THE purpose aimed at in the present Series of Essays will easily be perceived to be incapable of belonging to the domain of religious controversy. For the conducting a religious controversy, a common ground of religion mutually accepted as the basis of argument, is indispensable, and what common ground of religion can there exist between belief and disbelief in GOD? Let it be supposed that a man comes in my way who says to me, "I for my part totally disbelieve in the existence of GOD, or at any rate I entirely deny that He is or can be a legislator who has either the power or the right to bind me to obey His laws." What can I have in common with such a man? If I am called upon to speak to him, I can only say to him, "Sir, God gives you for the present your liberty of choice, and permit me to say you make a very bad use of it. Defore a man, says the Son of Sirach, is set life and death, goo~i and evil, and that which pleases him shall be given to him (Eccles. xv. 18). It is evidently death that pleases you, and except Divine mercy should condescend to open your eyes to see where you are going, the death you have chosen is that which you will have to face." To say more than this, to such a man, would be to beat the air. Are we Catholics, then, it will be asked, to persevere in a state of helpless, torpid indifference to the growth and increase around us of the denial of GOD? Certainly not! To us, and to all who with us believe in GOD, and desire to honour His most holy Name, the increase of this denial is a most deadly pestilence, to the progress of which every legitimate barrier and corrective is to be fearlessly opposed. My throat, says the voice of Divine Inspiration, shall meditate the truth, and my lips shall detest the impious man (Prov. Viii. 9). The voice even of the most innocent little child, in the utmost quiet of private life, detesting the impious denial of GOD, has a clear positive value in the sight of GOD j but something more than this may be justly looked for from the man of faith who has arrived at the maturity of his powers of mind. Without .contesting the value of any truehearted and righteous detestation of the impious denial let us not ignore the truth that the social value of the act of detestation, just and righteous and it cannot fail to be, will be largely determined by the degree of knowledge which is known to dictate and to sustain it. Granted then that those who are most notorious for this impious denial are easily and commonly to be known by the following characteristic marks- (I.) Their self-sufficient contempt of the Sacred Scriptures as writings possessing the gift of Divine Inspiration (2.) Their impious rejection of the power and authority of GOD to promulgate and to require obedience to His laws; (3.) Their profane repudiation of the "supernatural order" of human life, and their setting at nought the act of GOD, uniting it by an indissoluble union to the "natural order;" (4.) Their proud denial of their debt to their Divine Creator or the benefit of His instruction in things pertaining to both the natural and supernatural orders (5.) Their contemptuous ignorance of His perpetual intervention in upholding the political and social well-being of all the nations and powers of the earth; (6.) Their obstinate blindness to the innumerable manifestations of His power in the punishment of the public sins of kingdoms, populations and associations,- it is to be asked, Can men on the side of faith hope successfully to confront opponents on the side of atheism, such as the above, except they can come against them armed with a knowledge, adequate to sustain the collision on all the counts above enumerated? If the present Series of Essays is but a very small contribution to the equipment of special knowledge that will be needed by the Catholic people for confronting the present unbelieving adversaries of their belief in God and His laws, let it be hoped that it will not long remain in its present isolation.
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