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nation, are we not breaking our faith, and perjuring ourselves in the sight of God and of man? What matters it to honest men, whether we do this directly or indirectly? What is the difference in principle between passing a law excluding, under severe penalties, the exercise of the Catholic religion in this country, and, by our political and other combinations, rendering its exercise impossible ? What is the difference between excluding Catholics directly, and treating them in such a manner that they will be forced to exclude themselves ?
Then, again, the wisdom of the policy of combining for the expulsion or exclusion of Catholics may be gravely questioned. Where there is a multiplicity of denominations, there is safety for any one only so far as there is safety for all. Combine and suppress Catholicism to-day, and it may be some other one's turn to be suppressed to-morrow. The precedent established, the Catholics disposed of, a new combination may be formed against the Methodists, then against the Baptists, then against the Unitarians and Universalists, and then against the Episcopalians, or for the revival of the Classis of Amsterdam, or the Kirk of Scotland. Cannot all see that the safety of each is in protecting all, and suffering a combination to be formed against none ?
Moreover, why should Protestants combine against Catholics ? Have they not the Bible and private reason ? and with these what has a Protestant to apprehend? Is he not abundantly able to meet and vanquish in the
fair field of controversy the benighted and idolatrous Papist ? Does he not believe that he has truth, reason, and revelation on his side ? Does he not know that he has all the prejudices and nearly nineteen twentieths of the whole population of the country on his side ? Are there not here odds enough in his favor ? What, then, does he fear? With all these advantages, does he tremble before the Papist, and fear the meeting-house may give place to the church, the table to the altar, the bread and wine to the Real Presence ? A sorry compliment this to Protestantism! a sorry compliment to reason, to distrust its encounter with error in open field and fair combat! Were we Protestants, as we once were, - but, God be praised, are no longer, — we should blush
, to appeal against Popery to any other arguments than Scripture and reason. If with these we could not resist the spread of Catholicism, we should be led to distrust the sacredness of our cause, and to fear, that, after all, we had not the Lord on our side. These political combinations betray the weakness of Protestantism, not its strength; the doubts, not the faith, of its
upholders. If they are right in their premises, they need not these combinations to suppress Catholicism ; if they are wrong in their premises, then they are warring, not against a superstition, an idolatry, as they pretend, but against God, and we leave to them to decide what is the proper name by which they should be designated.
But we are told that Catholics are opposed, not because they are Catholics simply, but because, being Catholics, they owe allegiance to a foreign power, and therefore cannot be good citizens. Every Catholic, it is assumed, owes allegiance to the Pope, and of course can be bound by no civil obligation he may contract as a citizen. If we really supposed that any one among us could be so simple as to believe this, we would contradict it. But there are charges too absurd to need a reply. The Catholic does, indeed, owe allegiance to the Pope as the visible head of the Chirch, but not as visible head of the state. Whoever knows any thing at all of the obligation of the Catholic to the successor of St. Peter knows that it would be as absurd to conclude that the Christian, because he owes allegiance to God, cannot be a good citizen, nor true to the obligations he contracts as a citizen to the state, as to infer that a Catholic cannot be a good citizen because he owes allegiance to the visible head of his Church. So far as this allegiance is a fact, and so far as it is operative on the heart and conscience of a Catholic, it binds him to be a peaceful and obedient subject to the state, a faithful and conscientious citizen.
But the Roman Catholic religion, we are further told, is incompatible with republicanism, hostile to popular institutions ; from which it is to be inferred, we suppose, that Protestantism, as the negative of Catholicism, is compatible with republican institutions and friendly to popular freedom. It would,
, perhaps, be difficult to prove this. The most despotic states in Europe are the Protestant, and in Switzerland, for instance, the Catholic cantons are the most democratic. Despotism was hardly known in Europe prior to the Reformation, save in that portion not in communion with the Church of Rome ; and we very much doubt if there be at this moment as much popular freedom in the Protestant states of Europe as there was in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. There are really fewer checks on arbitrary power, and there is more heartless oppression.
In this country, the only republican government that Protestantism can pretend ever to have founded has been established, but it has not been founded solely by Protestantism. It owes its origin to the circumstances in which the first settlers came here, and to the impossibility, after independence of the crown of Great Britain was proclaimed, of establishing any other than a republican form of government. We have existed as a republic between sixty and seventy years. But it needs no very sharp observation to perceive that our republic has virtually failed to accomplish the hopes of its founders, and that it is, without some notable change in the people, destined either to a speedy dissolution, or to sink into a miserable timocracy, infinitely worse than the most absolute despotism. Protestantism, if it could originate, has not proved itself able to sustain it.
We need but glance at our electioneering contests, becoming fiercer and fiercer, more and more demoralizing, with each succeeding election, to be convinced of this. The election of our presidents costs us nearly as much as costs the whole civil list of Great Britain. We have heard it suggested that the election of General Harrison cost the Whigs more than fifty millions of dollars, not to reckon the expenditures of the opposite party in attempting to reëlect Mr. Van Buren. Hardly less has been expended in the campaign just closed. This is a tax no people can bear for any great length of time, without ruin, and the complete prostration of public and private morality.
Protestantism, by its principle, — liberty of private judgment, — may undoubtedly seem to favor civil freedom and that it often attempts to establish free popular institutions we do not deny ; but it wants the virtue to sustain them. By this same principle, it multiplies sects without number, and virtually destroys, by dividing, the moral force of the nation. We see this with ourselves. Religion has little force in controlling our passions or pursuits. No one of the sects possesses a commanding influence over the people. The great mass of the people are left, therefore, to the corrupt passions of their own depraved nature. They cease to live for God, and live only for the world, — to live for eternity, and live only for time. They become wedded to things of this world, their hearts bent only on wealth and honors. In business the ruling passion is to get rich, in public life to rise to places of honor and emolument, in private life to gain ease and pleasure. Now, how long can a government, which rests for its existence on the virtue and intelligence of the people, exist, or, if exist, answer its end, in a community where the great mass of the people are carried away by the dominant passions, wealth, place, and pleasure ?
We may be told that enlightened self-interest will suffice, that only instruct the people what is for their interest, and they will do it. This is plausible, but all experience proves to the contrary. Who does not know that it is for his real interest, both for time and eternity, to be a devout Christian ? And yet are all devout Christians ? The wisdom and prudence of men's conduct cannot be measured by their intelligence. A corrupt man uses his intelligence only as the minister of his corruption. The more you extend intelligence, unless you extend the moral restraints and influences of the gospel at the same time, the more do you sharpen the intellect for evil. The people of the United States are far more instructed than they were fifty years ago, and yet have not half so much of the virtue necessary to sustain a republican government. We are never to expect men to act virtuously, simply because their understandings are convinced that virtue is the best calculation. You must make them act from a higher motive. They must be governed by religion ; act from the love and the fear of God, — from a deep sense of duty ; be meek, humble, self-denying ; morally brave and heroic ; choosing rather to die a thousand deaths than
: swerve from right principle, or disobey the will of God; or they will not practise the virtues without which liberty is an empty name,
a mere illusion. Now, Protestantism never has, and never can, produce the virtues without which a republican government can have no solid foundation. It may have good words; it may say wise and even just things ; but it wants the unction of the spirit. It
; does not reach and regenerate the heart, subdue the passions, and renew the spirit. It has never produced a single saint, and the virtues it calls forth are of the sort exhibited by the old heathen moralists. It praises the Bible, but studies the Greek and Roman classics ; boasts of spirituality, but expires in a vain formalism. For the three hundred years it has existed, it has proved itself powerful to destroy, but impotent to found ; ready to begin, but never able to complete. Whatever it claims that is positive, abiding, it has inherited or borrowed from the ages and the lands of faith. Its own creations rise and vanish as the soap-bubbles blown by our children in their sports. It has never yet shown itself able to command human nature, or to say to the roused waves of passion, Peace, be still. It lulls the conscience with the forms of faith and piety; soothes vanity and fosters pride by its professions of freedom ; but leaves the passions all their natural force, and permits the man to remain a slave to all his natural lusts. It never subVOL. II. NO. I.
dues or regenerates nature. Hence, throughout all Protestantdom, the tendency is, to reproduce heathen antiquity, with all its cant, hollowness, hypocrisy, slavery, and wretchedness, to narrow men's views down to this transitory life and the fleeting shows of sense, and to make them live and labor for the meat that perisheth. We appeal to England, Sweden, Denmark, Protestant Germany, Holland, and our own country, for the truth of what we say. They were Protestant traders who trampled on the cross of Christ to gain the lucrative trade of Japan. It is in no spirit of exultation we allude to Protestant worldly-mindedness and spiritual impotency. Would to God the sketch were from fancy, or our own diseased imagination !
We do not mean to deny, that, in words, Protestantism teaches many, perhaps most, of the Christian virtues. It has even some good books on morals and practical religion. Its clergy give good exhortations, and labor, no doubt, in good faith, for the spiritual culture of their flocks! No doubt, much truth, much valuable instruction, is given from Protestant pulpits. The Protestant clergy take no delight in the state of things they see around them. They would gladly see Christ reign in the hearts of men ; they, no doubt, would joyfully dispense the bread of life to their famished people ; and they do dispense the best they have. But, alas ! how can they dispense what they have not received ? The living bread is not on their communion table. They communicate, according to their own confession, only a figure, a shadow ; and how shall the divine life be nourished with shadows ? What we mean to say is, not that Protestantism does not aim to bring men to Christ, to make them pure and holy, but that it has no power to do it. It does not control human nature, and produce the fruits of a supernatural faith, hope, and charity. Its faith is merely an opinion or persuasion, its hope a wish, and its charity natural philanthropy. It necessarily leaves human nature as it finds it, and no pruning of that corrupt tree can make it bring forth good fruit. It is of the earth, — earthly; and it will bear fruit only for the earth. With unregenerated nature in full activity, we can have only sensuality and mammon-worship.
Hundreds and thousands among us, who are by no means favorably disposed to Catholicity, see this and deplore it. They say, the age has no faith. They see the impotency of Protestantism ; that under it all the vices are sheltered ; that, in spite of it, all the dangerous passions rage unchecked ; and they turn away in disgust from its empty forms and vain words. Witness the response the biting sarcasms and withering irony