« AnkstesnisTęsti »
abled us to see all things in a light so different and so much clearer, that we have very little confidence in the value or soundness of any thing we advanced on our own authority prior to its taking place. Sure we are, that the best things we wrote are mixed up with many things we should now disown. If in our philosophical writings, or in any other of our writings, any thing can be found contrary to the faith of the Catholic Church, we of course disown it; and we are far from believing that any of us have made or will make any advance in philosophy — except perhaps in the physical sciences — on the old Catholic Schoolmen. For ourselves, we have more confidence in the conclusions of Saint Thomas than we have in our own; and where we find our conclusions differing from his, we regard it as a strong presumption, to say the least, that ours, not his, are wrong. We lay aside, utterly renounce, all our pretensions to a philosophy of our own; and content ourselves in this matter, as well as in others, to walk in old paths, instead of striking out new ones. We set no value on what we have done, and request our friends to set no value on it. Our life begins with our birth into the Catholic Church. We say this, because we wish no one to be led astray by any of our former writings, all of which, prior to last October, unless it be the criticisms on Kant, some political essays, and the articles in our present Review on Social Reform and the Anglican Church, we would gladly cancel if we could. We have written and published much during the last twenty years ; but a small duodecimo volume would contain all that we would not blot, published prior to last October.
We have said that we fancied our philosophy conducted necessarily to the Catholic Church. We honestly believed this for a long time, and when we commenced this Journal we had not a doubt but the Catholic Church was the true Church ; but such was the view which we then took of the Church, that we fancied we might consistently, for a time, at least, stay outside of it, and labor to bring the Protestant public to right views of the Church in general. Hence we said, “ Stay where you are. We thought we could do more good out of the Church than in it; and our dream was, that we might, by working in the bosom of our Protestant Churches, prepare them to return to the bosom of Catholic unity. It was a dream, hardly an honest dream, at any rate a very foolish dream ; but it was a brief dream. Logic demanded a plain, open avowal of Catholicism, and we had always a great horror of the mortal sin of being inconsequent. Moreover, another question pressed rather hard, namely, the question of the salvation of our own soul. If the Catholic Church was the true Church, we could not be saved without being in its communion ; for, admit even that the invincibly ignorant may be saved without being actually in its communion, the plea of invincible ignorance evidently could not avail us, for we believed the Catholic Church to be the true Church. Then, again, we found ourselves in want of the helps that Church had to give.
It was idle to contend for the necessity of the Church, if, standing outside of it, we could yet maintain the personal integrity, and attain to the holiness of life, for which the Church with its sacraments was especially instituted. Either, then, stop talking about the Church, or seek its communion. We resolved on the last, and rejected our own doctrine of stay- ' ing where we were.
When we first applied for instructions, we supposed, in all substantial matters, we were already a very learned Catholic, and that we were so by virtue of our philosophy. Nor were we immediately undeceived. We were first undeceived by a letter from a very dear friend, who had followed us in all our wanderings for many a year, and whom we attempted to persuade to go with us into the Catholic Church. This letter placed before us in a clear and distinct light the logical results of our own philosophical speculations, and showed us that they did not require us to enter the Catholic Church. It convinced us of this fact. We then discovered, what we had not before suspected, that we had drawn our Catholic conclusions not from data furnished by our metaphysics, but from another source, which we had not distinctly considered. We found we had all along been carrying on a double train of thought, and with admirable facility, without suspecting it, concluding from one or the other as best suited our convenience.
the moment our attention was directed to the point, that the two trains of thought, though accidentally connected in our own mind, and not distinguished in our reasonings, had no necessary connexion, one with the other. We were, through the aid of the friend we have mentioned, enabled to separate them, and to comprehend the process by which we had come to embrace the Catholic faith, and to see that the grounds of that faith in our own mind were quite distinct from any philosophical speculations whatever. We have made this statement for the
of saving our friends the trouble of trying to discover by what process we obtained the Catholic Church from our metaphysical premises. We did not obtain it from those premises. We were convert
who are led to embrace the Catholic Church. We had already convinced ourselves of the insufficiency of Naturalism, Rationalism, and Transcendentalism ; we had also convinced ourselves of the necessity of Divine revelation, and of the fact that the Christian revelation was such a revelation. From this, by a process of reasoning which may be seen in the first article in this number, we arrived infallibly at the Catholic Church. The process is simple and easy. It requires no metaphysical subtilty, no long train of metaphysical reasoning. All it needs is good common-sense, a reverent spirit, and a disposition to believe on sufficient evidence. In explaining different theological doctrines metaphysics may have a place; but in establishing faith there is no great demand for them. Earnestness and simplicity of mind are the chief requisites. It will be seen, then, that we do not place any dependence on our former metaphysical speculations, as the ground of our present faith, and do not ask our friends to seek through them a door of entrance into the Church. They, who attempt by metaphysics to find their way to belief in the supernatural revelation God has made, will most likely get bewildered and fail of the end. The truths of revelation must be taken simply, on plain, positive evidence ; they are not attained to by human wisdom alone. After twenty years and more of wandering in search of a new and better way to the truth, we have been forced to come back, to sit in all humility and docility at the feet of our blessed Saviour, and learn in the old way, as our fathers did before the experiments of Luther and Calvin. We become a fool that we may become wise, consent to know nothing that we may know all. We have found no new way, we have only found the old way. But this old way, beaten by millions of travellers for these eighteen hundred years, is sufficient for us. It is plain, straightforward, and easy ; and we do not feel equal to the windings, obscurities, and asperities of a new and unbeaten path. Bold, energetic, young men, strong minds, full of spirit, untamed by experience, buoyant, confident in themselves, may laugh at us, and say we have grown weary and faint-hearted ; but they will not move us. We have been of their number, and laughed as they laugh, as heartily, and as proudly, and we can afford to be laughed at. Alas! we know what their laughter is worth, and — what it costs. We have said all they can say. We have eaten our own words. May they live long enough to eat theirs, and to become ashamed of their mockery, as we are of ours.
ART. VI. - LITERARY NOTI
ES AND MISCELLANIES.
1.- The Primacy of the Apostolic See vindicated. By Francis
PATRICK KENRICK, Bishop of Philadelphia. Philadelphia : Fithian. 1845. 8vo. pp. 488.
The high literary reputation and distinguished abilities of its right reverend author, are a sufficient guaranty of the interest, value, and importance of this work. So far as we have read, we have found the argument clear and conclusive, conducted with rare erudition, and in a gentle, meek, and truly Christian temper. We thank the author for his work, and assure him that he has made an important contribution to the literature of the Church in this country. His work was much needed, especially for Englsih readers, and at the present time, when the Papacy is so violently and so ignorantly assailed. Indeed, it is the only work in English, with which we are acquainted, in which the question of the Primacy of the Apostolic See, with its collateral questions, is fully, comprehensively, and yet briefly, discussed. Till its appearance, we knew of no English work which we could put into the hands of those desirous of giving the subject a full and impar. tial investigation. It will, therefore, supply a want which many have felt.
It would be presumptuous in us to speak of the doctrines set forth in this book, either to commend or to censure. The layman, because an editor or reviewer, is not relieved from his obligation to submit to his spiritual superiors, or to learn his faith from those the Holy Ghost has set in the Church to teach and to rule the flock. Yet, on matters of private opinion, each man, whether layman or not, may entertain and express, reverently, his own opinions. We need not say we have been highly delighted as well as instructed by Bishop Kenrick's work, and especially with that portion which explains the connexion which formerly existed between the Papal chair and the several civil governments of Christian Europe. He has ably and succe
He has ably and successfully vindicated the Popes from the charges usually brought against them, and showed that the Popes were very far from encroaching, or attempting to encroach, on the rights of civil governments and sovereign princes. And yet, he will forgive us, if we say we wish he had done this in a bolder tone. It is true, the connexion of the ecclesiastical powers, which formerly existed in Europe, is not necessary to the Church, not an essential element of its constitution, not by any means an article of faith ; but that connexion, growing up as it did out of the circumstances of the time, was productive of the greatest good, and Europe has gained nothing by dissolving it. At any rate, it is not a connexion to be apologized for, nor which the Catholic should regret. Few men better deserve the reverence of mankind than the Gregories and the Innocents; and the rapid progress of despotism throughout Europe, in proportion as the authority of the Holy See has been weakened, affords matter of serious meditation to all the lovers of liberty and liberal institutions.
For ourselves, we do not regard with the same feelings as do some, even of our Catholic brethren, the charges brought by Protestants against the Popes. And we are very far from wishing, in order to escape those charges, to restrict the Papal power as much as possible. We have, of course, no reference in this remark to the right reverend author of the work before us. But we fancy we witness among some of our Catholic brethren a disposition to concede far more to Protestant prejudice and cant than is necessary. The violence with which the Papacy is assailed is a proof of its utility, as well as of its divine institution, and should make it as dear to the statesman as to the Catholic. This inveterate hostility, which for so many ages has been manifested against it, proves that it stands in the way of tyrants and of lawless passion; that it is, in fact, a shield interposed between the many and the ambitious few, between the masses and their oppressors. This we saw, and this we stated in our publications and lectures, long before we became a Catholic, and when hardly less prejudiced against the Church than are the majority of our countrymen. We consess that the clamor of our countrymen against “the Pope," “ the authority of the Pope," "allegiance to the Pope,” and “ the intention of the Pope to possess himself of this country," does not move us. The Church is of God, and the Papacy is essential to the constitution and existence of the Church. This is our answer to all clamors.
“But would you have this country come under the authority of the Pope?” Why not? “ But the Pope would take away our free institutions!” Nonsense. But how do you know that? From what do you infer it? After all, do you not commit a slight blunder? Are your free institutions infallible? Are they founded on divine right? This you deny. Is not the proper question for you to discuss, then, not, whether the Papacy be or be not compatible with republican government, but, whether it be or be not founded in divine right ? If the Papacy be founded in divine right, it is supreme over whatever is founded only in human right, and then your institutions should be made to harmonize with it, not it with your institutions. And this would be cause of no apprehension for liberty, for liberty consists in the supremacy of the divine over the human; and we know that no evil can come from the divine supremacy. The real question, then, is, not the compatibility or incompatibility of the Catholic Church with democratic institutions, but, Is the Catholic Church the Church of God ? Settle