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Christianity without the Church, as we told him, has no actual existence, and is only an idea either in the Divine mind or in the human mind; for the Christian religion as an actually existing religion, though like all creation inseparable, must be distinguishable from God, as the creature from the Creator, the work from the workman.
The author here proves what we told him in our former reply, that he does not conceive of Christianity as the new creation or supernatural order lying above the natural order. “He believes in no order of existence above nature, save God himself ; God and nature are for him all that is or exists. He has no conception of Christianity as a substantive existence or second cause." The passage we have last cited proves it. The question is not whether God is a power without the Church, for such a question would be absurd ; but is the Christian religion without the Christian Church or Christian organism a power, a substantive existence, with an internal principle of activity, or its own central life, as in the case of every other actual existence or living thing. This is what we denied, and what the Reviewer undertakes to prove, but what he does not succeed in proving.
We tell him again that there is a deeper significance in the Catholic view of the Christian religion objectively considered than he has suspected. He says all the difference between him and us is, that we hold that God speaks through that mysterious body we call the Church, while he holds that God speaks through the reason, the conscience, the soul of the individual ; but he is quite out in his supposition that this is all or even the chief difference between us. We hold as firmly, and perhaps even nuore firmly than he does, that God speaks through the reason, the conscience, the soul of the individual. We hold in this respect all he holds, and we regard with even more reverence and docility the inspirations of the Almighty into the soul of each more than he does. Our religion requires us to do so. The Catholic cherishes with the profoundest love and joy this internal communion with God, and seeks always, when faithful to his religion, the internal light and guidance of the Holy Ghost. Why else his prayer and meditation ? Let the Reviewer read the life of any Catholic Saint, or any Catholic work designed for spiritual instruction and edification, and he will find that in this respect we believe all he believes, and even much more than he has ever dreamed of. He differs from us here, in that he falls short of us, not in that he goes beyond us.
On this point Protestants generally mistake Catholic teaching. Because we assert an external authority, they conclude, very rashly and illogically, that we deny spiritual communion with God; because we assert an external objective revelation deposited with the Church, and authoritatively expounded by her, that we deny all interior illumination of the individual soul ; because we assert the necessity of communion with the Church, in order to render us acceptable to God, that we deny all individuality and all inward piety and devotion. Nothing is, or can be, more untrue, more unjust to the teachings of our religion, and the practices of Catholic Saints. It is possible that our polemical writers have not always been careful in their controversial works to bring out this point, and that they have, by confining their defence to the external, had some influence in confirming the impression that we recognize only the external, and deny the proper internal relations of the pious soul to God. Protestants have not erred in asserting the interior operations of the Spirit ; their error has been in asserting them to the exclusion of the external authority and communion of the Church. One extreme begets another. The external being the point denied, the Catholic has had that to defend, and in confining himself almost exclusively to its defence, he has had the appearance of not esteemiug, or rather, of not admitting the internal. But Protestants may be assured that we maintain with equal earnestness both the internal and the external, and both as concurrent, not as antagonistic elements or authorities. Protestants have less than we; in no case have they more, or indeed so much.
The difference is not where or what our Universalist friend supposes. Certainly, we hold that God speaks through the Church, but that is only a little of what we hold. Certainly, we believe that God has deposited the revelation he has made with the Church, appointed her its guardian, teacher, and interpreter ; but all this, though much, does not begin to exhaust our idea of the Church. Nothing thus far does more than introduce us into her vestibule, nay, any more than bring us to her door. Our
radical conception of Christianity is that of a new creation or the regeneration, the special work of the Word made flesh,-an order of life which indeed presupposes our natural life, but lying above it, and bearing to the Word made flesh a relation analogous to that borne by natural creation to the unincarnate Divinity. There is by the Incarnation of the Word introduced into the universe not only a new fact, but a new order of existence, which we call the new creation, the regeneration, or the supernatural order. Our Lord assumed flesh not merely to make expiation or satisfaction for our sins, not merely to deliver us from the power of Satan, and repair the damage caused by transgression, but also to elevate man above the natural order, to be the second Adam or Father of a regenerated humanity, appointed to a supernatural destiny, or a destiny far above that to which man in the natural order is able to aspire. This supernatural order, this regenerated humanity, deriving from the Word made flesh, is in its most general expression what the Catholic means by the Church. The Church in this sense is the grand central fact of the universe, to which all the providences of God converge, for which all historical events are ordered, and in which the whole natural order finds its significance and its explication. The Church is not merely the Church on earth or Church militant, but it is the Church suffering, including the souls suffering in Purgatory, and the Church triumphant, the Church of the Blest in heaven. In all three states it is one and the same living and immortal body, one and the same holy communion, one and the same regenerated human race united to God through sameness of nature with the human nature assumed by the Word. By natural generation or birth no man enters into the Church, becomes a member of regenerated humanity, is introduced into this supernatural order of life, or is placed on the plane of the supernatural beatitude promised to those who enter it and persevere to the end.
The assertion of the Church in this sense does not conflict with that natural communion with God which the Reviewer contends for, and the value of which we should be sorry to underrate, but it offers a higher, a supernatural communion with God, even a closer communion by faith here, as well as by the light of glory hereafter.
The Reviewer will see that the office we assign to the Church, or the position she holds in our faith, is far higher, broader, and more intimate and comprehensive than hé supposes. She is not nierely a congregation of individuals holding certain relations to one another, but is to Christians what the natural human race is to natural men, and has the relation to them that the race or humanity has to individuals, and they live by its life as individual men and women in the natural order live by the life of humanity. You may know and assent to all Catholic doctrine, you may comprehend all mysteries, and in your life keep the whole law of nature, or practise with the most scrupulous fidelity all the natural virtues, and yet have no lot or part in the regeneration. You are a natural man, worthy of all respect in the natural order ; but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than you. You must be born into the kingdom, into the regeneration, into the new or supernaturalized humanity, or you cannot live its life.
Hence our Lord says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Hence the reason of the dogma, extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, or, out of the communion of the Church, no one can ever be saved, that is, no one can ever attain the supernatural destiny or beatitude of regenerated humanity. To maintain the contrary, would be as absurd as to pretend that a creature, never a man in the natural order, can share the natural beatitude of a human being. As to the punishment of those who die out of the communion of the Church, it will be meted out according to their deserts, and will be neither greater nor less than in strict justice they by their deliberate acts have merited ; but common sense repugns the idea of their sharing the rewards of a humanity of which they have never been members, and whose life they have never lived.
We cannot undertake to explain the whole mystery of the regeneration, for it involves the whole mystery of the Incarnation,-a mystery which is the mystery of mysteries, and into which the angels desire to look in vain. God alone can adequately comprehend it, for its explication is in his own invisible and ineffable essence. But this much we know, its internal principle, its central life is Divine grace,
flowing from the Word made flesh, and binding it to him as his mystic body, in a living organism. It is not easy to grasp the conception of unity in variety, but we are obliged to concede it in natural as well as in regenerated humanity,--in the human race in the natural order, as well as in the Church, or supernaturalized humanity. St. Paul says we are many members, but all members of Christ's body, and members one of another, so that when one of the members suffers all the members suffer. There is one Spirit, and this one spirit unites all in one spiritual body, and is its informing principle, the centre and source of its life. The fact is certain, and if the mystery is great, it is not greater than that of the life of the human body itself, which is one, and remains one and identical, although one in variety of molecules, each one of which has distinct existence, and acts from its own central principle of activity.
Now Christianity in this sense, as the supernatural order, is what we assert as the Church of God. Whether there be or be not the supernatural order in this sense, is not now the question ; but between the assertion of this order, and simply saying God speaks to us through it, we maintain there is a difference, and therefore that the difference between the Reviewer and us is far greater and even of another kind than he supposes. We hold the Church to be a new creation, the institution by the Word made flesh of a new, regenerated, or supernaturalized humanity, a humanity propagated by election as natural humanity is by generation, not merely the organ through which God speaks or declares his law, or his pleasure. Christianity is not simply a law, or simply a doctrine, it is a life,
the life of Christ, the Word made flesh, lived by men. Faith is good and is the foundation and root of every Christian virtue, and without it we cannot enter into the Christian order, and be assimilated to regenerated humanity, but it alone does not suffice. Faith alone cannot save us, and is never in the New Testament given as the characteristic mark of discipleship. “A new commandment,” says our Lord, “I give unto you, that ye love one another.” “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.” The characteristic badge of the disciple of Jesus Christ is love, or charity, not the simple natural sentiment of benevolence, though that is good in its own order, but the supernatural affection of the supernaturalized heart, the spontaneous sentiment of the heart elevated by grace