Puslapio vaizdai

reason that God is true, truth itself, and can neither deceive nor be deceived, and therefore whatever he says cannot but be true. Hence, in his act of faith, the Catholic says: “0, my God, I firmly believe all the sacred truths the Holy Catholic Church believes and teaches, because thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive, nor be deceived." The ground of our faith is not the teaching of the Church, but the revelation of God, and therefore in the last analysis we believe on the authority of God alone, not on the authority of the Church. The Protestant professes to believe the Bible because it is the word of God, and he believes it is the word of God on the authority of its authors, who he believes were inspired to reveal the word of God, and bear witness to it; and the Catholic believes the teachings of the Church because the Church says so, and believes what in this respect she says, because he believes her divinely appointed, and supernaturally assisted by the Holy Ghost to bear witness to and declare what God has revealed. The authority of the Church to teach is authority to teach what God has revealed. All we want to enable us to make an act of faith is the certain testimony to the fact of revelation, and this must be supernaturally furnished, and can at least be as well furnished by a divinely protected and assisted teaching Church, always and everywhere present and living, as by a book written in a language unknown to the mass of the faithful, and of the fidelity of its translation into the vernacular of any people, few are or can be in a condition to judge. Suppose, then, the Catholic to be right, since subjection to God abridges no one's natural liberty, there is and can be no incompatibility between the authority asserted by Catholics for the Church in faith and morals, and the most perfect moral and intellectual freedom. We have all the freedom a Protestant, who really holds himself bound to believe the Bible, can pretend to have; and the authority we assert for the Church, tends, to say the least, no more to enslave the mind than that which the Protestant asserts for the written word.

The pretence of the Protestant that the Church seeks to prevent the free circulation of the Holy Scriptures, or to conceal them from the faithful lest they should discover the discrepancy between them and her teaching, we think is a very silly pretence, and certainly does not argue that extraordinary human wisdom and sagacity on her part that Protestant writers usually give her credit for. Certainly the Church, if she believed there is a real discrepancy between their teaching and hers, would never claim both as the revelation of God. Nothing is more certain than that the Church holds the Scriptures to be divinely inspired, and that they are the written word of God. It is, however, equally certain that she holds that what she teaches and requires her children to believe, is also the word of God, and it is only on the condition that it is the word of God, what God himself has revealed and commanded, that she requires her children to believe and obey it. She of course knows enough to know that the word of God cannot contradict the word of God. How, then, if she believes that what she teaches is contrary to what the Bible teaches, or the reverse, explain the fact that she teaches that both are the word of God? There would be little human wisdom or even human cunning in that. The fact that she presents both as the word of God, is ample proof that in her belief they do not contradict each other. She can then have no motive, like that alleged, for keeping, as it is pretended, the Bible from the people. Believing in no discrepancy between the two, she cannot fear any discrepancy will be detected. If, then, she places any restriction on the free circulation of the Scriptures, it must be for some other reason than any fear of that sort, and that reason may possibly be to her credit, not to her discredit. It may be a well-founded fear that, aided by Protestant glosses and ingenuity, the ignorant, the speculative, and the unstable may wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. We do not find, however, that any restriction is, or ever has been, placed on the free circulation or the reading of the Scriptures in the original languages, or in the Latin Vulgate. The restriction applies, we believe, only to unauthorized versions in Latin and to translations in the modern lan

[ocr errors]

guages; and in these cases mainly because these versions are either unfaithful, or made from a corrupt text, because they do not represent the written word truly, and because they may be hurtful to the faith or conscience of their readers. There is no restriction on reading the Scriptures in an approved version, unless in the case of those who give indications to the pastor, director, or confessor, that they will abuse them, and pervert their sense to their own grave injury. Whatever restriction is placed on the reading of them, is placed to bring it within the rule of discipline, subject to the wisdom and discretion of those charged with the cure of souls. Yet even this restriction is practically little more than nominal. The version approved by our prelates, circulates as freely among Catholics in this country, as the version authorized by King James of England and Scotland does among English-speaking Protestants.

The notion that all that is needed to make Catholics turn their backs on their spiritual mother, and embrace the Protestant movement, is the free reading of the Holy Scriptures, is not worthy of any serious refutation. Catholics had, and freely read, the Scriptures for fourteen hundred years before Protestantism was born, and read far more devoutly than Protestants now read them, without finding in them any thing repugnant to their Catholic faith. And while we can name several instances, within our own knowledge, in which by reading the Scriptures, even in the Protestant version, Protestants have arrived at a belief in the Catholic Church, we have yet to learn the first wellauthenticated instance of a Catholic becoming a Protestant by reading the Bible alone. The story told of Luther and the Bible he one day came across in the convent library is too incredible and absurd for any sensible person really to believe. Men never leave the Church and embrace Protestantism from simple love of truth, or respect for the written word of God. There is always some other motive operating One man has got offended at his bishop, believes, justly or unjustly, that great wrong has been done

him, and in his anger becomes blinded to the truth, loses his judgment, charges upon the Church what is due only to the individual, or perhaps to his own morbid fancy, takes for the use what is only an abuse of power in a single prelate, and thinks it will be a capital revenge to renounce the Church, without stopping to reflect that all he makes sure of, by so doing, is his own damnation. Another finds that he cannot, without more violence to the flesh than he has courage to practise, preserve the chastity he has pledged, and so becomes a Protestant, and takes unto himself a wife. Another finds that the Church imposes too much restraint on his licentious thoughts; and, with a heart hardened and intellect darkened by his passions, abandons his Mother, and gives himself up to “strange women.' Others find the Church in the way of their worldly schemes, their ambitious projects, or their desire for power and distinction, and they cast her aside as the “Mystery of Iniquity.” Some are simply seduced into error by artful and designing associates, who take advantage of their ignorance and simplicity. Others, for the lack of moral courage to see their children drop dead from starvation before their eyes, yield to the hot soup held out to tempt them. We believe it is true that the Bible-readers have made a few perverts in Ireland and elsewhere, but the proffered soup has had more to do with it than any thing read from the Bible. The attempt of apostates to justify their apostasy by appeals to the Holy Scriptures is usually an afterthought. They first fall away, and then try to find in the Bible something which they can, with a little ingenuity, explain into a justification of what they have already done, at least done in spirit and in intention.

The illustrious author of the book before us clearly proves that the Bible, honestly interpreted, is against Protestantism and for Catholicity. The multiplicity of Protestant sects, all appealing alike to the Bible, and lustily crying out, “the Bible, the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants, proves conclusively, that it is impossible to interpret the Bible throughout in accordance with any scheme of Protestantism. The Calvinists have succeeded, in our judgment, better than most others, in wresting the Bible in accordance with their views, and they probably have more vitality, such as it is, than any other Protestant sect. Of all Protestant theories, Calvinism, though the most revolting, is the least inconsistent with itself. The real intellect of the Protestant world has been, and is on the Calvinistic side. Luther is more amiable, more of a free, bold, dashing nature than John Calvin, but he never was his intellectual peer, never had any thing of Calvin's clearness of mind, concentrated thought, vast constructive genius, or rigid logic. Calvinism is, at times, terribly consistent, and is able to pervert a considerable portion of Scripture in its favor; but it has never been able to make the Scriptures teach that God is the author of sin, that Christ died for the elect only, that man by the fall lost his free will, that a man has free will though he has no freedom of choice, or that he chooses freely when he has no power to choose the contrary, that justification is purely forensic, and by faith alone, without works, that grace is irresistible and inamissible, that God causes men to sin necessarily, that he may damn them justly, and various kindred doctrines. If the Calvinists fail, which among the Protestant sects can hope to succeed? The fact is, no Protestant sect can find any more than certain detached passages of Scripture in its favor. How, then, pretend that the Bible is in favor of Protestantism? On the other hand, the Right Reverend author shows that the whole Bible, interpreted by the light of Catholic tradition, harmonizes throughout with the teaching of the Church. The Catholic student may find texts that are obscure to him, the full meaning of which he does not comprehend, but he never finds a passage that contradicts his Catholic faith, or that he cannot without violence harmonize with it. This, the weakest light in which we can view the question, the light the least favorable to Catholics, is sufficient of itself to show that the Bible is against Protestantism, and for Catholicity.

Dr. Shiel has proved, as clearly as any thing can be

« AnkstesnisTęsti »