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LESSONS FOR CHRISTIAN LABOURERS
LIVES OF THE JESUITS.
THE Bible frequently sends us to very strange schools. If we niay judge from its own example, the counsel of that divinely-wise book is clearly this—“Be ready to learn a useful lesson wherever you can find it, whether in friend or foe-in natures above you, or in natures beneath you." Honour to whom honour is due. The word of God had taught men that wisdom can be gleaned in every field centuries before the poet sang his much-bepraised lines about
“ Tongues in trees, sermons in stones,
Books in the running brooks, and good in every thing." It brings its lessons from the extremes of creation, for in different passages it bids us learn obedience from the angels --lowliness from little children and trustfulness in our Heavenly Father, from the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field. It enforces meekness by citing the conduct of Michael the Archangel, when he disputed with Satan about the dead body of Moses. It rebuked the fickleness of the Jewish people by the firmness many of the devotees of false gods displayed. It chides us for the unfruitfulness of our faith, by reminding us that the belief of the demons is strong enough to make them tremble. In one passage this
matchless book commands us to learn thankfulness from the beasts which perish.—“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider.” In another passage the Bible sends us to learn a careful forethought, and a wise use of golden opportunities from the birds of passage—“Yea the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed time, and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming, but my people know not the judgment of the Lord. How
ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us ?'” In a third passage indolent men, counting themselves to be the lords of creation, are commanded to learn diligence from a tiny creeping insect—"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise."
These illustrations will suffice to show that it is not out of keeping with the word of God to endeavour to draw practical lessons for an essentially Protestant audience from the history of an essentially Popish confederacy. One might claim for this his purpose the sanction of the ancient proverb, “It is lawful to learn from our enemies -but I prefer to plead the immeasurably higher authority of that book whose “ Thus saith the Lord " is with all true protestants the end of controversy, and the sufficient reason for an unfaltering confidence, and an unfailing submissiveness. It is true that the men whose labours and sufferings and self-denial constitute my theme were so ultra-papistical as to be repudiated by many of their fellow-papists. They were deemed so dangerous as to be secretly dreaded, if not openly denounced by several of those alleged successors of St. Peter, whose spiritual despotism they did so much to conserve and extend. One of the greatest men that ever bowed in degrading submissiveness to the Romish yoke, after describing certain deeds of the Jesuits, thus addressed them—“Here, Fathers, is an imposture worthy of you-here is a crime
such as only God is capable of punishing, and only you are capable of committing. My simple desire is to make you abhor yourselves, and to shew the world that after this there is nothing of which you are not capable."* Members of their own Church being judges, these men were “the extreme left” of Romanism. It may therefore seem strange to some that Protestants should think of rebuking and instructing themselves by studying the lives of the Jesuits. Possibly there
be those who censure the endeavour to shame Protestant coldness by Papistical fervour, and to chide Protestant indolence, rashness, impatience, and self-indulgence, by details of Papistical diligence, prudence, patience, and self-abnegation. To such censors our answer might be — “Go to, Sirs, we learn what we may do from the example of Him who pointed Jewish worshippers to Pagan lands, for illustrations of that religious stability in which the frequenters of the temple in Jerusalem were so mournfully lacking. “I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord; for pass over the isles of Chittim and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.”
The limits of this lecture do not allow, and its object does not demand, an attempt to give even the merest sketch of the history of the Society of Jesus. A brief recital of the leading facts will be sufficient to show its remarkable origin and its rapid growth, and to furnish materials for those practical lessons which it is my purpose to set before you. In tracing this strong and wide-spread stream back to its first shallow frontlets, we have not to go beyond the period of the Reformation. The year 1491 must be deemed a memorable year in the calendar of the Romish Church. It
* Pascal. Provincial Letters.