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Original price £2,400.00 - Original price £2,400.00
Original price
£2,400.00 - £2,400.00
Current price £2,400.00

[Jansenism]: Tractatus de Misterio prædestinationis et gratiæ. [France], 1743

An attractive and unlocated Jansenist treatise—apparently in fair copy—concerning predestination and grace, with particular emphasis on repudiating the ideas of the Jesuit Luis de Molina (1535-1600). The manuscript is neatly presented across three volumes, each of which is strikingly bound in contemporary, green-stained vellum. The text is predominantly in Latin.

The Jansenist movement had an Augustinian stance on predestination and grace, viewing that only the Elect would be saved by God. As such they clashed especially with Jesuits, who held a more optimistic position on free will (cf. Strayer 2008, p. 2, 13). This treatise on predestination presents a Jansenist perspective on the topic with supporting theological, historical, and biographical context.

The treatise opens with a substantial introductory section exploring various systems of thought relating to predestination and grace. Much of this space is devoted to outlining seven different approaches to the topic: Pelagianism (20-32), Semi-Pelagianism (pp. 32-44), Augustinianism (45-49), Thomism (49-143), Lutheranism and Calvinism (pp. 144-154), Molinism (pp. 155-299), and Congruism (pp. 299-316).

Thereafter follows a dissertation entitled ‘De statu naturae purae’ (‘Concerning the state of pure nature’ vol. 1, pp. 316-404), which does not appear to be identical with the section with this name in book II of Jansen’s Augustinus (compare Jansen 1640, vol. 2, cols. 789-882). This is followed by further dissertation entitled ‘De aequilibrio voluntatis’ (‘Concerning the balance of will’, vol. 1, pp. 405-479).

At the end of the first volume, the treatise shifts towards the lives and ideas of significant individuals relevant to the topic at hand. The first of these (vol. 1, pp. 479-512) is Michael Baius (1513-1589), who ‘prepared the fertile soil in which Jansenism sprouted and grew’ and explored grace at the University of Louvain (Strayer 2008, pp. 19-20). The treatise then moves on to Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), after whom the theological movement was ultimately named (vol 2, pp. 1-263). The text makes reference to Jansen’s Augustinus, a posthumously published work in which Jansen explored St. Augustine’s teaching on grace and predestination.

A section of the treatise is also devoted to Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719), whose Réflexions morales marked an important contribution to Jansenist thought and triggered controversy (vol. 2, pp. 264-578). The 101 propositions from Réflexions morales condemned by the papal bull Unigenitus are included here in two neatly divided columns, with parallel Latin-French translations (vol 2, pp. 276-288).

The third volume is dedicated to repudiating the errors of Molinism with support from the works of Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. Molina advocated for the idea of ‘God’s “sufficient grace”, which, though granted to everyone, became “efficacious for salvation” only with the individual’s consent, which God must respect (limiting God’s predestination to foreknowledge)”’ (Strayer 2008, p. 20). Volume three is divided into five sections:

De Scientia Dei circa actiones creaturarum liberas’ (‘Concerning God’s knowledge of free actions of creatures’, pp. 1-41)

‘De Voluntate Dei circa salutem hominum et angelorum’ (‘Concerning God’s will with respect to the salvation of humans and angels’, pp. 41-128)

‘De praedestinatione’ (‘Concerning predestination’, pp. 129-248)

‘De reprobatione’ (‘Concerning exclusion from salvation’, p. 248-260)

‘De Gratia’ (‘Concerning grace’, pp. 260-539).

The author(s) of this attractively-presented manuscript remain unknown, but two of the volumes are dated 1743.


Manuscript, 3 volumes, each approx. 17.5 x 11.5 cms in binding, vol. 1: pp. 1-454, 456-512; vol 2: pp. 578 [3]; vol. 3: pp. [2] 539 [3]. All except 8 pages with writing. Written in a single hand throughout. Written area approx. 14.5 x 8.5 cms, often c.30 lines to the page but variable. Generally in long lines but volume 2 occasionally has two columns (pp. 276-288) or three columns (pp. 37-39 and parts of pp. 40, 53). Catchwords present. Volumes 1 and 2 are given title pages.

Small leaf (approx. 8 x 8 cms square) tipped in between pp. 125-126 of volume 1, containing supplementary text in the same hand). Folios have occasionally been excised across all three volumes, apparently by the scribe as the catchwords consistently match up with the following text. There is no gap in pagination at these points.

All three volumes bound in green vellum over boards, sewn on five supports. Volume three has gold-tooled brown goatskin labels to second and third spine compartments (respectively ‘TRACT DE MISTERE’ and ‘TOM III’). Volume 1 has volume label only, volume 2 has title label only. All edges red on all three volumes. All original endpapers present.

Condition (textblock): light or medium browning, some light spotting and staining, occasional minor damage to blank margins, page numbers partially trimmed on pp. 336-337 and 394 of volume 2. Condition (binding): Spotting and some damage to endpapers; several detaching. Staining and scratching to vellum. All front covers slightly sprung. Joints cracked or cracking (volume 3 with vellum peeling at top joint), loss to labels, but an attractive and vibrant set.


  1. All three volumes have remnants of a handwritten white/cream label to lowermost spine compartment, circular with scalloped edges, surviving most fully on volume three (43[3] | 12 ?).
  2. Volume 1 has miscellaneous pencil notes to recto of front free endpaper. Volume 2 has pencil note to front pastedown (29/4) 3.
  3. Formerly in the collection of Achille and Henri Moranvillé (1827-1895; 1863-1946).
  4. Paris, Tessier & Sarrou, 9 February 2016, lot 16. 5.
  5. Item purchased by us from an indirect source.


This title does not appear in OCLC or CCFr.

Jansen, Cornelius, Cornelii Iansenii Episcopi Iprensis Augustinus seu doctrina S. Augustini… Tomus II… (Louvain: Typis Iacobi Zegeri, 1640).

Strayer, Brian E., Suffering Saints: Jansenists and Convulsionnaires in France, 1640-1799
(Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2008).