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Another auxiliary of the Romish church, in her wars against freedom of inquiry, is the Order of Jesuits. In this order was “concentrated the quintessence of the Catholic spirit.” To the three vows of poverty, chastity, and monastic obedience, common to other orders, Loyola added a fourth, peculiar to the members of his society. It was the vow of obedience to the pope in the service of the church, free from all charge for their support. This procured them their institution from Paul III., in 1510. In nine years they gained a superiority to all human authority and control, except that of the pope. The constitution of the society is essentially military, and most rigidly despotic, all power being lodged with the general. In his hands, all are to be as “a staff,” or“ as a dead body.” And yet, it was the boast of Ignatius, that he wished for only one month to secure the conquest of the spirit, and initiate one into the order. This achievement over the will and conscience is made by means of the “spiritual exercises."
These,” says Father de Ravignan,“ have created the society. They maintain it, preserve it; and give it life.” Hence this book is placed at the threshold of the order. In thirty days, it regenerates. During this period, the novice is secluded from the world. He contemplates the life of Christ in a military parable. Two companies, two standards, two chiefs, two armies, two spirits, are drawn out before his excited imagination. Satan appears in Babylon. On his banners are engraven, in flaming characters, “ Riches, Honor, Pride." Jesus is seated on a low plain in Jerusalem, surrounded by images of sweetness, and peace, and gentleness. Poverty, Reproach, Humility," are inscribed on his banner. This is called the meditation of the two standards, in view of which the trembling pupil is called to choose; yet, into which so much has been thrown that is imposing and dazzling, of the glory of monastic life, as to leave him almost without the power of free choice.
He is taken in contemplation, to the infernal regions. He is shewn the writhing and burning souls of the lost, the heated furnaces, and the huge broiling monsters. He sees the smoke of their torment, and snuffs the sulphuric and putrid odor, and even tastes the wormwood and the gall. He sees his own sins traced upon paper, in their different enormity, by lines of different sizes. Now he prostrates himself with his face to the ground, and now lies upon his back, as the book directs. He sits, and stands, and sighs, and groans, and weeps, and reflects, and prays, all by a prescribed rule. In this way, the victim is brought to the will of the ghostly fathers. By this means, the spirit is fitted to the mould. The man is lost in the order. His last act of freedom is his choice of perpetual slavery. His consecration is not to Jesus, but to the pretended “ Company of Jesus.” “ If the authority declares, that that which seems to you white, is black, affirm that it is black.” * Thus, by a myste. rious and resistless process, by voluntary acts, and involuntary admissions, men are borne from the path of humanity, into the enclosures of a society hostile to humanity. From the life of free thoughts and free words, they are taken into the close atmosphere of the tombs, to lie as corpses in the caverns of the dead. The order is a complete monarchy over the mind, conscience, will, and estates of its members. Espionage and inquisitions reign in all grades and institutions of the company. All are watched by all; and all give account to the general of the order, who gives account to no one.
The agency of the Jesuits in causing the great reaction in favor of Romanism, after the Reformation, is written by every modern historian of the Church. But so arrogant, ambitious, and despotic did they every where shew themselves, so intolerant of an equal in their missionary fields, so eager to monopolize the richest commerce, and to engross the richest benefices, and to occupy all the high places of power, that they have been banished by nearly every civilized nation on the globe. What the Inquisition sought to effect against free inquiry by fire, the Jesuits aim to accomplish by stratagem and fraud. They adopt a morality which makes the expiation of crime as easy as its commission, not requiring men to forsake it, but only to confess it; thus leaving the fancied pleasure of sin, without its guilt.
But has there not been a change ? Has not Rome learned wisdom from the past, and reformed ? That her power is weakened, even in her strong holds, — that her throne is trembling, if not already overturned, even in the metropolis of her dark empire, is manifest as the sun at noon. See her fugitive head, cut clean from her shoulders, escaping from the just indignation of a long oppressed people. See a provisional government of their own institution, administering the affairs of the pontifical states, aided
• Spiritual Exercises, P. 291.
by a Chamber of Deputies, a National Guard, and free journals. True, the Inquisition has been abolished in form, but its spirit survives. The Order of Jesuits was annulled by Clement XIV.; but it was restored again in 1814, and has since been weaving dark webs of intrigue and treason, and establishing all over the world, its pestilent dispensaries from which to drug the human mind into ignorance and stupidity, and throw it back into the regions of bigotry and intolerance, from which it has been escaping. The extension of commerce and of international communication, the progress of science, the diffusion of intelligence, and the circulation of the Scriptures, have compelled a modified application of her principles. That there has been no essential change, however, is evident from the present position of Pius IX. Though a fugitive, he dictates, as conditions of his return to the Quirinal, the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, the disbanding of the National Guards, and the restoration of the censorship of the press. He holds to the great principles of the hierarchy, the political and ecclesiastical supremacy of the pope, the infallibility of the church, the denial of the right of private judgment, and the abduction of the Bible from the homes and the hearts of the people. The operation of these is, to check inquiry, to repress all free aspirations, and to degrade man in the whole sphere of his humanity. It sets at plain defiance the divine injunction to “search the Scriptures,” and shuts men up, for their religion, to the priest, the service-book, and the catechism.
As a spiritual despotism, the Romish hierarchy must stand, constitutionally as it is, or fall by its own weight. So Romanists themselves decided, in the contest with the reformers. Erasmus sought reform, though timidly. Luther and Melanchthon, and their associates sought it more earnestly and boldly. Nor did they break from the church, until their efforts caused her such vexation, that she cast them out as guilty of damnable heresy. Then the crisis had come. The die was cast. They must protest, or do nothing. They did protest against all her idolatry and intolerance. The papal anathema roused the Saxon monk to a pitch of moral heroism, which excited the admiration of one party, and the dread of the other. “You will burn me, for answer to the God's message, which I strive to bring you. I take as a parchment lie, and burn that. This is what I do!” And proceeding with it to the east gate of Wittemburg, amidst the
plaudits of congregated beholders, he kindled a fire, whose flames illuminated the whole of the north of Europe, and whose light will shine on to the end of time. It was here that Luther, trusting in the omnipotence of truth, fluns defiance at the polished pagan pope, and then gave himself up to God, and to his own destiny. “ This thing of yours, which you call a pardon of sin, is a bit of rag-paper with ink. It is nothing else. God alone can pardon sin. I stand here on this, since you drive me to it. And, standing on this, I, a poor German monk, am stronger than you all. I stand solitary and friendless, one man on God's truth. You, with your tiaras, and triple hats, with your treasuries and armories, and thunders spiritual, stand on the devil's lie, and are not so strong."
He is cited to appear at Worms, to say if he will recant. Despite of the earnest remonstrances of his friends, who remind him of the fate of John Huss and Jerome, in whom the truth was smothered and burnt, a century before, the poor miner's son obeys the summons, and Hans Luther stands undismayed at the tribunal of his powerful foes. Behold the world's champion for free thought! The word of God in one hand, and his life in the other, he comes to the conflict. “ Confute me by proofs of Scripture, or else by plain, just argument. I cannot recant otherwise. Here I stand. I can do nothing else. God help me!” And God did assist him. His words electrified the nations. The doctors could not answer him, and so they thought to burn him.
Thus it was demonstrated, that free thought and inquiry could not be tolerated in the church of Rome. These tend to reform, by discovering the necessity for it; and reform tends to ruin. The demonstration on a smaller scale, has since been a thousand times repeated. She can dissemble, but not repent. She is becoming decrepid, and the “grasshopper is a burden," and the “ keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves," and “all the daughters of music are brought low," but she cannot reform. To alter is to destroy. Her pretended supremacy and infallibility are her nature. Hence, her reformers must ever be her assailants, and the projectors of her ruin. Progress, free inquiry within her pale, must move in the road to demolition. Inquiry can only discover her weakness and her wickedness; and yet men will inquire. “ This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly; that said in her heart, I am, and there is none besides me. How is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie VOL. III.
down in! Every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his head.” She has come down through the waste of dark centuries, her “ feet slipping in the gore of her innumerable slain, the crosier, the scourge, the brand, and her rusty keys, still clutched in her trembling hands. What she has been, she must be or die,
, or rather, must be, and die.”
Meanwhile, the genius of Liberty, with the lamp of truth in her hand, is approaching her dark domain. The mother of abominations entreats her visiter not to come too near, as the bright light of the lamp is painful to her eyes, and as the region is known to be pervaded with inflammable gases. But Liberty continues to move on; and her lamp shines with increasing brightness, revealing the hidden iniquity of ages.
The scene will soon be changed, and the stage cleared for action. The papacy will soon disrobe herself of her feminine aspect and blandishments ; and the brawny “man of sin ” will be revealed. He will lay off the tiara, and put on the helmet; let fall the crosier, and grasp the pike; close the service-book, and “ope the purple testament of bleeding war.” The great battle of Armageddon is to be fought, truth against error, light against darkness, freedom of inquiry against ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and persecution. Christ comes into open field against the beast. The beast shall strike at him, but shall beat the air, and fall by the force of his own misdirected blows. He will thrust at free inquiry, but it will be like stabbing the sun.
To the side of truth and freedom will be gathered the faithful and the free from every clime. Even now, the battle rages on the banks of the Danube and the Tiber, in France and the islands of the sea. Tribes, and kindreds, and tongues come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. They are borne on by the “swelling tide of accusations,” flowing down from past ages, against the foe. They are cheered on by the voices of the slain witnesses under the altar, saying: “How long, Lord God
“ Almighty, shall we not be avenged ?” And their final pean shall be, as in the visions of the seer of Patmos : “Babylon, the great, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." “ Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”