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Among the reasons for which the Holy Scripture is so worthy of commendation—in addition to its own excellence and to the homage which we owe to Gods Word—the chief of all is, the innumerable benefits of which it is the source; according to the infallible testimony of the Holy Ghost Himself, who says: All Scripture, inspired by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work. [Tim. 3:16–17.] That such was the purpose of God in giving the Scripture to men is shown by the example of Christ our Lord and of His Apostles. For He Himself who obtained authority by miracles, merited belief by authority, and by belief drew to himself the multitude [S. Aug. de util. cred. XIV. 32.] was accustomed in the exercise of His Divine Mission, to appeal to the Scriptures. He uses them at times to prove that He is sent by God, and is God Himself. From them He cites instructions for His disciples and confirmation of His doctrine. He vindicates them from the calumnies of objectors; He quotes them against Sadducees and Pharisees, and retorts from them upon Satan himself when he dares to tempt Him. At the close of His life His utterances are from the Holy Scripture, and it is the Scripture that He expounds to His disciples after His resurrection, until He ascends to the glory of His Father. Faithful to His precepts, the Apostles, although He Himself granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands, [Act. 14:3.] nevertheless used with the greatest effect the Sacred Writings, in order to persuade the nations everywhere of the wisdom of Christianity, to conquer the obstinacy of the Jews, and to suppress the outbreak of heresy. This is plainly seen in their discourses, especially in those of St. Peter; these were often a little less than a series of citations from the Old Testament making in the strongest manner for the new dispensation. We find the same thing in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John and in the Catholic Epistles; and most remarkably of all in the words of him, who boasts that he learned the law at the feet of Gamaliel, in order that, being armed with spiritual weapons, he might afterwards say with confidence, the arms of our warfare are not carnal but mighty unto God. [St. Hieron. de stud. Script, ad Paulin. ep. LIII., 3.] Let all, therefore especially the novices of the ecclesiastical army, understand how deeply the Sacred Books should be esteemed, and with what eagerness and reverence they should approach this great arsenal of heavenly arms. For those whose duty it is to handle Catholic doctrine before the learned or the unlearned will nowhere find more ample matter or more abundant exhortation, whether on the subject of God, the supreme Good and the all-perfect Being, or the works which display His glory and His love. Nowhere is there anything more full or more express on the subject of the Saviour of the world than is to be found in the whole range of the Bible. As St. Jerome says, to be ignorant of the Scripture is not to know Christ. [in Isaiam Prol.] In its pages His Image stands out, living and breathing; diffusing everywhere around consolation in trouble, encouragement to virtue and attraction to the love of God. And as to the Church, her institutions, her nature, her office and her gifts, we find in Holy Scripture so many references and so many ready and convincing arguments, that as St. Jerome again most truly says. A man who is well grounded in the testimonies of the Scripture is the bulwark of the Church. [in Isaiam LIV. 12.] And if we come to morality and discipline, an apostolic man finds in the Sacred Writings abundant and excellent assistance; most holy precepts, gentle and strong exhortation, splendid examples of every virtue, and finally the promise of eternal reward and the threat of eternal punishment, uttered in terms of solemn import, in Gods name and in Gods own words.

And it is this peculiar and singular power of Holy Scripture, arising from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which gives authority to the sacred orator, fills him with apostolic liberty of speech, and communicates force and power to his eloquence. For those who infuse into their efforts the spirit and strength of the Word of God, speak not in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fulness. [1 Thess. 1:5]. Hence, those preachers are foolish and improvident who, in speaking of religion and proclaiming the things of God, use no words but those of human science and human prudence, trusting to their own reasonings rather than to those of God. Their discourses may be brilliant and fine, but they must be feeble and they must be cold, for they are without the fire of the utterance of God [Jerem. 23:29] and they must fall far short of that mighty power which the speech of God possesses: for the Word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any twoedged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit. [Hebr. 4:12]. But, indeed those who have a right to speak are agreed that there is in the Holy Scripture an eloquence that is wonderfully varied and rich and worthy of great themes. This St. Augustine thoroughly understood and has abundantly set forth. [De doctr. Chr. IV., 6, 7.] This, also, is confirmed by the best preachers of all ages, who have gratefully acknowledged that they owed their repute chiefly to the assiduous use of the Bible, and to devout meditation on its pages.

The Holy Fathers well knew all this by practical experience, and they never cease to extol the Sacred Scripture and its fruits. In innumerable passages of their writings we find them applying to it such phrases as an inexhaustible treasury of heavenly doctrine, [S. Chrys. in Gen. Hom. XXI., 2; Hom. IX., 3; S. Aug. de Disc. Christ. II.] or an overflowing fountain of salvation, [S. Athan. ep. fest. XXXIX.] or putting it before us as fertile pastures and beautiful gardens in which the flock of the Lord is marvellously refreshed and delighted. [S. Aug. serm. XXVI., 24; S. Ambr. in Ps. CXVIII., serm. XIX., 2] Let us listen to the words of St. Jerome, in his Epistle to Nepotian: Often read the divine Scriptures; yea, let holy reading be always in thy hand; study that which thou thy self must preach.… Let the speech of the priest be ever seasoned with Scriptural reading. [S. Hier. de vita cleric, ad Nepot.] St Gregory the Great, than whom no one has more admirably described the pastoral office, writes in the same sense: Those, he says, who are zealous in the work of preaching must never cease the study of the Written Word of God. [S. Greg. M., Regul, past. II., 11. (al. 22); Moral. XVII., 26 (al. 14). St. Augustine, however, warns us that vainly does the preacher utter the Word of God exteriorly unless he listens to it interiorly; [S. Aug. serm. CLXXIX., 1.] and St. Gregory instructs sacred orators first to find in Holy Scripture the knowledge of themselves, and then carry it to others, lest in reproving others they forget themselves. [S. Greg. M. Regul. past., III., 24 (al. 14).] Admonitions such as these had, indeed, been uttered long before by the Apostolic voice which had learnt its lesson from Christ Himself, Who began to do and teach. It was not to Timothy alone, but to the whole order of the clergy, that the command was addressed: Take heed to thyself and to doctrine; be earnest in them. For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee. [1 Tim. 4:16.] For the saving and for the perfection of ourselves and of others there is at hand the very best of help in the Holy Scriptures, as the Book of Psalms, among others, so constantly insists; but those only will find it who bring to this divine reading not only docility and attention, but also piety and an innocent life. For the sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance, which, in many instances are most difficult and obscure. To understand and explain such things there is always required the coming [S. Hier. in Mic. I., 10.] of the same Holy Spirit; that is to say, His light and His grace, and these, as the Royal Psalmist so frequently insists, are to be sought by humble prayer and guarded by holiness of life.








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