An Answer To A Challenge Made by a Jesuit in Ireland Wherein The Judgment of Antiquity in the Points Questioned Is Truly Delivered, and the Novelty of the Now Romish Doctrine Plainly Discovered.
From the Beginning, it Was Not So.Matthew. 19:8.
The Jesuit’s Challenge
Your Doctors and Masters grant, that the Church of Rome for 400 or 500 years after Christ did hold the true religion. First, then, would I fain know, what Bishop of Rome did first alter that religion, which you commend in them of the first 400 years? In what Pope’s days was the true religion overthrown in Rome?
Next, I would fain know, how can your religion be true, which disalloweth of many chief articles, which the Saints and Fathers of that primitive Church of Rome did generally hold to be true?
For they of your side, that have read the Fathers of that unspotted Church, can well testify, (and if any deny it, it shall be presently shewn,) that the Doctors, Pastors and Fathers of that Church do allow of traditions: that they acknowledge the real presence of the body of Christ in the Sacrament of the altar: that they exhorted the people to confess their sins unto their ghostly Fathers: that they affirmed, that Priests have power to forgive sins: that they taught, that there is a Purgatory; that prayer for the dead is both commendable and godly; that there is Limbus Patrum; and that our Saviour descended into hell to deliver the ancient Fathers of the Old Testament, because before his Passion none ever entered into heaven: that prayer to Saints and use of holy images was of great account amongst them: that man hath free-will, and that for his meritorious works he receiveth, through the assistance of God’s grace, the bliss of everlasting happiness.
Now would I fain know, whether of both have the true religion, they that hold all these above-said points, with the primitive Church; or they that do most vehemently contradict and gainsay them? they that do not disagree with that holy Church in any point of religion; or they that agree with it but it very few, and disagree in almost all?
Will you say, that these Fathers maintained these opinions contrary to the word of God? Why, you know that they were the pillars of Christianity, the champions of Christ’s Church, and of the true Catholic Religion, which they most learnedly defended against divers heresies; and therefore spent all their time in a most serious study of the holy Scripture. Or will you say, that although they knew the Scriptures to repugn, yet they brought in the aforesaid opinions by malice and corrupt intentions? Why, yourselves cannot deny, but that they lived most holy and virtuous lives, free from all malicious corrupting or perverting of God’s holy word, and by their holy lives are now made worthy to reign with God in his glory. Insomuch as their admirable learning may sufficiently cross out all suspicion of ignorant error; and their innocent sanctity freeth us from all mistrust of malicious corruption.
Now would I willingly see what reasonable answer may be made to this. For the Protestants grant, that the Church of Rome for 400 or 500 years held the true religion of Christ: yet do they exclaim against the above-said Articles, which the same Church did maintain and uphold; as may be shewn by the express testimonies of the Fathers of the same Church, and shall be largely laid down, if any learned Protestant will deny it.
Yea, which is more, for the confirmation of all the above-mentioned points of our religion, we will produce good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures, if the Fathers’ authority will not suffice. And we do desire any Protestant to allege any one text out of the said Scripture, which condemneth any of the above-written points: which we hold for certain they shall never be able to do. For indeed they are neither more learned, more pious, nor more holy than the blessed Doctors and Martyrs of that first Church of Rome, which they allow and esteem of so much, and by which we most willingly will be tried, in any point which is in controversy betwixt the Protestants and the Catholics. Which we desire may be done with Christian charity and sincerity, to the glory of God and instruction of them that are astray.
An Answer To The Former Challenge
To uphold the religion which at this day is maintained in the Church of Rome, and to discredit the truth which we profess, three things are here urged, by one who hath undertaken to make good the Papists cause against all gainsayers. The first concerneth the original of the errors wherewith that part standeth charged; the author and time whereof he requireth us to shew. The other two respect the testimony, both of the primitive Church, and of the sacred Scriptures; which, in the points wherein we vary, if this man may be believed, maketh wholly for them and against us.
First then would he fain know, what Bishop of Rome did first alter that religion, which we commend in them of the first 400 years? In what Pope’s days was the true religion overthrown in Rome? To which I answer: First, that we do not hold that Rome was built in a day; or that the great dunghill of errors, which now we see in it, was raised in an age: and therefore it is a vain demand to require from us the name of any one Bishop of Rome, by whom or under whom this Babylonish confusion was brought in. Secondly, that a great difference is to be put betwixt heresies which openly oppose the foundations of our faith, and that apostasy which the Spirit hath evidently foretold should be brought in by such as speak lies in hypocrisy, (1 Timothy 4:1, 2.) The impiety of the one is so notorious, that at the very first appearance it is manifestly discerned: the other is a mystery of iniquity, (as the Apostle termeth it, 2 Thessalonians 2:7), iniquitas, sed mystica id est, pietatis nomine palliata, (so the ordinary gloss expoundeth the place;) “an iniquity indeed, but mystical, that is, cloaked with the name of piety.” And therefore they who kept continual watch and ward against the one, might sleep while the seeds of the other were a sowing; yea, peradventure might at unawares themselves have some hand in bringing in of this Trojan horse, commended thus unto them vuider the name of religion and semblance of devotion. Thirdly, that the original of errors is oftentimes so obscure, and their breed so base, that howsoever it might be easily observed by such as lived in the same age, yet no wise man will marvel, if in tract of time the beginnings of many of them should be forgotten, and no register of the time of their birth found extant. We read that the Sadducees taught, there were no angels: is any man able to declare unto us, under what High Priest they first broached this error? The Grecians, Circassians, Georgians, Syrians, Egyptians, Habassines, Muscovites, and Russians, dissent at this day from the Church of Rome in many particulars: will you take upon you to shew in what Bishop’s days these several differences did first arise? When the point hath been well scanned, it will be found, that many errors have crept into their profession, the time of the entrance whereof you are not able to design: and some things also are maintained by you against them, which have not been delivered for catholic doctrine in the primitive times, but brought in afterwards, yourselves know not when.
Such, for example, is that sacrilege of yours, whereby you withhold from the people the use of the cup in the Lord’s Supper; as also your doctrine of Indulgences and Purgatory: which they reject, and you defend. For touching the first, “Gregorius de Valentia, one of your principal champions, confesseth, that the use of receiving the Sacrament in one kind began first in some Churches, and grew to be a general custom in the Latin Church not much before the Council of Constance, in which at last (to wit, 200 years ago) this custom was made a law. But if you put the question to him, as you do to us, What Bishop of Rome did first bring in this custom? he giveth you this answer, that it began to be used, not by the decree of any Bishop, but by the very use of the Churches, and the consent of the faithful. If you further question with him, Quando primum vigere caepit ea consuetudo in aliquibus Ecclesiis? When first did that custom get footing in some Churches? he returneth you for answer, Minime constat: it is more than he can tell.
The like doth Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Cardinal Cajetan give us to understand of Indulgences; that no certainty can be had, what their original was, or by whom they were first brought in. Fisher also further addeth concerning Purgatory, that in the ancient Fathers there is either none at all, or very rare mention of it; that by the Grecians it is not believed, even to this day; that the Latins also, not all at once, but by little and little, received it; and that, Purgatory being so lately known, it is not to be marvelled, that in the first times of the Church there was no use of Indulgences; seeing these had their beginning, after that men for a while had been afflicted with the torments of Purgatory. Out of which confession of the adverse part you may observe: 1. What little reason these men have to require us to set down the precise time wherein all their profane novelties were first brought in; seeing that this is more than they themselves are able to do. 2. That some of them may come in pedetentim (as Fisher acknowledged Purgatory did) by little and little, and by very slow steps, which are not so easy to be discerned, as fools be borne in hand they are. 3. That it is a fond imagination to suppose that all such changes must be made by some Bishop, or any one certain author: whereas it is confessed, that some may come in by the tacit consent of many, and grow after into a general custom, the beginning whereof is past man’s memory.
And as some superstitious usages may draw their original from the undiscreet devotion of the multitude; so some also may be derived from want of devotion in the people: and some alterations likewise must be attributed to the very chano-e of time itself. Of the one we cannot give a fitter instance, than in your private Mass, wherein the Priest receiveth the Sacrament alone; which Harding fetcheth from no other ground, than lack of devotion of the peoples part. When you therefore can tell us, in what Pope’s days the people fell from their devotion; we may chance tell you, in what Pope’s days your private Mass began. An experiment of the other we may see in the use of the Latin service in the Churches of Italy, France, and Spain. For if we be questioned. When that use first began there’ and further demanded, ‘Whether the language formerly used in their Iiturgy was changed upon a sudden? our answer must be, That Latin service was used in those countries from the beginning; but that the Latin tongue at that time was commonly understood of all, which afterward by little and little degenerated into those vulgar languages which now are used. When you therefore shall be pleased to certify us, in what Pope’s days the Latin tongue was changed into the Italian, French, and Spanish, (which we pray you do for our learning;) we will then give you to understand, that from that time forward the language, not of the service, but of the people, was altered. Nee enim lingua vulgaris populo subtracta est, sed populus ab ea recessit, saith Erasmus: “the vulgar tongue was not taken away from the people, but the people departed from it.”
If this which I have said will not satisfy you, I would wish you call unto your remembrance the answer which Arnobius sometimes gave to a foolish question, propounded by the enemies of the Christian faith: Nec si nequivero causas vobis exponere, cur aliquid fiat illo vel hoc modo, continuo sequitur, ut infecta tiant quae facta sunt. And consider whether I may not return the like answer unto you. (Arnobius, Against the Heathen, Book 2) If I be not able to declare unto you, by what Bishop of Rome, and in what Pope’s days, the simplicity of the ancient faith was first corrupted; it will not presently follow, that what was done must needs be undone.
Or rather, if you please, call to mind the parable in the Gospel, where the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man, which sowed good seed in his field; hut while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. These that slept, took no notice, when or by whom the tares were scattered among the wheat; neither at the first rising did they discern betwixt the one and the other, though they were awake. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares: and then they put the question unto their master, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? Their master indeed telleth them, it was the enemy’s doing; but you could tell them otherwise, and come upon them thus: “You yourselves rant, that the seed which was first sown in this field, was good seed, and such as was put there by your master himself. If this which you call tares, be no good grain, and hath sprung from some other seed than that which was sown here at first; I would fain know that man’s name, who was the sower of it; and likewise the time in which it was sown. Now, you being not able to shew either the one or the other, it must needs be, that your eyes here deceive you: or if these be tares, they are of no enemy’s, but of your master’s own sowing.”
To let pass the slumberings of former times, we could tell you of an age, wherein men not only slept, but also snorted: it was (if you know it not) the tenth from Christ, the next neighbour to that wherein hell broke loose: that “unhappy age,” (as Genebrard and other of your own writers term it,) “exhausted both of men of account for wit and learning, and of worthy princes and bishops;” in which there were “no famous writers, nor councils;” than which (if we will credit Bellarmine) there was never age “more unlearned and unhappy.” If I be not able to discover what feats the devil wrought in that time of darkness, wherein men were not so vigilant in marking his conveyances; and such as might see somewhat, were not so forward in writing books of their observations; must the infelicity of that age, wherein there was little learning and less writing, yea, which ” for want of writers,”” as Cardinal Baronius acknowledgeth, “hath been usually named the obscure age;” must this, I say, enforce me to yield, that the devil brought in no tares all that while, but let slip the opportunity of so dark a night, and slept himself for company? There are other means left unto us, whereby we may discern the tares brought in by the instruments of Satan from the good seed which was sown by the Apostles of Christ, besides this observation of times and seasons, which will often fail us. Ipsa doctrina eorum, saith Tertullian, cum Apostolica comparata, ex diversitate et contrarietate sua pronuntiabit, neque Apostoli alicujus auctoris esse, neque Apostolici. “Their very doctrine itself, being compared with the Apostolic, by the diversity and contrariety thereof will pronounce, that it had for author neither any Apostle nor any man Apostolical.” For there cannot be a better prescription against heretical novelties, than that which our Saviour Christ useth against the Pharisees, “From the beginning it was not so; nor a better preservative against the infection of seducers that are crept in unawares, than that which is prescribed by the Apostle Jude, earnestly to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Now to the end we might know the certainty of those things, wherein the saints were at the first instructed; God hath provided, that the memorial thereof should be recorded in his own book, that it might remain for the time to come, for ever and ever. He then, who out of that book is able to demonstrate, that the doctrine and practice now prevailing swerveth from that which was at first established in the Church by the Apostles of Christ, doth as strongly prove, that a change hath been made in the middle times, as if he were able to nominate the place where, the time when, and the person by whom any such corruption was first brought in. In the Apostles’ days, when a man had examined himself, he was admitted unto the Lord’s Table, there to eat of that breads and drink of that cup; as appeareth plainly, 1 Cor. 9:28. In the Church of Rome at this day the people are indeed permitted to eat of the bread, if bread they may call it, but not allowed to drink of the cup. Must all of us now shut our eyes, and sing, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc; unless we be able to tell by whom, and when this first institution was altered.” By St Paul’s order, who would have all things done to edification. Christians should pray with understandings and not in an unknown language: as may be seen in the fourteenth chapter of the same Epistle to the Corinthians. The case is now so altered, that the bringing in of a tongue not understood (which hindered the edifying of Babel itself, and scattered the builders thereof) is accounted a good means to further the edifying of your Babel, and to hold her followers together. Is not this, then, a good ground to resolve a man’s judgment, that things are not now kept in that order, wherein they were set at first by the Apostles; although he be not able to point unto the first author of the disorder?
And as we may thus discover innovations, by having recourse unto the first and best times; so may we do the like by comparing the state of things present with the middle times of the Church. Thus I find by the constant and approved practice of the ancient Church, that all sorts of people, men, women, and children, had free liberty to read the holy Scriptures. I find now the contrary among the Papists: and shall I say for all this, that they have not removed the bounds which were set by the Fathers, because perhaps I cannot name the Pope, that ventured to make the first inclosure of these commons of God’s people? I hear St Jerome say: Judith et Tobiea, et Macchabaeorum libros legit quidem Ecclesia, sed eos inter Canonicas Scripturas non recipit. “The Church doth read indeed the books of Judith, and Tobit, and the Maccabees; but doth not receive them for Canonical Scripture.” I see that at this day the Church of Rome receiveth them for such. May not I then conclude, that betwixt St Jerome’s time and ours there hath been a change; and that the Church of Rome now is not of the same judgment with the Church of God then; howsoever I cannot precisely lay down the time, wherein she first thought herself to be wiser herein than her forefathers .”
But here our adversary closeth with us, and layeth down a number of points, held by them, and denied by us; which he undertaketh to make good, as well by the express testimonies of the Fathers of the primitive Church of Rome, as also by good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures, if the Fathers’ authority will not suffice. Where if he would change his order, and give the sacred Scriptures the precedency; he should therein do more right to God the author of them, who well deserveth to have audience in the first place; and withal ease both himself and us of a needless labour, in seeking any further authority to compose our differences. For if he can produce, as he beareth us in hand he can, good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures for the points in controversy, the matter is at an end: he that will not rest satisfied with such evidences as these, may (if he please) travel further, and speed worse. Therefore, as St Augustine heretofore provoked the Donatists, so provoke I him: Auferantur chartae humanae: sonent voces divinae: ede mihi unam Scripturae vocem pro parte Donati. “Let human writings be removed: let God’s voice sound: bring me one voice of the Scripture for the part of Donatus.” Produce but one clear testimony of the sacred Scripture for the Pope’s part, and it shall suffice: allege what authority you list without Scripture, and it cannot suffice. We reverence indeed the ancient Fathers, as it is fit we should, and hold it our duty to – rise up before the hoary head, and to honour the person of the aged; but still with reservation of the respect we owe to their Father and ours, that Ancient of days, the hair of whose head is like the pure wool. We may not forget the lesson, which our great Master hath taught us: Call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father which is in heaven. Him therefore alone do we acknowledge for the Father of our faith: no other father do we know, upon whose bare credit we may ground our consciences in things that are to be believed.
And this we say, not as if we feared that these men were able to produce better proofs out of the writings of the Fathers for the part of the Pope, than we can do for the Catholic cause; (when we come to join in the particulars, they shall find it otherwise) but partly to bring the matter unto a shorter trial, partly to give the word of God his due, and to declare what that rock is, upon which alone we build our faith, even the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets; from which no sleight that they can devise, shall ever draw us.
The same course did St Augustine take with the Pelagians; against whom he wanted not the authority of the Fathers of the Church: “Which if I would collect,” saith he, “and use their testimonies, it would be too long a work, and I might peradventure seem to have less confidence than I ought in the Canonical authorities, from which we ought not to be withdrawn.” Yet was the Pelagian heresy then but newly budded: which is the time wherein the pressing of the Fathers’ testimonies is thought to be best in season. With how much better warrant may we follow this precedent, having to deal with such as have had time and leisure enough to falsify the Fathers’ writings, and to teach them the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans? The method of confuting heresies by the consent of holy Fathers is by none commended more than by Vincentius Lirinensis; who is careful notwithstanding, herein to give us this caveat: “But neither always nor all kinds of heresies are to be impugned after this manner, but such only as are new and lately sprung; namely, when they do first arise, while by the straitness of the time itself they be hindered from falsifying the rules of the ancient faith; and before the time that, their poison spreading farther, they attempt to corrupt the writings of the ancients. But farspread and inveterate heresies are not to be dealt withal this way, forasmuch as by long continuance of time a long occasion hath lain open unto them to steal away the truth.” The heresies with which we have to deal, have spread so far and continued so long, that the defenders of them are bold to make Universality and Duration the special marks of the Church: they had opportunity enough of time and place, to put in ure all deceivableness of unrighteousness; neither will they have it to say, that in coining and clipping and washing the monuments of antiquity, they have been wanting to themselves.
Before the Council of Nice, (as hath been observed by one, who sometime was Pope himself. – Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini) little respect, to speak of, was had to the Church of Rome. If this may be thought to prejudice the dignity of that Church, which would be held to have sat as queen among the nations from the very beginning of Christianity; you shall have a crafty merchant, (Isidorus Mercator, I trow, they call him,) that will help the matter, by counterfeiting Decretal Epistles in the name of the primitive Bishops of Rome, and bringing in thirty of them in a row, as so many knights of the post, to bear witness of that great authority, which the Church of Rome enjoyed before the Nicene Fathers were assembled. If the Nicene Fathers have not amplified the bounds of her jurisdiction in so large a manner as she desired; she hath had her well-willers, that have supplied the Council’s negligence in that behalf, and made Canons for the purpose in the name of the good Fathers, that never dreamed of such a business. If the power of judging all others will not content the Pope, unless he himself may be exempted from being judged by any other; another Council, as ancient at least as that of Nice, shall be suborned; wherein it shall be concluded, by the consent of 284 imaginary Bishops, that “No man may judge the first seat:” and for failing, in an elder Council than that, consisting of 300 buckram Bishops of the very selfsame making, the like note shall be sung: Quoniain prima sedes non judicabitur a quoquam: ” The first seat must not be judged by any man.” Lastly, if the Pope do not think that the fulness of spiritual power is sufficient for his greatness, unless he may be also lord paramount in temporalibus; he hath his followers ready at hand, to frame a fair donation, in the name of Constantine the Emperor, whereby his Holiness shall be estated, not only in the city of Rome, but also in the seigniory of the whole West. It would require a volume to rehearse the names of those several tractates, which have been basely bred in the former days of darkness, and fathered upon the ancient Doctors of the Church, who, if they were now alive, would be deposed that they were never privy to their begetting.
Neither hath this corrupting humour stayed itself in forging of whole Councils, and entire treatises of the ancient writers; but hath, like a canker, fretted away divers of their sound parts, and so altered their complexions, that they appear not to be the same men they were. To instance in the great question of Transubstantiation: we were wont to read in the books attributed unto St Ambrose, De Sacramentis, lib. 4 cap. 4. Si ergo tanta vis est in sermone Domini Jesu, ut ificiperent esse quce non erant; quanto magis operatorius est, ut sint quae erant, et in aliud commutentur? “If therefore there be so great force in the speech of our Lord Jesus, that the things which were not, began to be (namely, at the first creation,) how much more is the same powerful to make, that things may still be that which they were, and yet be changed into another thing.” It is not unknown, how much those words, ut sint quae erant, have troubled their brains, who maintain, that after the words of consecration the elements of bread and wine be not that thing which they were; and what devices they have found, to make the bread and wine in the Sacrament to be like unto the Beast in the Revelation, that was, and is not, and yet is. But that Gordian knot, which they with their skill could not so readily untie, their masters at Rome (Alexander-like) have now cut asunder; paring clean away in their Roman edition, (which is also followed in that set out at Paris, anno 1603,) those words that so much troubled them, and letting the rest run smoothly after this manner: Quanto magis operatorius est, ut quae erant, in aliud commutentur? “How much more is the speech of our Lord powerful to make, that those things which were, should be changed into another thing?”‘
The author of the imperfect work upon Matthew, Homil. 11. writeth thus: Si ergo haec vasa sanctificata ad privatos usus transferre sic periculosum est, in quibus non est verum corpus Christi, sed mysterium corporis ejus continetur; quanto magis vasa corporis nostri, quae sibi Deus ad habitaculum preparavit, non debemus locum dare Diabolo agendi in eis quod vult? “If therefore it be so dangerous a matter to transfer unto private uses those holy vessels, in which the true body of Christ is not, but the mystery of his body is contained; how much more for the vessels of our body which God hath prepared for himself to dwell in, ought not we to give way unto the Devil, to do in them what he pleaseth?” Those words (in quibus non est verum corpus Christi, sed mysterium corporis ejus continetur; ” in which the true body of Christ is not, but the mystery of his body is contained”) did threaten to cut the very throat of the Papists’ real presence; and therefore in good policy they thought it fit to cut their throat first, for doing any further hurt. Whereupon, in the editions of this work printed at Antwerp, apud Joannem Steelsium, anno 1537; at Paris, apud Joannem Roigny, anno 1543; and at Paris again, apud Audoenum Parvum, anno 1557; not one syllable of them is to be seen; though extant in the ancienter editions, one whereof is as old as the year 1437 And to the same purpose, in the 19th Homily, instead of Sacrificium panis et vini, “the sacrifice of bread and wine,” (which we find in the old impressions,) these latter editions have chopped in Sacrificium corporis et sanguinis Christi, ” the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.”
In the year 1608 there were published at Paris certain works of Fulbertus, Bishop of Chartres, “‘pertaining as well to the refuting of the heresies of this time” (for so saith the inscription) “as to the clearing of the History of the French.” Among those things that appertain to the confutation of the heresies of this time, there is one especially (fol. 168) laid down in these words: Nisi manducaveritis, inquit, carnem filii hominis, et sanguinem biberitis, non habebitis vitam in vobis. Facinus vel flagitium videtur jubere. Figura ergo est, dicet haereticus, praecipiens Passioni Domini esse communicandum tantum, et suaviter atque utiliter recondendum in memorid, quod pro nobis caro ejus crucifixa et vulnerata sit. “Unless, saith Christ, ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye shall not have life in you. He seemeth to command an outrage or wickedness. It is therefore a figure, will the heretic say, requiring us only to communicate with the Lord’s Passion, and sweetly and profitably to lay up in our memory, that his flesh was crucified and wounded for us.” He that put in those words (dicet haereticus) thought he had notably met with the heretics of this time; but was not aware, that thereby he made St Augustine an heretic for company. For the heretic that speaketh thus, is even St Augustine himself: Whose very words these are, in his third book De Doctrina Christiana, the 16th chapter. Which some belike having put the publisher in mind of, he was glad to put this among his errata, and to confess that these two words were not to be found in the MS. copy which he had from Petavius; but telleth us not what we are to think of him, that for the countenancing of the Popish cause ventured so shamefully to abuse St Augustine.
In the year 1616 a tome of ancient writers, that never saw the light before, was set forth at Ingolstad, by Petrus Steuartius: where, among other tractates, a certain Penitential, written by Rabanus, that famous Archbishop of Mentz, is to be seen. In the 33d chapter of that book, Rabanus making answer unto an idle question moved by Bishop Heribaldus concerning the Eucharist, (what should become of it, after it was consumed, and sent into the draught, after the manner of other meats,) hath these words (initio pag. 669): Nam quidam nuper de ipso Sacramento corporis et sanguinis Domini non rite sentientes dixerunt, hoc ipsum corpus et sanguinem Domini, quod de Maria Virgine natum est, et in quo ipse Dominus passus est in cruce, et resurrexcit de sepulcro … cui errori quantum potuimus, ad Egilum Abbatem scribentes, de corpore ipso quid vere credendum sit aperuimus. “For some of late, not holding rightly of the Sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord, have said, that the very body and blood of our Lord, which was born of the Virgin Mary, and in which our Lord himself suffered on the cross, and rose again from the grave … Against which error, writing unto Abbot Egilus, according to our ability, we have declared, what is truly to be believed concerning Christ’s body.” You see Rabanus’s tongue is dipt here for telling tales: but how this came to pass, were worth the learning. Steuartius freeth himself from the fact, telling us in his margin, that “here there was a blank in the manuscript copy;” and we do easily believe him: for Possevine the Jesuit hath given us to understand, that “manuscript books also are to be purged, as well as printed.” But whence was this manuscript fetched, think you? Out of “the famous monastery of Weingart,” saith Steuartius. The monks of Weingart then belike must answer the matter: and they, I dare say, upon examination will take their oaths, that it was no part of their intention to give any furtherance unto the cause of the Protestants hereby. If hereunto we add, that Heribaldus and Rabanus both are ranked among heretics by Thomas Walden for holding the Eucharist to be subject to digestion and voidance, like other meats; the suspicion will be more vehement: whereunto yet I will adjoin one evidence more, that shall leave the matter past suspicion.
In the libraries of my worthy friends, Sir Robert Cotton (that noble baronet, so renowned for his great care in collecting and preserving all antiquities) and Dr Ward, the learned Master of Sidney College in Cambridge, I met with an ancient Treatise of the Sacrament, beginning thus: Sicut ante nos quidam sapiens dixit, cujus sententiam probamus, licet nomen ignoremus; which is the same with that in the Jesuit’s College at Louvaine, blindly fathered upon Berengarius. The author of this Treatise, having first twitted Heribaldus for propounding, and Rabanus for resolving, this question of the voidance of the Eucharist, layeth down afterward the opinion of Paschasius Radbertus (whose writing is yet extant): Quod non alia plane sit caro quae sumitur de altari, quam quae nata est de Maria Virgine, et passa in cruce, et quae resurrexit de sepulchro, quaesque et pro mundi vita adhuc hodie offertur. “That the flesh which is received at the altar, is no other than that which was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered on the cross, rose again from the grave, and as yet is daily offered for the life of the world.” Contra quern, saith he, satis argumentatur et Rabanus in Epistola ad Egilonem Abbatem, et Ratrannus quidam libro composito ad Caroluni Regem, dicentes aliam esse. “Against whom both Rabanus in his Epistle to Abbot Egilo, and one Ratrannus in a book which he made to King Charles, argue largely; saying that it is another kind of flesh.” Whereby, what Rabanus’s opinion was of this point in his Epistle to Abbot Egilo or Egilus, and consequently what that was which the monks of Weingart could not endure in his Penitential, I trust is plain enough.
I omit other corruptions of antiquity in this same question, which I have touched elsewhere: only that of Bertram I may not pass over; wherein the dishonesty of these men, in handling the writings of the ancients, is laid open, even by the confession of their own mouths. Thus the case standeth: that Ratrannus, who joined with Rabanus in refuting the error of the carnal presence at the first bringing in thereof by Paschasius Radbertus, is he who commonly is known by the name of Bertramus. The book which he wrote of this argument to Carolus Calvus the Emperor, was forbidden to be read, by order from the Roman Inquisition, confirmed afterwards by the Council of Trent. The divines of Douay, perceiving that the forbidding of the book did not keep men from reading it, but gave them rather occasion to seek more earnestly after it, thought it better policy, that Bertram should be permitted to go abroad, but handled in such sort, as other ancient writers, that made against them, were wont to be. “Seeing therefore (say they) we bear with very many errors in other of the old Catholic writers, and extenuate them, excuse them, by inventing some device oftentimes deny them, and feign some commodious sense for them when they are objected in disputations or conflicts with our adversaries; we do not see, why Bertram may not deserve the same equity and diligent revisal; lest the heretics cry out, that we burn and forbid such antiquity as maketh for them.” Mark this dealing well. The world must be borne in hand, that all the Fathers make for the Church of Rome against us in all our controversies. When we bring forth express testimonies of the Fathers to the contrary, what must then be done? A good face must be put upon the matter, one device or other must be invented to elude the testimonies objected, and still it must be denied that the Fathers make against the doctrine of the Papists. Bertram, for example, writeth thus: “The things which differ one from another, are not the same. The body of Christ which was dead, and rose again, and being made immortal now dieth not, (death no more having dominion over it,) is everlasting, and now not subject to suffering. But this which is celebrated in the Church, is temporal, not everlasting; it is corruptible, not free from corruption.”’ What device must they find out here? They must say this is meant of the accidents or “forms of the Sacrament, which are corruptible; or of the use of the Sacrament, which continueth only in this present world.” But how will this shift serve the turn, when as the whole drift of the discourse tendeth to prove, that that which is received by the mouth of the faithful in the Sacrament, is not that very body of Christ which died upon the cross, and rose again from death? Non male aut inconsulte omittantur igitur omnia haec: “It were not amiss therefore,” say our Popish censurers, “nor unadvisedly done, that all these things should be left out.”
If this be your manner of dealing with antiquity, let all men judge whether it be not high time for us to listen unto the advice of Vincentius Lirinensis, and not be so forward to commit the trial of our controversies to the writings of the Fathers, who have had the ill hap to fall into such huckster’s handling. Yet that you may see how confident we are in the goodness of our cause; we will not now stand upon our right, nor refuse to enter with you into this field; but give you leave for this time both to be the challenger, and the appointer of your own weapons. Let us then hear your challenge, wherein you would so fain be answered. “I would fain know,” say you, “how can your religion be true, which disalloweth of many chief articles, which the Saints and Fathers of that primitive Church of Rome did generally hold to be true.” For they of your side, that have read the Fathers of that unspotted Church, can well testify (and if any deny it, it shall be presently shewn) that the Doctors, Pastors, and Fathers of that Church do allow of Traditions,” &c. And again: “Now would I fain know, whether of both have the true religion; they that hold all these above-said points with the primitive Church, or they that do most vehemently contradict and gainsay them? they that do not disagree with that holy Church in any point of religion; or they that agree with it but in very few, and disagree in almost all V And the third time too, for failing: ” Now would I willingly see what reasonable answer may be made to this. For the Protestants grant, that the Church of Rome for 400 or 500 years held the true religion of Christ: yet do they exclaim against the above-said articles which the same Church did maintain and uphold; as may be shewn by the express testimonies of the Fathers of the same Church, and shall be largely laid down, if any learned Protestant will deny it.”
If Albertus Pighius had now been alive, as great a scholar as he was, he might have learned that he never knew before. “Who did ever yet (saith he) by the Church of Rome understand the universal Church?” That doth this man, say I, who styleth all the ancient Doctors and Martyrs of the Church universal with the name of the Saints and Fathers of the primitive Church of Rome. But it seemeth a small matter unto him, for the magnifying of that Church, to confound urbem and orbem; unless he mingle also heaven and earth together, by giving the title of that unspotted Church, which is the special privilege of the Church triumphant in heaven, unto the Church of Rome here militant upon earth. St Augustine surely would not have himself otherwise understood, whensoever he speaketh of the unspotted Church; and therefore, to prevent all mistaking, he thus expoundeth himself in his Retractations: “Wheresoever in these books I have made mention of the Church not having spot or wrinkle; it is not so to be taken, as if she were so now, but that she is prepared to be so, when she shall appear glorious. For now, by reason of certain ignorances and infirmities of her members, the whole Church hath cause to say every day. Forgive us our trespasses.” Now, as long as the Church is subject to these ignorances and infirmities, it cannot be otherwise, but there must be differences betwixt the members thereof: one part may understand that whereof another is ignorant; and ignorance being the mother of error, one particular Church may wrongly conceive of some points, wherein others may be rightly informed. Neither will it follow thereupon, that these Churches must be of different religions, because they fully agree not in all things; or that therefore the reformed Churches in our days must disclaim all kindred with those in ancient times, because they have washed away some spots from themselves, which they discerned to have been in them.
It is not every spot that taketh away the beauty of a Church, nor every sickness that taketh away the life thereof: and therefore though we should admit that the ancient Church of Rome was somewhat impaired both in beauty and in health too, (wherein we have no reason to be sorry, that we are unlike unto her,) there is no necessity, that hereupon presently she must cease to be our sister. St Cyprian and the rest of the African Bishops that joined with him, held that such as were baptized by heretics, should be rebaptized: the African Bishops in the time of Aurelius were of another mind. Doth the diversity of their judgments in this point make them to have been of a diverse religion? It was the use of the ancient Church to minister the Communion unto infants: which is yet also practised by the Christians in Egypt and Ethiopia. The Church of Rome, upon better consideration, hath thought fit to do otherwise: and yet for all that will not yield, that either she herself hath forsaken the religion of her ancestors, because she followeth them not in tliis; or that they were of the same religion with the Cophtites and Habassines, because they agree together in this particular. So put case the Church of Rome now did use prayer for the dead in the same manner that the ancient Church did; (which we will shew to be otherwise;) the reformed Churches, that upon better advice have altered that usage, need not therefore grant, that either themselves hold a different religion from that of the Fathers, because they do not precisely follow them in this; nor yet that the Fathers were therefore Papists, because in this point they thus concurred. For as two may be discerned to be sisters by the likeness of their faces, although the one have some spots or blemishes which the other hath not; so a third may be brought in which may shew like spots and blemishes, and yet have no such likeness of visage as may bewray her to be the others’ sister.
But our Challenger having first conceited in his mind an idea of an unspotted Church upon earth; then being far in love with the painted face of the present Church of Rome, and out of love with us, because we like not as he liketh; taketh a view of both our faces in the false glass of affection, and findeth her on whom he doteth, to answer his unspotted Church in all points, but us to agree with it in almost nothing. And thereupon he “would fain know whether of both have the true religion; they that do not disagree with that holy Church in any point of religion or they that agree with it but in very few, and disagree in almost all?” Indeed, if that which he assumeth for granted could as easily be proved as it is boldly avouched, the question would quickly be resolved, “Whether of us both have the true religion?” But he is to understand, that strong conceits are but weak-proofs; and that the Jesuits have not been the first, from whom such brags as these have been heard. Dioscorus the heretic was as pert, when he uttered these speeches in the Council of Chalcedon: “I am cast out with the Fathers: I defend the doctrines of the Fathers: I transgress them not in any point; and I have their testimonies, not barely, but in their very books.” Neither need we wonder that he should bear us down, that the Church of Rome at this day doth not disagree from the primitive Church “in any point of religion,” who sticketh not so confidently to affirm, that we “agree with it but in very few, and disagree in almost all.” For those few points wherein he confesseth we do agree with the ancient Church, must either be meant of such articles only wherein we disagree from the now Church of Rome, or else of the whole body of that religion which we profess. If in the former he yield that we do agree with the primitive Church, what credit doth he leave unto himself, who with the same breath hath given out, that the present Church of Rome “doth not disagree with that holy Church in any point?” If he mean the latter, with what face can he say, that we agree with that holy Church” but in very few points” of religion, “and disagree in almost all?” Irenaeus, who was the disciple of those which heard St John the Apostle, layeth down the articles of that faith, in the unity whereof the Churches that were founded in Germany, Spain, France, the East, Egypt, Libya, and all the world, did sweetly accord; as if they had all dwelt in one house, all had but one soul, and one heart, and one mouth. Is he able to shew one point, wherein we have broken that harmony which Irenaeus commendeth in the Catholic Church of his time.” But that “rule of faith” so much commended by him and Tertullian, and the rest of the Fathers, and all the articles of the several creeds that were ever received in the ancient Church as badges of the Catholic profession, to which we willingly subscribe, is with this man almost nothing: none must now be counted a Catholic, but he that can conform his belief unto the ‘creed of the new fashion, compiled by Pope Pius the Fourth some four and fifty years ago.
As for the particular differences, wherein he thinketh he hath the advantage of us, when we come unto the sifting of them, it shall appear how far he was deceived in his imagination. In the meantime, having as yet not strucken one stroke, but threatened only to do wonders, if any would be so hardy to accept his challenge; he might have done very well to have deferred his triumph until such time as he had obtained the victory. For as if he had borne us down with the weight of the authority of the Fathers, and so astonished us therewith, that we could not tell what to say for ourselves, he thus bestirreth himself in a most ridiculous manner, fighting with his own shadow: “Will you say that these Fathers,” saith he, who hath not hitherto laid down so much as the name of any one Father, “maintained these opinions contrary to the word of God? Why, you know that they were the pillars of Christianity, the champions of Christ’s Church, and of the true Catholic religion, which they most learnedly defended against divers heresies, and therefore spent all their time in a most serious study of the holy Scripture. Or will you say, that although they knew the Scriptures to repugn, yet they brought in the aforesaid opinions by malice and corrupt intentions. Why, yourselves cannot deny but that they lived most holy and virtuous lives, free from all malicious corrupting or perverting of God’s holy word, and by their holy lives are now made worthy to reign with God in his glory. Insomuch as their admirable learning may sufficiently cross out all suspicion of ignorant error; and their innocent sanctity freeth us from all mistrust of malicious corruption.”
But by his leave, he is a little too hasty. He were best to bethink himself more advisedly of that which he hath undertaken to perform, and to remember the saying of the king of Israel unto Benhadad, Let not him that girdeth on his harness, boast himself, as he that putteth it off’. He hath taken upon him to prove, that our religion cannot be true, because it “disalloweth of many chief articles which the Saints and Fathers of that primitive Church of Rome did generally hold to be true.” For performance hereof, it will not be sufficient for him to shew, that “some of these Fathers maintained some of these opinions:” he must prove (if he will be as good as his word, and deal anything to the purpose) that they held them generally, and held them too, not as opinions, but tanquam de fide, as appertaining to the substance of faith and religion. For, as Vincentius Lirinensis well observeth, “The ancient consent of the holy Fathers is with great care to be sought and followed by us, not in every petty question belonging to the law of God, but only, or at least principally, in the rule of faith.” But all the points propounded by our Challenger be not chief articles; and therefore, if in some of them the Fathers have held some opinions that will not bear weight in the balance of the sanctuary, (as some conceits they had herein, which the Papists themselves must confess to be erroneous,) their defects in that kind do abate nothing of that reverent estimation which we have them in, for their great pains taken in the “defence of the true Catholic religion,” and the “serious study of the holy Scripture.” Neither do I think that he who thus commendeth them for “the pillars of Christianity,” and “the champions of Christ’s Church,” will therefore hold himself tied to stand unto every thing that they have said sure he will not, if he follow the steps of the great ones of his own society.
For what doth he think of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Epiphanius? Doth he not account them among those “pillars” and “champions” he speaketh of? Yet, saith Cardinal Bellarmine, “do not see how we may defend their opinion from error.” When others object, that they have two or three hundred testimonies of the Doctors to prove that the Virgin Mary was conceived in sin, Salmeron the Jesuit steps forth and answereth them, first out of the doctrine of Augustine and Thomas, that “the argument drawn from authority is weak” then out of the “word of God,” Exod.23: In judicio, plurimorum non acquiesces sentential, ut a vero devies. “In judgment thou shalt not be led with the sentence of the most, to decline from the truth.” And lastly telleth them, “that when the Donatists gloried in the multitude of authors, St Augustine did answer them, that it was a sign their cause was destitute of the strength of truth, which was only supported by the authority of many who were subject to error.” And when his adversaries press him, not only with the “multitude,” but also with the “antiquity” of the Doctors alleged, “unto which more honour always hath been given than unto novelties;” he answereth, that indeed “every age hath always attributed much unto antiquity; and every old man, as the poet saith, is a commender of the time past: but this, saith he, we aver, that the younger the Doctors are, the more sharp-sighted they be.” And therefore for his part he yieldeth rather to the judgment of the younger Doctors of Paris;”among whom “none is held worthy of the title of a Master in Divinity, who hath not first bound himself with a religious oath to defend and maintain the privilege of the Blessed Virgin.” Only he forgot to tell, how they which take that oath might dispense with another oath which the Pope requireth them to take; that they “will never understand and interpret the holy Scripture but according to the uniform consent of the Fathers.”
Answer to a JesuitFor what doth he think of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Epiphanius? Doth he not account them among those “pillars” and “champions” he speaketh of? Yet, saith Cardinal Bellarmine, “do not see how we may defend their opinion from error.” When others object, that they have two or three hundred testimonies of the Doctors to prove that the Virgin Mary was conceived in sin, Salmeron the Jesuit steps forth and answereth them, first out of the doctrine of Augustine and Thomas, that “the argument drawn from authority is weak” then out of the “word of God,” Exod.23: In judicio, plurimorum non acquiesces sentential, ut a vero devies. “In judgment thou shalt not be led with the sentence of the most, to decline from the truth.” And lastly telleth them, “that when the Donatists gloried in the multitude of authors, St Augustine did answer them, that it was a sign their cause was destitute of the strength of truth, which was only supported by the authority of many who were subject to error.” And when his adversaries press him, not only with the “multitude,” but also with the “antiquity” of the Doctors alleged, “unto which more honour always hath been given than unto novelties;” he answereth, that indeed “every age hath always attributed much unto antiquity; and every old man, as the poet saith, is a commender of the time past: but this, saith he, we aver, that the younger the Doctors are, the more sharp-sighted they be.” And therefore for his part he yieldeth rather to the judgment of the younger Doctors of Paris;”among whom “none is held worthy of the title of a Master in Divinity, who hath not first bound himself with a religious oath to defend and maintain the privilege of the Blessed Virgin.” Only he forgot to tell, how they which take that oath might dispense with another oath which the Pope requireth them to take; that they “will never understand and interpret the holy Scripture but according to the uniform consent of the Fathers.”
Pereius, in his disputations upon the Epistle to the Romans, confesseth, that “the Greek Fathers, and not a few of the Latin Doctors too, have thought, and delivered also in their writings, that the cause of the predestination of men unto everlasting life is the foreknowledge which God had from eternity, either of the good works which they were to do by co-operating with his grace, or of the faith whereby they were to believe the word of God and to obey his calling.” And yet he for his part notwithstanding thinketh, that “this is contrary to the holy Scripture, but especially to the doctrine of St Paul.” If our questionist had been by him, he would have plucked his fellow by the sleeve, and taken him up in this manner: “Will you say that these Fathers maintained this opinion contrary to the word of God? Why, you know that they were the pillars of Christianity, the champions of Christ’s Church, and of the true Catholic religion, which they most learnedly defended against divers heresies, and therefore spent all their time in a most serious study of the holy Scripture.” He would also perhaps further challenge him as he doth us: “Will you say, that although they knew the Scriptures to repugn, yet they brought in the aforesaid opinion by malice and corrupt intentions. “For sure he might have asked this wise question of any of his own fellows, as well as of us, who do “allow and esteem so much” of these blessed Doctors and Martyrs of the ancient Church, (as he himself in the end of his challenge doth acknowledge,) which verily we should have little reason to do, if we did imagine that they brought in opinions which they knew to be repugnant to the Scriptures, for any “malice” or “corrupt intentions.” Indeed men they were, compassed with the common infirmities of our nature, and therefore subject unto error; but godly men, and therefore free from all malicious error.
Howsoever, then, we yield unto you that “their innocent sanctity freeth us from all mistrust of malicious corruption,” yet you must pardon us if we make question, whether “their admirable learning may sufficiently cross out all suspicion of error,” which may arise either of “affection,” or “want of due consideration,” or such “ignorance” as the very best are subject unto in this life. For it is not admirable learning that is sufficient to cross out that suspicion; but such an immediate guidance of the Holy Ghost as the Prophets and Apostles were led by, who were the penners of the Canonical Scripture. But this is your old wont, to blind the eyes of the simple with setting forth the sanctity and the learning of the Fathers; much after the manner of your grandfather Pelagius, who in the third of his books, which he writ in defence of Free-will, thought he had struck all dead by his commending of St Ambrose. “Blessed Ambrose the Bishop,” saith he, ” in whose books the Roman faith doth especially appear, who like a beautiful flower shined among the Latin writers, whose faith and most pure understanding in the Scriptures the enemy himself durst not reprehend.” Unto whom St Augustine: “Behold with what and how great praises he extolleth a man, though holy and learned, yet not to be compared unto the authority of the Canonical Scripture.” And therefore, advance the learning and holiness of these worthy men as much as you list; other answer you are not like to have from us, than that which the same St Augustine maketh unto St Jerome: “This reverence and honour have I learned to give to those books of Scripture only which now are called Canonical, that I most firmly believe none of their authors could any whit err in writing. But others I so read, that with how great sanctity and learning soever they do excel, I therefore think not any thing to be true, because they so thought it; but because they were able to persuade me, either by those Canonical authors, or by some probable reason, that it did not swerve from truth.”
Yet even to this field also do our challengers provoke us; and “if the Fathers’ authority will not suffice,” they offer to “produce good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures” for confirmation of all the points of their religion which they have mentioned: yea, further, they challenge “any Protestant to allege any one text out of the said Scripture, which condemneth any of the above-written points.” At which boldness of theirs we should much wonder, but that we consider that bankrupts commonly do then most brag of their ability, when their estate is at the lowest; perhaps also, that ignorance might be it that did beget in them this boldness. For if they had been pleased to take the advice of their learned Council, their Canonists would have told them touching Confession, (which is one of their points,) that “it were better to hold, that it was ordained by a certain tradition of the universal Church, than by the authority of the New or Old Testament.” Melchior Canus ‘could have put them in mind, that it is no where expressed in Scripture that “Christ descended into hell to deliver the souls of Adam and the rest of the Fathers which were detained there.” And Dominicus Bannes, that the holy Scriptures teach, neither expresse, nor yet impresse et involute “that prayers are to be made unto Saints,” or that “their images are to be worshipped.” Or, if the testimony of a Jesuit will more prevail with them; ” that images should be worshipped, Saints prayed unto, auricular confession frequented, sacrifices celebrated both for the quick and the dead, and other things of this kind, Fr. Coster would have to be reckoned among divine traditions, which be not laid down in the Scriptures.
Howsoever yet the matter standeth, we have no reason but willingly to accept of their challenge, and to require them to bring forth those “good and certain grounds out of the sacred Scriptures,” for confirmation of all the articles by them propounded; as also to let them see whether we “be able to allege any text of Scripture which condemneth any of those points;” although I must confess it will be a hard matter to make them see any thing, which beforehand have resolved to close their eyes; having their minds so preoccupied with prejudice, that they profess, before ever we begin, they hold for certain that we shall never be able to produce any such text. And why, think you? Because, forsooth, we “are neither more learned, more pious, nor more holy, than the blessed Doctors and Martyrs of that first Church of Rome:” as who should say, we yielded at the first word that all those blessed Doctors and Martyrs expounded the Scriptures every where to our disadvantage, or were so well persuaded of the tenderness of a Jesuit’s conscience, that because he hath taken an oath never to interpret the Scripture but according to the uniform consent of the Fathers, he could not therefore have the forehead to say, “I do not deny that I have no author of this interpretation; yet do I so much the rather approve it than that other of Augustine’s, though the most probable of all the rest, because it is more contrary to the sense of the Calvinists, which to me is a great argument of probability.” or as if, lastly, a man might not dissent from the ancient Doctors, so much as in an exposition of a text of Scripture, but he must presently make himself “more learned, more pious,” and “more holy” than they were.
Yet their great Tostatus might have taught them, that this argument holdeth not: “Such a one knoweth some conclusion that Augustine did not know; therefore he is wiser than Augustine;” because, “as a certain skilful physician said, the men of our time being compared with the ancient are like unto a little man set upon a giant’s neck, compared with the giant himself. For as that little man placed there seeth whatsoever the giant seeth, and somewhat more, and yet if he be taken down from the giant’s neck would see little or nothing in comparison of the giant; even so we, being settled upon the wits and works of the ancients, it were not to be wondered, nay it should be very agreeable unto reason, that we should see whatsoever they saw, and somewhat more. Though yet,” saith he, “we do not profess so much.” And even to the same effect speaketh Friar Stella, that though it be far from him to condemn the common exposition given by the ancient holy Doctors, “Yet he knoweth full well, that pygmies being put upon giants’ shoulders do see further than the giants themselves.” Salmeron addeth, “that by the increase of time divine mysteries have been made known, which before were hid from many; so that to know them now, is to be attributed unto the benefit of the time; not that we are better than our Fathers were.” Bishop Fisher, that “it cannot be obscure unto any, that many things, as well in the Gospels as in the rest of the Scriptures, are now more exquisitely discussed by latter wits, and more clearly understood, than they have been heretofore; either by reason that the ice was not as yet broken unto the ancient, neither did their age suffice to weigh exactly that whole sea of the Scriptures; or because in this most large field of the Scriptures, even after the most diligent reapers, some ears will remain to be gathered, as yet untouched.” Hereupon Cardinal Cajetan, in the beginning of his Commentaries upon Moses, adviseth his reader “not to loathe the new sense of the holy Scripture for this, that it dissenteth from the ancient Doctors; but to search more exactly the text and context of the Scripture, and if he find it agree, to praise God that hath not tied the exposition of the Scriptures to the senses of the ancient Doctors.”
But leaving comparisons, which you know are odious, (the envy whereof notwithstanding your own Doctors and Masters, you see, help us to bear of”, and teach us how to decline,) I now come to the examination of the particular points by you propounded. It should, indeed, be your part by right to be the assailant, who first did make the challenge; and I, who sustain the person of the defendant, might here well stay, accepting only your challenge and expecting your encounter. Yet do not I mean at this time to answer your bill of challenge, as bills are usually answered in the Chancery, with saving all advantages to the defendant: I am content in this also to abridge myself of the liberty which I might lawfully take, and make a further demonstration of my forwardness in undertaking the maintenance of so good a cause, by giving the first onset myself.