Two Very Different Reformation Characters

As Protestantism began to fight and win spiritual battles, it became clear that, given only a few years, Protestantism’s victory would be so complete that any opposing power would fight vainly to win the battle; for a new light was shining and a new life was stirring the souls of men. Schools of learning, pure churches and free nations were rising up in different parts of Europe. It was clear that armies would never overthrow this flourishing power. A new weapon must be forged and other armies mustered to succeed where the powers of emperors and kings had failed. “It was now that the Jesuit corps was embodied. And it must be confessed that these new soldiers did more than all the armies of France and Spain to stem the tide of Protestant success, and bind victory once more to the banners of Rome.” Wylie, History of Protestantism, book 15, 377.

Ignatius Loyola

Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, the Ignatius Loyola of history, was the founder of the Order of Jesus, or the Jesuits. His birth was near the same time as that of Luther. He was born to one of the highest Spanish families in his father’s castle, in Loyola, during the time of the wars with the Moors. He was an ardent man who caught a religious fervor and longed to distinguish himself in battle. He was wounded severely in both legs while attempting a defense of a besieged garrison. His bravery won the respect of the foe who carried him to a hospital and saved him from bleeding to death.

During his confinement he first read tales of war, but when these were finished, legends of the saints were brought to his couch. As he read of martyrs, monks and hermits, and of the conquests they achieved, he panted to rival these heroes whose battles were so pure and bright compared to the battlefield which he had known. “His enthusiasm and ambition were as boundless as ever, but now they were directed into a new channel . . . The change was a sudden violent one, and drew after it vast consequences not to Ignatius only, and the men of his age, but to millions of the human race in all countries of the world, and in all the ages that have elapsed since.” Ibid., 380.

He determined to be a knight for Mary and so he took his armaments to her shrine at Montserrat and laid them before her image. He next gave up his fine clothing and put on the filthy rags of a monk and with uncombed hair and untrimmed nails he lived in a cave near Manressa for some time. He fasted for days and underwent penances and mortifications, battling evil spirits and talking to voices heard only by him, until he was found at the mouth of the cave half dead and was carried to the town of Manressa. He spent seven hours each day on his knees and scourged himself three times a day. He planned a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and his efforts were to cleanse himself in preparation for it. His revelations included a vision of the Savior, in the Host, at mass. What further evidence did he need for proof of transubstantiation? The Virgin revealed herself to him, he believed, not fewer than thirty times.

Visions Above the Bible

There is some similarity in the early experiences of Luther and Ignatius. Both had set before them a high standard of holiness and had nearly sacrificed life to achieve it, but their pursuits led in different directions. Luther turned to the Bible for relief of his sufferings while Ignatius gave himself up wholly to visions and revelations. “It required no aid from Scripture, it was based on the belief he entertained of an immediate connection between himself and the world of spirits. This would never have satisfied Luther . . . He would have the simple, written, indubitable Word of God alone.” Ibid., 381.

Feeling that he needed better qualifications to battle Protestantism, at age thirty-five, he enrolled in school and learned Latin and then transferred to another institution to study theology. He began to preach and drew followers. This excited the notice of the Inquisition and he was arrested, but freed with a warning to hold his peace when they found no heretical bias in him.

He next moved from Spain to Paris and enrolled as a student in the College of St. Barbara. His stay in Paris coincides with a period of great religious excitement. He witnessed the time of Louis de Berquin’s martyrdom.

Louis de Berquin

“Louis de Berquin was of noble birth. A brave and courtly knight, he was devoted to study, polished in manners, and of blameless morals. ‘He was,’ says a writer, ‘a great follower of the papistical constitutions, and a great hearer of masses and sermons; . . . and he crowned all his other virtues by holding Lutheranism in special abhorrence.’ But, like so many others, providentially guided to the Bible, he was amazed to find there, ‘not the doctrines of Rome, but the doctrines of Luther.’—Wylie, book 13, chap. 9. Henceforth he gave himself with entire devotion to the cause of the gospel.

“‘The most learned of the nobles of France,’ his genius and eloquence, his indomitable courage and heroic zeal, and his influence at court,—for he was a favorite with the king,— caused him to be regarded by many as one destined to be the Reformer of his country . . . They [the Romanists] thrust him into prison as a heretic, but he was set at liberty by the king. For years the struggle continued. Francis, wavering between Rome and the Reformation, alternately tolerated and restrained the fierce zeal of the monks. Berquin was three times imprisoned by the papal authorities, only to be released by the monarch, who, in admiration of his genius and his nobility of character, refused to sacrifice him to the malice of the hierarchy . . .

“So far from adopting the politic and self-serving counsel of Erasmus, he determined upon still bolder measures. He would not only stand in defense of the truth, but he would attack error. The charge of heresy which the Romanists were seeking to fasten upon him, he would rivet upon them. The most active and bitter of his opponents were the learned doctors and monks of the theological department in the great University of Paris, one of the highest ecclesiastical authorities both in the city and the nation. From the writings of these doctors, Berquin drew twelve propositions which he publicly declared to be ‘opposed to the Bible, and heretical;’ and he appealed to the king to act as judge in the controversy.

“The monarch, not loath to bring into contrast the power and acuteness of the opposing champions, and glad of an opportunity of humbling the pride of these haughty monks, bade the Romanists defend their cause by the Bible. This weapon, they well knew, would avail them little; imprisonment, torture, and the stake were arms which they better understood how to wield. Now the tables were turned, and they saw themselves about to fall into the pit into which they had hoped to plunge Berquin. In amazement they looked about them for some way of escape.

“‘Just at that time an image of the Virgin at the corner of one of the streets, was mutilated.’ There was great excitement in the city. Crowds of people flocked to the place, with expressions of mourning and indignation. The king also was deeply moved. Here was an advantage which the monks could turn to good account, and they were quick to improve it. ‘These are the fruits of the doctrines of Berquin,’ they cried. ‘All is about to be overthrown—religion, the laws, the throne itself—by this Lutheran conspiracy.’ Ibid., book 13, chap. 9.

Berquin Martyred

“Again Berquin was apprehended. The king withdrew from Paris, and the monks were thus left free to work their will. The Reformer was tried and condemned to die, and lest Francis should even yet interpose to save him, the sentence was executed on the very day it was pronounced. At noon Berquin was conducted to the place of death. An immense throng gathered to witness the event, and there were many who saw with astonishment and misgiving that the victim had been chosen from the best and bravest of the noble families of France. Amazement, indignation, scorn, and bitter hatred darkened the faces of that surging crowd; but upon one face no shadow rested. The martyr’s thoughts were far from that scene of tumult; he was conscious only of the presence of his Lord.

“The wretched tumbrel upon which he rode, the frowning faces of his persecutors, the dreadful death to which he was going—these he heeded not; He who liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of death and of hell, was beside him. Berquin’s countenance was radiant with the light and peace of heaven. He had attired himself in goodly raiment, wearing ‘a cloak of velvet, a doublet of satin and damask, and golden hose.’ D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, book 2, chap. 16. He was about to testify to his faith in the presence of the King of kings and the witnessing universe, and no token of mourning should belie his joy.

“As the procession moved slowly through the crowded streets, the people marked with wonder the unclouded peace, and joyous triumph, of his look and bearing. ‘He is,’ they said, ‘like one who sits in a temple, and meditates on holy things.’ Wylie, book 13, chap. 9.

“At the stake, Berquin endeavored to address a few words to the people; but the monks, fearing the result, began to shout, and the soldiers to clash their arms, and their clamor drowned the martyr’s voice. Thus in 1529 the highest literary and ecclesiastical authority of cultured Paris ‘set the populace of 1793 the base example of stifling on the scaffold the sacred words of the dying.’ Ibid., book 13, chap. 9.

“Berquin was strangled, and his body was consumed in the flames. The tidings of his death caused sorrow to the friends of the Reformation throughout France. But his example was not lost. ‘We, too, are ready,’ said the witnesses for the truth, ‘to meet death cheerfully, setting our eyes on the life that is to come.’ D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, book 2, chap. 16.” The Great Controversy, 215–219.

The Society of Jesus

Ignatius Loyola began to attract devoted followers who he put through a rigid course of discipline.”Thus it was that he mortified their pride, taught them to despise wealth, schooled them to brave danger and contemn luxury, and inured them to cold, hunger, and toil; in short, he made them dead to every passion save that of the ‘Holy War’ in which they were to bear arms.” Wylie, History of Protestantism, book 15, 383.

To foster the more rapid growth of his forces, Loyola prepared his book entitled Spiritual Exercises which was a skillful imitation of the process of conviction, of alarm, of enlightenment,and of peace which the Bible calls conversion. The one who participates in the exercises during the four week course, is indeed changed, as if by a miracle. However, he does not find a Savior to lean on; he finds a rule by which he works, and works as methodically and regularly as a piece of machinery. “There are few more remarkable books in the world. It combines the self-denial and mortifications of the Brahmin with the asceticism of the anchorite, and the ecstasies of the schoolmen. It professes, like the Koran, to be a revelation.” Ibid., 384.

In August of 1534, his little army of nine followers joined him for mass at the Church of Montmartre, in Paris. They took a solemn oath to dedicate their lives and services to the Pope. Following their solemn oath, the little army proceeded to Rome. In Rome, Loyola at last found recognition as his new order was given approval by Pope Paul III. Its rules and constitution were drafted and approved and the new order was named The Company of Jesus since Ignatius claimed to have received their constitution by revelation, in the cave at Manressa, directly from Christ. His name they should bare. The date of the papal bull giving formal existence to the order was 1540. Ignatius Loyola became the first General of the order.

The Constitutions were declared a revelation from God and yet their contents were secret. Each General has power to add to them and there are many volumes. The powers of the General are vast. He acts without control of any other body, without responsibility to anyone, and without law. From his orders there is no appeal even to the Pope. His powers are absolute. Through the hierarchy of the Jesuit structure, he has a network of information gathering, regarding everything of interest to their plans, from an intimate knowledge of each member to the secrets of governments.

Enrollment in the Society of Jesus is allowed only after undergoing a severe and long-continued course of training. At the successful completion of the course and, after being closely watched, tested and noted, the member promises absolute obedience to the General.

Moral Code of the Jesuits

Loyola sent forth his men fully equipped to prosecute the war against Protestantism. He gave them the Institutions. “They were set free from every obligation, whether imposed by the natural or Divine law.” Ibid., 393. They were cut off from their country as they vowed to go wherever they were sent and to give allegiance to a sovereign higher than the monarch of any nation—their General. They were cut off from family and friends. They were cut off from wealth and property since they must give everything that they might inherit to the society. “Nay, more, the Jesuits were cut off even from the Pope. For if their General ‘held the place of the Omnipotent God,’ much more did he hold the place of ‘his Vicar’. . .

“They were a Papacy within a Papacy—a Papacy whose organization was more perfect, whose instincts were more cruel, whose workings were more mysterious, and whose dominion was more destructive than that of the old Papacy.” Ibid. 394.

They supplied themselves with their own ethical code which allowed them exemption from all human authority and from every earthly law as well as from the law of God. “The keynote of their ethical code is the famous maxim that the end sanctifies the means . . . There are no conceivable crime, villainy, and atrocity which this maxim will not justify.” Ibid.

Regicide and Murder

“The lawfulness of killing excommunicated, that is Protestant, kings, the Jesuit writers have been at great pains to maintain.” Ibid., 398. The society was first banished from France, as a society detestable and diabolical, from the evidence of papers written by the Jesuit Guignard, a Professor of Divinity, which supported the murder of Henry III and maintained that the same should be done to Henry IV.

The track of the Jesuits may be traced in every country in Europe by their bloody foot-prints. Henry III and Henry IV both fell by their dagger. The King of Portugal dies by their order. The great Prince of Orange is dispatched by their agent, shot down at the door of his own dining room. There were many attempts to murder Elizabeth and yet she escaped. Clement XIV, the Pope who tried to banish the order was poisoned. The Gunpowder Plot, the St. Bartholomew massacre, and the “Invincible Armada” is associated with the Jesuits. “What a harvest of plots, tumults, seditions, revolutions, torturings, poisonings, assassinations, regicides, and massacres has Christendom reaped. Nor can we be sure that we have yet seen the last and the greatest of their crimes.” Ibid., 399.