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and, like Savonarola, like the ill-fated La Mennais, like the brilliant Abbate Gioberti, end in losing their faith and their virtue, and in calling down the anathemas of the church and of all good men. Providence has given us our work, he has placed instruments in our hands, and bid us use them, but to give or to withhold success he has reserved to himself. To succeed or not to succeed does not depend on his ministers. When they succeed the glory belongs to him, and when they fail it is not for us to blame them. If they are faithful in the work he gives them to do, they will receive their reward in heaven ; and the ill success of their labors, if ill success attend them, must be explained by his plans, inscrutable to us, and into which we are not
What were the proximate causes of the pagan reaction of the fifteenth century, or of the new outbreak of heathenism in the eighteenth, we do not know. We have no theory to explain the presence of either at the precise time it appeared, or to tell why either might not have just as well appeared a century earlier, or a century later. All we know is, that there was in the fifteenth century a powerful pagan reaction, which gave birth to the Protestant movement and revolt, and that there is now in society a widely prevalent heathenism, affecting Catholic countries in some degree as well as Protestant countries, and to which is to be ascribed our modern Jacobinical revolutions and socialistic move
At either epoch the real origin and cause of the heathenism are to be sought, not in this or that erroneous policy, in this or that system of social organization, or
this or that system of instruction and education, but in our fallen and corrupt nature. Every man in his fallen state is naturally a heathen, and the paganism which at any time or in any country obtains is nothing more or less than the natural expression of what every one of us without grace is in himself. By whatever causes faith is weakened, and men are led to neglect the means of grace, heathenism is promoted. What these particular causes are, and why they operate at one time more than another, in one country more than in another, is just as difficult for us to explain, as why, of two friends having equal opportunity, one shall be converted and the other shall remain an infidel; why, of two women grinding at the mill, one shall be taken and the other left. We know that it is so, but why it is so we do not know.
The middle ages were not as completely Christian as many modern romanticists dream, but their errors and defects were not in general errors and defects of faith. They transgressed the law of God through pride or passion, but they did not erect transgression into a principle, and, like modern times, invent theories to justify it. Consequently, you had in general only to touch the conscience to bring the sinner to the confessional. Education could then be Christian, for society was Christian, --as to faith in all, as to practice in many, and especially in those intrusted with the instruction of the young. This Christian education no doubt tended to preserve Christianity in the family and in society, and to check the manifestation of the heathen tendencies of our nature. But the education was Christian because society was Christian, and only in a weaker sense was society Christian because education was Christian. After the rupture, society, which in fact never was and never will be thoroughly Christian, but only relatively so, became heathen in its principles and theories, and education, though it remained Christian in school, became to some extent pagan out of school, and unable to resist the pagan tendencies of human nature itself, and the pagan influences of society. It is far less what is studied in school that makes our youth grow up pagans, than the influences of pagan society out of school. Yet these influences acting on the schools may have made them less Christian than they were in the middle ages, and they again may have reacted on society and augmented its heathenism. But except where the state has restricted or denied the liberty of education, and banished, as in France for the last sixty years, religion from the schools, we do not believe this has been to any great extent the case in Catholic countries, though it undoubtedly has been in Protestant countries. However, heathenism is now prevalent in so ciety, and it is not by education alone nor chiefly that we can expel it, for the simple reason, that so long as society remains heathen, whatever your schools, you cannot withdraw your children from heathen influences.
We are undoubtedly to make constant and deadly war on the heathenism of the age. In prosecuting this war it may be found necessary to place the same interdict on the literary remains of pagan antiquity that the church always places upon the literary productions of contemporary her etics, because the prevalence of paganism may have made them in some sense the works of contemporaries. Whether
this will be so or not, we do not know, and happily it is not for us to decide, since we are not in holy orders, and the care of all the churches does not devolve on reviewers.
This is a matter for the decision of those whom the Holy Ghost has placed over us. Some whose opinions we are bound to respect
, and do respect, appear to think it is necessary to exclude the classics from the studies of the young. Others, equally deserving our respect, think it is not, and till the proper authority decides, we have no opinion on the subject. All we venture to say is, that in our judgment the banishing of the Greek and Roman text-books usually studied by our youth will of itself do little towards checking the evil complained of. It will cut off only a feeble rill, while it leaves the main torrent to pour in the poisonous foods of heathenism.
We have, as we never cease to repeat, no faith in specifics, no confidence in the man who proposes to cure all ills with a “Morrison's pill.” All the evils of society, however wide they may spread out their branches, spring from one and the same root, and are really destroyed only as you cut off that root itself, and deprive them of the sap by which they live. This root is our own corrupt nature, and nothing is really remedial, or any thing more than a mere palliative which instead of curing is pretty sure to aggravate the disease, that does not heal this nature itself, or enable us to keep its evil affections in subjection to the law of God. Instruction alone will not do this, for few of us do as well as we know, and a man may know perfectly well his duty, and entirely neglect it. Nothing will do it but God's grace, and our sole instruments are the means of grace. In other words, we must not rely on ourselves, or hope by human means, by any
humanly devised schemes, however promising they may appear to our wisdom, to roll back the tide of heathenism, and restore society to Christian life. It is not for us to attempt to raise the dead, to rekindle the vital spark that is extinct. We must rely on God, and feel that the work is his, and his alone. By pious submission, and devout and continued prayer to him to have mercy on mankind, we may coöperate with him in its performance, and rest assured that in his own way and time it will be done.
Some of the objections we have suggested the Abbé Gaume has himself noticed and attempted to answer, though, we must say, not to our satisfaction.
We beg our readers, however, not to misunderstand us. Into the real question as to the propriety, or the necessity, under existing circumstances, of banishing the pagan classics from our schools, we have not entered, because we consider that as a question for the ecclesiastical authorities to settle, not for
We have only wished to enter our feeble protest against the assumption that their use in our schools has been the cause of modern paganism, and that the church has erred or been culpably neglectful of her duty in suffering them to be used. Nor have we wished to depreciate education, which no man prizes higher than we do; our wishi has been to guard our readers against ascribing to it a virtue which it does not possess, against ascribing all the good in society to good, and all the evil to bad, education. Education can do much, and should be encouraged ; good education should never be neglected; but it is never able of itself to overcome nature, or to preserve society from all aberrations. The mere cultivation of nature is always au evil rather than a good, for good is not a natural product, is not developed from nature, but is the fruit of supernatural grace and discipline. Our reliance for the reformation of society is not, therefore, on education alone, but on it and all the other means of forming character which God has provided, and especially on his own gracious pleasure. In a word, we have full faith only in prayer and the sacraments as the instruments of salvation, whether for the individual or society; for there is nothing of which we are better assured than that the salvation of either is of God, not of man, and, as we often say, that God will prosper no means the glory of which does not redound to himself. We must never forget that the church is God's church, not man's, and that it is only through the church, his immaculate spouse, whom he loves, and for whom he shed his blood, that he does or will regenerate and bless either the individual or society. Human means, the might of the powerful, and the wisdom of the wise, he brings to naught, save as inspired by his grace and subordinated to his praise.
SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION.*
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1854.]
We promised some since to notice this work at length, but the special controversy as to the use of the pagan classics in Christian schools, which occasioned it, has in great measure subsided, and it seems to us hardly necessary to redeem our promise. It is now pretty generally agreed, we believe, that the excellent Abbé Gaume carried his doctrine to an unwarranted extreme, that he fell in his historical details into several inaccuracies of some importance, and indulged in severe remarks on the instruction at least tacitly approved by the church, which it is hardly lawful for a good Catholic to make. On the other hand, we think it is very nearly as generally agreed, that the youth in our colleges need to be more early and thoroughly imbued with a knowledge and taste of Christian literature than they have been for the last few centuries.
The evil indicated by the Abbé Gaume we believe to be very real, but we do not believe that it has originated in the use of the Greek and Latin classics as text-books, or that it would be sensibly diminished by excluding them. The evil lies elsewhere. Father Cahours shows in this work, what we have never doubted, that the use of the pagan authors in the instruction of youth was as great, and, so far as the schools were concerned, as exclusive, in the middle ages, sometimes called the ages of faith, as in modern times. But it did not make pagans then; why, therefore, should it make pagans now? The Abbé Gaume can answer the question, in accordance with his theory, only by distorting history, and denying well-authenticated facts. Yet that it did not then, but does now, in Europe, make pagans to a very considerable extent, we believe, paradoxical as it may seem, is undeniable.
If we look to education as it is now in Europe, the first thing that strikes us is the glaring contradiction between
* Des Études Clissiques et des études Professionnelles. Par ARSÈNB CAHOURS, de la Compagoie de Jésus. Paris: 1852.