The Greatest Writer of the 19th Century » Brownson's Writings » Rome or Reason

Rome or Reason

                                       From The Catholic World for September, 1867

Mr. Parkman understands and describes very well the Indian character- and within the range of his comprehension. There is nothing deep or impenetrable in the Indian, and his ideas, habits, and customs are invariable. He is a child in simplicity, but he is cunning, fierce, treacherous, ferocious, more of a wild beast than a man – a true savage, nothing more, nothing less. Mr. Parkman has lived with him, studied his character and ways, and may, as to him, be trusted as a competent and faithful guide, save when there is a question of superstition, in which the Indian abounds, or of religion, which he accepts with more docility and ease than many learned and scientific white men.
 Mr. Parkman may also be trusted for the purely material facts of the Jesuit missions among the Indians in the seventeenth century, and he narrates them in a style of much artistic grace and beauty; but of the motives which governed the missionaries, of their faith and charity, as well as of their whole interior spiritual life, he understands less than did the “untutored Indian.” His judgments, reflections, or speculations on the spiritual questions involved are singularly crude, marked by a gross ignorance not at all creditable to a son of “The Hub.” He claims to be enlightened, to be a man of progress, and he has indeed advanced as far as Sadduceeism, which believes in neither angel nor spirit: but the savage retains more of the elements of Christian faith than he appears to have attained to. He is struck, as everyone must be, by the self-denial, the disinterestedness, the patient toil, the unwearying kindness, superiority to danger or death, and heroic self-sacrifices and martyrdom of the missionaries; but he sees in them only the workings of a false faith, superstitious missions, and a fanatic zeal. The Jesuit who left behind all the delights and riches of civilization, gave up all that men of the world hold most dear, braved all the dangers of the forest, of the savage, performed fatiguing journeys, underwent the inclemencies of the climate and the seasons, suffered hunger and thirst, in want of all things, submitted to captivity, tortures, mutilations, and death, was, in his judgment, a poor, deluded man; his faith, which bore him up or bore him onward, was an illusion, and his charity, which never failed or grew cold, was only an honest but mistaken zeal! Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?
 It cannot be said that Mr. Parkman has overrated the marvelous labors and sacrifices of the Jesuits for the conversion of the North American Indians; but he is mistaken in supposing that they stand out as any thing singular or extraordinary in the general history of Catholic missions.  They did well; they were brave, indefatigable, self-denying, heroic, and cold must be the heart that can read their story without emotion; but their high qualities and virtues are due to their general character as Catholics, not to their special character as Jesuits. Non-Catholic writers are very apt to consider that Jesuits are a peculiar sect, in some way distinguishable from the Catholic Church, and that their merits belong to them not as Catholic priests and missionaries, but as Jesuits. What Mr. Parkman admires in them is really admirable; but its glory is due to Catholic faith and charity, which the Jesuit has in common with all Catholics, and he has toiled no harder, braved no more dangers, suffered no greater hardships, or a more cruel or horrid death, nor met them with a spirit more heroic than have other Catholic missionaries among heretics and infidels, from the apostles down to the last martyrs in China, Anam, or Oceania. It has been only by such suffering and such deeds as Mr. Parkman narrates, that the world has been converted to the Christian faith and retained in the Catholic church. At all times, since the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, has the Catholic church nursed in her bosom, and sent into the world to preach Christ and him crucified, men not at all inferior in faith and love, in patient endurance, and heroic self-sacrifice to the Jesuit missionaries among the North American Indians. She has never wanted laborers, confessors, martyrs; and a religion that never fails to create and inspire them is not, and cannot be, a false religion, a delusion, a fanaticism. It is only in the Catholic church you find or have ever found them. Let her have the credit of them.
 The Professor at the Breakfast Table has been for some time before the public, and everybody has read it. Its author has, we believe, a high reputation in the medical profession, and certainly has attained to distinction as a poet and as a writer of prose fiction. He has wit and pathos, a lively imagination, and a keen sense of the ludicrous. The snake portion of his Elsie Venner is horrible, but several of the characters in that remarkable book are admirably drawn – are real New England characters, drawn as none but a New Englander could draw them, and perhaps, none but a New Englander can fully appreciate them. He is like many of the descendants of the old Puritans, who, having lost all faith in the Calvinism of their ancestors, still identify it with Christianity, and float in their feelings between the memory of it and a vague rationalism and sentimentalism which is simply no belief at all.  He would like to be a Christian, to feel that he has faith, something on which he can rest his whole weight without fear of its giving under him, but he knows not where to look for it. He finds many attractions in the Catholic church, but, thinking that she holds what so offends him in the faith of his ancestors, he dares not trust her.
 There is a large class of educated, thinking, and even serious-minded Americans who turn away from the church and refuse to consider her claims, not because she differs from the Protestantism in which they have been reared, but because she does not, in her spirit and teaching, differ enough from it. Those outside the church, and who credit not the evangelical cant against her, identify her teaching with Jansenism, regard Jansenists as the better class of Catholics; and Jansenism is a form of Calvinism, and Calvinism is a system of pure naturalism, while the active American mind cannot consent that nature should count in the religious life for nothing. It would, perhaps, relieve them a little if they knew that not only the Jesuits condemned Jansenism, but the church herself condemns it, and Jansenists are as much out of the pale of the church as are Calvinists or Lutherans themselves. So-called orthodox protestants were formerly in the habit of charging Catholics with rationalism and Pelagianism, and even now accuse them of denying the doctrines of grace or salvation through the merits and grace of Jesus Christ. This fact alone should suffice to teach such men as the Professor at the Breakfast Table that the difference between Catholicity and Puritanism is much greater than they suppose.
 The Professor, in defending himself against the charge of want of respect for Puritanism, says: pp. 154-155, “I don’t mind the exclamation of any old stager who drinks Madeira worth from two to six Bibles a bottle, and burns, according to his own premises, a dozen souls a year in cigars, with which he muddles his brains. But as for the good and true and intelligent men we see all around us, laborious, self-denying, hopeful, helpful – men who know that the active mind of the age is tending more and more to the two poles, Rome and Reason, the sovereign church or the free soul, authority or personality, God in us or God in our masters, and that, though a man by accident stand half-way between these two points, he must look one way or the other- I don’t believe they would take offence at anything I have reported.” From the connection in which this is said, and the purpose for which it is said, it is clear that the Professor holds that the active mind of this century is tending either Romeward or Reasonward, that the doctrines held by his Puritan ancestors and so-called orthodox Protestants can be sustained only by the authority of a sovereign church, and that we must accept such authority, or give up all dogmatic belief, and allow the free, unrestricted use of reason.
 The writer in the Cincinatti Enquirer seems to agree with him. A certain Protestant minister, an Anglican, we presume, had said in a sermon, that “the church’s greatest enemies are now Catholicism and rationalism.” The writer, in commenting on this proposition, says: “Catholicism is the theology of reason;” and “Protestantism is Catholicism with a dash of rationalism, or rationalism with a dash of Catholicism.” Both represent Catholicity and reason as standing opposed each to the other, as two opposite poles, and each makes as does the age no account of the via media church receiving the shots of both reason and authority, and discharging its double battery in return against each.
 Now, is it not time that thinking men and authors who claim intelligence and mean to be just, should stop this contrasting of Rome or authority and reason? The cant has become threadbare, and men of reputation and taste should lay it aside as no longer fit for use. It does not by any means state the fact as it is, for there is not the least discrepancy between the church and reason, nor is there, in accepting and believing the revealed word of God on the authority of the church proposing it, the least surrender of reason or nature. The Catholic has all of reason that belongs to human nature, and full opportunity to exercise it; and his soul is as free as the soul can be, and he is, in fact, the only man that really has a free soul. If God is in his masters, he is also in him. He has no less internal light because he has external light, and no less internal freedom because he has external authority. The Professor is quite mistaken in presenting the church and reason as two opposite poles. Nay, his illustration is not happy, for the two poles, if we speak geographically, belong to one and the same globe, and are equally essential to its form and completeness, and, if we speak magnetically and mean positive and negative poles, they are only two modes in which one and the same substance or force operates, and certainly in Catholic faith both authority and reason are alike active, and mutually concur in producing one and the same result.
 It is only when we borrow our views of Catholicity from the theology of the Reformation, or suppose that it is substantially the same, that the authority of the church can be regarded as opposed to reason or repugnant to nature. He who has read the fathers has discovered in them no abdication of reason or want of intellectual freedom; and he who is familiar with the medieval doctors knows that no men can use reason more freely or push it further than they did. Melchior Cano, a theologian of the sixteenth century, in his Locorum Theologicorum Libri XII, a work of great authority with Catholics, enumerates natural reason as one of the commonplaces of theology, whence arguments may de drawn to prove what is or is not of faith. A school of philosophers has lately sprung up amongst Catholics, called traditionalists, who would seem to deny reason and to found science on faith; but they have fallen under censure of the Holy See, and been required to recognize that reason precedes faith, and that faith comes and the complement of science, not as preceding or superceding it. By far the larger part of the errors condemned in the syllabus of errors attached to the encyclical of the Holy Father, dated at Rome, 8th of December, 1864, are errors that tend to destroy reason and society. The church has always been vigilant in vindicating reason and the natural law.
 But the reformation was a complete protest against reason and nature, and the assertion of extreme and exclusive supernaturalism. In Luther’s estimation reason was a stupid ass. The reformers all agreed in asserting the total depravity of human nature, and in maintaining the complete moral inability of man. According to the reformed doctrines, man never actively concurs with grace, but in faith and justification is wholly impotent and passive. Man can think only evil, and the works he does prior to regeneration, however honest or benevolent, are not simply imperfect, but positively sins. This was the reformed theology which the writer of this article had in his boyhood and youth dinged into him till he well-nigh lost his reason. The church has never tolerated any such theology, and they who place her and reason in opposition are really, whether they know it or not, charging her with the errors of Protestantism, which she has never ceased, in the most public, formal, and solemn manner, to condemn. There are, no doubt, large numbers included under the general name of Protestants, who imagine that the reformation was a great movement in behalf of intelligence against ignorance, of reason against authority, of mental freedom against mental bondage, of rational religion against bigotry and superstition; but whoever has studied the history of that great movement knows that it was no such thing – the furthest from it possible. It was a retrograde movement, and designed in its very essence to arrest the intellectual and theological progress of the race. Its avowed purpose was the restoration of primitive Christianity, which, whatever plausible terms might be adopted, meant, and could mean only, to set the race back some fifteen hundred years in its march through the ages, and to eliminate from Christendom all that Christianity for fifteen centuries had effected for civilization. The Protestant party was, by its own avowal, a party of the past, and, if there are Protestants who are striving to be the party of the future, they succeed only by leaving their Protestantism behind, or by transforming it.
 The church has always been on the side of freedom and progress, and the normal current of humanity has flowed and never ceased to flow from the foot of the cross down through her communion; and whatever life-giving water has flowed into Protestant cisterns, has been from the overflowings of that current, always full. You who are outside of it, save in the application of the truths of science to the material arts, have effected no progress. You have worked hard, have been often on the point of some grand discovery, but only on the point of making it, and are as far from the goal as you were when Luther burnt the papal bull, or suffered the devil to convince him of the sin of saying private masses. You have always found your works after a little while needing to be recast, and that your systems are giving way. You have been constantly doing and undoing, and never succeeding. Save in the physical sciences and some achievements in the material world, you are far below what you were when you started. Of course, you do not believe it, because you confound change with progress, and you count getting rid of your patrimony increasing it. It is idle to tell you this, for you have already fallen so low that you place the material above the spiritual, and the knowledge of the uses of steam above the knowledge and love of God.
 Rome or reason, Rome or liberty, is not the true formula of the tendencies of the age; nor is it Catholicism or rationalism, but Catholicity or naturalism. The extremes opposed to Catholicity are, on the one hand, exclusive supernaturalism, or a supernaturalism that condemns and excludes the activity of nature, and, on the other, exclusive naturalism, or a naturalism that denies and excludes all communion between God and man, save through natural laws, or laws impressed on nature by its Creator, and held to bind both him and it. Your evangelicals are exclusive supernaturalists, as were the great body of Protestant reformers; Auguste Comte, J. Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, Mr. Parkman, and the Professor are exclusive naturalists, who deny the reality of all facts or phenomena not explicable by natural laws or natural causes. All the sciences, since Bacon, are constructed on naturalistic principles, and theology, philosophy, or metaphysics, which cannot be constructed without the recognition of the supernatural, are rejected by our savants as vain speculations or idle theories without any basis in reality. They belong to the age of ignorance and superstition, and will never be recognized in an age of light and science. As the church clings to them, insists upon them, she is behind the age, and they who adhere to her are to be tolerated and pitied as we pity idiots and the insane, unless, indeed, they are clothed with more or less power; then, indeed, we must make war on them and exterminate them.
 Few who have studied this age with any care will question the fidelity of this picture. The active living mind of this age unquestionably tends either to this exclusive naturalism or to the Catholic church, which is the synthesis of the natural and the supernatural, of authority and freedom, reason and faith, science and revelation. Protestantism, which is exclusive supernaturalism, it is becoming pretty well understood, cannot be sustained. It cannot be sustained by reason, for it rejects reason; it cannot be sustained by authority, for in rejecting the church it has cast off all authority but that of the state, which has no competency in spirituals. It has supported its dogmas, as far as it has supported them at all, on Catholic tradition, the validity of which it denies. This cannot last, for, where people are free to think and have the courage to reason without let or hindrance from the state, they will not long consent to affirm and deny tradition in one and the same breath. They will either fall into the naturalistic ranks or be absorbed by the Catholic church, and it is useless to trouble ourselves with them as Protestants.
 The naturalists or rationalists, by far the most numerous, and in most Protestant or non-Catholic states already the governing body, are repelled from the church by their supposition that all the substantial difference between her and Jansenists or Calvinists is, that in the one case supernaturalism is taught and explained by a living authority, claiming a divine commission, and in the other it is not taught at all, but collected by grammar and lexicon from a book said to have been written by divine inspiration. The Catholic theory is the more logical and more attractive of the two, but both alike discard reason, and insist on the submission of the understanding to an external authority, and it matters little whether the authority is that of the church, or of a book written many ages ago. In either case the faith is proposed on authority, which assumes to command the reason and to deprive the soul of her natural freedom. We are forbidden to think and follow our own convictions, and must, on pain of everlasting perdition, believe what others bid us, whether it accords with our own reason or not. This, we take it, is the view entertained by the worthy Professor, and the writer of this many years ago preached it, and counted the Professor himself among his hearers, if not among his disciples. Now, we need not, after the explanation we have given, say that this view is altogether wrong. The Protestant asserts the supernatural in a sense that excludes or supercedes nature, and therefore, natural reason; the Catholic adopts as his maxim, Gratia supponit naturam, and asserts the supernatural as the complement of the natural, or as healing, strengthening, and elevating it to the plane of the supernatural, or a destiny far superior to any possible natural beatitude. This is in the outset a very important difference; for, if grace supposes nature, the supernatural the natural, the authority on which we are required to believe the supernatural may aid, may strengthen, or illumine natural reason, but cannot supercede it or deprive it of any of its natural activity and freedom. The supernatural adds to the natural, according to Catholic faith, but takes nothing from it. The prejudice excited by Protestantism against the supernatural cannot bear against it as asserted by Catholicity.
 But we would remind our naturalistic friends that nature does not suffice for itself. It is impossible by nature alone to explain the origin or existence of nature. The ancients tried to do it, but they failed. Some attempted to do it by the fortuitous combination of eternally existing atoms, others made the universe originate in fire, in water, in air or earth, as some moderns try to develop it from a primitive rock or gas, or suppose it originally existed in a liquid or a gaseous state, whence it has grown into its present form. But whence the primitive rock or the gas? Whence the water, fire, air, or earth? Whence the original germ? Naturalism has no answer. We have a natural tendency, strong in proportion to the strength and activity of our reason, to seek the origin, the principles, the causes of things, but this tendency nature cannot satisfy, because nature has not her origin, principle, or cause in herself. For this reason Mr. Herbert Spencer relegates origin and end, principles and causes, and whatever pertains to them to the region of the unknowable, and maintains that we can know only phenomena, and therefore that science consists simply in observing, collecting, and classifying phenomena, not in the explication of phenomena by reducing them to their principle and referring them to their cause or causes.
 We can know phenomena, but not noumena, is asserted by the reigning doctrine among physicists, which is a complete a denial of reason as can be found in any of the reformers. It reduces our intelligence to a level with that of the brutes that perish, for what distinguishes our intelligence from theirs is precisely reason, which is the faculty of attaining to principles or causes - first causes and final causes – both in the intellectual and the moral order, while brutes have intelligence only of phenomena. Hence, philosophers, who define things per genus et differentiam, define man a rational animal, or animal plus reason. To our physicists, like the Lyelis and the Huxleys, or to such philosophers as Mr. Stuart Mill, who knows not whether he is Mr. Stuart Mill or somebody else, whether he is something or nothing, this amounts to very little; for they, the physicists, we mean, are specially engaged in collecting facts to prove that man is only a developed chimpanzee or gorilla, and that the human intelligence differs only in degree from the brutish. But, then, what right do they have to complain that belief in the supernatural tends to degrade human nature, to deprive reason of its dignity, and man of his glory? Moreover, this restriction of our power of knowing to simple phenomena, never satisfies reason, which would know not only phenomena, but noumena, and not only noumena, but principles, causes, the principle of principles and the cause of causes, the origin and end of all things, that is, God, and God as he is in himself. You cannot, except by brutalizing men to the last degree, suppress this interior craving of reason to penetrate all mysteries, to explore all secrets, and to know all things, nor can you by reason alone appease it. Do you propose to suppress nature, extinguish reason, and call it promoting science, vindicating the dignity of man?
 Reason can never be made to believe that all reality is confined to what Mr. Herbert Spencer calls the knowable, and we the intelligible. There is nothing of which reason is better or more firmly persuaded than that there is more reality than she herself knows or can know. Reason asserts her own limitations, and will never allow that she can know no more because there is nothing more to be known. The intelligible does not satisfy her, because in the intelligible alone she cannot find the explication of the intelligible; or, in other words, she cannot understand the intelligible without the superintelligible; for, though she cannot without divine revelation grasp the superintelligible, she can know this much, that the superintelligible is, and that in it the intelligible has its root, its origin, cause, and explication. Here is a grave difficulty that every exclusive rationalist encounters, and which is and can be removed only by faith. Nature, reason, science alone never suffices for itself, as all our savants know, for where their knowledge ends they invent hypothesis. It is not that reason is a false or deceptive light, but that it is limited, and we have not the attribute of omniscience any more than we have that of omnipotence.
 So it is with our craving for beatitude. Whether God could or could not have so constituted man, without changing his nature as man, that he could rest in a natural beatitude, that is, in a finite good, we shall not attempt to decide; but this much we may safely assert, as the united testimony of the sages and moralists of all ages and nations, and confirmed by every one’s own experience, that nothing finite, and whatever is natural is finite, can satisfy man’s innate desire for beatitude. “Man,” says Dr. Channing, “thirsts for an unbounded good.” The sum of all experience on the subject is given us by the wise king of Israel, Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas – “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The eye is not satisfied with seeing, the ear with hearing, nor the heart with knowing. We turn away with loathing from the finite good as soon as possessed, which the moment before possession we felt would, of we had it, make us happy. The soul spurns it, and cries out from the depths of her agony for something that can fill up the void within her, and complete her happiness by completing her being. We need not multiply words, for the fact is old, and all the world knows it. Nature cannot satisfy nature, and the soul looks, and must look beyond it, for her beatitude. So much is certain.
 Hence it is that men in all ages and nations have never been able to satisfy either their reason or their craving for happiness with nature alone, and have, in some form, recognized a supernatural order, or a reality of some sort above and beyond nature, whence comes nature herself. Neither atheism, or the resolution of God into natural laws or forces, nor pantheism, or the absorption of natural laws or forces into the Divine being itself, has ever been able to satisfy the man of a real philosophic or scientific genius, because either is sophistical and self-contradictory. Either is repugnant to the natural logic of the human understanding or the inherent laws of thought. Even such naturalists as Agassiz and our Dr. Draper find it necessary to recognize in some sense a Supreme being or God, although, for the most part, like the old Epicureans, they leave him idle, with little or nothing to do. But God, if he exists at all, must be supernatural, and the author of nature. If God is supernatural and the creator of nature, he must have created nature for himself, and then nature must have its origin and end in him, and therefore in the supernatural. Man, then, has neither his origin nor end in the natural, and neither without the supernatural is explicable or knowable; without a knowledge of our origin and end, or an answer to the questions, whence came we? Why are we and how? And whither go we? We can have no rule of life, cannot determine the positive or the relative value of any line of conduct, and must commit ourselves to the mercy of the winds and waves of an unknown sea, without pilot, chart, rudder, or compass.
 Nor is even this enough. Not only is the natural inexplicable without the supernatural, but even the intelligible, too, is not intelligible without the superintelligible, as we have already said. We know things, indeed, not mere phenomena, but we do not know the essences of things, and yet we know that there is and can be nothing without its essence, and that the ground and root of what is intelligible in a thing is in its unknown and superintelligible essence. So in the universe throughout. God, as creator, as universal, eternal, necessary, immutable, and self-existent being, is intelligible to us, and the light by which all that is intelligible to us is intelligible; but we know that what is intelligible to us is not God in his essence, and that what in him is intelligible to us has its source, its reality, so to speak, in this very superintelligible essence. Hence it follows that to have real science of any thing we need to know the supernatural, and by faith, or analogical science, at least, the superintelligible. We cannot satisfy nature without the science and possession of the essences or substances of things, and therefore not without faith, “for faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Est antem fides sperandarum substantia rerum argumentum non apparentium, according to St. Paul, who, even they who deny his inspiration, must yet admit was the profoundest philosopher who ever wrote. We think he was so because divinely inspired, but the fact that he was so no competent judge can dispute. St. Augustine owes his immense superiority over Plato and Aristotle chiefly to his assiduous study of the epistles of St. Paul, which throw so strong a light not only on the whole volume of Scripture, but on the whole order of creation, and the divine purpose in the creation and the redemption, regeneration, justification, and glorification of man through the incarnation of the Word, and the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 But as we know by even by faith the superintelligible, the unknowable of Mr. Herbert Spencer, which even he dares not assert is unreal or non-existent, only by divine or supernatural revelation, it follows, that without such revelation, no science satisfactory to natural reason herself is possible. There is, then, and can be no antagonism between revelation and science, faith and reason, or supernatural and natural. The two are but parts of one whole, each the complement of the other. This dialectic relation of the two terms asserted by Catholic theology is denied by Protestant theology either to the exclusion of nature and reason, or to the exclusion of both the supernatural and the superintelligible, and hence the dualism which rends in twain the whole non-Catholic world, and presents revelation and science, reason and faith, authority and liberty, natural and supernatural, church and state, heaven and earth, time and eternity, God and man, as mutually hostile terms, for ever irreconcilable. The non-Catholic world does not know or it forgets that the church presents the middle term that unites and reconciles them, and that the Catholic feels nothing of this interior struggle of two mutually destructive forces which rends the hearts and souls of the wisest of non-Catholics, not because he does not think or has abdicated reason, as the Professor imagines, but precisely because he does think, and thinks according to the truth and reality of things. He has unquestionably his struggles between the flesh and the spirit, between virtue and vice, between temptations to sin and inspirations to holiness, but presents in his life none of those fearful internal tragedies so frequently enacted among serious and earnest non-Catholics, which make up so large and so distressing a portion of the higher and more truthful portion of non-Catholic literature. Non-Catholic poetry, when not a song to Venus or Bacchus, is either a fanciful description of external nature, scenes, and events, or a low wail or a loud lament over the internal tragedies caused by the struggle between faith and reason, belief and doubt, hope and despair, or vainly to penetrate the mysteries of life and death, God and the universe. Catholic poetry, Catholic literature throughout, knows nothing of those tragedies, is peaceful and serene, and is therefore less interesting to those who are non-Catholics. We have had some experience of those interior struggles, and many a tragedy has been enacted in our own soul, but it is with difficulty that we can recall them; in the peace and serenity of Catholic faith and hope they have almost faded from the memory, and yet the period of our life since we became Catholic has been with us the period of our freest and most active and energetic thought. If we have worn chains we have not been conscious of them, and they certainly cannot have been very heavy, or have eaten very deeply into the flesh. The reason of it is that we find in Catholic faith and theology the two elements which in the non-Catholic world are in perpetual war with each other, perfectly reconciled, and mutually harmonized.
 The peace the Catholic finds is not the sort of peace that was said to reign at Warsaw. The Professor is greatly mistaken if he supposes it is obtained by the suppression of reason, or that reason is forgotten in the engrossing nature or artistic perfection of the external services of the church. The offices of the church are beautiful, grand and, if you will, imposing, but they are all provocative of thought, meditation, reflection; for they all symbolize the greatest of all mysteries – God dying for the creature’s sin, God become man, that man may become God. Take away this great mystery and offices of the church become meaningless, purposeless, powerless. Without faith in that mystery to which they all refer, and which they at every instant recall, they would be no more imposing than the pomp and music of a military review or a concert in Central Park. From first to last they challenge our faith, and, if there were any discrepancy between our faith and reason, they would in a thoughtful mind bring it up in distinct consciousness, instead of suppressing or making us forget it. A Lord John Russell could call the sublime services of the church “mummery,” and as such do the mass of Protestants regard them. To the profane all things are profane, and the offices of the church are really edifying only to those who believe the mystery of the Incarnation. Unbelievers who are not scoffers may admire their poetry and the music which accompanies them, but would admire equally poetry and music in the theatre just as much, and perhaps even more.
 No; the peace of a Catholic is a real peace. Neither faith nor reason, revelation nor science, authority nor liberty is suppressed; but all real antagonism between them is removed and they are seen and felt to be but congruous parts of one dialectic whole. Peace reigns because the mutually hostile parties are really reconciled, and made one. The Professor, no doubt, will smile at our assertion, and set it down to our simplicity or enthusiasm, but we have this advantage of him, that we know both sides, and taught or might have taught him more than thirty years ago the philosophy he brings out so racily at the breakfast table.
 Our nature was constructed by the supernatural for the supernatural, and it can no more live its normal life without a supernatural medium than it could have sprung into existence without a cause above and independent of itself. Regeneration is, therefore, as necessary to enable it to attain its destiny or beatitude as generation was to usher it into existence. Hence it is that, when men cast off in their belief and affections the supernatural, and live as natural men alone, they sink even below their normal nature, and lose even their natural light and strength, live only a life which the Scriptures call death, the death which Adam underwent in consequence of his disobedience to the divine order. When men undertake by their simple natural reason to construct a system of philosophy, they construct systems which natural reason herself rejects. Reason disdains her own work, and hence pure rationalists never construct any thing that will stand, and they build up systems only to be demolished by themselves or successors. Of the systems in vogue in our youth not one is now standing, and we have seen them replaced by two or three new generations of systems that have each in turn gone the way of all the earth; and, unless we speedily follow them, we may be called to write the epitaphs of those now reveling in the heyday of their young life. The thing is inevitable, because our nature was made to act in synthesis with the supernatural, and is only partially itself when compelled to operate by itself alone.
  This fact that man’s normal life demands the supernatural, and that his own reason, though not able to know the superintelligible, or to say what it is, yet assures him that there is a superintelligible, fits him by nature to receive the supernatural revelation of the intelligible; for this only supplies an indestructible and deeply felt want of his nature. His reason needs it and his nature craves it, and when receiving it relishes it as the hungry man does wholesome and appropriate food. As the natural and supernatural, the intelligible and super-intelligible, are not contradictory or mutually repellant orders, but parts of one complete and indissoluble whole,  only ordinary evidence is required to prove the fact of revelation; and as God is infinitely true, truth itself, his word, when we know that we have it, is ample authority, the highest possible, and the best of all conceivable reasons, for believing the revelation. So faith in a supernatural revelation, in whatever is proved to be the word of God, is so far from being repugnant to reason or requiring an abdication of reason, that it is the highest and freest act of reason possible.
 The Professor objects to believing on the authority of the church, but we do not believe the revelation on the authority of the church; we take on her authority only the fact that it is divine revelation; the revelation itself we believe on the veracity of God. But, if we consider the church as a mere body, collection, or company of men, however wise, learned, or honest we might regard them, we should not hold her authority sufficient for believing that what she proposes as the revelation really is revelation. Every man taken individually is fallible, and no possible number, union, or combination of fallibles can make an infallible, and only an infallible authority is competent to declare what God has or has not revealed. The church is more than a collection, body, or company of individuals, as the human race, what our liberals call humanity, is more than an aggregation of individuals. There is, indeed, no humanity without individuals, but it is not itself individual, or dependent on individuals for its existence. The positivists, who would call no individual man divine, pretend that humanity is divine, and worship it as God. What the race is to individual men in the order of generation, that, in some sense, is the church to them in the order of regeneration. She lives not without them, but does not live by them. She is the regenerated race, and bears to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, who was with God and who is God, the relation, in the order of regeneration, that the human race bears to Adam, its natural progenitor, and therefore she lives a divine and superhuman life, which she receives not from her members, but imparts to them. Jesus Christ is the progenitor of regenerated humanity, and this regenerated humanity is in the largest sense what we call the church, in which sense it includes all the faithful, the laity as well as their pastors and teachers.
 The church, again, is the body of our Lord, in which dwelleth the Holy Ghost. Individuals are to her what the particles which the body assimilates are to the body. There is no body without them, yet they are not, individually or collectively the body. The life of the body is not derived from them, for the body, by a vital process, assimilates them to itself, not they the body to themselves. The body, when suffering from a fever or when deprived of food, assimilates them only feebly, and wastes away or grows thin, and, when dead, assimilates them not at all, which shows that the vital power which carries on the process of assimilation is in the body, not in the particles, a fact far better known to the Professor than to us, and a fact, too, which may help remove the difficulties sciolists imagine in the way of the resurrection of the body.
 The vital power or principle which gives life to the body enables it to carry on the process of assimilation and elimination, the church teaches, is the soul, for she has defined that the soul is the form of the body, Anima est forma corporis. But this has nothing to do with our present purpose. The vital principle, the life of the church, is our Lord Jesus Christ himself. The Holy Ghost dwells in her as the soul in the body, animates her, guides and directs her, and therefore is she one, holy, and Catholic, as he is one, holy, and Catholic, infallible by his perpetual presence and assistance as he is infallible. The Word incarnate explicates his life in her as Adam explicates his life in the race. The infallibility is from the presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost, and is in her very interior life. The Word is in her, a living Word, and the infallibility attaches to her, to this interior Word which she lives, but not to individuals as such in her communion. The pope regarded as a man, irrespective of his office, is no more infallible than he is impeccable, or than is any Christian believer.
 But the church as a body has her organs, and as a visible body she has visible organs, through which she teaches the truth she has received and expresses the life she lives. These organs are the bishops or pastors in communion with their visible head, the successor in the See of Rome of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. We call them organs of the church, inasmuch as the faith and love, the truth and life, they express is her life, which in turn is the life of him who said, “Because I live ye shall live also,” and, “Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world!” and who expressly declares himself “the way, the truth, and the life.” The infallibility of the church comes from the indwelling Word and the assistance of the Holy Ghost; the infallibility of the organs comes from the infallibility of the church. Now, supposing the church to be what we represent her to be, we presume even the Professor will acknowledge her to be fully competent to teach without error the revelation supernaturally made and committed to her, for the revelation committed to her is deposited externally with her bishops and pastors, and internally in her living and unfailing faith, in her very life and interior consciousness. It is both a recorded and a present living revelation, which she is living and explicating in her continuous activity, the Word spoken from the beginning, and the Word speaking now. “Say not,” says St. Paul, (Rom. X, 6-8) “in thy heart: Who shall ascend into heaven? That is, to bring Christ down: or who shall descend into the deep? That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. But what saith the Scripture? The word is near thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: this is the word of faith, which we preach.” This was addressed by St. Paul to Christian believers, “to all that are at Rome, the beloved of God, called to be saints,” and shows that the Christian not only hears the word in his ears, but has it in his mouth, in his heart, that is, in his very life, and he lives and breathes it. It is the very element of his soul, and he can have no higher certainty, not even in the case of a mathematical demonstration, than he has that his faith is true, and that it is the living God he believes. The Professor, then in regard to the faithful, has no ground for asserting as he does an antithesis between “Rome and reason, the sovereign church and the free soul, God in our masters and God in us;” for Rome is the highest reason, the sovereign church is both external and internal, and God is both in us and in our teachers. We have not only the veracity of God as the ground of our faith, but a divinely constituted and assisted medium of bringing us to it, and sustaining it in us.
 The church undoubtedly teaches the faith or divine revelation which has been committed to her through her pastors and doctors. But the competency of these to teach follows from the fact that they can teach only in union with the church; that she authorizes their teaching, and is ever present to correct them if they err, and that they are even externally commissioned by our Lord himself to teach what he has revealed. A mere external commission, which we know historically was given to the apostles and their successors, would not of itself give the capacity to teach or insure infallibility in teaching; but he who has all power in heaven and in earth, who is God as well as man, and is himself “the way, the truth, and the life,” assuredly would not, and could not, without belying his essential and immutable nature, issue a commission to teach and command all nations to hear and obey them as himself, without taking care that they should have the ability to teach his word and to teach it infallibly. That he does this is pledged in the very issue and in the words of the commission itself: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (St. Matt. 28, 18-20.)
 This external commission is all that needs to be proved by external evidence to the world outside of the church, and there is no more intrinsic difficulty in proving it than there is in proving the commission of George Washington as general of the American army in the Revolution, of Lord Raglan as commander-in-chief to the day of his death of the British forces employed in the Crimean war, or any other historical fact whatever. The unbroken existence of the church founded by the apostles from their day to ours, and the uniform testimony she has universally and uninterruptedly borne to the fact, would suffice to prove it, even had we no other proofs or evidence. The church, without citing her in her supernatural character, and taking her simply as an historical witness, is all that is needed, for she is a standing monument of the fact. In her corporate capacity she spans the whole distance of time from the apostles, and at each intervening moment she has been a present witness of the fact, testifying to what was present before her. The church as a corporation, without any appeal to her mystic character, has not been subject to any succession of time, has known no lapse of years, and is as present today to the events of the apostolic times as she was when those events occurred. She is at any moment we choose their contemporary, and as a contemporary witness to extraordinary facts, her testimony is as good for us as it was that of the apostles themselves to their personal contemporaries. Indeed it is truly and literally the same, for her corporate existence from the time of the apostles to ours, or her historical identity, is unquestionable.
 We are not now citing the continuous existence of the church for any thing but the simple external fact of the external commission given by our Lord himself to his apostles. To that fact, whatever you think of her, she is a competent witness, and, and having constantly testified to it from that day to this, her testimony is conclusive. Assume, then, the fact, of the external commission, to which we who are Catholics need no external testimony, since we find the highest of all possible testimony in the internal life of the church, all the rest follows of itself. What the church believes, and teaches through her pastors and doctors, or what they in unison with her and her faith teach as the revelation of God committed to her, is his revelation, and we believe it because we believe him. Then we believe she is what she professes to be, the living body of our Lord, who lives in her and is her life, and through whom the Holy Ghost carries on the work of regeneration and glorification of all souls that do not resist him, but by his assistance cooperate with him.
 Now, where in all this, from the first to the last, find you any discrepancy between Rome and Reason, the sovereign church and the free soul, between God in us and God in our masters? There is no discrepancy. There is more in it than natural reason by her own light knows, but nothing against reason, or which reason does not feel that she needs for our own full and normal development. There is in it more than there is in nature, because our destiny, our end, that is, our supreme good, like our origin, lies in the supernatural order, not the natural, for our nature can be satisfied with no finite or created good, and it needs no argument to prove that the natural is not capable of itself of attaining to the supernatural. To assert the supernatural as the means of elevating nature to the plane of a supernatural destiny and of enabling it to reach it, assuredly is not to discard or to depress nature.
 The difficulties which exclusive rationalists and naturalists feel in the case grow out of their supposition that Rome teaches that the intelligible and superintelligible are identical with the natural and supernatural, and that the natural and supernatural are two separate worlds, each standing opposed to the other, or two contradictory plans or systems, with no real nexus or medium of reconciliation between them, that is, that Rome, saving her authority to teach and govern, teaches Protestantism. The intelligible and superintelligible are distinguishable only in relation to our limited intelligence, but in the real order are identical, one and the same, and would be seen to be so by an intelligence capable of taking in all reality at one view. The natural and supernatural are distinguishable, but not separable, any more than is the effect from the cause. They are simply distinct parts of one complete system, or one dialectic whole, united as well as distinguished by the creative act of God. They are expressed, in the Christian or theological order, by the terms generation and regeneration. Man is created by the supernatural, but the race is explicated in the order of generation by natural laws; in the order of regeneration, by the election of grace. Generation is initial; regeneration is teleological, and completes generation, or places man on the plane of his end, as generation places the individual on the plane of his natural existence.
 Now, it is clear without generation there can be no regeneration, as without regeneration the end is not attainable. The two terms express two processes, or the two itineraries of creation – the procession of existence from God as first cause by way of creation and their explication by natural laws, and the return of existences by means of supernatural grace to God without absorption in him, as their end or final cause. The natural order of generation, the order explicated by natural laws, proceeds from and is sustained by the supernatural, for God is supernatural, since he is the author of nature; the end or the final cause, is supernatural, since it is in God; the medium of return, then, must be also supernatural, since the natural is not and cannot be adequate to a supernatural end. Evidently, then, there is and can be no opposition between the natural and supernatural but the opposition between the cause and effect, the medium and the end, the part and the whole. The supernatural is necessary to originate, sustain, and complete the natural. Hence, the difficulties created or suggested by Protestant theology have no place in relation to the teachings of Rome. Protestantism escapes an eternal war only by suppressing either the natural or the supernatural; Rome escapes it by reconciling the two, or presenting in the real order the medium of their union.
 We may now dispose of the question of miracles and the supernatural visions, which excite the disdain or contempt of Mr. Parkman and his class of thinkers, or no-thinkers. Man exists from, by, and for the supernatural. Christianity, is supernatural, and is the medium, and the necessary medium by which man attains his end, or supreme good. It is teleological, and hence the whole teleological life of man is supernatural. The supernatural is that which God does immediately by himself; the natural is that which he does mediately through the action of second causes or so-called natural laws, as generation, germination, growth, etc., which are in the secondary order explicable by natural or created causes. Now, as the supernatural is the origin, medium, and end of man, and as Christianity or the teleological order unites dialectically – really unites, as God and man are really united in the Incarnation – the natural and supernatural, there is and can be no a priori difficulty or antecedent improbability that God, in preparing the introduction in time of the Christian order, and in carrying it on to the end for which he creates it, should intervene more or less frequently by his direct and immediate action – action upon nature, if you will, but without the agency of natural causes. The whole Christian order, on its divine side, though included in the original plan or decree of creation, is an intervention of this sort. Grace is the direct action of God the Holy Ghost in regenerating the human soul, elevating it to the plane of its destiny, and enabling it to persevere to the end. The part assigned to natural agents is ministerial only, or signs through which grace is signified. The direct and immediate action of God is normal in the order of Christianity, in no sense repugnant to the order of nature.
 What, then, is a miracle? It is not a violation or suspension of the laws of nature, but a specific effect in the visible order produced by the direct and immediate action of God, for some purpose connected with the teleological order of creation, or the order of regeneration as distinguished from the order of generation. That he should do so from time to time, as seems to him good, in only an analogy with the very order he sustains for the perfection or completion of creation. There are, then, no a priori objections to miracles. Hume’s pretence that no testimony can prove a miracle, for it is more probable that men will lie than it is that nature will go out of her course, is of no weight, because nature does not work a miracle, nor does it in a miracle go out of its course. The miracle is worked by God himself, and is in the teleological order of nature. Being wrought in the visible order, a miracle is as probable and as provable as any other historical event. The only questions are, is the event not explicable by natural causes? And are the proofs sufficient to prove it as an historical fact? No more evidence is needed to prove it than is required to prove any historical fact in the natural order itself. If a real miracle, it is as easily proven as a natural event.
 No doubt many things pass for miracles which are explicable by natural causes, and many visions are taken to be supernatural which have nothing supernatural about them. We do not hold ourselves bound by our Catholic faith to believe all the marvelous occurrences recorded in the lives of the saints, or treated as such in popular tradition, were really miracles, wrought by the direct and immediate action of the Almighty. We are bound to believe only according to the evidence in each particular case. Credulity is as little the characteristic of Catholics as is skepticism itself. We are in relation to alleged particular miracles as free to exercise our reason and judgment as we are in regard to any other class of historical facts, and to sift and weigh the testimony in the case. That miracles are possible, are not improbable, have never ceased in the church, and are daily wrought among the faithful, we fully believe; but, when it comes to this or that particular fact or event alleged to be a miracle, we exercise to the full our critical judgment, and follow what seems to us the weight of evidence. The alleged appearance of our Lady to the young shepherds of La Salette is possible and not improbable, but before we can be required to believe it we must have sufficient evidence of the fact.
 Mr. Parkman in his quiet way smiles at the credulity of the good Jesuit fathers, who seem to believe the stories of the Indian magic, witchcraft, or sorcery which they relate; but has he any evidence that there is no Satan, and that evil spirits are mere entia rationis? Can he prove that magic, witchcrafts, sorcery, diablerie, in any or all of its forms, is impossible or even improbable? All the world from the earliest and in the most enlightened ages have believed in what the Germans call the Night-side of Nature, and no man has any right to allege to universal a belief is unfounded, except on very strong and convincing reasons. Has he such reasons? Can he disprove the whole series of facts recorded? Can he deny the facts alleged by our modern necromancers or spiritists, or prove not that some of them are, but that all of them, are explicable without the supposition of some superhuman agency? Doubtless there is much illusion, delusion, cheatery, but is there not also much inexplicable without satanic influence? Can he say that there is no Satan, that there are no fallen creatures superior to man in strength and intellect, who harass him, beset him, possess him, or that tempt him and perform lying wonders well fitted to deceive him, and to draw him away from the worship of the true God, though, of course, unable to harm against the consent of his will? Their deviltry is superhuman, but not by any means supernatural, and they who speak of it as supernatural entirely mistake its character. As in the case of miracles, while we concede the general principle, when we come to particular facts attributed to satanic agency, we use our critical judgment, and are, we confess, very slow to believe, and hard to be convinced. 
 We think we have said enough to prove that it is time to leave off the cant about the despotism of Rome, and to desist from placing the church in contrast with the free soul. The two poles are rationalism and supernaturalism; Catholicity combines both in the real synthesis, a synthesis founded in the creative act of God which really connects creator and creature in one harmonious whole. They who do not perceive it are ignorant of the teachings of Rome, and are mere sciolists. They have taken only superficial views of both reason and religion, and have far more reason to deplore their lack of light than to boast of their intelligence. There is infinitely more in this old church than is dreamed of in their philosophy.
 Yet nobody pretends that the church teaches the details of science, and leaves nothing for the human intellect to observe, to investigate, to arrange, and to classify. The church is Catholic, because she teaches in her doctrine, whether known by natural reason or only by divine revelation, the universal ideal, or the Catholic principles of all the real and all the knowable; but she does not teach all the details  of cosmology, history, chemistry, mechanics, geography, astronomy, geology, zoology, physiology, pathology, philology, or anthropology. She teaches the ideal or general principles of all the sciences, and teaches them infallibly, and thus gives the law to all scientific investigation, which savants in their inductions and deductions are not at liberty to transgress. Our philosophers and savants are perfectly free to explore nature in all possible directions, but they are not free to invent hypotheses and theories not reconcilable with the universal principles she teaches, or to oppose their conjectures to the principles she asserts, because all such conjectures or theories are unscientific and false. The ethnologist is free to investigate the characteristics of the different races and families of men, but not free to deny the unity of the human race itself, or the descent of all men from the one and the same primitive pair, who must have been immediately created and instructed by God himself. But this is saying no more than that the mathematician is not free to reject his axioms, or the geometrician his definitions; and we may add that, if our scientific men would take the principles the church teaches as their guide, they would find themselves much more successful in their observation and classification of natural phenomena, and save themselves from ridicule which they now incur.
   It follows from this that the sciences are not absolutely independent of the supervision of the church, and that she goes not out of her province when she censures officially theories, hypotheses, and conjectures which contradict the ideal truth committed to her charge. They by contradicting her principles are proved to be unsound and unscientific. But so long as the scientific confine themselves to facts and real principles, and do not run or attempt to run athwart the truth, they are perfectly free. The church interferes with them only when they impugn by their speculations the universal principles of things. The people, again, are free to adopt the form of government which they judge best, and civil governments are free to pursue the policy they judge the wisest and most prudent, so long as they contravene no principle or dictate of moral justice; and the individual is free to choose the calling in life he prefers, and to pursue it without let or hindrance from the church, so long as he violates no divine precept or law of God.
 There is no doubt some restraint here, for the church excludes neither authority nor liberty. Liberty without authority is license, and as great an evil as authority without liberty, which is tyranny or despotism. The scientific, if truly scientific, study to know reality, the real and unmixed truth, which is alike independent of her and of them, and they can obtain only by conforming to the immutable principles of things, according to which God has created and governs the universe. The church approves and encourages free thought and free inquiry, but she certainly does not permit her children, under pretence of free thought, free inquiry, or of free science, to subvert the very principles on which all science, even thought itself, depends, to degrade human nature and abase the dignity of reason by theories that deprive man of his humanity and rank him with the beasts that perish. Such liberty is repugnant to the very essence of science, and cannot be entertained for a moment by any one who is more than a developed chimpanzee or gorilla. It is license, not liberty, and introduces only intellectual anarchy.
 There is, too, a moral order in the universe, and the good of the individual and society can be secured only by conformity to it. No man, no nation, no society, no government has or can have the right to do wrong. The rejection of the restraints of the great fundamental principles of truth in science and the sciences, and of justice in the individual and in society, is the greatest of evils, and it is therefore that the church has it for her office to unite in an indissoluble synthesis both liberty and authority. To make the fact that she unites authority with liberty, and tempers each with the other, a ground of reproach against her is no proof of wisdom. She allows man all the liberty God gives him, and to ask more is absurd.
 In teaching the great principles of truth in all orders, and in judging of their explication and application, the church is infallible, but she is not infallible in the details of science. She is infallible in teaching whatever our Lord has commanded her, has revealed to her, and is realizing in her life, but not necessarily in matters not included in the faith. Her infallibility does not imply the scientific infallibility of all Catholics. It is no objection to her and no embarrassment to Catholics, that her children in the details of science have more or less erred. Others may be as well acquainted with these details as Catholics, and the scientific superiority of Catholics is in their knowledge of the great scientific principles, or what in science is ideal and Catholic. Others may know the facts of history as well, but none can so well know the ideas or principles which govern the historical development of the race, and the science or philosophy of history. The same may be said of all other sciences.
 To develop fully and exhaust the great question we have touched upon in this article would require a volume, indeed many volumes. We have aimed rather at giving the principles and method of their solution than at giving the solution itself. We have left much for the reader to do for himself by his own thought and study. It is as necessary that readers should think freely and wisely as that authors should, for mind can speak only to mind. But we trust that we have said enough to vindicate Rome from the charges preferred against her, and to prove that they who take pleasure in reviling her or her faithful children have little reason to boast of their intelligence or to claim to be the more advanced portion of the race.