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The history of missions during- the last three cen-
turies is a beautiful memorial of the advancement
of learning and the glory of Christianity. Among
the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits were
eminent astronomers, naturalists, mechanicians, and
literati, who cultivated the field of Oriental science
and literature, the harvest of which has since been
reaped by their Protestant successors. The Jesuit
missionaries, as Ricci, Verbiest, De Nobilibus, and
others, were followed by men equal to themselves
in diligence and perseverance, and far superior in
extent of Eastern learning. In the minds of all
these men, a sublime religious enthusiasm was
joined to a happy genius; and, in some, the ac-
quisition of knowledge became as strong a thirst
as that of the conversion of souls. Yet when
the missionary, pale with his own vast researches,
went forth to the cottage and the wild, to the
poor and ignorant, to preach, to pray, to con-
verse about his Lord, it was like the rushing of



waters in a thirsty land; and as the wearied soul
drank of them, it often felt *' there was no joy like
unto that joy." Let not our admiration be refused
to the first labourers in the vineyard, even while we
wonder that the religion they introduced was so
soon permitted to decay. A more pure and glorious
day of missions has risen upon us, whose sun shall
no more go down : each year, each month brings
fresh tidings of the triumph of the truth — the uncor-
rupt, the unclouded, the imperishable truth.

The biographer is fortunate who has to consider
the " Society of Jesus" only in its purest career, in
heathen and idolatrous lands, where it did much for
the glory of God and the welfare of man. Whether
we think of its mighty mass of intellect, of the
thousands of immortal souls saved through its
agency, or the sufferings of its eight hundred mar-
tyrs, — we cannot but follow its details with the
liveliest interest. The founder of this society was a
man of no ordinary mind and character : he has
been represented by his enemies as an impostor and
a fanatic, before he becam.e a Christian. Born of a
noble family, he early entered into the profession of
arms, and was addicted to all its excesses, save
those of cruelty and rapine. At the siege of
Najara, on the fioutiers of Biscay, he behaved with
great valour, but refused to share in the rich booty,
in which all besides participated. At a time when
gaming was a general vice, he disliked it ; and in the
midst of a hot and fiery soldiery, a keen observer
might have remarked in the anxiety of Loyola to
settle disputes and maintain brotherhood, the germs
of the spiritual legislator. In the siege of Pampe-
luna by Andre de Foix, brother of the celebrated
Lautrec, lie was struck by a cannon-ball, and fell
in the breach. The French treated him with re-
spect, and he was carried on a litter to the castle of
Loyola. There, during the pain and confinement


occasioned by his wounds, the light of heaven first
broke on his soul : the light, however, was long
unsteady, it faded and brightened, and again almost
died away. It was not until a later period, and
upon a close and rigorous examination of his inward
man, that it became stedfast and animating, and
thus continued even to the last. The vow made on
his bed of sickness was of the kind which figliting
men were especially fond of in that age — to travel
to Jerusalem, behold the holy places, and dedicate
his life to God. As soon as he was recovered,
he went to hang up his arms over the altar of the
Blessed Virgin at Montserrat, and watched all night,
like a true devotee and a true fanatic, though
the latter word had a milder meaning three cen-
turies ago. He afterwards resided at Manreza, in
a pilgrim's habit, and lodged in the hospital among
the poor, whom he attended carefully, and practised
mortifications of every kind, for above a year. In
August, 1523, he landed at Joppa and proceeded
to Jerusalem, where his curiosity, or rather his
devotion, was richly gratified; for the least cu-
rious and tasteful of all men are the enthusiastic
pilgrims ; and a leaf, a rock, a relic of priestly
antiquity, or the earth from the banks of Jordan
and Siloam, have more charms in their eyes than
tlie picturesque beauties, the sublime desolation,
and the indelible features of Palestine. He did
not remain long in the country, where he kept a
jonrnal of his feelings, which were vividly and
wildly awake. Amidst the visions, adventures,
and forebodings that Loyola underwent, it was
fortunate that he retained his mental vigour. But
he was a vessel of iron, in which the silver and
the gold were strangely mingled, and a vessel chosen
for a great work. On his return to Spain, many
companions espoused his sentiments, and so many
flocked around to listen to his instructions, that he


attracted the notice of the Inquisition. After quit-
tins^ the army, he had applied himself to learning, in
which his previous attainments were very scanty,
although he had been educated at court. In 1528
he came to Paris, with a resolution to pursue his
studies vigorously, and went through a course of
philosophy and divinity ; and here he began the
formation of his celebrated Society.

With all his failings, it is not too much to say,
that in this and in the after period of his life, Loyola
was not a fanatic, and far less an impostor. His
mind was too powerful to condescend to the former ;
and who that reads his Spiritual Exercises will ven-
ture to say he was the latter? It was his passionate
desire that Christ might be preached to the utmost
ends of the earth, and that all nations of the earth
might know the Lord, and call him blessed. He
was ambitious, it is true, but not as the world
accuses him ; his was not the ambition of earthly
honour and glory, it aimed at a loftier flight. Never
were disciples more obedient to the spirit and com-
mands of a master, than were those of Loyola.
They strove to labour in lands where barbarism
alone reigned, and where without a murmur they
loved to endure contumely and ill-usage, to court
the stake or the faggot, and to look with unblenched
cheek on agony more fearful than words can de-
scribe. These were not the friends and followers of
an impostor. But he did not attain this settled
love of religion, and this collected stedfastness of
purpose, till after a long struggle. The year passed
by him at Manreza, near Montserrat, immediately
after his conversion, was spent in meditations of a
wild and various character. There was the re-
mainder of the world and the world's thoughts com-
mingled with thoughts which were not of the world,
but of things beyond it and above it: a conflict
that, long and intensely maintained, might hare


made a weak mind give way, but caused a mind of
more than ordinary strength to retrace, and cleave
to the blessed path it had entered upon. On his
couch, in the privacy of his morning and evening,
and in the fuhiess of his day, this struggle went on
within him, — for the heart and the intellect, resolved
alike on great things, which as yet they felt and
saw but dimly, strove for a perfect freedom from
the past. At times he even doubted, and this was
agony : again and again he reviewed his mind, and
observed the effect produced on it by evil thoughts
and good thoughts, by evil imaginings and good
imaginings : but of what avail was this research, till
he looked simply to God for succour ? Perhaps
this strife sharpened his naturally acute judgment,
and tended also to give it too exquisite a subtlety,
and a love of distinctions, which to many minds
may be at first scarcely distinguishable, and of
shades of difference which to many may be unap-
preciable. The fruits of this year at Manreza are
to be found in those meditations which, revised by
himself at a later period, were published at Rome in
1.548, under the title of " Exercitia Spiritualia."

In these Exercises he commences by meditating
on the end for which we were created ; and this he
recommends as the first subject of meditation to his
disciples and followers, for without it no grace will
come. Such meditations will produce blessed
fruits ; which fruits are, that we become thoroughly
convinced that in this world nothing should be
wished for or sought after, but in so far as it may
lead to the greater glory of God. When we have
thoroughly convinced ourselves of this, then we
know our way, and may travel on without danger
of losing it. After going on to represent two
standards, one of Christ, the other of Lucifer,
Ignatius proceeds to exhort us to take part with the
former, the great Captain of our salvation, and not

14 iNsrnt'TioN of Ignatius.

with the enemy. He then considers what may be
termed the sacrifices required of man, to enable him
to do this ; and, an example being required, he
gives us that example in our Redeemer, He goes
on to lay down those rules which should guide us
in the choice and selection of that particular state
of life, in which the Almighty calls upon us to
imitate the virtues of his Son. The rules of conduct
contained in the Exercises will be admitted by the
candid reader to be indicative of the spirit and inten-
tions of the author. Justice is due to a man who,
at a period when fanaticism was all-powerful, and
form all-mighty, ventured to preach that prayer
was more efficacious than form, and that it might
be efficacious without it. To suppose that the
study of Loyola's work produced an influence upon
the souls of those v.ho studied it, so as to work
them up to terror and fanaticism, is to take a false
and mistaken view of its nature. If it did at times
produce these effects, it could only have been in
minds naturally weak, or naturally prone to that
species of enthusiasm. Its better tendency and
intention are to give man a spiritual command over
iiimself. Yet how often in after times was this inten-
tion abused by the disciples, who duly performed
the Exercitia Spiritualia, even when tlieir hearts
were set on evil, and that continually ! As the
Society gradually became more selfish and politic,
and at last justified its purposes and deeds by
pleading the mandate of the Superior and the good
of the Order, what crimes were sometimes found
under the Jesuit robe !

We have only to consider a purer and a better hour,
that first hour of glowing energy and zeal, that casts a
glory round all religious sects and systems, and called
Xavier to Asia, Anchieta to Brazil, and missionaries
to the wilds of North America, to the burning plains
of South America, and to the utmost confines of the


pagan world. Was this fanaticism ? The rule by
which all offices must be gratuitous, by which it was
forbidden to receive any thing for the education of
children, for masses performed, for preaching, con-
fessing, and pursuing spiritual works, together with
the instructions in which Loyola recommends his
followers to divide their time so as to serve the Lord
and do good to mankind — might be enthusiasm, but
any other term would be unjust. Perhaps one of
his most touching exhortations is that wherein he
advises frequent meditation on the works and the
goodness of God, and an examination of that good-
ness in all his natural works ; in every flower and in
every herb, even the most minute and most neg-
lected, for there also his glory is beautifully mani-
fested. His reveries on the mysteries of the passion
of Jesus Christ, and on the sublime examples of
virtue which shine forth so conspicuously and so
gloriously in his life, are likely to induce the reader
to lose himself also in reveries, from which he would
not be likely to awake with a cold heart or a dis-
eased fancy. Undoubtedly the age which witnessed
and called forth torture and death in the service of
God, required sterner and closer regulations for the
spirit and the life, than the present. The enthu-
siasm of Loyola was in admirable keeping, and did
not war with his cold and clear intellect. His was
not a fiery zeal ; — there was a spiritual composure
in his actions : nor do we find wild imaginings and
extravagant fancies, either of heart or mind, in his
maturer days. There was evidently in him a single-
ness of disposition, that does not warrant the idea
that his Society was instituted for those worldly
objects which have formed the burden of the
accusation against it. Some of his successors, as
generals of the Society, possessed more of that
proud and commanding talent which was likely
to give the accusation the semblance of truth.


Claudius Acquaviva, for example, had a more stern
knowledge of mankind and its weaknesses than
Loyola, and, in addition, a more thorough con-
tempt of man's intellect ; and, feeling his own intel-
lectual superiority, he might have had a greater
inclination to assume worldly power. Loyola
appears to have aimed solely at spiritual power ;
and, however we may at the present, time be moved
to suspect the intentions of one aiming at that
dominion, still, under the circumstances of the
period in which he lived, spiritual power was very
necessary to the existence of his religion. Let the
date of his career, and the nature of the Society of
which he was the founder, be correctly considered.
At the period of his conversion, the religious world
was in a manner convulsed : abuses, and those to a
great extent, had crept into, the church of Rome;
there was a rottenness in its state, and the enemy
was on the watch. The foundations of the stately
fabric of the Romish church were loosening, its walls
were tottering, and decay was visibly at work ; —
decay not to be perceived by its blind worshippers,
but apparent to those who looked on with a cooler
glance and a more understanding heart. Luther,
Calvin, and other reformers, saw the time was
arrived when the power of that church could be
shaken, and its glory and mightiness taken away
for ever. The primary elements of the convulsion
were notoriously existent in the bosom of the church
itself. At this crisis, Loyola stood forth in a broad
and remarkal>le light. He saw the threatening
storm : he saw whence the evil came, and that a
bulwark must be instantly raised against the inroads
of the enemy. He confessed that in the church on
which he trusted for salvation there was fault, and
he set himself to repair that fault, and raise the
bulwark. Did he succeed in his object? In one
respect he did, for the foundation of the Society of


Jesus checked the rapid progress of Protestantism ;
and the sons of Loyola threw back by their united
labours the torrent which was threatening to over-
whelm the temples of their faith.

At a time when conflicting opinions unsettled the
minds of men, and made them ardent in pursuit
of change, it was absolutely necessary that Loyola
should be rigid in enforcing those laws which were
to regulate his new Society. It was quite evident
that its members must be effectually guarded from the
contagion which was abroad, and this was only to
be done by strictness and severity in all spiritual
matters. At a time also when the activity and
energy of the reformers were contrasted with the
laxity and indifference of the members of the
Catholic church, it was right that the members of
this Society should be doubly endowed with energy
and perseverance. At a time when the dissolute
morals of churchmen gave a handle to reproach and
to scoffers, it was right that the " Society of Jesus"
should be as complete an example in morals as in
talent. At a time when the intellectual powers of
the Protestants were beginning to astonish the world,
it was necessary that those who set themselves in
array against their progress should, if possible, excel
also in intellect. Did Loyola or his followers fail in
any of one the above particulars ? Are not theirs the
greatest number of martyrs in the cause of the Lord
among the heathen ? Is not the most brilliant, the
most varied, the most extensive talent to be found
among the sons of Loyola ? In that age, the most
complete sacrifice of human feelings and passions
for the good of mankind, and the purest moral
conduct, is to be found in these much calumniated
men. Even their most bitter enemies, who abused
the Jesuits as a body, were often found to praise
them individually. Perhaps mere assertions like
these may appear unsafe and inconclusive ; may it be


allowed to attempt a balance of the evil and the good ?
If, on one hand, we accuse the Jesuits as disturbers
of thrones, and regicides ; may we not, on the other,
point to the eight hundred martyrs in the solitudes
of Asia and America ? Pascal exposed the infamy
of the Jesuits, as did Voltaire and D'Alembert their
crimes ; but Cardinal Fleury confessed their value,
Bossuet praised them, and Lord Chancellor Bacon
applied to them the words, " talis cum sis, utinam
noster esses." Leibnitz indignantly defended them ;
Montesquieu, Buffon, and Haller honoured their
labours, and witnessed to their virtues.

It may not be irrelevant to consider how far
Loyola brought the Society, w^hether justly or un-
justly, into disgrace or ruin. In the first place, is
he guilty of having formed it entirely with a political
view ? It is clear that in the progress of time the
Jesuits came to mingle much in the politics of
states, but it does not appear that the founder con-
templated this political interference. The forty-
third article of the Constitutiones would directly
acquit him of this. " Neither let there exist, nor
let there be perceived, any inclination of sentiment
to either party or faction, which may exist among
Christian kings or princes." Religious innovation
and political innovation very frequently go hand in
hand : the struggles of Calvin and Luther against
the power of the church of Rome had stirred up, or
were likely before long to stir up, political dissen-
sion, and this would naturally be followed by
anarchy, not so much of governments as of opinions.
It was to check this that Loyola gave to his system
a constitution seemingly political. Cardinal Bausset
says, perhaps partially, on this head, " The Insti-
tutes of the Jesuits were created to embrace all the
classes, all the conditions, all the elements which
enter into the harmony and preservation of religious
and political powers : their object was to defend the


Catholic church against the Lutherans and Calvin-
ists; and their political object, to protect social order
against the torrent of anarchical opinions which
always come in advance of religious innovations."
His must be a cold heart, who, after reading the
history of Paraguay, and of those holy men who
conquered nations by leading them to the cross,
who, in the words of Montesquieu, ' repaired the
outrages of the Spaniards, and healed one of the
most deadly wounds ever inflicted on the human
race,' — his must be a cold heart who will still say,
' it was all with a political view.' "

There are two or three points of [doctrine which
have brought much discredit upon the community,
and of course upon Loyola as the founder : these
are, the " Probable Opinion," and the " Peccatum
Philosophicum." When the parliament of Paris, in
execution of an arrete of the court, ordered all
objectionable passages in the writings of members
of the Society to be extracted and published, was it
likely that the opinions of the earlier members
would be overlooked, if they could in any degree
aid the heavy accusations brought against the
Society? The earliest author quoted in the extracts
before the parliament as holding the doctrine of
Probabilism, wrote in the year 1600, and on the
doctrine of Peccatum Philosophicum in the year
1607 ; therefore it may be affirmed, that Loyola and
his immediate followers were altogether innocent of
such doctrines. The truth is, that that of Proba-
bilism was unknown to the schools before 1577, and
that it then owed its origin to a Spanish doctor of
divinity, not, as Pascal would affirm, to a Jesuit.
On the contrary, the very first divines who com-
bated the doctrine were Jesuits ; and one of these in
particular, Gonzales, is highly praised by Bossuet
tor the erudition and uprightness with which he
handled the subject At a later period, the " Pro-


bable Opinion" was taught by the Jesuits, as by
many other religious communities. One other
accusation may be shortly hinted at, — that the
" Society of Jesus" have upheld the doctrine of
king-killing. In the beginning of the fifteenth
century, one John Petit, a graduate of the Uni-
versity of Paris, being bribed by the Duke of
Burgundy, openly defended this thesis, " It is not
only lawful but meritorious to kill a tyrant." The
Council of Constance condemned this doctrine in
1414. Of the Jesuits, one alone attempted in some
measure to revive it; this was Mariana; and the
moment his work was published, its suppression was
ordered, and its doctrine repudiated, by the Society.
The decree of Claudius Acquaviva points out more
decidedly how repugnant such a doctrine was to the
Society. The doctrine of obedience, so strongly
inculcated by Loyola, and cherished by even his
most gifted coadjutors, is less defensible, because,
however justifiable at the time, it was easy in after-
times to abuse it to the worst purposes. It took
away in too great a degree the free-will of the
members of the Society ; and it was wrong and
perilous that one man should have such despotic
power over the many, however necessary it might
be to keep them together by one governing head.
The following passage, describing the result of this
principle of government, cannot be found fault with,
if we could divest ourselves of the persuasion that it
might, and even did, become an engine of great
mischief in the sway of an unprincipled or ambi-
tious man. — " In this family, Latin and Greek^
Portuguese and Brazilian, Irish and German,
Spanish and French, Briton and Belgian, are of
one opinion. And in such different minds let there
be no contention, no dispute, nothing by which any
one could perceive that they were more than one.
They are of opinion, that it matters not where they


were born ; the same purpose, the same manner of
life, the same vow, bind them together." The
object of this obedience was to keep the Society
unchanged in its rules, inviolable in its doctrines,
which, it must be confessed, is desired and de-
manded by all church governments and religious
communities, but none ever had recourse to a like
indomitable rule, and a like minute and sagacious
system. In China, Japan, and Paraguay, in the
loneliest wilderness and on the most stormy sea,
this principle of entire and devoted obedience was
owned by every missionary : yet it was not more a
principle than an attachment ; " If ever I forget
thee, O Society of Jesus," says Xavier, " may my
right hand forget its cunning !" It may seem
strange to say, that this stern system was to its
disciples a loveable one ; and there are passages in
their letters, in simple and sincere language, which
prove that it was at once their study and their

Ignatius was accused and blamed by some of the
Romish writers for never having performed miracles.
Had he been a fanatic, would he have wanted these
marvels, to attest the sanctity of his character ? If
he did not in reality perform any, would he not
have found the means of appearing to perform them?
But he performed none, and pretended to none.
All his miracles have been made for him after his
death, to please a superstitious people, who thought
them absolutely necessary to the fame of hiu) whom
the pope had canonized. When Ribadeneira first
published his Life of Loyola, he omitted all mention

Online LibraryJohn CarneLives of eminent missionaries (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 35)