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 XVII.
"The third reason is, because St. Peter saieth plainly that no Scripture is to be taken after any private interpretation. For it was not uttered after the will and phantasie of man, but as holie men of God spake it, inspired by the Holie Ghost. Yet most contrary to this expresse rule, every private man shall have libertie to enterpret it to his own perverse will, after a private enterpretation, otherwise than at first it was inspired to the holie men, if every man may appeale from the ecclesiasticall sense of the universall Churche to the text itselfe, as he understandeth it.
" The fourth reason is, because by appealinge onely to the Scriptures, you seeme to give men libertie to deny all vnwritten verities, which we have received of the Churche, either by expresse definition in Generall Councell, or else by tradition. And I believe at my first naminge of vnwritten verities, Mr. Crowley and his fellows will laugh streight way, as though suche were but fables; but to temper their follie, I will not say their pride, a little in that point, I aske them all this question : how they prove the Trinitie of Persons, and Vnitie of Substance, by expresse Scripture, or the two distinct natures in Christe, and but one Person, or God the Father to be ingenitus; or the proceedinge of the Holie Ghoste, bothe from the Father and the Sonne, as from one Fountaine? Or the descendinge of Christ downe into hell, plain worde of Scripture beinge therefore of many now-a-daies flatly denied? Or the custome of baptizinge of infantes, seinge the Scripture saith rather as though they sholde be taught first theire faith before they were baptized; sayinge, ' Goe and teache all nations baptizinge them in the name,' &c. ? Or why we sholde keepe the Sunday now at all, and not Saturday rather, which was the Jewes* Saboth day, that the Scripture speaketh of to be sanctified, although youre Puritans which goe to ploughe upon the Church's holidayes, seem not yet to know the Sundaye for any of theire making; or why we sholde not abstaine now still like the Jewes from strangled meates, as the Apostles once decreed in the Acts, and by noe express Scripture againe abrogated; yea, then, why may not any hereticke deny all three Creedes, both the Apostles' Creede, the Nicene Creede, as it is called, and the Creede of Athanasius, seeinge never a one of those is written in Scripture expressly, but all lefte us by tradition onely, upon credit of the Churche. Mark you not how these Bedlam Scripture-men wolde shake all the foundations of our Christian faith, by bindinge us to believe nothinge but Scripture. Do not these blind guides, think you, leade a trim daunce towards infidelitie ? Thus much of the fourth reason.
" The fifth is, because without a certain judge for interpretation of Scripture, this absurdity wolde i follow, that God, which is the Author of all perfection, and disposeth everything in stricte and decent order, had left His universall Churche on earthe in this confusion, that whensoever any doubtfull question sholde arise vpon construction of His holie will, there were no provision at all ordayned by God, for deciding of all suche strifes, and preservation of concorde amonge His people. And then certainely the Kingdome of God's Churche were not so well provided for in their government, as every civil kingdome is by policy of carnall men, amongst whome none almost are soe barbarous, .but that they have counsellors for guidance of their estate, and judges for expoundinge, and executing of their lawes; as well as lawes written, or else it were rediculous. Wolde not he be counted a very wise man, thinke you, in bne of our parliaments, which wolde step upp like a greate bragger, and persuade all his fellowes that for as much as they had a noble and ancient law left written vnto them, the realme sholde have no longer neede from henceforth of any prince, nor any rulers, nor peers, nor judges, nor justices, nor civil magistrates, but every man uppon his worde, for the warrant, wolde be content to govern himselfe orderlie by the lawe written, which as his wisdom thincks is plaine enoughe ? And trulie ridiculous be they, but muche more to be laughed at, which will have the Scripture the onlie judge for every man to appeale vnto, and refuse all authoritie of the Churche in expoundinge thereof. Now who knoweth not that the Arian heretickes produce forty places of Scripture for theire horrible heresie, more than the Catholics had against them, but all falsely vnderstoode, which, when it is soe misvnderstoode, and misapplied, then St. Augustine called it the heretickes' bow wherewith they shoote their owne venemous arrows. And Vincentius Lyrins saith it is then the sheep's clothing which the wolfe doth shrowd himselfe in, because that when a simple body feeieth the softnes, as it were, of his fleece, he sholde not mistrust the tyranny of his teethe; that is to say, of his false constructions of Scripture, wherein he wolde devour his soule; so did the devill himselfe alledge Scripture unto Christ, and as oft as any hereticks alledge Scripture to us against the Catholic faithe, so oft, sayth Vincentius, we may be out of doubt the devyell dothe speake vnto us by theire mouthes, and sayth vnto us, even as he did vnto Christ, Si filius Dei es mitte te deorsum; as much as to say—If thou wilt be the Son of God, and professor of His holie Gospell, cast thyselfe downe from the highe authoritie, and traditions of this Catholike Churche; whome, if we ask again, why we sholde do this, saythe Vincentius, they come out with Scriptum est, etc, because it is written, search in the holie book, and from thence thou mayst learne a new lesson of Me how to be a right Christian; to whom we must saye, Vade Sathan non tentavi, and that with great fervour of faythe; for more perilous is the temptation of such a flattering serpent, sayth St Augustin, than the roaring of an angry lyon, because the one we flie from with feare, but the other with enticing may come the nearer to stinge us.
" The sixth reason, most weighty of all is this; because if you will refuse the authoritie of the Churche's absolute judgement upon the Scripture's true sense, you shall soone come plainly to denie the Holie Ghost to be the Spirite of Truth, which uppon the Apostles, and all the faithfull, was sent downe with visible signs, and with His Churche it is promised to remaine vnto the worlde's ende, by the wordes of our Saviour, 4 1 will ask My Father, ' and He shall sende you another comforter to tarry with you for ever, the Spirit of Truthe;' and a little after thus—' The Holie Ghoste the comforter Whome My Father will sende in My name shall teach you all truth.' So the Churche is the surest judge, and none surer but the Churche for all men in doubts of Scripture, because it hathe a promise that it shall never err in judgment, which is notably confirmed by the Prophet Esay, sayinge, 'This is My covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit which is in thee, and My worde which I have put in thy mouthe, shall not departe out of thy mouthe, nor out of the mouthes of thy seed, nor out of thy seede's seede, nowe nor ever to the worlde's ende.' O most comfortable promise that the Spirit of Truth shall never departe out of ye Churche's mouth! O fit judge appointed to be judge of Scripture, for our prophetes! Without presumption, remember then, I say to you, what a sottish opinion this is which is held to the contrary, that every private man, whom belike you will imagine to be one of the Church, shall have good leave to be his owne judge in vnderstandinge of Scripture, as your crafty men are, and yet that the authorities of the whole vniversall Churche shall not presume to take any judgment vpon them. Granting this, as you must needes, that the Churche, which is our Mother, as the Scripture saithe, must needes teach vs all her children, at first to believe in God, sayinge faithe must come by hearinge, and also to know the Scriptures; and yet that the same Churche beinge the pillar, and sure staye of truthe, shall not be absolute judge, and imperiall schoolmistress, to teache vs all how to believe in God, and how to vnderstande the Scriptures. For this blindness of your hearts, I may say as justly to you, as St Paule saide to the Galatians, O insensati, etc.— O you foolish fellows, who hathe bewitched you not to obey ynto the truth? which even of infants and suckling babes (as it were) is discerned as cleare as the sun. Soe that you must not disdaine Mr. Tripp, to be tripped in this matter for a silly seducer, to maintaine as you doe, all so gross an opinion, beinge the forest indeede for all such foxes to litter their whelps in. Therefore, to conclude this assertion, acquite yourselves, as well as you can, why you may not all be justly subjected to deny the descending of the Holie Ghoste unto the Church, for as much as you refuse the Churche's sentence in judgement, with whome the Holie Ghoste is promised alwayes to remaine, and in truthe to direct them.
" Haec est fides mea quia est Catholica —'This is my faith because it is ye Catholic faithe.'
"Thomas Poundes." 1
1 Mr. Dodd, Church Hist., vol. ii., p. 153, briefly notices Pounde. "A gentleman of considerable fortune. He was a great supporter of Missioners, and suffered much for his religion in prison in Queen Elizabeth's reign. He was a man of letters, and published a small treatise entitled Six Reasons, &c. This was answered by a work called 'An Answer to Thomas Pounders Six Reasons, wherein he sheweth that the Scripture must be judged by the Church. By Robert Crowley. London. 410,1581.'"