Jesuits In Conflict: Or Historic Facts Illustrative of the labours of the English Mission and Province Of The Society Of Jesus. In the times of Queen Elizabeth and her successors. By a member Of The Society Of Jesus.
THOMAS POUNDE, OF BELMONT, S.J. Part XVI.
We now proceed to give a copy of Pounde's famous six reasons, of which, as we have seen in the first part, he gave a copy to his adversaries Tripp and Crowley; these will be followed by his correspondence with Tripp, and his letter to Sir Christopher Hatton. All these form part of the same collection in Vol. cxlii., State Papers, Domestic, Eliz., No. 20.
" The viith of September, 1580.
"Sixe reasons sett downe to shewe that it is noe orderly way in controversies of faithe to appeal to be tryed only by Scripture (as the absurde opinion of all the Sectaries is), but to the sentence and definition of the Catholike Churche by whome as by the Spouse of Christe, always inspired with the Holy Ghoste, the Holy Scripture is to be judged.
" Fyrste, consider well these wordes of our Savioure in sendinge vs to the Scriptures, saying, ' Searche the Scriptures for you thinke to have eternall life in them, and those are they that beare witnesse of Me.' Marke well these wordes, I pray, that the Scripture is but witnesse-bearer to the truthe; and not the judge to discerne of truth, for judgment given belongeth not to the witnesse-bearer, althoughe he be as a rule to leade, and directe the judge in true judgment. But what if this witnesse shoulde qe corrupted, as no man will deny but it may, yet this judge to whome the Holy Ghoste is promised, will finde it and reforme it: as shortly we will see by a true English Bible which is cominge forthe. Understand, therefore, my reasons why of necessitie the Churche must be judge of the Scripture, and take your pen, and confute them, I say to you, if you can. The first is because the written texte is mute and dumb, utteringe nothinge to us from the booke, but onely the wordes, and not the sense, wherein the life, as it were, of the Scripture consistethe, and what definitive sentence can suche a judge give to over-rule the conceited minde of an opiniative man, whiche hathe noe evident meanes to pronounce any judgment against him, but onely to showe him a dumb sign in writinge, which a wrangler may construe still to his own vnderstandinge against all the worlde.
"The seconde is because the Holy Scripture, as St Augustine saithe, is very full of harde and deepe mysteries; insomuche that when Honoratus saide to him (as many unlearned men say nowe-a-days), that he understoode it well enoughe without helpe of any instruction, 'Say you/ saith he, 'you wold not take upon you to vnderstande such a poet as Terence is, well without a master; and dare you rushe into the Holie Scriptures, whiche are soe full of divine mysteries, without a judge? All heare-sayes, saith he, come of nothinge else : Nisi dum Scriptures boniz intelliguntur non bene —' But while the good Scriptures are not well vnderstoode.' Hereto alsoe St. Peter, in his Seconde Epistle, ch. iii., beareth witnesse sainge, that many misunderstood St. Paule in many harde places perversely, to their owne perdition. But then you will saye the harde places may easily be vnderstoode by conference of the other Scriptures: we'll admit a childish reason for a worde or two; that because that might soe be amonge the humble-minded, therefore they must needes be soe, though men be never so perverse; yet give me leave to pushe you the one question farther to the quicke: how is it possible to know by any conference of the Scriptures, which is canonical Scripture, and which is not? Certainely if any infidell wolde denye the Olde Testament (as some hereticks in time past have done), and I pray God there be not many Atheistes at this day in Englande, which be farther gone than they; yea, if such an one sholde deny all the New Testament also, we have sure anchor-holde against him by the revelation of God, by His tradition to His Churche, which is the pillor and sure stay of truthe; which St. Augustine well seeinge, thought he might be bolde to say with due reverence to God and Holy Scripture bothe : * I sholde not believe the Gospell except the authoritie of the Churche did move me thereto;' meaning that tradition of the universall Churche, and the testimonye of all the people of God, in whom the Holy Ghoste dwelleth, must justly move us to credit that whiche theire authoritie doth commande us to give creditt vnto. Therefore, let any man beware of flying from the Churche's judgment [of] the Scripture only; least the Scripture itself shoulde be vtterlie denied, as by some Atheistes in Englande (as I hearsay) it is already; and then might such infidells laughe all heretickes to scorne for robbinge themselves of theire defence. But now to returne to my purpose. If conference of one Scripture with another, might give light enough to all men, how happeneth it, that all sectes vsinge that conference, yet they can never agree in theire opinions, but divers men, and all, vsinge suche conference doe yet construe it diversly, the vttermoste shift they have is this, such a weake one as it is, that the reader must give himselfe to prayer for the truth to be revealed vnto him ; wherein, mark (I pray you) the intolerable pride of arrogant hippocrites, that they will first mistrust God's revelation of the truthe to His universail Churche, for the which Christ Himselfe hath prayed, and promised to teache them all truthe, and then most presumptuously to come, and tempt God to have that truthe onely revealed to themselves, which beinge revealed, many hundreth years agone, and defined in Generall Councells by all the holie Fathers, where the Holy Ghoste is aiwaye present, or at least by the holie Doctors in their writinges set downe, yet they will not believe, nor harken vnto it. Yet this is their course, and soe, as they say, forsothe, they doe all pray very hartilie, thoughe few of them can wringe out any teares in theire prayers, but yet with suche a faithe in the Lorde (as theire owne tearme is) that they doe all verilie believe the truthe is revealed vnto them, and yet, forsooth, they must needes be all deceived, as longe as they dwell in dissention, and are not in errors only, but one contrary to another; who now must be the judge to trie the spirits whether they be of God or noe, but only the Churche, or else shall they not be tried at all, but continuall permission for infinite legions of lyinge spirits to be still undetected, that they may seduce more and more.