Admitting the fundamental thesis of the treatise De la vraie Religion, the field of argument is narrowed, but the argument is a long way from being at an end. The question has to be discussed with the Protestants and dissenters, who, while admitting the revealed texts to be true, decline to see in them the dogmas which the Catholic Church has in the course of time taken upon herself. The controversy here branches off into endless points, and the advocates of Catholicism are continually being worsted. The Catholic Church has taken upon herself to prove that her dogmas have always existed just as she teaches them, that Jesus instituted confession, extreme unction and marriage, and that he taught what was afterwards decided upon by the Nicene and Trent Councils. Nothing can be more erroneous. The Christian dogma has been formed, like everything else, slowly and piecemeal, by a sort of inward vegetation. Theology, by asserting the contrary, raises up a mass of objections, and places itself in the predicament of having to reject all criticism. I would advise any one who wishes to realise this to read in a theological work the treatise on Sacraments, and he will see by what a series of unsupported suppositions, worthy of the Apocrypha, of Marie d’Agreda or Catherine Emmerich, the conclusion is reached that all the sacraments were established by Jesus Christ during his life. The discussion as to the matter and form of the sacraments is open to the same objections. The obstinacy with which matter and form are detected everywhere dates from the introduction of the Aristotelian tenets into theology in the thirteenth century. Those who rejected this retrospective application of the philosophy of Aristotle to the liturgical creations of Jesus incurred ecclesiastical censure.
The intention of the “about to be” in history as in nature became henceforth the essence of my philosophy. My doubts did not arise from one train of reasoning but from ten thousand. Orthodoxy has an answer to everything and will never avow itself worsted. No doubt, it is admitted in criticism itself that a subtle answer may, in certain cases, be a valid one. The real truth does not always look like the truth. One subtle answer may be true, or even at a stretch, two. But for three to be true is more difficult, and as to four bearing examination that is almost impossible. But if a thesis can only be upheld by admitting that ten, a hundred, or even a thousand subtle answers are true at one and the same time, a clear proof is afforded that this thesis is false. The calculation of probabilities applied to all these shortcomings of detail is overwhelming in its effect upon unprejudiced minds, and Descartes had taught me that the prime condition for discovering the truth is to be free from all prejudice.