Once more, as in 1580, Portugal was governed by ecclesiastics in the name of an absolute monarch; once more, as in 1580, the chief strength of the ecclesiastical party was the Society of Jesus, which still controlled the conscience and mind of the nation and of its nominal rulers, through the confessional and the schools.
In this connexion it is worth pointing out that Garnet had not thought it his duty to disclose the treasonable intrigue with the king of Spain in 1602, though there was no pretence in this case that he was restricted by the seal of confession, and his inactivity now tells greatly in his disfavour; for, allowing even that he was bound by confessional secrecy from taking action on Greenway's information, he had still Catesby's earlier revelations to act upon.
Amongst them were Jakob Boehme (Behmen), the theosophic mystic; Johann Arndt, whose work on True Christianity became widely known and appreciated; Heinrich Muller, who described the font, the pulpit, the confessional and the altar as the four dumb idols of the Lutheran Church; the theologian, Johann Valentin Andrea, the court chaplain of the landgrave of Hesse; Schuppius, who sought to restore to the Bible its place in the pulpit; and Theophilus Grossgebauer (d.
Hence casuistry and the confessional casuistry.
Half Europe was full of waverers between Protestantism and Catholicism tolerably certain to decide for the Church that offered them the cheapest terms of salvation; and even in wholly Catholic countries many, especially of the upper class, might easily be scared away from the confessional by severity.
The Polish Protestants hoped that he would take this course and thus bring about a breach with Rome at the very crisis of the confessional struggle in Poland, while the Habsburgs, who coveted the Polish throne, raised every obstacle to the childless king's remarriage.
Thus the Liguorian system surpassed all its predecessors in securing uniformity in the confessional on a basis of established usage, two advantages amply sufficient to ensure its speedy general adoption within the Church of Rome.
These were huge digests of all that popes, councils, primitive fathers had decided on every kind of question pertaining to the confessional - what exactly is a sin, what kind of questions the priests must ask, under what conditions he could give absolution.
His spirit was comprehensive; in confessional matters he was for a union of all Protestants; though a Zwinglian, his readiness to compromise with the advocates of consubstantiation gave him trouble with the Zwinglian stalwarts.
The penitentiary system, according to which the priest enforced a code of moral law in the confessional by the sanction of penance - penance which must be performed as a condition of admission to the sacrament of the Eucharist - had been from early times a great instrument in the civilization of the raw Germanic races.