« AnkstesnisTęsti »
to the supernatural order, the natural expression of regenerated humanity, the principle by which the regenerated commune with one another and with the Word made flesh, their Head, and the Fountain of their life. Now the Church is needed not simply to teach us what we are to believe, or what we are to do, but she is needed as the condition of our rebirth and of our living the supernatural Christian life. Man lives a natural life only by communion with his like and with his Maker as author of nature; he can live his supernatural life only by communion with those who live that life and with the Word made flesh, its Author and Source. The end is the regenerated life, and as this life is not out of the regenerated humanity or the Church, it cannot be lived out of the Church.
There are over and above what the Reviewer supposes we ask of the Church, the Sacraments, by which our supernatural life is generated or begotten, recovered, sustained, strengthened, propagated. There is Baptism, the sacrament of regeneration, by which we are born into the supernatural order, or enter into the Church, and are made members of regenerated humanity, the mystical body of Christ. There is the sacrament of Penance, by which we recover the supernatural life, when by mortal sin we have lost it, and the Blessed Eucharist, by which our new life is fed, sustained, and invigorated. Now what is sometimes called the sacramental system is, after all, the great thing in the Church, and that which renders her so indispensable to the Christian. Could we even know without the Church with infallible certainty what we ought to believe and what we ought to do, we should still need the Church, and be as unable to live the Christian life without her as we are now. Cut off a man in the natural order from communion with his kind, and he dies. Sects separated from the Church become in relation to Christian humanity wbat savages are to natural humanity. They lose all power of progress, become stationary as to Christian life, or rather retrograde till they lose all traces of their supernatural life communicated in baptism, and fall back on the natural order alone, living only the natural life of humanity, as savages lose all traces of civilized life, lose the arts and sciences, fail to manifest the higher elements of human nature, and almost degenerate into mere animals, only a grade above the ourang-outang or monkey. All history proves it. To live the Christian life you must live in the Christian order, and on the food appropriate to the sustentation of that order of life. The Christian belongs at once to two humanities, the natural and the supernatural, (for grace does not annihilate nature, but presupposes it,) and he can no more live the life of regenerated humanity without communion with that humanity, than he can his natural life without communion with natural humanity. We beg the Reviewer, when attempting to point out what we demand of the Church, to bear these important considerations in mind. But we pass on.
The Reviewer says :" The only objection which Mr. Brownson has offered to our view of the subject under discussion, is that it does not give religion the means of becoming a power. It must have an existence and an authority distinct from the individual and from the State. It must not be a part of either of these, for in this case, it will be what the individual or the State makes it, and so may be altered at the will of the party that proclaims it. We can conceive of no objection more fallacious. Because God speaks to the guilty wretch through his own conscience—because the word torturing and distressing him is thus spoken-is the word of rebuke a part of that wretchi
, just what he makes it, to be altered at his will, to be silenced at his nod ? We confess, it occasions us no little surprise to find our author representing every thing, spoken through the individual, as a part of the individual, and so subject to him. Certainly, there is no necessity for such a representation. God can speak the words of truth, warning, censure, despair, hope, through the individual soul. To affirm that he does so speak, is to involve no contradiction. The things so affirmed, are at all events possibilities. And if they are possibilities, the argument, so far as the present issue is concerned, is with us.
Mr. Brownson has argued the necessity of the Church, on the ground that any other authoritative element in society is an impossibility. We may not have shown that there actually is an authoritative power other than the Church. We are not called upon to do this. Our sole obligation is to show that there may be such an element of power. This we are confident we have done. And so long as it is in the power of God to speak to man through man—to speak through this medium words which no human will can modify, no human cunning evade, and which no human strength can resist—we find no necessity for that more cumbrous and complex instrumentality, which is usually commended to us as the infallible Church. This organization has been offered to us on the sole ground that it is a necessity. We have seen that no such necessity exists; and until forced to accept it on other and more conclusive grounds, we feel compelled to trust in the individual soul as the medium of communication between God and his subject man.”—pp. 165, 166.
That God could, if he had chosen, have made provision for the wants of natural society by other means than the supernatural order we call the Church, we have not denied, but expressly asserted. What we have asserted and claimed to have proved, is that some graciously sustained provision in addition to the law of nature in its natural organism is needed, because that has never been found to suffice. This much the Reviewer has in reality conceded, in conceding that the mediating power is the Christian religion. In his explications of Christianity he may, and no doubt does reduce Christianity to the natural law, but it is idle for him to pretend that, in conceding the Christian religion to be the power we had proved to be necessary, and which we had shown must be a power that the ancient heathen world had not, he did not understand, and mean that his readers should understand by it something more than simply the natural law incorporated into the very nature of man. Nay, we cannot let him off even there. He has conceded that, if Christianity without the Church is only an idea, or not a power, the third element needed is the Catholic Church as held by us, for he has conceded that if the Christian religion is an organism or a Church at all, or must be in order to be a power, it is that Catholic Church as set forth by us in our former reply. What we have to show on our side is what we have already shown : that Christianity without the Church is only an idea, or not a power. What he has to show on his side is, not that there may power without the Church adequate to the purpose, for that is not denied ; but that there is, and that this power is the Christian religion. He is bound by his concessions to find this power in the Christian religion, without the Church, and he is not at liberty to seek or to assert it elsewhere. But, while we have shown that the Christian religion without the Church is not a power, being only an idea, he shows neither that it is nor that it can be a power, for he simply casts it aside. He shows, if you will, that God can mediate without the Church between the state and the individual, a fact which nobody disputes ; but this is nothing to his purpose, for God is not the Christian religion, though as the Word made Flesh, he is its Author and Finisher. We beg the Reviewer's special attention to this point in his next response.
The Reviewer passing over the Christian religion, and forgetting that he had conceded that it was the power needed, asserts the power to be God speaking to and through individual reason and conscience, and contends that in his so speaking there is something not individual, or under the control of the individual, something which the individual can neither make nor upmake. He says this, in opposition to our remark that, if we leave religion to be determined by the individual, we make it, practically considered, as was obviously our meaning, dependent on the individual, who would determine it to suit himself. We have no doubt that God can inspire men as he did the Prophets and Apostles, and accompany his inspirations with sufficient evidence that it is he who inspires them or speaks to them ; but the Reviewer neither believes nor intends to assert that God so inspires all men. But were he so to speak to and through individual reason and conscience, he would thus only strengthen the individual in face of the state, not the state in face of the individual, and therefore, whatever power he gave to the individual, it would be only one half of the power needed. But though God may speak to the reason and conscience of the individual, there being on the Reviewer's hypothesis no objective or external authority to which reason and conscience are bound to conform, or to which an appeal from them can be made, it would depend on the individual to determine that the voice he hears is the voice of God, and also the sense of what he hears, in both of which respects he may err, and mistake for the Divine word his own ignorance, interest, passion, inclination, or hallucination, as the Reviewer will be as ready as we to maintain against Calvinists or the various classes of Evangelicals.
No doubt a man's conscience often tortures him with remorse, and just as little doubt that a man has no absolute control over his convictions. But conscience is the judgment which a man passes on his own acts, performed or proposed, and is sound or unsound according to his intelligence or his ignorance. Conscience is never indeed to be violated, but it is never infallible. A man sins who deliberately acts against his conscience, but he may have a false conscience, and feel he must do what he ought not to do, and suffer the tortures of remorse for doing what in itself is not wrong. Certain it is that God does not speak immediately to conscience so as sufficiently to enlighten it, or to save the individual, without instruction from other sources, from false judgments as to what is or is not his duty. Here is the difficulty. The individual, mistaking darkness for light, falsehood for truth, forms to himself a false conscience, and really believes that he has the right and is in duty bound to pursue a course of conduct, at war with the legitimate authority of the state. What, in such a case, is to be done ? Remind him that God speaks to and through his reason and conscience ? But that is only to aggravate the evil. Attempt to enlighten his reason and conscience? But does not God speak to his reason and conscience,- does not he himself enlighten them?
Have you more light than God to impart ? Is your human voice to be held paramount to the voice of God himself? Will you allow the state to disregard the individual's reason and conscience, and repress his destructive conduct ? What, allow the state to trample on individual reason and conscience ? That is tyranny, that is the grossest and most terrible despotism conceivable. If there is any thing sacred in the individual, it is his conscience, his intimate reason, for in that consists the elemental principle of all individual freedom. Over that the state has and can have no control ; with it society has no right to intermeddle, for conscience is accountable to God alone.
Let us take a practical case, one which is not unlikely to create no little trouble yet, that of the Mormons. The Mormon reason and conscience are incompatible with the maintenance of the American state. Mormonism teaches that the dominion of the World belongs to the Saints, and that the Saints are the Mormons. The Mormons acknowledge, as we were instructed by two of their twelve apostles, no legitimate authority but that instituted by Joseph Smith amongst themselves, and hold that all the property of the Gentiles is given to them for their inheritance, and that they have a divine right to take and appropriate it to their use when and where they please ; and if they do not as yet do it, it is because they are restrained