Obrázky stránek

suggestion than of criticism, and for the Traditional system no less than for his own. We certainly have no intention of dogmatizing on philosophy, and we every day feel less and less our competency to do so. We see and feel deeply the importance of sound philosophical views, and the necessity of maintaining in all its rights and value the natural reason with which God has endowed us, and which, though darkened by the Fall, still remains reason. We cannot forego it, for if we should we should cease to be men, and cease to be able to receive and believe the Christian revelation. Calvinism, by its exaggerated supernaturalism, by 'its doctrine of total depravity, and its annihilation of nature for anything good, declaring our best acts done without grace sinful and deserving eternal damnation, drove us into infidelity, into a denial of the proper supernatural, and the assertion of an exaggerated rationalism. Catholicity has redeemed us, and taught us that the supernatural presupposes the natural. The old problem which tormented us and so many of our friends, how to reconcile reason and faith, is no longer a problem for us, for we cannot conceive how it is possible there should be any discrepancy between them. Each has its place, and each may

be said to serve the other. We can no more consent to decry reason than we can faith, or to restrict the sphere of the one than of the other.

We always mean to recognize in its fullest sense the whole body of rational truth; but we have no great confidence in our ability to set it forth in its systematic completeness. We feel that it becomes us to be modest and diffident of ourselves, and we may well fail where such a man as Father Chastel does not completely succeed. For ourselves, we feel that to ascertain and accept the truth of different schools is the best way to refute their errors. We should have been better pleased if the author had taken more pains to find a good sense in M. de Bonald's writings, and disengaged his truth from the errors which too often accompany it. It is clear to us, from the extracts the author makes, that he has done M. de Bonald scant justice, and that, had he been as generous to him as he is to Bergier, he could have proved him far less of a Traditionalist than he represents him. We do not like to see that great and good man, who did so much for religion and philoso- . phy in France at a time when there were comparatively

few manly voices to speak out for either, pursued with so much acharnement. It is evident to us, that in his real thought, we say not in his expression, he went very little further than we should be disposed to go. Indeed, we think a more conciliatory disposition on the part of either school, and less of exclusiveness, would be not only to the advantage of charity, but also of philosophical truth. Mutual explanations might lead, we should think, to mutual understanding.

Art. V. - The Papal Conspiracy exposed, and Protestant

ism defended, in the Light of Reason, History, and Scripture. By EDWARD BEECHER, D.D. Boston: Stearns & Co. 1855. 12mo. pp. 420.

We assure the author, that it is very far from our intention to offer a formal reply to the false charges, calumnies, and illogical conclusions of his elaborate volume, which contains the quintessence of Evangelical acidity double distilled. He may have more natural ability, but he is, if possible, less truthful and amiable than the Rev. Rufus W. Clark, reviewed in the first article in our present number. We will, however, concede that, if his Papal Conspiracy exposed had been issued before that article was written, we should have selected it as the subject of our comments, instead of Romanism in America, for it was our wish to take the most malignant, the most bitter, and the least scrupulous Protestant production against Catholics that we could lay our hands on. In this point of view, Dr. Beecher's volume is superior to Mr. Clark's. It is even more savage in its spirit, more elaborate in its falsehoods, more vigorous in its sophistry, if less polished in its literary execution. Yet it must be admitted that both are admirable specimens of Evangelical literature, and, if they could be used, would be a very good substitute for vinegar.

Dr. Edward Beecher is a son of the renowned Dr. Lyman Beecher, and brother of the really able and independent Henry Ward Beecher, and of the world-famous or worldnotorious Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's


Cabin. He is not naturally imbecile, or even destitute of logical power. We think nature has even been liberal to him, and that, placed in favorable circumstances and under genial influences, he would have proved himself worthy of esteem both as a thinker and as a writer. But he is a melancholy example of the influence of modern Evangelicalism to prevent all manly development of the intellect, and all generous and noble expansion of the heart. His Puritanism, which he has never had the manliness to shake off, has kept him in a state of intellectual childhood, and prevented him from opening his heart to the genial rays of the sun of justice. He knows no freedom, and remains cramped, " cribbed, cabined, and confined,” by his Protestantism, which cannot stand a moment before free thought and warm love, and can be defended only by falsehood, misrepresentation, calumny, vituperation, and chicane. If anything could deepen our disgust at Evangelicalism, it would be the book before us, which proves its power to extinguish a naturally noble mind and a naturally generous heart. Dr. Beecher, we hesitate not to say, was born for better things; he might have been a man, and have done a man's work; but having early stuck in the mire of Calvinism, he can save his race only as a beacon, or as the drunken Helotes served to teach temperance to the Spartan youth.

Dr. Beecher is haunted by strange visions of a Papal conspiracy against American Protestantism and American liberty, and in his agitated dreams he calls out upon his countrymen to put an extinguisher upon Catholicity. The poor man is certainly dreaming. There is no conspiracy of the sort he imagines. We probably know as much of the subject as he does, and our word is as good as his; and we tell him and our countrymen that there is no Papal conspiracy in the case, and the only conspiracy we know of is that of Protestantism in the Know-Nothing movement, to deprive Catholics of their political and civil rights, and perhaps to exterminate them, or to expel them from the country. “Even Mr. Brownson," the author says, “confesses that there is a system designed to exterminate Protestantism, not by force, but by argument and conviction.” Suppose Mr. Brownson does so confess. What then? Suppose that what he confesses, or rather asserts, is true, does it prove the reality of “a Papal conspiracy? Catholicity

open and

and Protestantism, as everybody knows, are mutually antagonistic. A man cannot be a Protestant without being opposed to Catholicity, or a Catholic without being opposed to Protestantism. The Church labors to make all men Catholics, and Dr. Beecher labors, we suppose, to make all men Protestants. The success of either is, in the nature of the case, the extermination of the other. Even Dr. Beecher, we should suppose, could understand this much. The Church, in fulfilling her divine mission, seeks to convert all the non-Catholic portion of the people of this country to Catholicity, to gather them within her communion, and to nourish them at her breast, that she may present them pure and holy to her heavenly Spouse. Should she succeed in doing this, she would, of course, exterminate Protestantism. But here is no conspiracy. All is avowed. It is precisely what, if the Christian Church, she must aim at, and what she has always and everywhere aimed at, and to prove that it is so is no proof or exposure of a Papal or any other conspiracy. It is no wonderful discovery.

The Church works in open day, and all her proceedings are public. She avows her object, and her means of attaining it. Her object is to convert the whole world in general, and, if you please, this country in particular, to Catholicity. But by what means ? By force? No. But by “ argument and conviction.” That is, by convincing the reason and the will that she is God's Church, out of which salvation is not possible. This supposes that she seeks only voluntary converts, and that she exterminates Protestantism only by convincing Protestants of its falsity, and inducing them voluntarily to abandon it. Now, does Dr. Beecher confess that, in an open field and fair play, Protestantism cannot stand before Catholicity? Does he call it a “ conspiracy,” to resolve to attack Protestantism by argument, by an appeal to the reason of Protestants ? Would he maintain that a Protestant convinced of the falsity of Protestantism and the truth of Catholicity ought not to be allowed to profess himself a Catholic? Would he go so far as to deny to Catholicity the right to make converts if she can by “ argument and conviction "? Does he feel that it is all over with Protestantism if Catholicity is free to combat it by argument? If so, how is it that he professes to defend it in the light of reason, history, and Scripture”? If reason, history, and Scripture are on the side of Protestantism, what has it to fear in argument with Catholicity? WI does it call in force to close the reason and shut the mouth of its opponent? No man is ever against reason, unless he feels or fears that reason is against him.

If Dr. Beecher had spoken of a Protestant conspiracy for the extermination of Catholicity, he would have spoken of what is not at all an imagination or a dream. Everybody knows that Protestants express their determination to exterminate Catholicity, not in our country only, but in all countries. To this end they have formed and sustained alliances and associations, in conjunction with acknowledged conspirators, for the purpose of revolutionizing every Catholic state in Europe, in the hope that, by revolutionizing the state in the sense of Red Republicanism, they will put an end to the Papacy, and with the Papacy, to Catholicity. They have conspired, and still conspire, with Mazzini and other revolutionary leaders, against the Church, the grand bulwark of social freedom and of social order.

They have gone further; they have formed a real and undeniable conspiracy, - a secret society, a secret organization, sustained by the most rigid rules, and, if not belied, by the most fearful oaths, - whose express object is to deprive Catholics of all their political rights, to reduce them, if it suffers them to live, to the condition of slaves in their native land, and for no offence but that of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own conscience. They have succeeded in possessing themselves of the government of this ancient Commonwealth, and they are laboring in secret conclave to get that of the Union, and to place the whole political power of this country in the hands of this secret society, governed by unknown and irresponsible chiefs, and substituting a secret and invisible despotism for the constitutional and public authority of the people. Now, with this well-known Protestant conspiracy against Catholics, with its ramifications throughout the Union, and perhaps throughout Christendom, what more shameless, what more satanic, than for a man like Dr. Beecher to turn round and accuse us of a " Papal conspiracy” against Protestantism? We are exposed at any moment to the fury of a Protestant mob, inflamed by the passionate appeals of Protestant ministers; our churches are blown up, burnt down, or desecrated; the sanctuary of our



« PředchozíPokračovat »