But where in the Protestant system or in Transcendentalism is the moral law adequately defined, or its interpretation facilitated? Is not the "moral law" of Concord a mere idealizing of emotion and personal impulse? [pretty much] Blasphemously, the Transcendentalists confound divine love and human love [true enough], and religion sinks into a maudlin sentimentality [Emerson does make for some pretty squishy reading].
Protestantism descends through three states: first, the subjection of religion to the charge of civil government [what, like Martin Luther and the German Princes, Calvin taking over Geneva?]; second, the rejection of the authority of temporal government [some examples would be nice here], and submission of religion to the control of the faithful; third, individualism, which "leaves religion entirely to the control of the individual, who selects his own creed, or makes a creed to suit himself, devises his own worship and discipline, and submits to no restraints but such as are self-imposed." [true enough]' When this last stage is reached, disintegration of the religious spirit is imminent; for man is not sufficient unto himself, reason unaided cannot sustain faith [probably true], and Authority is required to preserve Christianity from degenerating into a congeries of fanatic sects and egotistical professions [true enough]. Under Protestantism, the sect governs religion, rather than submitting to governance [true enough in many cases]; the congregation bully their ministers and insist upon palatable sermons [true enough, though this happens a lot in Catholicism, too, these days], flattering to their vanity [is this the only motive?]; Protestantism cannot sustain popular liberty because "it is itself subject to popular control, and must follow in all things the popular will, passion, interest, prejudice, or caprice." The modern spirit, of which Protestantism is one expression [safe to say, if you make the right qualifications], detests the idea of loyalty, upon which the Whole hierarchy of this world and the next is founded: "What it hates is not this or that form of government, but legitimacy, and it would rebel against democracy as quick as against absolute monarchy, if democracy were asserted on the ground of legitimacy [a stretch? What is meant by “legitimacy” here?]. The modern spirit is in every thing the direct denial of the practical reason.... It asserts the universal and absolute supremacy of man, and his unrestricted right to subject religion, morals, and politics to his own will, passion, or caprice." This is fatal to democracy, for it stimulates insubordination and disorder, setting everything afloat, and that moral solidarity which makes possible so delicate a government as democracy is broken. [catastrophizing? Is there absolutely nothing self-righting about society?] Popular religious feeling, which conceivably may be absent in a monarchy or an aristocracy without ruining the social structure, is indispensable to democracy…[has this actually happened somewhere, or is this just a prediction?]
We shall not escape from this deluge of change and perilous experiment until we recognize the principle of authority: God's authority. This cannot be apprehended without the Church. As Protestantism and its fumbling offshoots decay before our eyes, upon the mound of dissent must rise the fortress of orthodox belief, without which human sin and foible know no limits, without which order and justice perish.
from: Russell Kirk. The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (Kindle Locations 3178-3190, 3208-3211). Kindle Edition.
A nice start, Mr. Kirk. But am I to understand that with these arguments that you, along with Orestes Brownson, espouse the Catholic faith? Then one matter needs clarification: do you recommend Catholicism because it grounds authority, or because it's true? If the former one might accuse you of following Utilitarianism—the very religion of your worst enemies—to the highest degree. Democracy requires religion, you say, and religion authority, or everything falls apart. Divine authority, then, is instrumental to our will, propping up “the universal and absolute supremacy of man”. On this argument, the only difference between you and the radicals you oppose is that your will is particularly far-sighted: a stable social order, free of unprincipled whim, confers the greatest happiness to the greatest number.
And we might go on to ask what you and Brownson were doing at the foundation of Christianity, while Bartholomew was getting skinned alive, Paul beheaded, Peter crucified upside down and Andrew sideways, and all the rest, except for John, were meeting with gruesome but voluntary fate. Weren’t you the ones arguing against these upstarts to uphold the Roman gods, whose success had been demonstrated over the centuries? Withdrawn.
Your only defense, as I see it, is to say I am drawing a false distinction between authority and truth. And still one could ask, does it make any sense to cram true religion into a political camp? Rewrite.