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ways of righteousness, become a stone of stumbling. For you ought carefully to have kept in view, what our predecessors have always prescribed ; viz. That if the Holy Bible in the vulgar tongue were permitted every where, without discrimination, more injury than benefit would thence arise.
“3. Further, the Roman Church receiving only the Vulgate edition, by the well-known decree of the Council of Trent, rejects the version in other languages, and allows only those which are published with notes, properly selected from the writings of the Fathers and Catholic Doctors; lest so great a treasure should be subject to the corruptions of novelties, and in order that the Church, scattered over the whole world, might be of one lip and of the same speech. Truly, when we perceive in a vernacular tongue very frequent changes, variations, and alterations, proceeding from the immoderate licentiousness of Biblical versions, that immutability would be destroyed; nay, the divine testimonies, and even the faith itself would be shaken especially since from the signification of one syllable the truth of a dogma may sometimes be ascertained.
“ 4. Wherefore, by this means, Heretics have been accustomed to bring forward their corrupt and most destructive machinations, in order that they might insiduously obtrude each their own errors, dressed up in the more holy garb of the divine word, by publishing the Bible in the vulgar tongue, though concerning the wonderful variety and discrepancy of these they mutually accuse and cavil at each other. For heresies arise only, saith St. AUGUSTINE, when the excellent Scriptures are not well understood.
“5. But, if we lament that men, the most renowned for piety and wisdom, have often failed in interpreting the Scripture, what may not be feared, if the Scriptures, translated into every vulgar tongue, are given to be freely read by the ignorant common people, who usually judge not from any preference, but from a sort of temerity ? 'Is it so, exclaims St. AUGUSTINE properly, that you, untinctured by any poetical skill, do not venture to open Terence without a master; but you rush without a guide upon the Holy Books, and dare to give an opinion upon them without the assistance of an instructer?
“6. Wherefore our predecessor INNOCENT III., in his celebrated epistle to the faithful of the Church of Metz, most wisely commanded these things: The hidden mysteries of the faith are not every where to be laid open to all people ; since they cannot every where be understood by all men, but by those only who can comprehend them with a faithful mind: on which account the Apostle says, (1 Cor. iii. 2,). To you who are the more ignorant, as it were babes in Christ, I gave milk to drink, not food; for strong meat belongeth to the elder.' And as he himself said to others : We speak wisdom among the perfect; but among you I determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.'
For so great is the depth of the divine Scriptures, that not only the simple and illiterate, but even the prudent and learned, are incompetent fully to discover their meaning. Because many who have diligently searched have failed, it was rightly ordained of old in the divine law, (Exod. xix. 12,) that the beast which shall touch the mountain should be stoned ; lest truly any simple and unlearged person should presume to reach after the height of Sacred Scripture, or even proolaim it to others : for it is written, * Mind not high things.'. Therefore the Apostle commands, not to be more'wise than is becoming, but to be wise soberly.
“7. Yet not only the letter of INNOCENT III., just quoted, but also the Bulls of Pius IV., CLEMENT VIII., and BENEDICT XIV. are very well known; in which they forewarned us, lest, if the Scripture was unreservedly laid open to all, it would, perhaps, be despised and disregarded, or being improperly understood by persons of low capacities, it would lead them into error. But you, our brother, may know plainly, what is the opinion of the Church concerning the reading and interpretation of the Scripture, from the famous Bull Unigenitus, by another of our predecessors, CLEMENT XI. ; wherein are expressly refuted those opinions which asserted, that it is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for all descriptions of persons, to know the mysteries of the Scripture, the reading of which was intended to be for all, that it is pernicious to keep it back from Christian people; yea, that the mouth of Christ was closed against the faithful, when the New Testament was taken out of their hands.
“8. But what caused even still greater grief is this; that you have gone so far, when transcribing the Decree of the Council of Trent, concerning the Canon of Scripture, as to omit those things respecting traditions, which are sanctioned by the same context. For, whereas these Holy Fathers openly declare, that the word of God is contained, not merely in the written books, but also in the most indubitable traditions of the Church, relating both to faith and to morals; which as proceeding either from the mouth of Christ, or dictated by the Holy Spirit, and preserved by continued succession in the Catholic Church, this most Holy Synod receives, and venerates with equally pious affection and reverence :--You, venerable brother, have not feared entirely to garble this passage, with the same artifice with which we observe you have quoted the letter of Pius VI., our predecessor, to Martini, Archbishop of Florence! For when that most wise Pontiff
, for this very reason, commends a version of the Holy Scriptures, made by that Prelate, because he had abundantly enriched it by expositions drawn by tradition, accurately and religiously observing the rules prescribed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, and by the Roman Pontiffs; you have suppressed the part of that letter in which, these things are related : and thus not only have you excited the strongest suspicion of your judgment on this sub
ject, but also, by not fully quoting both the context of the Holy Synod, and that of our aforesaid predecessor, you have given an occasion to others to err, in an affair of so great importance.
“9. For what else, venerable brother, can these mutilations mean, but that either you thought not rightly concerning the most holy traditions of the Church, or that these passages were expunged by you for the purpose of favouring the machinations of innovators, which certainly tend to deceive the faith of the readers, and to make even the common people themselves read with an unsuspicious mind those versions which, as we showed above, must to them be much more injurious than profitable ?
“10. Moreover, if this would by no means be lawful for any Catholic person, what shall we say of a holy Prelate of the Church, whom pastoral dignity has constituted the guardian of the faith and doctrine committed to him; and who is strictly bound, by the force and obligation of the oath he has taken, both strenuously and diligently to remove from the people what may lead them into the danger of erring, and to observe and maintain the laws and regulations of the Church?
“11. You see, therefore, venerable brother, what ought to be our mode of acting toward you, if we were disposed to enforce the severity of the Canon Laws. For, said St. Thomas of Canterbury, he, who does not come forward to remove what ought to be corrected, gives his sanction to error; nor is he free from suspicion of secret conspiracy, who evidently neglects to oppose mischief.
“12. But we, for the love we bear you, insist only upon that, from which, since it must be enjoined upon you by divine authority, we cannot refrain ; namely, that you would take away the scandal, which by this mode of acting you have occasioned. Hence we most earnestly exhort you, our brother, and beseech you by the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you will strive to repair, by a due and speedy amendment, all those things which you have improperly taught or done concerning the new versions of the Bible.
“13. It is to be wished, venerable brother, that, emulating the example of illustrious men, which procured for them such honour, you would consider how you might reprobate these your deeds by a solemn and formal retractation ! We cannot, however, avoid exciting you, and by virtue of your sacred vows of obedience, we even command you, to do at least what is necessary for preserving the purity of doctrine and the integrity of the faith : namely, that in a fresh letter, addressed to the people, containing the whole contents both of the decree of the Council of Trent, and of the letter of Pius VI. on this subject, you should sincerely and plainly teach, that the Christian truth and doctrine, as well dogmatical as moral, are contained not in the Scriptures only, but also in the traditions of the Catholic Church; and that
it belongs to the Church herself alone to interpret each of them. Moreover, you should declare, that you did not intend to recommend those versions of the sacred books, in the vulgar tongues, which were not exactly conformable to the rules prescribed by the Canons and Apostolic Institutions. Lastly, you should make known and declare, that, in advising and recommending the perusal of these divine Scriptures, you had not respect to all the faithful indiscriminately, but only to ecclesiastical persons, or at most to those lay men who, in the judgment of their pastors, were sufficiently instructed.
“14. If you shall truly perform all these things, as we trust in the Lord you will, and which we promise ourselves most certainly from your prudent and tractable disposition, you will afford great consolation to our mind, and also to the Church universal.
“Filled with this hope, we permanently impart to you, venerable brother, and the Aock committed to your care, the Apostolic benediction.
“Given at Rome, at St. Mary the Greater, on the third day of September, 1816, the 17th year of our Pontificate.
POPE Pius VII."
3. The Edict of the Hungarian Government.
Considering that the London Bible Association has caused the establishment of several affiliated societies, particularly in Germany, and that several such associations in the Imperial Hereditary dominions, particularly among the Protestants, have a more intimate connexion in view; his most sacred Majesty has been graciously pleased to ordain, that care be taken that printed copies of the Bible be not circulated gratis, nor at low price, by such foreign associations and societies in his Majesty's hereditary dominions, nor the establishment of a Bible Association allowed. For the rest his sacred Majesty is graciously pleased to allow the trade in Bibles, as in all other books, by booksellers, according to the ordinances published on this subject.
“ The Royal Government hereby publishes this his Majesty's resolution, that the most punctual care may be taken to observe it in every point.
“Given at Buda, the 23d of December, 1816, in the Assembly of the members of the Royal Hungarian Government."
4. Declaration of the Bishops of Hungary. “ That the Bible Societies not long ago formed among the English, and which it is attempted to promote in all the world, have failed to produce that general good for which they are ex. tolled, the most clear-sighted English themselves now perceive, and openly acknowledge. And therefore it becomes us to be peculiarly grateful for the very provident care of our Government, Vol. VII.
which bas hindered the entrance of these societies into the empire of the illustrious House of Austria : for, the old adage truly says, It is more infamous to turn out a guest than not to admit him. But, that these Bible Institutions, alihough they have a plausible appearance, by no means agree with the principles of the Catholic Religion and Church, the Sovereign Pontif. Pius VII., has already declared ; and indeed, by an apostolical Letter, addressed to the ARCHBISHOP OF Gsezn himself, on the very day of the holy Apostle Peter and Paul, June 29th, 1816, praised his exertions and also those of the other Bishops of Poland, because they combined with might and main to repel the attempts which, by means of the Societies called Biblical, its enemies have made for the utter destruction of our most holy religion : especially in so depraved an age, when our holy religion is assailed on all sides with subtlety, and the most grievous wounds are indicted on the Church. Likewise, in another apostolical Letter, dated September the third in the current year, sent to the Archbishop of MoHILOFF, his Holiness speaks thus : “ We are worn down,' &C....... [See Bull inserted in the preceding pages for this extract ending with “read therein with profit.”]
“The Sacred Congregation for propagating the Faith, by the like authority of his Holiness the Pope, on the third day of August in the current year, sent letters to the Vicars Apostolic and Missionaries in Persia, in Armenia, and in other eastern countries; wherein he cautions them against a version of the New Testament into the Persian tongue, recently made, as if canonical, but yet dispersed very widely, by means of the English Bible Society, even among the infidels: and he warns them against all connexion with these Bible Societies, speciously pretending to promote Christianity. Thus the provident and most holy Chief of the Apostolic See, and the provident and most august Sovereign of this kingdom, by uniting their care, watch lest any injury should in our days befal religion and the republic.”
5. Circular Letter to the Irish Prelates against Bible-Schools.
“ Rome, Court of the Sacred Congregation for the propagation of the Faith, Sept. 18th, 1819.
“My Lord. The prediction of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Parable of the Sower, that “sowed good seed in his field; but while people slep!, his enemy came and sowed tares upon wheat," (Matt. xvi. 24,) is, to the very great injury indeed of the Catholic faith, seen verified in these our own days, particularly in Ireland : for information has reached the ears of the Sacred Čongregation, that Bible Schools, supported by the funds of the Catholics, have been established in almost every part of Ireland, in which, under the pretence of charity, the inexperienced of both sexes, but particularly peasants and paupers, are allured by the blandish