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Conversations of an Old Man No. III

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1850

Art. V. Conversations of an Old Man and his  Young Friends.No. III.

F. You have not satisfied me. I love and honor the Church in her place, and I yield neither to you nor to any other man in my reverence for the clergy, or my obedience to them, so long as they keep within their proper sphere. But when the Church encroaches on the civil authority, and seeks to estab­lish a theocracy, I cease to respect her ; and when the clergy leave the spiritual order, and undertake to dictate to me the political conduct I am to follow, I hold myself free to disobey them, and, if need be, to resist them with all my might. I am a man and a citizen, as well as a Christian, and no power on earth, if I can hinder it, shall wrest from me my rights as a man, or interfere vvilh my convictions of duty as a citizen. If the Pope himself should undertake to control my conduct as an American citizen, I would laugh him to scorn, and even, if necessary, make war on him as soon as I would upon any for­eign potentate.

B. Bravo ! my young friend ; you are not lacking in brave words and high spirit, such as it is.

O. F talks very well, and if he could as a good Catholic talk as he does, it would amount to something. They who are not Catholics would then have some assurance that your Church is not incompatible with civil liberty and social progress.

G. Very true. But F's talk is all gammon, and can de­ceive no one. He is a poor Catholic, and he will never per­suade me that he is talking in the spirit of the religion he pro­fesses. He either does not know his religion or he does not believe it, and holds on to it only because he is too proud to forsake the religion of his fathers.

F. You all seem to know my religion better than I know it myself; but I have never known one, brought up a Protestant or an unbeliever, that did not entirely mistake her character; and in no respect is she more misapprehended than in her teachings on the mutual relations of the two orders, temporal and spiritual. I know that the extravagant pretensions of big­ots and Ultramontanists have led many to think that I cannot as a good Catholic say what I have just said, and I own that the conduct of such Popes as Gregory the Seventh, Alexander the Third, Innocent the Third, and Boniface the Eighth, which I dare be known not to approve, may seem to confirm the false notion which has given rise to the unmeasured obloquy which has been showered upon the Church; but I know also that I arn free to use the language I. have just used, and that in doing so I only prove myself a dutiful and prudent son of the Church.

B. Rather of the synagogue of Satan, you mean, young man. The spirit with which you speak is Satanic ; but what you say is partly true and partly false, though even the true becomes false in the connection and for the purpose you say it.

O. We thought so, and were sure you would get a rebuke from the Catholic side.

F. I have great regard for our venerable friend ; but he is young as a Catholic, and has not yet lost the zeal and intoler­ance of the recent convert. I do not, he will permit me to say, recognize him as an authorized expounder of Catholic faith and theology.    I was born and bred a Catholic.

B. I thought you, like the rest of us, were born an infidel and child of Satan.

F. I am not, and never was, an infidel. I have always been a Catholic,, and my father and mother were Catholics before me, and so were all my ancestors, as far back as the time of St. Austin and his forty monks, sent by St. Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There has never been an infidel or heretic in the family, that I have ever heard of.

B. There may, however, have been some not very good Catholics, and it is possible that the stock has degenerated. Yet you are mistaken in saying you were always a Catholic. You were born  as is every one, excepting always the Blessed Virgin, and those sanctified in the mother's womb, as was the prophet Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist  an infi­del and child of Satan, and you became a Catholic only in holy baptism. We who grew up in heresy, and spent the vigor of our lives in the service of Satan, are not meet, I grant, to be called Catholics, to be treated as children ; but it is hardly meet in you who have been orthodox from your infancy to tell us so ; you should rather rejoice over our conversion, for you know that there is joy in heaven with the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-and-nine just persons that need no repentance. I claim not to be an author­ized teacher; I am but a simple layman, and know very little of Gatholic theology. I only know what I am taught, and all that is not censurable in me is that I do not take it upon me to teach my teachers, nor to boast over those who may chance to be less instructed than myself.    It is for youth to be proud and arrogant, to fancy it knows all things, and possesses all virtues ; it is for old age, looking back upon a painful experience, to be modest and humble,  to deplore its ignorance and bewail its short-comings.

F.  Forgive me.    I did not mean to be assuming or disre­spectful.

B. Of course not.    You but spoke as it is the fashion for young men now-a-days to  speak,  out from the fulness of your own self-confidence, and in utter unconsciousness of the attitude you assume, or the bearing of your speech.

F.  You are severe.

B. Kindly so, if 1 am, as you will yourself feel, long before you are as old as I am ; for I do not think you are one of those who are incapable of profiting by experience. But enough of this. I am a convert, I grant, and you are not. You have to thank God that you had Catholic parents, who brought you up in the Church, and early instructed you in what you should believe and in what you should do ; and I have to thank him no less, nay, still more, that he has had the ineffable goodness to call me from error and sin, and make me in my old age a member of his Church. In your case and mine, all the glory is due to him, and to him alone. Neither of us has wherein to glory but his grace, and neither has wherewithal to boast over the other. The point to be considered is, not which of us is greatest, but what is the truth on the question raised which we both, as Catholics, must hold.

My young friend, if as well instructed in Catholic doctrine as he would persude us, knows that one may utter some things which are censurable as heresy, others as simply erroneous, others as rash, others as scandalous, others as ill-sounding, and others as offensive to pious ears. Now, supposing he can say all he has said without absolutely falling into heresy, he may still be obnoxious to some of the other notes of cen­sure. What he says is disrespectful to the Church, to the Holy Father, and the clergy, and, to say the least, sounds bad and is offensive to pious ears, and, as it may well lead some to sin, it is scandalous. Aside, then, from the correctness or incorrectness of the particular propositions he utters, he has no right to say what he says ; for a man may be guilty at common law of a libel, though he utters only the truth, by uttering it in a malicious spirit for a malicious purpose, and in this sense, it is sometimes said, the greater the truth the greater the libel. So much must be said as to the animus of his remarks.

As to the matter itself, I agree that the Church is to be honored and obeyed only in her place ; but who, according to Catholicity, is the judge of what is her place ? And how can a Catholic, who, if a Catholic, believes without doubting that she is infallible, commissioned by Almighty God to teach us what we are to believe, and to command us what we are to do, ever make the supposition that she does or can get out of her place ? I have been taught that our Lord is himself super-naturally present with the Church all days unto the consumma­tion of the world, and that he assumes to himself the respon­sibility of keeping her in her place, and preventing her from going astray or encroaching upon the rights of any individual, community, or interest. As my young friend claims to be well versed in Catholic doctrines, he will set me right if I have been wrongly taught.

F. I do not pretend that you are wrong in this. I hold the Church is infallible and holy ; but I do not therefore hold that popes, cardinals, ambitious prelates, and priests are infal­lible and impeccable.

B. Fair and easy, young man. Mind the categories, or you may get into a category yourself, as Captain Truck would say. That popes, cardinals, prelates, priests, are personally impec­cable, nobody pretends ; so that matter we can pass over. That cardinals, prelates, and priests, teaching out of their own hearts, are not infallible, are as fallible as other men, I concede ; but that they are fallible when teaching what the Church has taught them, or commands them to teach, 1 deny, and so must my young friend himself, if a good Catholic. Personally they are fallible, but when teaching in the commun­ion of the Church their teaching is infallible. As to the Holy Father, when speaking as a private doctor, he is in the condi­tion of any other private doctor ; but when he teaches as Pope, officially, as the visible Head of the Church, and defines faith or morals for the whole Church, you cannot say he errs, for you are bound, under pain of excommunication, to believe, ex animo, that his definition is true, and you are no more at liberty to impugn a doctrinal definition, formally, judicially, given by a pope, than you are to impugn a doctrinal definition given by an oecumenical council. The mere speculative de­nial of the infallibility of the Pope is not formal heresy, and he who makes it may be absolved ; but the practical application of this speculative denial to any particular doctrinal definition made by the Pope, or the denial of the truth of any doctrine the Pope defines to be Catholic doctrine, is heresy, and, if persisted in, excludes from the Catholic communion. This being so, yon are not held to be a heretic because you say the Pope may err, not, indeed, because what you say is not false, but because, being obliged to believe he never does err, it is a harmless absurdity, which the Church has never considered it necessary to condemn, and which she overlooks in compassion for the logical weakness of those who make it. I do not, then, by any means concede to you that a definition of faith or morals for the whole Church by the Sovereign Pontiff can be erroneous, and the moment you select any one and pronounce it erroneous, I shall pronounce you a heretic.

F. That you may indeed do, if the definition has been ac­cepted by all the pastors of the Church.

B. I shall make no inquiry whether it has been so accepted or not; because the definition binds me in conscience the moment that I know the Pope has made it, as is evident from the fact, that, if I should refuse to believe it ex animo, or dare to reclaim against it, I should incur, ipso facto, excommunication. You are not by any means at liberty to withhold your obedi­ence till you have consulted all the pastors of the Church, and ascertained whether they agree that it is due or not.

F. Well, be that as it may ; if the Pope should command me to make war on my country, or bid me encroach on the rights of the temporal power, I will say, what I have heard even from Catholic pulpits,  I would scorn his command ; I would refuse him obedience, and resist him to the utmost of my ability.

B. Very likely you would. But there is very little Catho­lic piety in abusing the Pope hypothetically, and if he has been so abused from Catholic pulpits, so much the more shame. But it is for us to leave the incumbents of those pulpits to answer to those who have received authority to call them to account for their conduct. We will say nothing of them, only, if they have done what their religion does not warrant, we will take care not to imitate them. Indiscreet men, no doubt, sometimes occupy pulpits ; men who, in endeavouring to throw oft* one charge brought against the Church by her enemies, incur another not less dangerous. When one treats disrespect­fully the Vicar of our Lord, and makes use of expressions that diminish our reverence for those the Holy Ghost has placed over us, we know he has forgotten himself, and is not acting in accordance with the instructions he has received.    Thus far I own I am not bound to follow him. The supposition you make is absurd and impossible, and it is idle to say what we would or would not do in case it should happen. Wait till the supposition becomes possible, before you make up your mind what you will do.

0. But is not a man's first duty to his country ?

B. No, Sir.

C As I thought. I always believed the Catholic religion incompatible with patriotism and the rights of the civil power ; and this is the reason why, as an American and a republican, I, who am no bigot, and respect the rights of conscience in every one, deprecate its spread amongst us.

R. The Catholic owes allegiance to a foreign potentate, and therefore can never be a good citizen or a real patriot.

F. It is to prove that you are wrong that 1 have taken the ground I have, and which our venerable friend here, with his Ultramontanism and old world notions, attempts to controvert. Verily, I am half inclined to think he has just been disentombed from the Dark Ages, and supposes the world is now what it was then, and that he can safely revive old, obsolete ideas. Don't believe a word he says. He has, saving his presence and begging pardon of his years, no discretion, and neglects entirely the cardinal virtue of prudence.

M. I am, nevertheless, inclined to believe that you are wrong, and that he is a better expounder of Catholicity than you are. I should despise your Church, indeed, if she were what you would make her.

F. You say that because you despise her already, and de­light to have her presented in the most odious light possible. 1 am not willing to hang a millstone round the neck of my relig­ion ; and he who represents her in the light to which I object 1 must regard as her enemy.

B. Keep cool, my young friend, and do not let your zeal for your religion, which I perceive is very ardent just now, hurry you into rash judgments. Zeal, to be commendable, must be according to knowledge. I have said, and I repeat it, that my first duty is not to my country, and I will add that I do not find patriotism ever mentioned as a virtue at all. Nay, as far as I have studied the history of the Church, I have found an overweening patriotism, or nationality, among the very worst enemies religion has had to struggle against. It has been the fruitful cause of all, or nearly all, the schisms which have rent the seamless robe of"our Lord, and among the most active causes of the rise and continuance of all the great heresies of ancient and modern times,    Protestantism would have been stillborn, if there had been no narrow and contemptible national feeling and prejudice in Germany, Holland, and England lo come to serve as its nurse.    What to me are the arbitrary lines and boundaries which separate nations, and as a consequence make them enemies.    I know only two classes of mankind,  those who belong to the Church of God, and those who oppose her. The Church is my country, and Catholics are my compatriots, my kinsmen, my brothers, and my sisters, wherever born, wher­ever they live, of whatever nation, race, or color,white, red, yellow, or black.     Those who are not Catholics, whether pa­gans,  Mahometans, Jews, or heretics, are all of one general class, the enemies of God and children of Satan ; for whose conversion and eternal salvation I am always to pray and labor, but with whom the less strict my connection the better.    I am lo do them good for God's sake, to the full extent of my power; but beyond, I have no part or lot with them.     Chris­tianity introduces a higher bond of union than that of nationality, and bids me seek a higher glory than national heroism, and a sublimer  virtue than   patriotism.    The Church  is Catholic, and would mould all nations into one vast republic, melt all into one grand brotherhood, by uniting all in the same faith, the same hope, the same   charity, the same worship, under the supreme law of God.    In presence of this law, which is the same for all men, of whatsoever age or nation, talk not to me of your narrow and contracted patriotism ; and before the Church of God, commissioned lo teach all nations till the end of time, dare never speak of your petty nationalities, or your diversities of race, sept, clan, or family.

No: my first duty is not to my country; my first and my whole duty is to God, and to God alone. 1 owe no other duty than my duty to him, my only Sovereign, my only Lord and Master. Whatever duty I am bound to render to my country, my parents, my children, my friends, or my neighbours, is included integrally in my duty to him, and I am bound to render it to them only because I owe it to him, and he com­mands me to pay it to them. I am accountable to God alone; I am rightfully no creature's subject; no man, in his own right, is my master, and I deny the legitimacy of all authority that derives from man, or has simply a human origin. No man, no body of men, has the inherent, underived right to command me, or to bind me, either in soul or body, in thought, will,  or deed. That portion of my duty to God which he commands me to render to my country, to the civil government, to parents, children, friends, or neighbours, I am bound for his sake to ren­der them, and I shall fail in my obedience to him if I do not,  shall be guilty of a sin against him, and deserve his eternal wralh and condemnation.

You young radicals, in your wild enthusiasm and misdirected zeal for liberty, madly deny the very principle of liberty, and under pretence of asserting liberty assert the fundamental prin­ciple of slavery. You are poor statesmen, and poorer philos­ophers ; for you have not yet learned that the principle of all slavery, as of all tyranny, is in the assertion of man's native, inherent right to govern man, or what is the same thing, to in­stitute and enforce government. Government of some sort you must have ; and therefore you must assert somewhere the right to govern, and consequently the duty of obedience. As you wish to be able to resist the governing authority when you choose, you declare it to be of human origin, well knowing that what is of human origin is never in itself sacred and inviolable, and that, being human, you, as also human, must have as much right to resist it as it can have to command you. Believing yourselves cleverer than the average of the people, and therefore concluding that you have above the average chance of being leaders and governors, if you can have a democratic constitu­tion of the state, and confounding liberty with your own liberty to govern, you suppose that you have secured freedom when you have succeeded, not only in making government derive its powers from a purely human source, but from the multitude at large. Thus far all very well. But you do not look on the other side, and you see not that your assertion of the human origin of government, in order to be able to resist it when it does not suit you, is the denial of all right on the part of gov­ernment to govern, and that therefore you are reduced to the alternative, either no government, as maintain Garrison, Foster, Abby Folsom, &c, or a government that has no right to gov­ern, that is, an illegitimate government. The former is practi­cable only in theory; practically, there will always be some government, for without government there is and can be no so­ciety, and without society man cannot live, since he is essen­tially social in his nature. Then you must adopt the latter, and then have only illegitimate government, that is to say, only usurpation and tyranny, under which there is and can be, in principle, only slavery.

Foolish boys, you fancy that you can have freedom without legitimate authority, and legitimate authority without God. But you can no more have a state without God than you can a universe. Political atheism implies universal atheism, and that in turn implies universal negation. An atheist may be a minister of state, but if there were no God there could be no state to administer ; for the moment you ask what is the foundation of the state, you must have recourse to a law ante­rior to the state, by virtue of which it is organized or consti­tuted ; and the moment you ask the origin of that law, you'must go back of the people to a law giving them the right to organ­ize the state, and therefore back of creation itself, up to the creator, God, who alone, in the last analysis, is sovereign, the fountain of all authority, and of all law that is law.

Deriving the law from God, who has the inherent right to govern us as he will, because he has made us, and is both our Supreme Good and the Supreme Good in itself, we get a solid foundation for freedom. We then deny the principle of tyr­anny and slavery, the right of man to lord it over man ; we de­clare all men equal before the law, therefore, as to their rights and duties, equal one to another ; therefore, that one has no right of his own over another, and therefore, again, one owes nothing to another. Here is freedom, full and absolute, be­cause there is nothing due except to God, the Supreme Good, and nothing demanded except what is due to him ; because there is no arbitrary will or authority, and nothing is exactable from any one but what God himself has made so, and what he has made so can be exacted only by virtue of his authority, and according to the law he prescribes.

Since God is the Sovereign Good, the Supreme Good both in itself and of all his creatures, he has taken care to command us to pay as much of what we owe him to our country, to our civil rulers, to our parents, to our children, to our neighbours, as is necessary or proper for their and our good. Ascertain, then, what portion of my duty to God he has made payable to my country and the civil authorities, and that I will acknowledge myself bound in conscience, for his sake, to pay them ; but I am bound to pay them nothing more, and even this only for the reason that he bids me do so.

F. That is all I ask. But when the clergy forget that, and
either refuse themselves, or forbid others, to render it
B. They will fail in their duty to God, and incur his con­demnation. No doubt of it. When the sky falls, we shall catch larks.

F. You seem to speak as if that could never happen.

B. Rememher, I speak not of heretical ministers, or the so-called sectarian clergy, for I do not count them as clergymen. I speak of the Catholic clergy, to a professed Catholic, and I ask him if he is not bound to believe that these are commis­sioned by Almighty God to teach him his duty.

F. Of course I am.

B. Then it would seem to be the ordination of God, not that you should sit in judgment on the clergy, and see whether they do or do not properly discharge their duty, but that you should go to them to learn yours. The clergy are ordained to teach you, not you to teach them, and you receive the will of God through the Church at their hands, not they at yours. They are your pastors, not you theirs ; and the Holy Ghost has placed them over you, not you over them. The shepherd leads the flock, not the flock the shepherd.

F. I admit that the clergy are my guides in all spiritual mat­ters, and that T am bound to obey the representatives of the Church in every thing spiritual. The Church is a spiritual, not a temporal kingdom, and in the spiritual order, under God, she has plenary sovereignty. Here my obedience is due to her, and if I do not yield it I am a bad Catholic. But in the tem­poral order she has no right to command me, and if her min­isters attempt to do it, I have the right to resist them, and by the blessing of God I will resist them. I will perform my duty, but I will also preserve my rights.

B. So you have said, and nobody doubts your readiness to resist the pastors of your Church, and to display your prowess against the clergy. But you claim to be a Catholic, and I hold you bound to be true to Catholic teaching. Who then for us, as Catholics, has received authority from God to expound and declare unto us our duty to him, and to say what part is pay­able to him immediately, and what part is payable to our neigh­bour, to our country, or to the temporal order?

F. The Church is commissioned t6 teach us our duty in the spiritual order, and the state is supreme in the temporal order. Church and slate are two separate and coordinate powers, each supreme and independent in its own order. The state is a usurper when it interferes in spirituals ; and the Church, when it interferes in temporals. The state has no spiritual jurisdic­tion ; the Church has no temporal jurisdiction.

B. Your reply is not precisely to the point; but let that pass.    To whom belongs the right to tell us where is the line that separates the two orders, and to define the powers of each, or to say when one does or does not encroach on the jurisdic­tion of the other?

F. Why,  why, it belongs to each to decide in ils own case.

B. And suppose there should be disagreement, and the two orders should set up conflicting claims, who or where is the umpire to decide between them?

F. As to that, no umpire is needed ; the line between the two orders is so broad and plain, that there can be no mistake as to where it is.

B. So you may think ; but you must be aware that there has been,  if not mistake, at least disagreement, and Protestants with one voice tell you, that the Church during the Middle Ages attempted perpetually to encroach upon the temporal ju­risdiction of princes, while all Catholics worthy of the name maintain the contrary, that the princes were constantly usurping the rights and prerogatives of the Church, and that all she at­tempted was to resist their usurpation, and maintain the inde­pendence and freedom of the spiritual order.    If you have not forgotten the controversies about Investitures and kindred mat­ters between the Popes and the German Emperors, the Clar­endon Constitutions, and   struggles between the Archbishops of Canterbury and the kings of England.    You must know that there have been grave and earnest disputes between the two   orders.    The  Church,   too,   has temporal  possessions, churches, convents,   abbeys,   lands,   endowments,  bestowed upon her by the piety and zeal of her children for spiritual pur­poses.    Do these pertain to the temporal order or to the spir­itual order ?    Has the Church jurisdiction in regard to her own temporalities, or does the jurisdiction pertain by right and in­herently to the state?    You are very ignorant of history if you know not that the Church has on this question decided one way,  and the temporal order, for the most part, the other. Practically, then, the line is not so broad and obvious that no mistakes or disagreements can arise between the two powers. Where do you lodge the power to decide?   You say, virtually, nowhere.     So Almighty God has left his work incomplete, and in certain cases that may and do arise, we simple believers have no means of knowing what is our duty, whether we are to obey the Church or join with the temporal order against her; whether we are to fight for her, or against her.    Suppose the two powers are in conflict; the Church, by virtue of the obedience I owe her, calls upon me to rally to her side, and to re­sist what she denounces as the tyranny and sacrilege of the civil power ; and the civil power, by virtue of my allegiance to it, calls upon me to rally to its standard, and aid it in maintaining what it calls its rights against ecclesiastical usurpation. Here is a case of conscience. Which am 1 in conscience bound to obey ? Now, when a Catholic has a case of conscience, to whom does he go, to whom is he bound to go, for its solution? To the minister of state, or to the priest of the Church ? Are ques­tions of conscience spiritual or temporal? Do they pertain to the temporal jurisdiction or to the spiritual?

F. To the spiritual, of course.

B. Very well. I go, then, with my case of conscience to my parish priest. He either cannot or will not solve it, or does not solve it to suit me ; appeal may then be made to the bishop ; and from the Bishop to the chair of St. Peter, to the Sov­ereign Pontiff, the ultimate appeal in all questions of the sort. The Pope will decide, because, by the very terms (f the sup­position, he, as the supreme Head and Ruler of the Church, under God, has already decided, that my duty is to obey the Church, and support her against the encroaching temporal au­thority. He had decided the case in the outset by command­ing me to resist the temporal authority. In the case, as it goes up to him by appeal, you as a Catholic cannot deny his right to decide, and therefore his decision here binds me in conscience. But his right to decide on the appeal is only the right to de­clare what is the law in the case, the very right he exercised when he issued his command, and if I have no right in the one case to appeal from his decision, I have none in the other. As I have no right, as must be conceded, to appeal from the de­cision on appeal, I had none to appeal from his command in the outset.

F. So it would seem, I grant.

B. Then the Church is herself the judge for all the faithful in the case, and it is hers to define her own powers, the extent of her jurisdiction, and, in thus defining her own jurisdiction, the extent of the spiritual order, to define the powers and extent of the temporal order. You began, my young friend, by putting the cart before the horse. You said you honored the Church in her place, and the clergy in their own sphere. You would have spoken more like a Christian, if you had said, I honor and obey the state in its own place, and I respect and obey the ministers of state'so long as they keep within their own sphere; but when they come out of it, and intermeddle with spiritual matters, I will neither honor nor obey them ; for I must obey God rather than man.

M, I am no Catholic, but I have always maintained that a consistent Catholic must assert the independence and suprem­acy of the spiritual order, and, begging F's pardon, 1 must re­gard him either as insincere in his professions of temporal inde­pendence, and making them merely for Buncombe, or as wholly ignorant of the first principles of his religion, nay, of all relig­ion, if religion. One may see what his principles lead to in the history of the German Protestant Churches, and of the Anglican Church, the handiwork of Henry the Eighth and his saintly daughter Elizabeth. One or the other order must be supreme ; and if we shrink from claiming supremacy for the spiritual order, we must concede it to the temporal, and thus subject conscience to the civil magistrate, and convert the Church into a mere police establishment, and ministers of relig­ion into a part of the constabulary force of the state. If relig­ion is any thing at all but mere state craft, it is the supreme law, to which men in the temporal order, as well as in the spir­itual, must conform.

R. But, if we allow religion to be supreme, and identify it with the Catholic faith and worship, what security have we that the Catholic Church will not abuse her power, and bring us into a hopeless spiritual bondage ?

F. That is precisely the difficulty I foresaw, and I. conse­
quently claimed for myself and all men the right when it abused
its powers to resist it?

G. All very well; but you as a Catholic can have no right
to decide for yourself when she does or does not abuse her
powers ; for that would be private judgment, which your Church
does not allow.     You cannot allow the state to decide, for
that would be the monstrous absurdity of raising the temporal
order above the spiritual, against which our Puritan fathers so
earnestly protested, and which gave rise to their dissent from
the Anglican Establishment.    I see no way of solving the diffi­
culty but by rejecting all distinction between the two orders, or
rather, by restricting the powers of the state to a very few mat­
ters, and recognizing no Church authority at all.   1 am a dem­
ocrat in my politics, and a liberalist in my religion.

B. Of which you have more reason to be ashamed than to boast. You gain nothing, except the exchange of faith for un­belief or indifference, and order for anarchy.    And then, what you choose to allow or disallow alters nothing of what God has established. You can deny Christianity if you choose, but that does not make it false, or you wise in denying it; you can say there shall be no Church authority, but if God has estab­lished ihe Catholic Church with the authority she claims, what you say will not alter the fact, and though that authority may crush you, you will not be able to crush it. It is idle for men to talk as you do, as if they had the sovereign disposal of all things. Remember the world is not of your making, and that its government is not committed to your hands. God reigns and will reign, whether it suits you or not.

As to the difficulty you raise, it only demonstrates the folly of my very clever young friends. Never make impossible sup­positions, or suppositions which are intrinsically absurd. The Church, if a human institution, may abuse her powers, and you can have no guaranty against her doing so ; but no Catholic concedes that she is a human institution, or attempts to defend her as such, unless he is a fool. The very supposition of the Church is the supposition that she is an institution specially created and protected by Almighty God to teach us what he commands us to believe and do, and his whole Divine nature is pledged that she shall do this infallibly. This pledge is guaranty enough, and there is no room to reserve to ourselves the right to resist her in case she should abuse her trust or get out of her place. She cannot abuse her trust, because God will not suffer her to do it. You deny the Catholicity you pro­fess, if you maintain the contrary, or allow it to be supposable.

F.  But this is no answer to those not Catholics.

B. I have, at present, nothing to do with them, and I have no disposition to go out of my way to attempt to satisfy those who are incapable of,being satisfied. I have no means of sat­isfying those who believe my Church a mere human institution, except by convincing them that she is not a human institution, but the very Church of God. I cannot expect, and I shall not try, to make her acceptable to those who it is assumed are to continue to be her enemies. I cannot make the same thing be and not be at the same time.

Your whole difficulty, however, grows out of the fact, that you mistake the division line between the spiritual order and the temporal. You include in the temporal order the whole moral law, or law of God, in so far as it is the measure of our secular life. Here is your fundamental error. No man, no body of men, no community, no state, no nation, has the right to do wrong, and every one is bound to do right. The meas­ure of right in all orders, and the sole measure of right, is the law of God, and to teach and judge of that law is a purely spiritual function, not a function of the temporal order, and therefore it belongs universally to the spiritual authority, and not at all to the temporal. I do not claim temporal jurisdiction for the Church, and she leaves the temporal order free in all that is purely temporal; but she does not recognize in it any spiritual competency, and therefore does not acknowledge its right to teach and judge of the law of God, that is, the moral law, in any sphere. Within the limits of that law the temporal order may do what it pleases, and the faithful are bound by their duty to God to obey it ; but the acts of the temporal order which transgress those limits trench upon the spiritual order, and are therefore illegal ; and if they require us to act in violation of the moral law,  that is, the law of God, we are not only not bound, but even forbidden, to obey them ; for we must obey God rather than men. The Church, as the keeper and expounder of that law, does not administer temporal affairs, but she does claim and possess the right to define the moral law which must govern them and the authorities administering them. She is, under God, and by his special appointment, the teacher and supreme judge of all morality, and therefore of the morality of seculars, and of their morality in secular affairs as well as in any others. Whatever pertains to morals comes, by its nature, within the jurisdiction of the spiritual order.

What you are to remember is, that you are to be moral, that is, to obey the law of God in all your acts, to whatever department they belong, and that the state, the civil or tempo­ral order, has no competency as a moral teacher, has no author­ity at all to decide what the law of God does or does not com­mand, even in regard to secular matters. It has no spiritual function whatever, and is bound to receive the law of God from the spiritual authority, and to take care and transgress no one of its precepts. Your error is in supposing that the temporal order is itself the teacher and judge of the law of God, in so far as that law extends to secular life. This is a monstrous error ; for it completely sunders religion and morality, confines re­ligion to the service of the temple, and subjects the whole moral order to the temporal authority,  the very thing the enemies of religion are always attempting to do, and which I am sorry to find one who calls himself a Catholic ready to aid them to do.