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Christian Church is a pure idea, an opinion, or mere private conviction. God has incorporated it into our very nature, made it integral in reason, and without it reason would not be reason, any more than is the rudimental intelligence manifested by animals. It is natural reason itself, the common sense of mankind, and has its organization in natural society and the individual. It operates not as a naked idea, but as a principle inherent in our natural organism. Its power is the power of natural reason itself, which is at once universal and individual, that which constitutes the individual a man, gives to the human race its unity, and founds natural society, which is in the natural order, what the Church is held by Catholics to be in the supernatural.
Natural religion, or the natural law, is the basis of all natural society, and if it were of itself sufficient to mediate between the state and the individual, and to preserve the just balance of liberty and authority, the author could easily make out his case against us. He thinks that it is, and so think many of our countrymen ; so thought the men who made the French Revolution, and so think Kossuth, Mazzini, and all our modern revolutionists who are seeking the melioration of society and the individual by the subversion of the Church. But happily here we are not left to speculation. We have before us the instructive examples of history. The Gentile nations for we know not how many years tried the experiment, and failed. Of course, since society is founded in the natural order, nothing more is needed to its perfection than the perfect observance and fulfilment of the natural law; but all history proves that the natural law with only its natural organization in society and the individual has never sufficed for itself
. Except with the Jews, who had a gracious and divinely sustained organization of the natural law, you find in no ancient nation the recognition of personal freedom, what we call the rights of man, and no genuine respect for human life. The history of the whole Gentile world, of its most polite, cultivated, and enlightened nations, is the history of unmitigated cruelty and oppression. No rights of man were known, no tenderness for life was cultivated or enjoined ; the exposure of infants was allowed in them all, as it is in China in our own days. In Ronie, in the most virtuous period of the Republic, the paterfamilias had the power of life and death over his wife, his children, and his slaves. The new-born infant must wait his permission to live, and if refused must be consigned to death. But why recall the cruelty, inhumanity, and barbarism of the old Gentile world ? We gave a sketch of that world so far as necessary for our present purpose in the article our Boston friend is criticizing, and he pronounces our sketch “ admirable.”
“It will be of assistance in apprehending the distinction between these two elements, to quote our author's admirable statement of the State-element, as represented in the ancient republics of Greece and Rome.
“The ancient Greeks and Romans recognized the city, or State, and asserted its authority. But with then it was supreme and exclusive. They were great statesmen; and so far as organizing the city or State for its own protection, and the maintenance of its supremacy, I can conceive nothing more admirable than the Græco-Roman Republic. It was absolute, it was strong, it was majestic, and its majesty is every where traceable even in its ruins. But under the Græco-Roman civilization there was no such thing as individual liberty. There were rights of the citizen, but no rights of the man. The city was every thing, the man was nothing. The man was absorbed in the citizen, and the citizen in the State. Whatever the State commanded, the individual must do, and it was free to command whatever it pleased. No higher law was known, no higher law was admitted, than the decrees of the State. Rome commands, Athens ordains, and each individual must obey, whether in accordance with justice,or against it. Under that order of civilization, both religion and the individual were entirely subjected to the State; and when it reached its complete development in Imperial Rome, the Emperor assumed to himself all the majesty of the State, all the elements of liberty and authority, and was recognized by the enslaved nations subjugated by Roman arms, as at once, Emperor, Supreme Pontiff, and God. There was no law, no power above him; and though there was freedom for him as the State, there was none for the individual.'”—p. 404.
Yet the Gentiles had the law of nature with its natural organization, all that our Protestant friend holds to be essential to religion, for all men and nations have it, and cannot be without it, since it is human nature itself. If any doubt could arise on the sufficiency of this law, we need but consult the nations even now lying outside of Christendom. These nations, without exception, are barbarians ; and barbarism, which is the domination of passion, in opposition to the dominion of reason, is only another name for violence, disorder, oppression, tyranny, and slavery. If natural religion with its natural organization has sufficed for the maintenance of the just relations between liberty
and authority, how happens it that we never find them maintained in non-Christian nations, and that the limits of Christendom are the limits of civilization ? Will you tell me the cause is in the ignorance which these nations have of the law of nature ? Whence that ignorance, when the law of nature is their own reason, and is to them all that it alone is to us ? Will you refer me to their abominable superstitions, and tell me the cause is to be found in them? But whence these superstitions themselves? I concede them, but they are terrible arguments against you. They obtain in all heathen lands, and were found in their worst forms in the ancient Gentile nations, and that too when those nations were at the culminating point of their power, their greatness, their cultivation, and refinement. They obtained in Rome, in the Augustan Age. A Roman Emperor sacrifices ten thousand slaves to the manes of a murdered friend. The gladiatorial shows, the courses of the circus, the prostitutions of the temples of Venus and Cybele, and the frightful orgies of those of Isis and Bacchus were all religious observances, parts of the solemn worship of the Gods, even in the polite city of Rome, under the greatest and most enlightened Pagan Emperors. Yet the Romans had the law of nature. But passion obscured their understandings, hardened their hearts, and made them deaf to the voice of nature. If natural religion in its natural state is all we need, how explain the origin and persistence of those obscene, cruel, savage, and abominable superstiticns, which we invariably find in heathen nations, and which, even in the Roman Empire, slowly and reluctantly retire before the advancing light of the Gospel ?
What has been may be again. If Egypt and Assyria, if Greece and Rome, if the whole ancient and modern world abandoned to natural religion with its natural organism alone, but never for one moment without it, have been able to fall so far below it, and to yield themselves up so completely to their passions and lusts, what can be more idle than to look to it alone for support, and to pretend that it can effectually mediate between the state and the individual ? Something more is clearly necessary, and the reason why so many of our own countrymen do not see it, is that they live in Christendom, where the natural law has a supernatural organization in the Catholic Church, and is not found in its purely natural state. They deceive themselves, and ascribe to nature more than belongs to her. The nature on which they rely is not nature abandoned to herself, but nature as she is after ages of Christian training,-nature, in some sort, Christianized.
But our Boston friend is precluded by his own concessions from pleading the sufficiency of natural religion. He complains that we devote fourteen pages out of twenty to proving what he and all Protestants are prepared to admit without proof. He then must stand by what we labored so hard, and so unnecessarily as it seems, to prove. In those fourteen pages we labored to prove, and did prove, the necessity of the Christian religion as a third element in society to mediate between the state and the individual. We proved this historically by appeals to nations, who were assumed to have been without the religion conceded to be necessary. This could not have been simple natural religion with only its natural organization, for no nation has ever even for a moment been without that. We proved also that the dangerous tendencies which we need religion to protect us from, threaten the stability and orderly working even of our own Republic. The author himself cites us with approbation :
“ What then is indispensable? The answer is, a third element, independent of the other two, having power over both, and competent to mediate between them and adjust their conflicting tendencies. On this point, it strikes us that our author's words are as truthful as they are energetic :
" 'Here, then, we are, exposed to two powerful and dangerous tendencies, rushing, on the one hand, into social despotism, and on the other, into anarchy. What, in this state of things, do we need in order to escape them? We need, it is evident, a power alike independent of the State and of the individual, to step, as it were, in between them and harmonize them,—a power strong enough to restrain the State when it would become despotic, and the individual when he would become disloyal and rebellious. Without such a power we can not save our republic, and have that security for individual and social liberty, it was instituted to protect and vindicate. With only the State and the individual we have, and can have, only antagonism. The two elements are, and will be, pitted one against the other, each struggling for the mastery. They cannot be made to move without collision one with the other, unless there is between them a mediating term, the third element I mentioned as essential to the constitution of society. That term, power, or constituent element, is religion, and I need not add, the Christian religion.'”—pp. 405, 406.
As we were describing society as it had existed, and as it exists without the element of religion, we evidently must, unless an egregious blunderhead, have meant by that element, the Christian religion as we said, and by the Christian religion something more than the law of nature, with only its natural organism. As the author concedes all we were contending for in those“ fourteen pages, and assures us very distinctly and emphatically that he and all Protestants are prepared to admit it all without proof, he is debarred from asserting now the sufficiency of the natural law alone. Perhaps, after all, we did not devote an undue proportion of our article to proving what needs no proof, for we suspect the real matter to be proved is not what he calls the turning-point of the question, but that the third element demanded must be the Christian religion; the other point follows as a matter of course, as we have seen, for the Christian religion has no existence without the Church.
If we are right in our views of the Gentile world and of the need of religion to mediate between the state and the individual, as it is conceded we are, this religion must be a power independent alike of the national authority and the individual authority, and therefore religion organized, or a religious organism above simple natural religion in its natural state. The Christian Church is, as a fact, the only religious organism of the sort that is or can be alleged. The religious organism to which we must look is then the Christian Church; and as the Protestant Reviewer concedes, that if a religion organized or a Church be necessary, Protestantism cannot serve our purpose, we must add that the Christian Church to which we must look is the Catholic Church. Taking what our opponent concedes and what we have proved as our premises, this conclusion is logical and inevitable. It is, moreover, the conclusion to which all intelligent and reflecting minds amongst our countrymen are rapidly coming. They understand that the great danger to which we are exposed is that of lawless or irresponsible will, and that institutions which are based on simple will, whether that of the people collectively or individually, are no sure protection, because at every moment liable themselves to be swept away. They feel the want of some institution that rests on a solid and permanent basis, that can stand alike the shock of popular fury and of