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bible, and this, together with tradition, constitutes his rule of faith. “ All the doctrines of Christianity” (say the writers of the catechism of the council of Trent) « are derived from the word of God, which includes Scripture and Tradition.”* Again : “ If we would have the whole rule of Christian faith and practice, we must not be content with those Scriptures which
Timothy knew from his infancy, that is, with the Old Testament alone; nor yet with the New Testament, without taking along with it the traditions of the apostles, and the interpretation of the church, to which the apostles delivered both the book and the true meaning of it.”+
Tradition is of the utmost importance to the Papist. It answers many an objection, and stands in the place of argument and evidence. There are in the Roman-catholic church many opinions and practices for which, confessedly, no warrant can be produced from the inspired volume. But where Scripture is silent, tradition speaks. « Such and such things,” a Protestant may argue, “ are not authorized by the word of God; what mean ye by this service ?” To this the true Catholic has a ready reply, “ We have received them by tradition from the apostles.” Do you ask for evidence? The only answer to be obtained is, - The priests have told us so— their predecessors gave the same instructions to our fathers; and so by continual succession these things have come to us from the apostles, whose unwritten opinions and injunctions were carefully preserved by their contemporaries, and subsequently embodied in books.” In vain do you urge the great probability of mistake, and the uncertainty attending oral communications; in vain do you allege the differences and contradictions
[2 Samuel]—3 Kings [1 Kings]—4 Kings [2 Kings)—1 Paralipomenon
* Page 7.
in the writings of the fathers, the supposed conservators of apostolic doctrines; in vain do you ask for proof: the church has decreed that tradition has the same authority as the written word, and fulminated its curse against all impugners !
The rise of this system of tradition is easily accounted for. Those who had seen and heard the apostles naturally treasured up in their memories many of their observations and opinions, and brought them forward in support of their sentiments. Great attention would be paid to a man who could affirm, “I heard the apostle Paul, or Peter, say so and so.” In process of time the true words of the apostles, by passing through so many hands, would be corrupted and gradually lost; for it is utterly impossible to preserve for any lengthened period what is dependent on oral tradition. Nevertheless, the plea was found too advantageous to be suffered to die away. When new opinions were broached, and new rites invented, an alleged apostolical tradition supplied the place of scriptural authority; the decree of some council secured its reception; and all objection would soon be silenced by the dread of incurring the vengeance of - Holy Church.” But there is one who has said, “ Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition,” Matt. xv. 6.
2. The unrestrained perusal of the Scriptures, in the vernacular tongue, is regarded by the Romish church as pregnant with danger, and is as much as possible prevented. “ It is manifest from experience,” say they, “that if the Holy Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue, be indiscriminately allowed to every one, the temerity of men will cause more evil than good to arise from it.”* Similar assertions have been uttered in papal bulls from that time to the present, and such still continue to be the acknowledged and recorded sentiments of Roman Catholics. The famous bull Unigenitus, issued by
Fourth Rule of the “ Congregation of the Index.” † Pius VII., writing to the Archbishop of Gnezn in 1816, calls the Bible Society a “most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined,” a “ pestilence,” and “ defilement of the faith, most imminently dangerous to souls.” Leo XII. in 1824, speaking of the same institution, says that it “strolls with effrontery throughout the world, contemning the traditions of the Holy Fathers, and contrary to the well-known decree of the council of Trent, labours with all its might, and by every means, to translate,
Clement XI. against the Jansenists, (A. D. 1713,) condemns sundry propositions drawn from Father Quesnel's " Moral Reflections on the New Testament,” which it stigmatises as “ false, captious, shocking, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, seditious, impious, blasphemous.” The reader will be astounded to learn that among the propositions so unmercifully condemned are these : that so it is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for all sorts of persons, to study and know the spirit, piety, and mysteries, of the Holy Scripture;” that “ the reading of the Holy Scripture is for every body;" that “the Lord's day ought to be sanctified by Christians in reading pious books, and above all the Holy Scriptures !"* This can only be equalled by the “6 Declaration of the Catholic Bishops, the Vicars Apostolic, and their coadjutors in Britain.” Thus they write : “ When the reading and the circulation of the Scriptures are urged and recommended as the entire rule of faith, as the sole means by which men are to be brought to the certain and specific knowledge of the doctrines, precepts, and institutions, of Christ; and when the Scriptures so read and circulated are left to the interpretation and private judgment of each individual : then such reading, circulation, and interpretation, are forbidden by the Catholic church, because the Catholic church knows that the circulation
or rather to pervert, the Holy Bible into the vulgar language of every nation; . from which proceeding it is greatly to be feared that what is ascertained to have happened to some passages may also occur with regard to others; to wit, that by a perverse interpretation, the gospel of Christ be turned into a human gospel, or what is still worse, into the gospel of the devil.” The Irish Roman-catholic prelates, to whom this was written, publicly avowed their full concurrence with the Pope's views, and charged their flocks to surrender to the parish priests all copies of the Scriptures received from Bible Sucieties, as well as all publications disseminated by the Religious Tract Society. See the Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo the 12th, pp. 16, 54–57.
Dr. Wiseman, the popular Roman-catholic lecturer, and one of the editors of the Dublin Review, is of opinion that the inquirer into religion will be “led astray” by adhering solely to Scripture, (Lectures on the Doctrines and Practices of the Catholic Church, vol. i. p. 19;) and Dr. M‘Hale, the Romancatholic Archbishop of Tuam, assures Lord John Russell, that he will pre. serve the children under his care “from the poison of the Scripture lessons," (nothing but Scripture !) issued by the Irish Education Commissioners.Patriot Newspaper, Aug. 9th, 1838.
* Bullarium Romanum, tom. viii. p. 118. Luxemburg, 1727.
of the Scriptures, and the interpretation of them by each one's private judgment, was not the means ordained by Christ for the communication of the true knowledge of his law to all nations; she knows that Christianity was established in many countries before one book of the New Testament was writtenthat it was not by means of the Scriptures that the apostles and their successors converted nations, or any one nation to the unity of the Christian faith that the unauthorized reading and circulation of the Scriptures, and the interpretation of them by private judgment, are calculated to lead men to contradictory doctrines on the primary articles of Christian belief ; to inconsistent forms of worship, which cannot all be constituent parts of the uniform and sublime system of Christianity ; to error and fanaticism in religion, and to seditions and the greatest disorders in states and kingdoms !”*
3. When the Roman Catholic reads the sacred volume, it is not with him the exercise of an undoubted and inalienable right. He has received permission from his confessor; a great privilege is conceded to him, which he may assuredly expect will be taken away, if he ventures to assert his freedom, and presumes to think for himself. Tradition explains Scripture; the church is the depository of tradition, “ the living, speaking judge, to watch over and explain the rule of faith in all matters of controversy ;”+ and the priest is the representative and interpreter of the church. The law in this case made and provided
* Declaration, p. 8. A cunning device is mentioned by Mr. Fisk, an American Missionary. When at Alexandria, in Egypt, he fell into the company of a Roman-catholic priest. “He shewed me a Catholic prayer-book in English, and also what he called the Bible in Italian. It was the history of the Bible, written in other words, with omissions, abbreviations, and comments. I have seen a similar work in French, called "The Bible Royaumont,' The general plan of these works is much like that of Jameson's Sacred History. The fathers are continually quoted as authorities in support of the expositions given. The grand fault respecting these books is, that the priests give them to the people under the name of the Bible, and the latter often do not know that there is any other Bible, or that these books differ in any respect from the real Scriptures.” (Bond's Life of Fisk, p. 175.) No; the whole Bible, as it is, must be by all means kept from the people. Probably this is the reason of the high price of the Roman-catholic Scriptures; the cheapest edition of the entire volume costs twelve shillings. It is obvious that with the lower classes this operates as an absolute prohibition.
† Milner's End of Controversy, p. 56.
is contained in the decree; to which may be added a further extract from the fourth rule of the Congregation of the Index:“ It is, on this point, referred to the judgment of the bishops or inquisitors, who may, by the advice of the priest or confessor, permit the reading of the Bible translated into the vulgar tongue by Catholic authors to those persons whose faith and piety, they apprehend, will be augmented, and not injured by it; and this permission they must have in writing. But if any one shall have the presumption to read or possess it without such written permission, he shall not receive absolution until he have first delivered up such bible to the ordinary."* The confession is in perfect accordance with the law : “ I also admit the sacred Scriptures, according to the sense which the holy mother church has held, and does hold, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures ;
* This is not an obsolete enactment; it is in full force at the present time. “ The Catholics in England of mature years have permission to read authentic and approved translations of the Holy Scriptures, with explanatory potes; and are exhorted to read them in the spirit of piety, humility, and obedience.”— Declaration, &c. ut supra.
A writer in the Dublin Review (No. 2, p. 372) states, that “a decree of the Congregation of the Index, (June 13th, 1757,) permits the use of the Bible to all, provided it have an approved commentary uttached.” The reader will bear in mind that “authentic and approved translations” are translations by Roman Catholics, not from the originals, but from the Latin Vulgate. But sometimes even such versions are condemned. An edition of Martini's Italian New Testament, for instance, printed at Leghorn, 1818, has been placed in the prohibitory Index of the Romish Church. Martini was Archbishop of Florence: his translation is “the most finished and accurate among the Catholic translations,” and “ was executed with the sanction of Pius the sixth.” (Dublin Review, ut supra.) But the edition in question probably wanted the “ explanatory notes,” without which even a Roman-catholic version cannot be trusted.- Catalogue des Ouvrages mis à l’Index, p. 235. Paris, 1826.
The circulation of the Scriptures, under the auspices of the British and Foreign Bible Society, is at the present time most fiercely opposed in France and Belgium. The versions distributed are accredited Roman-catholic versions, but they are distributed by Protestants, and they are destitute of “explanatory notes !”—Thirty-fourth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, p. 18: Appendix, p. 52—72.
Peter Dens says, that the injunctions of the council of Trent, respecting the Scriptures are faithfully observed in Roman-catholic countries ; but that where Roman catholics live among heretics, greater indulgence is allowed ;doubtless in order to induce Protestants to believe that they are not so hostile to the Scriptures as is commonly supposed. — Theologia, tom. ii. p. 103.