Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Preface by the American Publisher.

The "Secreta Monita Societatis Jesu" or "Secret Instructions of the Jesuits" is a very curious work, and seldom to be met with in this country. A number of editions of it have been published in Europe, in the English, French, German and Dutch languages. The present edition is taken from that published in London by Walthoe in 1723, and dedicated to Sir Robert Walpole, afterwards Lord Oxford, and prime minister of England, in the reigns of George I., and George II. It is thought best, after the example of that edition, to print the Latin original page by page with the English version, that the learned and the plain reader may be equally suited; and that there may be no room left for doubt whether the translation, in any instance, be fairly made.

On the first appearance of these "Secret Instructions" before the public, the Jesuits were greatly offended, and denied their authenticity; and it is not known that that body has ever yet acknowledged them to be in reality what their title imports. This circumstance, however, when we consider the character of the Jesuits, and the principles upon which they are known to act, forms no solid objection to the authenticity of the work; especially when we take into consideration the following facts.

In a work, in the British Museum, printed at Venice, in 1596, and entitled Formulae diversarum Provisionum a Gaspare Passarello summo studio in unum collectae per Ordinem in suis Locis annotatae; these Secreta Monita are found. in manuscript, at the end, and appear evidently to have been entered therein by a Jesuit for his own private use. They contain the solemn caution, at the close, that they be carefully guarded, and communicated but to few, and those only the well-tried members of the Society; and also the injunction, that they must be denied to be the Rules of the Society, if ever they should be imputed to it.

There was an English edition of this work printed in 1658. The statement prefixed to that edition affirms, that when Christian, Duke of Brunswick, took possession of Paderborn, in Westphalia, he seized on the Jesuits' College there, and gave their Library, together with all their collection of manuscripts to the Capuchins, who discovered the Secreta Monita among the archives of the Rector, and that other copies were also found at Prague and elsewhere.

The learned and excellent Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, published an English translation of the work, in 1669. The well known character of that prelate is a sufficient pledge that he would never have given the sanction of his name to a work of doubtful authority, or which was adapted to mislead the public.

The Editors of the Christian Observer, who are well known to be learned and pious members of the established Church of England in the 14th Vol. of their work, pages 168, and 169, speak of this work in the following language: —

"It has already been intimated, that had the crimes charged upon the Society of Jesuits, been chargeable rather upon the spirit of the times than upon the institution; had they originated rather in the vices of a few individuals, connected with that Society, than in the genius of the Order itself: had they been rather the accidental than the necessary fruits of its constitution, we might have deemed it right to say less on the subject. But the fact appears to be, that, taking human nature and the state of society as they are, we cannot conceive that such an order could exist in the world, and such consequences not arise. But this is a matter of proof rather than of assertion; and we will, therefore, begin by laying before our readers some account of the Society, drawn psirtly from accredited historical authorities, and partly from the Secreta Monita, or the hidden Rules of the order; — rules carefully concealed during that long period, in which men felt the blow, without seeing the hand which struck it; — rules the discovery of which, at once armed all Europe against the Society.

The first copy of the Secreta Monita was discovered in the Jesuit's College at Paderbarn, in Westphalia; and a second at Prague. A Preface directs that they shall be communicated even to the initiated, with the utmost caution; and as the result of personal experience, not as the written rules of the Order. And in the case of their falling into the hands of strangers, "they must be positively denied to be the rules of the Society." The Rules of the Order were not completed by the founder of the institution: they were enlarged and perfected by some of the most distinguished followers of Loyola; and in particular, Lainez is supposed to have been the author of the Secreta Monita."

The Editors of the Christian Observer then proceed to give large extracts from the work, as exhibiting, in a manner worthy of entire confidence, the real principles of the Jesuits.

Again, in a learned and interesting History of the Jesuits published in London in the year 1816, in two volumes, octavo, and dedicated to the Right Honorable Charles Abbot, Speaker of the British House of Commons, the author, after giving a long induction of facts, some of which have been already stated above, to show that the Secreta Monita, though denounced by the Jesuits as a forgery, is really their own work, and an authentic record of their Rules, subjoins the following remarks:—

"In addition to the observations which have been adduced in support of the Secreta Monita, there appears to be some collateral evidence in favor of their genuineness from the circumstance of their being little else than an echo of the debased morality and corrupt casuistry of the Jesuits; as well as a practical exposition of their pernicious principle of the lawfulness of 'doing evil that good may come'."

"It may be asserted without the hazard of refutation, that the Secteta Monita contain no regulation which the Jesuits have not promulgated under another form, nor one which they have not actually reduced to practice. It is no more than a summary of rules resulting from their various doctrines; which rules, although they may strike the more forcibly from being thus collected in a single focus; may all (if taken separately, and reduced to their primitive elements) be plainly shown to emanate from doctrines which have been avowed and acted upon by the members of that Order, from its earliest origin.

"Another circumstance which may be noticed, as furnishing further collateral evidence to the authority of the "Secreta Monita," is the fact, that the Jesuits were always known to possess and act upon other rules, than those which were publicly avowed by them, and which "secret Rules" were understood to be confided to their Rectors and Superiors alone. The University of Paris, so far back as the year 1624, reproached the Jesuits with being governed by private laws, neither sanctioned by Kings, nor registered by Parliaments; and which they were afraid to communicate, having done all in their power to prevent their being seen by any other than those of the Society."

Again, the Bisbop of Angelopolis, whose letter has so often been referred to, inquires with reference to this fact: —

"What other religion has a secret Constitution, hidden privileges, and concealed laws of its own? And what other has all those things which relate to its government, involved in so much mystery? There is suspicion in mystery. The rules of all other Orders are open to all: even the Rules and Canons of Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, and the whole Clergy; the privileges, instructions and statutes of other religious Orders, may be seen and consulted in almost every Library; and the lowest novice of the Franciscan Order may read at one view what his duty would be, if he should ever become the General of his Order. The superiors of the Jesuits do not govern them by the rules of the Church, which are known to all, but by certain SECRET RULES, which are known only to those superiors." [See p. 36 of the Letter, Edit. Cologne, 1666]

In the Edinburgh Encyclopsedia Vol XI. Art. JESUITS, we find the Secreta Monita referred to, with confidence, as an accredited document, which, though denied by those to whom it properly belongs, was regarded by the Editors as a work of undoubted authenticity, and as exhibiting the real spirit and character of the Jesuits as manifested by all other sources of evidence. They accordiogly make large extracts from the work, in proof of the deplorable profligacy, both of principle and practice, chargeable upon the Order.

The celebrated work, entitled, The Protestant, published in a series of periodical Essays, at Glasgow, in North Britain, in the years, 1818, 1819, 1820, and 1821, in 4 Vols., octavo, is regarded with deep respect by all who are acquainted with it. The editor and author was a Mr. McGavin, a Ruling Elder, of distinguished talents and information in that city. Of this work, the Rev. Robert Hall, whose praise for vigor of mind, erudition, and eloquence is in all the Churches of Great Britain, as well as of the United States — speaks decisively, as containing the fullest delineation of the Popish system, and the most powerful confutation of its principles, in a popular style, of any work he had ever seen. "Whoever," he adds "wishes to see Popery drawn to life, in its hideous wickedness and deformity, will find abundant satisfaction in the pages of that writer." And the numerous authorities quoted by Mr. McGavin, the Secreta Monita find a conspicuous place. He alludes to the fact, that the Jesuits themselves pronounce the work a forgery of their enemies; but he considers the evidence in support of its authenticity as admitting of no reasonable question, a makes large extracts from it, in proof of his allegations.

After all, however, as has been already hinted, the question, whether the Secreta Monita were really drawn by the Jesuits, and recorded as the general code of principles by which their Order is regulated; — is a question comparatively unimportant, as long as we know so fully from other sources, and with unquestionable certainty, that the spirit of this system of instruction is the spirit of their Society. Even if the little Volume now before us, be not, literally, their work; — they have been, undoubtedly chargeable with acting upon the principles which it contains, in all cases in which they had an opportunity of carrying these principles into effect. This will appear if we attend to the testimony of some of the most learned and impartial historians who have attempted to delineate their character.

Dr. Mosheim, whose erudition and laborious fidelity, in general, as an ecclesiastical historian, are well known, gives the following dark picture of the moral system of this order:—

"In the sphere of morals, the Jesuits made still more dreadful and atrocious inroads than in that of religion. Did we affirm, that they have perverted and corrupted almost all the various branches and precepts of morality, we should not express sufficiently the pernicious tendency of their maxims. Were we to go still further, and maintain that they have sapped and destroyed us very foundations, we should maintain no more than what innumerable writers of the Romish Church abundantly testify, and what many of the most illustrious communities of that Church publicly lament. Those who bring this dreadful charge against the sons of Loyola have taken abundant precautions to vindicate themselves against the reproach of calumny in this matter. They have published several maxims inconsistent with all regard for virtue, and even decency, which they have drawn from the moral writings of that Order, and more especially from the numerous productions of its casuists."

And again:—

"After what has been observed in relation to the moral system of the Jesuits, it will not be difficult to assign a reason for the remarkable propensity that is discovered by kings, princes, the nobility and gentry, of both sexes, and an innumerable multitude of persons of all ranks and conditions, to commit their consciences to the direction, and their youth to the care, of the brethren of this Society. It is, no doubt, highly convenient for persons, who do not pretend to a rigid observance of the duties of religion and morality, to have spiritual guides, who diminish the guilt of transgression; disguise the deformity of vice; let loose the reins to all the passions; nay, even nourish them by their dissolute precepts; and render the way to heaven as easy, as agreeable and as smooth as is possible."

Nor is the representation given of this Society by Dr. Robertson the learned and eloquent historian of Charles V. in any respect more favorable.

"As it was," he remarks, "for the honor and advantage of this society, that its members should possess an ascendant over persons in high rank, or of great power, the desire of acquiring and preserving such a direction of their conduct, with greater facility, has led the Jesuits to propagate a system of relaxed and pliant morality, which accommodates itself to the passions of men, which justifies their vices, which tolerates their imperfections, which authorizes almost every action that the most audacious or crafty politician would wish to perpetrate."

And further on:—

"It was a fundamental maxim with the Jesuits, from their first institution, not to publish the rules of their order. These they kept concealed as an impenetrable mystery. They never communicated them to strangers, nor even to the greater part of their own members. They refused to produce them when required by courts of justice; and, by a strange solecism in policy, the civil power in different countries, authorized or connived at the establishment of an order of men, whose constitution and laws were concealed with a solicitude, which alone was a good reason for excluding them."

And even Mr. Hume, though far from being rigid in his moral principles, or particularly prejudiced against the Komish Church; and although he manifests a disposition to give due credit to the Jesuits in regard to points for which they might be considered as meriting commendation;—yet sums up their character in the following decisive language:—

"This reproach, however, they must bear from posterity, that, by the very nature of their institution, they were engaged to pervert learning, the only effectual remedy against superstition, into a nourishment of that infirmity; and as their erudition was chiefly of the ecclesiastical and scholastic kind, (though a few members have cultivated polite literature) they were only the more enabled, by that acquisition, to refine away the plainest dictates of morality, and to erect a regular system of casuistry, by which prevarication, perjury, and every crime, where it served their ghostly purposes, might be justified and defended."

It is no valid objection to the truth of these representations, that some individuals of eminent piety and Christian devotedness, have, now and then, been found in this far famed Society. The Constitution of their Order, before alluded to, affords an ample solution of this apparent difficulty. The truth is, the Jesuits, among a great majority of unprincipled members, found it necessary to have a few of high literary and theological qualifications, united with exemplary piety, because there were some departments of their public service, for which such men alone were fitted. From these we are told, they withheld, as for as possible, and, in some cases completely, all knowledge of the profligate parts of their system.

The frame of their government was such as to admit of this. And in this way we are to account for the fact that two or three names precious to the friends of piety, and a few others of honorable reputation, have been found in the catalogue of their members. These men were selected for high and worthy work, and were, of course, according to the system of the order, kept in ignorance of the worst features of their practical system. Nay, it seems to have been an important object with the leader of the Society, to have a number of members, decidedly pious and exemplary in their whole character, whose word would be implicitly credited by all who knew them, and who, in case of the Secreta Monita, and other obnoxious principles of the Order, becoming public, might be able, with truth to declare, that they knew nothing of their existence.