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errorists, and consigns them en masse to hell. These are his words : “ Finding the essence of Protestantism to be mere vulgar pride, that is, a moral disease rather than an intellectual aberration, it is evident that we are to treat it as a vice rather than as an error, and Protestants as sinners rather than as simply unbelievers or misbelievers. This may not be very flattering to their pride ; nevertheless, it is the only way they deserve to be treated, and the only way in which they can be treated for their good. We honor them quite too much when we treat them as men whose heads are wrong, but whose hearts are sound. The wrongness of the head is the consequence of the rottenness of the heart. They are worldly, and their wisdom is earthly, sensual, devilish ; even their virtues, their honesty, their uprightness of conduct have reference, not to God, but to their justification, either in the eyes of the world or in the
eyes of their own pride." i " To us there is something shocking in the supposition that the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus —' out of the Church no salvation' - is only generally true, and therefore not a Catholic dogma. All Catholic dogmas, if Catholic, are not only generally but universally true, and admit no exception or
1 Essays and Reviews, pp. 259–262. The words of another Roman Catholic may well be compared with those of Brownson. “As a child," says J. T. Reily, we grew up regarding Protestants as people unfit for our association, — something mysterious and abhorrent about them never explained quite by our parents and teachers. We looked at their meetinghouse with fear and horror. Our God was to us the only God in existence. It could not be that He was the God of the Protestants — never! But as age and intercourse came on we found them better than ourselves, often giving us examples of gentleness and reproof, and especially of forbear. ance and sincerity that shamed our false impressions away."
restriction whatever. If men can come to Christ and be saved without the Church, or union with Christ in the Church, she is not Catholic, and it is false to call her the one Holy Catholic Church, as in the Creed. ... We do not dare to say that when a Protestant dies he is assuredly lost, for we know not what passed between God and his soul at the last moment before the breath left the body ; but this we do dare to say, that, if one dies a Protestant, - and the presumption, if he remains an adhering Protestant up to the last moment, is that he does so die, - he is most assuredly damned, that is, forever deprived of heaven, and will never see God as he is.” In the same connection, following the Council of Florence, Brownson accepts the conclusion that unbaptized infants go to hell, and adds the conviction that they endure a measure of positive suffering as failing of their proper destiny. In fine, he compounds a creed which ought to satisfy any zealot for damnation who is not over-hard to please.
It is of interest to note that the greatest of American converts has been disposed to criticise the greatest of English converts. In the view of Brownson, Newman, who was in fact hampered to some extent by his knowledge of history, did not rise to the full height of a truly Catholic consciousness. He was inclined to rate him as a kind of half-Anglican in his way of thinking. Objecting to the tone of his reply to Gladstone, he said : “A friend in whose judgment we place great confidence remarks to us that Dr. Newman does not appear to write in a thoroughly Catholic spirit.” 2 At an earlier date he had entered a vigorous protest against the theory of dogmatic development through which the Tractarian leader had argued himself into the Roman Catholic faith. “Mr. Newman,” he wrote in 1846, “ maintains a slow, painful, and laborious working out, by the Church herself, of dogmatic truth from implicit feelings. . . She had a blind instinct, which, under secret, supernatural guidance, enabled her to avoid error and to pursue the regular course of development. She had a secret feeling of the truth, as one may say, a natural taste for it, and a distaste for error; yet not that clear and distinct understanding which would have enabled her at any moment, on any given point, to define her faith. She only knew enough of truth to preserve the original idea, and to elaborate from her intense feelings, slowly and painfully, as time went on, now one dogma and now another. What in one age is feeling, in a succeeding age becomes opinion, and an article of faith in a still later age.
i Brownson's Review, April, 1874. 2 Ibid. April, 1875.
We ask, Does the Church herself take this view ? Does she admit her original creed was incomplete, that it has increased and expanded, that there have been variation and progress in her understanding of the revelation she originally received, and that she now understands it better can more readily define what it is than she could at first? Most assuredly not. She asserts that there has been no progress, no increase, no variation of faith; that what she believes and teaches now is precisely what she has always and everywhere believed and taught from the first. She denies that she has ever added a new article to the primitive creed.” 1 As to a choice between these contra
1 Brownson’s Review, July, 1846. The order of the passages is changed in the quotation, but without affecting the author's line of argument.
dictory views the Romanist may well find some ground of perplexity. The view of Brownson is undoubtedly conformable to the general language of councils and Popes; but it is so grossly unhistoric that it is not strange that some Roman Catholic theologians have thought it advisable to make very considerable approaches to Newman's theory of dogmatic development.
10. MORMONS. - A theocracy which can boast no
. such prestige of numbers and historical associations as belongs to that centring in Rome, but which claims equally a right to subordinate all men and institutions to itself, was founded in 1830 at Fayette in the State of New York; had its headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, between 1831 and 1838; was represented at the same date by a band of colonists in Missouri; was intrenched at Nauvoo, Illinois, from 1839 to 1846-47; from this time has built up its priestly kingdom in Utah and the neighboring territories; and has won a greater or less number of adherents in many foreign countries.
The primary credential of this nineteenth century theocracy — which is called by its adherents the “ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and is commonly described by outsiders as the “Mormon Church” was the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith claimed to have ascertained the location of the hidden treasure, under divine direction, in 1823, and to have taken it into his possession in 1827. This Occidental Bible, or story of religion in pre-historic America, purporting to have been written many centuries ago on metallic plates in Reformed Egyptian, was translated, it was alleged, by the use of a kind of magical spectacles, composed of a
pair of stones set in rims of steel. Of course, no one besides a few intimates of the prophet Joseph even had so much as a glance at the original of the Book of Mormon, and it was conveniently placed beyond the reach of any critical examination by being withdrawn into the hands of the angel who acted as its guardian. According to a very general opinion, the real original was a religious romance left in manuscript by Solomon Spaulding, and brought to the knowledge of Joseph Smith by his confederate Sidney Rigdon. In any case the fraudulent character of the claim to antiquity is sufficiently transparent. To say nothing about the preposterous magic involved in the ability of a pair of huge stone spectacles to render an Oriental tongue into English, the obvious dependence of the writing upon the King James' version of the Bible shows unmistakably its modern origin, while the grammatical blunders which it contained, as printed in 1830, indicate clearly that some part of it at least came from no higher source than the illiterate agent of the pretended discovery, unless perchance the spectacles had some flaw which disqualified them from uniformly refracting Egyptian into good English.
Having successfully duped a number of people with his fraudulent Bible, Smith went forward boldly as the head of a new dispensation, and claimed to be the channel of repeated revelations. How high a flight his confidence had taken shortly before his assassination in 1844, may be seen in the fact that he had himself
proposed as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and published the principles upon which he proposed to administer the high office.