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Admonitions to Protestants No. 3

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1848

Art. II.  Admonitions to Protestants.    No. III.    The Necessity of Revelation.

You have seen, my brethren, that we are bound in eternal justice to worship God, that is, to render unto him the tribute of our whole being ; for he is our Creator, and we are his, not our own. We are bound, then, to worship him in the way and manner which he himself prescribes ; for if the right to pre­scribe the worship we are to render unto him, or the way and manner of rendering it, belonged to ourselves, we should have something we could call our own, and which we should not be bound to render unto him. But as we have nothing of our own, and as none but God can have any right to us, or claim of property in us, it is his alone to prescribe to us the worship he demands, and when, where, and how he wills it to be rendered. We have nothing more to say in relation to it, than we had in relation to our creation. We are simply to ascertain what he wills, and to do it.

There are two, and only two, ways in which God can make known to us the worship he demands, and the way and manner in which he requires it to be rendered. These are the light of natural reason and the light of supernatural revelation. Cer­tainly, we can know only in one or the other or both of these two ways. By natural reason we can know only what falls within the reach of natural reason, and if we are to know any thing more, it can be only as it is supernaturally revealed to us. It is impossible to conceive any other than these two ways in which God himself can make us acquainted with his will. What he does not teach us through natural reason, he must teach us through a supernatural revelation, or not at all.

Reason is unquestionably the gift of God, and its light is divine,  is from God, the source of all light. What is really prescribed by reason is as much prescribed by God himself as what is prescribed by revelation. For aught we do or can know from reason itself, God might, if he had chosen, have made natural reason sufficient for all the instruction we need, and if he had done so, there would and could have been no necessity for a supernatural revelation. Why he has not made natural reason sufficient we know not, and have no right to ask. He is under no obligation to render us a reason for what he does, and the creature has no right to say to the Creator, " Why hast thou made me thus ?" He had  reason herself declares it  the sovereign right to make us as he pleased, and to clothe us with such attributes as seemed to him good. Why he has made us as he has we can have no right to inquire, and we must restrict ourselves at all times to the question, What has he made us, and with what attributes has he endowed us ? That he has made'us reasonable beings we know ; that he has made the reason with which he has endowed us sufficient of it­self to serve as our only guide, we know is not the fact, for there is nothing which reason more unequivocally asserts than her own inability to prescribe the worship of God satisfactory to herself.

Now here, my brethren, is a singular fact, and one which may well arrest your attention. You must either deny reason, as you have already seen, or else acknowledge yourselves bound to worship God ; and you must also deny reason, or acknowl­edge that the worship you are bound to give is a worship which exceeds the ability of reason to prescribe. While it is certain, then, that it belongs to God and to him alone to prescribe the worship he demands, it is equally certain that he does not pre­scribe it through natural reason. Then either he does not pre­scribe it at all, or he prescribes it through supernatural revelation. If he does not prescribe it at all, that is, if we have no super­natural revelation, if we are left to our natural reason alone, we are in the sad condition of owing a duty which we are unable to pay.

Do not rashly infer from this, my brethren, that you are to discard reason.    The necessity of revelation is not grounded on the denial of reason, but on the plainest and simplest dictates of reason herself.    We do not need revelation because reason is a false and uncertain light.    Reason, as far as her light ex­tends, is a true light, and to deny her is no less to blaspheme God than to  deny revelation.     Those advocates of revela­tion who begin their arguments for it by doing their best to de­stroy the authority of reason act as foolishly as the astronomer who should put out his natural eyes in order the better to see through his telescope.    Reason is always to be presupposed, as grace always presupposes nature ; for if there were no nature, there could be no recipient of grace, and if no reason, no sub­ject of revelation.    Revelation, if made at all, must be made to reasonable beings, not to brutes.    But because reason is pre­supposed, because her light is necessary to render man capable of receiving a revelation, it is not necessary to conclude that he can know all without a revelation that he can know with it. The telescope would be  of no service to a man who had no eyes ; but it would be idle to infer from this that he could see with a telescope nothing which he could not by his natural eyes without one.    To assert the necessity of revelation is not to de­ny or even to disparage reason, for its necessity is asserted on the authority of reason, to enable us to do what reason declares herself unable to do. If we respect reason, we must respect her just as much when she declares her own inability as when she declares her ability, and certainly it is as reasonable to believe that reason knows as well what she cannot do as what she can do. We must, then, trust her when she de­clares her own inability to prescribe the worship due to God, and the way and manner in which he requires it to be ren­dered, as well as when she declares that we are bound to render unto him the tribute of our whole being.

You must acknowledge reason, my brethren, and if you do, you must concede her inability to prescribe \he worship we are to render. Then you must concede that God imposes upon us, through reason, an obligation which we by our natural light and strength cannot fulfil,  that reason demonstrates that God commands what exceeds our natural ability to perform. Here is the great and terrible fact which always and every­where rises up to confound the Rationalist, be he of what school he may,  the grand real or apparent contradiction which runs through all human life, when abandoned to the simple guidance of nature alone. If it were not for this fact, the Rationalist, that is, the man who asserts the sufficiency of natural reason, though he would stand below the plane of reve­lation, might be consistent with himself, and assert his Ration­alism or Naturalism without falling into any self-contradiction. There would then be nothing in our natural condition which would exact any thing above nature, or that would or could in­dicate the necessity of the supernatural. Then they among you who are accustomed to say that Catholicity and Rational­ism, what they term Liberalism, are the only two self-coherent and self-consistent systems conceivable, would be correct, and the Catholic from reason alone could never construct an argu­ment against the Liberalist. But this fact, that reason discloses an obligation which we by reason alone cannot fulfil, refutes them, and convicts Liberalism of inconsistency with itself. By reason alone it is impossible to construct a self-consistent sys­tem. Do your best, Rationalism will be eternally at war with itself.

It is undeniable, my brethren, that reason, as it actually exists in all men, is either too much or too little for Rational­ism. It goes too far, or not far enough. It goes too far in the assertion of principles, unless it could go farther in their practical realization. As it now exists, it can neither bring its conception of principles "down to its power of intellectual realization, nor its power of intellectual realization up to its con­ception of principles. Nothing can be more sublime than its statement of general principles, nothing more mean than its practical application of them. It measures the distances and magnitudes of the planets, but it cannot tell us what the planets are. It bids us worship God, but when asked, What is the worship of God ? it stammers out some vague, incoherent reply, which it instantly recalls in order to stammer out another not one whit more clear, coherent, or satisfactory. It com­mands us to be good and to do good, and when called upon to define what it is to be good and to do good, it answers, with one of your famous ministers, Why, goodness is  goodness, and to be good and to do good is  to be good and to do good !  an answer of which it is heartily ashamed as soon as given. It is all-powerful in the abstract, but all weakness in the con­crete, strong in generals, but exceedingly feeble in particu­lars.

But the Rationalist replies,  God is just, and therefore can demand of us only what he has given. You must, then, show that he has given us more than reason, before you can conclude the insufficiency of the worship which is possible by reason alone. If he has given us only reason, he can justly demand of us only such worship as with reason alone we are able to give. So, indeed, it would seem ; but, unhappily, reason her­self declares the contrary. Reason clearly and unequivocally declares that we are bound to. render unto God the tribute of our whole being in the way and manner he himself prescribes, and then equally clearly and unequivocally declares that we cannot do this by her light alone. Question her as you please, put her to the torture as you will, she remains firm, will abate nothing of the obligation, and make no retraction of her own insufficiency. Here is the difficulty. If we take reason as our guide, we must follow her in one branch of her teaching as well as in another. But this is not in our power ; because her teaching, when taken by itself alone, is not consistent with it­self, and to follow it throughout would require us both to do and not to do at one and the same time, which is not possible. You cannot, if you have only reason, follow reason in all things, if you would,  for reason, taken alone, contradicts herself. What, then, are you to do ?

Suppose you say, All which can be required of us is to ren­der unto God such worship as reason is able to prescribe. Practically, this will be that each one is to render unto God such worship as seems to each one to be right in his own eyes. It must come to this at last, whether it please you or not. Reason declares all men to be equal, and that no one man or body of men can make their private convictions and sentiments binding upon another. Man has no right to legislate for man ; for one man can, in so far as man, claim no preeminence over another. But at the same time that reason forbids one man to impose his faith or worship upon another, it declares, with perfect clearness and distinctness, that there can be but one true faith, but one true worship. God is one and immutable, and all men, since all are equal, hold and must hold one and the same relation to him. The relation being one and the same for all men, the obligation which grows out of it must be for all men one and the same obligation, and therefore one and the same must be the worship which is its fulfilment. Hence all men are bound to render unto God one and the same worship. This is what reason teaches all men, and each particular man ; for reason is one and identical in all and in each.

But whenever it comes to the practical question, What is this worship ? men differ, vary one from another, and if left free to offer each the worship which seems to himself the true worship, there will be as many different worships as worship­pers. Yet truth is one, always and everywhere one and the same, and consequently the worshippers can differ one from another only by all but one differing more or less from the truth. In so far as they differ from the truth, their worship is not true worship, but false. This is undeniable. But reason, although unable to say what is the true worship, is yet abun­dantly able to say that the true worship is the only worship God demands or will accept. Then reason cannot pronounce that worship the acceptable worship which merely seems right to each one in his own eyes. She will have no seeming about it. She will have the thing itself,  the reality. She tells us that we must worship really and truly, in the way and manner Almighty God himself prescribes, or we do not worship at all ; for, though unable to prescribe the true worship, she condemns every worship which is not really and truly the wor­ship Almighty God demands, and declares unequivocally that no mere seeming worship, no false or even partially false wor­ship, is or can be the worship he does demand.

If you take the ground, that the worship demanded is not the worship which, in -itself considered, is really and strictly true worship, but the worship which appears to be such to the worshipper, you must accept as true worship all the worships which have heretofore obtained or which now obtain amongst men, and maintain boldly that all the abominations, all the foul and filthy rites of heathenism, from which reason and humanity turn with horror and disgust, were offerings well pleasing to God ; for you cannot doubt that these have all appeared to some of their adherents to be true worship. All you can say with regard to them is, that they do not appear to you to be such offerings, and therefore they are not true worship for you ; yet for those who hold them to be true worship they are so ! The worship of God, moreover, as you have seen, includes the whole province of morals. Insist, then, not on what is strictly true in itself, on what is really right, independent of the views or notions of the actor, but merely on what appears to each one to be true and right, and you will make right and wrong vary with the varying notions of each individual. You will then have no invariable standard of right and wrong, and prac­tical ethics will depend solely on individual convictions, senti­ments, prejudices, caprices, or idiosyncrasies.

Can reason, my brethren, assent to so monstrous a conclu­sion ? Does she not assert the immutable and eternal distinc­tions between right and wrong ? Does she not abhor the doctrine, that right and wrong vary as vary the internal states of individuals ? Does she not assert, in tones too clear and dis­tinct to be mistaken, that right and wrong depend on an eternal and immutable law, which is one and the same at all times, in all places, and for all men, and that the actor, so far from making the right, or from determining by his own notions or feelings the precepts of this law, is himself right only in proportion as he conforms to it ? Assuredly she does, and therefore must be able to declare in all cases what is the law, and therefore what is the right, independent of the actor, or be unable to rest satisfied with her own declarations.

The moment you substitute the individual's view of a sub­ject for the truth itself, you practically deny all truth and all falsehood, all right and all wrong, and make them merely rela­tive matters, one or the other according to my mode or manner of seeing, feeling, or thinking.   What is truth in relation to one is falsehood in relation to another; what is falsehood in relation to you may be truth in relation to me ; what is right for you is wrong for me, and there is nothing true and right for all men,  than which nothing is more repugnant to right reason. Yet, my brethren, absurd as this is, false and dangerous as such a doctrine must be, not a few among you actually adopt it. Not a few among you, claiming, perhaps not without good reason, to be the Protestants of Protestants, the Reformers of the Reformers themselves, the more consistent and advanced portion of ihe Protestant world, without the least apparent mis­giving, contend that truth and falsehood, right and wrong, have only a relative existence. Truth, they assert, is unknown and unknowable, and that is truth or falsehood for each which he esteems to be such. What I hold to be true is true for me ; what you hold to be true is true for you. The same is to be said of falsehood ; the same of right and wrong, just and unjust. But on this ground, where is the right or the reason for one to approve or to condemn any thing in another, except his mode or manner of seeing ? and where is the authority for saying one man's mode or manner of seeing is better than another's?

But it does not appear that the persons who maintain this abominable doctrine, even while asserting that all religions, all codes, and all systems are equally true and good for those who sincerely receive them, are less censorious or belligerent than other members of the community. We find them, in fact, making war upon all systems of philosophy, upon all forms of faith and worship, and upon all codes of morals, private or public, which differ from their own. They find nothing to approve. They look upon all things as out of joint. Every thing hitherto has gone wrong. Man has never yet been man ; society has never yet had a social constitution ; religion has remained from the outset a degrading and a debasing super­stition ; the light of reason has never hitherto dawned on the world ; the human heart has slumbered and slept from the be­ginning ; nothing has been properly understood ; nothing has been rightly done ; and the human race can make no progress, can take no step forward in the fulfilment of its destiny, unless it retraces its past career, undoes all that it has thus far done, and begins its work anew. And yet, consistent souls ! the moment you press them to adduce their authority for this sweeping charge against all the past, they tell you that there is no universal and invariable standard of right and wrong, just and unjust, truth and falsehood, and that these all depend en­tirely on the views or notions of each individual! Their doc­trine is, that every man is right who believes himself right, and yet in practice their hand is against every man who does not believe and act with them !

Nevertheless, my brethren, these persons are by no means among those in your ranks the least respectable for their learn­ing and ability. They are, for the most part, the great men of the Protestant world. The inconsistency you remark in them you may remark in the greatest and most renowned in the world's history, who forsake the Church and take reason alone, or even the Bible interpreted by private reason, for their guide. No man ever yet trusted himself to such guidance without arriving at conclusions which reason herself was eager to dis­own. The fact itself is undeniable. It is the standing re­proach of all your divines, and, indeed, of all speculative men, from Plato down to Charles Fourier and Robert Owen. This is a remarkable fact. Whence comes it ? Whence comes it that we can never abandon ourselves to the guidance of reason alone without falling into unreason ? There must be some cause for this ; and it is too universal, too uniform, too invaria­bly reproduced in every department of human life, to be the result of any cause merely local or transitory. The cause must be in human reason itself, as it actually exists ; in the fact, that human reason in its actual state, if taken alone, involves an inherent contradiction. Do your best, you cannot otherwise explain this remarkable fact.

This fact, or rather contradiction, is not confined to reason alone ; it runs through all human life which is abandoned to simple nature. Let human nature act according to its present laws, give to each faculty its natural exercise, to each tendency its natural gratification, to the whole the natural objects it craves, and it is never farther from having attained its good, its destiny. This you have seen in the first Admonition, in the fact to which your attention was called, that pleasures do not please, wealth does not enrich, honors do not ennoble, knowledge does not enlighten. All men experience this in a degree; the sages and philosophers of all ages proclaim it, and from it proceed the deep and painful tragedies of human life. All your popu­lar literature, expressing the tone and temper of the age, bears witness to it, and by its low wail or its wild lament confirms it. Take, for example, one of your popular novels from the school of George Sand, or that of the Countess Ida of Hahn Halm, and study its heroine. What is she ? She is young, beautiful,-cultivated, full of life, sentiment, emotion. Nature has lavished upon her every perfection, art every accomplishment, society every luxury. She is well-born, rich, learned in all languages and in all lore,  intellectual, sprightly, witty, profound, quick of apprehension, patient of investigation.    In a word, she has all nature at her feet, in her hand, in her head, and in her heart. Alas ! she is the most miserable of beings. Life for her is aimless, joyless. A thousand tragedies are daily, hourly en­acted in her own sensitive heart. She sighs for what she has not. She wants some object to love,  some one that can love, as she would be loved, in return. Above and over all she has or is floats an ideal, that lures her on and will not let her rest. She must realize it. She goes forth, visits the court and the camp, the palace and the cottage, the gay saloon of wealth and fashion, the low haunts of vice and crime, and the humble shed of toiling, drudging poverty, in pursuit of him who is to be the realization of her ideal. Where is he ? She finds him,  no ; he is not the one, and she dismisses him with disgust. She takes another, another, still another, with no better success. No one comes up to her ideal; no one real­izes or can realize it. Alas ! she is doomed to suffer eternally the torture of an unrealized ideal. With all the world to choose from, she can choose no one that can fill the deep wants of her capacious heart. What is the meaning of all this ? Do not say these novels are all mere idle romance, all mere fiction. You know better. Your novelists, immoral as they may be, dangerous as their productions certainly must be, are among the most distinguished and even truthful of your writers. Un­scrupulous they may be, but they are persons of broad sympa­thies and large experience. They are no closet dreamers. They write out from the deep, rich, and living nature within them to the deep, rich, and living nature around them. Hence their popularity. In showing you their heroes and heroines running over the world seeking in vain the realization of their ideal, the object which can fill the heart, they but show what every one abandoned to nature experiences,  but proclaim the universal secret of an irreligious age. This heroine,  what is she but poor human nature, abandoned to her own light and strength ? Nay, is not this virtually what they them­selves tell you ? Is it not their boast, that they draw from nature, and paint her as she is ? And what, then, is the moral they teach, but this, that human nature abandoned to nature is too much or too little for herself ?

You, my brethren, ought to take an especial interest in this mysterious fact, this inherent contradiction of nature, this strange disproportion between the ideal and the power of real­ization, the abstract and the concrete. You are the children of what you call the "Glorious Reformation."    You walk in the midst of its effulgence, and you boast that for you there shines a warmer and a brighter sun than for other men. You claim to be of the " Movement party," the advanced and ad­vancing portion of mankind, and you are long and loud in your boasts of the progress you have made. You hold that the present age has far outstripped all its predecessors,  is, as it were, a model age, in which all that nature, under intellect­ual, moral, or industrial relations, can give is possessed to an extent never before heard of, never even dreamed of. Have we not, you say, proved that mind is omnipotent over matter ? Have we not annihilated distance, subdued the elements, made the winds and flames of fire our obedient servants, and the lightnings our messengers ? Yet is it, my brethren, precisely in this very age that human discontent and human despair are at the flood, that the disproportion between the ideal and the power of realizing it becomes more glaring and more mourn­fully oppressive than in any former period of the world's his­tory. Whence happens this ? Whence comes it that this should occur in this very age, when men have the most of na­ture and the least of religion ? Whence comes it that it should more especially occur in Protestant nations and with those indi­viduals who wander farthest from the Church, and try hardest to live according to nature, without recourse to the supernat­ural ? That it is so is undeniable. Nothing can surpass the uneasiness, discontent, dissatisfaction, discouragement, despair even, of the uncatholic world in this present age. How explain this fact, without acknowledging that human nature, despoiled of the supernatural, or abandoned to herself, is without her necessary complement, without proportion, and inherently in contradiction with herself ?

This contradiction, which runs through all human life and marks at once man's greatness and man's littleness, character­izing him as a being " darkly wise and rudely great," appears to be peculiar to the human race. In all the animal tribes a due proportion appears to be observed, and the destiny of each individual is sufficiently indicated by its natural tendencies. Give the animal the objects to which it naturally tends, and it shows itself satisfied, and appears to have found its good, realized its ideal. Why is it not so in man ? Why is he an anomaly in creation ? We know the Creator observes a due proportion in all his works, and that he makes all things by weight and measure. How is it, then, that there is this want of proportion in man ?    Why is it that he, when he has procured the objects to which he is invited or impelled by his nature, is not satisfied, is not contented, as is the ox, the robin, or the bee, but is even more dissatisfied than before ?

It is true that some seek to explain this fact by regarding it as a promise or prophecy of our immortality ; but this ex­planation does not meet the whole difficulty, clear up the whole mystery ; for immortality may be conceived as lying in the natural order, as the continuation of our present existence, with-' out any essential change ; and it is so that some entire Protes­tant sects actually do conceive it. The future life to which many of your number look forward, if they look forward to any, is only our natural life endlessly continued, and they ex­pect their good from nature in that life as much as they do in this. But if our future life is to be a natural life, it offers no complement to our present life, and must present the same dis­proportion between the ideal and the actual, the same contra­diction which now so tortures the hearts of all who are aban­doned, or abandon themselves, to nature alone.

Others, again, attempt to overcome this painful dispropor­tion by laboring to bring the ideal down to the actual, and persuading themselves that all these general principles and no­tions which transcend the power of the practical intellect are mere illusions. The wants the soul experiences, even when possessing the best and all that nature can give, are merely the effects, they tell us, of early prejudice or education, and would never be experienced, if men were only properly trained from their infancy. How far it is possible by skilful training to reduce men to the category of mere animals, it is not easy to say. That much to that effect might and would be accom­plished, under the direction of your able philosophers, is highly probable ; but it can hardly be believed that these philosophers would be able to obliterate all traces of the peculiarly human nature. The germs of a moral and rational nature would most likely still remain, for to stifle their growth is not precisely to annihilate them. But it is not easy to believe that these wants and these general notions originated either in prejudice or in education. It is hard to conceive how a prejudice could have existed without something to create it, and in favor of that which had, and prior to it could have, ho prototype in human experience. Education, again, may develop, but it cannot create,  perpetuate, but not originate. Education implies educators, and these could not develop what did not previously exist, or impart what they did not themselves possess.   If they only developed what already existed in germ, the phenomena in question did not originate in education. If they imparted something new, whence did they themselves obtain it ? The earth stands upon the back of the huge tortoise ; but what does the huge tortoise stand on ?

Before the educators appeared, mankind either had this expe­rience, or they had not. If they had, the appeal to education explains nothing. If they had not, they must have had an ex­perience the reverse of it. Instead of the disproportion now experienced, they must have experienced only proportion ; in­stead of wants that cannot be satisfied, only satisfaction ; and instead of general conceptions which transcend the power of the practical intellect, their practical understanding would have kept pace with their general conceptions. How, then, could thesf.1 educators, who had only human authority, and only the power of an absurdity, an error, at best, an illusion, not only gain credit against all previous experience, but even suc­ceed in changing the whole current of the universal experience of mankind ? Who can believe it ? Certainly, my brethren, nobody but your modern philosophers could believe a thing so incredible,  a doctrine which asserts the existence of effects without causes, and even against causes !

The singular contradiction to which your attention is called is not, as you have seen, confined to any one element of human nature or of human experience. It is not simply a fact of the world of sentiment or of feeling. According to its nature, it is found in reason as well as in sentiment, and the natural rea­son is no more satisfied with natural reason than our instinctive and sensitive nature is with the natural objects it craves. Yet the contradiction in the order of reason results from elements which cannot be abstracted without abstracting intellect itself. It results from the fact, that the general principles or notions of reason transcend the power of the practical understanding, or our power to raise our actual knowledge to their level. But take away these principles or notions, and reduce the general to the level of the particular reason, and you take away the particular reason itself, and therefore all actual understanding. Without the general, the particular is inconceivable ; and if man had not these general principles, notions, or conceptions, which it is contended are mere illusions, he could have no practical intellect, and no practical knowledge whatever. He could then be no subject of the education supposed. Could you by edu­cation give to a horse, an ox, a dog, or a pig, an experience corresponding to what is now the universal experience of man­kind ?

Philosophers may speculate as they will, and suggest such conclusions as they please, but this much is certain, that human nature, as we now find it in all men, has more or less than its complement. It undeniably wants proportion, and cannot be naturally harmonized throughout, either with itself or with the world in which it is placed. But the Creator does and must observe a due proportion in all his works, and skilfully adapt one thing to another, part to part, and means to ends. To maintain the contrary would be to implicate his wisdom and perfection. He is infinitely true, and as true in his works as in his words. No work of his can lie ; nothing, as it comes from his hands, can deceive, or in the remotest degree tend to deceive. Man's natural inclinations, instincts, desires, as he came from his Maker, must have been truthful, and have indi­cated the end to which he was appointed. His whole nature, whether able of itself to attain that end or not, must have had its face turned towards it, and, if followed, could never have led from it. But take man as he now is and the reverse of this is the fact. Nothing is more certain than that he recedes from his true good just in proportion as he follows his natural bent; and never is he farther from his destiny, if destiny he has, than when he is most successful in securing the ends towards which he is naturally attracted or impelled. His nature, taken as suf­ficient of itself, constantly cheats him,  lies to him in every word and in every organ through which it speaks. It fulfils never a single promise which it makes, and his whole natural life is illusory and false. Here is the mournful fact asserted and confirmed by universal experience.

But, my brethren, this cannot have been so in the beginning. We know God must have made us for some end, which is at once our destiny and our good ; because wisdom must, or belie its nature, act to some end, and goodness to a good end. It is the part of folly to act without acting to an end, and of evil to act to a bad end. God is infinitely wise and good, and there­fore must have assigned an end infinitely wise and good to all and each of his works. If the end is wise and good, the gain­ing of our true end is one and the same thing as gaining our true good, and whenever we gain an end without gaining our true good, we may know that it is not the end which was appointed us, or for which we were intended. We must not only have been intended for an end, but we must have been, as we came from our Creator, endowed, naturally or supernaturally, with the ability to gain it; for God cannot appoint a being a destiny without giving him the means of fulfilling it. The being must be placed on the plane of his destiny, between which and him­self there is a due proportion. But it is clear from the facts of experience, that man does not now stand on the plane of his destiny, that he has no natural destiny, because he cannot fol­low his natural bent without receding from his true good. Then, whether man had originally a natural destiny or not, it is certain that he has fallen from the plane of that destiny, what­ever it was, and is now out of his normal condition. Certain it is, that his nature is now turned away from it; for he never finds his destiny in following the direction his nature indicates, which could not have been the fact in his normal state, whether his destiny was in the natural order or in the supernatural.

No man can analyze the facts of human experience without finding them prove incontestably that our destiny, whatever it be, lies above the level of our present natural powers. Our race, then, must have once possessed powers, natural or super­natural, which it does not possess now, and therefore powers which it must have forfeited or lost. All the facts of experi­ence, as well as universal tradition, bear witness to some great catastrophe, to some terrible revulsion which man at some re­mote period must have suffered. The soul appears to every nice observer to retain traces of a lost grandeur, and to be filled with an undying regret for what once was, but is no longer, hers. She appears to be tortured by her reminiscences. Even before illumined by faith, she regards herself as expelled from her early home, as an exile from her native country, and a sojourn-er in a strange land. She bears with her the secret memory of a lost paradise, for which she sighs, and with her recollections of which, dim and fading though they be, she contrasts whatever she finds in the land of her exile. What is the poetry of all nations but the low wail or wild lament of the soul over her lost Eden,  the music in which she expresses the wearisomeness of her banishment, and her longing to return and dwell again in the sweet bowers of her early youth, of her childhood's home ? Here, in these reminiscences, which play so important a part in the Platonic philosophy, and which the Athenian knew not how to interpret, is the secret of that weari­ness and disgust which the soul experiences in the midst of all this world can give, of that deep regret and ceaseless sorrow which nothing earthly can charm away.     Earthly goods and pleasures are not congenial to her nature ; they are not the food she was originally fitted to live upon or to relish; the table the world spreads before her is not that which was spread for her in her Father's house *, the embraces lavished upon her are not those of her chaste Spouse, and she receives or returns them only with a feverish shame.

The traditions of all ages and nations assert the fact of the primitive fall of man, and these traditions cannot be lightly dismissed, or their authority disputed, by any one who has learned to philosophize, or who knows how to weigh testi­mony. They could not have existed without a substratum of truth, certainly known at first, or warranted by evidence as wide and constant as human experience ; and in either case they are the testimony of mankind, the highest testimony we can have, except the supernatural testimony of God himself. All religions and religious institutions, in whatever age or on whatever side of the globe they are found, imply, and expressly assert, that man has fallen from his primitive state. The idea of redemption, restoration, expiation, atonement, is the grand central idea of them all. They all are based on the assumption, that a reparation of some sort, to be effected in some way, by this or that agency, is essential. There is to this absolutely no exception. There never has been a religion which did not as­sert the necessity of sacrifice*, and never has the human race been able to believe that a worship without a sacrifice, without the altar, the victim, and the priest, could be true worship. Thanksgiving and praise, prayer and adoration, are indeed re­garded as proper and necessary in all religions, but no religious worship is ever regarded as complete, as including the one es­sential thing, that has not the victim to offer in expiation, or in reparation of human delinquency.

What means, my brethren, this victim, held by all religions to be indispensable ? Reason, while it teaches us to render unto God the tribute of our whole being, teaches us that this is all that is his due. We can owe him only what we have re­ceived from him, and can be bound to render him no more than we are and have. Yet this victim is something more, and in offering him the worshipper confesses that he owes to God what he is not and has not. Whence comes this, but from the conviction, on the part of the worshipper, that he has not re­tained, and has ceased to possess, all that he originally received, and that what he now is cannot be the equivalent of what he was when he came from his Maker ?    The victim is always offered, because we feel that more is due than the tribute of our whole present being, and therefore is an acknowledgment of a loss on our part, or in other words, of a fall. Sacrifice is, then, a confession of the fall,  that we have wasted our patri­mony, spent our substance in riotous living, and owe more than we can pay,  a confession, in a word, of our insolvency. Hence it is that all those individuals who deny the fall deny the necessity of the victim, and reject the idea of sacrifice as a vulgar superstition. Hence, also, the universality of sacrifice proves the universality of the belief in the primitive fall, that man has fallen from his original slate, and now lies below the level of kis destiny, without the ability to attain to it.

Even your modern philosophers and reformers who assert the sufficiency of human nature for itself are far from being able to exclude the idea of the fall. Even for them human nature is not in its normal state. The Fourierist who boasts of his new social science, and tells you attractions are proportional to desti­nies, confesses that man as he now is cannot be trusted to fol­low his natural bent. Robert Owen and Fanny Wright hold that a preparatory discipline, to overcome the wrong direction heretofore given to human nature, is necessary before trusting man to his natural instincts. All your reformers, whether re­ligious, moral, social, or political, are loud in their declamations against human depravity, and look upon man's nature as warped out of its right line, as turned away from its true good. Indeed, the very idea of reform implies the idea of a fall,  that man is in a lapsed state, out of his normal condition,  and nothing is more amusing than to hear your reformers deny that man has fallen, extol his innate goodness, the purity and excellency of his nature, and at the same time berate all the past, and con­demn him and all his institutions as worthless. How little, in their insane zeal, do they suspect the glaring contradiction into which they fall !

It makes nothing against the testimony of these, so far as the present argument is concerned, that they seek to explain the depravity they cannot deny, and against which they declaim, without admitting the fall in the Christian sense. What­ever explanations they attempt, they concede the fact that man has been perverted, turned away from his true good,  that his nature is in an abnormal state, and does not now operate ac­cording to its original intention. This fact once admitted, all is admitted. They may ascribe it to what cause they please ; they may pretend that it originated in the separation of the individual from the unity of the race, in false systems of religion, morals, politics, society, in priestcraft, political tyranny, and oppression, but, in doing so, they only confirm it; for this sepa­ration from unity, these false systems, this priestcraft, tyranny, oppression, they must regard as abnormal, and therefore as effects of causes which could not be active in our normal state. They at best leave the fact itself unaffected, and do but bring the cause a step or two nearer, or remove it a step or two farther off.

Nor any better will they succeed in getting rid of the fact itself, who allege as its cause that man was originally created imperfect, and never intended to attain his destiny, but to be always attaining it. These, your modern sect of progressists, contradict themselves, because, while they assert progress, they demand reform. But reform and progress are fundamentally repugnant one to the other. Progress looks forward, and pro­poses a perfection never yet attained to ; reform looks back­ward, and seeks to regain a perfection which has been departed from or lost through corruption. The idea of indefinite prog­ress contradicts also the idea of destiny. An indefinitely progressive being can have no destiny, because destiny implies a definite end, and indefinite progress no end. It is a contra­diction in terms to assert that a being is destined to eternal prog­ress. Progress consists in going towards an end ; but if there be no end but the progress, there is no end at all, and then no progress. It is incompatible with the essential idea of God to suppose that he creates beings in an imperfect state as to their nature. Being himself perfect, his works must be perfect, and then each creature must, as it comes from him, be perfect in its kind, possess all that pertains to its nature, and therefore be inca­pable of any other progress than that which consists in going to its end. It is no slight confirmation of this, that those of your phi­losophers who maintain the doctrine of indefinite progress gener­ally end in alheism, as Condorcet, Hegel, Saint Simon, Pierre Leroux, or in a pantheistic nihilism, which is the same thing. Moreover, the assertion, that man was created imperfect in his kind, and intended to be eternally progressive, is not in its nature provable by reasoning, and, if provable at all, can be so only by a supernatural revelation, or by history. The first is not sup-posable, because the doctrine itself is invented chtefly for the purpose of getting rid of the necessity of revelation ; and the last cannot be asserted, for to do so would be to recognize the authority of history, and history, if its authority is conceded, teaches the contrary, as you have seen in the foregoing ad­monition.

The progressists, it is true, assume that the savage state was the primitive state, and one of your preachers the other day edified his audience by giving an account of Adam taken from the New Zealander ; but he forgot to adduce any proof that the New Zealander is the type of the primitive man. There is not a single historical fact which proves or tends to prove that the race began in savagism and has reached civilization by a gradu­al progress or development. If the primitive man was a savage and progressive, how happens it that one of the charac­teristics of savages is, that they are stationary, that they never show the least sign of progress, and that no savage tribe ever by spontaneous efforts emerges from the savage state ? In all known instances in which a savage people has become civilized, it has been by the religion, the arts, or the arms of a people "already civilized, a fact in no way reconcilable with the pro­gressist theory. The teachings of history, the study of savage tribes, their language, manners, habits, and religions, lead to the conclusion, not that the savage is the germ of the civilized man, but that he is the civilized man corrupted, deteriorated, cut off by some terrible calamity from the communion of the higher life of nations, and despoiled of the glory he once had. The language of savages almost uniformly presents a language, not in the process of formation, but in the process of decay ; and their religious notions and institutions are reminiscences, or rather travesties, of doctrines and worships which belonged to a peo­ple in wisdom, science, virtue, and polish far above them. Moreover, the traditions of all nations belie this modern doctrine of progress. They all point to the past as the most perfect state, and sages and philosophers and poets' all refer their contemporaries to "the wisdom of the ancients." Whence comes this ? If the race was constantly advancing, if its prog­ress were historically verifiable, how, in the face of fact, of uniform experience, and authentic history, could all the world have the contrary conviction, and no one till some twenty or thirty years ago ever venture to assert, " The golden age is in the future, not in the past; Paradise is before, not behind you."

It is in vain, my brethren, to attempt to explain the facts of human experience by the doctrine of progress. Every man has in himself the living witness that it is not the law of prog­ress, but the law of sin, that he obeys.    If man is constantly advancing from his rude and feeble beginnings towards a less and less imperfect future, and the evils lie complains of only mark a given stage in his progress, result only from his igno­rance, his imperfection, his want of development, or more per­fect development, what is the meaning of conscience ? To deny conscience would be to deny reason, and so long as you recognize conscience, you must attribute the evils your philos­ophers profess to deplore, not to imperfectly developed nature, but to moral delinquency, to the feet that we are averse to our true good, and in order to attain to our destiny must deny our­selves and mortify our natures.

This established, you must come back to the fact asserted by universal tradition and by all experience, that our nature, as we now find it, is not in its normal state. As it now is, it is full of contradictions. Reason imposes an obligation which we are unable by reason alone to fulfil. From our nature we learn that it was intended for an end above its present capacity, and' we know that it could not have been so in the beginning. We know, then, that our nature has fallen, and fallen, too, whether you assume, with the Church, that it was never intended to have a natural destiny, that it was from the first appointed to a super­natural end, or whether you assume it to have been intended for a merely natural end. There is, then, now necessarily a question of redemption, of reparation.

The justice of God required him, when he appointed us to a given end, to establish a proportion between us and that end, or, in other words, to furnish us with the necessary means to gain it. If the end was supernatural, he must give us super­natural graces to obtain it ; if natural, the natural ability of gaining it. But he did not bind himself, nor was he bound in justice, to renew the supernatural graces or the natural powers, if we by our own fault forfeited them. His justice is satisfied in once bestowing them. But his demands against us do not cease because we by our fault lose the ability to comply with them. If we have lost the original graces, if we have debili­tated our nature, so that we can no longer fulfil the destiny to which he appointed us, it certainly is not his fault. Then he is not bound to restore them. As he gave us all that was needed to gain the end he assigned us, and as he has a right to exact from us, and must exact from us or deny his own eternal jus­tice, all that he has given us, he must continue to demand the fulfilment of our obligation, and demand precisely the same that would have been-his due in case we had lost nothing. This is the plain and simple teaching of reason.
Here, then, we are by nature. We have forfeited or lost the ability, whether natural or supernatural, which we once had to gain the end to which we are appointed, and can no longer render unto God what we owe him ; for we owe him, not only what we now are, but all that we now are and all that we have lost. Now, before we can worship God in the manner he must prescribe, we must in some way be able to recover what we have lost, and render unto him all that we were originally bound, because originally able, to render unto him. How is this to be done ? It must be done, or we do not fulfil the obli­gation which we know by reason we are under ; if we do not fulfil that obligation, we cannot attain to the end for which we were intended ; and if we do not attain to that end, we fail of obtaining our true good, for our good is identical with our des­tiny. You see the difficulty, my brethren ; and how is it to be overcome ?

The question is the question of questions. It is terrible to feel that reason imposes an obligation which it cannot instruct us how to fulfil, to find ourselves with broad conceptions which we know not how to realize, with a sense of duty hanging over us which we cannot practically fulfil,  to hesitate between probabilities, to balance between uncertainties, to find the dark­ness increase as we advance, and finally to lose ourselves in doubt and bewilderment. But it is far more terrible to feel the burden of sin oppressing us, to know that we have wilfully dis­obeyed God, broken his law, forfeited his gifts, and are sink­ing down under his wrath with no power to rise, atone for our sins, and reconcile him to us. The burden of sin, of a debt you have contracted, are bound to pay, and have wilfully thrown away the means of paying, is of all burdens the heavi­est. The soul, once become conscious of it, finds it intolera­ble, and in her fright and anguish shrieks out, What shall I do to be saved ? Reason herself, if exercised, is sufficient to en­able, sufficient to compel, the soul to ask this fearful question ; but what is and must be our condition, if we ask this question, and hear no answer but echo mocking us in the distance ? Every man knows, without supernatural revelation, that he is in a fallen state, that he is but a wreck of a true man, and that he has personally sinned, and owes in eternal justice a debt he cannot pay, that he has squandered the means of paying,  that he has fallen below his destiny,  that there is for him as he is no destiny, no good, for ever ; but though by his natural light he can see this, he can by it see no help, no deliverance, no issue. Justice is inexorable ; natural reason knows no mercy, no pardon ; nature can furnish no victim. The blood of bulls and goats has, and can have, no power in itself to purge the conscience, and wash away the stains of sin. There is to the eye of reason no deliverer, no protector, no shield between us and the divine vengeance which we have justly incurred. What can we do ?

Every man abandoned to nature and the guidance of natural reason alone does and must find himself in this situation, the most painful, the most terrible, that can be imagined. It is cer­tain, that, in this situation, unless God helps us, there is no help for us ; that, unless he points out to us the way of deliverance, and grants us supernatural assistance, there are no means of our restoration, and no possible chance of our worshipping him as reason declares we are bound to worship him, or to gain the end, the good, to which we were appointed, and which was originally within our reach. Hence the necessity of supernat­ural revelation, and, perhaps, of supernatural assistance be­sides.

But it must be conceded, my brethren, that we cannot con­clude the fact of supernatural assistance from its necessity, because the necessity is a necessity of our own creating, and Our inability is the result of our own fault. If we were in our normal state, and if we had never been corrupted through sin, we could undoubtedly conclude the fact from the necessity, that what we did not possess naturally which we needed, either to fulfil our obligation or to gain our end, would be supernat-urally supplied, and placed within our reach, so that we might avail ourselves of it, if we chose. But having forfeited what was once naturally or supernaturally supplied us, we cannot now, because we need it, conclude that it must be restored to us, and we still able to avail ourselves of it. Here is the sad condition in which we all now naturally are, and out of which by reason and nature alone there is clearly no issue.

Are we, however, left in this condition ? Has not God, in fact, had compassion on us, and has he not made us a revela­tion of his mercy ? Has he not provided redemption for us, and made it possible for us to regain our original standing, to cancel our obligations, to render him the worship which is his due, and to attain to the good which he originally intended us ? These are important questions, my brethren, and well worthy of your serious attention. If they can be answered in the affirmative, there is hope for man ; his face may resume the smile of gladness, and a well of joy may spring up in his heart. If not, there is for us nothing but the blackness of despair, unfailing sorrow, and ceaseless remorse,  weeping and gnash­ing of teeth for all men. Turn not lightly from these ques­tions. Engrossed with the world, with its cares, its follies, its gayeties, its dissipations, you may for a moment silence the voice of reason, and disregard the admonitions of conscience ; but a day must come, for it comes to all men, when the record of your lives will be unrolled before you, and you will see yourselves as you are. May that day come to you ere it is too late !