Source:

Manuscript held by G. W. Leibniz Bibliothek, Hanover
Shelfmark LH 1, 20 Bl. 350



Date: first half of March 1684

Translated from the French



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LEIBNIZ: NOTES AND COMMENTS ON BRUEYS' EXAMINATION OF THE REASONS WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE SEPARATION OF PROTESTANTS


[LH 1 20 Bl. 350r]

Examen des raisons qui ont donné lieu à la séparation des Protestans, fait sans prévention sur le Concile de Trente, sur la Confession de Foy des Eglises Protestantes, & sur l'Ecriture Sainte. Par M. Brueys, Avocat de Montpelier. Suivant la Copie de Paris, à la Haye. Chez Henry van Bulderen, Marchand Libraire, in de Pooten. 1683. 12°.

He says in his preface: "scarcely had I completed the response I wrote some time ago to the book of the Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church1 than I realized that my frequent reading of this book, in order to respond to it, had raised in my mind certain sentiments on the subject of religion, which till then had been unknown to me ... since the clarifications and instructions that Mr. de Meaux gave verbally have made me overcome all my scruples.2 So ... I'm almost just copying his sentiments."3 In the Examination itself, page 2, [he says] that there was a crass ignorance among Catholics at the beginning of the last century, a corruption of behaviour that strangely boiled over ... that God allowed the separation of Protestants by an effect of his justice, to punish the depravity of men, and by an effect of his kindness, to remove them from their ignorance.4 "For this separation so odious," (he says), "to consider it by the sad spectacles it gave to the world, at the same time dispelled the darkness of ignorance by forcing Christians to apply themselves more than they did before to the knowledge of the things that concern their salvation."5 "A Protestant is very conceited if, considering the terrible devastation which accompanied this separation, he admits that God allowed it by an effect of his justice to punish men for their irregularity. And a Catholic would be very insincere if, considering the marvellous progress that has been made since that time in the science of salvation, he admitted that God allowed it by an effect of his kindness, to remove men from their ignorance..."6 To enter the Examination: one must first of all get rid of the prejudices that come from the exterior of religion[s], which is completely different, and which on one side appears simple and modest, on the other great and magnificent. These things, though unimportant, have "sown in our minds the first seeds of aversion and animosity: ... our nurses were our first teachers, and it was almost with milk that we made our first commitments."7
     He cites the book by the Bishop of Meaux entitled Conference avec M. Claude ministre de Charenton [Conference with Mr. Claude, Minister of Charenton, on the subject of the Church].8
     On p3 of the Roman catechism it notes regarding the invocation of the saints that if the intervention of the saints is injurious to Jesus Christ, the intercession of the faithful who pray for one another is so too.9
     p52: "I admit that there is no corruption of which unenlightened people are not capable ... but it must also be admitted ... that the Council of Trent ... very expressly orders ... [us] to beware of abuses which can creep in and to explain properly to people the use ... of these things."10 "Never has so much care been taken in France than is taken today to correct these abuses."11 "The books ... of instruction ... which are unceasingly brought to light ... in the vulgar language ... must make the Protestants admit ... that even if in the past they were right to reproach the Catholics for some abuses, they would today be wrong to make the same reproaches, and ... if there is still something among them [Catholics] that wounds them [Protestants], they [Protestants] must hope in the future for a complete reformation thereof, since all the care of prelates and all persons of piety have thankfully turned in this direction."12
     p99: "I admit that perhaps some of those who at the beginning of the last century were the first to exclaim and write against the abuses that some individuals were committing against the intention of the Pope and the Church on the subject of indulgences ... took pen in hand to support a good cause. I admit that perhaps also some of those who, because of the crass ignorance and general corruption in behaviour of that time, demanded a reformation, were people zealous for the glory of God. But I maintain ... that their zeal ... then became ill-considered ... The Reformation was therefore just ... but the separation was unjust."13
     p107: "the only way to achieve a general and uncontested Reformation is to draw us back into the communion we have left. Who does not know that the opinions which come to us from those who have broken off commerce with us are usually badly received, however salutary they may be? While we are in serious disagreement, everything is suspect: each stubbornly defends his own side; nothing is agreed upon; the slightest step is made a point of honour; and nothing is yielded in even the most unimportant things. But when those who had wanted to break away from us come back to us, and ask us again for our union and our friendship, then the hatred and animosities fall away on both sides [LH 1, 20 Bl. 350v] and give way to reason and justice: we listen to each other peacefully, we mutually agree things that are just and reasonable, and we end in a moment the difficulties that previously seemed insurmountable."14
     "This is what usually happens in the affairs of the world, and what would infallibly happen in Christianity if Protestants returned from their separation. Because to imagine that they will finally persuade the Catholics to go over to their communion, I don't think a sensible person can believe that. To imagine also, as some do, that all our differences can be ended by an accommodation made in a free and universal council - it must be admitted that this is an impossible thing."15

Monsignor Landgrave Ernst had sent me the little book from which I have drawn these things so I could read it.16 This is what I said to him about it. I find good things in the Examination of the Separation of the Protestants written by Mr. de Brueys, which I am sending back to Your Serene Highness, but when all is said and done these ways of reasoning are subject to many replies, as is the Exposition of the Bishop of Meaux that this author has followed.17 For everything hinges on this principle, that one should not remain outside the Church unless one can show that there are fundamental errors. But this is not enough. For even if a Protestant believes that there are no fundamental errors in the Roman Church, he cannot belong to it while he is required to believe things whose contrary appears to him to be true. For example, if someone believes that the pope's primacy is not juris divini [of divine right], it is no use telling him everything contained in these sorts of books, and since confession of this article is required of him, he would have to be convinced of it. I admit, however, that all kinds of reasoning, however imperfect, can be used with regard to certain people and ad hominem.





NOTES:

1. That is, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Exposition de la doctrine de l'Eglise catholique sur les matieres de controverse (Paris, 1671).
2. The bishop of Meaux at the time was Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet.
3. David-Augustin de Brueys, Examen des raisons qui ont donné lieu à la séparation des Protestans, fait sans prévention sur le Concile de Trente, sur la Confession de Foy des Eglises Protestantes, & sur l'Ecriture Sainte (The Hague: Henry van Bulderen, 1683), "avertissement" (no page numbers). As Leibniz notes, the book was a copy of one printed earlier the same year in Paris by Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy.
4. A very close paraphrase of Brueys, Examen des raisons, 2.
5. A very close paraphrase of Brueys, Examen des raisons, 2.
6. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 2-3.
7. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 11-12.
8. Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, Conference avec m. Claude ministre de Charenton: sur la matiere de l'eglise (Paris: Sebastien Mabre-Cramoist, 1682). Cited in Brueys, Examen des raisons, 24.
9. This is a close paraphrase of Brueys, Examen des raisons, 51.
10. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 52-53.
11. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 53.
12. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 54.
13. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 99-100.
14. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 107-108.
15. Brueys, Examen des raisons, 108.
16. The Landgrave sent Leibniz the book on 5/15 February 1684. See A I 4, 322.
17. Namely Bossuet's Exposition de la doctrine de l'Eglise catholique sur les matieres de controverse.


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