Wendelin's "Christian Theology": The Adjuncts of Sacred Scripture, Part 2



THESIS V: There is Perspicuity, whereby what things are necessary to be known for salvation are so perspicuously and clearly set forth in Scripture, that they are able to be understood even by unlearned believers, reading devoutly and attentively.

EXPLANATION: I. Indeed, many things in Sacred Scripture are obscure, which are not able to be understood even by the learned. Nevertheless, this obscurity is not obstacle to the perspicuity that we profess: for, we do not refer it to all things, but to those things that are altogether necessary to be known by us for salvation. But in the Scriptures there are many things that are not necessary to be known by anyone for salvation. And so we believe in the perspicuity of Scripture and assert it, insofar as it is tempered in such a way that as a result of it even simple Christians are able fully, perspicuously, and certainly to learn what is the certain and unchanging will of GOD in all heads necessary for faith and salvation. According to that of Augustine, in epistle 5 to Volusianus, and in concerning Christian Doctrine, book 2, chapter 6: In those things that are necessary for faith and salvation, it is not come to such difficulty, since generally nothing is elicited from things more obscure, that is not found elsewhere stated more plainly.

We approve this perspicuity:

(1.) Because the word of GOD is called pure, Psalm 19:8; a Lamp to our feet, Psalm 119:105.

(2.) Because the principal parts of the Scripture, the Law and the Gospel, are perspicuous. The sum of the law is: Thou shalt love the Lord thy GOD with all thy heart, with all thy soul, etc., Matthew 22:37. The sum of the Gospel: GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3:16.

(3.) The Prophets and Apostles wrote to the learned and unlearned, and they wanted to be profitable to their hearers and readers.

Therefore, they wrote and spoke in such a way that they might be able to be understood in those things that are necessary to be known for salvation: Hence the pure context of Scripture was of old read in the Church to the people present without commentaries, and that after the departure of Christ from this world.

(4.) The commandments of Scripture are not remote from the common people: Deuteronomy 30:11, this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

(5.) The Gospel is not hidden, except to those, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded: 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4. Therefore, it is perspicuous to faithful Christians, even to the more simple.

(6.) Scripture is the sole ordinary and necessary means and instrument of faith, whereby knowledge, assent, and faith is begotten in us.

Therefore, it is necessary that it be perspicuous.

The rationale of the consequence: that without the perspicuity of it, neither knowledge, nor assent, nor faith is able to be begotten in us.

(7.) GOD promised and foretold the writing of the Law in the hearts of the elect, and the clarity of Evangelical doctrine, Jeremiah 31:33.

Therefore, it is necessary that the Scripture be perspicuous in those things that are necessary for salvation. For, what is not clear to us is not able to be said to be inscribed in our hearts, and diffused throughout them.

(8.) If Scripture be not perspicuous in itself, and its entire perspicuity should depend upon the interpretations of the Church: it would follow that simple men should hold the interpretations of the Church as the principal foundation of faith, and should depend principally on the authority of the Church.

But the Consequent is false: Therefore also the Antecedent.

The Minor is proven: Because Ecclesiastical interpretation is not authentical and canonical, and so does not have the testimony of infallibility. But whatever authority it has, it has from another source, namely, from the Scripture: Whence hearers are obliged diligently to compare Ecclesiastical interpretations with the very founts of Scripture: which in turn is not able to happen, if the founts be so turbid and obscure, as they are traduced by the Papists. Even Devils and unregenerate men are able to have a historical understanding of the articles of faith out of the Scripture: which in many things is luminous, even if it is not saving.

II. In favor of the obscurity of the Scripture, the Papists object:

(1.) The King and Prophet David asks that understanding be granted to him, so that he might search the law, Psalm 119 throughout.

Therefore, he confesses the obscurity of the Law.

Response: I deny the Consequence: For we do not understand that perspicuity of Scripture that would exclude the illumination of the Holy Spirit with respect to the mysteries of the faith; but we, supported by experience, assert that this illumination is granted, not only to priests and clerics, but also to a great many unlearned. The reading of the Scripture is commanded to all; and GOD enlightening the eyes, not only of priests and clerics, but also of elect Laymen, Ephesians 1:18; He reveals the hidden things of Salvation, 1 Corinthians 2:10; He uncovers and teaches, John 16:15; 1 John 2:27. David speaks, not so much of external understanding, but of internal πληροφορίᾳ/assurance.

(2.) Scripture has many and most learned interpreters, who in many things disagree among themselves.

Therefore, Scripture is obscure, and not even those things that are necessary to be known for salvation are able to understood by the unlearned.

Response: I deny the Consequence: the rationale of the denial is: the multitude and disagreement of interpreters does not argue the obscurity and difficulty of the whole Scripture, especially in those things that are necessary to be known for salvation, but only of some passages and singular mysteries, which the Spirit sometimes bring us more obscurely: But, on the other hand, there are a great many things that do not necessarily require the labors of interpreters. Whence of old did they publish the writing of the Prophets and Apostles in the Churches without interpreters or commentaries. In the next place, the scope/goal of interpreters is not always that they might illustrate things completely obscure: but so that to those things that are perspicuous in themselves, and are in some measure understood by most, they might bring some brighter light from the Scripture itself, so that they might be able to be understood and applied more fully even by the most simple. Finally, the disagreement of even the most learned interpreters does not necessarily argue the obscurity of Scripture: but often the wickedness and blindness of the interpreters, who maliciously shut the eyes of the mind to the brilliant radiance of the Scripture, agitated by a spirit of vertigo and contradiction, as it is seen in the Jews and Pharisees, and today in the Photinian[1] and Papal Doctors.

(3.) The Scripture relates the most obscure mysteries, which excel human intellect.

Therefore, it is also itself most obscure.

The Antecedent is proven: Because it relates the mysteries of the Trinity, incarnation, predestination, the hidden government of God, the sacraments, resurrection, eternal life, etc.

Response: The Consequence is denied; because it is able to written lucidly concerning the most obscure matter, easily concerning the most difficult matters, condescendingly concerning the highest matters.

Note: When there is discussion of the obscurity of Sacred Scripture, either the very mysteries considered in it are understood, or the manner of the delivery and representation of them to our faith. Even if Mysteries, considered in themselves, are obscure and difficult; the manner of delivery and representation of them to our faith, as much as it is necessary, is not difficult, but is in a great many things sufficiently plain and perspicuous to those that acquiesce ἐν τῷ ὅτι, in the fact, and simple revelation. Thus, for example, the mystery of the Trinity, and the incarnation of the Son of GOD, no man is able so to search out, that he fully attains the rational and manner of this or that: nevertheless, that which is necessary for us to know concerning such mysteries has been exhibited to us in Scripture with sufficient perspicuity: namely, in the one and perfectly simple essence of GOD there are three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Son of GOD in time took to Himself a human nature; and so He is one person with two natures, divine and human.

(4.) In Scripture many are the tropes and figures.

Therefore, they render the Scripture obscure.

Response: I deny the consequence: For tropes and figures are, not the darkness, but the light, of oration. In the next place, what things are necessary to be known for salvation are expressed, not only in tropical terms, but also in simple and proper ones.



THESIS VI: Interpretation is the genuine explanation of controverted passages, according to the norm of the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures.

EXPLANATION: I. The ultimate right of interpreting the Scriptures, and of deciding Theological controversies, belongs to the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture, or to the Scripture, which is the voice of the Holy Spirit: which we prove with the following arguments:

(1.) That the Spirit alone, speaking in the Scripture, has the power to beget faith.

(2.) That He alone neither deceives, nor is deceived.

(3.) That Christ Himself established the Scripture as judge, John 12:48.

(4.) That Scripture is the voice of the ultimate and universal Judge, even GOD, and the form of knowledge and truth, Romans 2:20; the type of saving doctrine, Romans 6:17.[2]

(5.) That Christ Himself, in His disputations with the Jews and others, appealed to the tribunal of Scripture.

(6.) That to Scripture alone, or to the Spirit speaking in the Scripture, agree the things requisite of the ultimate Judge; which are three:

1. That we might know with certainty, that the sentence which He pronounces is true.

2. That there is no allowance of appeal from Him to another judge.

3. That He is governed by no zeal of parties.

(7.) That there is to be no turning from the Scripture to the right hand or to the left: Deuteronomy 5:32.

II. The Papists obtrude the Roman Pontiff as the Church of Christ’s ultimate judge of Theological controversies, to whom we assert this dignity is not at all applicable, and that on account of the following reasons:

(1.) Because he does not have a testimony of infallibility: indeed, he deceives and is deceived in many ways in the interpretation of the Scriptures and decision of controversies: as it has already previously been demonstrated out of the word of GOD by our Theologians.

(2.) Because he is governed by the zeal of the litigating parties, and condemns whatever is alien to the figments of his own brain and the commonly recited traditions.

(3.) Because he himself is bound to Scripture, and so it is lawful to appeal from him to the Scripture.

(4.) Because until the four hundredth year after the birth of Christ, the Church of Christ held no Roman Pontiff or Bishop as the ultimate Judge.

III. The Papists argue against our ultimate Judge for their judge:

(1.) The ultimate Judge pronounces sentence in such a way that the litigating parties understand his sentence, and the one acknowledge that the sentence was brought for him, and the other, against him. But the Scripture does not pronounce sentence concerning controversies in this way. Therefore, it is not able to perform the function of the ultimate Judge.

Response: 1. The Major is not true in a simple way: for he performs the function of the ultimate Judge, even one that does not address particularly either party of litigants; but pronounces sentence in a general way, so that the litigating parties are able to understand, if they will, which he favor, and which he disfavors. But the Scripture pronounces sentence in this way. 2. The Minor is also false: for examples of this energy of the Spirit and Scripture are not wanting in the Sacred books and Ecclesiastical histores. Acts 6:10, The Adversaries of Stephen were nto able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. But the wisdom of Stephen, what was it, but the word of GOD, out of which he was disputing. At the Council of Nicea, a Philosopher, shaken by the obtestation of the divine name, In the name of Jesus Christ, O Philosopher, hear, held his peace, and was compelled, as it were, to believe the very thing that he had come to impugn.

Nevertheless, it is to be observed here, that the Scripture is, and is called by us, a judge improperly: and so by judge is understood the norm, according to which individual Theological controversies are to be decided, in which sense in a Republic law is also called the judge. This sole norm is for us the Scripture. He is properly called a judge, who examines and analyses individual controversies, and makes pronouncement out of the rule of law. There is now no ultimate and universal judge of this sort in the Church: At the same time particular Church have their own particular Judges, Theologians exercised in the Scriptures, who out of the Scripture pronounce sentence against heretics.

(2.) If there is no visible and ultimate Judge in the Church, who is able to address litigating parties in their particular, and to absolve the one and condemn the other; differences concerning religion could not be composed in the Church.

But the consequent is false: Therefore, also the antecedent.

Response: 1. I deny the consequent of the hypothetical: for differences concerning religion might be able to complosed with a visible ultimate Judge, if the litigating parties both oblige themselves to obedience to the Spirit speaking in the Scripture, and render that obedience in a holy manner.

2. With this condition denied, I deny the Minor: indeed, Paul himself denies it, 1 Corinthians 11:19, there must be heresies among you.

(3.) Under the old Testament the legal High Priest was the ultimate Judge of Theological controversies, and a certain rule for the deciding of the same.

Therefore, in the new Testament also, besides the Scripture, a Judge and Pontiff of this sort is required.

The Antecedent is proven from Deuteronomy 17:8-12.

Response: 1. The Antecedent is not true in a simple manner: The legal High Priest under the old Testament was not the norm of Theological controversies, but had GOD’S norm, to which he was bound: as it is evident from the passage alleged. Neither is the High Priest, single and alone, here called the judge, but all the Priests of the Levitical family.

2. I also deny the Consequence: From the Old Testament and its rites and the manner of the governing of the Church, to the New and its rites and the manner of the governing of the Church, no consequence is able to be drawn: the Old Testament had many peculiarities, and the New has its own peculiarities.

IV. The office of the Church and the pastors of the Church concerning the decision of Theological controversies is entirely ministerial, and not at all magisterial. For it does not belong to the Church by its own authority to ratify doctrines of the faith, but faithfully to promulgate those ratified by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, and to vindicate them from corruptions by that same Scripture. Thus of old, in the times of Nehemiah, the Priests and Levites were interpreting the Scripture, Nehemiah 8:8, they read that book, the law of GOD, distinctly, and, in explaining the sense, gave understanding by the very Scripture.

The means of searching out and finding the true sense of Scripture are here to be observed, which are number by Theologians at seven.

(1.) Importunate imploring of divine help and light: for, unless the illumination of the Holy Spirit is added, our mind is completely blind in understanding divine mysteries. Whence David asks understanding to be given to him, so that he might search the law of GOD, Psalm 119:12, 18, 27.

(2.) Knowledge of the original tongues, Hebrew and Greek: for, in these languages was written the word of GOD by the Prophets and Apostles: and by the standard of these editions, as alone authentic, all other editions and versions are to be examined.

(3.) Distinguishing of proper and improper terms: for Scripture often makes use of improper terms; if their appropriate διάνοια/sense be not searched out, absurd senses are often begotten.

(4.) Diligent consideration of the scope, circumstances, antecedents, and consequents.

(5.) Collation of passages similar and dissimilar, more obscure and clearer.

(6.) The analogy of faith: which is the constant and continuous sentence of Scripture in clear and not at all obscure passages of Scripture.

(7.) The help of pious and learned interpreters.

To these an eighth is able to be added, namely, diligent reading of prophane histories also, which shines light on many Prophets, by an accurate explanation of individual events formerly predicted: Interpreters of Daniel and Revelation make use of this means.

V. Finally, this is to be held concerning the sense of Scripture, which interpretation searches out: That the sense of Scripture is only one, according to the intention of the Holy Spirit, which is wont to be called literal, grammatical, and historical: And it is either simple or composite.

It is the simple sense, that occurs in the bare oracles, not having the manner of a figure: and it is either proper or tropical.

That is proper, which is elicited from the proper words, not departing from their native significance: as, GOD is just; the World was created by GOD; Christ freed up from eternal death; etc.

That is tropical, which is eleicted from the proper words, departing from their native significance: as, the Sheep of Christ hear His voice; Christ is the vine and the shepherd; the Flesh of Christ is bread; the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent; etc.

Hitherto the simple sense: The sense is composite in oracles having the manner of a figure, part of which is in the type, part in the antitype: and so the whole sense is rendered by the similitude exhibited, of which the πρότασις/ protasis contains the type, the ἀπόδοσις/apodosis the antitype: As, Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness: the whole sense is expressed in John 3:14, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.

VI. Allegorical interpretations of the Scriptures, unless they be sought out of the Scriptures themselves, and have an evident foundation in them, do not bring forth the sense out of the Scriptures, but import it into them, or, if they think more rightly, they compare similar things with them, or apply them to similar things: which indeed is a study not altogether to be blamed, if only those allegorical senses be not employed to forge new doctrines, and the certainty of faith, which is to be drawn from the Scriptures, be not suspended upon human speculations: which is undertaken by those that, with no guidance of the Scriptures, twist the most evident things into allegorical senses, and presently bring forth a new and monstrous theology, relying upon extraordinary revelations and new illuminations, which they receive, not from the Spirit of light, but from the spirit of darkness, obscuring the manifest truth of the Scriptures, and extinguishing it in the minds of the simple. Of course, those unhappy souls do this, so that they might abolish the word of GOD by their monstrous glosses, and, abusing it as a pretext, might offer up their Stygian illuminations to the simple, as the most potent drugs of souls. Theology is not good enough for them: they commend their Theosophy, which, offended by the simplicity of the Scriptures, seeks only sublime and secret things, and boasts of the things found, unknown to the Church of Christ for more than one thousand and five hundred years: that is,


Οἷσι πέπνυνται, ἄλλοι σκιαὶ ἀΐσσουσι,

These only understand; others wander like clouds.


THESIS VII: There is Perfection, whereby it perfectly contains all things that are necessary to be known for salvation.

EXPLANATION: I. We adduce the following arguments for this perfection of Sacred Scripture:

(1.) That nothing is wanting to the Law or to the Gospel for its integrity, since they perfectly contain a complete summary of things necessary to be believed and done. Hence GOD especially bound His people to the word written in the Old Testament, in such a way that He prohibited them from declining from it, either to the right hand or to the left: Deuteronomy 5:38.

(2.) That the Scripture is able to make the Man of GOD perfect, 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Moreover, Paul preached all things necessary to be known for salvation, Acts 20:27.

(3.) That Scripture is GOD’S Testament: Therefore, it will be perfect in such a way it is lawful neither to add nor to subtract anything from it; since it is not lawful to add or to subtract anything even from the Testament of a man.[3]

(4.) That its doctrine is perfect, converting souls, Psalm 19:7. This is a perfection of efficacy and of integrity.

(5.) That all heresies ought and are able to be referred from Scripture, Romans 2:18.

(6.) No doctrine necessary to be known for the obtaining of salvation is able to be given, that is not contained in Scripture, expressly, or implicitly, or analogically, in such a way that it is able to be elicited from it by legitimate consequence: Therefore, Scripture is perfect.

The Papists have not hitherto been able to weaken the Antecedent: For, what examples of doctrines they have advanced to the contrary, either are false, or are not necessary to be known for salvation, so that they are able to be ignored without danger: or are expressly or implicitly contained in Scripture. Therefore, we assert the perfection of Sacred Scripture, not only from those things that are ῥητῶς/expressly and in so many words contained in it, but also from those things that are able to be deduced by legitimate consequence from those things that are expressed: both are to be considered divine, and obligate to faith. In this way both Christ and the Apostles elicit doctrines of faith from Scripture by consequence: see Matthew 22:31, 43; Acts 2:2, 26, 27, etc.; Romans 4:5, etc.; 10:5-7, etc.

Thus the Canonical authority of the books of the Old and New Testaments is able to be proven by legitimate consequence from the alleging of the Prophets in the New Testament, partly from the divine characters engrafted: concerning which we treated above. The perpetual virginity of Mary after childbirth is not necessary to be known for salvation: yet it is able not obscurely to be proven from Scripture. The remedy against original sin in the Old Testament for uncircumcised girls was grace, justifying and sanctifying, which GOD bestowed upon them according to His will without the sacrament of circumcision. The baptism of infants is likewise able to be proven out of Scripture: as it will be evident in its own place. Purgatory is not able to be proven out of Scripture, neither does it comprise a doctrine necessary to be known: because it is a figment of the Papists contrary to Scripture. Among the same is also the sacrifice of the Mass, and the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

II. The Papists here take exception.

(1.) From the sacred books it is not able to be proven that the Gospel of Matthew is Matthew’s, and the Gospel of Thomas is not Thomas’: Therefore, Scripture does not contain all things that are necessary for salvation.

Response: 1. The Antecedent is not true in a simple way: for it is able to be proven out of Scripture that the Gospel that is vulgarly ascribed to Thomas is not Thomas’, because it disagrees with canonical Scripture.

2. The Consequence is denied: Because it is not necessary to be known for salvation, that the Gospel of Matthew is Matthew’s: Neither would that Gospel history cease to be canonical and divine, if the name of the author were not at all evident: Whence other books, both of the Old and New Testaments, are held as Canonical: even though the names of their authors are not known. To what extent it must be believed with historical faith, or even saving faith, that there are Canonical books, and that these and those in particular are Canonical, written by these or those authors, the Learned Pareus, in Hoseam, teaches at length. Where he shows, that in many things ignorance is not likewise damnable and heretical; and it is the negative.

(2.) Many books are cited in Scripture, which the Church does not have today.

Therefore, their loss makes the Scripture imperfect.

Some Papists prove the Antecedent, with nineteen books names, that today are not extant.

Response: With the antecedent dismissed, and its proof, which concerning the individual books, which are said to be needed, is still not solid: we deny the Consequence. For the Papists shall not evince from this the imperfection of the Scripture, unless they will have demonstrated that among those lost books were things necessary to be known for salvation, which are not found in the sacred book that we still have: which they will never prove.

The ancient Fathers so rested in the word of GOD written, that not only did they not desire ἀγράφους/unwritten traditions, but affirmed that they were not able even to be admitted without loss of faith. Hence Basil the Great in the last chapter of ἀσκητικῶν/Asketika, περὶ πίστεως, concerning faith, writes: φανερὰ ἔκπτωσις πίστεως καὶ ὑπερηφανίας κατηγορία ἢ ἀθετεῖν τι τῶν γεγραμμένων, ἢ ἐπεισάγειν τῶν μὴ γεγραμμένων, it is a manifest shipwreck of faith and charge of arrogance, either to deny anything of what is written, or to introduce anything not written.

The Papists think it spoken of the perfection of Sacred Scripture, if they had not asserted the authority and necessity of the unwritten divine word, that is, of traditions: And so they dispute in this way:

(1.) Traditions are commended by Scripture.

Therefore, they are necessary.

They prove the Antecedent from various passages: among which are, Romans 16:17, I beseech you, that ye observe the authors of divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; 1 Corinthians 11:2, I praise you, that, just as I delivered them to you, ye keep my traditions; 1 Corinthians 15:3, I delivered to you first of all, that which I had received; 2 Thessalonians 2:15, hold the traditions which ye have have received, whether by word, or by our epistle.

Response: 1. The Consequence is denied: For, not all things commended by Scripture are necessary to be believed and observed for salvation: for Scripture sometimes commends and inculcates indifferent rites to these or those Church, to the observance of which all Church are not obliged.

2. The Antecedent is also denied, concerning the traditions celebrated in the Papal Church: not only does the Scripture not commend a great many of them, but it also not obscurely condemns them: of which sort is the tradition concerning purgatory, and other impious superstitions. The passages alleged out of Paul do not prove what the Papists want: Because tradition in Scripture signifies doctrine, delivered, not only with the living voice, but also written. And what doctrines were formerly delivered to the Churches by the Apostles with living voice, were afterwards consigned by them to writing. Whence we now acknowledge no Apostolic traditions as necessary for the Church, which are not contained in the sacred writings.

(2.) Christ did not teach all things Himself, nor were all the things that Christ did written.

Therefore, traditions, that is, the word of GOD unwritten, are necessary.

The prove the Antecedent from John 16:12, I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. John 20:30, many other signs did Jesus, etc., which are not written in this book.

Response: 1. The Consequence is denied: first, because not all things that Christ did are necessary to be known: then, if Christ did not particularly teach all things Himself, nevertheless traditions are not necessary: because by the Spirit, whom He promised, He also taught the Apostles, and took care that whatever things were necessary to be known were written.

2. The Antecedent is false concerning dogmas: neither is it proven out of what is alleged from John 16: Because, if at that time He had not yet spoken all things, He was able afterwards to say them: and He was able to speak and to inculcate again those things that, although once spoken, they had not understood. The words of Christ are express, John 15:15, all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.

(3.) If without tradition Scripture is perfect and sufficient, either the individual books of the Canon are perfect and sufficient, or the whole Canon is perfect and sufficient:

But not the individual books, because the individual books do not contain all things, as the matter itself declares: Nor the whole Canon, because many books, truly sacred and canonical, have perished: which are alleged, some in the Old Testament, some in the New: like the books of the Prophets Nathan and Gad:[4] the Epistle to the Laodiceans, which is alleged in Colossians 4:16.

Response: The whole Canon, as it was constituted of old, and even now is embraced today, is perfect, and contains all things necessary to be known for salvation: it is false, that some books of it have perished. What books of certain Prophets are alleged in the Old Testament, either they never obtained Canonical authority: For the Papists themselves, and among these Stapleton,[5] acknowledge that not all the writing of the Prophets, in such a multitude of Prophets, obtained the authority of Canon. Or they were not inserted among the canonical books, which are presently extant, with respect to necessary things: as even the Papal Doctors affirm concerning the books of Nathan, Gad, and others. No Apostolic Epistle to the Laodiceans is found to have been written in the place alleged from Colossians: but Paul made mention of an epistle written at Laodicea, or by the Laodiceans, as some Father maintain, or by Paul to Timothy. Or, if they were not inserted, the Papists still have to prove, that in them were doctrines of the faith, that are not now extant in the Canon: which they shall never prove.

III. Scarcely do the Socinians allow that doctrines of the faith are elicited from the Scripture by consequences:

(1.) Because reason is required to understand a consequence. But certain things necessary to be known surpass the capacity of human reason.

Response: There is no consequence: reason is necessary for all cognition, not as the foundation of cognition, but as the instrument: whence the word is not preached to infants and those mentally handicapped.

(2.) Because, what is elicited by consequence, is able to be grasped only by the learned and talented: But things necessary to be known for salvation ought to be understood even by the unlearned and ignorant. Whence they are not to be elicited by consequence.

Response: The Major is not true in a simple manner: because the principal principium of theological knowledge is not the light of nature, but of grace, which reaches, not only the learned, but also the unlearned.


THESIS VIII: There is Necessity, whereby the Scripture is now clearly necessary for the instruction of the Church, because of the authority and will of GOD, binding it to His word.

EXPLANATION: I. Sacred Scripture is necessary for the Church, not with an absolute necessity (for God could, if He would, teach His Church without the written word), but with hypothetical necessity; because GOD wills that His written word be the ordinary instrument for instructing the Church. We prove this our position with the following arguments:

(1.) That GOD Himself wrote the Law with His own fingers, and willed it to be delivered to His people, Exodus 31:18: He also willed the same to be written by Moses, Exodus 34:27.

(2.) That Christ commands the searching of the Scriptures: John 5:39, search the Scriptures.

(3.) That the use of Scripture is the greatest by far: John 20:31, these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of GOD; and that believing ye might have life through His name. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, etc.

(4.) That the Prophets were commanded by GOD to write, Ezekiel 43:11; Jeremiah 30:2: so also John in Revelation is commanded to write, Revelation 1:19; 2:1. And it is beyond doubt that the remaining Apostles wrote by instinct of the Holy Spirit.

(5.) That an unwritten word is liable to many corruptions, and is readily delivered to oblivion.

(6.) That beside the Scripture alone there is in the Church no infallible, external, and ordinary means of begetting faith in us.

II. The Papists deny that Scripture is necessary for the Church, and they prove it principally by two arguments.

(1.) Christ did not give a command to write to His disciples: Therefore, Scripture is not necessary for the Church.

Response: 1. The Antecedent is false: as we have previously demonstrated.

2. Also, there is no Consequence: Because, even if they had not had an express commandment of Christ before His ascension into heaven: yet it would not be doubtful, that afterwards holy men had written by instinct of the Holy Spirit: especially since GOD did not will always to make use of the living voice of the Apostles in the Church.

(2.) The Church from Adam unto Moses for two thousand years was without the written word of GOD.

Therefore, Scripture is not now necessary for the Church.

Response: 1. The Antecedent is not able to be proven by the Papists: For, even if no writings of those times are extant: yet it does not follow that there were none.

2. I also deny the Consequence: the reason is, that GOD was able to will to teach the Church before Moses without Scripture; which afterwards He will to teach by Scripture: Whence He Himself wrote the law with His own fingers, and after the Apostles He gave no more authentical preachers to the Church.

III. Thus far the Sacred Scripture, so called κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence, to which, as the sole foundation, religion and faith are solely to be referred, recalled, and examined: so that it is at length reckoned the true and saving religion and faith, that rests upon the written word of GOD, to which all Confessions of the Churches, all the symbols and decrees of councils are subject: which are able and ought to oblige the conscience of no man, except to the extent they rest upon this solid foundation of the divine word written.

Among the many other confessions of the Churches, in this our age there is one quite famous, especially in the Romano-Germanic Empire, the Augsburg Confession, so called from the imperial city of Augusta Vindelicorum, the Augustan city of the Vindelici;[6] where by command of the Protestant Princes and republics that had seceded from the Papal Church, in the year 1530, by certain Theologians, among whom the principal were Luther and Melanchthon, it was conceived and written, and exhibited in that same year to Emperor Charles V[7] in the Augustan assembly with the consent of those by whose command it had been written, and then first published at Wittenberg in the year 1531. In which, nevertheless, in Article X, which concerns the Lord’s Supper, the words that were in the exemplar exhibited at Augsburg, under the appearance of bread and wine, were changed into these, with the bread and wine: because the former were sounding like Papal Transubstantiation, and was driving certain Doctors and Magistrates of the Reformed Churches away from the Augsburg Confession.

Another edition of the same Confession followed, in the forty-second year, at Wittenberg,[8] while Luther was yet living and with his knowledge: in which there was again some change in Article X, and the condemnatory clause, inserted in the former edition (and those teaching otherwise are condemned), was omitted. Nearly all the remaining Articles have been embellished and demonstrated; which was done in the fortieth year at Worms, in an assembly of the Empire, by the consent of all those that were at that time in that convention and had been concerned in public acts, pledged to the Augsburg Confession.

The former edition was confirmed by the Theologians at Schmalkalden, in a very crowded assembly, in the thirty-seventh year.[9]

The latter was confirmed by the Princes and Theologians together in an assembly at Nuremburg, in the sixty-first year. In which this confession was approved with new subscriptions by the princes and orders, and thence obtained everywhere.

To the Augsburg Confession the Apology was added, in which the Confession was defended against Johann Faber[10] and Eck,[11] Roman Catholic Theologians; who, according to the opinion and will of their leaders, in the thirtieth year wrote a refutation of the Augsburg Confession, and, with Cæsar approving, presented it publicly in the Assembly: against which, immediately in the same year, in the same Assembly, by command of the Protestant orders, the same Theologians that had written the Confession set forth their Apology; which Cæsar did not receive as presented. Meanwhile, in the thirty-first year, it was published with the Confession, and was confirmed at Schmalkalden in the thirty-seven year, and at Nuremburg, in the sixty-first year.

This Confession was written at the commandment of the Emperor, Charles V, who had ordained to treat of the matter of Religion, and the reconciliation of the parties at variance, namely, the Papists and the Evangelicals, or Protestants, in an Assembly at Augsburg.

But, although a consensus in Religion between the Papists and Protestants was not able to be obtained, in the thirty-second year a political peace was ratified between them, until a free and Christian, general Council. In the place of which the Papists later attempted to obtrude upon the Evangelical the Council of Trent, in the forty-sixth year and following, which brandished the thunderbolts of anathemas against all dissenting from the Roman Church. Since they would be no means allow this, the peace gave way again. Nevertheless, finally, in the fifty-second year, in the Transaction at Passau, peace was promised to all those that were embracing the Augsburg Confession.[12]

Thus the Augsburg Confession began to be the shield of peace: under which the Lutherans alone have desired hitherto to lie, in such a way that they have greatly exercised themselves over the exclusion of orthodox men, whom they call Reformed; even if the latter embrace this Confession as much as the former; neither do the Reformed depart from it, with respect to the doctrine of faith, as much as do the Lutherans.

The modern Lutherans appeal to the unaltered Augsburg Confession,[13] as they commonly speak, exhibited to Charles V. The Orthodox and Reformed take their stand, and are prepared to demonstrate before a competent judge (in the place of which the Lutherans are no more able to obtrude themselves, than formerly the Papists at the Council of Trent), that the doctrine received in their Churches and schools departs no further from the Augsburg Confession, explained according to the intention of Sacred Scripture (to the formula of Concord,[14] and other private opinions, by no right are they able to be bound), than the doctrine repeated in the Churches and Schools of the Lutherans, indeed, it approaches much nearer to it, whatever some contentious men might write and declare: if it should be allowed to us to make use of their candor and artifice, it would be as easy for us to show that Lutheran doctrine clashes with individual articles of the Augsburg Confession, as hitherto they have believed it to be easy for themselves to evince this against us: and that even from the writings and words of Luther himself.

[1] Although the exact character of Photinus’ (died 376, Bishop of Sirmium [in modern Serbia]) beliefs are not clear, he appears to have in some way denied the full and proper Deity of Jesus Christ. [2] Romans 6:17: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine (τύπον διδαχῆς) which was delivered you.” [3] See Galatians 3:15. [4] See 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29. [5] Thomas Stapleton (1535-1598) was an English Catholic controversialist. He was instrumental in the establishment of the English College at Douai. [6] The Vindelici were a Gallic people, inhabiting the region of Bavaria, in the Roman era. [7] Charles V (1500-1558) was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 to 1556. [8] Sometimes called Melanchthon’s Confessio Augustana Variata. [9] The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of German Protestant Princes against the Holy Roman Empire. Membership was predicated upon commitment to the Augsburg Confession or Tetrapolitan Confession. [10] Johann Faber (1478-1541) was a Roman Catholic churchman and theologian. Although initially sympathic to the concerns of the Reformers, he became an unyielding opponent, when it became clear that their reforming efforts would not spare the structure of the Roman Church, nor her doctrine. Faber debated both Luther and Zwingli, and was a member of a committee to draw up a refutation of the Augsburg Confession. [11] Dr. Johann Maier von Eck (1486-1543) was a German Catholic theologian and opponent of Protestantism. He served as Professor of Theology at Ingolstadt. Eck was a stalwart adversary to Luther, and part of the committee to refute the Augsburg Confession. [12] After a defeat and setback in 1547, leading to the Augsburg Interim (forcing a return to Roman Catholic practices, with a few concessions), the Protestant Princes won a victory over Charles V, driving him out of Germany (1552). Weary from three decades of conflict and war, Charles V and his younger brother, Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, concluded the Peace of Passau, guaranteeing religious freedom to those subscribing the Augsburg Confession. [13] Melanchthon’s Variata contained concessions made to the Reformed. [14] The Formula of Concord (1577) represented a move away from the Variata, with its concessions to the Reformed, back to the distinctly Lutheran teaching of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.

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