Imágenes de páginas

heard those words from profane lips too often; and never have we heard the multitude echoing them from their leaders but we have seen society shaken, order overthrown, virtue treated as a crime, the prisons crowded to suffocation with the loyal and the true, the scaffolds groaning beneath their burden of innocent victims, the guillotine growing weary with its unremitting toil, and the earth drenched with the blood of her fairest and her noblest children. Repeat those words outside of the City of God, in what gentle tones and peaceful accents you will, you, at least your followers, will come at last to the answer, “Love me as your brother, or I will cut your throat."

Yet suppose not that we war against the words themselves. Rightly applied, they are good, noble, and spiritstirring words. Brotherhood, fraternity, the unity of the race, and the union of all men in one grand and true association, are great ideas, and, in their only practical sense, no discovery and no possession of yours. The human race began in unity, and their unity was preserved in the race, as perpetuated by natural generation, till the confusion of tongues at Babel, and the consequent dispersion of mankind, as recorded in Genesis. Since then, in that race, unity, brotherhood, fraternity, have not existed, nor been attainable. They have since been attainable only by election and grace in the chosen people, in the "seed of Abraham" ; for there only has the ideal truth, in which alone man finds his unity, been preserved in its integrity. But there they have been, and are, and will continue to be, realized. You cannot have these without the principle from which they are derived ; and since that principle is lost in the natural human race, you can have it only as God supplies it by a new creative act, an act not included in nature, therefore supernatural,—and then only through the medium and on the conditions it pleases him to appoint. We know this is distasteful to you; but, instead of rejecting it, you would do well to correct your taste, or put yourselves in the way of having it corrected.

Since the calling of Abrahain, the father of the faithful, the true integral human race has been found only in his posterity by election, the chosen people of God, that is, the Catholic Church. It is there only that the race, broken by the fall, and deprived by guilt of the unity in which alone is true intellectual and true spiritual life, can be reintegrated, restored to pristine unity, and enabled to live a normal life. Out of this society you may vegetate, you may intellectually conceive of unity, nay, even intellectually apprehend many fragments of the truth which is whole and entire in it; but come into immediate relation with it, participate of it and become one in its unity, you cannot. Concoct as many theories of unity, of association, as you please, they will be only theories of unity, they will not be it; contrive all the machinery you can invent for realizing it, and you will find yourselves with a well-spread table of-empty platters and glasses ; for if you have it not as the integral principle of your life, you must be born again or you cannot have it, cannot partake of it otherwise than as a hungry man eats rich viands in his dreams, and awakes and finds it was only in his dreams.

The history of gentilism, from the dispersion of mankind in the days of Phaleg, should have taught the associationists all this; and they might, one would think, have inferred as much from the failure of every attempt to recover unity, or to reform individuals or nations, outside of the integral elected race, or Catholic society. Out of society, out of the church, you have only the shadow or echo of truth, never truth itself; you have only far-off glimpses of life, which you mostly misinterpret,-only, plurality, diversity, division, mutual repugnance, as you yourselves not only concede, but prove; and what sane man, with these for his starting-point or his means, can hope to attain to unity, concord, peace? Did not old Archimedes even demand a whereon to stand, a To✓ OTÕ, in order to move the world? Are ye so silly, then, as to fancy that you can move it with your fulcrum resting on nothing?


[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1849.)

TOLERATION, or, to be more exact, religious liberty, is in every one's mouth, and the constant theme of declamation with all who would depreciate their ancestors, glorify themselves, or win the applause of the multitude; but, unless we are greatly deceived, it is a theme on which there is much loose writing, and still more loose speaking and thinking. Comparatively few appear to us to understand it, or to have any passable appreciation of its reach and conditions. All men, in words at least, are stanch friends of religious liberty, ready to live and die in its defence; but the great majority seem to us to mistake it for the liberty to deny and to enslave religion. The early Protestant sects, who, wherever they were able, subjected religion to the secular authority, fined, imprisoned, exiled, or martyred Catholics, claimed to be the friends of religious freedom, and the liberators of religion from spiritual despotism ; the old French Jacobins plundered churches, suppressed the freedom of worship, abolished the Sabbath, overturned altars as well as thrones, massacred the clergy, decreed that death is an eternal sleep, and installed the goddess of reason, under the pretence of religious liberty, and amid deafening proclamations of universal toleration; the present socialists, radicals, or red-republicans of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, profess to be fighting under the flag of religious no less than of civil liberty, and yet their successes are everywhere marked by insults to religion, the expulsion of the religious, the spoliation of churches and convents, and the persecution of the clergy. The most superficial observer can hardly fail to perceive that the age understands, by religions liberty, not the freedom to worship God in the way and manner he prescribes, but the freedom not to worship him at all,--the freedom to enslave or suppress his worship, to plunder his temples, to desecrate his altars, to deny his existence, to blaspheme his majesty, to trample on his laws, and to live like the beasts that perish.


But, although we are anxious to avoid every unnecessary quarrel with our age, we must tell it, that this is no religious liberty at all, that it is the enslavement of religion, where not its total extinction, and the freedom of irreligion, infidelity, heresy, and schism. Religious liberty, as we understand it, is the absolute freedom of religion, in its doctrines, discipline, and worship, from all human authority, and therefore implies the absolute incompetency, in spirituals, of all human authority, whether public or private. We say the absolute freedom of religion ; by which we, of course, mean the true, that is, the Catholic religion. Con- . sequently, we recognize no religious liberty where our church is not free in her doctrine, discipline, and worship, and where all men have not full and entire freedom to profess the Catholic religion without restraint from, or responsibility to, any human power whatever, whether vested in the king, the aristocracy, or the people. Where this freedom is wanting, there is no religious liberty. This freedom we demand, not as a favor, not as a gracious concession from the prince or the republic, but as our right, as the indefeasible right of our church, for the reason that she is the church of God, the representative of the divine sovereignty on the earth; and this freedom we are bound in conscience to assert, and to vindicate, if need be, as did the early Christian martyrs under the persecuting emperors of pagan Rome, not indeed by slaying, but by submitting to be slain.

From this view of religious liberty, it is evident, that, when we speak of toleration, we have and can have no reference to our church; for she holds immediately from God, and we recognize no power on earth that has the right to restrain her worship, and therefore none that has the right to tolerate it. The question of toleration lies below the question of religious liberty, and relates solely to false religions,—to infidel, heretical, and schismatical sects. Are these to be tolerated, or are they to be prohibited ? Shall we assert the natural right of every man to choose his own relig. ion, or shall we assert, and as far as able enforce, the moral obligation of all men to profess the true religion? Shall we be intolerant and exclusive, or assert and maintain universal toleration? This is the question.

To answer this question, we must distinguish between two sorts of toleration,-political or civil toleration, and religious or theological toleration ; that is, toleration of false religions in the temporal order, and toleration of the same in the spiritual order. These two tolerations are often con founded, and supposed to be inseparably connected. Hence many assert religious or theological toleration as the condition of justifying the assertion of political or civil toleration, and many also deny political toleration, in order, as they suppose, not to be obliged to assert religious toleration. But the two are in reality distinct, and one has no necessary connection with, or dependence on, the other. Political toleration of religion is the permission conceded by princes or republics to their subjects to profess the religion they choose ; religious toleration is the permission granted by Almighty God to all men to profess any religion they please, or none at all, and implies the equal right, or the indifference, of all religions before God, or in reference to eternal life. Universal political toleration presupposes that all religions are compatible with the peace and safety of civil society; universal religious toleration presupposes that all religions are acceptable to God, and available for salvation. The state regards religion solely under its relation to social interests, and the theologian regards it primarily in its relation to the future life or the salvation of the soul. It is easy, therefore, if we understand the distinction of the two orders, to see that it is possible to be politically tolerant and yet religiously intolerant, if not politically intolerant and yet religiously tolerant.

The question of the political toleration of religion we shall consider at some length before we close; but, for the moment, we must confine ourselves to religious or theological toleration. Religious or theological toleration is what is commonly called indifferentism, -that is, the doctrine that men may be saved in all religions, in one as well as in another, or that every one may by saved in his own religion, the religion of his country, or of his sect. To concede this. doctrine is religions or theological toleration, as distinguished from political or civil toleration; to deny it is religious or theological intolerance and exclusiveness, expressed in the Catholic dogma, “Out of the church there is no salvation.” Whatever conclusion we may or may not come to on the subject of political toleration, or the indifference of religions before society and the civil authority, we must, unless bereft of reason, be religiously or theologically intolerant and exclusive; for toleration in the spiritual order is, at bottom, neither more nor less than the denial of the religious principle itself.

VOL. X-14

« AnteriorContinuar »