council were committed; and he prefixed to them a short history of the Church of Utrecht, not ill-written in itself, but, as subsequent events proved, unwisely attached to the acts which it was designed to preface.

[Bishop Byevelt alone was a Canon. The deficient name is made up by Van Maeren, one of the secretaries of the Synod. - Author’s Corrigenda]

30. Le Clerc had been summoned to appear before the Council, and had not only refused, but had continued to publish writings of the same kind with those to which I have already alluded. It was to meet his [323] case that the Synod declared in its twelfth decree that “Those who should pertinaciously defend any of the errors or heresies which it condemned, was to be regarded as unworthy of the participation of the sacraments.” The Bishop of Haarlem, in whose diocese Amsterdam, the residence of Le Clerc, was situated, after various ineffectual admonitions, at length excommunicated him, March 7th, 1765, and from that period we hear no more of the unfortunate sub-deacon. In the meantime, the Acts of the Council were received with general applause. They were permitted to be reprinted in Paris, on a favourable report of their character from the Abbé Foucher, the royal censor. From many bishops in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, letters of congratulation and communion were received. Moetzbourg, Elector-Archbishop of Trèves, conceived the idea of addressing them, accompanied by a circular epistle, to all the German prelates, and in this design he was encouraged by his coadjutor, De Hontheim, Bishop of Myriophytus in partibus, better known by his learned work published under the name of Febronius. In like manner the last Prince-Bishop of Bamberg was preparing to memorialize the Court of Rome, when the nuncio at Cologne, having heard of his design, procured express orders from the papal see to forbid it. It was still more remarkable that Archbishop Meindaerts should receive many letters of communion from the prelates in Italy. Among these, the Bishops of Alifa and Sora especially distinguished themselves: —

“I confess,” says the latter, under date June 15, 1765, “that I had, in former times, somewhat doubted of your allegiance to the Apostolic See, since the Roman Pontiffs would neither keep peace with you, nor give it to you when you petitioned for it. When, however, I took the Acts into my [324] hands, and became acquainted with the calamities of your Church, so heavy and of such long continuance, I could not restrain my tears. But when I found the orthodoxy of your faith and doctrine, I was filled with a joy which I cannot express by my pen; finding, too, that you had no share in those troubles which have too long disturbed the Church. I congratulate you on the labours which you have so willingly undergone for the benefit of the Church; and I hope, nay, I am confident, that the Apostolic See will soon come to terms with yourselves, and with the province, the government of which has been committed to you.”

The Bishops of Sardinia were also anxious to bring about a reconciliation. Caisolli, Bishop of Aste, reckoned on the co-operation of five or six of his brethren, among whom was the Archbishop of Turin; and he proposed to interest the Sardinian Court in the affair, and to make it the mediator with the Roman Pontiff. The same idea was suggested to the Court of Naples, and was favourably received by it.

31. From the Church of France the afflicted communion of Holland did not receive that support which she had a right to expect, and which she had been used to find in their common struggles. De Caylus, the last appellant bishop, had been now dead some years; Augustinian sentiments were exceedingly distasteful in high places, and one prelate alone, De Buisson de Beautteville, had courage to write his approbation to the Archbishop. The latter, however, received abundance of testimonies of good-will and congratulation from other ecclesiastics, especially from the dioceses of Paris, Auxerre, Troyes, Chalons-sur-Marne, Rouen, and Mende. The Chapter of Auxerre, with one single exception, mindful of the teaching of De Caylus, declared in favour of the Council; and the superiors of the French Oratorians and Genovefans, with a multitude of the religious of their order, took the same [325] step. A most striking testimony was obtained from the Faculty of Law at Paris, to whom the Acts had been transmitted. That body unanimously resolved that it should be wanting to its own dignity if it contented itself with a bare approbation. An avis motivé was therefore drawn up, and was to be submitted to the next meeting of the Faculty. In the meantime it was hinted to the Dean that any such proceeding would be highly offensive to the Court, and to the Archbishop of Paris, De Beaumont; and that functionary positively declined to affix his signature to the formula when it next came before him. The rest of the Faculty, however, proceeded without him, and transmitted the testimonial. “Everything,” they say, “breathes the love of peace and unity, a sincere desire to overcome prejudice, the greatest moderation towards your calumniators. You there give an account of your faith, which must dissipate every suspicion, and convince the most obstinate.” This was accompanied by a Latin Act, A Doctrinal Adhesion to the Second Council of Utrecht. The proceeding gave great offence. Four of the Faculty were summoned before the Secretary of State, and interrogated how they durst, without permission, maintain a correspondence with a foreign country, contrary to the laws and usages of the realm. The doctors humbly represented that they were not acquainted with any such laws and usages. The Syndic was exiled for a time, and the Jesuits procured a most extraordinary arrêt, by which his Christian Majesty’s lieges were forbidden, under divers pains and penalties, to enter into any correspondence or undertaking connected with the Acts of the pretended Provincial Council of Utrecht.

32. At Rome, the reception of the Acts hung for some time undecided. “We really must accommodate [326] that affair of Holland,” said Clement XIII.: “I have just been reading the Acts of their Council, and they are very good.” The Jesuits, however, were now struggling, with all the agony of desperation, to avert the fatal blow of their dissolution. The Pope had been weak enough to issue the Bull Apostolicum in their defence: “a Bull rather extorted than issued,” indignantly writes Clement XIV.; to which, though he requested a reply from the Bishops of Europe, he received an answer from only twenty-three. The Council of Utrecht was a severe blow to the Company, and its condemnation must, at all hazards, be procured. On Wednesday in Holy Week, 1765, Cardinal Castelli demanded its condemnation from the Consistory. But Cardinal Albani, although sufficiently prejudiced against the Church of Utrecht, happened to have read the works of Broedersen, and the Récueil des Témoignages, and pleaded so eloquently the cause of the Council, that nothing further was then concluded. A congregation seemed the more likely way of bringing about a censure. It was composed of the Cardinals Torreggiani, Rezzonico, Negroni, Albani, Febroni, and Castelli. “Of these,” says Bottari, librarian of the Vatican, “the greater part had not the slightest acquaintance with theology, and I think did not even know their Catechism.” Albani, true to the principles he professed, opposed the whole proceedings. Torreggiani wished himself well out of the affair; but the four other members of the congregation prepared the Bull Non sine acerbo dolore, which was accordingly published. It was attributed to the pen of Ricci, general of the Jesuits, of whom more hereafter, and treated those who supported the national Church of Holland as “Men given over to destruction, children of iniquity, impious persons, [327] headstrong, rebels against the judgment of the Church, and schismatics chased from its bosom;” the Council is said to be “null, illegitimate, without jurisdiction, destitute of all authority, and tending to the overthrow of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, unity, and communion.” “Well,” said Bottari, when he read the Bull, “you may burn the Acts of the Council on the steps of S. Peter, if you like; but you will only give a new testimony to the affection and reverence which that Council has evinced towards the See of Rome.”

33. It was impossible that the Church of Utrecht should allow such a document to remain unnoticed. The same Council, or nearly the same, reassembled in the metropolitical city in the October of 1766, and agreed on a letter to the Pope, which is said to have had more effect in procuring support to the cause of the national Church, than any other of its numerous publications. I have in vain enquired — and the fact seems now beyond the power of being ascertained — who is regarded as the author of this piece; but the style certainly resembles that of Meganck, and his position as Dean makes it not improbable that he might have been entrusted with its composition. To this reply, Königseg, Archbishop of Cologne, published an answer contained in nine printed lines; which to the other epithets applied by the Bull to the clergy of Utrecht, added that of “vipers,” an addition which does not seem much to strengthen the force of the original argument. The University of Cologne, following the steps of the Elector, issued a document, in which they declared that it was better to communicate with Lutherans or Calvinists than with the members of the Church of Utrecht. The Prince-Bishop of Liége also put forth a Pastoral on the same subject. In addition to the epithets of Ricci and Cologne, he stigmatized [328] those who had assisted at the Council as “thieves, robbers, ravening wolves, detestable masters of error and iniquity.” To the Elector and the Prince-Bishop (alas! their electorate and princedom were very nearly at an end,) Archbishop Meindaerts replied, tracing the history of his Church from the beginning, and re-stating the arguments which had been brought forward a hundred times, and had never been answered.

34. A heavier blow, however, awaited the aged Archbishop, in the sentence pronounced by a body from which he had every right to expect sympathy and assistance — the Assembly of the Church of France. The state of that Church was then most critical. Infidelity had already sapped the whole social organization of the kingdom. The Jesuits were on the point of being banished from the country. Several of the highest dignitaries of the Church were known to be actual, and all but professed, atheists; Loménie de Brie, Archbishop of Bordeaux, and afterwards Cardinal, heading that number. Almost to a man, the existing prelates had been appointed through the influence of the Jesuits; and they well repaid, in the last struggle of the Society, the assistance which they had received from it. It is needless to enter into the details of a judgment so notoriously the effect of a partizan spirit. The Archbishop of Toulouse was appointed president of the committee which examined the Acts of the Council. How much time he had bestowed on their perusal his report may shew. He characterizes them as the composition of the Archbishop, of Hieronymus de Boch, Bishop of Haarlem, and John Peter van Stiphon, Bishop of Deventer. Now there never were persons of the name of Boch or Stiphon. There was a Hieronymus de Bock, who [329] had been Bishop, as we have seen, of Haarlem, but he had been in his grave nineteen years when the Council met; there was also, as we have seen, a Bishop van Stiphout, but his see was not Deventer, but Haarlem. Byevelt, who was Bishop of Deventer, and who had assisted as such at every session of the Council, is not so much as once mentioned in the censure. The report thus drawn up was submitted to the Assembly at such a time as only to leave its members the period intervening between the afternoon session of June 25th and the morning session of June 26th, to read both the Acts of the Council, a large duodecimo volume of 638 pages, and the report itself. It is no wonder, therefore, that the censures of Rome and Cologne were, in all their material points, adopted.

35. This was the last trouble to which, for the sake of the Church of Utrecht, Archbishop Meindaerts was exposed. He died in a good old age, on the 31st of October, 1767, having governed his Church for twenty-eight years, and having been ordained priest, as I have related in its place, by Luke Fagan, Bishop of Meath, in 1716.

[1] I quote from the Acta et Decreta secundae Synodi Ultrajectensis. Ultrajecti, 1764. It was edited by De Bellegarde, whose introduction to it we shall again have occasion to notice. It was published in two forms, 12mo. and 4to. I have both editions by my side, but quote from the former.

[2] They take up 464 pages out of 617.

[3] S. Cyprian, de Unitate Ecclesiae.

[4] A quotation from S. Cyprian, de Unitate Ecclesiae.

[5] A quotation from S. Cyprianagain, and also from S. August., lib. ii., de Baptismo.

[6] S. Gregor., Epist. v. 20.

[7] e. g. J’ai dit en plusieurs endroits que les évêques étaient d’institution divine: mais la vérité exige de moi que je me corrige sur ce point.

[8] Guettée, tom. xii. p. 40.

[9] E. g. The Eternal Generation is expressly denied: it is asserted that the Father cannot speak to the Word; that the Word is one thing, the Son of God another; that the Word is nothing else than the Father’s eternal decree of creating a Man who should become His Son; that the Holy Ghost is only an influence, or a virtue and efficaciousness; and when spoken of as a Person, is so called by prosopopoeia alone, &c.

[10] Lib. iv. cont. 2. Epist. Pelag., §11.

[11] They here refer to S. August. de Dono Perseverantiae, §48.

[12] S. August. Civ. Dei, xix. 15.

[13] L’Esprit, &c. ed. 1745, p. 369.

[14] L’Esprit, p. 389. Guettée gives a very interesting account of this book, and of its condemnation: tom, xii. 45.

[15] Hence he has a place in the Dictionnaire, tom. ii. 297: — “Ce n’est pas sans un étonnement extrême qu’en a vu M. de Rastignac, après avais signalé son zèle pour la Constitution, après avais presidé a trois Assemblées du Clergé, publier dans sa viellesse une Instruction Pastorale, qui renferme d’un tout a l’autre le Baianisme, le Jansenisme, et le Quesnellisme.” The author ingeniously forgets the fact that this work, translated into Italian, received the approbation of Benedict XIV.

[16] Onderwys voor de Eerste Communie: gemaekte door een Priester van de Societeyt Jesu.

[17] S. August. Serm. 18.

[18] Concil. Trident., Sess. xiii. c. 7.

[19] Concil. Trident., Sess. xiv. c. 4.

[20] Id. ibid.

[21] Card. Aguirre in Canon. 11 et 12. Concil. Toletan. 3, Excurs. 2.

[22] De Civitat. Dei, xvi. 6. 1.

[23] They are quoting the Second Council of Orange.

[24] S. August., Op. Imperf., lib. i. cap. 105.

[25] S. August. Ep. 47. 4.

[26] S. Leo, Serin, de Nativ, Domini.

[27] The sense is that of S. Ambrose, (De Sacram. 162.) but the words, taken from the quotation in the Synod held by Van Neercassel, are not verbally correct. Constit. Castor., p. 9.


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