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THE LIFE AND WORKS OF QUESNEL.

BY REV. DANIEL WILSOX, M. A.

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The Gospels, with Moral Reflections on each He began soon to compose books of piety,

verse. "By Pasquier Quesnel. In three vols. chiefly for the use of the young people Glusgow : William Collins.

entrusted to his care. It was in this The moral reflections of Pasquier Ques- course that he was led to write the first nel on the Gospels are deserving of pecu- portion of those Reflections which, thirty liar attention. The author himself was

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afterwards, kindled so ardent a cona remarkable man; the work is of the troversy. One or two persons of distinchighest value in its particular line, and tion having been much delighted with the controversy connected with it, is fruit- them, encouraged him to extend his notes ful of the most important instruction.

to the whole of the Gospel ; for at first Our subject is, indeed, curious and edi- they comprehended only some portions fying: a man, in the depths of a corrupt of our Lord's life--and they thus gradureligion, asserting the doctrines of the ally swelled into a very important work, grace of Christ; connecting this with a which gave a character to the age in which most penetrating view of the spiritual it appeared. It was in 1671 that the first communion of the soul with the Saviour, edition was published, under the sanction by the grace of the Holy Ghost; main. of the then Bishop of Chalons sur Marne; taining this religion during a long life; for it was not uncommon for persons of writing a book which excited the enmity that station, if men of piety, to authorize of the church to which he belonged, which and circulate works of devotion, with the drew upon him a long-continued persecu

sufferance of their superiors, so long as tion of the bitterest character; which yet the peculiar tenets of the Roman Catholic has made its way, during 150 years, into

Church were intermingled, and no great every part of Christendom; and which stir was excited about the evangelical stands at this moment unrivalled in its truths which they contained. particular class - a book which has, in Quesnel continually added to his Reits general strain, all the unction and flections during the rest of his life. He interior piety of the purest Protestant embraced the Acts of the Apostles, and writers, though it is mingled and debased the Epistles in his plan, besides enrichin other parts with many gross theological ing, by more than one half, the original

notes. His last years were dedicated to Such an author, and such a work, the preparation of a still more enlarged warrant, require, demand notice, in a day edition, with much new matter, which like the present.

was published in 1727.* Nearly sixty PASQUIER QUESNEL was born at Paris, years were thus employed, more or less, July 14th, 1634. His grandfather was a upon this pleasing and elevated task native of Scotland; but whether a Roman another proof, amongst a thousand, that Catholic or not does not appear. His nothing really excellent is the fruit of father was most probably of that persua- haste. When you come to understand sion; and our Pasquier, aster being edu- the real facts, you discover that the books cated at the University of Paris, entered which last, which form eras in theology, into the religious congregation of the which go out with a large measure of the Oratoire, in 1657. He devoted himself, Divine blessing, are the result of much from his earliest years, to the study of prayer and meditation, of thoughts often the Sacred Scriptures and of the fathers revolved and matured by degrees. Thus of the church-a combination most dan- new and important lights irradiate the gerous in a Roman Catholic student, because he connects them with the notions

• Eight years after his death. None of the of tradition and authoritative comment. earlier editions are complete.

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mind, the proximate ideas are suggested Mixed, however, with these sound and by time and occasion, errors and excre- elevated principles and habits, were many scencies are detected, topics assume a new great errors and superstitions, flowing face and consistensy, prayer brings down from his education in the bosom of the the influences of grace, all the powers of apostate church. His study of the fathers, the mind are brought to bear upon the instead of being confined to a fair and inquiry, and something is produced for scriptural consultation of their writings, the honour of God and the permanent was cramped by his reliance on them as welfare of his church.

authoritative guides. They warped his One great work is commonly as much judgment, instead of assisting it. The as one man produces ; and this the result doctrine of justification was confounded of unexpected incident, rather than of with that of sanctification ; and though express intention, in the first instance.- both were bottomed upon grace, in the Pascal left his 'Thoughts - Bacon, his most decisive manner, yet so wide a deNovum Organum - Butler, his Analogy parture from the statements of Scripture -Leighton, his Peter - Scott, his Com- could not but have an unfavourable influmentary-Cecil, his Remains-Quesnel, ence upon the whole tenour of his religion. his Reflections - a life having been, in Thus, like Pascal, Nicole, Arnauld, St.

— each case, devoted to the particular in- Cyran, and the other great names of the quiry; and the form and magnitude and same school, the highest order of excelimportance of each work having been lence on capital points was combined least of all in the first intentions of the with some glaring errors. Deep spiritwriters. Pride conceives great designs, uality of mind, unaffected humiliiy, holy and accomplishes little: humility dreads love to the Divine Saviour, a simple rethe promise of difficult undertakings and pose on the grace of the Holy Spirit, a accomplishes much.

lise of devoted and courageous obedience, Quesnel's sentiments on religion were were associated with much uncommanded now becoming known, as his book spread. prostration of the understanding to human

. His talents, his elegant style, his bril- authority, many dangerous superstitions, liancy of imagination were acknowledged and much uncharitable condemnation of

. His deep and penetrating piety was not Protestants. immediately understood. His whole life What an inconsistent creature is man; seems to have been dedicated to the love and, at the same time, what a powerful of his crucified Saviour. The fall and principle is the divine grace which can total corruption of our nature, the distinct raise him, notwithstanding many errors, necessity of grace for the production of to such an elevated point of holy love! any thing really good, the grateful adora. What force can one principle, well foltion of the purposes and will of God to- lowed out, acquire over the whole chawards his elect: these formed the founda- racter! With what charity should we tion of Quesnel's religious principles.-- judge of the persons of individuals, in They were not held merely as doctrines; ihe most corrupt churches, whilst we still they were insisted on, feli, followed out contend against those churches, for the into their consequences. A deep and faith as once delivered unto the saints ! tender humility appears in his spirit, a And let Protestants look to themselves: we deadness of affection as to the world, a may have a beam in our own eye, which perception of joy and peace in the spirit- prevents our clear discernment, when we ual life, a faith full of childlike simpli- attempt to pluck out the mote from an eye city and repose of soul on the grace and like that of Quesnel. Probably our pride power of Christ; a minute conscientious- of intellect, our cold, systematie, metaness in the application of his principles physical theology, our feeble faith, our

, to his whole conduct, a skill in detecting tame and worldly standard of practical false motives, a bold and uncompromising piety, our little humiliation and small courage in speaking truth : these were measure of real prostration of soul before the fruits of the great scriptural principles God, and our negligence of fasting and which he had imbibed.

prayer, may often be more offensive to

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our Heavenly Father than many supersti- for, from what the Bishop of Meaux obtions of the humble and spiritually-minded serves: - "This book, which contained Roman Catholic. Intellectual acuteness at first only the text of the Gospels and is nothing compared to heartfelt love.- the notes upon them, was received with His is often the fault of the understanding; an avidity and a desire of edification, ours of the affections. His is an external, which seemed to revive, in our days, the incidental effect of the circumstances of primitive zeal of Christians for the cona false education ; ours the daring dictate tinual meditation on the Word of God of curiosity and conceit. His is connected night and day. And when the notes on with submission to God; ours with re- the rest of the New Testament were bellion. His is the error of the head; added, the complete work had so great a ours of the heart.

success, that all the countries where the But we return to our narrative. It was French language is known, and the royal in 1881, that persecution first burst out city more particularly, were filled with against Quesnel. The new doctrines (for it, — the booksellers could not meet the truth, when it reappears in force, is new eagerness of the faithful - unnumbered to fallen man, especially in a very cor- editions were published one after another, rupt church,) began to attract attention. and instantly iaken off;—so that we may Numbers espoused them. The Jesuits apply to this happy event what is written were the first to take the alarm. Harlai, in the Acts, that the word of the Lord Archbishop of Paris, informed of our grew mightily, and that the number of its Pasquier's sentiments, obliged him to quit zealous readers increased every day." the capital. He took refuge at Orleans. Such was the effect which the persecuThree years afterwards, he fled to Brus- tion and the extraordinary merit of the sels, to avoid the necessity of signing an work concurred, under the blessing of absurd formulary, in which the condem- God, to produce. pation of Jansenism was allied with the But further extremities were resorted to renunciation of the natural philosophy of by the Jesuits. The Reflections had been Descartes. Here he joined the great before the world more than twenty years. Arnauld and received his last instructions. Some disturbance had been made, and the He devoted himself now to the continua- author had been driven from his country. tion of his Reflections; and in 1694, pub. But the book had a prodigious sale; inlished an edition which comprised, for fluential names were attached to it; it was the first time, the whole of the New exciting more and more the hatred of the Testament. The Jesuits had not yet human heart on the one hand, and gainprevailed. Louis-Antoine de Noailles, ing converts and readers almost innumeafterwards Archbishop of Vares, and car- rable on the other. Satan would not let dinal, was now Bishop of Chalons sur this state of things continue.

The real Marne, and scrupled not to recommend grace of God, though mixed with error, the book to his diocese. The Bishops of was maintained, and maintained boldly, Limoges, Agen, Montpellier and Sonez in the Reflections; man was laid low; afterwards did the same.

the Saviour was exalted ; the power of The celebrated. Bossuet likewise joined fallen nature to recover itself was denied; in defending the book, and the Cardinal de the Holy Ghost was honoured; the world Noailles also, when the Jesuits publicly and its pleasures were uncompromisingly attacked them. Bossuet

, in his earlier exposed; a new and holy life was delilife, seems to have inclined more to the neated and insisted on ; heaven and hell sentiments of St. Augustine and Janse- were plainly exhibited. This was enough: nius than to the contrary notions of the nothing could redeem such unpardonable Jesuits. The controversy with Fénélon faults in the eyes of the Jesuits. They had not yet soured his mind nor his ele- could not endure the strong light thrown vation at court cooled his piety. An idea on the nature of man, and the one per. may be formed of the immense circulation son of the Saviour. They saw acuiely of the Reflections, and the prodigions enough, (thongh, perhaps, Quesnel did eagerness with which they were sought not,) that such principles went to under

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mine Popery. They began their schemes the world were eager to read a work so anew. They attempted to detach the loudly denounced by the papal chair.powerful defenders of Pasquier. The Thus does persecution promote truth.--Cardinal de Noailles was rudely assailed. Never would Quesnel's Reflections have Quesnel, undaunted, prosecuted the im- been read by one-thousandth part of those provement of his book, and wrote a pro- who have now, for a century and a half, digious number of occasional pamphlets. been edified by them, unless the Jesuits He composed, also, several larger treat- had pursued the book with so bitter a ises on the Priesthood and Sacrifice of hatred. Jesus Christ--Elevations of heart towards An arrêt of council was afterwards obJesus Christ in his passion and death- tained from Louis XIV. in order to supThe Blessedness of the Christian's death press the work. This was in 1711, after - Christian Prayers - Prayers to our it had been forty years before the world. Saviour, Jesus Christ, for young people. At length the Jesuils urged the decrepit and those who desire to read the Word of and superstitious monarch, through MaGod, and especially the Gospel-Tradi- dame de Maintenon, to force the court of tion of the Romish Church on the Pre- Rome to enter into a detailed examination destination of the Saints, and on Effica- of the book, and thus settle, as they hoped, cious Grace,"

the agitated minds of men. Three years These productions only augmented the were consumed in details. At last, in rage of his enemies. The impression of 1714, the bull, known by its first word, their excellence, as works of piety, may UNIGENITUS, was issued, in which 101 be judged of from what the celebrated propositions were extracted from Quesnel, Father de Tournemine is reported to have and specifically condemned as heretical said :-—"That two pages of the Christian and dangerous,-a step which, like every Prayers contained more real unction than other since the fatal Council of Trent, (the all that had issued from the pen of the band and chain of Popish errors,) tended Jesuits, not excepting Bourdaloue." to separate the Church of Rome more and

In the mean time, Quesnel kept him- more widely from the true foundation of self in privacy at Brussels. The Jesuits, the Gospel, and to brand upon her forehowever, contrived to discover his retreat; head the broadest marks of departure from and persuaded Philip V. of Spain, (whose the faith of Christ. The spirit of Rome conscience they directed,) to send an order was never more graphically delineated to the Bishop of Malines to arrest him. than in her selecting all the most express He was now cast into prison for the name points of the Gospel, and denouncing of Christ; and would probably have lin- them, coolly and avowedly, as heretical gered there the rest of his days if he had and erroneous. not been rescued by a Spanish gentleman, The impression made at the time on who succeeded in penetrating the walls of the minds of pious Protestants, is seen in his prison, and in freeing him from his the preface to the excellent Mr. Henry's chains. He fled to Amsterdam, under the Comment on the Gospels, written just protection of the new Protestant States, after Europe had been filled with the conwho had so gloriously succeeded in esta- versations which the bull excited. He blishing their liberty. He was soon

soon gives the following specimen of the propublicly condemned as a heretic, and a positions :contumacious and seditious person, " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ names ever ready to be attached to the is the effectual principle of all manner of followers of the humble Saviour, espe- good; is necessary for every good action ; cially under a superstitious and despotic for, without it, nothing is done, nay, nogovernment. The court at Rome was thing can be done. That it is the effect next appealed to, and a decree of Clement of a sovereign grace, and the operation of XI. condemnatory of the Reflections, was the Almighty hand of God. That when obtained. Nothing, however, could stop God accompanies his word with the inthe sale. The work spread wider and ternal power of his grace, it operates in wider. Editions were multiplied. All the soul the obedience it demands. That

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faith is the first grace, and the fountain of had, some years before, defended the all others. That it is in vain for us to book; but he appears to have shrunk call God our Father, if we do not cry to from protecting it or the author, when him with a spirit of love. That there is popularity took another course. And no God nor religion where there is no Pénélon, ihe amiable, the lovely, the pious charity. That the Catholic Church com- Fénélon, took an active part in hastening prehends the angels, and all the elect, and the condemnation at Rome. His correjust men of the earth of all ages. That spondence, lately published, demonstrates it has the Word incarnate for its head, the interest he felt, and exhibits the comand all the saints for its members. That mendations he bestowed, with his own it is profitable and necessary at all times, hand, on the divine who drew up the bull. in all places, and for all soris of persons, Haughty orthodoxy and mystieal devoto know the Holy Scriptures ; and that tion are thus found to yield to the torthe holy obscurity of the Word of God rent of papal anthority, and to lend their is no reason for the laily not reading it. aid to support a corrupt and tyrannical That the Lord's day ought to be sanctified church. by reading books of piety, especially the The greatest difficulty was found in Holy Scriptures; and that to forbid Chris- obtaining the reception of the bull. Nine tians from reading the Scriptures, is to French bishops, assembled under the prohibit the use of light to the children of Cardinal de Noailles, determined to wait light." - Mr. Henry adds, “Many such for further information before it was repositions as these, which the spirit of gistered. It was not till 1718, that it was every good Christian cannot but relish as definitely accepted. In the mean time, true and good, are condemned, by the all Christendom rang with the praises of pope's bull, as impious and blasphemous. Quesnel's doctrine. Surreptitious ediBy this it appears, that Popery is still the tions were multiplied ; and the attempt same thing that ever it was -- an enemy to infix upon the peculiarities of the Gosto the knowledge of the Scriptures and pel the character of impiety and heresy, to the honour of divine grace.'

stamped the deepest mark of reprobation A merely secular policy was so openly on the church which issued the condemfollowed, both by the Christian king, as he nation. was termed, and the supple court which Quesnel survived the publication of the yielded to his interference, that the truth bull six years. These he spent in writof the doctrine scarcely came into ques- ing works of piety, and in preparing the tion. It was the policy of Rome which edition of the Reflections, which, as we was consulted. The Abbe Renaudot re- have observed, appeared in 1727, with all lates, that, on entering once the cabinet the new matter which he had noted in the of the pope, who was fond of literary men, margin of his copy. Admirable was alhe found him reading Quesnel's book.- most every additional thought; and, with “ This is an extraordinary performance," an undaunted courage, did the venerable said the pontiff ; " we have no one at saint persevere in the doctrine of the Rome capable of writing in this manner. grace of God. He employed himself, I wish I could have the author by me.” likewise, in forming Jansenist churches Yet this very man issued first the decree, at Amsterdam, where he died, December and then the bull, which condemned the 2, 1719, aged 86. work. On the feeble mind of Louis, su- He had a mind above his birth and forperstition and the Jesuits had taken up tune; a singular faculty of writing with their seat. The prince who revoked the ease, with unction and with elegance. edict of Nantz in the prime of life, was He enjoyed a robust health, which neinot likely, in the last stage of decrepitude, ther study nor journies nor continual to resist the influence which sought to trouble of mind could affect. His man overthrow an individual foe.

ners were pure and irreproachable ; and But it is more lamentable to observe, his whole soul was inflamed with the that Bossuet and Fénélon seemed to have love of God his Saviour. His book was joined in the persecution. The former honoured as the instrument of incalcu

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