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JESUITS AND JANSENISTS

Catholic belief. He placed tradition on the same level with the Bible, demanding merely that it be cleansed of non-essentials. Yet this at- tempt at purification brought him into conflict with the penitential commandments of the Church; and he was still more violently at odds with the ethics, the religious practices and the conduct of the Jesuits.

These had all too greatly lightened the burden of Christ and had thus weakened the strength of the Catholic system. In other words, they had lowered the scale of prices in the realm of eternal values. Their casuistry cleverly increased or lessened the law and the penalty for its breach in accordance with the objectives they sought; and their dialectical skill in finding excuses for real sin, as well as in creating sins when there were none, resulted ultimately in the corruption both of those they controlled and of themselves. The many excellent men who were among them could no longer prevail over those who had lost sight of real values or were themselves errant and insecure. In the same France which had once exiled them as a sect dangerous to the state they now lost their way all too completely amid the moral disarray that surrounded the throne. All too strong a reliance upon secular means, on power, splendour, renown and everything which the pious soul frowns on and the saint smiles at, tempted them to form an alliance with the Caesaristic, semi-Asiatic despotism which prevailed at the Court of Louis. The two great objectives of their society — to fight the battles of the Papacy and to keep the mighty of this world within the Church — were confused, to the injury of both. So eager were the Jesuits to render service to the Court that they forgot die duty of rendering service to the higher absolutism of ethical law. How long would Ambrose or Chrysostom have remained in the position which Auger Coton and Le Tellier occupied under French Kings? Of course one realizes that a body of men whose objectives and energies were confided to thousands of educators, missionaries, confessors, scholars and politicians who affected all parts of civil society more deeply even than did the Huguenot state within a state — because their influence upon human inner life was so much deeper and more secret — could also run the risk of error and of misuse of power. But one can realize also that resistance to such abuses was bound to come. Popes themselves, Alexander VIII and Innocent XII, condemned a