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sure for this active service, they are totally exempted from those functions, the performance of which is the chief business of other monks. They appear in no processions; they practise no rigorous austerities; they do not consume one half of their time in the repetition of tedious offices; but they are required to attend to all the transactions of the world on account of the influence which these may have upon the success of the Catholic religion; they are directed to study the dispositions of persons in high rank, and to cultivate their friendship: and by the very constitution as well as genius of the order, a spirit of action and intrigue is infused into all its members.
As the object of the society of Jesuits differed from that of the other monastic orders, there was no less diversity in the form of its government. The other orders are to be considered as voluntary associations, in which whatever affects the whole body is regulated by the common suffrage of all its members. The executive power is vested in the persons placed at the head of each convent, or of the whole society; the legislative authority resides in the community. Affairs of moment relating to particular convents are determined in conventual chapters; such as respect the whole order are considered in general congregations. But Loyola, knowing the value of implicit obedience, ordained that the government of his order should be peculiarly monarchical. A General chosen for life by deputies from the several provinces, possessed power that was supreme and independent, extending to every person and to every case. He, by his sole authority, nominated provincials, rectors, and every other officer employed in the government of the society, and could remove them at pleasure. In him was vested the sovereign administration of the revenues and funds of the order. Every member belonging to it was at his disposal; and by his uncontrollable mandate, he could impose on them any task, or employ them in what service soever he pleased. To his commands they were required to yield not only outward obedience, but to resign up to him the inclinations of their own wills, and the sentiments of their own understandings. They were to listen to his injunctions, as if they had been uttered by Christ himself. Under his direction they were to be only passive instruments, like clay in the hands of the
potter, or mere machines incapable of resistance. Such a singular form of policy could not fail to impress its character on all the members of the Order, and to give a peculiar force to all its operations. There is not in the annals of mankind any example of such a perfect despotism exercised, be it observed, not over monks shut up in the cells of a convent, but over men, dispersed among all the nations of the earth.
As the constitutions of the order vest in the General such absolute dominion over all its members, they carefully provide for his being perfectly informed with respect to the character and abilities of his subjects. Every novice who offers himself as a candidate for entering into the Order, is obliged to manifest his conscience to the superior, or a person appointed by him: and is required not only to confess his sins and defects, but to discover the inclinations, the passions, and the bent of his soul. This manifestation must be renewed every six months. The society, not satisfied with penetrating in this manner into the inmost recesses of the heart, directs each member to observe the words and actions of the novices: they are constituted spies upon their conduct, and are bound to disclose every thing of importance concerning them to the superior. In order that this scrutiny into their character may be as complete as possible, a long noviciate must expire, during which they pass. through the several gradations of ranks in the society; and they must have attained the full age of thirty-three years before they can be admitted to take the final vows by which they become professed members. By these various methods, the superiors, under whose immediate inspection the novices are placed, acquire a thorough knowledge of their disposition and talents. In order that the General, who is the soul that animates and moves the whole, society, may have under his eye every thing necessary to inform or direct him, the provincials and heads of the several houses are obliged to transmit to him regular and frequent reports concerning the members under their inspection. In these they descend into minute details with respect to the character of each person, his abilities, natural or acquired, his temper, his experience in affairs, and the particular department for which he is best fitted. These reports, when digested and arranged, are entered into registers kept for the purpose, that
the General may, at one comprehensive view, survey the state of the society in every corner of the earth; observe the qualifications and talents of its members; and thus select, with perfect information, the instruments which his absolute power can employ in any service for which he thinks fit to destine them.
As it was the professed intention of the order of Jesuits to labor with unwearied zeal in promoting the salvation of men, this engaged them of course in many active functions. From their first institution, they considered the education of youth as their peculiar province; they aimed at being spiritual guides and confessors; they preached frequently in order to instruct the people; they set out as Missionaries to convert unbelieving nations. The novelty of the institution, as well as the singularity of its objects, procured the order many admirers and patrons. The Governors of the Society had the address to avail themselves of every circumstance in its favor, and in a short time the number as well as the influence of its members increased wonderfully. Before the expiration of the sixteenth century, the Jesuits had obtained the chief direction of the education of youth in every Catholic country in Europe, and an influence only second to this in countries not professedly Catholic. They had become the confessors of almost all its monarchs; a function of no small importance in any reign, but under a weak Prince, superior even to that of a Minister, They were the spiritual guides of almost every person eminent for rank or power They possessed the highest degree of confidence and interest with the papal court, as the most zealous and able champions for its authority. The advantages which an active and enterprising body of men might derive from all these circumstances are obvious. They formed the minds of men in their youth. They retained an ascen-. dancy over them in their advanced years. They possessed at different periods the direction of the most considerable Courts in Europe. They mingled in all affairs. They took part in every intrigue and revolution. The General, by means of the extensive intelligence which he received, could regulate the operations of the Order with the most perfect discernment; and by means of his absolute power could carry them on with the utmost vigor and effect.
Together with the power of the order, its wealth continued to
increase. Various expedients were devised for eluding the obliga tion of the vow of poverty. The Order acquired ample possessions every Catholic country; and by the number as well as magnificence of its public buildings, together with the value of its property moveable and real, it vied with the most opulent of the monastic fraternities. Besides the sources of wealth common to all the regular clergy, the Jesuits possessed one which was peculiar to themselves. Under pretext of promoting the success of their missions, and of facilitating the support of their missionaries, they obtained a special license from the Court of Rome to trade with the nations whom they professed to convert. In consequence of this, they engaged in an extensive and lucrative commerce both in the East and West Indies. They opened warehouses in different parts of Europe, in which they vended their commodities. Not satisfied with trade alone, they imitated the example of other commercial societies, and aimed at obtaining settlements. They acquired possession accordingly of a large and fertile province in the southern continent of America and reigned as sovereigns over some hundred thousand subjects.
The vast influence which the order of Jesuits acquired by all these different means, was constantly exerted with the most pernicious effect. Such was the tendency of that discipline observed by the Society in forming its members, and such the fundamental maxims in its constitution, that every Jesuit was taught to regard the interest of the order as the capital object to which every consideration was to be sacrificed. This spirit of attachment to their order, the most ardent perhaps that ever influenced any body of men, is the characteristic principle of the Jesuits, and serves as a key to the genius of their policy, as well as the peculiarities in their senti
ments and conduct.
As it was essential to the objects of the society, that its members should possess an ascendancy over persons of high rank or of great power; the desire of acquiring and preserving such a direction of their conduct with greater facility, led the Jesuits to propagate a system of relaxed and pliant morality, which accommodates itself to the passions of men, which justifies their vices, which tolerates their imperfections, which authorises almost every action that the
most audacious or crafty politician would wish to perpetrate: their great and leading maxim having uniformly been, that the end sanctified the means; in other words that it was lawful to do evil, that good might come.
As the prosperity of the Order was intimately connected with the preservation of the papal authority, the Jesuits, influenced by the same principle of attachment to the interests of their Society, have been the most zealous patrons of those doctrines which tend to exalt ecclesiastical power, on the ruins of civil government. They have attributed to the court of Rome, a jurisdiction as extensive and absolute as was claimed by the most presumptuous pontiffs in the dark ages. They have contended for the entire independence of ecclesiastics on the civil magistrates. They have published such tenets concerning the duty of opposing Princes who were enemies to the Catholic faith as countenanced the most atrocious crimes, and tended to dissolve all the ties which connect subjects with their rulers.
As the order derived both reputation and authority from the zeal with which it stood forth in defence of the Romish church against the attacks of the Reformers, its members, proud of this distinction, have considered it as their peculiar function to combat the opinions and to check the progress of the Protestants. They have made use of every art, and have employed every weapon, against them. They have set themselves in opposition to every gentle or tole rating measure in their favor. They have incessantly stirred up against them all the rage of ecclesiastical and civil persecution.
Monks of other denominations have, indeed, ventured to teach the same pernicious doctrines, and have held opinions equally inconsistent with the order and happiness of civil society; but they, from reasons which are obvious, have either delivered such opinions with greater reserve, or have propagated them with less success. Whoever recollects the events which happened in Europe during the two centuries of their existence, will find that the Jesuits may justly be considered as responsible for most of the pernicious effects arising from that corrupt and dangerous casuistry, from those extravagant tenets concerning ecclesiastical power, and from that intolerant spirit, which were the disgrace of the Church of Rome throughout that period, and which brought so many calamities upon civil society.