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had he succeeded in proving that to be receptive of supernatural assistance necessarily involves the natural ability to know and do the supernatural, would have been entitled to this conclusion ; but this he did not succeed in proving, and cannot prove, as we have shown.
Moreover, by the very supposition, the means are supernatural, and the minister makes understanding of the means a part of the means. Then the understanding itself must be supernatural. Implicat in terminis, to say the understanding as a means is natural, when the means are assumed to be supernatural.
“ If man gets at salvation supernaturally, then he gets at it by his own powers, using the supernatural as a means. By his own powers supernaturalized, transeat, by his own powers unelevated by the supernatural, we deny it, for reasons already assigned. The minister forgets, that, in his analysis of
, salvation, commented on some pages back, he has assumed that the supernatural acts on the natural. In that analysis he undertakes to show that the supernatural must come in contact with and act upon the natural, as the necessary condition of salvation. He now reasons on the supposition, that the natural must come in contact with and act upon the supernatural, that the supernatural is merely passive matter, on and with which the natural is to operate. This is not what we have been taught. Grace is not passive, but active, and acts on us before we act with it. The first act towards salvation is an act of grace. It is not we who get at the supernatural, but it which gets at us. The Saviour comes to seek and to save the sinner. Grace seeks us, finds us, reaches us where we are, and, the instant it reaches us, is the power of God within us to will and to do whatever he requires of us. It is the means of salvation, and of apprehending and using, as we are taught them, all the means requisite to salvation. We are not helped to the means by what we do prior to grace, or without it ; for no
; works contribute to salvation but those which grace operates within us, and we perform through grace. The minister would get rid of his difficulty, if he would bear in mind that the supernatural is given us, not obtained by us.
“ How may I understand Jesus and all inspired_minds ? They utter, you say, the supernatural ; I grant it. But how am I to get at it, if I cannot by my own powers understand the supernatural ?” What our Lord says in person or by inspired organs is the Christian revelation. The minister's question is, how be is to get at this, if he cannot understand NEW SERIES.
VOL. I. NO. I.
the supernatural by his own powers. If, by getting at this, he means apprehending it when properly proposed, he can get at it with his own powers ; but in so doing, he does not by his own powers understand the supernatural ; for Christian doctrines, humanly apprehended, are, quoad nos, only human doctrines. To get at them, in the sense required for divine faith, requires the supernatural elevation of our faculties by the grace of faith. God can, if he chooses, so elevate them. Consequently, it is not impossible to get at the revelation without being able by our own powers to understand the supernatural.
“ Can the Church remove the difficulty ?" The difficulty the minister imagines, we have shown, does not exist. That difficulty is, that the capacity to receive the supernatural implies the ability to know and do the supernatural. Therefore, if you deny the natural ability to know and do the supernatural, you deny the capacity to receive supernatural assistance. This must apply also to the Church. If, then, you deny to the individual the power to understand the supernatural, you deny the ability of the Church to help him. She either gives me the natural or the supernatural. If the natural only, she gives me only what I already have. If the supernatural, she encounters the same difficulty, for she can give it only on condition that I am able to understand the supernatural ; which you deny. But we have seen that it does not require the previous ability, without supernatural assistance, to understand the supernatural. Consequently this difficulty vanishes. It is idle to pretend that God cannot elevate us by grace above our natural capacity and ability. The minister professes to believe in supernatural inspiration. The inspired must have had the natural capacity to be inspired, or else they could not have been inspired ; but had they, therefore, the natural ability to know without the grace of inspiration all that God by inspiration revealed through them? And could not God possibly inspire them to reveal truths which transcended the reach of their natural ability ? If he could not, will the minister tell us wherein the matter of revelation, or the mysteries of faith, differ from the matter of human philosophy ? If he admits that God ever inspired any man to reveal what could not have been reached by the human intellect unassisted, he yields the whole question.
The only difficulty there is in the case the Church can remove, if she be what she professes to be. If she has r
the deposit of faith, if she is commissioned and supernaturally assisted to keep and faithfully propose it, she can remove the only real difficulty there is to be removed; for we know then that what she proposes for the word of God is his word, and therefore infallibly true. And here is the only open question, the only question proposed to our natural powers. Has Almighty God instituted the Church, and authorized her to teach in his name? If you postpone the question as to what is taught, till you dispose of the question, Who or what is the teacher ? your difficulties will soon vanish. This, too, is the only reasonable course. The Church comes to us as an ambassador from God, and if she comes from him, she comes with credentials, and we should examine her credentials before examining her message. If her credentials are satisfactory, if they prove that God has sent her, then we know that her message is from God, and that we are bound to receive it, be it what it may. If her credentials are such as to prove beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt that she is from God, reason requires me to believe her message, however unpalatable I may find it, unintelligible, or apparently unreasonable ; for I can have no higher reason for declaring her message unreasonable than I have for believing her ffom God, and nothing is more reasonable than to believe God. If you seek, you will find her credentials all that your reason can ask. You will find them accrediting her beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt, as the ambassador of God, sent to treat with you in his name. Then, whatever she proposes in his name is infallibly true. Then, after this, you have only to listen, as a child to his mother, to her instructions, and she will tell you what else you want, and how you may get it, and render you all needed assistance.
We agree with the minister, that “any man with an honest heart may come to God,” but only in God's way, and as God draws him. “ No man can come unto me except the Father draw him." But if we refuse to come in God's way, if we will not suffer him to draw us, we shall not find him, though he is not far from every one of us. The minister greatly misconceives the Catholic doctrine, if he supposes it renders the approach to God more difficult. The contrary is the fact; and, according to it, it is every one's own fault' if he remain at a distance from God. The Church is provided expressly to bring him to God, to afford him that precise help he needs to enable him to come to God. Hence her glory, and the tender love we have for her.
We have touched upon all the points in the letter which have struck us as important. The minister must be on his guard against impatience and hasty conclusions, rely on God rather than on himself, and be willing to pause and let God speak. We are all more ready to instruct the Almighty than we are to let him instruct us; and no people in general use reason more unreasonably than they who declaim the most vehemently for the use of reason. Nothing is more reasonable than to believe God on his word, or unreasonable than to distrust the teaching of one he has commissioned to teach in his name. We should beg of God to give us true docility, a childlike willingness to follow him, to believe what he says, and then sit down calmly, patiently, and with all our powers to inquire if he has commissioned any one to speak to us in his name. He may have done so ; and if he has, that is the one to whom we must listen. And he has done so. The Blessed God has not left himself without a witness on the earth. We own that it seems almost too good to believe ; but nothing is too good for our God to do. Men disbelieve the Church, in reality, because they have but low notions of his goodness, because they do not believe him good enough to provide so liberally for our darkness and our weakness. How should they, when they have no conceptions of the kingdom of grace, none of the supernatural ? O, if they could once rise above nature, and catch but the feeblest glimpse of the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, they would never again distrust his goodness, or believe any thing too good for him to do! He is better than we can think, has provided more liberally for us than we have ever dared wish, or been able to conceive. 0 God, who would not love thee, that but beheld thy love and mercy, of which the Church, after all, in this earthly state, is but a feeble manifestation ? Thy love is too great for us ; it overpowers here on the way; what will it be when we get home, and behold thee face to face, as thou art in thyself?
Art. V. - Dunigan's Home Library. Nos. I. to VII.
New York : Edward Dunigan. 1846. 18mo.
Mr. Dunigan's design in issuing this series of neatly executed little volumes is to furnish Catholics with useful and at
tractive reading, which may lessen their temptation to resort to the light and mischievous literature with which the press is flooding the country. This design does him great credit, and he spares no pains or expense in its execution ; but its execution is a matter of no little difficulty and delicacy. The works published must be attractive, and in some degree adapted to the prevailing taste, or they will not be read by those for whom they are more especially prepared ; and must be moral, Catholic in tone and influence, or they will not be preferable to the literature it is hoped they will supersede. But to produce books which combine at once both of these qualifications requires a combination of piety, talent, and genius, which is not always to be had for the asking. Yet, when the intrinsic difficulties of the design are considered, we are bound to say that it has thus far been executed with much more success than was to have been anticipated. All is not done that we could wish; but much has been done, for which we are grateful to Mr. Dunigan and the contributors to his series.
These contributors appear to have regarded the religious novel as the literary form the best adapted to their purpose ; and in this they may not have judged unwisely. The religious novel is just now the fashion ; it is a form of composition which allows the author a large degree of liberty, enables him to make an attractive book without a too heavy drain on his learning or his thought, and permits him to discourse on matters and things in general, without confining himself to one thing in particular any longer than he finds it convenient, and to be grave or gay, to appeal to reason and learning, or to imagination and sentiment, according to his humor.
But something may also be said against it. It in general is made up of two dissimilar parts, and it may be questioned whether the graver part, when read for the sake of the lighter, the religious for the sake of the sentimental, is likely to produce so much effect as the author contemplates.
Most Catholic novels which have fallen under our notice are made up of two distinct and separable portions, the sentimental story, and the grave religious discussion. The latter, which is the more important part, is in general what may be found in any of our elementary works intended for those disposed to inquire into the claims of our holy religion, and is often copied verbatim from them; and the sentimental portion, as far as it goes, is very much what is found in novels in general. Now these works are designed for Catholics, for Protestants,