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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 ? Irenæus, 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 Irenæus 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
h Εγώ μετά των πατέρων εκβάλλομαι. εγώ συνίσταμαι τοίς των πατέρων δόγμασιν, ου παραβαίνω έν τινι, και τούτων τας χρήσεις, ούχο àrdūs, áll’év Bibliois éxw. Concil. Chalced. act. 1. pag. 97. edit. Rom.
• Irenæ. lib. 1. cap. 2, 3. Epiph. hæres. 31.
his belief unto the creedk 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 mean time, 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 his 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
* Forma professionis fidei, in bulla Pii iv. edit. ann. 1564. 11 Kings, chap. 20. ver. 11.
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 any thing 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 reverend 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, Irenæus, and Epiphanius? Doth he not account them among those pillars and champions he speaketh of? Yet, saith cardinal Bellarmine, “I” 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 Austin and Thomas, that the argument drawn from authority is weak; then, out of the word of Godo, In judicio, plurimorum non acquiesces sententiæ, 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
m Antiqua sanctorum patrum consensio non in omnibus divinæ legis quæstiunculis, sed solum, certe præcipue, in fidei regula magno nobis studio et investiganda est et sequenda. Vincent. contra hæres. cap. 39.
" Justini, Irenæi, Epiphanii, atque Oecumenii sententiam non video quo pacto ab errore possimus defendere. Bellarmin. lib. 1. de sanctor. beatit, cap. 6.
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 ; 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
n Primo quidem agunt multitudine doctorum, quos errare in re tanti momenti non est facile admittendum. Respondemus tamen ex Augustini libro 1. de morib. eccles. cap. 2. tum ex B. Thomæ doctrina, locum ab authoritate esse infirmum. Salmer. in epist. ad Rom. lib. 2. disput. 51.
• Exod. chap. 23.
p Cum Donatistæ in autorum multitudine gloriarentur, respondit Augustinus ; signum esse causæ a veritatis nervo destitutæ, quæ soli multorum autoritati, qui errare possunt, innititur. Ibid.
9 Tertio, argumenta petunt a doctorum antiquitate ; cui semper major honor est habitus, quam novitatibus. Respondetur, quamlibet ætatem antiquitati semper detulisse: et quilibet senex, ut quidam poeta dixit, laudator temporis acti. Sed illud asserimus ; quo juniores, eo perspicaciores esse doctores. Ibid.
Nam in celeberrima Parisiorum academia, nullus magistri in theologia titulo dignus habetur, qui prius etiam jurisjurandi religione non se adstrinxerit ad hoc Virginis privilegium tuendum et propugnandum. Ibid. Vid. et Laur. Sur. commentar. rer. in orbe gestar. ann. 1501.
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."
Pererius, 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 cooperating 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 his Church, and of the true catholic religion, which they most learr:edly 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
* Nec eam unquam, nisi juxta unanimem consensum patrum, accipiam et interpretabor. Bulla Pii IV. pag. 478. Bullarii a Petro Matthæo edit. Lugdun. ann. 1588.
+ Græci patres, nec pauci etiam Latinorum doctorum, arbitrati sunt, idque in scriptis suis prodiderunt ; causam prædestinationis hominum ad vitam æternam esse præscientiam, quam Deus ab æterno habuit, vel bonorum operum quæ facturi erant cooperando ipsius gratiæ ; vel fidei, qua credituri erant verbo Dei, et obedituri vocationi ejus. Perer. in Rom. 8. sec. 106.
u Sed hoc videtur contrarium divinæ scripturæ, præcipue autem doctrinæ B. Pauli. Id. ibid. sec. 111. At enimvero præscientiam fidei non esse rationem prædestinationis hominum, nullius est negotii multis et apertis Scripturæ testimoniis ostendere. Ibid. sec. 109.