Vincenzo Gioberti, Art. I (BQR 1850)
[From Brownson’s Quarterly Review for October, 1850}
We have, on several occasions within the last two or three years, introduced the name of Gioberti, sometimes with praise, sometimes with blame, and some attempt to appreciate his influence as an author, or to determine the practical tendency of his writings, can be neither misplaced nor mistimed; for he is, unquestionably, a man of rare genius, of acute and profound thought, a highly polished intellect, and various and extensive erudition. He appears to have mastered the whole circle of the sciences, and to have made himself thoroughly acquainted with the past and the present. He has studied profoundly the spirit of our age, and we have met with no one who better understands its dangerous tendencies. He possesses a genuine philosophical aptitude, and is unrivalled in his exposition and criticism of modern philosophy, especially as represented by the later German, French, and Italian schools ; and as far as concerns the refutation of false systems, and the statement of the first principles and the method of philosophical science, he is eminently successful. The best refutation of sensism, pantheism, radicalism, and socialism, and the clearest and most satisfactory statement and vindication of the several truths opposed to them, with which we are acquainted, are to be found in his writings. He never fears to make a bold and manly profession of the Catholic faith, and it is from the point of view of Catholicity, and by the aid of Catholic doctrine, that he refutes the modern errors and heresies he attacks. He seems, also, save in the ascetic region, whenever he has occasion to present Catholic theology, to present it in its highest and most rigidly orthodox forms. According to him, the true human race does not and cannot subsist out of the Catholic or elect society; and he energetically maintains, that out of the Catholic Church man is in an abnormal condition, and incapable, under any aspect of his nature, of attaining to his normal development. He attacks Gallicanism, and asserts in their plenitude the spiritual and civil prerogatives of the Papacy, which French, German, and English theologians, especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, have so generally denied, or but ambiguously admitted. He maintains that civil society is of sacerdotal origin, derives all power, civil as well as ecclesiastical, from God through the sacerdotal order, and makes the Pope, who embodies in himself the whole priesthood, the representative on earth of the full and universal sovereignty of God.
But we cannot read Gioberti's works without feeling that, along with this, and by ordinary readers not easily separable from it, the author introduces remarks and opinions, and exhibits practical aims and tendencies, which, in our times at least, go far to neutralize his orthodox influence, nay, to throw his influence into the scale of modern liberalism and socialism. We do not judge a book by the personal conduct of the author; but as far as Gioberti's conduct, whether in power or out of power, is known to us, it does not appear to have harmonized with the hightoned Catholic principles he has, at least, the air of professing. His present position with regard to the Holy See, unless we are wholly misinformed, is not that of a dutiful and affectionate son, and contrasts unfavorably with that of Rosmini, or even with that of Padre Ventura. Professedly opposed to all violent revolutions, claiming to be a man of great moderation, and occasionally using language which would lead one to suspect him of being a delegate to the Peace Congress, he nevertheless undeniably had a large share in preparing and precipitating the recent shameful Italian revolutions, and plunging his own sovereign, the late Charles Albert, into his disastrous and unprovoked campaigns against Austria. Professing to disdain modern liberals, to hold democratic politicians in contempt, and to address himself only to the wisdom and solid judgment of the enlightened and virtuous few, he aided, indirectly, to say the least, in stirring up that infuriated mob which drove the Jesuits out of Italy, assassinated Count Rossi, exiled the Holy Father from Rome, persecuted the religious, massacred the clergy, and enabled Mazzini and his fellow-miscreants to establish the infamous Roman Republic. Asserting in the most unqualified terms the infallibility of the Holy See in the definition of doctrines and the condemnation of books, he has, we believe, never submitted a single one of his own publications to its judgment, and up to the present time has refused to submit to its condemnation of his Gesuita Modemo. It is true, and we take pleasure in saying so, that, when at the head of the Sardinian government, he refused to acknowledge the infidel and sacrilegious Roman Republic; but he also refused to cooperate with the Catholic powers of Europe in restoring the Holy Father to his temporal sovereignty, and sanctioned encroachments of the civil on the spiritual power, which but too clearly preluded the sacrilegious Sicardi laws, the imprisonment of the illustrious Fransoni, and the persecution of the clergy in the Subalpine kingdom, which so deeply wound the heart, not only of our Holy Father, but of every sincere Catholic. These things, which we are unable to deny, or satisfactorily to explain away, coupled with the fact that he is usually surrounded, not by men venerable for their doctrine and their piety, but by a knot of young Italian atheists and misbelievers, compel us to pause in our admiration, and ask if there be not, after all, some grave fault in the author as well as in the man. With our high estimation of his genius, his talent, his clear and profound thought, his erudition, and his polish and eloquence as a writer, as well as of the soundness of his doctrines on many of the most vital points of philosophy and theology, we must naturally be disposed to place the most favorable construction possible on both his speculations and his acts; but, considering what has undeniably been the practical influence of his views and tendencies, as a political writer and statesman, on the disastrous and shameful revolutionary movements of his countrymen, we cannot but believe that there is something rotten in his writings, and that, with all his high-toned orthodoxy on so many important points, there is yet something in his thought, as well as in his heart, not compatible with Catholic doctrine and Catholic piety, and which we are bound to reprobate.
We took up and read Gioberti's works at first from curiosity, and to find out the truth they might contain, and we were charmed and carried away by his learning and eloquence, to an extent we are ashamed to acknowledge, although we had all the time a secret feeling that he was not altogether healthy in his practical influence; we have since re-read his writings, to discover, if possible, the error concealed in them, or the source of that unhealthy influence. We think we have discovered it, and our chief purpose in noticing the volumes we have introduced is to point it out to our readers, and, if our review should chance to fall under his eyes, to the distinguished author himself. Several books of greater or less magnitude have been written against the author, but we are unacquainted with their contents. We have read nothing against him, except some high commendations of him in The North British .Review, a Scotch Presbyterian journal, intended to perpetuate the spirit of John Knox, and some two or three articles, feebly and unsuccessfully attacking his philosophy, in a respectable French periodical, conducted by a layman whose learning and good intentions we hold in high esteem. Our judgment, whether sound or unsound, has been formed by the simple study of the volumes before us, and the school to which their author obviously belongs, and of which he is the most distinguished member.
Our purpose in our present article is not to review Gioberti so much under a philosophical as an ascetic, a speculative as a practical, point of view ; and perhaps we cannot better introduce the criticisms we propose to offer, than by reverting to a fact which we have often insisted on, namely, that there is in modern society a fatal schism between the ecclesiastical order and the temporal, and between spiritual culture and secular. There is not, under Christianity, that harmony between the two orders that there appears to have been under gentilism in Greek and Roman antiquity. In classic antiquity there seems to have been, for the most part, a perfect harmony between religious and secular life, spiritual and secular culture; and in the great men of Livy and Plutarch, regarding them simply as men, we find a balance, a proportion, a completeness, and, so to speak, roundness of character, in its order, that we do not find in the men of modern times. In modern society the two orders are not only distinct, but mutually repugnant, and we are able to devote ourselves to the one only by rejecting or opposing the other. Civil government opposes, and, as far as possible, subjects the Church; philosophy rejects theology; the sciences are irreligious in their tendency; and secular literature and art foster unbelief and impiety. The individual and society are alike torn by two internal hostile and irreconcilable forces, and we have no peace, — hardly, at rare intervals, a brief truce. This schism, taken in its principle, may be regarded as the source of all the evils which afflict modern society, whether temporal or spiritual.
It is from the fact we here state, more especially as it exists in Italy, the author's own country, that Gioberti appears to start. He assumes that this schism is practically remediable, that it ought to be healed; and hence his chief inquiry is as to its causes and the means of healing it. The principal cause, if we understand him aright, is, that the sacerdotal society has lost its control of the lay society, by having lost its former moral and intellectual superiority over it, and yet insists on retaining the dominion it rightfully exercised when it possessed that superiority; and the remedy is to be sought in the voluntary cession, as far as civilized Europe is concerned, on the part of the sacerdotal society, of that former dominion, become incompatible with modern civilization, the new conditions and relations of peoples and nations, the emancipation of the civil order from the sacerdotal tutelage, and a union, alliance, or interfusion of sacerdotal and lay culture, of the sacerdotal and lay genius, of the Christian spirit and the spirit of ancient Italo-Greek gentilism. He denies, indeed, the right of the lay society to assert its emancipation by violence, and thus far condemns modern liberalists, but contends that the clerical order should voluntarily concede the emancipation, and invest the lay order with an independence that was denied it, and very properly denied it, in the earlier mediaeval times. We shall amply prove, before we close, that this is the author's view of the matter; and, indeed, it is evident from almost every page of his writings, and especially from his long discussion in the Del Primato on the difference between the civil dictatorship exercised by the Popes immediately after the dissolution of the Western Empire by the Northern barbarians, and the arbitratorship which he contends is now for civilized Europe all that can or should be exercised by the sovereign pontiffs, except in the Ecclesiastical States.
That, in pointing out the causes of this schism, and proposing the remedy, Gioberti refutes much false philosophy, demolishes many false systems of politics, ethics, and society, and brings to his aid truths in philosophy, theology, morals, and politics of the highest order and of the last importance, there is no question; but he has nowhere the appearance of doing this for the sake of a genuinely Catholic end. The end for which be brings forward Catholicity, he says expressly,* is not the salvation of the soul, or the advancement of faith and piety for the sake of heaven, eternal beatitude, but the advancement of civilization for the sake of the "earthly felicity of men," and "the temporal well-being of nations." And hence he presents himself as a political and social reformer, in reality as a socialist in relation to his ends, differing from the vulgar herd of socialists only in the respect, that his instruments of reform, of reconstructing society, and of advancing civilization and social well-being, include, instead of rejecting, the ideal philosophy and the Church. In doctrine, in formal teaching, he is the antipodes of our modern socialists and liberalists, but in heart and soul, in spirit, in aim, and practical tendency, he is, after all, with them, and hardly distinguishable from them. Speaking in general terms, his error lies here, and is practical rather than theoretical, — in what he is laboring to effect rather than in the doctrines he formally and expressly teaches or attempts to apply to his socialistic purposes; and hence you feel, in reading him, that he is cariying you away in an antiCatholic direction, although you cannot easily lay your Snger on a direct and positive statement that you can assert to be in itself absolutely heterodox, or that directly and unequivocally expresses the error you are sure he is insinuating into your mind and heart.
Nevertheless, in his practical doctrine, as we have just stated it, there are clearly errors both of fact and of principle. He says expressly, — " La declinazione delle influenze civili del clero in alcuni paesi cattolici nasce appunto dall' aver lasciato che i laici di sperienza, di senno, di dottrina, e di gentilezza lo avanzassero."} And it is clear that he means to lay this down as a general principle, and to maintain that the decline of the influence of ihe clergy in the civil order is owing to their having suffered "the laity to surpass them in experience, wisdom, knowledge, and cultivation," or, in other words, to the fact, that the sacerdotal society has lost its moral and intellectual superiority over the lay society. But he knows little of human affairs, and of the world at large, who can seriously hold that the influence of a class, clerical or laical, is always in proportion to its moral and intellectual worth, or to its knowledge and cultivation. Wisdom and virtue do not, naturally, attain to dominion in the affairs of the world, and ignorance and vice always govern, except when God, supernaturally, intervenes to secure the victory to the good over the bad. Every man knows that this is true in the sphere of his own experience; for every one knows that, if he follows nature, he goes to destruction, and that it is only by grace that he is able to conquer evil, and secure the dominion to wisdom and virtue. What is true thus of men individually is true of them collectively; and this, being true of the individual, must be equally true of society, which can, therefore, be saved from destruction only by supernatural protection, only by grace, of which the sacerdotal order is the minister. If influence was always exerted in proportion to moral and intellectual worth, the wisest and best, the optimates, would always be at the head of affairs, and have the management of the republic, which, we need not say, is by no means the fact. Moreover, if it were so, Gioberti would have nothing to complain of; for to place the optimates at the head of affairs is precisely what he contends for as that which will perfect the political and social constitution.
There is, again, in the principle here assumed, a suspicious approximation to the pretensions and aims of Saint-Simonism. It is lawful, no doubt, to learn from an enemy, but we are not prepared to admit that Catholicity is insufficient for itself, or that it is under the necessity of making any important loans from those who are studying to supplant it. The essential principle of the Saint-Simonian constitution is the organization of society, hierarchically, under its natural chiefs, the natural aristocracy, that is to say, the optimates. These, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the age of Leo the Tenth, the Saint-Simonians assert, were the Catholic clergy, under their supreme chief, the Pope; but at the latter period they ceased to be the natural chiefs of society, because they ceased to advance in the same proportion that advanced the lay society, and suffered themselves to be surpassed in civil wisdom, knowledge, and cultivation by the laity. No one familiar with the writings of the Saint-Simonian school can read Gioberti without being pained to find him too often speaking as one of its honored disciples.
Finally, we deny the fact assumed. The clergy have never, in relation to the lay society, lost their former moral and intellectual, or scientific and civil superiority; and if they sometimes seem to have done so, it is only because the lay society has opposed to them false morality, false society, and false science, in place of the genuine. The clergy have never ceased, even in the most polished nations of Europe, to surpass the laity; never have the laity been able to be their teachers; and in every instance where they have claimed to be, they have been able to do so only on the ground of their having departed in religion, morals, politics, or philosophy from sound doctrine. Abelard was a layman, — reputed a learned man, a great philosopher, an able dialectician; but his influence served only to promote nominalism, poorly disguised under the name of conceptualism, and to ruin philosophical science. Bacon and Descartes were laymen, and Gioberti holds them in no higher estimation than we do. Except, perhaps, in mathematics and some of the physical sciences, which are only secondary matters, and whose predominance marks an infidel age, the superiority of science and doctrine has always been on the side of the clergy, and we are aware of no contributions of any real value ever made by the laity. The fact is not as Gioberti assumes. The laity, having acquired a smattering of science and learning, have become filled with pride and conceit, and refused for that reason to recognize the just influence of the clergy. The decline of the influence of the clergy in some Catholic countries is not owing to their having suffered the laity, in wisdom, doctrine, and cultivation, to surpass them, but to the overweening pride and conceit of the laity, which have taken the place of humility and docility. The most truly learned, scientific, and cultivated among the laity are, even in our own age, the most docile to the clergy, and the most ready to assert and vindicate their general moral and intellectual superiority; for we do not reckon your Mazzinis, Caninos, Mamianis, and Leopardis among the distinguished laymen of our times. They and their associates are not to be named in the same day with an O'Connell, a Montalembert, a De Falloux, a Donoso Cortes. Moreover, where are the laymen who in our days rank above Balmez in Spain, Wiseman or Newman in England, Moehler in Germany, and VINCENZO GIOBERTI in Italy, not to mention hundreds of others of the clerical order in no sense their inferiors, but who happen to be less known to our American public?
The author assumes, virtually, that, when the clergy find their influence decline, it is owing to their own fault and the growing virtue of the laity. It is only on this assumption that he can justify his demand of concessions to the revolting laity, and the union or fusion of sacerdotal with lay culture. The contrary of this is the truth. The clergy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when their influence had much declined, were, in relation to contemporary society, not one whit below what they were in the previous ages, when their influence was the greatest; and in no age have the laity shown themselves more superficial, more ignorant, more indisposed to severe thought and solid studies, or less virtuous, or more immoral, than in the eighteenth century, and in France, where the influence of the clergy was nearly null, but where their faith and virtue were by no means null, as was amply proved in the hour of trial. The clergy never obtain, and never maintain, in any country, their influence by mere personal qualifications, or personal superiority to the rest of the community, although this superiority may be a fact; but by the superiority of their doctrine and the sacredness of their office, — by the fact of their being priests and doctors, — the depositaries of the Christian mysteries, and the dispensers to the people of the bread of life; and their influence declines just in proportion as the people lose their faith in these mysteries, and their relish for this bread, or become wedded to the flesh and the world.
With all deference, then, to the distinguished author, we must dissent from his representation of the first element of the cause of the evil which we, as well as he, deplore. We cannot revive our youth, and join again with those who ascribe, in whole or in part, the acknowledged evils of society to the clergy, or the decline of their influence, in most countries, to the loss of their former moral and intellectual superiority ; and just as little can we ascribe their loss of influence to the growing intelligence and virtue of the lay society, for this growing intelligence and virtue is not a fact, and if it were a fact, it would only render the lay society so much the more docile and submissive to the sacerdotal society. Individual clergymen, no doubt, there are, who do not by any means adorn their profession, or walk worthily in their high vocation, of which our author is, perhaps, a notable example; but, taken as a body, throughout the world, it is not the clergy that need reforming, but the laity, — not those of the laity, again, who are docile and submissive to their pastors, but those who are indocile, rebellious, and require the clergy to come to them, instead of recognizing the fact that it is for them to go to the clergy.
We find it equally difficult to agree with Gioberti, that the fatal schism is continued by any censurable disposition of the sacerdotal society to hold on to the shadow of a dominion which, as to its substance, has long since escaped them. He contends that the civil dictatorship belongs, in radice, to the priesthood in all times and in all countries, but that its exercise is practicable or desirable only during the infancy or minority of nations, and that when a nation attains its majority, as we say of children, it is entitled to its freedom, and should and must be emancipated. The priesthood should then resign its dictatorship, and be contented to fill, in regard to civil society, the simple office of arbitrator, or referee. He says, — " When the priesthood delay beyond the proper time the civil emancipation of the people, as well as when these presume to hasten it, and attempt its possession prematurely, grave dissensions spring up and disturb both the Church and the state, until sound reason triumphs, and the true order of things is restored; for the sacerdotal tutelage of infant nations and the civil independence of adult nations are equally two laws of nature, which may be resisted for a time, but which no human power can wholly annul, or permanently suspend."*
In accordance with this view, the author appears to charge the clergy with having failed to recognize the fact that modern nations have attained their majority, and of being in some measure the cause of the present schism between the two orders, by attempting to retain them under their tutelage beyond the proper time. They are behind their age; they have not taken sufficient account of the changes which have been going on, and the progress of civilization, or civil and social culture, which has been effected. They are not aware that the Middle Ages have passed away, and that a new order has sprung up, and is henceforth, for civilized Europe, the only legitimate order. Hence, they are found in opposition to the secular movements of the day, which is disastrous for them, and still more disastrous for society. They cannot hinder these movements, and by opposing them they lose all control over them, and all influence for good on their age. In consequence of their opposition,—in plain language, of their opposition to the demands of the age for liberal governments, free institutions, and a generous and partially independent secular culture, —they lose the lay society, and the lay society loses the guidance and salutary control of the sacerdotal society. This thought runs through all of Gioberti's writings that we have read. It is clear to the intelligent reader that he is dissatisfied with the political order he finds existing, especially in Austria and Italy, and that he finds the clergy in the way of such changes as he wishes to introduce. Perhaps the Pope, certainly the College of Cardinals, the regular clergy, especially the Jesuits, and no small portion even of the secular clergy of Italy and Austria, are opposed to all organic changes in the existing constitutions. He is not, or was not when he wrote, prepared to attempt the changes in spite of them, and therefore he writes to win them over to his side, and attempts to set forth a theory which shall make it appear to them that they not only can favor the revolution he demands, consistently with the highest-toned Catholicity, but that they are required to do so by the most rigid forms of orthodoxy, and the soundest philosophy, as well as by the interests of secular society and civilization.
But after all, he only sings us the song sung by La Mennais, and the whole swarm of the so-called Neo-catholics, and simply proves that he is a slave of the age against which he is everywhere so sarcastic, not, as he no doubt honestly believes, one of its masters. It is remarkable, too, that with him, as with La Mennais, Ultramontanism and high-toned orthodoxy are far more apparent than real. Even we ourselves are, in reading his Del Primnto, occasionally startled by some of his strong assertions of the civil power of the Pope; but as we read on, we find that we had no reason to be startled, and that the power of the Pope dwindles down into a very commonplace affair, as he somewhere says, only the power infidels readily accord to a respectable parish priest, — and is, after all, merely a power that grows out of the accidental condition of nations in space and time, rather than a power held and exercised by virtue of the positive and express institution of Almighty God. So La Mennais made a furious onslaught upon Gallicanism, and yet ended by making the authority of the Church herself depend on the consensus hominun, and resolving the Christian religion into pure socialism. Gioberti attacks Gallicanism with great strength of language, and great force of argument, and yet winds up the controversy by telling us, — "The principal error of the famous Gallican Declaration of 1682 consisted in asserting as universal what is and must be only particular. It is beyonddoubt that, in nations that have attained to civil maturity, the government, in temporal things, is wholly independent of the Pope and the clergy, and that the clergy, participating in the general culture, possesses by good right certain canonical and disciplinary liberties which should be respected by all ; for it is a general rule, applicable to all ecclesiastical as well as to all civil government, that absolute and arbitrary authority is good and legitimate only in barbarous ages, and even then only because no other order is then possible." * That is to say, Gallicanism is, in the main, true, when asserted of a given time and place, or of nations that have attained a certain grade of though false when asserted as true of all times and places, and of nations through all the stages of their civil development. This implies that the actual powers of the Papacy derive, not from the positive and immediate grant of our Lord to Peter, but from those political and social accidents which demand them; that is, they grow out of the wants or necessities of society, and inhere in the Papacy solely because it is in the best condition to assume and exercise them for social organization and progress, which, in principle, is the assertion simply of the government of the optimates, —of the Pope, not because he is the Divinely appointed sovereign, hut because, in reference to time, place, and circumstances, he is the wisest, and best able to govern, — the doctrine which Thomas Carlyle, the inveterate pantheist, has been for these fifteen or twenty years harping upon ad nauseam. The right to govern, whether in Church or state, depends on the Divine appointment, not on the personal qualifications of the governors, and the optimates are always those who are legitimately invested with authority, and are such solely because so invested. The right gives the capacity to govern, not the capacity the right.
It is undoubtedly true, that the Sovereign Pontiffs do not, and cannot in the existing state of the secular order in Europe, exercise all the powers they did in the earlier ages of the modern world, and therefore we readily grant that those powers are now to some extent in abeyance. But it is one thing to recognize this as a fact, and another to recognize it as a law. We are aware that Gioberti holds to what he calls "moderate optimism," as was to be expected from an ardent admirer of Leibnitz; but we are not aware that in this respect Catholic faith requires us to agree with him, and we confess that we have never been able to agree with the pupil of Lord Bollingbroke, that "Whatever is, is right."
Because such political and social changes have taken place in the world, as render the exercise of certain powers on the part of the sovereign pontiffs impracticable or inexpedient, it does not follow that the Papacy does not still actually possess them, or that the well-being of society does not as imperiously demand their exercise now, as before the changes occurred. The fact that they cannot be exercised may be a social calamity, instead of a social progress; and it is very conceivable, that, if society had continued to follow the Christian law, their exercise would not have become impracticable. We agree that regard must be had to time and place, and that certain powers must be exercised by the clergy in certain circumstances which in other circumstances they are not required to exercise in the same form. We concede that to attempt the practical assertion of what Gioberti calls the dictatorship would in our times most likely be productive of evil rather than good; but we do not concede that this is so because modern nations have attained to civil majority, and therefore do not need it. The reason is, simply, that modern nations have, to a great extent, lost their faith, and will not heed the commands of their father. It is as necessary for them to receive and obey the paternal commands as ever it was, but they have grown so rebellious and stubborn that they will not.
Gioberti's theory about the minority and majority of nations is no doubt plausible; and if it were true in fact, that a nation ever does attain to civil majority, we should not seriously object to his doctrine, nay, we could not, without contradicting doctrines heretofore advanced in our own pages. But the truth is, save in regard to the department of mere industry, no nation ever attains to majority, and every one is as much a minor when in the most as when in the least advanced stage of its civilization. We hold, with Gioberti, that civil society is the creature of the priesthood, and that it is in all times and places through the priesthood, not, as modern demagogues pretend, through the people, that Almighty God invests civil society with its authority to govern; therefore we also hold with him, that the civil no less than the spiritual sovereignty under God vests immediately in the Divinely instituted priesthood, and in civil society only mediante the sacerdotal society. With what he says on this point we cordially agree, and we had maintained substantially the same doctrine in The Democratic Review, while still a Protestant. But that there ever comes a time when the priesthood is required to abandon its civil sovereignty and recognize the independence of the civil order, we are not prepared to concede; for, among other reasons, there never comes a time when the independence of the civil order does not conduct the nation to barbarism. All civilization is of sacerdotal origin, and must be lost just in proportion as society escapes from subjection to the priesthood. The reason of this is, that the elements of civilization are from the supernatural order, and the elements of barbarism are inherent in human nature, reproduced in every new-born individual, and retained in the bosom of every human being as long as he remains in the flesh. Barbarism has its seat in the carnal mind, the inferior soul, the natural passions, propensities, appetites, and instincts, which are always, when left to themselves, even in the saint while in this world, opposed to the law of God, and never cease to lust against the spirit, in order to bring us into captivity to the law of sin and death. The essence of barbarism is in the freedom and independence of this lower nature, in the predominance of inclination, passion, concupiscence, over reason and will. Civilization is precisely in the subjection of the inferior soul in the community to the superior, and in the assertion and maintenance of the sovereignty of right reason, that is, THE SUPREMACY OF LAW.
But this supremacy is secured by no possible secular culture; for it is the work in the individual, and therefore in society, not of natural reason and will, but of supernatural grace, of which the priesthood is the minister. It is of faith, we believe, that man, in his lapsed state, cannot without grace fulfil even the law of nature, and this grace is as necessary in the case of the learned, the cultivated, the refined, as it is in the case of the rude and simple. No natural training, no merely secular culture, is sufficient to subdue the barbarous elements in our nature, and the Christian maintains his virtue, and the constant predominance in his own bosom of the essential elements of civilization, only by constant vigilance, and continual recourse to the means of grace. If he relaxes his vigilance, if he neglects the sacraments, if he foregoes prayer and meditation, if he trusts to the training he has already received, to the habits already formed, or which have been infused into him by the Holy Ghost, he loses his spiritual freedom, fails to maintain the supremacy of reason, suffers the animal nature, the beast that is in him, to become independent, predominant, and lapses into the barbarian and the savage.
This, which is undeniably true of the individual, is equally true of communities and nations. No nation remains civilized without the constant presence and activity of the powers that originally civilized it, any more than creatures continue to exist without the immanence of the creative act which produces them from nothing. In consequence of retaining always and everywhere in its bosom the germs of barbarism, which no culture can eradicate, and which are ever ready to spring up, blossom, and bear fruit, the moment the sacerdotal vigilance and authority are withdrawn, or even relaxed, the nation in regard to civilization remains always in the state of a minor, and never does and never can attain to majority, — to a state in which it need be no longer under the parental dictation, and can safely be trusted lo set up for itself. This has been amply proved by the modern revolutions in France and Italy, the two most civilized nations in the world; and both, especially France, if especially France, the moment the temporal order set up for itself, and asserted its independence, have exhibited a barbarism that it would be difficult to match in the annals of the old Vandals, Goths, and Huns. We have never seen grosser barbarism than Paris exhibited under the Convention, or Rome under the recent Triumvirate, and the nations of Europe, as did those of Asia and Africa, approach barbarism just in proportion as they break from the parental authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. This proves that these nations have not attained to civil majority, and that whatever sacerdotal authority is demanded by nations in their infancy is demanded equally by them through all the stages of their existence. We cannot, therefore, agree with the learned and philosophic author, that the principal error of Gallicanism was in asserting as universal what is true only in particular cases. Gallicanism is either universally true, or it is universally false, and it was no more applicable to the France of Louis Quatorze than to the France of Pepin or Clovis.
It is not true, again, that the clergy, as Gioberti insinuates, rather than expressly asserts, show themselves reluctant to concede the civil emancipation of nations, and determined to continue their tutelage beyond its proper time. The clergy have never shown any thing of the sort, and, if any fault is to be charged against them, it is the fault of having been too yielding to the temporal power, of not having always asserted with sufficient firmness, constancy, and energy their own rights and prerogatives against its grasping ambition and sacrilegious encroachments. If the clergy have sinned at all, it has not been against the civil order, as distinguished from the ecclesiastical, it has not been in too strenuously asserting the sacerdotal dictatorship, but in not asserting it, in siding, for the sake of peace, or now and then for the sake of their revenues, with the temporal prince, as mere laics, instead of rallying to the support of their spiritual chief; that is, in doing the very thing in principle that Gioberti counsels them to do, and in not doing the very thing he accuses them of having done. The grasping of power over the civil order, or tenacity in clinging to it, has never been a vice or failing of the Christian priesthood, and they have always shown themselves ready and willing to yield to the temporal authorities all that could be yielded without giving up the faith, or sacrificing the freedom of religion, as the early rise and wide prevalence of what is called Gallicanism abundantly prove.
The schism is not caused or exaggerated by the efforts of the clergy to retain an undue control over the secular order, and those who have followed Gioberti's advice, and yielded to the modern spirit, have effected nothing towards healing it. The countenance some of them showed, from 1845 to 1849, to the revolutionary movements in Italy, served only to weaken their legitimate influence, to diminish reverence for the Church in her spiritual character, and to please, embolden, and strengthen the enemies of religion and society, — to give up Rome to the savage Mazzinis and Garibaldis, and to subject their own order to a bitter persecution, which we fear is yet far from being ended. They were applauded for the moment by heretics and infidels, Freemasons and Carbonari, Red Republicans and Socialists, and some persons were simple enough to regard these applauses as indicating a growing respect for the Church, and a return to Catholicity, whereas they really indicated only the demoniacal joy of the enemies of truth and sanctity, that the clergy themselves were destroying the Church by bringing her to them, instead of insisting, as formerly, on their coming to her. When the modern liberalists applauded Pius the Ninth, it was not because their feelings towards the Church had changed, but because they believed, or hoped to make the Catholic population believe, that the Pope was himself a liberalist in the chair of St. Peter; and when he was obliged, in order to undeceive them, or to prevent them from deceiving the faithful, to protest against their interpretation of his acts, they cried out, “Death to Pius the Ninth!” and compelled him to flee from Rome, and seek a refuge in exile.
This leads us to consider the remedy proposed. Gioberti would retain the supremacy of the Church, — in words, certainly,— and preserve for the Pope the civil arbitratorship. Yet his means of healing the schism are not the absolute subjection of the temporal order to the spiritual, as demanded by his own dialectics, but, as we have said, the union, alliance, or interfusion of the two orders, that is, of the sacerdotal and lay culture. As the case now stands, sacerdotal culture is mystical, excessively ascetic, and does not make sufficient account of earthly felicity and the advance of civilization, or temporal prosperity of nations; and secular culture is weak, mean, contemptible, disgraceful, because it lacks the order of truth, of which the priesthood is the sole depositary. A true culture and a true and noble civilization are possible only by the union or coalition of the two orders of culture, rendering the one less unworldly, and the other more ideal, or philosophical. To do this is the business of the priesthood, because the priesthood is the creator, in the order of second causes, of civilization.
Religion, throughout Gioberti's works, as far as we have read them, is considered only as the grand civilizing agency of mankind, and civilization is held to be-in itself, not indeed the supreme good, but a real good, which we are to seek for its own sake. The advancement of civilization for its own sake, and the earthly felicity it secures, is set forth as a noble and laudable aim, and as an end to which the Church should exert, directly and intentionally, her various powers and influences. After having established his first principles, and attempted to show that, according to them, all life and all dialectics are in harmonizing extremes, conciliating opposites, or contraries, he proceeds to say, —
"The application of these principles to our subject is not difficult. The religious and universal society which is called the Church and Catholicity is a complex of forces, which, in so far as finite and having a temporal aim, are subjected to the general laws of every dynamic process. The action of this grand community is in the preservation and development of the ideal principles, in the twofold order of things and cognitions, and therefore works and manifests itself as doctrine and as art. As doctrine, it is the guardian of the ideal principles in their primitive purity and integrity, and the deduction of all the secondary truths included in them; as art, it is the application of the doctrine to active life in order to the production of the earthly felicity of mankind; for I am considering here religion only in so far as it is the supreme dialectics conciliating human forces on the earth, and the system of civilization directed to the temporal well-being of nations, not as the direct instrument of celestial salvation, or of eternal beatitude." — Del Primato, Acvertenza, Tom. I. pp. 94, 95.
That the author holds that this mode of considering religion is proper, and that religion, as a civilizer and promoter of earthly well-being, may be distinguished from religion as the medium of salvation, and considered apart, is clear, not only from the passage just cited, but from the whole tenor of his teachings. His primary charge against the Jesuits is, that they do not seek to advance civilization, do not allow free and independent thinking, and that they discourage the developments of genius and the attainment of mental excellence, — a charge itself full of meaning. He adds: —
"Understanding (l’ingegno), informed and strengthened by virtue, produces the precious fruits of civilization and science, which are two inseparable things, since the former is only the practical use and application of the latter. To oppose civil progress, and the cognitions which effect it, is an attempt injurious to God, repugnant to the order and .design of the world, fatal to mankind, and contrary to the spirit, the precepts, and the purpose of Christianity. It offends God, because civilization is divine, like religion, to which it is inferior only inasmuch as it aims directly at time instead of eternity. But as eternity, in respect to creatures, presupposes temporal duration, and is, so to speak, its consummation, he who disrelishes and discountenances worldly interests prejudices the heavenly, as every one opposes the end who weakens or obstructs the aids by which it is to be gained. Civilization and religion alike import the superiority and victory of the soul over the body, of reason over sense, of will over instinct, of law over brute force, of the spirit over nature, of man over the other terrestrial beings, and of finite intelligences over the corporeal universe. So that it may be said that religion is absolute and perfect civilization, as secular culture is an initial religion, which bears to the other the relation of a part to the whole, or of the beginning to its completion. Both are alike universal, dialectic, conciliative; both combat the same enemy, that is, blind and fatal forces, and tend to repress without destroying them, by subjecting them to the directing authority of intellect and reason: and hence, as their powers are gradually developed, they are transformed one into the other, and their effects prove them to be identical."—Ibid., p. 140.
This is intelligible, and very much to the purpose. But here is something more.
"The maxims of a falsely understood mysticism, and its abusive effects, to which science and civilization give occasion,'lead many persons of good faith, but of narrow minds, if not wholly to repudiate, at least to distrust and discountenance, these two noblest parts of understanding. It appears to the abettors of an exaggerated asceticism as a sort of sacrilege to regard temporal things as of some account, and to occupy ourselves with them, since our ultimate end, our abiding country, is not on the earth, but in heaven. Moreover, finding that we are in a fallen state, and that our present life is intended to be an expiation, a penalty, it seems to the exaggerated mystics, that to improve our earthly condition would be to favor the corruption to which it is subjected, and to lessen or destroy the expiative penalty, which is the only possible profit to be drawn from it. But this doctrine is not Christian, since, according to the teachings of the Gospel, nature, although greatly impaired, is not substantially changed, and the germs of good nestle in its bosom by the side of the contrary powers. It is, therefore, our duty to regenerate it, and ameliorate it as much as possible, but not to neglect what it retains that is good, far less to exterminate it. Manicheism, and the pantheistic systems connected with it, admit, indeed, the essential malignity of the corporeal world; and not far removed from this heresy are they who, exaggerating the dogma of the Fall, presuppose that it has changed and perverted the essence of nature. Now, if the natural orders have not essentially changed, it follows, that, notwithstanding the introduction of evil, the primitive condition of the earth has not varied, and that it is always, as in the beginning, a place of probation, of progress, and of melioration to its inhabitants. The only difference there is between the primitive state and the present is, that in the beginning man had only to develop and cultivate the seeds of good, whereas now he is obliged, in addition, to extirpate those of evil which are sown among them. Hence life, which in no case could have been idle, is now not simply business, but also toil, or rather a fatiguing business, in which the duty of expiation does not essentially alter the reasons of earthly existence, or change in regard to it the universal properties of every dialectic work. This, consisting in evolving and harmonizing diversities and contrarieties, and not in annulling the sound and the positive that is found in them, is at all times the office of man on the earth; and in this respect our globe does not differ from other stations of the universe subjected to the course of ages, and to the great law of development. Now, what else is civilization, in so far as it depends on us, but the continuous development of terrestrial forces? The conclusions of Christianity, then, accord with those of a severe and profound philosophy, which, unable to deny the coexistence of good and its opposite, must impose upon us a double correlative duty, the fulfilment of which is civilization or religion, as referred to this life or to that which is to .come." — Ibid., pp. 142,143.
It is evident from these extracts, that the author holds civilization and religion to be alike divine, and that to live and labor for earthly happiness and the temporal prosperity of nations is, as far as it goes, as much to serve God, and to keep his commandments, as to live and labor for eternal beatitude. No doubt the temporal end is to be held inferior and subordinate to the eternal, but it is nevertheless equally sacred, and is not to be sacrificed to it. The two ends are both substantive, so to speak, and are to be harmonized without the destruction of either. The harmonizing of these two ends authorizes the union or alliance of the two orders, the two cultures, sacerdotal and secular, or rather is itself that very union or alliance of which we have spoken. Hence the author's condemnation of the mystics, the exaggerated (?) ascetics, and especially the old Oriental monks and the modern Jesuits, whose teaching is, that man should immolate himself to God, and earth to heaven. This teaching he cannot endure.
"Another exaggeration," he says, "is the disregard, the contempt, and hatred of profane literature, and that rich, intellectual patrimony of eloquence, taste, imagination, invention, memory, institutions, which the ancients have transmitted to us, as if the Christian religion could be the enemy of that which embellishes, consoles, strengthens, and even meliorates, humanly speaking, our mortal life, and as if the spirit of the Gospel consisted, not in the subordination and wise direction, but in the immolation, of the body to the soul, time to eternity, earth to heaven, — a supposition most foreign to that faith which is invoked to justify it, injurious to Providence, and contrary to his designs in the ideal history of the world: for civilization, although of inferior excellence, is no less divine in its principle, in its essence, and in its terminus, than religion."— Ibid., p. 112.
Even Bossuet, according to our Italian Abbate, runs into intemperate ascetism, especially in his indiscriminate censure of the modern theatre, and never made sufficient account of this world. He adds in a note to his Del Primato, —
"A worthy French writer belonging to the clerical order, and a great admirer of Bossuet, confesses that Bossuet had a very imperfect conception of Providence, and he excuses him by casting the blame on his age. 'In the age of Bossuet,' he says, 'the opinion of the Middle Ages which requires man to live exclusively for eternity (quijette Chomme entier dans Fetemile), which treats things of time with a disdainful indifference, and holds them to be unworthy to draw down the judgments of heaven upon them, still survived.' He elsewhere asserts that Bossuet was ignorant of the true genius of modern civilization." — Tom. II. p. 403.
It is not difficult to understand what the learned, philosophical, and we wish we could add, pious author means by "intemperate," "excessive," "exaggerated," asceticism; and the doctrine he opposes to it seems to us to be plain enough. We certainly are not among those, if such there are in the Church, who regard religion as inimical to civilization, or to any thing which is really useful to men in this life. That religion promotes or creates civilization, that, so far as received and obeyed, it provides for and secures the temporal prosperity of nations, cultivates the human mind and heart, favors science and the fine arts, fosters industry, and diffuses earthly happiness, we hold to be unquestionable, and we cannot understand how any right-minded man, with ordinary information, can pretend to the contrary. Thus far we certainly have no quarrel with our author, but agree with him most fully and most heartily. But it does not do this by teaching us to set our hearts upon these things, to value them for their own sake, or to make them direct objects of pursuit. This world is not our home, and we are never permitted by religion to regard it as such. We are, in hac providentia, beings with one destiny, not with a twofold destiny, the one earthly, the other heavenly; and therefore earthly felicity, the temporal prosperity of nations, and the melioration of the globe and of our condition on it, are not and never can be our lawful end, or lawfully consulted, save as a means and condition, if such they are or can be, of attaining our heavenly destiny, — eternal beatitude. We are not permitted to consult them as ultimate, even in their own order, or to regard ourselves as keeping the commandments of God, because we accept and use religious authority, dogmas, and institutions for securing them. Religion knows no earthly end ; it knows no end but God himself, and no good for us but in returning to him as our final cause, and beholding him in the beatific vision. It does not and cannot, therefore, allow us to distinguish an earthly destiny from the heavenly, and to make it a direct object of our affections or of our pursuit. Here, it seems to us, is the primal error of our author. He professedly considers religion only in so far as it is an instrument of civilization, of earthly individual and social wellbeing, and avowedly waives its consideration as the instrument of salvation, of eternal beatitude. This, he must permit us to say, he has no right to do, because religion thus considered it not true religion, and because, so considered, it is and can be no instrument of civilization, no medium even of earthly felicity.
Religion promotes, or, if the author chooses, creates, civilization, secures the temporal prosperity of nations, and provides for earthly felicity, only inasmuch as it draws our minds and hearts off from these things, and fixes them on God and eternal beatitude. No well-instructed Christian pretends that we secure heavenly beatitude by simply laboring for earthly happiness, eternity by devoting ourselves to time ; but just as little do we, or can we, secure earthly happiness by making it an object of pursuit, or time by devoting ourselves to time. The earthly, in so far as good, has its root in the heavenly, and time is simply the extrinsecation of eternity. The author's own dialectics establish this, and all experience proves it. We lose the world by seeking it. Wealth sought for a worldly end does not enrich, pleasure does not please, knowledge does not enlighten. The fact holds true, whether you speak of the individual or of the nation. No nation, even in regard to this world, is more to be pitied, than that which places its affections on things of the earth, and its religion wholly or partially even in seeking temporal power, greatness, prosperity, and felicity. It never attains really what it seeks. Its prosperity, however dazzling it may be to the superficial beholder, is rotten within, — its apparent felicity a gilded misery; and its highest glory is that of the ghastly and grinning skeleton dressed in festive robes and crowned with flowers, for the Egyptian banquet. Hence our Lord says, —" If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it." St. Matt. Xvi. 24, 25. The reason of this is obvious enough. Man can find good, temporal or eternal, only in living his normal life, and he lives his normal life only when he lives to the end for which he was intended by his Maker, that is to say, his ultimate end, which is God as the Supreme Good, the end of all things. Whenever, then, he loses sight of God as the Supreme Good in itself, or as his supreme good, he abandons the source of all good, and falls into a condition in which there is no good for him
The author tells us, indeed, that he is not writing a book of devotion, and we are not so unreasonable as to ask, in a work on philosophy or on politics, an ascetic treatise ; but we must be permitted to say, that when he leaves out the consideration of religion as the instrument of celestial salvation and eternal beatitude, or the duty of seeking these, and the means, agencies, and influences by which they are gained, he leaves out all that renders religion efficient in the work of civilization, of securing earthly felicity, and the temporal prosperity of nations; because it is only by instructing us in the principles of eternal life, by directing our minds and hearts to the gaining of our true end as the one sole business of our lives, and infusing into us the graces, and furnishing us with the helps, necessary to gain it, that religion affords us any aid in subduing barbarism, in advancing civilization, or securing the blessings of time. Considered merely as civilization, or as an agent in promoting civilization, religion is not religion, becomes merely human, and passes wholly into the secular order, and therefore necessarily loses all power or influence over it. The author, although not writing a work expressly on devotion, was, inasmuch as he presented religion as a civilizer and promoter of well-being on earth, bound to present her under that point of view in which she is able to do, and does do, what he claims, and therefore was bound to present her as the instrument of celestial salvation and eternal beatitude, since it is only because she is that instrument that she is an instrument of civilization and earthly happiness.
The author errs, as it seems to us, not as to the fact of the civilizing influence of religion, but as to the rationale of that fact. Christianity secures us all the goods of this life, and enhances them a hundredfold ; but she does it, not by stimulating and directing the pursuit of them, but by commanding and enabling us to immolate them, morally, to the goods of eternity. Hence our Lord says, "Be not solicitous for your life, what ye shall eat, nor for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body more than the raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by thinking can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment, why are ye solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labor not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. Now, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more you, O ye of little faith! Be not solicitous, therefore, saying, What shall we eat, or What shall we drink, or Wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathen seek. For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."—St. Matt. Vi. 25-33.The doctrine here is too plain to be easily misapprehended. It is not, that you must seek the kingdom of God and his justice more than you seek the world, but that you are to seek them as the principle, and the world only in them and for them, as is evident from the 24th verse of the same chapter : — " No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." If this be so, the teaching of our Lord is plainly the immolation—the moral immolation, of course, not the physical —of ourselves to God, of the body to the soul, time to eternity, earth to heaven, — the very contradictory of Gioberti's doctrine, as we understand it, — and that when we so immolate ourselves and all secular interests to God, making a complete moral abnegation of the whole, all these things, that is, all temporal goods, in so far as goods, and of which our Heavenly Father knoweth we have need, are added to us, as our Lord here says, and as he teaches us when he tells us that "whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and he that will lose his life for my sake shall find it." The principle we here insist upon, that earthly goods are attainable only in so far as we abnegate them, turn our backs upon them, and seek only heavenly goods, not by laboring to lay up treasures on the earth, but by laboring exclusively to lay up treasures in heaven, Gioberti seems to us to have overlooked, and hence his condemnation of the ascetics, his war against the Jesuits, his great admiration of gentile culture, of heathen civilization, and the worldly tendency and influence of his writings.
The author does not appear to us to be just to the mystics, or ascetics, for he evidently means to include among them many whom the Church has beatified, and proposes to the veneration of the faithful, — the anchorites of the Thebais, St. Anthony, St. Pachomius, St. Simon Stylites, and the Oriental monks generally, as well as some modern religious who happened not to be Italians. That some pantheistic and dualistic systems have led in the pagan world to extraordinary austerities on the one hand, and a censurable quietism on the other, may or may not be true, for with them we have at present no concern; but that the asceticism found in the Church, practised by Catholics, and especially by Catholic saints, has ever been affected by any obvious or secret taint of the doctrine of the inherent malignity of matter is not true. The mortifications and self-denials practised have always had another and a truly Christian reason, — the reason, on the one hand, of discipline, and on the other, of expiation. It is a great mistake, also, to suppose that none but the active orders are useful to others than themselves. The contemplative orders are, to say the least, no less useful. Our Lord did not place Martha above Mary, and we have entirely misapprehended our holy religion, if even a St. Simon Stylites was lost to mankind by giving himself entirely to God. It will not do to forget that our temporal as well as our spiritual blessings come from God, and that he is moved to grant both by the prayers and intercessions of his saints. Moses holding up his hands in prayer contributed not less to the victory of the children of Israel over the Amalekites, than Josue, who led them forth to the battle. They who set at Jesus's feet and listen to his words choose the good part, and he loves them, and who can tell us how much he has done and daily does for us poor worldly sinners, in answer to their prayers? Perhaps, if our deserts were filled with holy hermits and devout anchorites, whose life is one unremitting prayer, the world would not be overrun with infidelity and irreligion; and we have no doubt that the prayer and mortification of a single pious contemplative, however obscure or remote from the busy haunts of men, is worth more for the conversion of the unbeliever than all that Gioberti or any other philosopher has ever written or ever will write. Doubtless, all are not called to be contemplatives; doubtless the saints have done things which are not to be proposed for the imitation of every one; but what men like our author would term extravagance, exaggeration, or sublime folly, perhaps is no extravagance, exaggeration, or folly in them, and always in proportion as we approach that which is wise in the sight of God do we approach that which is foolish in the sight of the world.
The author in his condemnation of asceticism, and in his attempt to unite the world and God, earth and heaven, time and eternity, philosophy and theology, heathenism and Christianity, lay culture and sacerdotal, or, in a word, if he will permit us to say so, to combine the service of mammon with the service of God, seems to us to depart from his own ideal formula, no less than from the Gospel. His formula, as we understand it, asserts not the harmony of the two orders, but the absolute supremacy of the one, and the absolute subjection of the other. This formula is, L' Ente crea l' esistenze; Ens ereat exittentias; or, Being — that is, God — creates existences ; as we are taught in the first verse of Genesis, in the first question of the Catechism, and the first article of the Creed. It is intuitively evident to us, but is and can be presented to the mind as an object of reflection, or of distinct thought, only in language, which is in its origin a Divine revelation. We accept this formula as axiomatic, as the primum philosophicum, and regard the author, in having restored it to modern philosophy, vindicated its truth, and shown its fecundity, as deserving the gratitude of all who wish to be able to refute scientifically sensism, pantheism, and nullism.
This formula is a synthetic judgment, a priori, and, like every judgment, contains three terms, the subject, the predicate, and the copula. The subject is God, the predicate is existences, and the copula is creation, or the creative act. The predicate existences is affirmable only by means of creation, for it is only mediante the creative act of God that existences exist, or that there are existences, as distinguishable from Ens, or God himself. The creative act produces them from nothing, causes them to be, and therefore their relation to God cannot be the relation of co-subsistences, or independent entities, harmonized or conciliated by a middle term, but must be that of the creature to the creator, and therefore that of absolute dependence, and hence of absolute subjection.
This ideal formula, according to the author, and in this we agree with him, is the ontological basis of all dialectics,— for the order of cognition must in all respects correspond to the order of being; and since it is the basis of the whole created order, it must reappear in every fact of the universe, and therefore in every fact of human life. God as creator enters universally, and therefore must be represented universally as the subject, in the order of second causes. Consequently there must also always enter or be represented in the same order the other two terms, that is, predicate and copula, answering in their degree to creature and creation in the order of the first cause. Now, in relation to the question before us, the subject is the priesthood, the predicate is civilization, and the copula the creative act, in the order of second causes, whence the formula becomes, The priesthood creates civilization. Consequently, the relation of society or civilization to the sacerdotal order is that of creature to creator, and therefore that of absolute dependence, which is the assertion of the absolute subjection of the secular order, under God, to the spiritual. The two orders are not, therefore, two independent, coexisting orders, to be reconciled or harmonized one with the other by a middle term. No union, alliance, or marriage between them is supposable; for these terms imply a certain degree of independence or autonomy on the part of the secular order in relation to the sacerdotal, which is denied by the ideal formula, and is as inadmissible as the assertion of an autonomic power on the part of existences in relation to God creating them, authorizing them to say to him, in some measure, what and with what qualities he shall or shall not make them. In demanding, therefore, as he does, the emancipation of what he calls adult nations from sacerdotal tutelage, or their civil independence, and the union of sacred and profane literature, of sacerdotal and secular culture, that is to say, in order to speak without disguise, of Christianity and gentilism, the author obviously departs from his own ideal formula, and misapplies his own dialectics.
The author very properly recognizes two cosmic cycles, the one the procession of existences, by way of creation, not emanation, from God as first cause, and the other, the return of existences, without being absorbed in him, to God as final cause. , God is the final cause, as he is the first cause, of all existences, for he has created all things for himself. Now, all practical life, all manifestation of created activity, belongs to this second cycle, the return of existences to God. The end, or final cause, is the legislator, — imposes the law; and God, as our sole end, or final cause, is therefore our sole and absolute legislator. The law he imposes is absolute, universal. God alone hath true and complete autonomy, and in the order of second causes that only is in a secondary sense autonomic which represents the subject in the ideal formula. Man before God as final cause has no more autonomy than he has before God as first cause, that is to say, none at all. He has before God, then, no rights, no independence, but is bound to absolute submission to his law. The law is the copula, the ligament that binds man to his final end, or supreme good, and is in the second cosmic cycle what the creative act is in the first; that is, the law in the order of palingenesis is what the creative act is in the order of genesis. As there is no physical cosmos save mediante the creative act of God, so is there no moral cosmos save mediante the law of God. As all physical existence is from God as first cause, mediante creation, so all moral existence is from God as final cause, mediante obedience to his law. Without seeking God as final cause, as his law commands, there is no proper morality, any more than there is or can be holy living, or supernatural sanctity.
The priesthood, as Catholicity teaches, is the sole depositary, guardian, and interpreter of the law of God, and therefore represents for us the sole and absolute legislator, not, of course, by virtue of the humanity of its members, but by Divine constitution, appointment, and assistance. The authority of the priesthood, then, extends to the whole of practical life, and that practical life is moral, therefore good, only inasmuch as it is submissive or obedient to the law as they promulgate and declare it. There is, then, and can be, no order of life, individual or social, that has or can have any autonomy in the face of the Church, or that is or can be pronounced morally good, save in so far as subjected to her and informed by obedience to her as representative of the authority of God as universal, absolute legislator. This, if we understand the author, is what his own dialectics require us to assert. Secular culture, then, in order to be moral, in order to have any right to be, must be the product of sacerdotal culture, receive its law and its informing spirit from the Divinely authorized priesthood, and be in all things dependent on it, and subject to it. Hence, the schism we spoke of in the beginning is not to be healed by a union of secular culture with the sacerdotal, but by the absolute subjection of the former to the latter, because the former, in so far as it does not proceed from the latter and depend on it, proceeds from human activity, not subjected to the law of God, and therefore is not moral.
We do not suppose that Gioberti really means to deny this conclusion, although much he says is not easily reconcilable with it. He earnestly contends that all civilization is of sacerdotal origin, but he seems to us to suppose that in a truly civilized state the proper office of the priesthood is restricted to the dispensation of the mysteries of religion, or the revelation of God as the superintelligible, and that the revelation of God as the intelligible is free to the lay genius, which has the right to cultivate it without any dependence on the sacerdotal order, so long as it does not run athwart any supernatural dogma. He very properly asserts two orders of ideal truth, one the natural, or revelation of God as Idea, or the Intelligible, and the other supernatural, or the revelation of God as the Superintelligible. The former revelation is philosophy, the latter faith, objectively considered. Both are given originally in language, supernaturally infused into the human mind with language, which is itself a Divine revelation. So all science is originally a Divine revelation, not a human invention, creation, or discovery. But one part, the revelation of the Intelligible, though not naturally discoverable, is yet, when presented in language, naturally evident, that is, intuitive, or evident per se. Thus language is the medium through which the mind apprehends it, but not the authority on which it receives it, or assents to its truth. The other part, the revelation of the Superintelligible, being mystery, is not only apprehended through the medium of language, but is received on the authority of language alone, that is, on the authority of the hieratic language, preserved from corruption, and in its purity and integrity, by the infallible hieratic society, or priesthood.
The primitive science of both orders was transmitted without division till the epoch of the dispersion of mankind, but since that epoch, or the time of Phaleg, it has been transmitted through two different channels, the one orthodox, running through the patriarchs, the synagogue, and the Catholic Church, down to us; the other heterodox, running through the Egyptian, Hindoo, Italian, Greek, and Roman, or, in a word, pagan priesthoods. There is a double tradition, the tradition of the supernatural revelation and of the scientific, and a double channel of tradition, the orthodox and the heterodox, or the Catholic and the pagan. In the orthodox, the Church, or the elect society, the tradition of the revelation of the Superintelligible has come down to us in its purity and integrity, in the infallible language or speech of the orthodox priesthood. In the pagan, it has been more or less corrupted, and wholly lost, or so travestied that it is hardly possible to detect some traces of it in the various heathen myths and fables. Yet the author seems to us to hold that the revelation of the Intelligible, that is, philosophy, the scientific tradition, has been transmitted in greater purity, and with fuller and grander developments, by the old heterodox or pagan priesthoods, than by the orthodox priesthood, and that in this respect the ancient gentile world was superior, if not to the ancient, at least to the modern, orthodox world. In other words, that the gentile culture, including philosophy and all that pertains to strictly secular life, — what we call lay culture, for we recognize no priestly character in the heathen priesthoods, — was superior to that which attains under Christianity, and that we should now, instead of denouncing it as of the Devil, accept it, and endeavour to effect a union between it and Christianity; and this he appears to think we may do without departing from the ideal formula, because the basis of this culture was the primitive revelation of the intelligible in language, and because it was the work of the pagan priesthoods, heterodox, indeed, and therefore without authority in the order of the supernatural truth, yet, as descending from the primitive priesthoods, legitimate in the secular order, since the loss of religion, as the Council of Constance has defined in the case of the Wicliffites, does not forfeit secular rights.* Pagan culture, therefore, may be regarded as in some sort a sacerdotal culture, and therefore as created by the ideal, and in its turn in a degree autonomic.
"The speculative spirit," says the author, "is feebler in the moderns than in the ancients. If we compare modern philosophy with that of Greece and India in their flourishing periods, we shall find on our side greater truth of doctrine (which, however, cannot be said of the larger number of modern thinkers), and greater rigor of analysis, but not, indeed, greater, or even equal, synthetic force and contemplative aptitude, in which philosophical genius principally consists We certainly cannot pretend that we surpass, or equal, the cultivated nations of antiquity, even in respect to moral qualities, such as nobleness of soul, fervor of sentiment, constancy of opinion and action, magnanimity of thought and deed, in a word, the several virtues which appertain to civil life. We must distinguish here, as in ideal cognition, the works of men from the effects of institutions, and in institutions themselves human inventions from the suggestions of religion. Under its religious aspects, our civilization is immeasurably superior to that of the most cultivated pagan nations, and surpasses it as much as the Gospel surpasses gentilism; and as religion, the supreme dominatrix, exercises her salutary influence on every department of individual and social life, there is no branch of our culture in which Christianity has not effected important meliorations. But however large the space occupied by religion, and however operative and efficacious it may be, it is not alone; by its side is found the nature of man, yielding to or resisting its action, enhancing or diminishing its beneficial effects. Civilization, being the mixt result of these principles, may give place in the same time to diverse qualities, and be at once good and bad, strong and weak, flourishing and declining, in the way of perfection and of degeneracy, as the matters on which it turns are referred to one or the other of these two causes. This distinction is of the greatest importance, and he who does not distinguish accurately between the natural elements and the Christian is in danger either of adulating the age or of calumniating religion; — and, in truth, some philosophers, like Machiavelli and Rousseau, do impute many defects of modern civilization to religion itself, mistaking excellences for defects, or confounding religion with superstition,— a monstrous paradox, which it is now no longer necessary to combat.
"The special characteristic of the modern man by the side of the ancient, if we speak merely of natural dispositions, is frivolity. This extends to manners, the sciences, literature, politics, opinions, and beliefs, and embraces and pollutes every branch of human thought and action. The ancients in their bloom, as, for instance, when the Italo-Greek civilization was at its height, have, in respect to us moderns, the same proportion that the full-grown man generally has to the boy. The men of Livy and Plutarch, in comparison with us, are more than mortals, or we are less than men; that is, in regard to force of mind, vigor, firmness, constancy, perseverance, courage, and all those qualities which are alike applicable to virtue or vice; for the ancients carried even into vice and crime a greatness unknown in modern times. Some would persuade us that this is a mere poetical illusion, and that this alleged superiority of the ancients proceeds from the prestige which imagination lends to distant objects, and the rhetorical art of the ancient authors. But this is not true. The facts speak for themselves, and there is here no question of style, eloquence, or rhetoric, but history ; for Greek and Roman facts, narrated as rudely and as nakedly as you please, are still wonderful. Salamis, Thermopylae, Sparta, Leuctra, Homer, Pythagoras, Socrates, Epaminondas, Timoleon, Camillus, Scipio, Fabricius, Cato, the Roman Senate, law, and jurisconsults, the games and theatres, the literature and arts, of those times, — alone perfect, because they join simplicity and polish to force, — stand as unique portents in the world; and they are so attractive, that, were it not for Christianity, and the incomparable benefits with which it has enriched even this life, whoever has the heart of a man, and a single generous feeling in his soul, would be disposed to murmur at Providence for having given us our birth amid the meanness and filth of the modern world. Other parts of antiquity, and even mediaeval facts, are also remote in place and time, and have a certain poetic charm when embellished by the art of the historian; but nevertheless they do not approach Greek and Roman excellence. The Middle Ages are, no doubt, admirable for their Christian genius, and the people then, so far as animated by the Catholic idea, certainly surpassed the most cultivated gentile world; but I know not what there is in their annals to admire, except what they directly or indirectly derived from religion; and the modern eulogists of Feudalism, Chivalry, Gothic Architecture, and the Crusades, strike me as being little reasonable and very dull. The knightly heroes, and all those fearless or lion-hearted warriors, with their mad adventures and silly love-making, appear to me very much like those one finds in Boiardo and Ariosto, and Cervantes, who hits them off in his inimitable way, I am inclined to believe, partakes often of the philosophical historian not less than of the satirical poet. There may be something laudable in their strong muscles and reckless generosity, but assuredly they lack simplicity and common sense, and therefore true greatness. Their courage is rendered ridiculous by the lack of worthy aim, and by effort, pomp, and ostentation. We do not find in them the prudence, the naturalness, the true valor, and the sane and tranquil fury of Themistocles, Epaminondas, and Scipio, and they amongst us who revive the chivalric practices, and fancy themselves advancing the civilization of the age, only succeed in getting themselves laughed at. If you really wish to advance the age, and have really at heart to change its manners and customs, — which, by the way, is no joke, — leave the old romances and chronicles, and turn to history; add the superhuman excellences of the Gospel to the ancient spirit of Athens, Sparta, Samnium, and Rome; assemble and melt into each other Plato and Dante, Brutus and Michael Angelo, Cato and Hildebrand, Lycurgus and Charles Borromeo; fuse together these elements, which we marvel to find separated in history, so necessary are they each to the others' perfection, and cause to come forth from their fusion a new civilization, higher and more exquisite than the world has hitherto known. This should be the great endeavour of the age, and especially of us Italians."
We might easily extract much more to the same purport, but this is sufficient for our present purpose, and, unless we wholly mistake the author's meaning, or unless he attaches a ridiculous importance to mere external polish, fully bears us out in our assertion, that he holds that in civilization and strictly secular culture the heterodox and pagan world surpassed, at least the modern orthodox world, and that what is now demanded for the advancement of mankind is the union of polished gentilism and Christianity; which, since polished gentilism, in so far as it has any thing not truly of Christian origin, or not created or inspired by the orthodox priesthood, is the product of the lay genius, is the union of the lay society and the sacerdotal, of secular culture and sacerdotal culture. We are not disposed to deny that the Graeco-Roman civilization retained some valuable portions of the primitive revelation in the order of the intelligible, and that these gave it a certain worth, in some respects even a certain grandeur; but we do deny that the heathen world, even in its least corrupt nations, and in its most blooming periods, retained any portions of that revelation not retained by the chosen society, or the orthodox priesthood ; and it seems to us not a little strange, that a writer who makes a boast of high-toned Catholicity, and holds the Catholic priesthood to be infallibly assisted and protected by the Holy Ghost, should send us from it to an acknowledged heretical and corrupt society to find portions of truth and manifestations of virtue not to be found in that priesthood itself, assumed to have always preserved the revelation in its purity and integrity. It is not an ordinary genius that would think of sending one in search of pure water from a pure to a corrupt fountain to obtain it. Gioberti tells us, over and over again, that philosophy cannot be preserved, or successfully cultivated, outside of orthodoxy and the Catholic society, yet he sends us to the old Pythagoreans and Platonists, and among the moderns principally to Leibnitz and Reid, that is, to heathens and heretics, to study it. The men he most praises are almost without exception heretics, infidels, or at least men of very questionable orthodoxy and piety. He praises Vico, indeed, but even Vico, as we have read him in a French translation, was hardly less pantheistic as to the foundation of his thought than M. Victor Cousin, whom the author wars against. He appears to hold Malebranche in high esteem, it is true, but whether this is well or not we are unable to say, for we know Malebranche only at second hand. But Leibnitz was an eclectic, as Cousin justly asserts, and the father of German rationalism, which Gioberti condemns and refutes. Dr. Reid was a Scotch Presbyterian minister, a mere psychologist, a sort of feeble prelude to the German Kant. The Pythagoreans, as Gioberti himself confesses, held to the heresy of the eternity of matter, and Plato he owns was a moderate pantheist. Yet it is to these impure and corrupt sources he sends us to draw the living waters which are to refresh and revivify our drooping scientifical world!
We confess we are not edified by finding the abbate proposing, as the condition of producing a higher and more perfect civilization than the world has yet known, the tempering together, or fusing into one, of "Plato and Dante, Brutus and Michael Angelo, Cato and Hildebrand, Lycurgus and Charles Borromeo." Dante would have been improved by more frequent prayer and meditation, by a more strict conformity to the teachings, the spirit, and the requirements of his religion, which would have softened the asperities of his temper, sweetened his affections, and relieved the darkness of his passions, and made him more amiable as a man, without detracting from his strength, or his sublimity as a poet; but we know not what Plato had which would have made him a more elevated or perfect character. An infusion of St. Francis of Sales, or of Fenelon, would, no doubt, have been an improvement, but not an infusion of Plato. Michael Angelo was far enough from being perfect, but we had always supposed that his defect consisted in his being too much, not in his being not enough, of a heathen, as was the case with but too many of his Italian contemporaries. What the weak-minded Brutus — if Marcus Brutus be the Brutus meant, — the ingrate, the conspirator, the assassin, the self-murderer, who conspired against his best friend, plunged his dagger into the only man worthy to govern Rome, and when defeated fell pitiably on the sword of his companion, exclaiming, "O Virtue, I have worshipped thee as a god, but I find thee an empty name!" — had which it would have been to his advantage to possess, we are quite unable to conjecture. We know nothing in Brutus to admire, unless we are prepared to instaurate the worship of the dagger, and to proclaim the right of every man to assassinate whomsoever he takes it into his head does not understand liberty as he does, or who is not favorable to what he chooses to call patriotism.
Then, what had the stoical pedant, Cato Uticensis, — the Cato we presume the author means, — stuffed with a double quantity of the superlative pride of his sect, shrinking as a poltroon from defeat, reading Plato on immortality, and cutting his own throat, — to add to the elevation, or completeness, or finish of the character of the sainted Hildebrand, the illustrious Gregory the Seventh, who, not from pride, but from humility, never bowed but to his God, and never lost an opportunity of asserting truth and sanctity, of withstanding the lordly, royal, or imperial oppressor, or of befriending the friendless, protecting the weak and innocent, and helping the helpless, —who, when sacrilegiously driven from Rome to Salerno, bore his exile with true Christian fortitude, in resignation, and without a murmur, and exclaimed, in yielding up his pure and heroic spirit, "I have loved justice, and hated iniquity, — therefore I die in exile "? Or what could the great Cardinal St. Charles Borromeo—the learned, polished, enlightened, wise, energetic, tender, vigilant, brave, faithful, and eminently meek and affectionate Archbishop of Milan, who conferred by his heroic virtues blessings on Italy and the world, not yet exhausted — borrow to perfect his character as a man, a prince, a priest, or a saint from the stern old Spartan lawgiver, who legalized theft, adultery, and murder, forbade whatever could charm or embellish life, and rejected every virtue not a virtue of the camp? Really the learned and philosophic abbate must be joking, or else he must suppose that we have forgotten to study history.
We ourselves, like most men, at some period of their lives, who have studied Greek and Roman antiquity, and read the classics, especially Livy and Plutarch, have at times been disposed to rank the Graeco-Roman civilization above its merits, and, indeed, we have not long since expressed our views of it in terms not fitly chosen, and which require qualification; but we have never dreamed of commending it in the sense in which we now understand Gioberti to approve it. The heathen standard of greatness and the Christian are different, and in all important respects diametrically opposed one to the other. Tried by the heathen standard, the great men of Livy and Plutarch had qualities which the moderns have not in an equal degree; but tried by the Christian standard, in respect to either of the qualities demanded or tolerated by our religion, they shrink, even as men, into insignificance, before the great men of the Bollandists. The principle of heathen greatness is pride. and if pride is the principle of true greatness, we certainly ought, with Gioberti, to sympathize with and admire the Graeco-Roman civilization, and to hold that in the human order it far surpassed the modern. That kind of culture which takes man instead of God for its principle, and substitutes the glory of man for the glory of God, pride for humility, and earthly pleasures for heavenly, we believe was really carried, by the ancient Greek and Roman people, to a degree of perfection to which no modern Catholic nation has as yet succeeded in carrying it. Thus far Gioberti's doctrine is unquestionably sound and undeniable.
But when it is proposed to combine this gentile culture with the superhuman excellences of the Gospel, the question changes. The spirit of ancient Athens, Sparta, Samnium, and Rome was the spirit of the world, and proposed as the end the glory of man, individual or social, and the embellishment and enjoyment of this mundane life. Now is this spirit compatible with the spirit of the Gospel? Here is the question, and we know on Divine authority that it is not ; for our Lord expressly opposes his maxims to the maxims of the gentiles, and tells us that the spirit of the gentile, the heathen, — and, let Gioberti say what he will, his favorite Italo-Greek or Pelasgic nations were heathen, — was what we have just described it to be. "For after all these things do the heathen seek," that is, what shall we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewith shall we be clothed, or, in other words, the goods and pleasures of this life. He bids us not be like them, but "seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto " us. There can be no union between the two, no alliance between pride and humility, Christ and the world. Our Lord says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, that is, the humble; the heathen adored pride. The Lord says, Blessed are they who weep; the heathen said, Blessed are they who rejoice. The Lord says, Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake, and blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for ray sake; the heathen thought this a calamity, and more than flesh could endure. The Lord says, Lay not up treasures on earth, but lay up treasures in heaven; the heathen said, Lay up treasures on the earth. The Lord directed us not to look for our reward here, but to wait for it in heaven; the heathen said, Seek your reward in this world, and study to enjoy yourselves here, eat, drink, and be merry, while life lasts, for we know not what comes after it. Now, though Gioberti talks much about conciliating contraries, and harmonizing opposites, we have found in his dialectics no way by which these two opposite, contradictory spirits can be reconciled, and brought to operate in unison. The one can live only by the destruction of the other. Hence the perpetual warfare which rages in the bosom of Christian individuals and Christian nations, — a warfare unknown for the most part in heathendom, because the heathen religion chimed in with the worldly spirit of the people. As they had broken away from the orthodox instruction, rejected the worship of God, and "liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient. Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, covetousness, wickedness, — full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, — whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things are worthy of death, and not only they who do them, but they also who consent to them that do them."* This is the description which an inspired Apostle gives us of the heathen, and therefore of Gioberti's noble Italo-Greeks, and we can easily understand from it that there should have been in their case a completeness and roundness of character, reference had to the order of character to which it belonged, a proportion between their religion and the daily life of the people, which we cannot find or expect to find among Christians, on the one hand striving after the supernatural virtues of the Gospel, and on the other drawn away by their corrupt nature in the opposite direction, towards the vices, the crimes, and the abominations of the heathen.
The author tells us, that in civilization there is, besides the religious element, the human element, and his pretence is, no doubt, that the human element of civilization was more perfect among the cultivated Gentiles than it is among the moderns. This view we ourselves took when we wrote the essay in our number for July, 1849, on The Church in the Dark Ages; but the study of Gioberti's own dialectics which we have since made has of itself served to convince us that it is not true, and that the Christian cannot consistently entertain it. Civilization he makes the creation of the priesthood, and, as we have seen, he identifies it with religion; then in civilization proper there is and can be no human element distinguishable from the religious; for it is only as instructed and informed by the sacerdotal culture that man is, or can be, civilized man. The sum total of the life of a so-called civilized country is, no doubt, a mixed result, composed of a religious and a human element, but this life, in so far as distinguishably human, is defective, and not yet civilized. Thus far religion has not been able to subdue the human element, and transform its acts into religious acts, therefore into civilized acts. If the priesthood creates civilization, then civilization cannot be a mixed result of the human and Divine, in any other sense than is religion itself as exhibited by men a mixed result, but must be a pure result of the religious element acting on and subduing the human. Then, again, if man is in his normal state only in the Catholic society, how can it be possible for the human element to attain a more perfect and exquisite development out of that society, and therefore, as Gioberti contends, as well as we, disjoined from the true human race, — the human race living in the unity of the ideal, therefore in communion with God, — than it can or does in that society itself? If this were so, we should be obliged to assume that the abnormal is more perfect and exquisite than the normal,—a monstrous paradox.
We are pained to be obliged to remark, that Gioberti nowhere, so far as we can discover, recognizes the influence in promoting civilization of the sacramental principle of our religion. As far as we have been able to ascertain, be holds that religion operates as dogma and government, as doctrine and authority, but we do not find that he recognizes in it any other mode of civilizing action. Now he places the seat of barbarism in the flesh, as well as we, and he attempts to identify civilization with religion, for the reason, among others, that it gives man a dominion over instinct, passion, the body. But religion can, in this view of the case, promote civilization only by the means she adopts to give us a victory over the flesh, in which are the seeds of barbarism. These means are not simply dogma and precept, for the devils know these, and believe and tremble, but joined to these mortification, prayer, meditation, and the sacraments. The surest way to destroy barbarism is to destroy its cause, or to dry up its fountain. This is done, as far as it can be done, by the practice of asceticism, and the purity and strength obtained from the sacraments, especially, after Baptism, from Penance and the holy Eucharist. After all, then, the devout mystics, and the pious ascetics, who, in the view of Gioberti, are rather the enemies than the friends of civilization, take necessarily as such the most, and, we may add, the only, effectual way of advancing or securing it. No doubt there are evangelical counsels distinguishable from evangelical precepts, and we are far from pretending that, in strict law, we are all obliged to lead the life of the religious. The life of seculars is lawful, but that of the religious is higher and more perfect, and the nearer we approach its elevation and perfection, the better for us, and the better our influence on the world, both for time and eternity.
We intended to offer something more, and we may resume the discussion hereafter, but for the present we must content ourselves with what we have already said. We frankly acknowledge that on many points we have been enlightened by reading Gioberti's writings, and had we not read them, we could hardly have given the statement we have of the truth opposed to his errors ; we also acknowledge, nay, contend, that his errors do not necessarily grow out of his fundamental philosophy, but are distinguishable from it, and in fact opposed to it. They have another origin, and ought not to lead us to reject the philosophy itself, because he has bound them up with it. Nevertheless, as these errors chime in with the grand heresy of our age, — that is, the secularization of Christianity, the rehabilitation of the flesh, the revival of paganism, and the conceptions of the carnal Jews, who expected a temporal prince and temporal prosperity, instead of a spiritual ruler and the salvation of the soul,—they are precisely that in his writings which will give them their popularity with the mass of readers, and determine their practical influence, and therefore are exceedingly dangerous. They seem also to indicate the practical results the author has had in view in writing his philosophy. Hence, however sound may be the philosophy itself, the author's writings cannot be safe, and we have felt it our duty to admonish our readers to be on their guard against them.
As to Gioberti himself, while we have not spared him where we have thought him wrong, we have aimed to treat him with candor and respect. It is possible that he began writing with good intentions, with the sincere and earnest desire to promote the cause of truth and piety; but the tone and style of his works are not such as to win our confidence in him as a sincere, humble, and devout Catholic priest. They are laical; and his spirit is proud, his bearing haughty and disdainful. He strikes us as a politician, or as a man of the world, rather than as a spiritual father. We miss in his writings that unction which so charms us in Fenelon, and especially in St. Francis of Sales, and we cannot help feeling that he has spent an undue proportion of his time in studying philosophy and profane literature, and has reserved himself too little to spend at the foot of the crucifix in prayer and meditation. We are sorry to think so, for we see in him a man whom God has endowed with extraordinary gifts, and who might be an honor to his country, and a useful servant of the Church; but so we must think, till he breaks his present silence, submits to the Holy Father, responds to the affectionate entreaty of Pius the Ninth, and sets himself earnestly at work to purge his writings of their mischievous errors.
* The learned author misapplies the decision of the Council. The Wicliffites contended that the prince who falls into mortal sin forfeits his civil rights, because, as they pretended, these rights depend on personal sanctity. This the Council condemned. But the cases are not parallel. The secular rights of the priesthood are the consequence of their spiritual rights, and spiritual rights are of course forfeited by heresy or apostacy. The pagan sacerdocies had, as sacerdocies, no legitimate secular rights or powers, because they were no legitimate priesthoods at all. The members were really nothing but laymen, and had, as have Protestant ministers, only the rights and powers of laymen.