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Where To Find It, and How To Use It


DECEMBER 20, 1874


"It is written" (Mat. 4:4).

T HOUGHTFUL MINDS anxiously desire some fixed point of belief. The old philosopher wanted a fulcrum for his lever and believed that if he could only obtain it, he could move the world! It is uncomfortable to be always at sea—we would gladly discover terra firma and plant our feet upon a rock. We cannot rest until we have found out something which is certain, sure, settled, decided, and no longer to be questioned. Many a mind has peered into the hazy region of rationalism and has seen nothing before it but perpetual mist and fog. And, shivering with the cold chill of those arctic regions of skepticism, it has yearned for a clearer light, a warmer guide, a more tangible belief.

This yearning has driven men into strange beliefs. Satan, seeing their ravenous hunger, has made them accept a stone for bread. Many have held, and still hold, that it is possible to find your infallible foundation in the Pope of Rome. I do not wonder that they would rather have an infallible man than be altogether without a standard of truth.

Yet, it is so monstrous an idea that men should believe in papal infallibility, that did they not, themselves, swear to it, we would think it most insulting to accuse them of it! How any mind can, by any possible contortion, twist itself into a posture in which it will be capable of accepting such a belief is one of the mysteries of manhood!

Why, the popes err in trifles; how much more in great matters? In Disraeli's "Curiosities of Literature" is the following amusing incident, under the title of "Errata" [plural of erratum—an error in printing or writing]—"One of the most conspicuous of all literary blunders is that of the edition of the Vulgate, by Sixtus V. His Holiness carefully superintended every sheet as it passed through the press and, to the amazement of all the world, the world remained without a rival—IT SWARMED WITH ERRORS! A multitude of scraps were printed to satiate the erroneous passages, in order to give the true text. The book makes a whimsical appearance with these patches and the heretics exulted in this demonstration of papal infallibility! The copies were called in and violent attempts made to suppress it. A few still remain for the raptures of Biblical collectors—at a late sale, the Bible of Sixtus V. fetched above 60 guineas—not too much for a mere book of blunders! The world was highly amused at the bull of the editorial pope prefixed to the first volume—excommunicates all printers who, in reprinting the work, should make any alterations in the text!"

The notion of infallibility residing in mortal man is worthy of a madhouse and scarcely deserves to be seriously discussed. You can scarcely read a page of such history, as even Catholics admit to be authentic, without discovering that popes have been men and not gods—and their bulls have been as blundering and erroneous as the decrees of worldly princes! So long as a clear understanding remains to a man, he cannot repose in the imaginary infallibility of a priest!

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