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In striking antithesis to the morals of the Jesuits, stand the teachings of the Augustine-inspired Jansenists, who, in opposition to the subjectively-individual character of the Jesuitical system, hold fast to the immutable objectivity of the moral law, and teach the latter in a very rigid manner, much resembling that of Calvinists; but yet because of their leaning upon the earlier mysticism of the church they come short of carrying fully out the Reformatory principle.—The mystical theology—present in Jansenism only as a co-ordinate element—perpetuated itself in the Romish church, in natural antagonism to the cold casuistic morality of the Jesuits, but rather in a popularly devotional than in a scientific form, and rose, in the Quietism of Molinos, to a one-sided turning-aside from all vigorous moral activity, while Fenelon shaped a modified and moderated mysticism into a noble, moral system of devout contemplation.
Jansen of Louvain (afterward bishop of Ypres), presses, in his Augustinus (1640), the doctrine of Augustine against the semi-Pelagian system of the Jesuits, and occasioned thereby a powerful theological movement which led almost to schism, and which demonstrated again by historical results that even the most rigid teaching of predestination brings about higher moral views than the doctrine of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism,—and for this simple reason, that, in the former system God is brought absolutely into the fore-ground, while, in the latter, the individual subject is put forward into a false position. Love to God and to his will is the essence of all morality; where God is not loved in an action, there the action is not moral; mere love to created things is sinful; but our love to God is poured out into our hearts by God himself, and hence stands in need of grace, which inclines the will directly and irresistibly to the working of the good. 274The four chief virtues and the three theological virtues, as adopted from Augustine, are only different manners of loving God; God is their ultimate goal, as also their source; his gracious working and our love, both inseparably united, constitute their impelling power; fear does indeed bring about order, but not virtue.—Although the book of Jansen was’ burned at Rome, and forbidden by Papal bulls, still his opinions continued to disseminate themselves in the Netherlands and in France, and bade defiance to Jesuitism. The writings of Arnauld, Pascal, Nicole, Quesnel, developed the moral principles of Jansen still further, and though they in fact remained far remote from evangelical purity of faith, and even defended as a high virtue the afflicting of the body by fasting and other severe acts of penance, even to self-mortification, still they were thoroughly in earnest for moral purity,—required complete moral self-denial out of love of God, and placed the moral worth of all actions, and even of their ascetic practices, essentially in the disposition of the heart; and their ground-principles were definite and clear, and proof against all sophistry.210210 Comp. Reuchlin: Geschichte von Portroyal, 1839, and the same author’s Pascals Leben, 1840,—neither work entirely unprejudiced. Arnauld assailed effectually the ethics of the Jesuits. Pascal’s (ob. 1662) “Pensées” (1669 and later), consisting of thoughts on religion without any very close connection, attained to a very wide circulation. That the presentation of these quite plain thoughts could produce so great an impression, is evidence of how deeply had sunk the Christian life, and of how great was the necessity of reformation. Peter Nicole (ob. 1695) worked effectually, through his numerous popular and essentially Scripture-inspired writings on special moral topics, toward a purer form of ethics;211211 Kirchenhistor. Archiv. v. Stäudlin, etc., 1824, 1, 127. and this was done in still wider circles by Quesnel’s “Moral Reflections” (at first in 1671, on the Four Gospels, afterward on the entire New Testament) which were affected with a slight tinge of mysticism;—(Sainte-Beuve: “Resolutions,” etc., 1689, 3, 4to.). The open or underhanded opposition of the Jesuits to these writings simply awakened the attention of the people all the more to the great difference between the parties, and that, too, not to the 275advantage of the Jesuits.—The chief strength of Jansenism lay in its opposition to the Jesuits; its own positive contents, as an emphasizing of the practical phase of Augustinianism, was not consequentially carried out; it was not able to disenthrall itself from the unevangelical ground-thoughts of the corrupted church, but halted at half-ways; and hence though it had a wide-reaching, it did not have a permanent and profound, influence. Discarding the system of external work-holiness and insisting on the inner element of the moral life, it yet did not clearly and purely embrace the evangelical thought of faith, which first lays hold on grace and then freely carries out the life of grace; but it regarded morality not merely as an evidence of salvation, but also, though without merit in itself, as a means of salvation; hence its insisting on painfully-anxious ascetic practices.
The mystical current of ethics, with which the Jansenists always manifested a sympathy, was represented by Francis de Sales (bishop of Geneva, ob. 1622, and subsequently canonized) in several works;212212 Oeuvres, Paris, 1821, 16 t., 1834. by Vergier (abbot of St. Cyr, ob. 1643) a Jansenist, who was already powerfully working in the direction of Quietism, and who encouraged the severest, and even cruel, self-mortifications;213213 Opp. theol., 1642, 1653. and by Cardinal Bonaa (ob. 1674.)214214 Manuductio ad coelum, 1664, and frequently; Opp. Antv., 1673, 1739. Most remarkable, however, though quite consequential, was the manner in which mysticism was transformed into Quietism215215 Walch: Einl. in d. Rel. streit. ausser. d. ev. K., 1724, ii, p. 982; Stäudlin u. Tschirner: Archiv., i, 2, 175. by the Spaniard, Michael Molinos (afterward in Rome,) whose work entitled “Spiritual Guide,” originally (1675) in Spanish, soon disseminated itself throughout Romish Europe.216216 Walch: Einl. in d. Rel. streit. ausser. d. ev. K., 1724, ii, p. 982; Stäudlin u. Tschirner: Archiv., i, 2, 175. As the goal of morality is union with God through an entire turning away from the creature, hence true morality must manifest itself, not in acting in the outer world, but in turning away from it. Such is the doctrine which Molinos derives from his favorites among the earlier mystics, from Dionysius the Areopagite down. In contemplation, in the path of faith, in immediate spiritual vision of God, without the intervention of an inferential process of thought, the soul already possesses eternal truth. True vision, inward 276rest and inward composure,—the remaining silent in the presence of God, the beholding of God without figure or form, and without distinguishing between his attributes, as the absolutely One,—all this is not a self-acquired active state, but a passive one imparted by God himself to the soul, so that consequently God alone works in man, and the soul itself remains m6tionless and inactive,—yields itself entirely to the solely-working divine activity,—is entirely united with God; this is the true, pure manner of prayer, which cannot be uttered in words, but is a holy keeping-silence of the soul. Satiated in this union with God the soul is entirely filled with the divine, and hates all worldly things,—feels a repugnance to every thing earthly, forgets every thing created, is divested, in its inner solitude, of all affections and thoughts, of all inclinations and all creature-will,—withdraws itself into its most innermost depths, and enjoys, in its total self-forgetfulness (entirely merged into God), perfect inner rest, and holy peace; self-mortification and self-denial are but disciplinary helps for beginners in the acquiring of salvation, but do not themselves lead to perfection; this is attained only through sinking into one’s own nothingness, through ‘’self-annihilation,” through the putting on of, and becoming united with, God.—Molinos, though at first favored by the Pope, was afterward delivered over, by the influence of the Jesuits, to the Inquisition, and was required to disavow his doctrines (1687), and died in prison. Many of the propositions condemned were only inferences drawn from his writings, though not expressly taught by himself.—In spite of this and other persecutions, mysticism still continued to exist, also in its quietistic form, in the Latin nations. (Madam Bouvier de la Mothe Guion—ob. 1717—represented it in numerous writings, mostly published by Poiret, in. which she sometimes goes in fervent mystical depth of love, even beyond Molinos,—the out-gush of a glowingly enthusiastic womanly heart.)—Fénelon, archbishop of Cambray, favored the doctrine of Madame Guion, and endeavored by moderating her quietistic views to conjure the opposition; and his writings, which portray in simple, noble eloquence the pious life of the Christian, and keep free from the extremes of one-sided mysticism, and uniformly place love to God in the foreground 277as the essence of the moral, offer and propose, in opposition to the pettifogging dialectics of Jesuitical morality, the Christian spirituality of the heart. His mystical masterpiece (Explication des Maxims des Saintes, 1697, and often subsequently) was condemned by the Pope and proscribed; Fénelon yielded.
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