in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
CHAPTER 40 Back to Contents
Two days after my arrival at Kamouraska, I received a letter from the surrounding priests, at the head of whom was the Grand Vicar Mailloux, expressing the hope that I would not try to form any temperance society in my new parish, as I had done in Beauport; for the good reasons they said, that drunkenness was not prevailing in that part of Canada, as it was in the city of Quebec. I answered them, politely, that so long as I should be at the head of this new parish, I would try, as I had ever done, to mind my own business, and I hoped that my neighbouring friends would do the same. Not long after, I saw that the curates felt ashamed of their vain attempt to intimidate me. The next Sabbath, the crowd was greater than at the first. Having heard that the merchants were to start the next day, with their schooners, to buy their winter provisions or rum, I said, in a very solemn way, before my sermon:
"My friends, I know that, to-morrow, the merchants leave for Quebec to purchase their rum. Let me advise them, as their best friend, not to buy any; and as the ambassador of Christ, I forbid them to bring a single drop of those poisonous drinks here. It will surely be their ruin, if they pay no attention to this friendly advice; for they will not sell a single drop of it, after next Sabbath. That day, I will show to the intelligent people of this parish, that rum and all the other drugs, sold here, under the name of brandy, wine, and beer, are nothing else than disgusting, deadly, and cursed poisons."
I then preached on the words of our Saviour: "Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh: (Matt. xxiv. 44). Though the people seemed much pleased and impressed by that second sermon, they felt exceedingly irritated at my few warning words to the merchants. When the service was over, they all rallied around the merchants to tell them not to mind what they had heard.
"If our young curate," said they, "thinks he will lead us by the nose, as he has done with the drunkards of Beauport, he will soon see his mistake. Instead of one hundred tons, as you brought last fall, bring us two hundred, this year; we will drink them to his health. We have a good crop and we want to spend a jolly winter."
It is probable that the church of Kamouraska had never seen within its walls such a crowd as on the second Sabbath of October, 1842. It was literally crammed. Curiosity had attracted the people who, not less eager to hear my first sermon against rum, than to see the failure they expected, and wished, of my first efforts to form a temperance society. Long before the public service, at the door of the church, as well as during the whole preceding week, the people had pledged themselves never to give up their strong drink, and never to join the temperance society. But what are the resolutions of man against God? Is He not their master? The half of that first sermon on temperance was not heard, when that whole multitude had forgotten their public promises. The hearts were not only touched they were melted and changed by God, who wanted to show, once more, that His works of mercy were above all the works of His hands.
From the very day of my arrival in Kamouraska, I had made a serious and exact inquiry about the untold miseries brought upon the people by intoxicating drinks. I had found that, during the last twenty years, twelve men had been drowned and eight had been frozen to death, who had left twenty widows and sixty orphans in the most distressing poverty. Sixty farmers had lost their lands and had been obliged to emigrate to other places, where they were suffering all the pangs of poverty from the drunkenness of their parents; several other families had their properties mortgaged for their whole value to the rum merchants, and were expected, every day, to be turned out from their inheritances, to pay their rum bills. Seven mothers had died in delirium tremens, one had hung herself, another drowned herself when drunk. One hundred thousand dollars had been paid to the rum merchants during the last fifteen years. Two hundred thousand more were due to the storekeeper; threefourths of which were for strong drink. Four men had been murdered, among whom was their landlord, Achilles Tache, through their drunken habits!
When I had recapitulated all these facts, which were public and undeniable, and depicted the desolation of the ruined families, composed of their own brothers, sisters, and dear children; when I brought before their minds, the tears of the widows, the cries of the starving and naked children, the shame of the families, the red hand of the murderers and the mangled bodies of their victims; the eternal cries of the lost from drunkenness, the broken-hearted fathers and mothers whose children had been destroyed by strong drink; when I proved to them that there was not a single one in their midst who had not suffered, either in his own person, or in that of his father or mother, brothers, sisters or children yes, when I had given them the simple and awful story of the crimes committed in their midst; the ruin and deaths, the misery of thousands of precious souls for whom Christ died in vain, the church was filled with such sobs and cries that I often could not be heard. Many times my voice was drowned by the indescribable confusion and lamentation of that whole multitude. Unable to contain myself, several times I stopped and mingled my sobs and cries with those of my people.
When the sermon, which lasted two hours, was finished, I asked all those who were determined to help me in stopping the ravages of intoxicating drinks, in drying the tears which they caused to flow, and saving the precious souls they were destroying, to come forward and take the public pledge of temperance by kissing a crucifix which I held in my hand. Thirteen hundred and ten came. Not fifty of the people had refused to enroll themselves under the blessed and glorious banners of temperance! and these few recalcitrants came forward, with a very few exceptions, the next time I spoke on the subject.
The very same day, the wives of the merchants sent dispatches to their husbands in Quebec, to tell them what had been done, and not a single barrel of intoxicating drinks was brought by them. The generous example of the admirable people of Kamouraska spoke with an irresistible eloquence to the other parishes of that district, and before long, the banners of temperance floated over all the populations of St. Pascal, St. Andrew, Isle Verte, Cacouna, Riviere du Loup, Rimouski, Matane, St. Anne, St. Roch, Madawaska, St. Benoit, St. Luce, ect., on the south side of the St. Lawrence, and the Eboulements, La Malbaye, and the other parishes on the north side of the river; and the people kept their pledge with such fidelity that the trade in rum was literally killed in that part of Canada, as it had been in Beauport and its vicinity.
The blessed fruits of this reform were soon felt and seen everywhere, in the public prosperity and the spread of education. Kamouraska, which was owing two hundred thousand dollars to the merchants in 1842, had not only paid its interest, but had reduced its debt to one hundred thousand, when I left it to go to Montreal in 1846. God only knows my joy at these admirable manifestations of His mercies towards my country. However, the joys of man are never without their mixture of sadness.
In the good providence of God, being invited by all the curates to establish temperance societies among their people, I had the sad opportunity, as no priest ever had in Canada, to know the secret and public scandals of each parish. When I went to the Eboulements, on the north side of the river, invited by the Rev. Noel Toussignant, I learned from the very lips of that young priest, and the ex-priest Tetreau, the history of the most shameful scandals.
In 1830, a young priest of Quebec, called Derome, had fallen in love with one of his young female penitents of Vercheres, where he had preached a few days, and he had persuaded her to follow him to the parsonage of Quebec. The better to conceal their iniquity from the public, he persuaded his victim to dress herself as a young man, and throw her dress into the river, to make her parents and the whole parish believe that she was drowned. I had seen her many times at the parsonage of Quebec, under the name of Joseph, and had much admired her refined manners, though more than once I was very much inclined to think that the smart Joseph was no one else than a lost girl. But the respect I had for the curate of Quebec (who was the coadjutor of the bishop) and his young vicars, caused me to reject those suspicions as unfounded. However many even among the first citizens of the city had the same suspicions, and they pressed me to go to the coadjutor and warn him; but I refused, and told those gentlemen to do that delicate work themselves, and they did it.
The position of that high dignitary and his vicar was not then a very agreeable one. Their bark had evidently drifted into dangerous waters. To keep Joseph among themselves was impossible, after the friendly advice from such high quarters, and to dismiss him was not less dangerous. He knew too well how the curate of Quebec, with his vicars, were keeping their vows of celibacy, to dismiss him without danger to themselves; a single word from his lips would destroy them. Happily for them, Mr. Clement, then curate of the Eboulements, was in search of such a servant, and took him to his parsonage, after persuading the bishopcoadjutor to give Joseph a large sum of money to seal his lips.
Things went on pretty smoothly between Joseph and the priest for several years, till some suspicions arose in the minds of the sharp-sighted people of the parish, who told the curate that it would be safer and more honourable for him to get rid of his servant. In order to put an end to those suspicions, and to retain him in the parsonage, the curate persuaded him to marry the daughter of a poor neighbour.
The banns were published three times, and the two girls were duly married by the curate, who continued his criminal intimacies, in the hope that no one would trouble him any more on that subject. But not long after he was removed to La Petite Riviere, and in 1838 the Rev. M. Tetreau was appointed curate of the Eboulements. This new priest, knowing of the abominations which his predecessor had practiced, continued to employ Joseph. One day, when Joseph was working at the gate of the parsonage, in the presence of several people, a stranger came and asked him if Mr. Tetreau was at home.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Curate is at home," answered Joseph; "but as you seem a stranger to the place, would you allow me to ask you from what parish you come?"
"I am not ashamed of my parish," answered the stranger. "I come from Vercheres."
At the word "Vercheres," Joseph turned so pale that the stranger was puzzled. He looked carefully at him, and exclaimed:
"Oh! my God! What do I see here? Genevieve! Genevieve! over whom we have mourned so long as drowned! Here you are disguised as a man!"
"Dear uncle" (it was her uncle); "for God's sake, not a word more here!"
But it was too late; the people who were there had heard the uncle and the niece. Their long and secret suspicions were well-founded. One of their former priests had kept a girl, under the disguise of a man, in his house; and to blind his people more thoroughly, he had married that girl to another, in order to have them both in his house when he pleased, without awakening any suspicion!
The news went, almost as quickly as lightning, from one end to the other of the parish, and spread all over the country, on both sides of the St. Lawrence. I had heard of that horror, but could not believe it. However, I had to believe it, when, on the spot, I heard from the lips of the ex-curate, M. Tetreau, and the new curate, M. Noel Toussignant, and from the lips of the landlord, the Honourable Laterriere, the following details, which had come to light only a short time before.
The justice of the peace had investigated the matter, in the name of public morality. Joseph was brought before the magistrates, who decided that a physician should be charged to make, not a post-mortem, but an ante-mortem inquest. The Honourable Laterriere, who made the inquest, declared that Joseph was a girl, and the bonds of marriage were legally dissolved.
At the same time, the curate M. Tetreau, had sent a dispatch to the Right Rev. Bishop-coadjutor of Quebec, informing him that the young man whom he had kept in his house, several years, was legally proved a girl; a fact which, I need hardly state, was well-known by the bishop and his vicars! They immediately sent a trustworthy man with $500, to induce the girl to leave the country without delay, lest she should be prosecuted and sent to the penitentiary. She accepted the offer, and crossed the lines to the United States with her two thousand dollars, where she was soon married, and where she still lives.
I wished that this story had never been told me, or at least, that I might be allowed to doubt some of its circumstances; but there was no help. I was forced to acknowledge that in my Church of Rome, there was such corruption from head to foot, which could scarcely be surpassed in Sodom. I remember what the Rev. Mr. Perras had told me of the tears and desolation of Bishop Plessis, when he had discovered that all the priests of Canada, with the exception of three, were atheists.
I should not be honest, did I not confess that the personal knowledge of that fact, which I learned in all its scandalous details from the very lips of unimpeachable witnesses, saddened me, and for a time, shook my faith in my religion, to its foundation. I felt secretly ashamed to belong to a body of men so completely lost to every sense of honesty, as the priests and bishops of Canada. I had heard of many scandals before. The infamies of the Grand Vicar Manceau and Quiblier of Montreal, Cadieux at Three Rivers, and Viau at Riviere Oulle; the public acts of depravity of the priests Lelievre, Tabeau, Pouliot, Belisle, Brunet, Quevillon, Huot, Lajuste, Rabby, Crevier, Bellecourt, Valle, Nignault, Noel, Pinet, Duguez, Davely and many others, were known by me, as well as by the whole clergy. But the abominations of which Joseph was the victim seemed to overstep the conceivable limits of infamy. For the first time, I sincerely regretted that I was a priest. The priesthood of Rome seemed then, to me, the very fulfillment of the prophecy of Revelation, about the great prostitute who made the nations drunk with wine of her prostitution (Rev. xvii. 1 5).
Auricular confession, which I knew to be the first, if not the only cause, of these abominations, appeared to me, what it really is, a school of perdition for the priest and his female penitents. The priest's oath of celibacy was, to my eyes, in those hours of distress, but a shameful mask to conceal a corruption which was unknown in the most depraved days of old paganism. New and bright lights came, then, before my mind which, had I followed them, would have guided me to the truth of the gospel. But I was blind! The Good Master had not yet touched my eyes with His divine and life-giving hand. I had no idea that there could be any other church than the Church of Rome in which I could be saved. I was, however, often saying to myself: "How can I hope to conquer on a battlefield where so many, as strong and even much stronger than I am, have perished?"
I felt no longer at peace. My soul was filled with trouble and anxiety. I not only distrusted myself, but I lost confidence in the rest of the priests and bishops. In fact, I could not see any one in whom I could trust. Though my beautiful and dear parish of Kamouraska was, more than ever, overwhelming me with tokens of its affection, gratitude, and respect, it had lost its attraction for me. To whatever side I turned my eyes, I saw nothing but the most seducing examples of perversion.It seemed as if I were surrounded by numberless snares, from which it was impossible to escape. I wished to depart from this deceitful and lost world.
When my soul was as drowned under the waves of a bitter sea, the Rev. Mr. Guignes, Superior of the Monastery of the Fathers of Oblates of Mary Immaculate, at Longueil, near Montreal, came to pass a few days with me, for the benefit of his health. I spoke to him of that shameful scandal, and did not conceal from him that my courage failed me, when I looked at the torrent of iniquity which was sweeping everything, under our eyes, with an irresistible force. "We are here alone, in the presence of God," I said to him. "I confess that I feel an unspeakable horror at the moral ruin which I see everywhere in our church. My priesthood, of which I was so proud till lately, seems to me, today, the most ignominious yoke, when I see it dragged in the mud of the most infamous vices, not only by the immense majority of the priests, but even by our bishops. How can I hope to save myself, when I see so many, stronger than I am, perishing all around me?"
The Reverend Superior, with the kindness of a father and becoming gravity, answered me: "I understand your fears, perfectly. They are legitimate and too well-founded. Like you, I am a priest; and like you, if not more than you, I know the numberless and formidable dangers which surround the priest. It is because I know them too well, that I have not dared to be a secular priest a single day. I knew the humiliating and disgraceful history of Joseph and the coadjutor Bishop of Quebec. Nay! I know many things still more horrible and unspeakable which I have learned when preaching and hearing confessions in France and in Canada. My fear is that, today, there are not many more undefiled souls among the priests than in Sodom, in the days of Lot. The fact is, that it is morally impossible for a secular priest to keep his vows of celibacy, except by a miracle of the grace of God. Our holy church would be a modern Sodom long ago, had not our merciful God granted her the grace that many of her priests have always enrolled themselves among the armies of the regular priests in the different religious orders which are, to the church, what the ark was to Noah and his children in the days of the deluge. Only the priests whom God calls, in His mercy, to become members of any of those orders, are safe. For they are under the paternal care and surveillance of superiors whose zeal and charity are like a shield to protect them. Their holy and strict laws are like strong walls and high towers which the enemy cannot storm."
He then spoke to me, with an irresistible eloquence, of the peace of soul which a regular priest enjoys within the walls of his monastery. He represented, in the most attractive colours, the spiritual and constant joys of the heart which one feels when living, day and night, under the eyes of a superior to whom he has vowed a perfect submission. He added, "Your providential work is finished in the diocese of Quebec. The temperance societies are established almost everywhere. We are in need of your long experience and your profound studies on that subject in the diocese of Montreal. It is true that the good Bishop de Nancy had done what he could to support that holy cause, but, though he is working with the utmost zeal, he has not studies that subject enough to make a lasting impression on the people. Come with us. We are more than thirty priests, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who will be too happy to second your efforts in that noble work, which is too much for one man alone. Moreover, you cannot do justice to your great parish of Kamouraska and to the temperance cause together. You must give up one, to consecrate yourself to the other. Take courage, my young friend! Offer to God the sacrifice of your dear Kamouraska, as you made the sacrifice of your beautiful Beauport, some years ago, for the good of Canada and in the interest of the Church, which calls you to its help."
It seemed to me that I could oppose no reasonable argument to these considerations. I fell on my knees, and made the sacrifice of my beautiful and precious Kamouraska. The last Sabbath of September I gave my farewell address to the dear and intelligent people of Kamouraska, to go to Longueil and become a novice of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
CHAPTER 41 Back to Contents
The year 1843 will be long remembered in the Church of Rome for the submission of Dr. Newman to her authority. This was considered by many Roman Catholics as one of the greatest triumphs ever gained by their church against Protestantism. But some of us, more acquainted with the daily contradictions and tergiversations of the Oxford divine, could not associate ourselves in the public rejoicings of our church.
From almost the very beginning of his public life, Dr. Newman as well as Dr. Pusey appeared to many of us as cowards and traitors in the Protestant camp, whose object was to betray the church which was feeding them, and which they were sworn to defend. They both seemed to us to be skillful but dishonest conspirators.
Dr. Newman, caught in the very act of that conspiracy, has boldly denied it. Brought before the tribunal of public opinion as a traitor who, though enrolled under the banners of the Church of England, was giving help and comfort to its foe, the Church of Rome, he has published a remarkable book under the title of "apologia pro vita sua," to exculpate himself. I hold in my hands the New York edition of 1865. Few men will read that book from beginning to end; and still fewer will understand it at its first reading. The art of throwing dust in the eyes of the public is brought to perfection in that work. I have read many books in my long life, but I have never met with anything like the Jesuit ability shown by Dr. Newman in giving a colour of truth to the most palpable errors and falsehoods. I have had to read it at least four times, with the utmost attention, before being sure of having unlocked all its dark corners and sophistries.
That we may be perfectly fair towards Dr. Newman, let us forget what his adversaries have written against him, and let us hear only what he says in his own defense. Here it is. I dare say that his most bitter enemies could never have been able to write a book so damaging against him as this one, which he has given us for his apology.
Let me tell the reader at once that I, with many other priests of Rome, felt at first an unspeakable joy at the reading of many of the "Tracts for the Times." It is true that we keenly felt the blows Dr. Newman was giving us now and then; but we were soon consoled by the more deadly blows which he was striking at his own Church the Church of England. Besides that, it soon became evident that the more he was advancing in his controversial work, the nearer he was coming to us. We were not long without saying to each other: "Dr. Newman is evidently, though secretly, for us; he is a Roman Catholic at heart, and will soon join us. It is only from want of moral courage and honesty that he remains a Protestant."
But from the very beginning there was a cloud in my mind, and in the minds of many other of my co-priests, about him. His contradictions were so numerous, his sudden transitions from one side to the other extreme, when speaking of Romanism and Anglicanism; his eulogiums of our Church today, and his abuses of it the very next day; his expressions of love and respect for his own Church in one tract, so suddenly followed by the condemnation of her dearest doctrines and practices in the next, caused many others, as well as myself, to suspect that he had no settled principles, or faith in any religion.
What was my surprise, when reading this strange book, I found that my suspicions were too well founded; that Dr. Newman was nothing else than one of those free-thinkers who had no real faith in any of the secret dogmas he was preaching, and on which he was writing so eloquently! What was my astonishment when, in 1865, I read in his own book the confession made by that unfortunate man that he was nothing else but a giant weathercock, when the whole people of England were looking upon him as one of the most sincere and learned ministers of the Gospel. Here in his own confession, pages 111, 112. Speaking of the years he had spent in the Episcopal Church as a minister, he says: "Alas! It was my portion, for whole years, to remain without any satisfactory basis for my religious profession; in a state of moral sickness, neither able to acquiesce in Anglicanism, or able to go to Rome!" This is Cardinal Newman, painted by himself! He tells us how miserable he was when an Episcopalian minister, by feeling that his religion had no basis no foundation!
hat is a preacher of religion who feels that he has no basis, no foundation, no reason to believe in that religion? Is he not that blind man of whom Christ speaks, "who leads other blind men into the ditch?"
Note it is not Rev. Charles Kingsley; it is not any of the able Protestant controversialists; it is not even the old Chiniquy who says that Dr. Newman was nothing else but an unbeliever, when the Protestant people were looking upon him as one of their most pious and sincere Christian theologians. It is Dr. Newman himself who, without suspecting it, is forced by the marvelous providence of God to reveal that deplorable fact in his "Apologia pro vita sua."
Now, what was the opinion entertained by him on the high and low sections of his church? Here are his very words, p. 91: "As to the High Church and the Low Church, I thought that the one had not much more of a logical basis than the other; while I had a thorough contempt for the Evangelical!" But please observe that, when this minister of the Church of England had found, with the help of Dr. Pusey, that this church had no logical basis, and that he had a "thorough contempt for the Evangelical," he kept a firm and continuous hold upon the living which he was enjoying from day to day. Nay, it is when paid by his church to preach her doctrines and fight her battles, that he set at work to raise another church! Of course, the new church was to have a firm basis of logic, history, and the Gospel: the new church was to be worthy of the British people it was to be the modern ark to save the perishing world!
The reader will, perhaps, think I am joking, and that I am caricaturing Dr. Newman. No! the hour in which we live is too solemn to be spent in jokes it is rather with tears and sobs that we must approach the subject. Here are the very words of Dr. Newman about the new church he wished to build after demolishing the Church of England as established by law. He says (page 116): "I have said enough on what I consider to have been the general objects of the various works which I wrote, edited, or prompted in the years which I am reviewing. I wanted to bring out in a substantive form a living Church of England, in a position proper to herself and founded on distinct principles; as far as paper could do it, and as earnestly preaching it and influencing others towards it could tend to make it a fact; a living church, made of flesh and blood, with voice, complexion, motion, and action, and a will of its own." If I had not said that these words were written by Dr. Newman, would the reader have suspected?
What is to be the name of the new church? Dr. Newman himself called it "Via Media." As the phrase indicates, it was to stand between the rival Churches of England and Rome, and it was to be built with the materials taken, as much as possible, from the ruins of both.
The first thing to be done was, then, to demolish that huge, illogical, unscriptural, unchristian church restored by the English Reformers. Dr. Newman bravely set to work, under the eye and direction of Dr. Pusey. His merciless hammer was heard almost day and night, from 1833 to 1843, striking alternately with hard blows, now against the church of the Pope, whom he called Antichrist, and then against his own church, which he was, very soon, to find still more corrupted and defiled than its anti-Christian rival. For as he was proceeding in his work of demolition, he tells us that he found more clearly, every day, that the materials and the foundations of the Church of Rome were exceedingly better than those of his own. He then determined to give a coup de grace to the Church of England, and strike such a blow that her walls would be for ever pulverized. His perfidious Tract XC. aims at this object.
Nothing can surpass the ability and the pious cunning with which Dr. Newman tries to conceal his shameful conspiracy in his "Apologia."
Hear the un-British and unmanly excuses which he gives for having deceived his readers, when he was looked upon as the most reliable theologian of the day, in defense of the doctrines of the Church of England. In pages 236 7 he says: "How could I ever hope to make them believe in a second theology, when I had cheated them in the first? With what face could I publish a new edition of a dogmatic creed, and ask them to receive it as gospel? Would it not be plain to them that no certainty was to be found anywhere? Well, in my defense I could but make a lame apology; however, it was the true one, viz., that I had not read the Fathers critically enough; that in such nice points as those which determine the angle of divergence between the two churches, I had made considerable miscalculations; and how came this about? Why, the fact was, unpleasant as it was to avow, that I had leaned too much upon the assertions of Usher, Jeremy Taylor, or Barrow, and had been deceived by them."
Here is a specimen of the learning and honesty of the great Oxford divine! Dr. Newman confesses that when he was telling his people, "St. Augustine says this, St. Jerome says that" when he assured them that St. Gregory supported this doctrine, and Origen that, it was all false. Those holy fathers had never taught such doctrines. It was Usher, Taylor, and Barrow who were citing them, and they had deceived him!
Is it not a strange thing that such a shrewd man as Dr. Newman should have so completely destroyed his own good name in the very book he wrote, with so much care and ingenuity, to defend himself? One remains confounded he can hardly believe his own eyes at such want of honesty in such a man. It is evident that his mind was troubled at the souvenir of such a course of procedure. But he wanted to excuse himself by saying it was the fault of Usher, Taylor, and Barrow!
Are we not forcibly brought to the solemn and terrible drama in the Garden of Eden? Adam hoped to be excused by saying, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I did eat." The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." But what was the result of those excuses? We read: "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden." Dr. Newman has lost the precious inheritance God had given him. He has lost the lamp he had received to guide his steps, and he is now in the dark dungeon of Popery, worshiping, as a poor slave, the wafer god of Rome.
But what has become of that new church, or religion, the Via Media which had just come out from the sickly brain of the Oxford professor? Let us hear its sad and premature end from Dr. Newman himself. Let me, however, premise, that when Dr. Newman began his attack against his church, he at first so skillfully mixed the most eloquent eulogiums with his criticisms, that, though many sincere Christians were grieved, few dared to complain. The names of Pusey and Newman commanded such respect that few raised their voice against the conspiracy. This emboldened them. Month after month they become unguarded in their denunciations of the Church of England, and more explicit in their support of Romanism. In the meantime the Church of Rome was reaping a rich harvest of perverts; for many Protestants were unsettled in their faith, and were going the whole length of the road to Rome so cunningly indicated by the conspirators. At last, the 90th Tract appeared in 1843. It fell as a thunderbolt on the church. A loud cry of indignation was raised all over England against those who had so mercilessly struck at the heart of that church which they had sworn to defend. The bishops almost unanimously denounced Dr. Newman and his Romish tendencies, and showed the absurdity of his Via Media.
Now, let us hear him telling himself this episode of his life. For I want to be perfectly fair to Dr. Newman. It is only from his own words and public acts that I want the reader to judge him.
Here is what he says of himself, after being publicly condemned: "I saw indeed clearly that my place in the movement was lost. Public confidence was at an end. My occupation was gone. It was simply an impossibility that I could say anything henceforth to good effect, when I had been posted up by the Marshal on the buttery hatch of every college of my University after the manner of discommend pastry-cooks, and when, in every part of the country, and every class of society, through every organ and occasion of opinion, in newspapers, in periodicals, at meetings, in pulpits, at dinner tables, in coffee-rooms, in railway carriages, I was denounced as a traitor who had laid his train, and was detected in the very act of firing it against the time-honoured establishment."....."Confidence in me was lost. But I had already lost full confidence in myself" (p 132).
Let the reader hear these words from the very lips of Dr. Newman "Confidence in me was lost! But I had already lost full confidence in myself" (p. 132). Are these words the indications of a brave, innocent man? Or are they not the cry of despair of a cowardly and guilty conscience?
Was it not when Wishart heard that the Pope and his millions of slaves had condemned him to death, that he raised his head as a giant, and showed that he was more above his accusers and his judges than the heavens are above the earth? He had lost his confidence in himself and in his God and when he said, "I am happy to suffer and die for the cause of Truth?" Did Luther lose confidence in himself and in his God when condemned by the Pope and all his Bishops, and ordered to go before he Emperor to be condemned to death, if he would not retract? No! it is in those hours of trial the he made the world to re-echo the sublime words of David: "God is our refuge and our strength, a present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." But Luther had a good cause. He knew, he felt that the God of Heaven was on his side, when Dr. Newman knew well that he was deceiving the world, after having deceived himself. Luther was strong and fearless; for the voice of Jesus had come through the fifteen centuries to tell him: "Fear not, I am with thee." Dr. Newman was weak, trembling before the storm, for his conscience was reproaching him for his treachery and his unbelief.
Did Latimer falter and lose his confidence in himself and in his God, when condemned by his judges and tied to the stake to be burnt? No! It is then that he uttered those immortal and sublime words: "Master Ridley: Be of good comfort and play the man; we shall, this day, light a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out!"
This is the language of men who are fighting for Christ and His Gospel. Dr. Newman could not use such noble language when he was betraying Christ and His Gospel.
Now, let us hear from himself when, after having lost the confidence of his Church and his country, and had also lost his own confidence in himself, he saw a ghost and found that the Church of Rome was right. At page 157, he says: "My friend, an anxiously religious man, pointed out the palmary words of St. Augustine which were contained in one of the extracts made in the (Dublin) Review, and which had escaped my observation, 'Securus judicat obis terrarum.' He repeated these words again and again; and when he was gone, they kept ringing in my ears....The words of St. Augustine struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before. To take a familiar instance, they were like the 'Turn again, Whittington' of the chime; or to take a more serious one, they were like the 'tolle lege' of a child which converted St. Augustine himself. 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum!' By those great words of the ancient father, the theory of the Via Media was absolutely pulverized. I became excited at the view thus opened upon me....I had seen the shadow of a hand upon the wall....He who has seen a ghost cannot be as if he had never seen it. The heaven had opened and closed again. The thought, for the moment, had been: 'The Church of Rome will be found right, after all'" (158).
It would be amusing, indeed, if it were not so humiliating, to see the naivete with which Dr. Newman confesses his own aberrations, want of judgment and honesty in reference to the pet scheme of his whole theological existence at Oxford. "By these words," he says, "the Via Media was absolutely pulverized!"
We all know the history of the mountain in travail, which gave birth to a mouse. Dr. Newman tells us frankly that, after ten years of hard and painful travail, he produced something less than a mouse. His via Media was pulverized; it turned to be only a handful of dust.
Remember the high sounding of his trumpet about his plan of a new church, that New Jerusalem on earth, the church of the future, which was to take the place of his rotten Church of England. Let me repeat to you his very words about that new ark of salvation with which the professor of Oxford was to save the world. (Page 116): "I wanted to bring out, in a substantive form, a living Church of England, in a position proper to herself and founded on distinct principles, as far as paper could do it, and as earnestly preaching in an influencing others towards it could tend to make it a fact; a living church, made of flesh and blood, with voice, complexion, and motion, and action, and a will of its own."
Now, what was the end of that masterpiece of theological architecture of Dr. Newman? Here is its history, given by the great architect himself: "I read the palmary words of St. Augustine, 'securus judical orbis terrarum!' By those great words of the ancient father, the theory of the Via Media was pulverized! I become excited at the view thus opened before me. I had seen the shadow of a hand on the wall. He who has seen a ghost can never be as if he had not see it; the heavens had opened and closed again. The thought, for a moment, was 'The Church of Rome will be found right, after all'" (158). Have we ever seen a man destroying himself more completely at the very moment that he tries to defend himself? Here he does ingeniously confess what everyone knew before, that his whole work, for the last ten years, was not only a self-deception, but a supreme effort to deceive the world his Via Media was a perfect string of infidelity, sophism, and folly. The whole fabric had fallen to the ground at the sight of a ghost! To build a grand structure, in the place of his Church which he wanted to demolish, he had thought it was sufficient to throw a great deal of glittering sand, with some blue, white, and red dust, in the air! He tells us that one sad hour came when he heard five Latin words from St. Augustine, saw a ghost and his great structure fell to the ground!
What does this all mean? It simply means that God Almighty has dealt with Dr. Newman as He did with the impious Pharaoh in the Red Sea, when he was marching at the head of his army against the church of old, His chosen people, to destroy them.
Dr. Newman was not only marching with Dr. Pusey at the head of an army of theologians to destroy the Church of God, but he was employing all the resources of his intellect, all his false and delusive science, to raise a idolatrous church in its place; and when Pharaoh and Dr. Newman thought themselves sure of success, the God of heaven confounded them both. The first went down with his army to the bottom of the sea as a piece of lead. The second lost, not his life, but something infinitely more precious he lost his reputation for intelligence, science, and integrity; he lost the light of the Gospel, and became perfectly blind, after having lost his place in the kingdom of Christ!
I have never judged a man by the hearsay of any one, and I would prefer to have my tongue cut out than to repeat a word of what the adversaries of Dr. Newman have said against him. But we have the right, and I think it is our duty, to hear and consider what he says of himself, and to judge him on his own confession.
At page 174 we read these words from his own pen to a friend: "I cannot disguise from myself that my preaching is not calculated to defend that system of religion which has been received for three hundred years, and of which the Heads of Houses are the legitimate maintainers in this place....I fear I must allow that, whether I will or no, I am disposing them (the young men) towards Rome." Here Dr. Newman declares, in plain English, that he was disposing his hearers and students at Oxford to join the Church of Rome! I ask it: what can we think of a man who is paid and sworn to do a thing, who not only does it not, but who does the very contrary? Who would hesitate to call such a man dishonest? Who would hesitate to say that such a one has no respect for those who employ him, and no respect for himself?
Dr. Newman writes this whole book to refute the public accusation that he was a traitor, that he was preparing the people to leave the Church of England and to submit to the Pope. But, strange to say, it is in that very book we find the irrefutable proof of his shameful and ignominious treachery! In a letter to Dr. Russell, President of the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, he wrote, page 227: "Roman Catholics will find this to be the state of things in time to come, whatever promise they may fancy there is of a large secession to their church. This man or that may leave us, but thee will be no general movement. There is, indeed, an incipient movement of our church towards yours, and this your leading men are doing all they can to frustrate by their unwearied efforts, at all risks, to carry off individuals. When will they know their position, and embrace a larger and wiser policy?" Is not evident here that God was blinding Dr. Newman, and that He was making him confess his treachery in the very moment the he was trying to conceal it? Do we not see clearly that he was complaining of the unwise policy of the leaders of the Church of Rome who were retarding that incipient movement of his church towards Romanism, for which he was working day and night with Dr. Pusey?
But had not Dr. Newman confessed his own treachery, we have, today, its undeniable proof in the letter of Dr. Pusey to the English Church Union, written in 1879. Speaking of Dr. Newman and the other Tractarians, he says: "An acute man, Dr. Hawkins, Provost of Oriel, said of the 'Tracts,' on their first appearance, 'I know they have a forced circulation.' We put the leaven into the meal, and waited to see what would come of it. Our object was to Catholicism England."
And this confession of Dr. Pusey, that he wanted to Catholicism England, is fully confirmed by Dr. Newman (pages 108, 109) where he says: "I suspect it was Dr. Pusey's influence and example which set me and made me set others on the larger and more careful works in defense of the principles of the movement which followed" (towards Rome) "in a course of years."
Nothing is more curious than to hear from Dr. Newman himself with what skill he was trying to conceal his perfidious efforts in preparing that movement towards Rome. He says on that subject, page 124: "I was embarrassed in consequence of my wish to go as far as was possible in interpreting the articles in the direction of Roman dogma, without disclosing what I was doing to the parties whose doubts I was meeting, who might be, thereby, encouraged to go still further than, at present, they found in themselves any call to do."
A straw fallen on the water indicates the way the tide goes. Here we have the straw, taken by Dr. Newman himself, and thrown by him on the water. A thousand volumes written by the ex-Professor of Oxford to deny that he was a conspirator at work to lead his people to Rome, when in the service of the Church of England, could not destroy the evident proof of his guilt given by himself in this strange book.
If we want to have a proof of the supreme contempt Dr. Newman had for his readers, and his daily habit of deceiving them by sophistries and incorrect assertions, we have it in the remarkable lines which I find at page 123 of his Apologia. Speaking of his "Doctrinal Development," he says: "I wanted to ascertain what was the limit of that elasticity in the direction of Roman dogma. But, next, I had a way of inquiry of my own which I state without defending. I instanced it afterward in my essay on 'Doctrinal Development.' That work, I believe, I have not read since I published it, and I doubt not at all that I have made many mistakes in it, partly from my ignorance of the details of doctrine as the Church of Rome holds them, but partly from my impatience to clear as large a range for the Principles of doctrinal development (waiving the question of historical fact) as was consistent with the strict apostolicity and identity of the Catholic creed. In like manner, as regards the Thirty Nine Articles, my method of inquiry was to leap in medias res" (123-124).
Dr. Newman is the author of two new systems of theology; and, from his own confession, the two systems are a compendium of error, absurdities, and folly. His Via Media was "pulverized" by the vision of a ghost, when he heard the four words of St. Augustine: "Securus judicat obis terrarum." The second, known under the name of "Doctrinal Development," is, from his own confession, full of errors on account of his ignorance of the subject on which he was writing, and his own impatience to support his sophisms.
Dr. Newman is really unfortunate in his paternity. He is the father of two literary children. The first-born was called Via Media; but as it had neither head nor feet, it was suffocated on the day of its birth by a "ghost." The second, called "Doctrinal Development," was not viable. The father is so shocked with the sight of the monster, that he publicly confesses its deformities and cries out, "Mistake! mistake! mistake!" (pages 123, 124 "Apologia pro vita sua.")
The troubled conscience of Dr. Newman has forced him to confess (page 111) that he was miserable, from his want of faith, when a minister of the Church of England and a Professor of Theology of Oxford: "Alas! it was my portion for whole years to remain without any satisfactory basis for my religious profession!" At pages 174 and 175 he tells us how miserable and anxious he was when the voice of his conscience reproached him in the position he held in the Church of England, while leading her people to Rome. At page 158 he confesses his unspeakable confusion when he saw his supreme folly in building up the Via Media, and heard its crash at the appearance of a ghost. At page 123 he acknowledges how he deceived his readers, and deceived himself, in his "Doctrinal Development." At page 132 he tell us how he had not only completely lost the confidence of his country, but lost confidence in himself. And it is after this humiliating and shameful course of life that he finds out "that the Church of Rome is right!"
Must we not thank God for having forced Dr. Newman to tell us through what dark and tortuous ways a Protestant, a disciple of the Gospel, a minister of Christ, a Professor of Oxford, fell into that sea of Sodom called Romanism or Papism! A great lesson is given us here. We see the fulfillment of Christ's words about those who have received great talents and have not used them for the "Good Master's honour and glory."
Dr. Newman, without suspecting it, tells us that it was his course of action towards that branch of the Church of Christ of which he was a minister, that caused him to lose the confidence of his country, and troubled him so much that it caused him to lose that self-confidence which is founded on our faith and our union with Christ, who is our rock, our only strength in the hour of trial. Having lost her sails, her anchor, and her helm, the poor ship was evidently doomed to become a wreck. Nothing could prevent her from drifting into the engulfing abyss of Popery.
Dr. Newman confesses that it is only when his guilty conscience was uniting its thundering voice with that of his whole country to condemn him that he said, "After all, the Church of Rome is right!" These are the arguments, the motives, the lights which have led Dr. Newman to Rome! And it is from himself that we have it! It is a just, an avenging God who forces His adversary to glorify Him and say the truth in spite of himself in this "Apologia pro vita sua."
No one can read that book, written almost with a superhuman skill, ability, and fineness, without a feeling of unspeakable sadness at the sight of such bright talents, such eloquence, such extensive studies, employed by the author to deceive himself and deceive his readers; for it is evident, on every page, that Dr. Newman has deceived himself before deceiving his readers. But no one can read that book without feeling a sense of terror also. For he will hear, at every page, the thundering voice of the God of the Gospel, "Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. ii. 10-11).
What, at first, most painfully puzzles the mind of the Christian reader of this book is the horror which Dr. Newman has for the Holy Scriptures. The unfortunate man who is perishing from hydrophobia does not keep himself more at a distance from water than he does from the Word of God. It seems incredible, but it is the fact, that from the first page of the history of his "Religious Opinions" to page 261, where he joins the Church of Rome, we have not a single line to tell us that he has gone to the Word of God for light and comfort in his search after truth. We see Dr Newman at the feet of Daniel Wilson, Scott, Milner, Whately, Hawkins, Blanco, White, William James, Butler, Keble, Froude, Pusey, ect., asking them what to believe, what to do to be saved; but you do not see him a single minute, no, not a single minute, at the feet of the Saviour, asking him, "Master, what must I do to have 'Eternal Life'?" The sublime words of Peter to Christ, which are filling all the echoes of heaven and earth, these eighteen hundred years, "Lord! to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life!" have never reached his ears! In the long and gloomy hours, when his soul was chilled and trembling in the dark night of infidelity; when his uncertain feet were tired by vainly going here and there, to find the true way, he has never heard Christ telling him: "Come unto Me. I am the Way; I am the Door; I am the Life!" In those terrible hours of distress of which he speaks so eloquently, when he cries (page 111) "Alas, I was without any basis for my religious profession, in a state of moral sickness: neither able to acquiesce in Anglicanism, nor able to go to Rome:" when his lips were parched with thirst after truth, he never, no never, went to the fountain from which flow the waters of eternal life!
One day he goes to the Holy Fathers. But what will he find there? Will he see how St. Cyprian sternly rebuked the impudence of Stephen, Bishop of Rome, who pretended to have some jurisdiction over the See of Carthage? Will he find how Gregory positively says that the Bishop who will pretend to be the "Universal Bishop" is the forerunner of Antichrist? Will he hear St. Augustine declaring that when Christ said to Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," He was speaking of Himself as the rock upon which the Church would stand? No. The only thing which Dr. Newman brings us from the Holy Fathers is so ridiculous and so unbecoming that I am ashamed to have to repeat it. He tells us (page 78), "I have an idea. The mass of the Fathers (Justin, Athenagoras, Ireanaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose) hold that, though Satan fell from the beginning, the angels fell before the deluge, falling in love with the daughters of men. This has lately come across me as a remarkable solution of a notion I cannot help holding."
Allow me here to remind the reader that, though the Fathers have written many beautiful evangelical pages, some of them have written the greatest nonsense and the most absurd things which human folly can imagine. Many of them were born and educated as pagans. They had learned and believed the history and immorality of their demi-gods; they had brought those notions with them into the Church; and they had attributed to the angels of God, the passions and love for women which was one of the most conspicuous characters of Jupiter, Mars, Cupid, Bacchus, ect. And Dr. Newman, whose want of accuracy and judgment is so often revealed and confessed by him in this book, has not been able to see that those sayings of the Fathers were nothing but human aberrations. He has accepted that as Gospel truth, and he has been silly enough to boast of it.
The bees go to the flowers to make their precious honey; they wisely choose what is more perfect, pure and wholesome in the flowers to feed themselves. Dr. Newman does the very contrary; he goes to those flowers of past ages, the Holy Fathers, and takes from them what is impure for his food. After this, is it a wonder that he has so easily put his lips to the cup of the great enchantress who is poisoning the world with the wine of her prostitution?
When he reader has followed with attention the history of the religious opinions of Dr. Newman in his "Apologia pro vita sua," and he sees him approaching, day after day, the bottomless abyss of folly, corruption, slavery, and idolatry of Rome, into which he suddenly falls (page 261), he is forcibly reminded of the strange spectacle recorded in the eloquent pages of Chateaubriand, about the Niagara Falls.
More than once, travelers standing at the foot of that marvel of the marvels of the works of God, looking up towards heaven, have been struck by the sight of a small, dark spot moving in large circles, at a great distance above the fall. Gazing at that strange object, they soon remarked, that in its circular march in the sky, the small dark spot was rapidly growing larger, as it was coming down towards the thundering fall. They soon discovered the majestic form of one of the giant eagles of America! And the eagle, balancing himself in the air, seemed to looked down on the marvelous fall as if absolutely taken with admiration at its grandeur and magnificence! For some time, the giant of the air remained above the majestic cataract describing his large circles. But when coming down nearer and nearer the terrific abyss, he was suddenly dragged as by an irresistible power into the bottomless abyss to disappear. Some time later the body, bruised and lifeless, is seen floating on the rapid and dark waters, to be for ever lost in the bitter waters of the sea, at a long distance below.
Rome is a fall. It is the name which God Himself has given her: "There come a falling away" (2 Thess. ii. 3). As the giant eagle of America, when imprudently coming too near the mighty Fall of Niagara, is often caught in the irresistible vortex which attracts it from a long distance, so that eagle of Oxford, Dr. Newman, whom God has created for better things, his imprudently come too near the terrific papal fall. He has been enchanted by its beauty, its thousand bright rainbows: he has taken for real suns the fantastic jets of light which encircle its misty head, and conceal its dark and bottomless abyss. Bewildered by the bewitching voice of the enchantress, he has been unable to save himself from her perfidious and almost irresistible attractions. The eagle of Oxford has been caught in the whirlpool of the engulfing powers of Rome, and you see him today, bruised, lifeless, dragged on the dark waters of Popery towards the shore of a still darker eternity.
Dr. Newman could not make his submission to Rome without perjuring himself. He swore that he would never interpret the Holy Scriptures except according to the unanimous consent of the Holy Fathers. Well, I challenge him here, to meet me and show me that the Holy Fathers are unanimous on the supremacy of the power of the Pope over the other bishops; that he is infallible; that the priest has the power to make his God with a wafer; that the Virgin Mary is the only hope of sinners. I challenge him to show us that auricular confession is an ordinance of Christ. Dr. Newman knows well that those things are impostures. He has never believed, he never will believe them. The fact is that Dr. Newman confesses that he never had any faith when he was a minister of the Church of England; and it is clear that he is the same since he became a Roman Catholic. In page 282 we read this strange exposition of his faith: "We are called upon not to profess anything, but to submit and be silent," which is just the faith of the mute animal which obeys the motion of the bridle, without any resistance or thought of its own. This is I cannot deny it the true, the only faith in the Church of Rome; it is the faith which leads directly to Atheism or idiotism. But Christ gave us a very different idea of the faith He asks from His disciples when He said: "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 23).
That degrading and brutal religion of Dr. Newman surely was not the religion of Paul, when he wrote, "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say" (1 Cor. x. 15). Dr. Newman honestly tells us (page 228), when speaking of the worship of the Virgin Mary: "Such devotional manifestations in honour of our Lady had been my great Crux as regards Catholicism. I say frankly I do not fully enter into them now...they are suitable for Italy, but are not suitable for England." He has only changed his appearance his heart is what it was formerly, when a minister of the Church of England. He wanted then another creed, another Church for England. So now, he finds that this and that practice of Rome may do for the Italians, but not for the English people!
Was he pleased with the promulgation of Papal infallibility? No. It is a public fact that one of his most solemn actions, a few years since his connection with the Church of Rome, was to protest against the promulgation of that dogma. More than that, he expressed his doubts about the wisdom and the right of the Council to proclaim it.
Let us read his interesting letter to Bishop Ullathorne "Rome ought to be a name to lighten the heart at all times; and a council's proper office is, when some great heresy or other evil impends, to inspire hope and confidence in the faithful. But now we have the greatest meeting which ever has been, and that at Rome, infusing into us by the accredited organs of Rome and of its partisans (such as the Civilta, the Armonia, the Univers, and the Tablet) little else than fear and dismay! When we are all at rest and have no doubts, and at least practically, not to say doctrinally hold the Holy Father to be infallible, suddenly there is thunder in the clear sky, and we are told to prepare for something, we know not what, to try our faith, we know not how no impending danger is to be averted, but a great difficulty is to be created. Is this the proper work of an Ecumenical Council? As to myself personally, please God, I do not expect any trial at all: but I cannot help suffering with the many souls who are suffering, and I look with anxiety at the prospect of having to defend decisions which may not be difficult to my own private judgment, but may be most difficult to maintain logically in the face of historical facts.
"What have we done to be treated as the faithful never were treated before? When has a definition de fide been a luxury of devotion, and not a stern, painful necessity? Why should an aggressive, insolent faction be allowed to 'make the heart of the just sad, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful?' why cannot we be let alone, when we have pursued peace, and thought no evil!
"I assure you, my Lord, some of the truest minds are driven one way and another, and do not know where to rest their feet one day determining 'to give up all theology as a bed job,' and recklessly to believe henceforth almost that the Pope is impeccable: at another, tempted to 'believe all the worst which a book like Janus says:' others doubting about 'the capacity possessed by bishops drawn from corners of the earth, to judge what is fitting for European society'; and then, again, angry with the Holy See for listening to 'the flattery of a clique of Jesuits, redemptorists, and converts.' "Then, again, think of the store of Pontifical scandals in the history of eighteen centuries, which have partly been poured forth and partly are still to come. What Murphy inflicted upon us in one way, M. Veuillot is indirectly bringing on us in another. And then, again, the blight which is falling upon the multitude of Anglican Ritualists, ect., who, themselves, perhaps at least, their leaders may never become Catholics, but who are leavening the various English denominations and parties (far beyond their own range), with principles and sentiments tending towards their ultimate absorption into the Catholic Church.
"With these thoughts ever before me, I am continually asking myself whether I ought not to make my feelings public: but all I do is to pray those early doctors of the Church whose intercession would decide the matter (Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and Basil) to avert this great calamity.
"If it is God's will that the Pope's infallibility be defined, then is it God's will to throw back 'the times and movements' of that triumph which He has destined for His kingdom, and I shall feel I have but to bow my head to His adorable, inscrutable providence.
"You have not touched upon the subject yourself, but I think you will allow me to express to you feelings, which, for the most part, I keep to myself."[*]
These eloquent complaints of the new convert exceedingly irritated Pius IX. and the Jesuits at Rome: they entirely destroyed their confidence in him. They were too shrewd to ignore that he had never been anything else but a kind of free-thinker, whose Christian faith was without any basis, as he has himself confessed. They had received him, of course, with pleasure, for he was the very best man in England to unsettle the minds of the young ministers of the Church, but they had left him alone in his oratory of Birmingham, where they seemed to ignore him.
However, when the protest of the new so-called convert showed that his submission was but a sham, and that he was more Protestant than ever, they lashed him without mercy. But before we hear the stern answers of the Roman Catholics to their new recruit, let us remember the fact the when that letter appeared, Dr. Newman has lost the memory of it; he boldly denied its paternity at first; it was only when the proofs were publicly given the he had written it, that he acknowledged it, saying for his excuse that he had forgotten his writing it!!
Now let us hear the answer to the Civilta, the organ of the Pope, to Dr. Newman: "Do you not see that it is only temptation that makes you see everything black? If the holy doctors whom you invoke, Ambrose, Jerome, ect., do not decide the controversy in your way, it is not, as the Protestant Pall Mall Gazette fancies, because they will not or cannot interpose, but because they agree with St. Peter and with the petition of the majority. Would you have us make procession in sackcloth and ashes to avert this scourge of the definition of a verity?" (Ibid., p. 271).
The clergy of France, through their organ L'Univers (Vol. II., pp. 31 34), were still more severe and sarcastic. They had just collected $4,000 to help Dr. Newman to pay the enormous expenses of the suit for his slanders against Father Achilli, which he had lost.
Dr. Newman, as it appears by the article from the pen of the celebrated editor of the Univers, had not even had the courtesy to acknowledge the gift, not the exertions of those who had collected that large sum of money. Now let us see what they thought and said in France about the ex-professor of Oxford whom they called the "Respectable convict." Speaking of the $4,000 sent from France, Veuillot says: "The respectable convict received it, and was pleased; but he gave no thanks and showed no courtesy. Father Newman ought to be more careful in what he says: everything that is comely demands it of him. But, at any rate, if his Liberal passion carries him away, till he forgets what he owes to us and to himself, what answer must one give him, but that he had better go on as he set out, silently ungrateful." (L'Univers, Vol. II. pp. 32 34; Ibid., p. 272).
These public rebukes, addressed from Paris and Rome by the two most popular organs of the Church of Rome, tell us the old story; the services of traitors may be accepted, but they are never trusted. Father Newman had not the confidence of the Roman Catholics.
But some will say: "Has not the dignity of Cardinal, to which he has lately been raised, proved that the present Pope has the greatest confidence in Dr. Newman?"
Had I not been twenty-five years a priest of Rome, I would say "Yes!" But I know too much of their tactics for that. The dignity of Cardinal has been given to Drs. Manning and Newman as the baits which the fishermen of Prince Edward Island throw into the sea to attract the mackerels. The Pope, with those long scarlet robes thrown over the shoulders of the two renegades from the Church of England, hopes to catch more English mackerel.
Besides that, we all know the remarkable words of St. Paul: "And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour, and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness" (1 Cor. xii. 23).
It is on that principle that the Pope has acted. He knew well that Dr. Newman had played the act of a traitor at Oxford, that he had been caught in the very act of conspiracy by his Bishops, that he had entirely lost the confidence of the English people. These public facts paralyzed the usefulness of the new convert. He was really a member of the Church of Rome, but he was one of the most uncomely ones; so much so that the last Pope, Pius IX., had left him alone, in a dark corner, for nearly eighteen years. Leo XIII. was more shrewd. He felt that Newman might become one of the most powerful agents of Romanism in England, if he were only covering his uncomeliness with the rich red Cardinal robe.
But will the scarlet colours which now clothe Dr. Newman make us forget that, today, he belongs to the most absurd, immoral, abject, and degrading form of idolatry the world has ever seen? Will we forget that Romanism, these last six centuries, is nothing else but old paganism in its most degrading forms, coming back under a Christian name? What is the divinity which is adored in those splendid temples of modern Rome? Is it anything else but the old Jupiter Tonans! Yes, the Pope has stolen the old gods of paganism, and he has sacrilegiously written the adorable name of Jesus in their faces, that the deluded modern nations may have less objection to accept the worship of their pagan ancestors. They adore a Christ in the Church of Rome: they sing beautiful hymns to His honour: they build Him magnificent temples; they are exceedingly devoted to Him they make daily enormous sacrifices to extend His power and glory all over the world. But what is that Christ? It is simply an idol of bread, baked every day by the servant-girl of the priest, or the neighbouring nuns.
I have been twenty-five years one of the most sincere and zealous priests of that Christ. I have made Him with mine own hands, and the help of my servants, for a quarter of a century; I have a right to say that I know Him perfectly well. It is that I may tell what I know of that Christ that the God of the Gospel has taken me by the hand, and granted me to give my testimony before the world. Hundreds of times I have said to my servant-girl what Dr. Newman and all the priests of Rome say, every day, to their own servants or their nuns: "Please make me some wafers, that I may say mass and give the communion to those who want to receive it." And the dutiful girl took some wheat flour, mixed it with water, and put the dough between those tow well-polished and engraven irons, which she had well heated before. In less time than I can write it, the dough was baked into wafers. Handing them to me, I brought them to the altar, and performed a ceremony which is called "the mass." In the very midst of that mass, I pronounced on that wafer five magic words, "Hoc est enim corpus meum," and had to believe, what Dr. Newman and all the priests of Rome profess to believe, that there were no more wafers, no more bread before me, but that what were wafers, had been turned into the great Eternal God who had created the world. I had to prostrate myself, and ask my people to prostrate themselves before the god I had just made with five words from my lips; and the people, on their knees, bowing their heads, and bringing their faces to the dust, adored god whom I had just made, with the help of these heated irons and my servant-girl.
Now, is this not a form of idolatry more degrading, more insulting to the infinite majesty of God than the worship of the gold calf? Where is the difference between the idolatry of Aaron and the Israelites adoring the gold calf in the wilderness and the idolatry of Dr. Newman adoring the wafer in his temple? The only difference is, that Aaron worshipped a god infinitely more respectable and powerful, in melted gold, than Dr. Newman worshiping his baked dough.
The idolatry of Dr. Newman is more degrading than the idolatry of the worshipers of the sun.
When the Persians adore the sun, they give their homage to the greatest, the most glorious being which is before us. That magnificent fiery orb, millions of miles in circumference, which rises as a giant, every morning, from behind the horizon, to march over the world and pour everywhere its floods of heat, light an life, cannot be contemplated without feelings of respect, admiration, and awe. Man must raise his eyes up to see that glorious sun he must take the eagle's wings to follow his giant strides throughout the myriads of worlds which are there, to speak to us of the wisdom, the power, and love of our God. It is easy to understand that poor, fallen, blind men may take that great being for their god. Would not every one perish and die, if the sun would forget to come every day, that we may bathe and swim in his ocean of light and life?
Then, when I see the Persian priests of the sun, in their magnificent temple, with censors in their hands, waiting for the appearance of its first rays, to intone their melodious hymns and sing their sublime canticles, I know their error and I understand it; I was about to say, I almost excuse it. I feel an immense compassion for these deluded idolaters. However, I feel they are raised above the dust of the earth: their intelligence, their souls cannot but receive some sparks of life and life from the contemplation of that inexhaustible focus of light an life. But is not Dr. Newman wit his Roman Catholic people a thousand times more worthy of our compassion and our tears, when they are abjectly prostrated before his ignoble wafer to adore it as their Saviour, their Creator, their God? Is it possible to imagine a spectacle more humiliating, blasphemous, and sacrilegious, than a multitude of men and women prostrating their faces to the dust to adore a god whom the rats and mice have, thousands of times, dragged and eaten in their dark holes? Where are the rays of light and life coming from that wafer? Instead of being enlarged and elevated at the approach of this ridiculous modern divinity, is not the human intelligence contracted, diminished, paralyzed, chilled, and struck with idiocy and death at its feet?
Can we be surprised that the Roman Catholic nations are so fast falling into the abyss of infidelity and atheism, when they hear their priests telling them that more than 200,000 times, every day, this contemptible wafer is changed by them into the great God who has created heaven and earth at the beginning, and who has saved this perishing world by sacrificing the body and the blood which He has taken as His tabernacle to show us His eternal love!
Come with me and see those multitudes of people with their faces prostrated in the dust, adoring their white elephant of Siam.
Oh! what ignorance and superstition! what blindness and folly! you will exclaim. To adore a white elephant as God!
But there is a spectacle more humiliating and more deplorable: there is a superstition, an idolatry below that of the Siamese. It is the idolatry practiced by Dr. Newman and his millions of co-religionists today. Yes! the elephant god of the Asiatic people is infinitely more respectable than the wafer god of Dr. Newman. That elephant may be taken as the symbol of strength, magnanimity,patience, ect. There is life, motion in that noble animal he sees with his eyes, he walks with his feet. Let some one attack him, he will protect himself with his mighty trunk he will throw his enemy high in the air he will crush him under his feet.
But look at this modern divinity of Rome. It has eyes, but does not see; feet, but does not move; a mouth, but does not speak. There is neither life nor strength in the wafer god of Rome.
But if the fall of Dr. Newman into the bottomless abyss of the idolatry of Rome is a deplorable fact, there is another fact still more deplorable.
How many fervent Christians, how many venerable ministers of Christ everywhere, are, just now, prostrated at the dear Saviour's feet, telling Him with tears: "Didst Thou not sow the good Gospel seed all over our dear country, through the hands of our heroic and martyred fathers? From whence, then, hath it these Popish and idolatrous tares?" And the "Good Master" answers, today, what He answered eighteen hundred years ago: "While men slept, the enemy came during the night; he has sowed those tares among the wheat, and he went away" (Matthew xii. 25).
And if you want to know the name of the enemy who has sowed tares, in the night, amongst the wheat, and went away, you have only to read this "Apologia pro vita sua." You will find this confession of Dr. Newman at page 174: -
"I cannot disguise from myself that my preaching is not calculated to defend that system of religion which has been received for three hundred years, and of which the Heads of Houses are the legitimate maintainers in this place....I must allow that I was disposing 'the minds of young men' towards Rome!"
Now, having obtained from the very enemy's lips how he has sowed tares during the night (secretly), read page 262, and you will see how he went away and prostrated himself at the feet of the most implacable enemy of all the rights and liberties of men, to call him "Most Holy Father." Read how he fell at the knees of the very power which prepared and blessed the Armada destined to cover his native land, England, with desolation, ruins, tears and blood, and enchain those of her people who would not have been slaughtered on the battle-field! See how the enemy, after having sown the tares, wet away to the feet of a Sergius III., the public lover of Marozia and to the feet of his bastard, John XI., who was still more debauched than his father and to the feet of Leo VI., killed by an outraged citizen of Rome, in the act of such an infamous crime that I cannot name it here to the feet of an Alexander, who seduced his own daughter, and surpassed in cruelty and debauchery Nero and Caligula. Let us see Dr. Newman falling at the feet of all these monsters of depravity, to call them, "Most Holy Fathers," "Most Holy Heads of the Church," "Most Holy and Infallible Vicars of Jesus Christ!"
At the sight of such a fall, what can we do, but say with Isaiah:
"The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the ruler....How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, Son of the morning! how are thou cut down to the ground?" (Is. xiv.)
CHAPTER 42 Back to Contents
On the first Sabbath of November, 1846, after a retreat of eight days, I fell on my knees, and asked as a favour, to be received as a novice of the religious order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Longueuil, whose object is to preach retreats (revivals) among the people. No child of the Church of Rome ever enrolled himself with more earnestness and sincerity under the mysterious banners of her monastic armies than I did, that day. It is impossible to entertain more exalted views of the beauty and holiness of the monastic life, than I had. To live among the holy men who had made the solemn vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity, seemed to me the greatest and the most blessed privilege which my God could grant on earth.
Within the walls of the peaceful monastery of Longueuil, among those holy men who had, long since, put an impassable barrier between themselves and that corrupted world, from the snares of which I was just escaping, my conviction was that I should see nothing but actions of the most exalted piety; and that the deadly weapons of the enemy could not pierce those walls protected by the Immaculate Mother of God!
The frightful storms which had covered with wrecks the roaring sea, where I had so often nearly perished, could not trouble the calm waters of the port where my bark had just entered. Every one of the members of the community was to be like an angel of charity, humility, modesty, whose example was to guide my steps in the ways of God. My superior appeared to be less a superior than a father, whose protecting care, by day and night, would be a shield over me. Noah, in the ark, safe from the raging waves which were destroying the world, did not feel more grateful to God than I was, when once in this holy solitude. The vow of perfect poverty was to save me for ever from the cares of the world. Having, hereafter, no right to possess a cent, the world would become to me a paradise, where food, clothing, and lodging would come without anxiety or care. My father superior would supply all these things, without any other condition on my part, than to love and obey a man of God whose whole life was to be spent in guiding my steps in the ways of the most exalted evangelical virtues. Had not that father himself made a solemn vow to renounce not only all the honours and dignities of the church, that his whole mind and heart might be devoted to my holiness on earth, and my salvation in heaven?
How easy to secure that salvation now! I had only to look to that father on earth, and obey him as my Father in Heaven. Yes! The will of that father was to be, for me, the will of my God. Though I might err in obeying him, my errors would not be laid to my charge. To save my soul, I should have only to be like a corpse, or a stick in the hands of my father superior. Without any anxiety or any responsibility whatever on my own, I was to be led to heaven as the new-born child in the arms of his loving mother, without any fear, thoughts, or anxiety of his own.
With the Christian poet I could have sung:
"Rocks and storms I fear no more,
When on that eternal shore,
Drop the anchor! Furl the sail!
I am safe within the vail."
But how short were to be these fine dream of my poor deluded mind! When on my knees, Father Guigues handed me, with great solemnity, the Latin books of the rules of that monastic order, which is their real gospel, warning me that it was a secret book, that there were things in it I ought not to reveal to anyone; and he made me solemnly promise that I would never show it to any one outside the order.
When alone, the next morning, in my cell, I thanked God and the Virgin Mary for the favours of the last day, and the thought came involuntarily to my mind: "Have you not, a thousand times, heard and said that the Holy Church of Rome absolutely condemns and anathematizes secret societies. And do you not belong, today, to a secret society? How can you reconcile the solemn promise of secrecy you made last night, with the anathemas hurled by all your popes against secret societies?" After having, in vain, tried, in my mind, to reconcile these two things, I happily remembered that I was a corpse, that I had for ever given up my private judgment that my only business now was to obey. "Does a corpse argue against those who turn it from side to side? Is it not in perfect peace, whatever may be the usage to which it is exposed, or to whatever place it is dragged. Shall I lose the rich crown which is before me, at my first step in the ways of perfection?"
I bade my rebellious intelligence to be still, my private judgment to be mute, and, to distract my mind from this first temptation, I read that book of rules with the utmost attention. I had not gone through it all before I understood why it was kept from the eyes of the curates and the other secular priests. To my unspeakable amazement, I found that, from the beginning to the end, it speaks with the most profound contempt for them all. I said to myself: "What would be the indignation of the curates, if they should suspect that these strangers from France have such a bad opinion of them all! Would the good curates receive them as angels from heaven, and raise them so high in the esteem of the people, if they knew that the first thing an Oblate has to learn, is that the secular priest is, today, steeped in immorality, ignorance, wordiness, laziness, gluttony, ect.; that he is the disgrace of the church, which would speedily be destroyed, was she not providentially sustained, and kept in the ways of God, by the holy monastic men whom she nurses as her only hope! Clear as the light of the sun on a bright day, the whole fabric of the order of the Oblates presented itself to my mind, as the most perfect system of Pharisaism the world had ever seen."
The Oblate, who studies his book of rules, his only gospel, must have his mind filled with the idea of his superior holiness, not only over the poor sinful, secular priest, but over every one else. The Oblate alone is Christian, holy, and sacred; the rest of the world is lost! The Oblate alone is the salt of the earth, the light of the world! I said to myself: "Is it to attain to this pharisaical perfection that I have left my beautiful and dear parish of Kamouraska, and given up the honourable position which my God had given me in my country!"
However, after some time spent in these sad and despondent reflections, I again felt angry with myself. I quickly directed my mind to the frightful, unsuspected, and numberless scandals I had known in almost every parish I had visited. I remembered the drunkenness of the curate, the impurities of this, the ignorance of another, the worldliness and absolute want of faith of others, and concluded that, after all, the Oblates were not far from the truth in their bad opinion of the secular clergy. I ended my sad afflictions by saying to myself: "After all, if the Oblates live a life of holiness, as I expect to find here, is it a crime that they should see, feel, and express among themselves, the difference which exists between a regular and a secular clergy? Am I come here to judge and condemn these holy men? No! I came here to save myself by the practice of the most heroic Christian virtues, the first of which, is that I should absolutely and for ever, give up my private judgment consider myself as a corpse in the hand of my superior."
With all the fervour of my soul, I prayed to God and to the Virgin Mary, day and night, that week, that I might attain that supreme state of perfection, when I would have no will, no judgment of my own. The days of that first week passed very quickly, spent in prayer, reading and meditation of the Scriptures, study of ecclesiastical history and ascetical books, from half-past five in the morning till half-past nine at night. The meals were taken at the regular hours of seven, twelve, and six o'clock, during which, with rare exceptions, silence was kept, and pious books were read. The quality of the food was good; but, at first, before they got a female cook to preside over the kitchen,everything was so unclean, that I had to shut my eyes at meals, not to see what I was eating. I should have complained, had not my lips been sealed by that strange monastic view of perfection that every religious man is a corpse! What does a corpse care about the cleanliness or uncleanliness of what is put into its mouth? The third day, having drank at breakfast a glass of milk which was literally mixed with the dung of a cow, my stomach rebelled; a circumstance which I regretted exceedingly, attributing it to my want of monastic perfection. I envied the high state of holiness of the other fathers who had so perfectly attained to the sublime perfection of submission that they could drink that impure milk just as if it had been clean.
Everything went on well the first week, with the exception of a dreadful scare I had at the dinner of the first Friday. Just after eating soup, when listening with the greatest attention to the reading of the life of a saint, I suddenly felt as if the devil had taken hold of my feet; I threw down my knife and fork, and I cried at the top of my voice, "My God! my God! what is there?" and as quick as lightning I jumped on my chair to save myself from Satan's grasp. My cries were soon followed by an inexpressible burst of convulsive laughter from everyone.
"But what does that mean? Who has taken hold of my feet?" I asked. Father Guigues tried to explain the matter to me, but it took him a considerable time. When he began to speak, an irrepressible burst of laughter prevented his saying a word. The fits of laughter became still more uncontrollable, on account of the seriousness with which I was repeatedly asking them who could have taken hold of my feet! At last some one said, "It is Father Lagier who wanted to kiss your feet!" At the same time, Lagier walking on his hands and knees, his face covered with sweat, dust, and dirt, was crawling out from under the table; literally rolling on the floor, in such an uncontrollable fit of laughter that he was unable to stand on his feet. Of course, when I understood that no devil had tried to drag me by the feet, but that it was simply one of the father Oblates, who, to go through one of the common practices of humility in that monastery, had crawled under the table, to take hold of the feet of every one and kiss them, I joined with the rest of the community, and laughed to my heart's content.
Not many days after this, we were going, after tea, from the dining-room to the chapel, to pass five or ten minutes in adoration of the wafer god; we had two doors to cross, and it was pretty dark. Being the last who had entered the monastery, I had to walk first, the other monks following me. We were reciting, with a loud voice, the Latin Psalm: "Miserere mei Deus." We were all marching pretty fast, when, suddenly, my feet met a large, though unseen object, and down I fell, and rolled on the floor; my next companion did the same, and rolled over me, and so did five or six others, who, in the dark, had also struck their feet on that object. In a moment, we were five or six "Holy Fathers" rolling on each other on the floor, unable to rise up, splitting our sides with convulsive laughter. Father Brunette, in one of his fits of humility, had left the table a little before the rest, with the permission of the Superior, to lay himself flat on the floor, across the door. Not suspecting it, and unable to see anything, from the want of sufficient light, I had entangled my feet on that living corpse, as also the rest of those who were walking too close behind me, to stop before tumbling over one another.
No words can describe my feelings of shame when I saw, almost every day, some performance of this kind going on, under the name of Christian humility. In vain I tried to silence the voice of my intelligence, which was crying to me, day and night, that this was a mere diabolical caricature of the humility of Christ. Striving to silence my untamed reason, by telling it that it had no right to speak, and argue, and criticize, within the holy walls of a monastery, it, nevertheless, spoke louder, day after day, telling me that such acts of humility were a mockery. In vain, I said to myself, "Chiniquy, thou art not come here to philosophize on this and that, but to sanctify thyself by becoming like a corpse, which has no preconceived ideas, no acquired store of knowledge, no rule of common sense to guide it! Poor, wretched, sinful Chiniquy, thou art here to save thyself by admiring every iota of the holy rules of your superiors, and to obey every word of their lips!"
I felt angry against myself, and unspeakably sad when, after whole weeks and months of efforts, not only to silence the voice of my reason, but to kill it, it had more life than ever, and was more and more loudly protesting against the unmanly, unchristian, and ridiculous daily usages and rules of the monastery. I envied the humble piety of the other good Fathers, who were apparently so happy, having conquered themselves so completely, as to destroy that haughty reason, which was constantly rebelling in me.
Twice, every week, I went to reveal to my guide and confessor, Father Allard, the master of novices, my interior struggles; my constant, though vain efforts, to subdue my rebellious reason. He always gladdened me with the promise that, sooner or later, I should have that interior perfect peace which is promised to the humble monk when he has attained the supreme monastic perfection of considering himself as a corpse, as regards the rules and will of his superiors. My sincere and constant efforts to reconcile myself to the rules of the monastery were, however, soon to receive a new and rude check. I had read in the book of rules, that a true monk must closely watch those who live with him, and secretly report to his superior the defects and sins which he detects in them. The first time I read that strange rule, my mind was so taken up by other things, that I did not pay much attention to it. But the second time I studied that clause, the blush came to my face, and in spite of myself, I said: "Is it possible that we are a band of spies?" I was not long in seeing the disastrous effects of this most degrading and immoral rule. One of the fathers, for whom I had a particular affection for his many good qualities, and who had many times given me the sincere proof of his friendship, said to me one day: "For God's sake, my dear Father Chiniquy, tell me if it is you who denounced me to the Superior for having said that the conduct of Father Guigues towards me was uncharitable?"
"No! my dear friend," I answered, "I never said such a thing against you, for two reasons: The first is, that you have never said a word in my presence which could give me the idea that you had such an opinion of our good Father Superior; the second reason is, that though you might have told me anything of that kind, I would prefer to have my tongue cut, and eaten by dogs, than to be a spy, and denounce you!"
"I am glad t know that," he rejoined, "for I was told by some of the fathers that you were the one who had reported me to the Superior as guilty, though I am innocent of that offense, but I could not believe it." He added with tears, "I regret having left my parish to be an Oblate, on account of that abominable law which we are sworn to fulfill. That law makes a real hell of this monastery, and, I suppose, of all the monastic orders, for I think it is a general law with all the religious houses. When you have passed more time here, you will see that that law of detection puts an insurmountable wall between us all; it destroys every spring of Christian and social happiness."
"I understand, perfectly well, what you say," I answered him; "the last time I was alone with Father Superior, he asked me why I had said that the present Pope was an old fool; he persisted in telling me that I must have said it, 'for,' he added, 'one of our most reliable fathers has assured me you said it.' 'Well, my dear Father Superior,' I answered him, 'that reliable father has told you a big lie; I never said such a thing, for the good reason that I sincerely think that our present Pope is one of the wisest that ever ruled the church.' I added, 'Now I understand why there is so much unpleasantness in our mutual intercourse, during the hours we are allowed to talk. I see that nobody dares to speak his mind on any grave subject. The conversations are colourless and without life.'" "That is just the reason," answered my friend. When some of the fathers, like you and me, would prefer to be hung rather than become spies, the great majority of them, particularly among the French priests recently imported from France, will not hear ten words from your lips on any subject, without finding an opportunity of reporting eight of them as unbecoming and unchristian, to the superiors. I do not say that it is always through malice that they give such false reports; it is more through want of judgment. They are very narrow minded; they do not understand the half of what they hear in its true sense; and they give their false impressions to the superiors, who, unfortunately, encourage that system of spying, as the best way of transforming every one of us into corpses. As we are never confronted with our false accusers, we can never know them, and we lose confidence in each other; thus it is that the sweetest and holiest springs of true Christian love are for ever dried up. It is on this spying system which is the curse and the hell of our monastic houses, that a celebrated French writer, who had been a monk himself, wrote of all the monks:
"Ils rentrent dans leurs monasteres sans so connaaitre; ils y vivent, sans s'aimr: et ils se separent sans se regretter" (Monks enter a monastery without knowing each other; they live there, without loving each other; and they depart from each other without any regret.)
However, though I sincerely deplored that there was such a law of espionage among us, I tried to persuade myself that it was like the dark spots of the sun, which do not diminish its beauty, its grandeur and its innumerable blessings. The Society of the Oblates was still to me the blessed ark where I should find a sure shelter against the storms which were desolating the rest of the world.
Not long after my reception as a novice, the providence of God put before our eyes one of those terrible wrecks which would make the strongest of us tremble. Suddenly, at the hour of breakfast, the superior of the Seminary of St. Sulpice, and grand vicar of the Diocese of Montreal, the Rev. Mr. Quiblier, knocked at our door, to rest an hour, and breakfast with us, when on his way to France.
This unfortunate priest, who was among the best orators and the best looking men Montreal had ever seen, had lived such a profligate life with his penitent nuns and ladies of Montreal, that a cry of indignation from the whole people had forced Bishop Bourget to send him back to France. Our father superior took the opportunity of the fall of that talented priest, to make us bless God for having gathered us behind the walls of our monastery, where the efforts of the enemy were powerless. But, alas! we were soon to know, at our own expense, that the heart of man is weak and deceitful everywhere.
It was not long after the public fall of the grand vicar of Montreal, when a fine-looking widow was engaged to preside over our kitchen. She was more than forty years old, and had very good manners. Unfortunately, she had not been four months in the monastery, when she fell in love with her father confessor, one of the most pious of the French father Oblates. The modern Adam was not stronger than the old one against the charms of the new Eve. Both were found, in an evil hour, forgetting one of the holy laws of God. The guilty priest was punished and the weak woman dismissed. But an unspeakable shame remained upon us all! I would have preferred to have my sentence of death, than the news of such a fall inside the walls of that house where I had so foolishly believed that Satan could not lay his snares. From that day, it was the will of God that the strange and beautiful illusions which had brought me to that monastery, should fade away one after the other, like the white mist which conceals the bright rays of the morning sun. The Oblates began to appear to me pretty much like other men. Till then, I had looked at them with my eyes shut, and I had seen nothing but the glittering colours with which my imagination was painting them. From that day, I studied them with my eyes opened, and I saw them just as they were.
In the spring of 1847, having a severe indisposition, the doctor ordered me to go to the Hotel Dieu of Montreal, which was, then, near the splendid St. Mary's Church. I made there, for the first time, the acquaintance of a venerable old nun, who was very talkative. She was one of the superiors of the house; her family name was Urtubise. Her mind was still full of indignation at the bad conduct of two father Oblates, who, under the pretext of sickness, had lately come to her monastery to seduce the young nuns who were serving them. She told me how she had turned them out ignominiously, forbidding them ever to come again, under any pretext, into the hospital. She was young, when Bishop Lartigue, being driven away from the Sulpician Seminary of Montreal, in 1823, had taken refuge, with his secretary, the Rev. Ignace Bourget, into the modest walls of that nunnery. She told me how the nuns had soon to repent having received the bishop with his secretary and other priests.
"It was nearly the ruin of our community. The intercourse of the priests with a certain number of nuns" she said, "was the cause of so much disorder and scandal, that I was deputed with some other nuns, to the bishop to respectfully request him not to prolong his stay in our nunnery. I told him, in my name, and in the name of many others, that if he would not comply with our legitimate request, we should instantly leave the house, go back to our families and get married, that it was better to be honestly married than to continue to live as the priests, even our father confessors, wanted us to do."
After she had given me several other spicy stories of those interesting distant days, I asked her if she had known Maria Monk, when she was in their house, and what she thought of her book, "Awful Disclosures?" "I have known her well," she said. "She spent six months with us. I have read her book, which was given me, that I might refute it. But after reading it, I refused to have anything to do with that deplorable exposure. There are surely some inventions and suppositions in that book. But there is sufficient amount of truth to cause all our nunneries to be pulled down by the people, if only the half of them were known to the public!"
She then said to me: "For God's sake, do not reveal these things to the world, till the last one of us is dead, if God spares you." She then covered her face with her hands, burst into tears, and left the room.
I remained horrified. Her words fell upon me as a thunderbolt. I regretted having heard them, though I was determined to respect her request not to reveal the terrible secret she had entrusted to me. My God knows that I never repeated a word of it till now. But I think it is my duty to reveal to my country and the whole world the truth on that grave subject, as it was given me by a most respectable and unimpeachable eyewitness.
The terrible secrets which Sister Urtubise had revealed to me rendered my stay in the Hotel Dieu as unpleasant as it had been agreeable at first. Though not quiet recovered I left, the same day, for Longueuil, where I entered the monastery with a heavy heart. The day before, two of the fathers had come back from a two or three months' evangelical excursion among the lumber men, who were cutting wood in the forests along the Ottawa River and its tributaries, from one to two hundred miles north-west of Montreal. I was glad to hear of their arrival. I hoped that the interesting history of their evangelical excursions, narrow escapes from the bears and the wolves of the forests; their hearty receptions by the honest and sturdy lumber men, which the superior had requested me, some weeks before, to write, would cause a happy diversion from the deplorable things I had recently learned. But only one of those fathers could be seen, and his conversation was anything but interesting and pleasant. There was evidently a dark cloud around him. And the other Oblate, his companion, where was he? The very day of his arrival, he had been ordered to keep his room, and make a retreat of ten days, during which time he was forbidden to speak to anyone.
I inquired from a devoted friend among the old Oblates the reason of such a strange thing. After promising never to reveal to the superiors the sad secret he trusted me with, he said: "Poor Father Dhas seduced one of his fair penitents, on the way. She was a married woman, the lady of the house where our missionaries used to receive the most cordial hospitality. The husband having discovered the infidelity of his wife, came very near killing her; he ignominiously turned out the two fathers, and wrote a terrible letter to the superior. The companion of the guilty father denounced him, an confessed everything to the superior, who has seen that the letter of the enraged husband was only giving too true and correct a version of the whole unfortunate and shameful occurrence. Now, the poor, weak father for his penance, is condemned to ten days of seclusion from the rest of the community. He must pass that whole time in prayer, fasting, and acts of humiliation, dictated by the superior."
"Do these deplorable facts occur very often among the father Oblates?" I asked.
My friend raised his eyes, filled with tears, to heaven, and with a deep sigh, he answered: "Dear Father Chiniquy, would to God that I might be able to tell you that it is the first crime of that nature committed by an Oblate. But alas! you know, by what has occurred with our female cook not long ago, that it is not the first time that some of our fathers have brought disgrace upon us all. And you know also the abominable life of Father Telmont with the two nuns at Ottawa!"
"If it be so," I replied, "where is the spiritual advantage of the regular clergy over the secular?"
"The only advantage I see," answered my friend, "is that the regular clergy gives himself with more impunity to every kind of debauch and licentiousness than the secular. The monks being concealed from the eyes of the public, inside the walls of their monastery, where nobody, or at least very few people, have any access, are more easily conquered by the devil, and more firmly kept in his chains, than the secular priests. The sharp eyes of the public, and the daily intercourse the secular priests have with their relations and parishioners, form a powerful and salutary restraint upon the bad inclinations of our depraved nature. In the monastery, there is no restraint except the childish and ridiculous punishments of retreats, kissing of the floor, or of the feet, prostration upon the ground, as Father Burnette did, a few days after your coming among us.
"There is surely more hypocrisy and selfishness among the regular than the secular clergy. That great social organization which forms the human family is a divine work. Yes! those great social organizations which are called the city, the township, the country, the parish, and the household, where every one is called to work in the light of day, is a divine organization, and makes society as strong, pure, and holy as it can be.
"I confess that there are also terrible temptations, and deplorable falls there, but the temptations are not so unconquerable, and the falls not so irreparable, as in these dark recesses and unhealthy prisons raised by Satan only for the birds of night, called monasteries or nunneries.
"The priest and the woman who falls in the midst of a well-organized Christian society, break the hearts of the beloved mother, covers with shame a venerable father, cause the tears of cherished sisters and brothers to flow, pierce, with a barbed arrow, the hearts of thousands of friends; they for ever lose their honour and good name. These considerations are so many providential, I dare say Divine, shields, to protect the sons and daughters of Eve against their own frailty. The secular priest and the women shrink before throwing themselves into such a bottomless abyss of shame, misery, and regret. But behind the thick and dark walls of the monastery, or the nunnery, what has the fallen monk or nun to fear? Nobody will hear of it, no bad consequences worth mentioning will follow, except a few days of retreat, some insignificant, childish, ridiculous penances, which the most devoted in the monastery are practicing almost every day.
"As you ask me in earnest what are the advantages of a monastic life over a secular, in a moral and social point of view, I will answer you. In the monastery, man, as the image of God, forgets his divine origin, loses his dignity; and as a Christian, he loses the most holy weapons Christ has given to His disciples to fight the battle of life. He, at once and for ever, loses that law of self-respect, and respect for others, which is one of the most powerful and legitimate barriers against vice. Yes! That great and divine law of self-respect, which God Himself has implanted in the heart of every man and woman who live in a Christian society, is completely destroyed in the monastery and nunnery. The foundation of perfection in the monk and the nun is that they must consider themselves as corpses. Do you not see that this principle strikes at the root of all that God has made good, grand, and holy in man? Does it not sweep away every idea of holiness, purity, greatness! every principle of life which the Gospel of Christ had for its mission to reveal to the fallen children of Adam?
"What self-respect can we expect from a corpse? and what respect can a corpse feel for the other corpses which surround it? Thus it is that the very idea of monastic perfection carries with it the destruction of all that is good, pure, holy, and spiritual in the religion of the Gospel. It destroys the very idea of life to put death into its place.
"It is for that reason that if you study the true history, not the lying history, of monachism, you will find the details of a corruption impossible, anywhere else, not even among the lowest houses of prostitution. Read the Memoirs of Scipio de Ricci, one of the most pious and intelligent bishops our Church has ever had, and you will see that the monks and the nuns of Italy live the very life of the brutes in the fields. Yes! read the terrible revelations of what is going on among those unfortunate men and women, whom in the iron hand of monachism keeps tied in their dark dungeons, you will hear from the very lips of the nuns that the monks are more free with them than the husbands are with their legitimate wives; you will see that every one of those monastic institutions is a new Sodom!
"The monastic axiom, that the highest point of perfection is attained only when you consider yourself a corpse in the hand of your superior, is anti-social and Antichristian: it is simply diabolical. It transforms into a vile machine that man whom God had created in His likeness, and made for ever free. It degrades below the brute that man whom Christ, by His death, has raised to the dignity of a child of God, and an inheritor of an eternal kingdom in Heaven. Everything is mechanical, material, false, in the life of a monk and a nun. Even the best virtues are deceptions and lies. The monks and the nuns being perfect only when they have renounced their own free-will and intelligence to become corpses, can have neither virtues or vices.
"Their best actions are mechanical. Their acts of humility are to crawl under the table and kiss the feet of each other, or to make a cross on a dirty floor with the tongue, or lie down in the dust to let the rest of the monks or the nuns pass over them! Have you not remarked how those so-called monks speak with the utmost contempt of the rest of the world? One must have opportunities as I have had of seeing the profound hatred which exists among all monastic orders against each other. How the Dominicans have always hated the Franciscans, and how they both hate the Jesuits, who pay them back in the same coin! What a strong and nameless hatred divides the Oblates, to whom we belong, from the Jesuits! The Jesuits never lose an opportunity of showing us their supreme contempt! You are aware that, on account of those bad feelings, it is absolutely forbidden to an Oblate to confess to a Jesuit, as we know it is forbidden to the Jesuits to confess to an Oblate, or to any other priest.
"I need not tell you, for you know, that their vow of poverty is a mask to help them to become rich with more rapidity than the rest of the world. Is it not under the mask of that vow that the monks of England, Scotland, and France became the masters of the richest lands of those countries, which the nations were forced, by bloody revolutions, to wrench from their grasp?
"Is it not still under the mask of extreme poverty that the monks of Italy are among the richest proprietors in that unfortunate country?
"I have seen much more of the world than you. When a young priest, I was the chaplain, confessor, and intimate friend of the Duchess de Berry, the mother of Henry V, now the only legitimate king of France. When, in the midst of those great and rich princes and nobles of France, I never saw such a love of money, of honour, of vain glory, as I have seen among the monks since I have become one of them. When the Duchess de Berry finished her providential work in France, after making the false step which ruined her, I threw myself into the religious order of the Chartreux. I have lived several years in their palatial monastery of Rome; have cultivated and enjoyed their sweet fruits in their magnificent gardens; but I was not there long without seeing the fatal error I had committed in becoming a monk. During the many years I resided in that splendid mansion, where laziness, stupidity, filthiness, gluttony, superstition, tediousness, ignorance, pride, and unmentionable immoralities, with very few exceptional cases, reigned supreme, I had every opportunity to know what was going on in their midst. Life soon became an unbearable burden, but for the hope I had of breaking my fetters. At last I found out that the best, if not the only way of doing this, was to declare to the Pope that I wanted to go and preach the gospel to the savages of America, which was, and is still true.
"I made my declaration, and by the Pope's permission the doors of my goal were opened, with the condition that I should join the order of the Oblates Immaculate, in connection with which I should evangelize the savages of the Rocky Mountains.
"I have found among the monks of Canada the very same things I have seen among those of France and Italy. With very few exceptions they are all corpses, absolutely dead to every sentiment of true honesty and real Christianity; they are putrid carcasses, which have lost the dignity of manhood.
"My dear Father Chiniquy," he added, "I trust you as I trust myself, when I tell you for our own good a secret which is known to God alone. When I am on the Rocky Mountains, I will raise myself up, as the eagles of those vast countries, and I shall go up to the regions of liberty, light, and life; I will cease being a corpse, to become what my God has made me a free and intelligent man: I will cease to be a corpse, in order to become one of the redeemed of Christ, who serve God in spirit and in truth.
"Christ is the light of the world; monachism is its night! Christ is the strength, the glory, the life of man; monachism is its decay, shame, and death! Christ died to make us free; the monastery is built up to make slaves of us! Christ died that we might be raised to the dignity of children of God; monachism is established to bring us down much below he living brutes, for it transforms us into corpses! Christ is the highest conception of humanity; monachism is its lowest!
"Yes, yes, I hope my God will soon give me the favour I have asked so long! When I shall be on the top of the Rocky Mountains, I will, for ever, break my fetters. I will rise from my tomb; I will come out from among the dead, to sit at the table of the redeemed, and eat the bread of the living children of God!"
I do regret that the remarkable monk, whose abridged views on monachism I have here given, should have requested me never to give his name, when he allows me to tell some of his adventures, which will make a most interesting romance. Faithful to his promise, he went, as an Oblate, to preach to the savages of the Rocky Mountains, and there, without noise, he slipped out of their hands; broke his chains to live the life of a freedman of Christ, in the holy bonds of a Christian marriage with a respectable American lady.
Weak and timid soldier that I was once; frightened by the ruins spread everywhere on the battle-field, I looked around to find a shelter against the impending danger; I thought that the monastery of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate was one of those strong towers, built by my God, where the arrows of the enemy could not reach me, and I threw myself into it.
But, hardly beginning to hope that I was out of danger, behind those dark and high walls, when I saw them shaking like a drunken man; and the voice of God passed like a hurricane over me.
Suddenly, the high towers and walls around me fell to the ground, and were turned into dust. Not one stone remained on another.
And I heard a voice saying to me: "Soldier! come out and get in the light of the sun; trust no more in the walls built by the hand of man; they are nothing but dust. Come and fight in the open day, under the eyes of God, protected only by the gospel banner of Christ! come out from behind those walls they are a diabolical deception, a snare, a fraud!"
I listened to the voice, and I bade adieu to the inmates of the monastery of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
When, on the 1st of November, 1847, I pressed them on my heart for the last time, I felt the burning tears of many of them falling on my cheeks, and my tears moistened their faces: for they loved me, and I loved them. I had met there several noble hearts and precious souls worthy of a better fate. Oh! if I could have, at the price of my life, given them the light and liberty which my merciful God had given me! But they were in the dark; and there was no power in me to change their darkness into light. The hand of God brought me back to my dear Canada, that I might again offer it the sweat and the labours, the love and life of the least of its sons.
[*] "The Pope, the Kings, and the People" (Mullan & Son, Paternoster Square), pp. 269-70. Also see (London) Standard, 7th April, 1870.
Continue to Chapter 43