Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VIII.: THE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY CHRISTIANITY ARE TRUE, AND COME FROM GOD. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER VIII.: THE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY CHRISTIANITY ARE TRUE, AND COME FROM GOD. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
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THE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY CHRISTIANITY ARE TRUE, AND COME FROM GOD.
The reading, hearing, and study of Holy Scripture is both a cause of our Christian life, and the substance and foundation of our religion, of which the object is the truth of the Faith. Having examined the arguments founded on the Faith of Christ, we now proceed to investigate those drawn from Holy Writ.
We know that there can be no certain truth or knowledge about future things which may or may not happen. Even philosophers, who were truly wise, admitted this. These can be known to God alone, and to man only when God reveals them to him. Man could not know them, unless it pleased God to make them known. Now Holy Scripture, in almost every portion, but especially in the Old Testament, has foretold things which should come to pass, and which depended on man’s free will. These prophecies concern not only general, but also particular things; and they relate to events which were to occur, not only in one year or in ten, but in a hundred or a thousand, or three or four thousand years; they were to happen not only to the Jews and to Christ and His Church, but were to concern also the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Persians, the Medes, the Greeks, the Romans, and other lesser kingdoms.1 Now many of the events foretold by the Prophets have come to pass; and the fact of their fulfilment inspires us with confidence that any that have not yet been accomplished will eventually be verified. We must, therefore, acknowledge the Holy Scriptures to be, not a work of human ingenuity, but the revelation of God’s Providence towards us.
God alone has prescience of the future. Therefore, no man, be he ever so diligent or wise, can order the wars and doings of kings and princes, and the names and places, and divers actions and circumstances of men in such a way that they shall foreshadow things to come. The reason is simple. God has the ordering of things which are to come; they are subject to Him. They are beyond the power and knowledge of man. The Old Testament foretells the New Testament, and the things which Christ has done and suffered, both in His Person and in His Church. Therefore, we have good reason to believe that both the Old Testament and the New are the Word of God.
It is not reasonable to say that Christians have interpreted the prophecies of Scripture according to their desires. For, taking into account the differences of times and circumstances, of language and of authors, the extraordinary uniformity which exists between the Old and the New Testaments would not be possible, were they not the work of one Mind, which knows all that has taken place at all times. Neither can this uniformity be ascribed to chance, since there is no discord or want of harmony between the two Testaments, but perfect agreement between them, even in the smallest particulars; so that what is obscure in one passage is explained in another; and the Scripture interprets itself. Although those who have not studied the Bible may be ignorant of this fact, the truth of what I say will be acknowledged by all who examine Holy Scripture with faith, humility and purity of heart.
It is on account of this harmony between the Old and New Testaments, that the Bible possesses the dignity of an allegorical meaning. But, observe, that by an allegorical, we do not mean a fabulous, interpretation—such as we find in the poets—for we interpret parables also, and their interpretation is not called an allegorical, but literal and parabolic meaning. We do not intend by the words of the fable or parable to express what is signified by the words themselves, but rather what we understand by the meaning underlying those words. An allegory requires, first, that the words should narrate, not a fiction, but some fact that has really occurred; secondly, that this fact should prefigure some future event; thirdly, that the fact narrated should have taken place not only on account of its intrinsic importance, but also as a forecast of some future occurrence. As no one but God can compose such allegories, and as the Holy Scriptures are full of them, it is clear that only God can be their Author.
The language and style of the Bible are so peculiar, that none of our most learned and eloquent Doctors have ever been able to imitate it; nor has it been copied by any other writer. The Prophets, although they lived at different times and wrote with varying degrees of elegance, have all retained the same mode of expression, which has not been imitated by any other author, and is, in fact, inimitable. This is a clear proof that the Holy Scriptures are a Divine and not a human work.
A further confirmation of what we say may be perceived, if we observe the effects which proceed from the Scriptures; for the virtue of a cause is known by its effect. Now, as upon earth there is no more sublime effect than the Christian life, and as the Bible is a most powerful instrumental cause and foundation of this life, it is manifest that it can only proceed from the First Cause of the Christian life, viz., God. Long experience teaches us that human science avails but little in the formation of virtuous habits; for, before Christianity was preached, the whole world was wrapped in the darkness of ignorance and sin; but from the time the Apostles taught the truth, mankind has been enlightened and initiated into many heavenly secrets.
And even in our own days, we see how the teaching of the Holy Scripture has more efficacy than has any other doctrine, in enlightening and consoling men, and in inclining them to live virtuously. For the preachers who discourse only on philosophical subjects, and pay great attention to oratorical effect, produce scarcely any fruit among their Christian hearers. Whereas our forefathers, who in past times confined themselves to the simple preaching of the Holy Scriptures, were able to fill their hearers with Divine love, enabling them to rejoice in affliction and even in martyrdom. I speak also from personal experience. For, when at one time (in order to demonstrate the profundity of Holy Scripture to sciolists, proud of their intelligence) I was wont to discourse on subtle points of philosophy, I found that the people who heard me were inattentive. But as soon as I devoted myself to the exposition of the Bible, I beheld all eyes riveted upon me, and my audience so intent upon my words, that they might have been carved out of stone. I found, likewise, that when I set aside theological questions, and confined myself to explaining Holy Scripture, my hearers received much more light, and my preaching bore more fruit, in the conversion of men to Christ and to a perfect life. For Holy Scripture contains that marvellous doctrine, which, more surely than a two-edged sword, pierces men’s hearts with love, which has adorned the world with virtue, and has overthrown idolatry, superstition, and numberless errors. This proves that it can proceed from none but God.
The more completely the human intellect is purified, the more capable it becomes of apprehending the truth. Now, as there is no purity of life so perfect as that produced by Christianity, Christian doctors, of whom there are many, would (were the Bible not the work of God) on account of their learning and their holiness, be the first to discern the fact. So far, however, from denying the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church have left many volumes extolling the teaching of Holy Writ, and have written and preached that it is unlawful to alter one iota of the sacred text. Some of them have, in defence of the Divine origin of the Bible, even shed their blood. If these men had not had some certainty that the Scriptures were the work of God, they would, most assuredly, not have sacrificed their lives in such a cause.
Again, truth can never disagree with truth; truth must be in harmony with truth; but it is invariably at war with falsehood. Now, as every science agrees with Holy Scripture, it is evident that it must contain, not falsehood, but truth. The leaders of thought, in every branch of science, have proved that no true science is repugnant to Holy Scripture. Therefore, Christians are not forbidden to study any science, save divination and such like pernicious superstitions, which are derided by all true scientists. This harmony between science and the Bible is a proof of the truth of the latter. Were the Scriptures false, they would infallibly contradict science; whereas the Doctors of the Church show that the Bible and science agree; and they are able to explain any apparent discrepancy between them.
Further. The more truth is impugned, the more, if it have a defender, it becomes clear to the human intellect, which has a natural tendency to truth as to its own perfection. Christianity has been always opposed, both by philosophers and by temporal sovereigns, and has invariably proved itself invincible. This, again, is a strong proof of its truth; for, had it been false, it must, inevitably, have succumbed to persecution.
[1 ] The author, probably, had in his mind the dream of Nabuchadonosor, interpreted by the prophet Daniel (Dan. ii.).—Editor.