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individual license. Such an institution they are beginning to recognize in the Catholic Church, and hence they relax a little in their hostility to her, and become less and less indisposed to investigate her claims. They see that she is the only conservative institution in the country, the only one that is the same North and South, at the East and the West, that speaks with one and the same voice, and teaches one and the same morality throughout the whole extent of the Union. This commands their respect, and is fast winning their love. We have shown, we think, that as a conservative institution, she merits their support, for we have shown that she is alike conservative of liberty and of authority.
But while the arguments we have used prove the necessity of the Catholic Church to the maintenance of our Republic, and therefore refute the popular charge that she is hostile to republican governments, they, of course, do not prove her to be the Church of God, or the supernatural order we hold her to be. Because she is, as we have shown, conservative and answers the wants of our Republic as a mediating power between authority and liberty, it by no means follows that she is supernatural in the Catholic sense, the supernatural order under the supernatural providence of God. To prove that a very different line of argument is necessary. But we have proved the necessity of some religious organization above the natural law even to secure the ends of the natural law, and as the Catholic Church is the only organization of the sort, that can be alleged since the abolition of Judaism, we may conclude not only that she is necessary to the preservation of the Republic, but that she is the medium through which God makes provision for our higher social wants, if he makes any, and that we must look to her, or not find naturally or supernaturally that provision.
In our article we did not institute any forınal argument to prove that the religion needed must be the Christian religion, for we were addressing those who profess to be Christians, and we took for granted that if we proved any religion to be necessary, all would concede that it must be the Christian religion. The Protestant Reviewer raises no objection to our assumption that the religious element needed is the Christian religion ; he objects only to our
assumption that it must be the Church, or religion organized. If we have proved, as we think we have, that, if it is the Christian religion at all, it must be that religion organized, or the Church, we have answered his objection, and said all that is necessary to reply to those who profess to be Christians. If he chooses to shift his ground, and allege that some organization above the natural organism of the law of nature, and yet below the supernatural order which we have explained the Church to be, would be sufficient for the special purpose agreed to, we shall not dispute him, but insist on his proving that there is, as a fact, some such organization, before proceeding to conclude against us. We know none such, and none such can be named. That God could, if he had pleased, have provided for society and the individual by such an organization, we concede, but that he has, we deny ; for Christianity, if it is any thing, is the supernatural order. The necessity for a religion above natural religion in its natural state for even natural society is not of God's but of man's creation. Man has no right to claim of God as his due any thing more than the natural law, and it is man's sin that has made any thing more than that necessary for the attainment of natural good. But God having compassion on man, did not leave him to the natural consequences of his sin, but resolved to repair it, and to make it the occasion of a higher good than was lost by it. The grace is more abundant than the sin. Hence it is the Catholic belief that, in providing for the reparation of the damage done by sin, God does not stop with its simple reparation, but goes farther, and repairs it by a supernatural order, and by lifting man out of the natural order under his natural providence into the supernatural order under his supernatural providence. Hence the extraordinary provision needed to save man from the consequences of his own sin is not to be found in natural religion, but in the supernatural, and the cause of past and present failures at social organization come from the fact that we seek from the natural what is really supplied only by the supernatural providence of God.
Assuming now that the aid we need is furnished us only by a supernatural religion, which also furnishes us things of infinitely more value, the question raised by our Pro
testant critic deserves no more attention than we gave it. A supernatural religion once conceded as the medium through which God enables us to secure the good of society, as well as the supernatural end to which he in bis supernatural providence destines us, very few will hesitate to say that that religion must be the Christian religion, and if the Christian religion, the Catholic Church. The question between Protestantism, when Protestantism is assumed to be a supernatural religion, and Catholicity, is not in the minds of our countrymen generally a grave question. The real question with the great body of intelligent and reflecting Americans lies not between Protestantism and Catholicity, but between supernatural religion and the simple law or religion of nature. They adhere to Protestantism from habit, fashion, because it is decorous to do so, because they may think that a religion that splits up into a multitude of sects is less to be feared than a grand consolidated Church strong enough to exclude all rivalry, but chiefly because it leaves them virtually to natural religion, and makes no demands on their faith or practice not made by the law of nature. But for Protestantism claiming to be really a supernatural religion, they have no respect. They ridicule its pretensions, and treat its ministers with a superb disdain. Once convinced that there is a supernatural order, a really supernatural religion, they cannot long be detained by Protestantism. If Christianity is to be taken in a supernatural sense, they have no difficulty in identifying it with Catholicity. So taken, Christianity and Catholicity are for them one and the same thing; and hence when any sect approaches any thing distinctively Christian in doctrine or practice they accuse it of popery,” or of “Romanizing.”
It may not be amiss, however, to remark in conclusion, that in contending for the nécessity of Catholicity to preserve our free institutions, or asserting the power of Catholicity to protect them, we do not contend that to this end it is necessary that every man, woman, and child in the country should become Catholic, or that the Catholicity of the majority must be of that pure and sublime character which in no country is found except with the few. We indulge a hope that the American will ultimately become a Catholic people, and yet we are far from indulging those extravagant expectations as to their conversion which are sometimes ascribed to us.
There never yet has been on earth a whole people thoroughly Catholic in faith and practice. In the best of times, in the most pious of nations, there has always been a large number of what are called “Hickory Catholics," that is, of men who will fight to the death for their faith, and die sooner than live it. We never expect the time when there will be none but Catholics in the land, or when all who are Catholics will be good Catholics. Nor is it necessary for the security of our institutions. To this end it is only necessary that the Church should be here, with her faith, her morality, and the example of her faithful children, and that she have a predominating influence on the ruling mind and heart of the country. She will affect it by diffusing Catholic life, and keeping fresh and living those old Catholic doctrines and traditions of authority and liberty which form the basis of modern civilization, and especially of the civil and political institutions of this country. These doctrines and traditions may and do operate in minds out of the Church; they were vigorous in the minds of the founders of our Republic; but without the Church they become obscure and gradually lose their force, as we see now in all non-Catholic nations. Protestant nations brought them away from the Church with them when they separated from her; but they have used them up, or lost sight of them. Hence the decay of patriotism, of public spirit, and personal and political integrity, the growing dishonesty, and increasing vice and profligacy in public and private life, which are every where now so threatening. They need to be revived and re-invigorated by fresh draughts from their source.
But all we need for their revival in force, and to enable Catholicity to protect us, is that they be restored to their dominion, and become the public thought and conscience of the majority of the American people. We want them to form the governing mind of the country, and be acknowledged as the rule of our conduct, whether as individuals or as the state. This may be effected without every body in the Republic being converted, and without any direct intervention of the Church in secular affairs, even while a very considerable portion of the people remain non-Catholic. In this way the Church is doing a great deal even now to protect us from anarchy and despotism, and would, even with our present numbers do a great deal more, if Catholics would exert the moral and intellectual influence of which they are capable.
In the remarks we have made we have aimed chiefly to answer the objection raised by our Protestant Reviewer. The proofs that the Catholic Church is God's Church, it has been no part of our purpose to adduce. We have simply vindicated our article on The Church and the Republic, and await now the response of our Boston Reviewer.
ART. II.—The Catholic. Letters addressed by a Jurist
to a young kinsman, proposing to join the Church of Rome. By E. H. DERBY. Boston: Jewett & Co. 1856. 12mo. pp. 293.
We concluded, in our Review for October last, our first article devoted to the dissection of Mr. Derby's Letters to his Son, by some remarks on the comparison he suggests between Catholic and Protestant nations, under the point of view of civilization. We have something more to say on that subject. His argument is the one just now chiefly relied on by English and American Protestants. He says, in summing up his argument:
, “Now I submit this argument as to the Romish faith being a departure from the Gospel, that the true design of Christianity was to refine, improve, and civilize, not debase the world; and if we find a system has departed from the simplicity of the Gospel
, and has been attended by debasement and degradation, while the Reformation has been attended with different results, that system cannot be true.”—pp. 10, 11.
If it were a fact that Catholicity morally or spiritually debases and degrades the nations that embrace and faithfully follow it, we should argue, not that it is a departure from the Gospel, but that it is from Satan; for no man can distinguish between the Gospel and Catholicity. But the fact is not, and can not be proved. If on the other hand, it were proved, that Protestant nations are superior to Catholic nations under the point