Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Cardinals were assembled at Rome. Suddenly the Pope left his throne, and hastened to a window, where he stood for some time, with his eyes raised to heaven. Then he turned to his Cardinals, and said, “Let us give thanks to God for the victory which he is giving now to his people.” God had shown him the event. The holy Pontiff declared that it was owing to the prayers of the Mother of God, and he added to the Litany the words, “ Help of Christians," and, as a further commemoration of the event, he established a feast in honor of Our Lady of Victory, which is observed throughout the Christian world. And thus the Mahometan power, which had been steadily increasing for a thousand years, received a mortal blow. The Turks have done little since to disturb the peace of Europe ; their military genius disappeared by degrees, until it became a mere longing of the Janizary for plunder, of the pirate for a lonely sail, of the assassin for blood.

The war lasted five hundred years, counting from the pontificate of Hildebrand, who conceived the plan of saving Christendom by carrying the war into the countries of the enemy, to the Crusade of Pius V. Europe was soon to be shaken to her centre by rebellion clothed in religious garments, — by atheism, illuminism, and anarchy such as had never been seen before. It was necessary that the pressure from outside infidelity should not be overwhelming, for domestic confusion multiplied by successful invasion brings chaos, when the enemy is a barbarian, and the merciful God spared Europe such a wretched fate as overtook the Greek Empire. His chief instrument was the Holy See ;- it has been his instrument in conferring upon Europe all the real good she enjoys. Such is Christianity, and such are its legitimate children, true civilization, civil order, and science. Children forget their parents, scholars forget their masters, whilom slaves forget their liberators ;

what wonder that Europe, once a scholar, a child, and a slave, should forget its earliest and best friend ? No matter. St. Peter did not look imprisonment and death in the face for the sake of an earthly reward, and his successors inherit his spirit. Pius IX. inherits it, else he would not be the first man of his age, but rather a poor, weak, ruined statesman. They say that the powers will restore him. Perhaps they may, but the surest power is that upon which the Pope is used to depend. It will be the prayers of his untold millions of children, that will ascend to heaven for him in the coming year of jubilee. God save Pius IX., as he leans upon the Rock of ages! NEW SERIES. - VOL. IV. NO. III.

38

[ocr errors]

ART. II. — The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscel

lany. Boston : Crosby & Nichols. March, 1850. Art. IV.

The number of The Christian Examiner - the literary and theological organ of the American Unitarians - for March last contains an attempted defence of no-churchism, in reply to an Article on The Church against No-Church, published in our Review for April, 1845. The author of the defence is James Freeman Clarke, founder of the Church of the Disciples, formerly one of the conductors of a monthly magazine called The Western Messenger, and is known to our readers as the author of a remarkable discourse on The Church, - as it was, as it is, and as it ought to be, reviewed at some length in this journal for July, 1848.

The defence is not very remarkable for its solidity, and, though here and there a little clever, does not appear to us worthy of the high intellectual character aimed at by The Christian Examiner. If it were not for the esteem in which we have been accustomed to hold that periodical, as the organ of our old associates, and the possibility that some weak-minded persons might mistake the motive of our silence, we should pass it by unnoticed. Its author is not a man we should choose for our opponent, for we always wish for an opponent one who has some powers of discrimination, and some capacity to feel the force of an argument. But we have no choice in the case, and if the Unitarians are willing to make him their champion, and to risk their cause in his hands, we must accept him, and dispose of him as best we may.

The defence consists of two parts. The first is an enumeration and philosophical explanation of the various and extraordinary changes we are said to have undergone ; the second repeats, without our answers, some of the objections we have from time to time raised against ourselves and refuted. The first part is the more racy, and appears to have been written con amore. It has one or two clever hits, but, unhappily, the more piquant portion is untrue, and the rest has been repeated so often in conversation and the public press, that it has an ancient smell, more likely to disgust than delight its readers. The story of our changes is an old story, not worth reproducing, even with variations. Who has not been told, that we were formerly in the habit of changing our views, and refuting ourselves, once a quarter? The explanation of our changes suggested by Mr. Clarke is, no doubt, ingenious, but it reminds us of the joke which Charles the Second of England played off upon the learned members of the Royal Society, and it might be classed with D’Israeli's chapter on The History of Events that never happened. However, the author must be permitted to speak for himself.

“We intend to speak in this present article of Mr. Brownson, and of his argument for the Roman Church. Mr. Brownson is an active thinker, an energetic writer, and a man who has assumed an important position in American literature by years of steady labor. He has devoted himself during that time to the highest questions of philosophy, ethics, and theology, and has treated none of these subjects in a superficial or commonplace way. He has also belonged for a time, after a fashion of his own, to our communion. He has repeatedly created sensations by his ultraism on several subjects, and he finally astonished our community by going over from extreme Neology and Transcendentalism to Romanism of the most Ultramontane kind. Since then, he has occasionally addressed some arguments to his old friends, in behalf of his new Church. He has sometimes referred to our own periodical; and in April, 1845, addressed us, in a somewhat elaborate argument, inviting us to become members of the Church of Rome, or to show cause why we reject the invitation.

“For all these reasons, it would seem proper that we should take some notice of his writings. When a man of no mean abilities as. sumes such a position, it seems proper for a journal like ours to consider it. And, indeed, we should probably have weighed his arguments long before this time, had we not been expecting a reply from an abler hand, - namely, from Mr. Brownson himself. We thought it hardly worth while to exert our ingenuity in exposing the fallacy of arguments, which, judging by experience, Mr. Brownson would himself be ready to confute in the course of a year or two. No man has ever equalled Mr. Brownson in the ability with which he has refuted his own arguments. He has made the most elaborate and plausible plea for Eclecticism, and the most elaborate and plausible plea against it. He has said the best things in favor of Transcendentalism, and the best things against it. He has shown that no man can possibly be a Christian, except he is a Transcendentalist; and he has also proved that every Transcendentalist, whether he knows it or not, is necessarily an infidel. He has sat. isfactorily shown the truth of Socialism, and its necessity in order to bring about a golden age ; and he has, by the most convincing arguments, demonstrated that the whole system of Socialism is from the pit, and can lead to nothing but anarchy and ruin. He has de. fended the course of Mr. Dorr in Rhode Island, and argued before

In

a crowd in State Street, in this city, that the people of Massachusetts should aid him in taking possession of the government by force. Afterward, he confuted the whole argument of Mr. Dorr, showing it to be hostile to all true democracy, and fatal, if it should succeed, to republican institutions. In 1841 he defended Theodore Parker, and declared him to be a Christian, in an article on Mr. Parker's Discourse at South Boston ; asserting that he was guilty of no heresy, but only of defects, in his view of Jesus. But in 1845, Parkerism is infidelity, and Mr. Parker stands in the ranks of the disobedient and rebellious, among proud, conceited, and superficial infidels, and is, to all intents and purposes, a rejecter of the Gospel. But especially in relation to the Church question has Mr. Brownson's change of opinion been the most radical and extreme. He labors now with great ingenuity and extraordinary subtilty to show that there must be an infallible church with its infallible ministry, and that out of this church there can be no salvation. But formerly he labored with equal earnestness to show that there could be no such thing as a church at all, no outward priesthood or ministry. His former arguments, then, for aught that we can see, were just as acute, plausible, and effective as his present ones. the year 1840, he wrote a long article, proving, by a subtile chain of reasoning, the exact reverse of his present propositions. He then declared that it was necessary to destroy the Church and abol. ish the priesthood. He said, “We oppose the Church as an Antichristian institution’; because we find no Divine authority for it; because we cannot discover that Jesus ever contemplated such an institution; and because we regard it as the grave of freedom and independence, and the hot-bed of servility and hypocrisy. “We object to every thing like an outward, visible church ; to every thing that in the remotest degree partakes of the priest.' 'Christianity is the sublimest protest against the priesthood ever uttered.' * Jesus instituted no priesthood, and no form of religious worship: He recognized no priest but a holy life. He preached no formal religion, enjoined no creed.' "The priest is universally a tyrant, universally the enslaver of his brethren. Priests are, in their ca. pacity of priests, necessarily enemies to freedom and equality. The word of God never drops from the priest's lips,' &c., &c.” — pp. 227 - 229.

If this were true, we ought to be looked upon as an extraordinary man, the marvel of our age and country. But we cannot claim the merit it awards us. The author cannot afford to grant us so much, for his purpose is not, by magnifying our ability, to enhance the merit of his courage in attempting to defend himself against us, but to show, from our frequent changes and alleged ability to reason on one side of a question as well as on

another, that nothing we say can deserve a moment's consideration. But if what he asserts be true, since it must be conceded that, however frequently we may have changed our views, we have never been known to return to a doctrine which we have once held and rejected, it is certain that we did not embrace Catholicity blindly, nor renounce Protestantism without knowing the best that can be said in its favor. This, instead of being a reason for not weighing, would be a good reason for weighing, any argument we might offer for the Church, not only because it would be likely to be a good argument in itself, but because urged by one who knows and has said the best that can be urged against it.

We cannot understand why Protestants should dwell with so much fondness on our alleged changeability and changes, for whatever discredit may attach to them, it attaches to Protestantism, not to Catholicity, - to the Protestant minister, not to the Catholic believer. All the changeableness and changes alleged against us were exbibited, if at all, prior to our conversion, and nobody pretends to allege any thing of the sort against us since. We have resided in this community in all about sixteen years,

the whole of our life that can be considered of any public interest. During nearly six of these years, we have been a member of the Catholic Church, and have shown no changeableness or symptom of change. If during the previous ten years, while a Protestant, a Unitarian minister even, we were, as you say, in the habit of changing our views and refuting ourselves about once in every three months, how do you account for the fact, that we have as a Catholic remained firm and steadfast for nearly six years? Here is, if you are right, the most remarkable change of all. How do you explain it? You cannot say that it is owing to our ignorance, either of Protestantism or of Catholicity, for you concede that we have said the best things that can be said in favor of, as well as against, each ; it cannot be an obstinate attachment to opinions once avowed, for your very accusation implies the total absence of such attachment ; it cannot be any fear as to the sort of reception Protestants would give us were we to return to them, for nobody can doubt that they would hail our return as a godsend. Whence, then, comes this remarkable change in personal character ? The Eraminer suggests the answer (p. 232), in declaring it impossible for a man to disavow what he has once seen to be true, and in asserting that, “ When a man tells us that he has changed all his convictions, he tells us that he nev

« AnteriorContinuar »