Page images
PDF
EPUB

of support. Take away the independent being, and you remove the logical condition of the dependent being. If one suggests a mutual relation of dependent beings, then, still the whole is independent, and this independent furnishes the ground of the dependent parts.

“(3) The dependent being, or links of being, no matter how numerous they are, make up one being with the being on which they depend, and belong to it.

“(4) All being is, therefore, either independent or forms a part of an independent being, from which it receives its nature.

“(5) The nature or determinations of any being, its marks, properties, qualities, or attributes, arise through its own activity, or through the activity of another being.

"(6) If its nature is derived from another, it is a dependent being. The independent being is, therefore, determined only through its own activity; it is self-determined.

"(7). The nature of self-existent beings, whether one or many, is, therefore, self-determination. This result, we see, is identical with that which we found in our investigation of the underlying presupposition of influence or causal relation. There must be selfseparation, or else no influence can pass over to another object. The cause must first act in itself before its energy causes an effect in something else. It must, therefore, be essentially cause and effect in itself, or Causa sui, meaning self-cause or self-effect.

“(8) Our conviction, at this stage of the investigation, is, therefore, that each and every existence is a self-determined being, or else some phase or phenomenon dependent on self-determined being. Here we have our principle with which to examine the world and judge concerning its beings," etc.-(Pp. 13-14, $ 34.)

In brief, Concord's argument is this: Given dependent beings, we must ultimately arrive at an independent being upon which they depend. But with the most patent disregard for the logic of the situation, Concord declares that, although this or that dependent being cannot be independent, “ still the whole is independent, and this independence furnishes the ground of the dependent parts.” This or that dependent being cannot be independent; but this plus that, plus all other dependents in mutual relation are independent. A is essentially a dependent being; so is B; so is C; A depends upon B, and B upon C, and vice versa. This is, of course, a relation of dependence; but Concord, by some feat of metaphysical legerdemain, develops an independent out of these essentially dependent relations ! "All being is, therefore,” concludes Concord, “either independent or forms a part of an independent being.” To be a part of an independent is, of course, virtually to be independent. Now, this independent, which is the cause of all dependent beings, must be self-determined or self-caused. It is not only cause of all others, but cause of itself, Causa sui. " It must essentially be cause and effect in itself, or Causa sui, meaning selfcause or self-effect.” Cause, Concord has told us, must be a selfactive being, i.e., before it can act upon others it must act upon itself; it must be both subject and object; it must be both cause and effect. Before it can impart its influence to another, it must first energize upon itself. There must take place a self-separation within itself, and this is to make it cause and effect in one. This is Concord's final word, and in this conclusion we find the reason of the ready complaisance with which this philosophy” looks upon all contradictions as reconcilable in their ultimate analysis. In the finite, cause and effect are in antithesis, separate and distinct. In the infinite, they are absolutely one, or Causa sui. The method of arriving at this unique conclusion is peculiar to Concord, but it hardly fits into the philosophic and common-sense notions of human intelligences. A cause is, in the meaning of metaphysics, that which in any way produces another; an effect is that which is produced. The cause gives being to the effect. Plainly, then, the effect cannot exist prior in order of being to its production by its cause. Before the causal act it was none'ntity. The cause must, in the order of being, antecede its effect. But in Concord's Causa sui we have an effect which is its own cause. It existed before it was. It antedated its own existence. As cause it cannot be until it becomes effect, for it is both in one.

Pursuing this astonishing method, Concord has stumbled into the blunder of attributing a mixed activity to the First Cause. Effect necessarily implies passivity, and in no effect can there be pure act. Effect postulates the reception of something which the effect had not; therefore, potentiality. The First Cause must be pure act, or it could not be first. To be other than First Cause would bring it into the category of created beings, implying passivity and potentiality. This is what Concord has done. It traces all dependent being to a necessary first being; but then turns upon its own position and invests this first with the attributes of a second or dependent being. There can be no effect within the being of the first cause, and it is cause only in relation to that order of beings which it creates, and can never stand in relation to itself as its own cause. In the very fact that it is first independent being, there cannot be the shadow of effect in its own act. Its essence is pure act, and to predicate passivity of it would be to deny that it is first. Concord has made the unpardonable mistake of making it essentially a cause-effect. In investigating the nature of finite being, Concord found that all secondary causes were in reality effects in their relation to the First Cause. It

jumped, therefore, at the monstrous conclusion that the First Cause must also be an effect; but plainly not the effect of another—then the effect of itself-Causa sui. Such a conception is radically vicious; it is simply a contradiction, from which there is no escape in the sophism that the First Cause is perpetually annulling all passivity within itself by a process of spiritual evolution. The First Cause can neither be the effect of another nor of itself. There is no self-separation possible to it, whereby it becomes the passive object of its own thought, for its thought is its very essence in purest act. It is pure thought, pure act; its essence is its thought; its act its essence, and its thought its act in absolute unity. Nor can it even think itself as its own object (except in a logical sense), for its thought can be none other than its own self-luminous essence. It is the most simple pure act, eternally perfect. In its own most perfect being it can be cause only relative to its creature, much less can it be its own effect. It is absolute. It is only cause in the relation of created being to its creator. Concord has simply applied a pantheistic notion of causality to the idea of a first being. Its Causa sui is in reality only the natura naturans of Spinoza. It is an eternal being perpetually propagating itself. Concord tries to make it personal, and even goes to the amazing length of building out of this abortive conception a triune God, and drags revelation violently into the domain of philosophy pure and simple. Concord's trinity rests upon its Causa sui, which we have seen to be a fiction of its own making. We will leave it to its logical fate.

Aristotle, we understand, was the subject-matter of Concord's last summer's deliberation. It is to be hoped that a clearer comprehension of Aristotle than Concord has yet shown itself to have compassed, will be effective in straightening out its notions of time, space and a First Cause. So far, it is evident that Concord has not accepted Aristotle's idea of a first being; for in the very pamphlet under consideration, in the chapter which introduces us to Concord's Causa sui, we find this: "Aristotle, who is careful not to call this energy (First Cause) self-movement, but considers it to be that which moves others, but is unmoved itself, defines it likewise to be the principle of life.” What a pity that Concord has not been as careful in its definition of a first cause as Aristotle

It is because our New England school has not exercised the same discreet accuracy that it impales itself upon the folly of Causa sui. Self-movement, Aristotle saw, was incompatible with the nature of a first being, for it implies passivity, and so conflicted with the pure activity of the absolute. The First Cause, therefore, Aristotle concluded, is unmoved, uncaused.

May Concord profit by the teaching of the philosopher.

was.

Book Notices.

CHRISTIANITY IN THE UNITED STATES. From the First Settlement Down to the

Present Time. By Daniel Dorchester, D.D. New York : Phillips & Hunt. Ciscinnati ; Cranston & Howe. 1888. This is a volume which, in the quality of its performance, falls lamentably short both of its large size and its still larger pretensions. It is a collection of biographical, historical, and statistical statements, which it has evidently cost the author of the work much labor to gather and com. pile, and which would make it valuable for reference could those statements be relied on as impartial and true.

In his preface the author says: “Conscious that the historian cannot too carefully guard lest he discolor or distort by his lens, the work has been undertaken with conscientious convictions, in the hope that the best interests of Christianity may be subserved by it.” As respects the Catholic Church, he says: “ The Roman Catholic Church has been freely, fully, and generously treated."

It is to be regretted that the work on examination entirely fails to verify these statements. It frequently reveals a spirit of intense partisanship, and a lamentable disregard for truth. This, however, is not surprising when we learn from the author's preface that he derived from the late Dr. Robert Baird, whom he styles “ that eminent historian of Religion in America," the inspiring spirit of his book," by correspondence held with him upon questions pertaining to the religious history and prospects of our country.”

These remarks are all the more necessary because the writers of notices of the work in a number of newspapers and periodicals, trusting to the author's sincerity, have repeated the statements of his preface, and thus have been misled into expressing a more favorable opinion of the work than a careful examination would have permitted them to give.

He frames elaborate apologies for the exclusion of Episcopalians by the early Puritan colonists of New England; for their persecution of Baptists, Quakers, and Catholics, and for the slaughter and almost total extermination of the Indians. But it is in his treatment of the Catholic Church and its movements in the United States that his unfairness and intense prejudice become more conspicuous. He speaks of the earliest Catholic missionaries as “gifted and devoted emissaries.” The movements of the Church to propagate the faith are styled “plots" and “machinations.” He attempts to belittle the labors among the Indians of the early French missionaries, who he imagines were all · Jesuits," by telling his readers that they took no pains “to make the Indians cleanly," and “were regardless of filth, vermin, and immodesty.” “The religion they taught consisted of a few simple ritual ceremonies, the repetition of a prayer or chant, and the baptismal rite. Thus the doomed heathen was easily turned into a professed Christian and an enfranchised citizen of France. Didactic, moral, and intellectual training was deemed unessential.” The accounts of the “ Lay Trustee Contest," the “ Common School Contest,” the “ Native American and Know-nothing Movements,' are specimens of unfairness and untruthfulness. The falsifications of Dexter A. Hawkins, in the New York Tribune, pretending that vast amounts of “public money and public property” were surreptitiously“ bestowed upon the Catholic Church in New York city, are repeated, without a word of allusion to the fact that those misrepresentations have been thoroughly and conclusively exposed and refuted.

But the audaciously false declaration which he puts into the mouth of Most Rev. Archbishop Ryan, of Philadelphia, caps the climax of this unscrupulous writer's untruthfulness. Referring to the action of the Vatican Council, promulgating the infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff of the Church as a dogma of the Catholic faith, he says: “The following recent utterance of Bishop Ryan, of Philadelphia, is a direct logical sequence of the doctrine of papal infallibility." The pretended "recent utterance,” which is put conspicuously as a foot-note, is as follows:

“We maintain that the Church of Rome is intolerant-that is, that she uses every means in her power to root out heresy. But her intolerance is the result of her insalli. bility. She alone has the right to be intolerant, for she alone has the truth. The Church tolerates heretics where she is obliged to do so; but she hates them with a deadly hatred and uses all her powers to annihilate them. If ever the Catholics should become a considerable majority, which in time will surely be the case, then will religious freedom in the Republic of the United States come to an end. Our enemies know how she treated heretics in the Middle Ages and how she treats them to-day where she has the power. We no more think of denying these historic facts than we do of blaming the Holy God and the princes of the Church for what they have thought fit to do.”

It is remarkable that in his foot-notes generally Dr. Daniel Dorchester has taken great pains to mention distinctly the book, or pamphlet, or newspaper, with proper title and page or date, to which he refers or from which he professes to quote. But in this instance he omits all such reference whatever. Why this omission ? Why not tell his readers when, where, on what occasion and in what discourse “ Bishop Ryan, of Philadelphia" made this alleged "recent utterance," the exact words of which he pretends to quote? We challenge him to do it. We are familiar, we are in a position to be familiar with Archbishop Ryan's “utterances” since he came to Philadelphia, and we unhesitatingly and unqualifiedly pronounce the alleged “recent utterance" to be a base and impudent forgery. We denounce the writer as a reckless falsifier, and again we challenge him to cite even a sentence, or a line, from any of Archbishop Ryan's utterances, “recent" or not recent, that will furnish even a color of proof that the pretended quotation is genuine.

Archbishop Ryan's “recent utterances" have been many and frequent. They have attracted more than usual attention on the part of the general public. They have been sought for, published, noticed, and favorably commented on by the non-Catholic secular press, far and wide. Is it possible that such an “utterance," had it been made, could have remained unnoticed by the secular press, or if noticed would have escaped its indignant denunciation ? No intelligent person will believe it.

All the real utterances, too, of Archbishop Ryan flatly contradict the ideas which this falsifier has attempted to foist upon him. Instead of holding that the Catholic Church is opposed to the freedom, either religious or political, secured to all citizens by the Constitution of the United States, and that the Church would put an end to that freedom if she could, Archbishop Ryan has repeatedly declared that the Catholics of the United States have good reasons for being ardently attached to our political institutions, because under those institutions they enjoy greater religious freedom than they do in Europe, and also because the Catholic Church in this country is less trammelled and less interfered

« PreviousContinue »