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An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

As the General Introduction prefixed to the first edition of our Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew was meant for the three other Gospels also, which we contemplated expounding in course of time, we shall not trespass on the patience of the reader by travelling over the same ground once more.

But as one portion of that Introduction is peculiarly suited to the circumstances of the present time, we may be allowed to reproduce it, and prefix it to this our Commentary on the Gospel of St. John:—

“In addition to the foregoing reasons, the character of the age on which we have fallen, considerably influenced me in publishing a Commentary on the Gospels at the present time. Was it ever more necessary, at any period in the history of Christianity, than it is at this day, to place before the world, in as clear a light as possible, an exposition in accordance with the unerring teachings of the Catholic Church, of the fundamental principles of faith and morals, with which the Son of God came down to enlighten a world He found sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death? Does the condition into which many parts of the world are at this moment relapsing, promise to be an improvement on that state of Paganism in which He found it when He came to proclaim glory to God and peace to men? Has not His spouse and representative, the Catholic Church, with whom He deposited the fulness of truth, and to whom He bequeathed the plenitude of His authority, as fierce a struggle before her, enemies as embittered to encounter, as she had when she was forced to seek shelter for a time in the bowels of the earth, and the Flavian Amphitheatre re-echoed to the savage yells of, ‘Christianos ad leones?’ Are the principles of Atheism, Materialism, total negation of all future sanction, which even the very fables of Paganism dimly shadowed forth, less deadly or noxious in their consequences, both as regards here and hereafter, than the principles of Polytheism she succeeded in extirpating? As regards public authority, was the all-absorbing power of Pagan rulers more crushing that the iron-despotism which men would now fain establish in the most powerful kingdoms under the specious name of Liberty? Liberty—that name, like religion itself, so often injuriously invoked, as if it could be ever found dissociated from the holy influences of God’s Spirit, for, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there (and there only) is liberty’ (2 Cor. 3:17).

“Do we not see every day, unholy efforts persistently made and unjustly enforced. even at the risk of Anarchy, to render to Cæsar, not only what belongs to Cæsar but also to concentrate in him all rights, human and divine; to constitute him the sole guardian, depositary and dispenser of what belongs to God, and this in defiance of all the principles of true liberty, despite solemn treaties, and in violation of guaranteed rights of conscience? Does not this all absorbing power of the State, resting solely on brute force, entering into an unholy league with condemned Secret Societies, which embrace both hemispheres, unjustly invade and trample under foot the sacred rights of parents, forcing them to have their children, destined one day to fill those seats vacated by the fallen angels, brought up in schools, where the sacred name of God is utterly ignored, and their tender minds indoctrinated in the souldestroying principles of Materialism?

“What is this but a persistent attempt at the revival of Paganism, making might or the law of the strongest, the sole standard of right? What is it but the substitution of brute force for the abiding blessings of moral influences. What is it but a rapid approach to that sad state of spiritual decay, of which our Redeemer Himself forewarns us, ‘Think you when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8.)

“As the Son of God came down from heaven, not only to be our Redeemer, but our teacher; not only to ransom us with the effusion of His precious blood, but to enlighten us with these saving truths, the knowledge of which, joined to firm and unhesitating faith, He has made an indispensable condition of salvation, it must be ever a subject of the deepest spiritual interest, to place these truths in as clear a light as possible. Whether this Commentary may serve in any way to advance this end, must be left to others to decide.”


Archbishop of Tuam.

TUAM, February 21st, 1889.

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