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Answer to Objections

From Brownson’s Quarterly Review for October, 1874

“The two articles of the last number of Brownson’s Review that struck us most were that on ‘Constitutional Guaranties,’ which is very powerful, and which expresses in the main our own opinions, and that entitled ‘Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus,’* with some portions of which we cannot altogether agree.

“Dr. Brownson’s teaching in this article may, we think, be reduced to the three following principles:-

“1. Whoever is not actually a member of the visible body of the Catholic Church cannot belong to the soul of the same church, and therefore cannot be saved.  The exceptions to this universal rule that are brought forward are mere theological subleties, which make the dogma unintelligible to the faithful, and favor latitudinarianism.

“2. Nevertheless, children validly baptized in non-Catholic sects, if they die before they attain the use of reason, are saved; and catechumens may be saved, though they die without being able to receive the sacrament of baptism, provided the church has admitted them to the rank of aspirants to the sacrament.

“3. Those who were baptized and justified in infancy, but, having reached the age of discretion, remain separated from the body of the Catholic Church through invincible ignorance, are excused from this sin; but they lose the habit of faith, and are consequently out of the way of salvation.

“Now, we would desire to learn from the viewer:1.  Whether the absolute impossibility he maintains of belonging to the soul of the church of Christ by faith and charity, when one is not actually a member of the body of this same church, is founded on the very nature of things,  or founded on a free and positive decree of our Lord?  In other words, does this impossibility come from the fact that God cannot have it otherwise, or that in his good pleasure he does not choose to have it otherwise? The lengthy  metaphysical arguments of  Dr. Brownson seem to be all in favor of the first supposition; but our common sense tells us that God can, if he so wish, sanctify and save by the immediate operation of his grace, without admitting them officially into his visible church, just as many souls as he pleases.

“But if it be granted that this impossibility rests on a merely positive decree of God, from the effects of which our Lord will not dispense anybody, we think that, on a matter of fact of this nature, safer guides can be found than Dr. Brownson in the great Catholic theologians, who, after having sounded all the depths of divine tradition, teach unanimously that actual entrance into the body of the Catholic Church is the general and ordinary means of entering into the soul of the same church; strictly obligatory when it is possible, but not indispensably necessary. Father Perrone, no mean authority, after proving that merely natural virtue which proceeds from sanctifying grace and charity can be found only in that body or society with which Christ is in intimate communion, that is, the Catholic Church, adds: Excipiendi tamen illi sunt, qui, ut aiunt, bona fide in aliqua secta versantur, quos spiritu saltem ad ecclesiam pertinere ostendimus. (De Locis Theol. Part. 1, cap. 2, art. 3, difficult. 2, ad 2um.)

“2. However, Dr. Brownson himself admits two classes of exceptions that will not square with the mathematical rigor of his principles.  For in what way can he attach to the visible body of the church children of which the Catholic Church takes no cognizance, and which are officially counted among the neophytes of a sect of perdition?  And how can the desire of catechumens, who die before being baptized, to enter the church, and the desire of the church’s ministers to receive them, avail unto salvation, if actual and real admission into the church is, by a positive decree of God, an indispensable means of salvation?

“3. As to the child, which, after having been baptized and sanctified in infancy, comes afterwards to the use of reason and remains in ignorance of the truths of which an explicit knowledge is strictly necessary to make an act of supernatural faith: (1)The very moment he commits(as indeed he may commit,) a mortal sin fo heresy or infidelity, the whole edifice of baptismal grace within him is destroyed to its very foundation, that is, to the habit of faith inclusively.  Thus teach all the theologians.  (2.) As soon as he commits a sin against any other virtue besides faith, for example, against justice, or against temperance, he immediately loses the treasure of charity and sanctifying grace, which eh cannot recover without making that act of faith,  required from the Council of Trent from all sinners without exception, as the first step toward justification, and without complying with other conditions not necessary to mention here; but he preserves the habit of faith, which, according to Suarez, certainly cannot be lost without sin: Supponimus et certum fidei habitum semel infusum non amitti nisi per peccatum- and immediately afterwards he proves that the sins which are not directly against faith cannot destroy this virtue(Suarez De Fide disp. 7, sect 3, n. 1) De Lugo(De Virtute Fidei div. Disp. 20, sect 6, n.187) says expressly: Si infans baptizatus nutriatur postea apud paganos vel Judaeos, et eorum doctrinam sectetur, non erit proprie infidelis, nec amittit habitum fidei infusae, donec fidem sibi sufficienter propositam respuat: quod idem est de infante baptizato et apud haereticos nutrito.  In such a soul the treasure of faith lies buried and unknown, and is sterile; but it will subsist until a positive sin of heresy or infidelity destroy it. (3.) If this baptized child remain in invincible ignorance which renders him incapable of making an act of faith, and dies in this state, but without having committed any mortal sin, we believe that certainly he will be saved, and the contrary assertion of Dr. Brownson cannot be maintained.  For the only reason for this opinion the reviewer alleges is, that the act of faith is an indispensable condition of salvation for all who have reached the use of reason.  But this principle, though admitted by all theologians, with regard to adults in the state of either original sin or of grievous actual sin, is not extended by any of them to adults already justified, for whom the act of faith is a mere precept(sub gravi, it is true), of which the involuntary omission cannot be a hindrance to eternal salvation.  Again, we ask: What will be the lot in eternity of this child which, according to Dr. Brownson’s supposition, has lost the habit of faith without having ever committed a mortal sin? The bliss of heaven? No; for the faith is the root of the supernatural life, and, according to the hypothesis, he no longer possesses faith. The lot of children who die unbaptized? No; for his oroginal sin has been forever washed away.  Hell properly so-called? No; for God plunges into that abyss only those who die guilty of a personal, grievous, and perfectly voluntary transgression of his commandments. The reviewer, then, must have recourse to annihilation, or invent a fourth condition after death thus far unknown to the theologians of the Catholic Church.

“We, of course, accept in its full force the principle extra ecclesiam nulla salus; but we think Dr. Brownson wanting in accuracy when he attempts to show who are in the church and who are out of it, and that he needs to study the theologians more, and to trust hsi own individual reasonings less.  Catholic theology is learned traditionally; it is not wrought out from individual conceptions, or by mathematical deductions.

“In this some number Dr. Brownson ironically terms tender-hearted theologians those who think that the loss of the intuitive or beatific vision does not cause children who have died without sin to suffer.

“Dr. Brownson proves to his own satisfaction that it is absurd to suppose that these children are exempted from suffering; but he has forgotten, if he ever knew, who the tender-hearted theologians are that believe in this absurdity.  The reader will be astonished to learn that they are St. Thomas, who says, cancerning these children: Nihil omnino dolebunt de carentia visionis divinae.(supplem qu. 71, art 2); St. Bonaventure(2 a p distinct. Qu 2); Suarez( de peccatis, disp 2, sect 6); and others of at least as much authority in such matters as the editor of Brownson’s Quarterly Review.

“If he will take the trouble to study the reasons they give in favor of their opinion which they regard as at least the more probable, he will no doubt follow them, and abandon the doctrine of Gregory of Rhimini, to whom Catholic instict has applied the energetic epithet of tortor puerorum,: ‘the children’s torturer.’

“We must not forget to mention, among the contributions to the April number, the able and interesting ‘Letter from Sacerdos,’ who complains of some of the reviewer’s criticisms.  The insertion of this letter does honor to Dr. Brownson, for it shows that, if he sometimes makes listakes he also knows how to make the amende honorable.” - Boston Pilot.


P.S. Before sending the foregoing criticism, I wanted to glance at the July Number of the Review, hoping to see something in reference to the subject.  So far, I have discovered nothing.  If you are unwilling to retract, you might at least publish my observations.

There is a slight mistake in the last Number, p.292. St. Elizabeth, mentioned in that place was not “Queen of Hungary.” But only the daughter of a King of Hungary.



The objections urged in the article from the Boston Pilot, which we insert entire, are founded on a misreading of our article on the Catholic dogma which no one can deny without heresy, extra ecclesiam nulla salus.  The writer in the Pilot assumes that we maintained that “whoever is not actually a member of the visible body of the church cannot belong to the soul of the church.” This is not what we wrote, and is not what we hold.  The error is in the surreptitious insertion of the little word actually. We said and we say that whoever is not a member, at least an inchoate member, of the body of the church cannot belong to the soul of the church, and therefore cannot be saved, if the dogmatic definition, “extra eclesiam nulla salus,” means anything; for the body and soul of the church, though distinguishable, are not separable, we might say, no more separable than are the body and soul and the human and divine natures of our Lord.  Men may, as St. Augustine says, be in the church without being of it; but that they can be of it, without being in it, or that men can belong to the soul of the church without belonging in any sense to the body of the church and united to the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ, he does not say, and we do not believe and would not believe, though forty thousand Perrones or even an angel from heaven should teach it, for there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus: that is, Christ mediates and saves in his human nature, hypostatically united to his divine person, not in his divine nature alone.  Otherwise the Incarnation would perform no office in the economy of mediation and salvation.

Has the Pilot writer ever asked himself what he means by the soul of the church as distinguished from the body?  The soul of the church is, we take it, the Holy Ghost who dwells and operates in her, and therefore regenerates and sanctifies through the Incarnate Word, so that in the work of salvation, as in the work of creation, the three persons of the Godhead concur.  Exclude the church, you exclude the human nature of God and make the Son concur as mediator in his divine nature alone, and thus follow the spirit that dissolveth Jesus, which, according to St. John, is Antichrist: 1 St. John iv, 2. You make the Holy Ghost, without the mediation of the incarnate Word, without the concurrence of the Word made flesh, or any action of God in his human nature, as truly, as substantially, and as indissolubly his nature, as the divine nature itself, the Mediator.  This will not do, for it is to reject the Word made flesh, and to adopt the Protestant error of the invisible church, to deny the whole sacramental system, as well as the whole sacerdotal system of mediatorial grace, and to make the regeneration, justification, and salvation of the soul the work of the Holy Ghost, or of God in his divine nature alone, which would logically involve the rejection of the entire Catholic faith, and the whole cultus sanctorum, including the worship of the Blessed Virgin, as understood and practiced by Catholics.  To assume that one can belong to the soul of the church without being in any sense really a member of the visible body of the church, would be to reject the entire Christian order as we have been taught it.  Even the just that lived and died before the Incarnation could not enter heaven till the incarnate Word visited them in the prison where they were detained, preached to them, and united them to him in his humanity.

The Pilot man says that he would desire to learn from us “whether the absolute impossibility,” he pretends we maintain, “of belonging to the soul of the church of Christ by faith and charity when one is not actually a member of the body of this same church, is founded on the very nature of things, or on the free and positive decree of our Lord?”  As we maintain nothing of the sort, as is evident from our own statement that we admit that catechumens dying before the church is ready to confer on them the visible sacrament of baptism may be saved, we are under no obligation to answer this question.  We hold that the visible church is the visible medium by which one becomes united to the soul of the church.  The Pilot man says he accepts in its full faorce the principle, “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.”  What, then, is he quarrelling with us about?  What else do we say? What did the council, the fourth Lateran, that defined that out of the church no one could ever be saved,- “extra ecclesiam omnino salvatur”- mean by the church? Did it mean the visible or an invisible church or the soul of the church, that is, the Holy Ghost apart from the body in which he dwells, and in and through which he operates?  When the Holy Scriptures, the fathers, the popes, and councils speak of the church, in connection with salvation, they always, as far as we have observed, speak of the visible church, or the church in the concrete, not of an invisible church, or the church as a disembodied spirit.  In a letter I addressed through a theologian to the late cardinal prefect of the Propaganda, mindful of the qualifications some theologians give to the dogma, and of some articles I had read in the Civilta Catolica, I said: “I shall never leave the church, for I am certain there is no salvation out of her communion, at least for me.”  The cardinal noted the apparent limitation, and in the name of the Holy See, rebuked it, and asked, “Does il Signore Brownson believe that there is salvation for anyone else out of the communion of the church?”

The Pilot man must hold that there is no salvation out of the church, or not be a Catholic.  Archbishop Kenrick, of Baltimore, kindly contributed an article to our Review on Dr. White’s “Life of Mother Seton,” and the value of Protestant piety.  While seeming in the outset to make the most liberal concessions to the latitudinarian theologians who would seem to hold that nobody but bad Catholics is on danger of being damned, he concluded by being more rigid and exclusive if possible, than the Review had ever been. Bishop Hay, in his tract “On Exclusive Salvation,” takes the dogma literally, in its plain, natural sense, and goes further than we have ever ventured to go in any of our writings, and yet we are not aware that he has ever been accused of heterodoxy.  The late bishop of Boston, of immortal memory, was the soundest theologian, and one of the ablest, as well as the most modest, men we have ever known, whose doctrine and whose judgment we have never found at fault.  Well, the greater part of the article criticised as Dr. Brownson’s theology is republished from an article in the Review for October, 1847, which was written at his command, revised and approved by him before it was published.  We think he was as good a theologian, and as high an authority, as the Boston Pilot.

The only question on this subject on which Catholics do or can differ is, Who are in the church?  The Pilot man, while accepting the principle,- dogma or fact- he should say,- extra ecclesiam nulla salus,- says, he thinks “Dr. Brownson wanting in accuracy when he attempts to show who are in the church and who are out of it, and that he needs to study the theologians more and to trust his own individual reasonings less.”  Very possibly.  Dr. Brownson does not pretend to be a learned theologian, but the Pilot cites no theologian except de Lugo, with whose works he has not been rather intimately acquainted with for many years, as well as with many others hardly less authoritative.  A man’s learning, however, is no to be estimated by the number of authors he has read, or studied.  To profit by the study of the theologians, one needs a theological aptitude, or at least a capacity to understand the author studied.  Our learned critic, judging from his criticism of our poor essay, has the contrary capacity, if capacity it can be called, an aptitude to misunderstand  and to misstate the language as well as the sense of his author, for we have not discovered an instance in which he has given correctly our meaning or the doctrine we defend.  As for our “individual reasonings,” he shuns them as carefully as if they had the smallpox, and invalidates, or attempts to invalidate, not one of them.  Nor has he taken notice of a single one of the authorites we cited in support of the doctrine we maintained,- authorities express to our purpose, and, to say the least, as numerous and as weighty as those he cites against us.

The Pilot man says, we admit that catechumens may be saved, though they die without being actually baptized “provided the church admits them to the rank of aspirants to the sacrament.”  The tautological provision italicized is the Pilot man’s, not ours, for we do not understand how one can be admitted as a catechumen, without being “admitted to the rank of an aspirant to the sacrament.” He thinks or writes quite too loosely to be permitted to accuse others of a want of accuracy.  He calls our arguments drawn from the teleological purpose, in the divine plan of creation, of the Christian order, and the relation of the church to the Incarnation, “metaphysical arguments,” and has the admirable simplicity to ask us whether we hold  that the absolute impossibility we assert of belonging to the soul of the church of Christ, without being in some sense a member of the visible body of that same church, “is founded on(in) the nature of things, or on the free and positive decree of our Lord?”  Does this learned critic pretend to be a theologian without being able to distinguish between ratio theologica and ratio metaphysica?  We use not a single metaphysical argument in our whole essay; and all the arguments we adduce in defense of our thesis are theological, drawn from theological principles.  We aimed to prove from theological principles, or from the nature, not of things, but of the Christian order itself, as supernaturally revealed, that the dogma, Out of the church there is no salvation, cannot be denied without denying Christianity itself as the teleological order.  All the dogmas of the church are CATHOLIC, founded on Catholic or universal principles, and admit no exception.  An exception would destroy their catholicity and be an anomaly in the Creator’s works all of which are and must be strictly dialectic, since made by the Word, who is the Logos, the supreme Logic, or, as Plato would say, Logic in itself.  This is as true of the new creation, or palingenesiac order, as of the cosmic, or genesiac order.  Here is no metaphysical reasoning; it is strictly, from beginning to end, theological reasoning, and rests on principles known only from divine revelation.

Unhappily, the theologian from the Pilot understands nothing of all this, and sees  no distinction between principle and dogma, and consequently no reason in the nature of the church or Christian kingdom for the dogma.  His claim to be a theologian is, therefore, of the slenderest sort.  The dogma or doctrine is not the principle, but its embodiment or infallible expression; and it is the business of the theologian, while he takes the dogmas from the infallible teaching of the church, or the infallible definitions of the pope, to trace them up to the Catholic principles they embody, and to show not only the external authority which enjoins them, but also the intrinsic reason for them, intrinsic in the Christian order itself, and their dialectic relations to one another, and with the principles of the natural order of the cosmos.  The half-fledged theologians of our journals have very little theological science in this higher sense, and when they find a writer who has some little conception of it, perhaps some little acquaintance with it, they look upon him with suspicion, denounce him, or admonish him “to study the theologians more, and to trust his individual reasonings less.”

In order to be saved, or in ordinary times to discharge acceptably one’s duty even as a priest or parochus, it is not necessary that one should look any deeper into the Christian order than to the dogmas and the external infallible authority that enjoins them; but no one who has not looked further and grasped the principles embodied or expressed in them, the reasons for holding them intrinsic in the Christian order itself, has any right to regard himself as a master of theological science.  We need not say that we are far from being master of theological science: all we do or can claim is, that we have learned that there is such a science, and that the routinists whom we meet at every turn hardly suspect its existence, and seldom attain to any adequate understanding even of the more recondite dogmas themselves.

In answer to the Pilot’s question, however, we say that the necessity of belonging to the visible church in order to be saved, which, we assert, is not founded in the nature of things, but in the nature of the church, founded by the free, positive decree of God, inasmuch as God was free to found or not to found the teleological order, or to become incarnate, and found on the Incarnation, the new creation of Christian order, consisting of palingenesia and glorification.  This, commonly called by theologians the supernatural order, sometimes the order of grace, as distinguished from the order of nature or natural generation, God was, as Gioberti pretends, not abliged or necessitated to found.  We, indeed, perceive not, supposing God determined in the beginning to carry the creative act to its highest order, and to raise men to a perfect beatitude in a supernatural union with himself or to a participation of his divine nature(2 Peter), how he could have done it otherwise than by the Incarnation, and founding on it the Christian or teleological order, or the Catholic church as the medium of effecting his purpose. But we do not pretend to measure by our feeble reason the resources of the divine wisdom, or to restrict either the divine freedom or the divine power.  God can do any thing but contradict, that is, annihilate himself.  We do not know that he was under any necessity, extrinsic or intrinsic, to carry his creative act to its higher power, or of raising men, as their final cause, to a participation of his own divine nature: hence the necessity we assert is simply a necessity ex suppositione. Supposing God resolved to do what we know from revelation he did resolve from the foundation of the world, then it is necessary, in order to be saved, to belong in some sense to the visible church, the kingdom of God on earth. 

The Pilot man, had he read the extract from Father Perrone- not, by the way, very high authority- and our comments on it(Brownson’s Works, vol. V. Pp. 557), would have seen that we by no means maintain that the necessity that we assert, is a necessity which God cannot break through if he chooses.  God, by a miracle or some extraordinary means, as Perrone says, we admit, may save sinners without their union with the visible church, for we are not discussing what is possible via extraordinaria, but what is possible via ordinaria, in the order of his grace.  In the order established by God, there is no salvation out of the church.  This is de fide.  Thus the church decrees is the Fourth Council of the Lateran, chapter 1: “Una vero est fidelium universalis ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur.” All theologians must believe and hold that there is no salvation out of the one Catholic church, or not be Catholics.  So much is certain.  Hence the efforts of theologians to prove that those who, they contend, are or can be saved, do in some sense belong to the visible church, for no one of any authority dares adopt the Protestant figment of an invisible church.  Bellarmine holds, as do most theologians, on the authority of St. Ambrose, that catechumens, dying before receiving the visible sacrament of baptism in re, may be saved; but he feels a difficulty in the case.  How can this be, since there is no salvation out of the church, and catechumens are not actu in proprie in the church?  But this, though a difficulty to Bellarmine, would be none to the theologian of the Pilot, for he would say: “Very true, they are not members of the body of the church, but they, by their faith and charity, belong to the soul of the church, and that suffices.” Bellarmine, though an iminent theologian, and generally regarded as a high authority, appears to have been ignorant of this easy way of solving the difficulty, and he labors hard to prove that, “catechumens are after all, in the church, not actually and properly, as a man conceived, but not yet formed and born, is called man only potentially.” Billuart, as we showed in our former article, solves the difficulty in the same way, and maintains that catechumens may be said to be in the church “proximately and in desire,” or, as St. Augustine says, “in voto et proxima dispositione,” as one may be said to be in the house because he is in the vestibule for the purpose of immediately entering.  “They belong to the church inchoately,” that is, are inchoate members, and the church in her prayer for them on Good Friday calls them hers- “Our catechumens:” “Oremus pro catechumenis nostris,” evidently implying that they belong to her, and are under her care, subject in some sense to her jurisdiction.

Whether these explanations prove that catechumens belong to the visible church or not, they prove that the theologians who offer them believe and hold that, in order to be saved, one must be in some sense, vel re, vel voto, a member of the body of the church, and, therefore, that they understand the dogma precisely as we do, namely, out of the visible church of Christ there is no salvation.  They do not seem to hold the Protestant heresy of an invisible church, or salvation by union with the disembodied soul of the church, in which the flesh assumed by the Word in the womb of the Virgin, has no office or representative, since the Holy Ghost did not become incarnate, and is not the Mediator of God and men.  Nor does Perrone, whose erudition we rate higher than we do his speculative theology, really differ from the other theologians, or hold any thing on this point that we have questioned.  He says, in answer to the objection that were the true church to fail in whole or in part, it would not follow that men would be destitute of all means of salvation, for God might supply the defect by internal means; men might be joined, at least in spirit, to the true church of Christ[when the church has failed?].  “Non sequeretur homines omni destitui medio extraordinario, transeat, vel concedo; ordinario, nego.  Jamvero quando Christus condidit ecclesiam suam, intendit praebere hominibus medium ordinarium, seu potius collectionem mediorum, quibus omnes indiscriminatim uti quovis tempore possent ad salutem sibi comparandam.  Si Deus voluisset ope interiorum mediorum  nostram operari salutem, NULLA FUISSET ECCLESIAE INSTITUENDAE RATIO,” and much more which is quoted by us in the article criticised.  Here Perrone distinctly maintains that the church is instituted to be the medium, and is the only ordinary medium of salvation; and that if God had willed men to be saved without her, there would have been no reason for her institution.  This is enough for our purpose, for we are not treating what God may or may not do in some extraordinary manner, by means out of the order of salvation which he has instituted.

It is well here to remember what Perrone sometimes forgets, the relation the church bears to the Incarnation, which he elsewhere, in a passage quoted from Moehler’s Symbolik, acknowledges and sustains by several texts of Scripture, from St. Paul; namely, that the church is, veluti, the visible continuation of the Incarnation.  If eh understands himself, he must then hold that what takes away all reason for the institution of the church, takes away all reason for the Incarnation, and really denies that “the Man Christ Jesus is the one Mediator of God and men.”  Our Lord says, “No man come to me unless the Father draw him.”  The Father may draw men to the incarnate Word, or to the church, his body, in various and even extraordinary ways; but that God ever saves men by extraordinary means or without the medium ordinarium, is, so far as our knowledge goes, authorized by no decision of the church, by no consensus theologorum, by no analogy of faith, by no ratio theologica, and is expressly contradicted by the decree of the fourth council of Lateran already cited. That he may use extraordinary means to bring men to the medium ordinarium, as in the case of the eunuch of Queen Candace, Cornelius the centurion, and hundreds of others recorded in the relations of our missionaries, especially those of the illustrious Company of Jesus, we know; and it seems to us much more in accordance with the order of his providence or the order of grace that God should bring men via extraordinaria to the church to be saved via ordinaria, or irrespective of the order he himself has established and declared to be the only medium of salvation, without which no one at all-omnino- is ever saved.  Even Perrone does not venture to say that one can belong to the soul of the church without being in some sense a member of the body of the church, and he recognizes and defends principles which contradict it.  A little more logic and a deeper insight into the dialectic character of the Creator’s works, as disclosed by the Christian revelation, would, perhaps, have done the erudite Roman professor, any more than the Pilot’s theologian, no serious harm.

The theologian of the Pilot, while we, he owns, admit that infants validly baptized in heretical sects, if they die before attaining to the use of reason, are saved, makes us maintain that “having reached the age of discretion, even though justified in infancy, excused from sin through invincible ignorance, if they remained separated from the body of the church, they lose the habit of faith, and are consequently out of the way of salvation.”  With his permission we must tell him that he either does not know what we said , or he knowingly misstates it.  We said, invincible ignorance excuses from sin in what whereof one is invincibly ignorant, but we never said or implied that those who adhere to the heretical sects are excused from sin, or that without sin against faith the habit of faith is or can be lost.  Consequently all the authorities he cites to prove that the habit of faith received in baptism cannot be lost without sin, are nothing to the purpose-are not ad rem, and show a lack either of honesty or logic on the part of the critic.

The habit of faitth and sanctity the infant receives in baptism suffices so long as one remains an infant, but when one comes to the use of reason, the habit does not suffice, for then the obligation to elicit the act of faith comes up; and if the baptized person refuses or omits to elicit the act, he loses the habit, and commits a sin against faith.  This sin may be committed in two ways, either by a positive act of infidelity, or by the omission to elicit the act of faith.  Now, we argued that, in our country, none whom the Catholic preacher’s voice can reach, and where the church is everywhere present, for we expressly confined our remarks to our own country, can be excused for adhering to the sects or omitting to elicit the act of faith, which is elicitable in no sect, for no one of itself presents the credible object.  In other words, we denied the fact of the pretended invincible ignorance as to the Catholic faith.

We do not believe that in our times there is much, if any, invincible ignorance among Protestant sects, or many instances of what is called good faith.  Some such there undoubtedly are, for some such we find among the converts to the church; but we ahve no evidence that all such are not gathered into the one fold before they die, even though it may not be until the last moment.  We have many instances where persons brought up in Protestant sects have learned, the grace of God assisting, the Catholic faith, and been led to the Catholic Church by a diligent reading of the Protestant mutilated edition and unfaithful version of the Scriptures.  One very dear to us was so led: what hinders others in the same exterior circumstances, and possessing the same means, from being led in like manner?  No reason can be assigned, but prejudice and the lack of the proper interior disposition.  But that prejudice or that want of interior disposition prevents one from seeking, cauta solicitudine, for the truth, as St. Augustine says, simply proves that they are not prepared to embrace the truth, when presented to them, disproves their good faith, and renders them guilty of the sin of unbelief.  No member of a heretical sect is in good faith or inculpably ignorant, who does not seek with all the diligence and earnestness for the truth which a prudent man carries into his worldly affairs: at least so says the learned and able Thomist, Billuart, as high authority, to say the least, as Perrone or the Pilot man.

The church is a city set on a hill, and her light shines out to all the region round, even to those in the valley.  Her missionaries are in all nations, and there is not one in any Protestant nation that need remain ignorant of the church or her titles, if he cares to know them, or is in earnest to save his soul.  The fact that persons from all ranks and conditions, learned or unlearned, freemen or slaves, have been converted, St. John Chrysostom urges, in one of his homilies, as a proof that all might, if they would.  We are not a little scandalized when we find Catholic theologians, or pretended theologians, urging the bitter prejedices instilled into the minds of Protestants by calumnies against the church, as a valid excuse for their not seeking the truth, and as in no sense incompatible with their good faith, as if those prejudices themselves which blind the eyes of  Protestants were not the work of the devil, and sinful,- or as if they did not prove them to be in bad faith and in bondage to Satan.  Every Protestant has ample means of knowing the truth, for his very Protestantism itself bears witness to the Catholic Church as the one only church of Christ, and would be absolutely unintelligible without it.  No Protestant has, or believes he has, faith.  He knows he has only opinions, which may be true or may be false; but he hugs the delusion that nobody has anything better, and so does not seek.  And why should he seek when Catholic theologians tell him, as he understands them, and as we understood them before our conversion, that they are most likely in good faith, and by no means necessarily out of the way of salvation?  Yet not one of these same theologians would open the doors of heaven to any of them that the doctrine we defend would exclude.  Even Dr. Hawarden, in his Charity and Truth, apparently one of the most latitudinarian of our theologians, winds up by stating that it is very doubtful if any not in the communion of the church, and who die out of it, can ever enter the kingdom of heaven.

Invincible ignorance, which is sometimes spoken of as if it were a positive virtue, is a negative quantity, and though it excuses from sin wherein one is invincibly ignorant, has no positive merit, and advances not one step towards heaven.  St. Augustine says: “Quia ipsa ignorantia in eis qui intelegere noluerunt, sine dubitatione, peccatum est, in eis autem qui non potuerunt, poena peccati.  Ergo, in utrisque non est justa excusatio, sed justa damnatio.”(Ep. 194 Ad Sixtum, c. 27)  Yet St. Augustine is higher authority than the theologian of the Boston Pilot, however much he has studied the theologians, and however little he may have trusted to his individual reasonings.

We do not pretend to be a theologian, but we do claim to have some logic, and a little common-sense, though God forbid we should presume to measure ourselves with the learned and acute theologian of the Pilot, a noble and accomplished young athelete, from whom we trust the universal church has much to hope.  But we are sustained under his strictures by our intimate conviction that, if he had read or understood our humble article, he would have found very little as a learned Catholic to censure in it.  He would have seen that we differ from the school he follows or leads, only in demanding an explicit votum where it appears to be satisfied with an implicit votum or vague desire.  We ask not that these people who have been baptized and brought up in the sects, should be actu et proprie in the Catholic communion, but that they should stand in relation to the sacrament of reconciliation as catechumens do in relation to the sacrament of regeneration, that is, knowing explicitly that there is such a sacrament, and explicitly desiring it;  otherwise, we cannot reconcile the assertion of their salvation with the Catholic dogma, “Extra ecclesiam nullus omnino salvatur.” We have not presumed to question the explanations modern theologians give of the dogma: we say not exceptions, for every dogma is catholic, and what is catholic, as we have said, admits no exception.  We have only endeavored to fix after theological reasoning and the greater theologians the limits of these explanations, and thus check the latitudinarianism which the popular understanding deduces from them.  This latitudinarianism out of the schools is much greater, we apprehend, than is commonly suspected, even by our clergy.  How far and how fatally it extends, one may easily learn from the sermons of some popular preachers, not remarkable for their theological exactness.  We have never found ourselves in lay Catholic society where we could assert the dogma as the church defines it, without being contradicted.  Take up the silly and inflated book, by a young Oxford man, entitled “For Husks, Food.”  The author appears to have been drawn to the church by her aesthetic excellence, not for the purpose of saving his soul, which he seems never to have imagined for a moment to be in the least danger while in the bosom of Anglicanism of the ritualistic stamp.  He makes his Catholic priest visit the grave of his Protestant brother, gather up a handful of earth from it, put it in a silk bag, and wear it next his heart till his death, not as the memorial of fraternal affection, but as the sacred relic of a saint;  he represents a Catholic bishop as assuring a batch of Protestant women playing at nuns, whom he meets on shipboard, that they are in good faith;  and when wrecked at sea, and they and he are going down, as giving them absolution, as if they were good Catholics.  The priest has no apprehensions for the soul of his old father, the Anglican bishop of Aytoun.  His father was in good faith, for he was a Howard, and his taste in church millinery or decoration was perfect; and he was in invincible ignorance, though living in the midst of Catholics and possessing a superb library, which contained the works of nearly all the standard writers from St. Augustine down to Newman and Manning.  The Catholic World brings the angels down, and makes them bear the soul of a Protestant woman of high birth and breeding up direct to heaven, without suffering her to be detained for even a moment in purgatory,- a favor reserved for very few Catholics: and what is the theologian of the Pilot doing but holding us up as ignorant of theology, and accusing us of grave error, because we have the simplicity to believe that, when the church declares that out of the church there is no salvation, she knows and means what she says?  Will he pardon us if we suggest that he, perhaps, would be better employed in combating this rampant latitudinarianism which is now devouring Catholic nations, than in making war on the old reviewer for errors into which he has never fallen?

But it seems in the estimation of the Pilot’s theologian  we erred in representing unbaptized infants dying in infancy, and of course in invincible ignorance, as suffering from the loss of heaven, and he quotes St. Thomas, St. Bonaventura, Suarez, and others, to prove the contrary.  Does he suppose the possession of heaven is a small affair?  That they suffer the pain of sense we have never pretended; but it is certain that they do suffer the pain, that is, the penalty of loss.  That they do not suffer the pain of sense in consequence of being deprived of the beatific vision, is the common opinion of theologians, and we have not the temerity to contradict them; but, deprived of that vision, they remain and must forever remain infinitely below their destiny, with the end for which they were created unattained and unattainable:  and every natural creature necessarily suffers, morally and spiritually, if not sensibly, so long as it remains below its destiny, with the end for which it exists unrealized.  Hence Pope St. Gregory the Great recognizes but two states after death; the one, happiness in heaven, and the other, suffering in hell.  The holy council of Florence defines that unbaptized infants dying in infancy go to hell, “in infernum.”  That God may hide from them all sense of their loss, and provide for them a flowery sort of delight in which they will be conscious of no suffering, of no loss even, is a theological opinion; but we understand not how it can be without a miracle of divine mercy.  And if we suppose a miracle for so much, we can see no reason why we may not just as well suppose a miracle big enough to admit them to the vision of God in glory.  The loss of heaven is the greatest of all possible evils.

The Pilot is very generous in assuming that we inserted the Letter of “Sacerdos” as an amende honorable.  We did not feel and do not now feel that there was any amende due, for between him and us there was and is no doctrinal difference.  He concedes that the presumption is, that persons coverted from the sects have not been validly baptized; and that is all that we maintained, though we thought the criticisms of the writer in the Mirror on “The Threshold of the Church,” uncalled for and captious.  Our difference turned on practical questions.  We inserted the letter, because it was written by a learned and able theologian, and an old and highly esteemed friend; because it was rather sharp upon us, and, finally, because, disabled at the time from writing, we were in want of matter to fill out the number.  If we could have held a pen, we should have accompanied the publication with some correctives, which ahve since been happily and better supplied by a priest and theologian no less learned and even more distinguished , and with far wider experience.

So much for our Boston theologian, who was not, we apprehend, trained, as we were, in the school of the late illustrious bishop of Boston, a theologian, whose exactness and soundness we, every day as we advance in life, find confirmed, and whose teachings we but feebly reproduce.  May he who was our spiritual father on earth, still remember and watch over the spiritual son with whom he had so much affectionate patience, and whom he took so much pains to instruct in the principles, doctrines, and precepts of our holy religion!

We turn now to the anonymous letter, our chief objection to which is, that it is anonymous.  With the exception of articles in the Catholic World and N.Y. Tablet, we have never published any thing since our Cathlolic life began that bears not our name, and for which we do not hold ourselves responsible.  It is hardly fair for a writer to send us a communication without his name, and, ordinarily, such a communication would be thrown into the waste besket unread.  But happening to read a page of the present cpmmunication, before observing that it was unsigned, and discovering that it arraigned our orthodoxy, and that the matter could be treated independently of the writer, we make in this case on exception to our rule, for which the writer may not thank us.

The first objection Mr. Anonymous urges against us is, that we assert that “the eternally lost are gainers by their existence, for it is always better to be than not to be.”  We say this in accordance with philosophy, which, as we have learned it, and as we have supposed all theologians maintain, teaches that Ens, Bonum, and Verum, are identical, abecause all are infinite, and there can be but one infinite.  God is being in its plentitude, and in that he is being he is good.  All existences are existences, or exist by virtue of their participation of being, mediante the creative act of Being. Hence all existences, in that they participate of being, participate of good.  But, as the damned or eternally lost do really exist, they really participate of good, in so far as they participate of being, and therefore we conclude that they are gainers by their existence, for it is “better to be, and even to be miserable,” as St. Augustine says, “than to be nothing,”(Liberum Arbitrium, 1, iii.cap vii.) which, as the privation of all being, is the privation of all good, and cannot be willed, or in itself desirable. 

To this Anonynous opposes the words of our Lord referring to Judas, “Good were it for that man if he had never been born,” and what St. Thomas said of these words and the words of St. Augustine.  Here is what St. Thomas says in the passage referred to: “Quod non esse potest dupliciter considerari.  Uno modo, secundum se, et sic nullo modo est appetibile cum non habeat aliquam rationem boni, sed sit pura privatio.  Alio modo, potest considerari, in quantum est ablativum poenalis vitae, seu alicujus miseriae et sic non esse accipit rationem boni...Et per hunc modum melius est damnatis non esse quam miseros esse.  Unde Matt. 26, 24, dicitur: Bonum erat ei, si natus non fuisset homo ille.”  From this we gather that, while we cannot say that it would have been absolutely good, or good in itself, for Judas and the damned if they had not been born or existed, we can only say that it would have been relatively or accidentally good, in the respect they would not have suffered.  This, if we understand it, explains how our Lord could say that it would have been good for Judas if he had never been born, that is, good in that he would not have suffered misery, without contradicting what St. Augustine holds, and we after him, that Ens is always good, and that it is always better to be than not to be, and therefore the eternally lost are gainers by their existence.  We may be wrong, but the passage from St. Thomas does not prove it, and Anonymous fails to convict us of error.

The second objection brought by Anonymous to prove that the “bonus Orestes” sometimes nods, is drawn from what we said respecting the cononization of St. Louis of France.  Boniface VIII is in the most respects our ideal pope.  We make two statements, and the first, one only, if we could make it without irreverence, to which exception is taken: 1. That the pope, perhaps, among other reasons, was moved to canonize the king as a stroke of policy; and, 2. That the pope is infallible in the canonization of saints, is not, we believe, de fide.  We were endeavoring to disprive the French pretension that the kings of France had always been the devoted servants of the church or the papacy.  The Frank sovereigns, who were Germans not French, though sovereigns of the country now called France, did serve the church, and it was the Franks not the French; for France, as we now unserstand it, did not come into existence until the Carlovingian dynasty; but the kings of France proper, with the exception of Louis IX or St. Louis, we maintained, had unmost uniformly been unfaithful to the papacy.  The church owed the great western schism to France; Protestantism itself had a French origin, and but for the French government Protestantism would have been extinguished within the first century of its existence.  We were led to speak rather despairingly of St. Louis as a king, by no means as a man, by the fact that he decided in favor of the Emperor Frederic II against the pope, constantly maintained friendly relations with him, and exhorted the pope to moderation in dealing with that perfidious Hohenstaufen, who for so many years warred against the church.  We never doubt his virtues, so to speak, as a domestic king, or his rare heroism in adversity, but he always seemed to us a pious but narrow-minded politician.  We may have erred, and not unlikely did err more or less, in our judgment of history; but, treating of historical facts, we could not well avoid passing some judgment on them, and we aimed to be just.

Yet we had no thought of setting up our judgment against that of the pope, and never doubted or dreamed of doubting the heroic sanctity of St. Louis as a man, or that he was rightly canonized.  We never said, and never supposed, that Boniface canonized him, solely or chiefly for political reasons, or as a stroke of policy without judging him to merit cononization for his heroic sanctity, especially as displayed in his captivity in Africa.  We merely intimated, but with reverence, that possibly the pope might also have been influenced, to a greater or less extent, by just political reasons.  We touched the matter only incidentally, for it was not the thesis we were defending, or attempting to defend, nor was it essential to the line of defence we had taken up, and we are willing to concede that our language might and probably should have been more guarded.

That the pope is infallible in the canonization of saints, we have always supposed to be an open question, and therefore not strictly de fide.  If our memory does not deceive us,- for we cannot readily lay our hands on the book itself, though it belongs to our library- the eminent Jesuit, Fr. Nampon, in his Lectures at Geneva “on Catholic doctrine as defined by the Council of Trent,” places it in his list of questions not yet defined, and therefore makes it an open question.  Even Benedict XIV, in his Treatise on Canonization, which we suppose is the work meant by the Boston Pilot in its second and very offensive article on “More Palpable Errors of Brownson,” assumes that it is not de fide, for he says simply: “In fine, if not a heretic, he is at least guilty of grave censure and most grievous punishment who dares to assert that the pontiff has erred in any canonization, or that ony one who has been canonized is not to be warshiped as a saint.”  If it was certainly de fide, the denial would have been heresy, and Benedict would not have said, “if not a heretic,” but would have marked the denial in question with the note of heresy, instead of branding it with an inferior note.  Even the Pilot man is in doubt whether it is de fide or not, for he says, “If only it has not been declared to be de fide, it is at least proxima fidei.” But a thing may be very near another, and yet not be it.  “And it cannot be questioned without grievously culpable rashness.”  Here we suspect the theologian of the Pilot is out in his canon-law.  Benedict XIV does not says he who denies that the general proposition, that the pope is infallible in the canonization of saints, is de fide, but he who dares assert that the pontiff has erred in any canonization, or that any one who has been canonized(by the pontiff, we presume, is meant,) is not to be worshipped, “is guilty,” etc.  Does the Pilot understand the distinction? Whether the papal definitions were infallible per se or not, was, before the late definition, an open question, but no one could ever dispute any actual definition made and promulgated by the pontiff, without incurring most grievous censure and punishment.  We have simply said, that the pope is infallible in the canonization of saints we believe is not de fide, but we have never said or thought that he has erred in canonizing Louis of France, or that he has ever erred in any particular or actual canonization, or denied that any one actually canonized by him is to be worshipped as a saint.  Where, then, is “Brownson’s palpable error,” or the proof that the “bonus Orestes” sometimes nods?  The most that can be said under this head is, that we questioned the exceptional merit of St. Louis as a king or politician, to which may be added his skill and capacity as a general, but never questioned his heroic sanctity as a man, nor denied that he ought to be worshipped as a saint.  In all this, if we have erred, it has, as we have just said, only been as an historian and as a defender of the supremacy of the apostolic see against Gallicanism, not as a Catholic theologian, nor in any thing we supposed that we were obliged as a Catholic theologian to maintain.

Anonyomous is right as to our “slight mistake” in calling the dear St. Elizabeth Queen of Hungary, which was a lapsus memoriae or a lapsus pennae, not absolutely unpardonable in an old man whose eyes have in measure failed him, who is obliged to rely mainly on his memory of former reading.

Through the mercy, the great mercy, of God, without any merit or effort of our own, and while we foolishly engaged in a vain effort to build up a church of our own to serve as the church of the future for humanity,  we were brought into the church of Christ, just thirty years ago, the 20th of this very month of October, 1844.  Certainly we were no saint before our conversion, and have not been sinless since, but from our admission into the Catholic fold we have, we the permission, nay, at the request of the venerable bishops of the country, or the greater part of them, communicated to us by the late Benedict Joseph Fenwick, second bishop of Boston, devoted our thoughts, studies, and unwearied labors as a publicist, to the best of our ability, to the cause of Catholicity, at home and abroad.  Mistakes, even some grave errors, we certainly have committed, but we have never for a moment, since the waters of conditional baptism touched our forehead and we received confirmation, which we did immediately after, wavered in our faith or in our loyalty to the church; and we have been for the most part the first to detect and correct our errors and mistakes, while most of those we have been accused of, have been imaginary and grown out of national susceptibilities, our refusal to confound the traditions of Catholics with Catholic tradition, or our preference of one school in theology and philosophy allowed by the church to another.

Of the value or utility of our labors it is not for us to speak, but the more intelligent and solid portion of the Catholic community have rated them the highest, have been the most lenient to our shortcomings, and, indeed, have always, in our own judgment, rated them far beyond their merits, far higher than we do or can, with all our vanity and self-love, rate them ourselves.  But almost from the first, when we published hardly a line without first submitting it to the revision and correction of one of the very ablest theologians in the country, we have been assailed by a number of waspish journals, which uniformly misinterpreted us, and misrepresented and denounced us before a public that never saw a number of the Review, and knew of its existence only through them.  From this cause we suffered, that is, the Review suffered before its suspension, more than it is easy to say, and its influence was in a measure neutralized.  Indeed, we received far worse treatment, less courtesy, candor, and fair dealing from a portion of the Catholic press than from the non-Catholic journals.  We regret to perceive that, though there has been a great improvement in the Catholic press generally during the last ten years, there are still so-called Catholic journals that retain quite too much of the old inability to understand what does not lie on the surface, too decided a tendency to suspect evil where they do not comprehend, quite too much of the old snarling or fault-finding or carping spirit, and, worse than all, the same ignorance and disregard of principle.  We are too old and have too short a time to live on the earth to care for these things for our own sake.  The earthly reputation of the editor of this Review, such as it is, is made, and could neither be enhanced nor diminished, even were it worth a thought, by any number of petty scribblers, who, as a former editor of the Boston Pilot was wont to say, “read with their toes and understand with their elbows.”

But it should be the aim of all our Catholic journals and periodicals to instruct and elavate the Catholic public, and encourage the creation of a high-toned, solid Catholic literature.  We cannot deny that we as Catholics have by no means, that moral weight in the American community to which we are entitled by our wealth, intelligence and numbers.  The most enlightened, intelligent, best-formed, as well as the most honest, purest, and most conscientious, straightforward, and virtuous portion of the American people, even in the natural order, are unquestionably to be found among Catholics, no matter of what nationality; but, unhappily, there is another class, a noisy and brawling class, who are below, if anything, in honesty, candor, and fair dealing, and in vice and crime, the average Protestant, and it is by these our moral weight in the community is determined.  The good are quiet, unobtrusive, and in politics and public affairs either take no part, or follow the lead of their unprincipled, intriguing, and tricky demagogues.  It is the business of the press to correct this evil, and to bring the lay-power into subordination to the great principles of our religion.  To this end we need not only a Catholic education for the young, but a rich, living, and solid Catholic literature for the education of the people, the adult generation.

But how are we to forget such a literature, if the press puffs every book that is issued by a Catholic publisher, or snaps and snarls at everyone that rises above the common level, or passes it over in silence, because it is too profound for the journalist to comprehend?

The press cannot, as things now are, grapple with a book of any depth or real merit, without betraying its ignorance and mental imbecility.  With a few honorable exceptions, the press is not conducted by living, thinking men, and, instead of being an auxiliary, it id not seldom an embarrassment to the clergy.  It, as a rule, lacks critical capacity, as well as good taste.  How, then, is it to aid us in creating such a literature as we need to give us our just moral weight in the community?  We should show ourselves superior in every department of honest literature, and every department of living thought, to non-Catholic Americans, and it is the duty of the Catholic press to aid us in doing it.

The Boston Pilot has taken us severly to task, because we have insisted strickly on the dogma which its theologian cannot deny without being even a formal heretic.  He simply attempts to explain away what he dares not deny, and blames us for preferring the dogma as defined by the church to what at best is only the opinion of some liberalizing or tender-hearted theologians.  Now, while we are writing, there comes to us a letter from an earnest priest, written in a very different strain, and with his name and permission to make use of it as we please. We insert an extract:


My Dear Dr. Brownson:-

With the greatest pleasure I read carefully, again and again, your article, “Nulla est salus extra Ecclesiam.”

The reason I took so much interest in it was, because I studied in Carlow, Ireland, where since my childhood I heard always that “no one except Catholics would be saved:” so steadfastly do the Irish Catholics cling to this opinion, that they would not so much as pray God to have mercy on a dead Protestant.

Second reason:  For your article appeared to me in the same light in which I received that opinion last year when studying that question in College.

Third reason: Because I spent some time in the Country Mission one hundred and forty-six miles north of this city.  I often preached the Catholic doctrine in Protestant churches, court-houses, public halls, and school-houses to heretics and infidels, in its naked simplicity as I learned it.  I spoke of the one true church and of the necessity for being members of it.  I think that this teaching offended some, even Catholics.  Some said that a greater insult could not be offered Protestants or infidels, than to say that they should become Catholics in order to save their souls.

I am glad to see that you are going to continue this article in the October number, because it is a terrible evil to see so many good people going daily to destruction; but it seems to me to be also blamable on the part of those commissioned by our dear Lord to teach the doctrine of salvation, not to mildly and sweetly in a St. Francis de Sales-like manner, admonish them of the neccesity of belonging to the one true church.

Our reverend friend is perfectly right, and experience, so far as we have any on the subject, agrees with him, that if we wish to convert Protestants and infidels we must preach in all its rigor the naked dogma.  Give them the smallest peg, or what appears so, not to you, but to them;- the smallest peg, on which to hang a hope of salvation without being in or actually reconciled to the church by the sacrament of penance,- and all the arguments you can address to them to prove the necessity of being in the church in order to be saved, will have no more effect on them than rain on a duck’s back.  You may bring them in the church for aesthetic reasons, by the grandeur and pomp of your liturgy, your taste in church decoration, your solemn and soul-entrancing music, even for intellectual reasons, but never as the necessary means of saving their souls.  St. Augustine wrote his “Confessions,” but not usually do those converts write the history of their conversion, who were led to the church by the need they felt of getting rid of their sins, and of supernatural grace to assist them to lead an upright spiritual life.  We did not in our “Convert” present the moral aspects of our conversion, and the late bishop of Baltimore, then bishop of Louisville, complained of us, because it contained no peccavi, and it contained none, because we wrote only with the special design of showing the intellectual continuity we maintained through all the various changes we underwent.  From reading the histories of their conversions, written in the form of novels, by old women and young women, one would be led to conclude that our Lord “came to call the righteous, not sinners, to repentance.” Not one of the noble heroines is oppressed with sin, nor cries out in the agony of her soul, “What shall I do to be saved?” Nothing is more deceptious than these autobiographies of converts.  It is a great mistake to suppose the chief difficulties of heretics and infidels are intellectual difficulties; else why is it that Protestants convert so many in their “protracted meetings,” and lose them only because they have nothing to give them?  Let the Catholic preach to them as if they were bad Catholics, or sinners rather, crowding the broad road to destruction, in imminent danger of being damned, and his converts will outnumber those of Protestant preachers, and he will retain them, for he has something to give them, wherewithal to feed and fill their souls.

There can be no more fatal mistake than to soften, liberalize, or latitudinize this terrible dogma, “Out of the church there is no salvation,” or to give a man an oppurtunity to persuade himself that he belongs to the soul of the church, though an alien from the body.  But enough.  We have for once taken up the objections urged against us, and formally replied to them, but it is the last time.  If objections, or cavils rather, continue to be urged anonymously or in the weekly press, we shall silently correct such errors as we really fall into, but we shall take no further notice of the objections.  We have no time to spend in profitless or petty controversy.  We do not wish the tranquillity of old age to be disturbed, nor will we be diverted from the work before us, which we must soon perform or not at all.  If the journals must have a tussle, let them seek out a younger athlete who, perhaps, will feel honored by their notice, and who is “spoiling for a fight,” for which we are not, at least with Catholics who should assist us instead of arming themselves against us, and hindering us all in their power.


P.S.- Since writing the foregoing, we have received the following anonymous letter, postmarked Baltimore, Md.


Dear Sir:

As fraternal correction is a duty, you will not take it amiss if I tell you that your remarks on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the Review for July, breathe an anti-Catholic spirit. What! A devotion sanctioned by the highest ecclesiastical authorities, and looked upon by the faithful at large as a providential means to obtain the cessation of the fearful storm now raging against the church, is compared to fashions, which earthly-minded people invent for the sake of gain or to satisfy personal vanity!  You have committed a most serious fault by speaking so disrespectfully of so pious a practice.  You ought to know that such objections were formerly urged by the Jansenists, and therefore are suggested by the enemy of God and man.  When a Catholic is so unhappy as to not perceive the excellency of this devotion, and so phlegmatic as not to have his feelings stirred by it, he ought to feel humbled and beg of God to open his eyes and warm his heart, instead of publishing to the world his want of piety, and censuring what he is unable to appreciate.  He should not forget what St. Paul wrote of a certain class of persons: “Animalis homo non percepit ea quae sunt Spiritus Dei.” The consequence of such aberrations on the part of Dr. Brownson will be, that he shall once more lose his influence for good, and oblige his real friends again to drop his Review.


                                                                                                Not a Jesuit.

                                                                                                Per X


“Fraternal correction,” when administered in the spirit of charity, by one who is not ashamed of his name, and who disdains to shrink as a coward from the responsibility of his act, is always welcome to us, and gratefully received.  As to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are not aware that we have given any just cause of scandal.  In our notice we confess our incompetency to treat the subject, having neglected to study it with the attention that we should, that is, ought to have done.  We confess, also, as the reason for our having never properly studied it, that we had never been especially attracted to the devotion itself, and had been repelled by the pictures of the Sacred Heart which we had seen.  We complained that they did not attract us nor excite us to devotion to our spiritual director, and asked him if it did not indicate something wrong in us.  He, a learned and pious bishop and the most perfect master of spiritual life we have ever met with told us not to be uneasy about it, and said he himself had never been able to look upon those pictures without a shock.  The picture always seemed to us of a bleeding, not an inflamed heart, and no picture of mere physical pain, not even the purely physical sufferings of our Lord on the cross, ever deeply moves us.  We are moved by the agony in the garden, produced, as we have always supposed, not by the dread of the physical pain our Lord was about to endure, but by his foresight of how few, comparatively, would profit by his cross and passion, and what numbers, in spite of all he had done and suffered, or was to do and suffer, would be eternally lost.  This was the agony, this caused his bloody sweat and made him exclaim: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered thee as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but thou wouldst not.”  There must be moral sorrow, the suffering of the soul, to move us, and hence the poena sensus counts for little with us in comparison with the poena damni. The preacher does not slightly affect us by his vivid pictures of the physical sufferings and tortures of the damned; he moves us deeply only when he dwells on their eternal loss, the ceaseless regrets, the never-ending despair, the eternal privation of heaven for which they were created, once within their reach, now lost for ever.  The most terrible words to us in Dante’s Inferno are: “Ye who enter here leave hope behind,” which, the poet says, are inscribed over the gates of hell. Never to see the face of God in the beatific vision, to a rightly instructed mind, we have always supposed to be the only part of hell to be seriously dreaded.  It is little that material fire and brimstone can add to it.

“Not a Jesuit” is scandalized at our saying the devotion to the Sacred Heart is just now the fashionable devotion, but such is undoubtedly the fact: and if the truth scandalizes, how are we to be held responsible?  “Not a Jesuit” has no right to invent for us words and thoughts which are his, not ours.  We have never made the comparison he accuses us of making.  We said there are fashions in devotion as well as in dress, and he is no careful observer who does not know it; but we have never said that both spring from the same source.  Fashions in devotion may spring from the interior operations of the Holy Spirit, and have for their end the defeat of some special device of the devil.  We have said or implied nothing to the contrary.  If the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart tends to quicken the perception and deepen the worship of God in his sacred humanity, its effect may be great in allaying the storm now raging against the church, and, in any case, it must be good and profitable to the soul.

We may have been wrongly taught, but we have been taught by those who had authority to teach us, that we are bound to treat as proper and useful every special devotion approved by the supreme authority of the church, that is to say, by the supreme pontiff, the vicar of Christ, and forbidden to do or say aught in its disparagment, or of those who piously observe it; but we have not been taught that it is made obligatory under pain of sin upon the faithful, nor that among approved devotions the Catholic is not free to follow that which has for him a special attraction, as he has, among canonized saints, to select for his special devotion the one or more to whom he is especially drawn.  By what right, then, does “Not a Jesuit” accuse us of a want of piety because we have avowed that we had had no special attrait to the special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?  Have we not said, the the “approval of the church removes, of course, every theological or philosophical difficulty(such as were urged by the Jansenists, for instance) in the way of this devotion as she herself approves it”?  The objections we suggested were suggested as bearing against certain expositions of the meaning of the devotion we had seen, and which we took not from the Jansenists, but from Benedict XIV, and were assigned by him as a reason for not approving the devotion at that time.  We supposed that the church had approved the worship in a sense which escaped those objections, but which it seemed to us to bear against it, as explained by Fr. Preston and others.  Our only difficulty was not with the devotion as approved by the church, but in finding out in what sense she has approved it.  We found the books we had seen, treating the subject either in a loose, vague, and indeterminate or objectionable sense from the point of view of philosophy and theology as we had learned them.

So far as the worship of the sacred humanity of Christ, hypostatically united to his divine person, and thus made literally and substantially the human nature of God, for ever inseparable, but distinct from his divine nature, is promoted by the special devotion to the Sacred Heart, or any element of Catholic faith or doctrine is brought out, expressed or embodied in the practical devotions of the faithful, no Catholic can question it or be allowed to speak disparagingly of it.  Nor have we ever done so.  No Catholic writer has insisted at greater length or more earnestly than we on the worship of God in his humanity, or that it is God in his human nature who founds the entire Christian or teleological order, the “new creation,” who redeems us and is our only Mediator and Saviour; and it is by her and their relation to the God-Man by nature and by grace that is justified the worship we pay to Blessed Mary and the saints.  To worship God in his human nature, to honor the Son as we honor the Father, is of precept.  The fundamental error of Protestantism is the rejection of the worship of God in his human nature, or in separating the human nature of the Word from the divine nature, thus dissolving Jesus, which the blessed Apostle John, as we have already said, tells us is the spirit of Antichrist who was even then in the world.

Again: If the Sacred Heart of Jesus is taken as the emblem or symbol of the human-divine love or affection of our Lord which redeems and saves, we have never had any difficulty with the special devotion introduced in its present form by the Blessed Margaret Mary, for, thus taken, it is only a special form, and a beautiful form, of adoration of the human-divine love that redeems and saves the world.  But we have been told that this is not the sense in which we are to take it; that it is to be taken in a literal material sense, or as the material organ, in which sense we have never been able to see any special reason why we should worship the heart rather than any other organ of Christ’s sacred body.

Finally: If “Not a Jesuit,”- God forgive him for his gross injustice to us, in supposing that a Jesuit would have less weight with us than one not a Jesuit, or because a Jesuit,- had read the concluding paragraph of our notice, he might have saved himself the pain of writing his very uncharitable letter to us on the subject.