Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

plain matter of fact. We cannot understand, therefore, the fear which many of our friends have of it. Is it attachment to routine, adherence to system, a reverence for great names, or a fear of being found to agree on any point with Gioberti ? Or is there something in it which we do not see, that militates against faith, or the approved methods of explaining or defending the Christian mysteries ?

There is no name in philosophy that we respect more than we do that of St. Thomas, but in philosophy we swear by the words of no human master. “ Call no man," said our Lord, “master on earth, for one is your master in heaven.” In heavenly things, in all that pertains to faith, we own a master, and we are content to sit at his feet and learn; but in earthly things, in matters of pure reason, so long as we keep within the limits of faith, we hold ourselves free. And it will not do for men who are vindicating the rights of reason, and who contend that reason without revelation is able to discover and prove all the great elementary truths of natural religion, to restrict our freedom by the authority of great names.

The single name of St. Thomas, if against us, would, no doubt, be a presumption that we were in error; but on a point of simple natural reason we should not regard it as conclusive, for we believe it is lawful to dissent from even his philosophical opinions, when one has solid reasons for doing so. There are passages in St. Thomas which seem to us quite too favorable to modern sensism; but, as we have shown on another occasion, we do not believe that, fairly and honestly interpreted, he can be said to have held any of the errors of that system. We do not pretend that he formally taught the doctrine on intuition we have set forth, but we have studied him to no purpose if he teaches the contrary. He explains, after Aristotle, cognition by means of intelligible species and phantasms, or the intellectus agens and sensation; but he teaches expressly that the intelligible species is that by which the mind attains to the cognition of the intelligible, not that in which it terminates, and that what the mind really obtains or apprehends through them is the intelligible object itself. The intelligible species furnished by the intellectus agens, translated into plain English, is simply the intellectual light, or that property of the intellect by virtue of which it is capable of cognizing the intelligible, and in our modern modes of thought is included in the intellectual faculty itself. The doctrine of St. Thomas, as we understand it, is, that man is intelligent by virtue of a created light, or reason, which is made in the image and likeness of the Divine Reason, and therefore contains in itself, in a participated sense, the ideas, types, species, or images of whatever we are naturally capable of knowing. It is by virtue of these ideas, types, images, or species, that the intellect is capable of cognition. Evidently, then, the intelligible species is really a property of the intellectual faculty, and that which makes it intellective. It is included in the subject, and goes to make up what we call the intellect. Hence, to say that man takes cognizance of the intelligible by means of the intelligible species, means, in the system of St. Thomas, precisely what we mean when we say man has direct and immediate intuition of it. There is then really no discrepancy between the doctrine of St. Thomas and ours, and the apparent discrepancy arises from the fact, that he carried his analysis of the intellect a step or two further than we do ours.

St. Thomas never really taught the sensist doctrine which some would father upon him, that the intelligible is merely inferred or concluded from sensible data. All he taught was that the intelligible is never apprehended without the sensible, and that, to be distinctly apprehended, it must be abstracted, that is, separated or distinguished by reflection, from the phantasms along with which it was originally presented, which is precisely the doctrine we contend for. At least, it is so we understand the Angelic Doctor, and therefore we do not seem to ourselves to depart from the real sense of the Thomist philosophy.

But we have no disposition to enter further at present into this discussion. We think, if the two parties now so fiercely pitted against each other in France would recognize the fact that reason has two modes of activity, one intuitive and the other reflective, and understand that in the reflective order language is necessary to represent - not present, but re-present — the intelligible, and that reflection proves, but does not discover, rational truth, they might shake hands and be friends; for no Catholic will pretend that reason in our fallen state is able without revelation to build up a complete system of even natural religion and morality. We beg Father Chastel to do us the justice to believe that we have made these remarks more by way of 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 philosophy 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 scrupu. lous 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 salsehoods, 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

[ocr errors]

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

ve 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

« PředchozíPokračovat »