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as temporal prince, is an independent sovereign, and is at liberty to govern his subjects in his own way, as much so as any other temporal prince. But it must be remembered that this question of the censorship of the press has two sides, or at least has something to be said in its favor ; for there is no country on earth that tolerates the unlimited freedom of the press. There are some Protestant countries in Europe, — Prussia, for instance, which subject the press to the most rigid censorship ; so rigid, that the censors have been known to erase the word liberty, as “ treasonable.” England, indeed, boasts that her press is free ; she establishes no censorship ; and yet she restrains its liberty by treating as blasphemous libels the publications which contain certain doctrines. George Houston, at present, we believe, one of the editors of the New York Herald, -- was imprisoned two years and a half in London, for publishing an infidel work, entitled “ Ecce Homo.” Robert Taylor, also, was long imprisoned in Oakham jail for writing certain infidel works. We, in this country, claim to have a free press ; and yet Abner Kneeland, a few years since, was imprisoned in Boston for writing a certain newspaper paragraph; and one Dr. Knowlton was also, a short time before, imprisoned for publishing a certain infamous book. There are publications which no civilized people can tolerate, and which no Christian people can suffer to circulate freely. All have their index expurgatorius. Some place more works in it, others fewer. The question between them is not one of principle, but one of more or less. The only difference in principle, too, between those nations which prosess to have a free press, and those which have a censorship, is, that the latter endeavour to prevent the mischief from being done, while the former only seek to punish the authors of it, after they have done it. Which is the wiser course we shall not undertake to decide. But one thing we will say, the licentiousness of the press should alarm every one who regards the moral and spiritual health of the people. The floods of obscene and corrupting novels and other cheap publications, which have of late inundated the country, are not to pass off without leaving terrible waste and destruction behind ; and unless the moral portion of the community, especially the clergy, in the bosom of their several flocks, use their utmost endeavours, and exert all their pastoral authority, to prevent these works from being read by the young, the unsuspecting, and the impressible, the most frightful corruption of morals and manners will soon spread over the whole land. The Methodist Quarterly Review, instead of bringing false charges against the Church of Rome, would do a much greater service to God and the country, if it would use its influence to guard our young community from the blasting effects of the recent licentiousness of the Boston and New York presses. Here is an object worthy of all its holy zeal.
But the Review seeks to establish its proposition by alleging that the Church of Rome wages a deadly war upon liberty of mind and conscience. That the Church of Rome teaches, that conscience needs to be enlightened by the word of God before it can be followed as a safe guide, we freely admit ; and that she also teaches, that private judgment in interpreting the word of God or articles of faith should yield to the Church, is by no means denied. Every Catholic believes the Holy Catholic Church infallible and authoritative. He believes that Christ has instituted a ministry which is competent to teach by authority, and competent because Christ is always with it, enabling it to teach the truth, and preventing it from teaching error. So far as submission to this authority is a restriction on freedom of mind, the Catholic Church undoubtedly restricts it. But this no Catholic feels to be any restriction at all; for to him the decision of the Church is the highest conceivable evidence of truth; and it therefore guides him to the truth, instead of restraining him from embracing it. He feels it his blessed privilege to have an authority which cannot err, to decide for him, and set him right, where his own reason might lead him astray.
But must not this yielding to authority make one a mental slave, destroy all mental vigor, and tend to reduce or retain one in intellectual imbecility, in the most brutish ignorance ? Certainly, if the authority be human, or that of any one of our sects. The full force of this reply can be understood by none but a Catholic. The Catholic Church is divine, it is a supernatural institution, and supernaturally sustained and protected. It teaches all truth, that is, all truth pertaining to religion and morals. It decides positively on no other subject. It leaves, then, necessarily, the human mind free to discover and defend the truth on all subjects ; and both truth and error on all subjects, but the fundamental principles of religion and morals. Is not this liberty enough to satisfy any sober friend of freedom ? If you run athwart these fundamental principles, you are unquestionably arrested ; but why arrested? Because the Church will not tolerate your truth ? Not at all. For all truth is homogeneous, and therefore, so long as you follow the truth, you cannot run athwart her decisions. You are arrested, then, because the Church cannot tolerate your error. You are free to advocate all truth, but not free to advocate all error. Here is all the restriction placed upon you; and surely this leaves ample room for the freest thought, and the fullest investigation of all subjects.
But any such restriction, imposed by any one of the sects, would, we grant, have the effect supposed; because no sect is Catholic, that is, no sect teaches all truth, and the authority of the sect is confessedly human. There are many religious truths which the Methodists, for instance, do not accept; and they have, moreover, no promise of the continued presence of the Holy Ghost to lead them into all truth. They do not even pretend that their decisions on matters of faith are the result of any but human wisdom. In subjecting us to them, they would subject us to human authority in matters of faith and conscience, which is the grossest tyranny ; they would also debar us from entertaining and defending all truth not embraced within their defective symbols. We should then be really reduced to slavery, and brutish ignorance and mental imbecility would quickly follow. The government of God is freedom, that of man is tyranny.
But why all this clamor against the Roman Catholic Church as to freedom of mind ? To hear our sectarians, one would think that they were the friends of freedom of thought and conscience. They talk of the right of private judgment, as if they really recognized it, and suffered every man to be his own judge of what is or is not true. All delusion! There is no religious denomination on earth, that allows unlimited freedom of mind, or the unrestricted right of private judgment. The Protestant rule is deceptive and self-contradictory. All Protestant sects professedly recognize the right of private judgment, but all in the same breath deny it. They affirm the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and the sole rule of faith and practice. Now, here is an authority set up at once above private judgment ; for no private judgment is permitted to decide against the word of God.
private judgment is free to interpret the word of God." No such thing. The written word does not interpret itself, and is no rule till interpreted. Each sect puts its own interpretation on it ; and that interpretation each member of the sect must accept or acquiesce in, on pain of heresy and excommunication. The Methodists excommunicate from their communion the member who lapses into what they call heresy, and so do all the other sects. We ourselves, many years ago, were
excommunicated, and without even a hearing or a notice, by the Universalists, for having embraced views not quite in harmony with theirs. Even the Unitarians, who have, with us, no written creed, if they do not formally disfellowship the member of their denomination, who interprets the word of God differently from the interpretation which they tacitly adopt, excommunicate virtually, by turning the cold shoulder, by refusing ministerial intercourse, by nods, winks, hints, suggestions, private denunciations, &c., &c. Is it not so ? That it is, many of our friends have had experimental proof. Nothing is more false than this hypocritical cant of Protestants about the right of private judgment. It means ever only that “ you are free to judge that what I believe is true, and what I disbelieve is false.” Nothing more. Every Protestant sect has persecuted those of its members who attempted to exercise practically the right of private judgment, and in every country where any one Protestant sect has been strong enough to establish its faith by law, it has done so. The first instance on record, we believe, of absolute civil liberty in regard to religious faith, is the Catholic colony of Maryland, founded by Lord Baltimore ; and the Protestants no sooner gained the ascendancy in that colony than they established the Protestant religion by law. The Puritans were notorious for their intolerance, and we have heard of their banishing, branding, imprisoning, and hanging persons, for presuming to exercise the right of private judgment. The Anglican Church has been from the first a persecuting Church, and her history in this respect is the blackest page in the whole history of humanity ; and even the evangelical Bishop of the diocese of Vermont has recently proposed the establishment of a council, one part of whose duty it shall be to exercise a censorship of the press. Surely, Protestants, who are notorious the world over for their intolerance and their hostility to freedom of thought and conscience, should not talk about mental slaves and the liberty of the press. Let them give some proofs that they themselves comprehend and love even the first elements of freedom, before they bring railing accusations against others.
II. HOSTILITY TO LITERATURE.
But, continues the reviewer, " the Church of Rome has ever waged a deadly war upon literature.” We do not know precisely in what sense the reviewer here uses the term, Church of Rome ; but we presume he will not object to our under
VOL. II. NO. I.
standing by the Church of Rome, the whole Latin Church, for at least one thousand years next preceding the Reformation, and all particular churches which have since continued in communion with the See of Rome, and to acknowledge the Pope as the visible head of the Church. The charge, then, is, that the whole Latin Church, from the sixth century to the sixteenth, and the whole Roman Catholic Church since, as the Church, has waged an unceasing and deadly warfare upon literature.
Now, the reviewer not only makes this charge, but he declares it the design of his paper “to exhibit the proofs” of it. Well, what proofs does he exhibit ? Not a proof, — not the shadow of a proof; nor does he even attempt to bring any proof, but the assertion of hostility to a free press, which we have proved to be groundless. If the Church has ever waged this war upon literature, how happens it that the reviewer can adduce no decree of council, universal, national, or provincial; no papal bull, or, at least, some sermon, charge, letter, or other writing, of some cardinal or bishop, condemning literature and literary pursuits ? It is strange, if this war has been unceasingly waged for at least thirteen hundred years, all over Europe, and in the face of all the world, that our reviewer can find no proof of the fact, but an unfounded assertion, and an unwarrantable inference from certain expurgatory indexes. Since he can find none, it is fair to presume none exists.
The simple truth is, as every one knows, who is at all acquainted with the literary history of Christendom, that the Catholic Church has been, from the first, the warm friend and generous patron of literature. A charge more false, more directly in the face and eyes of well known truth, it is impossible to invent; and our Methodist friend, if he had knowledge enough of literature to be entitled even to take the sacred name upon his lips, would not have dared to make the statement he
for we are not willing to consider him one of those who are given up “ to believe a lie that they may be damned.”
The early fathers of the Church, St. Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Tertullian, St. Basil, Lactantius, St. John Chrysostom, the Gregories, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and others, were not only the most learned men of their times, but can well take rank with the most learned men of the palmiest days of Greece and Rome. They loved learning, and encouraged it both by precept and example ; and have always been held in the highest honor in the Roman Catholic Church, and, with one or two exceptions, of almost apostolic authority. It