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The Roman Church and Modern Society

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1846

ART. V. — The Roman Church and Modern Society. Translated from the French of PROFESSOR E. QUINET, of the College of France. Edited by C. EDWARDS LESTER. New York : Gates and Stedman.    1845.    pp. 198.

THIS work purports to be a publication of M. Quinet's course of lectures on the present state of the Catholic Church. Its design may be gathered from the following extract, taken from the preface, written we presume by its American editor.

" In France, where a strong religious feeling is springing up of late years, a feeling which the Jesuits have endeavoured to avail themselves of for their own purposes, this work has exerted a most salutary influence. By delineating the Roman Church as it actually is, by showing the spirit which actuates it and the hands that direct it, and by the contrast he draws between these and the true spirit of Christianity, the true Catholicism, M. Quinet has rendered a service to the cause of religion in France which cannot be estimated too highly.

" But it is not in France and Italy alone that this work is destined to have an influence. The depth and comprehensiveness of the author's views, the vast scope of his thought, the extent and minute accuracy of his historical researches, and the consummate skill with which he applies the whole of history to his subject, render it a work of universal interest and importance.

" We see here clearly pointed out the elements of the greatness of the Roman Catholic Church in former times, and the causes which have led to its present state of decadence, — the means it has employed in all ages to accomplish its designs of universal dominion, and the reasons of their failure, — the agencies it is bringing to bear upon modern society, and the course it is necessary to pursue in order to baffle its designs.

" We see atao in what respects it is the antagonist of LIBERTY, though scrupling not to make use of that sacred name, whenever it can subserve its purposes of despotic authority. We see how, instead of sympathizing in that spirit of progress which is the life of modern society, it is ever struggling to preserve that state of utter immobility, or rather to bring about that retrograde movement, which leads to spiritual death. Have not these things an importance and an interest for us on this side of the Atlantic, as well as for Europeans ?

" Moreover, this is not an affair of the Eoman Catholic Church alone. Every church, every sect of Christendom, may here learn a lesson ; a lesson of Christian toleration and brotherly kindness, — a lesson of moderation in the midst of zeal, — a lesson of perpetual progress.

" The effects of this discussion in Europe are already apparent. The Jesuits, that powerful association, whose malign influence rested like an incubus upon the clergy, and through them upon the people of France, have already been compelled to abandon her soil. The mode also of their departure is remarkable, as differing entirely from their usual manner of proceeding. They have not waited to be expelled by the government, but they have voluntarily retired. They have given up the contest in France. They have felt that public opinion was too strong for them.

" This result is in a great measure to be attributed to the labors of M. Quinet, and of his friend and colleague, M. Michelet. The work of which this is a translation, and the joint work of both these eminent men upon the Jesuits, have, by enlightening the public as to their real character, been mainly instrumental in relieving France from their presence." — pp. v. - viii.

The first question which naturally arises, on reading this, is, What is " the true spirit of Christianity, the true Catholicism," with which M. Quinet contrasts the Catholic Church ? We cannot well determine the value or importance of an author's judgments, till we know the point of view from which he writes, and the standard by which he judges. Happily, we have not to seek far in order to answer this question. M. Quinet published some time since a work entitled Jlhasuerus, from which we translate a few pages, which we find quoted with approbation by M. Pierre Leroux, in the article Bonheur in his Encyclopudie Nouvelle. They are from the Third Day, entitled Death.    The scene is laid in the Cathedral of Strasburg.

The dead are represented as coming out of their tombs, and bitterly complaining that our blessed Saviour has deceived them ; for they have not found that heaven he promised them, and in which they had placed all their hopes of happiness.


"O Christ! O Christ! why hast thou deceived us? O Christ! why hast thou lied to us ? For a thousand years we have rolled in our tombs, beneath our chiselled slabs, trying to find the gate of thy heaven; — we find only the web which the spider spins above our heads. Where, then, are the sounds of the viols of thy angels ? We hear only the sharp saw of the worm that eats our tombs. Where is the bread with which thou wast to nourish us ? We have only our tears for our drink. Where is thy Father's house ? where his starry canopy ? Is it the dry fountain we have hollowed out with our nails ? Is it this polished slab against which we strike our heads day and night ? Where is the flower of thy vine which was to heal the wound of our hearts ? We have found only the lizard that crawls over our marble slabs, and we have seen only the snakes which spit their venom on our lips. 0 Christ! why hast thou deceived us ?


" O Virgin Mary ! why have you deceived us ? On awaking, we have sought by our sides our children, our little ones, our darlings, who should smile upon us from their azure nesls; we have found only brambles, dead mallows, and nettles, sinking their roots over our heads.


" How dark it is in this stone cradle here ! How hard is my cradle ! Where is my mother, to take me up ? Where is my father, to rock me ? Where are the angels, to give me my robe, my beautiful robe of light ? Father, mother, where are you ? I am afraid, I'm afraid here in my stone cradle.


" Christ! Christ ! since you have deceived me, give me back my hundred monasteries concealed in the Ardennes; give me back the golden bells baptized in my name, my shrines and chappelles, my banners spun on the wheel of Bertha, my ciboriums, and my people kneeling from Roncevaux to the Black Forest.


" Give us back our sighs and tears.


" Give us back our crowns of flowers and baskets of roses which wo have strewed along the path of the priests on Corpus Christi.


" And what avail me now my double cross and triple crown ? The dead gather around me, that I may give to each his portion of nothingness. Woe is me ! Heaven, hell, purgatory, these were all in my own soul; the hilt and blade of the archangel's sword flamed only in my own breast; the infinite heavens are naught but those my own genius rolled together or spread out as a tent to shelter itself in the desert. But may be the hour is about to strike when the gate of Christ will turn on its hinges. No, no, I have waited long enough. My feet are dried up, kicking against these marble slabs ; my eyes have fallen from their sockets, in looking into the dust of my tomb ; my tongue is worn.out, in calling Christ, Christ; and my hands are empty, always empty. Look, look, my good lords, it is the truth. Let not the dead show me their sores, let the martyrs hide their wounds. I can heal no one. I give but the spider's web in return to those who have given their crowns to Christ, and I bring in the hollow of my hand but a pinch of ashes for those who have looked for a kingdom of stars in the ocean of the firmament."

This is tolerably explicit; but if any doubts remain in the minds of our readers, the following from the work before us will dispel them.

" I follow with my eyes, during forty years, the reign of a man who is the sole spiritual director, not of his country, but of his epoch. From the retirement of his chamber, he governs the kingdom of minds; intelligences regulate themselves every day by his ; a word written by his hand in a moment overruns all Europe. Princes love, kings fear him ; they do not feel sure of their kingdoms, if he is not with them. Peoples, on their part, adopt without discussion, and repeat with eagerness, every syllable that falls from his pen. Who exercises this incredible power, that had been nowhere witnessed since the Middle Ages ? Is it another Gregory the Seventh ?    Is it a Pope ?    No, it is Voltaire.

" He shakes with a terrible laugh the gates of the Church, which, placed by St. Peter, were opened for the Borgias. It is the laugh of the universal spirit, which disdains all particular forms as so many deformities ; it is the ideal which sports with the real. In the name of the mute generations whom the Church was bound to console, he arms himself with all the blood she has shed, all the stakes, all the scaffolds she has raised, and which must sooner or later be turned against her. This irony, mingled with wrath, belongs not merely to one individual or one question; then mingles there the laugh of all the abused generations, of all the tortured dead, who, recollecting that they found on earth violence instead of gentleness, the wolf in place of the paschal lamb, stir themselves, and mock in their turn, even in the depths of the sepulchre.

" That which makes the wrath of Voltaire a great act of Providence is, that he strikes, ridicules, overwhelms the infidel Church with the arms of the Christian spirit. Humanity, charity, fraternity,— are not these the sentiments revealed in the Gospel? He turns them with irresistible force against the violences of the false teachers of the Gospel. The angel of wrath, in the Bible, pours out at once upon the condemned cities sulphur and bitumen, in the midst of the blowing of the winds ; so the spirit of Voltaire walks over the face of the divine city; he strikes at once with the lightning, the glaive, the sarcasm. He pours out gall, irony, and ashes. When he is weary, a voice awakens him and cries, Continue ! Then he begins again ; he becomes furious; he strikes where he has already struck; he shakes what he has already shaken ; he breaks what he has already broken. For a work so long, never interrupted, and always successful, is not merely the affair of an individual; it is the vengeance of a deceived God, who has taken the irony of man as an instrument of wrath.

" No, this man does not belong to himself; he is led by a superior power. At the same time that he overturns with one hand, he founds with the other; and there lies the marvel of his destiny. He employs all his faculties of raillery to overthrow the banners of particular churches, but there is another man in him ; this man, full of fervor, establishes upon their ruins the orthodoxy of common sense.

" He feels in every fibre the false, the lie, the injustice, not only in a moment of time, but in each of the pulsations of the human race. Particular churches had founded the Christian law, but for themselves. Voltaire makes the Christian law the common law of humanity. Before his time, they called themselves universal ; and this universality stopped at the threshold of a communion, of a particular church ; whoever did not make a part of it was out of the evangelical law. Voltaire envelopes the whole earth in the law of the Gospel.

" What is this, I ask, if it is not the Christian spirit itself, the universal spirit of union, fraternity, vigilance, which lives, feels, suffers, and remains in intimate communion with all humanity, present and past ? This is the reason why the earth proclaimed this man as the living speech of humanity in the eighteenth century. Men have not been deceived by appearances; he tears in pieces the letter; but he makes the universal spirit shine forth. For this reason we proclaim him still.

" In good faith, what have they opposed to him ? What adversary has entered into the strife against him ? In the camp of the past, where has there appeared the combatant who, to conquer Voltaire, would have need to show himself more vigilant than he, more fervent than he, more universal than he, in the cause of justice against force and violence?

" In the precipitate movement of our age, the dust has been raised to heaven over the steps of our generations; some persons have exclaimed with joy, — Voltaire has disappeared ; he has perished in the gulf, with all his renown. But this was one of the artifices of true glory ; the small men alone were the dupes of it. The dust falls again ; the spirit of light, whom they thought extinct, reappears ; he laughs at the false joy of the darkness. Like one resuscitated, he shines with a purer brilliancy ; and the age, which had begun by rejecting him, ends by confirming in all his immortal part.

" The work of Voltaire is in necessary relation with Catholicism; even in attacking it, he strikes with its own weapon, history. It was necessary, in order that the tradition of the eighteenth century should be the source of the future world, that there should be found a man who, springing out of Protestantism, should represent in the new work the genius of the dissenting churches. This man is Rousseau.

"In him, the genius of the religious revolution of the sixteenth century mingles itself with the ferments of France. To take away from the movement of the eighteenth century every appearance of sectarianism, that it might not be a solely Catholic and Roman revolution, this stranger Rousseau must issue from the fold of Luther, and bring among us something of the spirit of the Doctor of Wittenberg. His arms are those of the Reformation, not history, but logic, reason, individual authority, and eloquence always. Through him, the soul of the revolution of the sixteenth century passes into the French Revolution ; more even than Voltaire, he renders Rome irreconcilable with France.

" In the skepticism of the Savoyard vicar I discover no trace of grief. It is a skepticism of hope rather than of disappointment. He confesses himself very frankly, he explains, unveils himself. In this doubt I perceive a great commencement of faith ; the Savoyard vicar trusts to the times to come to unveil what remains obscure to him. Properly speaking, he officiates at the altar of the unknown God !    It is the first stone of a new society.

" Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, triple crown of that new Papacy that France has shown to the earth. From the height of the modern Vatican it speaks truly to the city and the world, urli et orhi.    It does not address itself merely to the Roman race, it invites all the races of humanity; and the schismatics whom the papacy had not been able to overcome, I mean the Germanic, Greek, Sclavonic nations, as well as the Latins, the emperors and kings of peoples, as well as the kings of the intellect, the Guelphs, as well as the Ghibelines, if any remain, submit to this orthodoxy of the universal spirit. Those whom Gregory the Seventh had not been able to curb, the successors of the emperors, the Great Frederic, Catherine, Joseph the Second, bend the knee ! They have discovered a superior power, which gives or takes away their crowns! Like those first kings who came out of barbarism, they have recognized the supreme seal of the spiritual power! " — pp. 142- 149.

We think there can now be no mistake as to what, according to M. Quinet and his American editor, is " the true spirit' of Christianity, true Catholicism." It is, when divested of a few fine phrases, which mean nothing, simple old-fashioned infidelity, the bald deism of the English deists ; or, at most, English deism mixed with the pantheism of Spinoza, the atheism of D'Holbach, and the Sans-culottism of Marat and Robespierre. Voltaire, inspired by Luther, assisted by Montesquieu, and reinforced by Rousseau, is avowedly its purest and most faithful representative. The contrast, then, which the author draws is, in simple terms, a contrast between Catholicity and Voltairism. That this contrast is striking, we admit; that Catholicity and Voltairism are natural enemies, and that there is and must be war between them till one or the other is exterminated, we are not disposed to question ; but is it certain that this is to the discredit of Catholicity ? Are our Protestant friends, in their hatred of the Church, prepared to join hands with the followers of Voltaire, and to re-publish, after the example of the late Abner Kneeland, the Dictionnaire Philosophique as the Family Bible ?

Nevertheless, the book before us is an instructive one to those who know how to read it. There can be no question that Voltaire is the legitimate successor of Luther, and that the English Deists and French Philosophers are simply the complement of the Reformers. This is admitted by the more advanced minds among the Protestants themselves, and a slight history of Protestantism abundantly proves it. The best commentary on principles is furnished in their historical developments. The Reformers in the sixteenth century began by making war on the authority of the Church. " They did not perceive," to borrow the language of a French Catholic writer of the last century, " that they were making a breach through which all sorts of errors would soon find an entrance, — that, in order to overturn successively the dogmas and even the foundations of the Christian faith, it would only be necessary to follow the path they were marking out. In point of fact, adopting their method, the Socinians very soon rejected all the doctrines which seemed to them to be incomprehensible, and summoned to the tribunal of reason the very oracles of the divine word. The deists, instructed by their example, refused to admit any revelation at all, and called in question many truths of natural religion. At length, armed with their arguments, materialism dared raise aloft its head, and deny the existence of God himself. Struck by the shock of these conflicting systems, the skeptics conclude that nothing is certain, that as regards religion and morals the philosopher must hold himself in a state of absolute doubt. Hence is born indifference to all opinions, disguised under the name of Toleration. The human mind in the excess of its folly and madness can go no further.

" This progression is clearly marked by the epochs of the individuals who have been at the head of the different parties, and by the date of their respective works. Luther began to dogmatize in 1517 ; Calvin, in 1532; Lelio, Soelinus, and Gentilis, towards 1550 ; Viret, one of the Reformers, speaks of the first deists in his Christian Instruction in 1563 ; Vani-ni, a decided atheist, was executed in 1619 ; Spinoza appeared only forty years later ; La Motte le Veyer and Bayle, both skeptics, wrote at the close of the same century ; Montaigne had preceded them.

" In England, the progress of incredulity has been the same. After various combats among the different Protestant and Socinian sects, deism has its proselytes. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, the first English author who reduced it to a system, published his book, JDe Veritate, in 1624 ; Hobbes, Toland, Blount, Shaftesbury, Tindal, Morgan, Chubbs, Collins, Woolston, Bolingbroke, have followed in his train. This last, as Hobbes and Toland in theirs, has sowed in his works the principles of atheism"; and David Hume has subsequently avowed skepticism in his.

" Our French infidels, who speak now so boldly, are only
the echoes and copyists of the English. This is a fact easily
verified. They have begun by teaching deism ; insensibly
they have come to pure materialism ; to complete the degra
dation, absolute Pyrrhonism now shows itself openly in the
greater part of their works 

" This phenomenon constantly renewed cannot be the effect of chance. It had already been remarked, among the ancient philosophers, three hundred years before our era. The dogmas of natural religion and morality had been too feebly established by Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, who preceded that epoch, and who mingled many errors with their essential truths. The Epicureans and Cynics, who then appeared, attacked, some the existence of God, at least, his providence, and others the laws of morality. These aberrations were replaced by the hypotheses of Pyrrho and his descendants, who would admit no truth at all.

" It needs only right reason to be convinced not only of the necessity of a revelation, but also of a visible authority to guide us in matters of religion. One of these truths flows necessarily from the other. The author of the article Unitaire in the Encyclopddie shows very clearly what is the progression a reasoner must make, when once he has leaped the barrier of authority." *(footnote: * Traitt Hislorique et Dogmatique de la Vraie Religion, avec la Rifu-tation des Erreurs qui lui ont iU opposies dans differens Siilctes. Par M. l'Abbd Bergier. Introduction, $§ viii., ix. We regret that our limits do not permit us to extend this extract through the following three sections of the masterly Introduction to the Treatise on True Religion, by the Abbe" Bergier, a writer who followed Voltaire and his associates step by step, and triumphantly refuted every one of their charges and arguments against the Catholic Church and religion. The particular treatise from which we quote, republished at Paris in 1827, in ten volumes, 16mo., is a work which we should be glad to see placed within the reach of our American public generally; for, as we have heretofore intimated or asserted, the great moral disease of our times is want of faith in the supernatural.)

We are aware that the philosophy of the nineteenth century professes to be a revolt against that of the eighteenth. M. Cousin, and some of the Germans, as also the Transcenden-talists in this country, profess to have arrived at results less repugnant to religious faith than those which M. Bergier shows to be the legitimate results of Protestantism. But this is not the fact. The new philosophy, as it is called, though differing in its method and its terminology from that of the eighteenth century, is yet substantially the same, as M. Quinet ably establishes.  
We quote a few paragraphs on this point.

" Thus ends, under the terror of the Church, the outbreak of philosophy in the sixteenth century. The spirit of Machiavel, on its knees, strikes its bosom, and whispers a prayer; this prayer lasts yet.

" If the French philosophy of the eighteenth century had again entered upon this ambiguous path, it would doubtless have experienced the same fate ; the world would not have been moved by it; happily, it took quite the contrary course. How so ? It showed the world an idea superior to that of the Church ; and at the same moment, the Church felt itself struck by weapons it no longer possessed. It found itself face to face with a power which, while denying all forms, all sects, all particular churches, and, in some sort, visible Christianity, still retained what is most vital in Christianity, — its spirit.

" As long as there had been set up in opposition to the Roman Church another church, whether Protestant, Greek, or Jansenist, the former had been able to take hold of its adversary, and resist its blows; they were forces of the same nature; there was for that a tradition of controversies which might last indefinitely. If she was attacked, she had, on the other hand, a hold upon an enemy of the same family. It was a conflict between two churches ; they disputed about their forms. But here was a totally different adversary,— the very fruit of Christianity, the spirit, the soul of it, which, developed, and divested of forms, turns against the very principle of forms; the body of Christianity is on one side, the spirit on the other. Jacob is assailed in the darkness by the invisible, invincible, impalpable wrestler. It is the combat between the Church and philosophy in the eighteenth century.

" But this era is the era of impiety, doubt, skepticism, genius of the void, of sensation, and what not! It is easy, from the height of a laborious orthodoxy, to hurl these anathemas against this epoch. It remains to be seen what foundflition there is for this interdiction.

" The future is always skeptical in regard to the past, since it separates from it. Evidently the eighteenth century has ceased believing in many things ; but it is equally certain that the foundation of this age is a universal faith in what is most important in the heritage of Christianity, — I mean, in the power of the invisible, of the thought. By this are united all the men of this time; the remembrance of one almost necessarily recalls another.

"They believe to such extent in thought, that they are persuaded that all the rest is nothing, — that an idea is sufficient to renovate, to nourish the world, — that humanity possesses energy enough in itself to throw off the tohole burden of the times, and reconstruct, at a given moment, a new world upon a new ideal. Are these materialists ? Are these skeptics, who believe that our soul can create a new universe ? And yet they would cut off from the living tradition of French philosophy these men, who will always be the focus of it. Because they could not find in Jean Jacques Rousseau an array of school formulas, I have seen the time when they refused him the title of Philosopher; without reflecting that one may all his life handle and make a parade of formulas, without having the least particle of a philosophic spirit, which is truly the spirit of creation.

" Yes, let us return to the intelligence of this great age, and not allow ourselves to be amused by words. Whoever does not see a philosophy proclaim spiritualism accuses it of having only comprehended matter; let us enter more deeply into things.

" It is not enough for a philosophy to murmur externally a form of idealism, of heroism, in order to belong truly to the kingdom of the spirit. One may be very materialist, while all the time talking of the idea. And on the other hand, an age which makes no public pretension to idealism, but which puts it in practice, and makes it pass into the life, this is truly an idealist age,— it makes spiritualism a reality. By this test, show me an epoch in all the past which has had more faith in the soul, which has shown more of it, which, to obtain the victory, has had less need of the physical forces. It is the moment when speech, till then buried in mystery, becomes life, reality. In a political point of view, France is crushed by the enemy ; to judge her only by the eyes of the body, you would think her powerless. It is, on the contrary, the moment when she reigns, with an uncontestcd power, over the universe ; her arms are tied, but she commands the world. What is this, then, but the reign of the spirit ? Because it has become visible, do you no longer see it ?

" When it formerly dwelt in the Church, and was veiled, you supposed it present. It quits the Church, and passes into the age ; because it comes nearer to you, do you not recognize it ?

" Ah ! we have sinned against this age; and in saying so, I accuse no one in particular; but I am in accordance with the highest philosophic authority of our times. While, in our own country, every man who pretends to philosophy thinks it proper and in good taste to begin by repudiating this eminently French age, is it not extraordinary that the great master of abstraction, par excellence, a foreigner, Hegel, salutes it, on the contrary, as the fundamental era of thought ? *(footnote: * Das Geistreich selbst.) The only enthusiastic page, perhaps, that this great mind has written, marks the spiritualist genius of our eighteenth century. After this, will any one have the courage to see in this heroic season of the human mind nothing but what the schools call the doctrine of sensation ? (footnote: In Italy, Romini continues this war of train-bands long after it is at an end.

" At the moment when it was in good taste in France to abjure Voltaire, it was with Goethe that he found a shelter. Goethe received this great exile ; he learned from him the magic gift to communicate life, electricity, to multitudes. He translated Diderot. Lord Byron made himself the disciple of J. J. Rousseau ; he attempted to unite together the soul of the author of the Confessions and that of the old man of Ferney. With the vast horizon that it opens, the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard vicar reappears in other terms in that philosophic theology which extends from Kant to Schleiermacher. The vast labors of the greatest critic of the present time, M. de Wette, do they not very often seem commentaries upon opinions hazarded by Voltaire ?

" Thus, after immense labors, men returned to the results perceived by the eighteenth century. Hegel proclaimed its metaphysical foundation, Goethe its literature, as the source of life ; De Wette confirmed its criticism ; so that one may say that the whole contemporary movement is a new development, a new power of the spirit of that same age. We were abjuring it among ourselves at the very moment when it remained victorious." — pp. 132- 142.

It being evident that Protestantism receives its complement in infidelity, or the rejection of all authority and with it all revealed religion, the Protestant world are compelled to take one of two alternatives, namely, — either to avow themselves infidels, or to assume that infidelity is really and truly Christianity. They can maintain their right to the Christian name and character only by maintaining that the true spirit of Christianity, Christianity freed from the false views of its advocates, the formulas of the schools which obscure and pervert it, is substantially what all the world has hitherto agreed to regard as infidelity. Infidelity, according to our author, is the spirit of Christianity warring against its body, or the dead forms in which its misguided and selfish friends have sought to imprison it. We beg our readers to bear this in mind. It is the key to much which they will find in what is sometimes called the " movement party," the " party of progress," the " party of liberty," or the "party of the future." The new school of the nineteenth century is professedly Christian ; but M. Quinet is right in regarding it as identical in substance, in spirit, with the Voltairan school of the eighteenth century. The only difference is, that the one school calls that Christian which the other believed to be the rejection of Christianity. The new school is the old under a new name. It does not convert infidelity to Christianity, but Christianity to  infidelity ;   and its Christianity consists solely in denouncing whatever is anti-infidel as anti-Christian. Here is the key to the whole teachings of the Progressist, the St. Simonian, Fourierist or Societary, Rationalistic, and Mythic Schools of modern Europe and America. And here is the significance of those numerous younglings starting up in our day and seeking to obtain the direction of affairs, — such as "young Italy," "young Switzerland," "young Germany," "young France," "young Spain," "young Ireland," and "young America." "Young England" forms, we believe, a partial exception, and, though characterized by many of the follies we expect in youngsters, lias, upon the whole, it would seem, a tendency in an opposite direction. But, with the single exception of" "young England," all the younglings of the day are really infidel at heart and in doctrine. They all denounce whatever the Christian believes which is distinguishable from what is approved by the infidel.

The great mass of those who reject the authority of the Church will accept, substantially, the doctrine of M. Quinet, which, we have seen, is nothing but the old French infidelity under a new name and a new disguise. The more advanced portion of the Protestant world, those who have pushed the Protestant principle farthest, have no more affection for dogmatic Protestantism than they have for Catholicity. Old-fashioned Lutheranism or Calvinism is as hateful to them as is the Church ; and not a few of them openly say, If we must have a church and a creed, let us by all means have the Catholic. This is not without significance, and is worthy of the serious consideration of all who are not prepared to sink to the lowest depths of incredulity and irreligion.

A close examination of the extracts we have made from the book before us will leave us in no doubt as to the doctrine of this new school. The author is defending the old French school against the charge of materialism. He wishes to prove that they were spiritualists, and even religious, in the higher and truer sense of the term. On what facts does he rely ? They believed, forsooth, "in the power of the invisible, of thought," "that humanity possesses energy enough in itself to throw ofFthe whole burden of the times, and reconstruct, at a given moment, a new world upon a new ideal," and "that our soul can create a new universe." — p. 135. " Show me an epoch in all the past which has had more faith in the SOUL." — p. 137. Human thought, humanity, the human soul, these are the highest objects of which it is pretended they conceived. These, too, are evidently the highest forces, the highest authority, recognized by our author and the new school. The providence of which he speaks is nothing but the instincts or natural tendencies of humanity, or, more simply, human nature. The energy that is to reconstruct the world is simply the energy of human nature, and the greater good that is hoped for is to be created by the human soul. And men are to be accounted great, noble, religious, because they are able to confine their views to humanity, and look for nothing which surpasses the power of the soul ! " The true spirit of Christianity, the true Catholicism," is to exclude God from our faith, and to place all our dependence on the innate energy or irrepressible instincts of
man !

We see here in full bloom, or rather, come to full maturity, the seeds of error sown in the early age of the Church by the British heresiarch, Pelagius. Man is raised above God, and the Creator is lost in the effort to save the creature. " What do you preach ?" said we some time since to one of the leaders of "the movement." "The religion of humanity." This it is. The religion of humanity takes the place of the religion of God ; and instead of the oracles of God, we are to consult the instincts and tendencies of humanity ! The revelation of God's will is assumed to be made to us in humanity. Humanity is God's word, the inspired volume from which we are to collect the true Catholic faith and worship. We speak literally. The doctrine, that humanity is inspired, and that God reveals himself from age to age in the tendencies of the masses, and that this is his highest revelation, is expressly taught by the chiefs of the school. This is the doctrine of the book before us. Would you know God's will, ascertain what in your age and country is the popular tendency. That to which at any given time or place the race seems tending is ■ what God wills, is his law, — what you must not resist, but are bound to obey. These chiefs boldly tell us that we have the right, and are bound, to affirm of humanity all that the Evangelists affirm of Jesus Christ. This is the real significance of Christianity. The Gospel is a sublime myth. Jesus Christ symbolizes the divinity of human nature, and the humanity of the divine nature. God and man are one and the same nature, and the Incarnation is a myth intended to represent the belief of the early Christians in one nature in two persons, and not two natures in one person, as theologians have believed.    Thus humanity is God, or God is humanity, no matter which. For us there is no God beyond humanity. The dark background of being on which man is traced by an invisible pencil is to us as if it were not, for, as Hegel teaches, it arrives at self-consciousness only in man. These chiefs must assuredly be great men, or how else could they beget such huge absurdities or utter such big blasphemies ? But all this shows that the age is humanitarian ; that it takes literally the maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei; and erects its temples and its altars to human nature. Very religious !

Assuming that humanity is divine, inspired, God incarnate, and that her will is always supreme, M. Quinet arraigns the Church for not countenancing what he calls " the party of the Future." There is now, he contends, throughout all Christendom, an obvious tendency to what are called social ameliorations. This tendency is the new life, the spirit of the age. Everywhere we see a party opposed to the existing social order, warring against authority, zealous for liberty, and calling aloud for a redress of grievances. This party is assumed to represent humanity. Its voice is her voice ; its authority is her authority ; and through it she speaks out from her own mighty heart for REFORM, for PROGRESS, for LIBERTY, for the elevation of her oppressed and down-trodden children. Whoso does not rally under the banners of this party is wedded to the. dead past, is a friend of abuses, a minion of despotism, an enemy to light, to science, to truth, to freedom, to the onward march of the masses to the fulfilment of the glorious destiny of humanity.

The party of the future, it is assumed, is the Christian party. Did not Jesus Christ come to be the father of a new age, to introduce a new order, which in its progress and development was to swallow up the old world, whether Jewish or Pagan ? Did he not promise his followers a good they had not as yet attained to, and bid them aspire to a glory hereafter to be revealed ? What, then, was he but a reformer, an innovator, one who sought to destroy the order he found existing, and, in spite of its opposition, to introduce a new and more advanced order ? And what is it to be a Christian but to imitate Christ, to seek to do as he did, and like him to be reformers, innovators, revolutionists, choosing rather to die on the cross than to submit to the established order of things ? In order to be his disciples, it is not incumbent on us to believe what he taught and to do what he commanded, as professed Christians have generally held, but to do for our age what he did for his. The Christian party was the movement party, the progressive party, and he — we shudder to write it — was the leading infidel of his age and country. Now the Church can be true to him only on condition of making common cause with the movement party of our times, — the party that resists authority and clamors for change and innovation under the specious guise of social amelioration. But the Church does not make common cause with this party ; she even sides with its enemies, and exerts herself to sustain existing institutions, and to uphold legal authority. Then she is opposed to reform, to progress, to liberty ; at war with the sacred instincts of humanity, with the Welt-Geist, or spirit of the age, and therefore with Christ himself. Then the spirit of Christ commands us to resist the Church, to overturn its authority, and free ourselves from its thraldom.

We assure our Christian readers that we are not caricaturing the views of the movement party. All we say its chiefs have said in sober earnest, and the spirit which says it is common to all its members, whether calling themselves Protestants or Catholics ; for many who should be Catholics are of the party. Let the Church denounce Young Ireland, and Young Ireland —■ not old Ireland, thank God — is prepared to denounce the Church. One of our papers castigates, without mercy, the Dublin Review for its able exposition of the madness of Young Italy in attempting to revolutionize the Italian States, and thus, unintentionally, we presume, joins hands with the Christian Alliance. In France and Spain there is, as well as in Germany and America, the same spirit. The movement party is placed above religion, and made the criterion by which to determine the Christianity of the Church. The Church is allowed to be Christian only in proportion as she is believed to be on the side of those who are seeking to renew the horrors of the French Revolution, under pretence of social amelioration.
Yet this same parly, with a consistency peculiarly its own, denounces the Church, whenever it attempts to emancipate itself from dependence on- the civil powers. A great question arises in France ; the Church takes the side of liberty against the government, and M. Quinet and his whole pack are loose upon her. In this country, the standing objection to the Catholic Church is, in substance, that she holds herself independent of the civil authority ; just as if she could aid the cause of freedom, when subjected to the civil tyrant !

We cannot, in the brief space now at our command, undertake to clear up all the questions which are involved in these views. That the Church does not make common cause in all cases with the movement party we very cheerfully admit. She holds herself answerable to God for her conduct, not to the self-styled representatives of humanity. She has not received her commission from humanity, but from humanity's Maker and sovereign Lord. It is for humanity to obey her, not for her to obey humanity. Her teachings, not the instincts or tendencies of human nature, are the law, the measure of right and wrong, of good and evil. Your big words, your appeals to the mighty heart of humanity, to the new life, the spirit of the age, all your fine phrases about liberty, progress,, social amelioration, and all that, are of no avail. Where the Church condemns you, you are wrong, not she.

Yet it is false to say that the Church ever opposes light, science, liberty, or social progress. Does she oppose liberty in Poland, where she is the unhappy Pole's only protector ? Did she oppose it in Belgium ? Does she oppose it in France, where she stands firm against the government for the liberty guarantied by the charter ? Does she oppose it in Ireland, where her whole influence is on the side of social amelioration ? She opposes not liberty, but license. She unquestionably does oppose the modern revolutionary spirit; but when she finds men, like O'Connell, who seek liberty and social amelioration only by peaceful and legal means, she does not oppose them, but blesses them, and makes their cause sacred. As for light, science, and all that, it does not become you to speak. She undoubtedly does not accept all your theories, all your mad speculations and airy dreams ; but you have no light she rejects, — have made no discovery in science she does not accept. But you talk of your light, as if you were the lights of the age, — of science, as if you had amassed an amount too vast to be compressed within the narrow in-closure of the Church. Quite a mistake, Gentlemen. If you set aside your guesses, your dreams, your mere theories, your unsupported speculations, and reserve only what you have really established, what may be said to be demonstrated, you have nothing not known to the Church long ages before you were born. The Church accepts all your light, and can find room to stow away all your truth ; but she has no fondness for your darkness, and no space for your error and falsehood. With your doctrines and speculations she is quite familliar, for they are nothing but old errors and heresies, which she discarded and condemned many ages ago, and which the real movement party has long since outgrown. You are no creators, no inventors. With all your genius, you cannot even invent a new blasphemy. You remind us of the little girl who stood watching the western sky as the sun went down. The sun went down, the twilight came ; and, as the darkness deepened, the evening star became visible. u Father, father, see there, God has made a star ! " So when you see here and there a feeble star, which the darkness gathering over your mental heavens makes visible, you fancy, in an ecstasy of delight, that it is a new creation, or at least a new discovery. Him who is enamoured of his own intellectual progress we may always safely set down as one who has yet to learn that he is — a fool. The Church does not oppose progress, but she may, we own, oppose your doctrine of progress ; for she has never yet seen a man lift himself up by his own waistbands, or motion without something fixed and immovable to communicate it. Your doctrine of progress assumes that man without going out of himself can make himself more than he is, the imperfect is able to perfect itself, the possible to make itself real, nothing to make itself something, and that there can be motion without rest. Really, Gentlemen, you are profound philosophers. You can move the world, and without the where to stand deemed so indispensable by old Archimedes ! It is no wonder that you regard the Church as behind the age.

Progress there may be, but not without a power foreign to the subject of progress. The error of the movement party is not in demanding progress, but in demanding it of man alone, and where it is suicidal to demand it. The condition of progress is fixed, permanent, and immovable religious and political institutions. The movement party overlook this fact, and demand progress in institutions themselves. They seek to set the institutions themselves afloat, and thus loosen every thing ; which superinduces a state in which all progress is impossible. The grand error is here. The party kills, as in the fable, the goose that lays the golden egg, in the hope of getting more than one egg a day, and thus cuts off the source of golden eggs altogether. It is only this madness which wars upon the established order, and seeks to destroy, for the sake of progress, the condition of all progress, that the Church opposes.
But it may be asked, if institutions are not or may not be progressive. In themselves considered, no.    Religious institutions may be improved or perfected miraculously by the supernatural providence of God, or without a miracle, by transplanting the institutions of one country to those of another, by missions, colonization, or conquest; and civil institutions also by colonization, conquest, or the aid of religious institutions already established and in their vigor ; but not otherwise. This is philosophically demonstrable, and historically verifiable. There is no such thing as self-perfecting institutions. Without one, or another, or all of the efficient causes we have mentioned, improvement in religious or civil institutions is absolutely impossible ; for the simple reason, that the imperfect can never without the aid of a foreign power become perfect, nothing can make itself more than it is ; or, as we say, there is no motion without rest, — no man can lift himself up by his own waistbands.

If we turn to history, we shall find that institutions, though they may decline, are never progressive. There is no instance on record of a spontaneous civilization, — no instance of a savage people emerging of itself from the savage state. The earliest period of all civil and political institutions is their purest and best period. The history of all states is a history of decline, corruption, deterioration of their institutions. The struggle of nations is always for lost rights, lost privileges. Magna Charta is but an attempt to stay the progress of corruption, and to preserve a portion of what had been enjoyed from time immemorial. The earliest of the pyramids is the most perfect as a work of art. The Cloaca Maxima of Rome was built before the epoch of authentic history. The traditions of every people point to a state of society in the past superior to that which is at present enjoyed. The wisest and most salutary laws of all modern nations, save such as are derived from Christianity, have their origin in the night of ages, — have existed and been in force from time immemorial, for a time so long that "the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." Never expect from institutions a worth or adaptedness they do not possess in their origin.

The historian of modern society can trace a progress of civilization effected by Christianity, but no progress in institutions, properly so called. Improvements in administration may have been introduced, though even this, if taken absolutely, may be questioned ; but in all cases where change, innovation, has struck at fundamental institutions, it has been a corruption, the sign of decay, and the precursor, if not the cause, of evil. England has suffered from every change in her old constitution. France by her changes was brought to the very brink of ruin ; she owes the preservation of her nationality to the mercy or the policy of her conquerors, and it has only been in proportion as she has restored the old order that she has begun to resume her rank among the nations. Spain lies bleeding at every pore ; her whole energy is relaxed ; and she seems almost on the verge of dissolution. What has brought her to her present deplorable condition ? The party of progress, the innovators, the lovers of change, the madmen who would improve her institutions. There is of old a curse pronounced against all who remove " the ancient landmarks " ; and Sallust, when he would brand a man with infamy, designates him as one who is rerum novarum cupidus.

We admit the Church does not take sides with the mad dreamers, and we assure the revolutionists that she will never be their accomplice. They may rail as they will, they may appeal to the "irrepressible instincts of humanity," talk largely of liberty (meaning thereby license), of progress, of science, of light, and in the excess of their philanthropic zeal convulse the nations, and turn the ruthless hordes of their myrmidons against her, sack her temples, desecrate her altars, violate her virgins, massacre her priests, imprison her sovereign Pontiff, as they did in the memorable French Revolution ; but they will never seduce or drive her from her fidelity to her heavenly Spouse. She will remain immovable while all around her is in commotion, and her calm, unalterable voice will make itself heard above the confused roar of maddened millions, command the strife to cease, and be obeyed. That she does not do what she is asked to do by these men greedy of new things is among the proofs that she is from God, and that he continues to fulfil his promise to be always with her unto the consummation of the world. If these men want progress, let them learn submission, let them obey the Church and be counselled by her, and not undertake to counsel her. She has received the authority to teach ; they have received only the command TO OBEY. The progress they should seek is progress in obedience, in meekness, in humility, in patience, resignation ; for with their present tempers there is, and can be, no good for them.

Our space will not permit us to discuss now the question M. Quinet raises in its bearing on nationalities. He praises Voltaire for his universality, and condemns the Church because she is not, in his view, as broad as humanity. Yet he wishes her to league with nationalities, be Gallican in France, Spanish in Spain, German in Germany, English in England, Italian in Italy, American in America. A singularly consistent view of Catholicity this. The Church knows no distinction of races or of nations. She deals with all as simple human beings, and seeks to bring all into the unity of one fold, to make all hearts one, in the unity of the same faith, the same hope, and the same charity. To her the soul of the Flathead Indian is as precious as the soul of a professor in the College of France. If civil governments receive her law, and serve her, it is well and good ; she accepts their service, and they do their duty ;♦ if they refuse to do so, she leaves them to take their own course, and proceeds on without them in her work of love and mercy. She holds her authority not from them ; and she will continue to maintain and teach that the law of God is paramount to theirs. They may rebel, they may conspire against her, and seek her destruction ; but He that dwelleth in heaven shall Jaugh at their folly, in his hot displeasure shall chastise them with his rod of iron, and break them in pieces as a potter's vessel. It is for them to fear, not for her. It is idle to summon up national prejudices against her. She disdains them. Before her, as the Irish proverb says, " Man is man the world over, — nothing less, nothing more."

The danger of Catholicity to liberty is an idle dream. You can have no true liberty without her, and the only liberty that is endangered by her is the liberty of those who desire no law but their own will, no restraint but their own caprice. If this is against her, so be it. Be willing to love God and do your duty, and you will have nothing to fear from the Church.