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of view of material civilization, in trade, industry, agriculture, wealth, physical power, all that may be included under the head of the good things of this world, we should not infer that it is Christianity, or true religion, for we have seen a more advanced civilization of that sort than any Protestant nation can boast, obtain among the more renowned nations of antiquity, and because to that sort of civilization nothing distinctively Christian is needed. Great Britain, we take it, is the greatest and most prosperous of all Protestant nations ; and yet Great Britain is less advanced in material or natural civilization than were Pagan Greece and Rome, Tyre and Zidon, Egypt and Assyria. If she can claim any superiority over any of them, it is in her moral civilization, which she owes not to her Protestantism, but to Christianity, for which, as far as Christianity she has, she is indebted to the Catholic Church. Protestantism has no doubt aided her material progress, by loosening her from the moral and spiritual restraints imposed by Catholicity, and leaving her free to devote her genius, her skill, and her energy, to the production, exchange, or accumulation of the good things of this world. This is the real sense of the English Protestant's boast, and more than this no Protestant can seriously claim for the Reformation in England. But in this the service rendered by Protestantism is not a service rendered by presenting, but by removing Christianity, and assimilating the nation to a heathen nation, free to devote herself body and soul to the material order. She has needed for her material progress, no distinctively Christian principle, no supernatural religion, nothing, in fact, but her own natural powers.
Great Britain, if she surpasses contemporary Catholic nations, surpasses them only under the point of view of material civilization. Now, if we analyze her alleged superiority, we shall find that it lies in the natural order, and depends on nature alone. The virtues in which she is supposed to excel are the natural virtues, not the peculiarly Christian virtues, unattainable without supernatural revelation, and the infused habit of divine grace. We say not by this that they are not virtues, that in their own order they are not good; we only say that they are not Christian virtues, virtues impossible without
Christianity. The English are a brave and hardy people, and as a military and naval power Great Britain is unsurpassed by any modern nation,—as a naval power equalled by none. But what has Christianity to do with this? Does Christianity, nay, does Protestantism, regarded as a religion, teach and strengthen her to raise, discipline, and marshal troops, to construct ships, man and maneuvre fleets? The ancients did these things on as grand a scale as she does them, and did so without Christianity.' Alexander, Hannibal, Julius Cæsar, rank heathens, were as great generals, as perfect masters of tactics or strategetics, as Marlborough, Wellington, or my Lord Raglan, and won as remarkable victories as those of Blenheim, Waterloo, or the Alma. I am aware of nothing in the science or the art of war, whether on the sea or the land, that demands the supernatural aid of Christianity, that transcends the natural powers of man, or that has been supplied supernaturally through the Gospel. Gunpowder was a human invention, not a divine revelation, and human genius sufficed to invent Colt's Revolver, and the Minié Rifle. Nelson maneuvred his fleet in the Nile, at Copenhagen, and at Trafalgar, as a man, as a brave man and a good sailor,--not as a Christian, and proceeded on principles learned by human genius, not on principles revealed in the Gospel. I do not say that England owes her military and naval greatness to the violation of Christian principles, or that she has attained it without the concurrence of Divine Providence, but I do say
that she has attained it by natural powers,-powers which she derives not from Christianity, but from nature, and holds, in common with the ancient heathen as well as with modern unchristian nations. Whether she has attained to it by a just or an unjust exercise of these powers is not now the question. Some may say that she has attained to it only by exercising them unjustly, and, that, if she had been more observant of the Christian law, she would never have attained to her present military and naval superiority. They may be right; on that point we express no opinion; but what we insist upon is, that she owes it not to religion, but to nature,—to the exercise of her natural powers, not to her natural powers supernaturalized by grace. Therefore, her greatness is natural greatness, as was that of Greece and Rome, and says nothing in favor of Protestantism as Christianity. It is no argument in favor of her Protestantism as a supernatural religion. It says no more for Protestantism than the military success of Miltiades, Themistocles, Cyrus, Sesostris, Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, or Julius Cæsar says for ancient Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Phænician, or Roman Paganism. We might as well draw an argument in favor of Mahometanism, from the military greatness of the Caliphs, or of the Turkish Sultans, as from the military and naval greatness of Great Britain in favor of Protestantism.
The next thing that strikes us in Great Britain is her commercial and industrial greatness ; but what has Christianity to do with this ? Did the English learn from the Christian revelation, or from the Church of England, as by law established, to build ships, to navigate the ocean, to buy cheap and sell dear? Did they derive from divine revelation the steam engine, the spinning jenny, and the power loom? Great Britain's trade and industry, commerce and manufactures, depend on her natural genius, skill, and enterprise, to which her Protestantism adds nothing. If these are due to her Protestantism, how do you explain the commercial and industrial greatness of the Phænicians, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians in the ancient world, and of the Italian Republics, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, in the Middle Ages? or that of Portugal in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and of the Hanseatic Towns, and the Low Countries long before Satan taught Luther that private Masses are sinful, or Luther himself symbolized the rehabilitation of the flesh by espousing the Nun, Catherine Bora ? These things do not depend on religion, but on the natural order, the natural genius, powers, habits, tendencies, and opportunities of individuals or of nations. Great Britain has availed herself of her natural powers, of her geographical position, and of the natural genius of her people, and is to-day the first commercial and industrial nation of the world. All you can say of her Protestantism is, that it has left her free to do so. It has not turned her attention to spiritual and heavenly things; it has not restrained her by directing her efforts to the achievement of great
ness in the order of sanctity, and impressing upon her heart the comparative worthlessness of all she lives and labors for. In this way it has no doubt favored her
. growth in material wealth, but it has done so, not by virtue of what it gives, but by virtue of what it removes, not by the supernatural aid it brings to our natural powers, but by the freedom it leaves to our worldly and selfish instincts and tendencies.
The last thing we mention in which a certain superiority is claimed for Great Britain is her political constitution. She boasts of her freedom, civil and religious. As to her political and civil constitution, she owes it in great part to Catholic times, and any improvements she has made since the Reformation she has required nothing more to effect them than natural religion, restored by Christianity, and kept alive even in nonCatholic countries by the presence in the world of the Catholic Church. As to religious liberty, the less said the better. She does not recognize it any where in the United Kingdom. Her own Church, the Church of England, is bound hand and foot, is the slave of the State, and has not the least autonomy. It is part and parcel of the political and civil constitution of the kingdom. No modern state has been so cruel and unrelenting a persecutor as England. After two hundred years and more of cruel persecution she has during the last half century been trying the policy, not of religious liberty, but of religious toleration,-a policy which she seems half inclined to abandon. Her civil liberty is maintained not by her Protestantism, but in spite of it, for it cannot be forgotten that it was English Protestantism that sustained the absolutist pretensions of the Tudors and the Stuarts, and taught the doctrine of the divine right of kings, passive obedience, and the irresponsibility of power. Whatever ameliorations we note in the English government, whether in relation to civil or religious liberty, we find they have been
effected, not by English Protestantism, but chiefly in spite of it, in opposition to it, by men who have a natural sense of justice, but very little belief in any revealed religion. If the truth must be told, the progress of religious toleration in Great Britain and of religious liberty in this country during the last and
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present centuries, is due far more to the great infidel writers and statesmen of the time than to Protestants or Protestantism, that is, due far more to men who recognize the natural order, and rely on natural reason and
virtue, than to those Protestants who still adhere to Protestantism as a supernatural religion,—to the men who, weary of theological discussions, have discarded all belief in the supernatural, who are indifferent, and, like Gallio, care for none of these things.
In any point of view, then, in which we may consider the greatness of the British nation, we must ascribe it first to the Catholic traditions which she has not wholly rejected, and secondly to her natural virtues, as we ascribe the greatness of Pagan Rome to her bravery, fortitude, prudence, and energy. It all lies in the natural order, and requires only the natural powers of man to produce it, as was the case with the greatness of ancient Pagan nations. However much superior the material civilization of Great Britain may be to that of any Catholic nation, it affords and can afford no argument to prove that Protestantism is Christianity; for if any thing be certain, it is that Christianity was not given to promote material civilization, and that that civilization is easily explained without it, on simple natural principles. It contains nothing which excelled the natural powers of man.
“ The true design of Christianity,” says Mr. Derby, “ was to refine, improve, and civilize, not debase the world.” “Not debase the world,” we agree; but that its true design, the end for which it was given, was to refine, improve, and civilize the world, if you understand material civilization, we deny. That Christianity does refine, improve, and civilize the world, in a moral and spiritual sense, is certainly true ; but its true design is to redeem men from sin, to sanctify them, and elevate them to union with God in the beatific vision; and it regards this world only as it may be made subservient to that design,—this life only in its relation to that which is to come- --the life after death. Its direct object is the glory of God in the salvation and everlasting happiness of men hereafter. It is in this world, but it operates always and every where in relation to another, and affects the condition of men in this world, and in relation to this life, only incidentally,