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Christianity and Positivism (Catholic World, 1871)


[From the Catholic World for October, 1871]

Dr. McCosh had acquired a considerable reputation among Presbyterians in his own country and ours, by several philosophic-theological works he had published of the New Jersey College at Princeton, one of the most distinguished literary institutions of the Union. It had an able president, also a Scotsman, in Dr. Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration, and a devoted champion of American independence, and, though a Presbyterian, a sturdy defender of civil and religious liberty. Dr. McCosh comes to the presidency of the college with a high literary and philosophical reputation, and comes under many advantages, and its friends expect him to contribute much to raise still higher its character, and place it on a level with Harvard and Yale, perhaps even above them.

            There is some ability and considerable knowledge displayed in the volume of lectures before us, though not much originality. The author professes to take the side of Christianity against the false and mischievous theories of such men as Sir William Hamilton, J. Stuart Mill, Huxley, Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and others, whom he classes as belonging to the Positivist school. WE have every disposition in the world to think and speak well of the volume, and to give it full credit for every merit it may claim. It is directed against our enemy even more than against his. Positivism is the most open, frank, honest, and respectable antagonist Christianity or Catholicity has had in modern times, and, we may add, the ablest and the most logical, especially as represented by avowed Positivists. In fighting against us, positivism fights against our Presbyterian doctor, so far as he retains any element of Catholic truth, and there is no good reason why his war against it should not tend as far as it goes to the same end as ours. Positivism can be opposed and Christianity defended only on Catholic ground; and so far as Dr. McCosh really does either, he must assume our ground and serve in our ranks, or at any rate be on our side; and it would be churlish in us to reject or underrate his services because in certain other matters he is against us, or is not enrolled in our ranks.

            It is certain that in these lectures, which show marks of much hard mental labor, the author has said many good things, and used some good arguments; but having truth only in a mutilated form, and only his private judgment to oppose to the private judgment of Positivists, he has been unable to give a full and conclusive refutation of positivism. As a Protestant trained in Protestant schools, he has no clear, well-defined catholic principles to which he can refer the particular truths he advances, and the special arguments he urges for their unity and support. His book lacks unity, laeks the mental grasp that comprehends in its unity and universality the whole subject, under all its various aspects, or in versality the whole subject, under all its various aspects, or in its principle, on which it depends, and which explains and justifies it. His book is a book of particulars, of details, of general conclusions drawn from particular facts and statements, like all Protestant books. This is not so much the fault of the author perhaps as of his Protestantism, which, since it rejects catholicity and has nothing universal, is essentially things. The author lacks the conception of unity under its law. The author lacks the conception of unity and universality; he has particulars, but no universals—variety, but no identity—multiplicity, but no unity, except in words. This is a great defect, and renders his work inconclusive as an argument and exceedingly tedious to the reader as well as the reviewer. This defect runs all through the author’s philosophy. In his Intuitions of the Mind, there is no unity of intuition, but a variety of isolated intuitions—no intuition of principle, of the universal, but simply intellectual apprehension of supersensible particulars, as in The Human Intellect of Professor Porter, who is a far abler man than Dr. McCosh.

            We are utterly unable to analyze thee lectures, reduce their deliverances to a universal principle, which, if accepted, s decisive of the whole controversy they attempt to settle; or if rejected proves the whole worthless. Then we complain of the author for the indignity he offers to Christianity by suffering the Positivists to put it on the defensive, and in attempting to prove it against positivism. Christianity is in possession, and is not called upon to defend her right till strong reasons are adduced for ousting her. Consequently, it is for those who would oust her to prove their case, to make good their cause. The Christianity controversialists at this late day does not begin with an apology or defence of Christianity, but attacks those who assail her, and puts them on their defence. It is for the scientists, or Positivists, who oppose the Christian religion, to prove their positivism or science. It is enough for the Christian to show that the positivism or alleged science is not itself proven, or, if proven, that it proves nothing against Christ and his Church. Dr. McCosh seems to have some suspicion of this, and occasionally attempts to put positivism on its defence, but he does it without laying down the principle which justifies it; and in doing it he renders it useless, by immediately running away after some pet speculation of his own, which gives his opponent ample opportunity to resume the offensive.

            Dr. McCosh, also, more than half agrees with the Positivists, and concedes that the religion society, as such, has no right to judge of the bearings of the conclusions of the scientists on religion. “All this shows,” he says, pp.5, 6, “that religious men qua religious men are not to be allowed to decide for us the truths of science. Conceive an Ecumenical Council at Rome, or an Assembly or Divines at Westminster, or an Episcopal Convocation at Lambeth, or a Congregational Council at Plymouth, or a Methodist Conference in Connecticut taking upon it to decide for or against the discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, or the grand doctrine established in our day of the conservation of force and the correlation of all the physical forces, on the ground of their being favorable or unfavorable to religion!” This concedes to the Positivists that science is independent of religion, and that religion is to be accepted or rejected as it does or does not accord with science, and wholly overlooks the fact that religion is the first science, and that nothing can be true, scientifically or otherwise, that is contrary or unfavorable to religion. Religion is the word of God, and every religious man says with the inspired apostle, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

Dr. McCosh, of course, cannot say this, for, having no infallible authority to define what is or is not religious truth or the word of God, he is obliged to place religion in the category of opinions which may or may not be true, and therefore to deny it as the law for all intelligences. Supposing God has appointed an authority, infallible through his gracious assistance, to teach all men and nations his religion, or truth he has revealed, and the law he commands all to obey, this authority must be competent to decide whether any alleged scientific discoveries are or are not favorable to religion, and must necessarily have the right to decide that this or that theory is unfavorable to religion, we as religious men must pronounce it false, and refuse to entertain it. Dr, McCosh, as a Presbyterian or Protestant, would have no right to say so, but the Catholic would have the right, and it is his duty to say so; because religion is absolutely decides for him. Nothing that is not accordance with the teachings of religion can be true in science any more than in religion itself, though many things may be true that are not in accordance with the opinions and theories held by religious men.

            The moment the Christian allows that the authority is not catholic; that it is limited and covers only one part of truth; and that there is by its side another and an independent authority, another and independent order of truth, he ceases to be able to meet successfully the Positivists; for truth is one, and can never be in opposition to truth—that is, in opposition to itself. Religion, we concede, does not teach the sciences, or the various facts with which they are  constructed, but it does judge and pronounce authoritatively on the inferences or conclusions scientific men draw from these facts, or the explanations they give of them, and to decide whether they are not consistent with her own teachings. If they are inconsistent with the revealed word, or with what that word implies, she pronounces them false; and, if warranted by the alleged facts, she pronounces the alleged facts themselves to be misinterpreted, misapprehended, misstated, or to be no facts. Her authority is higher than any reasoning of men, than the authority even of the senses, if it comes to that, for nothing is or can be more certain than that religion is true. We cannot as Catholics, as Christians, make the concession to the Positivists the Presbyterian doctor does, that their science is an authority independent of religion, and not amenable to it.

            Dr. McCosh, we think, is unwise, in a controversy with Positivists, in separating natural theology, as he calls it, from revealed theology. The two are only parts of one whole, and, in point fact, although distinguishable, have never existed separately at any epoch of history. The existence of God, the immateriality of the soul, and the liberty of man or free-will, are provable with certainly by reason, and are therefore truths of philosophy, but they were not discovered by unassisted reason or the unassisted exercise of our natural powers before they were taught to our first parents by the Creator himself, and have never been held as simple natural truths, unconnected with supernatural instruction or some reminiscences of such instruction. Natural theology, or philosophy, and revealed theology form one indissoluble whole, and Christianity includes both in their unity and catholicity. In defending Christianity against positivism, which denies both, we should defend both as a whole; because the natural is incomplete and unable of itself alone to satisfy the demands of reason, which is never sufficient for itself; and the truths necessary to complete it and to solve the objections to the being and providence of God are not attainable by reason alone or without the light of revelation. We may assert and prove miracles as a fact, but the objection of Positivists to them cannot be scientifically answered till we have proved that they have their law in the supernatural order. The inferences we draw from miracles will not be appreciated or allowed by men who deny the supernatural and reduce God to nature.

            The author in reality has no method, but he begins by attempting to prove the being of God then he existence of mind in man, and the reality of knowledge, and finally, in the second part, that the life of Christ was the life of a real personage, and proves the reality of his religion. He offers only one argument to prove that God is, and that is the well-known argument, which has been so fully done by Paley and the Bridgewater Treatises, but simply asserts its sufficiency. There are marks of design in adapting one thing to another throughout the universe, which can be only the effect of the action of an intelligent designer. Giving this argument all possible force, it does not carry the author in his conclusion beyond Plato or Aristotle, neither of whom was properly a theist. Plato and Aristotle both believed in an intelligent mind in the universe, operating on an external uncreated matter, forming all things from pre-existing materials, and arranging them in an artistic order. The argument from designer can go no further, and this is all that is proved by Paley’s illustration of the watch, which would be no illustration at all to a mind that had no intuition or conception of a designer. Neither Plato nor Aristotle had any conception of a creator or supramundance God. Whether the intelligent mind has created all things from nothing, or has only formed and disposed all things from pre-existing matter, as the soul of the world, anima mundi, is what can never be determined by any induction from the alleged marks of design discoverable in the universe.

            We therefore hold, and have always held, that this famous argument, the only one the Baconian philosophy admits, however valuable it may be in proving or illustrating the attributes or perfections of God, when God is once known to exists, is inconclusive when relied on alone to prove that God is, or is that by which the mind first obtains the idea. It may serve as a corroborative argument, but of itself alone it cannot originate the idea in the mind, or carry one beyond an intelligent soul of the world, or the pantheism of Plato and Aristotle, and of all Gentile philosophy, except the school of Leucippus and Democritus, followed as to physics by Epicurus—unless we must also except the skeptics, Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus. We think, therefore, the author has damaged the cause of Christianity, instead of serving it, by risking it on a single argument, by no means conclusive to his purpose. A weak and inadequate defence is worse than no defence at all.

            The principle that every effect has a cause, on which the author bases his argument, is no doubt true; but we must know that the fact is an effect before we can infer from it that it has or has had a cause. Cause and effect are correlative terms, which connote one another; but this is no proof that this or that fact is an effect, and we cannot pronounce it an effect unless we have the intuition of cause; and no intuition even of a particular cause suffices, unless we have intuition of a universal cause. It is not so simple a thing, then, to pronounce a given fact an effect, and to conclude that there is between it and something else, the relation of cause and effect. It is precisely this relation that Hume, Kant, Thomas, Brown, Sir William Hamilton, Dr. Mansel, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and all the so-called Positivists deny or relegate to the region of the unknowable. Dr. McCosh did not refute them, by assuming and arguing from the principle; he simply begs the question.

            Now, we venture to tell out learned and philosophic author that his whole argument for natural theology falls to the ground before a mind that has no intuition of the relation of cause and effect, that is not previously furnished with the knowledge of design and of a designing cause. Hence, from the alleged marks of design and adaption of means to ends, it is impossible to infer a designer. When the watch was presented for the first time to the untutored savage, he looked upon it as a living thing, not as a piece of artificial mechanism constructed by a watchmaker.  He must know that it is a piece of artificial mechanism before he can conclude man has made it.  There falls under our observation no more perfect adaption of means to ends then the octagonal cell of the bee.  Does the bee work by design in constructing it?  Does the beaver work by design, by intelligent design, in building its dam and constructing its house?  It is generally held that the bee as well as the beaver works by instinct, or by a law of its nature, as does the swallow in building its nest.  This proved that a designer cannot be inferred from the simple facts observed in nature, as the Positivists maintain.  This is the condemnation of the so called inductive philosophy.  The induction, to be valid, must be by virtue of a principle already held by the mind, intuitively or otherwise, and therefore can never of itself supply or give its principle, or by itself alone obtain its principle.  God is not an induction from the facts of observed in nature; and the Positivists have shown, demonstrated so much, and have therefore shown that observation and induction alone can give no principle, and, therefore end in nescience—the termination of the so called philosophic positive.

            Dr. McCosh is not wholly insensible to this conclusion, and seeks to escape it by proving that there is a mind in man endowed with the capacity of knowing things as they are.  But if the existence of the mind needs to be proved, with what can we prove it?  By consciousness, the author answers; but that is a sheer paralogism, for consciousness is simply an act of the mind, and presupposes it.  God can no more be an induction from the facts of consciousness than from the facts of nature. In either case, the God induced is a generalization; in the one case, the generalization of nature, and, in the other, the generalization of consciousness. The former usually goes by the name of atheism, the latter by the name of egoism.

            Dr. McCosh very properly rejects Hamilton’s and Mansel’s doctrine of the pure relatively of all knowledge and Herbert Spencer’s doctrine that all knowledge is restricted to the knowledge of phenomena or appearances, though conceding that appearances are unthinkable without a reality beyond them, but that the reality beyond them, and which appears in them, is itself unknowable; and maintains truly that we know things themselves, both sensible and supersensible.  We know them, he contends, by intuition, or a direct looking on or beholding them by the simple intellectual force of our minds.  Of this we are not so certain, for we do not ourselves know by intuition why salt is bitter and sugar sweet, and we think that doctor knows things themselves only in so far as he excepts their essence or substance, and confounds the thing with its properties, or its accidents, as say the schoolmen, in which case he makes no appreciable advance on Mr. Hebert Spencer.  We know the appearances and the sensible properties of bread, but we do not know its essence or substance.  Has the Presbyterian doctor, who seems to have a holy war horror of Catholicity, invented a philosophy for the express purpose of combating with apparent reason the mystery of transubstantiation, by making it conflict with the positive testimony of the senses and the human intellect?

            But let that pass.  The intuition that doctor recognizes is empirical intuition, and intuition of particular or individual things, not of principles, causes, relations.  And from the knowledge of those individual things, he holds that man rises by generalization and abstraction--that is, induction--from one degree of knowledge to another, till he finally attains to the knowledge of God distinct from the world, and clothes him with infinite perfections.  Yet the good doctor claims to be a philosopher, and enjoys a high reputation as such.  None of these individual things, nor all of them together, are God, or contain him; how, then, from them, supposing you know them, rise scientifically to him?  And what by abstraction or generalization is that to which the mind attains?  Only their generalization or abstraction, which as a creation of the mind is a nullity.  He, like Hamilton, in this would make philosophy end in nescience.

            We, of course, hold that we apprehend and know things themselves, not phenomena merely, and as they are, not as they are not--that is, in their real relations, not to us only, but in the objective world.  But you know things as they are, in their real objective relations, or to know them at all, demands intuition of them, in their contingency or in their character of creatures or effects--that is to say, as existences, not as independent, self existent beings, which they are not.  And this is not possible without the intuition of the necessary, of real being, on which they depend and from which they are derived.  When we say a thing is in effect left the, we say it has been caused, and therefore, in order to say it, we must have intuition of cause; and if we say of a thing that it is a particular cause, we deny that it is universal cause, which we could not do without the intuition of universal cause. Say when we say of a thing it is contingent, we simply deny it to be necessary being, and we could not deny a thing to be necessary being if we had no intuition of necessary being. If the author means by abstracting and generalizing our knowledge of things or individual existences, distinguishing this is ideal—from the intuition of things or contingent existences, along with which it is presented in thought, and as the necessary condition of our apprehending them, and by replacing contemplation ascertaining that this ideal, necessary and universal, is really God, though not intuitively known to be god, we do not object to the assertion that we rise from our knowledge of things to the knowledge of God himself. What we deny is that God can be concluded from the intuition or apprehension of things. We rise to him from the ideal intuition, or intuition of the real and necessary, which enters the mind with the intuition of the things, and without which we never do or could exist without the creative act of real and necessary being creating them from nothing and sustaining them in existence; but it needs to be disengaged by a mental process from the empirical intuition with which it is presented.

            This ideal intuition is not immediate and direct intuition of God, as the pseudo-ontologists contend, and which the Church has condemned; but is intuition under the form of necessary, universal, eternal, and immutable ideas—of that which the mind, by reasoning, reflection, and contemplation, proves really is God. What misleads the author and so many others who use the argument he uses, is that the intuition of real and necessary being, and the intuition of contingencies, are given both in the same thought, the one along with the other, and most minds fail to distinguish them—which is done, according to St. Thomas, by the intellectus agens, in distinction from the passive or receptive intellect—and hence they suppose that they conclude the ideal intuition of the ideal; and hence his argument for the existence of God proves nothing, for the universal is not derivable from the particular, the necessary from the contingent, nor being from existences. Had he recognized that along with, as its necessary condition, the intuition of the particular there always is the intuition of the universal, &c., he would have place theology against positivism on an impregnable foundation. The necessarily ideas, the universal, the eternal, the immutable, the necessary, connoted in all our thoughts, cannot be simply abstractions, for abstractions have no existence a parte rei, and are formed by the mind operating on the concrete object of empirical intuition. As these ideas are objects of intuition, they are real; and if real, they are either being or existence. But no existences are or can be necessary, universal, eternal, real, and necessary being, and distinguishable from existences or things, as the creator from his creatures, the actor from the act.

            We have said that the ideal intuition is not intuition of God, but of what which is God; we say now that the ideal intuition of ens or being, as erroneously supposed by some to be maintained by Gioberti and ourselves, but of what which is ens. The process of demonstrating that God is consists in identifying, by reflection and reasoning, the necessary ideas or ideal intuition with real and necessary being in which they are all identified with God. This process is demonstration, not intuition. When we say, in the syllogism, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises, we have intuition of the necessary, else we could not say it; but we have not intuition of the fact that the necessary is being, far less that it is God. This is known only by reflection and reasoning, disengaging the ideal from the empirical. The idea must be real, or there could be no intuition of it, but if real, it must be being; if being, it must be real and necessary being is God. So of all the other necessary ideas. As the intuition is of both the ideal or necessary and the contingent in its principle, and in their real relation, it gives the principle of a complete demonstration of the being of Gad as Creator, and of the universe as the effect of his creative act, and therefore of the complete refutation of pantheism. The vice of Dr. McCosh’s argument is that it proceeds on the denial of ideal intuition, and the assumption that being, God, is obtainable by generalization and abstraction from the individual things given in empirical intuition. It is not obtained by reflection from them, but from the ideal intuition, never separable from the empirical.

            This process of proving that God is may be called the ideal process, or the argument from universal and necessary ideas intuitively given.  It is not a priori, because the ideal is held by intuition; nor is it an argument from innate present of the mind--is it an argument from the primitive bullies or constituent principles of human nature, as Dr. Reid and the Scottish school maintained, and which is only another form of the Cartesian doctrine of the innate ideas; or an argument drawm from our own fonds, as Leibnitz imagined, or from the a priori cognitions or necessary forms of the intellect, as Kant held, and which is only the doctrine of the Scottish school of Reid and Stewart differently stated; but from principles or data really presented in intuition, and along with the empirical intuition of things.  It places, therefore, the being of God on as firm a basis and renders it as certain to the understanding as our own existence, or as any fact whatever of which the human mind has cognizance; indeed, renders it absolutely certain and undeniable.  But while we say this, and while we maintain that the ideal intuition is given along with the empirical intuition, with which our author confounds it, and from which philosophy or natural theology disengages it, we by no means believe that the race is indebted to this ideal or metaphysical process--which is too difficult not only for the Positivists, but for the great opponent Dr. McCosh--for the origin of their belief in God.  All ages and nations, in the most barbarous and savage tribes, have some sort of belief in God, some religious notions which imply his existence; and, hovering above the various in Eastern and Western mythologies, we find the belief in one God or the divine unity, though neglected or rejected for the worship of inferior gods or demons, or the elements--that is, the worship of creatures, which is idolatry, since worshiped as God.  The ignorant savage, but a grade above the beasts, has never risen to the conception of God or of the Great Spirit from the contemplation of nature, nor has he attained to religious conceptions by a law of his nature or by instinct, as the bee constructs its cell or the beaver its dam.

            It is very true, nothing more true than that “the heavens show forth Glory of god, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands,” but to him only who has the idea of god or already believes that he is.  Nothing more true than that god can be traced in all his works, or that “the invincible things of him, even his eternal power and divinity, are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made,” but only by those who have already learned that he is, are intent answering the question, Quid est Deus?  Not the question, An sit Deus?  Hence we are so fare agree with the traditionalists, not indeed that the existence of God cannot be proved by reason prior to fait, but that, as a fact, God revealed himself to man before his expulsion from the garden; and the belief, clear and distinct or dim and confused, in the divine being, universally diffused among all races and conditions of men, originated in revelation and is due to the tradiotin, pure And impure, in its integrity or mutilated and corrupted, of the primitive revelation mad by God himself  to man.  In this way the fact of the universality of the belief in some form is a valid argument for the truth of the belief, and we thus obtain an historical argument to corroborate the already conclusive ideal or metaphysical argument principles on which we have given.

We bear willing testimony to the good will and laudable intension of our author, but we cannot regard him as able, with his mutilated theology and his imperfect and rather superficial philosophy—though less superficial than the philosophy generally an vogue among British and American Protestants--to carry on a successful war against the Positivists.  We are almost tempted to say this to him:

Non tali auxilio nec defensoribus istis Tempus eget.

He is too near a kin to the Positivists themselves, and adopts too many of their principles and conclusions, to be able to battle effectively against them. No doubt he urges much that its true against them, but his arguments, as far as effective, are inconsistent with his position as a Protestant, and are borrowed from Catholicity, or from what he has retained from Catholic instruction and Catholic tradition, not from his Protestantism. Having no authority but his own private interpretation of the Scriptures to define what is or it not Christianity, he knows not how much or how little he must defend against the Positivists, or how much or how little he is free to concede to them. He practically concedes to them the Creator. He defends God as the efficient cause, indeed, but not as the organizer and disposer of materials already furnished to his hand. God does not seem to him to be his own causa materialis. He works on a preexisting matter. He constructs, the author concedes, the existing worlds out of “star-dust”, or disintegrated stars, without telling us who made the stars that have dissolved and turned to dust and without bearing in mind, or without knowing, that Christianity teaches us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and therefore could not have formed them out of “star dust” or any other material.

            The Protestant divine accepts and defends Darwin's theory of the origin of species by "natural selection," though he does not believe that it applies universally, or that man has been developed from the ape or the tadpole. He denies that Huxley’s protoplasm can be developed from protein, or life from dead matter; maintains that all. life proceeds from a living organism, that the plant can spring only from a seed, and the animal only from a living cell or germ; and yet concedes that some of the lower forms of organic life may spring from spontaneous generation, and even goes so far as to tell us that some of the most eminent of the fathers held or conceded as much. What becomes, then, of the assertion that life cannot be evolved from dead matter? He would seem to hold or to concede that man lived, for an indefinite time, a purely animal life, before the Almighty breathed into his nostrils and he became a spiritual man, and quotes to prove it St. Paul's assertion that " not first that which is spiritual "(1 Cor. xv. 46). He seems, in fact, ready to concede any and every thing except the intelligent mind recognized by Plato and Aristotle, that had arranged all things according to a preconceived plan, and throughout the whole adapted means to ends. He insists on efficient causes and final causes, but hardly on God as the causal causarum or as the causa finalis of all particular final causes.

            Throughout, as we have already remarked, there is a want wrong of unity and universality in his philosophy, as there necessarily must be in his Protestant theology, and a sad lack of logical consistency and order, or co-ordination. His world is a chaos, as is and must be the Protestant world. Herbert Spencer undertakes to explain the universe without God, or, what is the same thing, with an absolutely unknowable God, which is of course an impossibility; but he has a far profounder intellect and a far more logical mind than Dr. McCosh. He is a heaven-wide from the truth, yet nearer to it than his Presbyterian critic. His logic is good; his principle being granted, his conclusions, though absurd, cannot be denied. His error lies in his premises, and, if you correct them, your work is done. He will correct all details, and arrive at just conclusions without further assistance. But Dr. McCosh is one who, however much he may talk about them, never reduces his doctrines to their generic principles, or reasons from principles. He is genuine Protestant, and cannot be refuted in refuting his principles, which vary with the exigencies of his argument, and are really no principles at all, but must be refuted in detail; and when you have convinced him twice three are six, you have still to prove that three times two are also six.

            Now, such a man—and he is, perhaps, above the average of Presbyterian divines—is the last man in the world to attempt the refutation of positivism. No Protestant can do it. Indeed, all the avowed Positivists we have known regard Protestant Christianity as too insignificant a matter to be counted. It is too vogue and fluctuating, too uncertain and indefinite, too unsubstantial and intangible, too unsystematic and illogical, to command the least respect from them. They see at a glance that it is too little to be religion and too much to be no-religion. It cannot, with its half affirmations and its whole denials, stand a moment before an intelligent Positivist who has a scientific cast of mind the Positivists rejects the church, or course, but he respects Catholicity as a logical system, consistent with itself, coherent in all its parts, and for him there is no via media between it and positivism. If he were not a Positivist, he says openly,he would be a catholic, by no means a Protestant, which he looks upon as one thing nor another; and we respond that, could we cease to be a Catholic, we should be a Positivists, for to a logical mind there is no medium between the church and atheism. The middle systems, as Protestantism, Rationalism, Deism, &c, are divided against themselves, and cannot stand, any more than a house divided against itself. Their denials vitiate their affirmations and their affirmations vitiate their denials. They are all too much or too little.

            The Positivists reject for what they call the scientific age both theology and metaphysics. They believe in the progress of the race, and indeed in all races, as does Dr. McCosh.. They distinguish in the history of the human race or of human progress three epochs or stages—first, the theological j. second, the metaphysical; and third, the scientific. Theology and metaphysics each in its epoch were true and good,. and served the progress of man and society. They have now passed away, and the race is now entering the scientific age, which is the final stage, though not to last forever;. for when the field of science is exhausted, and all it yields is harvested, the race will expire, and the world come to an end, as having no more work to do. It will be seen there is here a remarkable difference between the real Positivists, or believers in Auguste Comte, and our author and his-Protestant brethren. The Positivists never calumniate the past, but seek to appreciate its services to humanity, to-acknowledge the good it did, and to bury it with honor, a& the children of the New Dispensation did the Old, when it had lived its day. One of the finest appreciations from the point of view of humanity of the services of the mediaeval monks we have ever read is from the pen of M. E. Littre, the chief of the French Positivists, and one of the most learned men of France. It said. Not all a Catholic would say, but scarcely a word that could grate on a Catholic ear. Dr. McCosh also believes in progress, in the progress of our species, and, for aught we know, in the progress of all species and genera, and that we outgrow the past; but he takes pleasure only in calumniating it, and like a bad son curses the mother that bore him. Because he has outgrown his nurse, he contends the nurse was of no use in his childhood, was a great injury, and it would have been much better to leave him to himself, to toddle about at will, and toddle into the fire or the cistern, as he saw proper.

            Now, we think, if one believes in the progress of the species or the perfectibility of man by development or by natural agencies, the Positivist doctrine is much the most reasonable as well as far the most amiable. Its effect, too, is far better. We owed much to the doctrine, which we borrowed not from Comte, but from Comte's master, Saint-Simon, the influence of which, under the grace of God, disposed us to return to the old church. It softened the animosity, the bitter hatred, toward the past which we had inherited from our Protestant education, and enabled us to study it with calm and gentle feelings, even with gratitude and respect, and disposed us to view it with impartiality and to appreciate it with justice. Studying the past, and especially the old church which we had complacently supposed the race had outgrown as the man has outgrown the bib and; tucker of his childhood, in this new and better mood, we soon discovered that there was much more in the past than we had ever dreamed of, and that it was abundantly able to> teach us much more than we or any of our Protestant contemporaries supposed; and we were not long in beginning to doubt if we had really outgrown it, nor in becoming convinced that, instead of outgrowing it, we had fallen below it; that the old church, the central institution of the world, was as needful to us now as in the beginning; and that, in comparison with the full noonday light which beamed from her divine countenance, the light in which we had hitherto walked, or stumbled, rather, was but a fading twilight, nay, midnight darkness.

            Of course we differ far more from positivism than does Dr. McCosh, but we can as Catholics better discriminate than he what is true and just in it, and better understand and refute its errors or false principles, because we have the whole truth to oppose to it, not merely certain fragments or disfigured aspects of truth. It is only Catholics who can really set right the class of men Dr. McCosh wars against. Protestants cannot do it. When Theodore Parker published his Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion, we had not outgrown the Protestantism in which we had been trained. We set about refuting him, and we saw at once we could not do it on Protestant grounds, and we planted ourselves on Catholic ground, as far as we then knew it, and our refutation was a total failure except so far as we opposed to the Discourse the principles of the Catholic Church. Dr. McCosh has tried his hand in the volume before us against Theodore Parker and the Free Religionists, and with no success save so far as he abandons his Protestantism and quietly appropriates the arguments of Catholics, to which he has no more right than he has to his neighbor's horse. It was hardly generous in the learned doctor, while using their arguments—and they were the only arguments that availed him any thing—to turn upon Catholics and twit them of " ignorance and superstition." Was he afraid that people might discover the source whence he drew the small stock of wisdom and truth he displayed?

            We might have made Dr. McCosh's lectures the occasion of presenting a formal refutation of positivism, but we had already taken up from time to time the false principles, the errors and untenable theories and hypotheses, which his lectures treat, and refuted them, so far as they are hostile to Christianity, far more effectively, in our judgment, than he has done or could do. He may be more deeply versed in the errors and absurd hypotheses of the false scientists of the day, who are laboring to explain and account for the universe without creation and Providence, than we are; but -we have not found in his volume any thing of value which we have not ourselves already said, and said too, perhaps, in. a style more easily understood than his, and in better English than he ordinarily uses. Our readers could learn nothing of positivism from him, and just as little of the principles and reasonings that Christianity is able to oppose to it. He writes as a man who measures the known by what he himself knows, and is now and then out in his measurement.

            Dr. McCosh, also, adopts rather too depreciatory a tone in speaking of our countrymen, especially considering that he has but just come among us, and knows us at best only Imperfectly. We own it was no striking indication of American intelligence and judgment to import him to preside over one of the best Protestant American institutions of learning and science ; but men often loom up larger at a •distance than they are when seen close by, and there is no .country in which bubble reputations from abroad more speedily collapse than our own. The doctor will find, when - he has lived longer among us, and becomes better acquainted with us, that if England is nearer Germany, German speculations are known to Americans and appreciated by them at least as soon as they are by Englishmen or Scotsmen. Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, were known to American scholars before there was much knowledge of them in England or Scotland. The English and Scotch are now just becoming acquainted with and are carried away by theories and speculations in philosophy which had been examined here, and exploded more than thirty years ago by Americans. The doctor underrates the scholarship and intelligence even of his American Presbyterian friends, and there are scholars, men of thought, of science, general intelligence, in the country many degrees above Presbyterians, respectable as they are. Presbyterians are not by any means the whole American people, nor the most advanced portion of them. They are really behind the Congregationalists, to say nothing of " the ignorant and superstitious" Catholics, whose scholars are in science and learning, philosophy, theology, especially in the history of the church, it is no boast to say, superior to either, and know and understand better the movements of the age, the intellectual, moral, social, and political theories, crotchets, and tendencies of the present, than any other class of American citizens. It takes more than a Dr. McCosh, although for a time a professor in Belfast, Ireland, to teach them more than they already know.

            We pass over the second part of the lectures, devoted to Apologetics, as of no importance. One needs to know what Christianity is, and to have clearly in his mind the entire Christian plan, before one can successfully defend it against the class of persons the author calls Positivists. This is more than the author knows, or as a Protestant can know. His Christianity is an indefinite, vague, variable, and uncertain opinion, and he has no conception at all of the Christian plan, or what St. Paul calls " the new creation." No doubt the miracles are provable by simple historical testimony by and to one who knows nothing of the Christian plan, or of its supernatural character; but to the unbelievers of our time it is necessary to set forth, in its unity and catholicity, the Christian schema, if we may be allowed the term, and to show that miracles themselves have their reason or law in the divine plan or decree, and' are no more anomalies, in relation to that plan or decree, or -exparte Dei, than are earthquakes and volcanoes. It is only in this way we can satisfy the demand for order and regularity. The unbeliever may not be able to resist the testimony which proves the miracle a fact, but till we show him that in a miracle the natural laws are not violated, or that nature does not go out of her course, as he imagines, we cannot satisfy him that he can yield to the miracle without surrendering his natural reason, and the law and order of the universe.

            Now, this the Protestant cannot do ; and though he might adduce the historical evidences of Christianity satisfactory to a simpler age, or to minds, though steeped in error, yet retaining from tradition a full belief in the reality of a supernatural order, he cannot as a Protestant do it to minds that deny that there is or can be any thing above nature, and that refuse utterly to admit the supernatural order, which the miracles manifest, or that reject miracles, not because •the testimony is insufficient, but because they cannot be admitted without admitting the reality of the supernatural. The prejudice against the supernatural must be removed as the preliminary work, and 'this can be done only by presenting Christianity as a whole in its unity and catholicity, and showing that, according to it, the supernatural or Christian order enters into the original decree of God, and is necessary to complete what is initial in the cosmos, or to perfect the natural order and to enable it to fulfill the purpose for which it exists, or realize its destiny or final cause, in which is its beatitude or supreme good. This done, the prejudice against the supernatural is removed, miracles are seen to be in the order, not indeed of nature, as Carlyle pretends, but in the order of the supernatural, and demanding only ordinary historical testimony to be proved, and consequently Hume's famous argument against miracles, refuted by no Protestant that has protested against it, shown to have no force.

            Now, this requires a profound knowledge of Christianity, which is not attainable by private judgment from the Scriptures, or outside of the infallible authority of the church with which the revelation of God, the revealed word, is -deposited as its guardian and interpreter. M. Migne, indeed, admits some treatises written by Protestants into his collection of works he has published under the title of Evangelical Demonstration, which are not without their merit, but rare valuable only on certain points, and on those only so far ;as they rest on Catholic principles and use Catholic arguments. Christianity being supernatural, a revelation of the supernatural, it, of course, while addressed to natural reason, cannot be determined or defined by natural reason, and can be determined or defined, preserved or presented, in its purity and integrity, only by an authority supernaturally instituted •and assisted for that very purpose. Even what the author calls natural theology, since it is only initial, like the cosmos, is incomplete, and, though not above natural reason, needs the supernatural to fulfill it, and therefore the supervision and control of the same supernaturally instituted and assisted .authority to preserve it from error, from a false development, or from assuming a false direction, as we see continually occurring with those who have not such an authority for guide and monitor. Hence, even in matters not above the province of natural reason, natural reason is not a sufficient guide, or else whence come those errors of the Positiv-Ists in the purely scientific order the learned doctor combats with so many words, if not thoughts—with so many assertions, if not arguments'(

            Hence, since Protestants have no such authority, and make it their capital point to-deny that any body has it, it follows that they are unable to present any authoritative statement, or any statement at all which an unbeliever is bound to respect, or what Christianity really is, or what is the authentic meaning of the term. They can give only their private views or opinions of what is, and these the unbeliever is not Abound to place in any respect above his own, especially since they vary with every Protestant sect, and, we may almost say, with every individual Protestant who thinks enough to have an opinion of any sort. Even if they borrow Catholic 'traditions, Catholic principles, and Catholic doctrines and definitions, these in their hands lose their authoritative character, and become simply opinions resting on private reason. They can present as Christianity nothing authentic to be defended by the Christian, or to be accepted or rejected by the unbeliever. Clearly, then, Protestants are in no condition to manage apologetics with acute, scientific, and logical unbelievers; and if we wanted any proof of it we could find it, and in abundance, in the volume before us.