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Rome and the World

                        From the Catholic World for October, 1871

       Under the head Rome or Reason we showed that Catholicity is based on reality, and is the synthesis, so to speak, of Creator and creature, of God and man, of heaven and earth, nature and grace, faith and reason, authority and liberty, revelation and science, and that there is in the real order no antagonism between the two terms or categories. The supposed antagonism results from not understanding the real nexus that unites them in one dialectic whole, and forms the ground of their mutual conciliation and peace, expressed in the old sense of the word “atonement.”

          Christianity is supernatural, indeed, but it is not an afterthought, or an anomaly in the original plan of creation. Our Lord was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; the Incarnation is included in creation as its complement or fulfillment; and hence many theologians hold that, even if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate, not, indeed, to redeem man from sin and death which comes by sin, but to ennoble his nature, and to enable him to attain to the supernatural union with God in which alone he finds or can find his supreme good or perfect beatitude. Christianity, whether this be so or not, must always be regarded as teleological, the religion of the end – not accidentally so, but made so in the original plan of the Creator. It enters dialectically, not arbitrarily, into that plan, and really completes it. In this view of the case the Creator’s works from first to last are dialectical, and there is and can be no contradiction in them; no discrepancy between the natural and supernatural, between faith and reason, nature and grace, the beginning, medium, and end, but all form integral parts of one indissoluble whole.

          But, if there is and can be no antagonism between Rome and Reason, there certainly is an antagonism between Rome and the World, which must not be overlooked or counted for nothing, and which will, in some form, most likely, subsists as long as the world stands. Rome symbolizes for us the Catholic religion, or the divine order, which is the law of life. The Catholic church in its present state dates only from the Incarnation, out of which it grows, and of which it is in some sort the visible continuation; but the Catholic religion, as the faith, as the law of life, dates from the beginning. The just before the coming of Christ were just on the same principles, by the same faith, and by obedience to the same divine law, or conformity to the same divine order, that they are now, and will be to the end; and hence the deist Tindal expressed a truth which he was far from comprehending when he asserted that “Christianity is as old as the world.” Tindal’s great error was in understanding by Christianity only the natural law promulgated through natural reason, and in denying the supernatural. Christianity is that and more too. It includes, and from the first has included, in their synthesis, both the natural and the supernatural. The human race has never had but one true or real religion, but one revelation, which as St. Thomas teaches, was made in substance to our first parents in the garden. Times change, says St. Augustine, but faith changes not. As believed the fathers – the patriarchs – so believe we, only they believed in a Christ to come, and we in a Christ that has come. Prior to the actual coming of Christ the church existed, but in a state of promise, and needed his actual coming to be perfected, or fulfilled, as St. Paul teaches us in his epistle to the Hebrews; and hence none who died before the Incarnation actually entered heaven till after the passion of our Lord.

          Now, to this divine order, this divine law, this Catholic faith and worship symbolized to us by Rome, the visible centre of its unity and authority, stands opposed another order, not of life, but of death, called the world, originating with our first parents, and in their disobedience to the divine law, or violation of the divine order established by the Creator, conformity to which was essential to the moral life and perfection of the creature, or fulfillment of the promise given man in creation. The order violated was founded in the eternal wisdom and goodness of the Creator, and the relations which necessarily subsist between God as Creator and man as his creature, the work of his hands. There is and can be for man no other law of life; even God himself can establish no other. By obedience to the law given, or conformity to the order established, man is normally developed, lives a true normal life, and attains to his appointed end, which is the completion of his being in God, his beatitude or supreme good. But Satan tempted our first parents to depart from this order and transgress the divine law, and in their transgression of the law they fell into sin, and founded what we call the world – not on the law of life, but on what is necessarily the law of death.

          The principle of the world may be collected from the words of the Tempter to Eve: “Ye shall not surely die, but shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” These words deny the law of God, declare it false, and promise to men independence of their Creator, and the ability to be their own masters, their own teachers and guides. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;” that is, determining for yourselves, independently of any superior, what is right or wrong, good or evil, or what is or is not fitting for you to do. You shall suffice for yourselves, and be your own law. Hence, as the basis of Rome is the assertion of the divine law, conformity to the divine order, or submission to the divine reason and will, that is, humility, the basis of the world is denial of the divine order, the rejection of the law of life and the assertion of the sufficiency of man for himself, that is simply pride. Rome is based on humility, the world on pride; the spirit of Rome is loyalty and obedience, the spirit of the world is disloyalty and disobedience, always and everywhere the spirit of revolt or rebellion. Between these two spirits their is necessarily an indestructible antagonism, and no possible reconciliation.

          The radical difference between Rome and the world is the radical difference between the humility of the Christian and the pride of the stoic. All Christian piety and virtue are based on humility; the piety and virtue of the stoic are based on pride. The Christian is always deeply impressed with the greatness and goodness of God; the stoic with the greatness and goodness of himself. The Christian submits to crosses and disappointments, to the sufferings and afflictions of life, because he loves God, and is willing to suffer any thing for his sake; the stoic endures them without a murmur, because he disdains to complain, and holds that he is, and should be, superior to all the vicissitudes and calamities of life. The Christian weeps as his master wept at the grave of Lazarus, and finds relief in his tears; the stoic is too proud to weep; he wraps himself in his own dignity and self-importance, and, when his calamities are greater than he can bear, he seeks relief, like Cato, in suicide, thus proving his weakness by the very means he takes to conceal it. The Christian throws his burden on the Lord, and rises above it; the stoic insists on bearing it himself, and at last sinks under it. The world despises humility, and tramples on the humble. To it the Christian is tame, passive, mean-spirited, contemptible. It has no sympathy with the beatitudes, such as, Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the meek; blessed are the peacemakers. It understands nothing of true Christian heroism, or of the greatness of repose. It seeks strength only in effort, which is always a proof of weakness, and the harder one strains and tugs to raise a weight, the stronger it holds him. We may see it in the popular literature of the day, and in nearly all recent art. The ancients had a much truer thought when they sculptured their gods asleep, and spread over their countenance an air of ineffable repose. The Scriptures speak of the mighty works of God, but represent them as the hiding of his power. All the great operations of nature are performed in silence, and the world notes them not. The Christian’s greatness is concealed by the veil of humility, and his strength is hidden with God. He works in silence, but with effect, because he works with the power of him to whom is given all power in heaven and in earth.

          Mr. Gladstone thinks he finds in Homer the whole body of the patriarchal religion, or the primitive tradition of the race, and he probably is not much mistaken; but no one can study Homer’s heroes without being struck with the contrast they offer to the heroes of the Old Testament. The Old Testament heroes are as brave, as daring, and as effective as those of Homer; but they conceal their own personality, they go forth to battle in submission to the divine command, not seeking to display their own skill or prowess, and the glory of their achievements they ascribe to God, who goes with them, assists them, fights for them, and gives the victory. What is manifest is the presence and greatness of God, not the greatness and strength of the hero, who is nothing in himself. In Homer the case is reversed, and what strikes the reader is the littleness of God and the greatness of men. The gods and goddesses take part in the fray, it is true, but they are hardly the equals of the human warriors themselves. A human spear wounds Venus, and sends Mars howling from the field. It is human greatness and strength, human prowess and heroism, without any reference to God, to whom belongs the glory, that the poet sings, the creature regarded as independent of the Creator. In reading the Old Testament, you lose sight of the glory of men in the glory of God; in reading Homer, you lose sight of the glory of God in the glory of men. Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, Jephtha, David, the Maccabees fight as the servants of the Most High; Agamemnon, Ajax, Diomed, Achilles, even Hector, to display their own power, and to prove the stuff that is in them.

          Perhaps no author, ancient or modern, has so completely embodied in his writings, the spirit of the world, the Welt-Geist, as the Germans say, as Thomas Carlyle. This writer may have done some service to society in exposing many cants, in demolishing numerous shams, and in calling attention to the eternal verities, of which few men are more ignorant; but he has deified force, and consecrated the worship of might in the place of right. Indeed, for him, right is cant, and there is no right but might. He spurns humility, submission, obedience, and recognizes God only in human ability. His hero-worship is the worship of the strong and the successful. Ability, however directed or wherever displayed, is his divinity. His heroes are Woden and Thor, Cromwell, Frederick the Great, Mirabeau, Danton, Napoleon Bonaparte. The men who go straight to their object, whether good or bad, and use the means necessary to gain it, whether right or wrong, are for him the divine men, and the only thing he censures is weakness, whether caused by indecision or scruples of conscience. His hero is an elemental force, who acts as the lightning that rives the oak, or the winds that fill the sails and drive the ship to its port. Old-fashioned morality, which requires a man to seek just ends by just means, is with him a cant, a sham, an unreality, and the true hero makes away with it, and is his own end, his own law, his own means. He is not governed, he governs, and is the real being, the real God; all else belong to the unveracities, are mere simulacra, whose end is to vanish in thin air, to disappear in the inane. The man who recognizes a power above him, a right independent of him, and in submission to the divine law, and from love of truth and justice, weds himself to what is commanded, espouses the right and adheres to it through good report and evil report, takes up the cause of the oppressed, the wronged and outraged, the poor, the friendless, and the down-trodden, and works for it, gives his soul to it, and sacrifices his time, his labor, and his very life to advance it, when he has no man with him, and all the world unheeds, jeers, or thwarts him, is unheroic, and has no moral grandeur in him, has no virtue – unless he succeeds. He is a hero only when he carries the world with him, bends the multitude to his purpose, and comes out triumphant. The unsuccessful are always wrong; lost causes are always bad causes; and the unfortunate are unveracious, and deserve their fate. The good man struggling with fate, and holding fast to his integrity in the midst of sorest trials and temptations, and overborne in all things save his unconquerable devotion to duty, is no hero, and deserves no honor, though even the ancients thought such a man worthy of the admiration of gods and men. Carlyle forgets that there is an hereafter, and that what to our dim vision may seem to be failure here may there be seen to have been the most imminent success. The Christians conquered the world, not by slaying, but by being slain, and the race has been redeemed by the Cross. Indeed, pride is always a proof of meanness and weakness, is an unveracity; for it is born of a lie, and rests on a lie: all real magnanimity and strength for men spring from humility, which is not a falsehood, but a veracity; for it is conformity to the truth of things.

          The principle of opposition to the church is always and everywhere the same, invariable in time and place as the church herself, and has a certain consistency, a certain logic of its own; but it varies its form from age to age and from nation to nation, and is enraged at the church because she does not vary with it. It is always at bottom, whatever its form, the assumption that the creature does or may suffice for itself: “Ye shall surely not die, but shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” This primitive falsehood, this satanic lie, underlies all the hostility of the world to the church, or of the world to Rome. Analyze what is called the world, and you will find that it is only a perpetual effort or series of efforts to realize the promise made by the serpent to Eve in the garden, when coiled round the tree of knowledge. The world labors to exalt the dignity and glory of man, not as a creature dependent for his existence, for all he is or can be, on the Creator, which would be just and proper, but as an independent, self-acting, and self-determining being, accountable, individually or socially, only to himself for his thoughts, words, and deeds – subject to no law but his own will, appetites, passions, natural propensities, and tendencies. He is himself his own law, his own master, and should be free from all restraint and all control not in himself.

          It is easy, therefore, to understand why, with the world and with men filled with the spirit of the world, Rome is held to be the symbol of despotism, and the church to be inherently and necessarily hostile to the freedom of thought and to all civil and religious liberty. The world understands by liberty independence of action, and therefore exemption from all obligation of obedience, or subjection to any law, not self-imposed. It holds the free man to be one who is under no control, subject to no restraint, and responsible to no will but his own. This is its view of liberty, and consequently whatever restricts liberty in this sense, and places man under a law which he is bound to recognize and obey, is in its vocabulary despotism, opposed to the rights of man, the rights of mind, the rights of society, or the freedom and independence of the secular order. Liberty in this broad and universal sense obviously cannot be the right or prerogative of any creature, for the creature necessarily depends for all he is or has on the creator. Hence M. Proudhon, who maintained that property is robbery, with a rigid logic that has hardly been appreciated, asserts that the existence of God is incompatible with the assertion of the liberty of man. Admit, he says, the existence of God, and you must concede all the authority claimed by the Catholic church. The foundation of all despotism is in the belief in the existence of God, and you must deny, obliterate that belief, before you can assert and maintain liberty. He was right, if we take liberty as the world takes it. Liberty, as the world understands it, is the liberty of a god, not of a creature. Rome asserts and maintains full liberty of man as a creature; but she does and must oppose liberty in the broad, universal sense of the world; for her very mission is to assert and maintain the supremacy of the divine order, the authority of God over all the works of his hands, and alike over men as individuals and as nations. She asserts indeed, liberty in its true sense; but she, does and must oppose the liberty the world demands, the liberty promised by Satan to our first parents, and which, in truth, should be called license, not liberty, and also those who strive for it, as disloyal to God, as rebels to their rightful sovereign, children of disobedience, warring against, as Carlyle would say, the veracities, the eternal verities, the truth of things, or divine reality. There is no help for it. The church must do so, or be false to her trust, false to her God, also to the divine order; for, let the world say what it will, man is not God, but God’s creature, and God is sovereign Lord and proprietor of the universe, since he has made it, and the maker has the sovereign right to the thing made. Here is no room for compromise, and the struggle must continue till the world abandons its false notion of liberty, and submits to the divine government. Till then the church is and must be the church militant, and carry on the war against the world, whatever shape it may assume.

          With the ancient gentiles the world rather perverted and corrupted the truth than absolutely rejected it, and fell into idolatry and superstition rather then into absolute atheism. The Epicureans were, indeed, virtually atheists, but they never constituted the great body of any gentile nation. The heathen generally retained a dim and shadowy belief in the divinity, even in the unity of God; but they lost the conception of him as creator and consequently of man and the universe as his creature. By substituting in their philosophy generation, emanation, or formation for creation, they obscured the sense of man’s dependence on God as creator, and consequently destroyed the necessary relation between religion and morality. No moral ideas entered into their worship, and they worshipped the gods to whom they erected temples and made offerings, not from a sense of duty or from the moral obligation of the creature to adore his Creator and give himself to him, but from motives of interest, to avert their displeasure, appease their wrath, or to render them propitious to their undertakings, whether private enterprises or public war and conquest. They asserted for man and society independence of the divine order as a moral order. Severed from all moral conceptions, their religion became degraded and degrading superstition, an intolerable burden to the soul, and their worship the embodiment of impurity and corruption. Such was the effect of the great gentile apostasy, or gentile attempt to realize the freedom and independence promised by Satan. The promise proved a lie.

          When the church in her present state was established, the world opposed her in the name of the liberty or independence of the temporal order, which implies as its basis the independence of the creature of the creator, and therefore resting on the same satanic promise, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” When our Lord was brought before Pontius Pilate, and Pilate was about to dismiss the charges against him and to let him go, the Jews changed his purpose by telling him, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.” The heathen persecutions of the Christians were principally on the ground that they were disloyal to the empire, inasmuch as they rejected its worship, and asserted the immediate divine authority of their religion and its independence of the state or civil society, holding firmly always and everywhere the maxim, “We must obey God rather than men.” All down through the barbarous ages that followed the downfall of the Roman empire of the West, through the feudal ages, and down even to our own times, the state has claimed supreme authority over the church in regard to her temporal goods and her government, and has constantly sought to subject her to the civil authority, which in principle is the same with subjecting God to man. The world presented by Caesar has constantly struggled to subvert the independence of religion, and to exalt the human above the divine. This is the meaning of the medieval contests between the pope and the emperor, as we have elsewhere shown. There is not at this day, unless Belgium be an exception, a single state in Europe where the temporal power leaves religion free and independent, or where the church has not to struggle against the government to maintain the independence of the divine order she represents. Fidelity to God is held to be treason to the state, and hence Elizabeth of England executes Catholics at Tyburn as traitors.

          The age boasts of progress, and calls through all its thousands of organs upon us to admire the marvelous progress it has made, and is every hour making. It is right, if what it means by progress really be progress. It has certainly gone further than any preceding age in emancipating itself from the supremacy of the law of God, in trampling on the divine order, and asserting the supremacy of man. It has drawn the last logical consequences contained in the lying promise of Satan, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” There is no use in denying or seeking to disguise it. The world as opposed to Rome, ceases entirely to regard man as a creature, and boldly and unblushingly puts him in all respects in the place of God. God, when not openly denied to exist, is denied as creator: he is at most natura naturans, and identical with what are called the laws of nature. Hundreds of savants are busy with the effort to explain the universe without recognizing a creator, and to prove that effects may be obtained without causes. Science stops at second causes, or, rather, with the investigation and classification of phenomena, laughs at final causes, and, if it does not absolutely deny a first cause, relegates it to the region of the unknowable, and treats it as if it were not. The advanced philosophers of the age see no difference between moral laws and physical laws, between gratitude and gravitation. The heart secretes virtue as the liver secretes bile, and virtue itself consists not in a voluntary act of obedience, or in deliberately acting for a prescribed end, but in force of nature, in following one’s instincts, and acting out one’s self, heedless of consequences, and without any consideration of moral obligation. Truth is a variable quantity, and is one thing with one man and another with his neighbor. There is no Providence, or Providence is fate, and God is the theological name given to the forces of nature, especially human nature; there is no divinity but man; all worship except that of humanity is idolatry or superstition; the race is immortal, but individuals are mortal, and there is no resurrection of the dead. Some, like Fourier and Auguste Comte, even deny that the race is immortal, and suppose that in time it will disappear in the inane.

          But, without going any further into detail, we may say generally the age asserts the complete emancipation of man and his institutions from all intellectual, moral, and spiritual control or restraint, and under the name of liberty asserts the complete and absolute independence of man both individually and collectively, and under pretence of democratic freedom wars against all authority and all government, whether political or ecclesiastical. It does not like to concede even the maxims of the mathematician or the definitions of the geometrician, and sees in them a certain limitation of intellectual freedom. To ask it to conform to fixed and invariable principles, or to insist that there are principles independent of the human mind, or to maintain that truth is independent of opinion, and that opinions are true or false as they do or do not conform to it, is to seek to trammel free and independent thought, and to outrage what is most sacred and divine in man. The mind must be free, and to be free it must be free from all obligation to seek, to recognize, or to conform to truth. Indeed, there is no truth but what the mind conceives such, and the mind is free to abide by its own conceptions, for they are the truth for it. Rome, in asserting that truth is independent of the human will, human passions and conceptions, one and universal, and always and everywhere the same, and in condemning as error whatever denies it or does not conform to it, is a spiritual despotism, which every just and noble principle of human nature, the irrepressible instincts of humanity itself, wars against, and resists by every means in its power.

          We have shown that the world, as opposed to Rome, rests on the satanic falsehood, and this conception of liberty, which Rome rejects and wars against, has no other basis than the satanic promise, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” or be your own masters as God is his own master, and suffice for yourselves as he suffices for himself. The world is not wrong in asserting liberty, but wrong in its definition of liberty, or in demanding for man not the proper liberty of the creature, but the liberty which can exist only for the Creator. By claiming for man a liberty not possible for a dependent creature, the world loses the liberty to which it has, under God, the right, and falls under the worst of all tyrannies. Liberty is a right, but, if there is no right, how can you defend liberty as a right? If liberty is not a right, no wring is done in violating it, and tyranny is as lawful as freedom. Here is a difficulty in the very outset that the world cannot get over. It must assert right, therefore the order of justice, before it can assert its liberty against Rome; and, if it does assert such order, it concedes what Rome maintains, that liberty is founded in the order of justice, and cannot transcend what is true and just. The world does not see that, in denying the spiritual order represented by Rome, it denies the very basis of liberty, and all difference between liberty and despotism, because it is only on the supposition of each order that liberty can be defended as a right, or despotism condemned as a wrong.

          It is alleged against Rome that she opposes modern civilization. This is so or not so, according to what we understand by modern civilization. If we understand by modern civilization the rejection of the divine order, the supremacy of spiritual truth, and the assertion of the divinity and independence of man, Rome undoubtedly opposes it, and must oppose it; but, if we understand by modern civilization the melioration of the laws, the development of humane sentiments, the power acquired by the people in the management of their temporal affairs, and the material progress effected by the application of the truths of science to the industrial arts, the invention of the steam-engine, the steam-boat, the railway and locomotive, and the lightning telegraph, the extension of commerce and increased facilities of international communication, though probably a greater value is attached to these things than truth warrants, she by no means opposes or discourages modern civilization. Undoubtedly she places heaven above earth, and is more intent on training men for eternal beatitude than on promoting the temporal prosperity of this life. The earth is not our end, and riches are not the supreme good. She asserts a higher than worldly wisdom, and holds that the beggar has at least as good a chance of heaven as the rich man clothed in fine linen and faring sumptuously every day. She would rather see men intent on saving their souls than engrossed with money-making. The experience of modern society proves that in this she is right. We live in an industrial age, and never in any age of the world did people labor longer or harder than they do now to obtain the means of subsistence, and never was the honest poor man less esteemed, wealth more highly honored, or mammon more devoutly worshipped; yet the church never opposes earthly well-being, and regards it with favor when made subsidiary to the ultimate end of man.

          Yet certain words have become sacramental for the world, and are adopted by men who would shrink from the sense given them by the more advanced liberals of the day; and these men regard Rome, when condemning them in that extreme sense, as condemning modern civilization itself. We take the encyclical of the Holy Father, issued December 8, 1864. The whole non-Catholic world, and even some Catholics, poorly informed as to their own religion or as to the meaning of the errors condemned, regarded that encyclical as a fulmination against liberty and all modern civilization. Nobody can forget the outcry raised everywhere by the secular press against the Holy Father, and what are called the retrograde tendencies of the Catholic church. The pope, it was said, has condemned all free thought and both civil and religious liberty, the development of modern society, and all modern progress. Yet it is very likely that four-fifths who joined in the outcry, had they been able to discriminate between what they themselves really mean to defend under the names of liberty, progress, and civilization, and what the more advanced liberals hold and seek to propagate, would have seen that the pope in reality condemned only the errors which they themselves condemn, and asserted only what they themselves hold. He condemned nothing which is not a simple logical deduction from the words of the arch-tempter, the liar from the beginning and the father of lies, addressed to our first parents. All the errors condemned in the syllabus are errors which tend to deny or obscure the Divine existence, the fact of creation, the authority of the Creator, the supremacy of the divine or spiritual order, to undermine all religion and morality, all civil government, and even society itself; and to render all science, all liberty, all progress, and all civilization impossible, as we have shown over and over again.

          The numbers who embrace in their fullest extent the extreme views we have set forth, though greater than it is pleasant to believe, are yet not great enough to give of themselves any serious alarm, and hence many able and well-meaning men who have not the least sympathy with them attach no great importance to them, and treat them with superb contempt; but they are in reality only the advance-guard of a much larger and more formidable body, who march under the same drapeau and adopt the same countersign. The archbishop of Westminster, than whom we can hardly name an abler or more enlightened prelate in the church, has said in a late Pastoral, that

“The age of heresies is past. No one now dreams of revising the teaching of the church, or of making a new form of Christianity. For this the age is too resolute and consistent. Faith or unbelief is an intelligible alternative; but between variations and fragments of Christianity men have no care to choose. All or none is clear and consistent; but more or less is halting and undecided. Revelation is a perfect whole, pervaded throughout by the veracity and authority of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To reject any of it is to reject the whole law of divine faith; to criticize it and to remodel it is to erect the human reason as judge and measure of the divine. And such is heresy; an intellectual aberration which in these last ages has been carried to its final analysis, and exposed not only by the theology of the church but by the common sense of rationalism. We may look for prolific and anti-Christian errors in abundance, but heresies in Christianity are out of date”

          The great body of those outside the Catholic communion, as well as some nominally in it, but not of it, who are still attached to the Christian name, adopt the watchwords of the extreme party, and are tending in the same direction. Mazzini and Garibaldi are heroes with the mass of Englishmen and Americans, who wish them success in their anti-religious and anti-social movements. The universal secular press, the great power in modern society, with the whole sectarian press, has applauded the nefarious measures of intriguing Italian statesmen, demagogues, and apostates by which the Holy Father has been stripped of the greater part of his temporal possessions, the church despoiled of her goods, religious houses suppressed, and the freedom and independence of religion abolished throughout the Italian peninsula. The only non-Catholic voice we have heard raised in sympathy with the pope is that of Guizot, the ex-premier of Louis Philippe. Guizot, though a Protestant, sees that the papacy is essential to the Catholic church, and that the Catholic church is essential to the preservation of Christian civilization, the maintenance of society and social order. Our own secular press, so loud in its praise of religious liberty, applauds the Mexican Juarez for his confiscation of the goods of the church in the poor, distracted republic of Mexico. The sympathy of the world, of the age, is with every movement that tends to weaken the power of the church, the authority of religion, and even the authority of the state. The tendency with great masses who believe themselves Christians, a blind tendency it may be, is to no-religion or infidelity, and to no-governmentism. It is this fact that constitutes the danger to be combated.

          The difficulty of combating it is very great. The mass of the people are caught by words without taking note of the meaning attached to them. Where they find the consecrated terms of faith and piety, they naturally conclude that faith and piety are there. But to a great extent the enemies of Christianity oppose Christianity under Christian names. It is characteristic of this age that infidelity disguises itself in a Christian garb, and utters its blasphemy in Christian phraseology, its falsehoods in the language of truth. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, comes as a philanthropist, talks of humanity, professes to be the champion of science, intelligence, education, liberty, progress, social amelioration, and the moral, intellectual, and physical elevation of the poorer and more numerous classes – all good things, when rightly understood and in their time and place. We cannot oppose him without seeming to many to oppose what is a Christian duty. If we oppose false intelligence, we are immediately accused of be opposed to intelligence; if we oppose a corrupt and baneful education, we are accused of being in favor of popular ignorance, and lovers of darkness; if we oppose false liberty, or license presented under the name of liberty, we are charged with being the enemies of true freedom; if we assert authority, however legitimate or necessary, then we are despots and advocates of despotism. The press opens its cry against us, and the age votes us medieval dreamers, behind the times, relics of the past, with our eyes on the backside of our heads, and the truth is drowned in the floods of indignation or ridicule poured out against us. Our success would be hopeless, of we could not rely on the support of him whose cause we seek to the best of our ability to defend, and who after all reigneth in the heavens, and is able to make the wrath of man praise him, and can overrule evil for good.

          It is alleged that the church opposes democracy, and is leagued with the despots against the people. The church herself leagues neither with democracy nor with monarchy. She leaves the people free to adopt the form of government they prefer. She opposes movements pretendedly in favor of democracy only when they are in violation of social order and opposed to legitimate authority, and she supports monarchy only when monarchy is the law, and it is necessary to uphold it as the condition of maintaining social order, and saving civilization from the barbarism that threatens to invade it. In the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century the contrary charge was preferred, and the church was condemned by the world on the ground of being hostile to kingly government; for public opinion then favored absolute monarchy, as it does now absolute democracy. We believe our own form of government the best for us, but we dare not say that other forms of government are not the best for other nations. Despotism is never legitimate; but we know no law of God or nature that makes democracy obligatory upon every people, and no reason for supposing that real liberty keeps pace with the progress of democracy. Democracy did not save France from the Reign of Terror and the most odious tyranny, and it certainly has not secured liberty and good order in Mexico. With us it is yet an experiment and we can pronounce nothing with certainty till we have seen the result of the crisis we are now passing through. We owe it to a fearful civil war and the suppression of a formidable rebellion, but the end is not yet. Still, there is nothing in our form of government in discord with the Catholic church, and we firmly believe that, if maintained in its purity and integrity, she would find under it a freer field for her exertions than has ever yet been afforded her in the Old World. At any rate, there is no room for doubt that the country needs the church to sustain our political institutions, and to secure their free and beneficial workings.

          But the world does not gain what it seeks. It does not gain inward freedom, freedom of soul and of thought. It is difficult to conceive a worse bondage than he endures who feels that for truth and goodness he has no dependence but on himself. One wants something on which to rest, something firm and immovable, and no bondage is more painful than the feeling that we stand on an insecure foundation, ready to give way under us if we seek to rest our whole weight on it, and that our constructions, however ingenious, can stand only as we uphold them with might and main. The man with only himself for support, is Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders in a treadmill. He is a man, as we know by experience, crossing a deep and broad river on floating cakes of ice, each too small to bear his weight, and sinking as soon as he strikes it. He must constantly keep springing from one to another to save his life, and yet, however rapidly he springs, gains nothing more solid or less moveable. The world in its wisdom is just agoing to get on to something on which it can stand and rest, but it never does. Its castles are built in the air, and it spends all its labor for naught. All its efforts defeat themselves. Its philanthropy aggravates the evils it would redress, or creates others that are greater and less easily cured. In seeking mental freedom, it takes from the mind the light without which it cannot operate; in seeking freedom from the king, it falls under the tyranny of the mob; and, to get rid of the tyranny of the mob, it falls under that of the military despot; disdaining heaven, it loses the earth, refusing to obey God, it loses man.

          All history, all experience proves it. Having rejected the sacredness and inviolability of authority in both religion and politics, and asserted “the sacred right of insurrection,” the world finds itself without religion, without faith, without social order, in the midst of perpetual revolutions, checked or suppressed only by large standing armies, while each nation is overwhelmed with a public debt that is frightful to contemplate. This need not surprise us. It is the truth that liberates or makes free, and when truth is denied, or resolved into each one’s own opinion or mental conception, there is nothing to liberate the mind from its illusions and to sustain its freedom. The mind pines away and dies without truth, as the body without food. It was said by one who spoke as never man spoke, that he who would save his life shall lose it, and experience proves that they who seek this world never gain it. “Ye shall not eat thereof, nor touch it, lest ye die.” This command, which Satan contradicts, is true and good, and obedience to it is the only condition of life, or real success in life. In seeking to be God, man becomes less than man, because he denies the truth and reality of things. It is very pleasant, says Heinrich Heine, to think one’s self a god, but it costs too much to keep up the dignity and majesty of one’s own godship. Our resources are not equal to it, and purse and health give way under the effort. Falsehood, yields nothing, because it is itself nothing, and is infinitely more expensive than truth. Falsehood has no support, and can give none; whoever leans on it must fall through. And if ever there was a falsehood, it is that man is God, or independent of God.

          The whole question between Rome and the world, turn it as we will, comes back always to this: Is man God, or the creature of God? He certainly is not God: then he is a creature, and God has created him and owns him, is his Lord and Master. He, then, is not independent of God, for the creative act of God is as necessary to continue him in existence and to enable him to act, to fulfill his destiny, or to attain his end or supreme good, as it was to call him from nothing into existence. God is the principle, medium, and end of our existence. Separation from God, or independence of him, is death; for we live, and move, and have our being in him, not in ourselves. The universe, when once created, does not go ahead on its own hook or of itself without further creative intervention; for the creative act is not completed in relation to the creature, till the creature has fulfilled its destiny or reached its end. God creates us and at each moment of our existence as much and as truly as he did Adam, and the suspension of his creative act for a single instant would be our annihilation. So of the universe. He creates us, indeed, second causes and free moral agents; but even in our own acts or causation we depend on him as our first cause, as the cause of us as second causes, and in our own sphere we can cause or act only by virtue of his active presence and concurrence. When we attempt to act without him, as if we were independent of him, as our first parents did in following the suggestions of Satan, we do not cease to exist physically, but we die morally and spiritually, lose our moral life, fall into abnormal relations with our Creator, and are spiritually dead; for our moral and spiritual life depends on our voluntary obedience to the law of all created life: “Ye shall not eat thereof, nor touch it, lest ye die.”

          Here is the basis of the divine dominion. God is sovereign lord and proprietor because he is creator, and man and nature are the works of his hands. Hence the Mosaic books insist not only on the unity of God, but even with more emphasis, if possible, on God as creator. The first verse of Genesis asserts creation in opposition to emanation, generation, or formation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” All through the Old Testament, especially in the hagiographical books and the prophets, there is a perpetual recurrence to God as creator, to the fact that he has made the world and all things therein, and hence the call upon all creature to sing his praise, so often repeated in the Psalms. Indeed, it was not so much by belief in the unity of God as in the fact that God is sole and universal creator, that the Jews were distinguished from gentiles. It may be doubted if the gentiles ever wholly lost the belief in the existence of one God. We think we find in all heathen mythologies traces of a recognition of one God hovering, so to speak, over their manifold gods and goddesses, who were held to be tutelar divinities, never the divinity itself. But the gentiles, as we have already said, had lost, and did in no sense admit, the fact of creation. We find no recognition of God as creator in any gentile philosophy, Indian, Persian, Chaldean, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, or Roman. The gentiles were not generally atheists, we suspect not atheists at all; but they were invariably pantheists. Pantheism is the denial of the proper creative act of God, or, strictly speaking, that God creates substances or existences capable of acting from their own centre and producing effects as second causes. The Jews were the only people, after the great gentile apostasy, that preserved the tradition of creation. God as creator is the basis of all science, all faith, all religion; hence the first article of the creed: “I believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” In this fact is founded the inviolable right of the Almighty to govern all his works, man among the rest, as seems to him good. We cannot deny this if we once deny our own existence and that of the entire universe.

          But the right to govern implies the correlative duty of obedience. If God has the right to govern us, then we are bound to obey him and do his bidding, whatever it may be. There is nothing arbitrary in this, it is founded on the relation of creator and creature, and God himself could not make it otherwise without annihilating all creatures and ceasing to be creator. God could not create existences without giving them a law, because their very relation to him as his creatures imposes on them an inflexible and invariable law, which, if created free agents, they may, indeed, refuse to obey, but not and live. Here is the whole philosophy of authority and obedience. We must not confound the symbols employed in Genesis with the meaning they symbolize. The command given to our first parents was simply the law under which they were placed by the fact that they were creatures, that God had made them, and they belonged to him, owed him obedience, and could not disobey him without violating the very law of their existence. They cannot but die, because they depart from the truth of things, deny their real relation to God and go against the divine order, conformity to which is in the nature of the case their only condition of life. So Rome teaches in accordance with our highest and best reason. The world, listening to the flattering words of Satan and the allurements of the flesh, denies it, and says, “Ye shall surely die;” you may sin and live, may become free and independent, be as gods yourselves, your own masters, teachers, and guides. Hence the inevitable war between Rome and the world, she striving to secure the obedience of men and nations to the law of God, and it striving to maintain their independence of the law, and to make them believe that they can live a life of their own, which in the nature of the case is not life, but death.

          Other considerations, no doubt enter into the worship of God besides the simple fact that he is our Creator, but that fact is the basis of our moral obligation to obey him. This obligation is obscured when we seek for it another basis, as in the intrinsic worth, goodness, or excellence of God. No doubt, God deserves to be adored for his own sake, to be loved and obeyed for what he is in and of himself, but it is not easy to prove to men of the world that they are morally bound to love and obey goodness. These higher views of God which convert obedience into love, and would enable us to love God even if he did not command it, and to desire him for his own sake without reference to what he is to us, may in some sense be attainted to, and are so by the saints, but there are few of us perfect enough for that. The law certainly is an expression of the goodness and love of the Creator, as is creation itself, but this is not precisely the reason why it is obligatory. It is a good reason why we should love the law and delight in it, but not the reason why we are bound to obey it. We are bound to obey it because it is the law of our Creator, who has the sovereign right to command us, and hence religion cannot be severed from morality. No act of religion is of any real worth that is not an act of obedience, of submission of our will to the divine will, or which is not a frank acknowledgment of the divine sovereignty and the supremacy of the moral law. There must be in it an act of self-denial, of self-immolation, or it is not a true act of obedience, and obedience is better than any external offerings we can bring to the altar.

          Here is where the world again errs. It is ready to offer sacrifices to God, to load his altars with its offerings of the firstlings of the flocks and herds, and the fruits of the earth, but it revolts at any act of obedience, and will not remember that the sacrifices pleasing to God are an humble and contrite heart. It would serve God from love not duty, forgetting that there is no love where there is no obedience. The obedience is the chief element of the love: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” We show our love to the Father by doing the will of the Father. There is no way of escaping the act of submission, and walking into heaven with our heads erect, in our own pride and strength, and claiming our beatitude as our right, without ever having humbled ourselves before God. We may show that the law is good, the source of light and life; we may show its reasonableness and justness, and that there is nothing degrading or humiliating in obeying it; but, whatever we do in this respect, nothing will avail if the act of obedience be withheld. Till the world does this, submits to the law, no matter what fine speeches it may make, what noble sentiments it may indulge, what just convictions it may entertain, or what rich offerings it may bring to the altar, it is at enmity with God, and peace between it and Rome is impossible.

          God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself, but there can be no reconciliation without submission. God cannot change, and the world must. No humiliating conditions are imposed on it, but it must acknowledge that it has been wrong, and that the law it has resisted is just and right, and, above all, obligatory. This is the hardship the world complains of. But what reason has it to complain? What is demanded of it not for its good, or that is not demanded by the very law of life itself? The world demands liberty, but what avails a false and impracticable liberty? True liberty is founded in justice, is a right, and supported by law. We have shown, time and again, that the church suppresses no real liberty, and asserts and maintains for all men all the liberty that can fall to the lot of any created being. It demands the free exercise of human reason. In what respect does the church restrain freedom of thought? Can reason operate freely without principles, without data, without light, without any support, or any thing on which to rest? What is the mind without truth, or intelligence in which nothing real is grasped? We know only so far as we know truth, and our opinions and convictions are worth nothing in so far as they are false, or not in accordance with the truth that we neither make nor can unmake, which is independent of us, independent of all men, and of all created intellects. What harm, then, does the church do us when she presents us infallibly that truth which the mind needs for its support, and reason for its free operation? Society needs law, and how does the church harm it by teaching the law of God, without which it cannot subsist? Men need government. What harm does the church do in declaring the supreme law of God, from which all human laws derive their force as laws, and which defines and guaranties both authority and liberty, protects the prince from the turbulence of the mob, and the people from the tyranny of the prince?

          As sure as that man is God’s creature and bound to obey God, there is for him no good independent of obedience to the law of God; and equally sure is it that obedience to that law secures to him all the good compatible with his condition as a created existence. The mystery of the Incarnation, in which God assumes human nature to be his own nature, gives him the promise of even participating in the happiness of God himself. This happiness or beatitude with God in eternity is the end for which man was created, and is included in the created act of which it is the completion or fulfillment. In estimating the good which is sure to us by conformity to the divine order and obedience to the divine law, we must take into account our whole existence from its inception to its completion in Christ in glory, and include in that good not only the joys and consolations of this life, but that eternal beatitude which God through his superabundant goodness has provided for us, and remember that all this we forfeit by obeying the law of death rather than the law of life. We can fulfill our destiny, attain to the stature of full-grown men, or complete our existence only by conforming to the divine order, by adhering to the truth, and obeying the law of life. Instead, then, of regarding the church as our enemy, as opposed to our real good, we should regard her as our true friend, and see in her a most striking proof of the loving-kindness of our God. In her he gives us precisely what we need to teach us his will, to make known to us the truth as it is in him, and to declare to us in all the vicissitudes and complexities of life the requirements of the law, and to be the medium of the gracious assistance we need to fulfill them.

          No good thing will God withhold from them that love him. And he gives us all good in giving us, as he does, himself. Nor does he give us only the goods of the soul. He that will lose his life in God shall find it. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things” – the things which the gentiles seek after- “shall be added to you.” They who lay up the most abundant treasures in heaven have the most abundant treasures on earth. The true principle of political economy, which the old French economists and Adam Smith never knew, is self-denial, is in living for God and not for the world, as a Louvain professor has amply proved with a depth of thought, a profound philosophy, and a knowledge of the laws of production, distribution, and consumption seldom equaled. “I have been young, and now I am old, but never have I seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread.” No people are more industrious or more bent on accumulating wealth, than our own, but so little is their self-denial and so great is their extravagance that the mass of them are, notwithstanding appearances, really poor. The realized capital of the country is not sufficient to pay its debts. We have expended the surplus earnings of the country for half a century or more, and the wealth of the nation is rapidly passing into the hands of a few money-lenders and soulless mammoth corporations, already too strong to be controlled by the government, whether state or general. If it had not been for the vast quantities of cheap unoccupied lands easy of access, we should have seen a poverty and distress in this country to be found in no other. The mercantile and industrial system inaugurated by the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, and which is regarded as the crowning glory of the modern world, has added nothing to the real wealth of nations. But this is a theme foreign to our present purpose, and has already carried us too far. We will only add that the true Christian has the promise of this life and of that which is to come.

          Now, no one can estimate the advantage to men and nations that must have been deprived and continue to be derived from the church placed in the world to assert at every point the divine sovereignty, and to proclaim constantly in a clear and ringing voice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and his law is the law of life, of progress, and of happiness both here and hereafter, the great truth which the world is ever prone to forget or to deny. We ought, therefore, to regard her existence with the most profound gratitude. She has done this work from the first, and continues to do it with unabated strength, in spite of so many sad defections and the oppositions of kings and peoples. Never has she had more numerous, more violent, more subtle, or more powerful enemies than during the pontificate of our present Holy Father, Pius IX. Never have her enemies seemed nearer obtaining a final triumph over her, and they have felt that at last she is prostrate, helpless, in her agony. Yet do they reckon without their host. The magnificent spectacle at Rome on the 29th of last June of more than five hundred bishops, and thousands of priests from all parts of the world, from every tongue and nation on the earth, gathered round their chief, and joining with him in celebrating the eighteen-hundredth anniversary of the glorious martyrdom of Peter, the prince of the apostles, whose succession in the government of the church has never failed, proves that their exultation is premature, that her veins are still full of life, and that she is as fresh and vigorous as when she first went forth from Jerusalem on her divine mission to win the world to her Lord. The indication by the Holy Father of his resolve at a near day to convoke a universal council, a grand assembly of the princes of the church, proves also that she is still a fact, a living power on the earth, though not of it, with whom the princes of this world must count. Before her untied voice, assisted by the Holy Ghost, her enemies will be struck dumb, and to it the nations must listen with awe and conviction, and most of the errors we have spoken of will shrink back from the face of day into darkness and silence. Faith will be reinvigorated, the hearts of the faithful made glad, and civilization resume its march, so long and so painfully interrupted by heresy, infidelity, and the almost constant revolutions of states and empires. We venture to predict for the church new and brilliant victories over the world.

          Heresy has well-nigh run its course. It is inherently sophistical, and is too much for infidelity and too little for religion. In no country has it ever been able to stand alone, and it acquires no strength by age. The thinking men of all civilized nations have come, or are rapidly coming, to the conclusion that the alternative is either Rome or no religion, or, as they express it, “Rome or Reason,” which we have shown is by no means the true formula. The real formula of the age is, Rome or no religion, God or Satan. The attempt to support any thing worthy of the name of religion on human authority, whether of the individual or of the state, of private judgment or of the Scriptures interpreted by the private judgment of the learned, has notoriously, we might say confessedly, failed. Old-established heresies will no doubt linger longer, and offer their opposition to Rome; but their days are numbered, and, save as they may be placed in the forefront of the battle with the church, the active non-Catholic thought of the age makes no account of them, and respects them far less than it does Rome herself. They live on a galvanized life.

          We are far from regarding the battle that must be fought with the scientific no-religion or dry and cold unbelief of the age as a light affair. In many respects the world is a more formidable enemy than heresy, and the gentilism of the nineteenth century is less manageable than that of the first, for it retains fewer elements of truth, and far less respect for authority and law. It has carried the spirit of revolt further, and holds nothing as sacred or inviolable. But it is always some gain when the issue is fairly presented, and the real question is fairly and distinctly stated in its appropriate terms; when there is no longer any disguise or subterfuge possible; and then the respective forces are fairly arrayed against each other, each under its own flag, and shouting its own war-cry. The battle will be long and arduous, for every article in the creed, from Patrem omnipotentem to vitam aeternam, has been successively denied; but we cannot doubt to which side victory will finally incline.

          Tertullian says, “the human heart is naturally Christian,” and men cannot be contented to remain long in mere vegetable existence without some sort of religion. They will, when they have nothing else to worship, evoke the spirits of the dead, and institute an illusory demon-worship, as we see in modern Spiritism. The Christian religion as presented by Rome, though it flatters not human pride, and is offensive to depraved appetite or passion, is yet adapted to the needs of human nature, and satisfies the purer and nobler aspirations of the soul. There is, as we have more than once shown, a natural want in man which it can only meet, and, we may almost say, a natural aptitude to receive it. Hence, we conclude that, when men see before them no alternative but Rome or no religion, downright naturalism able to satisfy nobody, they will, after some hesitation, submit to Rome and rejoice in Catholicity. Nature is very well; we have not a word to say against it when normally developed; but this world is too bleak and wintry for men to walk about in the nakedness of nature; they must have clothing of some sort, and, when they are fully convinced that they can find proper garments only in the wardrobe of the church, they cannot, it seems to us, long hold out against Rome or refuse submission to the law of life. 

          We here close our very inadequate discussion of the great subject we have opened. Our remarks are only supplementary to the article on Rome or Reason, and are intended to guard against any false inferences that some might be disposed to draw from the doctrine we there set forth. We hold, as a Catholic, the dogma of original sin, and that our nature has been disordered by the fall and averted from God. We have not wished this fact to be overlooked, or ourselves to be understood as if we recognized no antagonism between this fallen or averted nature and Rome. Our nature is not totally depraved. Understanding and will, if the former has been darkened and the latter attenuated by the fall, yet remain, and retain their essential character; but disorder has been introduced into our nature, and the flesh inclines to sin; its face is turned away from God, and it stands in need of being converted or turned to him. The church brings to this disordered and averted nature whatever is needed to covert it, heal its wounds, and elevate it the plane of its destiny. But after conversion, after regeneration, the flesh, “the carnal mind,” remains, as the Council of Trent teaches, and, as long as it remains, there must be a combat, a warfare. This combat, or warfare, is not, indeed, between reason and faith, revelation and science, nor between nature and grace, but between the law of God accepted and observed by the judgment and will, by the inner man, and the law of sin in our members, the struggle between holiness and sin, an internal struggle, of which every one is conscious who attempts to lead a holy life. We have not only wished to recognize the fact of this struggle as an interior struggle in the individual, but also as passing from the individual to society, and manifesting itself in the perpetual struggle between Rome and the world, which ceases, and can cease, only in proportion as men and society become converted to God, and voluntarily submissive to his law.