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sally.”1 And the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches the same doctrine.
Let us put what has been said in a simple form perfectly intelligible to all.
Philosophy is spiritualistic or sensational. What does the Cartesian doctrine affirm ? That the consciousness of man is the evidence of Truth. What does the sensationalist affirm ? that the evidence of Truth is derived through the senses. Catholicism affirms both these premisses.
Does the spiritualist deny that the senses convey evidence of reality? In that denial he ceases to be Catholic.
Does the sensationalist deny the personal consciousness to be the criterium of verity? In that denial he ceases to be Catholic.
The Pantheist affirms that God is in Nature, that He is the ground, the force of nature. It is the fulness of God which flows into the crystal of the rock, the juices of the plant and the life of the animal. The fern, rustling in the forest glade, springs out of God, deriving its greenness and its beauty from Him. The first bud of spring and the last rose of summer, the glittering April shower and the falling snowflakes of December, the sun that glows in the blue sky and the harvest-moon that silvers o'er the farmer's shocks, the dove that complains ainong the stonepines, the lark that twitters on high, are all expressions of God. The violet blooms of God, the rose blushes with His indwelling presence, the lily is redolent with His fragrance. The Catholic accepts all this; to him also nature is the radiation of the perfections of God, is the manifestation of God to
But he does not halt at that statement, rest satisfied in that feeling. He supplements it with a belief in a personal God. The Pantheist, by denying the personality of God, is driven to deny Him intelligence, and free-will to man. Pantheism in what it affirms is Catholic, in what it denies is error.
* De Veritate Relig. Chr. lib. i. c. x. note.
Deism affirms the existence of God apart from nature, outside of it. It sees in creation not the presence of an immanent God, but of One who called it into being, stamped it with His seal and left it to run its course. We say that two things are distinct when we can form a distinct idea of each by itself, without however imagining that they can subsist in this isolation; and we say that two things are separable, when we can conceive them as existing and subsisting in isolation. Thus, the idea of a clock is distinct and inseparable from the mind of the maker, but the clock itself is distinct and separate. This world is either the idea or it is the workmanship of God. If we say that it is the idea,—then we are Pantheists, if we say that it is the work, then we are Deists.
Not only is the world the clock, but we are all clocks, says the Deist. We cannot exist without God, who is our cause, but we exist outside of Him, and are separate and distinct from Him, for we are free and can resist Him.
The Deist is Catholic when he affirms the creation of the world by God, and the existence of free-will, but when he denies the immanence of God in creation, he falls into negation, which is error.
But how, it may be asked, can two such opposite theories as Pantheism and Deism be reconciled,—they mutually exclude one another? I may not be able to explain how they are conciliable, but I boldly affirm that each is simultaneously true, and that each must be true, for each is an inexorably logical conclusion, and each is a positive conclusion, and all positive conclusions must be true if Christ be the Ideal and the focus of all truths.
Rationalism makes knowledge the only basis of certainty, it affirms that the intellect of man is capable of ordering and weighing evidence, of discriminating between what is faulty and worthless, and what is valuable and sound. By means of reason he arrives at absolute certainty. This the Catholic allows readily, he adds also that there is another means of attaining certainty- Feeling or sentiment. This the Rationalist denies,-a negation again, which is error.
The Materialist points out that every process of thought is due to action of a material organ, and that thought is the corrosion of the vascular neurine in the brain. Thought is a mode of force. Certain constituents are combined in the brain, and these are held together by chemical cohesion. A reaction takes place, the cohesive force is liberated and takes the shape of an idea; man acts upon the idea and resolves it into muscular force, which impresses itself on materials outside of him, and is produced from change to change for ever.
The Catlıolic accepts this, but he adds, there is a supernatural order of which the Materialist takes no account, which in fact he denies, and in that denial falls off from Catholic unity and the recognition of the Absolute. He asserts one truth, but by ignoring or refusing to admit the opposite truth falls into error.
What is Atheism? In itself nothing ;-a denial of a positive idea. Every negation involves a position. And if every positive idea be a reality, a negation is nothing.
Secondly; Catholicism is the fusion into one of all religions. I shall have more to say in the sequel on the satisfaction of the religious instincts by Christianity, and I will here deal but generally with the subject.
Every religion is the expression of a want of man's spiritual nature, however uncouth or exaggerated may be the form it assumes.
This uncouthness or exaggeration is due to negation of correlative wants. The want itself is the strain after a truth, the hunger of the spiritual nature. The Incarnation assumes to satisfy every one of these wants, and therefore must become a web, of which all philosophies are the warp, and all religions are the woof.
“As there are two natures in Christ,” says the Abbé Gabriel, in a very remarkable book which has been approved at Rome, “there must be in Christianity two elements; 1st, a common, universal, infinite element, like the divine nature;—this is what the apostle calls the Spirit, and the Catechism of the Council of Trent calls the soul of the Church,' and 2nd, a finite, human and progressive element, like human nature :this is what the apostle calls 'the letter.' But, just as the human nature and the divine nature are indissolubly united in the person of the Word, so the infinite and the finite elements are indissolubly united in Christianity.
“The letter is all that is defined in Christianity, in its morals, its dogmas, its ritual, its constitution and its discipline. The soul of the Church is the verity in universal charity which inspires with spirit and life the outward morals, dogmas, ritual, and discipline. One without the other is the soul without the body which manifests it, the dead letter without the spirit vivifying it.
“ Moreover, as a consequence of the union of the two natures in the incarnate Word, the divine nature penetrates the human nature with its spirit, and the human nature participates also in the prerogatives of the divine life. Thenceforth the latter, in itself limited, becomes infinitely dilatable and extensible, without in any way losing the invariable fixity of its positive orientation; and the spirit, in itself indefinable, determines itself without losing anything of its character of universality.
“Morality, dogma, ritual, and discipline dilate and develop in the formula and their applications, without ceasing to be immutable in their principles and in their essence. And the spirit of infinite charity, which is their life, formulates itself into graces and gifts multiplied in the mystery of its indivisible unity.
“What then does Christianity effect? It gathers up into itself, as a focus, all the truths dispersed in all modes of worship, which are so many successive steps measuring the progress or decay of man in his victory over matter, of which Catholicism is the complete expression. The Word, being the union of the finite with the infinite, resumes in its universal conception all the religious beliefs and philosophies in whatsoever of them is true, and is therefore destined to unite all verities in universal charity which is its principle, its end, and its law.
“The Church did not begin at Bethlehem, but dates from the first man, or rather, eternal in its dogmas, in its life, it was before all ages. It was the Word who illumined Adam and his descendants, the patriarchs before and after the deluge, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, all the prophets, and the Hebrew people. They were all members of the Church. Nay, more; all the verities, so numerous, scattered among the heathen, were but radiations of this divine Word. All the just of paganism, in as far as they professed these verities, were members therefore of the Church. Consequently, the Church sums up in herself all the verities before as well as after the preaching of the Gospel.
“ Always new, though some six thousand years old, the