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or whether he has provided for our wants? Has he given us such a church? He has. Which is it? The Roman Catholic. Then seek admission into its communion. We did, — were admitted, and found what we wanted, ready made to our hands, - considerably better, we are inclined to think, than we could have made it.
The great objection to the Transcendentalists is not in the motives by which they were governed, or the end they contemplated. They wished to get rid of infidelity, and to have a solid and imperishable basis for faith. But, born and bred in a Protestant community, they sought their end by means of the Protestant principle. Accepting the Protestant principle, they were obliged to accept the Protestant movement, and, accepting this, they were obliged to accept the infidel movement, which they all saw was part and parcel of the same. It is this fact that caused so much misapprehension in the public mind, and brought down upon them so much unmerited reproach. They believed infidelity, positively considered, the greatest of evils ; but, provisionarily considered, it had been useful, inasmuch as it was not possible to attain to faith without passing through it. Voltaire and D’Holbach did but continue Luther and Calvin, and their incredulity was but an accident in their lives. The old Church was based on an external authority, which was wrong; or, if it was not wrong, the Reformers were unjustifiable in their revolt, and the glorious Reformation should be condemned and wept over, and not boasted. If the old Church was wrong, the new order must be founded on an internal, not an external, authority. The Reformers, however, while asserting this internal principle against Catholicity, had attempted to reorganize themselves on the principle of external authority, which was a double wrong; for it was to deny their own principle, and to accept what they held to be a false one. The French infidels, like the Reformers, broke away from Catholicity, but were too keen-sighted not to see the absurdity of Protestant communions affecting to be organized on the same principle. Nothing, then, remained for them but to reject all religion ; for it was no gain to renounce the Pope, to come under the presbyter, — or the Church, to come under a Presbyterian Assembly, a Genevan Consistory, or Dutch Classis, or even the civil tyrant.
This provisional justification of infidelity was forced upon us by our Protestant principles, and the necessity we were in of vindicating the Reformers. There was no possible ground
on which we could justify Luther, and Melancthon, and Calvin in leaving the Catholic Church, which would not be equally available for Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, and their associates and followers; and we could discover no possible reason any of them had or could have for separating from the communion of the Catholic Church, which would not be an equally strong reason for separating from any actually existing Protestant communion. If, as Protestantism taught us, the revolt of the Reformers sprang from what was good in them, and from what was bad in the Church, so did infidelity spring from what was good in the unbelievers, and from what was bad in the Church and the sects. If we accepted Protestantism as we did, we were obliged to lay down the maxim, that infidelity is a mark of love of truth and virtue, not of vice and error. Protestantism, not we, was answerable for this abominable maxim.
But, if we accepted infidelity as a necessary phase in the development of modern society, it was only to make an end of it. The first effort was to vindicate the Reformation, and to place ourselves in harmony with its principles, and then to derive from it the advantages we supposed it must conceal. But in this second labor there was, on all hands, an unconscious reaction against the very principle of the Reformation.
We were all after faith, — in we knew not what, but still faith, — the power to affirm something, and something which belongs to the unseen world of spirit. We wished to attain to an affirmation that should be valid not only for us as individuals, but for all men and for all times, — something certain, absolute, which no one of a sane mind could question. This already concealed a revolt against the Protestant principle, for it was an aspiration to a catholic faith. But this affirmation could not be made on an individual authority. All felt and acknowledged it. A plain reaction this. But on what authority can it be made ? Evidently only on a catholic or universal authority, - an authority common to all individuals and independent of all. So all said. But what and where is this authority? We had all renounced all external authority, and therefore were obliged to seek it in the individual; and in the individual we sought it, thinking to find in the individual what is not individual ; and we thought we did find it in the Impersonal Reason, as we and the Eclectics said after M. Cousin, — in the Impersonal Nature, as said the Transcendentalists proper. All that we and our immediate friends said of the “Impersonal or Objective Reason,” of “Spontaneity,” and all that Mr. Emerson and his friends and disciples
said of “ Impersonal Nature,” “ Instinct,” “Over-soul,” the "One Man in all Men,” was only so much theorizing in favor of an authority not individual, but catholic. It matters nothing to our present purpose that in this way we did not and could not get any thing but an individual authority, as is unquestionably true ; it is enough for argument that there was an effort to get something more; for every such effort is manifestly an incipient reaction against the Protestant principle.
Transcendentalism has just now in this community changed its phase. It now assumes the form of Fourierism.' In Fourierism this incipient reaction is still more manifest. Its publications boldly denounce the Protestant principle, and carry their hostility to individualism so far as to annihilate the individual altogether. They even talk of unity and catholicity, explaining the terms, however, in a very uncatholic sense. Yet all this is a sign. It shows a reaction is going on against Protestantism, where, at first thought, we should least expect it, and where, as a matter of fact, Protestantism appears in its most hideous forms. The whole body of your come-outers and socialists are, in their own way, protesters against Protestantism, and, at bottom, seekers after something which is catholic, which is one, and not individual and multiple. We say, then, again, there is in this Transcendental movement not only a tendency to carry out Protestantism to its legitimate consequences, but the commencement of a movement in an opposite direction; and therefore we look upon the movement as an indication, a sign, that Protestantisin approaches the term of its existence.
We have no occasion, at present, to point out the mistakes the Transcendentalists, under one form or another, fall into. We have already pointed out their mother mistake, that of supposing the institutions which are requisite for our redemption are to be created or can be created by man himself. showed this is out of the question, in our Essay, No Church, No Reform, in our Review for April, 1844. The Church was instituted by Almighty God, and has never ceased to be in the world one moment since the fall of man, and redemption, in every sense desirable, is certain by obedience to it. The other grand mistake is in supposing that any internal authority can be a catholic authority; since what is internal must be taken on the authority of the individual reason, and therefore is only the authority of the individual reason. It must, then, be external, or not at all. If external, it must have a divinely prepared
embodiment or representation, or it will be tyranny. A catholic authority built up by man, as the Fourierists propose, even were it possible, would be the most oppressive tyranny imaginable. All who, outside of the Church, aspire to unity or catholicity doom themselves to endless contradictions and perpetual defeats. So far as they aspire to unity and catholicity we rejoice, because the aspiration may lead them one day to the Church; so far as they so aspire out of the Church, and to a unity or catholicity which is to rival hers we remember our own madness and folly a short time since, and check the utterance of the words which press upon our lips. Yet we must tell them, and we do it in no spirit of exultation, that they labor in vain. Nothing they can do will prosper. They will not believe us now. When we spoke to them from the weakness and ignorance of our own heart, they listened, they believed. Now, when we speak to them, not our own feeble words, not our own darkened wisdom, but the words which have come to us from above, words as true as that God exists, they will not believe us, and we speak but to the winds. O, would to God that they could but know the experience of a Catholic for one hour! O, would they could but for one moment behold the immaculate Spouse of the Lamb, that dear Mother of the faithful, as she looks in her maternal affection on her children! The hardest heart would melt, the most skeptical would believe. O God, must so many souls, for whom thou hast died, be lost ? Must that terrible agony thou didst suffer in the garden be constantly renewed each day to the end of the world ? O, are we men with hearts, and yet indifferent ? Hast thou done all, suffered all, given thyself, to win our love, and we will not give thee our hearts ? But let it be as thou wilt. We tell our Transcendental friends that what they crave and seek they may find in the Church, and can find nowhere else. May God give them grace to seek and find. They will do it, many of them, we hope, and the ravages of sin, of heresy, and schism finally be checked, and, in some degree, repaired. For such a result we can all pray, if we can do nothing else ; and the faithful need not to be informed that prayer does more for the conversion of the world than argument.
ART. V.- LITERARY NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.
1. — Poverty and the Baronet's Family: a Catholic Novel. By the late
HENRY Digby Beste, Esq. Philadelphia : Wm. J. Cunningham. 1846. 12mo. pp. 287.
Of the author of this book we know nothing except what we learn from the book itself. From a short biographical notice prefixed to the story, it would seem that he was an Englishman, educated at Oxford, and, for a time, a minister of the English Church; that he subsequently became a Catholic, devoted the remainder of his life to the cause of Catholicity, and finally died in 1836, hoping in the mercy of God as “the reward of an honest life.” The book itself bears very strong evidence of having been, in part, at least, written by one born on the other side of St. George's Channel, and some eight or nine years after the death of its reputed author. Whether Mr. Beste is a real or fictitious person we know not; and whether the work was really written by him, or by some one in his name, or whether it has been simply compiled by some nameless editor from papers left by him, is more than we know; but if this last, we hope the editor will be more explicit in his next edition, and give us some means of distinguishing what belongs to him and what to the author. It is just as easy to make a straight-forward statement as a circuitous one, and we demand clear and honest statements in a Catholic work. The novel itself we have read with much interest. It is written with life and earnestness, with great truth to nature, and many of its scenes are marked by a high order of genius. Most of the characters are admirably drawn and well sustained, the various incidents of the narrative fall in naturally, and the general grouping, if we may so express ourselves, betokens very respectable artistic skill. The moral intended to be inculcated by the novel is excellent. The author has wished to do justice to the virtues of the humbler classes of society, and to show us that all which is really valuable in human character, all that is really desirable in human life, may be found in the hovel of poverty as well as in the palace of wealth. Lady Foxglove may well envy Albert O'Meara's poor widow. He also aims to enlist our sympathies, and to confirm our respect, for the Irish peasantry, by describing their labors, their trials, their privations, their generous sentiments, their self-denial, and, above all, their simple, unaffected piety, and to teach us that the best service we can render them is voluntarily to share with them their lot in life. All this is excellent, and in the very spirit of our holy religion. We raise the poor, not by making them rich, not by changing their external condition, but by becoming poor, and willingly sharing their labors and privations. The cultivated and noble Bryan O'Meara, living the life of the poor cotter, and mingling on equal terms with his poor countrymen, and seeking, by his intelligence, his refinement, his virtues, his piety, to honor the peasant's calling, is a lesson of immense value. It is, in our degree, imitating the sublime example of Him “who for our sakes became poor.'
But, unhappily, the author does not continue true to his first thought. The Christian soon loses himself in the man of the world. His hero soon sinks from the Christian hero into the revolutionist. While we thought he was voluntarily placing himself on a level with his countrymen, and