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Catholicity and Political Liberty

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1848
Art. II. - The Influence of Catholicity on Political Liberty.

It is not the province of religion to exert any immediate influence on political institutions. Its object is not to prepare man for this world, but for the world to come ; to free him, not from temporal bondage, but from the servitude of sin.    It addresses itself immediately to the mind and heart of men, striving to enlighten and to purify them, and, by making the individual himself good, to make him, at the same time, a good son, a good father, a good citizen, or a good king. Without, therefore, acting directly on any institution, civil or social, or any state of life, it is evident that religion must act indirectly on them all ; for the stamp which it impresses on a man will accompany him everywhere, and will be seen more or less in every thing he undertakes. Now it is said, that this general influence of Catholicity has been to favor despotism ; nay, more, that the Catholic Church has directly, both by its prin­ciples and its institutions, exerted a disastrous influence on civil liberty.

This charge is a very grave one ; for it is. evident that the religion of Christ can never be opposed to true liberty. Either, therefore, this accusation is false, or Catholicity is not the re­ligion of Christ. We, who are Catholics, know that it, is false ; we know that Christ founded the Catholic Church, and that no other body has a just title to this glorious origin. We know, therefore, even without reading a word of history, that the Catholic Church, as such, never favored tyranny, and that if any of those belonging to her have in the lapse of ages done so, it was not in accordance with, but in direct opposition to, her teachings. Nevertheless, this faith, though abundantly sufficient for ourselves, will not suffice for those who are out of the Church ; and who, however inexcusable their igno­rance, really are ignorant that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ. To remove their objections, therefore, as well as for the instruction and consolation of the faithful, we shall, with the help of God, undertake to refute this charge, and to show that the Catholic Church, in addition to her reg­ular and direct object of inculcating and promoting religion, has constantly, by the principles she has taught, and by her own institutions, exerted a most powerful influence in favor of civil liberty.

I. We begin by examining the Catholic principles with re­gard to Civil Governments.

The first charge made against the Church is, that she teaches the divine right of government. This charge is most true ; and the doctrine of divine right is founded immediately on the Holy Scripture. For St. Paul writes, - " Let every soul be subject to the higher powers ; for there is no power except from God, and those which are are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisted] power resisteth the ordination of
God. And they that resist acquire for themselves damnation.

 Therefore of necessity be ye subject, not only on ac­count of wrath, but also for conscience' sake."*(footnote: * Horn. xiii. 1 -5.)  And sim­ilar passages occur frequently in Scripture. It is evident, therefore, that governments are, in some sense or other, of divine right, and that we are by the same right bound to obey them. " The powers which are arc ordained of God, and he that resisteth them resisteth the ordination of God."

But how do Catholic theologians understand this doctrine of divine right ? Does it mean that God has established any par­ticular form of government, - monarchy, for example, - and has made that authoritative on all men ? or that he has establish­ed a particular family on the throne, and given it a special and inalienable right to rule mankind ? God forbid ! for this would indeed favor tyranny. Catholic theologians understand no such thing, but merely that government in general, some gov­ernment or other, is necessary by the ordination of God for the preservation and well-being of society, and therefore that we are by the same authority bound to obey it. But in order that our readers may understand clearly what we mean, we will give them a condensed view of the doctrine, as St. Thomas of Aquin (footnoteDo Rcgirn. Prin. 1. 1, c. 1, and Sum. 2, 2, Q. 104, aa. 1, 2, 6.) : and Cardinal Bellarmin (footnote:  De Laicis, 1. 3, c. 6.) explain it.

The very nature of man, says St.- Thomas, evidently re­quires that he should live in the society of others, because neither his physical wants can be supplied, nor his moral and intellectual faculties developed, except in society. But it is evident that if every one in society were to act solely for his own interests, without regard to the rights and interests of his neighbour, the continual conflicts and shocks of individual in­terests would soon dissolve society altogether. The social body, therefore, requires organization as much as the physical body ; as well might you expect to keep up a healthy circula­tion in the veins of the human body, if the central impulse of the heart were wanting, as to expect health and unity in the social body in all its complicated civil and political relations, without a strong central head to direct it, and a strong arm to uphold it. In other words, society cannot exist without order, - order without justice, -justice without law, - nor law without some  one to make, expound  and enforce it ;  that is, without government. The very nature of man, therefore, which makes society necessary for him, makes government necessary for society ; and as it is God who created this ne­cessity, it is evident that to him government must be referred, and that its rights and the obligations of society toward it are according to the ordination of God.

Such is the Catholic doctrine as to the origin of civil gov­ernment, so simple, so clear, that to state it is to prove it. Our limits will not allow us to enlarge upon it, and to show how it alone of all the theories proposed can satisfactorily account, not only for the origin of government, but for some of the rights which government is universally acknowledged to possess, and which could not have been transmitted by indi­viduals, because individuals never possessed them. But we will simply remark that it can never be distorted to favor tyranny ; - 1. Because it does not make the rights of government an especial and extraordinary grant, distinct from creation, but merely something immediately resulting from the nature of man. 2. Because it establishes no particular form of govern­ment, but relates only to a governing power in general. And lastly, because while it makes it obligatory on the conscience of the people to obey all just commands, it makes it equally obligatory on the conscience of the rulers to command justly. It does not favor any particular form of government, nor the government itself more than the people, but it settles the rights both of the government and of the people on a solid basis. The government is amenable to God for its enactments ; and the people are amenable to God for their obedience.

But, it may be asked, if this doctrine relates only to gov­ernment in general, how does any particular government re­ceive its powers ? Does it receive them directly from God, or mediately, through the people ? The Catholic faith does not enter into particular questions of this nature, but contents itself with establishing the general principle. There is, there­fore, no dogma of faith on this point; nevertheless, theologians have written much about it. We will give the opinion of Cardinal Bellarmine,*(footnote:  * De Laicis, 1. 3, c. 6.) not only because of his personal authori­ty, but because the other authors we have consulted on the subject generally agree with him.

After establishing from reason and Scripture the doctrine we have already explained, that the governing power of society is from God, he goes on to say, that, nevertheless, as prior to positive law, there is no reason why this power should exist in one man more than in another;  it is  evident that the power of government does not rest primarily, by nature and the gift of God,  in any  particular individual  or individuals, but in the whole body of society at large, which, constituting a moral whole, a moral body, has the right of governing itself; because government is necessary to its preservation.    Prima­rily, therefore, and immediately, the right of government rests in the whole community.    But, by the same law of nature by which it is necessary that society be actually governed, it is necessary that society should transfer this power to some indi­vidual or individuals, because the exercise of it, which is abso­lutely necessary, is impossible to the community at large.    If, then, society transfer this power to a single man, the govern­ment is a monarchy ; if to a few nobles, an aristocracy ; if to delegates from all classes, a democracy.    So that particular governments are of divine right only through the intermediate tacit or express consent of the community ; immediately they are only of human law.    That is to say, the form of govern­ment in any country depends on the particular constitution of that country, and not on the immediate ordination of God ; all that is of immediate divine ordination is the duty of the government to legislate  for the  welfare  of society, and the duty of the people to obey the laws.

Certainly, nothing can be more just and excellent than this theory ; nothing farther removed from favoring tyranny, or from granting to any man or any hereditary line of men a nat­ural superiority or right to command their brethren. This theory is not only defended by Cardinal Bellarmin, but by Suarez, Concina, Billuart, Busembaum, Liguori, and others. It has never been impugned by the Church, and Bellarmin, not only an Italian cardinal, but a most strenuous defender of the Papal rights, residing and writing in Rome itself, is not to be suspected of publishing or holding any thing not perfectly con­formable to the Catholic doctrine.

Nevertheless, he was most fiercely attacked on account of this very theory, - and by whom, think you ? Why, by no less a personage than .lames I., the Protestant king of England. This Protestant king maintained, as Hobbes, another English Protestant, maintained, that the power of individual kings is immediately and directly from God, and most absolute and unlimited.    And James, not content with theorizing on the subject, dared even declare to his English Parliament, that God had made him absolute master, and that all their priv­ileges and pretended rights were only gracious concessions of the royal will. And this he did without opposition, whether from the lay lords of Parliament, or from the Anglican bishops who sat with them. How different from the conduct of those noble Catholic bishops who in former days had stood so firmly against the usurpations of the English monarchs !

But, though this despotic assertion of the English king, to whom his courtiers with vile adulation gave the title of the modem Solomon, met no rebuke in Protestant England, it was not left without a stern rebuke in Catholic Spain. For the Spanish Jesuit, Suarez, in his masterly work, called a " Defence of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith against the Errors of the Anglican Sect," *(footnote:  * Be Prim. Summi Pont. ]. 3, p,. 2.) expressly refutes this opinion of King James, and proves it to be "new and singular" ; while that of Bellarmin is " ancient, received, true, and neces­sary." So that it was left to a Spanish Jesuit and an Ital­ian cardinal to rebuke the despotic arrogance of an English king !

But it may be thought, that, though the Catholic doctrine is just and beautiful with regard to the origin of government, it may, nevertheless, favor tyranny, by granting to governments unlimited attributes, an arbitrary extent of authority. Let us, then, examine the doctrine of St. Thomas on this point, and see whether it favors oppression and injustice.

We select St. Thomas, not only because his works for the last six centuries have had such authority in all theological questions, that to quote him alone is to quote a host, but be­cause we wish to show how clear and just were the notions of those scholastic works of the Middle Ages, long before the boasted light of modem times appeared, on the great questions which most deeply affect the welfare of humanity.
Let us, then, examine what he holds with regard to law, for it is by law that government acts upon the people.

" Law," says St. Thomas, in his Summa Theological "is a regulation founded on reason, directed to the common good, and promulgated by him who has the care of the community." Scarcely a dozen words, yet embracing all that can be said on the subject. " A regulation founded on reason" (footnote: Summa, 1. 2, Q. 90, a. 4.)  ; why, this at the very outset destroys the idea of any thing arbitrary, of any thing despotic, and founded on the mere will of princes ; for tyranny consists in the domination of the will, to the exclu­sion of reason. Nor did St. Thomas use this expression by chance; for he goes on to say that it is evident that the will of a ruler must also intervene in a law, because otherwise it would be a mere act of the intellect, not a command ; but it is its foundation in reason which makes it obligatory, for, with­out such foundation, the will of a ruler would " be rather an iniquity than a law." *(footnote: * Summa, 1, 3, Q. 90, a. 1, ad 3.)

But it is not enough that a regulation be founded in reason in order to have the character of law ; for many things may be in themselves conformable to reason, which nevertheless are not useful to the community. A law, therefore, says St. Thomas, must not only be reasonable, but it must be expressly " directed to the common good." This is the object of law, the public good. Does this savor of arbitrariness ? Does this favor tyranny ? Can any thing be devised more entirely op­posed to tyranny and injustice ?

And, finally, it must be promulgated " by him who hath the care of the community." Can any thing be more admirable than this ? He does not say, by the emperor, by the king, by the senate, by the president; he does not prejudge or predetermine any particular form of government, but, admit­ting all, he calls the head of the government " him who hath the care of the community.'* (footnote: * Dc Iiegim. Prin. 1. 3, c. It.) Showing, on the one hand, that, what­ever the form of government, its object is always the same, namely, to take charge of the interests of the community, and not of itself ; and on the other hand, that, whatever the form of government, law is the same, namely, to be regulated by reason, and to be directed to the public good.

Here you have in a nutshell, as it were, the nature of law, the object of governments, their rights, and their limits. The public good is their object, to legislate for this their right, reason and justice their limit.

Now this was the Catholic doctrine in the Middle Ages, and by them taken from the Fathers of the Church who preceded them. It has been the Catholic doctrine ever since ; and not without the deepest influence on the progress of society. It was the doctrine taught in the great Catholic Universities at Paris, Oxford, Bologna, Rome ; it was thrilled by confessors into the ears of their royal penitents ; it was sought to be carried out in practice on every occasion; and was by the Church
carried out in all her own institutions. " The kingdom," says
St. Thomas in another place,*(footnote: D. Antonio Perez, Relaciones)  "is not for the king, but the
king for the kingdom ; the end of governments is that they
may preserve every one in his rights ; and if they do other­
wise, turning things to their private advantage, they are not
kings, but tyrants." In a similar spirit the Spanish Counsellor
of the Crown, Saavedra, says, in his Idea of a Christian
Prince: - "It is the centre of justice whence is drawn the
circumference of the crown, and the crown would not be
necessary if we could live without justice, and jus­
tice failing, the order of the republic fails, and the office of
king ceases."

But the most remarkable instance of the correctness of principles in Catholic countries, and of the determination not to see these principles violated, is found in an act of the Spanish Inquisition, during the reign of Philip II. A cer­tain preacher, wishing to ingratiate himself with the king, de­clared, in a discourse delivered in the royal presence, that "sovereigns have absolute power over the person as well as property of their subjects." A declaration not very dissimilar from that which we have seen the English King James make to his Parliament. But mark the difference, - the Protestant Parliament listened in silence, if not with applause ; the Cath-> olic people denounced the man to the Inquisition. And the Inquisition, after due investigation as to what the man had really said, declared his assertion contrary to sound doctrine, and not only imposed a salutary penance on him, but obliged him to make a public recantation in the same pulpit, and to declare that " kings have over their subjects no authority but what has been granted them by divine and human law, they have none which proceeds from their free and absolute will." f Such was the justness and liberty of speech and theory in Catholic Spain and Italy, where the people were solidly relig­ious and government was profoundly respected.

But, it may be said, these principles are indeed most excel­lent, and governments undoubtedly ought to rule according to truth and justice ; but suppose they do not; suppose they abuse their powers, as they so frequently have abused them ; what then is to be done ?    Must we obey every command, whether just or not ? Must we sit with folded hands, and tell them they ought to have done better ? The answer is ready ; for the theologians of whom we speak were not men to forget or to shrink from any part of a question, however delicate. "Laws," says St. Thomas,*(footnote: * Summa, 1, 2, Q. 96, a. 4 & Id. art. ad 3.)  "maybe unjust in two ways, - by opposing the divine good, or by opposing human good. When they oppose the divine good, that is, command any thing bad in itself, they must not be obeyed on any consider­ation whatsoever. Human good they may oppose in three ways : either by being contrary to the true end of a law, which is the common good ; or by their form, as when bur­dens are imposed unequally ; or from their author, as when he makes a law beyond the power committed to him. And such laws as these are rather violences than laws ; for, as St. Augustine says, ' that does not appear to be a law which is not just.' Therefore such laws do not oblige in conscience, and no man is bound to obey them, if he can resist them with­out giving scandal or causing greater injury ; for to avoid this a man should forego even his own rights, in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel." (footnote: Consult also Ib. 2, 2, Q. 104, a. 0, ad 3.) This is the constant doctrine of St. Thomas, - a law not for the common good, not equally distributed, not made by a legitimate legislator, has no force to bind a man, and he may resist it lawfully, because it is not in accordance with the eternal law of God, which alone can induce an obligation on the human conscience. Nevertheless, if resistance would cause scandal, or would produce greater evil than complying with the law, it will be necessary to obey, not because of the law itself, which has no force at all, but because of Christian charity, which forbids us to press our own rights to the injury of our neighbour.

But there is a wide difference between refusing to obey a law and resisting its execution by force of arms ; and as nothing is said here as to the kind of resistance which may be made, the question may still arise, whether Catholic principles will under any circumstances allow that a nation may be ab­solved from its allegiance, so as to make war upon the tyrant. We answer, that undoubtedly there are circumstances under which Catholic principles allow this ; and we found this answer, not only on the reason of the thing, and on the arguments of St. Thomas, Suarez, and Bellarmin, as above cited,*(footnote:  * St. Thos. Summa, 2, 2, Q. 42, a. 2, ad 3, and De Regim. Prin. 1. 1, c. C & 10 ; Suarez, D. 13, Sect. 3; Bellarm. De Rom. Cont. 1. 5, c. 7.) but on the practice of the Holy See itself, which in the " Ages of Faith," when all Christendom acknowledged the Pope as the divinely constituted umpire between monarchs and people, never hesitat­ed, when appealed to by an outraged nation, to declare them, if due cause were shown, absolved from their allegiance to the tyrant. Nevertheless, it is certain that such a claim should be the very last resort, that the tyranny must be really exces­sive, that every peaceful mode of representation, entreaty, prayer, should have been made in vain, and that there should be a reasonable hope of success in establishing a legitimate and just government; for otherwise to rise in arms would be but a senseless vengeance, which is never lawful. And it is more in conformity with the spirit of Christ to suffer oppres­sion, as long as oppression, morally speaking, can be endured, than to resist it. And a nation thoroughly impressed with the Christian spirit will find it easy to suffer, as the early Chris­tians suffered under the persecutions of the Roman emperors. Read the lives, or rather the deaths, of the martyrs. There was no cringing, no fear ; but a courage above human courage, a courage altogether supernatural, which struck wonder and terror into the hearts of their persecutors, and made thousands acknowledge the hand of the Almighty. So that Tertullian could gloriously say, in the second century : - "We have strength enough to fight, but we have learned of Christ to suffer all things. For what war were we not ready, even with unequal forces, - we who are led to slaughter so willingly, - were it not that we have learned from Him that it is better to be slain than to slay ? " And such has ever been the sentiment of Catholic nations ; penetrated by Christian faith, by Christian hope, and Christian charity, they have firmly believed those words of Christ, that "blessed are they who suffer persecu­tion for conscience' sake," as every man does who for the love of Christ suffers any persecution whatsoever ; they have hoped with a constant hope to inherit the kingdom of heaven prom­ised to such ; and they have loved their neighbour too well to bring destruction on him in vindicating themselves from op­pression. If, then, you see anywhere a Catholic people suf­fering patiently when they have power sufficient to throw off the yoke, consider that it is not from apathy, not from fear ; but it is because the words of Christ have sunk deep into their hearts, and they have a hope in store laid up for them, which makes temporal sufferings seem light in the balance. Wonder not, on the other hand, when you see a nation without faith uneasy under the slightest shadow of oppression ; for this tem­poral welfare is all that has charms for them ; it is all that they believe in ; all that they love ; all, alas ! that they may hope for. But the Catholic has a higher good, a good to which all else is trifling ; he knows that " what is light and momentary of this present tribulation worketh in us above measure in sublimity an eternal weight of glory."

We have now explained the Catholic doctrine with regard to civil governments, - their origin, their object, their rights, their limits, and the means of redress against them. Nothing could be more perfect and complete ; nothing is forgotten, no interest unattended to, no right unfulfilled. It is truly Catho­lic. Order is assured on the one hand, and on the other liberty. The rights of government are protected ; so are the rights of the people ; and above all, the rights of God, the Author and Ruler of both.

Protestant theologians and philosophers have in vain at­tempted to improve upon, this theory ; they have departed from it only to wander from the truth, to the right hand or to the left, - by excess or by defect. When they have sought to establish order, they have done it at the expense of liber­ty, as in the theory of Hobbes, the Antinomians, James I. When they have sought to defend liberty, they have done it at the expense of order, as in the " Social Contract " of Rousseau, which makes the obligation of law depend on the general will; as though the will, whether of one man or of many, could ever found a legitimate obligation, or be any thing else as such but the grossest tyranny, unworthy the char­acter of a rational being. Nor are even they exact, who place the obligation of law on the general reason of the com­munity ; for even human reason as such gives no authority ; it may counsel, advise, enlighten, it can never command. This it has only in so far as it is in conformity with the eternal law of God, and because it is the application of this, by one having authority, to the particular case. Without this, you can found no obligation on the conscience, no right to command, no duty to obey. But not only hpve the Protestant systems invariably favored one party at the expense of the other, - government at the expense of the people, or the people at the expense of government, - but they have generally left the most important party out of the question altogether. They have formed their theories as though God had no share in them ; they have excluded the Creator from the noblest of his works.

Such being the Catholic teaching with regard to civil gov­ernments, it is evident, that, if in the course of ages we see individuals departing from it and favoring tyranny, this is not from the influence of the Catholic Church, but in direct oppo­sition to it, directly in spite of it, and therefore, of course, cannot be laid to its charge. The first part of the accusation, therefore, is refuted. The doctrines of Catholicity are not favorable to despotism, but are directly opposed to it.

II. Let us come, then, to the second part of the charge, and examine whether the action of the Catholic Church has been in accordance with its principles, whether the institutions of the Church have been conducive to political liberty.

It will not be necessary to enter into any historical detail of what the Church accomplished during the fifteen hundred years of Christianity which preceded the introduction of Protestant­ism ; for that has often been done in works accessible to most of our readers. It will be sufficient to recall to their minds a few leading points. When St. Peter established his see in Rome, the whole, so-called, civilized world was subject to the Roman empire,-a tyranny reigned in Rome horrible as that of the Oriental despots, and the whole world was sunk in idolatry, cruelty, lust, and rapine. It was in this world that the Church began her work, and by the lives and teachings of her saints, the writings of her sages, the blood of her martyrs, - constant, steady, unwearied, age after age, - she stemmed the torrent of vice, refuted the pagan philosophies, overthrew the idols of the nations, and won the Roman empire to Chris­tianity. Scarcely was her triumph complete in this great em­pire, when the barbarian nations, like mighty waves of a North­ern sea, rolled down over the sunny fields of the South, sweeping all before them, destroying every green thing, and threatening, not only to efface every vestige of Roman civili­zation and art, but to overwhelm the Church itself in the wide­spread ruin. But the billows of that spring-tide of barbarism dashed in vain against the Rock of Peter; in vain the whirl­winds and tempests of battle whistled and roared around it, for the Wise Builder himself had founded it, and the gates of hell could not prevail against it.
Here was a new world for the Church to subdue. Wild and lawless, heathen and heretic united, the barbarians covered the face of Europe, - a motley and chaotic assemblage of tribes, languages, customs, and governments. But the Church began her work again, and dauntless missionaries went forth on every side, till Goth and Visigoth, Saxon and Hun and Vandal, before whose fierce valor the mailed legions of the empire had quailed, yielded to the peaceful teaching of those men of God, and bowed their necks to the sweet yoke of Christ. And thus the Church went on, diffusing the light of civilization and Christianity, till, long before the approach of Protestantism, paganism, barbarism, and heresy had alike dis­appeared ; all Europe was civilized ; all civilization was Chris­tian ; and all Christians were Catholic.

This glorious change the Church had effected chiefly by her religious teaching ; but in addition to this, she had directly operated on the social and political amelioration of Europe by the celibacy of the clergy, and by the temporal power of the Popes.

1. What was the effect of this celibacy ? The distinguished Protestant statesman and philosopher, M. Guizot, with pro-founder thought and more candor than has usually character­ized Protestant authors in speaking of Catholic institutions, declares, in his General History of the Civilization of Eu­rope (lect. 5), that it was their celibacy alone which prevented the clergy from forming a caste like those in India. Had the clergy been married, it would have been, he says, morally impossible for the Church dignities not to have become hered­itary, like the rank of the feudal lords. For the clergy would naturally have allied themselves by intermarriage and common interests with the feudal nobility, and would have united with them in retaining in their own hands all the intelligence of the age, all the wealth and power of the nations ; while the lower classes would have been irretrievably sunk in ignorance, pov­erty, and servitude, like the wretched lower castes of India. " This would have been," he says, " the inevitable conse­quence of the marriage of the clergy ; whereas the effect of the celibacy was, that, while all else around her fell under the regime of privilege and birth, the Church alone maintained the principle of equality, and admitted all men, without regard to their origin, to all her charges and all her dignities." This avowal is alike creditable to M. Guizot, and conclusive as to the influence of this institution on civil liberty.    For not only did the example of the Church, in this matter, have a vast influence in bringing temporal governments to acknowl­edge the general rights of mankind, - but, as a matter of fact, the Church by this institution not only threw open to the poorer classes all the means of education, all the treasures of learning, all the dignities and wealth which she herself pos­sessed, but, moreover, through the immense temporal power which the clergy then enjoyed, opened to them at the same time all the highest offices of the state. So that it was the glory of the Catholic priesthood in those barbarous ages, when the rights of mankind were in vain pleaded for, to accomplish, by severe institutions against themselves, that which even in modern times has been obtained only by revolution and blood­shed. Yes, even as the modern deliberative assemblies of State are but the faintest shadow of those great Catholic Councils in which the collective wisdom of nations was called to regulate harmoniously the affairs, not of a single country, but of all Christendom, so the eligibility of every man to the highest office in the republic, which this nation of ours boasts as its greatest glory, wrenched, as it was, from England only by eight years of war, is but the faintest shadow of what has for eighteen centuries been the ordinary course of events in the Church of God. For, long before modern political insti­tutions were thought of, the Church had practised them for centuries in her own bosom, and presents us the living model of every social improvement which has been made. And if we consider that the priesthood, by renouncing marriage, not only renounced the strongest of natural affections, the love of domestic happiness and comfort, but also that ambition which they might have gratified so fully by founding illustrious lines and dynasties ; if we consider how far those men must have stood above the common views of the age, who, while they possessed wealth and power greater even than those of the feudal nobility, nevertheless hesitated not to assume into their glorious company, and tnake partakers of all their dignities, the wretched slaves and serfs, who in the eyes of others were little better than brutes ; if5 finally, we consider that this was not a step forced upon them, as every such participation of the people in temporal governments has been forced upon those governments, but that the Church herself, in the plenitude of her power and influence, maintained this institution, guided only by the spirit of Christian love and self-sacrifice, and that age after age she has, for eighteen centuries, unwaveringly preserved it; - if we seriously and honestly reflect on these facts, in connection with the motives which usually govern men's actions, we cannot fail to recognize in this institution the inspiration and support of Almighty God, and, recognizing his presence, we cannot fail to acknowledge that the Catho­lic Church is that Church of which the inspired Apostle writes to the Ephesiaus (v. 25-27), that "Christ loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life ; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Nor would the occasional misconduct of individuals be a stumbling-block ; for while, on the one hand, the upholding of the Church by God still leaves every individual master of his own actions and personally accountable for them, it is certain, on the other hand, that the dereliction of individuals has never been so general as to impede the regular onward progress of the Church, or prevent her from accomplishing the glorious ends for which she was constituted. No, the tree which Christ planted has never failed ; a twig may have withered and dropped off here and there, but the glorious old trunk has never shown sign of decay, but continues ever putting forth new flowers and new fruit, in one ceaseless spring-time of blossom, and one ceaseless summer of maturity.

2. The second engine of political liberty was the temporal power of the Popes ; for at a time when the people were too weak to protect themselves, the Church stretched out her hand to them, and preserved them from the encroachments of the civil authority. The greatest errors are prevalent among Protestants as to the origin, nature, and exercise of this power. It must be remembered, that it did not consist in extent of terri­tory, for the Popes never added an acre to their own domin­ions, however easily they might have done so. Nor did it consist in armies and fleets, for the Popes' soldiers were never very formidable. It consisted simply in influence in political transactions, - an influence which, looking at it in a merely human point of view, was not at all usurped, but the voluntary and natural offering of all Catholic nations. When the Church civilized the barbarians, in whose hands were the intelligence, ability, and integrity of the age ? - in the hands of the barbarians, or of the Church who civilized them ? Was it not natural, then, that, not only reverencing the sacred character of the Church, but acknowledging her superior human intelligence also, they should have put themselves entirely un­der her tutelage, and desired her advice on all matters, as well temporal as spiritual ? Looking at it, therefore, we say, in a merely human light, it was but the homage justly due to supe­rior virtue and ability.

And the Church used this power for the common good ; - she interfered with the natural growth of no country what­soever ; the various forms of government grew up, under her fostering care, according to circumstances and the character of the people ; here monarchy, there feudalism, and in Italy alone, where the influence of the Popes was most immediate and powerful, republicanism. The Church stood by, the natural ally of all, the enemy of none ; the. natural mediator between kings and their subjects, the living expression of the Almighty will, the living expounder and enforcer of his laws, - to bid monarchs stop, when ambition led them to oppress ; to bid nations stop, when they mistook license for liberty. She stood the mediator between all, herself formed of every class, possessing the confidence of all, admirably adapted to aid every class in what was just, and to prevent the unjust preponderance of any.

Hence we find that two opposite charges are made against the Church by her enemies ; - the one, that she has leagued with kings to oppress the people ; the other, that she has leagued with the people to overthrow the royal authority. The fact is, that she has leaned neither to one side nor to the other, but, when either has transgressed, she has thrown her in­fluence into the other scale, till the balance was restored.

Nevertheless, in history we find her more frequently siding with the people against the king than with the king against the people ; because the kings more frequently sought to tyran­nize. And this is why many of the kings made such violent efforts to weaken her influence in their states, - for they felt, that, so long as she had a strong fooling, their power was essen­tially limited ; whereas, if she were once removed, they could easily overpower the nobilijy, their only important check, and trample at will on the people, who had no bond of union in themselves, no power, wealth, or intelligence of their own to cope with them, though they found a rich store of all in the Church, their mother, who never turned a deaf ear to the en­treaties of her children. So far, then, was the temporal influ­ence of the Church from being a source of tyranny, that it constituted the only solid check on the arbitrary will of the mon-archs, and prevented their power from becoming absolute and all-absorbing. Nobly, therefore, did the Popes merit the tide which the Protestant historian Voigt gives them of " Tutors of the European nations in the ways of civilization."

It was under ihe combined influence of the spiritual teach­ing of the Church, and the actual operation of these institu­tions, that Europe rose from the abyss of idolatry, tyranny, debauchery, and degradation in which she appears when the Church was founded, to the state of glorious progress in which we see her at the commencement of the sixteenth century. The foul slavery of Rome had long given place to the milder form of serfdom, and serfdom was now fast yielding to freedom, and the people were forming a strong part of society, as the feudal system gave way to a more enlarged and perfect social organization. The barbarian tribes had coalesced into power­ful nations,-Germany, France, Spain, Italy. Government had assumed a definite shape ; parliaments, diets, states general, cortes, everywhere existed as checks on the royal power ; large and powerful cities had grown up, vast universities been established ; the great republics of Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Venice, in Italy, and the Iianseatic league in Germany, had carried the products of Europe to every part of the known world ; industry and the arts had reached a wonderful degree of development; poetry and painting had attained to perfec­tion in Italy ; Vasco de Gama had discovered the passage of the Cape of Good Hope ; Columbus had discovered a new world in America ; printing was spreading light among the nations ; and in every thing connected with human welfare, physical, moral, and intellectual, the world seemed marching with rapid strides towards perfection. The Church had done this, for the Church alone existed ; and what she had done she created, for none went before to show the way. And now Protestantism appeared, - not to convert idolaters, for that was already done ; not to civilize barbarians, for they were already civilized; not to create new elements of temporal prosperity and happiness, for every element of human welfare was already in active operation,-but she came to impede, to destroy, the harmonious development of what was rapidly progressing under the fostering care of the Church who had created it.

The immediate effect of Protestantism was to sow seeds of deadly hatred, not only among friendly nations, but between different portions of the same nation. Desolating civil and re­ligious wars followed its footsteps wherever it appeared, in Germany, France, England, the North ; and wherever Prot­estantism triumphed, commenced a series of cruel persecutions against the Catholics, scarcely paralleled in the annals of the Roman Neros.

The influence of Protestantism on political liberty was as disastrous as on civilization generally. Its first object of attack was the temporal power of the Popes, and, by destroying this before the people had yet acquired strength to defend them­selves, it left the royal power without a check, and the people without protection. Moreover, not content with stripping the Popes of their temporal authority, it transferred their spiritual authority to the kings, and the throne in Protestant coun­tries acquired immense additional power by becoming the head of the Church, and possessing all its patronage. But with an inconsistency which has equally characterized it in mat­ters purely religious, while Protestantism thus, on the one hand, put an immense power into the hands of kings, it, on the oth­er, excited the people against the crown by preaching doctrines subversive of order. Its influence was twofold ; - on one side, to dispose the people to rebellion, partly by its doctrines, and partly by depriving them of the moral means of redress which they before had in the Papal authority ; and on the other side, to dispose the kings to tyranny, by making them fear the peo­ple, while at the same time their power to crush them was in­creased. Thus the crown and the people were brought face to face in direct and deadly opposition, and hence the re­bellions and revolutions which occurred in all the countries where Protestant principles acquired sway. And hence natu­rally we see these revolutions followed by the establishment of absolute governments in all the Protestant countries ; in England, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, and Germany generally. For not only is it the natural effect of rebellion to produce despotism, as of despotism to produce rebellion, but the peo­ple themselves at last gladly resign a vast power to the execu­tive, rather than remain a constant prey to civil contention. Nor can we wonder at the formation of similar absolute govern­ments in the countries which remained Catholic ; for, though Protestantism itself could get no hold there, the influence of its principles was felt everywhere, and, on the one hand, compelled the governments to look to their own welfare, while, on the other, the people willingly permitted the government to do, as a preventive of evils, what in Protesant countries was required for their cure.

But it is necessary to remark, that an absolute form of government has not those evils in Catholic which it has in Protestant countries. For, in the first place, as Catholic prin­ciples exclude the government from power in spiritual matters, the clergy, though possessing no temporal power, constantly exert a moral check which is wanting in Protestant countries. Moreover, the equality of all before the Church, the union of all classes in religious confraternities, the deep mutual sym­pathy in all that relates to the highest interests of man, pro­duce a fellowship of feeling among all classes which is utterly wanting in Protestant countries, and exert a moral influence on both governors and governed which makes those material forms comparatively unnecessary which are found so abso­lutely essential in Protestant countries.

Such, then, was the immediate and direct influence of the Reformation on political liberty. If we look at Europe after Protestantism had been one hundred and fifty years at work in it, we find the civilizing work of the Church thrown back, the civil wars produced by Protestantism scarcely yet ended, or ended only by the substitution of despotism. The moral checks of Catholicity being removed, the nations were forced to have recourse to rebellion, and the governments to bayonets.

What political amelioration has taken place since the fierce bigotry of early Protestantism has given way to comparative in­difference it would be idle to attribute to Protestantism. Cath­olicity has been at work as well as Protestantism, but neither has exerted a great and direct influence on political liberty. The amelioration which has taken place in political institutions is to be attributed chiefly to the extension of industry and com­merce, and the multiplication of the modes of communication between countries, which have given to the people greater wealth, power, and intelligence than were before possible, and have therefore enabled them to hold a more important position in political affairs, than, from the nature of things, they could have filled before.(footnote:  Nevertheless, even this effect in Protestant countries is seen only in our own country and in England, and it is shown in England to be the effect of no principle, because, with liberal forms at hoine, where she is forced to them, she wished to tyrannize over us, and does still tyrannize over poor Ireland and over her provinces in the East, where the people have not power to resist her.    But the other Protestant countries of Europe, Norway, Sweden, Prussia, and the German states generally, are still governed by absolute princes, without written constitutions or limita­tion. And this is enough to show that Protestantism, as such, has no tendency to produce even those forms which Protestants themselves generally consider essential to liberty.)

We have now shown that the Catholic Church has never favored tyranny, - that not only are its principles completely opposed to it, but that in its own institutions it practised from the beginning all that has in modern times been considered most glorious. The constitution of the United States is not opposed to the spirit of Catholicity ; on the contrary, it is of all national constitutions the most like what the Church has always adopted in her own practice. From Catholicity this country has nothing to fear, but every thing to hope ; for Cath­olicity would make it a matter of conscience to preserve the constitution in its integrity, and would have sufficient influence to preserve the people in order with little outward force.

But it is a most grave error to suppose that true liberty de­pends upon, or can be insured by, written constitutions or mate­rial forms. Liberty depends not on the form of the govern­ment, but on its administration, and a good administration can be insured only by religion. Where religion is wanting, no form of government, however admirably devised, can long save the people from oppression. For irreligion is necessarily immoral and selfish, and therefore disposed to injustice, and, when occasion offers, will inevitably tyrannize; - mere out­ward forms will do little, where the life-giving spirit is wanting. On the contrary, where both rulers and people are profoundly religious, even an absolute form of government will not be oppressive, because the government will confine itself to the true object of government, the welfare of the people, and the people will cheerfully conform to what they see is for their good. And, on the other hand, where there is religion, the most liberal forms of government may flourish, for the sense of responsibility to God will of itself suffice ; but where re­ligion is wanting, this element must be supplied by force ; for obedience to government is necessary to the very existence of society, and where religion does not supply moral means, the government must strengthen itself by physical ones.

If, then, you would insure liberty in any country, strive to make your children solidly religious. But religion you will seek in vain, except in the .Church which Christ has founded. If nothing else, sad experience at last will show you that liberty is impossible without religion, and religion without the Church.(footnote: Should any of our readers wish to see this subject treated more at large, we would recommend to them the work of Balmes, noticed hy an­other hand in a subsequent article,-a work to which we have been greatly indebted in preparing this brief essay, and in which the author most profoundly investigates the comparative influence which Protestant­ism and Catholicity have exerted on every subject connected with the temporal welfare of society.)