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where else. The author endeavors, on the one hand, to vindicate the rights and dignity of human nature against Calvinists and Jansenists, who decry it, and seek to supersede it by what they call grace; and on the other, to show that fidelity, in a large sense, to one's own reason and nature, will conduct the earnest seeker to the communion of the Catholic Church. He takes his starting point in our own rational and moral nature, and proceeds on the principle that no religion can be deserving of the slightest respect, that contradicts reason or leaves the aspirations of our nature unsatisfied. He meets the Rationalist and the Transcendentalist each on his own ground, accepts their principle and method, and endeavors to prove that if they will only be faithful to them, they will and must find the true religion.
We cannot better show the spirit and principles of this deeply interesting book than by extracting what the author calls “ The Confessions of an Earnest Seeker :"
“We are conscious of an intense and painful void within our breast. How are we to be relieved of this ? Relief there must be, for it is insupportable. The insensibility of death were preferable. Forgetfulness a boon.
Ye know it, and I cannot utter it.'—Byron. " The world may appear beautiful; the ties of friendship, kindred, love, seem dear and sweet; life may appear full of hope and bright prospects. Alas! what are all these joys to the soul, so long as deeper needs deprive us of their enjoyment ?
• A different object do these eyes require ;
And in my heart the imperfect joys expire.'—GRAY. “All sacrifices would be to us as steps to bliss, and renunciation enjoyment, so that we found what answers to our nobler necessities. A journey to the torrid zone, were we sure to meet it there, would be but a trip of pleasure. Somewhere it must be; if not, the heavens will reveal it. This confidence is stronger than death.
- Thank God! we were left unfettered and unswayed in our belief, in our childhood and youth. We are in our full manhood, in possession of our reason and freedom. Happy is the man who is ready to receive the whole of God's everlasting truth, and searches after it with all the energies of his being.
"The possession of Truth, not the simple search of it, is the true end of Reason and the source of all true life. Whenever, therefore, the Truth is presented to the mind with rational and sufficient evidence, it matters not by whom, to withhold one's assent, is to reduce Reason to the ignominious servitude of passion, and to inflict upon the soul the most painful of deaths,—the death of inanition.
“ The slave is noble, his chains brilliant ornaments, he is free, in comparison with the man who enslaves his godlike Reason by his passions, shackles it by his prejudices, or lets it rust unused from slavish fears.
Reason affirms its own authority, and can admit of no other which does not support its claims, and coincide with its dictates. Of all forms of slavery, that of the soul is the most abject, degrading, and cruel. The negro slave possesses his soul, but the man who yields up the authority of his Reason, abdicates his manhood, and renders his soul a chattel.
“ Endowed with Reason, man has no right to surrender his judgment. Endowed with Free Will, man has no right to yield up bis liberty. Reason and Free-Will constitute man a responsible being, and he has no right to abdicate his independence. Judgment, Liberty, Independence, these are divine and inalienable gifts; and man cannot renounce them if he would.
“As an intellectual being, man has the right to know the Truth. As a moral being, man has the right to follow the Truth. Any authority that interferes with our exercise of these, violates the natural rights of man, and insults their Divine Author.
“ The assent of Reason to Truth is not the subjection of Reason, but its sublimest assertion. The voluntary following of Truth is not a restriction of our Free-Will, but the only and the truest expression of its liberty. The acknowledgment and acceptance of Truth constitute man's true Independence, Dignity and Glory.
“Man cannot be thought of consistently with just and honorable ideas of his Creator, otherwise than as good, in possession of all his faculties, whose primal tendencies are in accordance with the great end of his being
" There is no earthly Dignity equal to that of Human Nature, for there is stamped upon it, in glowing characters, the perfect resemblance of its Divine Author.
“Let us therefore be loyal to the dictates of Reason, knowing that they will lead us to our Archetype and Divine Original.
“Let the light of Truth be our guide. Let Reason be our Authority. We fear not to follow where they point the way. What contradicts Reason contradicts God.
“RELIGION." “We go forth in earnestness and in hope, with the sacred torch of Reason in our hand, to seek, to find, and to accept true Religion, resolved at the same time to cast aside all creeds and systems of belief which exact the surrender of our judgment, independence, or liberty.
“If we find a religion to tell us that the truth we see is not truth, but falsehood; if we find a religion to tell us that the good we love is not good, but evil; if we find a religion to tell us that our good deeds are not virtues, but vices; we in indignation answer: • To the dogs with such a religion. We ask not its heaven; nor fear its hell. Such a religion comes not down from heaven, but up from the bottomless pits below.'
“A religion which gainsays the plain dictates of Reason, is hostile to our holiest affections, or mutilates our nature, is no religion, but a base imposition. It is treason against God and Human Nature to listen to its horrid and impious creed. No, rather die a heathen or infidel than submit to a religion which outrages God by making the creatures of his own likeness, abject, base, accursed.
“We say, with the voice and the united energies of our soul, and the Author of our being : •Let the religion perish from the face of the earth which invades the sacred boundaries that constitute man's Reason, or which would diminish the dignity of Human Nature.'
“Reason's certitude is anterior to all other certitude, hence its authority is indisputable, and, in its own sphere, supreme. The denial of this is the undermining of the foundations of all knowledge of truth, and of all religious belief, and opens the way to the triumph of Atheism. The first step of the true Religion is to confirm the rightful authority of Reason, to call forth the full exercise of its powers, to elicit its free and undivided assent, and look to it for its confirmation, support, and defence.
“A religion, therefore, that is not an imposition, a fraud, cannot more a single step independently of the voluntary assent and suffrage of Reason. Its first duty is to afford rational and sufficient evidence of the doctrines which it teaches. Let it look to this, for the sake of its own honor, for a religion which interdicts the right exercise of Reason, or violates its laws, exposes itself, sooner or later, to the just indignation of all intelligent thinkers.
“No truth or doctrine of Religion is really believed and held without an act of the intelligence and will. These united constitute man's rational nature. A religion unsupported by the inward witness and free assent of Reason to its truth, is no religion, but a delusion, an hypocrisy. For man, as a rational being, cannot, if he would, embrace a religious belief which is contrary to bis essential nature-Reason.
"As on one hand Religion is bound to attest with satisfactory evidence the divine origin of the truths which it proposes to our belief, so on the other hand, we are bound to accept the truths so presented. To believe is not less a function of Reason than to know, or to perform any other of its normal operations. The refusal, therefore, of our belief to truths duly attested, is a violation of our allegiance to Reason, and if consistently carried out, would end in its entire overthrow.
“ Religion adds no new faculty to the soul. A sure mark of its divine origin is, that when fairly presented, it meets and welcomes all the honest demands of the intellectual and moral faculties of our nature, and in such a way as to produce an entire conviction of its truth. True Religion opens to our intellectual vision the great end of our existence, and so directs, strengthens, and excites our will and its energies that we reach it.
" It should not be forgotten that the destiny of the soul and body is one and indivisible. For man is soul and body, inseparably united in one person. The body, therefore, has a religious purpose. Nothing is holier than that high form.' A religion which is of divine origin must be adapted, in its doctrines and worship, to the whole of man's nature.
“ There is no use of disguising the fact, our religious needs are the deepest. There is no peace until they are satisfied and contented. The attempt to stifle them is vain. If their cry be drowned by the noise of the world, they do not cease to exist. In some unexpected moment they will break forth with redoubled energy. They must be answered. And unless they be satisfactorily answered, they will rise up
at the last hour of life, and, with irresistible force, seize upon the mind, and strike terror into the soul.
" It is a necessity, therefore, to find a religion coinciding with the dictates of Reason, and commensurate with the wants of our whole nature, or else to wait for its revelation.
“If we find no such religion, and God deigns not to reveal it, then on our tomb shall be written, “Here lies one who asked with sincerity for truth, and it was not given. He knocked earnestly at the door of truth, and it was not opened. He sought faithfully after truth, and he found nothing.'
“ CHURCH.” “Religion is a question between God and the Soul. No human authority, therefore, has any right to enter its sacred sphere. The attempt is sacrilegious.
Every man was made by his Creator to do his own thinking. What right then has one man, or a body of men, to dictate their belief, or
make their private convictions, or sentiments, binding upon others ?
“ There is no degradation so abject as the submission of the
eternal interests of the soul to the private authority or dictation of any man, or body of men, whatever may be their titles. Every right sentiment in our breast rises up in abhorrence against it.
“ A Church which is not of divine origin, and claims assent to its teachings, or obedience to its precepts, on its own authority, is an insult to our understandings, and deserves the ridicule of all men who have the capacity to put two ideas together.
" A Church that claims a divine origin, in order to be consistent must also claim to be unerring; for the idea of teaching error in the name of the Divinity, is blasphemous.
"A Church, if it deserves that title, must yield us assistance, and not we the Church. The Church that needs our assistance, we despise. Only the Church which has help from above for mankind, and is conscious of it, is a divine institution.
"A Church that has its origin in heaven, is an organ of divine inspiration and life to humanity. For Religion is not only a system of divinely given truths, but also the organ of a divine life. Life, and its transmission, is inconceivable, independent of an organism. The office of the Church, therefore, is not only to teach divine truths, but also to enable men to actualize them.
“ If entrance into the Church is not a step to a higher and holier life, the source of a larger and more perfect freedom, her claims do not merit a moments consideration. Away with the Church that reveals not a loftier manhood, and enables men to attain it.
" The object of the Church authority is not to lay restraints on man's activity, but to direct it aright; not to make him a slave, but to establish his independence; the object of Church authority is to develop man's individuality, consecrate and defend his rights, and elevate his existence to the plane of his divine destiny.
“ Divine Religion appeals to man's holiest instincts, and inspires the soul with a sublime enthusiasm. A Church without martyrs is not on equality with the institution of the family or state; for they are not wanting in heroes. A Church that ceases to produce martyrs is dead.
“ Hearts are aching to be devoted to the down-trodden and suffering of the race. Breasts are elated with heroic impulses to do something in the noble cause of Truth and God; and shall all these aspirations and sentiments which do honor to our nature, be wasted, misspent, or die out for want of sanction and right direction ? · Who can give this sanction? Who can give this direction ? No one but God's Church upon earth. This is her divine mission.
“ In concert with the voice of all those who are conscious of their humanity, we demand a visible and divine authority to unite and direct the aspirations and energies of individuals and nations to great enterprises for the common welfare of men upon earth, and for eternity.
“ If tlie Religion we are in search of does not exist, and we