Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER X.: OUR BELIEF IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST, IN THE OTHER MYSTERIES OF HIS HUMANITY, AND IN ALL THE ARTICLES DEFINED BY THE CHURCH, IS STRICTLY CONSISTENT WITH REASON. - The Triumph of the Cross
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER X.: OUR BELIEF IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST, IN THE OTHER MYSTERIES OF HIS HUMANITY, AND IN ALL THE ARTICLES DEFINED BY THE CHURCH, IS STRICTLY CONSISTENT WITH REASON. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
OUR BELIEF IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST, IN THE OTHER MYSTERIES OF HIS HUMANITY, AND IN ALL THE ARTICLES DEFINED BY THE CHURCH, IS STRICTLY CONSISTENT WITH REASON.
God, the Father of mercies, who is all-bountiful, has supplied for the defects caused by original sin, certain fitting remedies. Of these the chief are: first, the faith and sacrifices of the Patriarchs; next, Circumcision; and thirdly, Holy Baptism. These remedies render man capable of attaining, by grace, to supernatural happiness. And if we do not receive this grace, we ought to blame, not the Providence of God, but the remissness of our parents.
Some persons may find a difficulty in the fact, that, although the Saints of the Old Testament died in a state of grace and cleansed from original sin, they nevertheless were debarred from entering Heaven. The answer to this objection is, that, as original sin was an offence against God, imputed, not to individuals, but to human nature, it was necessary that His Divine Majesty should be satisfied, before the gates of Paradise could be opened. And again, as, by original sin, guilt was incurred by human nature, which may be said to be composed of an infinite number of persons, this guilt was in a manner infinite, and demanded satisfaction, not from one individual alone, since every creature is finite, but from the whole human race.
But, another difficulty may be raised on this point. It may be argued, that it beseems the infinite mercy of God to accept from man the satisfaction which he is capable of making, and to remit the debt which he cannot pay. We answer, that, had there been no other possibility of satisfying for original sin, God would have accepted the only satisfaction which man was capable of making. But, as He was able to satisfy His justice by other means, He chose to make use of these other means, thereby both satisfying for sin, and perfecting human nature. Man could not, of himself, atone for sin. Only God, who had never sinned, could make fitting satisfaction for it. Therefore, He, in His infinite mercy, wisdom, and power, willed, by becoming man, to pay the debt which man owed, and was unable to pay.
Man owed satisfaction, and God-made Man, alone had power to make that satisfaction, not, indeed, for Himself, but for the whole human race. In this fact is revealed the fitness of His Incarnation, wherein He has united the Divine to the Human nature. In this mystery we behold His power, His wisdom, and the goodness whereby He has wholly given Himself to the human race, to embrace it, and draw it to His love. But, above all His other attributes, His mercy is made manifest; for it has led Him to be crucified for love of us. His justice also is seen; for He has Himself made satisfaction for original sin. Hence, while His mercy should inspire repentant sinners with the surest hope, His justice should cause the impenitent to tremble. This is the reason why, since the coming of Christ into the world, so many men have been drawn from sin to holiness of life.
When we consider these mercies, and the innumerable other benefits conferred by Christ upon human nature, we discover depths of wisdom which are unfathomable by the intellect of man, and which, for this very reason, are accounted folly by the world. We see, moreover, how fitting it was that Christ should suffer for the guilt of mankind.
But since He came, not merely to suffer for man, but likewise to set him an example of righteous living, it behoved Him to choose a most bitter and disgraceful death; thus teaching us that neither shame, nor suffering, should force us to betray the cause of truth and justice. Time forbids me to enlarge upon the other reasons which caused our Saviour to choose His terrible mode of death. I will only add, that His cross has been, to them that love Him, a fount of sweetness and of light, known only to those who have experienced it.
As Christ died in order to make satisfaction for our sins, and especially for that original sin, on account of which the Patriarchs were detained in Limbo, it was meet that, being already delivered from original sin, they should be enlightened by the descent of Christ into Limbo, which took place immediately after His death. And it was, likewise, most fitting that he should remain for three days in the tomb. Had He stayed there longer, men would have lost all hope of His Resurrection; and had He not remained in the sepulchre so long, they would have denied the reality of His death. But, as abode in this present life does not befit the life of glory, Christ, after His Resurrection, did not converse with men, as He had done before His death. But, as His body was perfect, and noble above all human bodies, on account both of the perfection of His Soul, and of His union with the Word, He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, as His true and sole-begotten Son. The expression sitteth at the right hand of the Father, is not to be understood as referring to bodily posture, but as signifying that Christ, beyond all creatures, enjoyed the fruition of eternal happiness. And, if it be asked how His body could penetrate the heavens, we answer that the Divine Power can enable two bodies to exist together.
Further, it is fitting that the Son of God, who was unjustly judged by men, should be the Head, and Standard, and Judge of the living and the dead. For, in this wise, does His reward correspond to the suffering which He bore for us. Thus, if we reflect, we shall see that the acts which Christ performed in the world are full of mysteries; and we shall understand, that the Christian religion is not only reasonable, but wonderful, and Divine.
We have already spoken of the faith which enables us to believe everything contained in Holy Scripture; and we have shown how true it is and how reasonable. We have also shown, that, as the objects of our faith can proceed from no one but from God, we are bound to believe them unwaveringly. But since, in doctrine as in material things, every movable thing must be reduced to something immovable, we acknowledge, with the fullest reason, that God has established in His Church, over which He exercises peculiar care, certain unchanging doctrines to which all men must submit, doctrines which contain those first principles from which all conclusions are deduced. Therefore, the Catholic Faith most fittingly holds, that all that the Holy Roman Church has defined, or shall define, is most certain truth. It rejects all other teaching. For the Church, as we shall show hereafter, is the firm and solid foundation of the faith, and our guide to salvation.