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§ 27. The Papal Bulls against the Jansenists, 1653 and 1713.

Cornelius Jansenius (Episcopi Iprensis, 1585-1638): Augustinus, seu doctrina Augustini de humanæ naturæ sanitate, ægritudine, et medicina, adv. Pelagianos et Massilienses, Lovan. 1640, 3 vols.; Paris, 1641; Rouen, 1643 (with a Synopsis vitæ Jansenii). Prohibited, together with the Jesuit antitheses, by Pope Urban VIII., 1642.

St. Cyran (Du Vergier, d. 1643): Aurelius, 1633: again, Paris, 1646. A companion to Jansen's 'Augustinus', and called after the other name of the great Bishop of Hippo.

Anthony Arnauld (Doctor of the Sorbonne, d. at Brussels, 1694): Œuvres, Paris, 1775–81, 49 vols. in 44. Letters, sermons, ascetic treatises, controversial books against Jesuits (Maimbourg, Annat), Protestants (Jurieu, Aubertin), and philosophers (Descartes, Malebranche).

M. Leydecker (Ref. Prof. at Utrecht, d. 1721): Historia Jansenismi, Utr. 1695.

Gerberon: Histoire générale de Jansenisme, Amst. 1700.

Lucchesini: Hist. polem. Jansenismi, Rome, 1711, 3 vols.

Fontaine: Mémoires pour servir a l’histoire de Port-Royal (Utrecht), 1738, 2 vols.

Collectio nova actorum Constit. Unigenitus, ed. R. J. Dubois, Lugd. 1725.

Dom. de Colonia: Diction, des livres Jansenistes, Lyons, 1732, 4 vols.

H. Reuchlin: Geschichte von Port-Royal, Hamb. 1839–44, 2 vols. Comp. his monograph on Pascal, and his art. Jansen and Jansenismus in Herzog's Encyklop. 2d ed. Vol. VI. pp. 481–493.

C. A. Sainte-Beuve: Port-Royal, Paris, 1840–42, 2 vols.

Abbé Guettée: Jansénisme et Jésuitisme, un examen des accusations de Jans., etc., Paris, 1857. Compare his Histoire de l’église de France, composé sur les documents originaux et authentiques, Paris, 1847–56, 12 vols. Placed on the index of prohibited books, 1852. The author has since passed from the Roman to the Greek Church.

W. Henley Jervis: The Gallican Church: A History of the Church of France from 1516 to the Revolution, Lond. 1872, 2 vols. On Jansenism, see Vol. I. chaps. xi.–xiv., and Vol. II. chaps. v., vi., and viii.

Frances Martin: Anglique Arnauld, Abbess of Port-Royal, London, 1873.

(The controversial literature on Jansenism in the National Library at Paris amounts to more than three thousand volumes.)

On the Jansenists, or Old Catholics, in Holland.

Dupac de Bellegarde: H. de l’église metropol. d’Utrecht, Utr. 1784, 3d ed. 1852.

Walch: Neueste Rel. Geschichte, Vol. VI. pp. 82 sqq.

Theol. Quartalschrift, Tüb. 1826.

Augusti: Das Erzbisthum Utrecht, Bonn, 1838.

S. P. Tregelles: The Jansenists: their Rise, Persecutions by the Jesuits, and existing Remnant, London, 1851 (with portraits of Jansenius, St. Cyran, and the Mère Angelique).


J. M. Neale: A History of the so-called Jansenist Church of Holland, etc., London, 1857. Neale visited the Old Catholics in Holland in 1851, and predicted for them happier days.

Fr. Nippold: 'Die altkatholische Kirche des Erzbisthums Utrecht. Geschichtl. Parallele zur altkathol. Gemeindebildung in Deutschland, Heidelberg, 1872.


The remaining doctrinal decrees of the Roman Church relate to internal controversies among different schools of Roman Catholics.

Jansenism, so called after Cornelius Jansenius (or Jansen), Bishop of Ypres, and supported by the genius, learning, and devout piety of some of the noblest minds of France, as St. Cyran, Arnauld, Nicole, Pascal, Tillemont, the Mother Angelique Arnauld, and other nuns of the once celebrated Cistercian convent Port-Royal des Champs (a few miles from Versailles), was an earnest attempt at a conservative doctrinal and disciplinary reformation in the Roman Church by reviving the Augustinian views of sin and grace, against the semi-Pelagian doctrines and practices of Jesuitism, and made a near approach to evangelical Protestantism, though remaining sincerely Roman Catholic in its churchly, sacerdotal, and sacramental spirit, and legalistic, ascetic piety. It was most violently opposed and almost totally suppressed by the combined power of Church and State in France, which in return reaped the Revolution. It called forth two Papal condemnations, with which we are here concerned.

I. The bull 'Cum Occasione' of Innocent X. (who personally knew and cared nothing about theology), A.D. 1653. It is purely negative, and condemns the following five propositions from a posthumous work of Jansenius, entitled Augustinus.199199   The book is called after the great African Church Father, whose doctrines it reproduced, and was published by friends of the author in 1640, two years after his death. On Jansen, comp. the Dutch biography of Heeser: Historisch Verhaal van de Geboorte, Leven, etc., van Cornelius Jansenius, 1727. He was born near Leerdam, in Holland, 1585, studied in Paris, was Professor of Theology in the University of Louvain, Bishop of Ypres 1635, and died 1638. He read Augustine's works against Pelagius thirty times, the other works ten times. His book was finished shortly before his death, and advocates the Augustinian system on total depravity, the loss of free-will, irresistible grace, and predestination. In his will he submitted it to the Holy See. He resembles somewhat his countryman, Pope Adrian VI., who vainly endeavored to reform the Papacy.

(1.) The fulfillment of some precepts of God is impossible even to just men according to their present ability (secundum præsentes quas habent vires), and the grace is also wanting to them by which they could be observed (deest illis gratia, qua possibilia fiant).

(2.) Interior grace is never resisted in the state of fallen nature.

104(3.) For merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature man need not be exempt from all necessity, but only from coercion or constraint (Ad merendum et demerendum in statu naturæ lapsæ, non requiritur in homine libertas a necessitate, sed sufficit libertas a coactione—that is, from violence and natural necessity).

(4.) The Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of prevenient interior grace for every action, even for the beginning of faith; but they were heretical (in eo erant hæretici) in believing this grace to be such as could be resisted, or obeyed by the human will (eam gratiam talem esse, cui posset humana voluntas resistere, vel obtemperare).

(5.) It is semi-Pelagian to say that Christ died and shed his blood wholly (altogether) for all men.200200   'Semipelagianum est dicere, Christum pro omnibus omnino mortuum esse aut sanguinem fudisse.' This supralapsarian proposition is condemned as falsa, temeraria, scandalosa, impia, blasphema, et hæretica. See the five propositions of Jansen in Denzinger's Enchir., pp. 316, 317.

The Jansenists maintained that these propositions were not taught by Jansenius, at least not in the sense in which they were condemned; that this was a historical question of fact (question de fait), not a dogmatic question of right (droit); and, while conceding to the Pope the right to condemn heretical propositions, they denied his infallibility in deciding a question of fact, about which he might be misinformed, ignorant, prejudiced, or taken by surprise.

But Pope Alexander VII., in a bull of 1665, commanded all the Jansenists to subscribe a formula of submission to the bull of Innocent X., with the declaration that the five propositions were taught in the book of Cornelius Jansen in the sense in which they were condemned by the previous Pope.201201   'Ego N. constitutioni apostolicæ Innocentii X., datæ die 31. Maji 1653, et constitutioni Alexandri VII., datæ die 16. Octobris 1665, summorum Pontificum, me subjicio, et quinque propositiones ex Cornelii Jansenii libro, cui nomen Augustinus, excerptas, et in sensu ab eodem auctore intento, prout illas per dictas constitutiones Sedes Apostalica damnavit, sincero animo rejicio ac damno, et ita juro. Sic me Deus adjuvet, et hæc sancta Dei evangelia.'

The Jansenists, including the nuns of Port-Royal, refused to submit. Many fled to the Netherlands. The Pope abolished their famous convent (1709), the building was destroyed by order of Louis XIV. (1710), even the corpses of the illustrious Tillemonts, Arnaulds, Nicoles, De Sacys, and others, were disinterred with gross brutality (1711), and the church itself was demolished (1713). No wonder that such barbarous 105tyranny and cruelty, perpetrated in the holy name of the Church of Christ, bred a generation of skeptics and infidels, who at last banished the Church and religion itself from the territory of France. Cardinal Noailles, who from weakness had lent his high authority to these outrages, made afterwards, in bitter repentance, a pilgrimage to the ruins of Port-Royal, and, looking over the desecrated burial-ground, he exclaimed: 'Oh! all these dismantled stones will rise up against me at the day of judgment! Oh! how shall I ever bear the vast, the heavy load!'202202   Gregoire: Les ruines de Port-Royal, Par. 1709. Mémoires sur la déstruction de P. R. des Champs, 1711. Jervis, l.c. Vol. II. pp.191 sqq. Tregelles says, l.c. p. 47: 'The united acts of Louis XIV. and the Jesuits, in crushing alike Protestants, Quietists, and Jansenists, drove religion well-nigh out of France. What a spectacle! The same monarch, under the influence of the same evil-minded and pharisaical woman (Madame de Maintenon), persecuting not only Protestants, but also such men as Fénelon, among the brightest and holiest of those who owned the authority of Rome. Thus was the train laid which led to the fearful explosion in which altar and throne alike fell, and atheism was nationally embraced. How the mind of Voltaire was affected by the abominable deeds of men who professed the name of Christ, is shown by his juvenile verses, in which he speaks so indignantly of the destruction of Port-Royal that he was sent for a year to the Bastile.'

II. The more important bull 'Unigenitus (Dei Filius)', issued by Pope Clement XI., Sept., 1713, condemns one hundred and one sentences of the Jansenist Pasquier Quesnel, (d. 1719), extracted from his moral reflections on the New Testament.203203   Pasquier or Paschasius Quesnel was born at Paris, 1634, studied at the Sorbonne, joined the Congregation of the Oratory, and was appointed director of the institution belonging to this order at Paris. He was a profound and devout student of the Scriptures and the Fathers, edited the works of Leo I. (1675, with dissertations) in defense of the Gallican Church against the Ultramontane Papacy (hence the edition was condemned by the Congregation of the Index), was exiled from France 1684, joined Arnauld at Brussels, and died at Amsterdam 1719. After the death of Arnauld he was considered the head of the Jansenists. His commentary is one of the most spiritual and reverent. It is entitled 'Le Nouv. Testament en françois avec des réflexions morales sur chaque vers, et pour en rendre la lecture plus utile, et la méditation plus aisée,' Paris, 1687, 2 vols.; 1694; Amsterd. 1736, 8 vols.; also in Latin and other languages; Engl. ed. London, 1819–25, 4 vols. The Gospels were repeatedly published, with an introductory essay by Bishop Daniel Wilson, London and New York. Comp. Causa Quesnelliana, Brussels, 1704.

This bull is likewise negative, but commits the Church of Rome still more strongly than the former against evangelical doctrines. Several of the passages selected are found almost literally in Augustine and St. Paul; they assert the total depravity of human nature, the loss of liberty, the renewing power of the free grace of God in Christ, the right and duty of all Christians to read the Bible.

106The following are the most important of these propositions:204204   Denzinger's Enchir., pp. 351–361.

(2.) Jesu Christi gratia, principium efficax boni cujuscunque generis, necessaria est ad omne opus bonum; absque illa non solum nihil fit, sed nec fieri potest.

(3.) In vanum, Domine, præcipis, si tu ipse non das, quod præcipis. (Compare the similar sentence of Augustine, which was so offensive to Pelagius: Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis.)

(4.) Ita, Domine; omnia possibilia sunt ei, cui omnia possibilia facis, eadem operando in illo.

(10.) Gratia est operatio manus omnipotentis Dei, quam nihil impedire potest aut retardare.

(11.) Gratia non est aliud quam voluntas omnipotentis Dei jubentis et facientis, quod jubet.

(13.) Quando Deus vult animam salvam facere, et eam tangit interiori gratiæ suæ manu, nulla voluntas humana ei resistit.

(18.) Semen verbi, quod manus Dei irrigat, semper affert fructum suum.

(21.) Gratia Jesu Christi est gratia fortis, potens, suprema, invincibilis, utpote quæ est operatio voluntatis omnipotentis, sequela et imitatio operationis Dei incarnantis et resuscitantis Filium suum.

(27.) Fides est prima gratia et fons omnium aliarum. (2 Pet. 1. 3.)

(28.) Prima gratia, quam Deus concedit peccatori, est peccatorum remissio.

(29.) Extra ecclesiam nulla conceditur gratia.205205   The denial of this proposition implies the assertion that there is grace outside of the Church, though not sufficient for salvation; else it would be inconsistent with the Roman Catholic doctrine 'Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.'

(30.) Omnes, quos Deus vult salvare per Christum, salvantur infallibiliter.

(38.) Peccator non est liber, nisi ad malum, sine gratia Liberatoris.

(39.) Voluntas, quam gratia non prævenit, nihil habet luminis, nisi ad aberrandum, ardoris, nisi ad se præcipitandum, virium nisi ad se vulnerandum; est capax omnis mali et incapax ad omne bonum.

(40.) Sine gratia nihil amare possumus, nisi ad nostram condemnationem.

(58.) Nec Deus est nec religio, ubi non est charitas. (1 John iv. 8.)

(59.) Oratio impiorum est novum peccatum; et quod Deus illis concedit, est novum in eos judicium.

(69.) Fides, usus, augmentum et præmium fidei, totum est donum puræ liberalitatis Dei.

(72.) Nota ecclesiæ Christianæ est, quod sit catholica, comprehendens et omnes angelos cœli, et omnes electos et justos terræ et omnium sæculorum.

(75.) Ecclesia est unus solus homo compositus ex pluribus membris, quorum Christus est caput, vita, subsistentia et persona; unus solus Christus compositus ex pluribus sanctis, quorum est Sanctificator.

(76.) Nihil spatiosius Ecclesia Dei; quia omnes electi et justi omnium seculorum illam componunt (Eph. ii. 22).

(77.) Qui non ducit vitam dignam filio Dei et membro Christi, cessat interius habere Deum pro Patre et Christum pro capite.

(79.) Utile et necessarum est omni tempore, omni loco, et omni personarum generi, studere el cognoscere spiritum, pietatem et mysteria sacræ Scripturæ.

(80.) Lectio sacræ Scripturæ est pro omnibus. (John v. 39; Acts xvii. 11.)

(81.) Obscuritas sancti verbi Dei non est laicis ratio dispensandi se ipsos ab ejus lectione.

(82.) Dies Dominicus a Christianis debet sanctificari lectionibus pietatis et super omnia sanctarum Scripturarum. Damnosum est, velle Christianum ab hac lectione retrahere.

(84.) Abripere e Christianorum manibus novum Testamentum seu eis illud clausum tenere auferendo eis modum istud intelligendi, est illis Christi os obturare.

(85.) Interdicere Christianis lectionem sacræ Scripturæ, præsertim Evangelii, est interdicere usum luminis filiis lucis et facere, ut patiantur speciem quamdam excommunicationis.

(92.) Pati potius in pace excommunicationem et anathema injustum, quam prodere veritatem, est imitari sanctum Paulum; tantum abest, ut sit erigere se contra auctoritatem aut scindere unitatem.

(100.) Tempus deplorabile, quo creditur honorari Deus persequendo veritatem ejusque discipulos! . . . Frequenter credimus sacrificare Deo impium, et sacrificamus diabolo Dei servum.

These and similar propositions, some of them one-sided and exaggerated, many of them clearly patristic and biblical, are indiscriminately 107condemned by the bull Unigenitus, as 'false, captious, ill-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, rash, injurious, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy and savoring of heresy itself, near akin to heresy, several times condemned, and manifestly renewing various heresies, particularly those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansenius!'

A large portion of the French clergy, headed by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal de Noailles, who repented of his part in the destruction of Port-Royal, protested against the bull, and appealed from the Pope to a future council. But 'when Rome has spoken, the cause is finished.' The bull Unigenitus was repeatedly confirmed by the same Clement XI., A.D. 1718 (in the bull 'Pastoralis Officii'), Innocent XIII., 1722, Benedict XIII. and a Roman Synod, 1725, Benedict XIV., 1756; it was accepted by the Gallican clergy 1730, and, as Denzinger says, by 'the whole Catholic world' ('ab universo mundo catholico'). Even the miracles on the grave of a Jansenist saint (Franois Paris, who died 1727, after the severest self-denial, with a protest against the bull Unigenitus in his hand), could not save Jansenism from destruction in France.206206   The Jesuits, of course, ascribed the Jansenist miracles, visions, and ecstatic convulsions to the devil.

But a remnant fled to the more liberal soil of Protestant Holland, and was there preserved as a perpetual testimony against Jesuitism, and, as it now seems, for an important mission in connection with the Old Catholic protest against the decisions of the Vatican Council.

Note on the Jansenists in Holland.—The remnant of the Jansenists or the Old Catholics in Holland date their separate existence from the protest against the bull Unigenitus, but are properly the descendants of the original Catholics. They disown the name 'Jansenists,' on the ground of alleged error in the papal bulls concerning the true teaching of Jansen, and call themselves the 'Old Episcopal Clergy of the Netherlands;' but they are strongly opposed to the theology and casuistry of the Jesuits, and incline to the Augustinian views of sin and grace. In other respects they are good Catholics in doctrine, worship, and mode of piety; they acknowledge the decrees and canons of Trent, and even the supremacy of the Pope within the limits of the old Gallican theory. They inform him of the election of every new bishop, which the Pope as regularly declares illegitimate, null, and void. They say that the tyranny of a father does not absolve his children from the duty of obedience, and hope against hope that God will convert the Pope, and turn his heart towards them. They number at present one archbishopric of Utrecht and two bishoprics of Deventer and Haarlem, 25 congregations, and about 6000 members. They live very quietly, surrounded by Romanists and Protestants, and are much respected, like the Moravians, for their character and piety. The Pope, after condemning them over and over again, appointed, in 1853, five new bishoprics in Holland, with a rival archbishop at Utrecht, and thus consolidated and perpetuated the schism. When the decree of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated in 1854, the 108three Old Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter, in which they reject the new dogma as contrary to the Scriptures and early tradition, and as lacking the threefold test of catholicity (semper, ubique, ab omnibus). The Vatican decree of Papal Infallibility, and the Old Catholic movement in Germany have brought this long afflicted and persecuted remnant of Jansenism into new notice. The Old Catholics of Germany, holding fast to an unbroken episcopal succession, looked to their brethren in Holland for aid in effecting an organization when it should become necessary. At their invitation, Archbishop Loos, of Utrecht (a venerable and amiable old gentleman), made a tour of visitation in the summer of 1872, and confirmed about five hundred children in several congregations in Germany, blessing God that his little Church was spared for happier days. After his death the Bishop of Deventer consecrated Prof. Reinkens Bishop for the Old Catholics in Germany, Aug. 11, 1873. The Old Catholics of Holland agree with those in Germany:  1. In maintaining the doctrinal basis of Tridentine Romanism;  2. In protesting against all subsequent papal decisions, more particularly the bull Unigenitus, the decree of the Immaculate Conception (1854), and the Vatican decree of Papal Infallibility. [The Jansenist Abp. of Utrecht was excommunicated by Leo XIII., Feb. 28, 1893. See Mirbt, p. 488, and also the Old Catholic bishops of Germany and Switzerland.—Ed.]


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