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in fact, and those which can be urged only by an unbeliever, take only those which have some foundation in truth, and not one of them is or can be injurious to the mind, if the Church be what she claims to be. They could be injurious only in case the Church were a human institution, fallible, and unable to teach with authority. When, therefore, he assumes them to be injurious, he assumes that the Church is a mere human institution, which we do not grant him, and which is the very point he should first establish.
Moreover, before proceeding to the direct consideration of these charges, we must demand of the Professor, by what authority he determines what is injurious to the mind and heart of man.
He says the tendencies of the Church are injurious. We deny his assumption ; for the Church is infallible, and her teachings and commands are the infallible standard of what is true or false, right or wrong, good or evil, and therefore her tendencies cannot be injurious. Prove, then, the Church authorizes what you allege against her ; you do not prove to me that she is in fault, but you prove to me, infallibly, that what you allege is not evil, but good. But the Professor replies, that he denies the infallibility of the Church, and adduces these very facts to prove that she is not infallible. Very good. But he must prove that the tendencies he alleges are false and injurious tendencies, before from them he can conclude any thing to the prejudice of the infallibility of the Church. Now, we demand of him, by what authority he pronounces this or that tendency injurious. He must do it by some authority or by no authority. If by no authority, then he has no authority for what he says, and we are under no obligation to entertain it. If by some authority, that authority must be fallible or infallible. If fallible, it will not answer the purpose ; because it may turn out that he calls good evil. It cannot set aside the authority of the Church, for, at best, it is only a fallible authority against a fallible authority, and, for aught the Professor can say, the mistake may be on his side, instead of being on the side of the Church. If infallible, what is it?
The Professor says (p. 451), “ The character of a religious system may be known, first, from the relation of its principles to the standard of reason and Scripture ; secondly, from its influence on the soul of man.” The second method is the one he adopts. The character of Catholicity may be learned by its influence on the soul of man. The essential tendencies of Catholicity are injurious to the soul. From this he concludes against the Church. We grant the Church must be bad, if her tendencies are injurious to the soul. But here is a previous question to be disposed of, namely, By what authority does he pronounce her tendencies, admitting even that they are what he alleges, injurious to the soul? He assumes that he is able to say what is or is not an injury to the soul. He must have, then, a standard by which he determines what is good or evil to the soul. Now, what is this standard ? Suppose he declares a given tendency injurious to the soul, and the Church declares it wholesome to the soul, — where is the authority to determine which is right? He and the Church are at issue. Which am I to believe ? Professor Park against the Church, or the Church against Professor Park ? If the two authorities be equal, there can be no decision. If one is paramount, which is it? Is the Professor fallible? Then his authority is not of itself a sufficient motive for setting hers aside, for hers is only fallible, and is probably, at worst, as good as his, and may be better. Is he infallible, and is it impossible for him to err in his judgment, and mistake the character of a tendency? If so, he must establish this infallibility in the outset ; for it is not a self-evident fact, to be taken for granted. We demand, then, once more, his authority for pronouncing an essential tendency of the Church injurious to the soul.
Will the Professor appeal to reason? The appeal is good, if reason have jurisdiction in the case ; but we deny that reason has jurisdiction in the case. An influence may be injurious to the soul, on the supposition that it has only a natural destiny or is to perish with the body, — and not be injurious, but wholesome, on the supposition that the soul has no natural destiny and is to live for ever. Reason, by her own light alone, has jurisdiction only in questions relating to the natural destiny of man, for she cannot go out of nature. She can propounce concerning good or evil to the soul, if its destiny, as our religion teaches be not natural, but supernatural, only as she borrows her light from revelation. The good of the soul is in realizing the end for which it was made ; the injury of the soul is in being hindered or diverted from realizing that end. Before, then, you can say any particular influence is injurious to the soul, you must be able to say for what end the soul was made, and that the influence in question tends necessarily to divert it from the realization of that end, — two facts, which you must obtain, if you obtain them at all, not from reason, but from supernatural revelation. Therefore, we say, reason has not jurisdiction in the case. If, then, the Professor summons us, on this question, to plead at the bar of reason, we shall plead want of jurisdiction in the court.
But may we not, from the tendencies of a religious system, conclude to the character of the religious system itself? Yes, if you are able to determine the real character of the tendencies by an authority to which both the system and its tendencies are bound to answer,
not otherwise. Here is the fact the Professor forgets. He assumes to judge the tendencies of the Church, and then assumes his judgments of these tendencies as the standard by which to try the Church. We call upon him to go a step farther back, and establish the validity of these judgments, by showing us the authority on which they are founded, and that that authority is sufficient to authorize us to receive them as infallible. In assuming them as the standard by which to try the Church, he forgets that the Church denies his ability to form valid judgments in the premises, and therefore that he must begin by showing that he can, and showing it, too, by an authority which the Church, as well as he, must acknowledge to be ultimate. Till he does this, his judgment of what is or is not an injurious tendency is of no authority, and his conclusion from it for or against the Church is deserving of no attention ; for it is a mere petitio principii. This is a fact which all our Protestant doctors overlook, and which proves that they themselves have made less proficiency in the investigation of first principles, at least of logic, than they flatter themselves.
Will the Professor fall back now on his first-named method ; namely, the principles of reason and Scripture ? Not on reason alone, for we have just precluded him from that. On reason and Scripture? Well; will he fall back on them as the court, or as the law which is to govern the decisions of the court ? Not as the court, for they are not a court, and cannot be, any more than the statute-book is, or can be, a court.
Then as the law ? Very good. But the law authoritatively declared, or declared without authority ? Without authority? Then we deny it to be law. With authority? Then what authority? The authority of reason ? Then, whose reason ? Yours or mine ? Not mine; for, if so, I should be both defendant and judge of the law; and to this you cannot be required to assent. Not yours; for, if so, you would be both plaintiff and judge of the law; and to this I cannot be required to assent.
Whose reason, then ? The reason of the court ? But where and what is the court, if the Church is set aside ?
Here we come back to the question with which we started, — On what authority does the Professor assume his judgments of the tendencies of the Church to be valid against hers? If his own, he only pits his infallibillity against hers, and we know beforehand that he is not infallible. If he says some other body, he only predicates of another body the infallibility he denies to her ; and then comes up the question of the infallibility of that other body. We may deny it as we do his, and then nothing is decided. Infallible authority there must be somewhere, or there is no decision of the question. We demand of the Professor, what and where is this authority ?
If the Church be from God, and infallible in her teachings and commands, we know that none
at none of her essential tendencies can be bad; for her teachings and commands constitute the rule of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil. no matter what you prove she teaches and commands ; for, if it be clear that she teaches and commands it, we will maintain that it is true, right, and good, against all gainsayers, even to the dungeon, exile, or the stake, if need be. Nay, you are precluded from calling it false, wrong, or injurious ; and if you so call it, you arraign Almighty God himself, and charge him blasphemously with falsehood and evil. It matters nothing in this case, that her teachings run athwart your prejudices, or that her commands shock your sensibilities ; for her authority is higher, more ultimate, than yours. What more contrary to our ordinary notions of justice and humanity than the command given to the Israelites, through Moses, to conquer and possess the land of Canaan, and to extirpate by the sword its inhabitants,
men, women, and children? Yet the Israelites were justifiable in obeying it, nay, were bound to obey it ; for it was the express command of God, and the commands of God constitute right and create obligation. Yet, without such command clearly given, the Israelites would not have been justified in doing what they did. So, many things the Church commands would not be right or obligatory, if commanded by any other body, — as the execution of a criminal is an act of justice, if commanded by the sovereign authority, but a murder, if done without such authority. This is all clear and undeniable, if you concede the Church to be from God, to be authorized by him to speak in his name, -or, rather, if she be as she claims, and as all Catholics believe, the organ through which he himself speaks, teaches, and governs. If this be conceded, you have nothing to do but to submit, receive the command, and obey it, on peril of rebellion against God and your own damnation.
Now, this conceded, as it must be, the Professor, before going into the investigation of the essential tendencies of the Church, must deny the authority of the Church ; for, till the authority of the Church is set aside, the character of her tendencies is not an open question. In concluding from the character of the tendencies to the authority of the Church, he is guilty, as we have said of a petitio principii. Thus,
This is an essential tendency of the Church ; but this tendency is injurious, therefore the Church is injurious. But, if injurious, she cannot be from God, and infallible. Therefore, the Church is not from God, and infallible.
But to this we reply, by denying the minor ; no essential tendency of the Church can be injurious, because the Church is from God, and infallible ; but this is an essential tendency of the Church ; therefore, this tendency is not injurious.
Now, the Professor, it will be seen, in his minor begs the question in dispute. In it he does not disprove our major, but simply assumes it to be false ; and if he concedes our major, his minor cannot possibly be true. He must, then, disprove our major, that is, the infallibility of the Church, before he can proceed to the proof of his minor. We suppose the Professor is well enough acquainted with logic to understand this ; if so, he will see the question between him and us cannot turn on the character of the tendencies of the Church, but must turn on the authority and infallibility of the Church ; and this, in fact, is the only question there is or can be between Catholics and Protestants ; for the infallibility of the Church closes all debate on the other questions they may raise. The debate is all in the Church question, Is the Church from God, the organ through which he himself teaches and governs ? If yes, all is settled. If no, all remains in statu quo, and the Protestants must show us some such organ, or we must grope our way along in the darkness as well as we can, by the feeble ray son, which only serves to make the darkness visible. Doubtless, the Church must vindicate her own claims, and prove, by sufficient evidence, that she is the organ of the Divine Word; for the law does not bind till sufficiently promulgated, that is, so promulgated that by the prudent exercise of reason there can be no uncertainty as to what it is. But this she does, and we are ready to show that she does it, whenever the question shall be fairly raised.
But having made these observations by way of protest against
VOL. II. NO. IV.