“It is lawful to kill a man who gives you a box on the ear, or a blow with a stick, if you cannot get justice otherwise.”—Lessius
“It is lawful to steal, not only in extreme necessity, but also in such necessity as is hard to be endured, though not extreme.”—Lessius.
“When a man has received money to do a wicked act, is he obliged to return it? We must distinguish: if he has not done the action for which he was paid, he ought to return it; but if he has done it, he is not obliged to any restitution.”—Escobar
“It is lawful for a son to rejoice at the murder of his parent committed by himself in a, state of drunkenness, on account of the great riches tlience acquired by inheritance.”—Fagundez
“We may wish harm to our neighbors without sin when we are pushed upon it by some good motives.”—Father Bauny
“I shall never consider that man to have done wrong, who, favoring the public wishes, would attempt to kill him (a heretic prince or a Romish prince not favorable to the Romish interests).”—John Mariana
These quotations, taken from the book The Jesuits: A Historical Sketch which is put out by the American Sunday School Union, reveal somewhat the principles which have guided this particular organization within the Roman Catholic Church. It is this body (the Jesuits) of whom it has often been maintained that they taught that “the end justifies the means.” Concerning this, one of their own writers states: “These and other charges have been repeatedly disproved, yet writers of romance, and even writers of history, never fail to find readers credulous enough to accept them as true.” The reason for such charges is surmised by the same writer: “Though many died as martyrs on the scaffolds, and in the prisons. of England and elsewhere, yet their skill in evading detection as well as their courage in living in the midst of their enemies and their great success in winning converts well explain the hatred with which they were regarded in Protestant countries from the beginning, while it gives us the historical origin of the tradition of cunning and deceit which has always been associated with the name Jesuit” (T.J. Campbell, S.J., in the Encyclopedia Americana).
There are thousands of books written by and concerning the Jesuits. Many of their thousands of members have attained prominence in history since the Reformation. An article such as this, therefore: can necessarily present only a brief sketch of this “Society of Jesus.”
Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, was born in Spain on Christmas night, 1491, at the castle of Loyola. During his early life chivalry, rather than the church, was his passion. In his youth he entered the army, undoubtedly seeing in that the possible fulfillment of the desire for chivalry within himself. It is reported that the year 1521 was one during which a great change took place in his life. During May of that year he had been severely wounded at the battle of Pampeluna—one leg had been broken, and the ether one dangerously damaged. During the months as an invalid, which were spent at his father’s castle, he at first had sought reading material concerning the great men in secular history. His idea of chivalry had not changed immediately. It is said that, unable to find sufficient material on this subject to satisfy himself, he had taken and read a life of Christ which had come into his hands. From that time there had been a remarkable change in the man. Now with avidity he sought out histories of the great saints of the past within the Romish Church. Within his heart began to burn the desire to emulate them. Upon his recovery he traveled to the monastery of Manresa where he hung his military accessories before an image of the Virgin Mary. There also he wrote the Spiritual Exercises whicc were later to bear great influence on the Jesuits as well as the entire Romish Church.
At the age of thirty-three, realizing that he could accomplish little without the formal education which he lacked, he began learning the fundamentals of Latin with a class of school boys. Within two years he was admitted to the University of Alcala and the following year to the University of Salmanca. In both of these places he met with little favor because he tried to induce students to follow what he had written in his Spiritual Exercises. From here he went to the University of Paris where he received instruction for seven more years.
It was at Paris that a nucleus for the future Society of Jesus was formed. Most notable of his followers were Peter Faber, Francis Xavier, and Jacob Lainez. In 1534 seven of them vowed “on completion of their studies to enter on hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or, opportunity failing, to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct.” They did find themselves unable to go to Jerusalem.
In 1537 Pope Paul III, upon hearing of their zeal in their purposed endeavors, called these men from Venice, gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained as priests. In Rome during the next two years they were highly regarded and charges of heresy which had been leveled against them were almost forgotten. In the light of their favorable reception, they confidently requested Paul III to be confirmed as a special order. This took place in 1540. Although their membership was limited at first to sixty, three years later this restriction was removed. Loyola was elected its first general.
The society is divided into four classes. There is first of all the professed who take four vows: of perfect obedience, of voluntary poverty, of perpetual chastity, and of absolute submission to the pope with respect to missions on which they might be sent. The second class is called the coadjutors. These are either ecclesiastics or lay members. They aid in realizing the designs of the society, but are bound only by the vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. The third class, the scholars, have a position determined by their own qualifications. They too are bound by the first three oaths, but are allowed to take the last with the consent of their superiors. The novices, the last group, are the candidates on trial. These are on trial for two years before they can become coadjutors, and a third year before they can become one of theprofessed.
Concerning the four vows taken, perfect obedience is understood to imply complete submission to the will of the superior. There are no doubts permitted whatsoever. Voluntary poverty means that the members hand over all they possess and receive their subsistence from the Society. The chastity is such that marriage is never allowed. The submission is to the pope under whom the members so place themselves that they must go wherever he sends them.
About their history only a few remarks need be made. Their history is entwined with that of nearly every nation of the world, for its members as missionaries went throughout the world. Very briefly their history could be summarized as turbulent. They have been charged by Protestants with attempted and successful assassinations particularly of Protestant kings or queens, with meddling in affairs of government, and with intrigue in financial matters in spite of their vows of poverty. And although the Jesuits deny guilt, yet there appears to be much basis of fact in these charges. In fact their history within the bosom of the Romish church was by no means always peaceful. Many times they had to struggle with the pope himself for the right of continued existence. At one time in their history they were officially disbanded, but this ban was later lifted. At various times they were barred from nearly all of the several nations to which they had gone.
Their purported purpose was primarily mission work and instruction especially in schools of higher learning. The pioneer missionary was Xavier, one of the original members of the Society. Called the missionary of India, he performed much of his mission work there as well as in Japan and neighboring islands. According to his testimony, thousands each month were converted by him. Baptism, which was given at once, was the basis for determining the numbers of “converts”—so possibly the figures given are correct. In some places, it is said, his very appearance caused many to fall on their knees in confession of sin before Xavier even uttered a word. Many miracles were also ascribed to him.
From the time of Xavier many missionaries were sent out. A number of them were sent also to North America in the early days of settlement. One of the better known was Marquette, the explorer of the Mississippi River. Mission stations were also established in the territory of California.
But that which by far was of greater importance with regard to their influence over others was the establishment of many colleges and universities. These they began founding almost from the beginning of their history. Many of the schools for higher learning even today are controlled or were begun by Jesuits. In these schools, of course, their own men taught. The thousands of students who came from these schools, although most never became Jesuits, nevertheless were instructed thoroughly in their principles. This fact also explains the great amount of influence the Jesuits have in the Romish Church—and even outside of it—today as well as in the past.
The teachings of the Jesuits are probably of greater interest to us than their history, particularly because of the strangeness of their doctrines to us. Generally speaking, their views are those of the Romish Church. Possibly this could be stated more correctly that the views of the Jesuits more and more were taken over by the Romish Church. The most famous of these in recent years was the doctrine of the immaculate conception (that Mary was born withoutthe guilt or pollution of sin) adopted in 1854. This was a victory for the Jesuits, many of whom had long maintained the view.
Another of the more famous, or infamous, views of the Jesuits was what is called probabilism. According to this view, one could determine a particular course to follow if he could find support in any one of the Romish writers. Needless to say, one could almost surely find someone who had maintained some moral principle which agreed with the proposed action. If, for instance, a man wished to commit robbery and could find one Jesuit author who maintained that under certain circumstances robbery is morally right, then he could rob without being guilty of sin. If two writers differed on this question, one could choose the moral judgment which best, suited his intent. As one of their writers stated: “An opinion may be deemed probable, when it is grounded on the opinion of one grave doctor. When two learned men differ, both their opinions are probable. A man may do what he conceives lawful, according to a probable opinion, though the contrary may be more safe. For this, the opinion of one learned individual is sufficient.” In the eighteenth century, because of opposition arising against this view, this was modified to three types: (1) one of two moral opinions may be followed if both are equally probable; (2) if the probabilities are not equal, the one which is more probable must determine the course of action; (3) or the safest, rather than the more probable, ought to be followed.
A second more humorous, but equally-serious, view is what is called mental reservation. It was a method of lying without being guilty of sin—according to their opinion. It worked something like this. Suppose I had robbed a bank and had been put in prison for suspicion of robbery. Several days later I would be taken to court and asked under oath if I had committed the crime. I could truthfully answer, “No,” provided I added silently in my mind, “I did not commit this robbery today.” Filliucius, a. Jesuit, writes of a case where one is questioned concerning his eating of something forbidden. In such a case, says he, “When we begin to say ‘I swear,’ we must insert, in a subdued tone, the mental restriction ‘that today,’ and then continue aloud, ‘I have not eaten such a thing.’ ” I say such a view seems humorous, yet it is the height of corruption, reminding one of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees of old. I would almost think that today this view is yet maintained, also among non-Catholics, when those insisting that they walk according to God’s Word can lie with what they say is a clear conscience.
Much more could be written of the doctrines and history of the Jesuits; what we have here is but a sample. Certainly their motto, “To the greater glory of God” is blasphemy. That such can take upon themselves the name “Society of Jesus” is almost beyond comprehension. Yet that is the case. It should open our eyes to the fact, particularly in these last days, that many there are who take upon themselves the name of Christ and propagate the lie. And many more gladly follow, that lie also in the name of Christ.