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The Church a Historical Fact

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1846

ART. II. - The Shortest Way to end Disputes about Religion.
In two Parts. By ROBERT MANNING. Boston: Patrick
Donahoe. 1846. 12mo. pp. 296.

We welcome a new American edition of Manning's Shortest Way with much pleasure. It is a work which was originally published in the early part of the reign of George the First, but is as well adapted to the state of religious controversy now as it was then. It is written in a free and easy style, with now and then a pleasant touch of humor. It seizes and states with great truth and distinctness the real questions at issue between us and Protestants, and sustains the positions it assumes with proofs and arguments which must be conclusive to every honest and intelligent mind sincerely bent on ascertaining the one true religion. We can unreservedly commend it to our Protestant readers generally, and, if they will honestly and diligently study it, we are sure they will not fail to be convinced that our blessed Lord has in very deed founded a church with authority to teach, and that this church is the one in communion with the See of Rome.

We regard it as an especial merit of this little work, that it places the controversy between Catholics and Protestants on
its true ground, and confines it to the real questions open for
discussion between them. The only questions really open for discussion between them are, Has our Lord actually established a church with authority to teach? and, if so, Is this
church the Roman Catholic or some other church? The particular doctrines we hold we cannot discuss with Protestants ; because we hold no particular doctrines as doctrines of revelation which we believe or can establish independently of the authority of the Church teaching them. That authority, if established, forecloses all debate on particular questions; for, if established, it is good authority for whatever the Church teaches. As Catholics, then, we have done all, when we have established that authority. Protestants have made no progress in refuting us, till they have set that authority aside; and they can set it aside only by maintaining either that our Lord has established no church with authority to teach, or by showing that the church he has established is not the Roman Catholic Church, but some other church.

The infallibility of the Church can be no special question; for it is necessarily implied in the divine authority of the Church. The divine commission to teach necessarily carries with it the divine pledge of infallibility in teaching. It is repugnant to reason to suppose that Almighty God can authorize a church to teach, without rendering it competent to teach. But a fallible church, liable to deceive or be deceived, which may mistake or misrepresent the truth, and teach for the word of God what is not the word of God, is not competent to teach. When we say God authorizes the Church to teach, or gives it authority to teach, we only say, in other words, that he holds himself responsible for what she teaches, or will own her doctrines for his doctrines. But if she could err, mistake the truth, and give us falsehood in its place, God could become responsible for error, and authorize the teaching of falsehood; which is both impious and absurd. If the Church has authority to teach in his name, she is his representative, and we cannot reject her without rejecting him. "He that heareth you heareth me, and he who despiseth you despiseth me ; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."- St. Luke X. 16. To discredit an ambassador is to discredit the government he represents. We must, then, accept what the Church teaches, if she be authorized by him to teach, or be guilty of refusing to believe God himself. But, if the Church were fallible and could teach error, the ease might occur in which we should be obliged to believe falsehood on pain of disbelieving God. But by no possibility can it ever be necessary, in order to believe God or to respect his authority, to believe falsehood; for he is truth itself, and cannot deceive or be deceived. If, then, he has founded a church, and authorized it to teach, it must be able to teach infallibly. The question of infallibility loses itself, then, in the question of the divine commission or authority of the Church. The divine authority established, the infallibility must be conceded.

Nor can thero be any serious or protracted dispute, if it be conceded that Almighty God has established a church with authority to teach, that the Human Catholic Church is the one
he has established. There is, in fact, no other church or pretended church which can with any show of reason claim to
have received from God the authority to teach. All the Oriental sects, except the schismatic Greek Church, are obviously out of the question, and need not detain us a moment. It cannot be the schismatic Greek Church; for it undeniably has, in the course of ages, changed on some essential points its ancient faith. On some points, at least, it has at one time believed differently from what it has at another, and therefore has erred; and if it has erred, it is not infallible; and if not infalli-ble, it cannot be the church authorized by our Lord to teach. Moreover, Protestants cannot set up the Greek Church as the authoritative church; because it differs from them on all points except. one, - the supremacy of the Pope, - on which they differ from us ; and it has by a solemn act condemned and anathematized all the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism. No Protestant sect is the church in question, Because, 1. All Protestant sects, by their own confession, are fallible ; 2, They are all quite too recent in their origin; 3. No one among them is really a teaching body; 4. No one of them can put forth any claims to a divine commission, which cannot be urged with equal propriety and force by every other.

The presumption is always against every communion separate from' the Roman Catholic, in the fact, that the origin of every other communion, as a distinct communion, is subsequent, and, for the most part, long subsequent, to the times of our Saviour and his Apostles. If our Lord founded a church at all, it is no more than fair to presume that it must date from his time or that of his Apostles . Consequently, the fair presumption is, that any pretended church or communion, whose origin is of a more recent date, is not the church our Lord established. This presumption must be removed, before we can even entertain the question of the divine commission of any communion separate from the Homan Catholic. But this presumption never has been removed, and never can be. And, in point of fact, the common sense of Christendom seems pretty generally to admit, that, if our Lord has founded an authoritative church at all, it must be the Roman Catholic, because obviously it can be no other.

This being so, Protestants must either accept the Roman Catholic Chmch and stand condemned for remaining out of its
communion, or else take the ground that our Lord has founded no church with authority to teach. There is no other alternative for them. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OR NO CHURCH.' That these are the only alternatives, we think is admitted by the common sense of Christendom. Intelligent Protestants now generally admit it, and take as their justification for not being Catholics the ground of No-churchism. The idea of a church formally constituted and expressly authorized by Almighty God to teach, to say authoritatively what is and what is not divine revelation, is very nearly, if not quite, an "obsolete idea" in the Protestant world. Protestants may, indeed, continue to speak of the Church, but they no longer understand it in the Catholic sense. They do not mean by the term a body authorized by Almighty God to teach; but the aggregate of dispersed individuals who profess to receive Jesus Christ for their master; a voluntary association of individuals for religious purposes; or the doctrines, disciplines, organizations, institutions, originating in the Christian dispositions of individuals, and continued and sustained as the means of promoting what, in modern phraseology, is termed "the Christian life." The dispositions. may have been produced or fostered by the Holy Spirit; but the church resulting from them, and which is their exponent, is of human origin. Jesus Christ may have wished to have a peculiar people, a people zealous of good works; and such a people he has, and most likely, always will have; but it is not necessary that they should be distinguished by any external mark or badge. This people, or rather these individuals, however scattered abroad or dispersed through all communions, may, in a general sense, if you will, be termed the Church; and they, from time to time, in this place or in that, may organize themselves into distinct bodies or associations, with such by-laws and regulations as they judge proper or most consonant to the spirit or intention of their Master ; but they have received no formal constitution from our Lord himself, and have no outward visible government to which they must submit on pain of being separated from the communion of Christ. This, in brief, is the prevailing notion of the Church among Protestants, that to which all, though not with equal steps, are tending, and which, indeed, the more advanced have already reached. But this, evidently, is not the idea of a church founded by Almighty God, and by him expressly authorized, commissioned, to teach; for such a church has and can have no teaching faculty. It cannot propound the faith and cherish the piety of individuals ; for it is itself merely the exponent of the faith and piety which the individuals already have. The believers precede the church, not the church the believers. The church derives its doctrines from its members, not the members theirs from the church. It may express their faith, but cannot teach it. Obviously, then, a church in this sense is not a church having authority to teaeh; and the assertion, that our Lord founded a church only in this sense, is tantamount to to denial of the fact that he has founded any authoritative church at all.

It must not be alleged that we here give, as the views of Protestants in general, what in reality are only the views of Unitarians and those usually denominated Liberal Christians. Liberal Christians, though apparently a small minority, are in reality, we apprehend, the immense majority of the Protestant world, so far as the Protestant world is on this side of infidelity; and it will never do, in forming our estimate of Protestantism, to leave them out of the question, or to count them either as few or as insignificant. They are, at all events, the more consistent and the more advanced portion of the Protestant world, and a sure index to the goal at which all, unless they retrace their steps, must sooner or later arrive. We see in them but the simple historical developments of the principles of the Reformation. They are the legitimate disciples of the early Reformers, and the Protestant Reformation is much bettor studied in them than in the Reformers themselves. If we would thoroughly appreciate any human system, whether of faith or philosophy, we must study it in its historical developments, and therefore in the disciples rather than in the master. In the master the system is still in germ, and its essentinl vices are concealed by the foreign matter which he retains from his former life, - matter which doos not belong to the system, and which it, as it developes itself, will not assimilate, but cast off. The disciple seizes only what is essential to the system, consciously or unconsciously eliminates all the foreign matter accidentally connected with it in the mind of the master, and pushes its fundamental principles to their last consequences.

Time thus becomes the best commentator, and the latest disciples are always the truest representatives of the system. Liberal Christians are, therefore, to be taken as the truest representatives of Protestantism. They are its latest discipIes; they afford the historical developments of the doctrines of the Reformers, and the historical developments of a doctrine are always to be taken as the counterproof of its logical developments; for reason is in the race as well as in the individual, and history is nothing but reasoning on a large scale, logic reducing itself to fact.

The early Reformers were born and brought up in the bosom of the Catholic Church, and retained after their revolt much which they had imbibed while they were Catholics. The system they were able to construct was not all of a piece,but a compound of new and old, - of Catholic truth and their own inventions. It was, therefore, necessarily inconsistent with itself. The old would not assimilate with the new, nor the new with the old. The moment it became subjected to a free development, this original incongruity of its parts must inevitably manifest itself. It has done so. A portion of the Protestant world, unable, or unwilling, to subject their doctrine to the action of their own minds, still hold, or attempt to hold, on to Protestantism as it came from the Reformers, and amuse us by contending for elements which mutually contradict and destroy one another. But the rest, all who have some mental activity, some logical capacity, and who must have some consistency and coherence of parts one with another in the system they espouse, seize, some on the old, the Catholic elements retained, and follow them back to the Catholic Church, where they belong; others, on the new, the peculiarly Protestant elements, and push them to their legitimate results.

Liberal Christians are of this latter class, and, therefore, systematically considered, the only legitimate Protestants, so far as Protestantism may be said to stop short of absolute infidel- ity. If there are others arranged on the Protestant side, they are following in the wake of these, returning to the Church, orpersons who cannot, will not, or dare not reason, or, if rea-soning, want the courage or the honesty to act conformably to their convictions. In a logical survey of Protestantism, we can take as Protestants only those who are true to what there is in Protestantism that is peculiar, characteristic; and these are unquestionably the so-called Liberal Christians. The views of Liberal Chl'istians are, therefore, genuine Protestantism.

Moreover, all Protestant sects, without a single exception, when the controversy is with Roman Catholics, as a matter of
fact, take the ground of Liberal Christians, of No-churchism, whenever they do not take openly that of infidelity. The Episcopalian, boasting his "admirable Liturgy," for the most part filched and diluted from us, is a Churchman only when his face is against dissenters; he is himself a dissenter, a Liberal Christian, a No-churchman, the very moment his face is turned against Rome. The high-toned Presbyterian, claiming to have received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with power to open or shut it to whom he will, in his warfare against the Roman Catholic Church draws his shafts from the quiver of his Unitarian brother, and only tips them anew with a more deadly venom. He is less of the gentleman, more of the savage, than the Unitarian; but both are ranged on the same side, drawn up on the same battle-ground, and fight with substantially the same weapons. So is it with all the sects. Whatever reminiscences of the Church they may retain, or contend for in their disputes one with another, they all take, expressly or by implication, the ground of No-churchism, whenever it concerns opposing the Church of Rome; and since opposition to the Church of Rome is undeniably the essence of Protestantism, we have, and must be admitted to have, a perfect right to take the views of Liberal Christians on the point in question as the essential views of Protestants in general.

Protestants, then, cannot deny the authority of the Roman Catholic Chmch, if they admit that of Christianity itself, without assuming the ground that our Lord has founded no church with authority to teach; and it is, as a matter of fact, in reality
only by assuming this ground that they attempt to do so. But have they a right to assume this ground ? We think not ; for to their denial we may oppose the living, undeniable fact of the Church herself, existing in uninterrupted succession from the very time of the Apostles to the present moment, asserting herself to be the Chmch of Christ, received as such for fifteen hundred years from the beginning by nearly all Christendom, and still received as such by the overwhelming majority of all who bear the Christian name. Here is a fact which cannot be denied, any more than the fact of the sun in the heavens. This fact is prima facie evidence that Christ did found a church, and that she is the church he founded. Now, before Protestants have or can have the right to say Christ founded no church, they must rebut this prima facie evidence, and prove that this Cburcb, which claims, and has so long been admitted, to be the Church of Christ, is not his church. Here is a point our Protestant brethren do not seem to have duly considered, - a fact they are not at liberty to overlook.

Now, it will not be enough for Protestants to deny that the Church is the Church of Christ, and then call upon her to produce her titles; because the question is not, Shall the Roman Catholic Church be admitted to be the Church of Christ? but, Shall she be declared to be not the Church of Christ? It is not a question of putting the Church in possession, but of ousting her from a possession she holds and has held from the beginning, and for the greater part of the time without any serious opposition. The question is not on admitting the title of the Church, but on impeaching it. The onus probandi is,therefore, on the shoulders of the party contesting it. It is for them to show good and valid reasons for setting aside thetitle of the Church, and ousting her from her possession. A government de facto is, presumptively, a government de jure, and must be respected as such, till it is proved not to be. The Roman Catholic Church is unquestionably the Church of Christ de facto, and is therefore to be presumed to be his Chlch de jure, till evidence is produced which convicts her of usurpation. Protestants were born under the Church, and owe her allegiance till they show that she has no right to their allegiance. This view of the case, which cannot be objected to, renders a simple denial of the, right of the Church to call herself the Church of Christ insufficient to put her to her proofs, or to render it necessary for her to produce her titles. The denial must be sustained by reasons which, if admitted to be good, prove that she is not his church. We ask now our Protestant brethren to produce these reasons. They say the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ. How do they propose to sustain their assertion? On what grounds will they make it good? They cannot say, as they seem now disposed to say, our Lord has founded no church, therefore the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ; because they must prove that she is not the Church of Christ, before they can have the right to allege that Our Lord has founded no church. They have no right to say thero is no sun in the heavens, till they have shown that what is and always has been taken to be the sun is no sun. How, then, will they prove that the Church falsely assumes to be the Church of Christ ?

Protestants may say the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ, - and this is, in fact, about all the proof they ever seriously undertake to give, -, but their say so is not sufficient; because it is neutralized by the counter assertion of the Church herself. The assertion of the Church that she is the Church of Christ is, at the very lowest, worth as much as their assertion that she is not. They are confessedly fallible ; their assertion is therefore fallible and may be false; but she at worst is only fallible, and her assertion is no more likely to be false than theirs. On any hypothesis, Catholic assertion is as good as Protestant assertion; it may be infinitely better, - for the infallibility of the Chmch is not an impossibility; but worse it cannot be. Consequently, the simple assertion of Protestants can never outweigh the simple assertion of the Church, and therefore in the argument can amount at best only to zero.

Will it be replied that the Church is the party interested, and that her testimony is therefore inadmissible? The argument may be retorted with equal, and, in fact, with more than equal force; for she is no more, but even less, a party interested than are the Protestants themselves. If they fail to impeach her title, they stand condemned before the world as rebels against God, as struck with the sentence of excommunication from the Church of Christ, and out of the way of salvation ; whereas she, if she fail in vindicating herself, is still as well off as they are, even in case of success. If the claims of our Church were set aside, we should still occupy as high ground as the Protestants can. We should be members of a fallible church, with no infallible guide, and no infallible faith, - the precise condition they are in now, and would be in then. Evidently, then, the Church is even less a party interested than are Protestants. Then, if they may testify against her, she may testify in her own favor. But, in point of fact, we claim for her only the right to rebut, with her assertion that she is the Church of Christ, the unsupported assertion of Protestants that she is not. In a suit at law the defendant's denial is always sufficient to rebut the simple allegation of the plaintiff.; and this is all we claim for the Church. Her assertion, then, always, at lowest, neutralizes and reduces to zero the assertion of Protestants.

Protestants, then, must go further and introduce independent testimony to sustain their allegations. What testimony can they adduce? Will they say, the Church has corrupted or does not teach the doctrines of Christ, and therefore cannot be the Church of Christ? The allegation is good, if sustained, But how will they sustain it? Simple assertion will not answer; for the Church asserts to the contrary, and her assertion is as good as the assertion of her opponents, How do Protestants know that the Church has corrupted or does not teach the doctrines of Christ? Have they received authority from Christ to teach or expound his doctrines, and to say, infallibly, what they are and what they are not? Of course not; for they are confessedly fallible, But the Church is only fallible, even at worst, and therefore is as good authority for saying the doctrines of Christ are what she declares them to be, as theirs is for saying they are not. Their fallible authority is therefore insufficient to convict her of corrupting or not teaching the doctrines of Christ.

But will our Protestant brethren appeal to the Bible, as an independent authority, and say, that, notwithstanding the fact of the Church, they have a right to go behind the fact, and prove from the Bible that the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ, by proving that Christ founded no church? We object to this, in principle; because the certainty that the Bible is given by divine inspiration is subsequent to the fact that the Church is the Church of Christ, and therefore the authority of the Bible is not sufficient to set aside the authority of the Church, But we will consent to yield up the Church, if there be adduced a single text which clearly and unequivocally asserts, expressly or by necessary implication, that our Lord founded no church; though we will accept no inference drawn from the silence of the Bible, if silent it be, because the Bible does not profess to give a full account of all that Jesus did, but the reverse, - St. John, xxi. 25. But these restrictions, so far as concerns the question before us, are in fact unnecessary; for, in the first place, no text can be adduced which unequivocally denies or necessarily implies that our Lord founded no church; and, in the second place, there are many passages which expressly teach or necessarily imply that he has founded a church, and given it "authority to teach all nations even unto the consummation of the worId, - St. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Certainly the Holy Scriptures, as the Church understands them, plainly and unequivocal1y teach that our Lord has founded and commissioned a church to teach. The appeal to the Bible, therefore, is for us and against Protestants.

Will Protestants say, the Church misunderstands or misinterprets the Holy Scriptures? But how know they that?  Are tbey themselves infallible interpreters of the Word? If so, they refute themselves; for they can be infallible interpreters only on condition that they have received from Christ authority to teach; and if they have received authority from Christ to teach, they are a church with authority to teach; which is the fact they deny, since they asssert that Christ has
founded no cburch with authority to teach. If they are not infallible, they are fallible, and then can oppose to the understanding of the Church only their own fallible interpretations. But the Church, as we have seen, is at worst only fallible, andno more likely to err in her interpretations than they are in theirs. Consequently, their interpretations can never be a sufficient motive for setting aside hers, since she is as likely ,to be right as they. The Holy Scriptures necessarily cease to be an independent authority the moment it comes to their interpretation; for then they only say what the interpreter makes them say, and the authority which speaks is not theirs, but his; and here is the reason why they can never be that rule of faith which Protestants allege them to be. No controversy between us and Protestants is or can be settled by an appeal to them; for as we interpret them they sustain us, and our interpretation must be set aside, before they can be used against us. But, unhappily for the Protestant, let him do his best, he can bring against our interpretation no authority paramount, even on his own hypothesis, to that of the Church. Here is tbe fatal defect of all his reasonings against the Church. They are all based on an authority confessedly not paramount to hers; for, if she be fallible, we still have all that Protestants have or can pretend to have. We have the Holy Scriptures, reason, common sense, as well as they. We may have infinitely more tban they; for an infallible church is infinitely superior to a fallible one, but in no contingency can we have less. At worst, we have all they have at best. We are men as well as they, and, man to man, every way their equals. Strip us of our infallible Church, we should suffer an infinite loss; but even then we should only be reduced to the utter nakedness in which they are and glory to be. This is a fact that they are apt to forget; but, if they will bear it in mind, it will suffice to show them that all their attacks are from too low a position to make any impression upon the Church. They must rise to an infallible authority themselves, before they will be able to set aside the claims of the Church to be the Church of Christ.

There are but two ways in which it is possible for Protestants to impeach the title of the Church. The first is to convict her of contradicting in her teaching some known principle of reason; the second is to convict her of having contradicted herself, or of having taught doctrines which mutually contradict one another. No church can be from God that teaches, as the word of God, any doctrine which contradicts a known principle of reason. But we say a known principle of reason. A doctrine may be repugnant to our feelings, it may run athwart our prejudices, fancies, or caprices, and therefore seem to us very unreasonable, and yet contradict no known principle of reason. It must also contradict reason. A doctrine may be above reason, belong to an order lying altogether out of the range of reason, and yet contradict no known principle of reason. To be above reason is not necessarily to be against reason. The Church unquestionably has taught, and continues to teach, doctrines which are above reason, and concerning the truth or falsity of which reason has nothing to say; but no doctrine that contradicts any known principle of reason. Even the holy mysteries of the adorable Trinity and the blessed Eucharist form no exception to this assertion. They are above reason, incomprehensible to reason, impenetrable mysteries, we admit; but there is nothing in them or connected with them, that the Church commands us to believe, which contradicts reason in any respect whatever. The Unitarian has never demonstrated, never can demonstrate, the falsity of the doctrine of the Trinity; nor has the Sacramentarian ever detected any contradiction of reason in the Real Presence. The most either can say is, that reason of her own light does not affirm them. .

Again; the Church never contradicts herself, or teaches. doctrines that contradict one another. She doubtless modifies her discipline, and changes her canons, repeals old ones and establishes new ones, according to the exigencies of time and place; but she never teaches at one time or place a doctrine as of divine revelation, which she does not teach as such in all times and places. The assertions of Protestants to the contrary are all founded on misapprehension or misrepresentation of her actual teaching. No real instance of contradiction of herself, or variation in doctrine, has ever been detected by even the most learned and subtle of her opponents, and never will be. Nor does she ever teach one doctrine which contradicts another doctrine she teaches. Even her enemies are struck with the systematic consistency and coherence of her teaching. The infidel Saint-Simon declares that her catechism and prayers are the most profoundly systematic works ever written.

It is clear, then, that in neither of these ways can Protestants impeach tbe title of the Church. They can, then, sustain none of the allegations set forth in their declaration against her; because they can produce no authority in their support paramount to that which they must, on any hypothesis, concede to her. Her simple denial is always sufficient to render negatory all they can adduce against her. . Their objections thus removed, her title stands good, and they are bound to respect it.  Every man has the right to be accounted innocent till he is proved guilty, and a prima facie case must be made out against him before he can be put upon his defence. Now, as nothing the Protestants do or can bring forward is sufficient to deprive the Church of the presumption of innocence, or to turn it against her, they are obliged to respect her as the Church of Christ, and are therefore precluded from alleging that Christ founded no church with authority to teach. They cannot, then, in order to excuse their heresy and schism in not being Roman Catholics, fall back on No-churchism. They must either become Roman Catholics or fall back still further. They must deny the authority of Jesus Christ himself, and fall back on INFIDELITY. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OR INFIDELITY,-these, in the last analysis, are, after all, the only possible alternatives, as we have shown, from a different point of view, on more occasions than one.

No doubt, this conclusion is offensive to our Protestant friends, and we would gladly say something more grateful to their feelings, if we could. It is no pleasure to us to displease others; we take no delight in giving pain to a single mortal. But charity, as distinguished from a sickly sentimentality, not infrequently compels us to utter unpalatable truths. If we love our brethren, if we really desire their spiritual and eternal welfare, we must not, for fear of disturbing their equanimity, or of wounding their feelings, forbear to tell them the dangers which surround them, and the untenable ground on which they attempt to stand. Men may say what they will, seek to deceive themselves or others as they may; but it is still true that between Catholicity and infidelity there is no middle ground on which a man who can reason and is not afraid to reason can take his stand.

Protestantism, in the hands of the Reformers, as we have seen, was not all of a piece, but a compound of heterogeneous elements. The Reformers brought with them from the Church several important elements of Catholic truth; but these elements had and could have no affinity for the new elements introduced. The new elements were in their nature repugnant to these, and must either expel them or be expelled by them. The latter would have been the death and annihilation of Protestantism; the former alone was compatible with the continued existence of Protestantism. The history of Protestantism, from its origin to our times, - its internal history, we mean,- is simply the history of the mutual struggle of these two classes of elements; and the great and astonishing progress, religious progress, of the Protestant world for these three centuries, and of which we now hear so much, consists exclusively in throwing off more and more of the Catholic truth,- Catholic error, as the Protestant would say, - and reducing the whole Protestant system into harmony with the peculiarly Protestant elements, or new elements introduced by the Reformers themselves, and for the sake of which they broke away from the Church. The struggle of the new and the old, we have seen, so far as the new gains the victory, results in Liberal Christianity. But Liberal Christianity, if it be not absolute infidelity, is not, after all, the last result. There is "a lower deep," or a further progress, inevitable, before the whole of Protestantism is har-
monized with the peculiarly Protestant elements.
If we take up Protestantism as we received it from the Reformers, analyze it, and subtract the Catholic elements retained, the remainder will unquestionably be what is peculiarly or distinctively Protestant, and all that Protestantism has a right to call her own; for we unquestionably have a right to claim as ours, and deny to be hers, all she has stolen from the Church, or which is part and parcel of the teachings of the Church. The Catholic truth abstracted, there will be found to remain for Protestantism, in its essential elements, only a revolt against God, the denial of his authority in his Church, and the attempt to set up man in the place of God, and to make him worshipped as God. In a word, it was, undeniably, simply the assertion of the superiority of the human over the divine; for the Bible, for which it contends, is, when humanly interpreted, only a human authority. Subject the matter to the most rigid analysis possible, and you shall never make more or less of Protestantism than this. This is it, and the whole of it, when reduced to itself, and compelled to operate with its own essential elements. Now it needs no argument to prove that this is in reality , if not in fact formally, modem infidelity; for modern infidelity, in its essential elements, is simply the substitution of man for God, - the assertion of the superiority of the human over the divine. Protestantism, in so far as it is Protestant and distinct from Catholicity, is essentially the same thing, then, as infidelity. It is in vain you deny it. There is not a dogma insisted on by Protestants, that, when divested of every Catholic element, is not infidel, or that any avowed infidel is not ready to admit. The infidel finds occasion to dissent from the Protestant only when and where the Protestant agrees with the Catholic. This is a fact of no mean importance, and proves that Protestantism, in so far as Protestant, is only another name for infidelity. Where, then, is the middle ground between Catholicity and infidelity, on which one can stand?

If we turn to the historical developments of Protestantism, we shall find this conclusion confirmed. We exclude, as of no account in the argument, the large mass of Protestants who receive what is given them, and merely follow, if they move at
all, the beck of their leaders; because in these there are no developments; but if we confine ourselves to the leaders, to those who have labored for and effected some development of Protestantism, we shall find that every new development has cast off an additional portion of Catholicity, - Popery, as it is called, - and brought the Protestant system a step nearer to this result. Liberal Christianity, in which, to say the least, the Protestant sects have for the most part resulted, is much nearer open, avowed infidelity than the teachings of Luther and Calvin. New England Calvinism is resulting or has resulted in Unitarianism; but Unitarianism, as taught by Worcester, Ware, and Norton, has still too much of Popery to satisfy the younger members of the sect; further developments are attempted, and we find reproduced the Naturalism of Parker, the Pantheistic Idealism of Emerson, or the rank Humanitarianism of our old friend Ripley and his Fourierite associates. Survey the Protestant world calmly, and you shall find very little firm belief in Christianity as a supernatural and authoritative religion left.

The mass of intelligent men among Protestants, who profess to believe it at all, profess to believe it as a philosophy rather than as a religion. But Christianity is not believable as a philosophy, till divested of all that distinguishes it, or is peculiar to it as Christianity. lUen believe it as a philosophy only in proportion as they infidelize it, reduce it to mere Naturalism, which is to deny it as a divine revelation altogether. Here is the grand fact of the Protestant world as it now is. The most it does, as a Protestant world, is to take refuge in Liberal Christianity. Liberal Christianity indeed! For it liberates man from all restraint but the restraints of his own nature, and freely gives away all that is peculiarly or distinctively Christian.
There is no mistaking the inevitable tendencies of the historical developments of Protestantism. they are humanizing
and materializing every department of life. Man becomes the central figure of every group. All begins and ends with him. Human sentiments of kindness and liberality are raised above
the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; and it is conceived to be the greatest service we can render our age, to assert everywhere the supremacy of man, and to enable him to stand "alone in his glory," - or his shame. The love of man, philanthropy, usurps the place of love of God, and the authority of human instincts and passions that of the Creator
and Lord of the universe. We see this everywhere. The whole modern popular literature of the anti-Catholic world, that literature which is the exponent and the intellectual nourishment of the masses, is unblushingly infidel, immoral, and indecent. So far, then, as logical conclusions confirmed by historical facts afford any ground of reliance, we may repeat that the alternatives are infidelity or the Roman Catholic Church. It is the just judgment of God, that, if you will not have his religion, you shall have none.

Is it not time for the serious-minded still in the Protestant ranks, who are startled by the developments of Strauss and Parker, and who would not willingly "deny the Lord that bought them, " divest themselves entirely of the robe of Christ's justice, and stand before God and before man in utter nakedness to ask if it be not bettelr, after all, to return to the Church of our forefathers, than to plunge headlong into the bottomless hell of modern infidelity ? We grant, their prejudices against the Church are strong and deep-rooted, and that nothing but the grace of Almighty God can overcome them; but is not the alternative of rejecting the Church terribly appalling? In the heyday of our youth, with ardent passions and buoyant hopes, unsubdued by the world's cares and vicissitudes, feeling ourselves sufficient for to-day and thoughtless for to-morrow, we may turn a deaf ear to the invitations and warnings of religion, and look upon infidelity as a light and pleasant companion; but as age creeps on, the curls of beauty fall from our temples, the lustre of our eyes grows dim, and the world begins to look sear and sombre; as we experience in ourselves the vanity of our young dreams, and find our early companions, one by one, dropping away; or when, with the fond anxieties of a father or a mother, we see our children growing up around us, and are forced to look forward and ask what in our love we desire for them or are willing to leave them to, we no longer view infidelity with complacency, or find ourselves able to rest in its cold negations, without any shelter from the fickle and heartless world, any protection from its gay fancies, its hollow friendships, its fatal allurements, and its strange and sudden
vicissitudes. Then, for them, if not for ourselves, we ask for a
God, a Saviour, a temple, an altar, a priest. The French infidel, teaching his beloved little daughter the prayers and catechism of the Church, reveals the workings of paternal affection, its want of confidence in all systems of mere human speculation, and its deep and earnest cry, that, if not for us, or, at least for our children, let there be religion, let there be faith, hope, and love. We beg our Protestant friends who still retain some reminiscences of that faith which has tamed the wild barbarian heart, which has made weak and timid woman dare to face the horrors of the amphitheatre, or joy to greet the martyr-flames that waft her soul to heaven, that has converted the nations, made all earth consecrated ground, and covered it over with the monuments of its purity, tenderness, and beneficence, to pause and reflect well before they consent longer to contribute to swell the tide of infidelity and immorality which threatens to overrun the modern world, and bring back the ages of barbarism and heathen darkness and corruption. In the name of all that is sacred, by motives as sweet as heaven and terrible as hell, we implore them to retrace their steps, and seek some surer footing than the slippery rocks, with fiery billows rolling below, on which they now are attempting in vain to stand.

But to return; if there be any force in the reasoning we have
thus far set forth, it is in vain that Protestants attempt to deny that our Lord has founded a church, or that the Roman
Catholic Church is the church he has founded, They are bound, then, to be Roman Catholics, or boldly deny the authority of Jesus Christ himself in every sense in which it dif-
fers from the authority of Plato and Newton, Leibnitz or Locke, and fall back on absolute infidelity, which is only another name for absolute death. This is enough for our present purpose, and excludes the Protestant world from all right to call itself Christian. The negative proofs we have offered are sufficient to vindicate the title of the Church; but if any of our readers are disposed to go further and inquire for the affirmative proofs of the Church, - for she has affirmative proofs in abundance, - we refer them to the work before us. They will find them ample, clearly and convincingly set forth. But for ourselves, we do not need them. The simple HISTORICAL EXISTENCE of the Church is enough for us. It is idle, with the grand fact of the Church before our eyes in all ages, from the Apostolic to our own, to pretend that our Lord has founded no authoritative church, and equally idle to pretend that it can be any other than the Roman Catholic. Even Protestants themselves, No-churchmen as they are, with an inconsistency to which they have been perpetually condemned, very generally admit that the Roman Catholic Church was once truly the Church of Christ. It is, then, for them to show when she ceased to be the Church of Christ, or to admit that she is still his Church. They cannot deny her to be still his, unless they convict her of having changed. But she has never changed; no historical research can convict her of having ever fallen into schism, or of having taught at one time a doctrine which she does not teach now, or of teaching now a doctrine she has not uniformly taught from the beginning. She stands ever the same, the immovable but living type of the unchangeability of that God whose Spouse and representative she is ; and so long as we behold her standing before us resplendent in her robes of light and love, as young, as beautiful, as glorious as when she struggled for her very existence with Jew or Pagan, or concealed herself in caves and cemeteries, we ask no other refutation of Liberal Christianity, or its impudent offspring, infidelity , We see her standing by the grave of the old world, and at the cradle of the new, unmoved, as the torrents of wild barbarians pour down from the North, and hear her voice sounding out over the weltering chaos they introduced, and commanding order to arise out of confusion; we find her moulding a new social world, sending out her martyred missionaries to all lands, and converting all the nations hitherto converted to the Christian name; we trace her unchanged and unchangeable through all the vicissitudes of eighteen centuries, the rise and fall of empires and dynasties, the loss of one world and the gain of another, as the one grand central fact around which revolves the history of the world, and in which it finds its unity and its significance, and we bow down our rebellious head and worship. You may tell us she is a masterpiece of human wisdom and skill, the chef-d'aeuvre of human contrivance; but in vain. We have heard of humah contrivances, and are not ignorant of human history or human philosophy, and can but smile in your face when you tell us she is the creation of human craft and passion. Tell that idle tale in the nursery, not to men with beards on their faces, lest they talk to you of a strait jacket, physic, and good regimen. Behold her, where she stands, exposed to all the storms of human passion and all the rage of hell, for eighteen centuries, as young, as beautiful, as vigorous, as when her chief disciple returned to Rome to seal his apostleship with his blood; bend your knee, beg to be forgiven, and say no more of human contrivance. Human contrivances! You all have had them, Your glorious Reformation is but a human contrivance. For these three hundred years you have had free scope for human contrivailce, you have revelled in human contrivance; you have contrived and contrived, rejected one plan and then another, adopted now this one, now that, altered it now here, and now there, but with all your wisdom, genius, craft, passion, aided by all your boasted progress of modern times, what have you been able to construct to compare in exquisite proportion, in the beauty and symmetry of the whole and coherence of the parts, in strength, durability, and admirable adaptation to the end for which it was designed, with this glorious old Catholic Church, which nor time, nor men, nor devils can affect, and which you would fain persuade us was the handiwork of besotted monks and effeminate priests in an age of darkness ? You are of yesterday, and yet your works crumble around you; they rot and fall, and bury the very workmen in their ruins. O my brother! for God's sake, nay, for the sake of our common humanity, say no more. Put that idle dream out of thy head, return to thy allegiance, and find the cover from the storm you in vain shall seek from your own handiwork.