Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent/Second Part/Condemnation of the Errors of Paschasius Quesnell
CONDEMNATION OF THE ERRORS OF PASCHASIUS QUESNELL.
Clement, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all the faithful in Christ, health and apostolical benediction.
The only-begotten Son of God, for our salvation and that of the whole world, having become the son of man, whilst he was instructing his disciples in the doctrine of truth, and educating his whole Church in the apostles, arranging the present and providing for the future, by a splendid and most wholesome lesson admonished us, that we should take heed from false prophets, who come to us in sheep's clothing, in whose name chiefly are pointed out those lying masters, and dealers in deception, who lurkingly insinuating their perverse dogmas under the splendid garb of piety, introduce sects of perdition under the show of sanctity, and that they may steal the more easily on the incautious, as if laying aside the wolf's skin, and wrapping themselves up in the sentences of the divine law, as in the fleeces of sheep, wickedly abuse the words of the holy Scriptures, and accordingly those of the New Testament itself, which they wrest in many ways to their own destruction and that of others; taught forsooth by the example and tutorage of the old father of lies, from whom they are descended, that there is no shorter or readier way to deceive, than that where the fraud of nefarious error is surreptitiously introduced, there the authority of the divine word should be held out as a pretext.
Instructed by these truly divine admonitions, as soon as we heard, not without the innermost bitterness of our heart, that a certain book some time since printed in the French language, and distributed into several volumes, entitled, "Le Nouveau Testament en François, avec des reflexions morales sur chaque vers, etc., à Paris, 1699:" otherwise: "Abrégé de la morale de l'Evangile, des Actes des Apôtres, des Epîtres de S. Paul, des Epîtres canoniques et de l'Apocalypse; ou Pensées chrétiennes sur le texte de ces livres sacres, etc., à Paris, 1693 et 1694," though previously condemned by us, and blending in many ways the lies of perverse doctrines with Catholic truths, was still considered by many as free from any error, was in every direction forced into the hands of the faithful of Christ, and was disseminated everywhere with too much avidity by the contrivance and exertions of some always striving for innovation, having been even rendered into Latin, in order that the contagion of the pernicious instruction may if possible pass from nation to nation, and from kingdom to kingdom, we felt the greatest concern that the flock of the Lord intrusted to our charge should be imperceptibly led away into the road of perdition by wily seductions and fraud of this kind, and excited not less by the incentives of our pastoral solicitude, than by the frequent complaints of orthodox believers, but especially by the letters and entreaties of several of our venerable brethren, particularly of the bishops of Gaul, we have determined to oppose by some more effectual remedy the spreading disease, which might even at some future time induce still worse consequences.
And on directing our careful attention to the consideration of the very cause of the evil, we clearly discovered that the chief ruin from this book progressed and gained strength mainly because it lay concealed mthin, and like foul corruption cannot obtain vent except by cutting down on the ulcer, as the book itself at its first appearance entices its readers by a certain show of piety; for its words are rendered as it were emollient with oil, whilst they are in reality arrows, and coming from a well-strung bow, so prepared for mischief, that they transfix in secret those straight of heart. Accordingly we thought that nothing more opportune or more conducive to health could be done by us than if we were to present a more distinct and clear exposition of the fallacious doctrine of the book, which hitherto has been merely alluded to in a general way by us, by selecting from it several propositions one by one, and by uprooting from the middle of the wheat with which they were covered, and placing before the eyes of all the faithful of Christ the noxious seeds of the tares. Thus, forsooth, the errors being laid bare and openly exposed, not indeed one or two of them, but a great many of them, and those of the most serious import, both those which were formerly condemned, and also those newly devised, we plainly trust that with God's blessing all will at length be forced to yield to the open and manifest truth.
That this same measure would contribute very much to the Catholic interest, and that it would be of singular efficacy in quieting the dissensions which have arisen, more especially in the flourishing kingdom of Gaul, from the varying bent of different minds which seemed inclined to proceed to still more serious lengths—that it would prove extremely useful, and in a manner necessary for effecting the peace of conscience, we have been repeatedly assured not only by the bishops above mentioned, but also by our particularly dear son in Christ, Lewis the most Christian king of the French, whose extraordinary zeal in defending the purity of the Catholic faith, and in extirpating errors, we cannot sufficiently commend, he having repeatedly evinced acts of duty truly pious and highly becoming a most Christian prince, and having most earnestly called on us, that we should consult for the urgent necessity of souls by promulgating with all speed the censure of our apostolical judgment.
Hence confiding in the favour of the Lord, and in his heavenly aid, we have set about the salutary work with that sedulous and diligent care which the importance of the task demands, and having faithfully extracted very many propositions from the aforesaid book according to the editions above recounted respectively, propositions expressed both in the Latin and French idiom, we have commanded them to be discussed carefully by several masters in sacred theology, first indeed in presence of two of our venerable brethren, cardinals of the holy Roman Church, but then in presence of ourselves, the counsel of several other cardinals being also invited, with the greatest care and maturity; a collation moreover of each and every one of the propositions being most scrupulously made with the text of the book itself, and several to be well weighed and examined in different and repeated congregations.
THE HUNDRED AND ONE CONDEMNED PROPOSITIONS ARE AS FOLLOW:
- What else remaineth unto the soul which has lost God and his grace, save only sin, and the consequences of sin, proud poverty and lazy indigence, that is a general incapacity for labour, for prayer, and for every good work. This proposition is found in the moral observations of Quesnell, on Luke xvi. 3.
- The grace of Jesus Christ, the efficient beginning of good of every kind soever, is necessary for every good work; without it not only nothing is done, but likewise nothing can be done. On John xv. 5. Ed. 1693.
- In vain, O Lord, dost thou command, if thou thyself givest not what thou commandest. Acts xvi. 10.
- Thus, O Lord, are all things possible to him, to whom thou makest all things possible, by working the same things in him. Mark ix. 22.
- When God softeneth not the heart by the inward anointing of his grace, exhortations and outward graces serve not, save to harden it the more. Rom. ix. 18. Ed. 1693.
- The difference between the Jewish and Christian covenant is, that in the former God requireth the shunning of sin, and the fulfilment of the law from the sinner, by leaving him in his own incapability; but in the latter, God giveth unto the sinner that which he commandeth, by purifying him with his own grace. Rom. xi. 27.
- What advantage for men is there in the old covenant, in which God left him to his own infirmities, imposing upon him his own law? But what happiness is it not to be admitted into a covenant, in which God doth bestow on us that which he seeketh from us? Hebr. viii. 7.
- We appertain not unto the new covenant, save in as far as we are partakers of the new grace thereof, which worketh within us that which God doth enjoin unto us. Hebr. viii. 10.
- The grace of Christ is the supreme grace, without which we are never able to confess Christ, and with which we never can deny him. 1 Cor. xii. 3. 1693.
- Grace is the operation of the hand of Almighty God, which nothing can hinder or retard. Matt. xx. 34
- Grace is nothing else than the will of Almighty God, ordering, and doing that which he doth order. Mark ii. 11.
- When God willeth to save a soul, at what time and in what place soever, the effect unhesitatingly followeth the will of God. Ibid.
- When God willeth to save a soul, and toucheth it with the inward hand of his grace, no human will can resist him. Luke v. 13. 1693.
- How far soever an obstinate sinner be removed from salvation, when Jesus presenteth himself to be beheld by him in the salutary light of his grace, it must be that he give himself up, run forward, humble himself, and adore his Saviour. Mark v. 1693.
- When God accompanieth his command, and his outward speaking, by the anointing of his spirit and the inward force of his grace, he worketh in him that obedience which he seeketh. Luke ix. 60.
- There are no delights which yield not to the delights of grace, seeing that nothing resisteth the Almighty. Acts viii. 12.
- Grace is that voice of the Father, which inwardly teacheth men, and maketh them come unto Jesus Christ; and whosoever cometh not unto him after he hath heard the outward voice of the Son, is in no wise instructed of the Father. John vi. 45.
- The seed of the word, which the hand of God watereth, ever bringeth forth its fruit. Acts xi. 21.
- The grace of God is nothing else but his almighty will: this is the idea which God himself hath handed down to us in all his scriptures. Rom. xiv. 4. 1693.
- The true idea of grace is, that God wills that he be obeyed by us, and is obeyed; commandeth, and all things are done; the Lord but speaketh, and all things are subjected unto him. Mark iv. 39.
- The grace of Jesus Christ is a strong, powerful, supreme, invincible grace, inasmuch as it is the operation of the Almighty will, the following and imitation of the operation of God, incarnating and raising again his son. 2 Cor. v. 21. 1693.
- The agreement of the almighty will of God in the heart of man with the free consent of his own will, is straightway proved unto us in the incarnation, as a fount and archetype of all other operations of mercy and grace, all which are gratuitous, and so depending upon God, as the original operation itself. Luke i. 48.
- God himself hath delivered unto us the idea of the almighty operation of his grace, signifying it by that which produceth creatures out of nothing, an restoreth life to the dead. Rom. iv. 17.
- The just idea which the centurion has of the omnipotence of God and Jesus Christ in healing bodies by the sole motion of his will, is the image of the idea which ought to be held touching the omnipotence of his grace in healing souls from avarice. Luke vii. 7.
- God illuminates the soul, and healeth it as well as the body, b his will alone; he commandeth, and he is obeyed. Luke xviii. 42.
- No graces are given, save through faith. Luke viii. 48.
- Faith is the ﬁrst grace, and the fountain of all others. 2 Pet. i. 3.
- The first grace which God grants to a sinner, is the remission of sins. Mark xi. 25.
- Be and the Church no grace is granted. Luke x. 35-6.
- Ally whom God willeth to save through Christ, are infallibly saved. John vi. 40.
- The desires of Christ always have their effect; he bringeth peace into the inwardest parts of [men’s] hearts, when he wisheth it for them. John xx. 19.
- Jesus Christ delivered himself unto death, to liberate for ever by his blood the first born, that is, the elect, from the hand of the destroying angel. Gal. iv. 4, 5, 6, 7.
- Alas! How doth it behove a man to have renounced earthly goods, and even himself, that he may, so to speak, have conﬁdence to appropriate Christ unto himself, his love, death, and mysteries, as doth holy Paul, When he saith: who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal. 20.
- The grace of Adam only produced human merits; 2 Cor. v. 21. 1693.
- The grace of Adam is the sequel of creation, and was due to a healthy and intact nature. 2 Cor. v. 21.
- The essential difference between the grace of Adam and a state of innocence, and Christian grace, is, that every one soever would have received the first in his own person; but the other is not received, save in the person of Jesus Christ raised from the dead, to whom we are united. Rom. vii. 4.
- The grace of Adam, by sanctifying him in himself, was proportioned to him; the Christian grace, by sanctifying us in Jesus Christ, is omnipotent, and worthy the Son of God. Eph. i. 6.
- A sinner is not free, save unto evil, without the grace of him that freeth. Luke viii. 9.
- The will, which grace preventeth not, hath no light, save to lead astray; no warmth, save to hurry itself headlong; no strength, save to wound itself; is capable of every evil, and incapable of any good. Matth. xx. 3, 4.
- Without grace we can love nothing, save unto our condemnation. 2 Thess. iii. 18. 1693.
- All knowledge of God, even natural, even among Pagan philosophers, cannot come, save from God, and without grace it produceth nought save presumption, vanity, and opposition to God himself, instead of the affections of adoration, gratitude, and love. Rom. i. 19.
- The grace of Christ alone renders man fit for the sacrifice of faith; without this is nothing but impurity; nothing but unworthiness. Acts xi. 9.
- The first effect of baptismal grace is to cause that we be so dead unto sin, that our spirit, heart, senses have no more of life for sin than a dead man has for the things of the world. Rom. vi. 2. 1693.
- There are but two loves, from whence all our wills and actions spring: the love of God, which does all things for the sake of God, and which God rewards; and the love by which we love ourselves and the world, which refers not to God what should be referred to God, and on this very account is evil. John v. 29.
- The love of God no longer reigning in the heart of sinners, it is necessary that carnal desire reign in it, and corrupt all his actions. Luke xv. 13. 1693.
- Avarice or charity renders the use of the senses good or bad. Matth. v. 28.
- Obedience to the law ought to proceed from a fountain, and this fountain is charity. When the love of God is its inward beginning, and the glory of God its end, then that is pure which appeareth outwardly: otherwise it is nought but hypocrisy or false righteousness. Matt. xxv. 26. 1693.
- What else can we be, but darkness, but wandering, and sin, without the light of faith, without Christ, and without charity. Eph. v. 8.
- As no sin is without our own self-love, so is no good work without the love of God. Mark vii. 22, 23.
- In vain do we cry unto God, "my father," if that which crieth be not the spirit of charity. Rom. viii. 15.
- Faith justifieth, when it operates; but it does not itself operate, save through charity. Acts xiii. 39.
- All other means of salvation are contained in faith, is in its own proper germ and seed; but this faith is not apart from love and confidence. Acts x. 43.
- Charity alone in Christian wise maketh [actions Christian] through relation to God and Jesus Christ. Coloss. iii. 14.
- It is charity alone which speaketh unto God; God heareth his alone. 1 Cor. xiii. 1.
- God crowneth nought but charity; he that runneth from another impulse or motive runneth in vain. 1 Cor. ix. 24.
- God rewardeth only charity, because charity alone honoureth God. Matth. xxv. 36.
- Everything is wanting to the sinner, when hope is wanting to him; and there is no hope in God, where there is not the love of God. Matth. xxvii. 5.
- Neither God, nor religion, is there, where charity is not. 1 John iv. 8.
- The prayer of the ungodly is a new sin, and what God [thereupon] doth grant to them, is a new judgment against them. John x. 25. 1693.
- If the fear of punishment alone excites penitence, the more violent it (penitence) is, so much the more doth it lead to desperation. Matth. xxvii. 5.
- Fear restraineth but the hand, but the heart is devoted to sin so long as it is not led by the love of justice. Luke xx. 19.
- He who abstains not from evil, save through the fear of punishment, commits that [evil] in his heart, and is already guilty before God. Matth. xxi. 46.
Having heard, therefore, the suffrages of the above-mentioned cardinals and other theologians exhibited to us both by word of mouth as well as in writing, and having invoked the protection of the divine light by proclaiming private and public prayers to that end, we by this our constitution, destined to be in effect for ever, declare, condemn, and reprobate all and each of the previously inserted propositions as false, captious, ill-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and her practice, and contumelious not only to the Church, but also to the secular powers; seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, and savouring of heresy itself, and also as abetting heretics and heresies, and also schism, erroneous, near akin to heresy, several times condemned, and finally heretical, and manifestly renewing respectively various heresies, and those particularly which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansenius, taken, however, in that sense in which they have been condemned.
We command all the faithful in Christ of both sexes not to presume to think of the aforesaid propositions, to teach them, to preach them otherwise than is contained in this same our constitution; so that whosoever shall teach, defend, publish them or any of them, conjointly or separately, or shall treat of them publicly or privately, even by way of disputing, unless perhaps for the purpose of impugning them, let him by the very fact, without other declaration, lie under ecclesiastical censures, and other penalties enacted by law against those perpetrating such acts.
But by the express reprobation of the aforesaid propositions, we do not by any means intend to approve of other things contained in the same book, especially since in the course of examination we detected in it several other propositions similar and near akin to those which have been condemned as above, and imbued with the same errors, and indeed not a few encouraging disobedience and obstinacy under a certain imaginary pretext of persecution, which is as it were spreading at the present day, and crying those up under the false name of Christian forbearance; which therefore to recount individually we considered to be both too tedious and by no means necessary, and finally, a thing which is still more intolerable, the sacred text of the New Testament itself corrupted in a manner deserving of condemnation, and conformable in many respects to the other Gallican version (Montensi) long since reprobated; but in many ways differing and wandering from the Vulgate edition, which has been approved in the Church by the experience of so many ages, and which ought to be accounted by all the orthodox as authentic, and in many ways wrested into strange, exotic, and oftentimes injurious senses, not without the greatest perversity.
The same book, therefore, as being one which by its sweet words and benedictions, as the apostle says, that is, which, under the false semblance of pious instruction, is well calculated for leading astray the hearts of the innocent, whether bearing the preceding title, or any other title whatsoever, wheresoever, or in what other language soever, or in what edition soever, or version hitherto printed, or hereafter to be printed (which Heaven forbid), by apostolic authority, by the tenor of these presents we once more prohibit and in like manner condemn, as also all other books, and every such book published in its defence, whether in manuscript or in print, or perhaps (which God avert) books or pamphlets to be published, and the reading, copying, the retaining and use of such we prohibit in like manner, and interdict to all and every one of the faithful in Christ, under pain of excommunication, to be by the very fact incurred by those acting in a contrary way.
We command, moreover, our venerable brethren the patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops, and other ordinaries of places, as also the inquisitors of heretical depravity, that they by all means coerce and keep in check all contradictory and refractory persons whatsoever by the above-mentioned censures and penalties, and by the other remedies of law and fact, the aid of the secular arm being appealed to, if it should be necessary.
But we desire, &c. But let it be lawful for no one, &c. In the year of the incarnation of our Lord 1713, 6th of the ides of September, in the 8th year of our pontificate.
- Cf. Ps. xi. 2.
- See Matth. xiii. 3.