SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Q. How do you know for certain, which books are divine and canonical Scripture, and which not ?
A. By the testimony of the Catholic Church, which without interruption, succeeded the Apostles, and with whom our Saviour has promised to abide, and teach all truth, to the end of the world.
Q. You tell me the Scripture is the infallible word of God: why then does your Church forbid the faithful to read it, since nothing can be more clear and easy to be understood, in all things necessary to salvation ? This has an ill aspect, and looks as though it was with design to keep the people in ignorance.
A. You seem to mistake the case. The Catholic Church never forbid her children the reading of the holy Scriptures: on the contrary, she always did and does teach, that the reading of the holy Scriptures (provided it be with a humble and reverent mind, and with submission to the interpretation of the Church from whom we received them) is a good and laudable practice, and ought to be the daily exercise of every Christian. Now, all the restraint there ever was, and even that not general, was by the fourth rule of the index of Pope Pius the fourth ; 1 and this only relates to the reading of the Scripture in the vulgar languages, by which he remits the people to their pastors and confessors, as the most proper judges of their capacities, and the disposition of their souls. The reason of this restraint was, in order to arm the people against the danger of novelty and error: which would necessarily follow, if every cobbler and tinker was allowed to interpret the Scripture according to their silly fancies; since St. Peter assures us, that in St. Paul's epistles, there 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. 16. Hence it follows, that the Scriptures are not so clear and plain as you pretend they are, in all points that concern our salvation; otherwise, it would not be truly said, that they wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. As to what our adversaries allege against us, that the true reason of not putting the Scripture into the hands of everyone, is to keep the common people from discovering the errors and follies of their religion. Nothing can be more absurd than this: because, if there were any grounds to fear the making any such discovery, I ask, whether of the two would be best able to do it, the learned or unlearned ? surely the learned. Yet these are all allowed to read the Scriptures, and are not clear-sighted enough to make this discovery. A man must be strangely blinded with prejudice, not to see the absurdity of this calumny.
1 See the Index to the council of Trent.