Leonard Woolsey Bacon.

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away offenses, if any remain, and the remains, of sin" —
to " confer grace and remit sins." 2 But it is entirely
unsettled among theologians what this promise means. It
cannot be the remitting of mortal sin, for if the penitent

l Dens. Tract, de Indulg. No. 40.
2, Cone. Trid., Sees, xiv., Can. 2,

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have any such unforgiveu, he is not allowed to receive
the unction ; and it cannot refer to venial sins for a good
many reasons that are laid down ; and it cannot mean
u proneness or habit left from past sin ? " for u it often
happens that they who recover after the sacrament feel
the same proneness to sin as before/' 1 In fact, at the
conclusion of the sacrament, Dr. Stone will send for his
lawyer, and if any thing remains of his property after his
heavy expenditure in masses and indulgences for the
benefit of his deceased friends, he will leave it by will to
be given for masses to shorten up the torments which after
all these labors and prayers to Mary, and mortifications,
and sacraments, he still perceives to be inevitable. 2 But
even in this, he bethinks himself of the uncertainty
whether masses paid for in advance will ever be actually
said or sung. 3 But, poor soul, it is the best he can do,.

1. Bellarmine, De Extr. Unct, i. 9, T. ii., p. 1198. 9. Quoted "in Pusey'fc
Eirenicon, 209-211.

2. A most striking instance of this is recorded in one of the most interesting and
recent records of Roman Catholic piety— the Life of the Cure* d'Ars. The old
curdof Ars, had lived a life of preeminent holiness, in which his acts of self
mortification had been so austere and cruel as to have broken down his health —
sueh that others could not hear them described without a shudder. As his death
drew near, he "desired to be fortified by the grace of the last sacraments; " and
the Abbe* Vianney then heard his confession, and administered to him the last

rites of the Church The following day the Abbe" Vianney celebrated

a mass for his revered master, at which all the villagers were present. When
this service was concluded, M. Bailey requested a private interview with his
vicar. During this last and solemn conversation, the dying man placed in his
hands the instruments of his penitence [scourges, &c] 'Take care my poor
Vianney,' he said, * to hide these things; if they find them after my death they
will think I have done something during my life for the expiation of my sins,
and they will leave me in Purgatory to the end of the world:" The Cure" d'Ars .*
A Memoir of Jean-Baptiste-Marle Vianney. By Georgina Molyneux.-
London: 1869.

3. There will hardly rail to occur to him the scandalous cause cel&yre trie d a
few months since, in Paris,— the case of a large brokerage in masses for the dead
which undertook to get the masses performed by country priests at a lower

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and so he gets them to give him a blessed taper to hold,
and gives up the ghost while it burns out, and they
sprinkle his body with holy wat§r and bury it in
oonsecrated ground to keep it safe from the demons, and
his children give their money to get him out of purgatory
{in case he is there) and down to the latest generation
never know (unless their money gives out) whether they
have succeeded, or whether in fact he has not all the while
been hopelessly in hell along with his good old father and

We cannot better wind up this exhibition of the way
in which the church of Rome fulfils her promise of giving
assurance of salvation, than by quoting the language of a
most competent witness, the Rev. J. Blanco White, once
a Roman Catholic theologian in high standing in Spain,
afterwards a Protestant, whose trustworthiness is vouched
for by Father Newman, from intimate personal acquaint-
ance. 1 Mr. White says :

tt The Catholic who firmly believes in the absolving power of his
church, and never indulges in thought, easily allays all fears
connected with the invisible world. Is there a priest at hand to
bestow absolution at the last moment of life, he is sure of a place
in Heaven, however sharp the burnings may be which are appointed
for him in Purgatory.

u But alas, for the sensitive, the consistent, the delicate mind
that takes the infallible church for its refuge ! That church offers
indeed certainty in every thing that concerns our souls ; but, Thou,
Ood, who hast witnessed my misery and that of my nearest

figure than the ruling city prices, but was detected in retaining the money with-
out securing the saying of the masses at all.

1. "I have the fullest confidence in his word when he witnesses to facts, and
facts which he knew." He was one " who had special means of knowing a
Catholic country, and a man you can trust." Lectures on the present Position of
Catholics in England, by John Henry Newman, D.D. 1851.

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relatione — my mother and my two sisters, knowest that the
promised certainty is a bitter mockery. The Catholic pledges of
spiritual safety are the most agonizing sources of doubt :"

u The Sacraments intended for pardon of sins could not (accord-
ing to the common notions) . fail in producing the desired effect.
For, if, as was subsequently given out, all those divinely-instituted
Sites demanded such a spiritual state in the recipient, as without
any external addition would produce the desired effect, what
■advantage would be offered to the believer? If absolution
demanded true repentance to deliver from sin, this was leaving the
dinner exactly.in the same condition as he was in before even the
name of the pretended Sacrament of Penance was heard of in the
world. But if these conditions alone can give security, no thinking
person, and especially no anxious, timid person, can find certainty
in the use of the Sacraments. And none but the naturally bold
And confident do find it. To these, the Sacraments, instead of
being means of virtue, are encouragements of vice and iniquity. ,

u God ! if Thou couldst hate any thing thou hast made, what
weight of indignation would have fallen upon a Constantine, and
An Alva ! And yet the former having put off baptism till the last
■opportunity of sinning should be on the point of vanishing with the
last breath of life, declares the heavenly happiness which filled his
soul from the moment he came out of the baptismal water : the
latter, that cold-blooded butcher of thousands, declares that he dies
without the least remorse. On the other hand, have I not seen the
most innocent among Thy worshippers live and die in a maddening
fear of Hell i They trembled at the Sacraments themselves, lest,
from want ot a fit preparation, they should increase their spiritual
danger." 1

It might be, very tedious to read, but it would certainly
be very easy to present, like proofs to show that in
u heeding the invitation " of the pope to come to him for
infallible teaching in matters of belief, Dr. Stone has come
only to like grief and anxious uncertainty. He has stated

1. Life of the Key. Joseph Blanco White, written by himself. Edited by John
Hamilton Thorn. London : 1845. Vol. III., pp. 256-258.

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very neatly the fallacy of those who have sought for an
infallible interpreter of Scripture in the writings of the
Fathers. u They do not see that in place of acting upon
a new rule, they have only increased the difficulties of the
old ; that instead of obtaining an interpreter, they have
only multiplied the number of the documents which they
must themselves interpret or have interpreted for them;"
and " are in fact resorting to what has been aptly called
' the most ingenious of all Protestant contrivances for.
submitting to nothing and nobody.'" l Marvellous ! that
a man who is so shrewd to perceive this fallacy in the
system he has just left, should be so blind to the same
fallacy in the system he has just adopted ! He had

"jumped into a bramble bush

And scratched out both his eyes ;

* And arhen he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main,
He jumped into another bush
To scratch them in again."

By just so far as his new teacher is infallible, it is
simply documentary — paper and printer's ink — Fathers,
Councils, Bulls, Briefs, more Bulls, more Briefs, and
another Council again, documents upon documents, all in.
the Latin tongue (which, happily, Dr. Stone is able to
read) until the world cannot hold the books that have
been written. But, on the other hand, just so far as he
has access to his new teacher as a living teacher — a
representative oi the Catholic hierarchy — he finds him
confessedly fallible — an uninspired priest or bishop,
likely enough an unconvicted heretic, and at least liable,

1. The Invitation Heeded, pp. 168, 159.

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to all human blunders and endless "variations" in
expounding and applying the faith of the church. If,
disgusted with these miserable comforters, he carries his
doubts to the apostolic threshold, and receives a solution
of them from the successor of Peter himself; it is a poor
reward for his pilgrimage when he learns that the words
of the Pontiff spoken in his capacity as a private teacher
are no more infallible than those of any Protestant
minister. So that the certainty of poor Dr. Stone's faith,
unless he chooses the alternate risk of going to the docu-
ments himself and taking his chance of being " saved by
scholarship," or by u private interpretation," is resolved
into the mere " fides implicita" — of being willing to
believe the truth if he only knew what it was — and that,
if we understand him, is just what he had before he got
the Pope's letter, with the exception that at that time
there were fewer elements of uncertainty in his mind.

And just as with questions of truth, so is it with
questions of duty. In search of definiteness and certainty
he has gone voyaging upon a waste of dreary casuitry,.
upon -whose fluctuating surface he lies becalmed, tossed
to and fro between u probabilism" and u probabiliorism,"
and 0, how sea-sick ! There is nothing for hiin but to
u do as they do in Spain ; " and how that is we learn from
Father Newman's friend, Blanco White :

u In a country where every person's conscience is in the keeping:
of another, in an interminable succession of moral trusts, the
individual conscience cannot be under the steady discipline of self-
governing principle; all that is practised is obedience to the
opinions of others, and even that obedience is inseparably connected
with the idea of a dispensing power. If you can obtain an opinion
favorable to your wishes, the responsibility falls on the adviser,
and you may enjoy yourself with safety. The adviser, on the

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other hand, haying no consciousness of the action, has no sense ot
remorse ; and thus the whole morality of the country, except in
very peculiar cases, wants the steady ground of individual
responsibility^ ' l


The sum of the whole matter seems to be this : that the
certainty and confidence of the disciple of the Church of
Borne, whether regarding matter of belief or matter of
practice, consists in putting his head in a bag, and giving
the string to his confessor.

The "invitation heeded" by Dr. Stone contains other
seductive promises which it would be well for us to
consider, if there were time. We can only allude, with a
word, to the excellent things which his Holiness offers, in
this invitation, to society and government in Protestant
countries, in pity of the misfortunes under which he
perceives them now to be suffering.

u Whoever recognizes religion as the foundation of human society
cannot but perceive and acknowledge what disastrous effect this
division of principles, this opposition, this strife of religious sects
among themselves, has had upon civil society, and how powerfully
this denial of the authority established by God to determine the
belief of the human mind, and to direct the actions of men as well
in private as in social life, has excited, spread, and fostered those
deplorable upheavals, those commotions by which almost all
peoples are grievously disturbed and afflicted." a On this longed
for return to the truth and unity of the Catholic church depends the
salvation not only of individuals, but also of all Christian society ;
and never can the world enjoy true peace, unless there shall be one
Fold and one Shepherd." 2

We see here the value of an infallible teacher ! If it
had not been revealed to us thus from heaven, we never

1. Life of J. Blanco White, I., p. 33.

2. Letter of Pope Pius IX., Sept. 13th, 1868.

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should have guessed that what secured national tranquillity
was national adherence to the Holy See. But now we see
it — by the eye of faith. Poor England, racked witk
intestine commotions ! — if she could but learn the secret
of Spanish order and tranquillity and prosperity ! Unhappy
Scotland, the prey of social anarchy, and devoured by
thriftless indolence ! Will she not cast one glance across
the sea, and lay to heart the lesson of Irish serenity and
peace and wealth? Poor Protestant Prussia, and Denr
mark, and Scandinavia u grievously disturbed and
afflicted" by " those deplorable upheavals and com-
motions" which his Holiness talks about, and yet so
pitifully unconscious of them all ! How slight the price,
— a mere a Pall down and worship me" — with which they
might purchase to themselves the sweet calmness and
good order and unbroken quiet that have characterized
the history of Qatholic Prance and Italy, and even the
ineffable beatitude of those happy States of the Church,
which, ungrateful for their unparalleled blessings, have
been waiting for twenty years for a good chance to put
the pope (in his temporal capacity) into the Tiber ! Nay,
nay ! Let us not refuse to bring home the teaching of our
Shepherd to our own bosoms. What land has been more
the victim of u this division of principles, this opposition,
this strife of religious sects among themselves," than our
own unhappy country ? Ah ! were the people wise ! Do
they not feel the u disastrous effects " of their refusal to
submit to the Holy See — the u deplorable upheavals and
commotions," and all ? Can they resist the allurements
of those examples of national happiness which fill the
whole Western Hemisphere, save the two pitiable
exceptions of Canada and the United States ? Speak, dear

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Dr. Stone, speak once more to your infatuated fellow
countrymen, and persuade them, if you can, to end this
hundred years' history of commotion and revolution and
disastrous change which they have nearly completed, by
substituting the majestic stability of Mexico, and
Gruatemala and Colombia, and all the Catholic continent
down to the Straits of Magellan! * Already a ray of hope
shines in upon the darkness of the Protestant land. One
bright spot is irradiated with the triumph — the partial
triumph — of Roman principles of government. Can it be
irrational to hope that when these principles prevail in
the same degree throughout the land, we shall have every-
where, under State and general governments, the same
placid order, the same security for life and property, the
same freedom from turbulence and riot, the same purity
of elections, the same integrity in the discharge of public
trusts, the same awfulness of judicial virtue, as prevail in
the Catholic city and, county of New York ?

We have left ourselves very little space to express as
we would like the real respect which, after all, we feel
for this book, and still more for this author. With here

1. Father Hyacinthe does not seem to come up to the standard of Roman
doctrine on this point " Ah, well I know— and mahy a time have I groaned
within myself to think of it— these nations of the Latin raee and of the Catholic
religion have been of late the most grievously tried of all! Not only by intestine
fires, by the quaking of the earth, by the inrushing of the sea. Look with
impartial eye, with the fearless serenity of truth, with that assurance of faith
which fears not to accept the revelations of experience, and then teU me — where
it is that the moral foundations quake most violently ? Where does the current
of a formidable electricity give the severest, the most incessant shocks to repub-
lics as weU as monarchies? Among the Latin races; among the Catholic nations.
Yes, by some inscrutable design of Providence, they, more than others, have
had to * drink of the cup deep and large ;' they have wet their lips more deeply
in the chalice in which are mingled ' the wine, the lightning, and the spirit of
the storm;' and they have become possessed with the madness of the drunkard."
Discourses of Father Hyacinthe, Vol. I., p. 155.

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and there a slip in grammar or diction, and with no more
of pedantry than can easily be pardoned to the author's
vocation, the work is beautifully written ; and if there
does seem to be a dreadful gap between what the author
intended when he started, and what he found where he
stopped, it must be acknowledged that he passed from
starting point to goal with -consecutive steps along an
intelligible path. His argument, although encumbered
with mistakes, is, nevertheless, good against any opponent
who accepts his premiss, — that the Church Universal is a
visible corporation. His appeal to all Protestants to
examine with candor the grounds of their belief, and
bravely and sineerely accept the consequences, is earnest,
tender and touching — all the more so, as the unhappy
author in his very exhortation, evidently looks back upon
those generous moments when he himself was practising
these virtues, as Adam might have looked back upon
Paradise. Those hours can never return. Never more
may he exercise the manly virtue which he now commends
to others, and which we doubt not he faithfully practised
until it became a prohibited good. Let him now attempt
to look into the writings of those who differ from him,
with a view to u examining candidly the grounds of his
faith," and the thunderbolt of the excommunication latce
sententice breaks forth upon him from the Bull In Ccena
Domini. 1 We are so affected by the honest Doctor's
exhortation to candid inquiry, that we shrink from putting
ourselves, like him, in a situation in which if we candidly
inquire we are damned.

The little volume will reasonably be expected to be
more effective as a fact and a testimony than as an

1. Ligorii TheoL Moral. 63, 795.

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argument. As a testimony, its precise value is this;
Until two years ago, the author, believing himself to be
entirely sincere and candid, held, as the result of private
judgment, a system (according to his own statement)
wildly inconsistent, illogical and self-destructive, which
he vindicated to himself and others by arguments plausible
and satisfactory. Within two years, after candid but
astonishingly brief examination, in the exercise of the
same private judgment, he has dropped that system and
adopted another, also with entire sincerity, and vindicated
by plausible arguments, which he is not permitted
candidly to re-examine. It is solely by the use of the same
private judgment that played him so false before, that he
has come to embrace this other system.

Qu.: — What is the probability that he has got the
truth now?

This is what he may never know.

One thing alone he holds intelligently — that the Roman*
church is the true church of Christ ; and this he knows
only by his poor private judgment, which he is not
permitted to revise. Every thing else he takes on the
authority of this. And this, being known only by private
judgment, may be a mistake !

Poor man !

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Switzerland may be called the Palestine of modern
geography. It bears relations to the great powers of contem-
porary civilization, in some respects, even more remarkable
than those which the little strip of soil along the Jordan,,
at the meeting of three continents, bore to the civilizations
of antiquity. Like that of Palestine, its situation, while
affording it small temptation to aggression upon its neigh-
bors, is supremely advantageous for defense, for isolation
from foreign influence, and yet at the same time for the
exercise of effective influence outward upon other nations..
To these advantages,, it adds another in its polyglot facility
of communication with the most important nations of

1. From the International lieview for July, 1874.

La Question Catholique a Geneve, de 1815 a 1873. Expose* Historique. Par
Am&e'e Roget. Geneva, 1874.

La Liberte Religieuse et les Evenements de Geneve, 1815-1873. Par A. de
Richecour, docteur en droit, avoeat a la Gour de Paris. Paris, 1873.

La Liturgie de l'Eglise Catholique de Geneve, a r usage des fldeles. Geneva,.

De la ReTorme Catholique. Par le Pere Hyacinthe. Paris, 1872*

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Europe. That long-persistent division of the Swiss people
into German, French, and Italian, necessitating the tri-
lingual publication of the Federal laws, which stands in
such striking contrast, on the one hand, with the thorough
unity of the nation, and on the other hand, with the rapid
^assimilation and extinction of diverse languages in the
American republic, opens u an effectual door of utterance"
for the nation toward its neighbors on every side. There
is something of history, but still more of prophecy, written
in the very map of Switzerland. It is a land of yet un-
fulfilled destiny. The eye traces its great watercourses
into the most important lands of civilized Europe, and
recognizes the lines down which potent influences, social
^nd religious, are to descend.

If Switzerland is the Palestine of Europe, the Jerusalem
of Switzerland is Geneva. "The theological city," as it
has been called by one of its famous historians, seems to
be pervaded by an endemic influence, inciting to religious
discussion and agitation. The eager, irrepressible spirit
of John Calvin walks abroad from his unknown sepulchre
as the genius loci. That austere and melancholic soul
ought to find comfort for the wide apostasy of Geneva
from the doctrines which he taught, and those grim linea-
ments to relax a little upon the canvas, in view of the
renewal of his own story after a lapse of ten generations.
It seems like the running-title of a Life of Calvin, when
we propose to sketch the story of a religious reformation
from the Roman Catholic Church, incited by the growth
of abuses at Rome, inaugurated in the Catholic universities
of Germany, transplanted for a completer and more vigorous
growth into the soil of Geneva, and there, under the
guidance of an exiled Frenchman, taking on the logical,

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consistent, and organized form by which it becomes fitted
for wide propagation and success. If a movement, which
shows in its early stages such curious points of undesigned
coincidence with the great Eeformation of the sixteenth
century, should by-and-by be developed in like proportions,
an International Review could not excuse itself for
having neglected the opening scenes of the play on account
of the narrowness of thp stage on which they were

In attempting a sketch of the ecclesiastical and
religious changes of the last twelve months in Switzerland,
there is every reason for narrowing the field of view in
general to the little Canton of Greneva, turning aside, from
time to time, to remark the like movements, parallel or
divergent, in other States of the Confederation.

The Catholic Reformation is constituted of two very
distinct factors — the religious and political — neither of
which, in the actual circumstances, could have amounted
to much without the other. The managers of the Vatican
Council had counted not unreasonably on the power of
hierarchical organization, reinforced by a certain amount

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Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconChurch papers: sundry essays in subjects relating to the church and ... → online text (page 13 of 26)