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The ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) online

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supreme authority in so powerful and so monarchi-
cally-constituted a body should fall into such handsf.
Pope Gregory XIII., who had received an intimation

* Sacchinus, v. 7, 99. In the second general congregation the
proportion ah'eady began to be equalized, though in a very slight
degree, as out of thirty-nine members twenty-four Avere Spa-

■[ Sacchinus, Historia Societatis Jesu, i)ars iv. ; sive Everardus,
lib. i. : " Horum origo motuum duplex fuit, studia nationum et
ncophytorum in Hispania odium."


to this effect, thought a change expedient on other
grounds. A deputation of the congregation assem-
bled to elect a general being presented to him, he
asked how many votes each nation had ; when it
appeared that Spain had more than all the others
put together. He inquired further, out of which
nation the generals of the order had hitherto been
chosen. He was told that there had been three, all
Spaniards. "It is fair," replied Gregory, "that
for once you should choose one from among the
other nations." He even proposed a candidate.

The Jesuits for a moment resisted a measure
which violated their privileges, but at length they
elected the nominee of the pope, Eberhard Mer-

This election immediately caused a considerable
change. Mercurianus, a feeble and irresolute man,
left the direction of affairs at first to a Spaniard and
afterwards to a Frenchman, his salaried and official
admonitor : factions arose ; the one expelled the
other from important offices, and the dominant
sometimes experienced resistance from the subor-

A far more important circumstance however was,
that at the next vacancy, in the year 1 581, Claudio
Aquaviva, of a Neapolitan family, formerly attached
to the French party, — an energetic man only thirty-
eight years of age, — was raised to the dignity of

The Spaniards were at one time persuaded that
their nation, by which the society was founded,
and to which it owed its character and direction.


was for ever excluded from the generalship ; they
became discontented and disobedient*, and con-
ceived the project of rendering themselves more
independent of Rome, either by the appointment
of a commissary-general for the Spanish provinces,
or by some other expedient. On the other hand,
Aquaviva was not disposed to abate a single jot of
the authority with which the letter of the constitu-
tion of the order invested him. In order to hold
the disaffected in check, he set over them superiors
on whose devotion to his person he could rely ;
young men who resembled himself in age and modes
of thinkingt ; and also members of inferior merit,
coadjutors, who did not enjoy all the privileges of
the order, who beheld in the general their common
protector, and were bound to him by national sym-
pathies j.

* Mariana, Discurso de las Enfermedades de la Compania, c. xii.
"La nacion espanola esta persuadida queda para sempre excluida
del generalato. Esta persuasion, sea verdadcra sea falsa, no
puede dexar de causar disgustos y disunion tanto mas que esta
nacion fundo la compania, la honro, la enseüö y aun sustento
largo tiempo con su substancia."

t Mariana, c. xii, " Ponen en los gobiernos homes mozos. . . .
porque son mas entremetidos saben lamer a sus tiempos."

X Besides Mariana, the Reports to Clement YIU. contain much
that is important on this subject. They are printed in the Tuba
magnum clangens sonum ad dementem XL, p. 583. " Videmus
cum magno detrimento religionis nostrse et scandalo raundi quod
generalis nulla habita ratione nee antiquitatis ncc laborum nee
meritorum facit quos vult superiores, et ut plurimum juvencs ct
novicios, qui sine ullis mei'itis et sine uUa experientia cum max-
ima arrogantia pra^sunt senioribus : .... et denique generalis, quia
homo est, habet etiam suos afFectus particulares, . . . . ct quia est
Neapolitanus, melioris conditionis sunt Neapolitani."


The aged, learned, and experienced fathers found
themselves excluded, not only from the supreme
dignity, but even from the provincial appointments.
Aquaviva alleged their own defects as the cause ;
the one was choleric, the other melancholic ; "na-
turally," says Mariana, "eminent men are wont to
be afflicted with some defect." But the real reason
was that he feared them, and wanted to have more
convenient tools for the execution of his commands.
Generally speaking, there is nothing which men en-
dure with so little patience as the privation of the
right of taking an active share in public affairs. Ac-
cordingly jealousies and disputes arose in all the col-
leges. The new superiors were received with silent
animosity, and could carry no important point ;
they were happy if they could but escape trouble
and disorders. They had however power enough
to revenge themselves. They filled the subordinate
posts exclusively with their own personal adherents,
who were secured to them by the monarchical con-
stitution of the order, and the ambition of its mem-
bers ; they sent the more obstinate of the recalci-
trants to a distance, and, especially when any im-
portant deliberation was pending, they removed
them to other provinces. Everything was thus
resolved into personal offences and retaliations. It
was not only the right, but the duty of every mem-
ber to point out whatever faults he remarked in
another ; a rule which in the infancy and innocence
of a small Society might have some tendency to
preserve good morals, but in the present state of
the order grew into the most odious tale-bearing ;


it became an instrument of" concealed ambition, of
hate clotiicd in the garb of friendship : were any
one to explore the archives of Rome, exclaims Ma-
riana, " he would probably not find one single ho-
nest man,^ — at least among us who are at a distance;"
an universal distrust reigned among them ; there
was not one who would have opened himself unre-
servedly, even to his own brother.

The evil was increased by Aquaviva's inflexible
determination not to leave Rome, nor to visit the
provinces, as Lainez and Borgia had done. The
excuse made for this was that it was an advantage
to have things stated in writing, in unbroken series,
and without the interruptions caused by the acci-
dents of travelling. But the immediate consequence
at all events was, that the provincials, in whose hands
the whole correspondence rested, thus acquired a
greater degree of independence. It was useless to
make any complaints of them ; they could easily
foresee the representations likely to be made, and
defeat their effects beforehand, the more completely
in consequence of the favour with which Aquaviva
regarded them. Virtually, therefore, they held their
places for life.

Under these circumstances, the old Jesuits in
Spain perceived that a state of things which they
felt as a sort of tyranny, was unsusceptible of any
change from within the pale of the society, and
therefore determined to look around for help from

They first addressed themselves to the spiritual
authority of their own country — to the inqui-


sition. It is well known that the inquisition had
submitted many offences to the judgement of the
order. A discontented Jesuit, moved, as he de-
clared, by scruples of conscience, accused his order
of concealing and even pardoning offences of this
nature, provided they were committed by its own
members. The inquisition suddenly caused the
provincial, who was implicated in a case of this
kind, together with one of his most active associates,
to be arrested*. This first step having opened the
way to other accusations, the inquisition demanded
that the statutes of the order should be laid before
it, and proceeded to authorize new arrests. The
excitement throughout Spain — the country of or-
thodox faith — w^as the more intense from the my-
stery which enveloped its cause ; and from the
general belief that the Jesuits were arrested on ac-
count of some heresy.

The inquisition, however, had no power to make
any changes in the constitution of the order ; it
could only decree the punishment of individual
members. Affairs having gone this length, the
malcontents addressed themselves to the king,
whom they assailed with long and detailed represen-
tations of the defects in their constitution. Philip
II. had never liked it ; he used to say that he could
see through all the other orders, that of the Jesuits

* Sacchinus, pars v. lib. vi. n. 85. " Quidam e confessariis seu
vere seu falso delatus ad provincialem turn Castellce, Antonium
Marcenium, erat de tentata puella; jier sacras confessiones pudi-
citia, quod crimen in Hispania sacrorum queesitorum judicio re-


was the only one he could not understand ; he seemed
to be particularly struck with what was told him of
the abuse of absolute power, and the mischiefs of
secret accusations : in the midst of that mighty
European struggle in which he was involved, he
found time and thought to devote to this affair,
and immediately commissioned Manrique bishop
of Carthagena to subject the order to a visitation,
especially with reference to these two points.

This was an attack affecting, as we perceive, the
character of the institution and of its chief, the
more sensibly, because it originated in that very
country where the society had sprung up and had
first taken root.

Aquaviva betrayed no alarm. He was a man
who concealed, beneath great external mildness
and amenity of manners, a profound inflexibility;
a character like that of Clement VIII., (in that
age not an uncommon one,) distinguished for de-
liberateness, moderation, prudence, and tacitur-
nity. He never ventured to pronounce a positive
judgement ; nor would he even suffer one to be
pronounced in his presence, — least of all concern-
ing an entire nation : his secretaries were expressly
admonished to avoid every offensive or bitter word.
He loved piety even in outward appearance ; his
deportment at the altar was expressive of the most
serene yet intense enjoyment of the service ; yet
he kept aloof from everything approaching to
mystical fanaticism. He would not suffer an ex-
position of Solomon's Song to be printed, because
the expressions appeared to him to fluctuate on


the confines of spiritual and sensual love. Even
when he censured, he subdued and captivated ; he
showed all the superiority of calmness ; he led the
erring into the right way by reason and argument,
and inspired the young with enthusiastic affection.
" One must love him," writes Maximilian of Bava-
ria to his father from Rome, " if one only looks at
him." These qualities, and his unwearied activity,
together with his high birth, and the ever-increasing
importance of his order, procured for him an ex-
alted station in Rome. If his adversaries succeeded
in gaining over the national authorities of Spain, yet
he had the court of Rome on his side ; he had been
familiar with that court from his youth upwards
(being chamberlain when he entered the order) , and
knew how to manage it with masterly skill, the re-
sult of native talents, strengthened and refined by

It was peculiarly easy to excite in a man of the
character of Sixtus, antipathies against the mea-
sures now pursued by the Spaniards. Pope Sixtus
cherished, as we know, the idea of rendering Rome
yet more eminently the metropolis of Christendom
than it already was ; Aquaviva represented to him
that the true and sole object of Spain was to mal<e
herself more independent of Rome. Pope Sixtus
hated nothing so much as illegitimate birth ; and
Aquaviva intimated to him that bishop Manrique,
who had been selected to fill the office of visitator,
was a bastard. This was reason sufficient for the

* Sacchinus,and particularly Juvencius, Hist. Soc. Jesu, partis
quintse, tomus posterior, xi. 21, and xxv. 33 — il.


pope to retract the assent he had already given to
the visitation. He also evoked the proceedings
against the provincial to Rome. Under Gregory
XIV. the general succeeded in obtaining a formal
confirmation of the institutes of the order.

But the company of Jesus had to contend with
artful and obstinate enemies, who saw that the ge-
neral must be attacked in the very court of Rome.
They took advantage of the momentary absence of
Aquaviva, who was commissioned to arrange a dif-
ference between Mantua and Parma, to gain over
Clement VIII. In the summer of 1592, Clement,
at the suggestion of the Spanish Jesuits and of
Philip IL, and without the knowledge of Aquaviva,
ordered a general congregation to be held.

Astonished and dismayed, Aquaviva hastened
back. General congregations were as inconvenient
to the chiefs of the Jesuits as ecumenical councils
to the popes. If all his predecessors had sought
to evade them, how much more reason had Aqua-
viva, who was the object of such universal and
active hatred ! But he quickly perceived that the
arrangements were irrevocable*; he therefore as-

* In a Consulta del Padre CI. Aquaviva coi suoi Padri assistenti,
MS. Bibl. Corsini, n. 1055, which relates the details of their in-
ternal discord very faithfully on the whole and in conformity with
Mariana, Aquaviva is reported to have given the following ac-
count of a conversation he had with the pope : "S. S'^ disse che
io non aveva sufficiente notizia de' soggetti della religione, che
io veniva ingannato da falsi delatori, che io mi dimostrava troppo
credulo." Amongst many other causes which rendered a con-
gregation necessary, this also was alleged: " Perche molti sog-
getti di valore, che per non esser conosciuti piü che tauto da


sumed an air of composure and said, " We are du-
tiful sons ; the will of the holy father be done."
He then hastened to take his measures.

He managed to acquire a great influence in the
elections, and had the good fortune to see several
of his most formidable antagonists, for example
Mariana, rejected even in Spain.

As soon as the congregation was assembled, he
did not wait to be attacked. At the very first sit-
ting, he declared that he had had the misfortune
to displease some of his brethren, and therefore
prayed that an inquiry into his conduct might take
precedence of all other business. A commission
was appointed ; charges were formally preferred,
but it was highly improbable that the violation of
any positive law could be proved against him ; he
was far too prudent to fall into such an error. The
result was his complete and honourable acquittal.
Thus personally secure, he proceeded, in concert
with the meeting, to the examination of the propo-
sals for the reform of the institute.

Of these king Philip had insisted on some, and
recommended others to the deliberation of the as-
sembly. His demands were two : the renunciation
of certain papal privileges, e. g. the reading forbid-
den books, and the granting absolution for heresy ;
and a law in virtue of which every novice, on en-

generali non hanno mai jjarte alcuna nel governo, venendo a
Roma in occasione delle congregationi sarebbero meglio cono-
sciuti e per conseguenza verrebbero piu facilmente in parte del
medesirao governo, senza che questo fosse quasi sempre ristretto
a pochi."


tering the order, should give up whatever inherit-
ance he might possess, and even all his benefices.
These were points on which the company interfered
with the inquisition and the civil government.
After some demur these demands were, mainly
through Aquaviva's own influence, complied with.

Far more Aveighty, however, were the points
which the king had recommended for deliberation;
above all, the questions, whether the power of the
superiors should not be limited to a certain period ?
and whether the general congregation should not as-
semble at stated times ? The very nature of the in-
stitute, the absolute supremacy of its head, were thus
brought into question. On these points Aquaviva
was not inclined to give way, and after warm de-
bates the congregation rejected the king's proposi-
tion. But the pope too was persuaded of their ne-
cessity. What was refused to the king was now
commanded by the pope ; in virtue of his apostolic
omnipotence, he positively ordained that the supe-
riors and the rectors should be changed every third
year, and that the general congregation should
meet every sixth*.

It is true, however, that the execution of these
ordinances had not all the effect which had been
hoped from them. The congregations could be
gained over; the rectors were indeed changed,
but they were selected out of a narrow circle, so

* Juvencius, in his first book, which he calls the eleventh,
" Societas clomesticis motibus agitata," gives detailed notices,
upon which the account in the text is founded.


that the same men very soon returned to ofRce.
But it was at all events a considerable blow to the
society, that it had been driven, by internal revolt
and external influence, to an alteration of its sta-

Another storm, too, soon arose in the same

The Jesuits had originally adhered to the doc-
trines of the Thomists, which at that time generally
prevailed in the schools. Ignatius had expressly
recommended his scholars to espouse the system
of the angelic doctor.

They however soon thought they perceived that
this doctrine would not enable them to attain their
end with regard to the protestants. They likewise
desired to be as independent in doctrine as in life ;
and it was galling to them to follow in the rear of
the dominicans, to whose order St. Thomas had
belonged, and who were regarded as the natural
expositors of his doctrines. They had already
given so many proofs of these feelings, that the
inquisition had even animadverted on the free
opinions of the father Jesuits*, when Aquaviva
openly proclaimed those opinions in his Rule of
Studies for the year 1584. He gave it as his
opinion, that St. Thomas was indeed an author
eminently worthy of approbation, but that it would
be an intolerable yoke to follow implicitly in his
footsteps, and to be debarred from all freedom of
thought ; that many old doctrines had been more

* Lainez himself was suspected by the Spanish inquisition.
Llorente, iii. 83.


firmly established by modern theologians, and
many new arguments adduced, which were of ad-
mirable service in combating the errors of heretics;
and that in all such it would be lawful and expe-
dient to follow these doctors.

This sufficed to excite a violent agitation in
Spain, where the theological chairs were mostly
filled by dominicans. The Rule of Studies was
pronounced to be the most audacious, arrogant,
dangerous book of its kind ; both the king and the
pope were attacked for permitting it*.

But this excitement was greatly increased by the
publication of a positive attack on the Thomist
system, in one of the most important expository
works of the Jesuits.

Throughout the whole range of theology, ca-
tholic as well as protestant, the questions con-
cerning grace and good works, free-will and pre-
destination, continued to be the most important
and the most pregnant with consequences ; they
still occupied the talents, the erudition, and the
speculative acuteness of clergy and of laymen. On
the protestant side, Calvin's severe doctrine of the
particular decree of God, by which " some were
predestined to eternal blessedness and others to
eternal damnation," found the greatest acceptance.

* Pegna, in Serry, Historia Congregationum cle auxiliis di-
vinse gratise, p. 8: " Y dado a censurar, fue diclio por aquellos
censores [Mariana and Serry speak of the inquisition] que aquel
libro era el mas peligroso, temerario y ari'ogante que jamas havia
salido in semejante materia, y que si se metia en pratica lo que
contenia, causaria infinitos danos y alborotos en la republica


The latherans, with their milder system, were at a
disadvantage, and lost partisans in various quarters.
On the cathoUc side, the progress of opinion was
in the opposite direction. Wlierever any leaning
even to the most moderate protestant notions, or
to a rigid and calvinistic construction of the expo-
sitions of St. Augustine, betrayed itself, (as in the
case of Bajus at Louvaine,) it was attacked and

The Jesuits showed peculiar zeal in this war-
fare. They defended the scheme of faith ex-
pounded at the council of Trent (which indeed
would not have been adopted but for the influence
of their brethren Lainez and Salmeron) against
every deviation verging towards the rejected and
abandoned system. Yet even that scheme did not
always satisfy their polemical ardour. In the year
1588, Luis Molina of Evora published a book in
which he examined these disputed points afresh,
and sought to give a new explanation of the difli-
culties which remained unsolved*. The chief
scope of his work was to vindicate a yet wider
sphere for the free will of man than that claimed
by the thomist or the tridentine hypothesis. Ac-
cording to the latter, the work of sanctification was
mainly founded on the inherent righteousness of
Christ ; which being infused into us, engendered
love, led to all virtues and good works, and at

* " Liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis concordia." In all tbese
controversies it has always been thought necessary to distinguish
with care the different editions of Lisbon, 1588, Antwerp, 1595,
and Venice, as they all vary.



length produced justification. Molina goes much
further. His doctrine is, that the free will can,
without the help of grace, hring forth morally good
works ; that it has the power to resist temptation,
and to raise itself to acts of hope, faith, love, and
repentance*. When man has attained to this
point, God then, for the sake of the merits of
Christ, grants him gracef, through which he expe-
riences the supernatural operations of sanctifica-
tion ; but the reception of this grace, or its in-
crease, in no w^ay affects the activity or freedom of
the will. On this, he maintains, all depends ; it
rests with ourselves to render the help of God ef-
fectual or ineffectual. Justification is founded on
the joint operation of the will and of grace, wiiich
combine like two men towing a boat. It is mani-
fest that this scheme is incompatible with the idea
of predestination as enounced by Augustine or
Thomas Aquinas ; this Molina rejects as too
stern and cruel, nor will he admit of any other
predestination than that which is involved in the
pure idea of foreknowledge. God, he asserts,
from his omniscient view of all nature, knows be-

* The " concursus generalis Dei" is always i:)resupi5osed ; but
by that is meant only the natural state of the free will, which
without God cannot be what it is : " Deus semper prsesto est
per concursum generalem libero arbitrio, ut naturaliter velit aut
nolit prout placuerit." It is nearly thus, that natural and di-
vine law are identified by Bellarmine ; God being the author of

t This grace he also explains very naturally, Disput. 54 :

" Dum homo expendit res credendas per notitias conciona-

toris aut aliunde comparatas, infhiit Deus in easdem notitias in-
fiuxu quodam particular! quo cognitionem illam adjuvat."


forehand the will of every man; what each will do
in a given case, although he w^as free to do the di-
rect contrary: an event does not happen because
God foreknew it, but God foresaw it because it
Avould happen.

Molina's doctrine was certainly in direct opposi-
tion to that of Calvin, and was likewise the first
which attempted to rationalize, if we may use the
expression, this great mystery. It is intelligible,
acute, and superficial, and therefore could not fail
to have considerable success ; it may be compared
with the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people,
which the Jesuits promulgated about the same

By the promulgation of such opinions, they how-
ever inevitably provoked opposition, were it only
that they departed from the angelic doctor, whose
Summa still formed the most esteemed elementary
book of catholic theologians. Henriquez, Mariana,
and certain other members of the order itself,

* This rationalist tendency appears elsewhere, e. g. in the
propositions of the Jesuits Less and Hamel in 1585, at Louvaine :

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