« AnkstesnisTęsti »
cent convert ; we may assume a tone and freedom of remark not becoming one just from the ranks of Protestantism; and we have some suspicion that such is the case ; but, if so, we shall take meekly any rebuke which may be administered to us. But we have seen so much of Protestantism, that we cannot bear in silence the least concession, or shadow of a concession, to it, for any cause whatever. It is a rebel to the Church, and therefore a rebel to God; as such we hold it, and as such we would have it treated, whenever and wherever we come in contact with it. We will throw not one grain of incense upon the altar of Jupiter ; no, not to gain the whole world. It is no calamity to suffer and die for the faith ; but it is a terrible calamity to succeed in the best of temporal causes by lending the least conceivable countenance to any of the distinctive principles of Protestantism. There can be no alliance between Christ and Belial. If we live in Protestant countries, we will obey the laws, demean ourselves as good citizens and subjects, but have no communion with what is distinctively Protestant. We can do without the earth, but we cannot do without heaven. If infidelity and misbelief hold the dominion of this world, so be it; we can enter into no covenant with them for the purpose of sharing that dominion. We seek a kingdom which is not of this world.
But if we express our apprehensions, it is not because we fear any thing for the final result. The Church is of God, and can never fail. She never takes the initiative in regard to any form of government, for she can adapt herself to all forms of civil polity. She is eminently anti-revolutionary, eminently conservative ; but she always can, and always does, accept and conform herself to the political order she finds established. She did not stir up the popular movements of modern times, nor set on foot the efforts of the people for popular governments. But she was not bound to the old political order now passing away, and in no sense depended on it as the condition of her existence, or of fulfilling her high mission. She did not seek to overthrow it, for she seeks to overthrow no existing political order ; nor does she seek to recall and restore an order once overthrown and passed away.
But when one order has been thrown off, and a new one introduced, she leaves the old, and accepts and conforms to the new.
A new political order seems to us to be rendered inevitable by the popular movements of modern times. It seems to us, that there is to follow, perhaps throughout all Christendom, after a more or less protracted struggle, an era of popular governments. The people are to take the place of the old kings and nobles. Whether this will be a change for better or for worse, we, perhaps without offence, may be permitted to regard as problematical ; but that it is to be we regard as inevitable. The Church will conform, and we see that she already is conforming, to the new state of things. It is in accordance with the principles on which she has always acted, to accept the new state of things, when once established. The new order being the popular order, the Church will accept and sanction the popular order. The Church, which has always been on the side of the people, will hereafter, we venture to predict, be on the side of what is called popular liberty, and the triumph of the Church and of the people will be celebrated together.
In this view of the case, the popular tendency has nothing alarming. A few years will develope the fact, that the freedom of the people and the independence of the Church are one and the same cause, and that the one cannot be effected without the other. The republican will see that his protection against the tyrant is only in the maintenance of the freedom and independence of the Church, in regard to all her spiritual functions ; and the Church will appeal to the popular energy to save her from the slavery to which infidel governments everywhere attempt to reduce her. In this way, the providence of God will make the terrific popular energy, which was at first waked up by the enemies of the Church to crush her, serve as the instrument of her triumph and of their confusion. In this way will Providence bring good out of evil, and turn the weapons forged against his Spouse in her defence and against her enemies. When the cause of popular government becomes identified with the cause of the Church, it will become a holy cause ; and the most democratic government, under the sanction of the Church, or where the Church is free to fulfil her mission in the spiritual order, will be a good government, and perhaps the best of all conceivable governments. Whatever evils might be apprehended from popular liberty, where we have not the Church, will be avoided, where we have it, and the good of the people will assuredly be promoted.
We hope we shall be forgiven these some somewhat desultory remarks, which, after all, to those who will meditate them, may be pregnant with some not unimportant suggestions. We have made them in no spirit of arrogance ; for we do not, because we fill an editorial chair, forget that we are not one who has received authority to teach, and that it is for us to receive, and not to give, - or, if we attempt to give, to give only that which we have received from her whom God hath commissioned to teach and to govern the nations. The layman does not cease to be a layman because the conductor of a public journal. But we claim the right, with submission, to labor with what little ability we have for the cause of truth and goodness ; and we feel the more earnest, because we must redeem the time we have lost, and can have at best but a few years in which to redeem it. With us, the Church is paramount to all other considerations, and we ask no greater boon than be permitted to labor in her cause. First of all, we are Catholics, and first of all does that which concerns the Church interest us. Next in order, we are American citizens. In becoming Catholics, we do not cease to be citizens and patriots, and we feel bound to demean ourselves as faithful citizens and loyal subjects. As the conductor of a public journal, we have the honor and glory of our country at heart, and are bound to raise our voice, feeble though it be, against whatever would attack either, come it from what quarter it may. Here, free institutions are the established order, and we have no option left us ; we are solemnly bound to do our best to defend these institutions against all impugners from within or from without, and to do what we can to preserve them and provide for their free practical operation and success. Next in order, after our own country, we give our best affections and warmest sympathy to the cause of Ireland. We, as a people, are much to Ireland. She has given us a large portion of our population, many of our best citizens, of the firmest, bravest, and most enlightened friends and defenders of our republican institutions. She has also done more ; she has contributed more than any other one nation to introduce and build up among us the Catholic Church. For this, as little as the mass of our countrymen may esteem it, we owe her an immense debt of gratitude, greater than we shall ever be able to pay ; for to the existence and prevalence of the Catholic Church among us shall we be ultimately indebted for the preservation of our free institutions, and their success in working out the happiness of the people. Dear to us, then, is the cause of Ireland ; and we give her, if nothing else, the warm affections of a heart, and fervent prayers for the true freedom and prosperity of all her children at home, or whithersoever they may be scattered abroad over the earth.