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sufficient, and can serve only as a preparation for faith, or as a help towards the knowledge of God from his revelation.
For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. Rom. i. 20.
And he hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth; and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts xvii. 26-28.
With regard to faith in God, it is preceded by the idea that God is, which idea we get from the things which have been created. Attentively examining the creation of the world, we perceive that God is wise, powerful, and good; we perceive, also, his invisible properties. By these means we are led to acknowledge him as the Supreme Ruler. Seeing that God is the Creator of the whole world, and we form a part of the world, it follows that God is also our Creator. On this knowledge follows faith, and on faith adoration. (Basil. Magn. Epist. 232.)
ON HOLY TRADITION AND HOLY SCRIPTURE.
16. How is divine revelation spread among men and preserved in the true Church? By two channels-holy tradition and holy Scripture.
17. What is meant by the name holy tradition?
By the name holy tradition is meant the doctrine of the faith, the law of God, the sacraments, and the ritual as handed down by the true believers and worshipers of God by word and example from one to another, and from generation to generation.
18. Is there any sure repository of holy tradition?
All true believers united by the holy tradition of the faith, collectively and successively, by the will of God, compose the Church; and she is the sure repository of holy tradition, or, as St. Paul expresses it, The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Tim. iii. 15.
St. Irenæus writes thus: We ought not to seek among others the truth, which we may have for asking from the Church; for in her, as in a
rich treasure-house, the Apostles have laid up in its fullness all that pertains to the truth, so that whosoever seeketh may receive from her the food of life. She is the door of life. (Adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. 4.) 19. What is that which you call holy Scripture!
Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.
20. What does the word Bible mean?
It is Greek, and means the books. The name signifies that the sacred books deserve attention before all others.
21. Which is the more ancient, holy tradition or holy Scripture? The most ancient and original instrument for spreading divine revelation is holy tradition. From Adam to Moses there were no sacred books. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself delivered his divine doctrine and ordinances to his Disciples by word and example, but not by writing. The same method was followed by the Apostles also at first, when they spread abroad the faith and established the Church of Christ. The necessity of tradition is further evident from this, that books can be available only to a small part of mankind, but tradition to all.
22. Why, then, was holy Scripture given?
To this end, that divine revelation might be preserved more exactly and unchangeably. In holy Scripture we read the words of the Prophets and Apostles precisely as if we were living with them and listening to them, although the latest of the sacred books were written a thousand and some hundred years before our time.
23. Must we follow holy tradition, even when we possess holy Scripture?
We must follow that tradition which agrees with the divine revelation and with holy Scripture, as is taught us by holy Scripture itself. The Apostle Paul writes: Therefore, brethren, stand fust, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thess. ii. 15.
24. Why is tradition necessary even now?
As a guide to the right understanding of holy Scripture, for the right ministration of the sacraments, and the preservation of sacred rites and ceremonies in the purity of their original institution.
St. Basil the Great says of this as follows: Of the doctrines and injunctions kept by the Church, some we have from written instruction,
but some we have received from apostolical tradition, by succession in private. Both the former and the latter have one and the same force for piety, and this will be contradicted by no one who has ever so little knowledge in the ordinances of the Church; for were we to dare to reject unwritten customs, as if they had no great importance, we should insensibly mutilate the Gospel, even in the most essential points, or, rather, for the teaching of the Apostles leave but an empty name. For instance, let us mention before all else the very first and commonest act of Christians, that they who trust in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ should sign themselves with the sign of the cross-who hath taught this by writing? To turn to the east in prayer-what Scripture have we for this? The words of invocation in the change of the Eucharistic bread and of the Cup of blessing—by which of the Saints have they been left us in writing? for we are not content with those words which the Apostle or the Gospel records, but both before them and after them we pronounce others also, which we hold to be of great force for the sacrament, though we have received them from unwritten teaching. By what Scripture is it, in like manner, that we bless the water of baptism, the oil of unction, and the person himself who is baptized? Is it not by a silent and secret tradition? What more? The very practice itself of anointing with oil-what written word have we for it? Whence is the rule of trine immersion? and the rest of the ceremonies at baptism, the renunciation of Satan and his angels?—from what Scripture are they taken? Are they not all from this unpublished and private teaching, which our Fathers kept under a reserve inaccessible to curiosity and profane disquisition, having been taught as a first principle to guard by silence the sanctity of the mysteries? for how were it fit to publish in writing the doctrine of those things, on which the unbaptized may not so much as look? (Can. xcvii. De Spir. Sanct. c. xxvii.)
ON HOLY SCRIPTURE IN PARTICULAR.
25. When were the sacred books written?
At different times: some before the birth of Christ, others after.
26. Have not these two divisions of the sacred books each their own names?
They have. Those written before the birth of Christ are called the books of the Old Testament, while those written after are called the books of the New Testament.
27. What are the Old and New Testaments?
In other words, the old and new Covenants of God with men.
28. In what consisted the Old Testament?
In this, that God promised men a divine Saviour, and prepared them to receive him.
29. How did God prepare men to receive the Saviour?
Through gradual revelations, by prophecies and types.
30. In what consists the New Testament?
In this, that God has actually given men a divine Saviour, his own only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
31. How many are the books of the Old Testament?
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius the Great, and St. John Damascene reckon them at twenty-two, agreeing therein with the Jews, who so reckon them in the original Hebrew tongue. (Athanas. Ep. xxxix. De Test.; J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. c. 17.)
32. Why should we attend to the reckoning of the Hebrews?
Because, as the Apostle Paul says, unto them were committed the oracles of God; and the sacred books of the Old Testament have been received from the Hebrew Church of that Testament by the Christian Church of the New. Rom. iii. 2.
33. How do St. Cyril and St. Athanasius enumerate the books of the Old Testament? As follows: 1, The book of Genesis; 2, Exodus; 3, Leviticus; 4, the book of Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, the book of Jesus the son of Nun; 7, the book of Judges, and with it, as an appendix, the book of Ruth; 8, the first and second books of Kings, as two parts of one book; 9, the third and fourth books of Kings; 10, the first and second books of Paralipomena; 11, the first book of Esdras, and the second, or, as it is entitled in Greek, the book of Nehemiah; 12, the book of Esther; 13, the book of Job; 14, the Psalms; 15, the Proverbs of Solomon; 16, Ecclesiastes, also by Solomon; 17, the Song of Songs, also by Solomon; 18, the book of the Prophet Isaiah; 19, of Jeremiah; 20, of Ezekiel; 21, of Daniel; 22, of the Twelve Prophets.
34. Why is there no notice taken in this enumeration of the books of the Old Testament of the book of the Wisdom of the son of Sirach, and of certain others?
Because they do not exist in the Hebrew.
35. How are we to regard these last-named books?
Athanasius the Great says that they have been appointed of the
Fathers to be read by proselytes who are preparing for admission into the Church.
36. Is there any division of the books of the Old Testament by which you can give a more distinct account of their contents?
They may be divided into the four following classes:
1. Books of the Law, which form the basis of the Old Testament. 2. Historical books, which contain principally the history of religion. 3. Doctrinal, which contain the doctrine of religion.
4. Prophetical, which contain prophecies, or predictions of things future, and especially of Jesus Christ.
37. Which are the books of the Law?
The five books written by Moses-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Jesus Christ himself gives to these books the general name of the Law of Moses. Luke xxiv. 44.
38. What in particular is contained in the book of Genesis?
The account of the creation of the world and of man, and afterwards the history and ordinances of religion in the first ages of mankind.
39. What is contained in the other four books of Moses?
The history of religion in the time of the Prophet Moses, and the Law given through him from God.
40. Which are the historical books of the Old Testament?
The books of Jesus the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, Kings, Paralipomena, the book of Esdras, and the books of Nehemiah and Esther.
41. Which are the doctrinal?
The book of Job, the Psalms, and the books of Solomon.
42. What should we remark in particular of the book of Psalms?
This book, together with the doctrine of religion, contains also allusions to its history, and many prophecies of our Saviour Christ. It is a perfect manual of prayer and praise, and on this account is in continual use in the divine service of the Church.
43. Which books are prophetical?
Those of the Prophets-Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve others.
44. How many are the books of the New Testament?