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Reason and Religion

From the Ave Maria for 1866-67

It has been fashionable for some time, not only with the declared enemies, but even with some who profess to be the warm friends of religion, to treat it and reason if they were entirely independent of each other, and in fact as mutually antagonistic. It is assumed that reason can exist and operate in full freedom and strength without pious or religious affection, and that pious or religious affection in no sense depends on reason or intelligence. But there is no reason without religion, and no religion without reason, as it will be my purpose in this article to show.

Knowledge without religion is satanic, and worse than worthless to its possessor, for it is not a rational knowledge directed to the true end of man; and religion without knowledge is a blind sentiment losing itself in idolatry, superstition, or a savage and destructive fanaticism. Reason is essential to man’s nature, that which distinguishes him from the lower creation, and renders him kindred with the angels, and, in some sense, with God himself. It is the faculty of apprehending and acting voluntarily from the principle of our existence, and of apprehending and acting for- propter- the end for which we exist. There is and can be no human act that is a perfectly rational act. Piety or religion without reason or the rational activity of the soul is not, as say the theologians, actus humanus, and must be wholly extraneous to man, or merely sensitive affection, what Catholics call sensible devotion, and what has in itself no moral character, and is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy.

Herein lies the great mistake of the Evangelical or Methodistical sects. They divorce piety or religion from reason, and therefore from all intellectual apprehension of the Christian mysteries and dogmas, or from faith as an intellectual act. They reduce faith itself to a mere sentiment, and while inveterate dogmatists in their way, hold that nothing is necessary to salvation but the sensible affection or emotion. You cannot reason with them, for they set reason aside as having nothing to do with religion. To your most reasonable objections they have a prompt and decisive answer: "I feel it here," laying a hand over the heart, "and am sure." But you may draw a false inference form your feelings and thus delude or deceive yourself. "I feel it here and am sure." You cannot reason against feeling, and have nothing to do but to make a low bow and be silent. They do not seem to be aware that it is by the activity of the rational soul that they can be conscious of their own sensible affection, or are able to say, "I feel, and am sure." They resolve, so far as the man is concerned, all devotion into sensible devotion, and even regard all prayers made when the soul suffers from aridities, or which are not accompanied by certain sensible sweetnesses and freedom, as offensive or, at least, not acceptable to God.

This comes not solely from a bad psychology, but chiefly from a bad theology. They do not, all of them at least, do not accept the Calvinistic doctrine, decretum horribile, as Calvin himself says, of election and reprobation, but they all proceed in their theology on the assumption that original sins means the total corruption and moral impotence of our nature, so that our nature has not been simply averted from God and inclined to sin, as the Council of Trent teaches, but that it has itself become sin and loathsome to God, and incapable of thinking a good thought or performing a good deed. This corruption extends to the reason and the will, and they correct the apostle who says, "in me," that is, "in my flesh," and say that, "in me," that is, in my reason and will, "there dwelleth no good thing." Hence, naturally, prior to conversion they think and will only evil, and after conversion it is not they who think and will good, but the grace that is in them. Hence they hold that whatever in them is not false or evil is placed there by sovereign grace, without their active concurrence, and therefore the sensible affection which they call religion or piety is produced in them by grace without any activity of their own reason and will. Faith with them is not an intellectual act,- not elicitable, indeed, without the grace of faith illustrating the understanding and converting the will towards God, yet elicitable by us, so as to be really and truly our act- but is a simple feeling of confidence that God has for Christ’s sake forgiven us our sins, and translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. Hence with them religion is not something done, but something undergone by us, as is indicated by the question they ask: "Have you experienced religion?"

The Protestant reformers generally manifest the greatest distrust of reason, and Luther treats it with great indignity and coarse invective. All non-rationalistic Protestants regard reason as a false and deceptive light that leads to bewilder and dazzles to blind. It is a great mistake to suppose that the central principle of Protestantism is private judgment. This is not and never was the Protestant principle. Its central principle was and is the total depravity of human nature, or the absolute moral and spiritual inability or nullity of man since Adam’s prevarication. This is the central principle of its whole system, from which radiate all its so-called "doctrines of grace," or "the great doctrines of the reformation." The Bible, interpreted by human reason, public or private, was never a Protestant doctrine or a Protestant rule of faith, and they who combat that rule, thinking thereby to refute Protestantism, its principle, are simply beating the air. The charge brought against us by Protestants was and is that we are Pelagians or semi-Pelagians, and tend to rationalism; that is, we hold that there is some good and some moral ability left in man, and that reason and will are active in justification, not purely passive. True, we hold that without grace we can do nothing, not even make the first motion; but, then, we hold that we ourselves must actively concur with grace, and that by grace we can concur with grace, and so work out our own salvation. On this point the reformation joined issue with the church, maintained, in opposition to her, the absolute impotence of nature, expressed in their doctrine of justification without works, that is, without human activity, by faith alone, or in that of justification by imputation.

That modern rationalism holds form the reformation is, no doubt, true, but from its practice of rejecting the authority of the church, not from any doctrine or principle it asserted. Its principle was total depravity by the fall, and its rule of faith was the Bible, or certain portions of the Bible, interpreted by grace, or the Holy Ghost dwelling in the believer. Rationalism is a one-sided and bastard development of Protestantism, and loses grace altogether. The legitimate developments of Protestantism are Quakerism and Methodism, or Evangelicalism. Quakerism consists in asserting the universality of the inner light, and its sufficiency without the written word, or that the Holy Ghost dwells in every man, whether believer or not, and is "a light within" sufficient to guide the individual to eternal life; but it carefully distinguishes this "inner light," this "Christ within," this "indwelling Holy Ghost," from the natural light of natural reason.

Its connecting band with the reformers is in making the interpreter of the word the grace operative in the individual, and asserting the passivity of nature in the work of salvation, that is, in exclusive supernaturalism. Methodism, which is not by any means restricted to the sect called Methodists, but is common to all the Evangelical sects, though it often makes of show of asserting free will or free agency, is based on the total depravity of man by the fall, and holds that the interpreter of the written word is the Holy Ghost transiently or permanently in the soul of the regenerate. With it, as with Calvinism, reason and will are impotent, and the essence of the Christian life, which, prior to Whitehead, Calvinism did not assert, is in the feelings or sensible affections produced by the operations of grace within the believer. Methodism comes in the direct line from the reformation and is the only form of Protestantism that gives signs of life, and that retains much hold on the Protestant people. It is the development of Protestantism most hostile to Catholicity.

Many persons of liberal and even philosophic minds, who have ceased to believe any Protestant doctrine, still honor the memory of the reformers, as bold and earnest men, who asserted the rights of the mind, and emancipated reason, and restored to human nature its dignity; but nothing is further from the fact, as is evident form their assertion of the total corruption of human nature, and of the absolute moral and spiritual impotence or nullity of man. The supposed antagonism between reason and faith, or intellect and piety, was unheard of before the reformation, and has grown out of the doctrine of total depravity and that of sovereign and irresistible grace asserted by the reformers and uniformly condemned by the church. The reformation regarded reason as false and deceptive, and the will, since the fall, as a serf or slave, and allowed to neither any participation in the work of salvation. It has done all in its power to damage reason and bring it into contempt, while the church through her clergy, her pontiffs, and her councils has always vindicated it and sustained its credit. It is a great wrong done to the church by modern liberals, that of asserting Protestantism as favorable to the freedom and activity of reason, and the church as hostile to it. The church asserts the supernatural, but without excluding the natural; the reformation denied the natural and asserted exclusive supernaturalism.

God says to man since as well as before the fall, "My son, give me thy heart." It is not compatible with the character of God to demand of his creatures what they have not to give. He may demand more of them than they are naturally able to perform, but not without rendering them able by his gracious assistance. To give the heart to God requires an act of free will on our part, and therefore implies that we are not in religion resistant or purely passive, but must be active and concurrent. This negates the reformation doctrine of the total depravity or corruption of our nature, and places religion in the free exercise of our active powers, and makes it something which we do,- do by the assistance of grace, if you will,- not something which we undergo, or which is wrought in us, by grace, without our active concurrence.

The rationalizing sects among us, who deny the fall, deny the necessity and the fact of grace, and assert the sufficiency of nature for herself, fall into a serious mistake when they suppose the doctrine of the church and that of the reformation on original sin are one and the same. The church and the reformation both assert that there is original sin, but they differ radically as to what original sin is. The reformation understands by the term, as we have seen, the total moral and spiritual inability or corruption of our entire nature, so that in faith, justification, holiness, we are either passive or resistant, and never actively concur with grace. Hence it scouts the idea of merit, and denies that heaven is given as a reward for well-doing. Human nature from first to last resists grace, and never of itself, or even by the assistance of grace, performs any active part in the work of Christian perfection. God concludes all men under sin, and by his sovereign act gives heaven to whom he will, and denies it to whom he will. All are children of wrath, and the elect are as sinful in themselves after generation as before, and are no less so than the reprobate.

I know very well that the Methodists talk of free will, free agency, and pretend that man has some part in the work, but I know also that they do it at the expense of logical consistency, because they hold, with the reformation, that by the fall man became totally depraved, totally corrupt, and with it deny what our theologians call infused habits. They pretend to deny irresistible and inadmissible grace, but they hold justification by faith alone, and that the perfect sanctification which they say is possible even in this life is wrought out not by us assisted by grace, but in us by the Holy Spirit without our active concurrence. Calvinism is the only logical and consistent expression of the reformation, and whoever concedes the doctrine of total depravity must, if capable of reasoning at all, accept the Calvinistic doctrine of man’s moral and spiritual impotence, and therefore the Calvinistic doctrine of grace, as Whitefield maintained against Wesley to the last. The Methodist tried to form a compound of Calvinism and Catholicity, but the two systems will not mix and coalesce, and practically Methodism is only a development of Calvinism, for of all Protestant sects the Methodists are the most attached to the reformation, and the most inveterate in their hostility to the Catholic Church.

The church asserts, indeed, original sin, and that Adam’s sin has passed upon all men, for as Adam represented the whole human race, all men were generically in him, and so all sinned, generically, not individually, in him; but she denies that original sin consists in the total depravity or corruption of nature, or that its effects are the absolute moral and spiritual inability or impotence of man. By it our nature lost the supernatural grace in which it was clothed in the state of innocence, and what theologians call integral nature, as immunity from sickness and death, and the submission of the body to the soul, the appetites and passions to reason. By it man lost original righteousness, his original communion with God, became alienated in his affections or averted from God, and inclined to sin, so that he needs to be turned back or converted to God; but his nature, though disordered by the fall, his reason darkened, and his will attenuated, is still good, and is able by grace to concur actively with grace; and by perseverance in grace, man is able to work out his own salvation, and to merit and receive heaven as a reward for his well-doing.

All our natural faculties, appetites, passions, and tendencies remain, since the fall, substantially, what they were before, and are still in themselves good and necessary to constitute us human beings, and when rightly exercised or directed are productive of good. Our reason has, indeed, been obscured by original sin, and our will enfeebled, but neither has been taken away or changed in its nature. Grace is needed not to supercede nature or to change its faculties, appetites, or tendencies, but to heal the wounds it received in the fall, to elevate it to the plain of its supernatural destiny, and to strengthen it to gain it. The maxim of all Catholic theologians is that grace supposes nature. The necessity of healing or integrating grace grows out of the fall, but elevating grace, or the grace that elevates our nature to the level of a supernatural destiny, was as necessary before as since the fall, and hence many theologians hold that the Word would have become incarnate even if man had not sinned,- not, of course, to redeem man from sin, but to enable him to gain that union with God for which he was originally created, and therefore the Incarnation was no afterthought, but was included in the original decree to create.

I will not say that God could not have created man for a natural destiny,- though I see not how he could, or how any rational creature could possibly find beatitude in any created good, or in anything short of the possession of the infinite God himself, in whom alone his being can be completed or filled up,- but this much I may say , that God has made all things for himself, and that in the present decree of God man has no natural destiny, and that regeneration, or its equivalent, would have been as necessary as it is now even if man had never sinned. The reformation has taken a very narrow and untenable view of grace or the supernatural by isolating it from the natural, and presenting it as a succedaneum or an expedient, and laid it open to the attacks of the rationalists. As the church holds, it is an essential part of the divine system of the universe, viewed as a whole, and can no more operate without nature than nature can gain it send without it. Nature and grace are parts of one whole. Nature has been damaged, has received a false bent by the fall, but it is nature still.

The active powers of the soul are reason and will, and it is only in them that we are properly active. If we suppose them so corrupted as to be incapable of acting in religion or of concurring by the assistance of grace with grace in the work of salvation, grace can operate only on the sensibility, in which, properly speaking, we are not active but passive. We feel as we must, not as we will to feel. It is to this conclusion that Methodism or Evangelicalism, the legitimate development of the reformation, leads. It must lead to this conclusion, or else it must maintain that grace is wholly forensic, and does not touch the soul at all. But as this conclusion is inadmissible, nothing remains but to assert that religion addresses the active powers of the soul, and that it is only by the exercise of our reason and will that we do or can comply with its demands, which corresponds to rationabile obsequium, or "reasonable service" of the apostle. There then is and can be no antagonism between reason and piety or religion. Such antagonism results only from the reformation theory of grace or the supernatural, which instead of presenting the natural and the supernatural as two distinct parts of one whole, and both equally essential to the existence and completeness of the divine system, presents them as two contrary systems, incapable of reconciliation.

In the order of grace, as in the order of nature, as I show in my article on Saint-worship, man acts by way of concurrence with the divine action in gaining the end the Creator proposes, and is not simply acted or acted upon; and also that in all the actions of the creature the Creator concurs by his ever active and efficient presence, for the creature can do nothing and is nothing without the Creator. So is it in nature, so is it in religion, or the order of grace. We can do nothing in religion without grace to illustrate the understanding and strengthen and incline the will, but we in it act by and with grace. This, as I have learned it, is the doctrine of the church, which equally opposes the exclusive supernaturalism of the reformation on the one hand, and the exclusive rationalism of the rationalists on the other, or, in other words, reconciles nature and grace in a principle common to both.

In placing religion, subjectively considered, in the exercise of the active powers of the soul, and representing it as something to be done, as acts to be performed by us, we are far from pretending that it is restricted to external acts, or to internal acts followed in all cases by external manifestation. The greatest and most important work possible for us is that of disciplining the soul herself, and by the aid of grace bringing her into harmony with the divine law. The internal acts of faith, hope, love, and contrition, are real acts, and acts in the fullest and highest sense of the term.

It is very fashionable for Protestants to charge the church as teaching and practicing only an outward, an unspiritual and sensuous religion, while they claim for their Protestantism that it is purely spiritual, and for them that they are pre-eminently spiritual worshippers. Yet I have had more than one respectable Protestant minister ask me what is meant by making an act of faith, an act of hope, an act of love, an act of contrition, an act of thanksgiving, as directed in our prayer-books, and I well remember how puzzled I myself was to attach any distinct meaning to the direction. The reason of this is that Protestantism in all its forms is unspiritual and materialistic. It may talk much of the interior, but ordinarily its interior is our exterior. God looks at the heart, and the act he demands and rewards is the act of the will, and the will acts in itself, and its acts may be complete without any external manifestation. I may will to raise my arm, and my arm may be paralyzed or held down by a force superior to mine, so I cannot actually raise it, but the act, in so far as an act of the will, is as complete as though I did raise externally my arm. The act of faith is an interior act, for it is the assent of the understanding and the consent of the will to the word of God. The act of love is necessarily interior, of the soul itself, giving itself to God, that it may be one with him. The Catholic holds the interior world to be real and even more real than the exterior, and acts done by the soul to be real acts, without which no exterior acts are of any avail with him who seeth the heart.

There are in the church various religious orders, divided ordinarily into two classes, the contemplative, and the active, though, as a matter of fact, the greater part of them combine contemplation with some external work. The general tendency at present is to depress the contemplative and to exalt the active; yet the contemplative orders are really as active as the others, and when faithful are active even in a higher and nobler sense. Our Lord told the active Martha that the contemplative Mary had chosen "the better part." Contemplation is not a state of pure passivity or perfect quiescence, and never is the soul more intensely active than when rapt in the sublime contemplation of God, and never are its acts of faith, hope, love, union, more full and complete, or more frequent.

Is it said that these acts are confined to the bosom of the individual, and are of no service to the world? I do not believe it. The fervent and urgent prayer of the righteous availeth much, and the highest and most perfect prayer is from contemplation. God remains master of his works, of the creatures he has made. After all, it is from him, the Father of lights, that proceedeth every good and every perfect gift; and who dares say that he will not do as much in answer to those internal acts of the contemplative, as to the external acts of the active? It is not with any thoughts of detracting from the merits of the so-called active orders, that these remarks are made, but solely with the view of showing that the contemplative are also active, and to protest against the modern tendency to regard them as useless to the world, and idle drones in society. I do not believe that the fathers of the desert were, in point of fact, less useful to society, than the orders of mercy or charity who do so much to relieve and solace suffering humanity. Those ages are most to be envied in which there is the fullest faith in a higher utility than the material. Having reduced, in a great measure, religion to sentiment, the age counts the utility of the body above that of the soul. The so-called active orders would soon lose their power of effective action, were they to neglect prayer, meditation, or contemplation.

We cannot, indeed live in this world as if we were already in heaven; while we are on our pilgrimage as if we had already arrived at home, in patria; but the principle of the light of heaven is infused into the heart of every regenerated soul, and that life must be commenced on earth, and lived here as far as our unglorified state permits. The elect on earth form really one communion with the elect in heaven, and both form one communion with the living God, who is all and in all. Man has, while in this life, relations with the material world, for he is body as well as soul, and provisions for bodily wants are needed, and not to be neglected without failing in our duty. The apostle implies it when he says: "He that provideth not for his own household, is worse than an infidel, and hath denied the faith." But the best way to provide for the body is not to live and act as if we were all body and no soul. The earth is not our abiding place, is not our home, and we violate the divine order when we treat it as if it were. There is no age and no country in which the body is less well provided for, or in which there is really more bodily suffering, than one which devotes all his thought and energy to the productive accumulation of material goods. The more we pamper the body, the more does it suffer, and the Louvain professor is nearer the truth than the world believes, when he makes self-denial and sacrifice the principle of national wealth.

The divine order is the real order, and is never violated with impunity. The soul is more than the body, and the life of the body is in the life of the soul, as the church teaches; for she defines the soul to be the formative principle of the body; Anima est forma corporis. We best provide for the body by best providing for the soul. Hence our Lord says: "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things (things needful for the body,) shall be added unto you." There is a more intimate relation in the real order between the soul in union with God, and the active principle of the material universe, than is dreamed of in our modern philosophy. And history records few great moral convulsions not attended by equally great physical convulsions. The moral has more power over the physical than the physical has over the moral. It is the way of the transgressor that is hard. "I have been young, and now I am old," says the psalmist, "and I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread." And: "Blessed are the meek," says the Lord, "for they shall possess the land." There is more than an accidental relation between the perturbation of the spiritual world, and the perturbation of the material universe. The earth was cursed on account of man’s sin, and he shares in the penalty. This should not surprise us, for philosophy as well as revelation teaches us that the material universe rests for its principle and foundation on the spiritual, and responds, and must respond to all its pulsations. Our age reverses this, and makes the spiritual depend on the material.

There may be an exclusive or one sided asceticism that should be guarded against, and the Platonic and Manichean doctrine, that requires us to contemn the body, to lacerate the flesh and to treat the material with every possible indignity, on the ground that matter is evil, and the body intrinsically unclean, and the primal source of sin, has never been and never can be the doctrine of the church, for our Lord assumed a real human, and therefore a material body, in the Incarnation. The cause of evil is not, as Plato taught, in the intractableness of matter, for matter, as well as spirit, is the creature of God, and all creatures of God, as they come from his hands, are not only good, but very good. But that Christian asceticism which disciplines the soul into harmony with God, and brings the body into subjection to the soul, has its material as well as its spiritual uses. So also has that ascetic discipline, a part of the same, which mortifies and chastises the body by way of expiation, as we observe in the lives of all the great saints, and without which it would seem that true heroic sanctity is rarely, if ever attained. All suffering is designed to be expiatory of the curse that follows man’s sin, and sufferings voluntarily assumed or inflicted are the most meritorious of all, because they have in them something kindred with those which our Lord voluntarily suffered for our sake. The principle, as every good thing, may be misapplied or abused, but it is true and good, and where it is not in some degree operative, sanctity or the real good of either soul or body is not secured; but people may and should turn their every-day work to this purpose.

Taking this view of the relation of the spiritual good to material good, and of the spiritual evil to the material evil, there is a real reason in the constitution of the universe why our Lord should tell Martha that Mary had chosen the better part, and why we should regret the growing tendency to depreciate that Christian asceticism practiced by the old contemplatives; practiced for the sake of its material utility, it would be worth nothing; but disinterestedly, for the sake of God, or even interestedly, for the sake of our beatitude in God, who is both our supreme good and the supreme good itself, it is of the highest utility even in the material order, and would form the most effectual instrument of social and political ameliorations throughout the world.

In asserting that religion is an act rather than a sentiment, an act of the rational soul rather than an affection of our own sensitive nature, it is not implied that religion in the subject is a dry logical process, or a cold calculation of interest. Undoubtedly no act of the creature can be more logical or conformed to the reason of things, and certainly none can be more for our highest interest; but the act is not purely an intellectual act, far less an act of pure ratiocination, and its object is God, not self, nor simply our own good. Hope is indeed one of the theological virtues, and we know from the decision of the Holy See that an habitual state in which the soul is indifferent to her own good is not possible in this life. Fears of hell and hopes of heaven are proper motives of action, but only when we fear hell as the loss of God, and hope for heaven in the possession of God as our supreme good. There must be on the one side a fear of losing God, that is, of sinning, and on the other, a hope of possessing God, that is, of finding our good in him- less of disinterestedness would not bring us within the sphere of Christian virtue.

It should also be remembered that what the church censured in the Maxims of the Saints, by Fenelon, was not the disinterested love of God, or the pure love of God for his own sake, without which there is no Christian perfection, or distinct acts of pure love, but the state of indifference to our own good, as an habitual state of the soul in this life- a fact sometimes forgotten. The regenerated soul can, and does, make distinct acts of pure love or charity, and of perfect contrition, which is a contrition motivated by pure love, only in this life we cannot attain to that state in which hope and fear are excluded. But we must love God with our whole mind, heart, soul, and strength, and our good, as our neighbor’s good, in him and for his sake. But it is, as Montesquieu remarks, an admirable fact that Christianity, while it bids us live for the world to come, secures us the best goods of this world. "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you;" so we may say that in loving and serving God for his own sake we secure our supreme good both here and hereafter.

Yet is there no religion when the motive of our conduct is a simple calculation of interest, because in such a motive we take ourselves exclusively as our end, and there is no love of God at all, and there would be no reason why, in this case, we serve God rather than the devil, if by serving the devil it were possible to secure our supreme good. God in such love and service counts for nothing in the respect that he is the supreme good itself, and is regarded only as the supreme good for us. Practically, we cannot in our love and service separate God as he is in himself from what he is to us, for he is our supreme good only because he is the supreme good in himself, or, as Plato would say, "the good in itself." They who attempt to do so fail, and really love and serve God not at all, and are what the Scriptures and the common speech of mankind call hypocrites- a very disreputable, but a rather numerous class of sinners, whose hope is sure to perish.

Now both reason and will may be, and are, used in the service of pure self-interest, as well as in the service of our sensual appetites and passions: and of all men the cool calculating sinner, whom neither passion nor generous impulse ever diverts from one object of his life, is the meanest and most despicable of men. There is every day more intellect, more reasoning employed to gain purely selfish objects, wealth, place, or power, than, if rightly directed, would be needed to gain the kingdom of heaven and convert the earth into paradise. To say nothing of great merchants and manufacturers, whose brains are constantly exercised to the fullest possible extent, we can see it in burglars, thieves, and swindlers. These criminals often show their powers of mind, extraordinary ingenuity, skill, and dexterity, and tax their understanding far beyond what is needed to attain to eminence in religion and morality, and their gains are really only losses. These men are slaves to their sensual nature, in point of fact, as much as those who are wedded to vicious habits which tend to deaden rather than strengthen the intellect. But in both cases the will, properly so called, is weak, and wants firmness to will the higher good, and the intellect is employed only in the service of ingenuity. In both, the higher follows the lower, and the result is sin and misery, both for the individual and for society.

Yet religion, subjectively considered, is an act, an act of the intellect and will, not a sentiment, understanding as I do by a sentiment an internal affection of the sensibility or sensitive nature. Bu this does not deny it to be love. The Greeks recognized two loves, called in their mythology Eros and Anteros, and I suppose all cultivated nations do the same in principle. There is love as an act, and love as a sentiment. The sentimental love, which depends on the sensibility, according to modern psychology, mimics or imitates the rational love, as the sensible always mimics or imitates the intelligible, and hence is called by Plato, Clemens Alexandria, St. Athanasius, and some modern writers, mimesis, a Greek word signifying imitation, or representation, as representing or symbolizing a higher reality than itself. But the two loves are in reality widely different. In the one the person is passive, or subjected, in the other the person is free and active. Hence we are told to make an act of love, as I have already shown. It is an act of free will; and an act of free will is not an impulse, nor an emotion, but an act of the will from a rational motive, therefore in creatures with limited intellect like man, an act of deliberation. God has free will, and creation is an act of free will, as are all his acts ad extra, but in him there is no deliberation, because his being is perfect and all his attributes are infinite; he has no imperfection, therefore no need of deliberation.

But it is not necessary to suppose that the rational love, because an act of free will and from a rational motive, is therefore cold and dry, in which the heart has no share, or that it is the product of pure intellect, without any affection of the soul. A sentimental love for God, his blessed mother, or the saints in glory, is not possible, for he is never an object of sense, and they are no longer so. God is spiritually, not sensibly apprehended, and efforts by imagination to work up in ourselves a sort of sentimental love for him or for them are vain. To do our best we can only conjure up and embrace an empty shade. The sentimental love is possible only in case of objects that can be sensibly represented. God who is spirit, and glorified saints who are spirits, can be loved only with a spiritual or rational love. This love may or may not be accompanied by sensual emotions and delights, but whether so or not, it remains unaffected, and equally acceptable. What our spiritual writers call sensual devotion is no part of the prayer or worship, and is neither to be sought nor rejected. We are never to be elated as if more pleasing to God when we experience it, or depressed as if unacceptable to him when we experience it not. It is no assurance, as Methodism fondly imagines, that we are in favor with God when we have it, and no intimation that we are out of favor with him when we have it not. Perhaps its absence rather than its presence is the mark of divine favor, for it is through this Satan operates, and puffs up the soul with spiritual pride, checks the growth of grace, and ends by ruining the soul. The greatest saints are, perhaps, those who suffer the most from aridities in prayer.

Yet sentimental or sensual pleasures are not the only pleasures the soul can taste, nor its highest, but its lowest pleasures. The rational love of God gives a joy, a rapture to the soul that it never experiences from any sentimental love. The bliss of all love is in proportion as it rises above the sentimental, and rests in the rational, or as it becomes an act of reason, an offering of free will. The sentiments all originate in the wants of the soul, and love as a sentiment is rather a need the soul experiences of loving or being loved, than love itself. It is a craving, not a satisfaction of the soul, and hence marriages prompted by sentiment alone prove unhappy, unless followed my mutual esteem and respect, or what I call rational love. God does not bless such marriages, because they are not made in him, and imply no rational love. St. Theresa for eighteen years, it is said, found no sensible consolation in her prayers, but she persevered, loved God with her reason and will, gave him her noblest faculties, even herself, and I am far from believing those eighteen years were years of misery. Her happiness was far greater and more joyous than she could have derived from every sensible delight. The suffering and sorrow of the saints are joy in comparison with the highest pleasures ever experienced from sensual delight. There is a rapture in loving and serving God even when he hides his face from us, and tries us in the furnace of affliction.

I conclude, therefore, by reasserting that religion or piety is a rational act, and therefore that it demands not ignorance, but intelligence, for the will cannot act without intelligence, and the greater the intelligence, other things being equal, the greater, the more enduring the piety, and the richer its rewards.