The Great Question

Part I of II


Art. I.  The Exercise of Faith impossible except in the Catholic Church. By W. G. Penny, late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Philadelphia : Henry M'Grath. 1847.   24mo.   pp. 216.

Mr. Penny is a convert from Anglicanism, and a young man of great worth and promise. The little work he has given us here was for the most part written while he was passing into the Church, and retains some traces of his transition-state ; but it indicates learning, ability, and a turn for scholastic theology not common in Oxford students. It is written in a free, pure, earnest spirit, mild but firm, and, though not always exact in thought or expression, is a very valuable controversial tract, and may, with slight reservations, be cheerfully recommended to all who are willing to seek for the truth, and to embrace it when they find it.

The recent converts from the Anglican Establishment are making large contributions to our English Catholic literature. We give their productions a cordial welcome, for, though they are in some respects immature, and not always critically exact, they breathe a free and earnest spirit, and are marked by a docile disposition, and a deep and tender piety. Nevertheless, the greater part of them are, perhaps, too local and temporary in their character to be of any general or permanent utility. They are almost exclusively confined to the controversy between their authors and their former High-church associates. Where that controversy is the only or principal one remaining between Catholics and Protestants, they are no doubt not only valuable, but all we could desire. Yet, after all, that controversy is not the important one ; it affects, in reality, only a small portion of the English people, and the works specially adapted to it are far from meeting the wants of the great body of English Evangelicals and Dissenters. Still less do they meet the wants of the various sects in our own country. The great body even of Episcopalians here are Low-church, and as far from conceding the premises from which the Oxford converts reason as they are from accepting their conclusions.

Protestant  Episcopalians,   whether  High-church  or Low-church, though respectable for their social standing, do not constitute with us a leading sect.    We are pleased, rather than otherwise, to see the tendency of a very considerable number of persons to unite themselves with them, because we cannot doubt, that, if the American people go far enough^ from their present position to become Episcopalians, they will soon go farther, and attain to the reality of which Episcopalianism is only a faint and mutilated shadow.    But the sect has no firm hold on the American mind and heart, and does and can exert no commanding influence.    It is  an exotic, and no labor or pains can naturalize it.    The grand current of American life and nationality flows on, saving a few ripples on the surface, undisturbed by its presence or its absence.    Except, perhaps, in here and there a particular locality, it is Anglican rather than American, and is patronized chiefly, if not exclusively, by those who are affected by English rather than American tendencies,  as a fashionable religion, and which serves to distinguish its professors from the vulgar.    Works, therefore, which seek primarily its refutation, and confine themselves to the points specially in debate between it and us, however useful they may be to a few individuals, can make no deep impression on the national mind, and will contribute very little towards the conversion of the country,    The Catholic makes no secret of his earnest wish to convert the country.   He of course is not contented to reside here simply as one of a number of sects extending a certain degree of religious fellowship one to another, and asking only not to have his property confiscated or his throat cut.    He would not only be Catholic himself, but he would extend the unspeakable benefits of his holy religion to all, and, by all the Christian means in his power, he must seek to  convert the whole population to Catholicity.    He would be wanting in the blessed charity of the Gospel, if he aimed at any thing less. But in order to  effect this glorious result, he must strive to reach the heart of the peculiarly American people, through which flows the mighty current of the peculiarly national life; he must labor to make an impression on that portion of the American population which is in an especial sense the repository of peculiarly American thought, principles, passions, affections, traditions, and tendencies,  the indigenous portion, the least affected by foreign culture and influences ; and it is only in proportion as he reaches and gains the attention of these, that he can flatter himself that he is advancing in the work of converting the country.

These are not Episcopalians, nor distinguished individuals, whatever the sect to which they may appertain. The conversion of a very considerable number of distinguished individuals may take place with scarcely a perceptible effect on the great body of the American people ; because these individuals do not represent the general thought and tendency of the country; because their example has little weight with the people at large ; and because they are, for the most part, under foreign rather than native influences. The peculiarly American people are democratic, and generally distrust whatever rises above the common level. Distinguished individuals count for less here than in any other country of the globe. With us the individual loses himself in the crowd, and leads the crowd only by sharing their passions and consenting to be their organ. It is, therefore, on the crowd that we must operate, if we would effect any thing. The multitude govern, and it is their views and feelings, their tastes and tendencies, that decide the fate or determine the character of the country. These are now all either not for us or strongly against us ; and our great and pressing work is to turn them into the Catholic channel. Hence, the important thing for us to study and address is the views and feelings, tastes and tendencies, not of distinguished individuals who may seem to be leaders, but of the great body of the common people. When we hear of the conversion of a distinguished individual, we rejoice for his sake, for he has a soul to save, and his conversion places him in the way of salvation ; but when we hear of the conversion of large numbers from the middle and lower classes, we give thanks and rejoice for our country's sake, for we see in it a token that God himself is at work in the heart of the people, and preparing the conversion of the nation itself,  that our holy religion is penetrating the living mass of American society, and subjecting it to the truth, beauty, and sanctity of the Gospel. We hope even the conversion of England, not so much from the large numbers of individuals eminent for their rank, talents, and acquirements, who have recently been converted, as from the hundreds of undistinguished individuals who have been gathered in, and whose names have not been gazetted.    If we may say this of England, where distinguished individuals still count for something, much more may we say it of our own beloved country.    When and where the people yield readily to the influence and example of their social chiefs, true wisdom may be to penetrate first of all into the palace and the castle, and labor to convert royalty and nobility ; but by no means can it be here in this country, where princes and nobles are at a discount, and the chiefs of the people are their chiefs only by being their slaves, consulting and exaggerating their tendencies.    The controlling influences of modern society are in the lower instead of the higher ranks,  perhaps, in a religious point of view, with few exceptions, it has always been so.   Ireland lost her princes and nobles, but she did not lose her faith ; because it had become identified with her national life, integral in her nationality, and she could no more part with the one than with the other.    In seeking to restore an unbelieving or heretical country to the faith or the unity of the Church, if we may rely on the lessons of history, the true policy in general, and especially now and here, is to begin at the base of society, and seek first to convert the common people.

Believing, therefore, as we do, that the Church has been divinely commissioned to teach all nations, and wishing, as we are bound in charity to wish, to add this nation as another rich gem to her crown, it becomes our duty to study and ascertain the religious state and tendencies of the great body of the American people, properly so called. This may be a difficult and even a delicate task. It is not every one who can comprehend his own age and country, and there are not many who can do it at all, unless they have shared their passions, unless their own hearts have beaten in unison with theirs, and they have been raised by divine grace above them to a position from which they can overlook the melde, and calmly survey all the movements and evolutions going on below. The Catholic who has lived apart and studied only works written for other times and countries, as well as the Protestant whose vision has all his lifetime been contracted to his own petty sect, is very likely to mistake the true object of vision, or to see it only through a disturbing medium.

Catholicity is immovable and inflexible, one and the same always and everywhere ; for the truth never varies.    He who knows it in one age or country knows it in all.    But with the sects it is far otherwise.    They must needs obey the natural laws of development, strengthened and intensified by demoniacal influence.    Their spirit and tendency, indeed, are always and everywhere the same, but their forms change  under the very eye of the spectator, and are rarely the same for any two successive moments.    Strike where Protestantism is, and it is not there.    It is in perpetual motion, and exemplifies, so far as itself is concerned, the old heathen doctrine that all things are in a perpetual flux.    You can never count on  its  remaining stationary long enough for you to bring your piece to a rest and take deliberate aim.    You must shoot it on the wing ; and if you are not marksman enough to hit it flying, you will have, however well charged and well aimed your shot, only your labor for your pains.    It is never enough to take note either of its past or its present position ; but we must always regard the direction in which it is moving, and the celerity with which it moves ; and if we wish our shot to tell, we must aim, not at the point where it was, or where it now is, but at the point where it will be when a ball now fired may reach it.    To ascertain this point requires either long practice or exact science.    Yet it is less difficult than it may seem at first sight.    We as Catholics, if we recollect ourselves, know perfectly well that the point to which all the sects are moving, with greater or less celerity, is the denial of God in the order of grace, and therefore of all supernatural revelation and religion.    To this tends the inevitable and  necessary development  of Protestantism. This development may be hastened or retarded by circumstances, but it must sooner or later reach this fatal termination, if suffered to follow its natural course.    There is an invincible logic in the human race, which pushes them on to the last consequences of their premises ; and when, as in the Protestant rebellion, they have adopted premises which involve as their last consequence the rejection of the order of grace, and the assertion, if the word may be permitted us, of mere naturism, they will inevitably draw that consequence, and become theoretical and practical unbelievers, unless previously induced to change their premises.

The early Catholic controversialists clearly foresaw and distinctly announced that the Protestant premises involved the rejection of all revealed religion, and in every age since our divines have continued to reassert the same ; but, unhappily, in no age or country has this been enough to arrest the mad career of the Protestant people ; for in no age or country has it ever been true that the mass of them would not continue the development of their principles, at the risk ol running into no-religion, sooner than return to the Church.  The illustrious Bossuet, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, proved to the Protestants of his time, beyond the possibility of a rational doubt, that, if they continued their course, they must run into Socinianism,-a polite name for incredulity ; but this did not arre them; and not many years elapsed before they became, to an an alarming extent, avowed Socinians, and even avowed infidels     To a Catholic, a doctrine or principle is refuted, proved to be false, when it is shown to have an infidel or a Socinian tendency ; but not to a Protestant.   Convince him that his principle has such a tendency, and he will become a Socinian or an infidel sooner than abandon it.    The only effectual way of arresting Protestants is, not merely to show them whither they are tending, but to refute that to which they tend.  They have an instinctive sense even now of what it is they tend to, but unhappily, they do not, or will not, see, that, when they have reached it, they will not have whereon to rest the sole of their foot. Foreseeing the inevitable tendency of Protestantism may indeed produce, and unquestionably has produced, a reaction in favor of the Church in the minds of many excellent individuals at home  and abroad ; but the great majority of the people in all Protestant countries are far from recoiling, and are steadily moving onwards to the rejection of all supernatural religion. They reiect the Church as a positive institution, Jesus Christ as the consubstantial Son of the Father, the Holy Scriptures as the inspired word of God, and place them in the category of mere human books, and class the Lord that bought us with Zoroaster, Socrates, Apollonius of Tyana,  Mahomet, Wesley and Swedenborg.   Especially is this true in this country, where all the sects  are left free to run their natural  course,  The mass are borne onward with resistless force towards the goal, and it is useless to expect a reaction by merely showing the infidel results towards which they are borne; -far more useless to flatter ourselves that any general reaction has commenced. In spite of a few appearances on the surface, the deep undercurrent is flowing on in the same direction it has been for the last three hundred years.                                                

We shall deceive ourselves, if we suppose the question today is only between us and the Oxford party in the Anglican Establishment, or between Catholicity and any form of dogmatic Protestantism.   Protestantism, as including some elements of revealed   truth  from  which we may  reason  in favor  of the Church, is virtually defunct, and to argue against it is as idle as to belabor a dead ass.     The real obstacle which we have to surmount is Protestant only inasmuch as it is the natural development of Protestantism.    It is not seldom that we meet men  and women who expressly avow, that, if they could be Christians, they would be Catholics, that in their view Christianity and Catholicity are identical, and that, if we will convince them of the inspiration of the Scriptures, they will feel bound to accept and obey the Church.    Such persons as these  dispute it who may  are the real representatives  of the age and country, the earnest of what the mass of the people are to be to-morrow.    They are the only really significant class out of the Church.     The ministers and elders and their adherents around the defunct body of dogmatic Protestantism, trying, on the one hand, to galvanize it into life, and, on the other, to persuade the uneasy multitude that it is not dead, but only taking its after-dinner siesta, are not worth taking into the account. They neither represent the present, nor announce the future. They belong to the generation that was.    The empire of the world out of the Church has dropped from their hands, and however numerous they may be, and however powerful they may appear to the superficial glance, they are only relics of a past which can never return.    Leave them to bury their dead. The only portion of the Protestant world worth studying is the progressive portion, who continue and carry on the Protestant movement.    These impersonate the age and country. What Strauss or Parker writes is far more important and instructive   to   Catholics   than   what   Hengstenberg,   Beecher, Spring, or Woods may write.    The  spirit and  tendency of the age and country are better learned from The Boston Quarterly Review, The Dial, The Herald of Truth, The Harbinger, The New York Tribune, than from The New-Englander, The Princeton Review, The True [Protestant] Catholic, The Churchman,   The Courier and Enquirer.    The progressive minority are the only significant portion, because the only living portion, of the Protestant world, and because they are to be the majority to-morrow.    They live the real Protestant life, if life that may be called which is not life, but death, and are in the minority to-day only because they are alone faithful to the principles common alike to them and the majority.     Wherever the people are withdrawn from the law of grace, and abandoned to natural development, the progressive minority is the only portion worth studying, and the only portion against which it is necessary to direct our attacks.

All who know any thing of Protestantism know full well that it subsists, and can subsist, only so long as it has free scope to develop itself. It retains its adherents never by what it gives them, but always by what it is just a-going to give them. Few, if any, of them are perfectly satisfied with it as it is ; and they cling to it only because they are in hopes further developments and modifications may make it precisely the thing they need and crave. Our course, then, is to head it in the direction in which it is moving, and must move if it move at all, cut off its opportunity for further development, compel it to come to a stand-still by showing that it is tending nowhither, and that farther progress carries it off into the dark and inane. When we have shown that what it is developing itself into is mere space and vacuity, and have thus compelled it to remain motionless, it soon begins to putrefy, to send forth its stench, and all who value their health or their nostrils hasten to bury it from their sight, and to leave it to return to the elements from which it was taken.

That Protestantism in most countries, especially in this country, is developing into infidelity, irreligion, naturism, rejecting and losing even all reminiscences of the order of grace, is too obvious and too well known to be denied, or to demand any proof. It is stated in a recent number of the American Mnanac, that over one half of the adult population of the United States make no profession of religion, are connected with no real or pretended church, and therefore belong at best to the class expressively denominated Nothingarians. The majority, then, it is fair to presume, either believe that they have no souls, or that their souls are not worth saving, or that they can save them without religion ; and the great mass of those who may nominally belong to the sects, we know, hold that salvation is attainable in every form of religion, and many that it is attainable without any form. The point, then, at which we are to aim cannot be doubtful. We are called specially to convince the American population that they have souls, souls to be saved or lost, and which cannot be saved ivithout Jesus Christ in his Church. Controversial works which overlook this fact, and assume that Protestants still retain some elements of Christianity, can avail us but little. They do not lay the axe at the root of the tree ; do not strike the heart of the evil; are not adapted to the questions of the day; and, however logical they may be, they fail to convince, because their premises are not conceded. It is of the greatest importance that we bear this in mind, and govern ourselves accordingly.

The work assigned us here and now is a great and painful work. We cannot address those out of the Church as men who err merely as to the form of Christianity, and are yet resolved not to part with the substance. Unhappily, we are required to present our Church, not merely under the relations of the true and the beautiful, but under the relation of the necessary and indispensable. We are compelled by the existing state of thought and feeling to present it, not merely to men .who hold the truth in error, as the corrective of their intellectual aberrations, but to men under the wrath of God, as the grand and only medium of salvation. We must address the world around us, not merely as aliens from the Church, but as being therefore aliens from God, without faith, without hope, without charity, without the first and simplest elements of the Christian life, as dead in trespasses and sins, and with no possible means of attaining to eternal life, but in embracing heartily, and faithfully, and perseveringly the religion we offer them. We must show them that they have souls, that these souls will live forever, in eternal bliss or eternal woe ; that they are now in sin, and in sin which deserves eternal wrath, and from which there is no deliverance save in being joined to our Church. In a word, we must address them, in regard to these matters, in the same language and tone in which we should if they were Turks or Pagans. No account can be made of the Christianity they may nominally profess ; no reliance can be placed on it, and no appeal can be safely made to it.

It was the conviction that they had souls to be saved, and that they could not save them out of the Church of Christ, and their earnest effort to make others feel the same, that enabled Froude, Newman, and others, to produce that remarkable movement in the Anglican Establishment which has given so many choice spirits to the Church. It was by telling the people that they had immortal souls to save, and that they could not save thern otherwise than through Christ in his Church, that the blessed Apostles and their successors, aided by divine grace, converted the world to Christianity ; it was by their stern and awful rebukes of heresy, by showing its disastrous effects upon the soul, by declaring in tones of fearful strength and startling energy, that all who were  out of the ark perished, and that all who separate or are separated from unity-are separated from God and in danger of eternal death, that the Fathers guarded against or suppressed the earlier heresies, and kept the world for centuries united in the profession of the Catholic faith. It is only by following such examples, by convicting those out of the Church of sin, and convincing them of the fact, and of their need, of salvation, that we can recall them to the bosom of the Church, and persuade them to come into the way of salvation.

It will not do to shrink from this stern, bold, and awful manner of presenting the Church and her claims.    There is no use in trying to persuade ourselves that strong and decided language is not called for, that we must speak to the world around us in soft and gentle accents, and not venture to arraign it for its unbelief, for its iniquity, and to tell it plainly that it is in the road to perdition.    It is idle to suppose that we may win it to God, by telling it, expressly or by implication, that it is a very good world, a very candid and  pious world,  virtually a Catholic world, only suffering from inculpable error, only separated from us because it has had no opportunity of learning our holy faith. Undoubtedly, we are never to forget charity, without which a man is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal ; undoubtedly, he who contends for the Gospel is bound to contend for it in the spirit of the Gospel ; undoubtedly, vituperation and abuse are as impolitic as they are unchristian ; but we must be careful not to mistake liberality for charity, the natural meekness or amiability of our own dispositions for the meekness and tenderness of religion.     We must never really or apparently strike hands with iniquity, or encourage error in her work of destruction, through fear of offending the fastidiousness or of wounding the  delicate sensibilities of her votaries.    No man who knows aught of the Gospel needs to be reminded of its ex-haustless charity  and infinite tenderness ;   and  no one  who knows any thing of human nature is ignorant that the road to the understanding lies through the affections, and that in dealing with individuals we cannot show too much sweetness and gentleness of disposition ; but there is  nothing incompatible with all this in setting forth in firm and even startling tones the solemn truths of our religion, let them convict whom they may. The prophet Nathan showed no uncharitableness, no want of tenderness, when he said to David, " Thou art the man " ; nor did our Lord, when he called the Jews "hypocrites," a " race of vipers," and likened them to " whitened sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all filthiness." Nor, again, are we uncharitable, if, when we see a man rushing blindfold into the flames, we tell him whither he is rushing, and at what peril. Love can and often must proclaim severe truths, use hard arguments, and speak in tones of fearful power ; and the deeper, the truer, the more tender it is, the more firm and uncompromising, the more stern and unflinching it will prove itself, whenever occasion requires. Who calls the surgeon cruel and uncharitable, because he probes to the bottom or cuts to the quick ? Who regards the director of consciences harsh and wanting in charity, because he fears not to characterize the mortal sin of his penitent, and to insist, whatever the pain or mortification, on its being abandoned ? In moral surgery, we have as yet discovered no Letheon, and to heal it is often necessary to inflict even excruciating pain. Often, often, is it necessary to wound, if we would heal. Our Lord himself was wounded. " He was bruised for our sins," and none can come to him or be brought to him, till we are wounded for his sake as he was for ours. It cannot be avoided in the nature of things. But the Christian who gives pain, though he give it with a steady hand and an unflinching nerve, suffers more pain than he gives. It is not always safe to conclude that the man of a severe exterior, of firm and decided speech, who makes no compromise with sin, and yields nothing to error or her deluded votaries, is necessarily hard-hearted and a stranger to the infinite tenderness of the Gospel; or that your pretty men with smiling faces, bland tones, gentle caresses, and ready condescensions, are not sometimes cold and heartless, that they are generally men of warm and gushing hearts, large souls, and generous sympathies, prepared to sacrifice all they have and all they are for the love of God and their neighbour.

He who sacrifices the truth sacrifices charity, and he who withholds the truth needed  the precise truth needed  by his age or country does sacrifice it. If that truth be offensive, and he tells it, it will offend, whatever the soft phraseology in which he may tell it. If, in order to save its offensiveness, he wraps it up in circumlocutions and a mass of verbiage which conceal it, he does not tell it, and his labor counts for nothing. If these do not conceal it, if in spite of them it is divined in its clearness, distinctness, and power, they take nothing from its offensiveness, and it might have been as well told in plain, direct, and appropriate terms.    After all, the least offensive, because the only honest, way of speaking, is to call things by their proper, their Christian names. We gain nothing in the long run by the round-about, the soft, or supple phraseology which timid or politic people sometimes fancy it necessary to use to wrap up their meaning, as we use jam, jelly, or molasses, to wrap up disagreeable medicine ; nor is such phraseology so respectful or so conciliating as is often supposed. To adopt it is to treat those we address as mere children, to whom we must not speak in the strong masculine tones we use when speaking to full-grown men. Few people like to be so addressed. Even your most delicate and fastidious lady prefers the gentleman who always converses with her in his simple, natural tones, and with the strong, clear, manly sense with which he speaks to one of his own sex, to the exquisite who fancies that whenever he addresses her he must simper, and soften his words and tones. He who has the truth, and utters it boldly, without circumlocution or reticence, with freedom, ' firmness, dignity, and energy, proving that he speaks from no motive but the love of God and the salvation of souls, though he may be feared, though he may be resisted, and in some ages and countries gain the crown of martyrdom, may always count on being personally respected, and, what is far more to his purpose, on commanding respect for his cause.
We should never forget that there is that even in the most abandoned of our race which loathes the timid and cringing, and admires the strong, the manly, and the intrepid. The free, firm, consistent, and fearless utterance of great and awful truths goes home to the minds and hearts even of the unbelieving and the heretical, and makes them tremble as did Felix before the blessed Apostle St. Paul. It was not the phrase and tone of the nursery that terrified the corrupt and hardened governor. It was no fear on the part of St. Paul, then a prisoner before him, to call things by their Christian names, no forbearance to characterize the deep-dyed sinner as he deserved ; but it was the minister of God speaking to his conscience, in stern and awful majesty unrolling before him his guilt, convicting him of sin, showing him the justice of God, presenting him the last judgment, and ringing in his very soul the sentence, " Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire! " that made the seared reprobate quake with fear. It is only when the minister of God so speaks that he makes the guilty tremble ; and whenever he so speaks, no matter how unbelieving or heretical the sinner may be, how often or how long he may have scoffed at the idea of death, judgment, heaven and hell, he will tremble ; for God is at the bottom of his heart to give efficacy to the word uttered. If you have God's truth, in God's name give it free utterance. Let it speak in its own deep and awful tones ; let its voice sound out a voice of doom to the guilty, a voice of consolation and joy to the just. Stand behind it, and let it have free course. Dare never tamper with it. Earth and hell may rise up against it, but it is mightier than earth and hell. Stand erect in the dignity of humility and the majesty of love, and God speaks through you, and the word that goes forth from you must go to the heart of the people, rive it as the thunderbolt rives the hoary oak, and all that is not depraved in man, all that is generous and noble in nature, and all that is true and mighty in heaven, shall work for you. (footnote: * What event in modern times has so struck the imagination, gone so to the heart of mankind, and called forth such a loud burst of applause, or done so much to reveal the majesty of God's minister, and to command universal homage and respect for the Papacy, as the stern and terrible rebuke of the autocrat of all the Russias by the late sovereign Pontiff? You told U3 the Papacy was dead. You mocked at the feeble old man in the Vatican. The most powerful monarch of the day presents himself before that feeble old man, that aged monk standing on the brink of the grave, and that monarch at a few bold words turns pale, weeps as a child, and the world thrills with joy to learn that there is still a power on earth that can make the tyrant look aghast, the knees of the mighty smite together, and with severe and awful majesty assert the cause of the poor and vindicate the just. You told us the Papacy was dead. You heard it speak to Nicholas of Russia, not in the tone of a suppliant, not in the tone of a courtier, but as became the minister of God, before whom diadems and sceptres weigh not a feather, and power is but weakness, and you have eyes and ears only for the Papacy, and you feel and speak as if the Pope were the only power under God on earth. See what the minister of God may do, when he asserts the majesty of truth, and displays the awful grandeur of his mission. That living word of the Pope to the tyrant, to the schismatic, the heretic, the persecutor of the saints, has revealed to the world the astounding fact, that to-day the Papacy is not only living, not only not dead, butthatit has a power even in the affairs of this world that it never had before.--end of footnote).

Who are they who command men, touch the human heart, and make the race work with them and for them,  who but the heroic ? And what form of heroism is comparable to the Christian ? What are your Alexanders, your Hannibals, your Caesars, your Napoleons, by the side of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, or St. Athanasius, St. Leo, St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Bernard, St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Thomas, St. Ignatius,  St. Vincent of Paul, and thousands of others, who rose above the world while in it, have sanctified the earth, and exalted human nature to communion with the divine ? It is the Christian hero, he who counts nothing dear, who holds his life in his hand, who fears not the wrath of man nor the rage of hell, that, under God, overcomes the world, and wins all minds and hearts to the faith and love of Jesus Christ. He alone who fears God, who fears sin, but fears nothing else, is the world's master, and able to do whatever he pleases.

In this country the Church is placed by the constitution and laws on as high ground as any one of the sects, while, by the appointment of Almighty God, she is placed infinitely above them all.  Not here, then, most assuredly, is the Catholic to fear to speak above his breath ; not here is he to crouch and hide. He is at home here, and no man has a better right to be here. Let him stand erect ; let his tone be firm and manly ; let his voice be  clear and distinct, his speech strong and decided, as becomes the citizen of a free state, and a freeman of the commonwealth of God.    Let him be just to himself, just to his fellow-citizens, just to his religion,be what his religion commands him to be, and fear nothing.    The American people may fear him, they may not love him ; but if he bows and cringes, and whimpers and begs, or scrapes and palavers, they not only will not love him, but they will despise him ; for though puerile, deluded, and perverse on religion, they are in most other things straightforward and honest, high-minded and honorable.    They  love plain speaking and plain dealing, and they never fail to do honor to the man who, from a sense of duty, tells them in strong and direct terms the awful truths he is bound, or regards himself as bound, by his Church to proclaim, though by doing so he convicts them of unbelief and heresy, of deep and aggravated sinfulness before God.

" The road to the understanding lies through the affections." Be it so. But the first affection we are to seek to win is that of respect for our Church, and that we must win by first winning respect for ourselves as Catholics ; for the sects are slow to distinguish between the Church and her members. The spirit we manifest will be assumed to be approved and inspired by our Church. Nothing tends more to give Protestants a mean opinion of us, than for us to be tame or apologetic in setting forth or in defending our faith. We once loaned a Protestant lady a pamphlet by an eminent Catholic divine. She read it, and returned it with a note, stating that she could not
endure it, for nothing was so disgusting to her as to find a Catholic apologizing for his Church, or defending it in a Protestant spirit.

" If he believes his Church infallible, there can be nothing in her history which he can believe needs an apology ; and if he believes himself divinely commissioned, why does he not speak as one having authority ? " Protestants, of course, in general appear delighted, when they find us apologizing or seeming to apologize for our Church, or apparently laboring to soften what they regard as the severity of her doctrines ; but it is only because in so doing we seem to them to surrender her infallibility. All our gentle phraseology, all our conciliating manners, all our apparently liberal expositions in the sense of latitudinarians, appear to them only as so many departures from what the Church once insisted on ; and while they applaud us for our Protestant tendency, they can but ill disguise their contempt for us, since, in spite of such tendency, we pretend that our Church is infallible and invariable ; and they can conclude from our conduct only that either we are not sincere in our concessions, or the Church, like the sects, modifies her doctrines to suit times and places.

Protestants generally believe that the Church is not what she was formerly ; that, in fact, she has greatly improved since the Reformation ; and this in consequence of finding in her so little that is to them unreasonable or offensive. They cannot understand, if she was in the sixteenth century what she now appears to be, how the Reformers could have been so enraged against her, or why they should have judged it necessary to separate from her communion ; and it is a common theory among them, on which they seek to justify the Reformers, that their movement has done by its reaction perhaps more to reform the Church than to reform those who separated or have remained separated. But this, though it may tend, in some measure, to diminish hostility to her as she now is, is to them an unanswerable argument against accepting her for what she claims to be ; for it implies progress, improvement, which is incompatible with the claim of Catholicity and infallibility. Whatever a Catholic says which looks, or can be imagined to look, like a departure from the earlier formularies of the Church, though it should render her doctrines less unpalatable to them, has a direct tendency to keep them out of her communion.

Hence there is no use in affecting a liberal tone, and in treating those outside as if we regarded them, upon the whole, as very good Christians, not far out of the way, meaning right, perfectly well disposed,  in only inculpable error, and by  no means necessarily out of the way of salvation ; for it only tends, on the one hand, to make them distrust our Church, or, on the other, our sincerity.    It only goes to confirm them in one of their most dangerous and unjust prejudices against us.     Surveying the strange, eventful history of our Church, seeing her survive all attacks, gaining strength by every effort to crush her, and turning every apparent defeat into a victory, a triumph, Protestants say she must be a miracle of craft and cunning, and they attribute her preservation and triumphs to ner wily and adroit policy.    They, in general, hold us to be destitute of principle, but extremely cunning and politic.    The popular, though erroneous, sense of the word Jesuitical is the popular Protestant sense of the word Catholic.    If we adopt the liberal tone of modern times, speak in the modern spirit, show ourselves ready to conform to prevailing modes of thought, anxious to throw off whatever appears exclusive or rigorous, or disposed to apologize for past practices not exactly acceptable to our own age and country, and to excuse them on the ground that they originated in the ignorance or barbarism of the times, or in popular sentiments now obsolete, we gain no credit for our Church, or if so, none  for ourselves ; but seem only to furnish proofs of her consummate policy and suppleness, and of her want of fixed and unalterable principles, leaving her always at liberty to assume the shape and color of the time and place, be they what they may.

In a country like ours, where we are a feeble minority, even if principle permitted, the affectation of a liberal and condescending spirit, of a disposition to conform to the views and feelings of the majority, and a studied forbearance to assert the claims of our Church in all their rigor and exclusiveness, would indicate a policy the very reverse of wise. # Where Catholics are the immense majority, where place, fashion, wealth, and social influence are in their hands, moderation towards dissenters, a mild and condescending demeanour, and the disposition to yield to their ignorance all that can be yielded without givingup any portion of the sacred deposit of faith, may be wise, and even a duty ; for it is the condescension of the superior, of the nobleman, to those below him, always welcome, and seldom failing to beget gratitude and to win confidence. But the condescension of the social inferior to the social superior is a different thing. Here, where the social and political influences, instead of being ours, are against us, where we are voted in advance suspicious persons, and where our very virtues are tortured into grounds of accusation against us. Such a policy would be regarded as sycophantic, or as tame and cringing, as a proof of meanness, weakness, or suppleness, and would only excite contempt or distrust. Our liberal professions, our apparent sympathy with views and feelings Protestant rather than Catholic, would be supposed to be affected,  adopted to ward off hostility till we had gained a footing, and become strong enough to exhibit our rigor or exclusiveness. It is lawful to learn of an enemy ; and we all know, or may know, that this is the precise view which Protestants very generally take of such a policy, wherever Catholics are in the minority, and silly enough to adopt it.

It is hard for innocence to conceive that she is suspected, and when she does get some glimmering of the fact, she almost inevitably blunders, and in attempting measures to remove suspicions adopts the very measures most likely to confirm them. No man can have studied the history of Catholics living in a Protestant community without being often reminded of this fact. They judge Protestants too often by themselves, and transfer to them their own innocence, candor, and good faith. But this will not do. What we are to aim at is not to make our religion acceptable to them as they are, but to make them feel, that, so long as they are what they are, they are wrong, and in need of u a radical change of heart." Our deepest and truest policy is to have no policy at all. By the very fact that we are Catholics, we are freed from all dependence on mere human policy. We have the truth, and it will sustain us, instead of our being obliged to sustain it. It is the glory of our religion that she identifies the expedient and the right, the true and the politic. That is most expedient, most politic, which is most consonant with her spirit ; and the most effectual way of subserving the interests of the Church is for her members to be Catholics and nothing else,  to throw themselves without reserve and with entire confidence on God, and to leave him to support them, instead of their officiously undertaking to support him. We shall best advance the Catholic cause by showing that we hold our religion true and sacred, complete and all-sufficient, that we live for it, and for it alone, and that we do and can regard none who do not so live as the friends of God. God made and gave us our religion, and we have nothing to do with modifying it to suit prevailing tastes and prejudices, contracting it here or expanding it there, now by our ingenious distinctions increasing its laxity, now its rigor. It is perfect as God gave it; and it is ours simply to receive and obey. If its rigor or its laxity prove an odor of death unto death to some, that is not our affair, and the less we meddle with it the better.

In censuring loose and latitudinarian views, in commending the free, firm, frank statement of Catholic truth in its awful severity as well as in its sweetness, in contending for a bold, manly, independent, straightforward, and energetic, as well as affectionate mode of addressing those who are without, and the fearless and faithful proclamation of the precise truth needed to rebuke the reigning error or the reigning sin of the age or the country, we trust no one will be so foolish as to suppose that we are urging a low, vulgar, harsh, or vituperative method of presenting the claims of our religion, and of addressing those who unhappily reject them.    Fidelity to the cause we advocate, and the bold and firm assertion of unpalatable truths, do by no means require us to lose command of ourselves, or to forget the meekness of the Christian, or the courtesy of the gentleman.   Firm adherence to principle, strong masculine language, plain and energetic speech, and even bold and severe denunciations, when called for by the rigor of our faith, and justified by the facts or arguments we adduce, are no departure from good breeding, and are rarely, if ever, offensive.   What is to be avoided is not the severity of reason, but the severity of passion.    Loose and violent declamations, low wit, vulgar and opprobrious epithets applied in ill-temper, sustained by no principle, warranted by no argument, and called for by no truth established in our essay or discourse,  are wrong,  offend,  and justly offend,  and we should be sorry to suppose that there is any Catholic capable either  of recommending or of resorting to  them.    But  the severity of authority exercising its clearly legitimate functions, of charity speaking out from the depth of her infinite concern for the salvation of souls, or of reason evidently deducing necessary conclusions from premises regarded as incontrovertible, is always allowable, and is never held to be abusive, or a transgression of good manners.
In direct personal addresses to Protestants, it is rarely necessary to call them heretics, and we may with propriety, after the illustrious Bossuet, call them " our separated or our dissenting brethren," if we call them so only through conventional politeness. But if we avoid the term heretic, and call them our separated brethren for the purpose of implying some
sort of religious sympathy with them, to conceal from ourselves or from them the fact that all good Catholics presume them to be heretics, or so as to produce an impression on those within or those without that we do not look upon heresy and schism as deadly sins, we occasion scandal, and have nothing to plead in our justification. If, on the other hand, we call Protestants heretics in ill-humor, from the virulence of passion, for the sake of wounding their feelings, and insulting them, we are also unjustifiable ; for even the truth spoken for unlawful ends is libellous, and the greater the truth, not unfrequently, the greater the libel. But if, in addressing Catholics, or in reasoning against Protestant errors, we call Protestants heretics, because they are so in fact, and because we would call them by their Christian name, either for the sake of leading them to reflect on the danger to which they are exposed, or for the sake of guarding the unwary against their seductions and the contamination of their heresies, we give them no just cause of offence, and do only what by the truth and charity of the Gospel we are bound to do.

Undoubtedly the mass of the American people are deeply prejudiced against the Christian religion ; undoubtedly they are at heart strongly opposed to Catholics ; but the course we urge is not likely to render them more prejudiced or opposed. Touching the matter of religion, we have of course nothing to say in their favor, and this is, no doubt, in the estimation of Christians, to say the worst against them ; but in the natural order, in the domestic and social virtues which have their reward in this life, in the natural strength of their understanding, acuteness of intellect, and honesty and energy of character, they by no means rank lowest in the scale of nations. Should we call them thieves, robbers, liars, cowards, or in general hard-hearted and cruel, they would be offended at our injustice, or smile at our folly, and justly ; for we should then address them in our own name, on the authority of our own reason, or from the ebullition of our own passions, as weak and sinful men addressing their equals, and we could offer no excuse or palliation of our conduct. But if we speak to them in relation to the supernatural order, not from ourselves, but from the word of God, and tell them in the spirit of ardent charity, plainly, directly, unreservedly, energetically, what our religion commands, and assure them in unequivocal terms and tones that they are out of the way, following the devices of their own hearts, the delusions of the devil, wedded to damnable heresies,
under the wrath and condemnation of Almighty God, and that their only possible chance of escape is in humble submission to that very Church against which their lathers wickedly rebelled, and which they themselves so haughtily reject, though they may be pricked in their hearts, though they may be startled from their dreaming, or may even bid us go our way for this time, till they find a more convenient season, they will respect our principles, and acknowledge in their hearts the free, noble, lofty, and uncompromising spirit of our Church, and the high worth of character she gives to her children. It was thus spoke the Prince of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost:  " Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you also know ; this same, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have crucified and put to death by the hands of wicked men. Therefore let all
the house of Israel know most assuredly, that God hath made him to be Lord and Christ, this same Jesus whom you have crucified. Now when they heard these things, they had compunction in their heart; and they said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ? But Peter said to them, Do penance, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins." * (footnote: * Acts ii. 22-41.) Protestants, indeed, expect Catholics to speak in this way. They expect them to speak differently from their own scribes and elders, with whom they are wearied half to death, and whose doubt, and hesitation, and arrogance they find all but insupportable. They know the Catholic claims to speak with authority, as divinely commissioned to teach, and they wish him to speak in character. They are disgusted when he descends from the pulpit to the rostrum, or from the preacher sinks into the mere reasoner, taking their stand-point, and discoursing to them in their own spirit, as one of their own number. They demand of him what he professes to have, and which they know their own ministers have not; and if he gives it not, they conclude it is because he has it not to give. He is then, say they, with all his lofty pretensions to authority, no better than one of us ; and they turn away in disappointment and disgust. Let him speak as one having authority, as the authorized minister of God, never forgetting his commission, never forgetting that he is priest and doctor, and that it is not he that teaches, but God through him, and, cold, and unbelieving, and heretical as they may be, they cannot but listen with awe, and some of them with profit.*(footnote: * We are often reminded, when we insist on this, that St. Francis of Sales, whose labors restored over seventy thousand Protestants to the Church, was wont to say that " more flies can be caught with honey than with vinegar." This is unquestionably true, but they who are familiar with the Saint's works do not need to be told that in his own practice he gave considerable latitude to the meaning of the word honey. Certainly we ask for no more bold and severe mode of presenting Catholic truth, or stronger or severer language against Protestants, than he was in the habit of adopting. Even the editor of his controversial works did not deem it advisable to publish them without softening some of their expressions. In fact, much of the honey of the Saints generally, especially of such Saints as St. Athanasius, St. Hilary of Poictiers, and St. Jerome, would taste very much like vinegar, we suspect, to some of our modern delicate palates.--end of footnote)
The great body of the American people are serious, plain, and practical, little addicted to mere intellectual speculations, and not easily moved by what does not promise some positive result. They are not averse to change, have no invincible attachment to old ways and usages, or to the sects in the bosom of which they have been reared, and can, for what appears to them a solid reason, abandon them without much reluctance ; but no reason drawn from merely intellectual or aesthetic considerations will appear to them sufficient. The only reasons which can weigh much with them, indeed with any people, are such as are drawn from ethical sources. They may be shown the truth and beauty, the consistency, grandeur, and majesty of our religion, and remain untouched ; for it is not as philosophy or as art that they need it. Individuals in particular localities, or of a peculiar temperament, may at first be induced to think of entering our communion, as they are led to pass from one sect to another, to satisfy some particular intellectual want, to please some special taste, or to indulge some specific social or devotional tendency ; but the great body of the people will remain unmoved and be unaffected by our profound philosophy, our learned expositions, our conclusive arguments, our eloquent appeals, unless we succeed in presenting the question as one involving life and death. In vain we show the truth of our doctrine, in vain we set forth our pure and lofty morality, in vain we exhibit the solemn grandeur, imposing magnificence, pomp, and splendor of our ritual, in vain we charm them with the simple majesty and unction of our divine hymns, or entrance them with our heaven-inspired chants, if we do not bring the matter home to the conscience, make them feel that they have souls to be saved, that they are sold unto sin, are under the wrath of God, and have no possible means of escaping everlasting perdition but by coming into the Church, and submitting to her authority and direction. So long as we leave their consciences at ease, so long as we address only the intellect or the sense of the beautiful, or leave them to feel that it is not absolutely impossible to be safe where they are, we have given them no solid or intelligible reason for becoming Catholics.

There is not the least sense or propriety in addressing the great mass of Protestants, especially in this country, as if they were already Christian, sincerely and honestly Christian, according to their understanding of Christianity, and only in intellectual error as to the true form of Christianity. We cannot repeat this too often, nor insist upon it too earnestly. The error is moral rather than intellectual. The question between them and us is a question, not of the form, but of the substance. The whole head is sick, the whole heart is sad. From the. sole of the foot to the top of the head there is no soundness. The disease has penetrated the whole system, and reached even the seat of life itself. The remedy which shall restore them is not the mere exposition of the truth and beauty of our holy religion, in contrast with what they still nominally profess to believe. It is with them as it was with the unbelieving Jews in the days of our blessed Saviour. Now, as then, there is no beauty in him, or comeliness ; they see him, and there is no sightliness in him that they should be desirous of him. Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity, his look is, as it were, hidden and despised, and they esteem him not. Surely he hath borne their infirmities and carried their sorrows, and they have thought him, as it were, a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.*(footnoe: *Isaias, liii. 2-4.) They have eyes, but they do not see, ears, but they do not hear, hearts, but they do not understand. What is true, beautiful, pure, and salutary in our holy religion is to them a stumbling-block, as it was to the Jews, or foolishness, as it was to the Gentiles. Not to them is Christ crucified, whom we preach, the power of God and the wisdom of God.*(footnote: 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.)

What is doubted, scorned, rejected, is not Catholicity as a form of Christianity, but Christianity itself. It is Christ crucified that is denied. The doubt goes to the bottom, and strikes at all revealed religion, at the whole order of grace. Forms are easily got over. No small portion of the people even now have no doubt of the identity of Catholicity and Christianity, if Christianity means a positive religion, any thing more than a form of natural religion. The active cause of the hostility to the Church is the want of belief in all positive religion, in the doubt that God has spoken or made a revelation of his will to men, established a Church for their salvation, which he loves, protects, and out of which he will save no one. No matter what they pretend, no matter what account they give of themselves, no matter what say their old symbols and formularies which they retain as so many heirlooms, it is Christianity itself they doubt, whenever rt is assumed to belong to the supernatural order, to be inflexible and unalterable, authoritative and supreme, or to be elevated at all above mere natural morality, with perhaps a few sanctions more distinct and solemn than natural reason unaided could of itself have discovered. It is simplicity, not charity, to question this. We cannot prudently address them as believers simply holding the truth in error, but, if we wish to arrest their attention, we must address them as sinners in rebellion against God, dead in trespasses and sins, under the wrath and condemnation of God,  reason with them of sin, of justice, of chastity, and the judgment to come, and compel them to cry out, Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved ? What shall we do to be saved ? asked from the depths of the affrighted soul, in the breaking up of the whole moral nature, trembling before the awful judgment of God, is the question ; and till men ask it in deep and terrible earnestness, they will never become real and true-hearted Catholics. When they have once been made to feel their sinfulness, their danger, their lost and perishing condition, out of Christ, we shall have little difficulty in convincing them that there is no safety for them out of the communion of the Church. It is not so much of infidelity, or of heresy, that they need to be convicted, as of sin ; not so much of Catholicity as the only true Christianity, as of Christianity itself, that they require to be convinced ; not so much of this or that particular error, as of the grand mother error of all, that they are safe where they are, and may be saved in any religion or in none, that it is necessary to disabuse them.

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