William Whitaker on the Perspicuity of Holy Scripture

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DTK

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William Whitaker (1547-1595): For there is nothing in Scripture so plain that some men have not doubted it; as, that God is Almighty, that he created heaven and earth, that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and so forth: these are indeed plainly and openly set down in Scripture, and yet there are controversies about them. Things therefore are not presently obscure, concerning which there are many controversies; because these so manifold disputes arise rather from the perversity and curiosity of the human mind, than from any real obscurity. The apostle says that the minds of infidels are blinded by the devil, lest they should see that brillant light and acquiesce in it: which is most true of our adversaries. William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald (Cambridge: University Press, reprinted 1849), pp. 388-389.

William Whitaker(1547-1595): The fathers proved their opinions out of the scriptures. Therefore the scriptures are clearer than the writings and commentaries of the fathers: for no one proves what is unknown by what is still more unknown. Luther hath this argument in the Preface of his Articles condemned by Leo X. The Jesuit [i.e., Bellarmine] answers, that the scriptures are indeed, in respect of their truth, clearer and more open than the writings of the fathers, but not in respect of the words. Which surely is a foolish answer: for to say that the scriptures are clearer than the fathers in respect of their truth, is nothing more than saying they are truer. But what sort of distinction is this? If the truth of scripture be clearer, how can the words be more obscure? For it is from the words that the truth arises. If therefore he confesses that the scriptures are plainer than the commentaries of the fathers, in respect of their truth, then he concedes that the truth is plainer in the scriptures than the in the writings of any father; which is sufficient. And doubtless if we will compare the scripture with the writings of the fathers, we shall generally find greater obscurity and difficulty in the latter than in the former. There is no less perspicuity in the Gospel of John or in the Epistles of Paul, than in Tertullian, in Irenaeus, in certain books of Origen and Jerome, and in some other writings of the fathers. But in all the schoolmen there is such obscurity as is nowhere found in scripture. "œThe words of scripture," says he, "œare more obscure than the words of the fathers." Even if there were some obscurity in the words of scripture greater than in those of the fathers, it would not nevertheless be a just consequence, that the scriptures were so obscure that they should not be read by the people. This should rather rouse men to an attentive reading than deter them from reading altogether. Besides, the scriptures speak of necessary things no less plainly than any fathers, or even much more plainly, because the Holy Spirit excels in all powers of expression. William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald (Cambridge: University Press, reprinted 1849), p. 390.

William Whitaker (1547-1595): Indeed all the papists in their books, when they seek to prove any thing, boast everywhere that they can bring arguments against us from the most luminous, plain, clear and manifest testimonies of Scripture . . . For in every dispute their common phrases are,"”This is clear,"”This is plain,"”This is manifest in the scriptures, and such like. Surely when they speak thus, they ignorantly and unawares confess the perspicuity of the scriptures even in the greatest questions and controversies. See A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald (Cambridge: The University Press, reprinted 1849), p. 401.

William Whitaker (1547-1595): Our fifteenth argument is this: Every one ought to rest upon his own faith and his own judgment, and not depend upon another´s will and pleasure. Therefore the Roman pontiff is not the sole judge of controversies in the church. For each individual should be his own judge, and stand by his own judgment, not indeed mere private judgment, but such as is inspired by God: and no one can bestow the Holy Spirit save God who infuses it in whom he will. Nor can any one man render another certain in matters of religion, with whatever authority he may be invested. Christ says, John vi. 44, 45, "œNo man can come unto me unless my Father draw him: wherefore whosoever hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." John the Baptist says also, John iii. 33, "œHe that receiveth his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." There is, therefore, need of Christ´s testimony before we can truly and aright believe anything. William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans. and ed. William Fitzgerald (Cambridge: University Press, reprinted 1849), pp. 460-461.

DTK
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Wonderful quotes! :up:

BTW, William Whitaker's son, Alexander (1585 - 1616), was one of the first Puritans to settle in America, at Jamestown, Virginia. He wrote a famous sermon, Good Newes from Virginia (1613). He was instrumental in the conversion and baptism of Pocahontas.
 
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