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a dispensation to read the Scriptures, that Petrus Sutor, a Carthusian Monke, amongst other inconveniences for which hee would have the people debarred from reading of them, alledged this, in speciall for one : “Whereas many things are openly taught to bee observed, which are not to bee expressly had in the whole Scriptures: the simple people observing these things, will quickly murmure and complaine, that so great burdens should be imposed upon them, whereby the libertie of the Gospell is so greatly impaired, and they also will bee easily drawen away from the observation of of the ordinance of the Church, when they shall observe that they are not contained in the Law of Christ*." It is not then the obscuritie of the Scriptures; but a feare, by their owne confessions, of some strange discovery that would be made by reading of them, and in that feare they rather intimate a plainnesse and easinesse in the understanding them : for otherwise what need they feare the peoples' reading them, if they were so full of obscuritie (as they pretend) that they could not understand them.
As therefore wee deny not that there is difficulty and obscuritie in the Scriptures, so wee professe likewise that there are plaine and evident testimonies, which illustrate those difficult and obscure places, and that in those plain and evident places, all things concerning faith and good manners are contained *. This was Saint Austen's doctrine, this is ours ; let us therefore follow that sweet counsell, which that holy and ancient Father, by way of prevention, gave the Christians of his time. “We are brethren, why do we strive ? Our Father died not untestate, he made a Testament and so dyed. Men do strive about the goods of the dead, till the Testament be brought foorth, then that is brought, they yield to have it opened and read : the Judge doth hearken, the Counsellors bee silent, the cryer biddeth peace, all the people are attentive, that the words of the dead may be read and heard. He lyeth void of life and feeling in his grave, and his words prevail. Christ doth sit in heaven, and is his Testament gainsaid? Open it, let us reade, we are brethren, why doe we strive ? Let our mindes be pacified, our Father hath not left us without a Testament, he that made the Testament, is living for ever. Hee doeth heere our words, he doth know his owne words, let us read why do wee strive * ?"
* Cum multis palam tradantur observanda quæ sacris in literis expresse non habentur, nonné Idiotæ hac animadvertentes facilè murmurabunt ?-Nonne et facilè retrabentur ab observatione Institutionum Ecclesiasticarum quando eas in lege Christi animadverterint nou contineri? Sutor de Translat. Bib. c. 22.
In iisquæ apertè in scripturis posita sunt, inveniuntur illa omnia quæ
continent fidem moresque vivendi. Aug. de doctr. Christ. lib. 2. cap. 9.
† Aug. in Psa. 21. expos. 2.
THE SCRIPTURE, ACCORDING TO THE JUDGMENT
OF THE ANCIENT FATHERS, IS THE SOLE JUDGE OF CONTROVERSIES, AND INTERPRETER OF ITSELFE.
Buseus the Jesuite, knowing that the Scriptures were not such evident testimonies of the Roman faith, as his fellowes pretended; by way of prevention, gives this caveat to his disciples : “ If you cannot avoyd disputation with an heretique, touching poynts of faith ; although you finde you are able to match him, yet first demand of him, from whence hee will derive his arguments against the Catholique faith : if he answere, as commonly they doe, Out of the sacred Scriptures: tell him, there is no victory, at least but uncertaine, to be hoped for from them, unlesse it may appeare who hath best right to the Scriptures, and to whom belongs authoritie to expound them *." By this Jesuite's confession, the poynts in controversie, are sub judice in question, to which side the right of Scriptures doe belong, and to whom• authoritie to expound them; and sooth to say, the controversies of this age, are now brought to this narrow issue, that our adversaries are well content, to trie their cause by Scriptures, if the Reformed Churches would graunt them but this one poore request, That they may be sole Judges and Interpreters of the Scripture.
* Si non potes effugere vel disputationem, vel collationem de rebus fidei cum hæretico (cui tamen de doctrinà inferiorem non esse existimas) primum ab eo percunctare unde argumenta sua velit depromere contrà fidem Catholicam, si respondeat ut solent sx scripturis divinis, oppone illi, nullain vel incertam ex Scripluris sperari victoriam, nisi prius constet veri sint posses
A request no doubt, that in most men's understanding, will seeme unreasonable, that Christ and his Apostles should bee judged by man, or that à man should bee Plaintiffe and Judge in his owne
It was the constant profession of Saint Austen : Men spirituall, whether they rule or bee ruled, judge according to the Spirit, but they judge not of the spirituall knowledge, which shineth in the firmament (of the Scriptures), for it is not lawfull for any man to judge over so high authoritie : for bee the man never so spirituall, yet must hee be a doer, not a Judge of the Law*. And in the conclusion of the Chapter, he gives his speciall reason for it : There a man is said to bee Judge, where he hath power and authority to correct. He therefore who shall first dare to correct the Scripture, let that man by St. Austen's rule assume authoritie to judge them; and as touching that Tenet, that a man should be Plaintiffe and judge in his owne cause, it was a doctrine so different from the Primitive Church, that in the midst of heresies, I say, in the first and best ages, wherein Saint Austen and Epiphanus mention above fourescore heresies ; even then when the Fathers had greatest reason to stand upon the priviledge of their Church, they never made answere (like the Romanists), You must heare the Church, and our Church is that Catholique Church that is the sole Judge of controversies, and according to our Interpretation, (whose right it is to judge of the Scriptures) it is so and so; but on the contrary, they made the Scriptures sole Judges of their cause, and withall professed, the Téxt of Scripture was the truest Glosse in expounding of itselfe.
sores scripturæ illi an nos ? et ubi sit vera fides et potestas exponendi scripturas. Busæus in Panario, Tit. Hæres. August, lib. Confess. 13. c. 23.
I speake not this, as if our reverend Divines did make the Scriptures sole Judges of our cause, excluding the testimonie of the Church : for we have a church as well as they, we have churchmen as well versed in Scriptures and Fathers as themselves; neither doe we denie the authoritie of the Fathers, which joyntly agree in poynts of faith, for the right expounding of the Scriptures; onely wee say, the Authour of the Word who best knew his owne meaning, was best able to expound himselfe: and in this manner the ancient Fathers, as they grounded their Church
upon the Scriptures, so likewise they referred backe the meaning of the Scriptures unto the Authour of them, as if hee that was Judge of all men, should bee judged of none, and such wee