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he could obtain the general consent of his party, to what he calls his Private Thoughts, Cogitationes Private, I promised myself, that, by joining to them the remarks which I sent to him, on" the Confession of Augsburg, and the other symbolic writings of the Protestants, the work of the reunion would be perfected, in all its most difficult and most essential points; so that well disposed persons might, in a short time, bring it to a conclusion.” The passage is so important, that it is proper to present it to the reader in Bossuet's own words. “Parmi les Théologiens de la Confession d'Ausbourg, j'ai toujours mis au premier rang, M. l'Abbé de Lokkum, comme un homme, dont le sçavoir, la candeur, et la modération le rendoient un des plus capables, que je connusse, pour avancer CE BEAU DESSEIN. Cela est si véritable, que j'ai cru devoir assurer ce docte Abbé, dans la réponse que je lui fis, il y a déjà plusieurs années, par M. le Comte Balati, que s'il pouvoit faire passer ce qu'il appelle ses Pensées Particulières, Cogitationes Privata, à un consentement suffisant, je me promettois qu'en y joignant les remarques que je lui envoyois sur la Confession d'Ausbourg, et les autres écrits symboliques des Protestans, l'ouvrage de la Réunion seroit achevé dans ses parties les plus difficiles et les plus' essentielles; en sorte qu'il ne faudroit à des personnes bien disposées, que très peu de tems pour la conclure.”,
This article is extracted from Euvres Posthumes de Bossuet, i Vol. Nouvelle édition des Euvres de Bossuet, l1 Vol. Leibnizii Opera, studio Lud. Dutens. 1 8 5 Vol.: and the Pensées de Leibniz. 2 Vol. 8vo.
Dom de Foris, the Benedictine Editor of the new edition of the works of Bossuet, and the Abbé Racine, Abrégé de l'Histoire Ecclésiastique, Tom. 13, are very severe in their censures of the conduct of Leibniz in the negociations for the reunion, and attribute its failure to his presumption and duplicity. To the writer of these pages, it appears clear, that Leibniz was sincere in his wishes for the reunion; and that, if he occasioned its failure, it was unintentionally. While the business was in the hands of Bossuet and Molanus, it was a treaty, not for the reunion of the Roman-Catholic church, and all Protestant funt;
churches, but for the reunion of the Roman-Catholic church and the Lutheran church; and to this, Molanus's endeavours to reconcile differences, were directed. Leibniz, whose principles in religion were much wider than those of Molanus, seems to have wished that the negociation should be placed on a broader basis, and extended to a reunion of the church of Rome, with every denomination of Christians. This gave the negociation a different direction, and in a great measure undid what had been so happily begun. We have seen that, to the very last, Bossuet called out for Molanus, and entertained great hopes, that, if the matter were left to Molanus and him, the noble Project of Reunion would be crowned with success. There is no part of Bossuet's literary or active life, in which he appears to greater advantage, or in a more amiable light, than on this occasion.
Attempts in the reign of Lewis the XV. to effect
an union between the Church of Rome, and the Church of England.
Or all Protestant churches, the national church of England most nearly resembles the church of Rome. It has retained much of the dogma, and much of the discipline of Roman-catholics. Down to the subdeacon it has retained the whole of their hierarchy; and, like them, has its deans, rural deans, chapters, prebends, archdeacons, rectors, and vicars; a liturgy, taken in a great measure, from the Roman-catholic liturgy; and composed like that, of Psalms, Canticles, the three creeds, litanies, epistles, gospels, prayers, and responses. Both churches have the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist; the absolution of the sick, the burial service, the sign of the cross in baptism, the reservation of confirmation and order to bishops, the difference of episcopal and sacerdotal dress, feasts, and fasts. · Without adopting all the general councils of the church of Rome, the church of England has adopted the first four of them; and, without acknowledging the authority of the other councils, or the authority of the early fathers, the English divines of the established church allow them to be entitled to a high degree of respect. On the important article of the eucharist, the language of the thirty-nine articles sounds very like the doctrine of the church of Rome.
At the time, of which we are speaking, the doctrines of the high church, which are generally considered to incline to those of the Roman-catholics more than the doctrines of the low church, were in their zenith; and in France, where the ultramontane principles on the power of the Pope had always been discountenanced, the disputes of Jansenism were supposed to reduce it very low. On each side, therefore, the time was thought favourable to the project of the reunion.
It was also favourable to it, that, a few years before this time, an event had taken place, which naturally tended to put both sides into good humour.
On the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Christina of Wolfenbuttell, a Lutheran,with the archduke of Austria, her court consulted the faculty of theology of the University of Helmstadt, on the question, “ Whether a Protestant Princess, destined to “marry a catholic prince, could, without wounding her conscience, “embrace the Roman-catholic religion?” The faculty replied, that, “it could not answer the proposed question, in a solid manner, without having previously decided, whether the catholics were or were not engaged in errors, that were fundamental, and opposed to salvation; or, (which was the same thing), whether the state of the catholic church was such, that persons might practice in it the true worship of God, and arrive at salvation.” This question the divines of Helmstadt discussed at length; and concluded in these terms : “After having shown, “ that the foundation of religion subsists in the Roman-catholic “ religion, so that a person may be orthodox in it, live well in it, s die well in it, and obtain salvation in it, the discussion of the “proposed question is easy. We are, therefore, of opinion, that “ the most Serene Princess of Wolfenbuttell may, in favour of her “ marriage, embrace the catholic religion.” This opinion is dated the 28th of April, 1707, and was printed in the same year at Cologne. The journalists of Trevoux inserted both the original and a French translation of it in their journal of May, 1708.
Under these circumstances the correspondence in question took place. It began in 1718, through Doctor Beauvoir, chaplain to Lord Stair, his Britannic majesty's ambassador at Paris. Some conversation on the reunion of the two churches having taken place between Doctor Dupin and him, he acquainted the archbishop of Canterbury with the subject of them. This conmunication produced some compliments from the archbishop to Dr. Dupin, and these led the latter to address to his grace a letter, in which he mentioned generally, that, on some points in dispute, the supposed difference between the two communions was reconcileable. The correspondence getting wind, Doctor Piers pronounced a discourse in the Sorbonne, in which he earnestly exhorted his colleagues to promote the reunion, by revising those articles of doctrine and discipline, which protestants branded with the name of papal tyranny; and contended, that, by proescribing the ultramontane doctrines, the first step to the reunion would be made. The discourse was communicated to Dr. Wake: in his answer he pressed Dr. Dupin for a more explicit declaration on the leading points in controversy.
In compliance with this requisition, Doctor Dupin drew up his Commonitorium, and communicated it to several persons of distinction, both in the state and church of France. He discussed in it the thirty-nine articles, as they regarded doctrine, morality, and discipline. He insisted on the necessity of tradition, to interpret the scriptures, and to establish the canonicity of the books of the Old and New Testament. He insisted on the infallibility of the church in faith and morals; he contended that the sacrifice of the mass was not a simple sacrament, but a continuation of the sacrifice of the cross.
The word transubstantiation, he seemed willing to give up, if
the Roman-catholic doctrine, intended to be expressed by it, were retained. He proposed that communion under both kinds, or under bread alone, should be left to the discretion of the different churches, and consented that persons in 'holy orders should retain their state, with such provisions as would place the validity of their ordination beyond exception. The marriage of priests in the countries, in which such marriages were allowed, and the recitation of the divine service in the vulgar tongue, he allowed; and intimated that no difficulty would be found in the ultimate settlement of the doctrine respecting purgatory, indulgences, the veneration of saints, relics or images. He seems to have thought that the Pope can exercise no immediate jurisdiction within the dioceses of bishops, and that his primacy invested him with no more than a general conservation of the deposit of - the faith, a right to enforce the observance of the sacred canons, and the general maintenance of discipline. He allowed, in ... general terms, that there was little substantially wrong in the discipline of the Church of England; he deprecated all discussion on the original merit of reformation, and he professed to see no use in the Pope's intervention, till the basis of the negociation should be settled.
The answer of the archbishop was not very explicit. It is evident from it, that they thought the quarrels on Jansenism had alienated the Jansenists and their adherents from the Pope, much more than they had done in reality. He was willing to concede to the Pope a primacy of rank and honour, but would by no means allow him a primacy of jurisdiction, or any primacy by divine right. On the other points, he seemed to have thought that they might come to an agreement on what they should declare to be the fundamental doctrine of the churches, and adopt, on every other point of doctrine, a general system of christian toleration.
The correspondence, which is very interesting, may be seen in the last volume of the English translation of Doctor Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History. To facilitate the accomplishment of the object of it, Dr. Courayer published his celebrated * treatise on the Validity of English Ordinations.