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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

All outside the catholic and hierarchic Church were not men


Historians

have not been slow to point out the evils which this Society has wrought in the world, its purely political aims, the worldliness which deadened its spiritual life, and its degradation of morals, which had so much to do with sapping the ethical life of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is frequently said that the cool-headed Lainez is responsible for most of the evil, and that a change may be dated from his Generalship. There seems to be a wide gulf fixed between the Mystic of Manresa, the revival preacher of Vicenza, the genuine home mission work in Rome, and the astute, ruthless worldly political work of the Society. Yet almost all the changes may be traced back to one root, the conception which Ignatius held of what was meant by true religion. It was for him, from first to last, an unreasoning, blind obedience to the dictates of the catholic hierarchic Church. It was this which poisoned the very virtues which gave Loyola's intentions their strength, and introduced an inhuman element from the start.

He set out with the noble thought that he would work for the good of his fellow-men; but his idea of religion narrowed his horizon. His idea of "neighbour" never went beyond the thought of one who owed entire obedience to the Roman Pontiff--all others were as much outside the sphere of the brotherhood of mankind as the followers of Mahomet were for the earliest Crusaders. Godfrey of Bouillon was both devout and tender-hearted, yet when

he rode, a conqueror, into Jerusalem up the street filled with the corpses of slaughtered Moslems, he saw a babe wriggling on the breast of its dead mother, and, stooping in his saddle, he seized it by the ankle and dashed its head against the wall. For Ignatius, as for Godfrey, all outside the catholic and hierarchic Church were not men, but wolves.

He was filled with the heroic conception that his Company was to aid their fellow-men in every department of earthly life, and the political drove out all other considerations; for it contained the spheres within which the whole human life is lived. Thus, while he preferred for himself the society of learned and devout men, his acute Basque brain soon perceived their limitations, and the Jesuit historian Orlandino tells us that Ignatius selected the members of his Company from men who knew the world, and were of good social position. He forbade very rightly the follies of ascetic piety, when the discipline of the _Exercises_ had been accomplished; it was only repeated when energies flagged or symptoms of insubordination appeared. Then the General ordered a second course, as a physician sends a patient to the cure at some watering-place. The Constitution directs that novices were to be sought among those who had a comely presence, with good memories, manageable tempers, quick observation, and free from all indiscreet devotion. The Society formed to fight the Renaissance as well as Protestantism, borrowed from its enemy the thought of general culture, training every part of the mind and body, and rendering the possessor a man of the world.

No one can read the letters of Ignatius without seeing the fund of native tenderness that there was in the stern Spanish soldier. That it was no mere sentiment appears in many ways, and in none more so than in his infinite pity for the crowds of fallen women in Rome, and in his wise methods of rescue work. It was this tenderness which led him to his greatest mistake. He held that no one could be saved who was not brought to a state of abject obedience to the hierarchic Church; that such obedience was the only soil in which true virtues could be planted and grow. He believed, moreover, that the way in which the "common man" could be thoroughly broken to this obedience was through the confessional and the directorate, and therefore that no one should be scared from confession or from trust in his director by undue severity. In his eagerness to secure these inestimable benefits for the largest number of men, he over and over again enjoined the members of his Society to be very cautious in coming to the conclusion that any of their penitents was guilty of a mortal sin. Such was the almost innocent beginning of that Jesuit casuistry which in the end almost wiped out the possibility of anyone who professed obedience committing a mortal sin, and occasioned the profane description of Father Bauny, the famous French director--"Bauny qui tollit peccata mundi per definitionem."


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