American Sentinel 3, 7 , pp. 52, 53 (1888)
HENRY M. FIELD, D. D., is one of the foremost men of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and a man of much more than national reputation. He is editor of the New York Evangelist, which appears to be the official organ of the Presbyterian Church in the East. He is, we believe, the only Protestant ecclesiastic who has entered upon a set discussion with the representative of infidelity—Colonel Ingersoll. He is quite an extensive traveler, and has written books about his travels, which have a wide circulation. Last summer he traveled in Spain, and wrote a book entitled “Old Spain and New Spain,” in which he pays flattering tribute to the Catholic Church, and its influence in Spain, as being in harmony with the institutions of the country. Of this book the New York Observer says:—
“From a Protestant point of view, such an extensive charity towards a system which in all times and lands has been hostile to liberty, and oppressive in the last degree, we can neither understand nor sympathize with. There are doubtless many devout persons who are Romanists, but the Roman Church is corrupt and cruel; under its present rulers it seeks not so much the salvation of souls as the political control of States and nations, and its supremacy in any country is the signal for decline in piety, morality, and prosperity. We therefore regret that so interesting and attractive a book should be pervaded by a spirit so favorable to the chief enemy of Protestantism.”
Doctor Field, very properly, as will be seen further on, sent a copy of this book to Cardinal Gibbons.
Early in February Doctor Field was in Washington City, and attended a reception given in honor of Cardinal Gibbons, to whom he personally paid his respects. At this, somebody in Washington addressed Doctor Field, expressing surprise and pain that any Protestant minister, and much more such a prominent and influential one, should so far forget his profession and compromise his dignity. It is true the writer of the letter did not sign his name, in which he showed a trait which was unbecoming if not cowardly. Doctor Field printed the letter in the Evangelist, and in reply administered a strong rebuke, not only to the writer of the letter, but also to all who concur in the sentiments expressed in the letter. He calls it “a piece of gross impertinence;” says that he prints it “as a specimen of the narrowness which exists in the minds of some well-meaning, but very simple (not to say silly) people;” and further says:—
“It is not that we take any personal offense at this communication, that we notice it; but because it is the manifestation of a spirit which itself needs to be rebuked—a disposition to stand entirely aloof from Roman Catholics, which we believe is most mischievous to the church and to the country.”
Somebody sent to Cardinal Gibbons a copy of the Evangelist which contained this letter and the reply to it. This, with the present of Mr. Field’s book, drew from the Cardinal a very gracious letter, which in its turn so pleased the editor of the Evangelist that he gushed clear over. We insert the matter just as it stands in the Evangelist of March 29, 1888:—
“Private correspondence is commonly of interest only to the parties, and of no concern whatever to the public. But a man in high position is a public character, in whose personality all may feel a legitimate interest. And if it discloses itself in a letter written with the freedom of private correspondence, it may, with his consent, be seen by the eyes of others. Certainly few men in Church or State hold so high a dignity as our only Cardinal, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in America. His letter grew out of a slight incident—our attendance at a reception given him in Washington, for which some unknown person in that city wrote us a very sharp letter, which, instead of throwing into the fire, we published, and answered as we thought it deserved. This correspondence someone sent to the Cardinal, which called forth the following, that we now have his full consent to give to the public:—
“‘CARDINAL’S RESIDENCE, 408 N. Charles St.,
Baltimore, March 6, 1888.
“‘REV. DEAR SIR: I beg to thank you very cordially for the copy of your work, “Old Spain and New Spain,” which you kindly sent me through Mrs. Mullan, From the praise which she bestows on it, I am sure I will read it with interest and pleasure. [In a postscript he adds: ‘Since writing the foregoing, I have read with great satisfaction and edification your beautiful tribute to the good Archbishop of Granada. Had you lived in the days of Ignatius Loyola, I am sure you would have revered and cherished the man on account of his burning love for Christ.]
“‘I avail myself of this occasion by tendering to you my sincere expression of gratitude for your manly and well-merited rebuke to the writer who had the hardihood to expostulate with you for attending the reception given to me at Mrs. Admiral Dahlgren’s. I was delighted to meet yourself and your honored brothers on that occasion, but you have risen
still higher in my estimation by your noble reply to the writer in question. Such men as that writer exhibit very little of Christian charity, and do much to make the enemies of Christianity rejoice.
“Your words, on the contrary, serve to remind us all that if we cannot agree in matters of faith, we should never be wanting in the courtesy and urbanity which Christians of all denominations owe to one another.
“‘I am with great regard, yours faithfully in Christ,
“‘JAMES CARD, GIBBONS, Abp. Baltimore.
“‘REV. H. M. FIELD, D. D.’
“Could anything be more gentle than this? Can anyone detect in it the slightest tone of arrogance? The writer does not assume that the Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian body on earth; on the contrary, he distinctly recognizes ‘Christians of all denominations,’ and asks only for the ‘courtesy and urbanity’ which all Christians ‘owe to one another.’ The gentleness of the letter is the best answer to the fierce intolerance which will not recognize a Christian faith or Christian life anywhere but within the narrow bounds of its own sect. Comparing it with the one in which a correspondent (who did not dare even to sign his name to his own letter) undertook to call us to account, we think our readers will agree that the Cardinal may well say that ‘such men as that writer exhibit very little of Christian charity, and do much to make the enemies of Christianity rejoice.’ Are we to refuse the outstretched hand of one who signs himself, ‘Yours faithfully IN CHRIST’—that blessed name which is the bond that holds the world together?”
This is a good specimen of the mawkishness that now passes for the best Protestantism; with the exception, however, that this is the first instance in which we have seen Mr. Gibbons acknowledged as a Cardinal outside of the Catholic Church. We do not know exactly in what sense it is that Doctor Field uses the word “our” in calling Mr. Gibbons “our only Cardinal.” We do not know whether he uses it as a representative Presbyterian, or whether he presumes to speak for the whole nation. If he speaks as a representative Presbyterian, and thus acknowledges Mr. Gibbons as the Presbyterian Cardinal, as well as a Catholic Cardinal, then we have nothing to say, it is their right to do so if they choose. Nevertheless we shall watch with considerable interest to see whether there are any Protestants in the Presbyterian Church, or whether they have gone bodily over to allegiance to their “only Cardinal, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in America.”
If Mr. Field has in this taken it upon himself to speak for the whole Nation, and, for the Nation, to acknowledge Mr. Gibbons as our only Cardinal, then, as American citizens, we do most decidedly protest. He is not our Cardinal in any sense. The United States knows no Cardinal, it recognizes no such dignity as a Cardinalate. And as for Doctor Field’s saying that “certainly few men in Church or State hold so high a dignity as our only Cardinal,” it is utterly false. So far as the church is concerned, the humblest Christian in it holds an infinitely higher dignity than does Doctor Field’s “only Cardinal.” And as for the State, there is not an American citizen in this Union, who appreciates what American citizenship is, who does not hold a dignity vastly greater than that of Doctor Field’s “only Cardinal,” who is bound in a contemptible vassalage to a foreign and despotic lord.
But the strangest thing in this whole connection is to see how unquestioningly Doctor Field accepts the dignity of a disciple of Loyola, conferred upon him by his Cardinal in the words: “Had you lived in the days of Ignatius Loyola, I am sure you would have revered and cherished the man on account of his burning love for Christ.” Not only does the Doctor unquestioningly accept this high honor, but he shows his high appreciation of it by acknowledging the donor as “our only Cardinal.”
We believe that Cardinal Gibbons is entirely correct in his estimate. We do not doubt at all that had Henry M. Field, D. D., “lived in the days of Ignatius Loyola, he would have revered and cherished the man in his burning” fanaticism—”burning” in more senses of the word than one, as is abundantly proved by the dreadful history of the Jesuits in every nation. We do not doubt at all that had Doctor Field lived in the days of Ignatius Loyola, he would have stood with him and his Jesuitism against Luther and Protestantism. Doctor Field accepts the discipleship of Loyola which his “only Cardinal” gives him. Loyola was the founder of the Society of the Jesuits. He was a Spaniard. Spain has seen more of Jesuitism than has any other nation. Jesuitism may fairly be said to be a Spanish institution. Doctor Field spent part of a summer there, and flatters the influence of the Catholic Church there as being in harmony with the institutions of the country. Now let us have an estimate of Jesuitism and its influence, recorded by a native Spaniard who has spent his life in that country and knows its history as he knows its language. Se?or Castelar says of Jesuitism:—
“Never was there founded an institution so openly at war with the spirit of its time. The sixteenth century was the century of renovation; Jesuitism a sect of relapse. The sixteenth century founded the liberty of thought; Jesuitism founded intellectual slavery. The one tended to religious reform, the other to religious reaction, the one celebrated the emancipation of the conscience, the other adored the person of the Pope; the one heard the divine voice, the Holy Spirit, in the idea of every man, the other saw God only in traditional and ecclesiastical authority; the one wrenched the conscience away from Rome, the other returned to Rome the absolute dominion over time and eternity. Never in human memory has there existed a religious association, regular and secular at once, equally at home in palaces and in deserts, lying in wait for the courtier, the minister, and the monarch, as well as for the savage lost in the pampas of America, or the forests of Asia; never, I repeat, was there a religious association like this, founded upon absolute authority and obedience, which with such sovereign command exacted the subjugation of man and his living spirit, his indomitable liberty, his unconquerable inclinations to the cold apathy of a corpse.”—Harper’s Monthly Magazine, October, 1873.
Another writer speaking of the wounds which turned Loyola from a soldier into a fanatic, says:—
“They were the cause of many an auto-da-fÈ in Italy, and of a persecution worse than that of Diocletian, in Spain. . . . They led to the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s, the death of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Spanish Armada, and the Gun-powder Plot. They disturbed the New World, gave rise to many deeds of self-denial and piety, and many horrible crimes and woes. They were felt in distant Russia. They aroused the Poles against the Russians, and excited a fierce war in which Poland inflicted injuries upon its feeble neighbors that have scarcely yet been expiated in seas of blood. They spread their fatal influence over China, and stirred that vast empire with a violent impulse. They were felt in Ethiopia and Hindostan, in Canada and Brazil; they gave rise, in fact, to the company of the Jesuits.”—Eugene Lawrence, Historical Studies, p. 99.
Loyola himself procured the erection of the Inquisition in Portugal, in 1545-46. And yet to be commended by a Papal Cardinal, as one who “would have revered and cherished” such a man as this, the intentional founder of such a system as this, is considered by Doctor Field as of sufficient honor to deserve in return the grateful platitude that “certainly few men in Church or State hold so high a dignity as our only Cardinal“!! We do not wonder at all that the Cardinal gave his “full consent” that the letter should be published in the editorial columns of the Evangelist. Nothing pleases “our only Cardinal” better than to see the Presbyterians recognizing in him “so high a dignity,” and acknowledging as their “only Cardinal the head of the Roman Catholic Church in America.” Protestants there are yet some, but Protestantism is dead.
A. T. J.