No, the faith of Protestants is based upon human authority, because their founders were not sent by God, nor did they receive any mission from his Church. The aim of Protestantism was to declare every man independent of the divine authority of the Catholic Church, and to substitute for this divine authority that of the Bible, as interpreted by himself. Protestants, therefore, hold that man is himself his own teacher and his own law giver, that it is each one's business to find out his own religion, that is to say, that every one must judge for himself what doctrines are most consistent with reason and the holy Scriptures; or that he must follow the teaching of the clergyman whose views best commend themselves to his judgment. He does not acknowledge that God has a right to teach him, or, if he acknowledges this right, he does not feel himself bound to believe all that God teaches him through those whom God appointed to teach mankind. He says to God: If thou teachest me, I reserve to myself the right to examine thy words, to explain them as I choose, and admit only what appears to me true, consistent, and useful. Hence, St. Augustine says : "You who believe what you please, and reject what you please, believe yourselves or your own fancy, rather than the Gospel." The faith of the Protestant, then, is based upon his private judgment alone; it is human. As his judgment is alterable, he naturally holds that his faith and doctrine is alterable at will, and is therefore continually changing it. Evidently, then, he does not hold it to be the truth, for truth never changes. Nor does he hold it to be the law of God, which he is bound to obey, for; if the law of God be alterable at all, it can only be altered by God himself, never by man, any body of men, or any creature of God.
But some Protestants, for instance, the Anglicans, think that they approach very near to the Catholic Church. They will tell you that their prayers and ceremonies are like many prayers and ceremonies of the Catholic Church, that their creed is the Apostles Creed. But, in principle, they are all equally far off. Thus they profess to believe in one Church, which has, unfortunately, become half a dozen; in unity, which ceased to exist long ago, for want of a centre ; in authority, which nobody needs obey, because it has lost the power to teach, in God's presence with the Church, which does not keep her from stupid errors, in divine promises, which were only made to be broken; in a divine constitution, which needs to be periodically reformed, in a mission to teach all nations, while she is unable to teach even herself; in saints, to whom Anglicans would be objects of horror and aversion; and in the sanctity of truths which their own sect has always defiled, and which are profanely mocked at this hour by its bishops, clergy, and people, all around them.
The world has had occasion to admire, in various ages, many curious products of human imbecility, but at no time, and among no people, has it seen anything which could be matched with this. Compared with Anglicanism and its myriad contradictions, the wildest phantom which ever mocked the credulity of distempered fanaticism was a form of truth and beauty, a model of exact reasoning and logical symmetry. Even an untutored Indian chief, by the aid of his rude common-sense, and the mere intuition of natural truth, does not fail to see the folly of Protestant belief, and confounds and ridicules it before those Protestant missionaries who come to convert his tribe to Protestantism. Elder Alexander Campbell, in a lecture before the American Christian Missionary Association, relates the following : "Sectarian missionaries had gone among the Indians to disseminate religious sentiments. A council was called, and the missionaries explained the object of their visit. "Is not all the religion of a white man in a book?" quoth a chief. "Yes" replied the missionaries. "Do not all white men read the book ?" continued the chief. Another affirmative response. "Do they all agree upon what it says ?" inquired the chief, categorically. There was a dead silence for some moments. At last one of the missionaries replied : "Not exactly ; they differ upon some doctrinal points." "Go home, white man" said the chief, "1 call a council, and, when the white men all agree, then come teach the red men."
The absurdity of Protestantism being so easily perceived by the rude child of the forest, Protestantism has never been able to convert a heathen nation, although it has very human means in its power. It has a vast number of ministers, plenty of ships to carry these ministers to every country, boundless wealth, and great armies and navies to terrify the heathen, also its merchants scattered through every quarter of the globe ; with all this, Protestantism has not converted a nation, nor even a city or tribe, of heathens to Christianity, after three hundred years existence. It has been ascertained that, during the last fifty years, Protestantism, in Europe and America, has collected and spent over one hundred and twenty-five millions of dollars, for the purpose of converting the heathens. One hundred millions of Bibles, Testaments, and tracts, have been printed in various languages, and scattered throughout the world for the same purpose. Five thousand missionaries, with large salaries, varying from a hundred to five hundred pounds each, and also an additional allowance for their wives and families, are kept annually employed in the work, and yet all to no purpose. No result whatever can be shown.
During every month of May, the various sects of Protestants hold their anniversary meetings in London and New York. At these gatherings speeches are made and reports read, in which the people are told of the wonderful conversions that are just going to take place ; of a great door opened for the Gospel, of fields white for the harvest, of bright anticipations, of missionaries who now enjoy the confidence of the natives, of Pagans stretching, or who are about to stretch, forth their hands to God immediately; of printing-presses which are in constant operation; of schools to be opened; of sums spent in Bibles of Bibles, Testaments, and tracts distributed. Every promise is made for the future, but nothing what ever is shown for the past. The meetings are ended, votes of thanks are given to the various chairmen, prayers said, subscriptions received, and the huge delusion lives on from year to year. Some of the missionaries give up the work in despair, others in disgust. Some run away from the first appearance of danger, others fly from persecution, being terrified at the very idea of martyrdom. One missionary comes back to his native country, because of the sudden death of his wife ; another, to bury his youngest daughter in her mother's grave, another leaves the field of his missionary labors, to console his dear mother on her death-bed ; another comes home to look after some small property left him by his father, who recently died, one comes home to preserve the life of a delicate child, who did not seem to thrive in the place where he was stationed, another left to attend to the education of his children, whom he could not feel in his heart to rear up amongst Pagans ; another comes home, because his wife has quarrelled with the wives of some of the other missionaries, another, to be present at his eldest daughter's marriage. Many Protestant missionaries give up the work of saving souls for more lucrative pursuits, such as, good commercial or government situations, or to become merchants on their own account, whilst a few, possessed of sufficient ability, have become newspaper correspondents; and more than one, instead of converting the Pagans, have themselves become converts to the Jewish and Mahometan religions, having got rich wives of these persuasions.
Protestant travelers and writers who have visited the fields of Protestant missionary labor, have themselves furnished the world with these details. They tell of a few converts here and there, who relapse into paganism when ever the missionaries withdraw. They tell us that the missionaries become tyrants, and persecute the people when they get the chance ; that they drive the natives into the Protestant meeting-houses by force, and make them more brutal, profligate, crafty, treacherous, impure, and disgusting, than they were before. One writer states how he found, in the Sandwich Islands, that the Protestant missionaries had civilized the people into draught-horses, and evangelized them into beasts of burden ; that they were literally broken into the traces; and harnessed to the vehicles of their spiritual instructors, like so many beasts of burden. The poor natives are compelled to draw their pastors, as well as their wives and daughters, to church, to market, or for pleasure, and are whipped like horses. The same writer says, the missionaries destroy heathenism, and the heathens also, that they extirpate Paganism and the people at the same time, that the natives are robbed of their land, in the name of religion, and that disease, vice, and premature death, make their appearance together with Protestantism. The missionaries are dwelling in picturesque and prettily furnished coral-rock villas, while the miserable natives are committing all sorts of crime and
immorality around them. The depopulated land is recruited from the rapacious hordes of enlightened individuals who settle within its borders, and clamorously announce the progress of the truth. Neat villas, trim gardens, shaven lawns, spires, and cupolas arise, while the poor savage soon finds himself an interloper in the country of his fathers, arid that, too, on the very site of the hut where he was born. When will Protestants learn wisdom from the rude child of the forest ? When will they see the absurdity of their teaching? It is strange how men will put their reason in their pocket, and prefer darkness to light, error to truth, folly to wisdom. That man might know what to believe, Christ, who alone could tell him, founded the Roman Catholic Church, to be forever "the pillar and ground of truth." Whoever declines to follow this guide, must live without any sure guide. There is. no other, because God has given no other. Hence Pius IX spoke lately of Protestantism, in all its forms, as "revolt against God," it being an attempt to substitute a human for a divine authority, and a declaration of the creature's independence of the Creator. The creed of the apostate has only one article. If God, it proclaims, chose to found a church without consulting man, it is quite open to man to abolish the church with out consulting God. A body which has lost the principle of its animation becomes dust. Hence it is an axiom that the change or perversion of the principles by which anything was produced, is the destruction of that very thing : if you can change or pervert the principles from which anything springs, you destroy it. For instance, one single foreign element introduced into the blood produces death, one false assumption admitted into science destroys its certainty ; one false principle admitted into faith and morals is fatal. The Reformers started wrong. They would reform the Church, by placing her under human control. Their successors have, in each generation, found they did not go far enough, and have, each in turn, struggled to push it further and further, till they find themselves without any church life, without faith, without religion, and beginning to doubt if there be even a God.
It is a well-known fact that, before the Reformation, infidels were scarcely known in the Christian world. Since that event they have come forth in swarms. It is from the writings of Herbert, Hobbes, Bloum, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, and Boyle, that Voltaire and his party drew the objections and errors which they have brought so generally into fashion in the world. According to Diderot and d' Alembert, the first step that the untractable Catholic takes is to adopt the Protestant principle of private judgment. He establishes himself judge of his religion leaves and joins the reform. Dissatisfied with the incoherent doctrines he there discovers, he passed over to the Socinians, whose inconsequences soon drive him into Deism. Still pursued by unexpected difficulties, he finds refuge in universal doubt ; but still haunted by uneasiness, he at length resolves to take the last step, and proceeds to terminate the long chain of his errors in infidelity. Let us not forget that the first link of this chain is attached to the fundamental maxim of private judgment. They judged of religion as they did of their breakfast and dinner. A religion was good or bad, true or false, just as it suited their tastes, their likings ; their religious devotion varied like the weather, they must feel it as they felt the heat and cold. New fashions of belief sprang up, and changed, and disappeared, as rapidly as the new fashions of dress. Men judged not only of every revealed doctrine, but they also judged of the Bible itself. Protestantism, having no authority, could not check this headlong tendency to unbelief. Its ministers dare no longer preach or teach any doctrine which is displeasing to the people. Every Protestant preacher who wishes to be heard, and to retain his salary, must first feel the pulse of his hearers ; he must make himself the slave of their opinions and likings. It is, therefore, historically correct that the same principle that created Protestantism three centuries ago has never ceased, since that time, to spin it out into a thousand different sects, and has concluded by covering Europe and America with that multitude of free-thinkers and infidels who place these countries on the verge of ruin.
What is the spiritual life of Protestants ? They seem to have lost all spiritual conceptions, and no longer to possess any spiritual aspiration. Lacking, as they do, the light, the warmth, arid the life-giving power of the sun of the Catholic Church, they seem to have become, or to be near becoming, what our world would be if there were no sun in the heavens. For this reason it is that Protestants are so completely absorbed in temporal interests, in the things that fall under their senses, that their whole life is only materialism put in action. Lucre is the sole object on which their eyes are constantly fixed. A burning thirst to realize some profit, great or small, absorbs all their faculties, the whole energy of their being. They never pursue anything with ardor but riches and enjoyments. God, the soul, a future life, they believe in none of them ; or rather, they never think about them at all. If they ever take up a moral or a religious book, or go to a meeting-house, it is only by way of amusement to pass the time away. It is a less serious occupation than smoking a pipe, or drinking a cup of tea. If you speak to them about the foundations of faith, of the principles of Christianity, of the importance of salvation, the certainty of a life beyond the grave, all these truths which so powerfully impress a mind susceptible of religious feeling, they listen with a certain pleasure ; for it amuses them, and piques their curiosity. In their opinion all this is "true, fine, grand." They deplore the blindness of men who attach themselves to the perishable goods of this world ; perhaps they will even give utterance to some fine sentences on the happiness of knowing the true God, of serving him, and of meriting by this means the reward of eternal life. They simply never think of religion at all, they like very well to talk about it, but it is as of a thing not made for them, a thing with which; personally, they have nothing to do. This indifference they carry so far, religious sensibility is so entirely withered or dead within them, that they care not a straw whether a doctrine is true or false, good or bad. Religion is to them simply a fashion, which those may follow who have a taste for it. "By and by, all in good time," they say; "one should never be precipitate ; it is not good to be too enthusiastic. No doubt the Catholic religion is beautiful and sublime ; its doctrine explains, with method and clearness, all that is necessary for man to know. Whoever has any sense will see that, and will adopt it in his heart in all sincerity ; but after all, one must not think too much of these things, and increase the cares of life. Now, just consider we have a body : how many cares it demands ! It must be clothed, fed, and sheltered from the injuries of the weather ; its infirmities are great, and its maladies are numerous. It is agreed on all hands that health is our most precious good. This body that we see, that we touch, must be taken care of every day, and every moment of the day. Is not this enough, without troubling ourselves about a soul that we never see ? The life of man is short and full of misery, it is made up of a succession of important concerns, that follow one another without interruption.
Our hearts and our minds are scarcely sufficient for the solicitudes of the present life : is it wise, then, to torment one's self about the future ? Is it not far better to live in blessed ignorance?" Ask them, what would you think of a traveler who, on finding himself at a dilapidated inn, open to all the winds, and deficient in the necessaries of life, should spend all his time in trying how he could make himself most comfortable in it, without ever thinking of preparing himself for his departure, and his return into the bosom of his family ? Would this traveler be acting in a wise and reasonable manner ? "No," they will reply; "one must not travel in that way. But man, nevertheless, must confine himself within proper limits. How can he provide for two lives at the same time? I take care of this life, and the care of the other I leave to God. If a traveler ought not regularly to take up his abode at an inn, neither ought he to travel on two roads at the same time. When one wishes to cross a river, it will not do to have two boats, and set a foot in each : such a proceeding would involve the risk of a tumble into the water, and drowning one's self. Such is the deep abyss of religious indifferentism into which so many Protestants of our day have fallen, and from which they naturally fall into one deeper still : infidelity
To be continued . . . . . . . .