SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Q. Why may not every particular Christian have liberty to interpret the Scripture according to his own private judgment, without regard to the interpretation of the Church?
A. The reason is, first, because St. Peter declares, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of private interpretation; 2 Peter i. 20. Secondly, because as men's judgments are as different as their fancies, such liberty as this must needs produce almost as many religions as there are men. Thirdly, because Christ has left his Church, and her pastors and teachers, to be our guides in all controversies relating to religion, and consequently in the understanding of holy writ. He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for edifying of the body of Christ, until we all come in the unity of the faith; that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by slight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, etc.; Eph. iv. n, 12, etc. Lastly, Protestants themselves confess, that as the Scriptures were not written without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, so neither can they be rightly interpreted without the gift of the Holy Ghost; now this gift is not given to every one. For to one is given by the spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another prophecy, etc.; 1 Cor. xii. 8. From whence we may conclude that the gift of interpreting Scripture is not a gift for every one, but chiefly, as we may reasonably suppose, for such as God has given, apostles, pastors, and doctors to his Church. As to reformers in particular, it does not appear that they have hitherto been endowed with any other gift but that of contradicting each other's interpretation, throughout all the Reformed Churches. Witness the Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Independents, Arians, Socinians, etc. The Lutherans say, that the Scripture teaches them to hold the real presence; the Calvinists say, that it teaches them to deny it; those of the Church of England say, that the Scripture teaches them to baptize infants; the Anabaptists say, that it teaches them to condemn it; the Arians and Socinians say, that the Scripture teaches them that Christ is a creature; and other Protestants say, it teaches them to believe that he is the eternal Creator of all things. Now no one will say, that this is the gift of the Holy Ghost. So that Protestants themselves, on the one hand, confessing that the Scriptures cannot be rightly interpreted without the gift of the Holy Ghost; .and it being evident on the other hand that Protestant Churches, from their contradicting one another have not that gift, we therefore conclude that they have not a right to judge of the sense of Scripture, and expound it for themselves. Besides, if the very disciples of Christ could not understand the Scriptures, without an interpreter, as we find by St. Luke they could not; xxiv. 27, et 54. Can it then be supposed that every private man and woman among Protestants are better enlightened than they were? If the Apostles themselves did not understand the holy Scriptures, till our Saviour opened their understanding; St. Luke xxiv. 54. Let this at least teach reformers, that natural talents alone are not sufficient for expounding Scripture, unless their understanding be by our Saviour Christ in like manner opened.