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In order that all these endeavors and exertions may really prove advantageous to the cause of the Bible, let scholars keep steadfastly to the principles which We have in this Letter laid down: Let them loyally hold that God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures—and that, therefore, nothing can be proved either by physical science or archæology which can really contradict the Scriptures. If, then, apparent contradiction be met with, every effort should be made to remove it. Judicious theologians and commentators should be consulted as to what is the true or most probable meaning of the passage in discussion, and hostile arguments should be carefully weighed. Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up, and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth, and we may be sure that some mistake has been made either in the interpretation of the Sacred Words, or in the polemical discussion itself; and if no such mistake can be detected, we must then suspend judgment for the time being. There have been objections without number perseveringly directed against the Scripture for many a long year, which have been proved to be futile and are now never heard of; and not infrequently interpretations have been placed on certain passages of Scripture (not belonging to the rule of faith or morals) which have been rectified by more careful investigations. As time goes on, mistaken views die and disappear; but truth remaineth and groweth stronger forever and ever. [3 Esdr. 4:38.] Wherefore, as no one should be so presumptuous as to think that he understands the whole of the Scripture, in which St. Augustine himself confessed there was more that he did not know, than that he knew, [Ad Ianuar. ep. LV., 21] so, if he should come on anything that seems incapable of solution, he must take to heart the cautious rule of the same holy Doctor: It is better even to be oppressed by unknown but useful signs, than to interpret them uselessly and thus to throw off the yoke only to be caught in the trap of error. [De doctr. chr. III., 9, 18].

As to those who pursue the subsidiary studies of which We have spoken, if they honestly and modestly follow the counsel we have given—if by their pen and their voice they make their studies profitable against the enemies of truth, and useful in saving the young from the loss of their faith—they may justly congratulate themselves on their worthy service to the Sacred Writings, and on affording to Catholicism that assistance which the Church has a right to expect from the piety and learning of her children.

Such, Venerable Brethren, are the admonitions and the instructions which, by the help of God, We have thought it well, at the present moment to offer to you on the study of Holy Scripture. It will now be your province to see that what We have said be observed and put in practice with all due reverence and exactness; that so, We may prove our gratitude to God for the communication to man of the Words of His Wisdom, and that all the good results so much to be desired may be realized, especially as they affect the training of the students of the Church, which is our own great solicitude and the Churchs hope. Exert yourself with willing alacrity, and use your authority and your persuasion in order that these studies may be held in just regard and may flourish in Seminaries and in educational institutions which are under your jurisdiction. Let them flourish in completeness and in happy success, under the direction of the Church, in accordance with the salutary teaching and example of the Holy Fathers, and the laudable traditions of antiquity; and, as time goes on, let them be widened and extended as the interests and glory of truth may require—the interests of that Catholic Truth, which comes from above, the never-failing source of mans salvation. Finally, We admonish with paternal love, all students and ministers of the Church always to approach the Sacred Writings with reverence and piety; for it is impossible to attain to the profitable understanding thereof unless the arrogance of earthly science be laid aside, and there be excited in the heart the holy desire for that wisdom which is from above. In this way the intelligence, which is once admitted to these Sacred studies, and thereby illuminated and strengthened, will acquire a marvellous facility in detecting and avoiding the fallacies of human science, and in gathering and using for eternal salvation all that is valuable and precious; whilst, at the same time, the heart will grow warm, and will strive, with ardent longing, to advance in virtue and in Divine love. Blessed are they who examine His testimonies; they shall seek Him with their whole heart. [Ps. 18:2].

And now, filled with hope in the Divine assistance, and trusting to your pastoral solicitude—as a pledge of heavenly grace, and a sign of Our special good will—to you all, and to the Clergy, and to the whole flock entrusted to you, We lovingly impart in Our Lord the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at St. Peters, at Rome, the 18th day of November, 1893, the eighteenth year of Our Pontificate.








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