« PředchozíPokračovat »
its wholesome operation. Our republican friends must permit us to tell them that this can never be done by cherishing the revolutionary spirit, nor without that loyalty to the constitution which Protestantism cannot inspire, and which Catholicity enjoins as a religious duty. In vain will they seek support in selfishness, or in what the French call intérêt bien entendu, or enlightened self-interest; in vain will they seek it in constitutional checks and balances, or in attempting to play off conflicting interests and passions against each other. There is no firm basis for civil government outside of morality, and those lofty disinterested principles which are to be found only in religion. The constitution must be engraved on the heart of your people, and they must feel it a moral obligation, a religious duty, to love it, to live and die for it, or it will prove only so much useless parchment. The experience of our country is daily proving to all understandings, that, whatever may be the willingness and ability of Protestantism to make a revolution in favor of republicanism, it lacks the capacity to sustain republican government when introduced.
This is simple enough. The revolutionary spirit is the antagonist of the spirit that is required to sustain an established order. The former is the spirit of destruction, the latter the spirit of conservation. If the object of society were to be always making revolutions and trying experiments, Protestantism would be decidedly the best; but if the object is for society to preserve and develop itself in a fixed and stable order, according to a law of continuity, no man of ordinary capacity can for a moment doubt the superiority of Catholicity. Protestantism has no fixed point of departure, no uniform rule of procedure, and no determinate goal. It is hostile to whatever is fixed and immovable, and demands always freedom to make new experiments. It is always experimenting. It experiments on authority, on doctrine, on discipline, on the state, on society, and never arrives at anything certain and durable. With this spirit, it can be relied on only where there is a work of destruction to be done. It can make a revolution, but it cannot preserve the state. Catholicity, on the contrary, takes its point of departure in what is, and its fixed purpose is to preserve what is good, and secure an end which it foresees, and which for it is clear and determinate. It will amend what it finds that is faulty, but it will do it always in accordance with the principle and genius of the existing constitution, and always with a view to its preservation and freer and more healthy action. It cannot make a revolution for the sake of introducing a republican government, but it has precisely that conservative spirit and influence needed to save such a government and secure its beneficial operation wherever it exists.
But we own that Catholicity does not lay great stress on mere forms of any sort. She looks to realities, not empty forms. She teaches the great principles of civil liberty, and inspires her children with the wisdom, the courage, and the self-denial necessary to assert them. No Catholic people ever have or ever can be enslaved; they never are, and never can become, servile and sycophantic in their disposition or manners. They may be humble, free from pride, but true humility is compatible with the greatest magnanimity. No Catholic, if really such, can ever lose sight of the true dignity of human nature assumed by God himself, or of the true nobility of the human soul for which Christ has died. Hence under all forms of government true freedom is possible, and Catholicity therefore turns her attention, not to constitution-making, not to changing the form of the government, but to securing its wise and just administration. She weds herself to no form, but makes all forms tolerable.
These remarks on topics which we have discussed in our pages almost to weariness must suffice for the present. We shall endeavor to devote one or two more articles hereafter to the remaining subjects introduced by the author, not for his sake, for we regard him as past help, nor for the sake of our Catholic readers, but for the sake of that large class of our non-Catholic countrymen who love truth and feel the insufficiency of Protestantism. We will not believe that all who sail under the Protestant flag, because they know not under what other flag to sail, are like the author of the book before us, or the common herd of vulgar declaimers against Catholicity. They are too enlightened, too cultivated, too serious and earnest-minded men to be satisfied with any form of Protestantism. Their understandings demand something more logical, more coherent, more complete, and more solid, and their hearts cry out for something more beautiful, more living and loving. They are sick of what Carlyle calls shams, and that Protestantism is a sham they are thoroughly persuaded. The misfortune with them is, that they suspect that Catholicity is also a sham, a simulacrum, and no more solid at bottom than Protestantism. It is of no use for us to tell them that they are mistaken, for they are far enough from being prepared to believe us. We must show them that they are mistaken, by showing them that we have always something solid and real and living to substitute for the dead formulas of effete Protestantism. Our religion at least is not all a mere negation. We have something positive, affirmative, a credo to offer to those who come to us.
Protestantism, though dead, has for the moment by means of Know-Nothingism been galvanized into a sort of spasmodic life; but speaking in general terms it is dead, and only waits for its friends to give it a decent burial. The movements we witness really console us. They prove to us that the American mind is beginning to open to something better and nobler than it has hitherto had, and that the shrine-makers for the Ephesian goddess are beginning to be alarmed for their craft. Let none of our friends be disturbed by the crying from morning till night, “ Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” More than one heathen god or goddess, more than one idolatry, more than one superstition, has fallen with a crash before the onward march of Catholic truth, and the day of deliverance for our countrymen, we firmly believe, is not far off. Do not let the clamors raised against us make us timid, or lead us to explain away the features of Catholicity most objected to by a Know-Nothing fanaticism. These are no times for trimming or timeserving. It is precisely in these times, when all the non-Catholic world is raising a hue-and-cry against the Church for her alleged Mariolatry, that she defines the immaculate conception of Mary to be a Catholic dogma. It is when the mystery of the Incarnation is denied, that she renders new honors to the Mother of God. Now, when the Papal character of our Church is so rudely assailed, let us hold fast to it, and forbear to abuse our Holy Father even hypothetically.
Art. II. – 1. Ensayo sobre el Catholicismo, el Liberalismo,
y el Socialismo, considerados en sus Principios Fundamentales. Por Don Juan Donoso Cortés, Marqués de Valdegamas. Madrid. 1851. Svo. pp. 414. 2. De l'Humanité, de son Principe, et de son Avenir, où se trouve exposée la Vraie Définition de la Religion, et où l'on explique le Sens, la Suite, et l'Enchainement du Mosaïsme et du Christianisme. Par PIERRE LEROUX. Paris. 1840. 2 tomes. 8vo.
We have brought these two works together because, though published at distant intervals, and differing almost as widely as it is possible to conceive, they are on the subject treated the two profoundest works to be found in the whole range of modern literature. Both treat the same subject, Donoso Cortés from the point of view of Catholicity, Pierre Leroux from the pantheistic or humanitarian point of view, and each needs to be read and studied by whoever would understand, either in their truth or their falsity, the Liberalism and Socialism which have made so much noise and stirred up so many commotions throughout the civilized world during the last fifteen or twenty years.
Pierre Leroux has hardly been heard of since 1850. Whether he is still living or not is more than we know; but we remember the time when he was one of the great men of France, and the representative of an important school in philosophy and politics. He belonged originally, we believe, to the Saint-Simonian school or sect, and distinguished himself at a later day as a most bitter enemy of the French eclecticism founded by the eloquent and erudite Cousin. He is decidedly the great man of the modern socialistic school, and the only one with whom we are acquainted who has succeeded in giving it anything like a philosophical basis. He possesses rare philosophical genius, and, though not the soundest, he is the greatest metaphysician that France has produced in modern times, and may as to his genius and erudition take rank with the late Vincenzo Gioberti, who has had no equal since Leibnitz, for we cannot rank very high such men as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Immanuel Kant is the only distinguished German metaphysician in recent times that we should be willing to name, unless one or two Catholics of Germany are to be excepted.
It may be that we attach an undue importance to the writings of Pierre Leroux, because our acquaintance with them marks an epoch in our mental development, and we owe to them more than to those of any other modern writer. They revolutionized our own mind both in regard to philosophy and religion, and by the grace of God became the occasion of our conversion to Catholicity. But we must be permitted to say, that, though his system as a system does not and never did satisfy us, it contains certain great cosmic and metaphysical truths, more distinctly recognized and more clearly and energetically stated than we find even in the ordinary works on theology, and almost wholly wanting in our ordinary systems of philosophy. His grand error is in his having misinterpreted and misapplied the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, in confounding the two natures in the one person of our Lord, and in failing to distinguish properly between the natural and the supernatural orders. He starts with the Eutychian heresy, or the confusion of the human and the Di. vine, and really, though perhaps unconsciously, explains the Divine by the human, and thus reduces Christianity to pure Humanism or Naturalism. The Catholic theologian understands at once the reach of this fundamental error, which vitiates and must vitiate the author's whole system. But, after all, there is a human side of truth, for man is made in the image and after the similitude of God. God is, in the language of St. Thomas, similitudo rerum omnium, and hence in all nature there is and must be a certain reflection, so to speak, of the Divinity. God is in some sense mirrored by his works. In man and nature we must find, not the elements of Christianity indeed, for they are superhuman and supernatural, but certain analogies or correspondences, which in human language are expressed by the same terms, and through which the Christian mysteries are rendered in a measure intelligible to us. Leroux certainly confounds these analogies or correspondences in the natural and human order with the superhuman and supernatural dogmas of Christianity; but he certainly has studied them profoundly, and tells us, not unmixed with error, some great and important natural truths, — truths recognized and accepted, indeed, by all