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Admonitions to Protestants

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1848
Art. I. - Admonitions to Protestants. Introduction. "Quaerite ergo primum regnum Dei, et justitiam ejus, et haec omnia adjicientur vobis.." - S. Matt. vi. 33.
Is it not strange, my brethren, that the great primary ques­tions, whence we came, why we are here, and whither we go, - questions which we must answer, or have no rule of life, and be compelled to live as the beasts that perish, - should be regarded by large numbers of you, who believe yourselves to constitute the more advanced portion of mankind, as unsolved, if not, indeed, as unsolvable, problems ? Is it reasonable to suppose the race has subsisted six thousand years, and, as many of you would fain persuade us, much longer, on this globe, with these problems unsolved ? Is it true that no light has ever dawned on our origin and destiny, - that we are placed here with darkness behind us, darkness before us, and darkness over, around, and within us ? If not, as it cannot be, how happens it that so many of you find your minds filled with doubt and anxiety, that you feel that nothing is settled, that all is loose and floating, and in the bitterness of your hearts, from the depths of despair, you are calling upon all nature, upon the heavens and the earth, the living and the dead, and some of you even upon hell itself, to disclose to you the secret of your origin and destiny, and to determine for you the rule of life and the purpose of existence ?
My brethren, you need not seek far for the cause. It is nigh you, and plain before your eyes, if you will but open them. Your ministers, whom in an evil hour you preferred to the priests of the Most High God and the consecrated pastors of his people, have misled you ; they have turned your faces away from God, and caused you to lose sight of the truth he has gra­ciously revealed for the instruction and consolation of men. They have given you their words for his, the chaff for the wheat, a faint and mutilated shadow for the substance. By casting off authority, and substituting in its place what they term private judgment, which is necessarily followed by in­terminable disputes, innumerable sects, divisions, and contra­dictions, they have made, for you, what was clear and certain in the Word of God dark and doubtful, religion a weltering chaos of discordant elements, the noble science of theology an unmeaning jargon, and piety a reproach. Their utter in­ability to agree among themselves on a single positive doctrine, their variable and incoherent speech, their sectarian wrath and bigotry, fierce contentions, arrogant claims, pretended faith, yet obvious doubt, boasted interior illumination, yet undeniable and often deplorable ignorance, have disgusted men of sober practical sense who know no other teachers, sowed in their hearts the seeds of universal skepticism, and induced them to look upon all religion as a cheat, and all pretensions to divine revelation as ridiculous and absurd. It is thus they have dark­ened your minds and perverted your hearts, cast you down from the high heaven of God's grace, robbed you of the su­pernatural riches bestowed on you by your Heavenly Father, wounded you and left you half dead in the streets, as did the robbers the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
It is not presumed, my brethren, that your ministers in the outset intended to bring about the deplorable state of things of which they as well as you are the victims. Men rarely, if ever, will evil for the sake of evil; they will it for the sake of the good they hope to obtain from it. Eve did not suffer her­self to be seduced by the Serpent, for the sake of bringing sin and death into the world ; she did it that her eyes and those of her race might be opened, and that men might be as gods, knowing good and evil, that is, as God knows them, without being obliged to learn them from the law or command of a superior. Yet none the less did sin and death follow her act of disobedience, and become the painful heritage of all her posterity. " There is a way which seemelh just to a man ; but the ends thereof lead to death." Prov. xiv. 12. The early Protestant ministers, the Reformers as you call them, it is to be presumed, had no wish to introduce evil for the sake of evil ; they may have verily believed their movement compatible with Christian faith and morals, and even that it was wise and necessary in order to preserve our holy religion in its pu­rity, integrity, freedom, and vigor ; yet are they responsible for tile fatal consequences of that unlawful movement. They might, and should, have foreseen them. They knew that they acted against legitimate authority, on their own private judg­ment ; they were distinctly warned of the unlawfulness of their act, and of the consequences which must inevitably follow, and with ordinary prudence they could not have failed to fore­see them. The arguments which they were obliged to use, in order to defend their movement, their revolt from the Church and rejection of her teaching, are precisely, in principle, the ar­guments which a Voltaire uses against divine revelation, and a D'Holbach against the existence of a God; while those by which they defended and must defend, if they defend it at all, their principle of private authority are precisely those by which the Rationalists undertake to establish the sufficiency of rea­son, and Transcendentalists, that human nature is the ground and measure of truth and goodness, as has been demonstrated to you, perhaps a hundred times over, by some of your own ministers themselves.
It is conceded that your ministers have written several able and learned works against unbelief, and in defence of religion ; but in these works they have only borrowed Catholic princi­ples and arguments, conclusive when urged by us, but of no practical value when urged by them, because practically denied and refuted by their position outside of the Church, and by the other principles and arguments they must adopt and urge in their own defence. Actions speak louder than words. The rebel chief, in arms to overthrow his lawful sovereign, cannot preach loyalty with much effect. His practical disloyalty more than neutralizes his speculative loyalty. The practical rejection of Catholicity by your ministers necessarily does more to spread infidelity and licentiousness than any Catholic principles and arguments they may urge can do to arrest their fatal progress.
It is certain, and the experience of three hundred years has proved it, that Christianity is defensible only on Catholic ground, and every attempt to defend it on other grounds has failed. Philosophers have tried to defend it on philosophical grounds, hut in doing so have only reduced it to a philosophy. Rationalists have attempted to do it on the ground of reason alone, and have obtained only the same result.     Socialists and progressists attempt to do it on humanitarian principles, and have only reduced it. to a system of humanityisrn, which is pure egotism, pure socialism, pure pantheism, or pure atheism, according to the point of view from which it is considered. A religion which emanates from a supernatural source, and which is intended to be authoritative for man, cannot be defended on grounds which recognize no authority that does not emanate from man himself. That which is subject to man, controllable by his reason or will, is not authoritative for him, and, instead of giving the law to him, receives it from him. The very moment, then, that one of your ministers undertakes to defend Christianity, not as a philosophy, not as a system of rational­ism or of socialism, but as a religion imposing the law on man, on both his reason and his will, which he must obey in thought, word, and deed, he must recognize and defend the principle of authority. It is so in the nature of things. But as a Protestant he must either deny this principle or condemn himself; for as a Protestant he is obliged to protest, not sim­ply against this authority or that, but against authority itself. When he objects to the Church, it is not so much what she teaches, as her authority to teach. Many Protestants do not object at all to Catholic doctrines, if they may be­lieve them for other than Catholic reasons. There are men in our own day who reject the Roman Catholic Church, and yet boast that they hold "all Roman doctrine." You all pro­fess dogmas, when you profess to believe any thing at all, as difficult to reason as any of the Catholic Mysteries. You even contend for a church, a catholic church too, and find it very reasonable, in case it is an abstraction, an ideal thing, claiming and able to exercise no authority over the individual judgment and belief. When your ministers object to certain doctrines and practices of the Church, it is chiefly because they wish to break down her authority ; not because the doctrines or practices themselves are felt to be intrinsically so very ob­jectionable. It is clear, then, that it is to authority, in a word, to an authoritative religion, to what Christianity must be, if a religion at all, that your ministers as Protestants must object. It is equally clear, then, that whenever they undertake the de­fence of Christianity, and offer any thing solid in its defence, they must abandon the Protestant ground, and take the Cath­olic ground, the ground of authority. If we examine the de­fences they have written, those which have really contained something to the purpose, we shall find that they have uniform­ly done so.
But such defences from your ministers amount to nothing, because they practically, and, when defending their Protestant­ism, speculatively, deny the soundness of the principle on which they rest, and from  which they derive all  their  force.    It is therefore that, though they have written able and learned works on the evidences of Christianity, they have never been able to arrest for a moment the progress of their movement towards unbelief and immorality.     In vain do you attempt to prevent the disciple from pushing the principles of the master to their last logical results.    No form of Protestantism has ever been able to remain for any length of time what it was in the outset. The  principles  which the Reformers asserted against Rome were not slow to develop themselves in the very lifetime of the Reformers themselves.   Botli Luther and Calvin, as the move­ment went on, were carried farther than they originally intended to go, and were obliged to modify their views more than once. The last days of Luther were spent in battling against those who were for pushing his principles to a logical extreme, from which he recoiled.    Jt is always, therefore, at a terrible disad­vantage that the Protestant minister reasons against unbelievers. They can always reply,- " If you believe what you say against us, why are you Protestants ?    Why do you not follow it out, and return to the Church ?    If you hold  that the grounds on which you separate from the Church are legitimate, why do you object to us for proceeding on them ?    If private judgment is authority for you, why is it not authority for  us ?    li' on  its authority  you   may legitimately  separate  from  the  Catholic Church, why may not we on its authority legitimately separate from yours ?  If your principle is sound for you, it is as sound for us, and no principle is sound which may not without error be pushed to its last consequences.    If the consequences are false, the principle is unsound."    This reply is conclusive. The Protestant never has rejoined and never can rejoin any thing solid against it.
But your ministers, my brethren, have not only not been able to offer on their own principles any solid defence of re­ligion, but, by borrowing and misapplying our principles and arguments, they have made its defence, even by Catholics, much more difficult than it would otherwise have been. The evil they do by their writings against us is small in comparison with the evil they do by their writings in defence of Christian­ity. They are far more formidable as allies than as enemies. The weakest Christians are in general able to protect themselves against Satan when he appears to them in his own proper character, undisguised ; it is only when he comes to them in the guise of an angel of light that their danger is imminent. Evidences of Christianity by Protestant ministers are a byword among yourselves. There are few of you who do not feel that on Protestant principles they establish nothing. You see that from your stand-point they are inconclusive; - why, then, you ask, not from ours ? why shall the same principles and arguments, which, urged by Protestants, are obviously inconclu­sive, be held to be conclusive when urged by Catholics ? The reason is not apparent to all; and as you have in the outset a strong prejudice against us, and have settled it in your own minds that our Church is false, the principles and arguments your ministers borrow from us are regarded by you as incon­clusive because you easily see that they are as strong for us as for religion itself. If they conclude any thing for your ministers, they conclude too much. You thus imbibe a strong prejudice against them, and will not give them their due weight when we urge them. The habit of rejecting them when urged by your own ministers leads you to reject them when urged by us. "Our ministers," you say, "have said all that. Give us some reasons and arguments which they have not adduced." This is not always easy to be done ; because those which they have adduced are ordinarily those which are nearest at hand, and such as you are least able to appreciate. Those which they have not urged are more recondite, require more re­search, and a patience of investigation, and habits of close and rigid reasoning, which are not to be expected from the majori­ty of you. Your ministers have borrowed our readiest argu­ments, and by so doing have in some measure unfitted them for our use.
Your ministers have also thrown doubt and distrust on all Christian experience, and rendered appeals to it of little use. In vain we tell unbelievers of their need of religion, of their nothingness without it, and of the peace and ineffable repose of the believer, the consolations they will receive when once they believe, the joy and gladness which will crown their lives. Have not Protestant ministers told them and promised them the same things, and deceived them ?., The alleged experi­ence of Catholics in all ages and nations, which on every prin­ciple of moral evidence ought to count for something, excites in them only a smile of incredulity, or pity for our weakness. Do not Protestants tell the same story ?    Why shall we trust you rather than them ? They, we know, only deceive or de­lude ; and why not you ? Men have trusted your ministers and found themselves deceived, and now they will trust no one, not even the Almighty God himself. See what your ministers have done ! They have thrown so much false coin into circulation, that you will no longer believe that there is any circulating that is not false.

One thing is certain, my brethren, that your ministers have deceived you, and have in no instance kept their word to you. For what did you rashly consent to follow them ? What did they promise you ? Was it to lose all religious faith, to be replunged into the darkness and corruption of heathenism, to be reduced to the world of time and sense, and to despair of all but mere earthly goods, that you listened to them, and con­sented to follow their lead ? No, by no means. Nor was this what they promised you. They told you that the Church had lost her first love, that she had been unfaithful to her heavenly Spouse, that she was corrupt, rotten, and could not be touched without defilement. They called her Babylon, and conjured you by your love of the truth and purity of the Gospel to come out of her, to drink no more of the wine'of her fornica­tions, or partake of her sorceries. They promised, if you did, that you should have pure Christianity restored, a reform­ed church, reconstructed on the primitive model, into which nothing unholy or unclean should enter, in which the pure word of God should be preached, and the pure ordinances of God's house should be kept and observed. They promised you a revival in your midst of the work of the Lord, as it were a re­newal of his covenant with men. The restored Gospel was to have free course and be glorified ; all the ends of the earth were to be converted ; and you were all to be of one mind and one heart, filled with love and peace, abounding in faith and in good works as its fruits. This is what they promised you, what you looked for, what you followed them for. Have they kept their word ?   Have you obtained what they promised ?
My brethren, you have given your ministers full three hun­dred years to make good their promises, full three hundred years for their experiment ; surely a long time enough for them to succeed, if success were possible. Look around you. Where are you now ? Of all that was promised you, that you expected, what have you obtained ? You were promised a pure, holy, and living evangelical church ; have you obtained it ?    Which  of your thousand  and  one jarring sects  is it ? You were promised the pure, unadulterated word, the true and most holy faith once delivered to the saints ; which of your thousand and one contradictory creeds is it ? Are you agreed as to what are the true ordinances of God's house, what is their right administralion ? Have you found peace and unity ? Have you found the necessary helps against temptations, and aids to virtue ? Alas ! my brethren, these questions must seem to you cruel mockery. You know, you deeply feel, that it is not so. You have gained nothing of what was promised you. You have spent your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which cannot satisfy you. You have wasted that portion of your Father's goods which you took with you when you left his house, travelled into a far country, and set up for yourselves. Your faith is gone, leaving you not even so much as a philosophy ; your hope is turned into disappointment ; your charity is become a weak and watery philanthropy; and your zeal for God has lost itself in zeal for the world. You have no unity, no compactness ; your doc­trines vary with each individual teacher, and, when nominally the same, scarcely any two can be found who hold them in the same sense ; your minds are perplexed, your hearts sad, your passions fierce and ungovernable ; and you no longer know what to believe or what to do. This is the way in which your ministers have rewarded your confidence, in which they have kept their promises !
In vain, my brethren, would you deny it. Look to the classic land of the Reformation, where Luther thundered his innovations, and Melancthon with gentler feelings polished and defended them. Where do you find your pure evangelism ? Is it in the all-absorbing Rationalism, Transcendentalism, or Hu-manityism, - impious isms more revolting to sober sense than the late Philosophism of France ? Look at Geneva, where Farel preached, and Calvin legislated. Do you recognize the pure word of God you were promised in the hardly baptized Deism discoursed from the very pulpit of Calvin, and which even Rousseau would have disdained ? Look at Holland, Den­mark, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, England, and, alas ! you behold your beloved Protestantism sinking down, down to a lower deep, - into the bottomless abyss of nothingness. In this good city of Boston, the Geneva of America, once the para­dise of Protestant ministers, where find you your reformed church, your pure evangelism ? Is it in the Melodeon and Ritchie Hall ?   Cambridge, once your boast, has passed over into Nihilism ; and Andover, raised up to atone for her defec­tion, follows close upon her heels. Each day new reformers emerge with fierce tones, hold speech, and animated gestures, to accuse their predecessors of having stopped short of the mark. The vanguard of yesterday is the rearguard to-day. A novelty is hardly announced before it is antiquated ; there is no interval between birth and old age, the cradle and the grave. Each moment you find the old ground giving way under your feet, and yourselves obliged to spring for your lives for some new ground, which will give way in turn the next. Alas ! my brethren, you have nothing solid on which to stand, you have no fixed residence, no spot to call your own. Home and fire­side are not for you. Ever since, at the bidding of your min­isters, you spurned the Church of God, and withheld your charity from her Spouse, you have been doomed, like the " Wandering Jew," to wander on, seeking rest and finding none,-to live that you might reap, not life's blessing, but life's curse.
You boast, indeed, of progress,-and progress you cer­tainly have made ; but, my brethren, in what direction ? As Protestants, you have cast ofF authority, have asserted private judgment, and gained the right to select, teach, and govern your teachers, and this you call progress. The Unitarian rejects the mysteries of faith, makes his Redeemer a man, a creature, that is, no redeemer at all, and it is-progress ; the Univer-salist has cast off the fear of judgment and hell, asserted that after death it fares as well with the incorrigible sinner as with the saint, perhaps better, and it again is - progress; the Lib­eral Christian discards all creeds and confessions, asserts, virtu­ally at least, the indifference of truth and falsehood, and there­fore of right and wrong, and behold ! what marvellous prog­ress ! But see you not, my brethren, that your progress is a progress in casting off', in denying, in losing ? In what con­sists it but in a more and more complete rejection of the super­natural order, and in reducing yourselves nearer and nearer to natural indigence and nudity ? Your positive gain, admitting all that you even claim, consists solely in the increased facility of acquiring mere earthly goods. In politics, you have effect­ed changes by which a mushroom moneyed aristocracy may supplant the old hereditary aristocracy ; in the industrial world, you have introduced steam-engines, steamboats, railways, spin­ning-jennies, power-looms, and an endless variety of labor-saving machinery, by which you seek to evade the original sentence, that man should gain his bread by the sweat of his face ; but all, be it more or less, is progress only in relation to the goods of this world, and undeniably tends only to draw off the affections from (Jod and heaven, from the spiritual and eternal, and to place them on the things of the earih, the sen­sual and the perishing.
Turn the matter over as you will, my brethren, this much is certain, your ministers have deceived you, and your grand Protestant experiment, as a religion, has proved a failure. It has established nothing ; but it has unloosed every thing, and made all in religion as variable and transitory as human pas­sion and caprice. It is no contradiction of this that some few among you may still hold up your hands in horror at the audacity of the younger and more adventurous members of your party, and still cling with a death-grasp to some of the dogmas retained in name by the early Reformers. There is no party among you that believes in all things as Luther, as Calvin, as Zuinglius, as Cranmer, or as the Socini taught. There is not one of your sects that does not depart widely from the doctrines of its founder ; nay, there has been no founder of a sect among you that has steadily adhered from first to last to his own doctrine. So certain and so evident is this, that you erect variation in doctrine into a principle, and boldly defend, under the name of progress, the founder of a sect in departing more or less from himself, and his followers in departing from the formulas he sought to establish. Finding that nothing among you is fixed and permanent, you boldly contend that to be fixed and permanent^is a demerit, and that the merit is in being movable and transient.
It is not denied, that many of you may still retain a vague notion that there is a real, substantial Christianity distinguish­able from the Church, that faith and hope and charity may be possessed out of her communion, and that Rationalists, Tran-scendentalists, and Humanityists depart from the original prin­ciples of Protestantism, and may be rejected for Christian reasons, without any thing being implied in favor of Catholicity. But these sects tell you, and they tell you truly, that they have only developed Luther and Calvin, and maintain only what was really meant or logically implied in their movement; and when you see that movement, in every land where it has been free to develop itself, resulting in the teachings and practices of those sects, you cannot reasonably doubt what they tell you. You must not imagine, my brethren, that you retain  the Christian faith, because you may still profess to believe some of the Christian dogmas. The test of one's orthodoxy is not in his professing to believe orthodox dogmas ; for to be an orthodox believer, we must not only believe the orthodox doctrine, but we must believe it for an orthodox reason. He who believes all the articles of the creed, if he believe them as a philosophy, is no Christian believer, and if for a Transcendental reason, he is nothing but a Transcendentalist. The character of our faith is determined by its formal, not its material, object. Hence there are individuals who profess to believe the whole material object of Catholic faith, who nevertheless have no Catholic faith, no Catholic thought, even ; because they do not believe it for a Catholic reason.
It does not therefore follow, my brethren, that those among you who may flatter themselves that they retain some portion of the Christian faith, because they profess some of its dog­mas, are distinguishable at all generically from the non-evan­gelicals, as you call them, and avowed unbelievers. Evangeli­cals, non-evangelicals, and avowed unbelievers, all assert the same formal reason of belief, that is, belief on private judg­ment, or human authority, and are therefore radically indis­tinguishable. Out of the church which is commissioned by Almighty God to teach, you do not and cannot embrace Chris­tian doctrine as Christian ; you do and can, unless an express revelation is made to you individually, embrace it only as a philosophy, or as a human opinion, because you have for em­bracing it only human motives ; and therefore in embracing it, even if you define it in the very terms of the Nicene creed, you are really unbelievers, just as much so as if you did not profess to believe it at all.
Have you not observed, my brethren, that a striking change has taken place in relation to the controversies which you formerly carried on among yourselves ? In former times there were among you fierce and obstinate dogmatic wars ; creed was arrayed against creed, and dogma against dogma. The Con-substantialist and the Sacramentarian stood mutually opposed, each hurling his anathemas directly in the face of the other ; the Trinitarian Protestant sought to establish his dogma against the Socinian, and the Socinian his against the Trinitarian ; the Calvinist insisted on his " decretum horribile " against the Arminian, and the Arminian on his free will and unlimited grace against the Calvinistic election and reprobation ; the professed believer attempted to defend revelation, and the un-believer attempted its direct overthrow. There is little of all this among you now. The king of Prussia, by his royal edict, unites Lutherans and Calvinists in the same communion, per­mitting each party to retain its peculiar dogma, and the great body of both find it admirable. Schleiermacher professes to accept all the symbolical books of the Lutherans, and maintains in a grave discourse that one may have all that is essential in the religious belief and life, without believing even so much as the personality of God, or a future stale of personal existence. The Neologists generally accept the old dogmata, and seek only to explain them. Unitarians are found who sing the Nicene creed as a part of their religious service. Your philosophers no longer directly oppose the faith ; they make a boast of accepting all Christian doctrines. All religious doc­trines which have ever been believed, say they, are symbols, conceal great truths ; and they only seek to interpret the sym­bol, and to prove philosophically that which they suppose to be symbolized. Whence comes this significant change ? Why has your old internecine warfare been brought to a close ? Simply, my brethren, because the modern enemies of Chris­tianity have discovered,-and this is a progress they have made, - that it makes nothing against them that the matter of the Christian faith is professedly believed, so long as it is believed only for a human reason ; and that there is no radical difference between men, so long as they really believe or disbelieve on the same ground, however diverse the matter they believe or dis­believe. The ground of belief with you all is undeniably hu­man. You are, then, really, whatever some among you may sometimes persuade yourselves, all in the same category, un­believers, deprived of all religion, reduced to the nakedness of nature. What you call your religion is no religion ; it is a human a Hair, and pertains only to the lifo of nature.
Here, then, you are, my brethren, after three hundred years of trial with an open field and fair play- You have had wealth, power, learning, talent, genius, and laborious application ; what you have not been able to do with the means at your dis­posal, and in the three hundred years you have had for your experiment, you must see it is in vain for you to hope to do hereafter. What men, out of the Church, taking the Bible and private judgment or a humanly constituted authority for their rule, can do, you have done. Greater or more learned men than you have had you cannot expect. New discoveries you cannot make ; and if you could, what in the mean time is to become of the millions who live and die, before your new prophets arise, your new teachers come to  disclose the  true way of salvation ?    But you are making no new discoveries, nor advancing towards them ; your new reformers only revive exploded theories, and reproduce what the old heretics or the old pagans had long ago tried and found worthless.    Hope, then, nothing better from your Protestantism than you have al­ready attained to.    It is not in the nature of things that you should attain to any thing else.    Every movement has its law of development, from which no human power can withdraw it. You see, and know, and feel, to what result the inevitable de­velopments of Protestantism tend.     Thither you must follow, or prove false to your own principles ; and you are Protes­tants no further than you  do so.    A  progressive  religion,  if the term may be used, must be ever changing its formulas, and they only truly adhere to it who change their formulas with it. It is the boast of Protestantism, that it is progressive.    Luther, and Calvin, and Cranmer, and Socinus saw a portion of the truth, but they saw not the whole ; and to be true to their spirit, we must not stop where they did, and refuse to accept the new light which dawns upon us.    They did not break the fetters of Rome to forge new fetters of their own.    No.    Their move­ment was  a movement in behalf of liberty.    They emanci­pated the human mind, and conquered for it the power to ad­vance ; Protestantism is the religion of progress.   So you hold it, my brethren, and, as such, you hold it up in contrast with the invariableness and immobility of Catholicity.    Your great objection to us is, that we hold the mind to a fixed form of doctrine and worship, - chain men, as you express it, to a dead past, and will not suffer them to go forward to a living future. You, then, are Protestants only as you advance with the Prot­estant movement.    You  deny  thq  legitimacy of that  move­ment, condemn it and yourselves, whenever you linger behind with the old formulas it outgrows or casts off.    It is, then, abso­lutely impossible for you, if faithful to your Protestantism, not to be reduced to nature,  to this  world alone, to satisfy your­selves as best you may with such goods as it offers.    To look beyond it is for you an inconsequence, a lolly.
But, my brethren, you cannot be ignorant that it is not in human nature to be satisfied with the goods of this world. Universal experience proves that you may possess all this world can give, and yet look round and sigh for what you have not, and to be other than you are.    Riches do not enrich. Our views of what it is to be rich expand with our accumula­tions, and the distance between what we have and what we desire to have is ever widening. Wishes gratified give rise to new wishes ; for every desire satisfied, a dozen new and more inordinate desires spring up, and with loud clamor demand the means of satisfaction. Hence the richer we grow, the poorer do we become ; for poverty is always to be measured by the number of wants which we have and are unable to satisfy. Hence the wisdom of all ages admonishes us, if we would enrich a man, to diminish his desires, not to increase his pos­sessions.
Pleasures, so called, are unable to please, and none enjoy so little as those who make it their sole business to enjoy. Appetite and passion strengthen by indulgence, and as they strengthen, the power to indulge them is impaired, and the capacity of their objects to please is lessened. The Epicu­rean philosophy is the saddest philosophy man has ever in­vented, and its votaries sooner than any others are forced to exclaim, from the depths of bitter experience, - Vanitas vani-tatum, vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas! The pursuit of knowledge is hardly better. The eye is not satisfied by see­ing, nor the understanding by knowing. It is but little, at best, that we can know ; and the more we know, the less we seem to ourselves to know, and the more are we oppressed by what we know not. Ignorance may plume herself on her conquests, and in the foolish pride of her own heart imagine that no more worlds remain to be conquered ; but science knows no exulta­tion, no self-complacency. It encounters in its progress only darkness and difficulty, doubt and perplexity. As we advance, we become a painful mystery unto ourselves ; the universe be­comes to us " a sealed book, written within and without, sealed with seven seals," which no man can open ; and when we have reached the farthest limits of our power, we are forced to say, with the wisest son of Athens, " All we know is, that we know nothing." The chase after fame and worldly honors and distinctions is equally vain.
Nor do we, my brethren, find a more substantial good in those idols of the age, love and philanthropy. Love, aban­doned to nature, and sought for its own sake, consumes itself in its own fire. It is capricious, morbid, a torment to him who harbours it, and an insurmountable obstacle to its own gratification. He cannot truly love who rests in love; and he wants the qualities which command the love of others.    Philanthropy can, at best, only weep over evils it cannot cure, and it is almost invariably doomed to aggravate the wrongs it would redress. It springs from nature, and is confined within her limits. It has, and can have, nothing to offer its objects but wealth, pleasure, knowledge, fame, honors, worldly goods, which yield, and can yield, no substantial good to their pos­sessor, - nothing to slake his burning thirst, or to appease his gnawing hunger.
The experience of all ages proves beyond doubt or cavil, that man never suffices for himself, and never does, and never can, obtain any substantial good from the world in which he is placed. He has wants which transcend the universe, and which nothing created can satisfy. The fact itself, whatever explication of it you may adopt, is certain, undeniable. The goods of this world are goods, if ever goods at all, only when we do not seek them, when we do not desire them, but despise them, trample on them, and live not for them, but for some end above and beyond them. This may seem strange. It may seem strange that our good can never come from the world in which we are placed, that even the possession of the very objects towards which our nature itself points, and with all but irresistible force impels us, should bring us no satisfac­tion, and leave us poor and destitute ; but so it is, and we can­not make it otherwise.
Here, then, my brethren, are two great and undeniable facts. On Protestant principles, you are invariably reduced to depend on the goods of this world alone, and the goods of this world are no goods at all. If, then, you are right in your Protestant­ism, there is, and can be, no good for man. Is it so ? Has some evil being made us ? Is our existence a blunder ? Are we, my brethren, compelled by some irresistible necessity to spend our money for that which is not bread, and our labor for that which satisfied) not ? Are you prepared to maintain this ? Can you believe it ? Has our existence no purpose ? Is there no rule of life for us ? Is there no substantial good set before us ? Is there nothing fixed and eternal, which is not as the shadow that passes ? Must we all our days walk in a vain shadow ? If so, my brethren, our condition is most des­perate ; man, with the rational soul, the thinking head, and feel­ing heart, is the most miserable of creatures. Better to have been a brute beast, better to have been a crawling worm, an insect of an hour, the veriest mote in the sunbeam, than a man.

If you are right, my brethren, you cannot defend even the low and worldly morality which, for decency's sake, if nothing else, the greater part of you profess. Your ministers preach to you love and philanthropy, and even dare to speak to you of love to God. Love to God ! if he has made us, placed us here without a purpose, to be the victims of an ignorance which is incurable, the sport of wild and ferocious passions which we cannot suppress or control, the prey of deep wants which are unappeasable, doomed to toil without object or recompense, to chase an empty shadow, and, exhausted, die ! For what shall we love him ? How can we love a being in whom there is not for right reason one amiable trait ? How, again, can you exercise love towards man ? Nature can love only what is naturally amiable. Your ministers strip man of all his grandeur and worth ; they make him mean and despica­ble ; and who can love him ? Who can make sacrifices for him ? Why shall we seek to do him good ? What good is there for him ? He has no good. He is born, propagates his species, dies, rots, and is no more for ever. Having reduced him below the beasts that perish, below the loathsome worm of the dust, what mockery to preach love to man, to bid us love our brother, to live and die for him ! K your ministers wish you to love man, they should show that he is worth lov­ing ; and if they wish you to devote yourselves to his service, they must show that there is a good for him, what that good is, whence it comes, and how it can be secured. On their prin­ciples, philanthropy is a folly, and the only possible rule of life is cold and heartless selfishness. It would be right and pru­dent to reason with the wicked : -
" The time of our life is short and tedious ; and in the end of a man there is no remedy ; and no man hath been known to have returned from hell. For we are born of nothing, and after this we shall be as if we had not been ; for the breath of our nostrils is smoke, and speech a spark to move our heart, which being put out, our body shall be ashes, and our spirit shall be poured abroad as soft air ; and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, which is driven away by the beams of the sun, and overpowered with the heat thereof; and our name in time shall be forgotten, and no man shall have remembrance of our works. For our time is as the passing of a shadow ; and there is no going back of our end ; for it is fast sealed, and no man returned). Come, therefore, and let us enjoy the good things which are present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wines and ointments ; and let not the flower of time pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with roses before they be withered ; let no meadow escape our riot. Let none of us go without his part in luxury ; let us everywhere leave tokens of joy ; for this is our portion, and this our lot." - Wisdom, ii. 1-9.
This is as sad as sad can be ; and yet, on the principles of your ministers, nothing better remains for you. Pause, there­fore, my brethren, and ask if it is through necessity that there is nothing better for you. Your ministers induced you to spurn the Church, and you have found yourselves deprived of all good, compelled to live and toil to no end. But the Church explains to you your origin and destiny ; she tells you that there is a good for you, a solid, a permanent, an infinite good, within your reach ; and that she, and she only, can direct you to it, and enable you, if you choose, to possess it. She tells you that God made you not for this world, and that he never intended you to find your good in those objects to which your nature inclines and impels you ; but he made you for a supernatural end, to seek and find your good in him, and in him only. She tells you that he alone can satisfy the soul, meet its deep wants, and fill it with peace and joy ; that when we seek him in the way and by the means which he has him­self ordained, we are spiritually restored to our normal state, live our normal life, and all things fall into their proper places, and work together for our good. Therefore, in the words of her heavenly Spouse, she says, " Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." She presents herself, as you well know, as commis­sioned by God himself to direct you how to seek, how to live, and to enable you both to seek and to find. She promises you, in his name, that, if you follow her directions, you shall live, that your souls shall be filled, that they shall overflow with joy, that you shall eat the good things of the land, have in this world a hundred fold, and in the world to come life everlasting. This she tells you, this she promises to all who will love and obey her.
It is true, my brethren, you do not believe her ; that you refuse to listen to her sweet and consoling voice, that you scorn and detest her, and seek by all the means in your power to destroy her. You treat her as if she were your bitterest enemy, as if she were the very quintessence of evil, and you had nothing to expect from her but the certain destruction of both soul and body in hell. But let her be what she may, you risk nothing in listening to her words, or even in believing what she says. Without her you have no good ; and they for whom there is no good have, and can have, nothing to lose. She cannot harm you ; and perhaps she may do you good ; for if what she says is true, there is a good for you. She says, she can do you good, and that without her there is no good for you. Your own experience confirms one half of what she says. You have tried all but her, and have failed. She is your only chance. It is for you, either the Church or no good. Without her you can have only unbelief, infidelity ; and infidelity leaves you to this world alone, from which no sub­stantial good is obtainable. You run, then, no risk. If you miss, you are as well off as before, have lost nothing ; if you gain, you gain every thing. It may be that all she says is true. You cannot say to the contrary. You have no authority for denying or doubting her words. Then, without the Church, there is, as your experience proves, no possibility of good ; but with the Church, for aught you know, there is not only a possibility, but a certainty, of good. With her there is, if any difference, a chance of good ; without her, no chance. You cannot, then, in common prudence, my brethren, suffer your prejudices against her to prevent you from inquiring and listening to what she has to say for herself.
But the case for the Church is much stronger. There is a reasonable presumption in her favor. The Church has never deceived you. Your ministers have deceived you ; the phi­losophers, the politicians, the economists, the poets, have de­ceived you ; the world, your own senses, instincts, passions, reason, have deceived you; all but the Church has deceived you. Did she not tell you they would deceive you ? Did she not solemnly forewarn you of the consequences of listening to them ? Did she deceive you in this ? Did she lie to you ? You were unruly sons, headstrong, self-willed ; you would have your own way ; you disregarded her admonitions, and would not obey her directions ; you would follow the insidious counsel of your young companions, which fell in with your own passions and inclinations. You now know, though you may be too proud to own it, that what she told you was true, and what they counselled you was false. She told you not to listen to them ; that what they promised, you would not obtain, or obtain but to your own  hurt; that they were  prophets of the delusion of their own hearts, that they would cause you to err, would involve you in total ruin ; for out of her, or away from her, there was no good for you, or for any one. Your ministers told you to heed her not, that her maternal words were lies; that she was no true mother, that she was a sorcer­ess and only wished to lure you to share her fornications. You now know her words were true, and that theirs were lies. If, then, they deceived you, if all but. she has deceived you, and she never, you have not only no reason for doubting her words, but a strong reason for believing that she is no deceiver, and that all she says is true. The law of evidence is, to believe every witness when there is no reason for disbelieving him.
But, my brethren, the case may stand less favorable for you yet, if you remain without the Church. Certain it is you cannot say the Church is not what she professes to be. As far as you have had the means of testing her words, you have found them strictly and exactly true. They certainly, for aught you know, or can know, may be strictly and exactly true throughout. But if it be so, what then will be. your condi­tion ? Undoubtedly, the majority of you have no fear of judgment or hell. You look upon what the Church says of the last judgment, and the eternal punishment of the wicked, as an idle tale, or a bugbear to frighten the weak and timid. You have made great progress, and have advanced, it maybe, as far as the mark left by old Lucretius ; still you must own that the Church possibly tells the truth, and that, in spite of all the mockeries of the licentious and profane, judgment and hell may turn out to be awful verities. You, with all your prog­ress, have not been able to discover any thing to the contrary. You have never yet been able to adduce a single fact against the Church. Do your best, and you can bring against her nothing but your own private judgment, and she, at the very lowest, has her private judgment against you, - any day, and on any supposition you can make, the equal of yours, and therefore able to neutralize it. On any possible hypothesis, you have as good, as strong a reason for believing that what she teaches is true, as you have that what you oppose to her is true. Your private judgment is no better authority for disbelieving than her private judgment is for believing her. But if what she teaches turns out to be true, where are you ? You are then the enemies of God ; you have lost not only the life that now is, but that which is to come ; you have lost the beatific vision ; you will never see God ; you will be doomed to suffer the tortures of hell for your sins, - tortures which, in the case of each single soul, will far outweigh all the actual or possible sufferings in time of the whole human race from the beginning to the consummation of the world. On any grounds you choose to put it, you must admit that you have as good authority for believing the Church to be the Church of God as you have for believing that she is not; and if she is, there is no escape for you who reject her.
These, my brethren, are great and solemn considerations. You have no good out of the Church, that is certain ; without her you must lapse into absolute infidelity ; and with infidelity you have nothing left but the world, from which no good is derivable ; all out of the Church has deceived you ; but she, as far as your experience goes, has never deceived you ; it is possible she deceives you in nothing; that she is the Church of God, and may raise you to God, and secure your eternal life ; if she is, there is a last judgment, there is an everlast­ing hell, and you, if you do not return to her, and submit yourselves to her, will fall under the eternal wrath and condem­nation of God. What, in common prudence, then, is your duty ? Consider, if she is the true Church, the danger to which you are exposed, the loss yon must incur, and, above all, the scandal you give. Consider that you, then, neither enter into the kingdom of heaven yourselves, nor suffer those to enter that would. Are you not bound, in common prudence, to sit down patiently and investigate the claims of the Church ? Are you not mad, if you do not ?