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The Reviewer says of us,“ The facility with which he throws us continually into the wrong serves only to illustrate, as we take it, the fault and wrong of his own position.” That is, we must have fallen into the error opposed to the pantheistic error, or we could not have so easily thrown the Reviewer into the wrong! This is not so clear to us. We should draw an opposite conclusion from the same premises, and say that the facility with which we threw him into the wrong serves to illustrate the truth of our position and the falsity of his ; for we are quite sure that, without the truth on our side, we should never have been able to throw such a man as the Reviewer into the wrong. “ It shows itself to be a dialectical extreme.” And
no such extreme can ever live by simply killing its opposite; but only by coming to a true inward reconciliation with it in the power of a bigher idea, whose province it is, in such case, not to destroy absolutely on either side, but rather as regards both to complete and fulfil.”
Here is the mere vulgar cant of our modern eclectics, by which they seek to rehabilitate falsehood, and consecrate every error and heresy, past, present, and to come. It rests on the assumption that error is merely a partial or incomplete truth, as Cousin and his school expressly teach. The assuinption is itself a monstrous error. Error is not an incomplete truth, a partial or one-sided view of truth, but a false view, that is, a denial of truth. Every false doctrine is, in that it is false, a contradiction of the truth, and must be killed, or the truth cannot live. Pantheism, the Reviewer concedes, is an error. Its essence consists in the denial of the contingency of the universe, and the assertion that in their substance God and the world are identical. This is not an incomplete truth, a partial or one-sided view of truth, to be completed by an error from the opposite quarter ; but it is a sheer, unmitigated falsehood, and is got rid of only by asserting its direct contradictory, namely, the universe is contingent, not necessary, and God and the world are of different substances, or distinct and different as to substance. It and this truth which we oppose to it are in the very nature of things irreconcilable, and one can be asserted only by the absolute, unqualified denial of the other. And what we say of pantheism, we say of every false doctrine. The Reviewer is all wrong in his eclectic twaddle, for we can in conscience call it by no name more respectable. There is no logic by which opposites, that is, contraries, can be reconciled. Truth is never opposed to truth, and of opposites one must always be false. In the power of NEW SERIES.- VOL. IV. NO. III.
what higher idea than either truth or falsehood can truth and falsehood come to a true inward reconciliation with each other?
The Reviewer wishes to be able to assert the immanence of God in his works, and he thinks this immanence is the truth that underlies pantheism. With his leave, this is a great mistake, for pantheism, by his own concession, is false. Then the immanence of God cannot be asserted in a pantheistic sense ; then, in the only sense in which it is permitted us to assert it, it is not pantheistic, is no part of pantheism, is not related to pantheism, neither underlies it nor overlies it, and is not denied in denying pantheism, but in fact is denied in asserting pantheism. In denying pantheism, the Reviewer may be in danger of denying this immanence; but no one who has an infallible guide is in danger of doing it, or has any occasion to fear that, in the plain, plump denial of error on one side, he may fall into an error on the other. Let the Reviewer define the true immanence of God, as distinguished from the pantheistic immanence, and perhaps he will find that we have not denied it, and that he, in order to maintain it, must take his stand
We have now replied to the Reviewer's article, as far as we have judged it necessary. We are not conscious of having overlooked a single important point, and we have done our best to seize and reply to the real thought of the author. If we have failed, it has been unintentionally, and perhaps the Reviewer's fault more than our own ; for we must tell him that, if he writes with vigor, he by no means writes with clearness and definiteness. He seems rarely to express his meaning with distinctness and precision. If he replies to us, we hope he will be more explicit, and try and accommodate himself somewhat to our dulness of apprehension. We wish to be just to him, and have no disposition to charge upon his principles consequences which they do not logically involve. We think, also, that he would find his own advantage in attempting to give his doctrines a more rigidly scientific and logical method and statement. He will find it no useless discipline, and one of the speediest ways of arriving at truth. In conclusion, we must beg him to excuse us if we have seemed now and then a little severe in our remarks. Our severity is intended for his doctrine, not for him personally, for personally we have a bigh esteem for him.
Art. V. - Conversations of an Old Man and his Young
Friends. No. III.
F. You have not satisfied me. I love and honor the Church in her place, and I yield neither to you nor to any other man in my reverence for the clergy, or my obedience to them, so long as they keep within their proper sphere. But when the Church encroaches on the civil authority, and seeks to establish a theocracy, I cease to respect her; and when the clergy leave the spiritual order, and undertake to dictate to me the political conduct I am to follow, I hold myself free to disobey them, and, if need be, to resist them with all my might. I am a man and a citizen, as well as a Christian, and no power on earth, if I can hinder it, shall wrest from me my rights as a man, or interfere with my convictions of duty as a citizen. If the Pope himself should undertake to control my conduct as an American citizen, I would laugh him to scorn, and even, if necessary, make war on him as soon as I would upon any foreign potentate.
B. Bravo! my young friend; you are not lacking in brave words and high spirit, such as it is.
0. F talks very well, and if he could as a good Catholic talk as he does, it would amount to something. They who are not Catholics would then have some assurance that your
Church is not incompatible with civil liberty and social progress.
G. Very true. But F's talk is all gammon, and can deceive no one. He is a poor Catholic, and he will never persuade me that he is talking in the spirit of the religion he professes. He either does not know his religion or he does not believe it, and holds on to it only because he is too proud to forsake the religion of his fathers.
F. You all seem to know my religion better than I know it myself ; but I have never known one, brought up a Protestant or an unbeliever, that did not entirely mistake her character; and in no respect is she more misapprehended than in her teachings on the mutual relations of the two orders, temporal and spiritual. I know that the extravagant pretensions of bigots and Ultramontanists bave led many to think that I cannot as a good Catholic say what I have just said, and I own that the conduct of such Popes as Gregory the Seventh, Alexander the Third, Innocent the Third, and Boniface the Eighth, which I dare be known not to approve, may seem to confirm the false
notion which has given rise to the unmeasured obloquy which has been showered upon the Church; but I know also that I am free to use the language I have just used, and that in doing so I only prove myself a dutiful and prudent son of the Church. B. Rather of the synagogue of Satan, you mean, young
The spirit with which you speak is Satanic ; but what you say is partly true and partly false, though even the true becomes false in the connection and for the purpose you say it.
0. We thought so, and were sure you would get a rebuke from the Catholic side.
F. I have great regard for our venerable friend; but he is young as a Catholic, and has not yet lost the zeal and intolerance of the recent convert. I do not, he will permit me to say, recognize him as an authorized expounder of Catholic faith and theology. I was born and bred a Catholic.
B. I thought you, like the rest of us, were born an infidel and child of Satan.
F. I am not, and never was, an infidel. I have always been a Catholic, and my father and mother were Catholics before me, and so were all my ancestors, as far back as the time of St. Austin and his forty monks, sent by St. Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There has never been an infidel or heretic in the family, that I have ever heard of.
B. There may, however, have been some not very good Catholics, and it is possible that the stock has degenerated. Yet you are mistaken in saying you were always a Catholic. You were born — as is every one, excepting always the Blessed Virgin, and those sanctified in the mother's womb, as was the prophet Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist — an infidel and child of Satan, and you became a Catholic only in holy baptism. We who grew up in heresy, and spent the vigor of our lives in the service of Satan, are not meet, I grant, to be called Catholics, to be treated as children ; but it is bardly meet in you who have been orthodox from your infancy to tell us so ; you should rather rejoice over our conversion, for you know that there is joy in heaven with the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-and-nine just persons that need no repentance. I claim not to be an authorized teacher ; I am but a simple layman, and know very little of Catholic theology. I only know what I am taught, and all that is not censurable in me is that I do not take it upon me to teach my teachers, nor to boast over those who may chance to be less instructed than myself. It is for youth to be proud and arrogant, to fancy it knows all things, and possesses all virtues ; it is for old age, looking back upon a painful experience, to be modest and humble, - to deplore its ignorance and bewail its short-comings.
F. Forgive me. I did not mean to be assuming or disrespectful.
B. Of course not. You but spoke as it is the fashion for young men now-a-days to speak, - out from the fulness of your own self-confidence, and in utter unconsciousness of the attitude you assume, or the bearing of your speech.
F. You are severe.
B. Kindly so, if I am, as you will yourself feel, long before you are as old as I am ; for I do not think you are one of those who are incapable of profiting by experience. But enough of this. I am a convert, I grant, and you are not. You have to thank God that you had Catholic parents, who brought you up in the Church, and early instructed you in what you should believe and in what you should do ; and I have to thank him no less, nay, still more, that he has had the ineffable goodness to call me from error and sin, and make me in my old age a member of his Church. In your case and mine, all the glory is due to him, and to him alone. Neither of us has wherein to glory but his grace, and neither has wherewithal to boast over the other. The point to be considered is, not which of us is greatest, but what is the truth on the question raised which we both, as Catholics, must hold.
My young friend, if as well instructed in Catholic doctrine as he would persude us, knows that one may utter some things wbich are censurable as heresy, others as simply erroneous, others as rash, others as scandalous, others as ill-sounding, and others as offensive to pious ears. Now, supposing he can say all he has said without absolutely falling into heresy, he may still be obnoxious to some of the other notes of censure. What he says is disrespectful to the Church, to the Holy Father, and the clergy, and, to say the least, sounds bad and is offensive to pious ears, and, as it may well lead some to sin, it is scandalous. Aside, then, from the correctness or incorrectness of the particular propositions he utters, he has no right to say what he says; for a man may be guilty at common law of a libel, though he utters only the truth, by uttering it in a malicious spirit for a malicious purpose, and in this sense, it is sometimes said, the greater the truth the greater the libel. So much must be said as to the animus of his remarks.