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it is utterly impossible to persuade men to change for the better, without a clear divine warrant and sanction. We venture to say, that all the preachers of all the jarring sects in Christendom together would not be able, by joint combination and effort, to introduce any such change, or to persuade even a dozen of their respective flocks to resort to Confession.
But again : if the priests introduced Confession, why did they not take the prudent precaution to exempt themselves from its obligation? Why do priests, bishops, and Popes still hold themselves divinely bound to practise this humbling observance? What possible motive could have induced them to enjoin Confession for the first time? Was it, that they might impose on themselves a new burden, much more painful than any other in the whole ministry,-a burden which weighs down their energies, engrosses so much of their time, taxes so heavily their patience, and withal presents not one worldly inducement to continue its laborious ministrations ? Do men usually act, not only without an adequate motive, but even against all motives of self-interest ?
Finally, if the priests introduced Confession, when did they do it; under what circumstances ; how did they succeed in persuading mankind to adopt the observance; who first taught the doctrine; who opposed its introduction! These questions have been often asked ; they have never been answerer'. History says nothing whatever on all thuse important circumstances, and yet they would have been carefully recorded, had any innovation of the kind been attempted. All Christendom would have cried out against a change so painful to nature ; and history would have re-echoed the voice of the indignant protest, which would have gone forth. Such was invariably the case in regard to attempted innova tions of much less practical importance.
We have now done with Michelet and his loathsome book. We have devoted to it more space than it deserved; but we have done it, because the work has appeared in this country under Protestant auspices, as an element in the bitter and most unscrupulous warfare now waged against Catholicity in this free republic. We have employed strong language, but not half so strong as the book and the author merited. If the preachers who lead the anti-Catholic crusade will be caught in such company, if they will use means so thoroughly vile to promote their objects, can they complain that they should be denounced in strong language ? For the great body of the people, misled by their artifices, we have no words of harshness; we have but tears of compassion to drop over their cruel condition in having such leaders. The meck and humble Saviour strongly and severely rebuked the ancient Pharisees, out of compassion for the victims of their hypocrisy; we have but sought to aim at the imitation of His example.
Reviews, Essays, and Lectures.
XXV. CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT COUNTRIES.*
ARTICLE 1. ENGLAND AND FRANCE — HOLLAND AND BELGIUM.
Influence of Catholicity and Protestantism on material interests—Current theory – The argument wholly inconclusive-And the facts assumed, but not proved-England's prosperity-How explained
- Rise and decline of Catholic powers—Why God permits the wicked to prosper-Masses of Eng. land's population-Catholic (reland-England and France compared - In whicb is the bulk of the people more comfortable ?-Laing's argument-French and English honesty and politeness-Holland and Belgium compared-Belgian railroads—Charity in Catholic and Protestant countries, Condition of the poor-Relative prosperity of the Catholic and Protestant population of PrussiaThe serf system-How long it lingered in Protestant countries – Who have been the best friends and champions of the poor and oppressed ?
We have heard it asserted, over and over again, that Protestant countries are much more free, more enlightened, more industrious, more enterprising, more prosperous, more moral, and more happy, than those which have remained faithful to the Catholic religion ; and it has become fashionable to assume, that this alleged superiority is fairly ascribable to the self-styled reformation. This great religious revolution of the sixteenth century, say its friends, emancipated the human mind from a degrading thraldom, and thereby gave a new impulse to human activity, the results of which are seen in the social ameliorations above indicated. While Catholic countries have remained stationary under the influence of a stationary religious system, Protestant countries, under the influence one, the leading feature of which is progress, have advanced, and have shot immeasurably ahead of their neighbors.
Such is the current theory, which we propose briefly to examine in the present paper. The theory evidently consists of two parts: one, the assumption of the fact, that Protestant countries are superior to those which are Catholic; and the other, the inference, that the superiority in question is to be ascribed to the influence of the Protestant reformation. We propose to investigate each of these positions, in order to ascertain how far the assumed fact is to be relied on, and how far the inference
*Notes of a Traveler on the Social and Political State of France, Prussia, Switzerland, Italy, and other parts of Europe, during the present century. By Samuel Laing, Esq., author of " A Journal of a Revidence in Norway " and " A Tour in Sweden.” From the second London edition. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1846. I vol. 8 vo
drawn from it is sound or logical. The subject opens before us a vast and most interesting field of investigation, which Mr. Laing has surveyed with great keen-sightedness and ability, making his observations with patience and accuracy, stating his facts with boldness and precision, and drawing his conclusions with his usual acuteness and candor.'
Should any be disposed to question his authority, we beg to remind them, that he is a Scotchman, a Protestant, and, for aught we know, a Presbyterian ; that he manifests his dislike of the Catholic Church throughout his work; and that he does not deal in declamation or mere assertion, but in sober facts and stringent arguments. Does it detract from his authority that he is candid ? Should he be spurned, because he has the courage to state facts, and to publish truths new and unpalatable to his co-religionists? Should not every sensible man be rather inclined to view him with favor from the circumstance that he has had the independence to break the trammels of sect, and to fling to the winds the stale misrepresentations of centuries? Surely, one would think so. And we hail the recent appearance of this and of similar works among us, under Protestant auspices, as an omen of a better spirit and of better times; of a disposition to allow at least a portion of the truth to be told, in regard to those who profess that venerable religion, which was hallowed by the lives and deaths of thousands and millions eminent for their sanctity, for long centuries before the jarring discord of Protestantism broke on the world. We have been but too long the mere slaves of English prejudice, especially in religion ; it is high time to assert our independence. The day is gone by, when the rusty lamp of English bigotry shall exercise over us the same despotic influence as did the lamp of Aladdin over its slaves : we should break our bonds, and be free. Such men precisely as Samuel Laing will act as the pioneers of this new revolution, destined to be more important in its results than was that which secured our political independence.
We shall confine our remarks, as Mr. Laing does, to the more conspicuous countries of Europe ; and we shall endeavor to be as succinct as the nature of the subject will allow.
And, in the first place, suppose that we admit all that is asserted; would it thence follow that Protestantism is true or divine, and Catholicity false? Did Christ ever assign, as a distinctive characteristic of His religi-n, that it should be the best calculated to promote human comfort, and to insure temporal prosperity, whether to individuals or to nations ? Were these merely temporal considerations among the primary, or even secondary objects He had in view in establishing His holy religion? If so, then why did He not originate some at least of the great inventions of which our moderns boast so much, as having changed the very face of society? Why did He not deliver lectures on commerce, navigation, manufactures, and
| The Ediuburg Review assigns to Mr. Laing a very high position among those recent traveless who have added to our stock of information in regard to foreiga countries.