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Then, again, truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction. Pauline Seward is a very respectable young lady; has a fine person, genteel manners, and is free from vice ; but what is she to a St. Agnes, a St. Theresa, a St. Catherine of Sienna, a St. Bridget, or a St. Gertrude ? What is Father
, Felix, Father Le Fevre, or Father Thomas, beside hundreds of meek and faithful pastors gently performing their duties in the Church in any Catholic country? What are your Normans, Eugenes, and other heroes of your modern Catholic novels, beside a St. Lawrence, a St. Stanislaus Kotska, a St. Aloysius Gonzaga ? Why, your most successful Catholic, or
, pretended Catholic, romancers of the day cannot begin to rise even in imagination to what the Church presents us everywhere in the lives of her saints. Shall we exchange the saints who have really lived, those admirable specimens of art in which the eternal God has been the artist, for the puerile conceits and puny creations of sentimental young men and boardingschool misses? Who has not laughed at poor Glaucus for giving his golden armor for the brazen armor of Diomede ? Shall we escape, if we exchange the pure gold of reality for the tinsel of a weak and sickly fancy? These little books with
? red embossed covers and gilt edges are very pretty, no doubt, and the young gentleman or the young lady who has written one of them may claim it as a noble birth ; but are we not stupid beyond conception to rest contented with them, or to suppose that we have nothing more attractive to offer our young people ? Have we, as Catholics, become so poor, so utterly impoverished, that we must borrow the pens of Protestants, of heretics, and therefore children of the devil, to portray saints and heroes for the contemplation and imitation of our sons and daughters ? Or are we so lost to all sense of the riches of our Church, that, when we do not borrow the Protestant pen, we must borrow the Protestant spirit, and write after the Protestant model ? Really, this is more stupid than exchanging gold for brass. We mean not to be too severe upon the young men and women, or old men and widows, or men with wives, or wives with husbands, who write our pretty red or blue covered Catholic novels. They no doubt aim well, do the best they can, without more study ; and we are not disposed to blame people for not doing better than they can. Nevertheless, these novels are a reproach to us ; no inconsiderable part of our popular English Catholic literature is a reproach to us; and is it to be wondered at that our young people seek to gratify their reading propensity elsewhere?
There is no more attractive reading for the young than biography, and there is really no department of biography which may be made more attractive than that of the saints, the true and only real heroes and conquerors. Why not, then, enrich our literature with translations from the French, Italian, &c., of the excellent lives of the saints which so abound in those languages? How much better it is to spend an hour with St. Francis of Sales, St. Jane Francis Chantol, St. Francis of Assisium, St. John of God, than with Florence Ruthven, Cora Leslie, or Jessie Linden, Norman Ruthven, Elder Graham, or even Father Thomas ! If we wish the country to become Catholic, we must study, not to bring Catholicity down to it, but to bring it up to Catholicity. Your pretty novels will do little to guard our children against the infection of heresy, still less to win heretics to the truth. We must aim higher, propose higher models of excellence than are to be found in the public marts or the gay saloons of rich heretics. We must hold up the saints, and kindle a noble aspiration in our youth to follow their examples, to imitate their heroic virtues. Then Catholicity will really advance in our country. Then our youth will not blush to be called Papists or Romanists. They will glory in reproach, joy in being contemned.
Why not? An Englishman has written a book which he calls “ The Ages of Faith,” as if the ages of faith had passed away. They may have passed away in proud and sensual England, but let us beware of harbouring the notion that there is not faith now, and that even now Christians may not or do not equal Christians of the past. The Church does not grow old, the faith does not grow old, the Holy Ghost does not grow old; say not, The days that have been are better than those which are. We can go into this city and find as strong faith, as tender piety, as thorough self-annihilation, as the world in any age ever witnessed. God is as near us as ever; we have all the aids we ever had, and we may emulate the virtues of any past age. God has not changed ; his religion has not changed; man's nature has not changed. What was possible aforetime is possible now. Let us not, then, suppose we have come too late into the world to aspire to holy living. Let us turn our eyes, not out upon the barren wilderness without, but in upon the vast treasures we have been accumulating for ages, and dare use them.
Who cares for the heretics and infidels around us, except for their conversion? They cannot harm us against our will. Were not the early Christians in a hostile world? Were they not surrounded by Jewish and Pagan relatives and friends? Had they not apparently even greater obstacles than we to overcome ? Why, then, shall we not speak to this age as they spoke to theirs ? Suppose we are sneered at, ridiculed, abused, insulted, trampled on. Suppose the world becomes mad against us, mobs us, shoots us down, sends us to dungeons, the scaffold, or the stake; worse it cannot do. Suppose all this. What then? We have only to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Woe unto us only when all men speak well of us. Woe unto us only when we prefer the praise of men to the praise of God.
We honor the zeal we see increasing in behalf of Catholic literature, but we wish the literature to be such as will kindle our zeal for Catholicity, — set before us heroic examples worthy of our imitation. We want no linsey-woolsey literature, no diluted Catholicity. Let us have our religion in all its power, majesty and glory, sweetness and beauty, as we see it exemplified by our noble army of saints. Let us study to enlist early our youth in this army, and to bring them into close communion with the beloved of God. And the best way to do this is to leave the regions of fancy and imagination, and soar to those of truth and reality, and substitute heroes and heroines fashioned by the grace of God, for those of our own creating. God's works are more beautiful than man's. Let us prefer his works to ours, and we shall soon see that the “ Ages of Faith” have not passed away, but are now as well as formerly. Give us the saints, and there will be no call for the heroes of romance,
ART. V. - The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in
the United States of America : containing the Confession of Faith, the Catechisms, and the Directory for the Worship of God; together with the Plan of Government and Discipline, as ratified by the General Assembly at their Sessions in May, 1821, and amended in 1833. Philadelphia : Haswell & Co. 1838.
In our Review for April last, we discussed at sufficient length the first part of the doctrine of Predestination, namely,
Almighty God purposed from the beginning to create some
angels and men in order to condemn them to everlasting misery. We proceed now to consider the second part, namely, the Almighty, to render his decree effectual, lays both the elect and the reprobate under the invincible necessity, the former of doing good and the latter of doing evil. This part teaches us that the wicked are driven by this necessity into sin, and to plunge into every excess, that their condemnation may be certain ; or, in other words, to recur to a figure already used, the Almighty binds around their waists the leaden jacket, which leaves them no alternative but to sink. This part of the doctrine, still more than the former, renders Presbyterianism execrable, for it makes God the real author of the sins which men by bis decree are placed under the necessity of committing.
The passages of the Confession which establish this monstrous doctrine are numerous and clear, and there seems to have been not much effort to conceal it. Soon after their first appearance in the world, the Calvinists split on the question, whether predestination to hell and sin was anterior or posterior to the fall of Adam, and they divided into two parties, the antelapsarians or supralapsarians and the postlapsarians or sublapsarians. The Westminster Divines, as mighty geniuses, appear to have contrived to be of both parties at once.
Their Confession speaks of God's decree to damn some angels and men before saying a word of the fall of Adam ; and as angels had no original sin, it is fair to conclude that men and angels are placed on the same footing; and therefore that the predestination preceded foresight of the fall. In conformity with this, we read,
“ The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and of men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends." - Chap. V., Art. IV.
As God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass, and as the sins of angels and men do not proceed from the bare permission of God, it can hardly be supposed that the angels and Adam had any real power to avoid sin after this ordering of God concerning their fall; and that they had not appears evident from
; the chapter of the Confession which treats of Free Will.
“God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined, to good or evil.
II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.
III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that which is good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.” — Chap. IX.
The beginning of this chapter is edifying and orthodox, and would seem to indicate that Presbyterians, after all, hold to a genuine free-will in man; but to judge of a performance, it is always well to see the end ; and in this case the end contradicts the beginning, and shows that the free-will asserted is in kind simply that by which the blessed in heaven love good. The blessed, we are told, are perfectly pure because they embrace good with great intensity ; and therefore, when we are told that the sinner wills freely that which is spiritually good, the meaning is, that he wills it without dissent in himself and with great earnestness, in which sense a Presbyterian would say that the cat pounces
a rat. When, therefore, we are told that man's will is neither forced, nor determined, by any absolute necessity of nature, to good or evil, the meaning is, merely, that his will is not under any absolute necessity of nature, because some other order in which it would have been really free was possible. It is probable, therefore, that in the minds of Presbyterians even Adam had no real free-will, but was under the necessity of falling, though God might, if he had chosen, have established an order in which his fall would not have been necessitated.
But whether, according to Presbyterians, Adam had or had not free-will, is of little consequence, for all men have fallen ; and it is with their state since the fall that we are chiefly concerned. There can be not the shadow of a doubt that Presbyterians are Postlapsarians, and admit in sinners, not predes