Holy scripture, against the papists

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DISPUTATION

ON


HOLY SCRIPTURE,

AGAINST THE PAPISTS,

ESPECIALLY

BELLARMINE AND STAPLETON.


BY
AVILLIAM WHITAKER, D.D.,
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY, AND MASTER OF ST JOHN S COLLEGE,

IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.

CONTENTS.

PAGE
PREFACE by the Editor ........ ix


Epistle Dedicatory to Lord Burghley 3
Preface to the Controversies . . . . . . .14
Question the First of the First Controversy : Of the number of the
Canonical Books of Scripture , . . . . .25
Question the Second : Of the Authentic Edition and Versions of the
Scriptures ......... 110
Question the Third: Of the Authority of Scripture . . .275

Question the Fourth : Of the Perspicuity of Scripture . . 359

Question the Fifth : Of the Interpretation of Scripture . . 402

Question the Sixth : Of the Perfection of Scripture, against Unwrit

ten Traditions 496
To the Reader 705
Index 709

PREFACE.

IT seemed desirable that this, the great work of one of

the greatest of our early divines upon the cardinal point of

difference between the churches of the Roman and the reformed

communions, should be comprised in the collection of the Parker

Society ; not only on account of its intrinsic merits, but also for

its historical value ; as exhibiting the posture of defence assumed

by our schools against that change of tactics in the management

of this great controversy, which is to be dated from the insti

tution of the Society of Jesus.

William Whitaker (or Whitacre) was born at Holme, in Lan

cashire, A.D. 1547, of a good family, nearly related, to Alexander

Nowel, the celebrated dean of St Paul s. He was bred at Cam

bridge, where he soon distinguished himself, and was in 1579

appointed the Queen s Professor of Divinity. In 1586, through

the influence of Burghley and Whitgift, and in spite of obstinate

and powerful opposition, he was made Master of St John s Col

lege in that University ; soon after which appointment he took

his degree of Doctor in Divinity. His delay in assuming the

doctorate seems curious, and it was maliciously made the ground

of a most unjust imputation of puritanism. How small was his

sympathy with the disciplinarian party, appears from the manner

in which he speaks of their great leader, Cartwright, in a letter

preserved by Bancroft 1 : " Quern Cartwrightus nuper emisit libel-

lum, ejus magnam partem perlegi. Ne vivam, si quid unquam

viderim dissolutius ac pene puerilius. Verborum satis ille quidem

lautam ac novam supellectilem habet, rerum omnino nullam,

quantum ego quidem judicare possum. Deinde rion modo per

verse de Principis in Rebus Sacris atque Ecclesiasticis auctoritate

sentit ; sed in papistarum etiam castra transfugit ; a quibus ta-

men videri vult odio capital! dissidere. Yerum nee in hac causa
1 Survey of Discipline, p. 379, Lond. 1593.

ferendus, sed aliis etiam in partibus tela a papistis mutuatur.

Denique, ut de Ambrosio dixit Hieronymus, verbis ludit, sententiis

dormitat, et plane indignus est qui a quopiam docto refutetur."


But though far removed from the disciplinarian tenets of

the puritans, Whitaker undoubtedly agreed with them in their

hostility to the Arminian opinions, which in his time began to

prevail in the Church of England; as appears from the share

taken by him in the prosecution of Baret, and the devising of

the Lambeth articles. The history of such proceedings is foreign

from my present purpose; but the reader will find a full detail

of the circumstances connected with them in Strype s Life of

Whitgift, Book iv., Chapters 14 18. Shortly after the termi

nation of that memorable dispute, Whitaker died in 1595, in

the forty-seventh year of his age. He was married, and had

eight children. It was pleasantly said of him, that he gave the

world a child and a book 1 every year. Of his children I have

nothing to communicate, and his books will speak for themselves.

They gained for him in his life-time a high character, not only

with friends, but with enemies also. " I have," says the writer

of his life, in Lupton s Protestant Divines 2 , " I have heard it

confessed of English Papists themselves, which have been in Italy

with Bellarmine himself, that he procured the true portraiture

and effigies of this Whitaker to be brought to him, which he

kept in his study. For he privately admired this man for his

singular learning and ingenuity ; and being asked of some of his

friends, Jesuits, why he would have the picture of that heretic

in his presence ? he would answer, Quod quamvis hcereticus

erat et adversarius, erat tamen doctus adversarius : that, " al

though he was an heretic, and his adversary, yet he was a learned

adversary," p. 359. " He was," says Gataker, " tall of stature and

upright ; of a grave aspect, with black hair and a ruddy com

plexion ; a solid judgment, a liberal mind, an affable disposition ; a

1 Librum et Liberum quotannis. See Fuller s Life of Whitaker in the

"Holy State."


2 History of the moderne Protestant Divines, &c., faithfully translated

out of the Latin by D. L., London, 1637.

mild, yet no remiss governor ; a contemner of money ; of a mode

rate diet, a life generally unblameable, and (that which added a

lustre to all the rest) amidst all these endowments, and the respects

of others (even ihe greatest) thereby deservedly procured, of a most

meek and lowly spirit." "Who," asks Bishop Hall, "ever saw

him without reverence ? or heard him without wonder ? "


I have only to add, that in the translation I have endeavoured

to be as literal as would consist with a due regard to the English

idiom. Had I considered myself at liberty to use more freedom,

I should have made my task more easy to myself, and the work

perhaps less tedious to the reader : for there is a prolixity in

Whitaker s style, which contrasts unfavourably with the com

pactness of his great antagonist, Bellarmine; though he trespasses

far less upon the student s patience than Stapleton, whose verbose

rhetoric made him admired in his own day, and whose subtlety of

logic cannot save him from neglect in ours.

It is proper to apprise the reader, that, besides the Controversy

translated in the present volume, the only one published in the

Author s life-time, three others are contained in the ponderous

volumes of his works, all of which were published after his death

by John Allenson, B.D., Fellow of St John s College. The subjects

of these are De Ecclesia, De Conciliis, and De Romano Pontifice.

He encountered Bellarmine also on the other controversies in suc

cession, De ministris et presbyteris Ecclesice, De sanctis mortuis,

De Ecclesia triumphante, De Sacramentis in genere, De Baptismo,

and De Eucliaristia. " Quas," adds his biographer, Obadiah

Assheton, a Fellow of his College, " utinam licuisset per otium

relegisse, et mandasse typis universas : id enim auditoribus erat in

votis vel maxime ; quorum cum summa admiratione et acclamatione

singulas tractarat controversias. Ceterum studio respondendi Bel-

larmino in omnibus controversiis religionis provectus, optimum

censuit has elucubratas disputationes apud se reponere ; ratus (quod

postea non evenit) aptius fore tempus eas per otium evulgandi.

Sed Deo immortali, cnjus consilia sunt abyssus inscrutabilis, aliter

visum est."

The following is the list of his works :

1. Responsio ad decera rationes Edm. Campiani. 8vo. Lond.

1581.
2. Responsionis ad decem rationes Edm. Campiani Defensio.

8vo. Lond. 1583.
3. Refutatio Nic. Sanderi, quod Papa non sit Antichristus.

8vo. Lond. 1583.


4. Answer to W. Rainold s Reprehensions, &c. 8vo. Camb.

1585.
5. Disputatio de Sacra Scriptura contra hujus temporis Pa-

pistas. 4to. Cantab. 1588.
6. Pro authoritate atque auroTrta-ria S. Scripture Duplicatio

contra T. Stapletonum. Libri 3. Cantab. 1594.


7. Pra3lectiones de Ecclesia, &c., edited after his death by

J. Allenson. 4to. Cantab. 1599.


8. Pr^lectiones de Conciliis. 8vo. Cantab. 1600.
9. Concio in 1 Thess. v. 12. 4to. Cantab. 1599.
10. In Controversial! de R. Pontifice, distributam in qua?s-

tiones viii., adversus Pontificios, imprimis R. Bellarminum, praelec-

tiones. 8vo. Hanov. 1608.
11. De Sacramentis. Francof. 1624. 4to.
A complete collection of his works in Latin was printed in two

vols. folio, at Geneva, 1610.


Besides the above, Whitaker published in 1569 a Greek trans

lation of the Common Prayer; in 1573, of Nowel s larger, and in

1575, of the smaller Catechism.

DISPUTATION


ON

HOLY SCRIPTURE.

[WHITAKER.]

[Title-page of the original work, 1610.]


D I SP VT ATIO


DE SACRA SCRIPTVRA;
CONTRA HVIVS TEMPORIS
PAPIST AS, INPRIMIS,
ROBERTVM BELLARMINVM IESVITAM,
Pontificium in Collegio Romano, & THOMAM
STAPLETONVM, Regium in Schola Dua-
cena Controuersiarum
Professorem :

Qucestionilus proposita fy tractata a GVILIELMO WHITAKERO Theologioe


Doctore ac Profeffbre Regio, fy Collegij D. loannis in Canta-
Irigiensi Academia Magistro.
BASILIVS in Epistola ad Eustathium medicum.

11 Oeoirvevo-Tos tj^v StaiTrja-ctTW ypatyri K a\ Trap of? av evpeOfj TCI Soy^a-rct

o-ui/wBa roTs BetoK Xo yoi?, eir\ roi/Vots ijgei TroWws Try? aA^0C(O9 ij

EPISTLE DEDICATORY.

TO THE MOST NOBLE AND PRUDENT,

WILLIAM CECIL, KNIGHT,

BARON BURGHLEY, HIGH TREASURER OF ENGLAND, AND

CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.

THERE have been many heretofore, illustrious Cecil, who

have defended the papal interest and sovereignty with the utmost

exertion, the keenest zeal, and no mean or vulgar erudition. But

they who have played their part with most address, and far out

stripped almost all others of their own side, are those men who

now, for some years back, have been engaged most earnestly in

this cause ; a fresh supply of monks, subtle theologians, vehement

and formidable controvertists ; whom that strange and, in former

times, unheard of Society of Jesus hath brought forth, for the

calamity of the church and the Christian religion. For when,

after that black, deadly, baneful, and tedious night of popish

superstition and antichristianism, the clear and cheerful lustre

of the gospel had illuminated with its rays some portions of

the Christian world, attracting, and by its incredible charms at the

same time moving all, to gaze on, admire, and cleave to it; on

a sudden, these men sprang up to obscure with pestilential vapours,

and ravish, if possible, from our view, this light, so hateful to

themselves, so hostile and prejudicial to their interests. So indeed

had John, that holy disciple of Christ, predicted in the Apocalypse,

that a star, which had fallen from heaven, and received the key

of the infernal pit, should remove the covering of the abyss,

and cause a mighty smoke to issue forth, like the smoke of a

great furnace, shedding darkness over the sun and heaven. This

pit, from the time that it was first opened, hath not ceased to

exhale perpetual smoke to blind the eyes of men ; and, as the

same prophet had foretold, hath sent forth innumerable locusts

upon the earth, like scorpions, who have wounded with their

deadly stings all men upon whose foreheads the seal of God was

not impressed. The event itself, the best interpreter of prophe

cies, has illustrated the obscurity of the prediction. For who can

doubt the meaning of the star, the pit, the smoke, the locusts ;

who considers the state of the papal power, in which they are

all so pourtrayed to the very life, as to be most readily dis

cerned by any one, who can compare together the past and pre

sent, and interprets what was foretold, as about to happen, by

that which is seen to have occurred ?

Amongst these locusts, that is, as very learned men justly

deem, amongst the innumerable troops of monks none, as we

before said, have ever appeared, more keen, or better prepared

and equipped for doing mischief, than are the Jesuits at this

present day ; who in a short space have surpassed all other

societies of that kind in numbers, in credit, and in audacity.

Other monks, following the rule and practice of former times,

lived in general a life of leisure and inactivity, and spent their

time, not in reading and the study of the sciences, but in repeating

by the glass certain offices for the canonical hours, which con

tributed nothing to the advancement of either learning or religion.

But the Jesuits have pursued a far different course. They have

left the shade of ancient sloth and inactivity, in which the other

monks had grown grey, and have come forth to engage in toils,

to treat of arts and sciences, to undertake and carry through an

earnest struggle for the safety of the common interests. It hath

come to be understood, that the cause of Eome, which, shaken by

the perilous blows dealt on every side by men of ability and

learning, had begun in many parts to totter and give way,

could never be defended or maintained, except by learned and

diligent and active champions.

For just as a dilapidated mansion, unless propped up almost

every day by fresh and firm buttresses, will suddenly fall in a

violent and total ruin ; so they perceived that the Roman syna

gogue, tottering as it is and threatening to fall, in its wretched

state of decay and dilapidation, hath need continually of new

supports and bracings, to maintain any remnant of its state and

dignity under the pressure of such vehement assaults. Yet, with

all their efforts, shall they never be able to avert the imminent

calamity, or rescue themselves from perdition. But as buildings,

whose foundations are subverted, their walls pierced, their roofs

uncovered, having no part secure, can never be supported long

by any multitude of artificial props ; so that church of theirs,

all rent and torn on every side, in which nor roof, nor pillar,

nor foundation remains sound, intrinsically devoid of firmness and

integrity, must at length fall headlong, and crush many to de

struction in its ruins. We are not to believe that the Roman

church is flourishing, because the Jesuits are often able to impose

upon inconstant and unskilful persons, and lead them into the

popish fraud by the lures and blandishment of their fallacious

reasoning, any more than we should think that health and life

is restored to the frame that labours in a mortal malady, when

it gains, for a moment, some casual alleviation of its pain. Let

the Jesuits do their best ; let them exert, if possible, still more

intense sedulity, and omit nothing that learning and diligence can

accomplish without the aid of truth. Yet all they can accomplish

will be this, to prop a falling house with mounds and buttresses,

to afford some brief refreshment to antichrist, now gasping in his

last long agony, and, despite of all the rules of physic, apply

remedies to a desperate disease.

Amongst these Jesuits, Robert Bellarmine, a native of Italy,

hath now for several years obtained a great and celebrated name.

At first he taught scholastic divinity in Belgium ; but afterwards,

having removed to Rome, he treated of theological controversies

in such a manner as to excite the admiration and gain the applause

of all. His lectures were eagerly listened to by his auditors,

transcribed, transmitted into every quarter, and treasured up as

jewels and amulets. After some time, for the sake of rendering

them more generally useful, they were epitomized by a certain

Englishman. Finally, the first volume of these controversies

hath been published at Ingolstadt, printed by Sartorius; and the

rest are expected in due time 1 . Now, therefore, Bellarmine is

cried up by his party as an invincible champion, as one with

whom none of our men would dare to engage, whom nobody can

answer, and whom if any one should hope to conquer, they would

regard him as an utter madman.

When you, honoured sir, demanded my opinion of this writer,

I answered, as indeed I thought, that I deemed him to be a man

unquestionably learned, possessed of a happy genius, a penetrating

judgment, and multifarious reading ; one, moreover, who was

wont to deal more plainly and honestly than is the custom of

other papists, to press his arguments more home, and to stick more

closely to the question. Thus, indeed, it became a man who had

been trained in the schools, and who had made the handling of

controversies his professed business, to dismiss all circumlocutions

and digressions, and concern himself entirely with the argument ;

and, having read all that had been previously written upon the

subject, to select those reasons and replies which seemed to have

most strength and sinew in them. In the prosecution of which

task, he was led to weigh everything with a profound and anxious

solicitude, and has sometimes differed from all his predecessors, and

struck out new explanations of his own ; perceiving, I suppose,

that the old ones were not sound enough to be relied on. We

have an instance (Lib. n. de Verbo Dei, c. 16) in his treatment

of 1 Cor. 14, where the apostle forbids the use of a strange

language in the church. The former popish writers had usually

understood that place to speak of exhortations or sermons to the

people ; or, if they conceded that it might be understood of divine

service, interpreted it so as to require that the words of the minis

ter should be understood, not by the whole congregation, but only

by him who made the responses in their name. But Bellarmino,

having reflected upon the falsehood and weakness of these evasions,

hath invented another for himself; and pretends that the apostle

is speaking not of the offices of divine service, nor yet of the

public reading of the scriptures, but only of certain spiritual

songs and canticles. What, however, or what sort of things

these were, or why they required to be recited in a known

language more than the common prayers or the scripture lessons,

it is not so easy to understand. But of this place of the apostle,

and this new pretence of Bellarmine s, we have discoursed suf

ficiently at large in the second question, chap. 18, of this con

troversy.

So again, (Lib. in. cap. 2) where he is answering an objection

drawn from St Peter s calling the prophetic word a lamp, he does

not answer, as Hosius did (Lib. in. contra Proleg. Brentii), that

in the prophecies there are many things plain, and that what is

enigmatically spoken in the prophets is expressed clearly in the

gospel ; but he says that prophecy is called a lamp, not because it

is easily understood, but because it illuminates when it is under

stood. He saw clearly that Hosius exposition left our doctrine of

the perspicuity of scripture in sufficient strength, and therefore

excogitated this new one ; upon which we have treated, Quest, iv.

chap. 4.
In the same way, when we maintain that the mysteries of

the faith should be concealed from no one, and allege, in proof,

those words of Christ, " What ye hear in the ear, that proclaim

ye upon the house-tops ;" Bellarmine, (Lib, iv. c. 12) has recourse

to a strange and hitherto, I think, unheard of interpretation ;

that is, says he, if need so require. He gives the allegation no

other reply whatever ; and how proper and apposite an answer

this is, I am content that others should determine.

Again, when we urge that the scripture is called canonical, and

therefore is, what that very appellation indicates, the rule of faith

and of living ; Bellarmine answers confidently in the same chapter,

that the scripture was not published to be the rule of our faith,

but to serve " as a sort of commonitory, useful to preserve and

cherish the faith received by preaching." So that, according to

this new interpretation of Bellarmine s, we learn that the scriptures

are no rule of faith at all, but a certain commonitory, an honour

which they share with many others ; nor yet even a necessary

one, but only useful to the end of preserving the traditions.

This is a noble judgment of the value of scripture, and alto

gether worthy of a Jesuit ! a judgment which leaves the bible

only the office of admonishing us, as if we only required to be

admonished, and not taught.

Bellarmine hath innumerable such new discoveries ; with which

he defends the papal cause in a different manner, indeed, from

that of its former patrons, but yet is so far from really serving

it, that he hath rather done it the greater damage and injury

with discreet and attentive readers, who have any care for their

faith and religion. For hence it appears that, while Bellarmine

cannot approve the answers of others, it is impossible to invent

new ones, which are not worse than the old.


I remember, too, that in the course of that same conversa

tion between us, I allowed Bellarmine the merit of dealing less

dishonestly with the testimonies of the fathers than is customary

with others, and of not captiously or maliciously perverting the

state of the question; a fault which, I found, had particularly

disgusted you in certain writers ; whereas religious disputes and

controversies should be managed in such a way as to eschew all

craft, and seek truth, and truth alone, with a holy earnestness.

I acknowledged that, while our adversaries erred grossly in this

respect, our own party stood not so wholly clear of the same

fault, as became the investigators of truths so sacred ; which, in

proportion as they are more heavenly in their nature, and concern

us more nearly, should be searched into and handled with so

much the more sincerity.

But, since many more eager for contention than for truth

propose to themselves scarcely any other object than to be able to




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