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seeker ? We own, that, for ourselves, we do not think it a reproach for a man to feel that he has arrived at moral truth. In morals, which are an every-day concernment, the truth ought to be early ascertained, and the progress which we ought all to aspire to should be not so much in knowing the law as in keeping it. Progress we of course approve; but progress in obedience, not in doctrine. We may come to such perfection in doctrine, that, in ordinary cases, we have no more to learn ; but in obedience we never become so perfect that there is nothing more for us to do.

But it seems we are a “ Gnostic of the Roman school." That we are a Roman Catholic now, .we own, and thank God that we are ; but we were not when we wrote the review of Mr. Hildreth's book, for our conversion dates only from last October, and the ethical theory we opposed to his was one which, consistently or inconsistently, we had advocated for years. A moralist should study to be exact even in trifles.

According to Mr. Hildreth, nothing is or can be fixed or permanent in moral doctrine. Every tree,” he says,

grows old, ceases to bear wholesome fruit, and comes presently to cumber the ground. It must be cut down, and something more adapted to existing wants and circumstances planted in its place." From this we infer, 1. That he holds that his own theory will soon cease to bear wholesome fruit, and come presently to cumber the ground, — in which he is probably right; and 2. That morality is a creature of circumstance, one thing in one age or one country, and another thing in another ; one thing under one set of circumstances, and another thing under another; and therefore that there is no universal, eternal, and immutable right. It is easy now to understand why Mr. Hildreth commends those who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth; for, according to him, there is in morals no truth to be known.

Mr. Hildreth makes morality consist in obedience to the inherent laws of man's nature, and characterizes as right obedience to the law or sentiment of benevolence. His theory is, therefore, naturalism, and belongs to the class denominated sentimental. Of this we were aware when we wrote our strictures, and we condemned his theory, among other reasons, because it had only a sentimental basis. Sentiment can afford no solid basis for an ethical doctrine, because none of our sentiments can be safely indulged, save under the direction and control of reason. Benevolence, as simple benevolence, can inflict pain on the guilty no more than on the innocent. Obeying simply its impulses, we should throw open the prison-doors and let the convicts escape, when both public and private good might require them to be confined and punished. Benevolence itself, then, must be exercised under the direction and control of reason, that is, must be in subjection to reason. Similar remarks may be made of all the sentiments ; — which proves that none of them can ever be taken as safe guides in matters of duty.

In opposition to this sentimental theory, we stated in our strictures, that morality presupposes a law out of man and above him, imposed by a sovereign lawgiver, which he is bound to obey. The lawgiver is God; the law is his will ; therefore morality is simply obedience to the will of God. To this Mr. Hildreth objects, that it implies that "might makes right.' We deny the conclusion. Because God is infinitely and essentially good, and his will is the expression of his infinite and essential goodness, not of his power regarded as a distinct attribute. God is essentially the right in itself, absolute right, because he is in his own essence the good in itself, that is, absolute goodness. Whatever he wills, then, must be right, not by reason of his infinite power, but by reason of his essential goodness. We do not, then, make right depend on might; for in God it is not dependent at all, and in creatures it depends on the infinite, eternal, and immutable goodness of the Creator, to which his power, as a distinct attribute, is not legislative, but simply ministerial.

Men may reluct as they will to our doctrine, but no doctrine except the one that makes morality consist solely and simply in obedience to the will of God can abide the test of reason. Atheism leaves as little foundation for morals as for theology. Morality is rightly termed Theologia moralis, or practical theology. It consists in practical obedience to the will of God, and to the inherent laws of human nature only so far as they express, and only for the reason that they express, the will of God.

The question naturally comes up, then, How are we to ascertain the will of God? Up to a certain point, unquestionably, by the light of nature, that is, by natural reason operating on our own natures and the nature of things, so far as open to our inspection. This gives us Natural Morality, which is good and true as far as it goes, but which is deficient in clearness, extent, and power, as we may learn from the history of all na

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tions destitute of divine revelation. Divine revelation is necessary to supply its deficiencies.

But this divine revelation will need an interpreter. Granted. This interpreter, according to us, is the Church. Granted again. Then, says Mr. Hildreth, we make the Church the sovereign lawgiver, the God we are to trust and obey.” Not

There is a very obvious distinction between the legislature that enacts, and ihe court that expounds and applies, the law. The Church does not make the law; she merely keeps, expounds, and applies it, and is herself bound by it. This is so obvious, that Mr. Hildreth is unpardonable for having overlooked it, and so, too, is the good President of Dartmouth College, who also asserts that we regard the Church as God. We hope we are not quite stupid enough to confound the organ with the speech, far less with the speaker. God gives the law to the Church, who has nothing except what she receives ; and we receive the law from her, because he has authorized her to declare it.

Our infidel doctors on the one hand, and our Protestant doctors on the other, must have queerly constructed minds to be able to imagine that Catholics fall into such gross absurdities as they now and then charge us with. One is forced to believe that their own education has been sadly neglected, and their reasoning powers left wholly uncultivated. We sometimes amuse ourselves by representing to ourselves the strange feelings these sage doctors, who talk so flippantly about Catholicity, would have, if they could suddenly change places with the Catholic, and see the marvellous ignorance and gullibility on their part which their objections usually imply. It is rare that we meet with an objection to the Church, that does not impeach the common intelligence, the common sense, or the common honesty of the objector ; and in almost all cases, the difficulty of replying to the objection lies solely in the fact that the objector is too ignorant of the subject to understand the refu. tation. The ignorance of the enemies of the Church is really deplorable. And yet, to believe them, they are the only enlightened portion of mankind. If they should die, all light would be extinguished, and total darkness would cover the earth. Poor men ! would they would “get wisdom, and, with all their getting, get understanding”; at least, so far as to be able to bring forward objections not discreditable to themselves.

Mr. Hildreth says, Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants, teach that "man is totally depraved, utterly incapable of any good action. As all his actions want the quality of voluntary obedience to God, in which alone goodness consists, they are all bad, and all equally bad. It is only those persons who are redeemed, sanctified, marvellously regenerated, by divine grace, who are capable of good actions.” This may be Calvinistic theology, but it is not Catholic theology. The Church does not teach, that men, even since the Fall, are naturally incapable of good actions, or that all actions performed without the aid of divine grace are bad, far less that all are equally bad. The actions of men in an unregenerate state may be good, and no small portion of them, unquestionably, are good ; but none of them are meritorious in relation to the supernatural destiny to which the elect are appointed. They are good in relation to our natural destiny ; but not good, though not necessarily bad, in relation to our supernatural destiny, because no natural act can bear any proportion to a supernatural end. No man can gain eternal life without the infusion of supernatural grace, which enables him to perform acts of a supernatural virtue ; yet every man has the natural ability, if he will but exercise it, to keep the law of God in the whole sphere of natural morality, or else his disobedience would not be his sin.

It is never safe to assume that the Catholic and Protestant theologies are the same, for they are widely different. Protestant theology teaches, that man, by the Fall, lost the ability to will the good, and therefore that the Fall destroyed in man both reason and free-will ; Catholic theology teaches, that the Fall, though it wounded, weakened, reason and free-will, did not destroy them. According to it, the principal effects of the Fall are in the loss of the supernatural grace by which man, before he sinned, was able, 1. to keep his lower or sensitive nature in perfect submission to his higher or rational nature ; 2. his reason and will in perfect submission to the will of God; and 3. to fulfil the law of God in that supernatural sense in which obedience merits eternal life. By losing this grace, man lost his ability to merit eternal life, for that life was never meritable, so to speak, save through the aid of supernatural grace ; he lost, also, the dominion of reason and will over the lower nature, or the flesh. The flesh, therefore, escaped from its subjection, became disorderly, rebellious, breeding all manner of susts, and not unfrequently bringing reason and will themselves into bondage to the law of sin and death reigning in the members. According to Protestant theology, man ceased, by the Fall, to be a moral being, because he lost by it reason and freewill, and became therefore necessarily incapable, till regenerated, of performing a moral act, a single good act in any sense whatever. According to Catholic theology, he did not cease to be a moral being, nor become incapable of performing moral acts, good acts, acts meritorious in their sphere, but only incapable of performing acts meritorious of eternal life, of which no natural act, either before the Fall or since, before regeneration or after it, ever was or ever can be meritorious.

This premised, we distinguish; if you say man is incapable, till regenerated, of performing acts which are good, meritorious in relation to our supernatural destiny, we grant it ; if in relation to our natural destiny, within the sphere of natural morality, we deny it. Bearing this distinction in mind, the objection Mr. Hildreth brings against Catholic theology, that, according to it, no man, till redeemed, sanctified, regenerated, can perform a moral act, is unfounded. The objection may bear, and in fact does bear, against Calvinistic theology, but not against Catholic theology. It would do those who wish to write about Catholicity no harm, but perhaps some good, to begin by reading a short course of Catholic theology. It might save them from many blunders and from much useless labor.

Mr. Hildreth in his Letter talks largely of the triumphs of reason, and informs us that “Rome has fallen to rise no more.All this may be very fine, but we cannot take it for granted. We have heard much of these triumphs of reason, but we have never seen them, and know not where to look for them. Where are they? Will our Protestant brethren name to us a single point in theology on which they are all agreed, single question they have definitively answered, and which they all regard as no longer an open question ? Will our philosophers inform us what has been settled in philosophy ? Was there a single question debated by the old philosophers of Greece and Italy, which is not debated still in our modern schools? What have we settled ? On what single point have philosophers come to a definitive conclusion ? Systems we have had, and have, in abundance, but is there any one whose right to reign is undisputed ? We have had Cartesianism, but that is defunct; Lockism, but that is dethroned ; Condillacism, but that has become a tradition ; Leibnitzism, Wolfism, Kantism, Fichteism, Schellingism, Hegelism, but they are all exploded, even in the land where they originated ; we have


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