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"The Secular Not Supreme" for the Catholic World, 1871



            Dr. Bellows is the well-known pastor of All Souls’ Church, and editor of the Liberal Christian in this city, a distinguished Unitarian minister, with some religious instincts and respectable literary pretensions.  As a student in college and the Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was full of promise, and a great favorite of the late Edward Everett, himself originally a Unitarian minister and pastor of Battle Street Church, Boston.  E.P. Hurlbnt was formerly one of the judges of the supreme court of this state, a lawyer by profession, with a passably clear head and a logical mind, who knows, if not the truth, at least what he means, and neither fears nor hesitates to say it.  His pamphlet, as far as it goes, expresses, we doubt not, his honest thought, but his thought is the thought of a secularist, who admits no order above the secular, and holds that no religion not subordinate to and under the control of the civil power, should be tolerated.  Both he and Dr. Bellows are from instinct and education hearty haters of the Catholic Church: but while he is content to war against her from the point of view of pure secularism or no-religion, that is, atheism, the reverend doctor seeks to clothe his hatred in a Christian garb and to war against Christ in the name of Christ.

            Dr. Bellows, as a liberal Christian, and though a Protestant hardly allowed by his more rigid Protestant country-men to bear the Christian name, has double battle to fight: one, against the Evangelical movement, at the head of which is Mr. Justice Strong, of the supreme court, to amend the constitution of the United States so as to make orthodox Protestantism the official religion of the republic, which would exclude him and his Unitarian, Universalist, and Quaker brethren; and the other, against admission of the equal rights of Catholics with Protestants before the American state.  Catholics greatly trouble him, and he hardly knows what to do with them.  According to the letter of constitution of the Union and of the several states, unless New Hampshire be an exception, they are American citizens, standing in all respects on a footing of perfect equality with any other class if citizens, and have as much right to take part in public affairs, and to seek to manage them in the interests of their religion, as Protestants have to take part in them in the interests of Protestantism; but this is very wrong, and against the spirit of the constitution; for the nation is a Protestant nation, the country was originally settled by and belongs to Protestantism, and Catholics ought to understand that they are really here only by sufferance, that they do no in reality stand in relation to public policy of the country not in accordance with the convictions of the Protestants as if we had as much right to the government as they have, and warns us that if we do we shall be resisted even unto blood.

            The occasion of his outpouring of wrath against Catholics is that they have protested against being taxed for the support of a system of sectarian or godless schools, to which they are forbidden in conscience to send their children, and have demanded as their right either that the tax be remitted, or that their proportion of the public schools be set off to them, to be, as to education and discipline, under Catholic control.  Dr. Bellows allows that the Catholic demand is just, and that by making it a question at the polls they may finally obtain it; but this is not to his mind, for it would defeat the pet scheme of Protestants for preventing the growth of Catholicity in the country, by detaching, through the influence of the public schools, their children from the faith of their parents.  Yet as long as any religion, even the reading of the Bible, is insisted on in the public schools, what solid argument can be urged against the demand of Catholics, or what is to prevent Catholic citizens from making it a political question and withholding their votes from the party that refuses to respect their rights of conscience and to do them justice.  Dr. Bellows says that we cannot legally be prevented from doing so, but, if we do so, it will be the worse for us: for if we carry our religion to the polls the Protestant people will, as they should, rise up against us and overwhelm us by their immense majority, perhaps even exterminate us.

            To prevent the possibility of collision, the reverend doctor proposes a complete divorce of church and state.  Be proposes to defeat the Evangelicals on the one hand, and the Catholics on the other, by separating totally religion and politics.  Thus he says:

            “It is the vast importance of keeping the political and the religious movements and action of the people apart, and in their own independent spheres, that makes wise citizens, alike on religious and civil grounds, look with alarm and jealousy on any endeavors, on the part either of Protestants or Catholics, to secure any special attention or support, any partial or separate legislation or subsidies, from either the national or the state governments.  I have already told you that Protestants, representing the great sects in this country, are now laboring, by movable conventions, to mold public opinion in a way to give finally a theological character to the constitution.  In a much more pardonable spirit, because in accordance with their historical antecedents, their hereditary temper, and their ecclesiastical logic, the Roman Catholics in this country are, in many states, and every great city of the Union, using the tremendous power they possess as the make-weight of parties, to turn the public treasure an illegitimate support as a religious body.  It is not too much to guess that more than half of the ecclesiastical wealth of the Roman Catholic Church in America, against the wishes and convictions of a Protestant country, has been void to it in lands and grants by municipalities and legislatures trading for Irish votes.  The Catholic Church thus has factitious prosperity and progress.   It is largely sustained by Protestants-not on grounds of charity and toleration, or from a sense of its usefulness (that were well privately done), but from low and unworthy political motives in both the great parties of the country.  Now the Roman Catholics themselves should take advantage of their solidarity as a people and a church, and of the power of their priesthood, with all uninformed and some enlightened communicants, to turn the political will into a machine for grinding their ecclesiastical grist, is not unnatural, nor wholly unpardonable.  But it is fearfully dangerous to them and to us.  Their success-due to the sense of the Protestant strength which thinks it can afford to blink their machinations, or to the preoccupation of the public mind with the emulative business pursuits of the time, or to the confidence which the American people seem to feel in the fined and secure divorce of church and state-their unchecked success encourages them to bolder and more bold demands, and accustoms the people to more careless and more perilous acquiescence in their claims.  The principle of authority in religion, which has so many temperaments al adherents in all countries; the inherent love of pomp and show in worship, strongest in the least educated; a natural weariness of sectarian divisions, commonest among lazy thinkers and stupid consciences-all these play into the hands of the Romanists, and they are making hay while the sun shines.

            “There are no reviews, no newspapers in this country, so bold and unqualified; none so unscrupulous and so intensely zealous and partisan; none so fearless and outspoken as the Catholic journals.  The profess to despise Protestant opposition; they deride the feeble tactics of other Christian sects; they are more ultramontane, more Roman, more papal, than French, German, Australian, Bavarian, Italian believers; they avow their purpose to make this a Roman Catholic country, and they hope to live on the Protestant enemy while they are converting him.  They often put their religious faith above their political obligation, and, as bishops and priests, make it a duty to the church for their members to vote as Catholics rather than as American citizens.  Not what favors the peace, prosperity, and union of the nation, but what favors their church, is the supreme question for them at every election; and American politicians, for their predatory purposes, have taught them this, and are their leaders in it.

            Now, as American citizen, I say nothing against the equality of the rights of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants; both may lawfully strive, in their unpolitical spheres, for the mastery, and the law may not favor or disfavor either; nor can anything be done to prevent Roman Catholics from using their votes as Roman Catholics, if they please.  It is against the spirit, but not against the letter of constitution.  At any rate, it cannot be helped; only, it may compel Protestants to form parties and vote as Protestants against Roman Catholic interests, which would be a deplorable necessity, and lead, sooner or later, through religious parties in politics, to religious wars.  The way to avoid such a horrible possibility-alas, such a threatening probability for the next generation-is at once to look with the utmost carefulness and the utmost disfavor upon every effort on the part of either Protestants or Catholics to mix up sectarian or theological or religious questions with national and state and city politics.

            “Every appeal of a sect, a denominational church, or sectarian charity of any description, to the general government, or state or city government, for subsidies or favors, should be at once discountenanced and forbidden by public opinion, and made impossible by positive statue.  The Protestant sects in this country should hasten to remove from their record any advantages whatsoever guarantied to them by civil law to any partiality or sectarian distinction.  The most important privilege they enjoy by law in most of the states is the right of keeping the Bible in the public schools.  It is a privilege associated with the tenderest and most sacred symbol of the Protestant faith-the bible.  To exclude it from the public schools is to the religious affections of Protestants like Abraham’s sacrifice of his only son.  When it was first proposed, I felt horror-stricken, and instinctively opposed it; but I have thought long and anxiously upon the subject, and have, from pure logical necessity and consistency, been obliged to change-nay, reverse my opinion.  Duty to the unsectarian character of our civil institutions demands that this exclusion should be made.  It will not be any disclaimer of the importance of the Bible in the education of Americans youth, but only a concession that we cannot carry on the religious with the secular education of American children, at the public expense and in the public schools.  So long as Protestant Christians insist, merely in the strength of their great majority, upon maintaining the Bible in the public schools, they justify Roman Catholics in demanding that the public money for education shall be distributed to sects in proportion to the number of children they educate.  This goes far to break up the common-school system of this country, and, if carried out, must ultimately tend to dissolve the Union, which morally depends upon the community of feeling and the homogeneity of culture produce by an unsectarian system of common schools”-Church and state, pp. 16-19 

            But this proposed remedy will prove worse than the disease.  The state divorced from the church, wholly separated from religion, is separated from morality; and the state separated from morality, that is, from moral order, from natural justice inseparable from religion, cannot stand, and ought not to stand, for it is incapable of performing a single one of its proper functions.  The church, representing the spiritual, and therefore the superior, order, is by its own nature and constitution as independent of the state as the soul is of the body; and the state separated from the church, or from religion and morality, is like the body separated from the soul, dead, putrid or putrefying corpse.  Exclude your Protestant Bible and all direct and indirect religious instruction from your public schools, and you would not render them a whit less objectionable to us than they are now, for we object not less to purely secular schools than we do to sectarian schools.  We hold that children should be trained up in the way they should go, so that when old they will not depart from it; and the way in which they should go is not the way of pure secularism, but the way enjoined by God our Maker through his church.  God has in this life joined soul and body, the spiritual and the secular together, and what God has joined together we dare not put asunder.  There is only one of two things that can satisfy us: either cease to tax us for the support of the public schools, and leave the education of our children to us, or give us our proportion of the public schools in which to educate them in our own religion.  We protest against the gross in justice of being taxed to educate the children of non-Catholics, and being obliged in addition to support schools for our own children at our own expense, or peril their souls.

            We do not think Dr. Bellows is aware of what he demands when he demands the complete divorce of church and state, or the total separation of religion and politics.  The state divorced from the church is a godless state, and politics totally separated from religion is simply political atheism, and political atheism is simply power without justice, force without law; for there is no law without God, the supreme and universal lawgiver.  Man has no original and underived legislative power, and one man has in and of himself no authority over another; for all men by the law of nature are equal, and have equal rights, and among equals no one has the right to govern.  All governments based on political atheism, or the assumption that politics are independent of religion, rest on no foundation, are usurpations, tyrannies, without right, and can govern, if at all, only by might or sheer force.  To declare the government divorced from religion is to declare it emancipated from the law of God, from all moral obligation, and free to do whatever it pleases.  It has no duties, and under it there are and can be no rights; for rights and duties are in moral order and inseparable from religion, since the law of God is the basis of all rights and duties, the foundation and guaranty of all morality.  The state, divorced from religion, would be bound to recognize and protect no rights of God or man, not even those natural and inalienable rights of all men.  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This is going further in the direction of absolutism than go the doctor’s dear friends the Turks, whom he so warmly eulogizes in his letter from East, for even they hold the sultan is bound by the Koran, and forbidden to do anything it prohibits.

            Dr. Bellows, doubtless, has no intention of divorcing the state from morality, and does not see that his proposition implies it.  He probably holds that morality is separable from religion, for with him religion is simply sentiment or opinion; but in this he falls into the common mistake of all liberal Christians, and of many Protestants who regard liberal Christian as no Christians at all.  Morality and religion are inseparable, for morality is only the practical application in the several departments of life of the principles of religion.  Without religion morality has no foundation, nothing on which to rest, is a baseless fabric, an unreality.  Deny God, and you deny the moral law and the whole moral order, all right, all duty, all human accountability.  The separation of all political questions from all religious questions, which the reverend doctor demands, is their separation from all moral questions, and is the emancipation of the state from all right and all duty, or the assertion of its unrestricted power to do whatever it pleases, in total disregard of all moral and religious considerations.  Is this the doctrine of a Christian?

            This surely is not the relation of church and state in American, and derives no support from the American order of though.  With us, the state is instituted chiefly for the protection of natural rights of man, as we call them, but really the rights of God, since they are anterior to civil society, are superior to it, and derived or derivable from it.  These rights it is the duty of civil society to protect and defend.  Any acts of the political sovereign, be that sovereign king or Kaiser, nobility or people, contrary to these antecedent and superior rights are tyrannical and unjust, are violences, not laws, and the common-law courts will not enforce them, because contrary to the law of justice and forbidden by it.  The American state disclaims all authority over the religion of its citizens, but at the same time acknowledges its obligation to respect in its own action, and to protect and defend from external violence, the religion which its citizens or any class of its citizens choose to adopt or adhere to for themselves.  It by no means asserts its independence of religion or its right to treat it with indifference, but acknowledges its obligation to protect its citizens in the free and peaceable possession and enjoyment of the religion they prefer.  It goes further, and afford religion the protection and assistance of the law in the possession and management of her temporalities, her churches and temples, lands and tenements, funds and revenues for the support of public worship, and various charitable or eleemosynary institutions.  All the protection and assistance the benefit of which every Protestant denomination fully enjoys, and even the Catholic Church in principle, though not always in fact, would be denied, if the divorce Dr. Bellows demands were granted, and religion, having no rights politicians are bound to respect, would become the prey of lawless ad godless power, and religious liberty would be utterly annihilated, as well as civil liberty itself, which depends on it. 

            The chief pretence with Dr. Bellows for urging the complete divorce of church and state, is that Catholics demand and receive subsidies from the state and city for their schools and several charitable institutions.  Some such subsidies have been granted, we admit, but in far less proportion to Catholics than they have to Protestants or non-Catholics.  The public schools are supported at the public expense, by the school fund, and a public tax, of which Catholics pay their share, and these schools are simply sectarian or godless schools, for the sole benefit of non-Catholics.  The subsidies conceded to a few of our schools do by no means place them on an  equality with those of non-Catholics.  We by no means receive our share of the subsidies conceded.  The aids granted to our hospitals, orphan asylums, and reformatories are less liberal than those to similar non-Catholic institutions.  So long as the state subsidizes any institutions of the sort, we claim to receive our proportions of them as our right.  If the state grant none to non-Catholics, we shall demand none for ourselves.  We demand equality, but we ask no special privileges or favors.  The outery of the sectarian and secular press against us on this score is wholly unauthorized, is cruel, false, and unjust. It is part and parcel of that general system of falsification by which it is hoped to inflame popular passion and prejudice against Catholics and their church.

            Underlying the whole of the doctrine of this discourse is the assumption of the supremacy of the secular order, or that every American citizen is bound to subordinate his religion to his politics, or divest himself of it whenever he acts on a political question.  This, which is assumed and partially disguised in Dr. Bellow, is openly and frankly asserted and boldly maintained in Judge Hurlbut’s pamphlet.  The judge talks much about theology, theocracy, &c., subjects of which he knows less than he supposes, and of course talks great deal of nonsense, as unbelievers generally do; but he is quite clear and decided that the state should have the power to suppress any church or religious institution that is based on theory or principle different from its own.  The theory of the American government is democratic, and the government ought to have power to suppress or exclude every church that is not democratically constituted.

            Religion should conform to politics, not politics to religion.  The political law is above the religious, and, of course, man is above God.  In order to be able to carry out his theory, the learned judge proposes and important amendment to the constitution of the United States, which shall on the one hand prohibit the several states from ever establishing any religion by law; and, on the other, shall authorize congress to enact such laws as it may deem necessary to control or prevent the establishment or continuance of any foreign hierarchical power in this country founded on principles or dogman antagonistic to republican institutions.  He says:

            “The following amendment is proposed to Article I. of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States.  The words in italics are proposed to be added to the present article:

            “Art I.  Neither Congress nor any state shall make any laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  But Congress may enact such laws as it shall deem necessary to control or prevent the establishment or continuance of any foreign hierarchical power in this country founded on principles or dogmas antagonistic to republican institutions.

            “It is assumed that there is nothing in the constitution, as it stands, which forbids a state from establishing a religion, and that no power is conferred on Congress by the constitution to forbid a foreign hierarchical establishment in the United States.  If such a power be needed, then the proposed amendment is also necessary.”-Secular View, p. 5

            This proposed amendment, like iniquity, lies unto itself, for while it prohibits congress and the several states from making any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, it gives to congress full power to control or prevent the establishment or the continuance-that is, to prohibit-the free exercise by Catholics of their religion, under the flimsy pretence that it is a foreign hierarchy founded on anti-republican principles.  The hierarchy is an essential part of our religion, and any denial of its freedom is the denial of the free exercise of his religion to every Catholic, and of the very principle of religious liberty itself, which the constitution guaranties.

            We of course deny that the Catholic hierarchy is a foreign hierarchy or anti-republican, for what is Catholic is universal, and what is universal is never and nowhere a foreigner; but yet, because its supreme pontiff does not reside personally in America, and its power does not emanate from the American people, Protestants, Jews, and infidels will hold that it is a foreign power, and anti-republican.  The carnal Jews hold the Hebrew religion to be a national religion, and because the promised Messiah came as a spiritual, not as a temporal and national prince, they rejected him.  Infidels believe in no spiritual order, and consequently in no Catholic principle or authority; Protestants believe in no Catholic hierarchy, and hold that all authority in religious matters came from God, not through hierarchy, but through the faithful or the people, and hence their ministers are called, not sent.  It would be useless, therefore, to under take to prove to one another or of these three classes that the Catholic hierarchy is at home here in America, as much so as at Rome, and, since it holds not from the people, that it is not founded on anti-republican or anti-democratic principles.  The only arguments we could use to prove it lie in an order of thought which they were not familiar with, do not even recognize, and to be appreciated demand a spiritual apprehension which, thought not above natural reason, is quite too high for such confirmed secularists as ex-Judge Hurlbut and his rationalistic brethren, who have lost all conception, not only of the supernatural order, but of the super sensible, the intelligible, the universal reality above individual or particular existences.

            For Catholics there are two orders, the secular and the spiritual.  The secular is bound by the limitations of time and place; the spiritual is above and independent of all such conditions and limitations, and is universal, always and everywhere the same.  The Catholic hierarchy represents in the secular and visible world, in the affairs of individuals and nations, this spiritual order, on which the whole secular order depends, and which therefore, is an alien nowhere and at home everywhere.  The Catholic hierarchy is supernatural, not natural and, therefore, no more a foreigner in one nation than in another.  But it is only the Catholic that can see and understand this; it is too high and too intellectual for non-Catholics, whose minds are turned earthward, and have lost the habit of looking upward, and to recover it must be touched by the quickening and elevating power of grace.  We must expect them, therefore, to vote the Catholic hierarchy to be in this country a foreign hierarchy, although it is nowhere national, and is no more foreign here than is God himself.

            The Catholic hierarchy is not founded on democratic principles, we grant, but there is nothing in its principles or dogmas antagonistical to republican government, if government at all; but since it holds not from the people, nor in any sense depends on them for its authority, non-Catholics, who recognize no power above the people, will vote it anti-republican, undemocratic, antagonistical  to the American system of government.  It is of no use to try to persuade them to the contrary, or to allege that it is of the very essence and design of religion to assert the supremacy of an order which does not hold from the people, and is above them both individually and collectively, or to maintain in the direction and government of human affairs the supremacy of the law of God, which all mean and nations in both public and private matters, are bound to obey, and which none can disobey with impunity.  They will only reply that this is repugnant to the democratic tendencies of the age, is contrary to the free and enlightened spirit of the nineteenth century, denies the original, absolute, and underived sovereightny of the people, and is manifestly a return to the theocratic principle with humanity rejects with horror.  To an argument of this sort, there, of course, is no available answer.  The men who use it are impervious to logic or common sense, for they either believe in no God, or that God is altogether like one of themselves; therefore, in no respect above themselves.  

            It is very clear, then, if Judge Hurlbut’s propsed amendment to the constitution were adopted, it would be interpreted as giving to congress, as the judge intends it should, the power to suppress, according to its discretion , the Catholic hierarchy, and therefore the Catholic Church in the United States, and that, too notwithstanding the very amendment denies to congress the power to prohibit to any one the free exercise of his religion.  How true it is, as the Psalmist says, “iniquity hath lied to itself”!  The enemies of the church, who are necessarily the enemies of God, and, therefore, of the truth, are not able to frame an argument or a law against the church that does not contradict or belie itself; yet are they, in their own estimation, the enlightened portion of mankind, and Catholics are weak, besotted, groveling in ignorance and superstition.

            There is little doubt that the amendment proposed by Judge Hurlburt would, if adopted, effect the object the Evangelical sects are conspiring with Jews and infidels to effect, so far as human power can effect it-that is, the suppression of the Catholic Church in the United States, and it is a bolder, more direct, and honester way of coming at it than the fair-seeming but insidious amendment proposed by Mr. Justice Strong, of the supreme court of the United States, and his Evangelical allies.  It is now well understood by non-Catholic leaders that the growth of the church cannot be prevented or retarded by arguments drawn from Scripture or reason, for both Scripture and reason are found to be on her side, and dead against them.  They see very clearly that if she is let free with “an open field and fair play,” it is all over with her opponents.  They must then contrive in some way, by some means or other, to suppress the religion freedom and equality now guarantied by our constitution and laws, and bring the civil law or the physical power of the state to bear against the church and the freedom of Catholics.  That it is a settled design on the part of leading Protestant sects to do this-and that they are aided by Unitarians and Universalists, because they know that Protestant orthodoxy would soon go by the board if the Catholic Church were suppressed; by the Jews, because they hate Christianity, and know well that Christianity and the Catholic Church stand or fall together; and by unbelievers and secularists, because they would abolish all religion, and they feel that they cannot effect their purpose if the Catholic Church stands in their way-no one can seriously doubt.  We include the Jews in this conspiracy for we have before us the report of a remarkable discourse delivered lately in the Hebrew synagogue at Washington, D. C., by the Rabbi Lilienthal, of Cincinnati, entitled “First the State, then the Church,” which is directed almost wholly against the Catholic Church.  We make an extract from this discourse, longer than we can well afford room for, but our readers will thank us for it:

            “Of all the questions which demand our serious consideration, none is of more importance tan the one, “Shall the state or the church rule supreme?  All over Europe this question is mooted at present, and threatens to assume quite formidable proportions.  There is but one empire across the ocean in which this problem, so far, has been definitely settled by virtue of autocratic might and power.  It is Russia.  When, in the seventeenth century, the Patriarch of Moscow had died, and the metropolitans and archbishops of the Greek Church met for the purpose of tilling the vacancy, Peter the Great rushed with drawn sword into their meeting, and, throwing the same on the table, exclaimed, “Here is your patriarch.”  Since that time the czar emperor and pope at once; and very significantly, the “Holy Synod,” or the supreme ecclesiastical court of Russia, is presided over by a general, the representative of the czar.  And hence the Emperor Nicholas used to say:  State and church are represented in me; and the motto ruling the Russian government was autocracy, Russian nationality, and the Greek Church.

            “But everywhere in Europe this question agitates the old continent.  In Great Britain, Gladstone works for the enfranchisement of the church; the Thirty-nine Articles, so renowned at Oxford and Cambridge, are going to be abolished, and High Churchmen and Dissenters prepare themselves for the final struggle.  Italy, so long priest-ridden, has inscribed on her national banner the glorious word, “Religious liberty, ‘ and means to carry them out to the fullest extent, in spite of all anathemas, and excommunications.  Spain, though still timid and wavering, has adopted the same policy.  Austria has thrown off her concordat, and inserted in her new constitution the same modern principle; and the German empire has fully recognized the equality of all citizens, without difference of creed or denomination, before the courts and tribunals of resurrected and united Germany.

            “But daily we hear of the demands of the clergy, made in the interests of their church.  Since the last oecumenical council has proclaimed the new dogma of papal infallibility, the bishops want to discharge all teachers and professors, both at the theological seminaries and universities, who are unwilling to subscribe to this new tenet of the Roman Church.  The archbishop of Gnesen and Posen even asked for the names of all those men who at the last election of members for the German parliament did not vote for those men he had proposed as candidates.  The government is now bound to interfere, but nobody can tell us how this coming conflict between church and state will be decided.

            “This is the aspect of the old continent.  What is the prospect in America, in our glorious and God blessed country?  Of course, religious liberty in the fullest sense of the word, is the supreme law of the land.  It is the most precious gem in the diadem of our republic.  It is warranted and secured by our constitution.

            “The immortal signers of the Declaration of Independence; those modern prophets an apostles of humanity; those statesmen who thoroughly appreciated the bloody lessons of past, history, knew but too well what they were doing when they entirely separated church and state, and ignored all sectarian sentiments in the inspired documents they bequeathed to their descendants.  The demonational peace that heretofore characterized the mighty and unequalled growth of the young republic bears testimony to their wisdom, foresight, and statesmanship.

            “But, alas!  our horizon, too, begins to be clouded.  The harmony that heretofore prevailed between the various churches and denominations begins to be disturbed.  Then we had in the last two years the conventions at Pittsburg and Philadelphia.  The men united there meant to insert God in our constitution, as we have him already on our coins, by the inscription, “In God we trust.”  They intend to Christianize our county, against the clear and emphatic spirit and letter of the constitution.  And I must leave it to the learned judge of the supreme court of the United States who presided over those meetings, to decide whether this future Christian country hereafter shall be a Catholic or a Protestant country.

            “The Roman Catholic press and pulpit are not slow in answering this question.  With praiseworthy frankness and manliness they declare the intentions of their church.  Father Hecker says: “In fifteen years we will take this country and build our institutions over the grave of Protestantism…. There is, ere long, to be a state religion in this country, and that state religion is to be Roman Catholic’ Bishop O’Connor, of Pittsburg, says:  ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’  The archbishop of St. Louis says: “If Catholics ever gain, which the surely will, an immense numerical majority, religious freedom in this country will be at an end.’  And the pope speaks of the ‘delirium of toleration, and asserts the right to punish criminals in the order of ideas.’ 

            “This language is plain, unequivocal, and cannot be misinterpreted.  Still, I am not an alarmist.  I have too much faith in the sound common sense of the American people that say they should barter away their political birthright for any theological or clerical controversy.  They are too much addicted to the policy of , ‘a sober though,’ that, after having first of all taught the human race the invaluable blessings of religious liberty, they should discard them just now, when the whole civilized world is imitating the glorious example set by our great and noble sires.

            “But, vigilance being the price of liberty,’ in the face of this assertion it is not only right, but an imperative duty, to enlighten ourselves on this all-important subject, so that we may take our choice, and perform our duties as true, loyal citizens and true, loyal Americans.

            This is very much to the purpose, and if it shows that the rabbi is no friend of Protestant Christianity, it shows that his principle hostility is to the Catholic Church, as the body and support of Christianity.  He exults, as well he may, over the falling away from the church of the old Catholic governments of Europe, for one of the chief instruments in effecting that apostasy has been precisely his Hebrew brethren, the great supporters of the Anti-Catholic revolution of modern times; and his slanders on the Catholic Church are in the very spirit of the Evangelical Alliance, even to the false charges he brings against distinguished individual Catholics.  The assertion that “Father Hecker says, ‘In fifteen years we will take this country and build our institutions over the grave of Protestantism,’” as that other assertion, “There is or ought to be a state religion is to be a Roman Catholic,” Father Hecker himself assures us, is false. He never did, nor with his views ever could, say any thing of the sort. Bishop O’Connor, late of Pittsburg, never did and never could have said, “Religious liberty in merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.” We happen to know that his views were and are very different; and if they were not, he is too shrewd to commit the blunder of saying any thing like whit is falsely attributed to him, or to disclose such an ulterior purpose. We may say as much of the sentiment attributed to the archbishop of St. Louis. The archbishop never uttered or entertained it. Something like was is ascribed to him was said, many years ago, by Mr. Bakewell, in The Shepherd of the Valley, a paper published at St. Louis, but he was assailed by the Catholic press all over the country, and if he did not retract it, at least endeavored to explain it away, and to show that he meant no such thing. The archbishop never said it, and was no more responsible for it than was the Rabbi Lilienthal himself. No Catholic prelate and no distinguished Catholic layman even has ever proposed any amendment to the constitution in regard to the relations of the church and state in this country, or has expressed any wish to have the existing constitutional relations changed, or in any respect modified. The church is satisfied with them, and only asks that they be faithfully observed. She opposes the separation of church and state in the sense of releasing the state from all moral and religious obligations, for that would imply the subjection of the church to the state, and prove the grave of religious freedom and independence, which she always and everywhere asserts with all her energy against kings, emperors, nobilities and peoples –against Jew, pagan, Mussulman, schismatic, and heretic, and it is for this that they conspire against her and seek her destruction.

            The rabbi says, “First the state, then the church,” which is as absurd as to say, “First man, then god.” The state represents simply a human authority, while the church, or represents simply a human authority, while the church, or the synagogue even, represents—the sovereignty of God, or the divine authority in human affairs, and the rabbi in his doctrine is false alike to Moses and to Christ, and as little of an orthodox Jew as he is of a Christian believer. Yet he agrees perfectly with Judge Hurlbut and Dr. Bellows in asserting the supremacy of the state or secular order, and the subordination of the spiritual order. We do not know whether the rabbi means to approve or censure the assumption by Peter the Great of the headship of the Russian Church, and his government of it by the sword; but Peter only acted on the principle, “First the state, then the church, “ and the slavery of the Russian church to the state is only an inevitable consequence of the principle or maxim. The Russian church, governed by the holy synod, itself governed by the czar, presents a lively image of the abject position religion would be compelled to hold in every country if the doctrine of the total separation of church and state, and he independence and supremacy of the state, advocated by one or another of the three men we are criticizing, were to prevail and to be embodied in the civil code.

But let this pass. It is clear that the rabbi, and therefore the Jews, so far as he represents them, are to be included in the great conspiracy against the liberty and equality of Catholics, or religious liberty recognized and guaranteed by the American states. Catholics are to be put down and their church suppressed by the strong arm of power. To prepare the American people for this proposed revolution in the American system, this suppression of religions liberty, a system of gross misstatements, calumnious charges, and downright lying respecting the church, is resorted to and persisted in as it was by the reformers in the sixteenth century. "Lie, lie stoutly, " Voltaire said, though it was said long before him "something will stick." We do not like to say this, but truth will not permit us to soften our statement or to use milder terms. There is nothing too harsh or too false for the anti-Catholic press and the anti-Catholic preachers and lecturers to say of our holy religion, and nothing can be more unlike the Catholic Church than their pretended representations of her--to unlike, indeed, even to be called caricatures, for they catch not one of her features. Even when the anti-Catholic writers and speakers tell facts about Catholics or in the history of the church, they so tell them as to distort the truth and to produce the effect of falsehood, or draw inferences from them wholly unwarranted. We must, then, be excused if we sometimes call the systematic misrepresentation of our religion, our church, and ourselves by its true and expressive name, even though it may seem harsh and impolite. The batteries they discharge against the church are not to be silenced by bouquets of roses.

                The public has become too well informed as to Catholic doctrines and usages to permit the repetition, with much effect, of many of the old charges and calumnies. Only the very ignorant can be made to believe that the church is the Babylonian sorceress who makes the nations drunk with the wine of her fornications; that she is "the mystery of iniquity;" that the pope is the man of sin, "or Antichrist; that our nunneries are brothels, and their vaults are filled with the skeletons of murdered infants, of which Luther discoursed to his friends with so much unction in his Tischreden over his pot of beer. These things are a little out of date and do not gain the ready credence they once did. The age is all for liberty, for progress, for enlightenment; so the anti-Catholic tactics change to suit the times. James I. of England, as did the politicians of France opposed to the Ligue, charged the church with being hostile to monarchy and the divine right of kings. The charge now is that she is opposed to republicanism, and denies the divine right of the people, or, more strictly, of the demagogues. She is said to be a spiritual despotism, the foster-mother of ignorance and superstation, the enemy of science and of progress, of intelligence and liberty, individual and social, civil and religious. Her religious houses are dens of cruelty and tyranny, and if she is permitted to continue and spread her peculiar institutions over this country, American democracy will be destroyed, and American liberty be but a memory, &c.,&c.

                The cry is not now, the truth is in danger, the Gospel is in danger, religion is in danger, but the republic is in danger, democracy is in danger, liberty is in danger. The church, the moment she gets the power, will, it is argued, abolish our political system, establish a monarchy, abolish religious liberty, and cut the throats of all heretics and infidels, or send them to the stake to be consumed in a fire of green wood, as Calvin did Michael Servetus. And there are not wanting fools enough to believe it or dishonest men enough to pretend to believe it when they do not, though it is evident that the republic is likely to pass away, if things go on in the political world as they are now going, and be succeeded by anarchy or a military despotism long before the majority of the people will cease to war against the church as anti-democratic. But the point to be noted here is that all these charges assume the supremacy of the secular order, and allege not that the church is false, is not the church of God, but that she is hostile to democracy or democratic institutions; in other words, that she does not conform to popular opinion, for democracy is nothing but popular opinion erected into law. Now, as we do not believe that popular opinion, inconstant as the wind, is infallible , or that the secular order is supreme, we are not sure that it would be a fatal objection to the church even if what is alleged against her were well founded. The arguments against the church of this sort are drawn from too low a level to command any intelligent respect, and they are all based on a false assumption. Politics are not higher than religion; the state is not above the church the secular order is not above the spiritual; and it is only atheism that can assert the contrary. To a terrible extent, the supremacy of the secular is the doctrine of our age and country; but Catholics hold it to be both false and dangerous, as incompatible with the liberty and independence of religion, with natural morality, and even with the existence of natural society, as it is with the sovereignty of God. It is the doctrine of the European revolutionists and communists, and is sapping the life and threatening the very existence of our American republicanism--has already reduced our government to be little else than an agency for promoting the private interests of business men, bankers, manufacturers, and railroad corporations. Our elections are becoming a wretched farce, for the monopolists govern the government, let what party may succeed at the polls. The state governments cannot control them, and the general government just as little.

                We will not so dishonor the church or insult religion as to undertake to refute these popular charges against her, and to prove that her authority is not incompatible with the existence and salutary working of republican government. The charges are addressed to ignorance and prejudice; we take higher ground, and maintain that civil society can no more dispense with the church, than the body with the soul. The secular is insufficient for itself, and needs the informing life and vigor of the spiritual. The political history of France since 1682, especially since 1789, proves it to all men who are capable of tracing effects to the causes. There is no form of government more in need of the church than the republican, founded on the modern doctrine of popular sovereignty, and the maxim, the majority must rule. The habit of regarding power as emanating from the mass, as derived from low to high, tends itself to debase the mind, to destroy that respect for law, and that reverence for authority, without which no government performs in a peaceable and orderly way its legitimate functions. The American people see nothing divine, nothing sacred and inviolable, in their government; they regard law as an emanation of their own will, as their own creation, and what creator can feel himself bound to reverence and obey his own creature? We need the church to consecrate the government, to give the law a spiritual sanction, to crate in us habits of reverence, of submission, and docility, and to impress us with the conviction that civil obedience is a moral duty, and that we must be loyal to legitimate authority for conscience' sake. We need the church to teach us that in obeying the laws not repugnant to the divine law, we are obeying not men, which is slavery, but God, which is freedom, and the very principle of all freedom. We need her to create in us high and holy aspirations, to produce in us those high and disinterested virtues, without which civil government is impotent for good, and powerful only for evil. No man who believes not in the sovereignty of truth, in the supremacy of right, and feels it not his duty to obey it at all hazards, has the temper demanded in a republic, and only the church can create it.

                A government built on interest, however enlightened, on sentiment, however charming, or public opinion, however just, is a house built on the sand. It rests  on nothing fixed and permanent, is without stability or efficiency, and tends always to fall and bury the people in its ruins. we see this in our own political history. It would be difficult to find a government more corrupt than ours, that taxes the people more heavily, or that does less for the public good, the advantages we had at the start being taken into the account. The good that has been done, the great things accomplished, have been accomplished by the people in spite of the government, and our record as a nation can hardly put that of Prussia or Russia to shame.

                We do not choose to dwell on this aspect of the case, although much more might be said. We love our country, have been bred to love republicanism, and have the success of the American experiment at heart. The evils which the liberals charge to the union of church and state, and hold the church responsible for, spring , as every impartial and intelligent student of history knows, not from the union but from the separation of church and state, and the unremitting efforts of the civil power to usurp the functions of the spiritual power, and to make the church the accomplice of its policy. The terrible struggles of the pope and emperor in the middle ages had this cause and no other. The pope simply sought to maintain against the emperor the freedom and independence of the church, the kingdom of God on Earth, that is, true religious liberty. It is to the partial, in some countries the complete, triumph of the secular over the spiritual, that we must attribute the unsettled, disorderly, and revolutionary state of contemporary society throughout the civilized world, the hatred or contempt of authority both divine and human, the depression of religion, the decline of intellectual greatness, the substitution of opinion for faith, a sickly sentimentalism for a manly and robust piety, free-lovism or divorce ad libitum for Christian marriage, and the general abasement of character.

                The evils are very real, but the more perfect divorce of the state from the church would not cure or lessen, but only aggravate and intensify them; nay, would to all human foresight render them incurable. The state without religion or moral obligation is impotent to redress social evils or to elevate society, and Protestantism, which holds from the people, and depends for its very breath of life on popular opinion, is no less impotent than the state. Protestantism, having retained some elements of religion from the church may, we readily concede, do something to retard the fall of a nation that accepts it, but when a Protestant nation has once fallen, become morally and politically corrupt, rotten to the core, it has not power to restore it; for it has no principle of life to infuse into it above and beyond that which it already has. Resting on human authority, holding from the nation or people, its life is only national life itself; and , of course, when the national life is extinct, its own life becomes extinct with it. Cut off from the church of God, and therefore from Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life," it cannot draw new supplies of life from the fountain of life itself, with which to revive and reinvigorate the fallen nation.

                This is wherefore there is no hope for our republic under Protestantism.  There has been a sad falling-off in the virtue, the honesty, the integrity, the chastity, and public spirit of our people in the last fifty years.  The old habits formed under Catholic discipline and influences are wearing out, if not worn out; intellectual culture may be more general, though even that may be questioned, but it is less generous, thorough, and profound; meeting-houses may be increases in greater proportion than the population itself, but theology is less studied-is less intellectual, less scientific, and is more superficial; and religion has less hold on the conscience, and less influence on life, public, private, or domestic; and we may say, generally, that in all save what belongs to the material order, our republic has a downward tendency.  Now, since Protestantism has nothing more  or higher than the republic, and no recuperative power, how, then, can it possibly arrest this downward tendency and turn it upward, and save the nation?  Archimedes wanted something whereon to stand outside of the world in order to move it.  This Protestantism has not, for it rests on the world, and has nothing above the world or outside of it, and in fact is only the world itself.  To everyone who understands the great principle of moral and spiritual dynamics, it is clear that the hope of the republic is not and cannot be Protestantism and there is just as little in the civil order, for that, divorced from the church and without any moral obligation, is precisely that which needs saving.  The union of the various Protestant sects in one organic body, if it were possible, would avail nothing; for the whole would be only the sum of the parts, and the parts having no supramundane life, the whole could have none.

                Hence we say that whatever hope there is for our republic is in the growth and predominance of the Catholic Church in the minds and hearts of the American people; and there is a well-grounded hope for it only in the prospect that she may before it is too late become the church of the great majority.  The church has what Archimedes wanted, and the Protestantism has not- the whereon to stand outside and above the world.  She lives a life which is not derived from the life of the world,  and is in communion with the Source of life itself, whence she may be constantly drawing fresh supplies, and infusing into the nation a life above the national life in its best estate, and which, infused into the nation, becomes for it a recuperative energy, and enables it to arrest its downward tendency, and to ascend to a new and higher life.  It is not without a reason, then, founded in the nature of things, that we tell our countrymen that Protestantism may ruin the republic, but cannot save it, any more than it can the soul of the individual; and that, instead of crying out against the church like madmen, as hostile to the republic, they should rather turn their eyes toward her as their only source of help, and learn that she can and will save the republic, if they will only allow her to do it.

                Yet we urge not this as the motive for accepting the teaching of the church and submitting to her authority and discipline.  Our Lord says to us, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice , and all these things shall be added unto you," But he does not bid us or permit us to seek the kingdom of God and his justice for the sake of :these things," or the adjicienda; he forbids us to be solicitous.  The only motive for a man to become a Catholic, to believe what the church teaches, and to do what she commands, is that she is the kingdom of God on earth, and that it is only in so doing that he can possess "his justice," please God or attain the eternal life.  Christ did not come, as a temporal prince, to found-as the carnal Jews, misinterpreting the prophecies, expected-an earthly kingdom, or to create an earthly paradise; but he came as a spiritual prince to establish the reign of his Father on earth in all human affairs, and over all men and nations, and whatever temporal good is secured is not the end or reason of his kingdom, but is simply incidental to it.  It is no reason why I should or should not be a Catholic because the church favors or does not favor one or another particular form of civil polity, if it be a fact, is sufficient reason why I should not favor it, for it proves that such form is repugnant to the sovereignty of God and the supremacy of his law.  As a matter of fact, however, the church has never condemned any particular form of civil polity or erected one form or another into a Catholic dogma, as he pleases, and at the same time be a good and irreproachable Catholic, if he hold the political power subordinate to the divine sovereignty.              

                The church is necessary to sustain a republican form of government, but it is also necessary to sustain any other form, as a wise, just, and efficient civil government.  The error of those we are combating is not in that they are democrats or anti-democrats, but in holding that the state or secular order is sufficient for itself, can stand of itself without the aid of religion or the church, has no need of the spiritual, and has in fact the right to brush religion aside as an impertinent intermeddler whenever it comes in its way, or seeks to dictate or influence its policy. This is a gross error, condemned by all religion, all philosophy, and all experience. It is the old Epicurean error that excludes the divine authority from the direction or control of human affairs, and in its delirium sings,

"Let the gods go to sleep up above us."

It is at bottom pure atheism, nothing more, nothing less. It is a pure absurdity. Can the creation stand without the creator? Can the contingent subsist without the necessary? Can the body live and perform its functions without the soul which is its principle of life; the dependent without that on which it depends? In the whole history of the world, you will not find an instance of a purely atheistical state, or a state held to be completely divorced from the spiritual order. There is no instance in all history of a state without some sort of religion, even an established religion, or religion which the state recognizes as its supreme law, and does its best or worst to enforce. We here, as well as in England, as well as at any time in any European country, have an established religion which the law protects and enforces on all its citizens, only it is a mutilated religion, a religion without dogmas, and called morality. If not so, whence is it the law punishes murder or arson, and forbids polygamy, or the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes? Even Jacobins erect their Jacobinism into a religion, and make it obligatory on the state to persecute, to exterminate all who dare oppose it. Have we not seen it despoil the Holy See of its independence and possessions, confiscate the goods of the church, exile holy bishops from their sees and their country in Italy, and within a few weeks shoot down the archbishop of Paris and a large number of priests and religious, suspend public worship, desecrate and plunder the churches, and banish all religion but their Jacobinism from the schools? No state tolerates any religion hostile to its own established religion, and the most intolerant and