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The Churchy as it was, is, and ought to be

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1848

ART. III. — The Church, — as it was, as it is, as it ought to be. A Discourse delivered at the Dedication of the Chapel built by The Church of the Disciples, March 15, 1848. By JAMES F. CLARKE, Pastor of the Church. Boston : Benjamin H. Greene.    1848.    8vo.  pp. 36.

THE Church of the Disciples is a reformed Unitarian church, founded in this city, in 1841, under the auspices of the late William Ellery Channing, by James Freeman Clarke, to meet the wants of the disaffected among Unitarians, or persons who thought or felt that it was time to attempt something better than the Unitarianism of such men as Worcester, Bancroft, Ware, Norton, and Dewey. It is confined to a single congregation, and not unlikely will expire with its founder. It is a sort of syncretic church, founded, as it would seem, on the principle, that the true church must meet the wants and command the assent and the love of all men, and that to do so it must receive into its bosom ihe peculiar views of all who profess to be followers of Christ, from the Catholic to the Parker-ite. The aim of the church is, not to exclude error, but to include truth ; and if it take in all doctrines, whether true or false, it will have all truth, if also all error ! The founder, it will be seen at a glance, is a prudent man, and a profound philosopher.

The Discourse before us was delivered at the dedication of a very neat and pretty chapel, which the Church of the Disciples has recently erected, by its founder and pastor. The text is St. Matt. xvi. 18, —
"On this rock will I build my Church," — and the design is to set forth the necessity there was of founding a new church, and also the principles on which it was proper to found it. The author considers the Church — what he means by the Church it is not easy to say — as it was, as it is, as it ought to be, historically, critically, and prospec-tively, — thus assuming, by turns, the character of the historian, the critic, and the prophet. His subject, he tells us, " becomes more and more interesting every year."

" The tendency of the age draws our minds toward it; for in all things the present century tends toward union, harmony, synthesis, as plainly as the last century tended to division, individualism, analysis. We see this in the material world, in those inventions which make the inhabitants of the Atlantic coast.a neighbour to the dweller on the Andes. We notice it in science, in the universal disposition to look at the analogies and harmonies of the Universe, and to trace one Plan running through the thousandfold varieties of Nature. In industrial life we seek for Combined Labor, where formerly Division of Labor was the watchword. So in religion, the Church Question, that is, the question of Christian Union and Cooperation, is beginning to have an especial interest. Men are growing weary of an excessive Individualism. They feel the loneliness of a merely independent thought and action. They say with the Poet,—

"' Me this unchartered freedom tires.'

" They feel also the need of sympathy and support under the responsibilities of life. So some would turn back to a Mother Church, and sit at her feet, and rest their overstrained conscience by accepting duties from her hands, instead of seeking them for themselves. They find a pleasure in limits instead of liberty. Others, again, taking up this Church Question, on the other side, seeking a larger union than that of any existing denomination, would make a new Church out of the whole Human Race. All Christian Churches which exist are so inadequate, that they will not allow that they are even steps, by which to reach a better, but regard them rather as impediments and stumbling-blocks, to be removed as soon as possible."— pp. 4, 5.

The fact, that " the Church Question " is every year attracting more and more the attention of thoughtful men, is undeniable ; but that this question is simply the question of " Christian Union and Cooperation " is not quite so certain. Prior to the question of union and cooperation among Christians is the question, how, on what conditions, by what agencies, men are to become Christians. No one is a Christian by natural birth, or can be one, unless born again, spiritually regenerated.   Men must be Christians before they can unite and cooperate, and the Church question, we had supposed, is the question as to the necessity and office, or, in a word, the mission, of the Church in making them Christians,'—-in imparting to them the Christian life, and furnishing them with the requisite means to live it. This is the important question. Union and cooperation can never be wanting among Christians, if truly Christians, and plans and measures for their union and cooperation are superfluous. All we want is good Christians, and if we have them, there is no further question. Is the Church indispensable to the birth, growth, and training of Christians, or is she not ?    This is " the Church Question."

The following is Mr. Clarke's exposition of his text, which, if not ingenious, is at least original.

" Jesus is reported to have referred to a Church, hy name, only on two occasions, — once when speaking of difficulties between brethren, when he says, 'Tell it to the Church'; and again in our text. Here he places the Confession of Peter, — the deep conviction which Peter had and uttered, that his Master was God's Christ; he places this as the solid foundation on which his Church should rest. He therefore believed that his disciples were about to constitute an Association, — a united body, whose principle of union would be faith in him ; and his prophetic mind looked down the far distances of the future, and saw this Association deepening its roots and spreading abroad its branches until the birds of the air — the wandering and homeless spirits— should find a home in it." -p. 5.

The Rock is not Peter, nor the truth which Peter professed, but Peter's subjective conviction that " his Master was God's Christ." This original interpretation is necessary to be maintained. If Peter is the Rock, the Catholic Church is the only church to be admitted ; if the truth Peter professed is the Rock, the Church must be built, whoever the builder, on the truth,—on the proper Divinity of our Lord,— and then it must exclude all error, and all who deny that Divinity, and, consequently, the Church of the Disciples and its founder. It was necessary to make the Rock subjective conviction, that is, not the truth itself, but men's views of it, or it would be absurd to include within the Church doctrines and opinions which contradict one another, and are incapable of being harmonized.

The ordinary reading of the text makes our Lord the builder. " Thou art Peter, and on this Rock will / build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." But Mr. Clarke corrects this reading, and tells us that it should read, " Thou art Peter, and on this Rock I believe my disciples are about to constitute an Association, and I foresee that in this Association wandering and homeless spirits will find a home." Mr. Clarke could not give any other interpretation to the text, without condemning himself and his associates ; for if he should acknowledge that our Lord builds the Church, he would be bound, in order to be his disciple, to join that Church, instead of building one for himself on his own convictions or fancies. Consistency requires him to maintain, that not the Master, but the disciple, is the builder. The Scriptures may teach the reverse, but what of that ? What is the value of private interpretation, if we may not interpret the Scriptures to suit ourselves ? What is the use of liberty, if we are not free to explain the authorities on which we rely in harmony with our doctrines ? If our authorities are against us, is it not a proof that they are wrong ? Would you have us convict the Scriptures of error ? Then you must permit us to explain them in accordance with our own convictions. Do you hint that these convictions may be wrong ? What ! the founder of the Church of the Disciples be wrong ? If his convictions are erroneous, he has no moral right to entertain them. Would you deny him the right to his own convictions, that is, a man's right to his own, and thus trample on the inalienable rights of the mind ? Perish the thought !    Therefore, —

" Instead of asking whether Jesus founded a Church, ask whether he did not evidently foresee that his disciples would unite together in an Association, the object of which should be to spread his gospel from land to land. This question is easily answered, — answered by his sending them out two and two, by his parables of the mustard-seed, and of the net, and by a multitude of his discourses. Jesus foresaw that this would be the case, he intended that it should be the case, — for such an Association was a necessary means to his end, and such an Association lay as a necessity in the very nature of the gospel." — pp. 5, 6.

Mr. Clarke, as making the Church the work of the disciples, who found it on their own convictions, makes the Church subsequent to its members.

" And when it came, it came as a necessity. The apostles and disciples did not found a Church, but they found themselves in a Church.    They were driven together by outward persecution, — they were drawn together by an inward impulse, Read the first chapters of the Book of Acts and see how the Church of Christ was formed. Those disciples and women who had attended Jesus in his journeys, and constituted his family, kept together after his resurrection. One great thought filled all their minds, one commanding truth ruled their lives. They had known Jesus, and the memory of his life and truth filled to overflowing their intellect; the influence of his wonderful character was stamped upon theirs for ever. Another and more mysterious influence had changed them inwardly,
— had given them courage for cowardice, — heroism for weakness,
— a commanding eloquence in place of a stammering timidity.

' We cannot but speak of the things that we have seen and heard?
Herein lay the necessity of the Church.    The Church at first was
an Ecclesia docens very literally, a missionary Church altogether,
a Church devoted in every member and person to preaching Christ,
the Saviour, the Redeemer of men.

" Men under the law of such a necessity as this must keep together, must work in union, — how could it be otherwise ? Gathered out of a social life composed of the hard bigotry of the Pharisee, the cold skepticism of the Sadducee, or the desperate sensuality of Heathenism, — and finding within their souls such a faith in an entire salvation from sin, — a new life of love, — free, earnest* ennobling, — having such a sympathy, and such a common aim,— here was laid the basis of the most noble friendship. Well might each repeat to the rest what Christ had said to them all: ' Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever will do the will of God, the same is my mother and sister and brother.' " — pp. 6, 7.

Our readers must not be startled at the assertion here, that " the apostles and disciples did not found a Church." They must not expect the author to be consistent with himself, or careful to make it appear that our Lord did not err when he believed his " disciples were about to constitute an Association." His meaning probably is, that, although in point of fact they did constitute an Association, it was not voluntarily, intentionally, but from the pressure of outward and inward necessity. The point, however, to be noted is, that the disciples living the Christian life precede the Church, and the Church, instead of being necessary to the generation and support of that life, is merely its effect. The Church, then, derives its life from the union of its members ; not its members theirs from union with it !
But the founder of the Church of the Disciples proceeds on the principle, that no view is to be excluded. 'Hence he says : —

" The favorite idea with the first Christians of the work of the Church was this: that it was to replace Christ's body, — it was to be the earthly body by which his ascended spirit should still speak, leach, and act in the world, still heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, and bless mankind. Every Christian was a living member of this body while in communion with the rest, and his life was received from Christ, —' he lived by faith in the Son of God.' The Lord^s Supper was the bond of union and brotherhood. ' The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body, for we all are partakers of that one bread.' Hence the argument for mutual toleration. As the foot and hand and eye and tongue have each a different office, yet all are necessary to the integrity of the body, so may the various tendencies of character and opinion among Christians be controlled toward a common aim by that living faith in Christ which is the principle of life in all." — pp. 7, 8.

This, if it means any thing, means the reverse of what preceded it. u Every Christian was a living member of this body while in communion with the rest, and his life was received from Christ"; that is, the Christian receives his life from Christ through communion with his body. This makes the body anterior to the members, and supposes the members live by virtue of their union with the body ; which is according to analogy. The human body does not receive its life from its members, but they receive theirs from their union with it; and instead of their union with each other constituting the body, they are members only by virtue of their union with the body. If Mr. Clarke regards the Church as the body of Christ, through which Christ is received, he must conceive it as preceding its members, and them as of it, not it as of them, — a totally different doctrine from the one he began by laying down. But if the members are of the body and it not of them, how can it be maintained that the disciples form, found, or constitute it ? By what right do the disciples undertake to form a church of their own, instead of uniting themselves to the body of Christ ? Again, if we live by communion with the body of Christ, which is that body ? Is it any body calling itself the body of Christ ? If not, what are the marks by which it is to be discerned ? Does it still exist ? If so, why found a new church ? If not, if it has failed, what do you make of the promise that the gates of hell should not prevail against it ? We forget, — the promises of Christ are of no authority with our friend, unless for him ; and he proceeds on the principle, that of contraries both may be true, —* a new logical discovery !

Thus much for the origin and foundation of the Church. The author now proceeds to the criticism of the Church as it was and as it is.

" Such was the Church of Christ at first, — simple in its organization, noble in its aim, full of a profound life and an immense energy. Its only Creed was Faith in Christ. Its organization was flexible, enlarging as its wants were multiplied. It was a living, loving, and working Church.

" Now let us pass on. Many centuries go by, and instead of that simple body of earnest believers, we now find an immense and consolidated Organization — a powerful Hierarchy — spread through many lands, but bound together by the cohesive attraction belonging to a sacred order of persons. It had noble Cathedrals, every stone of which was carved with reverence, and laid with religious awe.

'The hand that rounded Peter's dome, And groined the aisles of Christian Rome, Wrought in a sad sincerity. Himself from God ho could not free. He builded better than he knew ; Tin; conscious stone to beauty grew.'

So that we repeat to-day, in these our edifices, the ideas of those Mediaeval Christians; and until we can build something to express the Christian ideas of our own age, we cannot do better than repeat theirs. This Church had a solemn ritual, adapted to every part of human life. It met the new-born babe at its entrance into the world, washed from its brow the taint of hereditary evil, and placed those tender feet in the way of salvation. It blessed the marriage vow of love, and invested the earthly tie with the sanctity of a diviner meaning. It opened its solemn Cathedrals, as sanctuaries for the sinner, — it opened a listening ear for the confessions of the penitent, and gave him pardon, — it gave in the Eucharist a present God as food for the soul, — it brought to the sick-bed a sacred comfort, touched the forehead of the dying with the sign of safety, — it laid the dead in a consecrated grave. Did youth grow sick of youthful folly, did the maiden long for more than a virgin sanctity, — it opened its Religious Houses, where in the calm pursuits of piety life might move upward as it moved onward, — upward toward an eternal joy. Thus beneficent and tender toward its children, the Church was awful in its rebuke of the tyrant and the oppressor. It planted its foot on the neck of the despot, and restrained him whom no other force could check. It collected libraries, and opened schools, and taught sciences to a barbarous people, and stood a beacon light of knowledge in a benighted age. Such was the aspect of the Christian Church in its second principal epoch." — pp. 9 - 11.

One would naturally think that a church of which all this is to be said might escape condemnation. "It met the new-born babe at its entrance into the world, washed from its brow the taint of hereditary evil, and placed those tender feet in the way of salvation." It, then, had all things necessary to salvation. What, then, did it lack ?

" For many centuries this great Organization was the efficient instrument of spreading Christian truth through the world. Never realizing its Idea, it often approached it; and its essential defects long lay concealed. But at last it appeared that the Catholic Church, in working out the formula, ' Many members, but one body,' had caused the unity of the body to oppress and destroy the individuality of the members. The Catholic Church in attaining union had lost freedom. And with the loss of individual freedom also went sincerity and depth of intellectual and moral life. Force and fraud usurped the office of reason. The teaching Church, instead of convincing men of the truth of its doctrines, cheated them into an outward conformity, or burnt them at the stake for a sincere utterance of their unbelief. Outward pomp and power took more and more the place of inward piety and love. All felt that something was wrong, — none knew how the wrong was to be righted. Then God sent the Reformation, as he sends a storm to purify a stagnant and corrupting atmosphere." — p. 11.

Did not the Church realize her ideal in her Saints ? If she did not realize it in all men, was it her fault, or the fault of those who refused to yield her obedience and to use the means she supplied ? But " the unity of the body oppressed and destroyed the individuality of the members." We would ask the proof of this assertion, but the founder of the Church of the Disciples is not much accustomed to deal in proofs, and he would most likely treat our demand with silent contempt. As some persons have asserted it, he of course must accept it, or there would be one view excluded by his church, which is bound to include all views. But is it not a little remarkable, that, if the Church was as good as he represents her, she should have behaved so improperly, and done such naughty things ? Only think of a church that meets the infant on his entrance into the world, cleanses him from hereditary guilt, and places him in the way of salvation, — a church " beneficent and tender towards its children," " awful in its rebuke of the tyrant and the oppressor," " planting its foot on the neck of the despot, and restraining him whom no other force could check," ''blessing the marriage vow, and investing the earthly tie with a diviner meaning," listening to "the confessions of the penitent, and giving him pardon," "giving in the Eucharist a present God as food for the soul," " bringing to the sick-bed a sacred comfort," " touching the forehead of the dying with the sign of safety," and opening Religious Houses where "life might move upward toward an eternal joy," — only think of such a church oppressing and destroying the individuality of its members, wanting sincerity and depth of intellectual and moral life, suffering " force and fraud to usurp the office of reason," cheating men into mere " outward conformity," and substituting " outward pomp and power " for " inward piety and love " ! Does a good tree bring forth corrupt fruit ? Or has the founder of the Church of the Disciples interpreted history as he does the Scriptures, — to suit the exigencies of his theory ?

" But at last it appeared that the Catholic Church, in working out the formula, ' Many members, but one body,' had caused the unity of the body to oppress and destroy the individuality of the members." Appeared. When? Where? To whom ? Appeared. But was it so in reality ? Appeared. Is it certain that it did so appear, and not rather that men have said it so appeared, because they wanted some pretext for their hostility to the Church, and could not devise a better ?

" The teaching Church, instead of convincing men of the truth of its doctrines, cheated them into an outward conformity, or burnt them at the stake for a sincere utterance of their unbelief." This, if asserted of Protestants, is true enough, —but if of the Catholic Church, it is false ; for she has never done any such thing. If she is the Church of God, as she must be, if what Mr. Clarke says in her favor be true, her teaching is the highest conceivable reason for believing, and if men are not convinced by the highest reason, the Supreme Reason itself, the fault is their own. Sincerity in unbelief, where the truth is taught, or the unbeliever has, if he chooses to use them, ample means of ascertaining it, is impossible, and the unbelief marks only a cracked head or a rotten heart. The Church, as Mr. Clarke concedes, believed and taught the truth, all the truth necessary to salvation. Which, then, was in the wrong, she in insisting on it, or the unbeliever in obstinately denying it, in reviling it, trampling it under his feet, and doing all in his power to establish the dominion of falsehood, and therefore of slavery and death ?

Mr. Clarke and his friends, aware of the absurdity of the old charges against the Church, dwell much on her unfavorable influence on individual freedom. But the Church, if what she professed to be, that is, the Church of God, taught and commanded by divine auihority, and therefore could not oppress or destroy any freedom, individual or social. Who dare accuse Almighty God of tyranny and oppression ? Her authority was legitimate, and obedience to legitimate authority is not incompatible with freedom, but, in fact, is its essential characteristic. The objection brought is, then, a mere begging of the question. You must dispossess the Church of her legitimacy, of her divine commission, and prove her to be but a human institution, like your own Church of the Disciples, before you can allege that her acts were tyrannical and oppressive.

But the fault of the Church, in the eyes of the founder of the Church of the Disciples, is, we presume, that she insists on consistency, and does not acknowledge the moral right of mortals to give the lie to their Creator, that she does not accept the logic which teaches that of contraries both may be true, and refuses to assert the right of her children to disobey her commands, to break away from her communion, and set up new churches according to their own fancies, to revile the Church of Christ, and found the Church of the Disciples. As a Catholic, Mr. Clarke could not have founded a church of his own, built on his own creed, speculations, wild fancies, or even deep convictions, but would have been bound to demean himself as an humble member of the Church founded by Almighty God on eternal and immutable truth. But not to have the liberty to found a church for one's self, to draw up its creed, and establish its liturgy, is to be deprived of individual freedom ; and as Catholicity undeniably does not allow this, it is undeniable that she oppresses and destroys individual freedom ! Here is her offence. But will the founder of the Church of the Disciples be so good as to inform us how and where he finds his right to found a church of his own, and call it Christian ? Will he show us where, in Revelation or in Reason, he finds his patent as a churchmonger ?

So much for the Church which was ; now for the Church that is, or Protestantism.

" In the Protestant Church the principle of individual conscience, personal freedom, and independent religious life again found its utterance. The idea of individual responsibility was revived, and with it came a new moral life, — pure and healthy as the breezes which sweep over the hills on an October morning. This idea was salt, to save the world from corruption. The Protestant Reformation was as necessary to renew the moral life of mankind, as Christianity was at first. Without Christianity, the world was going to ruin. Witho,ut the Reformation, the Church was going to ruin.

" I know the defects of Protestantism. They are apparent. In working out the formula, ' Many members, but one body,' Protestantism saves the variety of the members, but loses the unity of the body. In attaining Freedom, it loses Union. Hence narrowness, ultraism, bigotry, sectarianism. Hence weakness and inefficiency in every part, according to the law, that' if one member suffers, all suffer,' — if one member is isolated, and rejected from the communion of the rest, the life of all is weakened and impaired ; for each need all, and all need each.

" These evils are now seen and felt by all Protestants. All feel that our disunion will be sooner or later our destruction. Various remedies are proposed, most of them sufficiently superficial. The most common is the sectarian prescription, — 'Let all other sects join mine, — all other denominations be merged in mine.' This we need not dwell upon. It is not only impossible for all Protestant denominations to be merged in one, but if it could be, it would bring only a swifter destruction. If the whole body were the eye, where were the hearing ? Nor need we dwell on such shallow devices as the Evangelical Alliance. Two main tendencies have resulted from the divisions of Protestantism; one, a backward tendency toward Romanism, — the other, a forward tendency toward a yet greater Individualism." — pp. 11 - 13.

Protestantism " in attaining freedom loses union." Catholicity failed by excess of union, Protestantism by excess of liberty ; neither knew how to hit the exact medium, and to harmonize union with liberty, or liberty with union. This delicate point is left for the founder of the Church of the Disciples, who combines in himself all the science and wisdom of the Catholic and Protestant worlds, and more too. It is amusing to see a right-down hearty egotist, who does not hesitate to set himself up against the whole world, and to tell them that he knows more than they all put together. Indeed, such a man falls only " one step " short of the sublime.

That Protestantism loses union is no doubt true, but that it ever attains to freedom may be denied. Every man who has been a Protestant, and has had sense enough to understand his position, knows full well that Protestantism is subversive of all freedom, individual, social, religious, and moral. Nothing can be more galling than the slavery to which Protestantism everywhere subjects both the mind and the heart of its votaries. The day the Protestant becomes a Catholic is the day of his emancipation. It is then, and then only, that his fetters are knocked off, the collar removed from his neck, and he is permitted to feel himself a free man.    All this, no doubt, is unintelligible to our author; yet it is none the less true on that account. But Protestantism has failed ; its friends feel that their present position is untenable. What shall they do ? Some of them are for going back to Rome, others forward to greater Individualism. Of the tendency of the former the author says : —

" In individual instances, where our friends and acquaintances join the Romish Church, there may be reason either to be glad of it or to grieve. If they join the Church of Rome because they need its peculiar influence for their own good, if, never having found peace in Christ elsewhere, they do find it there, ought we not to rejoice in such a result ? Why should we doubt that some minds are better fitted to find a personal union with God by the methods of the Catholic Church than by any other? But there are other cases, for which we may well grieve, in which these methods are accepted as substitutes for an interior faith, and a partisan rancor and proselytizing zeal are the bitter evidences of their wilfulness. In such cases the proselyte is made tenfold more a child of hell than before. The sense of truth is blunted, the conscience is seared, and the inward eye closed against the sight of God and the Saviour." — p. 13.

The latter class described here, we presume, is intended to take in such converts as devote themselves in earnest to the propagation of Catholicity, and have no toleration for false and heretical systems of doctrine or belief. These must needs appear to the author to be animated by " a partisan rancor and proselytizing zeal" quite objectionable. But how can the Church, if obnoxious to the charges he brings against her, supply for any class of persons the most appropriate and successful methods of finding " personal union with God " ? Has not the author solemnly assured us that the Church " oppresses and destroys the individuality of her members," that she "loses freedom," that she wants "sincerity and depth of moral life," that in her " force and fraud usurp the office of reason," that she cheats men "into an outward conformity," and substitutes "outward pomp and power" for "inward piety and love" ? How, then, can he say, that some minds "need its peculiar influence for their own good," find in it a " peace in Christ" which they do not find elsewhere, and " are better fitted to find a personal union with God by [its] methods than by any other " ? If his charges are true, the Catholic Church is the church of the devil; and are we to hold that a portion of mankind need the church of the devil, " the synagogue of Satan," as the means of attaining to personal unio i with God ? It strikes us as nhsurd, after having brought such serious charges against the Church, to admit that she is or can be necessary or useful unto salvation for any body. To our old-fashioned way of reasoning, the admission surrenders the charges.
But "the main tendency toward Romanism [Catholicity] must be regarded as only an eddy in the stream of the Church's progress. Rome has tried its experiment — and failed." (p. 13.) The Protestant churches cannot go back to her. The tendency to greater Individualism is natural, has much to excuse it, but upon the whole is not to be encouraged. " The Churches have not been without their useful action." u The need of Church union, Church action, is rooted in man's nature." (p. 18.) What, then, shall our Protestants do ? They cannot go back ; they must not go forward ; and to stand still where they are is death.    What shall they do ?

" This brings us to the third and last division of our Discourse, which is Prospective. The Church as it is to be. What will be the elements of the Church of the Future?

" We have asserted that our Protestant Churches cannot go back to Romanism, nor forward into Individualism and No-Churchism. Nor can they remain where they are, in their present slate of division and opposition. Sooner or later they must come together. The Church of the Future must therefore be a comprehensive Church, taking into itself as independent but harmonizing elements all the tendencies which now appear embodied in separate sects. But they cannot unite on any narrow ground, nor upon any compromise or concession of their particular ideas. They must become large enough to admit, each its own limitations, each to confess its own narrowness, each to own a peculiar excellence in the others which may meet and supply its own deficiency. They must understand the deep meaning of the Apostolic Idea, — 'Many members, one body.' They must believe in Providence, and if a movement comes, bending the minds of men in one direction, as the ripe wheat bends before the breeze, they must accept in this movement a Providential meaning, instead of rejecting it as a new outbreak of heresy. They must be able to distinguish such a movement, coming spontaneously and universally, from the effects of human wilfulness, brought about by artificial combinations and manoeuvres." — pp. 19, 20.

This answer puzzles us. Protestants must, it seems, come together ; but in what direction are they to move in order to come together ?     They must not go backward or forward, for the one would bring them to Rome, and the other would carry them into greater Individualism, already too great. Shall they move sideways, to the right hand or to the left ? But what save a yawning gulf is on either side ? Nothing remains, but to sink lower or to rise higher. But surely they are low enough already, and it is difficult to imagine for them, at present, a tk lower deep." But if they are to rise higher, how are they to overcome the natural gravitation which keeps them on their present level, or must, if not overcome, however high they may spring up by a sudden jump, always bring them down to it ? It would gratify us much to be enlightened on these points.

Our readers must bear in mind, that the problem the author seeks to solve is not, as they might naturally suppose, the problem of salvation. When he tells us Rome has failed and Protestantism has also failed, he has no thought of telling us that either has proved insufficient as a means of eternal salvation. Any religion, or none, suffices for the world to come. The failure is solely in relation to this life, in reference to our proper social organization and comfortable subsistence here. The nineteenth century is too enlightened to entertain the old doctrines of judgment and hell, or to trouble itself with any apprehensions about the future. The atheist Shelley and the saintly Fenelon will as a matter of course fare alike. This century will never believe that God will reward the saint and damn the man of genius or talent, however the latter may abuse his gifts. The problem is simply, How to organize mankind so as to secure on the one hand unity, and on the other liberty, or, more practically, How to govern men without ever restraining them.

Catholicity, it is said, secured the unity, but lost the freedom ; Protestantism secures the liberty, but loses the unity. How to secure the one without losing the other is now the question, and a question which, it is assumed, has never yet been answered. The author of the Discourse, who appears to take it for granted that he contains in himself all the wisdom of Catholicity and Protestantism, besides a wisdom surpassing both, undertakes to answer this question, and answers it in what he calls The Church of the Future, that is, a church which is not yet, but is to be, and is to have a flexibility, a power of contraction and expansion, which will adapt it to all the future exigencies of the race. But what is to be the principle of this Church of the Future ? It is, as far as we can collect, that all errors ace to be tolerated for the sake of the truths they contain. The world has hitherto gone wrong, made a capital mistake ; it has not only sought truth, but it has been intolerant of error. It has supposed it desirable to have truth without mixture of falsehood, and has therefore sought to exclude error from its systems, which has necessarily led to the exclusion of those wedded to the error. Hence these were not left free to follow their own convictions. This capital mistake must be corrected. All systems, however erroneous, contain each an element of truth, and it is for the sake of that element that each is embraced and defended. The true way is to accept all systems, whether true or false, each with all its peculiarities, and it is only in this way that we can expect all men to come together ; for " they cannot unite on any narrow ground, nor upon any compromise or concession of their particular ideas." The sects " must become large enough to admit each its own limitations, each to confess its own narrowness, each to own a peculiar excellence in the others, which may meet and supply its own deficiency." It is clear from this that the Church of the Future is to accept and retain all systems, true or false, which mankind have adopted, and each with all its peculiarities.

But this is possible only on condition that the several systems or religions of mankind are only so many particulars under one and the same universal, and therefore, without giving up any thing essential to them, resolvable into a higher unity, as all men may be resolved into one man in humanity. But this is not the fact. These religions are mutually contradictory, and it is an essential property of each to exclude all but itself. The Protestant denies what the Catholic asserts ; the Unitarian asserts the contrary of what is asserted by the Trinitarian. Where is the general doctrine in which the views of both parties can be harmonized ? Every religious system is a general system, on the plane of the highest conceivable unity, and if it is not permitted to exist as a general system, it is not permitted to exist at all. How, then, can all exist together, each in its essential character, without excluding the others ?

The sect, it seems, is to recognize its own limitations, confess its own narrowness, and to become large enough to find an excellence in the others to supply its own deficiency. When this occurs, will it retain its peculiarities, its " particular ideas," its limitations, narrowness, and deficiency ? Of course not. Then it loses itself in the union of the whole, and you have union without variety, — the very objection you bring against Catholicity. Moreover, by what agency or process are your sects to become large enough to change their nature, and no longer exclude one another, but each embrace the others as its complement, and this, too, without any compromise or concession ? Even suppose the resolution of all into a higher unity to be conceivable in itself, how is it to be practically effected, with only what each now is and has ? Equals from equals, if we have not forgotten our arithmetic, give zero for remainder.

Let it be, again, that each sect has an element of truth, yet, inasmuch as it is a sect, it holds this element in a false light, in false relations, and therefore combined with falsehood. Truth combined with falsehood is truth corrupted, that is, error. The characteristic of each sect is, therefore, its peculiar error. To gather all, with their distinctive characters, with their peculiar or particular ideas, into the Church of the Future, is not to found that church on universal truth, but on the agglomerated errors of all the world. It would then be founded, not on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but on error, all error, and nothing but error. Was it the fault of the Church " as it was " that it professed to build on truth, — pure, unmixed, universal truth? — and is it the merit of the Church " as it ought to be " that it is to build avowedly on error ?
But enough. Nobody disputes that mankind never embrace systems which are purely and absolutely false, or that every system, however erroneous it may be, contains or turns on some element of truth, which the true Church must acknowledge and integrate in her teaching. That Protestantism, for instance, is an attempt to realize a truth, a great truth, if you will, nobody is silly enough to deny ; but it does not follow from this that Protestantism has a truth that Catholicity has not. Protestantism may attempt to realize a truth already realized in the Church, and the reason why it attempts to realize it out of the Church may be that it has corrupted it, and turned it, by the false relations in which it holds it, into an error. Strip the doctrine of its false clothing, it may be true, and in the only relations in which it can be true, it may be held by the Church. We know, you assume that the Reformers broke away from the Church because they had attained to a truth which she would not suffer them to maintain in her communion ; but it may be that what they called a truth was a truth corrupted, and that she forbade them to maintain it in her communion, not because she rejected the truth, but because she could not tolerate, the corruption. If so, Protestantism, instead of proving the defects of Catholicity, proves only the ignorance, the error, or the malice of Protestants. The Church, notwithstanding the element you find in Protestantism, may still have all truth, in its unity and integrity.

Mr. Clarke assumes that each sect has a special element of truth, which it is its mission to realize, and concludes, therefore, that all sects are necessary for the realization of the whole truth. Would it not be more correct to say that each sect has a special element of truth, which it is its mission to corrupt ? Every sect holds what truth it has out of its unity and integrity, otherwise it would not be a sect; but truth so held is error, truth corrupted. All the sects, then, are necessary, not to realize the whole truth, but to corrupt it, and the history of the several Christian sects, from the early Ebionites and Gnostics down to those of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Parker, shows that they have successively attacked and corrupted every article in the Symbol from the In Patrem Omnipotentem to the Vitam ccter-nam, and developed every possible form of error.

Taking his view of the mission of the sects, Mr. Clarke supposes, that, in order to get the whole truth, it is necessary to collect from each its special element of truth ; for he denies the existence of any church which embraces the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But the idea of making up the true religion from the aggregate of false or erroneous religions strikes us as worthy only of the enlightened men and women of the nineteenth century. The true religion must have existed in its unity and integrity before it could have existed in a divided state ; for truth is older than error, unless the universe originated in falsehood. But supposing it were true that it exists now only in fragments, scattered hither and thither through all the various sects and parlies which divide mankind, where is the diligent Isis to go forth on her painful search, to collect these disjected members of the torn body of Osiris, and to mould them anew into a complete, harmonious, living, and prolific whole ? What mortal man who has not already the whole truth is able to do it ? And who, if he could succeed in collecting all the fragments, has the plastic power to reunite them, and endow the restored body with life and fecundity ?
The error is not in supposing that the various sects revolve each around a special view of truth, but in supposing that truth is divided out among them, and that it nowhere exists in its unity and integrity, as a living whole. The search, if necessary, would be unsuccessful, — for poor Isis did not succeed, and the moral of the fable should not be unheeded. Truth, once torn and dissevered, can never be recovered or restored, save by ihe God of truth himself. But the truth has never been so torn and dispersed. We challenge Mr. Clarke or any one else to mime, himself being judge, a single truth or excellence in a sect, which we cannot show him integrated in the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church, and harmonized with all else that he will concede to be true or excellent. The problem which tortures him, and which no man, nor all men together, can solve, namely, How to reconcile association with individuality, the unity of the body with the freedom of the members, faith with reason, authority with freedom, is solved in our Church, as is proved by the learned and philosophical Father Taparelli, in the article which immediately succeeds this in the present number of our Review, and is no problem for us. If we, as Catholics, do not trouble our heads with such problems, if we do not appear to set any very high value on the truth or excellence supposed to be possessed by the world without, it is not because we are so stupid as not to be aware of them, nor because we are too narrow-minded and bigoted to acknowledge truth and excellence, wherever we find them ; but because Almighty God has himself solved the problems for us, and because we know that whatever truth or excellence there may be without, it can be at best but a pale reflection of that within, — a feeble copy of the rich and glowing originals in our possession. These poor Protestants, who think themselves so mighty wise, these founders of new churches, who fancy that they have surpassed in knowledge all the world, because they have learned a few things they did not know in their own infancy, would find, if they were able to understand, that we commence, in the Catechism, the instruction of our children at a point far in advance of the most advanced post they, with all their progress, have yet attained to. Our very children would compassionate their ignorance, could they but comprehend it. Even the old pagan philosophers would look down upon them with pity or contempt. Poor men ! they have fallen so far below the ordinary Christian understanding, that they cannot comprehend the simplest Christian instructions ; and are raving, and tearing, and foaming, and sweating, and exhausting themselves in vain to find out what they may read in the first two questions and answers in the child's Catechism, and to found what God himself founded ages ago, which still exists, a,nd will exist till time is no more.    Simple souls ! do they suppose we are such fools as not to know all they tell us, — that we need to be taught what lies on the mere surface of things ? Ah ! if they could but for one moment conceive how ridiculous they appear in their pretensions, to men who have been taught by a MASTER, they would not know where to hide themselves.