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by prudential considerations, because they are not strong enough to make it prudent for them to attempt it. They hold also that they have a perfect right to slay and exterminate, in the name of the Lord, all who refuse to join their communion and submit to their authority. "You must exterminate us,” said a Mormon elder to the writer, or we, as we become strong enough, shall exterminate you,” that is, the non-Mormon portion of the American people. Moreover, they hold to polygamy, and permit each man to have an unlimited number of wives. Here is the Mormon reason and conscience. Here is what Mormons hold God says to them. What will you do with them ? Suffer them to go on and live and act according to their individual reason and conscience ? But that is incompatible with the safety of the state, the peace of society, and the morals of the community. Suppress them by the strong arm of
But who gave the state authority to decide questions of conscience ? What right has the state to trample on the Mormon conscience any more than it has on the Catholic conscience, the Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, the Baptist, the Methodist, or the Universalist conscience ? The foundation of all civil liberty is religious liberty, and religious liberty denies the competency of the state, or of any human authority whatever, in matters of conscience ? For the state to trample on conscience in the case of Mormons, is in principle as much a violation of religious liberty as to trample on it in the case of any other class of persons.
Or, leaving the Mormons, let us take the Abolitionists. The abolitionist proper believes that he is bound in conscience to labor for the abolition of slavery, and in doing it to trample on all constitutions, all laws, all vested rights that are in his way. Here is individual reason and conscience opposed to the state. What will you do? Let the abolitionist go on, and trust to his individual reason and conscience to correct and restrain him ? But his individual reason and conscience, supposing him sincere, are precisely what is in fault. To trust to them, would be like trusting the murderer to try, convict, sentence, and hang himself, or to recognize and execute the law which he has shown by the murder he despises. To let abolitionists proceed is anarchy. But to repress them by the state on its own authority alone is despotism, and the worst species of despot
NEW YORK SERIES. - VOL. II. NO. III. 23
ism, for it is the assumption, by the state, of power to determine questions of reason and conscience. How with only God speaking through individual reason and conscience are you to get over this difficulty? Do you say that the reason and conscience of the abolitionist is the voice of God ? How do you know, and how will you prove it? Do you deny it? By what right do you step in between the abolitionist and his God ? Here it is evident, whether we speak of the Mormons or of the Abolitionists, the state cannot intervene in its own name, and by its own authority, without the denial of individual liberty, which is civil despotism. And yet, if the state does not intervene, legitimate civil authority is subverted, and anarchy inevitably follows.
God speaking to the reason and conscience of the individual is practically only individual reason and conscience, and the Reviewer in reality means no more by them. What he means is, that the reason and conscience of the individual are the voice of God in the soul, or God speaking in the nature of man, or as perhaps, he would prefer to say, in and through our spiritual nature. There is no need of any words about it, this is without any doubt his meaning. What he really means is, that God lives in us and manifests himself in our reason and conscience. His doctrine is, that the Divine power manifested in the reason and conscience or soul of every individual man is the power that mediates between the individual and the state. Reason and conscience are a law unto the individual; they are not the individual, they are not subject to his will, but are imposed upon him by his ever present and active Creator. Practically, then, the mediating power asserted is the reason and conscience of the individual. But does not the Reviewer see that these are all on the side of the individual, constitutive of the individual, and therefore are not and cannot be a mediating power between the individual and the state ? What power can they give the state to repress them when they resist its authority ? or what power do they add to the individual to resist the state when it would encroach on individual liberty ? Does not the Reviewer see, that whatever may be the power of God, and whatever God might do, if he saw proper, practically he asserts nothing at all but what is included in the state and in the individual, and therefore leaves society without the third element proved
by us and conceded by him to be necessary ? What he wants is an external and objective authority, to which both the state and the individual are amenable, which decides when the individual reason and conscience are really the voice of God, or in harmony with the law of God, and when not, and therefore when the state has the right to use force . against them, and when not. A false conscience is not inviolable, when once decided by competent authority to be a false conscience. Let a competent authority condemn Mormonism or Abolitionism, and the state may, as far as practicable, suppress either. But neither the state nor the individual is competent to decide what is or is not a false conscience, or to declare Mormonism or Abolitionism against the law of God. If the state decides, it is civil despotism ; if the individual, it is anarchy. Moreover, the case demands not only a simple judicial power, competent to declare the divine law in the case, but an executive power capable of executing by spiritual pains and penalties, not always without temporal consequences, the sentence pronounced by the court, or of giving efficacy to the judgment rendered, for both the state and the individual may, and often do act, the one tyrannically, the other rebelliously, against their sense of right and clear convictions of duty.
This power must be superior in dignity and authority to both the individual and the state. It must be a Divine authority, not a human authority, otherwise it would be no higher than the state, would have no more right than the state to decide questions of conscience, and in asserting it, we should only change the despot, not the despotism. All sects, religious corporations, or religious establishments, that have no Divine commission to teach and govern men in spirituals, are usurpations, and the worst of all possible despotisms, for they enslave the soul as well as the body. The Church, if a human corporation, if instituted by men even acting from the purest and best of motives, and sustained by all the world, would have no spiritual authority whatever, and to compel individual reason and conscience or even the state to conform to its rulings would be the grossest tyranny, The state is the highest conceivable human authority, and its constitutional acts are laws, and binding on all its subjects, unless they conflict with the laws of God, and conscience is amenable to no human tribunal. But as both
the state and the individual are amenable to the law of God, the “higher law," there is no encroachment on the prerogatives of the state or on the rights of conscience, by holding both subject to a tribunal expressly instituted and commissioned by God himself, and rendered infallible by his supernatural presence and assistance, to declare and administer his law for both.
The objection to Senator Seward's doctrine, concerning the “higher law," is not that he asserted that there is a higher law than the Constitution of the United States, but that while holding his seat by virtue of the Constitution he should assume the right to disregard it; and, furthermore, that he made the individual reason and conscience the court to declare the higher law. There is a law above the state, and above the individual reason and conscience, and authority as distinguished from despotism, and liberty as distinguished from license depend on the strict observance of that law; but as that law is the law of God, no court not above the state and the individual, or not expressly instituted, commissioned, and assisted by God himself can be competent to declare, or enforce its observance. Evidently, then, God simply speaking through the individual reason and conscience is not the power needed, for if it were there never would have been either despotism or anarchy. The Reviewer, then, has not shown what he acknowledges he was bound to show. He has not shown us the Christian religion is or can be a power without the Church, far less a power adequate to our wants. We have on the contrary shown that Christianity without the Church is not a power, because without the Church it is no actual or concrete existence, and can exist only as an idea, either in the Divine mind or in the human mind. The Reviewer himself virtually proves this, also, in failing to recognize any Christian religion without the Church distinguishable on the one hand from the Divine, and on the other from human nature.
ART. III.-Present Catholic Dangers. The Dublin Review.
London : Richardson & Son January, 1857. It would not become us to mingle as a partisan in the controversy, if controversy it can be called, between The Rambler and The Dublin Review, the two leading Catholic periodicals in the English speaking world ; but as we were ourselves the occasion of its breaking out, we cannot in justice to either side pass it by in total silence. A year ago we took occasion from an outcry raised against The Rambler for some theological articles which were very far from pleasing us, to commend the general character of the periodical, and to offer it some words of sympathy and encouragement. We spoke of it as a periodical very much after our ow.n heart, and expressed our admiration of its fresh and vigorous thought, its free, bold, and manly utterance. But lest our admiration should raise it up new enemies among those who look upon every departure from routine as threatening a departure from the communion of the Church, we intimated that, though it took the right direction, it did not go far enough for us, and in some respects lacked breadth and comprehensiveness. Understanding, or not understanding, our motive, the editors replied with great frankness, admitting the alleged defect, and excusing it, not on the ground of want of conviction, but of the necessities of their position, which prevented them from seeing their way clearly to follow the course we recommended. We cite their reply :
“ Whatever is the fault of our published views, their lack of • breadth and comprehension’ is rather a consequence of our want of ability to say what we mean in a masterly manner, and of the necessity that encompasses us to observe silence on many things, than of our want of perfect and intimate conviction of the truth which Dr. Brownson so well unfolds. England, and especially the little remnant of Catholic England, lives very much on traditionlives by the past. We cannot criticise the past without breaking with that on which our editorial existence depends. We have to write for those who consider that a periodical appearing three times in the quarter, has no business to enter into serious questions, which must be reserved for the more measured roll of the Quarterly, Our part, it seems, is to provide milk and water, and sugar, insipid amusement and instruction,' from which all that might suggest and excite