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by the government, it fell, as soon as the religious wars occasioned by its origin had subsided, into a state of torpor, and the people under it fell almost universally into a religious somnolence. The establishment was sustained even with rigor, but personal religion was generally unknown or disregarded. Some individuals, seeing this, applied themselves to awaken in the torpid masses a personal interest in religion. From them began a religious revival, or a movement in behalf of personal religion, known in Germany as Pietism, in Great Britain and elsewhere as Methodism, which holds principally from John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Lady Huntington. This revival, which has done much to increase individualism, and to weaken the influence of dogma and church principles, and which has developed a species of evangelical illuminism, resulting in a sort of infidel illuminisın, as seen in our American transcendentalists and free religionists, has, upon the whole, the author thinks, injured more than it has advanced Protestantism. Such, we sure, has been the fact in this country, unless we identify Protestantism with pure unbelief and indifference. Not one fourth of those assumed to be “hopefully converted” in revival seasons stay converted, while the backsliders are worse Christians, and those who remain pious are no better Protestants, than they were before their conversion.
The revival has, however, given birth to a vigorous propaganda in pagan and Catholic countries, and even in Protestant countries themselves, by means of Bible societies, tract societies, home and foreign missionary societies, supported on a large scale, and with apparently inexhaustible means. The author discusses this Protestant propaganda in relation to infidel nations ; to mixed nations, or nations composed of Protestants and Catholics; and finally to old Catholic nations. In infidel or pagan nations he maintains that it has thus far been null. He maintains also that in all those Protestant nations, or nations in which Protestantism became the established Church, but in which some remnants of the old Catholic population still remained and adhered to the Catholic faith and worship, the propaganda has, upon the whole, proved a failure, and in nearly all of them Catholicity has gained, and is still gaining, on Protestantism. This, counting from the date of the institution of the Protestant foreign and home missions in the beginning of the present century, is certainly true in Great Britain and Ireland, in Holland, Switzerland, especially in Sweden and Norway, and in this country; though the principal gains in England, Scotland, and the United States, are due to the immigration of Catholics from countries under Protestant governments, or governments not friendly to the Church. In the United States we are almost wholly indebted for the astonishing growth of the Church to the migration hither of Catholics from Ireland and Germany. We have numerous conversions, indeed, but they form hardly an appreciable element in our entire Catholic population. In the English-speaking world there have been many conversions from the upper classes and from the ranks of the Protestant ministry, especially of the Anglican and Protestant Episcopal communions; but very little impression is as yet made on the middle and lower classes, who must be converted before much progress is made in the conversion of a nation. We have certainly gained ground in Protestant nations, but probably not much more than we have lost in old Catholic nations.
While the Protestant propaganda has failed with infidel or pagan nations, and with the Catholic populations of Protestant nations, the author maintains that, allied with rationalism and the revolution, it has not been wholly unsuccessful in old Catholic nations, as France, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Hungary. It is, he maintains, “worse than idle to pretend that Protestant missions in these nations are wholly barren of results, or have met with only insignificant success. Their success has been considerable, not perhaps in making Protesto ants, but in un-making Catholics. Their missions are generally favored by the press, by the higher literature, and by the governments, which, even though nominally Catholic, are always jealous of the Church, and ever encroaching on her rights and restraining her freedom."
The success of the Protestant propaganda in these old Catholic nations, the author thinks is due to the reputation Protestant nations have of surpassing Catholic nations in material well-being; of having founded civil and religious liberty ; and chiefly to the unpopularity of the clergy, the supineness of Catholics, and the ignorance of the Catholic clergy of the real character of contemporary Protestantism. All these causes no doubt are operative; but the real cause, we apprehend, is to be sought in the ascendancy acquired by the world in the fifteenth century, and which has invaded Catholic nations hardly less successfully than Protestant nations. Protestantism is the child of this ascendancy, and its legitimate tendency is to place the world above heaven, and man above God ; or the complete supremacy of the secular over the spiritual.
In its origin Protestantism seemed to be an exaggerated supernaturalism, denying to the natural all moral ability since the fall, and consequently assigning to the human will no active part in the work of justification or sanctification. But extremes meet; and the exaggerated super
naturalism in relation to the world to come proved to be only an exaggerated naturalism in relation to this world. To deny all activity of the natural in the work of sanctity is only emancipating the natural from the supernatural, from the moral law, and leaving it therefore free from all moral accountability, to follow without restraint its own inclinations and tendencies ; for what is incapable of meriting is necessarily incapable of sinning. As the affections of the natural fasten on this world and the goods of this life, Protestantism soon lost practically all sense of the divine, as it is now rapidly losing it theoretically, and turned the whole activity of the nations that embraced it to the cultivation of the material order and the acquisition of material goods, leaving the spiritual order behind as a popish superstition, or an invention of priestcraft for enslaving the soul and restraining the natural freedom of mankind.
The spirit that generated and operates in Protestantism, and which its doctrine of free or sovereign grace only fortifies, is, in fact, only the old heathen spirit that seeks only the goods of this life, and so pointedly condemned by Christianity. It reverses the word of our Lord,“ Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you ;” and says, “ Seek first these things-the goods of this life—and the kingdom of God and his justice shall be added ; if, indeed, such kingdom or justice there be." This spirit was not originated by the Reformation. It had preceded it. It had originated the great Gentile Apostacy, and caused the carnal Jews to misinterpret the prophecies and to expect in the promised Messiah a temporal prince instead of a spiritual redeemer and regenerator. It had even entered the garden and induced the fall of our first parents. It has always subsisted in the world; nay, is what St. Augustine called the City of the world as opposed to the City of God, and which had its type and representative in the Roman republic and empire. It is the purely secular spirit emancipated from the spiritual, and substituting itself for it.
This spirit is everywhere warred against by Christianity, therefore by Catholicity: and during the temporal calamities of the barbarous and middle ages was held in check by the Church ; but the advancement of political and social order, the progress of well-being, the revival of pagan literature and art, the opening of new or long disused routes of commerce, and the discovery, in the fifteenth century, of a new continent with its untold treasures, gave new force and activity to the pagan spirit, and enabled it to pervade and take possession of the governments, never very submissive to the Church, of the emperor, of kings, princes, and nobles, and, in general, of the upper classes of European society. Christendom was well prepared at the opening of the sixteenth century for a revival of Gentilism, which found able and magnificent supporters in the Medici of Florence, so dear to modern uncatholic scholars, but so fatal in their influence on Catholic interests.
With the revival of Gentilism or secularism there came the revival of the quarrel of pagan times between Germany and Rome ; and Luther's movement derived its chief strength from its appeal to the old German hatred of Roman domination, represented in the fifteenth century, it was assumed, in part by the Pope, and in part by the emperor, who pretended to revive the old Roman empire and to succeed to the Roman Cæsars of the West. The Germanic nations, never thoroughly Romanized, rebelled against the Church, not because the secular spirit was more or less rampant with them than with the Romanic nations that remained Catholic, but because the centre of her authority was the old hated city of Rome; and they looked upon her authority as Roman, and incompatible with their own national independence. Nothing is farther from the truth than to suppose that they were moved by a desire to emancipate the human mind from its pretended thraldom under the Pope, or to establish free inquiry and the liberty of private judgment; for they yielded from the first to the secular or national sovereign all the authority in spirituals which had been previously exercised by the Roman pontiff. Wherever Protestantism gained a political status, the two powers, as under paganism--unless we except Geneva, Scotland, and, subsequently, New England—were united in the secular sovereign or the state. Calvin in Geneva, Knox in Scotland, and the Puritans in New England, though they sought to unite the two powers in the same governing body, sought to unite them in the hands of the Church rather than of the State, in consequence of their misinterpretation of the Hebrew commonwealth, which, in fact, gave us the first example in history of the separation of the two powers, the sacerdotal and the secular, always asserted and insisted on by the Catholic Church.
The real character of the Protestant movement was a movement in behalf of nationalism—the distinctive feature of Gentilism-revived by the insurgent worldly spirit. The Church herself, in the nations that adhered to her, was defended against the so-called Reformation, except by the thcologians, not on Catholic principles, but on national principles; and hence the secular authority sought constantly to exercise a supervision over the Church, and, as far as possible, to convert her into a national church. The so-called Catholic governments did not differ in principle from the Protestant governments, and have never done so since. They protected the Church, to a certain extent, from recognised heresies, and provided for the pomp and splendour of her worship; but restrained in every possible way her full freedom of action, and to compel her to yield to their respective national policies in order to avoid a greater evil. The Church could not fully instruct the people in any Catholic nation in the principles which should govern the relations of Church and State without incurring the persecution of her pretended protectors. Hence, there grew up in all Catholic nations a false view of those relations, which greatly weakened the Church, and aided the growth of the secular spirit. Catholicity, having been supported, not as Catholic but as a national religion, by Catholic governments and their courtiers, we find now, when the governments cease to defend it even as a national religion, and are more hostile than friendly to the Church, that the Catholic populations of old Catholic nations, never allowed by the secular authority to be fully instructed in the secular relations of their religion, and never accustomed to act personally in the intellectual defence of their faith, incrusted over with the secularism encouraged by their governments, are almost universally unarmed and defenceless before the Protestant propaganda, having in its favour the prestige of the worldly power and supposed well-being of Protestant nations, and of the championship of civil and religious liberty.
Here, we apprehend, is the real secret of the success of Protestant missions in old Catholic nations ; not in the ignorance of the Catholic clergy of the real character of contemporary Protestantism, as the Abbé Martin maintains. He shows, perhaps exaggerates, the danger which the Church runs in these old Catholic nations, and admits that it is becoming apparent, if not to all, at least to many of the clergy, and asks
“How could it be otherwise with the French clergy, so learned, so pious, so vigilant, and so zealous? They are preparing themselves for the struggle; they proceed to the battle with the energy of faith ; they lack not ability ; but they lack a knowledge of contemporary Protestantism. If they would struggle with success, if they would revive the glorious days of the Catholic apologetic of the seventeenth century, or rather, if they would create a new apologetic in harmony with the wants and errors of the times, they must study Protestantism in its latest evolutions and in its actual physiognomy.” (Pp. 178, 179.)
No doubt there is more or less ignorance even among the French clergy as to the various phases and wiles of Protestantism, and which their text-books will hardly help them to dissipate ; but what seems to us to stand most in their way is