"Walworth's Gentle Skeptic" (Essays and Conversations on the Authenticity and Truthfulness of the Old Testament Records) July 1863

Walworth’s Gentle Skeptic: Essays and Conversations on the Authenticity and Truthfulness of the Old Testament Records, July 1863


There are many Catholics, and very good Catholics too, we learn from the New York Tablet, who care very little for the objections to our faith drawn from the discoveries, or alleged discoveries, and inductions of modern science, especially the science of Geology, and regard it as a waste of time even to listen to them.  There can be, say they, no conflict, if both are true, between faith and science.  We know our faith is from God, and that it is true, and therefore, that whatever science conflicts with it is false science, and should be dismissed without ceremony, as an imprudent pretender.  There is, no doubt, truth in this argument, and we might justly content ourselves with it, if we had to deal only with sciolists and cavillers, or if all Catholics were staunch and good Catholics like those described by The Tablet; if there were no weak Catholics; if there were no non-Catholics; if Catholics had no interest in science and owed no duties to civilization; if only the whole needed a physician; or if charity were a vice or a weakness and not a Christian virtue.  The argument is conclusive for all those who care nothing for science or civilization, for human intelligence and social well-being, and whose faith having been entertained without reason, no reason can disturb; but these Catholics, however numerous and respectable they may be, are not all the world, nor all who are Catholics, and their wants are not the only wants to be consulted.  The argument, in point of fact, is more appropriate in the mouth of a boasting pharisee, or an arrogant scribe, than in the mouth of a docile, modest, humble, and truth-loving Christian.   IT is far better fitted to raise doubts in the minds of thoughtful men, than it is to remove them, and far more likely to repel the cultivators of science from the Church than it is to keep or to draw them within her fold.

The argument is, also, one that can be retorted, and used with as much practical effect against faith as against science.  There can, if both are true, be no conflict between science of faith.  I know my science is true, and therefore that your faith, so far as it conflicts with it, is a false faith, an impudent pretender.  It will be difficult to persuade the man of science that the argument is not as valid for him as it is for you, or even to satisfy all who are inside of the Church that it is not a fair retort.  Few Catholics, we apprehend, can see their faith clearly contradicted by the alleged discoveries and inductions of science, without being more or less disturbed; and many, we know, have been led to abandon their faith by objections drawn from the sciences, which they had no scientific means of refuting.  In both Catholic and non-Catholic countries, we find the sons of believing fathers and devote mothers, brought up in the Catholic faith, trained in Catholic schools even by priests and religious, who yet, as they go out into the world, abandon their childhood’s faith, that faith of their fathers, and fall into the ranks of its most bitter and determined enemies.  It is idle to attempt to deny or conceal the fact, for all the world knows it; and useless to attempt to explain it away by attributing it to perverse inclination, to licentiousness, or to any species of moral depravity, for they are not seldom the most innocent, the most ingenuous, the most gifted, and the most noble-minded of our youth.  Science, or what passes for science, is, and for a long time has been extra Ecclesiam, and in its spirit and tendency contra Ecclesiam.  The public opinion of the scientific world is against us, and carries away not a few of our own children, and prevents those not in the Church from even listening to our arguments in her favor.   

It is certainly true that science does not and never can conflict with the revelation of God, and whenever an apparent conflict arises we must always conclude that either what is alleged as science is not science, but the opinions and conjectures of scientific men; or that what is taken to be divine revelation is not such, and that what passes for faith is, after all, only the opinions or conjectures of theologians.  Personally we feel no uneasiness on the subject, because we have brought our faith and science into harmony, and know that what science, so far as science it is, contradicts, if not faith, but opinion – not the teaching of the Church, but the opinions of the schools, or the constructions put upon the word of God by fallible men.  Yet it is well to bear in mind that the certainty of faith, neither objectively nor subjectively, surpasses the certainty of science.  Men have been able to deny the true faith, which they have once believed; no man ever denies or abandons what he sees and knows to be scientifically true.  The believer who finds his science contradicting his faith, yields his faith rather than his science; for in such a case, to continue to believe would be to cease to reason – would be to deny the very intellect, without which not even faith would be possible. 

Then, again, we must bear in mind that, though faith and science can never be in contradiction, yet much that passes for faith can be in contradiction with science, and much that passes for science may be in contradiction with faith.  This contradiction, indeed, affects neither what is really faith nor what is really science, but in minds not sufficiently instructed to draw sharply on the one hand, the line between what is faith and what is only theological opinion, and on the other, between what is science and what is only the opinion or conjecture of scientific men, it has the inevitable effect of creating on the one side a prejudice against science, and on the other, a prejudice against faith.  Hence the good Catholics, of whom the Tablet speaks, are really opposed to all scientific investigations, to all exercise of reason, and seek their only natural support for faith in ignorance and pious affection.  It is, therefore, the Church comes to be looked upon as the enemy of intelligence, as in some sense an institution for the perpetuation of ignorance and diffusion of general stupidity.  She thus loses her hold on the intelligence of the age, on a large portion of the free, independent, ingenuous and cultivated young men, even in her own communion, and fails almost entirely to command the respect or the attention of a similar class, brought up in heterodoxy or unbelief.  Therefore it is that the modern world has lapsed into unbelief, and remains outside of the Church, and bitterly prejudiced against her.

We owe it to the generous and noble youth growing up in the Church, and who, as things go, are sure one of these days to be found among her enemies, to these immortal souls whom our Lord has redeemed with his precious blood, to show them, what we are constantly telling them is true, namely, that science never is and never can be in conflict with faith; that there really is no conflict between what we are required by our Church to receive as the word of God, or hold as divine faith, and real science, whether physical or metaphysical, whether ethical or historical.  We must not simply say there is none, but we must show it, and enable them to see and know that there is none – not merely assert it ex cathedra, and consign to the flames of hell all who do not believe us, but prove that what we assert is true, either by showing scientifically, that what is alleged as science is not science, or by showing, theologically, that what science contradicts is not any part of faith, or any thing we are required to receive as divine revelation, but is simply the opinion, the honest opinion it may be, of fallible men.  We must make ourselves masters of science, not simply as it was before the flood, or as it was in the ages of barbarism, but as it is now, as held by the recognized masters of today, and thus gain the ability to meet the scientific on their own ground.  We must not, in order to save their faith, discourage our youth from cultivating either science or the sciences, or content ourselves with merely declaiming against modern science as anti-Catholic, as infidel, and with refuting it with a condemnation pronounced by authority against it, or declaring it contra fidem.  We must go farther, and meet it scientifically, with superior science, and refute it, where it errs, on scientific principles, by scientific reasons.

It is not enough to show that what passes for science is in contradiction with systems constricted by eminent theologians, which have widely obtained in the Church, and which are still held by multitudes in her communion without censure or reproof; for theologians, even the most eminent, are men, and fallible as all men are, and it is well known that there are opinions in the Church which are opinions of the Church,- sententia in Ecclesia, not sententiae Ecclesiae.  We must either show theologically that what is contradicted is not of faith, and has never been taught as of faith by the Church in her official teaching, or scientifically that what contradicts is not science, or no just induction from the real facts in the case.  We owe this to those whom the writer in the Tablet would probably call weak Catholics, bad Catholics, or no Catholics at all, though nominally in the Church.  There are many such, and we who are strong must endeavor to strengthen them.  It will not do for us, if we would secure the approbation of our Lord, to congratulate ourselves that we are free from their infirmities, and to give them the cold shoulder because they are not such as we are, or with sublime self-complacency tell them that they must believe or be damned.  We must love them, and help them, especially since the greater part of their difficulties are created by us.

We owe this, also, to the heterodox and unbelieving outside the Church.  They are men as well as we, and God assumed their nature as well as ours.  He died for them as well as for us, and he is as much glorified in their salvation as in our own.  Be it they are sick, but they who are sick, not they who are whole, need the physician.  Our Lord seeks their recovery, for he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; and there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.  Charity is a Christian, a divine virtue, for Deus est caritas, God is charity or love.  Charity is, also, a comprehensive virtue, embracing God and man in its affection.  If it begins at home it does not end there, nor is it, as too many seem to imagine, confined to the household of the faith.  Our Lord died for sinners; while we were sinners and his enemies he loved us, and gave his life for us.  Superb contempt for or even cold indifference to those who are out of the way may comport with the Pharisee, who says, “stand aside, I am holier than thou;” But not with the Christian, who knows that it is by no merit of his own that he has been called while others have been left behind.  The Scribes and Pharisees are hardly less rife in the Church than they were in the Synagogue; and now, as in the time of our Lord, they hold places of honor and influence.  They are regarded as the flower of Catholics, and to pass for good Catholics among men, we must be like them.  Yet our faith was not given us solely for our own private benefit, nor to be wrapped in a clean napkin, and buried in the earth.  We, who fancy that heaven was made for us alone, and thank God that we are not like these poor, doubting, heterodox, infidel sinner outside the Church, and look down upon them with sovereign contempt from the heights of our spiritual pride, should bear in mind that we are answerable for all who are kept out of the way of salvation, by the public opinion that has grown up in modern times hostile to the Church of God.  That public opinion grew up and remains uncorrected through our fault.  All the world, a few centuries back, was Catholic, public opinion was Catholic, power and all the means of social influence were in the hands of Catholics; Catholics had the control of the education, the universities, the schools, the colleges; they had the mystery of the scientific mind, and were the leaders in all that pertains to civilization.  How, save through our fault, could a public opinion grow up hostile to us, or the conviction obtain that the Church is hostile to science, and unfavorable to civilization?

There can be no question that Catholics have lost the vantage ground they once had, and have lost it through their own fault.  To a fearful extent they have failed to comprehend their mission, and proved unfaithful to their trust.  They have incurred the reproach of our Lord, that of failing to “discern the signs of the times.”  They have in their practice too often confounded the human with the Divine, and done evil by endeavoring to give to political institutions and scientific theories and opinions of an ignorant and semi-barbarous age the stability and immutability which belong only to the Church of God, or to Catholic faith.  Faith is stable, invariable, permanent; opinion is fickle, variable, transitory.  But we have held on to opinions in the Church and associated with faith, though confessedly human, and staked, as far as possible, the Catholic cause on their maintenance.  When advancing science assails them we cry out infidelity, and instead of calmly reexamining them, and modifying them as demanded by the new light thrown on them by the investigations and discoveries of the scientific, we declaim against the arrogant pretensions of the cultivators of science, and get off any numbers of wise saws against the uncertainty of science, the weakness of human reason, and the folly and sin of setting up its conclusions above the word of God, forgetting that what we are defending is itself only human opinion in the Church, not the divine faith the Church teaches.  Hence is created a public opinion hostile to the Church, and which as against her is unjust, and wholly unwarranted.  This hostile public opinion, a mere prejudice as against the church, and yet not wholly unfounded as against Catholics, tends to keep the heterodox and unbelieving out of the way of salvation, and to deprive them of the divine light of the Gospel.  It is our duty to correct that public opinion, and to remove that prejudice for which we are ourselves answerable, not by words only, but by deeds; not by showing what the Church did for civilization in the barbarous ages that followed the downfall of Graeco-Roman civilization, but by proving practically that we are today the real friends of science; that if we reject any of the alleged facts or conclusions of modern science, we do it by a superior scientific knowledge, and for scientific reasons, which the scientific world must hear and respect.  We must beat the heterodox and unbelieving on their own ground, with their own weapons.  We must be more scientific than they, and more perfect masters of the sciences.

We owe this, finally, to science itself.  We must not suppose because we have the revelation of the eternal things of God, are Catholic believers, and seeking eternal rest in heaven, that we are withdrawn from the affairs of this world, and that we have no concern with society and its interests, or with science and civilization.  God has not made it necessary that the great majority of mankind should be heretics or infields in order to take care of the earth, and leave us believers free to devote ourselves solely to ascetic exercises and the salvation of our souls.  This world has its place in the Christian economy, and is God’s world, not Satan’s.  The earth, according to the Copernican system, is one of the celestial bodies.  Natural society is not our end, but it is necessary to it as the cosmos is to palingenesia.  Civilization is initial religion.  Science is an essential element of civilization, which is the supremacy of faith and knowledge, of intelligence and love, over ignorance, rudeness, barbarism, and superstition.  If we as Catholics have no duties to civilization, pray, tell us who have?  If we are not bound to labor for its progress, who is?  If we neglect modern civilization, what right have we to stand and declaim against it as heretical or infidel?  If we denounce science or refuse to cultivate it, what right have we to complain that it becomes our enemy instead of our friend and ally?  If the spirit of the writer in the Tablet were to become universal in the Church, and all the world to become Catholics, society would come to a stand-still, nay, would cease to exist; science would cease to be cultivated; the arts would perish, and the human race would sink into the lowest form of barbarism and savagism, giving a most terrible significance to the aportet haereses. 

The false or exaggerated asceticism into which most pious souls, unless restrained by wise and judicious direction, have a strong tendency to run, is one of the most dangerous heresies the Church has ever had to combat, for it is hard to combat it without seeming to combat piety itself, or to be putting in a plea for tepidity or worldly-mindedness.  Injudicious directors, with the best intentions in the world, practically favor it, and not a few of our popular ascetic books produce on most minds the impression that what is given to this world, or to the ordinary business of society, is so much taken from God, and that really to serve God and render ourselves especially dear to him, we must withdraw from the world, shut ourselves up in convents, and spend our whole life in contemplation and prayer.  The pious faithful are led to believe that we ought at least strive to live here, while we are only on the way, as do the Blest in heaven, or those who have reached the end.  We are not writing against monastic institutions, but against a false and exaggerated asceticism, never, however, pushed as far among Christians, as among pagans.  There are choice souls to whom the monastic life, if not a necessity, is at least a privilege.  Let them retire, if they will, from society, but only the better to discharge their duties as men and Christians, to acquire strength in retirement by prayer and meditation the better to serve the cause of religion and civilization.  Catholicity embraces both tables of the law, and a man who neglects his domestic and social duties, is no more a true Catholic than he who neglects his ascetic duties.  Nay, he who neglects his duties to man, necessarily neglects his duties to God.  We serve God in man, and are never more truly devout than when in view of God as our last end, or, what is the same thing, for the love of God, we are laboring with all zeal and diligence for the progress of civilization.  “If thou wouldst be perfect, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow me.”  The poor are our neighbor, or whom we can serve; and to follow Christ is to imitate his example, is to love the world well enough to die on the cross for its redemption.  The evangelical counsel is hardly fulfilled by shutting one’s self up in a cloister, or in dealing out soup to beggars at the convent gate.

We know that our pious books are filled with cautious against exaggerated asceticism, but practically these cautions are little regarded, and a very large number of Catholics have a false conscience on the subject, especially those educated in our Conventual Schools, or by the Religious Orders and Communities, and seem to think that if they were what their religion requires them to be, or if really aiming at Christian perfection, they would become monks or nuns.  We were once deliberately told by a Jesuit father that, though we might perhaps succeed in saving our soul in secular life, we could not attain to Christian perfection, unless we were in religion.  For that we must become a monk.  There are many who feel, as we once heard a Catholic lecturer publicly assert, that “the normal life of the Christian is the monastic, and that it is only by dispensation Christians can live in the world.”  Notions of this sort are floating about in many minds, and we have very few ascetic works in general circulation, that do not directly or indirectly favor them.  Practically we confine Catholicity to the first table of the law, and deliver over civilization to Satan, and then find an excuse for not laboring to promote it in the fact that it is satanic, materialistic, anti-Catholic, infidel.  The Church teaches nothing of the sort; she is Catholic, and never favors any schism between religion and society, piety and civilization.  She authorizes, uses, tolerates monastic institutions, but is not a monastic institution herself, and never requires or even recommends her children to become monks and nuns, especially when monks and nuns forget the old monastic motto, Laborare est orare.

It is of the last importance that Catholics should learn, or should practically remember, that Catholicity embraces both religion and civilization; for Catholics are the only people who can give to civilization its normal developments and really aid its progress.  They and they alone have in their faith the true Divine Ideal in its integrity and universality, the real system of the Universe, the dialectic key to the reconciliation of all opposites, even Creator and creature. Since Catholics have ceased to take the lead in science and civilization there has been everywhere, except in the purely material order, or in the simple accumulation of material facts, a decided deterioration.  There has been a great enfeeblement of character, a terrible loss of elevated principle and high moral aims.  Modern civilization, in the higher, nobler, and more comprehensive sense of the word, has not advanced, and has in many respects fallen below what it was in the ancient Gentile world.  It is every day becoming more pagan and less Christian.  It wants Christian baptism, Christian instruction- the infusion of Catholic life.  Of all people in the world, then, we Catholics are the most blameworthy, if we neglect science or the sciences on which civilization more immediately depends.  We have no excuse; the world can be saved only by the truth which we, and we alone, have in its unity and integrity, and God will demand a strict reckoning of us for the use we make of it.  A terrible judgment awaits us.

Nevertheless, though we urge upon Catholics the duty of laboring for the continuous progress of civilization, and of making themselves able to meet and master the scientific on their own special ground, yet we are far from accepting as science all that passes for science, or from conceding that there has been in our times anything like that wonderful progress in science or the sciences, which is very generally asserted.  Modern cultivators of science have pushed their investigations far into the material order, and amassed a considerable body of tolerably well ascertained facts in the history of the globe and its inhabitants; but these facts, though of great value to science, indispensable to it, if you will, are not themselves science.  Science does not consist in the simple observation of facts and inductions therefrom; but in their explanation and coordination under the dialectic law of the universe, which has not been done, and cannot be done on the so-called Baconian method, the method modern science boasts of adopting and rigidly following.  That method is that of observation and induction,- a good method for investigating nature when one has science to start with, but a very bad method when one is without science, and is groping his way in the dark to science.  Lord Bacon was, no doubt, right when he maintained that the sciences cannot be constricted a priori, but we have not found that anybody ever maintained the contrary.  His secret of restoring and augmenting the sciences was an open secret before as well as since he wrote.  In all the sciences there is a contingent element, and that element can nowhere be learned or ascertained except by the method of experience, or of observation, experiment, and induction.  We can successfully cultivate the sciences by no other method.  But the sciences so-called are not in themselves science, and from them alone we never do and never can attain to science.  Hence, we find that the most rigid disciples of Lord Bacon usually proceed by way of a preliminary hypothesis which directs their investigations, and which controls their experiments.  Their experiments are all for the purpose of confirming or of exploding some hypothesis or preconceived theory.  They cannot, if they would, do otherwise, for the sciences demand science as the condition of their construction, and in the absence of science, apodictic science, we mean, the human mind must resort to hypothesis.

The error of our men of science is not in adopting the Baconian method, but in adopting it as an exclusive method, and in attempting by it alone to attain to science.  That method begins by the study of phenomena, and gives us at best only an arbitrary classification of appearances.  But the simple study and classification of phenomena is not science, for the excellent reason that nothing exists as pure phenomenon or appearance.  Appearance without something that appears is nothing, a sheer nullity.  There is no phenomenon without its phenomenon, no appearance without that which appears, no particular without the universal, no mimesis without methexis, no individual without genus or species, no universe without God; and after Leibnitz, Kant, the greatest of German philosophers, has proved once for all that the second series of terms can never, either by way of deduction or induction, be rationally concluded from the first; that neither by way of deduction nor of induction is God obtainable from the universe, the methexic from the mimetic, the universal from the particular, the noumenon from the phenomenon.  This is the real significance of that little understood and much misunderstood work, the Critik der reinen Vernunft.  The two terms must be given as they exist, not analytically, but synthetically.  God, indeed, is complete in himself, and in no sense dependent in order to be on the universe, but even he can be known to us only in synthesis with the universe, united to him by his creative act.  He cannot be concluded from the universe, for the universe is from him, not he from it.  To attempt to obtain by logical deduction or induction the noumenon from the phenomenon, the universal from the particular, God from the universe, is to attempt to get something from nothing, and to plunge at last into pure nihilism.  To reverse the method, and to attempt to conclude logically the phenomenon from the noumenon, the particular from the universal, the contingent from the necessary, the universe from God, is to confound creature and creator, the contingent and the necessary, the empirical and the ideal, to deny creation, and to fall into pantheism.  And hence all modern science so called tends inevitably either to pantheism or to nihilism.

Here is the grand difficulty.  We can construct the sciences on a scientific basis neither a priori, nor a posteriori alone, because in all the sciences there are both contingent and ideal or necessary elements.  The true scientific method combines in a real synthesis the two methods.  Either is objectionable when taken exclusively, and each is good when adopted in connection with the other.  The sciences cannot be constructed without science,- the science of the ideal, or philosophy, nor without careful observation of contingent facts.  The fault of modern science is in separating,- in its method the contingent from the necessary, the empirical from the ideal, or the mimetic from the methexic, and hence its inductions or generalizations are nothing but unscientific or arbitrary classifications of phenomena or particulars.  Our complaint of the modern cultivators of science, whether in or out of the Church, is that they have no philosophy, as our pretended philosophers have no theology.  It is our complaint of the modern world itself.  Our age has no philosophy, and having no philosophy it has no genuine science.  We have separated the sciences from philosophy, that is, from science, and philosophy from theology, reason from revelation, and have therefore been compelled to attempt the construction of science and the sciences empirically, by the study and classification of particulars.  We have thus eliminated from the universe we study every ideal or non-contingent element, and attempted to explain the universe with the contingent alone, without God or his creative act, as may be seen in the Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt, and in the Positivism of Auguste Comte.

All truth is in relation.  All things exist in the real synthesis instituted by the creative act of God, and nothing can be truly seen, observed, and known except in its real relations, or the relations in which it actually exists. Even what we call facts cannot be understood, or represented, cannot be seen, as they are, when detached from these relations, taken in detail, and studied in their isolation, because as isolated, detached, they are no facts at all.  Hence the science of Geology, Zoology, Physiology, Philology, Ethnology, Ethics, or History can never be completed and mastered as a separate and detached science.  Each of these sciences, to be successfully studied, must be studied in its real relations, and not one of them can deserve the name of science if constructed by the effort to rise from the particular to the universal.  We must begin with the real beginning, the creative act of God, and descend from the whole to the parts.  No matter what science we are studying, the human mind must operate as it is, use its synthetic light,- as blended in one light, the light derived from the immediate idea, intuition or a priori reason, supernatural revelation, and experience, or observation and induction.  Not that in matters of science the mind must blindly submit to either revelation or philosophy as an extrinsic or foreign authority, restraining its freedom, or prohibiting it from using its own eyes, and following its own inherent constitution and laws; but that to operate freely and scientifically according to the intrinsic laws of intelligence, it must avail itself of all the light with which it is furnished,- all the means of grasping the universe as a whole and in its parts at its command.

What we insist upon is that the human mind never has its normal action when compelled by false or exclusive theories to operate with only a small portion of the light furnished it.  We found not science on revelation, but we maintain that it is impossible to attain to the true system of the Universe without the light of revelation.  We demand the free normal action of reason, but reason never does and never can have its free normal action, when left to itself alone, with no aid from the revealed word of God.  In all that it contingent, reason has need of experience, observation, experiment, investigation; but with these alone, we can never rise above the empirical or attain to scientific results.  Reason cannot operate without principles, and these must be given it a priori; for if it cannot operate without principles, it cannot without principles engage in the search after principles.  In the superintelligible order, on which the intelligible order depends, and without which it would not and could not be, supernatural revelation must supply the want of direct intuition and sensible apprehension.  Ideal science,- philosophy,- and revelation are both necessary to the successful cultivation of the sciences; and the reason why the sciences make so little progress, why they are so uncertain, and why they are received with so much distrust by metaphysicians and theologians, is that the men who cultivate them insist on cultivating them as separate and independent sciences, and will accept no aid from philosophy or from faith.  Des Cartes ruined philosophy when he separated it from theology, and made it a creation of reason isolated from faith; Lord Bacon ruined the sciences as sciences, when he separated them from philosophy or ideal science, and made them purely empirical.  Facts or one side of facts may have been examined, and the scientific men of today, no doubt, in their possession a larger mass of materials for the construction of the sciences, than had their predecessors, but they have less science than had their predecessors, but they have less science than had the great medieval Doctors and Professors.  St. Thomas had more science than Sir Charles Lyell, or Professor Owen.  The recent work of Sir Charles on the Antiquity of Man, as well as that of Darwin on Species, shows us not progress, but the deterioration of science.  The same thing is shown by Agassiz in his elaborate essay on Classification, and by the trouble naturalists have to settle the proper classification of man.  The naturalists are unwearied in their investigations, and shrink from no sacrifice to advance their respective sciences, but we meet not one of their works that does not prove that they have lost the true key to the scientific sense of the Universe.  They are men whose ability, whose patience, whose labors we respect; they do all that men can do with their method; they do much for which we are grateful to them, and we are by no means among those who detract from their merits or denounce them as the enemies of religion; but we must tell them that they will never, in the way they proceed, attain to the science to which their lives are so generously devoted.  Civilization separated from religion, science separated from revelation, reason separated from faith, can never flourish, and under this separation, though men fancy they are still believers on one side of the soul, society goes to ruin, and a gross materialism, pure selfishness becomes predominant, as we have seen and still see, especially in Great Britain and the United States, who, though they have been for some time at the head of modern civilization, which has collapsed in our civil war, are hardly up to the level of the ancient Graeco-Roman world.

Yet we are not asserting revelation as a foreign authority, or insisting that the naturalists or physicists are in their own departments to bow to the dicta or the metaphysicians.  We would impose no fetters on reason, no trammels on science; for the assertion of revelation as a trammel on reason, or philosophy as a restraint on science, would be to assert that very separation we complain of, that very divorce of religion and civilization which Bacon and Des Cartes so successfully inaugurated, and from which all modern society now suffers.  What we assert is the synthesis of religion and civilization, of revelation and science, or faith and reason.  The human mind operates in all and operates freely, according to its own intrinsic laws.  Faith does not restrain reason in matters of science; does not say to it, Thus far, but no farther; but bids it use all the light it has, and aids it to go farther than by its own light could go.  We are not contending that reason could cease to be reason, or that reason should close her eyes, fold her hands, and fetter her feet, but that she keep both of her eyes open, and use both of her hands, and both of her feet.  We do not wish her to extinguish her own light and envelop herself in darkness, in order to see by the light of revelation.  If to attain to true science reason needs immediate intuition of principles and the supernatural revelation of the superintelligible, it is reason that receives and uses them.  In the field of science as distinguished from that of faith, revelation is adjuvative rather than imperative.  Its light and that of reason coalesce and shine as one light.  The naturalist studies man, for instance, as an animal, and can give no scientific account of him, and is at a loss how or where to class him, whether in a distinct order of animals by himself, or in the family of baboons.  This must be so, because man is not a pure animal, and cannot be classed as such.  We know from revelation that he is composed of body and soul, or body and spirit, and that the animal in him is the animal transformed.  The animal when separated from the soul or spirit is not a living, but a dead animal.  Take this fact from revelation, not as a dogma, unless you please, but as a theorem, and you will find all the facts you can observe in the case harmonize with it, and tend to confirm it.  So universally, in every department of science.  The key to the scientific classification and explanation of the phenomena of nature is in the superintelligible, and is furnished only by supernatural revelation.

It is because revelation places the mind in the true position, or gives it the true point of departure, for the study of nature, and enables the naturalists or physicists to pursue their investigations scientifically, according to a rule, not at random, that we so strenuously urge upon Catholics the duty of taking the sciences into their own hands.  They and they only can cultivate them scientifically, for they and they only have the revelation of God in its unity and integrity, and occupy a position from which the universe can be seen as it is.  At present, the men of science pursue one and the same method, whether in or out of the Church, and there is in the minds of Catholics themselves a fatal schism between their faith and their science.  Catholics are in the sciences followers of the Baconian method, and forego all the advantages their faith and their superior theological science gives them.  They follow the lead of non-Catholics, and seldom surpass them, seldom equal them.  Hence both in and out of the Church the sciences are un-Catholic, and, in fact, anti-Catholic.  For this reason the more believing and devout among Catholics either neglect them or declaim against them.  But let Catholics themselves study the sciences in the light of their own faith and their higher theology, and conquer by their superior science the mastery of the scientific world, and they would speedily place the sciences on a scientific track, and make them friends and allies of religion, never again to be enlisted on the side of its enemies.  Our faith is of no use to the sciences even if cultivated by Catholics, if these Catholics pursue in their cultivation a non-Catholic or exclusive method.  What we must do is to combine our faith and science, unite, without confounding them in our method, the light of revelation and the light of reason.  Were we to do this, as did the great Greek and Latin Fathers, and as did the more eminent medieval Doctors and Professors, we could soon, with the vast body of facts or materials accumulated by modern students and at our disposal, heal the deplorable schism between faith and reason, revelation and science; reunite what should never have been separated, and render civilization really Catholic.  We could place the public opinion of the civilized world once more on the side of the Church, and our youth would grow up believers, and demand reasons for not believing instead as now of demanding reasons for believing.  This is an end worthy of the noblest and most earnest efforts of Catholics.  Let them not, we pray them, lose sight of it.

But we have taken up so much space with these preliminary remarks designed on the one hand to guard against any hostility or indifference to the sciences on the part of Catholics, and on the other, to warn the admirers of modern science that they can never successfully prosecute the study of the sciences without science and faith, or on the Baconian method as an exclusive method, that we have reserved ourselves little room to devote to the exceedingly interesting and valuable work on The Authenticity and Truthfulness of the Old Testament Records, by the Rev. Fr. Walworth, of the Paulist Community- a work which supplies a desideratum in our literature, and which is a model in its way.  Fr. Walworth has designed his work in its way.  Fr. Walworth has designed his work chiefly for young men who have little or no faith, are in a measure indifferent to, or prejudiced against Christianity by the alleged contradictions between the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and the discoveries and inductions of modern science, and his object has been to show that these contradictions do not exist, or at least that nothing has as yet been discovered that affects the authenticity and truthfulness, in their substance, of the Old Testament Records.  He treats the questions that come up in an easy and popular manner, but with competent knowledge of his subject both as a theologian and as a man of science.  The unlearned will find themselves attracted by its simple and transparent style, and able to comprehend its statements and reasoning, though only the learned will be able fully to appreciate its rare merit.  The dramatic character given it by the introduction of several characters, especially Aunt Becky and Susan Brinn, may lead some, on taking it up, to suppose that it is a work of light literature; but it is a serious work, a conscientious work, and full of solid learning and true science.  The argument of the book is well put and conclusive,- proves all the author undertakes to prove, and the answer to the several objections to his thesis is fair, candid, to the point, and ought to be satisfactory.

After opening his subject and stating the question, the author, retaining something of his early profession  as a lawyer, proceeds to summon his witnesses to prove the authenticity and substantial integrity of all the books of the Old Testament.  The first he summons are, Chapter 3, “The Christian Witnesses;” after they have given in their testimony, he brings forward, Chapter 4, “The Heathen Witnesses;” and finally, Chapters 5-8, “The Hebrew Witnesses.”  In Chapter 9 he inspects the Canon or Catalogue of the Old Testament; in chapter 10 he proceeds to consider and answer objections.  Of these chapters we cannot give even the briefest summary.  They present in an attractive, brief, clear, forcible, and novel manner, the ordinary arguments for the authenticity and integrity of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, though we have never seen them so well summed up and compressed within so small a compass.  Yet the most striking part of the book is in the chapters that follow.  We call especial attention to the chapters on Tradition, the Philosophy of Miracles, and the Nature and Extent of Inspiration.  The chapters on the Antiquity of the Earth, and the “Six Daysof Genesis, were first published in this Review, and are familiar to our readers.  The chapters on the Deluge, and on the Chronology of the Old Testament, are worthy of being attentively studied.  We are not obliged by faith to believe the Deluge was universal, nor to accept the chronology of the Old Testament.  Chapter 27 on the The Consanguiity of the Race, and Chapter 28 on The Antiquity of Man, will be read with interest and for the most part with satisfaction.  In regard to the consanguinity of the race that is, that the race has all sprung from Adam, or one and the same first pair, the author, while maintaining it, seems to concede that the opinion held by some naturalists, who admit the unity of the human race, that several Adams and Eves were created, and that the human race has had its origin in several distinct centers, may be held without heresy.  That such an opinion is not formally heretical is perhaps true, for there is, so far as we are aware, no express condemnation of it by the Church as heretical; but  we must correct much in our philosophy and theology before we can concede that it is at least material heresy.  The race is created methexically and mimetically one,  and Adam is at once the first man and the progenitor of men.  Individuals springing from other progenitors may be like men, but they cannot be identically men, or have identically the same nature, and can neither have fallen in Adam nor have been redeemed by our Lord.  Besides, there are no scientific facts, nothing but theories, conjectures, or hypotheses of naturalists, that require its assertion or connection.  It is well to remember that there are men who stand high in the scientific world, who are by no means remarkable for the strength or acuteness of their logic.  A Catholic, otherwise sound in his faith, may hold the opinion as he thinks for scientific reasons, but whether he may or may not receive absolution without renouncing it, is a question it is not our province to decide.  If no man who entertains erroneous opinions can be absolved, we are afraid few of us would ever obtain absolution.

We are disposed to assert for man the greatest antiquity admissible, but before we accept the remote antiquity some naturalists seem disposed to assert, we must have evidences of it, which science has not yet furnished.  Our specialty is not geology, and for geological facts we rely on the geologists; but of the bearing of the facts they allege, we profess to be able to judge as well as they.  We have just read Sir Charles Lyell’s Antiquity of Man, and we have been amused at the facility with which he makes his inductions from very questionable facts, and which, even if they were not questionable, would prove nothing. There is nothing in his book that makes its necessary to carry the origin of man on the globe back further than allowed by the chronology of the Septuagint, say, about seven thousand years.  For ourselves, we frankly confess our inability to explain the facts presented in human history in accordance with the Usherian Chronolgy, adopted by many Catholics, among others by the learned and lamented Palmer.  Society seems to us to require a longer period between Noah and the Advent of our Lord to have gone through all the changes of which we have undeniable traces in history.  We cannot easily bring all the social changes, declines, and revivals of civilization, the migration of nations, the rise and fall of states and empires, of which we have undeniable evidence, within the short compass of a little over two thousand years.  The savage is not the primitive but the degenerate man.  He is a savage because he has been cut off from communion with civilized mankind, and yet we find savages mentioned at a very early period, and there were negroes, the lowest and most degenerate branch of human family, as early as Moses, if not much earlier.  The change from the high Caucasian type to the negro type, if effected by natural causes, could not have been effected in a thousand nor in two thousand years.  The oldest books that have come down to us, were written in the estimation of their authors in the old age, not in the fresh prime of the world.  They bear witness to a long antiquity preceding them.  Still seven or eight thousand years would probably suffice for us.  We are, therefore, glad to find our author, who has much more respect for modern science than we have, probably because he is more familiar with it, controverting the high antiquity naturalists are asserting for man, on the ground that they adduce no facts that require him to assert it.  True science is modest.

The author’s definition of Tradition, and his remarks thereon, will go far to create respect for it, even in minds accustomed to contemn it.  “Tradition, as all the world knows, is from the Latin verb tradere, to deliver, or hand down.  If all the world would reflect on this, it would help to straighten out some twisted ideas.  Tradition means, simply, the handing down of truths, precepts, doctrines, facts, or customs from one generation to another.” – p. 126. 

The handing down may be by word of mouth or by writing, but without tradition there could be no education.  A people without traditions is a new people, and has everything to learn de novo, and is like the child that is early severed from society and grows up in the woods wild, and learns nothing from intercourse with his race.  Men become savages just in proportion as they lose the traditions of the race.  We modern profit by the ancient civilization, the ancient wisdom and philosophy, only through the medium of tradition; and that people stands highest in the scale of civilization that has the longest and richest traditions.  It is singular that many earnest believers in the continuous progress of the race, are yet noisy declaimers against tradition.  They seek at once to sever the present generation from the past and future, and therefore to break the continuity of the life of humanity.  Yet all growth, and therefore all progress, is by accretion, by assimilation from without by force of an internal law.  The law of the oak is in the acorn; but deprive the oak of all communication with the world without, place it in a condition where it can assimilate nothing from the world exterior to it, where it can find no light, no heat, no air, no moisture, and it never will develop into the plant or the tree.  The law of growth in the natural world and the moral is the same.  Deprive the race of Divine inspiration on the one hand, and of the traditions of the past on the other, and it could make no progress from generation to generation.  Savage tribes over whose heads thousands of ages pass and bring no progress, show us what all modern men would be without tradition.

The reader will find Chapter 15, on the Philosophy of Miracles, worthy of his especial attention, and we regret that we have room for only two brief extracts, the one giving very fairly the objection of the Naturalist to miracles in general, and the other suggesting an answer to the Metaphysicians, who object to them.

“The Naturalist sometimes objects to the doctrine of miracles, that it is an interruption to the harmony of nature.  We see all things in nature constructed upon a plan, and conducted according to harmonious laws.  The more deeply we investigate, the more this universal harmony, this unity in all the plans of Providence appears.  But now- to introduce upon this fair field of nature a miracle, is to introduce a false chord into the harmony of the divine plan; for, a miracle- what is it but an event contrary to the laws of nature, or one in which those laws are suspended or set aside?

“Why should God violate a law of his own making?  Has his plan proved to be defective?  Has anything occurred which he could not foresee, and which will not range itself under the laws which he has framed?  If he did not foresee it, could he not, in his infinite wisdom, frame a system in which all should harmonize?  For my part, (he concludes) it is out of reverential confidence in the wisdom of the divine Author of nature that I reject the idea of miracles; and, therefore, I hold in regard to all reputed miracles, that either there has been invalid testimony, some fiction, exaggeration, or deception of the senses, or else that they are only miracles to our ignorance, and, if nature were better known, would range themselves under her laws.

“The Christian must deal gently and cautiously with an argument like this, for not only is it very often advanced in perfect good faith, but there is more than one great truth contained in it, which he will prejudice his own cause by denying or appearing to deny.

“It is true that this world has been constructed upon a plan, and a perfect one.  The laws of nature are ample and sufficient for all that nature comprehends.  The divine plan is without defect, and needs no revision, no amendment.  Let us not join issue with the theist here: he stands upon a truth, and we shall enlist against us all that is noble and truthful in his nature, if we contradict or evade his position.  The beauty and harmony of the world have charmed the mind and the senses of the student of nature.  Perhaps he is no materialist.  He sees reflected in creation the beauty and wisdom of the Creator, and, if so, there is something religious and sacred in his veneration of it.

“But let us remind him of another truth, which his own favorite studies will have taught him.  We cannot read nature with full intelligence while we only read it by piece-meal.  One chapter of the that book must be interpreted by another, since all its chapters are parts of the same whole, which whole includes the entire creation, and that creation includes both the material and the spiritual world.  The physician it too narrow-minded who judges his patient only by the laws of anatomy and chemistry, and forgets the spiritual world is interlocked with the material, in the economy of life and health.  The movements of the mind and the affections of the heart affect the body, and the medical man who forgets this will find frequent interferences with the laws of nature.  One, however, of larger views will discover in this only a larger field of law and order.  Here is one point where two worlds touch and interlock – the world of matter and the world of spirit.  Are there no other points of contact?” – pp. 164-66.

The author then proceeds to show that, if we admit the existence of spirits, we cannot because they are not linked to matter assert the impossibility of their intervention in the physical world.  But supposing their intervention, we can suppose it to be not isolated, anomalous, but in accordance with  a general law of Providence.  Suppose, again, the existence in the plan of the Creator of a moral world, the Christian doctrine of redemption and regeneration, we can easily understand that miracles would be in the order of this moral world, and though above our range they would be as much in accordance with law and order as physical facts themselves.  Miracles in such case would not interrupt the order of nature, violate its laws, destroy its harmony, but would tend to carry them on, to restore, to reveal, or to complete them, in a word to fulfill the original design of the Creator, and would be linked with the general law of Providence.  They would in themselves be as credible as any class of physical facts, and the acceptance of any alleged particular miraculous fact would simply depend on the special testimony in the case.  Hence the author answers to the question, “Do you regard a miracle as something contrary to the laws of nature?”

“No; I have just argued that they are not.  They are events happening within the domain of nature, out of the usual course of nature, and produced by a power above nature.  According to my conception, they proceed from a plan, and take place according to law.  They present a higher view, however, of the divine plan, than any elucidated in Humboldt’s Cosmos; the laws by which they are governed are not altogether unknown to Chrisitan theology, although much lies concealed in the secret counsels of God.” – p. 171.

To the Metaphysicians who are accustomed to define a miracle as something contrary to the law of nature, the author replies:

“I have only one suggestion to make to the Metaphysicians.  We use, properly enough, the expressions: laws of nature, secondary causes, divine interposition, etc.  because it is neceeary sometimes to the free action of speech not to be over nice.  But it must not be forgotten that God is the real actor in all that transpires in the universe of a positive character.  In him ‘all things live and move and have being.’  All being, or, to speak more accurately, all existence, proceeds from him, and never separates from him.  When we say that the universe moves according to the fixed laws of nature, we mean, or ought to mean, nothing more than that God in the universe always acts in conformity with his own nature, which, although perfectly free, is never eccentric.  Freedom of the will is not synonymous with power of choice, nor necessarily allied to it.  God has no choice between good and evil, or (to use terms essentially equivalent) between order and disorder.  He is bound by the infinite order and harmony of His own perfect nature, and thus all that is (positively is) in this world is orderly and harmonious, because all that is is the act of God.  Not even chaos was a disorder, but only undeveloped order; no laws of nature were in conflict then.  The bells of Creation ring, and always rang, in chime to the Ear that hears them all.  Nature’s grand chorus is lost to our imperfect hearing; we catch her melodies and partial harmonies.

‘And wheresoever his grand creation

Sweet music breathes – in wave, or bird, or soul-

Tis but the faint and far reverberation

Of that great tune to which the planets roll.’

“Sin is the only discord, the only real disorder, because it is the negation of what is, and therefore of what is good, and therefore of what is God, and therefore of what is order, since order is the essential law of Divine Being.  For this simple reason, all that takes place in nature of a positive character moves upon a plan of perfect, albeit most complicated and wide extending, order.  What we call natural law is only God acting outside himself, or ad extra, but, in conformity with the law of his own being, always acting in unfailing harmony.  It is a heathenish idea of miracles to suppose a divine action in conflict with nature, and the idea is in perfect keeping with the immoral character of their deities.  They did not stand in heathen mythology as primal causes, but disturbing agents in nature; and therefore the Psalmist well says: ‘For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils, but the Lord made the heavens.” – pp.171-173

This suggestion is important but we wish the author had developed it at greater length.  The question of miracles has often been treated with great ability and acuteness, but it needs treating anew in its relation to the whole economy of Providence, as Providence itself needs treating anew in relation to the creative act of God.  Miracles are in the order of Providence, because that order itself begins and ends in the supernatural; and they are in harmony with nature, because Providence is only the immanence of the act which creates nature.  Miracles are not produced by natural or created agencies, or by the agency of second causes.  The highest created existence is incapable of working a miracle, for whatever is done by any creature is natural, and no miracle.  Hence, in the sacraments the priest is the ministerial not the efficient cause.  The supernatural effect is wrought by God himself.  God may work a miracle at the intercession of the saint, but the saint, even if the Blessed Mary herself, can work no miracle.  A miracle is the direct, immediate act of God without the intervention of second causes, and whatever is done by the direct immediate act of God is supernatural; and miracles, therefore, may be defined the mimesis of the supernatural, and may be proved in the same way as any other class of mimetic facts.

If we admit the fact of creation we admit the supernatural, and therefore all miracles in their principle, for creation is the direct, immediate act of God himself.  The difficulty felt in regard to miracles grows out of our misconception of the creative act.  Most men, in our times, who are not pantheists, are virtually deists.  They suppose God has created the world and impressed on it certain laws which are independent of him.  They look upon God as a mechanic, as a clockmaker, who makes a clock which when made goes of itself- till it runs down; forgetting that the clockmaker does not supply to the clock its motive force, but simply avails himself of a pre-existing motive force.  The universe once created and separated from God, would not simply go alone, or “go ahead on its own hook” without God, but would not go at all, for separated from God it would cease to exist.  God is not only the originator, the organizer of the universe, but mediante his immanent creative act, its law and its motive force.  The creative act producing the universe is an immanent or ever-present act, and creates the universe by an unceasing act, not by a transient or transitory act.  He is ever-present in his works, not as works which, once made, exist separate from him, but as their present Creator, and his ever-presence as their Creator is their conservation, and what we call Providence.  By his creative presence he produces, sustains, governs, and provides for his creatures.  He is himself, mediante his creative presence, the law or the laws of nature, and these laws are dialectic, uniform, orderly, because he creates and governs all things by his eternal Logos or Word, the supreme logic itself.  The logic, the order, the uniformity, or regularity we ascribe to the order of nature, is not the attribute of nature herself, but of nature’s Creator.  The natural laws about which naturalists have so much to say, do not then bind God or restrict his action, as something foreign to himself.  He is necessary being, and must necessarily be, and be what he is, and, therefore, when he expresses himself in his creative act, must express himself as he is.  But in all other respects he is free, infinitely free, freedom itself and in itself.  His expression of himself is always dialectic, because he is dialectic in his own essence, not because there is an external logic or an external order to which he is obliged to conform, for all logic, all order, are either in him, or derived from him through his free creative act.

When we speak of God we must make an abstraction of time and space, and regard the universe as lying always in his mind as complete both as a whole and in all its parts.  Time and space belong to creatures, not to the Creator.  With him the Universe is completed in the decree to create it.  The miraculous intervention is on his side made from the beginning and is included in his original design.  The answer to prayer is as really in the original design as the giving of the harvest to the labor of the husbandman.  So is the performance of a miracle in answer to the intercession of a saint, or to accredit a messenger of his word.  All is foreseen, provided for, done, without any change of purpose or plan, without any interruption of order, or departure from the most rigid dialectics.  Understand that the universe has its origin and end in the supernatural, and it lies and is developed in the bosom of the supernatural, and that miracles are wrought by the direct and immediate act of the supernatural, as is creation itself, and that they are its mimesis, not simple isolated, detached, arbitrary, or anomalous, that is, sophistical facts, and all a priori difficulties in the way of admitting miracles are removed, and their admission or denial is simply a matter of testimony.  The famous objection of Hume to miracles, that no testimony can prove a miracle, because it is more easy to believe that witnesses will lie, than that nature will go out of her course, rests on a false definition of miracles.  In the miracle nature does not go out of her course, for nature does not work the miracle, God performs the miracle without the intervention of nature.  Nature has nothing to do with it; it is purely the work of the supernatural, as is nature herself.  What it is necessary to prove in case of alleged miracles is, simply, that the alleged fact is simply a fact, and that it is inexplicable by natural or secondary causes.  If so, we can as readily believe it, as any other mimetic fact.  This, if we understand the author, is his philosophy of miracles, and we believe it sound and conclusive.

Perhaps the most important chapter in the volume, as well as the most startling, is chapter 17, on The Nature and Extent of inspiration.  We give the author’s statement of the question:

“ ‘My question is this,’ said Walter, on the following Saturday, ‘how far does this guarantee of inspiration extend? Have we divine authority for everything contained in the Sacred Books- what regards religious doctrine, and what does not- what is essential to the main current of the narrative, and what is incidental and unessential- what belongs to the body of the thought, and what only to the form of expression.  Does no imperfection attach to the statements of the author, arising from the peculiar state of society and manners, or the infancy of science in his times.  Is God sponsor for him in all things, and ad unguem, or only in divine things, and measurably?

“ ‘There is a great diversity of opinion,’ I answered, ‘in regard to this question.  We know that the sacred writers of the Old Testament were inspired, but neither our Lord nor his Apostles have defined the precise nature of this inspiration, or its extent, nor are the ancient Fathers or early writers of the Church any more explicit.  The subject began to be more thoroughly discussed in the sixteenth century, and theologians were found to hold widely differing opinions. 

“ ‘In 1586 Lessius and Hamel, of the Society of Jesus, advanced and defended in public theses at Louvain the following propositions:

 “ ‘1. To constitute sacred Scripture it is not necessary that each and every word be inspired by the Holy Ghost.

 “ ‘2. It is not necessary that every truth and opinion should be inspired to the writer immediately by the Holy Ghost.

“ ‘3. Any book (such as may have been, for instance, the 2nd Maccabees), written without the assistance of the Holy Ghost, becomes sacred Scripture if the Holy Ghost afterward testifies that there is nothing false in it.

“ ‘The theologians of Louvain and Douay black-balled these propositions in 1587 and 1588, but their censure has by no means been ratified by the rest of the Catholic world.  Protestant authors are much divided in opinion, although inclining more to the idea of immediate and verbal inspiration.

“ ‘In reasoning upon the nature and extent of inspiration, it is necessary to keep in mind a distinction made by modern theologians between Revelation and Divine Assistance.  By the first, immediately to the author what he has to write.  By the second, the author writing according to his own natural light and learning, is shielded from error by a guardianship of divine Providence.  To all those who admit this distinction, the most interesting question to be determined relates to the second kind of inspiration.  What is the extent of this guardianship?  Or, in other words, from what sort of error is the sacred writer thus guarded?  Is he made secure against error of every kind?  Are all his statements infallible, whether they regard religion, or history, or chronology, or geography, or the mysteries of nature?  Or is it allowable to suppose that in some of these things he was no farther elevated above the opinions of the age in which he lived, than could be effected by hard study and native superiority if mind, God guarding him only where the interests of religion were concerned?” – pp. 182-184

We add the essential part of the author’s answer, the first part of which is from Bergier:

“ ‘We must hold for certain, 1. That God has revealed immediately to the sacred writers, not only the prophecies they uttered, but all the truths which they could not know by the natural light of reason, or by human means.  2. That by a particular inspiration of Grace he moved them to write, and directed them in the choice of the things which were proper to be written; and, 3.  That by a special assistance of the Holy Ghost he watched over them, in matters of religious belief, or in questions of morality.  These three things are necessary in order that the sacred Scriptures may establish our faith, beyond danger of error, and they are sufficient for that purpose.’ In this third point, his idea appears to coincide precisely with that of henry Holden, doctor of the Sorbonne, who maintained that the assistance of the holy Ghost in guarding the sacred writers against error belongs solely to doctrinal matters, and to such things as proximately or necessarily affect religious doctrine.  For my own part, I see no reason why he should have illumined their minds, or directed their pens in any details where religion was in no way concerned.  At all events, that he did is a thing to be proved.  One cannot accept such a fact without authority and without argument, and simply upon the strength of a pious sentiment.’

“ ‘What is the prevailing opinion, sir, upon this point?  Asked Walter.

“ ‘That I will not pretend to decide, but I will read you something to the purpose.  Let me see!  I think I saw it in – I saw it – I think – ah! Yes – here it is! I must translate:

“ ‘The common opinion now among judicious interpreters and theologians is not that all the books of Scripture are in such sense sacred and canonical, that all their words or all their meanings are immediately dictated by the Holy Ghost; but they consider that, to constitute a sacred and canonical book, it is sufficient that the author, by a special movement or inspiration of God, has applied himself to write those things which have come to his knowledge, either from trustworthy books, or the report of competent witnesses, or by process of reason, God by his special assistance taking care the while that no error shall creep in, especially in matter of faith and morals.  (Amort. Demonstr. Crit. Rel. Christ. Quaest. 19 Apud Christmann Reg.)

“ ‘It would seem then,’ said Walter, ‘that there are some things in the Bible which do not belong to religious faith or morals, and for the accuracy of which the divine authority is not responsible.’

“ ‘Why not? I replied; ‘I see nothing strange in that supposition.  For instance, that Moses undertook to write the primitive history of mankind by some impulse from above, either manifest or secret, I have no doubt.  The reasons for it are easily conceivable.  In that primitive history the primitive religion is contained, and certain things which are typical of later events and after revelations.  That God should keep guard over his pen wherever the true exposition of that religion is concerned, is necessary for reasons already implied, and for others easy to be imagined.  But that God should supersede entirely the action of the Prophet’s mind, and the necessity of his own care and industry, fill up all that as mere history was imperfect, and restrain him within the precise limits of what was necessary to religion, is not presumable.  Moses wrote just such a book as would be acceptable in his day and nation, gathering up the traditions of the past; and the character of the historian is not sunk in that of the Prophet.  It is possible that he was utterly unconscious of acting under any divine instigation or direction in writing the Book of Genesis; it is by no means probable that he was familiar with the ulterior designs of Providence in regard to its contents.’

“ ‘You do not, then, regard the Genesis as entirely and thoroughly a sacred book?’

“ ‘I do, indeed, for it has a divine guarantee attached to the whole of it.  We are guaranteed, not that every word is literally true, but that nothing in it, fairly interpreted, can mislead us in religious belief or moral conduct.   Does faith need more?  This, is seems to me, is all that the idea of inspiration rigorously demands.  To insist upon more may be satisfactory to such as would have the Bible to serve as a cabinet of historical curiosities, or of natural science, but they have no right to stake all the interests of religion upon their opinion.’

“ ‘I think,’ said Walter, ‘that some friends of the Bible will require more.’

“ ‘I have no doubt of it.  They will hold it as a matter of divine faith, that the gold of the land of Ophir is good, and that Tobit’s dog wagged his tail.’

“ ‘Well, brother, didn’t he wag it?’ inquired Becky.

“ ‘Yes, sister, I am pretty confident that he did, if he had any.  It was a very natural thing for a dog to do under the circumstances.  But I don’t see how it can be a fact of such consequence as to require the safeguard of inspiration.’

“ ‘There are some, also, Uncle Bird, who will say that your theory of inspiration opens a dangerous door, since men may take for non-essential things which are really essential.’

“ ‘Of course they may.  That dangerous door has always been open for such as interpret Scripture by the single light of their own reason, since no man’s judgment is infallible.  To the Catholic this door is not dangerous.  The same God that inspired the Prophets to write has founded a Church to teach.  Both are equally divine, Church and Bible.  The same truthful hand is in both.  The one is the written monument of revelation, the other its living oracle.  The one is our text book, the other our teacher.  It is for want of all reference to Christian tradition, and the living voice of the church, as concurrent authorities with the Bible, that our age has witnessed the sad spectacle of an American bishop abandoning the Old Testament to the mercy of its foes.  Feeling the necessity of a sure, complete, and never-failing rule of faith, and holding the doctrine of the Reformers that the Bible is the sole rule, he felt bound to extend the guarantee of its inspiration to the accuracy of every statement, however incidental and however foreign to religious doctrine, and to maintain the integrity of the text throughout, even to all questions of dates and numbers.  On this narrow ground Bishop Colenso could not sustain the sacred Book, and has been forced to surrender it to the very heathen whom he was sent to convert.” – pp.187-190

The author as a Catholic can safely adopt this theory of Inspiration, because he has in all matters of faith the infallible authority of the Church to guide him, and to protect him from error.  Any one who has devoted much time and study to Christian Apologetics is aware that his chief difficulties are created by the tendency among believers to exaggerate the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the infallibility of the Church, which imposes on us the task of defending many things not easily defended.  We thank Fr. Walworth for defining the nature and extent of Inspiration, relieving Christian Apologetics of their chief difficulties, and showing that we may be believers without insisting on things as inspired which cannot bear the test of enlightened criticism.  We have done scant justice to the author, but we recommend the public to procure and read his book for themselves.  They will find that it more than justifies what we have said in its favor.