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But if the claims of Rome are valid, and she be the only channel of the Holy Ghost, then the difference between the moral condition of Catholic and Protestant nations should be so marked that no one could mistake it. Each Catholic nation and people should be an oasis of purity, truthfulness, honesty, industry, and of every Christian virtue. Family ties should be all sacred, the sacrament of marriage never violated, female chastity touched by no stain. All should be order and peace, undisturbed by intestine dissensions, civil struggles, or domestic strife. All Protestant influences have been rooted out of Portugal, Spain, and Italy by the Inquisition, and kept out by the strong hand of law. Here, then, ought to be found the earthly paradise of purity, peace, and moral virtue. Does any one pretend that it is so ?
- pp. 243, 244. The flourish in the first paragraph must go for what it is worth. If a man obstinately shuts his eyes to the light, it is not our fault that he finds himself in darkness. The complaint, as far as it is intelligible, is, that our Church requires her doctrines to be received as matters of faith, and not as matters of science, on the veracity of God, because he has revealed them and commissioned her to propose them, and therefore on her proposition of them, not because they are intrinsically evident. This is, undoubtedly, the fact, and if any one is silly enough to urge this as an objection, he is not able to receive an answer. We do not believe the human mind is adequate to the comprehension of all things, and our Church does not pretend to make her children omniscient. The truths she teaches are mysteries, and will be mysteries to us as long as we are in the flesh.
As to the talk about the fruits, we reply that we are willing to test the Church by her fruits, and should be glad so to test her. But we must have an indorser for The Examiner's taste, if it is to be the judge. We are not sure that its taste is not perverted, that it is a judge of fruits, or that it will not call bitter sweet, and sweet bitter. " We are not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” “We," says the beloved Apostle St. John, “are of God. He that knoweth God heareth us, and he that knoweth not God heareth not us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 St. John iv. 1, 6.) " This Church is in the line of apostolic succession, therefore those who belong to it are in the way of salvation," is the proper method of judging, we concede ; but because a man is in the way of salvation, it does not follow that he will be saved,
or that he is just before God. There are bad Catholics as well as good Catholics, and only those in the Church who obey her, believe what she teaches, and do what she commands, and persevere unto the end, will be saved. “This method is the reverse of that of Christ.” How does the author know that ? Who gave him authority to speak in the name of Christ ? Where is his commission sealed with God's seal ? He must excuse us, but we prefer the Pope of Rome as the interpreter of God's law to the pope of the chapel in Freeman Place, Boston. We are not aware that our Lord has given this latter a commission to confirm his brethren, or to feed his sheep or lambs. “Christ teaches us to know the tree by the fruit." Agreed. But the first fruit to be borne by the good tree may be to keep the commandment of our Lord to hear the Church,
may be humble submission to those whom the Holy Ghost has placed over us.
“We find holy men, men of God, in all churches." How know you that ? How do you know that “ Wesley and Baxter, Doddridge and Jeremy Taylor, Channing and Ware,” were “ holy men, men of God”? How could they be such, if they separated from God's Church, or refused to believe God's word? Before you pronounce on their holiness, it would be well to be sure, either that they obeyed God, kept his revealed law, as well as the law of nature, or else to prove that one can be a holy man, a man of God, who despises God's Church, and teaches men to do the same, and who lives in habitual disobedience to God. The men you name may have had a fair outside, may have been moral in the ordinary sense of the word, but this is all you can say in their favor ; and you name them, in fact, only in consequence of their talents, learning, or eloquence, and if they had been men of only ordinary intellect, you would never have named one of them as a saint, and, intellectually considered, the Devil is far superior to them all. Nay, you claim for them only natural piety and philanthropy, which, though not sinful, are not sanctity, and avail nothing to eternal life. Heresy and schism are deadly sins, and though the man guilty of them should be guiltless in all other respects, he would be damned, and justly damned; and though dissipated cardinals, &c., if such there are, cannot, unless they repent, be saved, yet the worst cardinal that ever lived, while he retains the faith, is superior to the best heretic or schismatic that ever existed. The writer should remember that there are spiritual sins as well as carnal sins, sins of pride as well as of the flesh, and the former are as fatal to the soul as the latter, and far more dangerous, for they not unfrequently dress themselves in the livery of virtue. They are the chief sins of beretics and schismatics, in the beginning of their career, and therefore it is that these, even when appearing as angels of light unto men, are to be regarded as the most odious sinners before God.
As to what the writer insinuates with regard to Catholic countries, we have heretofore said all that is necessary. It is enough for Protestants to defend their own countries, without attacking Catholic countries. There are, no doubt, bad Catholics in the world, that will have their part in the eternal tortures which await all who die impenitent, but the Church is no more responsible for the fact, than God himself is for the existence of sinners in the world. She, as he, respects the free will of men, and cannot make them good against their will. If men obeyed her, believed what she teaches, and did what she commands, Catholic countries would be far better even than the writer supposes they ought to be.
The remaining portions of the article we pass over in silence. We do not recognize the writer as an authorized expounder of Scripture, and we have seen nothing in his attempts to set aside our arguments drawn from them, but his arrogance and his incapacity. It is no answer to us to assert on his own authority, or to say he thinks the contrary. He is not to us one who speaks by authority, although the founder of the Church of the Disciples.
In conclusion, we cannot help saying that it is extremely disagreeable to be obliged to follow a writer through page after page, who has no sense of what is requisite to honorable controversy, who throws out loose statements, and repeats wornout objections, without betraying the least intimation that he is aware that they have been already answered. We have bad no pleasure in following our present opponent. He, we must presume, knows perfectly well that we had anticipated all his objections, and answered them thoroughly; he knows, too, that as an honorable man he had no right to urge them, till he had set aside what we had already replied to them. If he rejoins, he must reply, not only to what we have now said, but to our previous answers, or we shall not hold ourselves bound in conscience or civility to notice him.
Of The Christian Examiner we have heretofore spoken favorably, but some of its recent writers have done much to degrade its character to the level of the lowest anti-Catholic NEW SERIES. VOL. IV. NO. 111.
publications in the country. The present writer is far inferior to Thornwell, and is not a whit above the Brownlees, the Dowlings, the Sparrys, and that brotherhood. We hope it is but a temporary aberration, and that hereafter this periodical, with which we have had so many associations, will retrieve its character, and prove itself a fair and candid Examiner.
Art. III. - Four Years' Experience of the Catholic Religion :
with Observations on its Effects upon the Character, Intellectual, Moral, and Spiritual. By J. M. Capes, Esq. Philadelphia : T. K. & P. G. Collins. 1849. 8vo.
This is an American reprint, in a cheap form, of an English work, by Mr. Capes, formerly a minister of the Anglican Establishment, who was received into the Church some five or six years since. It is a sort of compte rendu, which the author has judged proper to furnish his former brethren who still remain in heresy, of what during four years he has found Catholicity and Catholics in Great Britain. Its author is the founder and editor of The Rambler, one of the best conducted and most valuable periodicals in the United Kingdom, and commends himself to us as an accomplished scholar, of a high order of ability, firm faith, and fervent zeal. His experience is written in a tone of great candor and moderation, and can hardly fail to have a happy influence on many of his " separated brethren."
While we acknowledge the ability of the work before us, and add our own experience as a convert in confirmation of its favorable report of Catholicity and Catholics, we still have some doubts about the strict propriety of such works. They seem to us in their general character to be more in consonance with Protestantism than with Catholicity. With Protestants, religion has only a psychological basis, is purely a matter of private experience, and private experience is the rule by which they are accustomed to judge of its truth or falsehood ; but with us, private experience counts for little, and we are accustomed to judge private experience by our religion, not our religion by private experience. If a man has confessions to write, and can write them like St. Augustine, let him write them by all means; but as a general rule we think it better not to be too fond of parading our personal experiences before the public. If such experiences interest and attract some who are without, they also minister to their present false notions as to the grounds of religion, and binder rather than facilitate their study of the true motives of credibility. Religion has an objective validity, an objective evidence, independent of your experience or mine, and our reliance, under the grace of God, should be on that. If Protestants reject the testimony of the Church herself, how can we expect them to accept ours as individuals, when ours as individuals is worth nothing, save as corroborated by hers? It is but justice, however, to Mr. Capes to say, that his book is not precisely a narrative of his religious experience, in the Protestant sense, and that it is mainly a report of facts with regard to our religion and its followers in England, which he has picked up during four years of his Catholic life, together with his reasonings and reflections on various important topics, intellectual, moral, social, and theological.
The author seems to us to have written in a form altogether more egotistical than was desirable. He apologizes for it, indeed, on the ground that, as he was relating what he had himself seen and remarked in himself and others, he could not well avoid it. He could not avoid speaking in the first person, it is true, but he could have spared us the long account in the beginning of his competency and admirable qualifications as a witness. All he says is, no doubt, true, but what was the need of saying it? Those who knew him were already prepared to admit him as a competent witness, and those who did not know him could not be prepared by his own panegyric on himself. They who would not take his word as to his experience could hardly be expected to take his word for his own competency and credibility as a witness. It would have been amply sufficient to have told in a simple, straightforward manner what he had to say, without prefacing it with an account of his own mental habits, and without interrupting the flow of the narrative to tell us that he honestly asserts,” « honestly believes,” “fully believes,” &c., what he is asserting. However, this is a matter of taste, and no one suffers from it except the author himself.
As a writer, Mr. Capes may be commended for his pure idiomatic English, but he is diffuse, sometimes wordy, and not always clear, direct, and forcible. He affects to write as a man of the world, as a layman, in a popular style, free from all technical terms or forms of expression usually adopted by professional writers. In this he follows the precepts of the rheto