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Christian without giving up his unbelief. If he wishes to become really a Christian and to believe and practise in all things according to the word of God, he will turn from Protestantism with loathing and disgust.
“ True religious faith cannot co-exist with this tyranny." A living faith, a faith that works by love, cannot co-exist in the same breast with this or any other tyranny, we agree, and therefore we never look for true religious faith among Methodists. “The essential element of faith is freedom of opinion.” Is the writer aware that in this assertion he writes in blessed ignorance of the meaning of the words he uses ? The school in which he was educated must have been a free and easy school. Faith is impossible as an act without free will, but it has nothing to do with opinion free or unfree. The essential element of faith on its natural side is reason, on its supernatural side, it is divine grace, the gift of God. Its essential character is certainty, a firm persuasion of mind that excludes doubt. The essential character of opinion is uncertainty, doubtfulness. Opinion may or may not be true, but which, there is no authority to decide. To make freedom of opinion essential to faith is to make faith essentially freedom to be uncertain, to doubt, which is simple nonsense, since it is the essence of faith to exclude doubt and give certainty.
In matters of faith there is and can be no freedom to doubt, because no man is or can be free to doubt the word of God ; in matters of opinion all men are free, and the Church asserts full freedom for all her children. Protestants do not very well understand this, for Protestantism can draw no intelligible distinction between faith and opinion. The only alternatives for them are spiritual despotism and spiritual license. If they demand assent to creeds and confessions they practise spiritual despotism ; if they reject all creeds and confessions, really not merely in name, we mean,—they declare all doctrines indifferent, and assert spiritual license. They then place, as to faith, as to doctrine, the believer and the unbeliever, John Wesley and Thomas Paine, on the same footing. There is no help for them. They must do one or the other, although we are aware that they seek to do both, and both at once.
“In denying the rights of conscience, Rome arrays herself against the eternal principles of man's moral nature.” p. 44. But it is not yet proved that she denies the rights of conscience. We say she does not. She asserts them, and she alone asserts them. Her struggles with the temporal powers, which so scandalize our Protestant saints, have all been struggles on her part to maintain the freedom of conscience against the despotism of the state. Protestants rarely respect the rights of conscience in Catholics. The Reviewer would surrender his own freedom of conscience to the mob to obtain the power to oppress the consciences of Catholics.
But here is something which throws the Reviewer into an ecstasy of delight.
“ If a test were wanted of the comparative truth of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, perhaps no better one could be found than the standard of morals which prevails in countries long subject to the influence of these different systems. Let us seek an experimentum crucis in the statistics of crime as presented in the official and governmental reports of the different states of Europe. To go into this inquiry fully, would be impossible in a brief essay. But a table is at hand, found in Seymour's "Evenings with Romanists," which will be sufficient for our purpose. What is true of one grade of crime, and that the chief, will doubtless hold true of all, unless it can be shown—a thing which will not be pretended—that peculiar circumstances gave excessive development to that grade. The table is compiled from public reports of the crime of murder. The average annual per cent in Protestant England is compared with that of eleren Roman Catholic states, and is as follows: Roman Catholic Ireland,
19 to the million.
174 PROTESTANT ENGLAND,
4 “ Never were figures more eloquent or convincing: Nor are we surprised. The argument from experience sustains the deductions of reason. Under the keeping of such a system of falsehood, what but vice, moral stagnation, and intellectual imbecility, could be expected ? The Bible is forbidden to send its searching light into the dark caverns of individual and social iniquity. Piety, rendered blind and impotent by false instruction, scarcely knows any other God
18 31 36
20 45 56
than the priest or the Virgin. Crime, though all besmeared with the tears and blood of its innocent victims, nevertheless, without repentance, purchases easy absolution by paying to the Church a few paltry shillings. The conscience is seared or misguided. And on every hand, where Christianity ought to be gathering its daily trophies in the salvation of souls, and art, science, and progress be heralding the elevation of humanity, there moral and intellectual stagnation prevails, and civilization, emasculated and infirm, seems scarcely able to withstand the waves of barbarism, which
press around it on every hand, and threaten to return.”—pp. 45, 46.
Mr. Seymour is no authority. The Reviewer might as well have cited Baron Munchausen. No English or American Protestant is any authority in questions of this nature, especially if he incline to Evangelicalism. The English are the least trustworthy statists going, and we make it a rule to interpret all statements of English and American Evangelicals, prejudicial to the Church or to Catholic countries, as old women do their dreams, by the rule of contraries. They are made up of ignorance, conceit, and prejudice, and are so warped by their Protestantism that they seem to be absolutely unable to speak the truth whenever there is a question touching the Catholic Church. They are mad against the Church, and their only defence is that set up recently in this city for a notorious forger, of “moral insanity.” This “moral insanity” rages at present chiefly among English and American Evangelicals, and would seem to compel them irresistibly to forgery, in all its forms. It is a serious calamity, and may well excite the alarm of the Republic. The fact that our Reviewer gives these statistics, and on the authority of Mr. Seymour, is, as the lawyers say, prima facie evidence of their incorrectness, nay, of their absolute falseness.
The number of murders in a community is not a fair criterion of its morality or immorality. Every community has, so to speak, its pet crime, and in comparing nation with nation, no solid conclusion can be obtained by taking one crime alone. It is always necessary to compare the whole criminal list of one country with that of another. We have some statistics on the subject, and which warrant a conclusion the reverse of that presented by the Reviewer on his Munchausen authority. Moreover, the Reviewer gives us no data for an extended comparison. He does not en
able us to determine whether the proportions he asserts are the results of a single year, or of a long series of years ; whether they are obtained from the reports of ordinary or extraordinary years, in relation to one or both terms of the comparison. The Catholic States of Europe have suffered, since 1789, more internal disturbance than the Protestant States, and Catholic governments have been more interfered with in the internal police of their States, than have the Protestant governments. The English government and press, as well as English travellers and agents, have had much to do in swelling the criminal lists of Naples and the Papal States. The American Evangelicals through their Protestant Alliance, and their efforts to destroy the Papacy by revolutionizing Italy, must also come in for their share. Anglo-Saxon Protestantism is in general a disturber of the peace, wherever it goes ; it is always intermeddling, always aggressive, and universally mischievous. No small portion of the actual crime in the Catholic States of Europe is due to the intrigues, and the secret or open efforts of Protestantism, more especially English and American Protestantism, to undermine Catholicity by embarrassing Catholic governments, and corrupting the morals of the Catholic populations.
In the list Ireland, we perceive, is set down as a Catholic country, but Ireland is a Protestant State, and none but a Protestant can wear its crown, or be its Chancellor and Lord-Lieutenant ; its nobility and landed proprietors are for the most part Protestants, and it is governed by a Protestant government, with a fixed purpose of maintaining the Protestant ascendency. By what right then in regard to the statistics of crime, is Ireland reckoned as a Catholic country? The crimes of Ireland should always be counted under the head of Great Britain, and set down to the credit of Protestant States. Yet the proportion of crime, of vice, and immorality, is far less than that of England and Scotland. In point of fact crime, which the law punishes, as well as immorality which the law does not punish, and which is more dangerous to a people than the crime, is well known to be far less in Catholic countries than in Protestant countries. Paris is less criminal and immoral than London, and Naples is paradise in comparison with New York or Boston. There is probably no country in Christendom in which murder is so frequent as in our own, and none where morality is more rapidly declining. Yet here is most of that liberty for which our Reviewer declaims, and he would maintain the most of the Protestantism he eulogizes.
But we must stop. It is no pleasure to be forced to combat ignorance, imbecility, prejudice, conceit, pomposity, and recklessness. We wish we could find now and then in the list of our opponents, a man, a well developed man, able and not afraid to reason, who would do something more than make unwarrantable assertions, and repeat old worn out calumnies a thousand times proved to be calumnies. Have our Evangelicals never a man among them ? Has Protestantism really destroyed intellect, intelligence, and candor, among them ? Can they give us no opponents that it is not a discredit to notice ? Must we fight the battle only against children, weak women, and weaker men ? Have you no champions of metal ? Where are your Chillingworths, your Chemnitzes, your Bramhalls, and your Barrows ?
We are tired of the moral and intellectual troops you send against us, who appear in a plight worse than those whom the inimitable Falstaff so admirably describes, and with whom he was ashamed to walk through “Coventry.” If you have any seriousness in you, do put forth some one, if you have him, who will discuss the great question between us seriously, and as a man who has confidence in his
Art. IV. Ailey Moore. A Tale for the Times : show
ing how Evictions, Murders, and such like Pastimes are managed, and justice administered in Ireland, together with many stirring Incidents in other Lands. By FATHER BAPTIST. New York : Dunigan & Brother. 1856. 2 vols.
FATHER BAPTIST has a lively fancy, a brilliant imagination, a warm gushing heart, genuine pathos, and a natural love of fun and frolic; he is a man of learning, of varied experience, and wide observation of men and things ;