Chapter II:40: Scripture as Supreme Judge, not Reason or Philosophy, Part 3

We urge against them: α. What Reason is nowhere extant as sound and infallible in the concrete, that is not able to arrogate to itself certain and infallible Judgment concerning divine matters of certain truth:  but, that sound and infallible Reason in the concrete is today sought in vain, shall be abundantly proven from those things that are to be said in Chapter XV concerning the universal Corruption of fall man, especially in § XXVII-XXIX.  The Fallibility of Reason in each one of us is sufficiently gathered from the variety of judgments in all those things that depend upon the dictate of Reason.  Indeed, common Notions, indited in the mind by God, survive; but even those in this destitute state of man are much obscured and corrupted in many things and diminished in all things, and hence are to be emended and completed by Revelation.  The power of reasoning, perceiving, judging, extrapolating, survives in man, but has been greatly injured and hence is to be restored by the internal grace of the Spirit, correcting and corroborating, especially in the business of saving Religion; in this way to a certain extent vision, hearing, speech, motion, and not rarely intellect, judgment, memory, even in decrepit old men often are not altogether lacking, but are not at all able to furnish the same thing as in young or vigorous men.  And, although we do learn many truths through this power of Reasoning properly applied, even in the business of Religion; yet that use of Reason is not always proper in all, or even in any, men, so that many truths of reason everywhere might not remain hidden to reason, and also the most filthy errors might be mixed by reason with revealed truths:  which is the learned and pious observation of the Theologian of Leiden in Judicio Ecclesiastico laudato, chapter II, § 9, page 46, deservedly withdrawing from Reason the Supreme and Infallible Judgment in matters of faith and interpretation of the Scriptures.  β. Sacred Scripture confirms this our opinion, when Reason in Spiritual things, exceeding its capacity, it plainly pronounces to be blind, with this blindness not even completely removed in the regenerate.  But what, 1.  in Sacred Things is blind, to that Judgment, much less Supreme and Infallible, is not to be committed concerning Sacred Things:  for if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch, Matthew 15:14.  But according to 1 Corinthians 2:14, ψυχικὸς—ἄνθρωπος οὐ δέχεται τὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Θεοῦ, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, and, when he undertakes to judge concerning them, they are foolishness to him:  neither is it strange that he cannot know them, for they are to be discerned spiritually:  see STEPHEN DE BRAIS’ Lecturas theologicas de Auxiliis, after Analysin Epistolæ ad Romanos, pages 444-505:  add 2 Corinthians 3:5.  2.  What is above Reason, that is not to be judged by Reason:  but Scripture teaches us, and faith embraces, truths that are place above the orbit and sphere of Reason.  Therefore.  For, as the Senses do not assume to themselves Judgment in those things that are above Sense, and belong to Reason:  so neither is Judgment competent to Reason concerning those things that are supernatural and are above Reason:  but see 1 Corinthians 2:7; Matthew 13:11.  The Imperfection of the Degree of Illumination in believers, conjoined with the sublimity of these Mysteries, drives even the regenerate to their prayers, Open thou mine eyes, etc., Psalm 119:18, and presses from them humble confessions, I am brutish, etc., Proverbs 30:2-4.  γ. Not only is Reason blind in spiritual matters, but it is also averse to divine truth, and adverse to it, Romans 8:7.  But to that which is wont to make opposition to divine truth, which is for us the sole norm of faith and life; to that, I say, Judgment concerning the truth of faith and the sense of divine revelation is not at all safely committed.  On the other hand, from of old Philosophers were called the Patriarchs of Heretics, as it is in TERTULLIAN’S contra Hermogenem, chapter VIII, opera, pages 236, the truth of which saying experience also confirms.  δ. Therefore, the method of Scripture is completely contrary, which commands to take the mind captive and to submit to the Word of God, 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.  Now, what ought to submit to Scripture and to be judged by Scripture, to that supreme Judgment concerning the Scripture and its argument is not able to be committed.  For in the same way the matter stands, here with Reason, and with the Church in controversy with the Papists.  Indeed, ε. if Reason be here the Supreme and Infallible Judge, Scripture and its Interpretation would be subject to Reason and human judgment:  but one would for good reason dread to arrogate such a thing to himself concerning the divine Word, which is so prejudicial to its dignity.  According to 1 John 5:9, the divine witness is greater than human witness.  And rightly, ϛ. does our AUTHOR observe that this Judgment of which we treat is not transferred to Reason or Philosophy, even in the very smallest matter delivered by the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Books, since by that very thing that substance of divine Faith, ultimately resting upon the Word of God, would be taken away as such.  But this would be absurd:  since the formal reason of Faith, why I believe this, is the Word of God and its infallible truth, 1 Thessalonians 2:13.  But, if to Reason we commit the Supreme Judgment in matters of faith, the final analysis of Faith shall be in us; and the supreme reason why we thus believe shall be this, that so it appears to us:  consult VAN MASTRICHT’S Gangrænam Novitatum Cartesianarum, prior Section, chapter X, pages 105-148; LEYDEKKER’S Facem Veritatis, locus II, controversies II, III, pages 29-40; STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome I, chapter III, section XIX, § 1355-1359.  MILL, in his Oratione de Fatis Theologiæ exegeticæ, in Miscellaneis Sacris, page XXI, from a Manuscript of אשרי תמימי דרך, Blessed Are the Undefiled in the Way, relates this method, which the Karaites, to be commended above the Rabbis in exegetical method, maintain is to be used in the explication of Sacred Scripture:  “They teach that use is to be made of Reason and the Judgment of Intellect that attends to the words and nexus of the text, and also legitimately deduces by consequence other truths from the things said; but that also the light of Scripture ought to be added, and hence they are wont elegantly to call Reason and Scripture שתי הנרות בשתי ידינו, the two lights in both our hands.  But, where a more profound and abstruse Sense of Scripture occurs, that it is not to be too thoroughly searched out, neither is it therefore to be rejected, because we are not able to grasp it:  for, for that reason it is called הנבואה/prophecy, inspired by God, and what is more sublime than all reason, which is to be brought into subjection to Scripture; as what has God as author, and is confirmed by so many miracles that there is sufficient certainty concerning the Word of God, and so we are able to believe, although we do not everywhere understand it.”

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