« AnteriorContinuar »
in good faith the new political and social order as it comes up, and establishes itself. We must distinguish sharply between religion and monarchy, and train ourselves and those dependent
on ns to be good Catholics under a democratic régime. The modes of thought, the habits of life, and the methods of education formed under monarchy and specially adapted to it, we must be prepared to modify, as the occasion demands, and cease to insist on them as essential to our Catholic character. As Catholics we are and must be always and everywhere the same. But every Catholic, taken in the concrete, has a two-fold character; one derived from the church, the other from society; and changes as changes the society in which he lives. To insist that this latter character shall be in a democratic state of society, what it should be in a monarchical, is to drive our generous youth, especially susceptible of social influences, out of the church into infidelity or irreligion. In this country the democratic order is established, and so far as it leaves the church free to carry on her divine work, it has the right to reign; and hence, in this country, in all that comes within the sphere of human prudence, it is our duty as well as interest to conform to it. If any of us have monarchical or aristocratic prejudices, they are out of place here. In religion we must bow to authority, but in all else we must cherish the spirit of freedom. We owe this even to our religion, for not otherwise shall we preserve our yonth, and fill our churches after the present adult generation has passed off. This, too, is in perfect accordance with the spirit of the church, who makes herself “all to all.”
LIBERALISM AND SOCIALISM.*
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1855.)
WE have brought these two works together because, though published at distant intervals, and differing almost as widely as it is possible to conceive, they are on the subject treated the two profoundest works to be found in the whole range of modern literature. Both treat the same subject, Donoso Cortés from the point of view of Catholicity, Pierre Leroux from the pantheistic or humanitarian point of view, and each needs to be read and studied by whoever would understand, either in their truth or their falsity, the liberalism and socialism which have made so much noise and stirred up so many commotions throughout the civilized world during the last fifteen or twenty years.
Pierre Leroux has hardly been heard of since 1850. Whether he is still living or not is more than we know; but we remember the time when he was one of the great men of France, and the representative of an important school in philosophy and politics. He belonged originally, we believe, to the Saint-Simonian school or sect, and distinguished himself at a later day as a most bitter enemy of the French eclecticism founded by the eloquent and erudite Cousin. He is decidedly the great man of the modern socialistic school, and the only one with whom we are acquainted who has succeeded in giving it any thing like a philosophical basis. He possesses rare philosophical genius, and, though not the soundest, he is the greatest metaphysician that France has produced in modern times, and inay as to his genius and erudition take rank with the late Vincenzo Gioberti, who has had no equal since Leibnitz, for we cannot rank very high such men as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Immanuel Kant is the only distinguished German metaphysician in recent times that we should be willing to name, unless one or two Catholics of Germany are to be excepted.
*1. Ensayo sobre el Catolicismo, el Liberalismo, y el socialismo, con. siderados en su8 Principios Fundamentales. Por DON JUAN DONOSO CORTÉS, Marqués de Valdegamas. Madrid : 1851.
2. De l'Humanité, de son Principe, et de son Avenir, où se trouve exposée la Vraie Définition de la Religion, et où l'on explique le Sens, la Suite, et l'Enchainement du Mosqisme et du Christianisme. Par PIERRE LEROUX. Paris: 1840.
It may be that we attach an undue importance to the writings of Pierre Leroux, because our acquaintance with them marks an epoch in our mental development, and we owe to them more than to those of any other modern writer. They revolutionized our own mind both in regard to philosophy and religion, and by the grace of God became the occasion of our conversion to Catholicity. But we must be permitted to say, that, though his system as a system does not and never did satisfy us, it contains certain great cosmic and metaphysical truths, more distinctly recognized and more clearly and energetically stated than we find even in the ordinary works on theology, and almost wholly wanting in our ordinary systems of philosophy. His grand error is in his having misinterpreted and misapplied the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, in confounding the two natures in the one person of our Lord, and in failing to distinguish properly between the natural and the supernatural orders. He starts with the Eutychian heresy, or the confusion of the human and the divine, and really, though perhaps unconsciously, explains the divine by the human, and thus reduces Christianity to pure humanism or naturalism. The Catholic theologian understands at once the reach of this fundamental error, which vitiates and must vitiate the author's whole system. But, after all, there is a human side of truth, for man is made in the image and after the similitude of God. God is, in the language of St. Thomas, similitudo rerum omnium, and hence in all nature there is and must be a certain reflection, so to speak, of the Divinity. God is in some sense mirrored by his works. In man and nature we must find, not the elements of Christianity indeed, for they are superhuman and supernatural, but certain analogies or correspondences, which in human language are expressed by the same terms, and through which the Christian mysteries are rendered in a measure intelligible to us. Leroux certainly confounds these analogies or correspondences in the natural and human order with the superhuman and supernatural dogmas of Christianity; but he certainly has studied them profoundly, and tells us, not unmixed with error, some great and important natural truths,-truths recognized and accepted, indeed, by all the great scholastic divines, but which these divines do not set forth in that
distinct and prominent light in which we find them in the earlier fathers, or in which it is necessary, perhaps, to set them forth in order to meet the characteristic errors of our age.
The Marqnis of Valdegamas has studied the same subject with equal industry, with equal mental strength and acuteness, and with a higher order of genins. He understands it far better, and treats it far more profoundly; for he knows and accepts Catholic theology, which places him in the position to comprehend the natural truth in its true relations with the supernatural, and prevents him from giving a mutilated or distorted view of either. But he writes mainly for the Catholic mind, and is more intent on showing the errors, absurdities, and fatal tendencies of humanitarian or pantheistic socialism to the understanding of the faithful, than he is on distinguishing for the benefit of its adherents the grain of truth in their system, and using it to lead them up to the Catholic doctrine which accepts and completes it. Nothing in the world can be better than his book to guard the faithful against the errors of pantheistic or humanitarian socialism, or to inspire them with a hearty love of Catholic doctrine and morals; but it is not precisely adapted to the wants of the socialists themselves. Ignorant of Catholic faith and theology, they will not always be able to find in his Catholicity the truth they are groping after, and which gives to their speculations a value in their own eyes. We, who happen to know both sides by our own experience, can see that he accepts and vindicates in its true light and place what they really value, and which they erroneously conclude cannot be held in the church, and persuade themselves can be realized without her, and must be, if realized at all.
The noble marquis also takes M. Proudhon as the best representative of socialism, and confines himself mainly to the refutation of the Prondhonian theory. Here we must be permitted to differ from him. If we would study the socialistic contradictions and negations, Proudhon is our man; but if we would study socialism in its affirmations, in what it has that is positive, in its truths, or half-truths, we must, we think, take Leroux. Proudhon is by turns a deist and an atheist, a pantheist and a Manichean, but generally a denier, whose business it is to break with the whole past, to reject all that has hitherto been regarded as sacred, in a word, to destroy all that has been or is. Would we know whither all false theories, religious, political, and sscial, lead, we must study Proudhon, who under this point of view is the great man of the socialistic and revolutionary world. But Leroux has some religious instincts, is not the veritable Apollyon, and attempts to give the positive and affirmative side of socialism. If we would know the truth which misleads the socialists, which they misapprehend and misapply, but which nevertheless is the element which commends to their own judgments and hearts their socialism, Leroux, not Proudhon, in our judgment, is the great,“ the representative man."
We say not this to depreciate the work of the lamented Spanish nobleman. We have heretofore expressed our opinion of his remarkable essay, than which, we are assured by those who are more competent than we are to judge, there is nothing more eloquent in the noble Castilian tongue. We are not, we confess, of his political school. We have more confidence in constitutionalism or parliamentary government than he appears to have had. We hold that parliamentary or constitutional government, though by no means perfect, though not all we could wish, and far enonga from being all that its partisans pretend, affords the only political guaranty of liberty, civil or religious, which, after so many social changes, and revolutions, is now practicable. Certainly it is to it, not to absolute monarchy, that CathOlicity owes the immense progress it has made in Europe during the last fifty years. We have seen nothing in the revolutionary developments during late years to shake our early faith in representative and parliamentary government, and we are satisfied that the Spanish statesman rendered no service to his country by his war against constitutionalism and parliamentary discussion. The great error of the European liberalists is not, in our judgment, so much political as religious. We find no fault with them for seeking what are called checks and balances, or attempting to found government on compromises; for government is a practical affair, and cannot be carried on without an adjustment of opposing interests, which more or less offend theoretic unity. We censure them not for this, but for supposing that these compromises, these balancings of principles and interests, and playing off of one against another, can alone suffice for the maintenance of authority on the one hand and individual freedom on the other. We accept them as far as they go, but we expect no valuable results from them when sübstituted for religion, or even when intended to operate with