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and is profttable for reproof, for correction, for instruclion in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”* We shall content ourselves at present with observing that that part of Holy Scripture which of all others is the most remote from ordinary comprehension, is introduced with a blessing upon those who read and hear it. “ Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy.”+
We see then, that the particular evidence of Scripture on this subject, exactly concurs with the evidence afforded by its history and general character, to establish the right and enforce the duty of exercising reason and judgment in determining its meaning.
We have before said that when we affirm reason to be the proper interpreter of Scripture, we do not mean that it is to go before and control in any degree the sense of Scripture, but to follow after and discover its sense. Nor do we maintain that reason is sufficient for this purpose, when biassed by prejudice and pride, or blinded by passion. He who desires to ascertain the import of the word of God, is to pray that his understanding may be rectified and enlightened. This is the course which the Scripture instructs him to follow :—“My son, if thou criest afler knowledge and liflest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver and searchest after her as hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”Ş Ordinary reason, thus rectified and enlightened, is sufficient for the interpretation of Scripture, so far as to ascertain its general and most important sense. “ There is in Scripture no defect, but that any man, what place or calling soever he hold in the Church of God, may have the light of his natural understanding so perfected, that there can want no part of needful instruction ”I as to any good work, or any article of faith which God requires to be done or to be believed of necessity to salvation. But, say
Roman Catholic controversialists, how are you able to ascertain what is most important in divine revelation, and to distinguish between things necessary to salvation to be understood and believed, and those which are not so ? We answer with Chillingworth, and the answer is demonstrative and convincing,—that nothing is absolutely necessary to be believed but that which is plainly revealed : “ for to say that, when a place of Scripture by reason of ambiguous terms lies indifferent between diverse senses, whereof the one is true and the other is false, God obliges men ander pain of damnation not to mistake * Rev. i. 8. ^ 2 Tim. iii. 15, et seq. § Prov. II. Ecc. Pol. Book 1.
through error and human frailty, is to make God a tyrant, and to say that he requires us certainly to attain the end, for the attaining whereof we have no certain means.' Some subjects of divine revelation are set in open daylight; others in a light less clear; and others in such obscurity that the sense of divine revelation concerning them has never been with certainty determined. While the general import of Scripture is obvious to ordinary reason delivered from the influence of prejudice and passion, there are some parts of it, to the perfect understanding of which, an acquaintance with ancient customs and the original languages is necessary; others, the sense of which must be determined by a diligent and accurate comparison of them with the rest of Scripture; and others, the meaning of which must be collected by the light which ecclesiatical history throws upon them. Such parts of Scripture, although the understanding of them is not necessary to salvation, are, nevertheless, not to be thought unworthy of investigation. They furnish an occasion of salutary mental discipline, and well repay the inquirer for the care and industry with which he searches into their sense.
It appears then upon the whole, that the sense of Scripture first in the order of importance is discovered in proportion to the simplicity and earnestness with which the inquirer seeks the help of God to rectify and enlighten his understanding: and that the less important sense of Scripture is discovered in proportion to the strength and perspicacity of reason,—the watchfulness and industry with which it is exercised,—and the light of learning which is brought to the investigation. From the absence of the first requisite some pervert Scripture to their own destruction ;-from imperfection in some or all of the rest no man, we may safely affirm, has made himself master of its entire sense.
The pretext by which the Church of Rome attempts to justify her substitution of an arbitrary interpretation in the place of the Holy Scriptures is, that they are so hard to be understood, and so capable of being applied to hurtful purposes, that the general and indiscriminate use of them would be attended with more harm than good.* If it was the purpose of God, and it has been made evidently to
* A passage which the Church of Rome turns to suit her purpose in this respect, is the following :-"In which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest as they do also the other Scriptures to their own destruction. 2 Peter iii. 14. The meaning of this passage, however, is clearly not that which the Church of Rome puts upon it. The meaning of it is, not that unlearned persons simply misunderstand the Scriptures to their own destruction, but that the unlearned and unstable wrest (orpeßaquoi) or pervert them to that appear it was his purpose, that the Holy Scriptures should be for general use, we see not how to avoid this consequence, --that to assert the general use of them to be productive of more harm than good, is to be guilty of a most audacious libel upon the wisdom or the goodness of God.
As a greater insult was never offered to the Deity, so was there never a greater injury inflicted on mankind, than that of which the Roman Hierarchy has been guilty in regard to the Scriptures. To convert into private property, and withdraw from general use, those sacred records which God has given indiscriminately to mankind as their guide to eternal happiness, is a robbery more extensive and destructive than any other that was ever concerted ; a crime in the magnitude of which the dimensions of ordinary guilt are lost.
Historical Lessons of the Roman Breviary. No. 3.
(Conunued from page 76.)
Sr. FRANCIS XAVIER. HAVING
AVING seen what sort of confirmation of Xavier's miracles is afforded by the saint himself, we now proceed to examine the evidence of his contemporaries. Some of the fabulous legends of the dark ages, were brought to perfection at once in the creative brain of the monk who first invented them, like those poisonous fungi produced in rank and rotten ground, which attain their full growth in a single night, nobody knows how, or from what origin. Others may be traced backwards to some small distortion of the truth which has gradually and slowly encreased to an enormous mass of falsehood, like those pernicious
effect. The danger is in torturing them into a sense foreign from their genuine meaning
The Prohibitory Indexes of the Church of Rome discover her sense of the baleful effects of Scripture very plainly. “ Since it is manifest from experience if the Holy Scriptures were circulated without discrimination, that through the temerity of men more harm than good would ensue, &c.” Index lib. prohib. et autoritate Pii. IV, cum Appendice in Belgio, &c. 1570. “As experience has taught that from the allowing the Holy Bible in the Vulgar tongue there ensues (through the temerity, ignorance, or evil dispositions of men) more harm than good, we prohibit the Bible with all its parts, whether printed or manuscript, in the Vulgar tongue,” &c. Rule v. of the Spanish Index of 1667. This rule (which we may hereafter give at full length) continued in force till 1782, when the most just causes which presented themselves at the time it was drawn up,” laving ceased, (which seems to mean that the temerity, ignorance, and evil dispositions of men, had become extinct in 1782) the ordinance was considerably relaxed.
weeds, which if neglected in their early growth, spread their roots and their branches and scatter their seeds in every direction, till the whole field or garden is overspread with their rank and mischievous luxuriance. The fictitious portion of Xavier's life is a romance of the latter description. The fable may be traced from a weakly birth, through a long and precarious childhood; at forty years of age it was pretty vigorous, and at sixty it was a monstrous giant, audacious enough to scale truth and heaven.
Parra metu primo; mox sese attollit in auras,
Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit. Virg. We shall, with Horace's leave, begia ab ovo, and introduce our readers to the monster in its cradle.
Xavier died in the island of Sancian, on the second of December, 1552; and his body was interred on the spot by his companions, in a hasty and slovenly manner, in a box filled with lime. The following spring it was removed to Malacca, and there, with still less ceremony, thrown into a grave, in the burial ground appropriated to the meanest of the people. In this place, as his biographers confess, it remained undistinguished and unhonoured, till August, 1553, about which time the happy idea seems to have struck his brethren that it was possible to turn it to a better account." They, therefore made arrangements for a solemn translation of it to Goa, where it was conveyed with great pomp and ceremony in the ensuing spring: We have an account of its reception there in a pretty long epistle of Melchior Nunhez, then provincial of the Jesuits, dated 1554. After a flaming description of the processions that were made, the masses that were sung, and the enthusiastic devotion of the people, he proceeds to give some account of the saints' miracles, which is the first specific record of them that we have been able to discover. We solicit the particular attention of our readers to his words, which are pregnant with instruction, and furnish a sufficient, clue to the whole matter.
“MANY THINGS BECAME KNOWN AFTER HIS DEATH, WHICH WERE NOT KNOWN DURING HIS LIFE.” A Franciscan friar, a very devout person, who had been for a time Father Francis's companion, previous to his entering upon the monastic state, and whose name was John Deyro; when he saw the body in this state, said, that, since God manifested the sancity of Father Francis, he would also, for the glory of God, disclose a circumstance which he had never told to any body, namely, that Father Francis had the gift of prophecy; for that he himself, once upon a time, having had a revelation which he kept a close secret, the Father told him of it, and repeated all the par. ticulars in such a manner that he was not able to deny it; and this the said friar related to us weeping. The vicar of St. Thomas's, (of Meliapore,) where Father Francis had resided a winter, told me, and all persons in Goa, who chose to hear him, that he knew for a certainty that Francis was a virgin, which knowledge he had obtained as his father confessor. Many persons afirmed that, at Cape Comorin, he had raised a dead person. In Japan, brother Pablo de Santa Fè, a Japanese, who accompanied the father, assured us that he restored sight to a blind man. “There are many other things which I do not write, because the Viceroy has declared to-day that he would cause an attestation and public record of them to be drawn up, and send it to the king.p”
In the above short passage, the nascent germ of the whole portentous legend may be discovered, as distinctly as the gigantic oak can be traced
This was by no means a novel idea, for it had been known by long experience that a dead saint was much more profitable than a living one, and frequently as good as an archbishop's revenue to the church or monastery that had the luck to possess him.
+ Diversi Avisi dall'Indie, Venice, 1565.
back to the diminutive acorn. Various attempts to get up miracles have been made in our days, and we can all remember how loudly they were trumpeted forth at the very time they were said to have happened. When the pictures of the Virgin Mary opened and shut their eyes at Rome and Ancona, all Italy was in a ferment; and all England, Wales, and Ireland were inundated with the “ Official Memoirs of the Juridical Examinations” into those prodigies. When the great spiritual quack, Prince Hohenlohe, began to vend his miraculous wares, the fame of their virtues quickly overspread Europe, and even America. Protestants were every where insulted because they could produce nothing like them, and the Irish titular bishops
wrote flaming books to prove that Prince Hohenlohe had subverted Protestantism from its very foundation. If those flimsy and abortive attempts made such a commotion, it is natural to suppose that a similar sensation would be caused by the prodigious miracles of Xavier during the saint's life-time. The appetite for miracles, and the disposition to believe them, were much greater then than they are now; there was plenty of time to gain information respecting them, for he carried on his marvellous operations for more than ten years. Supposing that he himself was too humble to boast of his supernatural favours, there were many other channels to communicate them to the world. They were witnessed, if we are to believe the posthumous relations, by thousands of his converts; the East was full of Spaniards and Portuguese, lay and secular; some of whom saw the miracles and others heard of them, like the worthy Ferdinand Mendez Pinto. He was generally accompanied in his expeditions by one or more of his brother Jesuits, who kept up a regular correspondence with the Society in Europe; and the colonial governors and naval and military officers were perpetually sending despatches to the Government at home. Yet, for nearly twelve long years, å dead silence is preserved respecting those very things which were most calculated to make a noise ; and not a + single document has been produced, published during Xavier's life-time, in which one specific miracle, great or small, is attributed to him. But when he had been dead fifteen months, and at that favourable moment when people's minds are excited to a pitch of devotional frenzy by the pomp and parade of religious processions, and pageantries of all sorts, a new light suddenly dawns upon certain worthy friends and companions of Xavier ;-circumstances which they had hitherto unaccountably forgotten to communicate, are brought to their recollection; and the miracles of the dead saint, like the virtues of a deceased hen-pecked husband, are duly blazoned forth by the weeping survivors. And, what is most important to keep in mind, we have the irrefragable testimony of Xavier's successor in authority, that the things then talked of, had not been known during his life. That intellect must be truly obtuse that cannot see grounds of suspicion, and more than suspicion in all this; and we will not affront the penetration of our readers by overloading so plain a text, with any further commentaries of our own.
The catastrophe of those two dramas is not unworthy of notice. The pictures lost their faculty of winking when the French troops invaded the Papal dominions; and Prince Hohenlohe's miracles ceased all at once when the magistrates of Bamberg forbade any more to be wrought except in the presence of some skilful physician.
+ There is an abstract of a letter from Balthasar Nunhez, professedly dated 1548, but not published till after avier's death, which says that "wonderful things are related which the Lord works by him, which it is not lawful to commit to a letter." Diversi Avvisi, fol. 61. This lame and vague, as well as somewhat suspicious testimony, is the nearest approach to a contemporary evidence that I can meet with. Why it should be unlawful to tell things honorable to Xavier and the Catholic religion, supposing them to be true, I cannot imagine. There are many other epistles written by the saint's coadjutors during his life-time, describing his labours, commending his virtues, &c. &c., but totally silent on the chapter of miracles, though dated from the very places where his most amazing miracles are said to have been wrought!!