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The low ebb to which religion had fallen in still earlier ages, no less justified the protests of the Waldensian church; in proof of which it may be remarked, that Baronius himself, the Roman catholic annalist, --in addition to his severe assertion respecting the 10th century, alluded to by M. Peyran in p. 280; "that it was a most unhappy age, when the Roman pontiffs rather resembled apostates than apostles;"--proceeds to denominate it an iron, a leaden, and a dark age :-“ En novum inchoatur seculum, quod sui asperitate ac boni sterilitate ferreum, malique exundantis deformitate plumbeum, atque inopiâ scriptorum appellari consuevit obscurum."*
In proof of the corruption of the christian code of morals, it is not necessary so much to recur to the dark ages, as to notice the tenets of a body of men distinguished for their skill and attainments, their artifices and spirit of enterprise, the Jesuits; an order proscribed by Roman catholic states in the last century, on account of the evil tendency of their tenets and efforts, but recently re-established by a decree of pope Pius VII, and countenanced as the pillars of that system--the papal—which the progress of infidelity on the continent had considerably undermined.
* Cited by Bishop Newton, on the Prophecies, iii. 157.
Mosheim, after stating that they insinuated themselves into the favour of statesmen and persons of distinction, remarks, that nothing contributed more to give the Jesuits “ that ascendancy they universally acquired, than the cunning and dexterity with which they relaxed and modified their system of morality, accommodating it artfully to the propensities of mankind, and depriving it, on certain occasions, of that severity that rendered it burthensome to the sensual and voluptuous.” Blaise Pascal's celebrated “ Provincial Letters,” where the accusations are proved by extracts from the works of the Jesuits, remain a standing monument of the eloquence and wit of the author, and the “ atrocious inroads in the sphere of morals, made by the Jesuitical system ; of which a few remarks from Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History will afford a specimen.
Those who charge the sons of Loyola with having sapped the very foundations of morality, “observe more particularly, that the whole society adopts and inculcates the following maxims;
“ That persons truly wicked, and void of the love of God, may expect to obtain eternal life in heaven, provided that they be impressed
with a fear of the divine anger, and avoid all heinous and enormous crimes, through the dread of future punishment.
That those persons may transgress with safety, who have a probable reason for transgressing, i.e. any plausible argument, or authority, in favour of the sin they are inclined to commit.
“ That actions intrinsically evil, and directly contrary to the divine law, may be innocently performed by those who have so much power over their own minds, as to join, even ideally, a good end to this wicked action, or (to speak in the style of the Jesuits) who are capable of directing their attention aright.”
“ That the transgressions committed by a person blinded by the seduction of lust, agitated by the impulse of tumultuous passions, and destitute of all sense and impression of religion, however detestable and heinous they may be in themselves, are not imputable to the transgressor before the tribunal of God; and that such transgressions may often be as involuntary as the actions of a madman.
“ That the person who takes an oath, or enters into a contract, may, to elude the force of the one, and the obligation of the other, add to the form of words that express them, certain mental additions and tacit reservations."
A formidable opposition having been raised against these pernicious maxims of the Jesuits, by the Jansenists, the Dominicans, and the theologians of Paris, Poitiers, Louvain, and other academical cities, pope Alexander VII. issued a bull condemning them in the year 1659. Mosheim afterwards remarks, with his usual candour, “ It must not be imagined that these maxims are adopted,....by all the sons of
..by Loyola, without exception, or that they are publicly taught and inculcated in all their schools.”
This remarkable order, equally zealous in defending their errors throughout christendom, as in propagating them in China and other pagan lands; controlling at one time the cabinets of princes in civilized Europe, and exercising supreme yet gentle sway over the minds and affairs of the once savage inhabitants of Paraguay ;-has emerged at length from the obscurity in which it lay during the eventful period of the French revolution, and that of the wars consequent upon that event. After resembling for some years a “sea of troubles,” Europe now
a presents a calm surface; and new adventurers launch their barks. The revolutionists, after plying their guns and displaying their banners for a season, have been wrecked; whilst a few fulminating decrees from the vatican seem to announce, that the proscribed order of the Jesuits is not only re-instated, but is beginning to exercise its functions. Those who have been political directors, as well as private confessors,
in past times, may become such again; and new agents may produce new events.
Bishop Newton, with his usual good judgment and caution, observes, when interpreting Rev. xvi. 12-16..“ Vial the sixth is poured out upon the great river Euphrates, and the water thereof is dried up to prepare a passage for the kings of the east. Whether by Euphrates be ineant the river so called or only a mystic Euphrates, as Rome is mystic Babylon; and whether by the kings of the east be meant the Jews in particular, or any eastern potentates in general; can be matters only of conjecture, and not of certainty and assurance, till the event shall make the determination. Whoever they be, they appear to threaten the ruin and destruction of the kingdom of the beast; and therefore the agents and emissaries of popery, of the dragon, the representative of the devil, and of the beast, the representative of the antichristian empire, and of the false prophet, the representative of the antichristian church, as disagreeable, as loquacious, as sordid, as impudent, as frogs, are employed to oppose them, and stir up the princes and potentates of their communion to make their united and last effort in a religious war.” It is added in a note, “ The three unclean spirits like frogs, Mr. Mann conceives to be the Domi