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SHOULD censure be visited upon the writer for having penned the following essay for public inspection, such reproof cannot, in justice, proceed from adherents to the Roman Catholic faith. From attacks from that earnest and devout class the author may safely shelter himself behind the sacred vestments of the Reverend Father whose urgent and repeated invitation has called forth this reply.
The author desires it to be distinctly understood that his present task was undertaken in response to multiple requests and challenges scattered through the length and breadth of the land and wasted in profusion to foreign shores.
This zeal is not to be deprecated. So confident is the Father of the impenetrability of his armor that like a second Fitz James, he defies one and all of the friends of free thought to expend their might on his shield and helmet.
“Come one, come all ! this rock shall fly
From its firm base, as soon as I."
This spirit evinces the sublime of moral heroism, and cannot be too highly praised.
Then how commendable in the good priest not to reserve to himself and his church a monopoly of the truth. With lavish beneficence and persistent effort he would fain disseminate those doctrinal verities which gladden his own soul and trace for him a pathway to the skies. In gratifying the desires of such a man the author cannot fear that he is doing amiss.
As to that small and ignorant class who may think that the “ Notes” are not entirely worthy of serious reply, let me say, that the Father's work has received the very highest encomiums and has been proclaimed an unanswerable argument by a very respectable part of the religious and secular press of this and other countries. As a commercial rule, at least, when the maker of paper is of questionable solvency it is legitimate to look to its endorsers.
That our readers may appreciate these remarks we publish (see Appendix A.) one of the Father's challenges and a few of the many favorable notices from the press which his work has called forth. The Father, surely, will not object to this gratuitous advertisement of his work, which we desire our readers to purchase and peruse.
There be many, not in sympathy with the Roman Catholic faith, who believe that the cause of righteousness can be best subserved by a suppression of truths which seem to them to militate against religion, and of sentiments, however honestly entertained, which are regarded by the majority as erroneous.
This well-meaning class should remember that there is a correlation of truths as well as of forces, and that two truths cannot possibly antagonize each other. That especially in this age of enlightenment and of intellectual freedom we may safely discard the disguises and spiritual enchantments which lent a charm to primitive faiths; and that error, exposed to popular scrutiny, is less dangerous than when hidden in the secret recesses of the individual mind or whispered into the ears of the few who may entertain kindred sentiments.
To errors exposed the proper antidotes may be administered; to errors concealed no adequate correctives can be applied.
PHILADELPHIA, January 1st, 1885.
“It is a self-evident principle that when there are equal interests involved in any subject, there are equal rights to investigate and discuss.”—Romanism Not Christianity, by N. L. Rice, D. D.
“In a matter so solemn as that of religion, all men whose temporal interests are not involved in existing institutions earnestly desire to find the truth.”Draper's History of the Conflict between Religion and Science.
“The successful revolutions have been the triumphs of disproof, they have consisted in the negation of some earlier belief; the explosion of some overgrown superstition.”- Westminster Review.
“It is to error that must be attributed those insupportable chains that tyrants and priests have forged for all the nations. It is to error that must be attributed the slavery which the people of almost every country have fallen into, and whom nature designed should pursue their happiness with the most perfect freedom. It is to error that must be attributed those religious terrors that have everywhere petrified man with fear, or made him destroy himself for chimeras. It is to error that must be attributed those inveterate hatreds, those barbarous persecutions, those continual massacres, of which the earth has too often been made the theatre, under pretence of serving the interests of heaven.”-System of Nature, by MIRABAUD.
“Fixed and invariable are the penalties which follow the violation of the laws of our being, as also the rewards of their observance.”- The author.
“LET not him who girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.” -Scripture.
THE AMENITIES OF CONTROVERSY.
INVECTIVE and personally denunciatory words, laden with the virus of vindictiveness, are unbecoming in controversy, especially upon religious topics; and are not promotive of truth. “Soft words and hard arguments” should be the motto of every controversialist. To expose error or vindicate truth, wit, humor and sarcasm may be often employed with profit; for if used with propriety and with respect to the feelings of an opponent they relieve the tedium of discussion and impart to dry statement a savory flavor. It does not follow because the ideas of another are abhorrent to us that we should indulge in personal detraction. To impugn the sincerity of a disputant is grossly vulgar and unworthy a chivalrous defender of the faith. If error be a crime, still let us love the offender while we hate his offense.
Of all kinds of bitterness the most bitter is engendered by pious controversy. Why? Because in regard to religious belief timidity braces men against doubt and leads them to affirm, with the most scrupulous and unrelenting dogmatism, those doctrines and facts the truth or falsity of which it is impossible to prove. They call this being on the “safe side," and visit with holy hate those who disturb their inglorious repose.
Buckle has shown that in past time the more sincere were men in their religious faith the more zealous were they as persecutors