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Burnett's Path to the Church

(A Review of: The path which led a Protestant Lawyer to the Catholic Church.

By Peter H. Burnett. New York: 1860)

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1860

THE Appletons have, since the beginning of the year, pub-lished the anxiously looked for work of Governor Burnett, of California, giving in full his reasons for becoming a Catholic. The work is a goodly octavo, very well printed and done up, and must rank among the graver and more important contributions to Catholic literature made in this country. It is the work, not of a priest, nor of a professional theologian, but of a clear-headed, strong-minded lawyer, who has not suffered the law to make him forget he has a soul, or to stifle his conscience. It may have some of the defects, especially the prolixity, to which members of the legal profession are occasionally subject, and the objects may not always be grouped according to their relative size and importance; but it is written in a clear, forcible and unpretending style, in a straightforward, earnest manner, and is to be judged not as a mere literary performance, but as the grave utterance of a man who really has something to say, and is pressed by an internal necessity to say it.

What strikes the reader at a glance, in this remarkable volume, is its perfect honesty and sincerity. As you read it you feel that the eminent jurist is honestly retracing the path and detailing the successive steps by which he actually came into the church; and it has a very high psychological value aside from its positive and conclusive arguments, for the objective truth of Catholicity or the divine foundation and constitution of the Catholic Church. The whole tone and character of the work inspire confidence in the author, as a fair-minded man, as a candid judge, and as one who would be as incapable of knowingly deceiving another as of deceiving himself. He has evidently inquired earnestly and honestly for the truth for his own mind, and he gives the results of his inquiries for precisely what he found them worth to himself. It is always of great interest to see what has convinced a conscientious mind, intent on saving its own soul, endowed with more than ordinary ability, highly cultivated, strengthened by varied experience, and accustomed to sift and weigh evidence as a lawyer in the most difficult and intricate cases.

The argument of the book is presented under the legal form, by the judge who sums up the case and gives his decision, rather than as presented by the advocate. To one who is familiar with the pleadings, the law, and the evidence, there can be little that is absolutely new in the argument, but the manner of putting it and of grouping the facts which must determine the ultimate decision. These strike us as original, and we do not recollect to have ever seen the argument more forcibly put or more ably and convincingly conducted. It is an argument addressed to reason and good sense, not to passion or sensibility; and we cannot conceive it possible for any fair-minded man to read it and not be convinced, although we can conceive that many a man may read it and not acknowledge himself convinced. The difficulty is, that the mass of non-Catholics, unless already touched by the grace of God, have a mortal repugnance to finding the Catholic Church proved; and the more legitimate and conclusive the argument addressed to them, the less legitimate and conclusive will they find it. They are not accustomed to find or to expect certainty in matters of religion, and they feel it a sort of insult to their understandings when you present them a religion which demands and seems to have certainty. The author has a truly legal mind, and he brings every question to the law and the testimony, and insists on a verdict accordingly, whereas the mass of our non-Catholics recognize no law or testimony in the case, and suppose all depends on one's own fancy or caprice. They look upon religion either as a vague speculation or a still vaguer feeling. Argue your case in the most conclusive manner, so that they have not a word to say against a single one of your positions or your logic, and they will reply naively, "I do not feel with you;" and with that reply dismiss your reasoning and your subject.

Judge Burnett tells us he was originally a deist, which is very possible; but his book bears evidence that he had always a very clear and just conception of law, as the expression of the will of a legislator, or as an emanation from an authority having in itself the right to command. He has in this work only applied the principle of law, which he had always held, to the facts presented by the Catholic religion. Deist or not, his principles were always sound, -that is to say, whatever the practical conclusions he adopted for the time being, his principles were always those of reason. His law was always right; and if he came to wrong decisions, it was owing to his ignorance or misconception of the facts, or, as the lawyer would say, the evidence in the case. He needed supernatural grace, as all men do, in order to be able to elicit an act of supernatural faith; but he never needed any thing more than a simple presentation of the facts in their true light, to believe firmly the Catholic Church with what theologians call human faith, or a firm rational conviction. His mind was always a sound mind. His book recognizes and accepts, in the outset, as the law of the mind, the principle of authority. It presupposes the principle accepted by the reader, and it proceeds, by a careful examination, sifting and weighing the principal testimony in the case, to elicit the truth of the church; and it will satisfy every mind that admits that principle, and is capable of following the argument. The author assumes what is true, that religion, if religion, is the lex suprema for the reason and will; and the question in his own mind was never whether religion is to be obeyed or not, nor, in fact, whether there be or be not a religion, but whether there be a revealed religion, and if there be, what and where is it? What and where is the court to apply it? His book is the answer. But his mind, though a fair representative of the educated mind in its normal development, was not a fair representative of the non-Catholic mind as we ordinarily find it. We may divide non-Catholics into two classes: Idolaters of reason and idolaters of the Bible. The idolaters of the Bible, that is, Protestants, or Evangelicals, profess to take the Bible as their authority and guide in matters of religion, and make all the world over it; but while they pretend it is the Bible as interpreted by the interior illumination of the Holy Ghost, it is really the Bible as interpreted by their own ignorance, prejudices, fancies, or caprices. With these people you can, except with now and then an individual, never reason. There is no criterion or authority to which they will submit. Take them on the Bible, and show them, as you easily can, that the Bible is against their Protestantism, and they will take refuge in "inward experience," "private illumination," "the interior teaching of the Spirit," to what some call latterly "the Christian consciousness," and there is an end to all reasoning, to all argument. They have "the witness within," and what can you say? The Christian, they tell us, is one who is instructed by the Holy Ghost; they who are instructed by the Holy Ghost have the pure, infallible truth. "We," they add, "are Christians," argal, &c. They take their Christian consciousness to prove their doctrine, and their doctrine to prove their Christian consciousness. Press them hard, and show them that they rest all on their own subjective phenomena, and that they mistake their own fancies, caprices, imaginations, sensibilities, or the devices of their own hearts, for the illuminations of the Holy Ghost, -or at least, they have no means of proving either to themselves or others that they do not- and they fly back to the Bible, to the "written word of God," and pelt you half to death with texts of Scripture thrown in your face and eyes. The Bible is to them really no authority or guide, but a simple subterfuge, and instead of honoring, they grossly dishonor it. It is not seldom we find the heathen, when their idol does not comply with their wishes or answer their prayers and supplications, dragging it from its pedestal, sometimes with rope round its neck, through mud and filth, and ending by giving it a good scourging. These people, figuratively, treat the Bible in the same way, when it refuses to support their fancies. They subject the sacred text to no less violence, and wring and twist it in all manner of ways, to force it to comply with their wishes, and when violent interpretation or explanation will not answer, they throw the unmanageable parts away, as Luther did the Catholic Epistle of James, which so pointedly condemns his doctrine of justification by faith alone. In Luther's estimation, this Epistle was only an "Epistle of Straw."

The other class, the idolaters of reason, are no less unmanageable. Reason is their God, but they desert its worship the moment they find it not on their side. Of all people they are the most unreasonable, and make of reason the least reasonable use. We never expect one of these people to reason. With them reason is what they fancy, or imagine, or feel, -is nothing but a collective term for all their notions, crotchets, conceits, vagaries, fancies, feelings, impressions, prejudices, half-views, false views, and no views at all. It has no law, no proportion-ratio, no measure, no consistency, rule, or validity. Press them on reason, they reject logic and take refuge in feeling; press them on feeling, and they fly back to logic. Their real difficulty is, not that they confide in reason, even their own reason, but that they do not confide in it, and do not even credit their own convictions. It has been well said that "the doubt of our age is not doubt of revelation, but the doubt of reason." The first faith necessary to be restored, is faith in our own reason We have shown, time and again, in these pages, that the world, to a fearful extent, has lost its faith in the supernatural, nay, the very conception itself of the supernatural; we may go further, and add that its real scepticism, the intellectual ground of all its other scepticism, is the scepticism of reason, or of the natural order. Men do not credit reason, do not believe its authority, do not trust their own eyes, or feel sure that their knowledge is knowledge. Here is the terrible doubt that baffles our science, and renders nugatory all our efforts. Here is the grand obstacle to Judge Burnett's success. His book is sufficient to satisfy every man who doubts not of his own reason; but this doubt renders, in the first place, the majority indifferent to the question to be discussed, so that comparatively few will take the trouble to read his argument; and, in the next place, it indisposes those who do read it to trust its conclusions, although they feel that they are utterly unable to urge a single logical objection against them.

We have heard much said about the insufficiency of reason, and we have all of us, more or less labored to exhibit the wanderings of reason, and the deplorable state into which the nations fall who trust themselves to their reason alone, in order to obtain an argument for the necessity of revelation. This method in our age becomes dangerous, and tends to produce a most fatal scepticism. Defenders of revelation are not always careful to save the appearance of presenting faith and reason in contrast, or as in mutual contradiction one with the other. Revelation is too often so presented as to appear to supersede reason, or at least as the necessary complement of reason. Some, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Jansenists, openly deny reason to make way for revelation, as they demolish nature to make way for grace. Whoever is familiar with the writings of unbelievers, especially the French infidels of the last century, against Christianity, knows that nearly all their arguments and gibes and sneers are founded on the supposition that Christians oppose faith to reason. So completely imbued is the non-Catholic mind with this notion, that nothing is more common with non-Catholics than to accuse us of inconsistency in alleging that faith must be received on authority, and yet seeking by reason to prove the fact that authority has been provided for us. It is not easy to say how much the indiscretion of professed believers in revelation, especially of the various classes of heretics who would fain pass for orthodox, has done to throw doubt on reason, and to produce the fearful and wide-spread scepticism of our age. Among philosophers the psychologists have done all in their power to reduce all knowledge to simple modes or affections of the subject, and even among apparently fervent Catholics we find the traditionalists, whose philosophical utterances have all a sceptical tendency. The church herself has felt the danger on this side, and taken precautions against it, by the articles in defence of natural reason and its capacity presented lately by the Holy See for the signatures of the leading traditionalists. The Holy See has seen the necessity of vindicating the rights, the authority, and the province of reason, and has warned us all of the evil to be combated, the danger to be guarded against. If we could convert the age to reason, we could easily convert it to Catholicity; all the great principles on which faith rests are principles of reason, principles of natural religion, included in the law of nature. In believing Catholicity, the man who really believes what is called natural religion, the truths of reason,- that is, the truths reason is competent to prove with certainty,- has no principles to change, no principles to reject or to adopt. What he has to accept in addition to what he already holds is not in the order of principles, but in the order of facts, provable in like manner as any other facts. The incarnation is a fact, redemption through the cross is a fact, the church is a fact, judgment is a fact; heaven and hell are facts, either in the present or in the future. The supernatural order is a fact, but a fact which presupposes the natural, and which is created in accordance with the principles of natural reason, only lying in a sphere above reason.

Into this question Judge Burnett has not entered. He has not recognized nor attempted to refute this original doubt, or to reestablish the authority of reason. He takes for granted the authority of reason, supposes his readers acknowledge reason, recognize and conform to its principles, and confines himself to proving to reason the supernatural facts asserted by the church. This he does conclusively, and in doing it does all that is necessary to be done for those who really understand and accept the authority of reason. We know no author, writing a popular work, who has done it better; we are not certain but we might say, who has done it so well, so conclusively. But, unhappily, his very postulate will not be universally granted, and he must not feel that it is his fault if his work does not bear all the fruits he expects from it. We hardly know ourselves how to meet this doubt of reason, for we have nothing but reason with which to meet it. But certain we are that the doubt we have to combat is not the doubt of Catholicity. Every day we meet intelligent men who tell us, that if they believed in religion they would be Catholics, and that if they should ever come to feel the necessity of having a religion they would think of taking no other religion than the Catholic. This proves that the doubt is not of Catholicity, but of reason itself in relation to religion. Such is undoubtedly the fact. The doubt is of reason. How is this doubt to be met and removed? We confess that we are at a loss to answer this question, because we ourselves doubt if the doubt, all unreasonable as it certainly is, can be removed by reasoning. Something can be done by modifying the method of proving revelation, and more still by correcting the philosophy of the schools, in which a very considerable reform is most assuredly called for. But all this will be insufficient, and mainly preventive; not curative. Doubt and indifference are too deep-rooted and too wide-spread to be cured by it. After all, we have our doubts if in the purely intellectual order we can do more or much better than Judge Burnett has done, in taking the authority of reason for granted, and then establishing the facts of revelation to the satisfaction of reason. Those who doubt reason must be given over as beyond the reach of reason.

But it will, perhaps, be well to bear in mind that the obstacles we have to overcome in converting this non-Catholic world are moral, rather than intellectual, and are therefore to be overcome by the preacher, rather than by the polemic, the theologian, or the philosopher. When our Lord sent forth his apostles, he sent them to teach indeed, but to teach by preaching. He sent them forth as lambs in the midst of wolves, to preach the gospel to every creature; and it was by the "foolishness of preaching" that he proposed to convert the world to himself and to gather them that are to be saved into his church. When in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries errors analogous to those that now prevail were rife, he raised up a St. Dominic who founded the order of Preachers, and St. Francis who founded an order of preachers also, who should by their example as by their words preach holy poverty, love of the poor, and detachment from the world. The only effectual way we see of overcoming the doubt and indifference of our age is by preaching. What we want are not so much authors as preachers, who with the living voice will speak to the consciences of the doubting and indifferent, and awaken in them the moral sense, now dormant, and make them feel that they have souls to be saved. Theologians, controversialists, philosophers are, of course, necessary, indispensable even, but they cannot be our chief reliance for the conversion of our cold, indifferent, and sceptical countrymen. It is lawful to learn from an enemy. The different Evangelical sects have their revivals, and they do really awaken large numbers, and sceptical and indifferent as any, by preaching to them, with passable purity, certain great practical truths of the Gospels. They borrowed a good part of their method of preaching, and of the doctrines they preach in their revivals, from us, from our missions and retreats. Their aim is to reach the consciences of their hearers, to convict them of sin, to bring home to their understandings the terrible reality of death, judgment, and hell, and to make them cry out, "What shall I do to be saved ?" They aim to make them feel that they are travelling the broad road to destruction, that they are lost as they are, that they need help and can obtain it only from Christ crucified. This sort of preaching is effectual in arousing men from their indifference, in making even worldly men feel that something must be done, and even in making them anxious to do something. Unhappily, this is as far as the sects can go. From this point onward they lack the truth, the Bread of life, and thus fail to complete the good work they commence. No doubt these awakened sinners, with hearts open to receive the grace of conversion and minds ready for the reception of the truth, soon fall away or become cold-hearted formal hypocrites, more hardened than ever; but that is not because they were not really awakened, because they were not sincere and earnest in the beginning, but because the sects have nothing to give them and are forced to leave them without support. But there is no reason in the world why our preachers cannot do all the Protestant ministers do, in arousing men from their indifference, in shaking their doubts, and in making them tremble as Felix did when St. Paul reasoned to him "of justice, chastity, and the judgment to come;" and without being obliged to stop where do the ministers, for they can fan the fire they kindle to a flame - they can give the Bread necessary to sustain the new life which they through the Holy Ghost beget.

We therefore, we own, look more to our missions and retreats than to any of our controversial works for overcoming the doubts and indifference of our countrymen. We hope we shall be pardoned for saying that we often feel when listening to sermons,- often sermons admirably conceived, finely and elegantly written, and chastely and gracefully delivered,- that the preacher hardly realizes his immense power, and hardly thinks of the souls before him that are perishing, through not being made to feel the solemn importance of the truths he is uttering. 0 would the preacher, we say to ourselves, were less careful of polishing his periods, and felt more deeply the import of what he is saying, and that he would be a little more in earnest to bring these souls to God. The preacher's mission is the grandest on earth: he holds in his hands a power the proudest monarch might envy,- even the keys of heaven and hell. He has the sublimest and most soul-stirring truths that can be conceived. He may speak, if he will, with the power of Truth itself, with the strength of the prayers of all saints, the sympathies of all good men and angels, and with the omnipotence of God on his side. Yet he too often speaks as though he were merely declaiming an exercise, or because a sermon is in the routine of his duties, and has to be got off the best way it can. The preacher too often is unaware of his power, or wantonly throws it away. To be a powerful and effective preacher, it is not necessary to be a polished speaker, a graceful orator, or an adept in the excellency of men's speech. Let the man be of moderate attainments, and even moderate intellectual abilities, but a live man; let him be in downright earnest, with a heart burning with charity, and let him speak as he feels, and not a word he utters will fall idly to the ground. A sermon which affected us more, and provoked more rigid self-examination than almost any other to which we have ever listened, was on "the sign of the cross," preached by a man who mispronounced almost every other word, and had hardly a sentence of correct English from beginning to end. The most effective preachers, and the most effective with learned and polished sinners, are not your most learned and accomplished pulpit orators, who never transgress a single propriety or deviate from a single conventional rule, but the meek and humble-minded, who never think of themselves, who think only of Christ and him crucified, only of the souls to be converted and saved, and who speak right on the words their own burning charity inspires. We hope our venerable clergy will forgive us when we say we think they might make a great deal more of preaching than they do, not only for their own people, but for those not yet gathered into the fold. Let them speak with a brogue, let them speak in broken English, it matters nothing, if they only let their faith and charity, the unction of their souls, have fair play.

We regard with deep interest, for this reason, the new Congregation of the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle. This congregation is just organized, and its members have only entered upon their apostolic work; but we shall be greatly disappointed if they do not yet exert a most salutary influence in favor of our religion in these United States. They have had struggles, and they will have more and harder struggles yet, if the Lord loves them, and has chosen their congregation to do great things. The reason why we take so deep an interest in them is, that they are to be a congregation of preachers,- not simply preachers going forth to preach to heretics and unbelievers, but to all the faithful and the unfaithful,- to proclaim the kingdom of God to all who will hear, and to build it up in every heart that will submit. We do not believe sermons designed expressly for those outside are the best even to make converts. We think the sermons best fitted to convert bad Catholics, or sinners in the church, are the best fitted to effect the conversion of sinners outside of the church. We are satisfied, from our observations, that missions are our best way not only of reaching bad Catholics, but also of reaching non-Catholics. The fact is, we are prone to forget, if Christ is in the church to save, and saves only in his church, he is also, so to speak, out of his church, in the hearts of all men, to draw them to the church, that he may save them in her communion. At the bottom of the hearts of the most sceptical, indifferent, or worldly-minded, there is a secret witness for God, for Christ, for the church. Conscience is still Catholic in most men; and when conscience is awakened, and enabled to make herself heard, there is little intellectual difficulty in the way of bringing them to the church. When their consciences are awakened, unless they are diverted from their course by some foreign interposition, they tend as naturally to the church as the rivers to the sea.

We must remember that there never has been but one religion -the Catholic- and that was revealed in substance to our first parents. It has come down to us by tradition, in its purity and integrity through the patriarchs, the synagogue, and the Catholic Church, broken, obscured, and sometimes travestied in the gentile world. Nevertheless, it has in some measure, and in some form, come down through all nations, and all nations retain some of its elements,- at least, some of its detached fragments. These form in every heart a witness for Christ, and the preacher may appeal with perfect confidence to them. Moreover, all the modern Protestant nations were once Catholic; and though they have broken from unity, they have brought off with them other fragments or portions of Catholic truth;- and through these portions of Catholic truth the preacher has his point d'appui in their hearts, on which he can support his efforts to raise them to God. The reason is plain, then, why the preacher, in preaching to Jew or gentile solely with a view to the conversion and salvation of souls, must reach them as well as bad Catholics. Most of them are, in some sense, only bad Catholics, for most of them, we must presume, have been baptized. There is, then, a solid reason why our missions should be useful to those without, as well as to those within. It is, then, desirable that they be multiplied and extended- not only the missions of the Paulists, but of the Redemptorists, the Priests of the Missions, and of the Jesuits, with the last of whom they in some sort originated. We have heard a rumor that the illustrious Society of Jesus are about to detail several of their number to devote themselves, with the approbation of the bishops and archbishops, to the giving of missions in every nook and corner of the land, wherever Providence opens to them a door. We hope the rumor will turn out to be well-founded. We have a large body of Catholics, whose lives are most edifying; but, unhappily, there is a very considerable number of us to whom missions will not be superfluous, and it is time we should begin to think seriously of converting our non--Catholic countrymen, and securing to them the inestimable blessings and consolations of our faith. The time has come for us to dismiss our national prejudices- to cease to feel that we are foreigners in this land of liberty, and to begin our labors to make this a Catholic country. The more firmly we prove ourselves attached to our faith, the more our non-Catholic countrymen will respect both us and our religion; and the more earnest we show ourselves to spread it, and to give others the peace and security we enjoy, the more will they dispose themselves to listen to us, and pay attention to our preachers.

We may have been negligent, we may have felt that it was useless to hope for the conversion of our neighbors; but if so, we may read our rebuke in the congregation of the Paulists, a noble band of priests, all converts from Protestantism. We may read it also in the book before us, by a man whom we should hardly have expected to be brought in. But in he has come, and has brought with him a heart and an intel1igence that has preached one of the very best arguments for our religion that has proceeded from an American pen. It is a learned, an able, a well-reasoned, and most seasonable book. These instances, to mention no others, are a terrible rebuke both to our hopelessness and to our apathy. Are we not on the point of waking up to a sense of our duty? We have wandered away from the book before us, and instead of reviewing it we have been giving speculations of our own. We cannot help being struck with the fact that this book is produced by a man born and brought up in the West, and that it has been written in California, by, we believe, its first civil governor after its cession to the United States. It proves that we, on the Atlantic border, are very far from monopolizing all the thought, the intelligence, or the literature of the Union. It is a fact, we believe, that the great market for books is the South and West; more particularly, for American publications, at the West. We fancy we have here more literary polish, more classical knowledge; but whoever has travelled much in the new states, has been struck with their superior mental activity, and their greater freedom from prejudice and routine. Say what we will of the Atlantic states, northern and southern, the real American character- what is to be the future character of the nation- will be determined by the states drained by the Mississippi and washed by the Pacific. They are living now who will find our Asiatic and Australian trade more important than our European. The strength, the energy, and the governing force of our empire will be West of the territory occupied by the men who won our independence and made us a nation, and the colonies will give the law to the mother country. But we see no harm in it. These great states, formed since the federal union, are, and will be, chiefly agricultural states, and ultimately will be conservative states, serving as a check on the purely commercial states, and to preserve the institutions founded by our fathers. The Pacific states,-and there will ultimately be four or five more,- will prove to be one of the most important sections of the Union. They bring us into contact with Asia, as the Atlantic states enable us to touch Europe. A few years will, in spite of all that may be said or done, add to the Union Mexico and the Central American states. We see no help for it, however much we may oppose it. The result will be the division into free states, and union under one federal government of the whole territory of this vast continent from the British possessions on the North to the Isthmus of Darien on the South, from the Atlantic on the East to the Pacific on the West, placed between Europe and Asia, and closely connected, -for oceans unite, not separate,- with both. A more magnificent empire never existed, and cannot be found on the globe,- an empire capable of sustaining, with ease, four hundred millions of souls, and when come to maturity, able to hold Europe with one hand and Asia with the other, to exercise the hegemony of the globe. Will this Union be preserved and freedom sustained? Both are destined to receive many rude shocks and severe trials, from within, not from without; but yet we firmly believe both will come out from the trial unscathed. The bonds of a common blood, language, laws, manners, and customs, will go far to prevent a dissolution of the Union; but there is forming with very great rapidity another bond, which, as yet, nobody, to our knowledge, has taken any notice of,-the bond of a common religion,- the bond of the one Catholic Church. Protestantism is divided into sects, and the sects subdivide geographically. They cannot stand against the force of social or domestic institutions, but are obliged to succumb to it. They originate with the people, and live or die as the people will. They form, and can form no bond of union. The Methodist of the North cannot tolerate slavery, the Methodist of the South dare not oppose it; so the great Methodist sect divides sectionally, and each division follows the peculiar popular opinion of its section. So of the Baptist; so it will soon be, if not already, with the Presbyterian; and ultimately with the Episcopalians, if they ever have earnestness enough to care for any thing but their "admirable Liturgy," with all that is really admirable in it pilfered from us. But the Catholic Church is one, holds the same doctrine, teaches the same morals, and enforces the same discipline in the North and the South, in the East and the West. Here, before us, is a work written on the borders of the Pacific, which is to us the same as if it had been written as well as published in this city. The author defends the one Catholic doctrine, the one Catholic Church. He believes as we believe, and we believe as he believes. We worship at one and the same altar, assist at one and the same "clean sacrifice," and partake of one and the same Bread of life. Moreover, the hierarchy is one, united under the one American primacy of order, and the one primacy of jurisdiction as well as of order at Rome. It must be united,- and through its union under one head, all the Catholics of the whole United States are united in one body. Here is the bond that is to hold this Union together, and keep it one nation. No Catholic nation, that has retained its Catholicity, has ever lost its nationality and become extinct. In every Catholic people there is a vitality that no earthly power can extinguish, and every one has a recuperative energy that will enable it ultimately to recover from all its calamities and disasters. To the Catholic Church, now hierarchically organized over the whole Union, under one head, with one faith, one Lord, and one tongue, we look for the preservation of this Union.

She, as yet, includes but a small minority of the American people, but that minority is destined to increase; and, before the sects and parties will be enabled to destroy the work of our fathers, we believe it will have become the majority in numbers, in intelligence, in virtue, in patriotism, and in influence. Then the danger will be past. The various legitimate interests of the country will coalesce with the religious interests of the majority, and the clashing of sectional parties will be able to affect neither our peace nor our security. The question of slavery will then produce no disturbance, for slavery will then either have ceased to exist, or the condition and relations of the slaves will have been so modified as to give offence to no Christian conscience. In writing his book, Judge Burnett has rendered a noble homage to his new faith: he has, too, performed a patriotic act which will compare favorably with the most glorious deeds of our greatest patriots. Through him, California has made a more glorious contribution to the Union than all the gold of her mines, for truth is more precious than gold, yea, than fine gold.