« AnteriorContinuar »
had the Scottish school, but it is nearly forgotten; the Eclectic school, the Humanitarian and Progressist school, Owenism, Fourierism, Saint-Simonism, Transcendentalism, and we know not how many more isms, but they all, to say the least, have culminated. The wildest disorder, confusion, and uncertainty now reign throughout the whole philosophic world. Each man has his own theory, and no two have the same. Where, then, are your boasted triumphs of reason?
You have for three hundred years been triumphing and boasting of your triumphs, and yet you do not possess the extent of territory you won during the first fifty years of your existence. You rebelled against the Church and the Schools: you demanded a reform. Well, you got it, but it was not enough. You must reform the reformation: you did so. But that would not do; you must reform the reformed reformation. Well, that you did, but found yourselves as bad off as ever. Reform had stopped short of the mark. You would reform the reformed REFORMED Reformation. You have done so, but are as far from being satisfied as you were at first. Ever a "lower deep" yawns before you. In France you have resolved the Supreme Being into void; in Germany your triumphs have resulted in Nihilism; in this country, in Hildreth's Theory of Morals, which every body scouts. Yet reason triumphs, and the mighty heart of humanity leaps and exults in the wonderful progress of her children! Be so good, Gentlemen, as to draw up an inventory of what you have really won, of what you regard as settled, and then we will talk with the triumphs of reason.
And then you talk of reason, as if reason were against the Church, and as if you were reasoners. Strange infatuation ! Happy should we be to find an opponent of the Church that could, or at least would, reason. Our great complaint against the enemies of the Church is, that they either will not or cannot reason; that they are governed by prejudice, caprice, and rarely seem able to distinguish between reason and their own fancies; whence we find them able, on the one hand, to resist the clearest demonstrations of reason, and, on the other, to believe without even the shadow of a reason. They who suppose reason has any thing to do with their opposition to Catholicity are grievously mistaken. Infidels do not reason against us, for they do not reason at all. Protestants do not reason against us; they declaim, denounce, invent idle stories and tell gross falsehoods about us; and when these fail, they burn
our convents, our churches, seminaries, dwellings, shoot us down in the street, pass severe penal laws against us, set a price on our heads, hunt us down as wild beasts. This is the way Protestantism reasons against us, and has reasoned against us for three hundred years; and it is by such arguments, which you call reason, and we unreason, that she has won her boasted triumphs. O my brother, say no more about reason, for reason laughs you in the face, and scorns the relationship you claim.
Then, again, where are the evidences that Rome has fallen to rise no more? Do you find them in the violent hostility manifested at this very moment throughout all Protestantdom against Catholicity? Do you find them in the Protestant unions, the "Native American" mobs in this country, and the Free Corps in Switzerland? Do you find them in the multitude of books and pamphlets against the Church with which a licentious but all active press now is teeming? Why this fear and consternation? Why do the heathen rage, and the Protestant people imagine a vain thing? Do Protestants tremble before the fallen? do they trample on the dead? Do you find the proofs of your assertion in the fact, that never, since the commission was given to the Apostles to teach all nations, has the Church been more united, more active, more vigorous, more faithful in the discharge of her high trusts, and that she has never, at any one period, counted a larger number of members than at this moment? Strange evidences, these, that Rome has fallen to rise no more. A single Jesuit makes whole masses of Protestants and infidels tremble and turn pale. Why this blanching of the cheek, and this trembling of the frame, before the Church, if it be defunct? Is it that a dead lion is better than a living dog? O my friends, be not deceived! Rome has not fallen, and your very fears and deadly rage prove it. The Church is not dead, cannot die; for she is immortal, the living Spouse of the living God. She will outlive, ay, and triumph over, all her enemies; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, and hath declared it. Vain is your rage, impotent is your malice. You may harm yourselves, but her you cannot harm.
Mr. Hildreth and some others take considerable pains to account for our conversion to the Catholic Church, and, assuming that we must needs be still a Protestant at heart, conclude that it must have been in consequence of visions of lawn sleeves, a cardinal's hat, and perhaps of a Yankee pope, that floated in the distance before us. It is a pity to spoil their so
lution of the problem, but we are obliged to tell them, they are quite wrong, for there is a lady in the way, and known to be in the way, of the realization of such visions, before our conversion. Married men cannot take orders in the Church, and one cannot aspire to a cardinal's hat unless he be in orders. Whatever might be our personal ambition, or however capable we might be of having respect, as the President of Dartmouth College has it, to "the purple glory," we can, as a Catholic, be nothing but a simple layman. There can be no dispensation in our favor, and we must submit.
Moreover, if there were no barrier of the kind intimated, it is not quite so certain that we could attain to the "purple glory." He must know little of the Church, and of her thousands upon thousands of meritorious sons, who could dream that one so insignificant as ourselves could ever be thought of, save by her enemies, as a candidate for her honors. Mr. Hildreth and others estimate us quite above our merits. We are nothing to the Church, except as we have a soul to be saved. It was not the Church that needed us, but we that needed the Church; and we would fain hope that a poor sinner, long beaten about in the world, might fly to her maternal bosom and find peace for his troubled conscience, rest for his wearied soul, and helps to a holy life, without dreaming of lawn sleeves, or even a cardinal's hat. These things do not have such powerful attractions for Catholics as they seem to have for Protestants. To the true Catholic, earth has no honors he cares for; to him, no crown is desirable but the crown of life, and no glory but the glory of God. The Catholic religion teaches us that this world is not our home, that the great ends of our existence are not attained in this life, and our real good can come from nothing earthly, temporal, or changeable. It teaches that we were made for heaven, to find our good in serving God here, and in enjoying him for ever hereafter. It bids us, therefore, to place our affections on things above, to aspire to the eternal and the immutable, to labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life. To the soul that listens to and obeys this teaching, the honors and distinctions of this life, all that the men of the world live for and aspire to, are vanity, yea, less than vanity and nothing. Nor was it only in olden times this teaching could be received, and believed. Men still hear it, believe it, and, we trust, strive to obey it, as incredible as it may seem to the great mass of our Protestant and infidel brethren.
We have now remarked on all the points in Mr. Hildreth's Letter which we have thought worth while to notice. Mr. Hildreth intimates, in the conclusion of his Letter, that another Review will soon be commenced, to be, we presume, the organ of views similar to his own, perhaps to be edited by himself. Be this as it may, it is his affair and not ours. But, if he expects us to reply to any thing more he may write, he must write in a style somewhat different from that adopted in the letter before us. He must try to write, if not as a Christian, at least as a gentleman. We have replied to him now, because we really felt compassion for him, and were actually touched by the severity with which he had been treated from all quarters, and because we did not wish him to feel that he was entirely an outcast. He has talents, and, we can believe, benevolent intentions; and we have wished that he might have an opportunity to redeem himself, and devote his very considerable powers to the cause of truth and good morals, if not to religion, at least to natural morality and social improvement. We take our leave of him, with our wishes for his speedy recovery from his foolish notions, and for his future usefulness.
ART. IV. The Episcopal Observer, Vol. I., No. III. BosMay, 1845. Monthly.
THIS periodical, the recently established organ of the Evangelical division of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in its number for May last, contains an attempted refutation of the article headed The Church against No-Church, in our last Review. The writer of the pretended refutation seems, like the New-York Churchman, to have taken umbrage at our assertion, that we had, in the two preceding numbers of our Journal, refuted the pretensions of both High-Church and Low-Church Episcopalians; but we assure him, that, when he or any other Episcopalian shall show us any tolerable reason for thinking we have not done so, we shall be both ready and happy to retract that assertion, and to do all in our power to heal the wounded feelings of our Episcopal friends.
The writer in the Observer, after a preliminary flourish or
two, says his " purpose is now to have the pleasure of refuting" us. We presume from this that his purpose is to have the pleasure of refuting the main position or leading doctrine of the article. That position, or doctrine, as we stated it, is, that, "with this theory alone (the No-Church theory), it is impossible to elicit an act of faith": or, in other words, that it is not possible to elicit an act of faith, unless we accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church as the witness and expounder of God's word. Now, to refute this, it is not enough to invalidate our reasoning in this or that particular, but it is necessary to prove positively that an act of faith can be elicited by those who reject this authority. But this the writer has not done, and, so far as we can see, has not even attempted to do. He cannot, then, whatever else he may have done, have refuted us. All he has done, admitting him to have done all he has attempted, is, to prove, not that we were wrong in asserting the necessity of the authority of the Church to eliciting an act of faith, but that it is impossible for any one to elicit an act of faith at all, as we shall soon have occasion to see.
But, in point of fact, the writer has not done what he attempted; he has not invalidated our reasoning in a single particular; and if he has succeeded in refuting any one, it is himself. He begins by giving, professedly, a synopsis of our argument; but his synopsis is very imperfect. It leaves out several distinct positions we assumed and attempted to establish as essential to the argument we were conducting. If this is by design, it impeaches the fairness and honesty of the writer; if unintentional, it shows that he did not comprehend the article he undertook to refute, and impeaches his capacity.
Our readers will recollect that we begin our argument by assuming, that, in order to be saved, to be acceptable to God, to enter into life, it is necessary to be a Christian. We then proceed to establish, 1. That, in order to be a Christian, it is necessary to be a believer, to believe somewhat; 2. That this somewhat is TRUTH, NOT FALSEHOOD; 3. That the truth we are to believe is the truth Jesus Christ taught or revealed; and, 4. That this truth pertains, in part, at least, to the supernatural order. Now, the second position, namely, that, in order to be a Christian believer, it is necessary to believe TRUTH, NOT FALSEHOOD, the Observer entirely omits, and takes no notice of it, in its attempted refutation of us. Why is this? The Observer cannot suppose we inserted this proposition without a design, or that it is of no importance to our argument. The position is
VOL. II. NO. III.