« ForrigeFortsett »
power can employ in any service for which he thinks
=meet to destine them, 1540. Progress
As it was the professed intention of the order of Jesuits of the , to labour with unwearied zeal in promoting the salvation power and inlluence of men, this engaged them, of course, in many active of the orfunctions. From their first institution, they considered
the education of youth as their peculiar province; they aimed at being spiritual guides and confessors; they preached frequently, in order to instruct the people; they set out as missionaries to convert unbelieving nations. The novelty of the institution, as well as the singularity of its objects, procured the order many admirers and patrons. The governors of the society had the address to avail themselves of every circumstance in its favour, and in a short time the number as well as influence of its members increased wonderfully. Before the expiration of the sixteenth century, the Jesuits had obtained the chief direction of the education of youth in every Catholic country in Europe. They had become the confessors of al. most all its monarchs; a function of no small importance in any reign, but under a weak prince superior even to that of minister. They were the spiritual guides of almost every person eminent for rank or power. They possessed the highest degree of confidence and interest with the papal court, as the most zealous and able champions for its authority. The advantages which an active and enter. prising body of men might derive from all these circumstances are obvious. They formed the minds of men in their youth; they retained an ascendant over them in their advanced years. They possessed, at different periods, the direction of the most considerable courts in Europe. They mingled in all affairs; they took part in every intrigue and revolution. The general, by means of the extensive intelligence which he received, could regu. late the operations of the order with the most perfect dis
* Compte par M. de Monclar, p. 215, 439. Compte par M. de Chalofals, p. 52, 222.
cernment, and by means of his absolute power could BOOK carry them on with the utmost vigour and effect“.
1540 Together with the power of the order, its wealth con- Pro tinued to increase. Various expedients were devised for in wealth eluding the obligation of the vow of poverty. The order acquired ample possessions in every Catholic country ; and by the number as well as magnificence of its public buildings, together with the value of its property, moveable or real, it vied with the most opulent of the monastic fraternities. Besides the sources of wealth common to all the regular clergy, the Jesuits possessed one which was peculiar to themselves. Under pretext of promoting the success of their missions, and of facilitating the support of their missionaries, they obtained a special licence from tbe court of Rome to trade with the nations which they labonred to convert. In consequence of this, they engaged in an extensive and lucrative commerce, both in the East and West Indies. They opened warehouses in different parts of Europe, in which they vended their commodities. Not satisfied with trade alone, they imitated the example of other commercial societies, and aimed at obtaining settlements. They acquired possession accordingly of a large and fertile province in the southern continent of America, and reigned as sovereigns over some kundred thousand subjects *
Unhappily for mankind, the vast influence which the Pernicions order of Jesuits acquired by all these different means, has offers
ins, has retiesiog
these on cibeen often exerted with the most pernicious effect. Such vil society. was the tendency of that discipline observed by the society in forming its members, and such the fundamental
* When Loyola, in the year 1340, petitioned the pope to authorize the institution of the order, he had only ten disciples. But in the year 1608, sixty-eight years after their first institution, the number of Jesuits. had increased to ten thousand five hundred and eighty-one. In the year 1710, the order possessed twenty-four professcd houses; fifty-nine houses of probation ; three hundred and forty residencies: six hundred and twelve colleges; two hundred missions ; one hundred and fifty seminaries and boarding schools ; and consisted of 19,999 Jecuits. Hist. des Jessie Ites, tom. i, p. 20.
* Hist. des Jes. iv, 168_196, &c.
BOOK maxiins in its constitution, that every Jesuit was taught
=to regard the interest of the order as the capital object,
to which every consideration was to be sacrificed. This
As the prosperity of the order was intimately connectcd with the preservation of the papal authority, the Jesuits, influenced by the same principal of attachment to the interests of their society, have been the most zealous patrons of those doctrines which tend to exalt ecclesiastical power on the ruins of civil government. They have attributed to the court of Rome a jurisdiction as extensive and absolute as was claimed by the most presumptuous pontifis in the dark ages. They have contended for the entire independence of ecclesiastics on the civil magistrate. They have published such tenets concerning the duty of opposing princes who were enemies of the Catholic faithi, as countenanced the most atrocious crimes, and tended to dissolve all the ties which connect subjects with their rulers.
As the order derived both reputation and authority from the zeal with which it stood forth in defence of the Romish church against the attacks of the reformers, its members, proud of this distinction, have considered it as
? Compte par M. de Monclar, p. 285.
their peculiar function to combat the opinions, and to BOOK
VI. check the progress, of the Protestants. They have made use of every art, and have employed every weapon, against them. They have set themselves in opposition to every gentle or tolerating measure in their favour. They have incessantly stirred up against them all the rage of ecclesiastical and civil persecution. . .
Níonks of other denominations have indeed ventured to teach the same pernicious doctrines, and have held opinions equally inconsistent with the order and happiness of civil society. But they, from reasons which are obvi. ous, have either delivered such opinions with greater reserve, or have propagated them with less success. Whoever recollects the events which have happened in Europe during two centuries, will find that the Jesuits may justly be considered as responsible for most of the pernicious effects arising from that corrupt and dangerous casuistry, from those extravagant tenets concerning ecclesiastical power, and from that intolerant spirit, which have been the disgrace of the church of Rome throughout that period, and which have brought so many calamities upon civil society?. .
But, amidst many bad consequences flowing from the same adinstitution of this order, mankind, it must be acknow-antages
"resulting ledged, have derived from it some considerable advan- from the
institucion tages. As the Jesuits made the education of youth one? of their capital objects, and as their first attempts to esta-der; blish colleges for the reception of students were violently opposed by the universities in different countries, it became necessary for them, as the most effectual method of acquiring the public favour," to surpass their rivals in science and industry. This prompted them to cultivate particularthe study of ancient literature with extraordinary ardour; this put them upon various methods for facilitating the instruction of youth ; and, by the iniprovements which they made in it, they have contributed so much towards the progress of polite learning, that on this account they
... Encyclopedie, art. Jesuitcs, tom. viii, 513. FOL, VI.
K have merited well of society. Nor has the order of Jesuits
been successful only in teaching the elements of literature; it has produced likewise eminent masters in many branches of science, and can alone boast of a greater number of ingenious authors than all the other religious fraternities
taken together : More espe. But it is in the New World that the Jesuits have exhicially from the sectie- bited the most wonderful display of their abilities, and have
ita contributed most effectually to the benefit of the human the Jesuits in Para- species. The conquerors of that unfortunate quarter of guay.
the globe acted at first as if they had nothing in view, but to plunder, to enslave, and to exterminate its inhabitants. The Jesuits alone made humanity the object of their settling there. About the beginning of the last cen. tury, they obtained admission into the fertile province of Paraguay, which stretches across the southern continent of America, from the east side of the immense ridge of the Andes, to the confines of the Spanish and Portuguese settlements on the banks of the river de la Plata. They found the inhabitants in a state little different from that which takes place among men when they first begin to unite together; strangers to the arts ; subsisting preca riously by hunting or fishing; and hardly acquainted
* M. d'Alembert has observed, that thongh the Jesuits have made extraordinary progress in erudition of every species ; though they can reckon up many of their brethren who have been emirert mathematicians, antiquaries, and critics; though they have even formed some orators of reputation ; yet the order has never produced one man whose mind was so much enlightened with sound knowledge as to merit the name of a philosopher. But it seems to be the unavoidable eti'ect of monastic education to contract and fetter the human mind. The partiał attachment of a monk to the interest of his order, which is often incompatible with that of other citizens ; the habit of implicit obedience to the will of a superior, together with the frequent return of the wearisome and frivolous duties of the cloister, debase lis faculties, and extinguish that generosity of sentiment and spirit, which qualifies men for thinking or feeling justly with respect to what is proper in life and conduct. Father Paul of Venice is, perhaps, the only person edacated in a cloister, that ever was altogether superior to its prejudices, or who viewed the transactions of men, and reasoned concerning the interests of society, with the enlarged sentiments of a philosopher, with the discernment of a man conversant in affairs, and with the liberality of a gentleman.