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conceive it then to be notably less probable) ; because then the less safe opinion cannot be judged certainly probable, nor can the law in such a case be said to be strictly doubtful; but when the preponderance is slight and doubtful for the opinion favorable to the law, then the contrary opinion may truly be judged probable by the axiom : Parum pro nihilo reputatur, and the opinion for the law is then strictly doubtful.”

In 1767 : “ I say that it is not lawful to follow a less probable opinion, when the contrary opinion for the law is notably or certainly more probable : I say or certainly, for when the opinion for the existence of the law is certainly, and, without any hesitation, more probable, then of necessity that opinion is notably more probable. And in that case the safer opinion will be no longer doubtful-meaning strictly so—but will be morally certain or almost so; at all events it can no longer be judged strictly doubtful having, in its favor certain grounds of

Whence it then follows that the less safe opinion which is wanting in those grounds, remains scarcely or only doubtfully probable as compared with the safer, and consequently, it were not prudence, but the contrary, to embrace it.”

In 1770: “The first teaching says that a person may lawfully follow the less probable opinion for the non-existence of the law, although the contrary opinion be certainly more probable. This teaching we say is lax, and cannot lawfully be embraced. . . Our doctrine says, that when the opinion for the non-existence of the law is equally as probable as the contrary, it can confidently and lawfully be followed. The reason is, that of two equally probable opinions we are not bound to adopt the safer; because a doubtful law cannot impose a certain obligation, inasmuch as a doubtful law is not sufficiently promulgated.”

In 1772: “When the opinion for liberty of action is as probable as the contrary, it can be adopted, not because it is probable, but because then the opinion for the law is not binding, because the law is not promulgated ; the doubt is promulgated, or, if you will, the question if there is or not such a law, but the law itself is not promulgated, and therefore cannot bind.”

In 1773: “If the opinion for the existence of the law appear to be certainly the more probable, we are absolutely bound to follow it.

If two equally probable opinions be opposed, the law is uncertain, and cannot be binding."

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In 1774: "When the opinion favoring liberty is of equal weight with the contrary opinion, then the latter is no longer probable, but only doubtful, because the two opinions do not produce a probability for the case, but deprive themselves of probability reciprocally."

In 1779: “A doubtful law in the opposition of two equiprobable opinions does not bind.”

In 1785: “An uncertain law cannot impose a certain obligation, because the obligation comes later than the free will which is in possession and must be proved."

These detached sentences, snatched from the quotations of the “ Vindiciae," put clearly forward, we think, the arguments made use of by the Vindicators to prove that Equi-Probabilism was ever the system of their Father.

The third chapter declares that Saint Alphonsus was not only an Equi-Probabilist, and ever such, but the very author of this celebrated system; and this assertion, the strongest of the three, they establish by further quotations from the Saint's writing, and by the unanimous testimony of many Cardinals, Bishops, and Theologians of all schools and nations, and again by the acts of Beatification. Confining our observations to these acts, we learn from them that although in 1803 the Sacred Congregation of Rites declared the works of Saint Alphonsus uncensurable, yet was his moral system again examined in 1806 in the cause of his Beatification, and objected to by the Promoter of the Faith as opposed to perfect prudence, inasmuch as too favorable to human liberty. The Vindicator of the cause replying to this and all other charges, clearly refutes them all; else, would not the Beatification have been decreed. Concerning the impugned moral system, amongst other things, he says: “It is certain that he taught that in the case of two equally probable opinions being opposed, the opinion denying the law creates a serious doubt whether the law exists or not; which law cannot therefore, be judged to be sufficiently promulgated, and cannot, therefore be binding

Is it to be feared that by this system too much indulgence is given to liberty of action ? Too much indulgence is granted by that opinion which unreasonably constitutes probability in every isolated argument, making light of all opposite, and undoubtedly strong reasons.

Each of the two opinions in the opposition of which the Liguorian system consists being equally probable is equally safe. If, however, that certain rule be followed that a doubtful law does not bind, or that a doubtful law does not impose a certain obligation, without which there is no sin, then the probable opinion for the law is no longer safe but doubtful; and thus the contrary opinion for the non-existence of the law becomes the safer of the two."

The Vindicators having thus established their Thesis, viz. : that the moral system of Saint Alphonsus was Equi-Probabilism, they proceed, in the fourth chapter, to consider and refute the arguments advanced by Father Ballerini to show against them that the Saint was a Probabilist.

The first objection is that explanations of his doctrine, clearly proving him a Probabilist, were fraudulently omitted in the edition of the Moral Theology approved by the Holy See; to which omission it is due that the Objector's assertion is not qute clear.

The Vindicators reply: Ist. That Father Ballerini, being the first discoverer of this fraud, is very probably mistaken; 2nd. That the omissions spoken of took place in the 7th edition, and, consequently, by the directions of the Saint himself, else he would have had the omission supplied in the 8th and 9th editions ; 3rd. That the passages omitted are elsewhere inserted, and hence the omission ; 4th. That in later editions the passages are restored, and yet are by no means favourable to the Objector, &c.

The second objection grounded on this omitted passage is that St. Alphonsus, by " a certainly more probable opinion,". meant a moral certainty. The words of the Saint are these : " I say, in the first place, that if the opinion for the existence of the law appears certainly more probable than the contrary, we are truly bound to follow it. I said certainly more probable, for such an opinion must be notably more probable. For (this is the omission) then the opinion in question is no longer strictly doubtful, but is morally, or almost morally, certain."

The Vindicators deny this interpretation to be correct--- Ist. Because it would make the Saint illogical, confounding opinion with certainty ; 2nd. Because it would prove him lax, allowing the weakest probability to be followed, 3rd. Because it would show him to be a fool, contending against imaginary adversaries that improbable opinions must give way to moral certainty ; 4th. Because the known distinction of absolute and relative remove the difficulty; 5th. Because the words“strictly" and “almost” must be taken into account, &c.

The third objection is that those who are opposed to Father Ballerini are deceived in supposing that St. Alphonsus holds of any degree of probability what he only teaches of the highest.

The Vindicators reply that the deception must be on the Objector's side, pointing out how Scavini, Neyraguet, Gousset, and the rest have faithfully quoted the words of St. Alphonsus, and then once more bringing him forward to speak for himself. As to degrees of probability the Saint thus writes: “When the opinion for the existence of the law is certainly more probable, be it only by one degree, then is it notably more probable ; because that certainty of the greater probability proves that it is so weighty that it suffices to move the scales. All ambiguity is removed when I say that the certainly more probable of two opinions asserting the law must be embraced, be it only, if certainly, more probable, by one degree."

The fourth objection is that the Saint declared, in 1757 and 1763, that he intended to abstain from disputes on Probabilism.

The Vindicators reply-Ist. That like protestations are found in earlier works, which can therefore be taken as transient intentions. 2nd. That several such casual remarks have passed on from early to late editions of many works. 3rd. That the Saint's first undertakings were against Rigorism, and, consequently, favouring general Probabilism. 4th. That the words spoken by the Saint for Probabilism can well be applied to his own system of Equi-Probabilism. 5th. That he did not all at once, but gradually, perfect his system, having been himself educated by Rigorists, &c.

The fifth objection is, that the Equi-Probabilism of the Saint was insincere, and superfluously defended against silent adversaries; that it was put forth to establish his orthodoxy, and disarm opposition.

The Vindicators reply—ist. That such hypocrisy and deceit would have been sinful. 2nd. That St. Alphonsus frequently asserts his earnestness. 3rd. That in his private letters and conversations he confirmed his public teaching. 4th. That again and again he denies the charge or praise of Probabilism : "I am no Probabilist, nor do I follow Probabilism; on the contrary, I condemn it,” &c.

The sixth objection is that St. Alphonsus, defending EquiProbabilism, establishes Probabilism pure and simple, the same being the principle of both systems-viz., a doubtful law cannot be binding.

The Vindicators reply that the Saint denies and rejects this consequence over and over again : "I make answer that when the opinion for the law is certainly more probable, although it is not quite certain, nevertheless on account of that greater probability it appears to be morally truer, and the law in consequence morally or sufficiently promulgated, and no longer strictly doubtful.” And again : "We, as we have frequently said before, do not defend the probable in opposition to the more probable."

The discussion thus closes, and we must applaud the victors, who are, undoubtedly, the Vindicators, as we think is sufficiently clear from this cursory review of their work, but as will be most conclusively demonstrated to all impartial readers of it. We agree with Father Ballerini that the question discussed " is of the greatest importance, since by the judgment of the Apostolic See the sole authority of Alphonsus is enough, that not only without censure, but also without any danger or suspicion of laxity—or rigorism_his opinions may be adopted and reduced to practice, and this without any consideration of their intrinsic reasons." The application of this doctrine is not precisely what Father Ballerini accepts ; but it is, nevertheless, thus shown that the system of St. Alphonsus has been declared safe by the Church, and that system is Equi-Probabilism. It is true that other systems are tolerated, and may, perhaps, yet be declared safe, so certain is it that the approval of the Alphonsian system is no condemnation of all others. Yet it is practically hard to read the Holy Doctor's open and strongly inculcated condemnation of anything, knowing such condemnation safe, and not subscribe to it. "I have not," he writes, “been wanting in diligence while endeavouring to reach the truth with certainty in this controversy, having, during the studies of many years, read all modern authors of the rigid teaching as they came to hand, examining all their reasons and objections. Moreover, I have not, I think, failed to commend myself to the Lord and the Divine Mother on this point, praying earnestly to be enlightened should I go astray.” We hold it certain that he was enlightened, and that he did not go astray in that very matter for which he was given to the Church of God.

What this matter was we cannot, in conclusion, better state than in the words of Father Ballerini-words, we may say, more earnest and meaning than any of his objections : “No one will deny that it was an ineffable proof of God's provident love that in the pitiable confusion of antagonistic teachings which for two centuries had reigned in the schools of Christian morals, torturing with unceasing anxieties all needing rule and guidance, the writings of Alphonsus should appear so highly commended, not only for their author's exalted qualities, but also (what is of far greater importance) by the judgment of the Apostolic See. That in such dread circumstances a

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