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classes, and these two species of principles, totally distinct; but they are essentially different, and even of an opposite character. For, you will observe, that the grounds on which a great many—I will say, almost the greater part of those who differ from us — profess their religion, are grounds, as I have said before, rather for adherence, than of conviction. It will be observed, that those which lead to the first do not, necessarily, lead to the latter ; that is to say, that a person may be all his life a member of a Protestant church, without once taking the pains to examine, in the serious, and minute, and difficult method which is required, all the doctrines which he believes; he may possess, therefore, those principles which keep him in communion with that Church without his ever being led by them to the adoption of that course which it implies as fundamental to his religion. Not only so; but I will say, that the first is contradictory to the second; for, if any man tells me, that he remains a Protestant simply because he has been so born and educated; that, because of the account which he has heard in sermons, or which he has read in books, be is satisfied that no other sect of Christianity has any grounds to go upon-1 reply to him, at once, that he is acting in direct contradiction to the principle whereby alone his religion allows him to be convinced; for conviction, according to that, must be based upon individual research, upon indi. vidual inquiry ; and not merely, therefore, upon having been born in it, or having been educated in it by others; not in having heard certain doctrines delivered from pulpits, by men as fallible as himself; and, certainly, still more not by having heard the doctrines of others represented in a manner which, I have no hesitation in saying, is all most incorrect, and often such as to deserve, perhaps, a harsher name.
Now, therefore, let us examine the grounds upon which Catholics stand, viewed precisely in the same manner; and here, I will say, that the grounds upon which Catholics adhere to their religion, and the grounds upon which they are brought to that religion, if they have not been educated in it, are not only as various and as numerous as those which I have mentioned, but, that they are infinitely more so. The Catholics, or persons who come to the Catholic religion, arrive at it by much more difficult ways than those which I have mentioned as being followed by Protestants; and, not only so, but the greater part of Catholics, if interrogated, will give the most various reasons why they are Catholics. But, now, allow me to notice the difference in the two. That the grounds upon which many men may be brought to the true religion of Christ are various, is evident, both from the conduct of those whom the word of God has proposed to us as examples, and from that which we have witnessed in all ages, even unto our own. For, there can be no doubt, that in the preaching of the apostles, Christianity was not based upon merely one point or another ; but the preachers
of God's word drew their evidences from all those sources which they knew must make the greatest impression upon those whom they addressed. It is, in fact, the beauty and the perfection of truth, that it should stand the action of the most varied tests. It is only an impure ore which, while it resists, perhaps, the action of one or two re-agents, will, in the end, yield before the energy of one of them ; but it is the pure metal alone that can resist the action of several successive tests. Truth may be compared, as it were, to a gem without a flaw, which may be viewed in different lights, which may be held up to the eye in any way, without artificial assistance, and shall always present the same beauty and purity. But it is the characteristic of error, that it may, by the assistance of an artificial situation, and by a certain play of light that is thrown upon it, produce the apprehension of its being without fault; but, if it be slightly turned, or shown under another angle, it instantly discovers its imperfections. It was thus, evidently, that the apostles acted; it was thus, that Christianity was preached; namely, that it was considered as a system intended to meet the wants of all mankind; that its true evidence resided in the mind of every individual, as well as in the general feelings and wants of the entire human race. Thus, therefore, when they preached to the Jews —who were possessed already of the volume of the old law, and possessed symbols, and other foreshadowings, of the new dispensation that was to come-the task was simply this, the apostles only proposed what they already believed to their consideration; and showed them the counterpart, in the truths of Christianity, and in the character of our Saviour; and they, consequently, often won their convictions by those principles which they believed. When Philip met the eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia on the highway, he found him reading a certain passage from the prophet Isaiah ; and, from that passage alone, he convinced him of the truth of Christianity, and admitted him to baptism. He found, he was himself searching out for something that would correspond to the description that was here given. Philip simply proposes to him something which, by the obvious comparison, led him to see, that this must be the counterpart to that which had been prefigured ; and he, instantly, yielded himself as a captive, and adopted the whole of the doctrine included in the rite of baptism. But, when St. Paul goes among the Gentiles, when he comes to the learned Athenians, he does not appeal to the prophecies; he does not consider it necessary, that they should first become Jews, as it were, before they are to become Christians.
He has recourse to a totally different character of evidence; he preaches to them-men of a philosophic and studious mind-he preaches to them, a sublimer morality than they had been accustomed to hear. He presents before them, the doctrine of the resurrection ; he shows the.n, the futility and absurdity of their
idolatry; he shows that, even in that itself, was a certain longing for a better faith, from the fact of their having erected an altar to the unknown God. He lays hold of those threads, as it were, which he found already prepared in the minds of his hearers, and he attaches to them the evidences of Christianity; and, thus it is, that he ensures the introduction of its doctrines within their breasts.
When we come down still further, we find the same to have been the practice in the church-that is to say, in the first century; and in the second, and in the third, we find a totally different system of grounds whereupon religion was preached, and on which it was received. We find, for instance, that in the first century, it was the courage of the martyrs; it was the seeing, that flesh and blood could endure tortures and death in support of the system which brought the greater portion of converts to the truth. It was in the following century, the examination of these doctrines, in reference to those philosophical opinions which had before been held; so that while, therefore, it was found, that in all the philosophy of ancient times there had been, as it were, certain problems regarding the human mind, and the very nature of man, which all their wisdom and learning had not been able to solve ; when they discovered in that very philosophy—and there was, as it were, a longing wish for a more perfect manifestation regarding those doctrines which taught the future existence of the soul, and the nature of God-when they found these give an answer to all these difficulties, they made no hesitation in embracing them as a system of truth which could have come from God alone. I mention these instances to show that, throughout, it has been the custom of those acting under the authority of God, and of those wbose example may justly be proposed to us for our imitation that it was their custom to draw, indeed, the evidences whereby they came to religion, and the grounds on which they adhered to it, from innumerable and most distant points.
But, coming now to modern times, I will further observe, that the same is perceptible in the writings of all those who have within these late years joined the Catholic faith. I do not allude, so much, to what has occurred in this country; because, however great may have been the spread of the Catholic religion since the commencement of this century amongst us; however frequent may be the conversions which we hear of, and see it is, in one respect, as nothing to what goes forward elsewhere ; for, on the Continent--and I speak particularly of Germany--there is not a year, and there has not been for some time back, in which more than one distinguished individual has not come over to the Catholic religion. I mean, persons distinguished before they joined us, and known among their own as persons of first-rate abilities, and the deepest learning; persons holding important situations, and particularly, employed as professors in the
Protestant universities. Now, almost every one of these has published an account of the motives which have brought him to the Catholic religion. I have perused a great many of them; and some are written in a spirit of the deepest philosophy; the arguments are conducted with a terseness and a closeness which, in this country would be, I will venture to say, almost unintelligible. They are as varied as the different pursuits in which each of them was engaged. You will see one of them, who has made history his study all his life-and who was professor of that branch of erudition to one of the most celebrated universities on the continent-who announces to you, that he has become a Catholic, simply by applying the principles of his study to the facts recorded in the annals of Europe. You will see another, draw all his arguments from motives connected with the philosophy of the human mind—from bis discovering, that it is only in the Catholic religion that he can find a system of philosophy adapted to the wants of humanity. You will find another, whose enthusiasm has first been kindled by finding, that the principle of all that is beautiful in art and in nature is to be found no where inculcated except in the Catholic religion. You will read of a political economist, who tells you, by having made a deep study of that science, that he is forced to admit, that it was only in the principle of Catholic morality that he could discover the basis whereby it could be honestly conducted. Another, by watching that very event which has been considered, by some, as a demonstration of the demoralizing power of the Christian dispensation; by a deep, attentive study of the course of the dreadful tragedies of the French revolution, became a Catholic ; and has since written some of the profoundest treatises connected with public rights. These are but a few of the many instances which I could quote ; but, now, mark what I wish to observe. I said before, that the grounds given by Protestants for their adhesion to the Protestant religion, did not lead to the principle of conviction---to the adoption of the only grounds on which Protestantism is based. A man may be a Protestant for those reasons which are ordinarily given without his being brought to the personal examination of each doctrine; to that deep study of the word of God upon which alone his religion allows he can be a Protestant; but, in every one of those cases to which I have referred, no matter whence the conviction has come; no matter what has been the first impulse to the line of argument which has brought any individual into communion with the Catholic faith ; the grounds for adhesion to it have, necessarily, ended in the ground of conviction; for, every one of these men was not a Catholic when he discovered the principle of political economy, or of history, or of the fine arts, or of philosophy in the Catholic religion. He did not become a Catholic upon any grounds which he gave for adhering to the Catholic religion; he did
not become a Catholic by any of these ways ; he adopted the principle of conviction, and then submitted himself to the authority of the church. This is a most important and striking ground of difference between the two courses; and, observe, the beauty of it does not end there. Each of these persons
men of peculiar and individual minds, men of the most various pursuits, men whose prejudices may be said to have run in particular channels – all of them submit their own peculiar opinions; all of them despoil themselves, as it were, of their own way of thinking, when it clashes with the principles they have received; and they are all brought to the most perfect and complete unanimity, in the grounds of their belief. There is a convergence of many rays to one point; there is a tendency in all these various motives to unite ; there is a necessary impulse in all, to deprive themselves of their individuality, and to become as one ; to become as docile and as simple as the most illiterate and rude; to receive precisely the same doctrines, and believe the same dogmas, as those who never had the advantage of their superior education. But, it does not end here : for, after they have received the faith; and after they have, in the act of receiving it, adopted those principles whereupon 'alone it allows any one to enter in; again, we must say, their affections have urged it, and again, each one of them has addressed himself to the adorning and presenting some individual ground of truth, wbile his affections were retained, more or less, in common with each of those peculiar feelings and pursuits which were congenial to him. The ground upon which he was a member of the church, the ground upon which he believed, was still the same as that whereupon he entered.
And this leads me to a reflection of no mean importance; for it is extremely common, perhaps, to ask an untutored Catholic on what grounds he became a Catholic, or on what grounds he is a Catholic; and you will perhaps say, that the answer which he gives is certainly not satisfactory. It probably is not to you ; but, mark! while he answers the question, he is not giving you the grounds on which he believes the doctrines of the Catholic church, he is only giving you the grounds of his adherence to it; and these grounds are as different, are as diverse, as the affections, as the pursuits, and as the character of each individual man.
You have not in your mind the necessary key, to understand the force of the argument he uses. But it is not on that ground, that he believes transubstantiation ; and it is not on that ground — whatever it be that he believes in auricular confession, or that he practises it. He is not giving you, therefore, the grounds of his doctrines; he is giving you the reasons by which he is led to be satisfied in the inquiries regarding the grounds of faith. And this is certainly remarkable, that you will find almost in every one who has embraced the Catholic religion, whatever be his difficulty in first receiving the faith, whatever