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.





1. Thus the existence of the Church of Holland again hung on one life; and the Chapter seems to have been more awake both to its duties and to its dangers than in the long vacancy on the death of Van Rhijn. Three months had already passed since notification had been made to the Court of Rome of the election of William Vet, and the Chapter therefore requested the Bishop of Haarlem to proceed to the consecration of the Prelate-designate. Reference was also made to the Government, by whom every encouragement was given to proceed, and the ceremony took place at the church of S. James, at the Hague, the Second Sunday after Trinity, June 12, 1825. It was conducted with a considerable amount of splendour, and excited great attention on the part of the Protestants as well as Catholics. To this consecration the royal assent was given, and the titles of the national bishops were thenceforth recognised.

2. The Chapter had been invited to assist at the consecration; and on the following Tuesday it assembled for the election of an archbishop. There were present, Cornelius de Jong, Dean; William Vet, Bishop of Deventer; Bernard Knijter, John van Santen, G. Spruijt, Arnold Stanislaus van Werckhoven[1], and Arand Rottereel. One of the canons, De Wit, [358] was absent from necessary causes; but he sent his vote sealed and certified. The Bishop of Haarlem, though not a member of the Chapter, was requested to be present. After a short address from the Dean, secretaries were appointed, the votes were taken, and by a majority the canons elected John van Santen, pastor at Schiedam. The Chapter applied, as usual, to the Pope, but, also as usual, without receiving any answer; and the consecration took place in the church of S. Gertrude at Utrecht, on the 13th of November, the Sunday within the octave of S. Willebrord. The governor of the province, and other civil authorities, were present on the occasion. I observe, that in his letter to the Pope the Archbishop signs himself “brother,” instead of “son,” as his predecessors had, up to that time, done. The usual brief of excommunication followed: it bears date Jan. 13, 1826.

3. No difficulty was experienced on the part of the Government; the three bishops were admitted to an audience in due form; salaries were granted them; a Secretary-General was recognised, and also salaried. Government even took upon itself to send the Protest of the prelates — of which more presently — through the channel of their ambassadors, to the bishops in various countries. Thus there appeared nothing more for which the clergy had need to wish; yet at this very moment the “Put not your trust in princes” was a most needful warning. The prelates had requested to be officially recognised as Archbishop of Utrecht and Bishops of Haarlem and Deventer. Government promised to do so; yet shortly afterwards an official declaration was put forth, that they were only recognised as Bishops at Utrecht, at Haarlem, and at Deventer.

[359]4. In the following February, the Archbishop and his two suffragans addressed an admirable encyclic to all bishops of the Catholic Church. It goes over the old ground calmly and briefly; states the facts of the schism; proves the nullity and invalidity of the pretended excommunication of the Court of Rome; shews that there is no charge of heresy; enters into the details of the last negotiation under Nazalli; protests against the appellation of Jansenist, and invokes the mediation of the united episcopate with the Court of Rome, concluding with the usual appeal to the Future Oecumenical Council. This document was addressed to each individual bishop with a letter, the spirit of which is well set forth by a quotation from S. Augustine which it contains: “We suffer injuries with patience, to preserve the peace of the Church; we abhor to yield to any novelty of heresy or schism; we use our utmost efforts to re-enter that external communion from which it is endeavoured to exclude us.” This was the principle of Van Heussen, Codde, Van Erkel, and Varlet; it has descended unchanged to the present generation of the National Church.

5. In 1827, Monseigneur Capaccini was sent as Papal Nuncio into Holland, for the purpose of settling the ecclesiastical condition of affairs. He sought an interview with the Archbishop, of which so faithful an account is given by Dr. Tregelles, that I shall avail myself, with a few omissions, of his account, rather than re-write one of my own: —

“Although the appointment of Archbishop Van Santen had been (as usual) followed by a renewed excommunication by Rome, yet Capaccini sought to win him just as if no such hostile step had been taken. He invited Archbishop Van Santen to a conference, with which he complied.

[360] “In the first conference Capaccini spoke much of the unity of the Church; of the deep interest felt at Rome amongst the papal authorities on account of the Jansenists; how they admired their firm adhesion to the Apostolical See, in spite of all that had occurred in the last two centuries; how their steadfastness was only the more admirable in a country like Holland, with Protestants all around them; how firm a stand they had made against lax casuistry; and how much he hoped that no real difficulties might be found which would cause them to continue in any sense separated from the unity of the Catholic body.

“As to Archbishop Van Santen, personally, he was told by Capaccini how much his hopes rested on him, as a person so diligent in his attention to every canonical regulation — an attention shewn (he said) in everything connected with his election, the notification to the Holy See, his consecration, &c. In fact, the Pope would feel that he was quite an upholder of the authority of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands, if the slight differences could be arranged. He then appointed a time for another conference, which he hoped would be definitive.

“6. At the second conference Capaccini began by again praising Van Santen as a person of extreme ‘regularity’ and prudence. He then went on to say that all the differences between the Jansenists and the See of Rome might be reduced to one small point, one little thing about which a person of such prudence and regularity as the Archbishop could, of course, make no difficulty. Van Santen perfectly understood what the Nuncio meant by the ‘one small point,’ and he said, ‘I see what you mean — the Formulary.’ To this Capaccini was obliged to assent: the ‘one small point’ was that which had been the ground of such bitter persecutions and cruel sufferings.

“The Archbishop of course refused to sign the prescribed formulary, although the Nuncio (who had been stopped in his flattering circumlocutions) pressed on him, ‘It is but a form; all that is asked is, that you will write your name on a slip of paper, and then all will be right.’ Van Santen replied indignantly, ‘A form has a meaning, and I cannot subscribe a document, and confirm it by the solemn obligation [361] of an oath, unless I am certain in my conscience before God of the truth of that to which I put my name.’

“The Nuncio. — But you are bound in your conscience before God to acknowledge the authority of the holy Father; and as his Holiness assures you of the truth of the Formulary, that is sufficient to remove every scruple. Any doubt in your own mind is but a private opinion; while, on the other hand, you have the full authority of the Church both to instruct you that the Formulary states what is true, and to require you to acknowledge this undoubted fact.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — I have read the Augustinus of Jansenius more than once through; I know that the Five Propositions, as condemned, are not contained in that book: how can I then, as an honest man and a Christian, subscribe a declaration as true which denies a simple fact? I have to do with God and my conscience, even if the Pope and the whole Church should be misinformed. As they cannot alter a fact, so they can have no authority from God to require me to sign my name to a declaration which contradicts a fact.

“The Nuncio. — You see, M. Van Santen, that the table at which we are sitting is covered with a green cloth. Now, supposing that the father of a family were to prohibit his children absolutely from entering this room, or even looking into it, — well, but if one of the children were to look in through the key-hole, and were thus by disobedience to acquire the knowledge that the cloth on the table is green, how then would the case stand? If the father were to make out an inventory of the furniture in the room, and if he were (whether by mistake or design, it matters not,) to describe this green cloth as being red; and if he were, on the ground of his parental authority, to require each of his children, as relying on their father’s information, to subscribe this inventory as perfectly correct, it would not be competent to the child who had seen the cloth to act upon the knowledge he had gained by disobedience, and to refuse to subscribe the statement in which its colour was said to be red. The father had a right to forbid his children to look into the room: he had also a right to prescribe to his children what they should sign; and no act of prior disobedience on the [362] part of any of them could take away the obligation of unhesitating compliance.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — You have brought forward a curious illustration; but how would you apply it? and how would you vindicate, even in such a case, the subscription to a known untruth?

“Capaccini. — There is no untruth at all supposed in the case that I have put: the child is absolutely bound to believe his parent; and, as the only ground he could have for any scruple of conscience would be part of his sinful disobedience, he ought to say, ‘The command of God requires me to obey my father; I must therefore obey him in this point, which involves the sacrifice of my own opinion: and as I am bound, in duty to God, to declare my belief that the cloth is red, I may reasonably suppose that my eyes were mistaken when I saw it. Perhaps a sunbeam hindered me from seeing the colour correctly; or perhaps, in punishment for my disobedience, an optical illusion was sent to deceive me. Any of these considerations is enough to justify me fully in subscribing my full belief that the object is really red, and not green.’

“Archbishop Van Santen. — But how do you apply the idea of knowledge obtained through disobedience to the question of fact involved in subscription to the Formulary?

“Capaccini. — Listen, that I may instruct you. You are well aware that no theological virtue shines more brightly than implicit obedience; the Holy Scriptures, the fathers and doctors of the Church, and the practice of all the saints, so fully commend this virtue, that there is no need for me to insist on it, at least in conferring with you. Obedience would require that the work of Jansenius, entitled Augustinus, should not be read, since it was condemned by the Bull of Pope Urban VIII., (In eminenti). Any knowledge, therefore, which any person now has of the contents of that book must have been obtained through a transgression of that obedience to which he was bound. No one can have a right to know what the book contains, any further than as relates to the condemned propositions, and that only from the Constitution that condemns them: you ought, therefore, as a submissive child, [363] not to insist on acting on the knowledge obtained through disobedience, but you should own with humility, that in reading the condemned book you may have been mistaken; nay, that you must have been mistaken — that God did not give you clear light when you were thus acting in presumption; so that all you have to do is to subscribe the Formulary purely and simply, and receive the blessing which will result from giving up your own will, and thus have the satisfaction of restoring the peace of the Church.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — If the peace of the Church be in question, why does the Pope break it on the ground of a mere question of fact? You have already described the subscription as a form merely; why then should such importance be attached to a mere form?

“Capaccini. — I have argued the point simply to satisfy your scruples, and the illustrations which I used had no other end. I cannot suppose that you will obstinately maintain your own private opinion, especially when you remember that so many wise and learned men are agreed that the Five Propositions are in Jansenius.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — I do not wish to set my judgment above that of others; I only ask, let the five condemned propositions be shewn me in Jansenius, and let it be shewn that they are there stated in the sense in which they were condemned; that is, not in the sense in which anything similar is found in the works of S. Augustine. You know the Formulary goes this length, and the Pope never professed to condemn S. Augustine, one of the fathers and doctors of the Church; and he could not condemn any propositions, if they are taken in an orthodox sense, — for instance, in that of S. Augustine.

“Capaccini. — It will not do for me to argue on points which only require simple submission: it is easy to misunderstand S. Augustine; and perhaps we should wander from the point if we were to inquire into his meaning on these deep subjects.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — But, with regard to the Formulary, it is necessary for me to examine what S. Augustine has written, and what is contained in Jansenius; for you call on me to declare solemnly that Jansenius has misrepresented [364] the doctrine of S. Augustine. How can I declare this, if I do not know what the doctrine is, and whether it has been misrepresented or not?

“Capaccini. — Surely we may compose this slight difference: it is only by drawing refined distinctions of the sense in which words are taken that you can object to subscribe. You do not know how earnest is the good-will and sympathy of the holy Father towards you; his paternal heart longs to welcome you as a returning child: surely you may believe him when he assures you that the meaning of certain propositions is that which the Church has defined them to be. You do not know in what favour many of your sentiments are with the Pope: for instance, the Church has never rejected the doctrine of efficacious grace, which you esteem so highly; while this is not condemned, you see how everything may be adjusted by merely your name being affixed to a form: a drop of ink and a few seconds will put all right. This is all that the holy Father asks.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — Am I then to understand that his Holiness asks, that in a solemn oath I should call God to witness that I do believe what I do not believe; what the Pope knows that I do not believe; what Almighty God, the Searcher of hearts, knows that I do not believe? Is Catholic unity to be maintained by perjury — an awful sin before both God and man? And do you mean to say that if I knowingly commit this crime, it will be what the Pope desires and demands?

“Capaccini. — The holy Father only requires that from you which lies in the province of his authority. When the Church instructs you what to believe, you are bound to silence all trifling scruples.

“Archbishop Van Santen. — I cannot conceal my indignation at your endeavours to make me declare, in the presence of Almighty God, that I do believe a point that I do not believe: my conscience is subject to Him, and, by His aid, I will act in His fear. I must continue to refuse to put my name to a Formulary which I reject; my hand must not contradict my heart.”

7. In the course of the same year the Déclaration des [365] Evêques de Hollande was printed, and, as we have seen, widely circulated, and served to re-direct the attention of Europe to that suffering Church. The Belgian revolution produced no effect on the position of Utrecht, and the course of events was only interrupted by the death, on the 25th of June, 1841, of Bishop Bon, of Haarlem, the only one among his brethren who had escaped Papal excommunication. The Chapter, bearing in mind the reprimand of 1814, — “If you had asked you would not have been refused,” — applied to the Government for license to proceed to an election. This leave was denied. For two years, by a wretched manoeuvre, the clergy were kept in suspense. When the bishops waited on the Minister, they were informed that he could do nothing without the King; when they went to the King, his Majesty had referred the matter to the Minister. Speculation was evidently engaged on the age and infirmities of the two bishops, and the possible extinction of Jansenism. At length, finding that he was being simply trifled with, the Archbishop nominated Henry John Buul, priest at Audersen, to the vacant see, and consecrated him — “invito rege et ministris,” were the Archbishop’s own words to me — on the 10th of May, 1843; and hence only a common week-day was chosen for the solemnity. Then began another species of vexatious persecution. The Government, though acquainted with this consecration on the very day it took place, completely ignored the new bishop. All notices regarding the diocese of Haarlem were sent to the Archbishop; then, returned by him with the intimation that the diocese had its own ordinary, were despatched through the medium of the local administration. An interpellation in the Second Chamber (June 19, 1845) [366] was the means of bringing to pass the official recognition of Bishop Van Buul; Thorbecke, afterwards minister, then a member of the Chamber, having clearly proved that the recognition of the Bishop of Haarlem was likewise a recognition of the National Church.

8. We must now give a glance at the condition of the Roman Church in Holland since its complete toleration. A Concordat had been concluded in 1827, but was not ratified till the accession of William II. in 1841. In 1847 the mission of Holland, under the presidence of Monsignor Ferrieri, contained four Vicariates-Apostolic, — Holland, Bois-le-duc, Limburg, and Breda, with five bishops, all in partibus, five seminaries, 1,094 churches and chapels, 1,539 priests, 1,171,910 Catholics. The total strength of every sect of Protestantism amounted but to 1,854,515. The Calvinism of Holland, with its Orthodoxo-Orthodox, Schottians, Liberals, Pietists, — to say nothing of its Voetians and Koallenbruggians, its Lutheranism, its Remonstrantism, its Mennonism, — all are alike doomed. It needs no prophetic power to foretell that the commencement of the next century will see Holland a Roman Catholic country.

9. It was natural that this powerful body should be eager for diocesan superintendence. The agitation respecting the Papal aggression had hardly subsided in England when it commenced in Holland. As early as the 9th of December, 1851, the Internuncio at the Hague, Monsignor Belgrado[2], addressed a note to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in which he enquired if the Government would offer any opposition to the [367] establishment of a Roman Catholic hierarchy. The reply was in the negative, provided the Concordats of 1827 and 1841, being overridden in one point, should be held annulled in all; and that the Government of Holland, in surrendering its rights, should be relieved from its responsibilities. A lengthened correspondence ensued on the subject; difficulties were gradually smoothed down, though a very strong feeling sprang up in the country against the proposed change; and at length, on the 4th of March, 1853, the Bull Ex quâ die established the new hierarchy. It constituted, or reconstituted, Utrecht the metropolitical see of the province of Holland, and raised Haarlem, Bois-le-duc, Breda, and Roermonde to the dignity of suffragan sees. The reader will remember that, by the Bull Super Universas, Bois-le-duc and Roermonde had been made suffragans to Mechlin; Breda was a new see. The diocese of Utrecht was to contain the province of that name, and those of Groningen, Guelderland, Friesland, and Drenthe; to that of Haarlem were annexed Holland and Zealand; Zwijsen, Bishop of Gerra in partibus, and Vicar-Apostolic of Bois-le-duc, was raised to the see of Utrecht, retaining for the present Bois-le-duc also; Van Vree, President of the Seminary at Warmond, was made Bishop of Haarlem; Van Hooydonk, Bishop of Dardania in partibus, heretofore Vicar-Apostolic of Holland, was made Bishop of Breda, and Panedis of Roermonde. The hierarchy was announced by Pius IX. in the secret consistory of March 7.

10. The passage in the Ex quâ die, in which the National Church is mentioned, runs as follows: —

“The pastors having thus” — i.e. by the outbreak of the Reformation — “been cast out, persecuted, or slain, Gregory [368] XIII., of glorious memory, deputed, as Vicar-Apostolic, for the gathering together of the remains of the dispersed flock, Sasbold Vosmeer, who afterwards, raised by Clement VIII. to the dignity of Archbishop of Philippi, when he had obtained no small number of holy labourers[3] from the best institutions, and the Regular Orders, set his hand to the restoration of ruined religion, and, by God’s help, not without good success. The same care was manifested by his successors, the Roman Pontiffs; as Alexander VII., who, when the Jansenian schism commenced, ceased not manfully to oppose that Monster and Pest, and to restrain and break its violence; also Innocent XII., Clement XI., Benedict XIII. and XIV.,” &c., &c.

11. On the receipt of the Bull in Holland, the popular indignation resembled that of England during the “Papal aggression.” Petition after petition was poured in; interpellation after interpellation made in the Chambers, and the ministry, who had not seen the allocutions or apostolical letters, were dismayed at some of the expressions they contained. “We should,” writes De Zuylen de Nyevelt, then foreign minister, “have strongly dissuaded the erection of an archiepiscopal see in a city remarkable for the intolerance of its inhabitants. We should have pointed out the danger of representing the re-establishment of the episcopate as a necessary consequence of the progress of Catholicism in the Netherlands, and of connecting this measure with the state of the country in the sixteenth century.” The remark about Utrecht was not without foundation. I have been told that, in the ferment occasioned by the Papal Bull, the Bishop of Glasgow happened to be visiting that city, and to wear his usual episcopal dress, when he was mobbed as a member of the intruded hierarchy, and obliged [369] to take refuge in a house. The Thorbecke ministry fell; the Chambers were dissolved; and gradually the new hierarchy became a fait accompli. Modifications in practice were, however, introduced: Bishop Zwijsen continued, for example, his residence at Bois-le-duc, and thus popular feeling was allayed.

12. With the intrigues of cabinets and the ferment of popular Protestantism my history has nothing to do. The calm protest of the national bishops against the intrusion on themselves, the only really injured party, affords a refreshing contrast to both. The Ex quâ die is dated on the 4th of March, 1853. Bishop Vet, of Deventer, died on the 7th of the same month, and in the following August Archbishop Van Santen and Bishop Van Buul issued a protest against the new hierarchy. I had, while negotiations were pending, enquired of the Archbishop what steps would be pursued, were the contemplated aggression carried out. His reply was as follows: —

“We also have heard some uncertain rumours with respect to a Concordat into which the Pope and King are about to enter, and the creation of new bishops. But the public prints disagree very widely as to its nature. The Pope, or rather the Roman Court, will never acknowledge us unless we yield a blind obedience, which God of His grace forbid that we should ever pay. But whatever the Pope and the King may do as regards the Dutch Missionary Church, we shall not consider it any especial business of ours. Only, if new Bishops of Haarlem and Utrecht are appointed, we shall publicly protest both to the Pope and to the King. This may suffice to set your mind, and that of your friends, at rest as regards our position.”

13. The protest thus commences: —

“By the public journals we have, among others, received [370] notice of the Apostolic Letter Ex quâ die, published on the 4th of March in the present year, by which a Catholic hierarchy is instituted in this country.

“If the sees of Utrecht and Haarlem had not been included in this arrangement, we should have felt at liberty, the state of our affairs being as it is, to hold our peace, and to commit, in silent prayer, the whole matter to the Divine Governor of the Church.

“But since that letter arbitrarily disposes of those Churches, to the government of which we, although unworthy, have been called by Divine Providence, and legitimately consecrated according to the rules of Catholic discipline, as the Holy See was at the time duly informed, now it would be a sin to hold silence; now to speak — candidly and openly to speak — is a duty no less necessary than unpleasant.”

14. They proceed to a brief narrative of the history of their Church, and quote the See of Rome itself as the witness against Papal usurpation. They cite S. Leo, “Privilegia ecclesiarum — quanto magis,” (they justly observe,) “jura nativa — nullâ possunt impietate divelli, nullâ novitate violari.” They adduce S. Bernard: “Monstrum facis, si manui submovens digiturn facis pendere de capite superiorem manui, brachio collateralem: tale est, si in Corpore Christi membra aliter locas quam disposuit ipse.” They shew that their cause ought to have been heard on the spot, and quote the Bishops of Africa to Pope Celestin: “Prudentissime et justissime providerunt (Canones Nicaeni) quaecunque negotia in suis locis, ubi orta sunt, finienda.” They shew that no charges were made, no witnesses adduced; the calumnies of the Jesuits were heard alone; and hence the appeal to the Future Council of May 9 and July 18, 1719.

15. They next point out the various mis-statements of the Papal Bull as respects Sasbold Vosmeer, the total [371] inaccuracy of which, except as regards the high character attributed to Vosmeer, they most clearly evince. So far from the fact corresponding with the statement, that the priests were ejected, punished, or slain, they shew on Sasbold’s own testimony that six hundred still remained at their posts when he first came into Holland.

The paragraphs which treat of the help he received from the Regulars shall be quoted entire: —

“But the following passage in the Apostolic Letter has wounded us, holy Father, more deeply than anything besides: ‘Sasbold Vosmeer obtained no small number of holy labourers from the best institutions and the Regular Orders, and set his hand to the restoration of ruined religion, and, by God’s help, not without good success.’ Perhaps, after what had been said above, it was necessary to add this sentence, lest, since the pastors had partly been ejected, partly punished, partly slain, Sasbold alone should seem unequal to so great a work: but history blushes and grieves that truth should be so impudently despised and ridiculed.

“The want which is said to have existed between the promotion of Sasbold and the arrival of the missionaries in these lands is a mere figment; and the number of the latter, when it is said to have been ‘not small,’ is beyond measure exaggerated. Sasbold, whenever he mentions them in his letters, speaks of them as some, or certain, religious. Through the whole time of his episcopate their number never exceeded a tenth of the clergy. Whether they were ‘chosen out of the best institutions and Regular Societies,’ we had rather not decide, although we cannot so make out from the memorials of that time, we envy the praises of none. But the laudations bestowed on those religious who then were sent into this country, on account of their salutary labours for the restoration of ruined religion, recall to our minds these sayings of Sasbold: — ‘I understand that these religious,’ of the Society of Jesus, ‘have written much of their labour, and its fruit; all which things I simply assert to be false, and invented in opposition to that which they know to be true. [372] I would not that the Pontiff should be deceived or the Church deluded with false relations.’ That which he had written in this letter (May 22, 1610) to his agent at Rome, Gravius, the same, twelve years previously, he had written to the Archduke Albert, with respect to the machinations of the same religious: — ‘And further, for the accrediting of their own name, they ascribe to themselves the acts of others — they exaggerate trifles — they transmit everything to their own members, by whom they are disseminated through the whole world.’ — ‘Let them say what they will,’ so he writes in another letter to Gravius, April 13, 1609, ‘the thing is as I write: the denial of their own faults, and the imputation of them to others, is to them a trifle.’ When such testimonies speak, it is easier to extol those religious than — at least among men of learning — to procure credence in extolling them. We, holy Father, attribute, as regards this affair, greater weight to the testimony of Sasbold, whom we cite the more willingly, because, in the judgment of the Bull Ex quâ die, his authority cannot be suspected. His sentiments on monastic orders in general, and the Jesuits in particular, are abundantly manifest from the complaints which occur everywhere in his letters: — ‘I have wished more than once that all the Mendicants could be recalled to their monasteries,’ (to Tilman, March 9, 1588); ‘ In the meanwhile I wish that all the Regulars could be immediately recalled hence,’ (to the same, July 24, 1599); ‘I could wish that they,’ the Jesuits, ‘had never come hither, because they hinder more good than they perform; and I remain in my opinion, that I had rather they were absent than left here,’ (to Gravius, April 4, 1609); ‘Would that they,’ the Jesuits, ‘ had never come into our country,’ (to Cardinal Mellini, Aug. 17, 1613). Is it credible, holy Father, that Sasbold should, through five-and-twenty years, have reiterated the same complaints against the missionaries, if they had been his faithful coadjutors and sincere labourers in the vineyard of the Lord?”

16. They proceed to quote several more passages of a similar tendency; but these may amply suffice to demonstrate the utter untruth of the statements of the [373] Ex quâ die. But it will not be amiss to give the accounts of two Ultramontane writers in parallel columns: —

The writer of the Bull Ex quâ die.   Dom Pitra. (La Hollande Catholique, p. 225.)
“Hinc ejectis, percussisque, vel occisis pastoribus, ad colligendas dispersi gregis reliquias cla. me. Gregorius XIII. probatissimum virum, et zelo divini nominis inflammatum, videlicet Sasboldum Vosmeerum, in Vicarium suum Apostolicmn deputavit, qui … cum non exiguam obtinuisset sacrorum operariorum copiam ex optimis institutis, et societatibus regularibus, ad collapsam religionem instaurandam, Deo juvante, non sine fausto successu adlaboravit.”   “Il avait été a la fois disciple des Jésuites, correspondant de Bellarmin, commensal et disciple de Michel Baius. Personnage à double face, il finit pas ne plus montrer que la plus laide. Il vécut et mourut avec cette idée de plus en plus dominante, qu’il fallait combattre le developpement des réguliers dans la Hollande, paralyser leurs efforts, troubler leurs missions, et sur les ruines de leurs établissements, créer des pastorats séculiers.”

Can the force of self-contradiction go further?

17. The Epistle to Pius IX. ends as follows: —

“We ought not to fear that your Holiness should take these remarks ill. Every one of a generous spirit must sympathize with that saying of the great Cyprian: ‘We are not conquered, but instructed, when something better is set before us, especially in those matters which pertain to the unity of the Church, and the verity of our hope and faith.’ For us, Holy Father, God is our record, if we have expressed ourselves too boldly, that we desire to detract nothing from the dignity of the Holy See, which, as sincere Catholics, we honour and reverence. We have only said as much — God grant it may have been enough! — as seemed necessary to truth and to the maintenance of our rights; and this one thing we asked, that, with the wisdom given you from on high, you would examine our cause, Holy Father, in the balance of truth; and if it shall be found just, that to you, the chief Pontiff, may be reserved the glory of giving a righteous and [374] desired peace to our Churches — long, too long, vexed and troubled.

“We subscribe, with great veneration,
“Your Holiness’s most humble servants,
“+John Van Santen, Archbishop of Utrecht.
Utrecht, Aug. 9, 1853.
“+Henry John van Buul, Bishop of Haarlem.
Amsterdam, Aug. 10, 1853.”

18. I am not called on to relate the sorrowful event of December, 1854, which seemed to put Catholic unity further off than ever; or to comment on that second and worse Unigenitus, the Bull Ineffabilis. Herman Heykamp having been raised to the see of Deventer in the March of that year, joined his brethren in a protest against the new doctrine; issued somewhat late, indeed, but well worthy of translation here: —

“Most holy Father, — The year of the Incarnation, eighteen hundred and fifty-four, the sixth of the Ides of December, in the church of S. Peter, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Saviour, was solemnly promulgated by your Holiness, as a dogma of the Christian faith. It is impossible to say how much such an event has astonished us; much more, has afflicted us. “We might, perhaps, have been reproached for not having sooner made known our sentiments regarding so prodigious an occurrence. The sincere faith of the Church of Utrecht is sufficiently well known in the Catholic world. True Catholics have therefore certainly concluded that she rejected without hesitation the new and false dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. But our Church has not considered this good opinion of her faith a sufficient reason for not publicly manifesting her opposition to the new dogma. We owe to our dignity, to the Catholic faith, to the defenders of the truth, its open rejection. This is why we should think we had failed in our duty if we longer kept silence.

“The integrity of the faith in which we have been instructed from our earliest years does not allow us to be silent. [375] The charge which has been entrusted to us, notwithstanding our unworthiness, imposes a very grave obligation upon us, that of openly professing our belief upon the fact in question. We are, indeed, persuaded that the sacred deposit of the faith can neither be augmented nor diminished. In our office of Bishops of the Catholic Church, we have been charged to preserve intact that deposit. ‘Keep that which is committed to thy trust,’ wrote S. Paul to his disciple Timothy, (1 Tim. vi. 20). S. Vincent of Lérins did not think that this was only written for Timothy; all those who should succeed him, by the very fact that they are bishops, ought to receive this commandment as written for them.

“Now, the opinion which you have promulgated of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Mother of our Saviour, would add to the faith. In fact, before the eleventh century of the Christian era, no such prerogative was anywhere recognised as belonging to the Blessed Virgin. If we turn either to the Eastern or the Western Church, and interrogate these two parts of the Catholic world upon their faith, we cannot find in either of them the slightest trace of this opinion before the time we have mentioned. If we appeal to the writings of the sovereign pontiffs your predecessors, we are convinced that they did not hold this opinion before the century above-mentioned; still further, it would not be difficult for us to quote some words of the sovereign pontiffs which are contrary to it. Let us only point out Innocent III., Innocent V., and Clement VI. It would be equally easy for us to cite some clear passages of Holy Scripture diametrically opposed to this new opinion. We can gain nothing, then, from the two sources of the Divine Word in favour of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, Mother of God. Therefore, to preserve this deposit as much as in us lies, we raise our voices, and we say that the said doctrine carries on its face the mark of novelty. This is the first and important reason which our judgment induces us to put forth.

“The Bishops of the Catholic Church have not been allowed to be judges of this doctrine; and this is the second complaint we have to address to your Holiness. To the Bishops, in short, belongs the right to judge. No notice has been taken of this [376] right attached to the episcopal character. The whole order of Bishops has not been asked its sentiments touching the opinion in question. The letters of those which have been addressed to Rome are only particular writings; the voice of their Churches has not been heard. Now it is certain that the right of judging is inherent in the episcopate. The Council of Jerusalem, the first and the model of all councils, proves the prerogative. For when S. Peter, the first of the apostles, had spoken, S. James rose, and said, ‘My sentence is,’ (Acts xv. 19). Those Bishops, successors and vicars of the apostles, who have heard you, by yourself, proclaiming a new dogma of faith, have they safely kept their right? No, indeed, they have only been silent witnesses or contemptible flatterers. How the episcopal dignity was disgraced in this gathering, illustrious in appearance! No one came forward as the courageous guardian of his order. Without wishing to fail in the respect which is due to you, we will tell you the truth, most holy Father! To raise the head higher than was right, the most illustrious members of the body have been humbled. Thanks be to God, we have not yet forgotten our dignity, and we complain to you of the injury which has been done to it.

The love of our Church: this is the third reason which obliges us to reject publicly the false dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin. This love demands that we should take the greatest care to preserve our Church free from error. Through the grace of God, the faith has been preserved there pure, notwithstanding the events which have too often shaken it in our country. We have therefore thought that it was our duty to put far from her all novelty in that which regards articles of faith. After the confusion introduced, three years since, in the hierarchical order, the integrity of the Catholic faith might have been threatened. Our intention is to ensure ourselves from this danger; and we ought to use all our efforts to present our Church to Christ as a chaste virgin. Our duty is to transmit to posterity the ancient faith, in its simplicity and purity, as we have received it from our predecessors. Removed from all novelty, as friends of antiquity, we distinguish by this, with Tertullian, the true doctrine from the false, — ‘That comes [377] evidently from the Lord, and is true, which has been from the beginning; but that is strange and false, which has been added in the course of time.’ (Praescript, c. 31.) The Apostle of the Gentiles has warned us not less than Timothy, ‘avoiding profane and vain babblings (1 Timothy vi. 20); babblings, that is to say, novelties of dogmas, of things, of sentiments, which are contrary to truth and to antiquity; if these are admitted, the faith of the holy fathers must be violated in everything, or at least in a great measure.’ Thus speaks S. Vincent of Lérins.

“About two centuries ago, the ambassador of Philip IV., king of Spain, asked, in the name of his master, your predecessor, Alexander VII., a decision on the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin. This Pope wished to know if he could decide the question, and he interrogated Cardinal Bona on this subject. The pious and learned Cardinal replied to him, that neither the Holy See nor the Church herself could make new articles of faith, but that they could only declare what God had revealed to His Church, after having examined, according to rule, the traditions transmitted from the apostles. ‘Could I not,’ replied the Pope, ‘under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, decide what we ought to believe on this point?’ ‘Most holy Father,’ said Bona, ‘that which might be divinely discovered to you, could only serve for you, and it would not be permitted you to oblige the faithful, any more than myself, to adhere to your decision.’ Would to God that a procedure so wise and so catholic had been followed by all the successors of S. Peter!

“We have thought it a matter of honour and duty to offer to your Holiness the pastoral instruction which we have joined to this letter. In order that it may be better and more clearly known in our dioceses what Catholics ought to believe regarding the new dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin, we have published it for the Dutch in the language of our country.

“Our Church has often appealed to the Future Oecumenical Council that shall be legitimately assembled. It appears necessary to us to renew that appeal. On account of the violation which this deposit of the faith has suffered, and because of the injury which has been done to the episcopal [378] order, when it has been desired to establish, as a dogma revealed from God, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Saviour, we reserve to ourselves the right to make our appeal in time and place fitting. May the Father of lights give to our hearts enlightened eyes, and may He work in us that which pleases Him!

“We have signed with veneration,
“Most Holy Father, “The most humble servants of your Holiness,
“+John, Archbishop of Utrecht; (Van Santen).
“+Henry john, Bishop of Haarlem; (Van Buul.)
“+Hermann, Bishop of Deventer; (Heykamp).
“Given at Utrecht, the 18 of the Calends of Sept., 1856.
“The Secretary-General,
“Henri Loos.”

19. Before concluding, it may not be amiss that I should briefly notice a few of the most eminent writers of the Church of Holland since the separation. Of Hugh van Heussen, John Christian van Erkel, Nicolas Broedersen, and Willebrord Kemp, I have spoken at length. Pennaert, pastor first at Ameland, then at Egmonden, and finally at Enkhuizen, also distinguished himself by his writings in defence of the National Church. Boebereel, pastor at Rotterdam, was the author of an excellent commentary on the Epistles and Gospels of the Liturgy, under the title of Christelijke Vader. Bessemers, pastor at Gouda, published a translation of the Missal, with annotations. Bervelingh, pastor at Amsterdam, was especially celebrated for his sermons. Legros, the greater part of whose Commentary on Holy Scripture still remains MS. Verhulst, one of the ablest polemics of the eighteenth century, and especially celebrated for his letters to David Pierman under the title of Ph. Vlaming. Diloent, the author of several controversial works; and Laplat, a canonist of no mean reputation. Nor must I forget [379] to mention the excellent translation of the whole Bible, by A. van der Schuur and H. van Rhijn.

20. And thus I end the Annals of the Church of Utrecht. It is impossible to close my task without wishing for the knowledge of a prophet as to the future fate of that communion. That since the first breaking out of the schism it has dwindled excessively cannot be denied. Thus, the clergy who upheld Codde amounted to 300; in 1736, seventy-four priests held with the National Church. At the present moment there are not more than 30. But this is not a fair way of looking at the decrease. We know that, in the archpresbytery of Utrecht, there are now more baptisms, nearly by one-fifth, than there were in 1763. We must therefore conclude that the number of souls has increased in the same proportion; and there is the same increase in the other parts of that Church. Yet that archpresbytery contained in 1763, ten parishes; it has now only seven. The decrease of the clergy, therefore, is not to be taken as a measure of the decrease of the faithful. Besides, however, diminished numbers, the Church of Utrecht has had to contend with injury and robbery. Up to 1723 she had two colleges at Louvain — the one for the diocese of Utrecht, the other for that of Haarlem. When the Chapter of the last-named see had resolved to exercise no jurisdiction, the affairs of their college fell, naturally enough, into disorder. Steenoven, when Vicar-General, asserted the claims of the National Church to this college. Not only, after a tedious litigation, was the college of Haarlem lost, but that of Utrecht was also wrested from the clergy. Up to 1762 the Church of Utrecht had a small college at Vianen, and a congregation. In consequence of the reception of a young Protestant into its communion there, the college [380] and congregation were alike quashed, The progress of Amersfoort, however, made up for these losses. The system of education is excellent; the presidents have been able men, and a succession of excellent priests has been turned out from that institution. It is only wonderful, if we consider how easily any priest could avoid rebuke, and meet with reward and praise, how easily any congregation could avenge itself for a fancied neglect by joining the communion of Rome, how jealousy on election to the episcopate might naturally tend to such a termination, that so few have left, that so many remain. In 1760, one Burges at Amsterdam sold himself, his congregation, and his church to the Papal communion, on promise of a rich living. The civil courts interfered, and restored the building to its legitimate possessors. But such an event has not often happened. The numbers, then, at present remain almost stationary. Scarcely any member of the National Church is lost to the Papal communion, except by mixed marriages; and these losses are supplied by occasional conversions from Protestantism. And there are not wanting instances of women who, having married into Brabant, or Belgian Flanders, or even Limburg, come up every year for their Easter confession and their Easter Communion to the Church of their baptism.

21. It seems to me that the little remnant of this afflicted Church are reserved for happier days. Where-ever and whenever that Oecumenical Council may be, or whatever other means God shall employ to restore the lost unity of Christendom, the labours, and triads, and sufferings of this communion will not be forgotten. Marvellously raised up as she was when human help seemed at an end, marvellously preserved through five years of extreme danger in the present [381] century, her existence once hanging on the steadiness of the gripe by which a drowning prelate was held above water, she can scarcely have been thus maintained that her end should be without honour, that she should dwindle and dwindle till her last spark is extinguished. She can scarcely have been held up, from her protest against the Unigenitus, till she has also protested against the more dangerous Ineffabilis, that, after these struggles for the truth, she may be permitted to fall. Surely not for this did Steenoven, and Van Erkel, and Broedersen, and Van Heussen, and Meindaerts write, and strive, and suffer; surely not for this has the steadfast piety that has distinguished this communion for a century and a half, sent up so many earnest prayers to the Supreme Judge to vindicate its innocence, and make known the righteousness of its cause. As I lay down my pen, I cannot but hear the words, once the comfort of another suffering Church, now addressed to this: —

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My Name.

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”



[1] It is to the Abbé van Werckhoven that I owe my first introduction to the National Church of Holland, in the May of 1851. He departed this life May 12, 1852.

[2] Handelingen, i. 152.

[3] Compare this with Sasbold’s own account, pp. 126 — 129.


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