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fidei et morum ad ædificationem doctrinæ christianæ pertinentium, sacram scripturam ad suos sensus contorquens contra eum sensum, quem tenuit et tenet sancta mater ecclesia, cujus est judicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum Sanctarum, aut etiam contra unanimem consensum patrum ipsam scripturam sacram interpretari audeat, etiamsi hujusmodi interpretationes nullo unquam tempore in lucem edendæ forent. Qui contravenerint, per ordinarios declarentur et pænis a jure statutis puniantur. The particular comment is given by Bellarmine, De Verbo Dei, iii. 3. The principal question is, where the Spirit is to be found, to which he of course replies, in the church. When differences arise (which were foreseen by God), there must be some authority to decide. But this can be neither the Sacred Scriptures, nor a revelation made to an individual, nor the secular power. Accordingly, no other authority remains than the princeps ecclesiasticus, i. e. the pope, either alone or in connection with the bishops. Scripture, like a law, admits of several interpretations. In every well-ordered state the power of legislation and the power of jurisdiction are two different things. The law commands, the judge interprets the law, therefore Scripture cannot be its own interpreter. Yet neither pope nor council interpret arbitrarily, but according to Divine inspiration. Comp. J. Gretseri Tractat. Unde Scis, hunc vel illum esse sincerum et legitimum Scripturæ Sensum.—Cani Loci Theolog. lib. iv. Becani Manuale i. 5.—The Greeks agree with the Roman Catholics as regards the general principle of the authority of the church, but limit it to the æcumenical councils. See the passages in Winer, pp. 35, 36. Klausen, Hermeneutik, p. 286, ss.
As early as the time in which the various disputations with the Roman Catholics took place, the Reformers claimed the right of free interpretation of Scripture, i, e., an interpretation independent of the councils. Comp. Zwingle, Von der Klarheit des Wortes Gottes (deutsche Schriften, i. p. 76, ss.); also his Antwort an Val. Compar. (ibid. i. 2, p. 9, sq.) Calvin, Instit. i. 7, 8. Here again the symbols of the Reformed Churches express themselves in more definite language than those of the Lutheran Church (Winer, 1. c.) Confess. Helv. I. (II. Confess. of Basle) Art. 2: Scripturæ Sacræ interpretatio ex ipsa sola petenda est, ut ipsa interpres sit sui, caritatis fideique regula moderante.-Conf. Helv. II. c. 2: Scripturas sanctus dixit Ap. Petrus (2 Petr. i. 20), non esse interpretationis privatæ. Proinde non probamus interpretationes quaslibet : unde nec pro vera aut genuina scripturarum interpretatione agnoscimus eum, quem vocant sensum romanæ ecclesiæ, quem scilicet simpliciter romanæ ecclesiæ defensores omnibus obtrudere contendunt recipiendum. Sed illam duntaxat scripturarum interpretationem pro orthodoxa et genuina agnoscimus, quæ ex ipsis est petita scripturis (ex ingenio utique ejus linguæ, in qua sunt scriptæ, secundum circumstantias item expensæ et pro ratione locorum vel similium vel dissimilium plurium quoque et clariorum expositae) cum regula fidei et caritatis congruit et ad gloriam Dei hominumque salutem eximie facit. Comp. Conf. Scot. 18. Conf. Remonstr. i. 14.-The Socinians distinctly avowed the same principle in agreement with the orthodox Protestants. Cat. Racov. Qu. 36 : Etsi difficultates quædem in 8. S. occurrunt, tamen multa alia, tum ea, quæ sunt ad salutem necessaria, ita perspicue aliis in locis S. S. sunt tradita, ut ab uno
quoque, maxime vero pietatis ac veritatis studioso et divinam opem implorante, possint intelligi.-It is also to be observed, that the Protestants fully recognized the distinction, on the one hand, between the learned interpretation and the general common-sense understanding of the Scripture, and on the other, between such a general understanding and the more profound insight into the meaning of Scripture, which is granted to none but the regenerate. Comp. the extracts from Luther's works given by Walch, ix. p. 857. “ Analogia fidei and the aid of the Holy Spirit were acknowledged as the guides in interpreting Scripture.” Winer, p. 37. On the principles of interpretation adopted by the Reformers, see Schenkel, ubi supra, i. 67, 89.-In respect to the obscure passages of Scripture, Luther says (Walch, xvjii.) : “Let it go where it is dark; hold to it where it is clear.”—“To interpret and illustrate Scripture by Scripture," was his hermeneutical canon, and that of the Reformers, which they carried out in a practical way. Comp. Zwingle, in Note 1, above.
• Conc. Trid. sess. 4: Synodus, considerans non parum utilitatis accedere posse ecclesiæ Dei, si ex omnibus latinis editionibus, quæ circumferunter, sacrorum librorum, quænam pro authentica habenda sit, innotescat, statuit et declarat, ut hæc ipsa vetus et vulgata editio, quæ longo tot sæculorum usu in ipsa ecclesia probata est, in publicis lectionibus, disputationibus, prædicationibus et expositionibus pro authentica habeatur et ut nemo eam rejicere quovis prætextu audeat vel præsumat. Respecting the meaning of the passage, see Winer, p. 39, and the passages quoted by him from Bellarmine, and the doctrinal writers of the Roman Catholic Church; Schröckh, Kirchengeschichte seit der Reformation, IV. p. 132, ss.; Marheineke, Symb. ii. p. 241, ss.—This canon shows, that its authors not only ascribed minor importance to the original, but were also virtually opposed to translations into modern languages (inasmuch as even the texts of sermons are to be selected from the Vulgate), and also to their circulation among the laity. Comp. Winer, p. 40. [Köllner, ubi supra.]
10 The Confess. Helv. II. 2, has a reference to the original (comp. note 8). In accordance with their principles of interpretation, the Protestants asserted that a more precise scientific study of the Sacred Scriptures is impossible, without the knowledge of the original languages; accordingly exegesis, founded upon solid philological studies, forms among Protestants the basis of the study of theology. On the other hand, they determined as definitely, that a version, as faithful as possible to the original, was sufficient for practical purposes.
But it never would have occurred to them to select among
these translations one (e. g. that of Luther), and designate it as as the only authentic one; though many have, to the present day, hesitated to enlighten the people on the differences sometimes existing between the translation and the original. But is this Protestant !
DIVERGENT VIEWS OF SOME SECTS.
A. The Mystical Principle.
The Protestants maintained the authority of Scripture, not only in opposition to the Roman Catholic doctrine of tradition, but also to the mystical principle, which insists upon the internal word, at the expense of the external. Among the advocates of the latter were included, not only the Anabaptists, who, besides holding stifly to the letter of Scripture,' also appealed after the manner of the Montanists, to new revelations ;' but also others, who insisted upon the insufficiency of the external word, agreeing more or less with the the Anabaptists. Among them were Sebastian Frank,' Caspar Schwenckfeld, Theobald Thamer,' and Michael Servetus. In essential agreement with them were the Quakers,' as well as the followers of Labadie, who attached great importance to internal revelation, as that by which the external revelation is rendered intelligible, and from which it receives its authority. From the negative point of view, these sects supposed, like the Roman Catholics, the existence of another authority in addition to that of Scripture, or rather above it; positively, they differed more widely from Romanism than did Protestants, by rejecting every objective authority, and appealing to nothing but subjective experience, mere internal feeling. Thus the Protestant doctrine of the authority of Scripture occupies an intermediate position between the ecclesiastical objectivity of Romanism, and the mystical subjectivity of Separatism.
· Even Carlstadt was stiff upon the letter of Scripture; see Schenkel, i. 40, sq. On his earlier, and more prudent view, see the work, De Canonicis Scripturis Libellus D. Andreæ Bodenstein Carolstadii, etc., Witenb., 1529; and Erbkam, Prot. Secten, 189. The opposition of the Zwickau people to infant baptism is also to be explained in part as an exaggeration of the formal principle of Protestantism. On the literalness of the Swiss Anabaptists, particularly Hubmeier, and the polemics of Zwingle against them, see Bullinger, in Schenkel, i. 47, sq. Zwingle wrote his Elenchus against them
. (Opera, iii. p. 367).
Planck, ubi supra, p. 44. They were, on the one hand, extremely literal, and yet they insisted strongly, on the other hand, upon the difference of the letter and the spirit (according to 2 Cor. iii. 6). Comp. Calvin in his Institutes, I. 9. How Luther, and the Reformers, regarded their visions and new revelations is well known; see e. g., Luther's letter to Melancthon in De Wette's Briefe Luthers, ii. No. 358 ; compare the views
of John Denck, and Hetzer, cited in Schenkel, i. 143. Hagen, Geist der Reform. ï. 282. The later and more prudent Mennonites returned to Scripture.
• Sebastian Frank, in his work, “ Das verbütschirte, mit sieben Siegeln verschlossene Buch," tries to show that the literal interpretation of Scripture involves us in inextricable contradictions; “God means to use the Scripture to drive us to the Scripture, and make us anxious and fearful thereby, so that we may be forced out of the Scripture back again to and into him, and hasten to ask counsel of his mouth and Spirit," etc. “ The Scripture,” he says, “ is both good and evil, clear and obscure, according to the mode in which we take it in hand; to the perverse, it is evil and dark. Therefore the Holy Spirit will not permit us to be satisfied with the Scripture, or to make an idol of it, as if we always stood in need of it; but sends us to inquire of Him for the right understanding and interpretation of it." See his tract, Wie alle Ding vor in der Natur sind in Schenkel, i. 140).-Even the devil can be very Scriptural, yea, even put himself into the midst of the letters of Scripture, as he has already done by so many sects, who have nothing but vain Scripture on their side.” (Preface to his Zeitbuch). “The Scripture-learnt devil makes anything and everything out of Scripture." See Paradoxa, p. 134 (in Schenkel, ubi supra. Hagen, p. 436, sq. Erbkam, 295, sq.).
• He wrote: De Cursu Verbi Dei, edit. J. Ecolampadius, Bas., 1527. Schwenkfeld maintained in this work, that faith does not proceed from external things, such as the external revelation of hearing, but from the internal revelation, which must be antecedent to the ministration of the external. Abraham believed without sermon and without hearing. The letter is only the vessel of the Spirit : they should not be confounded with each other. Schwenkfeld also made a parallel between the Bible and nature (comp. Raimund of Sabunde). The whole world is to him " a great book, all glorious with paintings and descriptions, in many sorts of letters, of the works of God.” These works are “living letters,” which men ever have before their eyes; they are the genuine" peasants' calendar," the real" lay Bible," in which those can read who do not understand any other kinds of writings. Hence Christ points to the birds of heaven and the lilies of the valley. See Schenkel, ubi supra, p. 150. Yet Schwenkfeld did not take a position hostile to the Bible ; it was to him the test by which to try all divine revelation. Comp. Erbkam, 425, 89.
On him see Neander's tract, Theobald Thamer, the Representative and Forerunner of Modern Spiritualistic Tendencies in the Times of the Reformation, Berlin, 1842.-Thamer was accustomed not to read the gospel text in the pulpit, but to recite it without book," because a real evangelical preacher ought not only to learn the dead letter, but to be a Bible in his works, prayers, and life." Neander, p. 21. He accused Luther and his disciples of deifying the letter of the Bible: “When any one asks thee, how thou knowest that these texts are the gospel ! thou repliest by bringing forward a perverted witness, the Scripture and the letter, written on paper with ink, which in itself is as good as dumb, and answers thee in a dead language, which thou dost not understand. The human, yea Jewish and
perverted sense, thou not only holdest to be higher than conscience, which is the revealed deity itself,* and than all God's creatures and works, but thou also makest it to be the queen of all saints and angels in heaven.” · Anya thing is not true because it stands in the Bible, but it is in the Bible because it is true of itself;" see Neander, 24; Schenkel, i. 144, sq. Like Schwenk. feld, he also appeals to the revelations in nature, and accuses his opponents of Manicheeism ; comp. Neander, p. 31.—[On Thamer, compare also Theobald Thamer und Landgraf Philip, by K. W. H. Hochhuth, in Zeitschrift f. d. hist. Theol., 1861, s. 165–280 : his various works, pp. 166–8. Comp. Neander, Hist. Dogmas, p. 631; Piedner, 678; Pestalozzi's Bullinger, s. 461, sq. Thamer studied in Wittenberg, 1535, was Prof. in Marburg, 1543, died 1569.]
Servetus, too, distinguishes in Scripture the external and the internal word; and in this sense, it is to him a two-edged sword. He also shows how Christianity is older than the Scripture (the New Test.). See his Christianismi Restitutio, p. 627; Illud verum est quod sine Scripturis stare potest ecclesia Christi vera, et erat ecclesia Christi, antequam apostoli scriberent. Ecclesiæ prophetia, interpretatio et vox viva præfertur Scripturæ mortuæ. Schenkel, ubi supra.
'Barclaii Apol. thes. 2........Divinæ revelationes internæ, quas ad fundendam veram fidem absolute necessarias esse adstruimus, externo scripturarum testimonio aut sanæ ratione ut nec contradicunt, ita nec unquam contradicere possunt. Non tamen inde sequitur, quod hæ revelationes divinæ ad externum scripturarum testimonium aut etiam ad rationem naturalem seu humanam,t tamquam ad nobiliorem aut certiorem normam et amussim, examinari debeant. Nam divina revelatio et illuminatio interna est quiddam per se evidens et clarum, intellectum bene dispositum propria evidentia et claritate cogens ad assentiendum, atque insuperabiliter movens et flectens non minus, quam principia communia veritatum naturalium (cujusmodi sunt: totum est majus sua parte; duo contradictoria non possunt esse simul vera aut falsa) movent flectuntque animum ad assensum naturalem. Comp. the commentary to this thesis in Winer, p. 53. On the principle of interpretation, see Apol. x. 19, p. 198: Quidquid homo sua industria in linguis et eruditione in scripturis inveniere potest, totum nihil est sine spiritu, absque quo nihil certum, semper fallibile judicatum est. Sed vir rusticus, hujusque eruditionis ignarus, qui ne vel elementum norit, quando scripturam lectam audit, eodem spiritu hoc esse verum dicere potest et
* In another place, Thamer calls conscience the true living throne of grace," where we ask God how and what we ought to do or leave undone. One may hear the external Scripture for a thousand years, and if he has not within him the living word, the divinity of Christ or the conscience, it is to him no word at all.” Neander, p. 28. Thamer tried to ridicule the orthodox idea of inspiration : "They imagine it to have been like this, that God sat there with a great beard, as the painters represent him on the wall, and touk up a word with his hand, i. e., & sound, and put it on the tongue of Jeremiah," etc. Nean der, 26.
+ His principle is therefore not to be confounded with that of the Rationalists. Bar. clay places the internal revelation alike above reason and Scripture (mystical supranaturalism.)