^^M TORON TO :
JATIONAI, PUBLISHING COMPANY.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
COL. R. G. INGERSOLL
THK NATIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
THE HIM ITS
THE Vatican Council, in its Decree on Faith has these words:
" The Church itself, by its marvelous propagation, its eminent
sinctity, its inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good things, its catholic
unity and invincible stability, is a vast and perpetual motive of
credibility, and an irrefragable witness of its own Divine legation."*
Its Divine Founder said : "lam the Light of the world;" and, to
His Apostles, He said also, " Ye are the light of the world," and of
His Church He added, " A city seated on a hill cannot be hid." The
Vatican Council says : " The Church is its own witness." My pur
pose is to draw out this assertion more fully.
These words affirm that the Church is self-evident, is light as to
the eye, and, through sense, to the intellect. Next to the sun at
noon-day, there is nothing in the world more manifest than the one
visible Universal Church. Both the faith and the infidelity of the
world bear witness to it. It is loved and hated, trusted and feared,
served and assaulted, honored and blasphemed : it is Christ or Anti
christ, the Kingdom of God or the imposture of Satan. It pervades
the civilized world. No man and no nation can ignore it, none can
be indifferent to it. Why is all this ? How IB its existence to be
accounted for ?
Let me suppose that I am an unbeliever in Christianity, and that
some frifttd should make me promise to examine the evidence to
show that Christianity is a Divine revelation ; I should then sift and
test the evidence as strictly as if it were in a court of law, and in a
cause of life and death ; my will won ! be in suspense : it would in
no way control the process of my intuJ : ct. If it had any inclina
tion from the equilibrium, it would be towards mercy and hope ;
but this would not add a feather s weight to the evidence, nor sway
the intellect a hair s breadth.
After the examination ha.s boon completed, and my intellect con-
*" Coast. Dogai. de FUe Catholica, o. iii.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
pinced, the evidence being sufficient to prove that Christianity is a
divine revelation, nevertheless I am not yet a Christian. All this
sifting brings me to the conclusion of a chain of reasoning ; but I am
not j 7 et a believer. The last act of reason has brought rne to the
brink of the first act of faith. They are generically distinct and
separable. The acts of reason are intellectual, and jealous of the
interference of the will. The act of faith is an imperative act of
the will, founded on and justified by the process and conviction of
the intellect. Hitherto I have been a critic ; henceforward, if I will,
I become a disciple.
It may here be objected that no man can so far suspend the in
clination of the will when the question is, has God indeed spoken to
man or no ? is the revealed law of purity, generosity, perfection,
divine, or only the poetry of imagination ? Can a man be indifferent
between two such sides of the problem ? Will he not desire the
higher and better side to be true ? and if he desire, will he not in
cline to the side that he desires to find true ? Can a moral being
be absolutely indifferent between two such issues ? and can two such
issues be equally attractive to a moral agent ? Can it be indifferent
and all the same to us whether God has made Himself and His will
known to us or not ? Is there no attraction in light, no repulsion in
darkness ? Does not the intrinsic and eternal distinction of good
and evil make itself felt in spite of the will ? Are we not responsible
to " receive the truth in the love of it ?" Nevertheless, evidence
has its own limits and quantities, and cannot be made more or less
by any act of the will. And yet, what is good or bad, high or mean,
lovely or hateful, ennobling or degrading, must attract or repel men
as they are better or worse in their moral sense ; for an equilibrium
between good and evil, to God or to man, is impossible.
The last act of my reason, then, is distinct from my first act of
faith precisely in this : so long as I was uncertain I suspended the
inclination of my will, as an act of fidelity to conscience and of
loyalty to truth ; but the process once complete, and the conviction
once attained, my will imperatively constrains me to believe, and I
become a disciple of a Divine revelation.
My friend next tells me that there are Christian Scriptures, and I
go through precisely the same process of critical examination and
final conviction, the last act of reasoning preceding, as before, the
first act of faith.
He then tells me that there is a Church claiming to be divinely
founded, divinely guarded, and divinely guided in its custody of
Christianity and of the Christian Scriptures.
Once more I have the same twofold process of reasoning and of
believing to go through.
There is, however, this difference in the subject-matter : Chris
tianity is an order of supernatural truth appealing intellectually to
my reason ; the Christian Scriptures are voiceless, and need a wit
ness. They cannot prove their own mission, much less their own
authenticity or inspiration. Bnt the Church is visible to the eye,
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
audible to the ear, self -manifesting and self asserting : I cannot
escape from it. If I go to the east, it is there ; if I go to the west,
it is there also. If I stay at home, it is before me, seated on the hill ;
if I turn away from it, 1 am surrounded by its light. It pursues me
and calls to me. I cannot deny its existence ; I cannot be indiffer
ent to it ; I must either listen to it or wilfully stop my ears ; I must
heed it or defy it, love it or hate it. But my lirst attitude towards
it is to try it with forensic strictness, neither pronouncing it to be
Christ nor Antichrist till I have tested its origin, claim, and char
acter. Let us take down the case in shorthand.
1. It says that it interpenetrates all the nations of the civilized
world. In some it holds the whole nation in its unity, in others it
holds fewer ; but in all it is present, visible, audible, naturalized,
and known as the one Catholic Church, a name that none can ap
propriate. Though often claimed and controversially assumed,
none can retain it ; it falls off. The world knows only one Catholic
Church, and always restores the name to the right owner.
2. It is not a national body, but extra-national, accused of its
foreign relations and foreign dependence. It is international, and
independent in a supernettional unity.
3. In faith, divine worship, sacred ceremonial, discipline, govern
ment, from the highest to the lowest, it is the same in every place.
4. It speaks a)l languages in the civilized world.
5. It is obedient to one Head, outside of all nations, except one
only; and in thafc nation, his headship Is not national but world
( ; . The world- wide sympathy of the Church in all lands with its
Head has been manifested in our days, and before our eyes, by a
series of- public assemblages in Home, of which nothing like or
second to it can be found. In 1854, 350 Bishops of all nations sur
rounded their Head when he defined the Immaculate Conception.
In 180V,, 400 Bishops assembled at the canonization of the Martyrs
of Japan. In 1867, 500 Bishops came to keep the eighteenth cen
tenary of St. Peter s martyrdom. In 1870, 700 Bishops assembled
in the Vatican Council. On the Feast of the Epiphany, 1870, the
Bishops of thirty nations during two whole hours made profession
of faith in their own languages, kneeling before their head. Add to
this, that in 1869, in the sacerdotal jubilee of Pius IX., Home was
filled for months by pilgrims from all lauds in Europe and beyond
the sea, from the Old World and from the New, bearing all manner
of gifts and oblations to the Head of the Universal Church. To
this, again, must be added the world-wide outcry and protest of all
the Catholic unity against the seizure and sacrilege of September,
1870, when Rome was taken by the Italian Revolution.
7. All this came to pass not only by reason of the great love of
the Catholic world for Pius IX., but because they revered him as
the successor of St. Peter and the Vicar of Jesus Christ. For that
undying reason thr same events have been reproduced in the time
of Leo XIII, In the early months of this year Rome was once
6 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
filled with pilgrims of all nations, coming in thousands as representa
tives of millions in all nations, to celebrate the sacerdotal jubilee of
the Sovereign Pontiff. The courts of the Vatican could not find
room for the multitude of gifts and offeriugs of every kind which
wre sent from all quarters of the world.
8. Those things are here said, not because of any other import
auce, bub because they set forth in the most visible and self-evident
way the living unity and the luminous universality of the One
Catholic and Roman Church.
;). What has thus far been said is before our eyes at this hour.
It is no appeal to history, but to a visible and palpable fact. Men
may explain ifc as they will ; deny it, they cannot. They see the
Head of the Church year by year speaking to the nations of the world ;
treating with Empires Republics and Governments. There is no
other man on earth that can so bear himself. Neither from Canter
bury nor from Constantinople can such a voice go forth to which
ruiers and people listen.
This is the century of revolutions. Rome has in our time been be
sieged three times ; three Popes have beeu driven out of it, two
have been shut up in the Vatican. The city is now full of the Re
volution. The whole Church has been tormented by Falck laws,
Mancini laws, and Crispi laws. An unbeliever in Germany said
some years ago, " The net is now drawn so tight about the Church,
that if it escapes this time I will believe in it." Whether he be
lieves in it, or is even alive now to believe, 1 cannot say.
Nothing thus far has b en said as proof. The visible, palpable
facts, which are at this moment before the eyes of all men, speak
for themselves. There is one, and only one, world- wide unity of
which these things can be said. It is a fact and a phenomenon for
which an intelligible account must be rendere-1. If it be only a
human system built up by the intellect, will and energy of men, let
the adversaries prove it. The burden is upon them ; and they will
have more to do as we go on.
Thus far we have rested upon the evidence of sense and fact. We
must now go ou to history and reason.
Every religion and every religious body known to history has var
ied from itself and broken up. Brahminism has given birth to Bud
dhism ; Mahometanism is parted into the Arabian and European
Khalifates ; the Greek schism into the Russian, Constantinopolitan,
and Bulgarian autocephalus fragment ; Protestantism into its
multitudious diversities. All have departed from their original
type, and all are continually developing new and irreconcilable, intel
lectual au l ritualistic, diversities and repulsions. How is it that,
with all diversities of language, civilization, race, interest, and
conditions, social and political, including persecution and warfare,
the Catholic nations are at this day, even when in warfare, in un
changed unity of faith, communion, worship and spiritual sympathy
with each other and with their Head V This needs a rational ex
pi a nation.
^ THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS- 7
It may be said in answer, endless divisions have come out of the
Church, from Arius to Photius, and from Photius to Luther. Yes,
but they all came out. There is the difference. They did not re
main in the Church, corrupting the faith. They came out, and
ceased to belong to the Catholic unity, as a branch broken from
a tree ceases to belong to the tree. Bat the identity of the tree re
mains the same. A branch is not a tree, nor a tree a branch. A
tree may lose branches, but it rests upon its root, and renews its
loss. Not so the religions, so to call them, that have broken away
from unity. Not one has retained its members or its doctrines.
Once separated from the sustaining unity of the Church, all separ
ations lose their spiritual cohesion, and then their intellectual iden
tity. Ramus prceeisus arescit.
For the present it is enough to say that no human legislation,
, authority or constraint can ever create internal unity of intellect
and will ; and that diversities and contradictions generated by all
human systems prove the absence of Divine authority. Varia
tions or contradictions are proof of the absence of a Divine missiou to
mankind. All natural causes run to disintegration. Therefore,
they can render no account of the world- wide unity of the One Uni
Such, then, are the facts before our eyes at this day. We will
seek out the origin of the body or system called the Catholic Church,
and pass at once to its outset, eighteen hundred years ago.
I affirm, then, three things : (1) First, that no adequate account
can be given of this undeniable fact from natural causes : (2) that
the history of the Catholic Church demands causes above nature ;
and (3) that it has always claimed for itself a Divine origin and
I. And, first, before we examine what it was and what it has
done, we will recall to mind what was the world in the midst of
which it arose.
The most comprehensive and complete description of the old
world, before Christianity came in upon it, is given in the first
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Mankind had once the know
ledge of God ; that knowledge was obscured by the passions of sense ;
in the darkness of the human intellect, with the light of nature still
before them, the nations worshipped the creature that is, by pan
theism, polytheism, idolatry ; and, having lost the knowledge of God
and of His perfections, they lost the knowledge of their own nature
and of its laws, even of the natural and rational laws, which thence
forward ceased to guide, restrain or govern them. They became
perverted and inverted with every possible abuse, defeating the end
and destroying the powers of creation. The lights of nature were
put out, and the world rushed headlong into confusions, of which
the beasts that perish were innocent. This is analytically the his
tory of all nations but one. A line of light still shone from Adam
to Enoch, from Enoch to Abraham, to whom the command was
given, "Walk before Me and be perfect." And it ran on from
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
Abraham to Caiaphas, who crucified the founder of Christianity.
Through all anthropomorphism of thought and language this line
of light still passed inviolate and inviolable. But in the world, on
either side of that radiant stream, the whole earth was dark. The
intellectual and moral stite of the Greek world may be measured
in its highest excellence in Athens ; and of the Roman world in
Rome. The state of Athens its private, domestic, and public
morality may be seen in Aristophanes.
The state of Rome is visible in Juvenal, and in the fourth book of
St. Augustine s " City of God." There was only one evil wanting.
The world was not Atheist. Its polytheism was the example and
the warrant of all forms of moral abominations. Imitnri quod colts
plunged the nations in crime. Their theology was their degradation ;
their text- book of an elaborate corruption of intellect and will.
Christianity came in " the fullness of time." What that fullness
may mean is one of the mysteries of times and seasons which it is
not for us to know. But one motive for the long delay of four
thousand years is not far to seek. It gave time, full and ample,
for the utmost development and consolidation of all the falsehood
and evil of which the intellect and will of man are capable. The
four great empires were each of them the concentration of a supreme
effort of human power. The second inherited from the first, the
third from both, the fourth from all three. It was, as it was fore
told or described, as a beast, " exceeding terrible ; his teeth and
claws were of iron ; he devoured and broke in pieces ; and the rest
he stamped upon with his feet."* The empire of man over man
was never so widespread, so absolute, so hardened into one organ
ized mass, as in Imperial Rome. The world had never seen a mili
tary power so disciplined, irresistible, invincible ; a legislation so
just, so equitable, so strong in its execution ; a government so uni
versal, so local, so minute. It seemed to be imperishable. Rome
was called the eternal. The religions of all nations were enshrined
in Dea Roma ; adopted, practiced openly, and taught. They were
all rdiyiones licita, known to the law ; not tolerated only, but recog
nized. The theologies of Egypt, Greece, and of the Latin world,
met in an empyreum, consecrated and guarded by the Imperial law,
and administered by the Pontifex Maximus. No fanaticism ever
surpassed the relig ous cruelties of Rome. Add to all this thecolluvies
of false philosophies of every laud, and of every date. They both
blinded and hardened the intellect of public opinion and of private
men against the invasion of anything except contempt, and hatred
of both the philosophy of sophists and of the religion of the people.
Add to all this the sensuality of the most refined and of the grossest
luxury the world had ever seen, and a moral confusion and corrup
tion which violated every law of nature.
The god of this world had built his city. From foundation to
parapet, everything that the skill and power of man could do had
*Daniel, vii. 19.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 9
been done without stiot of means or limit of will. The Divine hand
was stayed, or rather, as St. Augustine says, an unsurpassed natural
greatness was the reward of certain natural virtues, degraded as
they were in unnatural abominations. Rome was the climax of the
power of man without God, the apotheosis of the human will, the
direct and supreme antagonist of God in His own world. In this
the fullness of the time was come. Man built all this for himself.
Certainly, man could not also build the City of God. They are not
the work of one and the same architect, who capriciously chose to
build first the city of confusion, suspending for a time his skill and
Eower to build some day the City of God. Such a hypothesis ia
:>lly. Of two things, one. Disputers must choose one or the other.
Both cannot be asserted, and the assertion needs no answer it re
futes itself. So much for the first point.
II. In the reign of Augustus, and -in a remote and powerless
Oriental race, a Child was born in a stable of a poor Mother. For
thirty years He lived a hidden life ; for three years He preached
the Kingdom of Go.l, and gave laws hitherto unknown to men. He
died in ignominy upon the Cross ; on the third day He rose again ;
and after forty days He was seen no more. This unknown Man
created the world-wide unity of intellect and will which is visible to
the eye, and audible, in all languages, to the ear. It is in harmony
with the reason and moral nature of all nations, in all ages, to this
day. What proportion is there between the cause and the effect?
What power was there in this isolated Man ? What unseen virtues
went out of Him to change the world ! For change the world He
did ; and that not in the line or on the level of nature as men had
corrupted it, but in direct contradiction to all that was then supreme
in the world. He taught the dependence of the intellect against its
self-trust, the submission of the will against its license, the subjuga
tion of the passions by temperate control or by absolute subjection
against their willful indulgence. This was to reverse what men be
lieved to be the laws of nature : to make water climb upward and-
fire point downward. He taught mortification of the lusts of the
flesh, contempt of the lusts of the eyes, and hatred of the
pride of life. What hope was there that such a teacher should
convert imperial Rome ? that sach a doctrine should exorcise the
fullness of human pride and lust ? Yet so it has come to pass ; and
how ? Twelve men more obscure than Himself, absolutely without
authority or influence of this world, preached throughout the empire
and beyond it. They asserted two facts : the one, that God had
had been made man ; the other, that lie died and rose again. What
could be more incredible ? To the Jews the unity and spirituality
of God were axioms of reason and faith ; to the Gentiles, however
cultured, the resurrection of the flesh was impossible. The Divine
Person Who had died and risen could not be called in evidence as the
chief witness. He could not; be produced in court. Could anything
be more suspicious if credible, or less credible even if He were there
to say so ? A.11 that they could do was to say, " We knew Him for
10 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
three years, both before His death and after He rose from the dead.
If you will believe us, you will believe what we say. If yoa will not
believe us, we cau say no more. He is not here, but in heaven. We
cannot call Ilirn down." It is true, as we read, that Peter cured a
lame man at the gate of the Temple. The Pharisees could not deny
it, but they would not believe what Peter said ; they only told him
to hold his tongue. And yet thousands in one day in Jerusalem be
lieved in the Incarnation and the Resurrection ; and when the
Apostles were scattered by persecution, wherever they went men
believed their word. The most intense persecution was from the
Jews, the people of faith and of Divine traditions. In the name of
God and of religion they stoned Stephen, and sent Saul to persecute
at Damascus More than this, they stirred up the Romans in every
place. As they had forced Pilate to crucify Jesus of Nazareth, so
they swore to slay Paul. And yet, in spite of all, the faith spread.
It is true, indeed, that the Empire of Alexander, the spread of
the Hellenistic <!reek, the prevalent e of Greek in Rome itself, the
Roman roads which made the Empire traversable, the Roman peace
which sheltered the preachers of the faith in the outset of their
work, gave them facilities to travel and to be understood. But
these were only external facilities, which in no way rendered more
credible or more acceptable the voice of penance and mortification,
or the mysteries of the faith, which was immutably " to the Jews a
stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness." It was in change
less opposition to nature as man had marred it ; but was in absolute
harmony with nature as God had made it to His own likeness. Its
power was its persuasiveness ; and its persuasiveness was in its
conformity to the highest and noblest aspirations and aims of the
soul in man. The master-key so long lost was found at last; and
its conformity to the wards of the lock was its irrefragable witness
to its own mission and message.
But if it is beyond belief that Christianity in its outset made good
its foothold by merely human causes and powers, how much more
does this become incredible in every age as we come down from the
first century to the nineteenth, and from the Apostolic mission to
the world-wide Church, Catholic and Roman, at this day.
Not only did the world in the fullness of its power give to the
Christian faith no help to root or to spread itself, but it wreaked all
the fullness of its power upon it to uproot and to destroy it. Of the
first thirty Pontiffs in Rome, twenty-nine were martyred. Ten
successive persecutions, or rather one universal and continuous per
secution of two hundred years, with ten more bitter excesses of
enmity in every province of the Empire, did all that man can do to
extinguish the Christian name. The Christian name may be blotted
out here and there in blood, but the Christian faith can nowhere be
slain. It is inscrutable, and beyond the reach of man. In nothing
is the blood of the martyrs more surely the seed of the faith. Every
martyrdom was a witness to the faith, and the ten persecutions
were the sealing of the work of the twelve Apostles. The destroyer
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 11
defeated himself. Christ crucified was visibly set forth before all
the nations, the world was a Calvary, and the blood of the martyrs
preached in every tongue the Passion of Jesus Christ. The world
did its worst, and ceased only for weariness and conscious defeat.
Then came the peace, and with peace the peril of the Church.
The world outside had failed ; the world inside began to work. It
no longer destroyed life; it perverted the intellect, and through in
tellectual perversion, assailed the faith at its centre. The Angel of
light preached heresy. The Baptismal Creed was assailed all along
the line ; Gnosticism assailed the Father and Creator of rJl things ;
Arianism, the God-head of the Son; Nestorianisiu, the upiuy of His
person ; Monophysites, the two natures ; Mouothelitec, the divine
and human wills ; Macedonians, the person of the Holy Ghost. So
throughout the centuries, from Nicssa to the Vatican, every article
has been in succession perverted by heresy and denned by the
Church. But of this we shall speak hereafter. If the human in
tellect could fasten its perversions on the Christian faith, it would
have done so long ago ; and if the Christian faith had been guarded
by no more than human intellect, it would, long ago have been dis
integrated, as we see in every religion outside the unity of the one
Catholic Church. There is no example in which fragmentary
Christianities have not departed from their original type. No
human system is immutable ; no tiling human is changeless. The
human intellect, therefore, can give no sufficient account of the
identity of the Catholic faith in all places and in all ages by any of
its own natural processes or powers. The force of this argument is
immensely increased when we trace the tradition of the faith
through the nineteen (Ecumenical Councils which, with one con
tinuous intelligence have guarded and unfolded the deposit of faith,
defining every truth as it has been successively assailed, in absolute
harmony and unity of progression.
What the Senate is to your great Republic, or the Parliament to
our English monarchy, such are the nineteen Councils of the Church,
with this only difference : the secular Legislatures must meet year
by year with short recesses ; Councils have met on the average once
in a century. The reason of this is that the mutabilities ot nation
al life, which are as the water-floods, need constant remedies ; the
stability of the Church seldom needs new legislation. The faith
needs no definition except in rare intervals of periodical intellectual
disorder. The discipline of the Church reigns by an universal
common law which seldom needs a change, and by local laws which
are provided on the spot. Nevertheless, the legislation of the
Ghoxch, tho Corpus Juris i OT f tcnm Lair, is a creation of wisdom
and justice, to which no Statutes at large or Imperial pandects can
bear comparison. Human intellect has reached its climax in juris
prudence, but the world-wide and secular legislation of the Church
has a higher character. How the Christian law corrected, elevated,
and completed the Imperial law, may be seen in a learned and able
work by an American author, far from the Catholic faith, but in the
12 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
main just and accurate in his facts and arguments the Gesta Ckristi
of Charles Loring Brace. Water cannot rise above its source, and
if the Church by mere human wisdom corrected and perfected the
Imperial law, its source must be higher than the sources of the
world. This makes a heavy demand on our credulity.
Starting from St. Peter to Leo XIII., there have been some 25-
Pontiffs claiming to be, and recognized by the whole Catholic unity
as, successors of St. Peter and Vicars of Jesus Christ. To them has
been rendered in every age not only the external obedience of out
ward submission, but the internal obedience of faith. They have
borne the onset of the nations who destroyed Imperial Rome, and
the tyranny of heretical Emperors of Byzantium ; and, worse than
this, toe alternate despotism and patronage of Emperors of the
West, and the subtraction of obedience in the great Western
icLwrna, when the unity of the Church and the author
ity of its Head were, as men thought, gone for ever.
It was the last assault the forlorn hope of the gates of hell.
Every art of destruction had been tried : martyrdom, hereny,
secularity, schism ; at last, two, and three, and four claim
ants, or, as the world says, rival Popes, were set up, that men might
believe that St. Peter ha i no longer a successor, aud our Lord no
Vicar, upon earth ; for, though all might be illegitimate, only one
could be the lawful and true Plead of the Church. Was it only by
the human power of man that the unity, external and internal,
which for fourteen hundred years had bo^n supreme, was once more
restored in the Council of Constance, never to be broken again /
The succession of the English monarchy has been, indeed, often
broken, and always restored, in these thousind years. But
here is a monarchy of eighteen hundred years, powerless in worldly
force or support, claiming and receiving not only outward allegiance,
but inward unity of intellect and will. If any man tell us that
these two phenomena are on the same level of merely human
causes, it is too severe a tax upon our natural reason to believe it.
But the inadequacy of human causes to account for the uni
versality, unity, and immutability of the Catholic Church, will
stand out more visibly if we look at the intellectual and moral
revolution which Christianity has wrought in the world and upon
The first effect of Christianity was to fill the world with the true
knowledge of the One True God, and to destroy utterly all idols,
not by tire but by light. Before the Light of the world no false
god a^a no polytheism could stand. The unity and spirituality of
God swept away all theogonies and theologies of the first four thou
sand year- . The stream of light which descended fiom the beginning
expanded into a radiance, and the radiance into a flood, which il
luminated all nations, as it ha-1 been foretold. " The earth is filled
with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea ;"
* A,nd idols shall be utterly destroyed."* In this true knowledge
Isaias, xi. 911, 18.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 18
of the Divine Nature was revealed to men their own relation to a
"Creator as of sons to a father. The Greeks called the chief of gods
Zeus Pater, and the Latins Jupiter ; but neither realized the de
pendence and love of sonship as revealed by the Founder of Chris
The monotheism of the world comes down from a primeval and
Divine source. Polytheism is the corruption of men and of nations.
Yet in the multiplicity of all polytheisms, one supreme Deity was
always recognized. The Divine unity was imperishable. Polythe
ism is of human imagination : it is of men s manufacture. The
deification of nature and passions and heroes had filled the world
with an elaborate and tenacious superstition, surrounded by rev
erence, fear, religion, and awe. Every perversion of what is good in
man surrounded it with authority ; everything that is evil in man
guarded it with jealous care. Against this world-wide and imper
ious demonology the science of one God, all holy and supreme,
advanced with resistless force. Beelzebub is not divided against
himself ; and if polytheism is not Divine, monotheism must be.
The overthrow of idolatry and demonology was the mastery of
of forces that are above nature. This conclusion is enough for our
A second visible effect of Christianity of which nature cannot
offer any adequate cause is to be found in the domestic life of the
Christian world. In -some nations the existence of marriage was
not so much as recognized. In others, if recognized, it was dishon
ored by profuse concubinage. Even in Israel, the most advanced
nation," the law of divorce was permitted for the hardness of their
hearts. Christianity republished the primitive law by which mar
riage unites only one man and one woman indissolubly in a perpet
ual contract. It raised their mutual and perpetual contract to a
sacrament. This at one blow condemned all other relations between
man and woman, all the legal gradations of the Imperial law, and
all forms of pleas and divorce. Beyond this the spiritual legislation
of the Church framed most elaborate tables of consanguinity and
affinity, prohibiting all marriages between persons in certain de
grees of kinship or relation. This law has created the purity and
peace of domestic life. Neither the Greek nor the Roman world
had any true conception of a home. The E<m a or Vesta was a sac
red tradition guarded by vestals like a temple worship. It was not
a law and power in the homes of the people. Christianity, by en
larging the circles of prohibition within which men and women were
as brothers and sisters, has created the home with all its purities
Such a law of unity and indissolubility, encompassed by &
multitude of prohibitions, no mere human legislation could im
pose on the passions and will of mankind. And yet the Imperial
laws gradually yielded to its resistless pressure, and incorporated
it in its world-wide legislation. The passions and practices of
four thousand years were against the change ; yet it was accom-
14 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
plished, and it reigns inviolate to this day, though the relaxations
of schism in the East and the laxities of the West have revived the
abuse of divorces, and have partially abolished the wise and salu
tary prohibitions which guard the homes of the faithful. These
relaxations prove that all natural forces have been, and are, hostile
to the indissoluble law of Christian marriage. Certainly, then, it
was not by natural forces that the Sacrament of Matrimony and the
legislation springing from it were enacted. If these are restraints
of human liberty and license, either they do not spring from nature,
or they have had a supernatural cause whereby they exist. It wa?
this that redeemed woman from the traditional degradation iD
which the world had held her. The condition of women in Athens
and in Rome which may be taken as the highest points of civiliza
tion is too well known to need recital. Women had no rights, no
property, no independence. Plato looked upon them as State
property ; Aristotle as chattels ; the Greeks wrote of them as KMW?,
ywaiK.es, " r aA/.d K.-JJ fiara. They were the prey, the sport, the
slaves of man. Even in Israel, though they were raised incompar
ably higher than in the Gentile world, they were far below the
dignity and authority of Christian women. Libanius, the friend of
Julian, tbe Apostate, said, " O ye gods of Greece, how great are the
women of the Christians !" Whence came the elevation of woman
hood ? Not from the ancient civilization, for it degraded them ;
not from Israel, for among the Jews the highest state of * omauhood
was the marriage state. The daughter of Jepthe went into the
mountains to mourn not her death but her virginity. The marriage
state in the Christian world, though holy and good, is not the high
est state. The state of virginity unto death is the highest condition
of man and woman. But this is above the law of natiue. It be
longs to a higher order. And this life of virginity, in repression of
natural passion and lawful instinct, is both above aud against the,
tendencies of human nature. It begins in a mortification, and ends
in a mastery, over th 3 movements and ordinary laws of human
nature. Who will ascribe this to natural causes ? and, if so, why
did it not appear in the first four thousand years ? And when has
it ever appeared except in a handful of vestal virgins, or in Oriental
recluses, with what reality history shows ? An exception proves a
rule. No one will imagine that a life of chastity is impossible to
nature ; but the restriction is a repression of nature which individ
uals may acquire, but the multitude have never attain t.-d. A re
ligion which imposes chastity on the unmarried, and upon its priest
hood, and upon the multitudes of women in every age who devote
themselves to the service of One Whom they have never seen, is a
mortification of nature in so high a degree as to stand out as a fact
and a phenomenon, of which mere natural causes afford no adequate
solution. Its existence, not in a handful out of the millions of the
world, but its prevalence aud continuity in multitudes scattered
throughout the Christian world, proves the presence of a cause high
er than the laws of nature. So true is this, that jurists teach that
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 15
the three vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience are contrary to
" the policy of the law," that is, to the interests of the common
wealth, which desires the multiplication, enrichment, and liberty of
To what has been said may be added the change wrought by
Christianity upon the social, political, and international relations of
the world. The root of this ethical change, private and public, is
the Christian home. The authority of parents, the obedience of
children, the love of brotherhood, are the three active powers whicL
have raised the society of man above the level of the old world.
Israel was head and shoulders above the world around it ; but
Christendom is high above Israel. The New Commandment of
brotherly love, and the Sermon on the Mount, have wrought a
revolution, both in private and public life. From this comes the
laws of justice and sympathy which bind together the nations of the
Christian world. In the old world, even the most refined races,
worshipped by our modern philosophers, held and taught that man
could hold property in man ? It was no philosopher : even Aristotle
taught that a slave was bpyavov Qov. It was no lawgiver, for all
taught the lawfulness of nature till Christianity denied it. The
Christian law has taught that man can lawfully sell his labor, but
that he cannot lawfully be sold, or sell himself.
The necessity of being brief, the impossibility of drawing out
the picture of the old world, its profound immoralities, its unim
aginable cruelties, compels me to argue with my right hand tied be
hind me. I can do no more than point again to Mr. Brace s " Gesta
Christi," or to Dr. Dollinger s " Gentile and Jew," as witnesses to
the facts which I have stated or implied. No one who has not read
such books, or mastered their contents by original study, can judge
of the force of the assertion that Christianity has reformed the
world by direct antagonism to the human will, and by a searching
and firm repression of human passion. It has ascended the stream
of human license, contra ictum Jtuminis, by a power mightier than
nature, and by laws of a higher order than the relaxations of this
Before Christianity came on earth, the civilization of man by
merely natural force had culminated. It could not rise above its
source ; all that it could do was done ; and the civilization in every
race and empire had ended in decline and corruption. The old
civilization was not regenerated. It passed away to give place to a
new. But the new had a higher source, nobler laws and super
natural powers. The highest excellence of men and of nations is the
civilization of Christianity. The human race has ascended into what
we call Christendom, that is, into the new creation of charity and
justice among men. Christendom was created by the world-wide
Church as we see it before our eyes at this day. Philosophers and
statesmen believe it to be the work of their own hands : they did
not make it ; but they have for three hundred years been unmaking
it by reformations and revolutions. These are destructive forces.
16 THK CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
They build up nothing. It has been well said by Donoso Cortez
that " the history of civilization is the history of Christianity, the
history of Christianity is the history of the Church, the history of
the Church is the history of the Pontiffs, the greatest statesmen and
rulers that the world has ever seen."
Some years ago, a Professor of great literary reputation in Eng
land, who was supposed even then to be, as his subsequent writings
have proved, a skeptic or non-Christian, published a well-known
and very candid book, under the title of " Ecce Homo." The writer
placed himself, as it were, outside of Christianity. He took, not the
Church in the world as in this article, but the Christian Scriptures
as a historical record, to be judged with forensic severity and abso
lute impartiality of mind. To the credit of the author, he fulfilled
this pledge ; and his conclusion shall here be given. After an
examination of the life and character of the Author of Christianity,
he proceeded to estimate His teaching and its effects under the fol
lowing heads :
1. The Christian Legislation.
2. The Christian Rupublic.
3. Its Universality.
4. The Enthusiasm of Humanity.
5. The Lord s Supper.
* 6. Positive Morality.
He then draws his conclusion as follows :
" The achievement of Christ iu founding by his single will and
power a structure so durable and so universal is like no other
achievement which history records. The masterpieces of the men
of action are coarse and commonplace in comparison with it, and
the masterpieces of speculation flimsy and unsubstantial. When
we speak of it the commonplaces of admiration fail us altogether.
Shall we speak of the originality of the design, of the skill displayed
in the execution ? All such terms are inadequate. Originality and
contriving skill operate indeed, but, as it were, implicitly. The
creative effort which produced that against which it is said the
gates of hell shall not prevail cannot be analyzed. No architect s
designs were furnished for the Nefo Jerusalem ; no committee drew
up rules for the universal commonwealth. If in the works of nature
we can trace the indications of calculation, of a struggle with diffi
culties, of precaution, of ingenuity, then in Christ s work it may be
that the same indications occur. Rut these inferior and secondary
powers were not consciously exercised ; they were implicitly pre-
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 17
sent in the manifold yet single creative act. The inconceivable
work was done in calmness ; before the eyes of men it was noise
lessly accomplished, attracting little attention. Who can describe
that which unites men ? Who has entered into the formation of
speech, which is the symbol of their union? Who can describe ex
haustively the origin of civil society ? He who can do these
things can explain the origin of the Christian Church. For others
it must be enough to say, The Holy Ghost fell on those that be
lieved. No man saw the building of the New Jerusalem, the work
men crowded together, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets ;
no man heard the clink of trowel and pickaxe : it descended out of
heaven from God. "*
And yet the writer is, as he was then, still outside of Christianity.
III. We come now to our third point, that Christianity has al
ways claimed a Divine origin and a Divine presence as the stfcirce
of its authority and powers.
To prove this by texts from the New Testament would be to
transcribe the volume ; and if the evidence of the whole New Testa
ment were put in, not only might some men deny its weight as
evidence, but we should place our whole argument on a false foun
dation. Christianity was anterior to the New Testament, and is
independent of it. The Christian Scriptures presuppose both the
faith and the Church as already existing, known, and believed. Prior
liber quant stylus : as Tertullian argued. The gospel was preached
before it was written. The four books were written to those who
already believed, to confirm their faith. They were written at in
tervals : St. Matthew in Hebrew in the year 31), in Greek in 45. St.
Mark in 43, St. Luke in 57, St. John about 90, in different places
and for different motives. Four Gospels did not exist for sixty
years, or two generations of men. St. Peter and St. Paul knew of
only three of our four. In those sixty years the faith had spread
from east to west. Saints and Martyrs had gone up to their crown
who never saw a sacred book. The Apostolio Epistles prove the
antecedent existence of the Churches to which they were addressed.
Rome and Corinth, and GalatiaandEphesus, Philippi and Colossae,
were Churches with pastors and people before St. Paul wrote to
them. The Church had already attested and executed its divine
legation before the New Testament existed ; and when all its books
were written they were not as yet collected into a volume. The
earliest collection was about the beginning of the second century
and in the custody of the Church iu Ptome. We must, therefore,
seek to know what was and is Christianity before aud outside of the
the written books ; and we have the same evidence for the oral tra
dition of the faith as we have for the New Testament itself. Both
alike were in the custody of the Church : both are delivered to us
by the same witness and on the same evidence. To reject either is
logically to reject both. Happily, men are not saved by logic, but
*" Eeoe Homo," Conclusion, p. 329, Fifth Kdition. Macmillau. 1886.
18 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
by faith. The millions of men in all ages have believed by inherit
ance of truth divinely guarded and delivered to them. They have
no need of logical analysis. They have believed from their child
hood. Neither children nor those who infantibus aqniparantur are
logicians. It is the penance of the doubter and the unbeliever to
regain by toil his lost inheritance. It is a hard penance, like the
suffering of those who eternally debate on "predestination, freewill,
Between the death of St. John and the mature lifetime of St.
Irenaeus fifty years elapsed. St. Polycarp was disciple of St. John,
St. Irenaeus was disciple of St. Polycarp. The mind of Sfc. John and
the minds of St. Irenaeus had only one intermediate intelligence in
contact with each. It would be an affectation of minute criticism to
treat the doctrine of St. Irenaeus as a departure from the doctrine of
St. Polycarp, or the doctrine of St.. Polycarp as a departure from
the doctrine of St. John. Moreover, St. John ruled the Church at
Ephesus, and St. Irenseus was born in Asia Minor about the year
A.D. 120 that is, twenty years after St. John s death, when the
Church in Asia Minor was still full of the light of his teaching and
of the accents of his voice. Let us see how St. Ireuaeus describes
the faith and the Church. In his work against Heresies, in Book
iii. chap, i., he says : " We have known the way of our salvation
by those through whom the Gospel came to us ; which, indeed they
then preached, but afterwards, by the will of God, delivered to us
in Scriptures, the future foundation and pillar of our faith. It ia
not lawful to say that they preached before they had perfect know
ledge, as some dare to affirm, boasting themselves to be correcters
of the Apostles. For after our Lord rose from the dead, and when
they had been clothed with the power of the Holy Ghost, Who came
upon them from on high, they were filled with all truths, and had
knowledge which was perfect." In chapter ii. he adds that, " When
they are refuted out of Scripture, they turn and accuse the Scriptures
as erroneous, unauthoritative, and of various readings, so that the
truth cannot be found by those who do not know tradition " that
is, their own. " But when we challenge them to come to the tra
dition of the postles, which is in custody of the succession of
Presbyters in the Church, they turn against tradition, saying that
they are not only wiser than the Presbyters, but even the Apostles,
and have found the truth." " It therefore comes to pass that they
will not agree either with the Scriptures or with tradition." (Ibid.
c. iii.) " Therefore, all who desire to know the truth ought to
look to the tradition of the Apostles, which is manifest in all the
world and in all the Church. We are able to count up the
Bishops who were instituted in the Church by the Apostles, and
their successors to our day. They never taught nor knew such
things as these men madly assert. " " But as it would be too long in
such a book as this to enumerate the successions of all the Churches,
we point to the tradition of the greatest, most ancient Church,
known to all, founded and constituted in Rome, by the two glorious
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 19
Apostles, Peter and Paul, and to the faith announced to all men,
coming down to us by the succession of Bishops, thereby confound
ing all those who, in any way, by self-pleasing, or vainglory, or
blindness, or an evil mind, toach as they ought not. For with this
Church, by reason of its greater principality, it is necessary that all
churches should agree ; that is, the faithful, wheresoever they be,
for in tiiat Church the tradition of the Apostles has been preserved."
No comment need be made on the words the " greater principality,"
which have been perverted by every anti-Catholic writer from the
time they were written to this day. But if any one will compare
them with the words of St. Paul to the Colossians (chap. i. IB), de
scribing the primacy of the Head of the Church in heaven, it will
appear almost certain that the original Greek of St. Irenaus, which
is unfortunately lost, contained either ra irpu-ela, or some inflection
of -/HJTEV U which signifies primacy. However this may be, St.
Irenreus goes on : " I lie blessed Apostles, having founded and in
structed the Church, gave in charge the Episcopate, for the admin
istration of the same, to Linus. Of this Linus, Paul, in his Epistle
to Timothy, makes mention. To him succeeded Anacletus, and
after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement received
the Episcopate, he who saw the Apostles themselves and conferred
with them, while as yet he had the preaching of the Apostles in his
ears and the tradition before his eyes ; and not he only, but many
who had been taught by the Apostles still survived. In the time
of this Clement, when no little dissension had arisen among the
brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome wrote very powerful letters
lininitisxhiit is litteras to the Corinthians, recalling them to peace,
restoring their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had so
short a time ago received from the Apostles." These letters of St.
Clement are well known, but have lately become more valuable and
complete by the discovery of fragments published in a new edition
by Lightfoot. In these fragments there is a tone of authority fully
explaining the words of St. Irenoeus. He then traces the succession
of the Bishops of Rome to his own day, and adds : " This demon
stration is complete to show that it is one and the same life-giving
faith which has been preserved in the Church from the Apostles
until now, and is handed on in truth." "Polycarp was not only
taught by the Apostles, and conversed with many of those who had
s<:eu our Lord, but he also was constituted by the Apostles in Asia
to be Bishop in the Church of Smyrna. We also saw him in our
early youth, for he lived long, and when very old departed from
this life most gloriously and nobly by martyrdom. He ever taught
that what he had learned from the Apostles, and what the Church
had delivered, those things only are true." In the fourth chapter
St. Irenaeus goes on to say : " Since, then, there are such proofs (of
the faith), the truth is no longer to be sought for among others, which
it is easy to receive from the Church, forasmuch as the Apostles laid
up all truth in fullness in a rich depository, that all who will may re
ceive from it the water of life." " But whatif the Apostles had not left
20 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
us the Scriptures : ought we not to follow the order of tradition, which
they gave in charge to them to whom they entrusted the Churches ?
To which order (of tradition) many barbarous nations yield assent,
who believe in Christ without paper and ink, having salvation written
by the Spirit in their hearts, and diligently holding the ancient
tradition." In the twenty-sixth chapter of the same book he says :
" Therefore it is our duty to obey the Presbyters who are in the
Church, who have succession from the Apostles, as we have already
shown; who also with the succession of the Episcopate
have the charisma veritatis certum" the spiritual and certain gift of
I have quoted these passages at length, not so much as proofs of
the Catholic Faith as to show the identity of the Church at its out
set with the Church before our eyes at this hour, proving that the
acorn has grown up into its oak, or, if you will, the identity of
the Church at this hour with the Church of the Apostolic mission.
These passages show the Episcopate, its central principality, its
succession, its custody of the faith, its subsequent reception and
guardianship of the Scriptures, its Divine tradition, and the charisma
or Divine assistance by which its perpetuity is secured in the succes
sion of the Apostles. This is almost verbally, after eighteen hundred
years, the decree of the Vatican Council : Veritatis etfidei nunquam
But St. Irenaeus draws out in full the Church of this day. H
shows the parallel of the first creation and of the second ; of the
first Adam and the Second ; and of the analogy between the Incar
nation or natural body, and the Church or mystical body of Christ.
He says :
Our faith " we received from the Church, and guard . . . . as an
excellent gift in a noble vessel, always full of youth, and making
youthful the vessel itself in which it is. For this gift of God is in
trusted to the Church, as the breath of life (was imparted] to the
first man, to this end, that all the members partaking of it might
be quickened with life. And thus the communication of Christ is
imparted ; that is, the Holy Ghost, the earnest of incorruption, the
confirmation of the faith, the way of ascent to God. For in the
Church (St. Paul says) God placed Apostles, Prophets, Doctors, and
all other operations of the Spirit, of which none are partakers who
do not come to the Church, thereby depriving themselves of life by
a perverse mind and worse deeds. For where the Church is, there
is also the Spirit of God ; and where the Spirit of God is, there is
the Church, and all grace. But the Spirit is truth. Wherefore,
they who do not partake of Him (the Spirit}, and are not nurtured
onto life at the breast of the mother (the Church), do not receive ot
that most pure fountain which proceeds from the body of Christ,
but dig out for themselves broken pools from the trenches of the
earth, and drink water soiled with mire, because they turn aside
* " Const. Dogmatica Prirna de Ecclesia Christi," cap. iv.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
from the faith of the Church lest they should be convicted, and re-
ject the Spirit lest they should be taught"*
Again he says :
" The Church, scattered throughout all the world, even unto the
ends of the earth, received from the Apostles and their disciples the
faith in one God the Father Almighty, that made the heaven and
the earth, and the seas, and all things that are in them," &c.f
He then recites the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the Incarna
tion, the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and His coming again to raise all men, to judge men and
angels, and to give sentence of condemnation or of life everlasting.
How much soever the language may vary from other forms, such is
the substance of the Baptismal Creed. He then adds :
" The Church having received this preaching and this faith, as
we have said before, although it be scattered abroad through the
whole world, carefully preserves it, dwelling as in one habitation,
and believes alike in these (doctrines) as though she had one soul
and the same heart : and in strict accord, as though she had one
mouth, proclaims, and teaches, and delivers onward these things.
And although there be many diverse languages in the world, yet
the power of the tradition is one and the same. And neither do the
Churches planted in Germany believe otherwise, or otherwise de
liver (the faith), nor those in Iberia, nor among the Celt e, nor in
the East, nor in Egypt, nor in Libya, nor they that are planted in
the mainland. But as the sun, which is God s creature, in all the
world is one and the same, so also the preaching of the truth shineth
everywhere, and lighteneth all men that are willing to come to the
knowledge of the truth. And neither will any ruler of the Church,
though he be mighty in the utterance of truth, teach otherwise
than thus (for no man is above the master), nor will he that is weak
in the same diminish from the tradition ; for the faith being one
and the same, he that is able to say most of it bath nothing over,
and he that is able to say least hath no lack."J
To St. Ireuaeus, then, the Church was " the irrefragable witness
of its own legation." When did it cease so to be ? It would be
easy to multiply quotations from Tertulliau in A. D. 200, from St.
Cyprian A.D. 250, from St. Augustine and St. Optatus in A.D. 350,
from St. Leo in A.D. 450, all of which are on the same traditional
lines of faith in a divine mission to the world and of a divine assist
ance in its discharge. But I refrain from doing so because I should
have to write not an article but a folio. Any Catholic theology will
give the passages which are now before me ; or one such book as
the Loci Theoloyid of Melchior Canus will suffice to show the con
tinuity and identity of the tradition of St. Irenaeus and the tradition
* St. Irenaeus, Cont. Hceret., lib., iii. cap. xxiv.
t Lib. i. cup. x.
J St. Irenseus, lib. i. o. x.
22 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
of the Vatican Council, in which the universal church last declared
the immutable faith and its own legation to mankind.
The world-wide testimony of the Catholic Church is a sufficient
witness to prove the coming of the Incarnate Son to redeem man
kind, and to return to His Father ; it is also sufficient to prove
the advent of the Holy Ghost to abide with us for ever. The
work of the Son in this world was accomplished by the Diviue acts
and facts of His three-and- thirty years of life, death, Resurrection
and Ascension. The office of the Holy Ghost is perpetual, not only
as the Illuminator and Sauctiner of all who believe, but also as the
Life and Guide of the Church. I may quote now the words of the
Founder of the Church : " It is expedient to you that I go : for if I
go not the Paraclete will not come to you : but if I go, I will send
Him to you."* " I will ask the Father, and He shall give you
another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever. t " The
Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth
Him not, nor kuoweth Him ; but you shall know Him, because He
shall abide with you and shall be in you."| St. Paul in the Epistle
to thd Ephesians describes the Church as a body of which the Head
is in heaven, an t the Author of its indefectible life abiding in it as His
temple Therefore the words, " He that heareth you heareth Me."
This could not be if the witness of the Apostles had been only
human. A divine guidance was attached to the office they bore.
They were, therefore, also judges of right and wrong, and teachers
by Diviue guidance of the truth. But the presence and guidance of
the Spirit of Truth is as full at this day as when St. Irengeus wrote.
As the Churches then were witnesses, judges, and teachers, so is
the i hurch at this hour a world-wide witness, an unerring judge
and teacher, divinely guided and guarded in the truth. It is there
fore not only a human and historical, but a Divine witness. This
is the chief Divine truth which the last three hundred years have
obscured. Modern Christianity believes in the one advent of the
Redeemer, but rejects the full and personal advent of the Holy
Ghost. And yet the same evidence proves both. The Christianity
of reformers always returns to Judaism, because they reject the
full, or do not believe the personal, advent of the Holy Ghost. They
deny that there is any infallible teacher among men ; and therefore
they return to the types and shadows of the Law before the Incar
nation, when the Head was nofcyet incarnate, and the Body of Christ
did not as yet exist.
But perhaps some one will say, " I admit your description of the
Church as it is now and as it was in the days of St. Irenseus ; but
the eighteen hundred years of which you have said nothing were
ages of declension, disorder, superstition, demoralization." I will
answer by a question : was not this foretold ? Was not the Church
St. John, xvi.7.
tlbid. xiv. 16.
tSt. John, xiv. 16,17.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 23
to be a field of wheat and tares growing together till the harvest at
the end of the world ? There were Cathari of old, and Puritans
since, impatient at the patience of God in bearing with the perversities
and corruptions of the human intellect and will. The Church, like
its Head in heaven, is both human and divine. " He was crucified
in weakness," but no power of man could wound His divine nature.
So with the Church, which is His Body. Its human element may
corrupt and die; its divine life, sanctity, authority, and structure
cannot die ; nor can the errors of human intellect fasten upon its
faith, nor the immoralities of the human will fasten upon its sanctity.
Its organization of Head and Body is of divine creation, divinely
guarded by the Holy Ghost, who quickens it by His indwelling, and
guides it by His light. It is in itself incorrupt and incorruptible in
the midst of corruption, as the light of heaven falls upon all the
decay and corruption in the world, unsullied and unalterably pure.
We are never concerned to deny or to cloak the sins of Christians or
of Catholics. They may destroy themselves, but they cannot infect
the Church from which they fall. The fall of Lucifer left no stain
When men accuse the Church of corruption, they reveal the fact
that to them the Church is a human institution, of voluntary aggre
gation or of legislative enactment. They reveal the fact that to them
the Church is not an object of Divine faith, as the Real Presence
in the Sacrament of the Altar. They do not perceive or will
not believe that the articles of the Baptismal Creed are
objects of faith, divinely revealed or divinely created. " I be
lieve in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion
of Saints, the forgiveness of sins," are all objects of faith in a Divine
order. They are present in human history, but the human element
which envelops them has no power to infect or to fasten upon them.
Until this is perceived there can be no true or full belief in the ad
vent and office of the Holy Ghost, or in the nature and sacra
mental action of the Church. It is the visible means and pledge
of light and of sanctilication to all who do not bar their intel
lect and their will against its inward and spiritual grace. J 1 e
Church is not on probation. It is the instrument of probation to
the world. As the light of the world, it is changeless as the firma
ment. As the source of sautitication, it is inexhaustible as the
River of Life. The human and external history of men calling
themselves Christian and Catholic has been at times as degrading
and abominable as any adversary is pleased to say. But the sanc
tity of the Church is no more affected by human sins than was
Baptism by the hypocrisy of Simon Magus. The Divine founda
tion, and office, and mission of the Church is a part of Christian
ity. They who deny it deny an article of faith ; they who believe
it imperfectly are the followers of a fragmentary Christianity of
modern date. Who can be a disciple of Jesus Christ who does not
believe the words ? " On this rock I will build My Church, and
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ;" " As the Father has
24 THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS.
sent Me, I also send you f "* " I dispose to you, as My Father hath
disposed to Me, a kingdom ;"f " All power in heaven and earth is
given unto Me. Go, therefore, and teach all nations ;"| " He that
heareth you heareth Me ; " I will be with you always, even unto
the end of the world ;"|| " When the days of Pentecost were accom
plished they were all together in one place : and suddenly there
came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming, and there
appeared to them parted tongues, as it were, of fire ;" " And they
were all filled with the Holy Ghost ;"** " It seemed good to the
Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no other burdens, "ft But
who denys that the Apostles claimed a Divine mission ? and who
can deny that the Catholic and Roman Church from St. Irenseus to
Leo XIII. has ever and openly claimed the same, invoking in all
its supreme acts as witness, teacher, and legislator, the presence,
light, and guidance of the Holy Ghost ? As the preservation of
all created things is by the same creative power produced in per
petual and universal action, so the indefectibility of the Church and
of the faith is by the perpetuity of the presence and office of the
Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Therefore St. Augustine calls
the day of Pentecost, Natalis Spiritus S tncti.
It is more than time that I should make an end ; and to do so it
will be well to sum up the heads of our argument. The Vatican
Council declares that the world-wide Church is the irrefragable
witness of its own legation or mission to mankind.
In truth of this I have affirmed :
1. That the imperishable existence of Christianity, and the vast
and undeniable revolution that it has wrought in men and in nations,
in the moral elevation of manhood and of womanhood, and in the
domestic, social and political life of the Christian world, cannot be
accounted for by any natural causes, or by any forces that are, as
philosophers say, intra possibiiitatem natures, within the limits of
what is possible to man.
2. That this world-wide and permanent elevation of the Christian
world, in comparison with both the old world and the modern world
outside of Christianity, demands a cause higher than the possibil
ity of nature.
3. That the Church has always claimed a Divine origin and a
Divine office and authority in virtue of a perpetual Divine assist
ance. To this even the Christian world, in all its fragments external
to the Catholic unity, bears witness. It is turned to our reproach.
They rebuke us for holding the teaching of the Church to be ini allible.
* St. John, xx. 21.
t St. Luke, xxii, 29.
t St. Matthew, xxviii. 18, 19.
St. Luke, x 10.
II ISt. Matthew, xxviii. 20.
** Acts, ii. 1-5.
ft Acts, xv. 28.
THE CHURCH ITS OWN WITNESS. 25
We take the rebuke as a testimony of our changeless faith. It is
not enough for men to say that they refuse to believe this account
of the visible and palpable fact of the imperishable Christianity of
the Catholic and Roman Church. They must find a more reason
able, creditable and adequate account for it. This no man has yet
done. The denials are many and the solutions are many ; but they
do not agree together. Their multiplicity is proof of their human
origin. The claim of the Catholic Church to a Divine authority
and to a Divine assistance is one and the same in every age, and is
identical in every place. Error is not the principle of unity, nor
truth of variations.
The Church has guarded the doctrine of the Apostles, by
Divine assistance, with unerring fidelity. The articles of the
faith are to-day the same in number as in the beginning. The
explicit definition of their implicit meaning has expanded from
age to age, as the everchanging denials and perversions of the
world have demanded new definitions of the ancient truth. The
world is against all dogma, because it is impatient of definiteness
and certainty in faith. It loves open questions and the liberty of
error. The Church is dogmatic for fear of error. Every truth de
fined adds to its treasure. It narrows the field of error and enlarges
the inheritance of truth. The world and the Church are ever mov
ing in opposite directions. As the world becomes more vague and
uncertain, the Church becomes more definite. It moves against
wind and tide, against the stress and storm of the world. There
was never a more luminous evidence of this supernatural fact than
in the Vatican Council. For eight months all that the world could
say and do, like the four winds of heaven, was directed upon it.
Governments, statesmen, diplomatists, philosophers, intriguers,
mockers, and traitors did their utmost and their worst against it.
They were in dread lest the Church should declare that by Divine
assistance its Head in faith and morals cannot err ; for if this be
true, man did not found it, man cannot reform it, man cannot teach
it to interpret its history or its acts. It knows its own history, and
is the supreme witness of its own legation.
I am well aware that I have been writing truisms, and repeating
trite and trivial arguments. They are trite because the feet of the
faithful for nearly nineteen hundred years have worn them in their
daily life ; they are trivial because they point to the one path in
which the wayfarer, though a fool, shall not err.
Card. Archbishop of Westminster.
BOME, OR REASON?
A REPLY TO CARDINAL MANNING.
Superstition ** has ears more deaf than adders to the voice of any true decision."
CARDINAL MANNING has stated the claims of the Roman Catholic
Church with great clearness, and apparently without reserve. The
age, position and learning of this man give a certain weight to his
words, apart from their worth. He represents the oldest of the
Christian churches. The questions iavolved are among the most
important that can engage the human mind. No one having the
slightest- regard for that superb thing known as intellectual honesty,
will avoid the issues tendered, or seek in any way to gain a victory
Without candor, discussion, in the highest sense, is impossible.
All have the same interest, whether they know it or not, in the
establishment of facts. All have the same to gain, the same to
lose. He loads the dice against himself who scores a point against
Absolute honesty is to the intellectual perception what light is to
the eyes. Prejudice and passion cloud the mind. In each disputant
should be blended the advocate and judge.
In this spirit, having in view only the ascertainment of the truth,
let us examine the arguments, or rather the statements and con
clusions, of Cardinal Manning.
The proposition is that " The Church itself, by its marvelous
propagation, it* eminent sanctity, its inexhaustible fruitf ulness in
all good things, its catholic unity and invincible stability, is a vaafc
ROME, OR REASON ? 27
and perpetual motive of credibility, and an irrefragable witness of
its own divine legation."
The reasons given as supporting this proposition, are :
That the Catholic Church interpenetrates all the nations of the
civilized world; that it is extranational and independent in a super-
national unity ; that it is the same in every place ; that it speaks all
languages in the civilized world; that it is obedient to one head;
that as many as seven hundred bishops have knelt before the pope ;
that pilgrims from all nations have brought gifts to Rome, and that
all these things set forth in the most self evident way the unity and
universality of the Roman Church.
It is also asserted that " men see the Head of the Church year
by year speaking to the nations of the world, treating with Empires
Republics and Governments;" that " there is no other man on earth
that can so bear himself," and that " neither from Canterbury nor
from Constantinople can such a voice go forth to which rulers and
It is also claimed that the Catholic Church has enlightened and
purified the world ; that it has given us the peace and purity of
domestic life ; that it has destroyed idolatry and demonology ; that
it gave us a body of law from a higher source than man; that it has
p oduced the civilization of Christendom ; that the popes were the
greatest of statesmen and rulers ; that celibacy is better than mar
riage, aud that the revolutions and reformations of the last three
hundred years have been destructive and calamitous.
We will examine these assertions as well as some others.
No one will dispute that the Catholic Church is the best witness
of its own existence. The same is true of every thing that exists
of every church, great and small, of every man, and of every
But it is contended that the marvelous growth or propagation of
the Church is evidence of its divine origin. Can it be said that
success is supernatural? All success in this world is relative.
Majorities are n r t necessarily right. If anything is known if
anything can be known we are sure that very large bodies of men
have frequently been wrong. We believe in what is called the
progress of mankind. Progress, for the most part, consists in find
ing new truths and getting rid of old errors that is to say, getting
nearer and nearer in harmony with the facts of nature, seeing with
greater clearness the conditions of well-being
There is no nation in which a majority leads the way. In the
progress of mankind, the few have been the nearest right. There
have been centuries in which the light seemed to emanate only from
a handful of men, while the rest of the world was enveloped in dark
ness. Some great man leads the way he becomes the morning
star, the prophet of a coming day. Afterwards, many millions
accept his views. But there are still heights above and beyond ;
there are other pioneers, and the old day, in comparison with the
new, becomes a night. So, we cannot say that success demonstrates
either divine origin or supernatural aid.
28 ROME, OR REASON ?
We know, if we know anything, that wisdom has often been
trampled beneath the feet of the multitude, We know that the
torch of science has been blown out by the breath of the hydra-
headed. We know that the whole intellectual heaven has been
darkened again and again. The truth or falsity of a proposition
cannot be determined by ascertaining the number of those who
assert, or of those who deny.
If the marvelous propagation of the Catholic Church proves its
divine origin, what shall we say of the marvelous propagation of
Nothing can be clearer than that Christianity arose out of the
ruins of the Roman Empire that is to say, the ruins of Paganism.
And it is equally clear that Mohammedanism arose out of the wreck
and ruin of Catholicism.
After Mohammed came upon the stage, " Christianity was forever
expelled from its most glorious sea f s from Palestine, the scene of
its most sacred recollections ; from Asia Minor, that of its first
churches ; from Egypt, whence issued the great doctrine of Trini
tarian Orthodoxy, and from Carthage, who imposed her belief on
Europe." Before that time " the ecclesiastical chiefs of Rome, of
Constantinople, and of Alexandria were engaged in a desperate
struggle for supremacy, carrying out their purposes by weapons
and in ways revolting to the conscience of man. Bishops were con
cerned in assassinations, poisonings, adulteries, Windings, riots,
treasons, civil war. Patriarchs and primates were excommunicating
and anathematizing one another in their rivalries for earthly power
bribing eunuchs with gold and courtesans and royal females with
concessions of episcopal love. Among legions of monks who carried
terror into the imperial armies and riot into the great cities arose
hideous clamors for theological dogmas, but never a voice for
intellectual liberty or the outraged rights of man.
" Under these circumstances, amid these atrecities and crimes,
Mohammed arose, and raised his own nation from Fetichism, the
adoration of the meteoric stone, and from the basest idol worship,
and irrevocably wrenched from Christianity more than half and
that by far the best half of her possessions, since it included the
Holy Land, the birth-place of the Christian faith, and Africa, which
had imparted to it its Latin form ; and now, after a lapse of more
than a thousand years that continent, and a very large part of Asia,
remain permanently attached to the Arabian doctrine."
It may be interesting in this connection to say that the Moham
medan now proves the divine mission of his Apostle by appealing to
the marvelous propagation of the faith. If the argument is good in
the mouth of a Catholic, is it not good in the mouth of a Moslem ?
Let us see if it is not better.
According to Cardinal Manning, the Catholic Church triumphed
only over the institutions of men triumphed only over religions
that had been established by men, by wicked and ignorant men.
But Mohammed triumphed not only over the religions of men, but
ROME, OR REASON ? 29
over the religion of God. This ignorant driver of camels, this poor,
unknown, unlettered boy, unassisted by God, unenlightened by
supernatural means, drove the armies of the true cross before him
as the winter s storm drives withered leaves. At his name, priests,
bishops and cardinals fled with white faces popes trembled, and
the armies of God, fighting for the true faith, were conquered on a
If the success of a church proves its divinity, and after that an
other church arises and defeats the first, what does that prove ?
Let us put this question in a milder form : Suppose the second
church lives and flourishes in spite of the first, what does that
As a matter of fact, however, no church rises with everything
against it. Something is favorable to it, or it could not exist. If it
succeeds and grows, it is absolutely certain that the conditions are
favorable. If it spreads rapidly, it simply shows that the condi
tions are exceediugly favorable, and that the forces in opposition are
weak and easily overcome.
Here, in my own country, within a few years, has arisen a new
religion. Its foundations were laid in an intelligent community,
having had the advantages of what is known as modern civilization.
Yet this now faith founded on the grossest absurdities, as gross as
we find in the Scriptures in spite of all opposition began to grow,
and kept growing. It was subjected to persecution, and the per
secution increased its strength. It was driven from State to State
by the believers of universal love, until it left what was called
civilization, crossed the wide plains and took up its abode on the
shores of tho Great Salt Lake. It continued to grow. Its founder,
as he declared, had frequent conversations with God, and received
directions from that source. Hundreds of miracles were performed
multitudes upon the desert were miraculously fed the sick were
cured the dead were raised, and the Mormon Church continued to
grow, until now, less than half a century after the death of its
founder, there are several hundred thousand believers in the new
Do you think that men enough could join this church to prove the
truth of its creed ?
Joseph Smith said that he found certain golden plates that had
been buried for many generations, and upon these plates, in some un
known language, had been engraved this new revelation, and I think
he insisted that by the use of miraculous mirrors this language was
translated. If there should be Mormon bishops in all the countries
of the world, eighteen hundred years from now, do you think a
cardinal of that faith could prove the truth of the golden plates
simply by the fact that the faith had spread and that seven hundred
bishops had knelt before the head of that church ?
It seems to me that a " supernatural" religion that is to say, a
religion that is claimed to have been divinely founded and to be
authenticated by miracle, is much easier to establish among an ignor-
80 ROME, OR REASON ?
ant people than any other and the more ignorant the poople, the
easier such a religion could be established. The reason for this is
plain. All ignorant tribes, all savage men, believe in the miracu
lous, in the supernatural. The conception of uniformity, of what
may be called the eternal consistency of nature, is an idea far above
their comprehension. They are forced to think in accordance with
their minds, and as a consequence they account for all phenomena
by the acts of superior beings that is to say, by the supernatural.
In other words, that religion having most in common with the
savage, having most that was satisfactory to his mind, or to his
lack of mind, would stand the best chance of success.
It is probably safe to say that at one time, or during one phase of
the development of man, everything was miraculous. After a time,
the mind slowly developing, certain phenomena, always happening
under like conditions, were called "natural," and none suspected
any special interference. The domain of the miraculous grew less
and less the domain of the natural larger ; that is to say, the com
mon became the natural, but the uncommon was still regarded as
the miraculous. The rising and setting of the sun ceased to excite
the wonder of mankind there was no miracle about that ; but an
eclipse of the sun was miraculous. Men did not then know that
eclipses are periodical, that they happen with the same certainty
that the sun rises. It took many observations through many gen
erations to arrive at this conclusion. Ordinary rains became "na
tural," floods remained " miraculous."
But it can all be summed in this : The average man regards
the common as natural, the uncommon as supernatural. The edu
cated man and by that I mean the developed man is satisfied that
tdl phenomena are natural, and that the supernatural does not and
can not exist.
As a rule, an individual is egotistic in the proportion that he
lacks intelligence. The same is true of nations and races. The
barbarian is egotistic enough to suppose that an Infinite Being is
constantly doing something, or failing to do something, on his ac
count. But as man rises in the scale of civilization, as he becomes
really great, he comes to the conclusion that nothing in Nature
happens on his account that he is hardly great enough to dis
turb the motions of the planets.
Let us make an application of this : To me, the success of Mor-
monism is no evidence of its truth, because it has succeeded only with
the superstitious. It has been recruited from communities brutal
ized by other forms of superstition. To me, the success of
Mohammed does not tend to show that he was right for the reason
that he triumphed only over the ignorant, over the superstitious.
The same is true of the Catholic Church. Its seeds were planted
in darkness. It was accepted by the credulous, by men incapable
of reasoning upon such questions. It did not, it has not, it can not
triumph over the intellectual world. To count its many millions
does not tend to prove the truth of its creed. On the contrary, a
creed that delights the credulous gives evidence against itself.
ROME, OB REASON ? 81
Questions of fact or philosophy cannot be settled simply by num
bers. There was a time when the Copernican system of astrompny
had but few supporters the multitude being on the other side.
There was a time when the rotation of the earth was not believed
by the majority.
Let us press this idea further. There was a time when Chris-
tianity was not in the majority, anywhere. Let us suppose that
the first Christian missionary had met a prelate of the Pagan faith,
and suppose this prelate had used against the Christian missionary
the Cardinal s argument how could the missionary have answered
if the Cardinal s argument is good.
But, after all, is the success of the Catholic Church a marvel ?
If this Church is of Divine origin, if it has been under the especial
care, protection and guidance of an Infinite Being, is not its failure
far more wonderful than its success ? For eighteen centuries it has
persecuted and preached, and the salvation of the world is still re
mote. This is the result, and it may be asked whether it is worth
while to try to convert the world to Catholicism.
Are Catholics better than Protestants ? Are they nearer honest,
nearer just, more charitable ? Are Catholic nations better than
Protestant ? Do the Catholic nations move in the van of progress ?
Within their jurisdiction are life, liberty and property safer than
anywhere else ? Is Spain the first nation of the world ?
Let me ask another question : Are Catholics or Protestants better
than Freethinkers ? Has the Catholic Church produced a greater
man than Humboldt ? Has the Protestant produced a greater than
Darwin ? Was not Emerson, so far as purity of life is concerned,
the equal of any true believer? Was Pius IX., or any other Vicar
of Christ, superior to Abraham Lincoln ?
But it is claimed that the Catholic Church is universal, and that
that its universality demonstrates its divine origin.
According to the bible, the Apostles were ordered to go into all
the world and preach the gospel yet not one of them, nor one of
their converts at any time, nor one of the Vicars of God, for fifteen
hundred years afterward, knew of the existence of the Western
Hemisphere. During all that time, can it be said that the Catholic
Church was universal ? At the close of the fifteenth century, there
was one half of the world in which the Catholic faith had never been
preached, and in the other half not one person in ten had ever
heard of it, and of those who had hear.l of it, not one in ten believed
it. Certainly the Catholic Church was not then universal.
Is it universal now ? What impression has Catholicism made
upon the many millions of China, of Japan, of India, of Africa?
Can it truthfully be said that the Catholic Church is now universal ?
When any church becomes universal, it will be the only church.
There cannot be two universal church ss, neither can there be one
universal church and any other.
The Cardinal next tries to prove that the Catholic Church is
divine, " by its eminent sanctity and its inexhaustible fruitfulness in
all good things."
32 HOME, OR REASON ?
And here let me admit that there are many millions of good
Catholics that is, of good men and women who are Catholics It
is unnecessary to charge universal dishonesty or hypocrisy, for the
reason that this would he only a kind of personality. Many thou
sands of heroes have died in defence of the faith, and millions of
Catholics have killed and been killed for the sake of their religion.
And here it may be well enough to say that martyrdom does not.
even tend to prove the truth of a religion. The man who dies in
flames, standing by what he believes to be true, establishes, not the
truth of what he believes, but his sin arity.
Without calling in question the intentions of the Catbolic Church,
we can ascertain whether it has been inexhaustibly fruitful in all
good things," and whether it has been " eminent for its sanctity."
In the first place, nothing can be better than goodness. Nothing
is more sacred, or can be more sacred, than the well-being of man.
All things that tend to increase o r preserve the happiness of the
human race are good that is to say, they are sacred. All things
that tend to the destruction of man s well-being, that tend to his
unhappiness, are bad, no matter by whom they are taught or done.
It is perfectly certain that the Catholic Church has taught, and
still teaches, that intellectual liberty is dangerous that it should
not be allowed. It was driven to taken this position because it had
taken another. It taught, and still teaches, that a certain belief is
necessary to salvation. It has always known that investigation and
inquiry led, or might lead, to doubt ; that doubt leads, or may lead,
to heresy, and that heresy leads to hell. In other words, the
Catholic Church has something more important than this world,
more important than the well-being of man here. It regards this
life as an opportunity for joining that Church, for accepting that
creed, and for the saving of your soul.
If the Catholic Church is right in its premises, it is right in its
conclusion. If it is necessary to believe the Catholic creed in order
to obtain eternal joy, then, of course, nothing else in this world is,
comparatively speaking, of the slightest importance. Consequently,
the Catholic Church has been, and still is, the enemy of intellectual
freedom, of investigation, of inquiry in other words, the enemy of
progress in secular things.
The result of this was an effort to compel all men to accept the
belief necessary to salvation. This effort naturally divided itself
into persuasion and persecution.
It will be admitted that the good man is kind, merciful, chari
table, forgiving and just. A church must be judged by the same
standard. Has the Church been merciful? Has it been " fruitful
in the good things " of justice, charity and forgiveness ? Can a good
man, believing a good doctrine, persecute for opinion s sake ? If
the Church imprisons a man for the expression of an honest opinion,
is it not certain, either that the doctrine of the Church is wrong, or
that the Church is bad ? Both cannot be good. " Sanctity " with
out goodness is impossible. Thousands of " saints" have been the
KOME, OR REASON ? 33
most malicious of the human race. If the history of the world
proves anything, it proves that the Catholic Church was for many
centuries the most merciless institution that ever existed among
men. I cannot believe that the instruments of persecution were
made and used by the eminently good ; neither can I believe that
honest people were imprisoned, tortured, and burned at the stake
by a Church that was " inexhaustibly fruitful in all good things."
And let me say here that I have no Protestant prejudices against
Catholicism, and have no Catholic prejudices against Protestantism.
I regard all religions either without prejudice or with the same pre
judice. They were all, according to my belief, devised by men, and
all have for a foundation ignorance of this world and fear of the
next. All the Gods have been made by men. They are all equally
powerful and equally useless. I like some of them better than I do
others, for the same reason that I admire some characters in fiction
more than I do others. I .prefer Miranda to Caliban, but have not
the slightest idea that either of them existed. So I prefer Jupiter
to Jehovah, although perfectly satisfied that both are myths. I
believe myself to be in a frame of mind to justly and fairly consider
the claims of different religions, believing as I do that all are wrong,
and admitting as I do that there is some good in all.
When one speaks of the " inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good
things" of the Catholic Church, we remember the horrors and atro
cities of the Inquisition the rewards offered by theEoman Church
for the capture and murder of honest men. We remember the
Dominican Order, the members of which, upheld by the Vicar of
Christ, pursued the heretics like sleuth hounds, through many
The Church, "inexhaustible in fruitfulness in all good things,"
not only imprisoned and branded and burned the living, but viola
ted the dead. It robbed graves, to the end that it might convict
corpses of heresy to the end that it might take from widows their
portions and from orphans their patrimony.
We remember the millions in the darkness of dungeons the
millions who perished by the sword the vast multitudes destroyed
in flames those who were flayed alive those who were blinded
those whose tongues were cut out those into whose ears were
poured moulten lead those whose eyes were deprived of their lids
those who were tortured and tormented in every way by which
pain could be inflicted and human nature overcome.
And we remember, too, the exultant cry of the Church over the
bodies of her victims : " Their bodies were burned here, but their
souls are now tortured in hell."
We remember that the Church, by treachery, bribery, perjury,
and the commission of every possible crime, got possession and con
trol of Christendom, and we know the use that was made of this
power that it was used to brutalize, degrade, stupefy, and "sanc
tify" the children of men. We know also that the Vicars of Christ
were persecutors for opinion s sake that they sought to destroy
34 ROME, OR REASON ?
the liberty of thought through fear that they endeavored to make
every brain a Bastile in which the mind should be a convict that
they endeavored to make every tongue a prisoner, watched by a
familiar of the Inquisition and that they threatened punishment
here, imprisonment here, burnings here, and, in the name of their
God, eternal imprisonment and eternal burnings hereafter.
We know, too, that the Catholic Church was, during all the years
of its power, the enemy of every science. It preferred magic to
medicine, relics to remedies, priests to physicians. It thought more
of astrologers than of astronomers. It hated geologists it persecu
ted the chemist, and imprisoned the naturalist, and opposed every
discovery calculated to improve the condition of mankind.
It is impossible to forget the persecutions of the Cathari, the
Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Huguenots, and of
every sect that had the courage to think just a little for itself.
Think of a woman the mother of a family taken from her child
ren and burned, on account of her view as to the three natures of
Jesus Christ. Think of the Catholic Church an institution with
a Divine Founder, presided over by the agent of God punishing a
woman for giving a cup of cold water to a fellow-being who had
been anathematized. Think of this Church, " fruitful in all good
things," launching its curse at an honest man not only cursing him
from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet with a fiendish
particularity, but having at the same time the impudence to call on
God, and the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary, to
join in the curse ; and to curse him not only here, but forever here
after calling upon all the saints and upon all the redeemed to join
in a hallelujah of curses, so that earth and heaven should reverber
ate with countless curses launched at a human being simply for
having expressed an honest thought.
This Church, so "fruitful in all good things," invented crimes that
it might punish. This Church tried men for a "suspicion of heresy"
imprisoned them for the vice of being suspected stripped them
of all they had on earth and allowed them to rot in dungeons, be
cause they were guilty of the crime of having been suspected.
This was a part of the Canon Law.
It is too late to talk about the "invincible stability" of the Catho
It was not invincible in the Seventh, in the Eighth, or in the
Ninth centuries. It was not invincible in Germany in Luther s
day. It was not invincible in the Low Countries. It was not
invincible in Scotland, or in England. It was not invincible in
France. It is not invincible in Italy. It is not supreme in any
intellectual centre of the world. It does not triumph in Paris, or
Berlin ; it is not dominant in London, in England ; neither is it
triumphant in the United States. It has not within its fold the
philosophers, the statesmen, and the thinkers, who are the leaders
of the human race.
It is claimed that Catholicism " interpenetrates all the nations
ROME, OR REASON ? 35
of the civilized world," and that " in some it holds the whole nation
in its unity."
I suppose the Catholic Church is more powerful in Spain than in
any other nation. The history of this nation demonstrates the
result of Catholic supremacy, the result of an acknowledgment by a
people that a certain religion is too sacred to be examined.
Without attempting in an article of this character to point out
the many causes that contributed to the adoption of Catholicism by
the Spanish people, it is enough to say that Spain, of all nations,
has been and is the most thoroughly Catholic, and the most
thoroughly interpenetrated and dominated by the spirit of the
Church of Rome.
Spain used the sword of the Church. In the name of religion it
endeavored to conquer the Infidel world. It drove from its territory
the Moors, not because they were bad, not because they were idle
and dishonest, but because they were Infidels. It expelled the Jews,
not because they were ignorant or vicious, but because they were
unbelievers. It drove out the Moriscoes, and deliberately made
outcasts of the intelligent, the industrious, the honest and the useful,
because they were not Catholics. It leaped like a wild beast upon
the Low Countries, for the destruction of Protestantism. It covered
the seas with its fleets, to destroy the intellectual liberty of man.
And not only so it established the Inquisition within its borders.
It imprisoned the honest, it burned the noble, and succeeded after
many years of devotion to the true faith, in destroying the industry,
the intelligence, the usefulness, the genius, the nobility and the
wealth of a nation. It became a wreck, a jest of the conquered, and
excited the pity of its former victims.
In this period of degradation, the Catholic Church held "the
whole nation in its unity."
At last Spain began to deviate from the path of the Church. It
made a treaty with an Infidel power. In 1782 it became humble
enough, and wise enough, to be friends with Turkey. It made
treaties with Tripoli and Algiers and the Barbary States. It had
become too poor to ranson the prisoners taken by these powers. It
began to appreciate the fact that it could neither conquer nor con
vert the world by the sword.
Spain has progressed in the arts and sciences, in all that tends to
enrich and ennoble a nation, in the precise proportion that she has
lost faith in the Catholic Church This may be said of every other
nation in Christendom. Torquemada is dead ; Castelar is alive.
The dungeons of the Inquisition are empty, and a little light has
penetrated the clouds and mists not much, but a little. Spain is
not yet clothed and in her right mind. A few years ago the cholera
visited Madrid and other cities. Physicians were mobbed. Pro
cessions of saints carried the host through the streets for the pur
pose of staying the plague. The streets were not cleaned ; the
sewers were filled. Filth and faith, old partners, reigned supreme.
The Church, "eminent for its sanctity," stood in the light and cast
36 ROME, OR REASON ?
its shadow on the ignorant and the prostrate. The Church, in its
" inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good things," allowed its children
to perish through ignorance, and used the diseases it had produced
as an instrumentality to futher enslave its votaries and its victims.
No one will deny that many of its priests exhibited heroism of
the highest order in visiting the sick and administering what are
called the consolations of religion to the dying, and in burying
the dead. It is necessary neither to deny nor disparage the self-
denial and goodness of these men. But their religion did more than
ail other causes to produce the very evils that called for the exhi
bition of self-denial and heroism. One scientist in control of Madrid
could have prevented the plague. In such cases, cleanliness is far
better than "godliness;" science is superior to superstition ; drainage
much better than divinity ; therapeutics more excellent than theo
logy. Goodness is not enough intelligence is necessary. Faith is
not sufficient, creeds are helpless, and prayers fruitless.
It is admitted that the Catholic Church exists in many nations ;
that it is dominated, at least in a great degree, by the Bishop of
Rome that it is international in that sense, and that in that sense
it has what may be called a "supernational unity." The same,
however, is true of the Masonic fraternity. It exists in many
nations, but it is not a national body. It is in the same sense extra-
national, in the same sense international, and has in the same sense
a supernational unity. So the same may be said of other societies.
This, however, does not tend to prove that anything supernational
It is also admitted that in faith, worship, ceremonial, discipline
and government, the Catholic Church is substantially the same
wherever it exists. This establishes the unity, but not the divinity,
of the institution.
The church that does not allow investigation, that teaches that
all doubts are wicked, attains unity through tyranny, that is, mono
tony by repression. Wherever man has had something like freedom,
differences have appeared, heresies have taken root, and the divisions
have become permanent new sects have been born and the Catho
lic Church has been weakened. The boast of unity is the confession
It is insisted that the unity of the Church substantiates its claim
to divine origin. This is asserted over and over again, in many
ways ; and yet in the Cardinal s article is found this strange mingling
of boast and confession : " Was it only by the human power of man
that the unity, external and internal, which for fourteen hundred
years had been supreme, was once more restored in the Council of
Constance, never to be broken again ?"
By this it is admitted that the internal and external unity of
the Catholic Church has been broken, and that it required more
than human power to restore it. Then the boast is made that it will
never be broken again. Yet it is asserted that the internal and ex
ternal unity of the Catholic Church is the great fact that demon
strates its divine origin.
ROME, OR REASON? 87
Now if this internal and external unity was broken, and remained
broken for years, there was an interval during which the Church had
no internal or external unity, and during which the evidence of
divine origin failed. The unity was broken in spite of the Divine
Founder. This is admitted by the use of the word " again. " The
unbroken unity of the Church is asserted, and upon this assertion
is based the claim of divine origin ; it is then admitted that the
unity was broken. The argument is then shifted, and tbe claim is
made that it required more than human power to restore the inter
nal and external unity of the Church, and that the restoration, not
the unity, is proof of the divine origin. Is there any contradiction
beyond this ?
Let us state the case in another way. Let us suppose that a
man has a sword which he claims was made by God, stating that
the reason he knows that God made the sword is that it never had
been and never could be broken. Now if it was afterwards ascer
tained that it had been broken, and the owner admitted that it had
been, what would be thought of him if he then took the ground that
it had been welded, and that the welding was the evidence that it
was of divine origin ?
A prophecy is then indulged in, to the effect that the internal and
external unity of the Church can never be broken again. It is ad
mitted that it was broken it is asserted that it was divinely restored
and then it is declared that it is never to be broken again. No
reason is given for this prophecy : it must be born of the facts
already stated. Put in a form to be easily understood, it is this :
We know thai, the unity of the Church can never be broken, be
cause the Church is of divine origin.
We know that it was broken ; but this does not weaken the
argument, because it was restored by God, and it has not been
Therefore, it never can be broken again.
It is stated that the Catholic Church is immutable, and that its
immutability establishes its claim to divine origin. Was it immu
table when its unity, internal and external, was broken ? Was it
precisely the same after its unity was broken that it was before ?
Was it precisely the same after its unity was divinely restored that
it was while broken ? Was it universal while it was without unity ?
Which of the fragments was universal which was immutable ?
The fact that the Catholic Church is obedient to the pope, estab
lishes, not the supernatural origin of the Church, but the mental
slavery of its members. It establishes the fact that it is a success
ful organization ; that it is cunningly devised ; that it destroys the
mental independence, and that whoever absolutely submits to its
authority loses the jewel of his soul.
The fact that Catholics are to a great extent obedient to the
pope, establishes nothing except the thoroughness of the organiza
How was the Kouian empire formed ? By what means did that
88 ROME, OR REASON ?
Great Power hold in bondage the then known world ? How is it
that a despotism is established ? How is it that the few enslave
the many ? How is it that the nobility live on the labor of peasants ?
The answer is in one word, Organization. The organized few
triumph over the unorganized many. The few hold the sword and
the purse. The unorganized are overcome in detail terrorized,
brutalized, robbed, conquered.
We must remember that when Christianity was established the
world was ignorant, credulous and cruel. The gospel with its idea
of forgiveness -with its heaven and hell was suited to the bar
barians among whom it was preached. Let it be understood, once
for all, that Christ had but little to do with Christianity. The
people became convinced being ignorant, stupid and credulous
that the Church held the keys of heaven and hell. The foundation
for the most terrible mental tyranny that has existed among men
was in this way laid. The Catholic Church enslaved to the extent
of its power. It resorted to every possible form of fraud ; it per
verted every good instinct of the human heart ; it rewarded every
vice ; it resorted to every artifice that ingenuity could devise, to
reach the highest round of power. It tortured the accused to make
them confess ; it tortured witnesses to compel the commission of
perjury ; it tortured children for the purpose of making them con
vict their parents ; it compelled men to establish their own in
nocence ; it imprisoned without limit ; it had the malicious patience
to wait ; it left the accused without trial, and left them in dungeons
until released by death. There is no crime that the Catholic Church
did not commit, no cruelty that it did not practice, no form of
treachery that it did not re ward, and no virtue that it did not perse-
cute. It was the greatest and most powerful enemy of human rights.
It did all that organization, cunning, piety, self-denial, heroism,
treachery, zeal and brute force could do to enslave the children of
men. It was the enemy of intelligence, the assassin of liberty, and
the destroyer of progress. It loaded the noble with chains and
the infamous with honors. In one hand it carried the alms dish, in
the other a dagger. It argued with the sword, persuaded with
poison, and convinced with the fagot.
It is impossible to see how the divine origin of a Church can be
established by showing that hundreds of bishops have visited the
Does the fact that millions of the faithful visit Mecca establish
the truth of the Koran ? Is it a scene for congratulation when the
bishops of thirty nations kneel before a man ? Is it not humiliating
to know that man is willing to kneel at the feet of man ? Could
a noble man demand, or joyfully receive, the humiliation of his
As a rule, arrogance and humility go together. He who in power
compels his fellow man to kneel, will himself kneel when weak.
The tyrant is a cringer in power ; a oringer is a tyrant out of power.
Great men stand face to face. They meet on equal terms. The
ROME, OR REASON ? 89
cardinal who kneels in the presence of the pope, wants the bishop
to kneel in his presence ; and the bishop who kneels demands that
the priest shall kneel to him ; and the priest who kneels demands
that they in lower orders shall kneel ; and all, from pope to the
lowest, that is to say, from pope to exorcist, from pope to the one in
charge of the bones of saints all demand that the people, the lay
men, those upon whom they live, shall kneel to them.
The man of free and noble spirit will not kneel. Courage has no
knees. Fear kneels, or falls upon its ashen face.
The Cardinal insists that the pope is the Vicar of Christ, and
that all popes have been. What is a Vicar of Jesus Christ ? He is
a substitute in office. He stands in the place, or occupies the posi
tion in relation to the Church, in relation to the world, that Jesus
Christ would occupy were he the pope at Rome. Tn other words, he
takes Christ s place; so that, according to the doctrine of the
Catholic Church, Jesus Christ himself is present in the person of the
We all know that a good man may employ a bad agent. A good
king might leave his realm and put in his place a tyrant and a
wretch. The good man, and the good king, cannot certainly know
what manner of man the agent is what kind of person the vicar is
consequently the bad may be chosen. But if the king appointed
a bad vicar, knowing him to be bad, knowing that he would oppress
the people, knowing that he would imprison and burn the noble and
generous, what excuse can be imagined for such a king ?
Now if the Church is of divine origin, and if each pope is the
Vicar of Jesus Christ, he must have been chosen by Jesus Christ ;
and when he was chosen, Christ must have known exactly what
his vicar would do. Can we believe that an infinitely wise and good
Being would choose immoral, dishonest, ignorant, malicious, heart
less, fiendish, and inhuman vicars ?
The Cardinal admits that " the history of Christianity is the
history of the Church, and that the history of the Church is the
history of the Pontiffs," and he then declares that " the greatest
statesmen and rulers that the world has ever seen are the Popes of
Let me call attention to a few passages in Draper s " History of
the Intellectual Development of Europe."
" Constantino was one of the Vicars of Christ. Afterwards, Stephen
IV. was chosen. The eyes of Constantino were then put out by
Stephen, acting in Christ s place. The tongue of the Bishop Theo
doras was amputated by the man who had been substituted for
God. This bishop was left in a dungeon to perish of thirst. Pope
Leo III. was seized in the street and forced into a church, where
the nephews of Pope Adrian attempted to put out his eyes and cut
off his tongue. His successor, Stephen V., was driven ignomin-
iously from Rome. His successor, Paschal I., was accused of blind
ing and murdering two ecclesiastics in the Lateran Palace. John
VIII., unable to resist the Mohammedans, was compelled to pay
40 ROME, OR REASON ?
" At this time, the Bishop of Naples was in secret alliance with
the Mohammedans, and they divided with this Catholic bishop the
plunder they collected from other Catholics. This bishop was ex
communicated by the pope ; afterwards he gave him absolution be
cause he betrayed the chief Mohammedans, and assassinated others.
There was an ecclesiastical conspiracy to murder the pope, and
some of the treasurers of the Church were seized, and the gate of
St. Pancrazia was opened with false keys to admit the Saracens.
Formosus, who had been engaged in these transactions, who had
been excommunicated as a conspirator for the murder of Pope John,
was himself elected pope in 891. Boniface VI. was his successor.
He had been deposed from the diaconate and from the priesthood
for his immoral and lewd life. Stephen VII. was the next pope,
and he had the dead body of Formosus taken from the grave, cloth
ed in papal habiliments, propped up in a chair and tried before a
Council. The corpse was found guilty, three fingers were cut off and
the body cast into the Tiber. Afterwards Stephen VII., this Vicar of
Christ, was thrown into prison and strangled.
" From 896 to 900, five popes were consecrated. Leo V., in less
than two months after he became pope was cast into prison by
Christopher, one of his chaplains. This Christopher usurped his
place, and in a little while was expelled from Rome by Sergius
III., who became pope in 905. This pope lived in criminal inter
course with the celebrated Theodora, who with her daughters
Marozia and Theodora, both prostitutes, exercised an extraordinary
control over him. The love of Theodora was also shared by John
X. She gave him the Archbishopric of Ravenna and made him
pope in 915. The daughter of Theodora overthrew this pope. She
surprised him in the Lateran Palace. His brother, Peter, was
killed ; the pope was thrown into prison, where he was afterward
murdered. Afterward this Marozia, daughter of Theodora, made
her own son pope, John XI. Many affirmed that Pope Sergius was
his father, but the mother inclined to attribute him to her husband
Alberic, whose brother Guido she afterward married. Another of
her sons, Alberic, jealous of his brother John, the pope, cast him and
their mother into prison. Alberic s son was then elected pope as
"John was nineteen years old when he became the Vicar of
Christ. His reign was characterized by the most shocking immor
alities, so that the Emperor Otho I. was compelled by the German
clergy to interfere. He was tried. It appeared that John had re
ceived bribes for the consesecration of bishops ; that he had ordained
one who was only only ten years old ; that he was charged with incest,
and so many adulteries that the Lateran Palace had become a
brothel. He put out the eyes of one ecclesiastic ; he maimed
another both dying in consequence of their injuries. He was
given to drunkenness and to gambling. He was deposed at last, and
Leo VII. elected in his stead. Subsequently he got the upper hand.
He seized his antagonists ; he cut off the hand of one, the noso s the
ROME, OR REASON ? 41
finger, and the tongue of others. His life was eventually brought to
an end by the vengeance of a man whose wife he had seduced."
And yet, I admit that the most infamous popes, the most heart
less and fiendish bishops, friars and priests were models of mercy,
charity, and justice when compared with the orthodox God with
the God they worshipped. These popes, these bishops, these priests
could persecute only for a few years they could burn only for a
few moments but their God threatened to imprison and burn for
ever ; and their God is as much worse than they were, as hell is
worse than the Inquisition.
11 John XIII. was strangled in prison. Boniface VII. imprisoned
Benedict VII., and starved him to death. John XIV. was secretly
put to death in the dungeons of the castle of St. Angelo. The
corpse of Boniface was dragged by the populace through the
It must be remembered that the popes were assassinated by
Catholics murdered by the faithful that one Vicar of Christ
strangled another Vicar of Christ, and that these men were " the
greatest rulers and the greatest statesmen of the earth."
" Pope John XVI. was seized, his eyes put out. his nose cut off,
his tongue torn from his mouth, and he was sent through the streets
mounted on an ass, with his face to the tail. Benedict IX., a boy
of less than twelve years of age, was raised to the apostolic throne.
One of his successors, Victor III., declared that the life of Benedict
was so shameful, so foul, so execrable, that he shuddered to describe
it. He ruled like a captain of banditti. The people, unable to bear
longer his adulteries, his homicides and his abominations, rose against
him, and in despair of maintaining his position, he put up the
papacy to auction, and it was bought by a Presbyter named John,
who became Gregory VI., in the year of grace 1045. Well may we
ask, Were these the Vicegerents of God upon earth these, who had
truly reached that goal beyond which the last effort of human wick
edness cannot pass."
It may be sufficient to say that there is no crime that man can
commit that has not been committed by the Vicars of Christ. They
have inflicted every possible torture, violated every natural right.
Greater monsters the human race has not produced.
Among the " some twohundred and fifty-eight" Vicars of Christ
there were probably some good men. This would have happened
even if the intention had been to get all bad men, for the reason
that man reaches perfection neither in good nor in evil ; but if they
were selected by Christ himself, if they were selected by a Church
vrith a divine origin and under divine guidance, then there is no way
to account for the selection of a bad one. If one hypocrite was duly
elected pope one murderer, one strangler, one starver this demon
strates that all the popes were selected by men, and by men
only, and that the claim of divine guidance is born of zeal and
uttered without knowledge.
But who were the Vicars of Christ ? How many have there
42 ROME, OR REASON ?
been ? Cardinal Manning himself does not know. He is not sure.
He says : " Starting from St. Peter to Leo XIII., there have been
some two hundred and fifty -eight Pontiffs claiming to be recognized
by the whole Catholic unity as successors of St. Peter and Vicars
of Jesus Christ." Why did he use the word "some?" Why
" claiming ?" Does he not positively know ? Is it possiblethat the
present Vicar of Christ is not certain as to the number of his pre
decessors ? Is he infallible in faith and fallible in fact.
" If we live thus tamely,
To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet,
No ONE will deny that " the pope speaks to many people in many
nations ; that he treats with empires and governments," and that
" neither from Canterbury nor from Constantinople such a voice goes
How does the pope speak ? What does he say ?
He speaks against the liberty of man against the progress of the
human race. He speaks to calurninate thinkers, and to warn the
faithful against the discoveries of science. He speaks for the de
struction of civilization.
Who listens ? Do astronomers, geologists and scientists put the
hand to the ear fearing that an accent may be lost ? Does France
listen ? Does Italy hear ? Is not the Church weakest at its centre ?
Do those who have raised Italy from the dead, and placed her again
among the great nations, pay attention ? Does Great Britain care
for this voice this moan, this groan of the Middle Ages ? Do the
words of Leo XIII. impress the intelligence of the Great Republic ?
Can anything be more absurd than for the vicar of Christ to attack
a demonstration of science with a passage of Scripture, or a quota
tion from one of the " Fathers "?
Compare the popes with the kings and queens of England. In
finite wisdom had but little to do with the selection of these mon-
archs, and yet they were far better than any equal number of con
secutive popes. This is faint praise, even for kings and queens,
but it shows that chance succeeded in getting better rulers for Eng
land than " Infinite Wisdom " did for the Church of Rome. Com
pare the popes with the presidents of the Republics elected by the
people ! If Adams ha 1 murdered Washington, and Jefferson had
imprisoned Adams, and if Madison had cut out Jefferson s tongue,
and Monroe had assassinated Madison, and John Quincy Adams had
poisoned Monroe, and General Jackson had hung Adams and his
Cabinet, we might say that presidents had been as virtuous as
popes. But if this had happened, tho verdict of the world would be
that the people are not capable of selecting their presidents.
ROME, OR REASON ? 43
But this voice from Rome is growing feebler day by day ; so feeble
that the Cardinal admits that the vicar of God, and the Super
natural Church, " are being tormented by Falck laws, by Mancini
laws and by Crispi laws." In other words, this representative of
God. this substitute of Christ, this Church of divine origin, this
supernatural institution pervaded by the Holy Ghost is being
tormented " by three politicians. Is it possible that this patriotic
trinity is more powerful than the other ?
It is claimed that if the Catholic Church " be only a human
system, built up by the intellect, will and energy of men, the adver
saries must prove it that the burden is upon them."
As a general thing, institutions are natural. If this Church is
supernatural, it is the one exception. The affirmative is with those
who claim that it is of divine origin. So far as we know, all govern
ments and all creeds are the work of man. No one believes that
Rome was a supernatural production, and yet its beginnings were as
small as those of the Catholic Church. Commencing in weakness,
Rome grew, and fought, and conquered, until it was believed that
the sky bent above a subjugated world. And yet all was natural.
For every effect there was an efficient cause.
The Catholic asserts that all other religions have been produced
by man that Brahminism and Buddhism, the religion of Isis and
Osiris, the marvelous mythologies of Greece and Rome, were the work
of the human mind. From these religions Catholicism has borrow
ed. Long before Catholicism was born, it was believed that women
had borne children whose fathers were gods. The Trinity was promul
gated in Egypt centuries before the birth of Moses. Celibacy was
taught by the ancient Nazarenes and Essenes, by the priests of Egypt
and India, by mendicant monks, and by the piously insane of many
countries long before the Apostles lived. The Chinese tell us that
"when there were but one man and one woman upon the earth, the
woman refused to sacrifice her virginity even to people the globe;
and the gods, honoring her purity, granted that she should conceive
beneath the gaze of her lover s eyes, and a virgin mother became
the parent of humanity."
The founders of many religions have insisted that it was the duty
of man to renounce the pleasures of sense, and millions before our
era took the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and most
cheerfully lived upon the labor of others.
The sacraments of baptism and confirmation are far older than
the Church of Romt?. The Eucha ist is pagan. Long before popes
began to murder each other, pagans ate cakes the iiesh of Ceres,
and drank wine the blood of Bacchus. Holy water flowed in the
Ganges and Nile, priests interceded for the people, and anointed
It will not do to say that every successful religion that has taught
unnatural doctrines, unnatural practices, must of necessity have
been of divine origin. In most religions there has been a strange
mingling of the good and bad, of the merciful and cruel, of the lov-
44 ROME, OR REASON ?
ing and malicious. Buddhism taught the universal brotherhood of
man, insisted on the development of the mind, and this religion was
propagated not by the sword, but by preaching, by persuasion, and
by kindnessyet it many things it was contrary to the human will,
contrary to the human passions, and contrary to good sense. Bud
dhism succeeded. Can we, for this reason, say that it is a super
natural religion ? Is the unnatural the supernatural ?
It is insisted that, while other churches have changed, the Catho
lic Church aloue has remained the same, and that this fact demon
strates its divine origin.
Has the creed of Buddhism changed in three thousand years V Is
intellectual stagnation a demonstration of divine origin? "When
anything refuses to grow, are we certain that the seed was planted
by God ? If the Catholic Church is the same to-day that it has
been for many centuries, this proves that there has been no intel
lectual development. If men do not differ upon religious subjects,
it is because they do not think.
Differentiation is the law of growth, of progress. Every church
must gain or lose; it cannot remain the same; it must decay or
grow. The fact that the Catholic Church has not grown that it
has been petrified from the first does not establish divine origin ;
it simply establishes the fact that it retards the progress of man.
Everything in nature changes every atom is in motion every star
moves. Nations, institutions and individuals have youth, manhood,
old age, death. This is and will be true of the Catholic Church. It
was once weak it grew stronger it reached its climax of power it
began to decay it never can rise again. It is confronted by the
dawn of Science. In the presence of the nineteenth century it
It is not true that "All natural causes run to disintegration."
Natural causes run to integration as well as to disintegration. All
growth is integration, and all growth is natural. AH decay is dis
integration, and all decay is natural. Nature builds and nature
destroys. When the acorn grows when the sunlight and rain fall
upon it and the oak rises so far as the oak is concerned "all
natural causes" do not "run to disintegration." But there comes a
times when the oak has reached its limit, and then the forces of na
ture run towards disintegration, and finally the old oak falls. But if
the Cardinal is right if "all natural causes run to disintegration,"
then every success must have been of divine origin, and nothing is
natural but destruction. This is Catholic science : "All natural
causes run to disintegration." What do these causes find to disin
tegrate ? Nothing that is natural. The fact that the thing is not
disintegrated shows that it was and is of supernatural origin. Ac
cording to the Cardinal, the only business of nature is to disinte
grate the supernatural. To prevent this, the supernatural needs
the protection of the infinite. According to this doctrine, if any
thing lives ana grows, it does so iu spite of nature Growth, then,
is not in accordance with, but in opposition to nature. Every plant
ROME, OR REASON ? 45
is supernatural it defeats the disintegrating influences of rain and
light. The generalization of the Cardinal is half the truth. It
would be equally true to say : All natural causes run to integration.
But the whole truth is that growth and decay are equal.
The Cardinal asserts that "Christendom was created by the
world-wide Church as we see it before our eyes at this day. Phi
losophers and statesmen believe it to be the work of their own
hands ; they did not make it, but they have for three hundred years
been unmaking it by reformations and revolutions.
The meaning of this is that Christendom was far better three
hundred years ago than now; that during these three centuries
Christendom has been going towards barbarism. It means that
the supernatural Church of God has been a failure for three hun
dred years ; that it has been unable to withstand the attacks of
philosophers and statesmen, and that it has been helpless in the
midst of " reformations and revolutions."
What was the condition of the world three hundred years ago,
the period, according to the Cardinal, in which the Church reached
the height of its influence, and since which it has been unable to
withstand the rising tide of reformation and the whirlwind of revo
In that blessed time, Philip II. was king of Spain he with the
cramped head and the monstrous jaw. Heretics were hunted like
wild and poisonous beasts ; the inquisition was firmly established,
and priests were busy with rack and fire. With a zeal born of the
hatred of man and the love of God, the Church, with every instru
ment of torture, touched every nerve in the human body.
In those happy days the Duke of Alva was devastating the homes
of Holland ; heretics were buried alive their tongues were torn
from their mouths, their lids from their eyes ; the Armada was on
the sea for the destruction of the heretics of England, and the Mor-
iscoes a million and a half of industrious people were being driven
by sword and flame from their homes. The Jews had been expell
ed from Spain. This Catholic Country had succeeded in driving
intelligence and industry from its territory ; and this had been done
with a cruelty, with a ferocity, unequaled in the annals of crime.
Nothing was left but ignorance, bigotry, intolerance, credulity, the
Inquisition, the seven sacraments and the seven deadly sins. And
yet a Cardinal of the nineteenth century, living in the land of
Shakespeare, regrets the change that has been wrought by the in
tellectual efforts, by the discoveries, by the inventions and heroism
of three hundred years.
Three hundred years ago, Charles IX., in France, son of Catherine
de Medici, in the year of grace 1572 after nearly sixteen centuries
of Catholic Christianity after hundreds of vicars of Christ had sat
in St. Peter s chair after the natural passions of man had been
" softened " by the creed of Rome came the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew, the result of a conspiracy between the Vicar of Christ,
Philip II., Charles IX., and his fiendish mother. Let the Cardinal
46 ROME, OR REASON ?
read the account of this massacre once more, and after reading it,
imagine that he sees the gashed and mutilated bodies of thousands of
men and women, and then let him say that he regrets the revolutions
and reformations of three hundred years.
About three hundred years ago Clement VIII. , Vicar of Christ,
acting in God s place, substitute of the Infinite, persecuted Giordano
Bruno, even unto death. This great, this sublime man, was tried for
heresy. He had ventured to assert the rotary motion of the earth ;
he had hazarded the conjecture that there were in the fields of in-
fite space worlds more larger and glorious than ours. For these low
and grovelling thoughts, for this contradiction of the word and vicar
of God, this man was imprisoned for many years. But his noble
spirit was not broken, and finally in the year 160J, by the order of
the infamous Vicar, he was chained to the stake. Priests believing
in the doctrine of universal forgiveness priests who when smitten
upon one cheek turned the other carried with a kind of ferocious
joy fagots to the feet of this incomparable ruan. These disciples of
" Our Lord " were made joyous as the flames, like serpents, climbed
around the body of Bruno. In a few moments the brave thinker
was dead, and the priests who had burned him fell upon their
knees and asked the infinite God to continue the blessed work for
ever in hell.
There are two things that cannot exist in the same universe an
infinite God and, a martyr.
Does the Cardinal regret that kings and emperors are not now
engaged in the extermination of Protestants ? Does he regret that
dungeons of the Inquisition are no longer crowded with the best and
bravest ? Does he long for the fires of the auto da f6 ?
In coming to a conclusion as to the origin of the Catholic Church
in determining the truth of the claim of infallibility we are not
restricted to the physical achievements of that Church, or to the
history of its propagation, or to the rapidity of its growth.
This Church has a creed; and if this Church is of divine
origin if its head is the vicar of Christ, and, as such, infal
lible in matters of faith and morals, this creed must be true.
Let us start with the supposition that God exists, and that he is
infinitely wise, powerful and good and this is only a supposition.
Now, if the creed is foolish, absurd and cruel, it cannot be of divine
origin. We find in this creed the following :
" Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that
he hold the Catholic faith."
It is not necessary, before all things, that he be good, honest,
merciful, charitable and just. Creed is more important than con
duct. The most important of all things is, that he hold the Catholic
faith. There were thousands of years during which it was not
necessary to hold that faith, because that faith did not exist ; and
yet during that time the virtues were just as important as now,
just as important as they ever can be. Millions of the noblest of
the human race never heard of this creed. Millions of the bravest
ROME, OR REASON ? 47
and beat have beard of it, examined, and rejected it. Millions of
the most infamous bave believed it, and because of their belief, or
notwithstanding their belief, have murdered millions of their fellows.
We know that men can be, have been, and are just as wicked with
it as without it. We know that it is not necessary to believe it to
be good, loving, tender, noble and self-denying. We admit that
millions who have believed it have also been self-denying and heroic,
and that millions, by such belief, were not prevented from torturing
and destroying the helpless.
Now if all who believed it were good, and all who rejected it were
bad, then there might be some propriety in saying that " whoever
will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the
Catholic faith." But as the experience of mankind is otherwise,
the declaration becomes absurd, ignorant and cruel.
There is still another clause :
" Which faith, except everyone do keep entire and inviolate,
without doubt, he si all everlastingly perish."
We now have both sides of this wonderful truth : The believer
will be saved, the unbeliever will be lost. We know that faith is
not the child or servant of the will. We know that belief is a con
clusion based upon what the mind supposes to be true. We know
that it is not an act of the will. Nothing can be more absurd than
to save a man because he is not inelligent enough to accept the
truth, and nothing can be more infamous than to damn a man
because he is intelligent enough to reject the false. It resolves
itself into a question of intelligence. If the creed is true, then a
man rejects it because he lacks intelligence. Is this a crime for
which a man should everlastingly perish ? If the creed is false,
then a man accepts it because he lacks intelligence. In both cases
the crime is exactly the same. If a man is to be damned for reject
ing the truth, certainly he should not be saved for accepting the
false. This one clause demonstrates that a being of infinite wis
dom and goodness did not write it. It also demonstrates that it
was the work of men who had neither wisdom nor a sense of
What it this Catholic faith that must be held? It is this :
" That we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity,
neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance."
Why should an Infinite Being demand worship? Why should
one God wish to be worshiped as three ? Why should three Gods
wish to be worshiped as one ? Why should we pray to one God
and think of three, or pray to three Gods and think of one? Can
this increase the happiness of the one or of the three ? Is it
possible to think of one as three, or of three as one ? If you think
of three as one, can you think of one as none, or of none as one ?
When you think of three as one, what do you do with the other
two? You must not "confound the persons" they must be kept
separate. When you think of one as three, how do you get the
other two ? You must not " divide the substance." Is it possible
bo write greater contradictios than these ?
48 ROME, OR REASON ?
This creed demonstrates the human origin of the Catholic Church.
Nothing could be more unjust than to punish man for unbelief for
the expression of honest thought for having been guided by his
reason for having acted in accordance with his best judgment.
Another claim is made, to the effect " that the Catholic Church
has filled the world with the true knowledge of the one true God,
and that it has destroyed all idols by light instead of by fire."
The Catholic Church described the true God as a being who
would inflict eternal pain on his weak and erring children ; de
scribed him as a fickle, quick-tempered, unreasonable deity,
whom honesty enraged, and whom flattery governed; one who
loved to see fear upon its knees, ignorance with closed eyes and
open mouth ; one who delighted in useless self denial, who loved
to hear the sighs and sobs of suffering nuns, as they Jay prostrate
on dungeon floors ; one who was delighted when the husband de
serted his family and lived alone in some cave in the far wilder
ness, tormented by dreams and driven to insanity by prayer and
penance, by fasting and faith.
According to the Catholic Church, the true God enjoyed the
agonies of heretics. He loved the smell of their burning flesh ; he
applauded with wide palms when philosophers were flayed alive,
and to him the auto da i& was a divine comedy. The shrieks of
wives, the cries of babes when fathers were being burned, gave con
trast, heightened the effect and filled his cup with joy. This true
God did not know the shape of the earth he had made, and had
forgotten the orbits of the stars. " The stream of light which de
scended from the beginning " was propagated by fagot to fagot,
until Christendom was filled with the devouring fires of faith.
It may also be said that the Catholic Church filled the world with
the true knowledge of the one true Devil. It filled the air with
malicious phantoms, crowded innocent sleep with leering fiends,
and gave the world to the domination of witches and wizards,
spirits and spooks, goblins and ghosts, and butchered and burned
thousands for the commission of impossible crimes.
It is contended that : " In this true knowledge of the Divine
Nature was revealed to man their own relation to a Creator as sons
to a Father."
This tender relation was revealed by the Catholics to the Pagans,
the Arians, the Cathari, the WaMenses, the Albigenses, the heretics,
the Jews, the Moriscoes, the Protestants to the natives of the
West Indies, of Mexico, of Peru to philosophers, patriots and
thinkers. All these victims were taught to regard the true God as
a loving Father, and this lesson was taught with every instrument
of torture with brandings and burnings, with flayings and flames.
The world was filled with cruelty and credulity, ignorance and
intolerance, and the soil in which all these horrors grew was the
true knowledge of the one true God, and the true knowledge of the
one true Devil. And yet, we are compelled to say, that the one
true Devil described by the Catholic Church was not as malevolent
as the one true God.
ROME, OR REASON ? 49
Is it true that the Catholic Church overthrew idolatry ? What
is idolatry ? What shall we say of the worship of popes of the
doctrine of the Real Presence, of divine honors paid to saints, of
sacred vestments, of holy water, of consecrated cups and plates, of
images and relics, of amulets and charms ?
The Catholic Church filled the world with the spirit of idolatry.
It abandoned the idea of continuity in nature, it denied the integ
rity of cause and effect. The government of the world was the
composite result of the caprice of God, the malice of Satin, the
prayers of the faithful softened, it may be, by the charity of
Chance. Yet the Cardinal asserts, without the preface of a smile,
that " Demonology was overthrown by the Church, with the assist
ance of forces that were above nature ;" and in the same breath
gives birth to this enlightened statement : " Beelzebub is not
divided against himself." Is a belief in Beelzebub a belief in demon-
ology ? Has the Cardinal forgotten the Council of Nice, held in
the year of grace 787, that declared the worship of images to be
lawful ? Did that infallible Council, under the guidance of the
Holy Ghost, destroy idolatry ?
The Cardinal takes the ground that marriage is a sacrament, and
therefore indissoluble, and he also insists that celibacy is far better
than marriage, holier than a sacrament, that marriage is not the
highest state, but that "the state of virginity unto death is the
highest condition of man and woman."
The highest ideal of a family is where all are equal where love
has superseded authority where each seeks the good of all, and
where none obey where no religion can sunder hearts, and with
which no church can interfere.
The real marriage is based on mutual affection the ceremony
is but the outward evidence of the inward flame. To this con
tract there are but two parties. The Church is an impudent in
truder. Marriage is made public to the end that the real contract
may be known, so that the world can see that the parties have
been actuated by the highest and holiest motives that find expres
sion in the acts of human beings. The man and women are not
joined together by God, or by the Church, or by the State. The
Church and State may prescribe certain ceremonies, certain for
malities but all these are only evidence of the existence of a
sacred fact in the hearts of the wedded. The indissolubility of
marriage is a dogma that has filled the lives of millions with
agony and tears It has given a perpetual excuse for vice and
immorality. Fear has borne children begotten by brutality.
Countless women have endured the insults, indignities and cruel
ties of fiendish husbands, because they thought that it was the will
of God. The contract of marriage is the most important that
human beings can make ; but no contract can be so important as to
release one of the parties from the obligation of performance; and
no contract, whether made between man and woman, or between
them and God, alter a failure of consideration caused by the wil-
50 ROME, OB REASON ?
ful act of the man or woman, can hold and bind the innocent and
Do the believers in indissoluble marriage treat their wiver better
than others ? A little while ago, a woman said to a man who had
raised his hand to strike her: " Do not touch me ; you have DO
right to beat me ; I am not your wife."
About a year ago a husband, whom God in his infinite wisdom had
joined to a loving and patient woman in the indissoluble sacranieut
of marriage, becoming enraged, seized the helpless wife and tore out
one of her eyes. She forgave him. A few weeks ago he deliber
ately repeated this frightful crime, leaving his victim totally blind.
Would it not have been better if man, before the poor woman was
blinded, had put asunder whom God had joined together ? Thou
sands of husbands, who insist that marriage is indissoluble, are the
beaters of wives.
The law of the Church has created neither the purity nor the
peace of domestic life. Back of all the churches is human affection.
Back of all theologies is tbe love of the human heart. Back of all
your priests and creeds is the adoration of the one woman by the
one man, and of the one man by the one womau. Back of your
faith is the fireside, back of your folly is the family ; and back of
all your holy mistakes and your sacred absurdities is the love of hus
band and wife, of parent and child.
It is not true that neither the Greek nor the Roman world had
any true conception of a home. The splendid story of Ulysses and
Penelope, the parting of Hector and Andromache, demonstrate that
a true conception of home existed among the Greeks. Before the
establishment of Christianity, the Roman matron commanded the
admiration of the then known world. She was free and noble. The
Church degraded woman made her the property of the husband,
and trampled her beneath its brutal feet. The "fathers " denounced
woman as a perpetual temptation, as the cause of all evil. The
Church worshipped a God who had upheld polygamy, and had pro
nounced his curse on woman, and had declared that she should be
the serf of the husband. This Church followed the teachings of St.
Paul. It taught the uncleanness of marriage, and insisted that all
children were conceived in sin. This church pretended to have
been founded by one who offered a reward in this world, and eternal
joy in the next, to husbands who would forsake their wives and
children and follow him. Did this tend to the elevation of woman ?
Did this detestable doctrine " create the purity and peace of domestic
life "? Is it true that a monk is purer than a good and noble
father ? that a nun is holier than a loving mother ?
Is there anything deeper and stronger than a mother s love ? Is
there anything purer, holier than a mother holding her dimpled
babe against her billowed breast ?
The good man is useful, the best man is the most useful. Those
who fill the nights with barren prayers and holy hunger, torture
themselves for their own good and not for the*- benefit of others.
ROME, OR REASON ? 61
They are earning eternal glory for themselves they do not fast for
their fellow men their selfishness is only equalled by their foolish
ness. Compare the monk in his selfish cell, counting beads and say
ing prayers for the purpose of saving his barren soul, with a husband
and father sitting by his fireside with wife and children. Compare
the nun with the mother and her babe.
Celibacy is the essence of vulgarity. It tries to put a stain upon
motherhood, upon marriage, upon love that is to say, upon all that
is holiest in the human heart. Take love from the world, and there
is nothing left worth living for. The Church has treated this great,
this sublime, this unspeakably holy passion, as though it polluted
the heart. They have placed the love of God above the love of
woman, above the love of man. Human love is generous and noble.
The love of God is selfish, because man does not love God for God s
sake, but for his own.
Yet the Cardinal asserts " that the change wrought by Christianity
in the social, political and international relations of the world "
" that the root of this ethical change, private and public, is
the Christian home." A moment afterwards, this prelate in
sists that celibacy is far better than marriage. If the world could
be induced to live in accordance with the "highest state," this
generation would be the last. Why were men and women cre
ated ? Why did not the Catholic God commence with the sin
less and sexless ? The Cardinal ought to take the ground that
to talk well is good, but that to be dumb is the highest condition ;
that hearing is a pleasure, but that deafness is ecstasy ; and that
to think, to reason, is very well, but that to be a Catholic is far
Why should we desire the destruction of human passions ? Take
passions from human beings and what is left ? The great object
should be not to destroy passions, but to make them obedient to
the intellect. To indulge passion to the utmost is one form of in
temperance to destroy passion is another. The reasonable gratifi
cation of passion under the domination of the intellect is true wis
dom and perfect virtue.
The goodness, the sympathy, the self-denial of the nun, of the
monk, all come from mother -instinct, the father-instinct all were
produced by human affection, by the love of man for woman, of
woman for man. Love is a transfiguration. It ennobles, purifies
and glorifies. In true marriage two hearts burst into flower. Two
lives unite. They melt in music. Every moment is a melody.
Love is a revelation, a creation. From love the world borrows its
beauty and the heavens their glory. Justice, self-denial, charity
and pity are the children of love. Lover, wife, mother, husband,
father, child, home these words shed light they are the gems
of human speech. Without love all glory fades, the noble falls
from life, art dies, music loses meaning and becomes mere motions
of the air, and virtue ceases to exist.
It is asserted that this life of celibacy is above and against the
52. ROME, OR REASON ?
tendencies of human nature ; and the Cardinal then asks : " Who
will ascribe this to natural causes, and, if so, why did it not appear
in the first four thousand years ?"
If there is in a system of religion a doctrine, a dogma, or a practice
against the tendencies of human nature if this religion succeeds,
then it is claimed by the Cardinal that such religion must be of
divine origin. Is it " against the tendencies of human nature " for
a mother to throw her child into the Ganges to please a supposed
God ? Yet a religion that insisted on that sacrifice succeeded, and
has, to-day, more believers than the Catholic Church can boast.
Religions, like nations and individuals, have always gone along
the line of least resistance. Nothing has " ascended the stream of
human license by a power mightier than nature." There is no
such power. There never was, there never can be, a miracle. We
know that man is a conditional being. We know that he is affected
by a change of conditions. If he is ignorant he is superstitious :
this is natural. If his brain is developed if he perceives clearly
that all things are naturally produced, he ceases to be superstitious,
and becomes scientific. He is not a saint, but a savant not a
priest, but a philosopher. He does not worship he works ; he
investigates ; he thinks ; he takes advantage, through intelligence,
of the forces of nature. He is no longer the victim of appearances,
the dupe of his own ignorance, and the persecutor of his fellow
He then knows that it is far better to love his wife and children
than to love God. He then knows that the love of man for woman,
of woman for man, of parent for child, of child for parent, is far
better, far holier, than the love of man for any phantom born of
ignorance and fear.
It is illogical to take the ground that the world was cruel and
ignorant and idolatrous when the Catholic Church was established,
and that because the world is better now than then, the Church is
of divine origin.
What was the world when science came ? What was it in the
days of Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler ? What was it when print
ing was invented? What was it when the Western World was
found ? Would it not be much easier to prove that science is of
divine origin ?
Science does not persecute. It does not shed blood it fills the
wo Id with light. It cares nothing for heresy; it develops the
mind, and enables man to answer his own prayers.
Cardinal Manning takes the ground that Jehovah practically
abandoned the children of men for four thousand years, and gave
them over to every abomination. He claims that Christianity came
" in the fullness of time," and it is then admitted that " what the
fullness of time may mean is one of the mysteries of times and sea
sons, that it is not for us to know." Having declared that it is a
mystery, and one that we are not to know, the Cardinal explains
it : " One motive for the long delay of four thousand years is not
ROME, OR REASON ? 53
far to seek it gave time, full and ample, for the utmost develop
ment and consolidation of all the falsehood and evil of which the
intellect and will of man are capable.
Is it possible to imagine why an infinitely good and wise being
4 gave time full and ample for the utmost development and con
solidation of falsehood and evil ?" Why should an infinitely wise
God desire this development and consolidation ? What would be
thought of a father who should refuse to teach his son and deliber
ately allow him to go into every possible excess, to the end that he
might develop all the falsehood and evil of which his intellect
and will were capable ?" If a supernatural religion is a necessity,
and if without it all men simply develop and consolidate falsehood
and evil, why was not a supernatural religion given to the first
man ? The Catholic Church, if this be true, should have been
founded in the garden of Eden. Was it not cruel to drown a world
just for the want of a supernatural religion a religion that man,
by no possibility, could furnish ? Was there " husbandry in
But the Cardinal contradicts himself by not only admitting, but
declaring, that the world had never seen a legislation so just, so
equitable, as that of Rome. Is it possible that a nation in which
falsehood and evil had reached their highest development was, after
all, so wise, so just, and so equitable? Was not the civil law far
better than the Mosaic more philosophical, nearer just ? The
civil law was produced without the assistance of God. According
to the Cardinal, it was produced by men in whom all the falsehood
and evil of which they were capable had been developed and con
solidated, while the cruel and ignorant Mosaic code came from the
lips of infinite wisdom and compassion.
It is declared that the history of Rome shows what man can do
without God, and I assert that the history of the Inquisition shows
what man can do when assisted by a church of divine origin, pre
sided over by the infallible vicars of God.
The fact that the early Christians not only believed incredible
things, but persuaded others of their truth, is regarded by the
Cardinal as a miracle. This is only another phase of the old argu
ment that success is a test of divine origin. All supernatural re
ligions have been founded in precisely the same way. The credulity
of eighteen hundred years ago believed everything except the
A religion is a growth, and is of necessity adapted in some degree
to the people among whom it grows. It is shaped and molded by
the general ignorance, the superstition and credulity of the age in
which it lives. The key is fashioned by the lock. Every religion
that has succeeded has in some way supplied the wants of its
votaries, and has to a certain extent harmonized with their hopes,
their fears, their vices, and their virtues.
If, as the Cardinal says, the religion of Christ is in absolute
harmony with nature, how can it In; supernatural ? The Cardinal
54 ROME, OR REASON ?
also declares that " the religion of Christ is in harmony with the
reason and moral nature in all nations and all ages to this day."
What becomes of the argument that Catholicism must be of divine
origin because " it has ascended the stream of human license,
contra ictumjluminis, by a power mightier than nature ? If " it is
in harmony with the reason and moral nature of all nations and all
ages to this day," it has gone with the stream, and not against it.
If " the religion of Christ is in harmony with the reason and moral
nature of all nations," then the men who have rejected it are un
natural, and these men have gone against the stream. How then
can it be said that Christianity has been in changeless opposition to
nature as man has marred it ? To what extent has man marred it ?
In spite of the marring by man, we are told that the reason and
moral nature of all nations in all ages to this day is in harmony
with the religion of Jesus Christ.
Are we justified in saying that the Catholic Church is of divine
origin because the Pagans failed to destroy it by persecution ?
We will put the Cardinal s statement in form :
Paganism failed to destroy Catholicism by persecution, therefore
Catholicism is of divine origin.
Let us make an application of this logic :
Paganism failed to destroy Catholicism by persecution ; there
fore, Catholicism is of divine origin.
Catholicism failed to destroy Protestantism by persecution ;
therefore, Protestantism is of divine origin.
Catholicism and Protestantism combined failed to destroy Infi
delity ; therefore, Infidelity is of divine origin.
Let us make another application :
Paganism did not succeed in destroying Catholicism ; therefore,
Paganism was a false religion.
Catholicism did not succeed in destroying Protestantism ; there
fore, Catholicism is a false religion .
Catholicism and Protestantism combined failed to destroy Infi
delity ; therefore, both Catholicism and Protestantism are false
The Cardinal has another reason for believing the Catholic Church
of divine origin. He declares that the " Canon Law is a creation
of wisdom and justice to which no statutes at large or imperial
pandects can bear comparison ;" " that the world-wide and secular
legislation of the Church was of a higher character, and that as
water cannot rise above its source, the Church could not, by mere
human wisdom, have corrected and perfected the imperial law, and
therefore its source must have been higher than the sources of the
When Europe was the most ignorant, the Canon Law was su
preme. As a matter of fact, the good in the Canon Law was bor
rowed the bad was, for the most part, original. In my judgment,
the legislation of the republic of the United States is in many re
spects superior to that of Rome, and yet we are greatly indebted tc
ROME, OR REASON ? 55
the Civil Law. Our legislation is superior in many particulars to
that of England, and yet we are greatly indebted to the Common
Law ; but it never occurred to me that our Statutes at Large are
If the Canon Law is, in fact, the legislation of infinite wisdom,
then it should be a perfect code. Yet, the Canon Law made it a
crime next to robbery and theft to take interest for money. With
out the right to take interest the business of the world would, to a
large extent, cease and the prosperity of mankind end. There are
railways enough in the United States to make six tracks around
the globe, and every mile was built with borrowed money on which
interest was paid or promised. In no other way could the savings
of many thousands have been brought together and a capital great
enough formed to construct works of such vast and continental
It was provided in this same wonderful Canon Law that a heretic
could not be witness against a Catholic. The Catholic was at lib
erty to rob and wrong his fellow man, provided the fellow man was
not a fellow Catholic, and in a court established by the vicar of
Christ, the man who had been robbed was not allowed to open
his mouth. A Catholic could enter the house of an unbeliever, of a
Jew, of a heretic, of a Moor, aud before the eyes of the husband
and father murder his wife and children, and the father could not
pronounce in the hearing of a judge the name of the murderer.
The world is wiser now, and the Canon Law, given to us by infinite
wisdom, has been repealed by the common sense of man.
In this divine code it was provided that to convict a cardinal
bishop, seventy-two witnesses were required ; a cardinal presbyter,
forty-four ; a cardinal deacon, twenty-four ; a sub-deacon, acolyth,
exorcist, reader, ostiarius, seven ; and in the purgation of a bishop,
twelve witnesses were invariably required ; of a presbyter, seven ;
of a deacon, three. These laws, in my judgment, were made, not
by God, but by the clergy.
So too in this cruel code it was provided that those who gave aid,
favor or counsel, to excommunicated persons, should be anathema,
and that those who talked with, consulted, or sat at the same table
with or gave anything in charity to the excommunicated should be
It is possible that a being of infinte wisdom made hospit lity a
crime ? Did he say : " Whoso giveth a cup of cold water to the
excommunicated shall w ar forever a garment of fire ?" Were not
the laws of the Ilomans much better ? Besides all this, under the
Canon Law the dead could be tried for heresy, and their estates
confiscated that is to say, their widows and orphans robbed. The
most brutal part of the common law of England is that in relation
to the rights of women all of which was taken from the Corpus
Juris Canonici, "the law that came from a higher source than man."
The only cause of absolute divorce as laid down by the pious
canonists was propter infidelitatem, which was when one of the par-
56 ROME, OR REASON ?
ties became Catholic, and would nob live with the other who con
tinued still an unbeliever. Under this divine statute, a pagan
wishing to be rid of his wife had only to join the Catholic Church,
provided she remained faithful to the religion of her fathers. Under
this divine law, a man marrying a widow was declared to be a
It would require volumes to point out the cruelties, absurdities
and inconsistencies of the Canon Law. It has been thrown away
by the world. Every civilized nation has a code of its own, and the
Canon Law is of interest only to the historian, the antiquarian, and
the enemy ot theological government.
Under the Canon Law, people were convicted of being witches
and wizards, of holding intercourse with devils. Thousands perish
ed at the stake, having been convicted of these impossible crimes.
Under the Canon Law, there was such a crime as the suspicion of
heresy. A mail or woman could be arrested, charged with being
suspected, and under this Canon Law, flowing from the intellect of
infinite wisdom, the presumption was in favor of guilt. The suspect
ed had to prove themselves innocent. In all civilized courts, the
presumption of innocence is the shield of the indicted, but the Canon
Law took away this shield, and put in the hand of the priest the
sword of presumptive guilt.
If the real pope is the vicar of Christ, the true shepherd of the
sheep, this fact should be known not only to the vicar, but to the
sheep. A divinely founded and guarded church ought to know its
own shepherd, and yet the Catholic sheep have not always been
certain who the shepherd was.
The Council of Pisa, held in 1409, deposed two popes rivals
Gregory and Benedict that is to say, deposed the actual vicar of
Christ and the pretended. This action was taken because a council,
enlightened by the Holy Ghost, could not tell the genuine from the
counterfeit. The council then elected another vicar, whose author
ity was afterwards denied. Alexander V. died, and John XX.III.
took his place ; Gregory XII. insisted that he was the lawful pope ;
John resigned, then he was deposed, and afterwards imprisoned ;
then Gregory XII. resigned, and Martin V. was elected. The whole
thing reads like the annals of a South American revolution.
The Council of Constance restored, as the Cardinal declares, the
unity of the Church, and brought back the consolation of the Holy
Ghost. Before this great council John Huss appeared and main
tained his own tenets. The council declared that the Church was
not bound to keep its promise with a heretic. Huss was condemn
ed and^xecnted on the Cth of July, 1415. His disciple, Jerome of
Prague, recanted, but having relapsed, was put to death, May 80th,
1410. This cursed council shed the blood of Huss and Jerome.
The Cardinal appeals to the author of " Ecce Homo" for the pur
pose of showing that Christianity is above nature, and the following
passages, among others, are quoted :
" Who can describe that which unites men ? Who has entered
ROME, OR REASON ? 57
into the formation of speech, which is the symbol of their union ?
Who can describe exhaustively the origin of civil society ? He who
can do these things can explain the origin of the Christian Church."
These passages should not have been quoted by the Cardinal. The
author of these passages simply says that the origin of the Christian
Church is no harder to find and describe than that which unites
men than that which has entered into the formation of speech, the
symbol of their union no harder to describe than the origin of civil
society because he says that one who can describe these can des
cribe the other.
Certainly none of these things are above nature. We do not
need the assistance of the Holy Ghost in these matters. We know
that men are united by common interests, common purposes, com
mon dangers by race, climate, and education. It is no more won
derful that people live in families, tribes, communities and nations,
than that birds, ants and bees live in flocks and swarms.
If we know anything, we know that language is natural that it
is a physical science. But if we take the ground occupied by the
Cardinal, then we insist that everything that cannot be accounted
for by man, is supernatural. Let me ask, by what man ? What
man must we take as the standard? Cosmas or Humboldt, St.
Irenaeus or Darwin ? If everything that we cannot account for is
above nature, then ignorance is the test of the supernatural. The
man who is mentally honest, stops where his knowledge stops. At
that point lie says that he does not know. Such a man is a phi
losopher. Then the theologian steps forward, denounces the modesty
of the philosopher as blasphemy, and proceeds to tell what is beyond
the horizon of the human intellect.
Could a savage account for the telegraph, or the telephone, by
natural causes ? How would he account for these wonders ? He
would account for them precisely as the Cardinal accounts for the
Belonging to no rival church, I have not the slightest interest in
the primacy of Leo XII f., and yet it is to be regretted that this
primacy rests upon such a narrow and insecure foundation.
The Cardinal says that " it will appear almost certain that the
original Greek of St. Irenaeus, which is unfortunately lost, contained
either ra Trpurela, or some inflection of irpuTev u, which signifies
From this it appears that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome rests
on some "inflection" of a Greek word and that this supposed
inflection was in a letter supposed to have been written by St.
Irenaeus, which has certainly been lost. Is it possible that the
vast fabric of papal power has this, and only this, for its founda
tion ? To this "inflection" has it come at last ?
The Cardinal s case depends upon the intelligence and veracity
of his witnesses. The Fathers of the Church were utterly incapable
of examining a question of fact. They were all believers in the
miraculous. The same is true of the Apostles. If St. John was
58 ROME, OR REASON ?
the author of the Apocalypse, he was undoubtedly insane. If
Polycarp said the things attributed to him by Catholic writers, he
was certainly in the condition of his master. What is the testimony
of St. John worth in the light of the following ? " Cerinthus, the
heretic, was in a bath-house. St. John and another Christian were
about to enter. St. John cried out : * Let us run away, lest the
house fall upon us while the enemy of truth is in it." " Is it pos
sible that St. John thought that God would kill two eminent Chris
tians for the purpose of getting even with one heretic ?
Let us see who Polycarp was. He seems to have been a proto
type of the Catholic Church, as will be seen from the following
statement concerning this Father : " When any heretical doctrine
was spoken in his presence he would stop his ears. " After this,
there can be no question of his orthodoxy. It is claimed that Poly
carp was a martyr that a spear was run through his body, and
that from the wound his soul, in the shape of a bird, flew away.
The history of his death is just as true as the history of his life.
Irenaeus, another witness, took the ground that there was to be a
millennium a thousand years of enjoyment in which celibacy
would not be the highest form of virtue. If he is called as a wit
ness for the purpose of establishing the divine origin of the Church,
and if one of his "inflections " is the basis of papal supremacy, is
the Cardinal also willing to take his testimony as to the nature of
the millennium ?
All the Fathers were infinitely credulous. Every one of them
believed, not only in the miracles said to have been wrought by
Christ, by the Apostles, and by other Christians, but every one of
them believed in the Pagan miracles. All of these Fathers were
familiar with wonders and impossibilities. Nothing was so com
mon with them as to work miracles, and on many occasions they
not only cured diseases, not only reversed the order of nature, but
succeeded in raising the dead.
It is very hard, indeed to prove what the Apostles said, or what
the Fathers of the Church wrote. There were many centuries filled
with forgeries many generations in which the cunning hands of
ecclesiastics erased, obliterated and interpolated the records of the
past during which they invented books, invented authors, and
quoted from works that never existed.
The testimony of the " Fathers " is without the slightest value.
They believed everything they examined nothing. They receiv
ed as a waste-basket receives. Whoever accepts their testimony
will exclaim with the Cardinal : " Happily, men are not saved by
ROBERT G. INGERSOT.L.
REV. L A. LAMBERT S
ONE HUNDRED AND TENTH THOUSAND,
PRICE, - - - 15 Cents.
For Sale By all Hook sellers.
THE NATIONAL PUBLISHING Co.