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The Two Brothers; or, Why are you a Protestant? No. 2

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1847

Art. I. The Two Brothers;  or,   Why are you a Prot­estant ?  Continued.

V. Protestant controversialists are well hit off in Lessing's Fable of the Poodle and Greyhound. " ' How our race is degenerated in this country !' said one day a far-trav­elled poodle to his friend the greyhound. ' In those distant regions which men call the Indies, there is still the genuine breed of hounds,  hounds, my brother, (you will not believe it, and yet I have seen it with my own eyes,) who do not fear to attack the lion and grapple with him.' ' Do they over­come him ?' asked the prudent greyhound. * Overcome him ! Why as to that I cannot exactly say ; but only think, a lion attacked ! ' ' But,' continued the greyhound, ' if these boast­ed hounds of yours do not overcome the lion when they attack him, they are no better than we, but a great deal more stu­pid.' " Only think, the Church attacked ! Attack her boldly, with or without success, and you are sure of the admiration of all  the poodles.

When the infamous Danton was asked by what means the piliable minority he headed were able to maintain their Reign of Terror and paralyze the millions opposed to them, he an­swered,  " By audacity, audacity, audacity." Protestant leaders understand very well the advantages of audacity, and that, if one is only bold and unprincipled enough to throw out grave charges against the purest and noblest cause which ever existed, he will not fail of multitudes to credit him. Ground­less objections, if not susceptible of an easy or a popular refu­tation, are as much to their purpose as any.    They serve to attack the lion, to put Catholics on their defence, and that is the same as a victory. A child may start an objection which the ablest and most learned divine cannot answer  to the child. A very ordinary man may urge an objection to some article of faith which will demand, in him who is to receive the answer, as well as in him who is to give it, for its refu­tation, the most rare and extensive erudition, and familiarity with the deepest principles and nicest distinctions of scholastic theology and philosophy. No small part of the objections urged against the sacred mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarna­tion, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Real Presence, and Tran-substantiation, are objections which an ordinary mind may un­derstand, but which it is impossible to answer to the general reader,  especially if the general reader be a Protestant. Such objections are exactly to the purpose of the Protestant controversialists, and gain them the applause of  the poodles.

These controversialists it is not to be presumed are igno­rant that all the objections of past and present times to the Church have been refuted, and unanswerably refuted ; but, from the nature of the case, they have, in numerous instances, been refuted only to the professional reader. The nature of the objection, though itself popular, precluded a popular reply. In all such cases, Protestant controversialists have only to deny that any reply has been given, or to assert that the one given is inconclusive, and they come off triumphant. This is their common practice. Nothing is more common than to meet, in Protestant controversial works, objections, which have been refuted a hundred times, reiterated without a hint that any reply has ever been even attempted, and urged in a tone of confidence, as if Catholics themselves conceded them to be unanswerable. The impudence of Protestant polemics in this respect is notorious and undeniable.

That this method of conducting a controversy, on matters in which no one has any real interest in being deceived or in deceiving, is fair, honorable, or just, it is not presumed any Protestant is silly enough to pretend ; but, filled with an in­veterate hatred of the Church, and having decided that it is the church of Antichrist, Protestant leaders, apparently, regard themselves at liberty to make use of any means for its over­throw which promise to be successful, and have no scru­ple in resorting to artifices which would shock the moral sense of an ordinary heathen. The Catholic writer, who should give a faithful account of their nefarious conduct in their war on the Church, would find it harder to sustain himself with his friends than against his enemies ; and he would hardly fail to be condemned by his own communion as a calumniator. Their conduct is so foreign to all the habits and conceptions of a simple-minded, honest Catholic, that one needs to have been a Protestant a great part of his life to be able to conceive it possible for beings having the human form, and pretending to some respect for religion and morals, to be guilty of so wide a departure from all that is true, just, and honorable. Hence the great tenderness and forbearance with which Cath­olics usually treat Protestants, and the undeserved credit they are accustomed to give them for a partial degree, at least, of fairness and candor.

At first view, one is at a loss to account for the sudden rise and rapid spread of the Protestant rebellion in the sixteenth century. Knowing by infallible faith, that the Church is of God, the Immaculate Spouse of the Lamb, and that she has truth, wisdom, justice, sanctity, reason, evidence, on her side, the Catholic is astonished at so singular a phenomenon ; but as he penetrates deeper into that mystery of iniquity, and be­comes familiar with the character of the rebel chiefs, and the means they adopted, his astonishment ceases, and his wonder is, not that the success was so great, but that it was not great­er,  that the revolt was so soon arrested and confined within limits that it has not as yet been able to pass. He sees noth­ing marvellous in the success of these rebel chiefs, but he is struck with the manifest interposition of Divine Providence to confound their language, to divide their counsels, to defeat their plans, to arrest their progress, to protect his Church, to show his unfailing love for her, and to augment her power and glory. Protestantism, as it concerns Eu.'ope, is actually confined within narrower limits than it was fifty years after the death of Luther, while the Church has gone on enlarging her borders, and never at any former period was the number of the faithful so great as it is now.

They who attack existing institutions, especially if those institutions are wise and salutary, may always count on the ¦ admiration and applause of all the poodles. Fixed and au­thoritative institutions are offensive to the natural man. They are a restraint, and no man, save so far as assisted and sub­dued by grace, loves restraint ; and there is no one that has not a natural repugnance to whatever curbs his lawless desires and licentious passions, or interposes an obstacle to his living as he lists. In every community,  because in every natural man,  there is always a predisposition, more or less manifest, to rebel against the existing order, and to welcome and adhere to those who are prepared to war against it, especially to credit whatever may be advanced to its prejudice. They who at­tack the existing order, appealing to this predisposition, have the appearance of attacking tyranny and oppression, and of being champions of freedom and justice. This fact renders them respectable, almost sacred, in the eyes of the multitude. Their position, moreover, permits them to assume a bold and daring tone, to make broad and sweeping assertions, and to forego clear and exact statements, and close and rigid logic. They can declaim, denounce, be impassioned, and affect all the eloquence of virtuous indignation. The eloquence of de­nunciation is the easiest thing in the world to command; for it appeals directly to those elements of our nature which lie nearest the surface and which are the most easily moved, and weak men prefer it and seek to possess it.

But he who defends authority labors always under a disad­vantage. He has an unpopular cause. To the superficial,  and they are always the great majority,  he is the advocate of tyranny, the enemy of liberty, warring against the best in­terests and true dignity and glory of his race. He can appeal to no popular passion, use no burning words, and pour forth no strains of indignant eloquence. He cannot speak to the multitude. He must speak lo sober sense, to prudent judg­ment, and aim to convince the reason, instead of moving the sensibility, or inflaming the passions. His words, to all but the few, are cold and spiritless, tame and commonplace. For the foaming tankard or sparkling goblet, with which the popular declaimer regales his auditors, he has only simple water from the spring. He must be subdued in his tone, measured in his speech, exact in his statements, rigid in his reasoning, and few only will listen to him, and fewer still can appreciate him. He who for years has been on the side op­posed to authority, and by his bold and daring declamation roused up a whole ocean of popular passion, and at every word brought an echo from the universal heart of humanity, no sooner finds himself on the other side, than all his marvel­lous eloquence is lost, and he is pronounced, by the very pub­lic which had hailed him as a second Cicero or Demosthenes, cold and weak, a Samson shorn of his locks and grinding in the mill  of the Philistines.    No matter how true and just his thought, how deep and searching his wit, how wise and pru­dent his counsel, how lucid and exact his statements, how clear and cogent his reasoning, he can excite no passion, move no sensibility, and bring no popular echo. The spell is broken ; his magic is over, and his power to charm is gone for ever. He is no Indian hound, fearing not to attack the lion, and the poodles see nothing to admire.

Then, again, the poodles regard the lion attacked as the lion vanquished. They hold every objection boldly and con­fidently made to be true, till it is proved to be false. In this fact, in the tendency of the great majority to regard every objection made to existing authority as well founded till the contrary is shown, lies the secret of the Protestant Reforma­tion. To this the Reformers owed their brilliant success. They well understood that their objections to the Church would be credited by multitudes, till refuted. It was a matter of little importance, so far as their success was concerned, whether their objections were true or false. What they want­ed was simply objections easily made, but not easily refuted,  susceptible of being proposed in a popular form, but not susceptible of a popular answer. Such objections they em­ployed their wit in inventing, and their skill and activity in circulating. A lie, happily conceived, adroitly told, and well stuck to, was in their case hardly, if at all, inferior to the truth ; and it must be conceded that they had a marvellous facility in inventing lies, and in adhering to them when they had once told them. Whoever coolly examines their objec­tions to the Church will readily perceive that they are all framed with respect, not to truth, but to the difficulty of refu­tation, and on the principle that a lie is as good as the truth till it is contradicted. Gloriously did they chuckle, we may fancy, when the " Father of lies " helped them to a popular objection, to which no popular answer could be returned. Boldly, or with brazen impudence, they threw it out, sent it forth on its errand of mischief, and then laughed at the heavy answer which, in process of time, came lumbering after it. The objection was made in a few words, on a loose sheet, and wafted by the wind of controversy through every land, town, village, and hamlet, to every door, and became univer­sally known ; the answer followed in a ponderous quarto or folio, all bristling with scholastic formulas and scholastic dis­tinctions, formidable even to the professional reader. Its cir­culation was necessarily limited ; few only heard of it; fewer read it; and still fewer were able to appreciate it. The au­thors of the objection safely ignored it, or, if they could not, they misrepresented it, denied its conclusiveness, and even made it the occasion of a new triumph with their followers. Or, when they could neither conceal the fact of the answer nor its conclusiveness, they could still count on all the poo­dles, who would insist that there must have been something in the objection, or else it would not have required so elaborate and so learned a refutation. The lion had been attacked,  and that was something.

" Where there is much smoke, there is some fire," says the popular proverb. Surely there must be something wrong in the Church, or so much would not, and could not, be said against her. Whether, therefore, the objections actually urged be precisely true or not, it is evident the Church is not un­objectionable, and if not unobjectionable, we are justified in rejecting her. So reason the poodles,  forgetting that our Blessed Lord himself was everywhere spoken against, was called a glutton and a drunkard, the friend of publicans and sinners, a blasphemer, a seditious fellow, a fool, said to be possessed of the devil, and finally crucified between two thieves as a malefactor. Here was smoke enough,  was there also some fire ? Here were objections enough raised, charges enough preferred,  was there also some truth in them ? Where is the blasphemous wretch that dare think it ? If they have called the Master of the house Beelze­bub, how much more they of his household ! If so they have accused the Lord himself, how much more his Church ! To one competent to reason on the subject, the grave character and multiplicity of the objections alleged against the Church are an evidence that she is God's Church. " Will you tell me what books I may read to become acquainted with the Catholic faith ? " said, the other day, an intelligent Prot­estant lady to the writer. u I am wholly ignorant of the Catholic Church, but I hear, everywhere, so much said against it, that I cannot help thinking there must be some­thing good in it, and that possibly it is the true Church." This young lady, brought up a rigid Calvinist, through God's grace, had learned to reason far more justly than she had been taught by her Protestant masters, and, if true to the grace she has received, will ere long be admitted into the " Communion of Saints." But she is not one of the poodles ; and the Reformers preferred, and their successors prefer, the admiration of these to the approbation of the sober and pru­dent greyhounds.

The policy of the Reformers was indicated by Luther, when he took the discussion of theological questions out of the schools and from the tribunal of professional theologians, and brought it before the unprofessional public. I picked up, the other day, in a steamboat, a flaming quack advertisement. It appeared that the advertiser had, as he alleged, discovered an entirely new medical system, which placed all the regular mediciners, from iEsculapius down, quite in the wrong. He had challenged the regular practitioners to a discussion of the merits of their respective systems. The challenge had been accepted, but on condition that the discussion should be before a jury of medical men. The adyertiser scorned this con­dition. It proved that the " regular doctors " had no con­fidence in their own system ; for if otherwise, they would not shrink from a public discussion. It was an insult to the pub­lic, and he would not submit to it. He was ready and anxious to discuss the question ; but he would do it before no preju­diced jury of professional men ; he would do it openly before his free and enlightened fellow-citizens, who were the only proper tribunal. He trusted his fellow-citizens, the free and enlightened public, would appreciate his motives in refusing to be a partner in offering so gross an indignity to their intelli­gence and impartial judgment, and would be at no loss to un­derstand why the regular practitioners had annexed to their acceptance of his challenge so insulting a condition.

Now here am I, said 1 to myself, throwing down the ad­vertisement, at least a fair average of the popular intelligence. I have even studied, with considerable attention, several branches of medical science ; and yet how utterly unqualified I should be to sit as judge on the respective merits of rival systems ! I might listen to the statements of either party, but I am too ignorant of the general subject to be able to per­ceive the bearing and real value of the statements of one or the other. I might, indeed, if such should happen to be the case, perceive that this pretended discoverer silenced his op­ponent ; but I could draw no inference from that, for nothing is more common than for a man to triumph through impudence, or because too ignorant to be refuted. The proper judges of a controversy like the one here proposed are medical men themselves, as lawyers are the proper judges of law questions. Indeed, the very fact, that this advertiser refuses to argue his case before an audience of professional men, and appeals to the unprofessional public, is to me full proof that he is a quack, and sufficient to decide me, without further examina­tion, against him. If I need medical advice, I am sure I shall not call him in, any more than I would a miserable pettifog­ger in an important and intricate law case. I can confide my health and that of my family to no practitioner whose science and skill are not superior to my own, and vouched for by those who know more of medical matters than I do, and are far better judges of medical systems than I am.

Just so would I have reasoned, if I had been present, when Luther made his appeal to the unprofessional public. Why did he make such appeal ? Because the public at large are the proper tribunal for professional questions ? Because they can really judge better, discriminate more accurately, and de­cide with more wisdom and justice, than they who by their profession are at least somewhat acquainted with the matters in controversy ? Because he really believed them the best qualified to be judges ? No one can be so simple as to be­lieve it, so senseless as to pretend it. Luther knew that loose statements, confident assertions, bold allegations, and impas­sioned appeals would avail him nothing before a jury of theo­logical doctors. He knew that there he could not lie with impunity, and that his " bellowing in bad Latin " would win him no laurels. He may have persuaded himself, or suffered the Devil to persuade him, and if we may believe his own statements, his colloquies with the Devil were frequent and in­timate, that the Church was wrong; but he must have known that the particular objections he brought against her were groundless, and that it was only by disregarding the established rules of reasoning, and resorting to falsehood and sophistry, confident assertions and bold and daring denuncia­tions, that he could sustain himself or his party. And these could avail only with the unprofessional public, who could never understand the exact points in question, perceive the bearing, or feel the force, of strict logical arguments. With them eloquence would pass for reason, and invective for argu­ment. This he knew, and hence his appeal from the schools to the public at large. Hence have his followers continued to appeal to the multitude, and to leave truth and justice to take care of themselves.

This policy, however, is not without certain drawbacks. It answers admirably while the party adopting it have nothing of their own, and are mere Bedouins of the desert, free to at­tack when and where they please. But when and where they have acquired a partial success, and wish to abandon their wandering life and predatory warfare, and settle down in fixed dwellings, with something established and permanent of their own, they find it unavailing. Men, as Carlyle remarks, can­not live without clothes, and surely in this bleak, wintry world it is not convenient to go naked. They must and will have something to cover their nakedness,  some sort of institutions for their protection. They will cover themselves with aprons of fig-leaves, and build them a hut with broken branches, seek out a cavern in the rocks, or a hole in the earth, if they can do no better. They must and will have something they call religion, some established mode of communion, real or not real, with the Invisible. Even the atheist fabricates to him­self a god of nature, and renders it a species of worship, and the skeptic seeks to convert his skepticism into a creed. It is horrible to feel one's self alone in the world, abandoned to the blind workings of the elements, with no Father in heaven, no brothers on earth, standing on a mere point, surrounded by a universal blank. We cannot endure it. Nature recoils from herself, and the soul shrieks out, " O thou Great Unknown, save me from myself! leave me, O, leave me not to the soli­tude of my own being ! " There is a God, and a God to be worshipped, is written in golden letters on all nature, and en­graven as with the point of a diamond on every heart. In vain would man tear himself away from his Maker. Go where he will, be and do what he will, sleeping or waking, the God that made him and seeks his heart wooes him with his Jove, or pursues him with his justice. The boldest recoil from his justice, and quake before the undefined dread of his vengeance, and seek some medium of yielding the love, or of providing a substitute for the love he solicits.

Protestants went on gloriously, while they aimed at nothing but to attack the existing ecclesiastical order. The means they had chosen were just fitted to their purpose. But when a large number had been seduced from their allegiance, and found themselves homeless, and shelterless, and naked in this bleak world, a new class of wants sprung up to be provided for. Some substitute for what had been thrown away in their madness was to be sought out. Now their old arts and meth­ods were useless. As soon as they had something with which they were unwilling to part, something, in a word, to defend, the weapons they had forged were no longer adapted to their purpose, and could be turned against them with murderous effect. Thus short-sighted and self-destructive is iniquity ever.

Poor James experienced the truth of this, the moment he was called upon to answer why he was a Protestant. The question was a novel one, and he soon found that he was wliolly unprovided with a satisfactory answer. He had sought long and earnestly for specious objections to the Church, but he had entirely neglected to furnish himself with arguments for Protestantism as distinguishable from Socinianism or in­fidelity. Nay, he was unable even to tell, save in a negative sense, what he meant by Protestantism. Adopt what defini­tion he would, it would include either too much or too little. It was too bad. Yet his natural pride would not permit him to yield to the obvious truth, that he must either be a Catho­lic or reject all revealed, if not all natural, religion. With the multitude he might, indeed, sustain himself. There his audacity and his eloquence would serve him, but they were lost upon his cool and logical brother. John was no poodle, that was certain, and could never be made to regard the lion attacked as the lion overcome, or even to admire the rashness of an at­tack where there could be no victory. What was to be done ? Give up the point ? That would never do, and he the virtual chief of the Protestant league for the conversion of the Pope and the suppression of Popery ! What then ? Surely he was the equal of his brother in acquirements, and he had always, in their school days, been regarded as his superior in natural gifts. He would not believe that he had the weaker cause. His failure, thus far, must be owing to his yielding the management of the argument to his brother, and his not having been sufficiently on his guard against his sophistry and Jesuitical cunning. Could he not correct this ? Could he not contrive to change the issue, and throw the burden of proof on the Catholic ? He pondered the matter for several weeks, and finally concluded, that, if he could not define and establish Protestantism, he might at least disprove Catholicity, and thus justify the Reformers in separating themselves from the Church.

VI. As soon as James had come to this sage conclusion, an opportunity was found of renewing the discussion. This time it was John who opened it.
" Well, brother, he said, have you succeeded in finding a definition of Protestantism to your mind ? "

" I wish to consider Protestantism, now, only as a protest against the errors and corruptions of Popery. Here you af­firm and I deny, and consequently the laboring oar is in your hands."

" Not exactly, my prudent brother. You affirm Catho­licity is corrupt. You are, then, the accuser, the plaintiff' in action, and must set forth your charges and sustain them. The principle of law is, every man is to be presumed inno­cent till proved guilty. The Church must, therefore, be pre­sumed innocent till the contrary is made to appear."

" The Church claims to be an ambassador from God, and to have the right to command me in his name. She must bring credentials from God, before I can be held to hear or obey her.    I demand her credentials."

" All in good lime. But not too many things at once. You shift the question before you get it fairly stated. You begin by charging the Church with being corrupt, and, without offering any proofs of her corruption, you proceed immediate­ly to demand her credentials as the Ambassador of God. This will not do. Corruption implies integrity ; and the plea that the Church is corrupt concedes her credentials, and mere­ly charges her with exceeding her authority, or with having abused it. This plea concedes her authority ; but the de­mand for credentials denies it. You cannot, therefore, plead, at one and the same time, want of authority, and corruption or abuse of authority. You must elect one or the other, and confine yourself to the one you elect."

" I am no lawyer, and do not understand special pleading."

" But you are an educated man, and are to be presumed to understand, at least, the ordinary rules of logic, and therefore that the same thing cannot be both conceded and denied in the same breath. You cannot say that the Church is corrupt, has abused or misused her authority, and yet deny her author­ity. When you deny that she has ever received authority from God, you declare her, in quantum est Ecclesia, a nul­lity from the beginning, and to allege the corruption of a nul­lity is absurd."

" Be it so. The Romish Church never received author­ity from God, or, in other words, was never divinely com­missioned."

" Possession is in law prima facie evidence of title.    The Church is in possession, and has been so from time immemorial. The presumption is, therefore, in her favor, and you must admit her title, or set forth good and valid reasons for contest­ing it."

" Prescription does not apply in the case of the Church."

" It is admitted in law, and therefore, by the reason of mankind, as a general principle. If you deny its application in the case of the Church, you allege an exception to the general rule, and must show a reason for it."

" Prescription does not give an absolute title, but simply a presumptive title against adverse claimants. It presupposes the existence of the estate to be conceded, the title of which is vested in some one, and presumes it to be in the possessor, unless the contrary is shown. But where the existence of the estate is the matter in question, it is idle to plead pos­session or prescription. What is not cannot be possessed. The estate, in the present case, is the divine commission. Supposing it conceded that such a commission has at some time been issued, possession may, I grant, be pleaded as pri-ma facie evidence of title in the possessor. But I deny that such a commission as the Romish Church claims to have re­ceived has ever been issued. One must prove, therefore, the fact of such commission, before you can plead possession or prescription."

" Possession implies the object possessed. Evidence of the possession is, therefore, evidence of the existence of that which is possessed. Consequently, just in proportion as there is evidence that the Church has possessed, or claimed and exercised, with the general consent, the commission in ques­tion, and as her having claimed and exercised it with this con­sent is presumptive proof of title against adverse claimants, is there presumptive proof that the commission has been issued."

" Quod nimis probat, nihil probat. Your argument, if it prove any thing, proves too much. A pagan or a Mahom­etan may say as much."

" If either paganism or Mahometanism claims a similar commission, and can, as the Church, be said to be in pos­session, the fact is, in like manner, presumptive evidence of title till the contrary appears, I both concede and contend. Nothing can generate nothing. The claim to a divine com­mission must have had some origin, and, on the principle of law, that every man must be presumed innocent till proved to be guilty, must be presumed to have had a good origin till the contrary is proved. False religions imply the existence of the true religion, as counterfeit coin implies the genuine. The claim to divine commission, if it be really made by either paganism or Mahometanism, is therefore prima facia evidence that at some time, to somebody, a divine commis­sion has issued. If no such commission had ever been given, it is not conceivable that it could have been claimed. No one would ever have falsely claimed to be an ambassador from one court to another, if no genuine ambassador, or noth­ing in the same order, had ever been known or heard of; and the sending of ambassadors must have become a general custom, before any one, not duly commissioned, could have conceived the project of palming himself off as one, or could have hoped for any success in the attempt to do it. The fact of possession, where it could be pleaded, would be a presumption of title in the Mahometan or the pagan, in like manner as it is in the case of the Catholic. Hence the Church, where she has never been in possession, when pre­senting herself as an adverse, claimant, always produces her credentials, and gives good and valid reasons why the present occupant should be ousted and she placed in possession. I admit, therefore, all that the argument implies, and deny that it proves too much."

" But admit it, and every mad enthusiast who claims to be divinely commissioned must be presumed to be so till the contrary is shown."

" Not at all. His claim to a divine commission is, if you will, a presumption that at some time, to somebody, a di­vine commission has issued ; but not that it has issued to him ; for he is not and never has been in possession. He must show a reason for his claim, before it can be admitted."

" At least, the principle applies to Protestants as well as to pagans and Mahometans, and you can no more plead pre­scription against us than against them."

" I have admitted the plea of prescription, in the case of paganism and Mahometanism, on the supposition that they are really in possession,a fact, however, which I let pass, but do not concede. But Protestants cannot plead prescrip­tion, because they are not and never have been in possession, and because they do not even claim to be, since you, in their name, deny that the commission in question has ever issued."

" But conceding that there was a presumption in favor of the Church at the epoch of the Reformation, and that the Reformers were not at liberty to separate from her without cause, this cannot be said now. The Church is not now in possession. The Reformers gave good and valid reasons for separating from her communion, and she has been condemned as a usurper by the judgment of mankind. The question is not now on ousting her from a possession which she has held from time immemorial, but on reversing the judgment rendered against her, and readmitting her to a possession from which she has been ejected by due process of law."

" When was the judgment you speak of rendered ? and where is the record of the court ? "

u The fact is one of public notoriety, and all the world now laughs at the ridiculous pretensions of Rome."

" Do you include in all the world the pagan and Mahom­etan worlds ?"

" Why should I not ? "

" It may be doubted whether the question has really ever come before them in such a shape that they can be said to have pronounced judgment upon it ; and as they reject Prot­estantism, whenever it pretends to be Christian, no less than Catholicity, they might possibly be as unsafe witnesses for a Presbyterian as for a Catholic,  perhaps even more so."

" Let them go. I mean by all the world all the Christian world, Christendom so called."

" You mean to assert, then, that Christendom has pro­nounced judgment against the Catholic Church ? "

" Yes, against the Romish Church."

" You distinguish without a difference. The Church in communion with the Church of Rome, acknowledging its Pon­tiff for its supreme head on earth, is the only Church which, by the consent of mankind, is or ever has been denominated the Catholic Church."

" She should be denominated the mother of harlots."

" So that Protestant communions could claim to be her daughters. But no more of this. Have Catholics,'who re­main in her communion, pronounced judgment against the Church ? "

" Perhaps not."

" And they are as two, if not three, to one of all who bear the Christian name."

" I am sorry to say they are."

" And I am not sorry, and would to God there were none but Catholics on the earth! "
" That is, you would, if you could, exterminate all Prot­estants."

" Yes, if making them sincere and humble Catholics were exterminating them.    But if Catholics are the great majority of Christendom, how can you tell  me  that Christendom has pronounced judgment against the Church ? "

 " I do not reckon Papists among Christians."

" And I regard  what you  call  Papists as the only true Christians ; and I have, to say the least, as much right to my reckoning as you have to yours.   You mean, then, by Christen­dom those who protest against the Church ? "

" You may have it so."

" Then your position is, the Church is condemned by all by whom she is condemned ! This may be granted. But these are a small minority, a mere handful, of those who bear the Christian name. By what right do you pronounce their judgment the judgment of mankind ? "

" Protestant  nations  are   the   more  enlightened  and  ad­vanced portion of mankind."

" Is that a conceded fact ? "

 " Is it not ?"

" Do Catholics concede it ? "

" Perhaps not."

" They are the great majority, and, as they deny it, how can you put it forth as generally conceded ? "

u The denial of Catholics amounts to nothing,  the fact is as I allege."

" In whose judgment ? "

" In the judgment of all who are competent to judge in the premises."

" Who says so ? "

 " I say so."

" On what  authority ? "

" The fact is evident, and cannot be questioned."

 " But it is questioned and denied by Catholics, who are as five to one to your Protestants."

" They will swear to any thing their priests tell them. Their denial is not to be counted. They are not to be per­mitted to testify in their own cause."

" As much as you in yours. Their denial is as good as your assertion, till you show some reason why your assertion is to be preferred."

" I tell you Protestant nations are the most enlightened and advanced portion of mankind, as is well known."

" To whom ?    To themselves ? "

" Yes, if you will."

" By what right are they both witnesses and judges in their own cause ? "

" By the right of being the most enlightened and advanced portion of mankind."

" What is it to be truly enlightened and advanced ? "

" Those nations are the most enlightened and advanced that are the most enlightened and advanced in what is of the greatest importance and utility to man."

" And what is that ? "

" Religion, the "one thing needful."'

" True religion, or false ? "

" True religion, of course."

" The most enlightened and advanced nations are, then, those who are the most enlightened and advanced in the re­quirements of true religion ? "

" They are ; and therefore I claim Protestant nations as the most enlightened and advanced."

" And therefore beg the question. If Protestantism be the true religion, you are right ; if Catholicity be the true re­ligion, you are wrong. Consequently, you must determine which is the true religion, before you can determine which are the more enlightened and advanced nations."

u But it cannot be denied that Protestant nations are more intelligent, more industrious, and better instructed in the sci­ence and art of government."

" What you say may be questioned ; but even conceding it, it amounts to nothing. Because a man is a good cobbler it does not follow that he is a good sculptor. Because a na­tion is enlightened in mere earthly matters, it does not follow that it is in religious matters. It would be a solecism to say the Athenians were a more enlightened and advanced nation than the Jews, or that a Socrates is better authority on re­ligion than David, Solomon, or Isaias."

" But I have always considered it undeniable that Protes­tant nations are in advance of all the others."

" If to advance consists in shaking off Christian civiliza­tion and in returning to that which it superseded, you may have been right ; otherwise, the probability is, that you have been altogether wrong. You must prove Protestantism to be true religion, before you can claim Protestant nations as the more enlightened and advanced nations ; and till you can so claim them, you cannot claim their judgment as the judgment of mankind, even if you could then ; and till you can claim their judgment as the judgment of mankind, you cannot say the judgment of mankind has condemned the Church. This you have not yet done. Consequently, you cannot say the Church has been ejected from her possession by the judgment of man­kind. She is, as it appears, from the fact that the overwhelm­ing majority of those who bear the Christian name continue, as they have always continued, to adhere to her, still in pos­session. She has lost nothing, and you have gained nothing, by the lapse of three hundred years. The question stands to­day as it did in 1517, and she may plead the olim possideo, as she could then, and with even additional force ; and you must set forth in your declaration good and valid reasons for eject­ing her, before you can compel her to plead any other title than that of prescription."

" But you forget that the Reformers  did  set forth such reasons."

" I cannot have forgotten what I never knew. But what­ever reasons they set forth, the presumption is that they were insufficient ; for they have been so regarded by Christendom generally, since the Church continues in possession, and the great majority of all who are called Christians still adhere to her communion."

" But they were in reality sufficient, and ought to have been so regarded."

" That is a point to be proved.  What were those reasons ?"

" The first in order, if not in time, was, that our Lord founded no authoritative church such as the Romish claims to be."

" We have seen she was in possession, and the presump­tion was in her favor. What you state was an allegation which needed to be proved."

" The Reformers proved it."

" By what evidence ? "

" By the word of God."

" Had they the word of God ? "

" They had."

" Did the Church concede that they had it ? "

" They had the Holy Scriptures, and she admitted that they were the word of God."

" That the mere letter was the word of God, or the sense in which the Holy Ghost dictated them ? "

" The sense, of course ; for words are nothing without their sense."

" Did she admit that the Reformers, in having the letter of Scripture, had its sense, which is the word of God ? "

" She did not."

" Was, according to her, the Holy Scripture the word of God, if understood in any sense different from hers ? "

" No ; she claimed the right to declare its sense."

" Did the Reformers adduce the words of Scripture, in support of their allegation that our Lord had founded no such church as she pretended to be, in the sense she gave them ? "

" They did not ; for she explained them in her own fa­vor."

" Then she did not admit that what they adduced in sup­port of their allegation was the word of God. Then, as the burden of proof was on them, they were bound to prove that it was his word."

" They quoted the Scriptures, and they were the word of God."

" In the sense of the Church, not otherwise. The Re­formers pleaded the word of God in support of their allegation. The Church replied by denying that what they set forth as the word of God was his word. Her reply was sufficient, unless they proved that it was his word."

" But their plea was evident on its face, for they alleged the very words of Scripture."

" That they alleged the very words of Scripture may be denied, for in point of fact there are no words of Scripture which say that our Lord did not found such a church as the Catholic Church claimed and claims to be ; but let that pass for the present. They pleaded the word of God, and the word of God is not the words, but the sense, of Scripture. To ad­duce the words, therefore, availed them nothing, unless they proved that the sense of the words, as intended by the Holy Ghost, was what they pretended ; for till then they could not assert that they had adduced the word of God."

" But the matter was so plain, that there could be no ques­tion as to the genuine sense of the words adduced."

u But there was a question as to the sense, by your own admission. The Church attached to them one sense, and the Reformers another."

" But the words themselves necessarily mean what the Re­formers asserted."
" We cannot go into that question at present. The right to declare the word of God is included in the possession of the Church, and the fact that she denied the Reformers' sense is prima facie evidence in her favor and against them."

" I do not admit that."

" You have admitted it ; for you have conceded that pre­scription was in favor of the Church, and is prima facie evi­dence of title. You must, therefore, admit the word of God as the Church declares it, till you can assign a good and valid reason for not doing so."

" The fact that the express words of Scripture are against her is such a reason."

" The express words of Scripture you cannot allege ; be­cause, as a matter of fact, no such words are to be found ; and because, if there were such words, they still could not be adduced against the Church, for the Scriptures are in her possession, and denied to have authority save as she under­stands them."

" That would be to deny that the Scriptures are legitimate evidence in support of an allegation against the Church."

" That is not my fault. The Reformers could not, of course, legitimately quote the Scriptures as the word of God against the Church, save in the sense she authorized, unless they suc­ceeded in removing the presumption she derived from prescrip­tion, and in getting themselves in legal possession of them."

" I do not admit that. The Scriptures were the law, to which the Church and all were accountable."

" As declared by the Church, transeat; but that they were the law in any other sense the Reformers were bound to prove."

" But the Reformers had the word of God as well as the Church, and therefore were not bound, even presumptively, by the sense she declared."

" Had they legal possession of the word of God ? "

" I care nothing about that. They had the Scriptures, and that was enough ; for they had in them the rule of faith, both for them and for the Church."

" But you must care for that ; for it is conceded that the Church was in possession, and, being in possession, she had the presumptive right to declare the law ; and they were bound to take it from her, unless they could prove that they had legal possession of the word."

" They received the Scriptures from God himself."

" They were, then, the legal depositaries of the word ? "

" Yes, as much as the Church."

" Had they the right to declare its sense ? "

" Why not ?"

" If you say that, you concede the point you dispute. You allege against the Church, that our Lord founded no such church. The essential character of the Church, so far as concerns the present controversy, is, that she has the word of God, and is its legal keeper and expounder. If, then, you say the Reformers had legal possession of the word, and were authorized to keep and expound it, you make them essentially such a church as you assert our Lord did not found. You contest the claims of the Church on the ground that our Lord founded no church with the authority she exercises ; you must, then, unless you would concede what you deny, disclaim that authority on the part of the Reformers."

" I do disclaim it on their part."

" Then you grant, in the outset, that they had no legal possession of the word, and were not its authorized keeper and expounder ; therefore, that they had no word of God which they had authority to quote against the Church. What they had not they could not adduce. Consequently, they did not, for they could not, adduce the word of God in support of their allegation."

" But they had the Scriptures, as a matter of fact, and could read and understand them for themselves."

" They had the Scriptures as a private citizen has the statute-book, it may be ; but as they were not the authorized keeper and expounder of the word of God, their understand­ing of it was without authority, and not to be entertained."

" They had the right from God himself to read and un­derstand the word for themselves."

" Then they were authorized to keep and expound it, at least for themselves."

" They were."

" But I understood you to deny that any body was author­ized to keep and expound the word."

" I do not say so. Almighty God, in revealing his word, has authorized every one to keep, read, and expound its sense."

" Then, so far from its being true, as you have alleged, that our Lord has founded no church with the authority the Catholic Church claims, he has constituted each individual a church with the same authority. Decidedly, brother, you must give up this, or withdraw your allegation. If you admit that our Lord has anywhere authorized any body, individual or collective, to keep and expound the word of God, you admit that he did found, essentially, such a church as your allegation denies. You cannot deny such authority to the Church on the ground that no such authority was ever given, and then claim it for each and every individual."

" Be that as it may, I do claim it for each and every indi­vidual."

" That is a bold stand for a Presbyterian, but necessity sometimes compels us to be bold. But did the Church admit this ? "

" No, she denied it."

" Then the Reformers were bound to prove it."

" They did prove it."

" By what authority ? "

" The word of God."

" By what the Church admitted to be the word of God ? "

" No matter what she admitted. They proved it by the word itself."

" Who says so ?"

" They said so."

" On what authority ? "

" On the authority of God's word."

" On what authority did they say that that was the word of God which authorized them to say so ? "

" The word itself."

" But by what authority did they prove the word itself ? "

" The word of God is the word of God, and is in all cases supremo.    Would you deny the word of God ? "

" But as the Church denied what they adduced as the word of God to be his word, they were then bound to prove that it was his word."

" What did Almighty God give us his word for, if it was not that we should read and understand it for ourselves ? "

" Your first business is to prove that he has given you his word. The Church asserts that he has given it to her, and that she permits the faithful to read the Scriptures for their edification, but always with submission to her authority, and the reservation that no doctrine is to be deduced from them which she does not authorize."

" There she is wrong."

" That is for you to prove."

" God proposed to teach mankind by writings, not by a body of men."

" That, also, is for you to prove."

" It is evident from the word itself."

" You must prove that you have the word, before you can introduce it as evidence."

" No one can read the New Testament and believe other­wise."

" Not true in fact ; for the great mass of all who do read the New Testament actually believe otherwise. But you must get legal possession of the New Testament, and establish your right to interpret it, before you can quote it in a sense the Church denies. Till then, the denial of your assertion by the Church is prima facie evidence against you."

" I do not care for the Church.    I deny her authority."

" I know that; but her authority is to be presumed, till rea­sons are set forth for denying it. You are not at liberty to deny it without a reason."

" I have given a reason."

" What is it ? "

" Why, I tell you she is condemned by the word of God."

" You tell me so, but that is not enough. You must prove that it is so."

" You do not suffer me to do so.    You will not suffer me to quote the Bible against her."

" No such thing. When you have proved that the Bible, in the sense you adduce it, is the word of God, you may quote it to your heart's content."

" Why, I have told you again and again that the Church herself admits the Bible to be the word of God, and there­fore it is not necessary, in arguing against her, to prove that what I adduce from it is the word of God.".

" The Bible plus her interpretation, or rather in the sense she authorizes, she admits to be the word of God, I grant ; minus that interpretation, or in any other sense, she denies it to be the word of God. Consequently, since you would ad­duce it in a sense she does not authorize, if you adduce it at all, she denies what you would adduce is the word of God. You must, then, prove that it is, before you can legally ad­duce it."

" But you will not let me prove it.".

" I do not hinder you."
" I offer to prove it by the word itself."

" That is not logical ; for it assumes the word to prove the word."

" Not so. Here are the Scriptures, admitted by the Church, when taken in their genuine sense, to be the word of God. I simply propose from them and by them to show what is their genuine sense ; and if I do so, I prove by an authority which she herself concedes all that I am required to prove."

" You cannot do that, because in doing it you assume that the Church is not the authorized interpreter of the word, which is the point you must prove ; and that you are the authorized interpreter, which is also a point you must prove, The Church simply admits that the Scriptures, taken in the sense she au­thorizes, are the word of God. This is the full extent of her admission. But taken in another sense, she denies them to be the word of God ; for the word of God, as we have agreed, is not the words, but the sense, of the Scriptures. Consequently, before you can allege them in a sense con­trary to hers, nay, before you can go into any inquiry as to their sense, you must, on the one hand, dispossess her of her prescriptive right to declare their sense, and establish your own authority as their interpreter. Till you have done one or the other, the sense of Scripture is not an open ques­tion, and you cannot open it without assuming the point in dis­pute."

" That denies absolutely my right to quote the Scriptures against the Church."

" Not absolutely. You may quote them in her sense against her, if you can ; and in your own sense, when you have proved it to be the word of God."

" But the first would be of no avail, because she has taken care to explain the Scriptures in her own favor ; and I cannot prove them to be the word of God in any other sense, unless I am at liberty to explain them by themselves."

" That is, you cannot prove your point, unless you are at liberty to prove the same by the same ! Prove that you are authorized to declare the sense of Scripture, and then you will have no difficulty."

" But I cannot prove that I am, save from the word it­self."

" That is to say, unless you are at liberty to assume and ex­ercise the authority to declare the sense of Scripture, as the condition of proving that you have such authority ! That will not do, brother. It would be proving idem per idem, the same by the same, which is bad logic."

" How, then, am I to proceed ? "

" That is your affair, not mine."

" The Church spreads her claim over every thing, and leaves me, according to your principles of logic, no possible means of adopting any line of argument against her, which does not, in some sense, assume the point to be proved. So subtle and crafty is her tyranny, that it leaves absolutely nothing to those who would resist it. This to me is only another evidence of her wicked origin and pernicious in­fluence."

" So you are of opinion, that, if Almighty God should es­tablish a church, he would take good care to leave it open to attack, to give its enemies a fair and solid ground on which to carry on their operations against it ! I am of a different opinion, and predisposed to believe the Almighty to be more than a match for the Devil, and that, if he should establish a church, he would so constitute it that no attack could be made upon it which should not recoil upon those who made it,  no argument be framed against it which should not serve to demonstrate the folly and absurdity of its framers. It is un­questionably a very difficult matter to make an action lie against the Church, or to find a court in which an action can be le­gally commenced against her ; but I have yet to learn that this is her fault. The Church is in possession of universal and supreme authority under God, has a prescriptive right to that authority, and must be presumed to have a valid right to it till the contrary is shown. You cannot assume the con­trary, but are bound to prove it. Now, you must prove it without authority, or with authority. Without authority you cannot prove it ; for proofs which are sustained by no au­thority prove nothing. You must, then, prove it with authority, or not prove it at all. That it is difficult to find any authori­ty whose assertion does not assume the nullity of the supremo authority which is to be presumed, is undoubtedly true. You wish to arraign the actual possessor of the supreme authori­ty, but you cannot do so unless you have some court of com­petent jurisdiction. But any court which should claim au­thority to issue a precept against the possessor of supreme authority, and summon him to answer at its bar, would as­sume authority over him, and by so doing prejudge the case. This is in the nature of things, and cannot be avoided ; but whose is the fault ? The Reformers, if they had been law­yers, would have seen that what they attempted was against law, and a primd facie crime on their part, for which they were liable to suffer the full vengeance of the law. If they had been even tolerable logicians, they would have seen that they could urge no argument which did not assume what was in question. But surely the Church is not to be censured, be­cause they were miserable pettifoggers and shallow sophists."

" But there is a court competent to institute proceedings against the Church."

" What court ? "

" The court of conscience."

" You must prove that conscience is supreme, before you can say that ; for the Church, as the vicegerent of the Al­mighty, claims and possesses jurisdiction over conscience, and is supreme judge in foro conscienluc. This is an integral part of her possession to which she has a prescriptive right. You must dispossess her, before you can compel her to plead at the bar of conscience."

" But she is at least bound to answer at the bar of the Bible, interpreted by private reason."

" Not till you dispossess her, or place the Bible interpret­ed by private reason in possession ; for she possesses juris­diction over them."

" At the bar of reason, then."

" Reason has and can have no jurisdiction in the premises ; for the question turns on a supernatural fact, lies within the supernatural  order,   and  therefore  out  of   the  province of reason."

" The general sense of mankind."

" That is against you, and in favor of the Church, as we have already seen, and is conceded in the fact that the Church is allowed to plead prescription."

" Then to the written word, interpreted and its sense de­clared by the Holy Ghost."

" Establish the fact of such a court, and she will not re­fuse to appear and answer. But she claims to be that court herself, and is in possession as that court ; you must dispos­sess her by direct impeachment of her cliiims, or by estab­lishing, before a competent tribunal, the rights of an adverse claimant, before you can allege such a courc."

" The Reformers were aided by the private illumination of the Holy Ghost, and what they did, they did in obedience to his commands."

" That was for them to prove."

" They did prove it."

" How ? "

" From the written word."

" But they could prove nothing from the written word, for they had no legal possession of it."

" They had legal possession of it. The Holy Ghost gave them legal possession."

" What and where was the evidence of that fact, if fact it was ? "

" In the Scriptures."

" That is, they proved by the Holy Spirit that they had legal possession of the Holy Scriptures, and by the Holy Scriptures that they had the Holy Ghost ! But this was to reason in a vicious circle."

" The Reformers set forth other and conclusive reasons for rejecting the Church, which I will reproduce on another day ; hut you must excuse me now, for I have some parochial duties to which I must attend."

" So you give up the first reason, namely, our Lord found­ed no such church as the Catholic ? "

" Not by any means. I may have erred in bringing that forward before the others. I ought not to have departed from the example of the Reformers. They did not allege that rea­son first, and I see now that they were wise in not doing so. They first proved that the Church had forfeited her rights, by having abused her trusts. Having thus ejected her, they look possession of the word, and easily and clearly demonstrated that she had been null from the beginning, by showing that our Lord never contemplated such a church."

" That is, they dispossessed themselves by acquiring pos­session.     Very good Protestant law and logic."

" You may spare your sneer, for perhaps it will soon be re­torted with seven-fold vengeance."

" O, not so bad as that, I hope."

" We shall see. I will, God willing, prove that the Re­formers were rigid reasoners and sound lawyers."

" An Herculean task. Clearing the Augean stables was a fool to it."

" The Reformers were great and glorious men, rare men, the like of whom will not soon be seen again."
" Some consolation in that."

" To call such men miserable pettifoggers and shallow
sophists is "

" To use soft words, which turn away wrath."

" To outrage common sense and common decency."

" Why, would you censure me for not calling them by harder names ? I might have easily done so, but I wished to spare your prejudices as much as possible."

" I tell you, John, that, in becoming a miserable idolatrous Papist, and drunk with the cup of that sorceress of Babylon, the mother of every abomination, you seem to have lost all sense of dignity, all self-respect, and all regard for the proprieties of civilized life."

" Because I do not rave and rant, every time I have occa­sion to allude to the chiefs of the Protestant rebellion ? "

" No ; you know that is not what I mean. You degrade yourself in speaking so contemptuously of the glorious Re­formers."

" And what does my most excellent, amiable, polite, and sweet-spoken brother do, when he calls God's Holy Church the sorceress of Babylon, &c, and brands the members of her holy communion with the name of idolaters ? "