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votary of a crystallized dogmatism; as one who, by steadfast gaze into a dark and void expanse, fails to see the priceless gems of truth which are scattered in rich profusion around him.
The Father denies that either of the evangelists claims to report the last words of Christ as uttered from the cross. I will refer the reader to the record of that sad tragedy: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Luke xxiii. 46). Who will deny that these were recorded as the last words of Jesus? Again, “ When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost" (John xix. 30.) Who will affirm that these were not, according to John, the last words of Jesus? Suppose I would say, “My father said, 'Bless thee, my son,' and died," would not the common sense of every one declare that I had repeated my father's last words?
Lambert.—“You say that the commission which Christ gave to his apostles to pardon sinners 'puts a world beneath the feet of priests. Does the power of pardoning criminals, which is in the hands of the governor, place the people of this State at his feet?”
The priest winces at the charge that the Catholic world is beneath the feet of priests. Yet where is there a slavery more abject, more humiliating, more absolute, than that to which the Catholic devotee is subject ? Other forms of servitude, in the main, enslave the body only: the mind being compelled to give but an external recognition of superiority, while thoughts unexpressed and motives undiscovered are seldom sought after. But the priesthood maintains an espionage of the soul, and by the confessional extorts from its votaries under penalty of eternal torments, every secret thought which the church may wish divulged.
Lambert.—“Does the power of pardoning criminals, which is reposed in the hands of the governor, place the people of the State at his feet?”
No. First, because the people of the State are not all criminals; secondly, because as to the exceptional class (criminals) they are not required to confess to the officers of the law, nor to the executive, nor to bow submissively before them, but are permitted to prove their innocence, or to show mitigating circumstances which may entitle them to executive clemency. “Reflect on this for a moment, and you will learn that there is more sound than sense in your" analogy.
REPLY TO CHAPTER XIX.
Proof of Miracles—Who Wrote the Gospels ?—The Evangelists neither Claim
to Write by Authority nor to be Guided by Inspiration-Neither Catholics nor Protestants have an Authoritative Translation of the Scriptures—The Father's Statements show that John the Apostle could not have Written the Fourth Gospel.
The reader will remember the resolve formed at the beginning of the last chapter, not to follow the Father further in his devious windings. But the pursuit was begun and continued, with what success the reader must decide. Yet really some interest did attach to one or two questions last discussed, old though they be. But in order to answer something we must find something to answer, and the almost entire absence of this something is our difficulty in reviewing the “ Notes” from Chapter XIX. to the end. In the present and succeeding chapters few issues are raised save as to opinion, and on matters of pure faith one man's notion is as good as another's—if not better. But there is a gleam of light even in the darkness. We follow it.
Lambert.—“ Christianity must be defended by straight, true and correct methods, or none." At last we agree. Over the yawning chasm the Father and
. I can shake hands and congratulate each other on entire accord. The question which divides us is a question of evidence. With regard to weight of testimony the best of friends may differ, honestly differ, and narrow of soul is that man who makes that difference a cause of enmity, or even of personal dislike. This whole question can be amazingly simplified. The point at issue is : who wrote the Gospels, by what authority were they written, and to what extent are they entitled to credit ? By Catholic authority already cited we are assured that the Bible does not prove itself. That it “neither proclaims its own inspiration, nor can the sacred articles be proved by the testimony of the Bible. ... Thus even our great Redeemer, when he had declared himself the Son of God, did not require the Jews to believe him, on the mere testimony of his word; but in order to prove the truth of his word, he referred them to his miracles.”
Very well, all we ask is proof of those miracles, such as is sufficient to convince enlightened and unprejudiced minds of their verity. But who wrote the Gospels? The children in Sabbath-school can answer glibly. But suppose you ask them the further question, and repeat it to priest and preacher: “How do you know that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the Gospels ?” What will be the response of each? The children will know little or nothing about it, except that they have been educated into an unquestioning belief; the priest, infantile and plastic as the Sabbath-school pupil, credits it on the authority of the church ; and the preacher, he believes it, because—well, he believes it any way! Do not understand me as discounting the great, even vast erudition of some ecclesiastics, but too often they are weighted in their investigations by preconceptions which they deem it profane to question. When the eagle's wings are clipped he may not cleave the firmament. Suppose you ask the same question of the critic who has delved into ecclesiastical history, the thoughtful student, the man of laborious research and of independent thought; what answer will he give? He relies on historic proof, he weighs and sifts; his soul is not in bondage to fear. He can look at the sun of truth in its meridian splendor, nor
blink. To hin knowledge is light, ignorance darkness : light is the parent of light: ignorance both the parent and child of darkness. Ask such an one who wrote the Gospels, by what authority they were written, and how far entitled to credit, and he will tell you: “This is a question on which I have read and thought much. The Gospel authors do not disclose their names.
The first of the synoptical writers does not say : 'I, Matthew, write this book ;' and so of the other three evangelists. True we see now printed over each book the words 'according to,' etc., but those titles were not affixed until late in the second century. We cannot positively say who wrote those anonymous productions, any more than we can affirm beyond dispute who wrote ‘Beautiful Snow,' nor can we tell by whose authority they were written. Jesus, as far as we are informed, directed no one to write his memoirs. The evangelists do not pretend to write by authority, nor to be guided by inspiration. This claim is made for them, not by them. To what extent then are those writers entitled to credit ? We are not sure we have the true text of the four Gospels, even if they were written by those to whom they are accredited. Manuscripts, some of the most ancient, differ. Additions have been made to the text to an extent which justified learned Christian writers in saying: 'Turning to the internal history of the New Testament text, it is evident that its original perfect purity was early lost.' Again, if we were certain that we have the true text in the original language, we still have no inspired translators. Translations made under the direction of popes, even, widely differ. And we are told in a Catholic work of high repute: ‘And surely to condemn false versions, and to warn the faithful against them, is no other than an act of enlightened pastoral and Christian vigilance: for the Bible, falsely translated, is no longer the word of God'” (“The Bible Question Fairly Tested," p. 15, note).