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We must now, Venerable Brethren, as our purpose demands, impart to you such counsels as seem best suited for carrying on successfully the study of biblical science.

But first it must be clearly understood whom we have to oppose and contend against, and what are their tactics and their arms. In earlier times the contest was chiefly with those who, relying on private judgment and repudiating the divine traditions and teaching office of the Church, held the Scriptures to be the one source of revelation and the final appeal in matters of faith. Now we have to meet the Rationalists, true children and inheritors of the older heretics, who, trusting in their turn to their own way of thinking, have rejected even the scraps and remnants of Christian belief which had been handed down to them. They deny that there is any such thing as revelation or inspiration, or Holy Scripture at all; they see, instead, only the forgeries and falsehoods of men; they set down the Scripture narratives as stupid fables and lying stories: the prophecies and oracles of God are to them either predictions made up after the event or forecasts formed by the light of nature; the miracles and wonders of Gods power are not what they are said to be, but the startling effects of natural law, or else mere tricks and myths; and the Apostolic Gospels and writings are not the work of the apostles at all. These detestable errors, whereby they think they destroy the truth of the divine books, are obtruded on the world as the peremptory pronouncements of a newly invented free science; a science, however, which is so far from final that they are perpetually modifying and supplementing it. And there are some of them, who, notwithstanding their impious opinions and utterances about God, and Christ, the Gospels and the rest of Holy Scripture, would fain be considered both theologians and Christians and men of the Gospel, and who attempt to disguise by such honorable names their rashness and their pride. To them we must add not a few professors of other sciences who approve their views and give them assistance, and are urged to attack the Bible by similar intolerance of revelation. And it is deplorable to see these attacks growing every day more numerous and more severe. It is sometimes men of learning and judgment who are assailed; but these have little difficulty in defending themselves from evil consequences. The efforts and arts of the enemy are chiefly directed against the more ignorant masses of the people. They diffuse their deadly poison by means of books, pamphlets, and newspapers; they spread it by addresses and by conversation; they are found everywhere; and they are in possession of numerous schools, taken by violence from the Church, in which, by ridicule and scurrilous jesting, they pervert the credulous and unformed minds of the young to the contempt of Holy Scripture. Should not these things, Venerable Brethren, stir up and set on fire the heart of every pastor, so that to this knowledge, falsely so called, [1 Tim. 6:20.] may be opposed the ancient and true science which the Church, through the Apostles has received from Christ, and that Holy Scripture may find the champions that are needed in so momentous a battle?

Let our first care, then, be to see that in seminaries and academical institutions the study of Holy Scripture be placed on such a footing as its own importance and the circumstances of the time demand. With this view, the first thing which requires attention is the wise choice of professors. Teachers of Sacred Scripture are not to be appointed at haphazard out of the crowd; but they must be men whose character and fitness are proved by their love of the Bible and their long familiarity with it and by suitable learning and study.

It is a matter of equal importance to provide in time for a continuous succession of such teachers; and it will be well wherever this can be done, to select young men of good promise who have successfully accomplished their theological course, and to set them apart exclusive for Holy Scripture, affording them facilities for full and complete studies. Professors, thus chosen and thus prepared, may enter, with confidence, on the task that is appointed for them; and that they may carry out their work well and profitably, let them take heed to the instructions we now proceed to give.

At the commencement of a course of Holy Scripture, let the professor strive earnestly to form the judgment of the young beginners so as to train them equally to defend the Sacred Writings and to penetrate their meaning. This is the object of the treatise which is called Introduction. Here the student is taught how to prove the integrity and authority of the Bible, how to investigate and ascertain its true sense, and how to meet and refute objections. It is needless to insist upon the importance of making these preliminary studies in an orderly and thorough fashion, with the accompaniment and assistance of Theology; for the whole subsequent course must rest on the foundation thus laid and make use of the light thus acquired. Next, the teacher will turn his attention to that more fruitful division of Scripture science which has to do with interpretation, wherein is imparted the method of using the Word of God for the advantage of religion and piety. We recognize, without hesitation, that neither the extent of the matter nor the time at disposal allows each single Book of the Bible to be separately gone through. But the teaching should result in a definite and ascertained method of interpretation—and, therefore, the professor should equally avoid the mistake of giving a mere taste of every Book, and of dwelling at too great a length on a part of one Book. If most schools cannot do what is done in large institutions—take the students through the whole of one or two Books continuously and with a certain development—yet at least those parts which are selected should be treated with suitable fulness; in such a way that the students may learn from the sample that is put before them to love and use the remainder of the Sacred Book during the whole of their lives. The professor, following the tradition of antiquity, will make use of the Vulgate as his text; for the Council of Trent decreed that in public lectures, disputations, preaching, and exposition, [Sess. IV., decr. de edit. et usu sacr. libror.] the Vulgate is the authentic version; and this is the existing custom of the Church. At the same time, the other versions, which Christian antiquity has approved, should not be neglected, more especially the more ancient MSS. For, although the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek is substantially rendered by the Vulgate, nevertheless, wherever there may be ambiguity or want of clearness, the examination of older tongues, [De doctr. chr. III., 4.] to quote St. Augustine, will be useful and advantageous. But in this matter we need hardly say that the greatest prudence is required, for the office of a commentator, as St. Jerome says, is to set forth not what he himself would prefer, but what his author says. [Ad Pammachium.] The question of reading having been, when necessary, carefully discussed, the next thing is to investigate and expound the meaning. And the first counsel to be given is this: that the more our adversaries contend to the contrary, so much the more solicitously should we adhere to the received and approved canons of interpretation. Hence, whilst weighing the meaning of words, the connection of ideas, the parallelism of passages, and the like, we should by all means make use of such illustrations as can be drawn from opposite erudition of an external sort; but this should be done with caution so as not to bestow on questions of this kind more labor and time than are spent on the Sacred Books themselves, and not to overload the minds of the students with a mass of information that will be rather a hindrance than a help.








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