Some Christian Observations on the Theological Disputation of Nikolaus Arnold, who proclaims himself a Doctor and Professor of Most Sacred Theology, Concerning Quakerism, and a Brief Refutation of It, by Robert Barclay
To everyone in all of Belgium and in particular to the doctors, professors, and students of the Academy of Franeker, Robert Barclay sincerely wishes a more abundant illumination from the divine Spirit to understand the truth, and an inclination to embrace it.
Not long ago, namely on the fourteenth day of the third month commonly called May, there arrived into my hands in Scotland, my homeland, Nikolaus Arnold’s disputation on Quakerism, for thus he with many others by way of derision refers to our religious profession. And although some weeks earlier I had presented for the sake of you and others unfamiliar with our doctrine, a clear explanation of my theses and a confirmation of their arguments drawn from Scripture, from right reason, and also from the Fathers of the Church, as they call them, in which I respond to all the minor objections which he himself had brought up, and many other things, and therefore his work seemed worthy of little consideration or particular refutation.
However, since this tractate is not yet complete, and even if it were it would not be able to reach you quickly on account of the great distance and its considerable size, I therefore decided that the disputation ought to be discussed with certain observations for your sake.
Although N. Arnold seems to write with no little authority, as if he had triumphed over the Quakers with unthwartable arguments, I however find nothing new in his work, nothing not long since repeated by our adversaries in Britain a hundred times—lest I should say a thousand times—and as many times refuted by us. The overturning of certain theses seems truly easy when no one replies. But both he and others will perhaps later feel that he will have had no cause for boasting, however he may insult.
Still, how vainly he boasts in section two that he has made it evident to the entire lecture hall that our theses cannot be called theological in the least, except καταχρηστικ ς (katachrestikos), in an abusive sense, or ντιφραστικ ς (antiphrastikos), contrary to its literal meaning, namely, in that sense by which the devil is called God. Nevertheless, I cannot believe that you (those who heard Arnold) are so untaught, ignorant or dull that you would judge his disputation to be a solid or sufficient refutation of my theses based upon his mere boldness, without a searching investigation. If an opinion of this sort had insinuated itself sooner than was appropriate, through lack of knowledge or of attention, because the other side of the argument had not been heard, once these remarks of mine have been read, such an opinion will easily vanish. So I hope, provided that you duly consider them and give them heed, the divine light of Christ illumines your hearts and reveals the meaning of sacred scriptures. If you do this, you will see that I teach everything in accordance with the Scriptures and moreover affirm nothing against them.
Robert Barclay, a Scot of Edinburgh, in
Scotland 16th of the month commonly
called May, in the year 1675
Some Christian Observations on the Theological Disputation of Nikolaus Arnold on Quakerism and a Brief Refutation of it
Before I enter upon the discussion of the particular details of this treatise seriatim, certain general observations must be considered beforehand, regarding the work as a whole and the circumstances which are extrinsic to the controversy.
First, I was not a little astounded when I read the opening lines about the “profanation of the doors of the Academy and their defiling,” and about the “defense of a holy place.”
Is it thus that Protestant theologians of the Netherlands talk, ascribing sanctity to stones and doors of the academy? This surely wreaks not so much of the pen of the reformed professor of most sacred theology as of the superstitious cowl of some Papist monk. In what way, I inquire, are those doors holy? I have always thought that Protestants held that holiness pertains to Christian persons, not to stones or pieces of wood. But let him take heed, lest they be called holy more in that sense in which he affirms that “the devil is called God.” Is not this figure of speech better suited to those sacred doors than to our theology as he falsely claims in that text?
Or are they more truly profane, if we see profane literature taught there, and, what is worse, that literature is made essential to the gospel ministry? Or if we see the fruits of those who are trained there, the depravity and worthlessness of which are commonly known to everyone? Therefore, Luther did not hesitate to assert that the devil was the author of such academies.
As for the complaint of Arnold that the doors of the academy were defiled by the affixing of my theses, this is so trifling that it scarcely seems worth consideration. Is this the act of a defiler, to make the truth public in front of your doors vocally or in writing? Do we not read of wisdom itself, “that it shouts at the doors” (Proverbs 3:8) and of Christ, who is that very wisdom, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”? (Revelation 3:20) Therefore is Christ, the wisdom of God, to be regarded as a defiler? May such blasphemy be far from our speech. However you may judge us, as far as we are concerned, we are ministers of Christ and servants of his eternal wisdom, regardless of your opinion of us. Moreover, we knock at doors, and at your door, [Here RB uses two different words for door, reflecting his sources.] so that you may admit Christ who knocks inwardly at the door of your consciences. This is not to desecrate your doors, as this disputant falsely charges against us. We know moreover that it is easy for a harlot to accuse a chaste, honorable, and modest woman of something shameful.
The Light Is neither of Human Origin nor the Same as Scripture
Further I would wish the reader to be alerted that Arnold says in his preface to the reader, “We do not obtain the source of the knowledge of God by a supposed natural light, but solely from the light of God’s word. He (meaning the Quaker) clearly indicates that his source of the knowledge of God is through the immediate testimony and light of the Holy Spirit.” By “word of God,” however, Arnold understands Scripture, from which alone the knowledge of God may be derived. And by these words he clearly excludes every light or inflowing or action of the Holy Spirit, from which in some way the knowledge of God may be drawn, for the designation “alone” is exclusive of every other cause.
Charges of Heresy
Now let reasonable Protestants judge if this does not promote Socinianism and Pelagianism, which odious names he falsely tries to pin on us—Protestants who with all their might contend, against the Socinians and Pelagians, for the absolute necessity of the inward illuminations, workings, and motions of the Holy Spirit pertaining to knowledge and saving faith. What about the fact that the same Arnold contradicts himself when he states in section ten that the Holy Spirit engenders that knowledge of the true God by means of the word? If this is true, then it is not from Scripture alone that that source of knowledge is to be drawn.
Arnold treats of the origin and customs of the Quakers no less unfavorably and unjustly in sections four, five, six, and seven. We have never maintained that quaking of the body is essential to our teaching although it can happen to some people, as in times past it also happened to certain saints, as is expressly read concerning Moses, David, Daniel and Habakkuk. And such a dispensation must not to be spurned when it truly proceeds from a sure sense of the presence of the glorious God and out of a sense of reverence for God.
I will not deny that those deriding us will perhaps take occasion on that account to call us by a name: Quakers. Yet we are not ashamed, however our adversaries may ridicule us, to be numbered among those who quake at the word of the Lord. For the French Protestants, the name “Huguenots” arose for a lesser cause, just as the less respectful “Geusen” (beggars) for the Dutch. Moreover, we rejoice that God permits us thus to be named among those who quake before him, rather than to be named for Luther, or Calvin, or Arminius, or Socinus, or some other person.
More Charges of Heresy
What he writes in section three about our origin as derived from the heretics Cerinthus and Montanus is sufficiently refuted: it has been stated without any proof. Indeed, we have nothing in common with the perverted teachings of those heresiarchs. For the heresy of Cerinthus, as it is reported, was his denying Christ’s divinity, which we affirm along with John, who is said to have written that most beautiful and truly divine testimony “In the beginning was the word,” to oppose the same Cerinthus. Similarly, we have nothing to do with the heresy of Montanus who is said to have designated himself the Paraclete, which is the height of blasphemy, or to have permitted his followers to call him thus. Thereafter, as Arnold also admits, he held his own false revelations and those of others in higher esteem the divine gospel.
All these matters are as distant as they can be from us, whose illuminations and revelations wholly reflect the gospel and also the gospel teaching of the apostles. Far be it from us to value ourselves or our revelations as either above the apostles and their revelations, or in opposition to them, for they are our senior brothers and elders.
And indeed, if we are to be considered heretics because we affirm that the Spirit of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ is our leader and teacher and endeavor to be moved by the Spirit, it suffices that we have derived such a “heresy,” as the doctor supposes it, from the apostle Paul, who says, “They who do not have the spirit of Christ did not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9), and “As many as are led by the spirit of God are children of God.”
(Romans 8:14) Further, we have derived this “heresy” also from Christ himself, who says, “No one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the son has wished to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27) And finally we have it from God, who in the past spoke through a prophet, “and they shall all be θεοδίδακτοι (theodidaktoi, taught by God).” (John 6:45)
Furthermore, that same spirit of prophecy that was in the apostles remained in the Church of God, even after the death of the apostles. There are distinguished witnesses: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and others, as can be seen in the Church History of Eusebius. And indeed in the same work by Eusebius, Apollonius attacks most sharply the followers of Montanus, because they extorted money for their preaching, not only from the rich, but also from the poor and from widows and orphans. Take heed, so that in this regard you are not too similar to the followers of the Montanus.
With respect to the mad ravings of the Anabaptists of Münster, they in no way apply to us, who reject all revelations that contradict the Scriptures. Their revelations were, however, false, in the first place because they contradicted the Spirit. For if they had proceeded from the Spirit of God, they could never have contradicted the Scriptures—but more of this at length in my Apology.
Arnold proceeds, saying that we owe our origin most closely to the English Independents. Let the English Independents themselves witness how utterly false this is. Indeed, in their public confession they have openly pronounced themselves ho less hostile than you are with regard to the immediate revelations of the Holy Spirit that have been brought about in these times. What he brings up about us from the History of Hornius does not shake us up any more than the lies of Cochlaeus concerning Luther, or those of Florimundus Raimundus and the rest of the bishops concerning Calvin and Beza.
Freedom of Conscience
But this is unworthy of a theologian: at the end of section six, Arnold acts shamelessly where he says that “we, not at all safe in our own country, seek abode outside of it in the Netherlands.” What can be said more falsely than this, since very many thousands of us at the very time my theses were published, and still today, by God’s moving the minds of the magistrates, after numerous persecutions, by reason and not by carnal strength at length have the benefit of external peace and liberty of conscience in Britain? Therefore, let him name, if he is able, even one person who emigrated from Britain into the Low Netherlands for reason of safety.
But even if this charge were true, what disgrace would that be, according to you? How many Dutch sought homes away from their homeland in England when it was not safe for them to live in their own country? Is it a disgrace for Christian for the sake of conscience to be driven out of this country? This sounds bad from the mouth of a Protestant, and especially from the Dutch doctor. Has the memory of Philip of Spain and of the Duke of Alva thus has faded away?
Arnold says that we conduct ourselves like Stoics. This is the ancient calumny of the Pharisees against John the Baptist, and also of the Ethnicians [ancient pagans] against the ancient Christians. That is why we do not refuse to bear the same ignominy for the same cause. However, we by no means refuse truly Christian greetings, both to our own community members [literally, brothers] and to others as well. Indeed, we make use of these greetings and honor to all peoples, of differing rank and class. What we do deny, however, is that such honor consists in bowing the body or uncovering the head. The doctor on the other hand asserts that honor lies in bowing and scraping, but he does not prove it.
Similarly false is his claim that we have arrogant and haughty manners. He adds further that if it was ever truly said of anyone. “The more illiterate, the more impudent,” it can be said of those Quakers. It is easy to conjecture, what sort of people, the doctor means here: certainly those who lack secular and scholastic education. Therefore, according to Arnold, all who have not been steeped in erudition at the Academy are impudent, and by this he convicts of impudence as many of his own people as ours. But let Arnold see whether the saying “the more learned, the more perverse,” does not aptly fit his own disciples. As I have heard it in the vernacular among you Dutch, it sounds like this: Hoe gelerder, hoe verkeerder.
Next, as he says, we advertise ourselves as the teachers of all, provoke everyone, harass and shamelessly impose our mad ravings on everyone, in the common practice of heretics. Reproaches made of the same powder were thrown upon
Christians by the Ethnicians, and upon the reformers by the popes. How arrogant they called Luther for making himself a teacher of the whole world. It suffices that we have shared the same lot, together with early Christians and Protestants. But enough of these matters; let me now proceed to the subject itself.
First Thesis: Knowledge of God
Concerning the first thesis, he alleges to me a fault: that I locate the highest good in the midst of this life, when it ought to established in possession of the end. As if indeed the vision of God were not, humankind’s highest good, a vision which is not a meager or bare knowledge, but one full of love. And this knowledge ought not to be too subtly distinguished from love. And to support my own opinion, I have cited the words of the Lord: this is everlasting life, that they may know the true God. Where were the doctor’s eyes, or his mind, that he did not see this?
Then he accuses me of not explaining whether I am treating of practical knowledge also, or only theoretical. Why does he not accuse Christ himself for not explaining what knowledge he is treating in the text cited? Certainly Arnold is acting exceedingly childish here. When a matter is self-evident, there is no need of explanation.
In the tenth section, he partly concedes the truth, but it is quite clear that by “the word of God” in this entire treatise he understands Scripture, not that internal word about which we speak along with the apostles. Accordingly, we do not concede to his suggestion that knowledge of God can be revealed only by the written words of Scripture. Neither do the texts from Scripture cited by him prove this, among which are John 15:26; 14:26, and 16:13. For in these texts there is no mention of the Scriptures.
Second Thesis: Immediate Revelation
In section eleven he claims that I ascribe the source of saving knowledge immediately to the Holy Spirit without the word and contrary to the word. I have noted above that by “word” he understands the letter of Scripture. But he wrongly and falsely he charges me with saying that the Spirit teaches people contrary to the letter. I resolutely maintain that the Spirit has taught people and is even now teaching them, independent of an absolute necessity of the letter, and that now too it is teaching people that which forms the essential points of saving knowledge.
But on the contrary I do not dispute that the Scriptures are exceptionally useful for all people whom they reach, provided that they use them properly. Indeed, I most freely admit that God uses the Scriptures as a certain means to implant in us a historical knowledge of the things narrated in them. They are not, however, the sole means for producing this historical knowledge. For even though Scripture sets forth those historical truths to our minds, still the principal motive, on the part of the object, the reason why we believe these truths is the inward motion, inspiration, and operation of the Spirit in us and this motion, inspiration, and operation are produced in us immediately by the Spirit; and we indeed know by the Spirit, even without the letter of Scripture, that God is the author of these inward motions and inspirations through which we are drawn toward and inclined to assent to the Scriptures.
As for his arguments in section eleven, they prove completely my position that saving knowledge is produced within persons through the Spirit, without the absolute necessity of the letter, yet not in opposition to the letter.
In the thirteenth section, he argues for the absolute necessity of the letter for bringing about saving knowledge in us and against all immediate revelation of the Holy Spirit, in this manner: “What God has joined and subordinated in Scripture by an indissoluble bond is unrightly separated or set in opposition. However, the Spirit and the word are joined. Therefore it is wrong to separate them.”
In reply, I grant the major premise, but I differ on the minor. If by “word” he understands the internal Word of faith concerning which the apostle wrote to the Romans (10:8), I concur. If by “word” he understands a literal word, or the external testimony of the letter, as he in fact does, I disagree. Nor do the Scriptures cited by him prove this. Indeed, he is so far off that what he cites to oppose us could be best adduced in our favor, which I will prove in a few words.
The first text is: “My spirit, which is in you and my words which I have placed in your mouth,” and so on. (Isaiah 51:29) Here it is clearly evident that God promised that he with his spirit would always be with the saints, and that his word would always be placed in their mouth. And it is this very thing for which we contend, and which Arnold condemns. Indeed, with his brother he denies that the Spirit teaches the saints by putting words in their mouth. For, according to them, they now never have any words from God except those which long ago were placed for others in Scripture.
Regarding the second testimony, “I am with you by my Spirit and by my word,” (Hag. 2:6) the same thing can surely be said.
The third testimony is: “Do not quench the Spirit, and do not disdain prophecies.” (1 Thess. 5:19-20) He could have presented nothing better to contradict himself. For according to him all prophecies, properly called, have now ceased. This contradicts the apostle in the text cited. Therefore, that passage which he quotes from Solomon is truly fit for him and his brothers: “When prophecy ceases the people are deprived.” (Prov. 29:18)
Furthermore, when he says that the Spirit and prophecies are bound together, I concur in one respect, in that true prophecies never occur without the Spirit of God moving and working in those who prophesy. But with regard to your prophecy, when you insist that even people not imbued with the grace of God can preach or prophesy for the benefit of others, it is clearly evident that you separate your prophecy from the Spirit, and in this you do wrongly. Yet on the contrary, the Spirit is not always joined with external prophecy. For there are people who have the Spirit of God for uses other than external prophecy, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 12:10, etc.
In section fourteen, he deduces his second argument from the manner by which the Holy Spirit operates. There is, he says, a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, meaning that it is effective, but by means of a word. (Ps. 19:8-9) This matter however, whether external words are necessary, is solved by the distinction made above. For if it is an internal word, law, or testimony that is spoken of, I agree; but if it is the letter of Scripture, I disagree. The Scriptures that he draws on throughout that whole section in no way prove his point. Those texts indeed speak of the word but not of the letter, and his whole argument depends on this false hypothesis, which he does not even begin to prove. For if someone were to claim that Scripture can figuratively, that is, by metonymy or by metaphor, be called the word, nevertheless, it does not then follow that it is or ought properly to be called the word of God, and, simply speaking, much less exclusively so, since Scripture itself clearly speaks of the interior word, both in those texts chosen by Arnold as well as in a host of others. Furthermore Arnold says, “I speak by means of divinely inspired Scriptures that render a person wise unto salvation.” (2 Tim. 3:15)
That passage, 2 Timothy 3:15, even though it speaks of the usefulness of Scripture, does not however speak of its absolute necessity. For that text does not say that all Scripture is absolutely necessary, but that it is useful. For Scripture is certainly able to render a person wise with regard to salvation, yet not through itself but through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith, however, cannot be had without the inspiration and working of the Holy Spirit. It is evident that Paul does not relegate Timothy to the Scriptures alone but refers him to the internal gift of God when St. Paul says. “Do not neglect the gift which is in you.” (1 Tim. 4: 14)
In the third argument, in section 15, Arnold draws a conclusion from the examples of those who were taught and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, namely, when Abraham referred the brothers of the rich man to Moses and the prophets (Luke 16:19-31); when Christ sent the Jews to search the Scriptures, and when those who heard Peter on Pentecost were taught concerning the mysteries of faith by means of Peter. (Acts 2) He adds the same about Cornelius. Who, however, taught Cornelius to send for Peter? Who taught him to pray and act so that he was pleasing to God, even before he saw Peter?
The passage John 5:39 about searching the Scriptures can be taken indicatively no less than imperatively. And that it ought to be taken indicatively is sufficiently clear from the censure that follows; for indeed formerly the Jews were unwilling to come to Christ the Light in order truly to attain life, just as now people of the same spirit are determined to obtain eternal life in the Scriptures.
Indeed by means of preaching some people were instructed, but from this does it follow that neither they themselves nor any others were taught immediately? Undoubtedly the apostles instructed one another, but were they therefore not taught immediately by the Spirit? Because Arnold himself teaches his students by means of his academic disputations, his writings, and his other booklets, does it therefore follow that he himself does not teach the same students immediately through his own voice? The arguments therefore that he vainly states in section eighteen neither disprove the Quaker’s thesis nor support his own.
But he preaches a triple falsehood when he claims that “true knowledge of God has only been thus revealed up to this point, that it is now thus revealed, and that only in this way can it be revealed; not up to the present, because in the past God has been revealed through the Spirit only to certain people and by means of them to others.” For even though some people were taught by means of others who were especially inspired, it does not follow from this that the latter were never taught immediately by God. This is dependent on the false hypothesis that if someone is taught intermediately by another person, then the first person cannot be taught immediately. This I deny. It is no less absurd than if I were to say that because some young people hear certain theological lectures at Franeker by means of Arnold, then they are unable to hear them from anywhere else, or find them immediately from other books, from which Arnold has perhaps secretly stolen them.
By means of the apostle John saints were once taught. The same John, however, plainly affirms that they have an anointing such that it is not necessary for them to be taught by another (1 John 2:27), and this one testimony sufficiently responds to all that is claimed by Arnold in sections 17, 18, and 19. The text from 2 Tim. 3:14 has already been responded to. Granted that Abraham taught his family, Moses taught the people, and Jeremiah taught the house of Jacob by the movement of the Lord; it does not follow that God did not teach them immediately. For on the contrary Abraham was commanded to submit to the voice of his wife. (Gen. 21:12) Here God therefore spoke to Sarah no less than to Abraham, and therefore God did not teach Abraham’s family by means of Abraham alone. It is also expressly said that while Moses lived the Spirit came upon seventy elders and they prophesied (Num. 11:25), and that the Spirit was on others who were in the camp, and that Moses desired that such would happen to all. But although not all the people prophesied, it is nonetheless explicitly said in Nehemiah (9:20) that God, who had given manna in the desert for all to eat, also imparted God’s good Spirit to them, to instruct them. Further, did not the same Moses direct all the people to the word which was within them (Deut.30:14), the same word that Paul explains is the word of faith that is Christ? (Rom. 10:8)
Therefore, although by means of Moses the Jews were taught, it was not by him alone. (Ps. 50:7) The same can be said in the times of Jeremiah and of other prophets, who often commended the Israelite people to God in their own consciousness of God, attesting to the very same truth of the things that they spoke, such as “Hear, my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify in you,” (·Í) (Micah 1:2), and again, “The Sovereign God will testify in you” (·ÎÌ ). Indeed, also Nehemiah himself, in his prayer to God, asserted that God had testified in these same Israelites that God would turn them to God. (Neh. 9:29) For thus all these texts speak in Hebrew (·‰Ì).
What Arnold advances from New Testament times is even more absurd. When the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, clearly states, also quoting from Jeremiah, that under the new covenant, all will be taught by God, such that it would not be necessary that anyone should say to a community member [literally, brother] and a neighbor, “Know God,” because all would come to know God. (Hebr. 8:11)
Therefore Arnold behaves too frivolously in section 20 when he says I dispute in vain about what can be because what is wished by God is fixed. For in my Theses I do not so much dispute as simply declare the truth. Moreover, I contend that God never wishes to preserve God’s church without God’s presence and immediate revelation. The doctor has neither proved the contrary, nor will he ever be able to do.
In sections 21 and 22 he insults in vain, rejecting the proofs that I have set forth. For what I proposed through my Theses, I did not do so much as proofs as for the sake of explanation and illustration. Moreover, he refutes not me but himself when he concedes that in regeneration God acts by means of an incorruptible seed, which very thing I affirm. This incorruptible seed, however, is not the letter of Scripture, which the so-called Church Fathers in various texts declared to have been corrupted by the Jews, and the Protestants declared to have been corrupted by the popes.
What he says in section 22 about the word compared to waters does nothing for his case, except to prove that in the texts cited by him, the word is the letter of Scripture or words externally written. Because he has not even once attempted to do this, we indeed maintain that the words of life that the Spirit speaks at times by itself directly in the hearts of the saints, at other times from the mouths of prophets as by the Spirit they flow immediately into the souls of the hearers, are well compared with the water of rain, of dew, of rivulet, etc., as in the selected texts. But this word of life should in no way be understood as concerning either the letter of Scripture or the external testimony of the prophets since it does not flow immediately from their mouth but is read or declared by people who are dead in their sins. And indeed this will be clear from a diligent consideration of the texts.
Moreover, Arnold patently fights with himself, contradicts himself, when in section 21 he says, “God acted immediately in creation,” that is, according to him, without means. Furthermore, in section 22, using an allegorical interpretation, he admits even in the first creation the Spirit lay over the waters, which God used as a means for the formation of the world. I freely admit what he says next, that just as the Holy Spirit lay over these material waters, so also today the Spirit lies over those spiritual waters of the word that is preached. However, I deny that the dead, empty, and sterile preachings of Arnold and his brothers, who are not immediately moved by the Spirit of God to speak and to preach, as even they themselves admit, are those spiritual waters that the Spirit lay upon. I further deny that material water, which they use in sprinkling infants, pertains to this spiritual water. Let him prove the contrary if only he is able, or he does nothing against us.
Further, I wish everyone to be advised on this matter: when we contend for the immediate working and illumination of God by God’s Spirit for the purpose of regenerating, teaching, and leading people, we by no means exclude means of all sorts, even external means. For we acknowledge that God often uses external means; also often God uses no means. Indeed, when God uses them, God works and acts immediately and proximately. Consequently we in no way oppose the good use of external means, not only through Scripture but also through the voice of others or through the writing of publications. Further, the use of external means is good and altogether permitted, provided that one does not use these means unless God goes before and works together with the means through the internal and immediate movements, inflowings, and illuminations of God’s Spirit.
We are not opposed, therefore, as has been said, to a permissible use of external means, but to their abuse, such as if one were to lean upon these means alone, without God’s initiation and collaboration, as so many do. Further, we oppose the absolute necessity of external means, because when external means are absent, God alone, infinitely good and merciful, is present to supply their deficiency with regard to the salvation of people’s souls. But many people do not recognize the immediate help of God that is present to all in the Day of Visitation, and they do not make use of it. Therefore they perish justly, both those having external means and those who do not. Moreover, as pertaining to internal means, we have always acknowledged them to be absolutely necessary. For whatever God does within us, it always is by means of God’s word and incorruptible seed, which is something internal, then by means of internal words, flowing from the internal Word, and by means of other spiritual and divine images, ideas, and forms produced in us through this same word.
Rather, it is by means of God’s own sort, concurrent with our own souls and minds. Truly it is like fields of the earth that after they have been cultivated, fertilized, and planted, and then soaked with rain and celestial dew, and received the inflowings of the sun, produce good fruit, just as fertile mothers bring forth their progeny.
In section 24 Arnold says that internal revelations are not the formal object of faith for all, because not all people have these revelations. This is not to bring forward a proof but to beg the question. For he has not yet proved that all do not receive, to some degree, in accordance with their condition and time, a revelation of God about the things that it is absolutely of necessity to know. But, he adds, Paul had revelations of the Spirit and nevertheless says that he believes all that is written in the law and the prophets; therefore, besides internal revelations, the scriptures were the object of his faith.
I respond that the object of faith is twofold, namely the “object which” and the “object by which.” The “object which” is that which is believed, or ought to be believed; the “object by which” is the principal motive of credibility. Moreover, we acknowledge, and we have never denied, that the Scriptures are, for those who come to the knowledge of them, the “object which.” Even if the scriptures are not the total of that which ought to be believed by everyone, as will be explained more extensively in my Apology, they are however not the “object by which.” For this is the internal testimony of the Spirit, just as all the earliest Protestants affirm with one voice. Only by the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit are they adequately led to believe the Scriptures, of which matter even Calvin himself is confident in his Institutes, ch.7, book 1, sect. 1-2 etc.
In section 25, after he partially acknowledged the truth, Arnold concludes that revelation beyond Scripture is not necessary for all. Indeed, he says, that is to say nothing other than that each and every person ought to be a prophet immediately moved by the Holy Spirit, and that the Scriptures are of no use or necessity, God multiplies things [entia, literally, beings] beyond necessity. For what good is Scripture since the Spirit excels it?
I respond: it does not follow hence, that each and every person ought to be a prophet; for the immediate guidance of the Spirit is also given for other uses than for prophesying, as it can be given for faith and knowledge, as the apostle expressly holds. (1 Cor. 12) Further, it is clear from the apostle’s words that each and every Christian is truly led by the Holy Spirit: “Whoever are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Rom. 1:14) –and from many other passages of Scripture. How is it that you Calvinists contend that all people, the evil as much as the good, are immediately led by God, not only to good but also to sinful actions, and this you do contrary to Durandus, Adola and others who are of a contrary opinion? And contrary to the Jesuits you hold that God by God’s own influence immediately determines people even toward the most depraved acts, such as thefts, homicides, and adulteries. Thus, when this influence is in place, they are unable not to do such things—which doctrine of yours, on this point, as on many others, is horrendous. Why therefore does Arnold find fault with us for maintaining that good people, one and all, are led immediately by God through God’s Spirit to all good things? It does not then follow that the Scriptures are of no use or necessity, for thus it would no less follow that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were of no use to the apostles, who had immediate revelations from the Holy Spirit.
In section 26, Arnold maintains that the revelations of which I speak contradict Scripture. He does not prove this. He also charges that they also contradict plain reason because sound reason teaches civility, which my last thesis proscribes. All these things that are proffered without any proof fall of their own weight and need no refutation. These however are the strongest arguments of Arnold, who proclaims himself a doctor and professor of most sacred theology. Admittedly, I acknowledge that plain reason teaches true civility. However, this civility does not consist in uncovering the head; otherwise the prophets, the three youths, and the apostles acted contrary to plain reason because they did not uncover their heads in extending greetings.
In section 27 he writes that the revelations of the Spirit ought to be subject to the testimony of the Scriptures as to a more excellent standard because some people are deceivers and because not just any spirit should be believed. Moreover the Lydian stone [a flint slate used in ancient times as a touchstone to test gold and silver] must be applied, as well as law and testimony—that is, according to him, Scripture. And for proving this he refers to 1 Timothy 4:1 and Luke 9:55. But in those texts nothing is found that by any token of reason can bear on this matter.
Without a doubt the doctor was either sleeping or delirious when he wrote these things. But what if there were false revelations of a false spirit? Who has ever denied this? But then can they better discerned than by the true Spirit of God and by internal anointing? John commended this anointing to Christians, by which they might recognize both those who might lead them astray and all the rest more effectively than by his writings. 1 John 2:27; 1 John 2:2.
In section 28, he says that I make a false claim when I say the testimony of the Spirit is self-evident, leading the welldisposed intellect to assent because then by nature an intellect well-disposed to supernatural things would be given.
Indeed I utterly deny this consequence. It can easily be turned back against Arnold himself and his brothers, who admit that the truths of Scripture do not compel the intellect to assent, in whatever way they are evident through themselves, or through Scripture, or by any other means at all, unless that intellect is welldisposed; yet he does not concede that a well-disposed intellect is given by nature, except by divine grace and action.
For a clearer understanding of this matter, note: internal divine revelations are of two sorts, namely general and special.
The latter are only communicated to the saints, and they required a pure and sanctified intellect, so that they might be grasped by it. General revelations, however, are imparted even to impious and wicked people, whose intellect is in some way by the universal grace and beneficial illumination of God and Christ, disposed to grasp them. For it cannot be denied that sometimes there are good dispositions divinely produced in people before their regeneration and sanctification, by virtue of divine visitation and touch. These good dispositions prepare the way for the regeneration of these people, just as dryness and heat in wood is a disposition preparing the way for the enkindling of the wood and the generation of fire in it.
From these matters what I understand by a well-disposed intellect is clear, and that an intellect is well-disposed not by nature but by divine grace and supernatural operation. Therefore, not by one’s own natural power but by virtue of divine universal grace, each person is capable of hearing and understanding the voice of the divine Spirit in some general matters and in morals. If one is obedient in these, the intellect is more and more disposed toward the understanding of more particular matters.
Third Thesis: The Scriptures
In section 30 he says I am triply wrong regarding the Scriptures: first, that I say that they contain the testimony of the principal doctrines of the Christian faith. He adds: “Why not of all of them?” When I speak of the principal ones, I mean all the essential doctrines. Therefore this is no occasion for quibbling. But if, as Arnold adds, Paul said nothing beyond Moses and the prophets, then according to Arnold’ argument in section 25, for Paul there was no work through the Spirit or through immediate revelation, for this would be, as he himself says, an example of God multiplying things beyond necessity.
Moreover, in Acts 26:22, it says that Paul preached nothing other than what Moses and the prophets preached would happen, not what did happen. He cannot deny my words that followed because they are completely true. He nonetheless attempts to deduce a false conclusion from them. I said that in different times the sacred writings were spoken and written for certain churches and pastors, according to the differing occasions that presented themselves. Let him deny this if he dares or is able. But listen to the doctor’s conclusion: therefore they do not pertain to us. This clearly signals that the Scriptures are less necessary today. This is his conclusion, not my claim. But is this the ability of the doctor and professor of Theology at Franeker to refute opponents, drawing false conclusions from true propositions?
In section 31, while he cannot deny the truth, namely, that Scripture is not the source but the declaration of the source, he nevertheless concedes nothing to me freely, not even that which is true. He is most miserably distracted in various directions while he fights his own shadow rather than our thesis. For the question is neither about the Spirit of the Quaker, as he says, even though we by no means doubt that true Quakers, so called, are imbued with the true Spirit of God, nor that we subordinate the Scriptures to any alleged private spirit. For the dispute is not about the hypothesis whether the Spirit of the Quaker is the Spirit of God or whether this or that person is led by that Spirit; rather the dispute is whether the Spirit of God is to be preferred above Scripture, or whether Scripture is to be subject to the true Spirit of God. Because he is compelled to admit this, I have what I wanted.
That passage in Isaiah 11:3, [intending 12:3] which he cites, indeed speaks of the source of salvation, but it does not say that the Scriptures are the source. These texts have already been spoken of: John 5:39, Luke 16, Acts 16:22 and 24:14, 2 Tim. 3:1415. None of these passages suggest—not even by one word—that Scripture is the source of knowledge, so it is astonishing that he cited them here as proof.
Further it is astonishing that Arnold says in this section that that Spirit who is the author of Scripture is a divine person. I long to know from where he draws this phrase “divine person.” Surely, we believe and profess that that Spirit who is the author of scripture is the Spirit of God, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and which itself is God. But indeed this Spirit of the Quaker, Arnold says, is an accident and capacity dictated by that Spirit, transforming itself into an angel of light. [See 2 Cor. 11:14, referring to Satan] This is not to make an argument; rather, it is to make calumny, because he has never in the least proved his assertion. In fact, he cannot prove it. To be sure, we do speak of our own spirit, but we do not contend on its behalf.
Rather, we contend on behalf of the same divine Spirit with which the prophets and apostles were imbued, and who dwells truly in all true Christians and truly works in them according to some degree and measure of divine grace. We feel and experience, with the greatest certainty, that this same Spirit is in us and works in us, just as in all true Christians. However, as has been stated, the controversy at the present is not about whether the Spirit of the Quaker is the Spirit of God. Nor is it about whether the Spirit of God dwells in so-called Quakers. Rather, it is about whether the Spirit of God in those people in whom it abides and to whom it reveals the divine will and counsel—whoever they ultimately may be—are to be preferred above Scripture. Of this I speak. This is the issue.
Fourth Thesis: The Human Condition in the Fall
In section 32, he seems to concede with my fourth thesis concerning the corruption of Adam’s posterity. He nonetheless argues that a person who is dead in sin and corrupt can, without true grace of God, be a minister of the gospel and be of service to souls. Moreover, he tries to prove this from the words of the apostle, “Lest, when I have preached to others, I myself become rejected.” (1 Cor. 9:27) But what then? This argument depends on that false hypothesis that no one who was once imbued with even the least measure of divine grace can ultimately fall from it. Clearly the words of the apostle do not imply that a minister of the gospel can be rejected at the same time that one preaches the gospel, but that this can happen afterwards, if one does not live mindfully. For the apostle says, “Lest I become rejected,” which refers to the future but not to the present state. Otherwise he himself would then have been at that very time an outcast. If however Arnold wished to argue from this, he ought to suppose Paul to have become rejected, whereby he would overturn his own doctrine of the impossibility of lapsing from grace.
Thus the doctor often inadvertently contradicts himself. Examples of false prophets are very fitting for the doctor and his false doctrine, but the issue is not about false ministers but about true ones. He nonetheless thus alleges as proof that because false prophets existed without the grace of God, therefore some people can be true ministers without the grace of God. The example of Judas does not support his case because Judas never possessed a gospel mission, which the apostles received only after the ascension of Christ, and because Arnold can never prove that Judas had ever been imbued with even the least measure of God’s grace, nor that he afterwards fell from grace through transgression. Peter however clearly suggests this in Acts 1:25 by stating that Judas fell from his ministry through transgression. Therefore Peter remarked of him from the Psalm, καÂ τ¬ν ¦πισκοπ¬ν αÛτο λαβέτω ªτερος (kai ten episkopen autou labeto heteros), that is, “let another receive his office.” Clearly this prophecy of David is to be fulfilled as much by all the successors of Judas as it was once fulfilled by Judas himself, namely that others who are more worthy will receive their place of service. Indeed I readily concede that a minister of the gospel ought not to be received by people as a minister before one’s condition is clearly established for them, that is that one is a pious person; yet one can be heard once or twice, so that it may thus be tested whether there is agreement concerning that person, whether beyond doubt one preaches the sound doctrine of the gospel in the demonstration of Spirit and Truth, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:4. For whoever preaches in this demonstration makes manifest to the minds of the hearers, through the cooperating spirit, that one is a true minister.
It does not, however, follow from this that people know as much as God. When Arnold says, from 2 Timothy 2:19, that God alone knows who are God’s, he corrupts the text. Paul states “God knows who are God’s,” but it does not say “alone.” Indeed Paul himself is a witness that this insertion of “alone” is false: through the revelation of God he knew and designated many by name, even the elect who had been written in the book of life, as is read in Romans 16. Arnold is silent concerning the liability of infants, whether they will perish on account of Adam’s sin, which horrible doctrine he and his brothers teach. He says that I subscribe to this same corruption and exempt infants from it. To this I say that he himself either did not consider my thesis attentively or understood it poorly. This thesis suggests sufficiently clearly that a corrupt seed has been transmitted from Adam and that it is in all people. However, it is imputed to no one before a person joins oneself to it by actually sinning.
Fifth and Sixth Theses: The Universal Redemption by Christ, and the Saving and Spiritual Light that Enlightens Everyone
In section 34, against the fifth and sixth thesis, he argues against the universal love and grace of God toward each and every person because, as he contends, God is infinitely just no less than infinitely good. Indeed, as if it were not less contrary to the justice of God than to the goodness of God to condemn people for eternity, to reject them, to afflict them with everlasting tortures on account of the sins committed by them, which they in no way were able to avoid, not only on account of that grace which they did not use, by which they would have been able to obey God and flee from these sins, but also on account of that horrendous decree of God fabricated by Arnold and his brothers, by which God has decreed from all eternity that they would commit those same sins. I do not deny, however, that God attends some people with particular love and good will. But it does not then follow that God has neither loved all people nor given them sufficient grace.
In section 35 Arnold says that God does not take delight in the death of the wicked but nonetheless wills it, just as a judge wishes capital punishment even though he takes no delight in it.
But this comparison is very defective. For if a judge were to command someone to do something yet denied the sufficient and necessary means to comply, preordaining that the person would not comply, and nevertheless condemn this person for the failure and inflict capital punishment, surely everyone would rightly accuse such a person of injustice and cruelty.
But Arnold and his brothers do not shudder to attribute this very thing to a most just God. Next he treats the words “for all” and “of the world,” contending that individuals are not to be understood by these words. But here as elsewhere, as is his custom, he asserts; he does not prove, unless saying the following is a proof: because the phrase “of the whole world” in John 2:2 does not signify individuals, much less is “individual” signified by the phrase “of the world.” This is to beg the question, as if it has already been conceded that in this text individuals were not understood by the phrase “of the whole world” but only the elect, as he thinks. But let Arnold show where in the whole of Scripture by the phrase “the whole world” only the elect are meant, all others excluded. Indeed, I will show him where by the phrase “the whole world” infidels are meant, and those who are not the elect. Let him read the same apostle in 1 John 5:19: “We are from God, but the world has been placed in the power of the evil one.” Because this cannot be said of a whole world of the elect, Arnold’ argument is therefore irrelevant because he deduces his conclusion from a hypothesis both unconceded and false.
In section 36 the words of John 1:9 concerning the light that enlightens everyone coming into the world are interpreted thus: “Every one, that is, who is enlightened,” just as in Psalm 145:14 God is said to raise up all who fall, that is, “those who are raised.” But this interpretation of Arnold, both of the words of John and of those adduced from the Psalms, is exceedingly forced. For why must we forsake a plain and direct meaning of a text, so that we might seek an indirect and forced meaning, one that they either cannot in any way bear, or if they could, clearly have been twisted out in an utterly forced and altogether brutal way through a bizarre figure of speech? Does not Doctor Arnold himself know that axiom accepted in the schools, that the proper meaning of Scripture is not to be forsaken, nor should one flee to a figurative meaning unless necessity urges it? That necessity is in no way apparent here.
Therefore, let the meaning of these words be plain and clear, and likewise the words of the Psalmist, “God raises up all who fall.” For there is no one who is not at some time raised up by God himself according to some degree or measure of God’s supernal grace and illumination, just as whoever fall in the first Adam are raised up in the second. In this way, that is, they are enlightened and enlivened, even though many and nearly most scorn this enlightenment and enlivening from God, such that at last there is utter darkness and once again, after they were once vivified, they become dead once more.
In section 37, as if rapt in wonder, he goes on, repeating my phrase, namely, that this light enlightens for the purpose of salvation. He adds, “Even those who are said to have been in darkness (Eph. 2:18)? [Likely 5:8 is meant here.] Even those who had an understanding obscured by darkness? Even those who were without God and Christ in the world?” Why not? Is it not said, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not seized it” (John 1:5)? Does not the light dawn for those who dwell in darkness and in the region and shadow of death (Matt. 4:16)? Is not God near to those who worship the unknown God (Acts 17)? Has not Moses himself testified to the people of Israel that the word was so near to them as even to be within them? (Deut. 30:14)
The apostle Paul preaches that this word is also in the gentiles, and that this word is the word of faith, which is Christ, and which James also says is an engrafted word. (James 1:21) Yet he says nothing in response to those above-mentioned texts, Deuteronomy 30 and Romans 10, which I had used in my sixth thesis, except that he asks in section 36, how can they believe who have not heard and can they hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10:14) To which I responded with the same apostle, that faith comes through hearing; hearing, however, comes through the word of God.
God, moreover, preaches this word of God, which is in all people, to these very people, and nothing is deaf to this word of God, as Jerome once remarked on this same passage. Indeed, Luther also emphatically repeats these words of Jerome with approval. Then Arnold is utterly silent about that illuminative scriptural passage 2 Timothy 10:11, referred to by me above in my Theses. Further, I admit what Arnold says, that Christ tasted death for all the believing elect, for his sheep, for his people, and so on; but not only for them, such that others are thereby excluded from becoming capable of salvation. Otherwise why is it that some people are said to have denied the Lord who redeemed them? (2 Pet. 2:1) I admit what is said of the certainty of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:22, yet I deny that it is concerned only with the resurrection of the body. For just as the Apostle in that text treats both the external and the internal death of people through the first Adam, so he also clearly treats both kinds of resurrection through Christ, both of the soul and of the body.
His words concerning the second Adam, who is the enlivening Spirit, suggest this very thing. Those who receive Christ through faith and obedience, bear the image of the divine. And this refers no less, if not more, to the resurrection of the soul than of the body. But Arnold states that not all will rise again to life. To eternal life, I concur. To say, however, that not all will be enlivened is contrary to the apostle, who expressly affirms this. This enlivening occurs when Jesus Christ through his divine illumination touches the hearts of all who are dead in sin, and by this touch makes them aware, first of their sins, then of judgment and divine mercy. This awareness is unable to come into being without an enlivening of some sort.
But even if I affirm that all are to be enlivened by Christ, take caution that you do not think that I pronounce that all people are de facto actually regenerated. For it is one thing to be enlivened in this manner; it is another thing to be regenerated. All who have been regenerated have been enlivened. But, on the contrary, not all who have been enlivened are regenerated, because they clearly resist the enlivenings from God through which true regeneration is brought forth. Then Arnold says that Christ and Adam are contrasted, not on account of the equal multitude on both sides, either of the dead or of the living, but on account of the manner of working. He sets this forth but does not prove it. Let Rom. 5:18 be read, where the contrast is clear, both on account of the equal multitude [that is, all people] and on account of the manner of working, with a parallel drawn between Adam and Christ. This parallelism implies equal numbers on both sides; otherwise it is not a parallelism, for parallels are identified by equal dimensions on both sides.
In section 39 he continues, briefly taking up the sixth thesis, saying “A lid fit for the dish”! This seems to smell of the kitchen, if section 53 of the doctor is to be believed. But let us see whether this is the occasion for him to take such pride in himself. For he ought to fear lest this saying suit him: where there is more boasting, there is less reasoning. He says that I am subscribing to Pelagianism when I say that a person dead in sin is able to use well primary and common grace. But let Arnold note that I clearly extricate myself from Pelagianism. For I say τó, the good use of common and universal grace comes about not from the natural powers of a person but from the common grace itself, such that a person is unable to use the grace, if one remains in a dead condition, inasmuch as one who obstinately resists will relapse even after being enlivened.
Indeed I admit that the permanent condition of those who are not regenerated is death, and that the human being as such is not able to make use of divine grace. But sometimes, in fact often, God touches a person dead in sins with the enlivening illumination of God’s grace. By this touch that dead person is revived a little through the divine visitation that is present. Yet if this visitation is spurned by one, one relapses once more into death, such that one is then able to do nothing until one is again enlivened through Christ himself.
This in no way implies that this same person is not dead as far as concerns one’s permanent, ordinary condition; and yet sometimes is transiently enlivened, so to speak, just as it does not imply that wax or iron is not something hard and inflexible, though both nevertheless sometimes become soft as to be easily bent when fire is applied to them. Pelagius, however, never taught this doctrine, and it is as far from any Pelagianism as Calvinism itself is from the truth of Scripture. Moreover it has been shown above that Arnold himself smacks very much of Pelagianism.
Otherwise throughout this section Arnold behaves vainly and childishly, with mere assertions. The Scriptures cited by him do not prove the absolute necessity of knowing the history by those to whom it has never reached, for Christ is able to be both known and believed without the external history insofar as he is the word, life, and light in everyone. I have never asserted that those philosophers who have become vain and foolish in their reasonings have been saved, but I shall prove that some philosophers and gentiles have been, having drawn this conclusion from the express words of the apostle. I suppose that Arnold will not deny that all who are justified are saved.
Given this, I argue thus. All doers of the law, or those who do the things that are of the law, will be justified. But some gentiles have done what is of the law. Therefore, some gentiles are saved. The major premise is the very sentiment of the apostle in Romans 2:13. The minor premise consists of words of the same apostle in verse 14. This one proof sufficiently refutes his quibbling. With regard to that axiom, that is, that gentiles do things that are of the law, I utterly deny that this and many other things of this sort that are engrafted in the hearts of gentiles pertain to natural law or natural theology as he, with many others, claims in vain.
For excellent and noble moral sayings have been engrafted in the minds of all people, and they do not derive them from the corrupt nature of Adam but from Christ himself by the power of his divine grace and illumination. But Arnold asserts the contrary; he introduces horrible Pelagianism and Socinianism when he supposes that a corrupt nature is able either to teach or to obey this excellent axiom, which Christ himself says is the law and the prophets, that is, the very sum total of the things that are to be done as explained in the law and the prophets. I do not object if the law or theology is called natural, with regard not to its origin and efficient cause, which is not nature but God himself and Christ, but to the subject in which it has been engrafted, because of course it has been engrafted into the human nature itself for the purpose of teaching, reforming, and governing. But after consideration has been given to its origin, it is to be reckoned as altogether both divine and supernatural.
Accordingly when I say supernatural, I distinguish it from other faculties of the soul that are merely natural, which even if in a certain respect proceed from God, are nevertheless properly natural, that is, they belong to human nature. Moreover that purely divine law has been engrafted by God in the soul in accordance with the dispensation of a new covenant. But Arnold insists that if this dispensation is true, then as a result no grace is bestowed on those to whom God had granted Scripture, unless God was, through round-about ways, leading those whom God could have led through shorter means.
When he argues, not so much against me as against the Lord himself, when limiting God in God’s works—a minimal measure of grace, according to Arnold himself, leads to heaven—what need is there then of a greater measure? Then no differing measure of divine grace and love could be given. Two talents rendered the faithful servant blessed. What need is there of five for the other, so that he might acquire beatitude? How foolish and inept is this sort of reasoning? But can the scriptures, even though according to Arnold they are the source of divine knowledge, suffice for the students of Franeker without the writings of Arnold? For whose benefit, then, are the writings of Arnold, unless it is that he guides through circuitous ways those who could have been guided more directly by Scripture itself without Arnold. Let him watch out, lest this argument of his inflict a fatal wound on his own head.
Seventh Thesis: Justification
In section 40 he proceeds against the seventh thesis, which treats justification. There he falsely posits that I treat of the justification in particular of those who are unacquainted with the story of Christ, though I offer my thinking, in accordance with the Scriptures, on universal justification, both of those who have as well as those who do not have the external history, namely, that justification occurs through Jesus Christ formed within, producing in the saints the capacity both to will and to do things that are good. Both in my seventh thesis I contended that this is a true justification, and I still contend this against Arnold and his brothers. They assert that some people are justified through Christ, not however through being formed in them, and dwelling in them through his Spirit, and producing his works in them, but only through acting and suffering outside them, through the word of scripture apprehended by faith, in no way taking account of the internal justice of Christ accomplished in the hearts of the saints as necessary for their justification.
But Arnold responds nothing to this. From this may it not be concluded that one who is silent seems to agree? He explains these Scriptural texts 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5, and John 3:5 as concerned with his outward and external baptism by material water. This is as easily rejected by me as it is alleged by him, because he merely asserts and does not prove. Even many Protestants share this opinion with us that the text John 3:5 does not pertain to external water. Otherwise the opinion of the popes would hold: namely, that external baptism is absolutely necessary for a person’s salvation, so that one who is not sprinkled with water would perish for eternity.
Eighth Thesis: Perfection
In section 41 he treats my eighth thesis, which treats perfection, or the possibility of redemption from sin. There it suffices the doctor to assert that because such illumination is not given, its effects are not able to be given. A brief and succinct method of refuting—if only it were solid! But in fact it was proved above that such illumination is truly given. Moreover, what does he say against the possibility of attaining perfection, even among the saints themselves who have Scripture and all other external means, whom he confesses are divinely illuminated, about whom my thesis speaks? He, however, states that those who rejoice in the revealed light of scripture deem it necessary to lament over their imperfections and to pray daily, “forgive us our trespasses.”
I reply: the fact that people who are to some degree truly sanctified lament their imperfections and even their sins for a certain time, namely, before they have arrived at a state that is perfect and free from sin, does not prove that they lament for their sins for all time, even to the end of life. Let Arnold show, if he can, where all the saints whose life story is related in Scripture also lamented for their sin for all time, up to the end. Moreover, if he does not attend to this request for proof, he does nothing for his cause.
Further, the fact that Arnold argues against the perfect sanctification of the children of from the fact that they ought to pray each day, “forgive us our sins,” contends as much against his opinion regarding perfect justification as it does us against ours regarding perfect sanctification. And thus he goes for the throat of his own doctrine. For, according to Arnold, are not all the saints perfectly justified, and according to him does not that perfect justification include in itself the remission of all sins? Therefore all sins of whatever faithful are remitted, so that what ought to be prayed by them is “forgive us our sins if they have to this point been forgiven.”
Let Arnold untie this knot if he can. When that has been solved perhaps the same solution will aid our cause no less. Further, if one sincerely says to God in prayer, “forgive us our sins,” this does not prove that one is a sinner at that precise moment, because those who are clearly perfect pray to God on behalf of the imperfect, and they who have been cleansed of sin pray for the cleansing of others. Therefore they can well pray in this manner, and for this reason Daniel and other holy prophets and priests confessed to the most horrendous sins on the part of others. They however were not at the time guilty of any regression from grace.
Ninth Thesis: Perseverance and the Possibility of Fall from Grace
In section 42 he treats the ninth thesis on the loss of grace, but he neither responds by word nor does he regard the testimonies of Scripture, that is, 1 Timothy 1:19, Hebrews 6:4-6, which are included in the thesis. He argues: but from grace revealed by the word, apostasy cannot result because such people are, through the power of God safeguarded for salvation, (1 Peter 1:5), and it is impossible for them to be snatched from the hand of Christ (John 10:29). But Arnold distorts these texts in his customary manner. Indeed, first by withdrawing from the words of Peter these two words: through faith. The saints are therefore preserved by the power of God through faith but what if they cease to believe? What if they do not abide in the power of God? Truly the power of God is like a securely fortified castle, in which whoever dwells there is most safely guarded.
If, however, afterwards they depart from this castle, they can perish through disbelief. Both Christ and his apostles expressly taught that some would believe and afterwards fall from their faith. Arnold cites a second text improperly, for the words are thus: “No one is able to snatch them from my hand,” which refers to others, that is, neither the world nor the devil can snatch someone from
the hand of Christ. “To snatch” certainly means “to take violently,” against the consent of the one who is taken. But what if someone were to consent to the world and the devil? Next, what if someone were to withdraw oneself, with Christ neither consenting nor approving but resisting? Accordingly, as I said, this refers more to others than to the one who perishes.
Moreover, the fact that a person can cause oneself to perish is evident from the words of the prophets about Israel, which caused itself to perish. Further, my thesis speaks sufficiently clearly that there is a state in divine grace and power that can be attained, from which no apostasy can result, but not all who have believed have reached that state. Therefore they must labor by the power of God so that they can attain it.
Tenth Thesis: Ministry
In section 43, on the vocation and work of ministers, Arnold refers to the writings of his theologians. He could have done this throughout his whole tractate and thus have been spared his labor. However, he is mistaken when he thinks that I affirm that the interior illumination that is constitutive to all people universally is only for ministers. Indeed it is partly so, but not totally. Every true minister preaches by the power of this illumination, but, on the other hand, not everyone who is endowed with this illuminative power is a minister, just as every human is an animal but, on the other hand, not every animal is human. For besides this universal illumination common to all, there are different divinely produced internal dispositions and preparations that are necessary, as well as a divine inward calling for the constituting of a minister.
But let us listen to that one argument of his that he asserts is sufficient for providing the necessity of an external calling: “How are they to preach if they are not sent?” (Rom. 10:14) What then? This text implies nothing about an external mission. I willingly acknowledge that certain people during the time of the apostles had χειροθεσίαν (cheirothesian, laying on of hands), I deny, however, that it was absolutely necessary or imparted to all. This must be proved by the doctor. Clearly Paul himself preached in the gospel before he received the laying on of hands.
Further, what Arnold says is false, when he claims that I assert that such ministers are not bound to a specific time and persons. Nothing of the sort is held in my theses. If God were to bind some minister by the power of this internal calling to a particular place or people, I confess that such a one is truly bound. But I deny that this power of binding people to places and persons is delivered apart from an internal motion from God. Moreover, what binds many of your ministers to places and person is the stipend, and the greater it is, the more tightly it binds them. But if an occasion for a larger stipend offers itself, this quickly loosens them from the prior binding and fastens them as firmly as possible to the place and the person where a greater abundance of money is to be had. By no means do I speak of unknown matters. Binding of this sort is of shameful hirelings and not of Christ’s true ministers. Arnold says that the command, “Go into the whole world,” was a special privilege of the apostles. Then was not the command, “Baptize all nations,” also particular to the apostles and “Do this in memory of me”? Is it therefore now permitted to no one to baptize or to distribute bread and wine to others, because those words were spoken only to the apostles? Let the doctor take care how he extricates himself from this difficulty.
What he adds about the elders of Crete (1 Tim. 1:5) and
Ephesus (Acts 20:17-35) as well as the angels of Asia (Rev. 1:20, 2:1, 8, 12, 18, 3:1, 7, 14) does not touch my point in any way, because I do not deny that if those called to the ministry are not moved by the Spirit of God to journey, they ought to stay in the places prescribed for them by divine mandate. Further in this section Arnold falsely charges me of contending against the necessary provisions for true ministers. But I expressly speak of these things as permitted.
I dispute, however, against all those who use their preaching as a craft for gaining money. And these negotiate with the people concerning stipends as if buying or selling a horse. Thus they put their preachings on sale. And they compel those who can neither afford to pay nor wish to pay, not by the power of the gospel but with harsh law and external force.. And in this way they often oppress the poor, orphans, and widows in many regions, which is the height of scandal and a disgrace to the name of Christian. Further, the doctor contends for the craft of preaching for the gain of money, frankly acknowledging by these words, “We did not receive freely, nor are we obliged to give freely.” Beautifully confessed indeed! A sentiment worthy of a mercenary and a simoniac! Once the ministers of Christ, as Peter says, were faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God, and the gift of God was theirs freely.
Therefore Christ commanded the apostles, “Freely you have receive, freely give,” but Arnold admits that he did not freely receive, nor is be bound to give freely. Therefore he buys this craft of his with money and in return sells it for money. Therefore that which he minister either is not a gift of God or is a gift of God to be sold for money. Let the doctor choose with of the two he wishes.
Eleventh Thesis: Worship
In section 44, he once again falsely accuses that in the eleventh thesis I proscribe all public worship of God. This is as false as can be: for I argue for the public worship of God with preachings and prayers performed publicly, with God illuminating, inspiring, and moving. The shining witness of this is my and my community’s [literally, brothers’] constant practice, performed when we are not hindered by that external persecution against us in the land of our own birth and elsewhere. In fact, I do not deny that both prescribed places and times for congregating. On the contrary, our own practice shows that we also have them.
However, the matter on which there is controversy is this: whether it would be permitted when we have been gathered for someone to open his or her mouth for the purpose of preaching or praying or giving thanks, without the motion and inspiration of God. To this we say “No.”
All worship of the sort, private as well as public, is condemned by us as abominable idolatry. Wherefore whatever a person does or says or thinks in matters concerning divine worship is to be done with the special motions, inspiration, and inflowing of God. So if according to this hypothesis all your worship is idolatry, as Arnold admits, it is done without therefore without any motion of the Holy Spirit. And thus beyond any doubt it is all idolatry. Moreover, in order for true public worship to be accomplished, every true worshiper ought to attend in the deepest silence of his or her mind to the internal motion of the divine Spirit in the heart, so that as the Spirit moves, leads, and is present, one will preach or pray or give thanks or whatever other office of divine worship is offered, And thus both the worshiper and the worship offered will be pleasing to God and extremely profitable both to the worshiper and to the entire church of God.
Twelfth Thesis: Baptism
In section 46 he cries out for material and external baptism, but here as elsewhere he miserably begs the question and proves nothing. Why, he asks, did Christ receive baptism of water? I respond with a similar question: why did he receive circumcision of the flesh? The true reason is so that he might remove both and in their place substitute the thing which is abundantly symbolized by these signs, which was formerly under these signs. Further, he asserts that the baptism of John was a sign, not a type—indeed he declares this—but because he does not prove it, it is sent from me back to him again, so that he might prove this very matter. He continues: the denial of infant baptism, he says, belongs to the Anabaptist gangrene. A brilliant refutation! Yet if I were to retort that infant baptism by external water belonged to the Antichrist and the Papist gangrene, I would have replied with the same facileness with which he had assailed me.
Thirteenth Thesis: Communion or Participation in the Body and
Blood of Christ
In section 47 he moves quite hastily through the twelfth theses on the sacrament of the supper, as he calls it, asserting but not proving. For he does not prove that that bread and that cup of which Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 16 are to be understood as regarding external signs. I respond with another text, 1 Cor. 11:26. There Paul recites the words of the Lord which he spoke to his disciples on that night in which he was betrayed. And by these words he sufficiently suggests that that institution of Christ was not to last except until when he would come again. But it is disputed by many as to whether that advent of the Lord of which Paul himself here speaks is an external event at the end of the world or an internal one before the end. Arnold should have proved that it is external.
Not doing so, however, he establishes nothing.
Further, it is abundantly clear to us that it is internal, having been informed by the same Spirit that spoke these words, and Scripture does not contradict this. But if someone were to doubt oneself concerning which advent is to be understood by these words, Arnold presents nothing by which anyone can be satisfied. It is frivolous that he says that I seem to have boiled away every memory of this sacred matter. For as there is now no need for the washing of feet for the purpose of remembering humility, likewise there is no need by bread or wine to imprint the memory of Christ’s death. For Christ himself has risen spiritually in his people and he lives and dwells in their memory, intellect, will, and all the faculties of the souls of the faithful and of his saints, so that this is better remembered in this manner than by external and perishable signs of bread and wine.
Fourteenth Thesis: The Power of the State in Matters Relating to
Religion and Conscience
In section 48 with papal step and staff he marches into the topic of persecution for conscience’ sake. He says, “As long as the petulant heresiarchs assault the church, sow pernicious errors, lay waste to the Lord’s vineyard, disrupt the tranquility of the church, seduce the simple-minded, and build a church within the church, they ought to be chastised by the authority of the magistrate.” Now what could be more similar to the clamors of the monks against the Dutch in the past to Phillip II, and the complaints of popes Leo, Adrian, Clement, and Paul to Charles the Emperor and to Francis I and to Henry II, the kings of France? Is this not contrary to the common voice of the early Protestants, who applauded the counsel of Gamaliel? (Acts 5:34-39) They generally followed the prudent council of the Dutch state and not the Papist and Jesuitical opinion of Arnold. If they persist in doing this, they would take counsel for their own souls and for their state more wisely than otherwise lending their ears to such impetuous incendiaries.
In section 49 he takes it poorly that we compare ourselves in any respect to Paul. Therefore, because Paul was a Christian we are not permitted to call ourselves Christian, lest by chance by comparing we make ourselves equal to Paul. He claims that the early Protestants had reformed by virtue of that calling that they had in the Roman Church. But it is manifestly clear, both from their writings and from the numerous conversations that they had with the Pope, that they openly denied this. Did not Luther* and others called the Roman church Antichristian? And did they therefore reform the church based on a calling that was Antichristian and derived from the Antichrist? [Notes marked by asterisks are marginal comments in the original text. *Concerning this read Brandt, p. 555, where he clearly records that it was stipulated by the first synod of Dordrecht that no monk or priest was to be admitted into the ministry of the church prior to having renounced not only Papist doctrine but also vocation. Translator’s note: Gerard Brandt (1626-1685) wrote The History of the
Reformation in and about the Low Countries.]
In section 50 he asserts that the reformation was fully accomplished after the articles of reform had been reviewed in various synods and confirmed by the church. But he ought to have said which synods these were and what synod was the final one in which the reformation was so completed that now nothing remains to be reformed. This therefore we ask him to signify when he writes back in reply.
The examples which he takes up in sections 52 and 53 concerning marrying, disposing of goods, making use of a patron or physician have not therefore been posited as if equality holds in all, since it is certain that at some point every comparison deficient. In this matter, however, they do hold in something that is of highest importance. For if human society relinquishes freedom in these natural matters to each person, all the more that freedom is to be conceded in spiritual affairs, especially since in these matters that are natural, people are able to make a reliable judgment. And therefore some seem able in some way to establish something that is for their own good. But when Arnold himself admits that in spiritual matters that his own thoughts are in no way infallible, how absurdly he tries to impose his judgments on others.
Moreover, when in the last section he says that those examples of bakers, brewers of beer, tailors, and so on smack of the bakery, the pot, and the tailor shop, he displays his ignorance and shallow-mindedness, since Christ used examples no less familiar of the woman’s leavening, the grain of mustard, and the fisher’s net. He concludes saying, “For if it were evident that the baker was inserting poison into the dough, or the tailor corrupting the garment with powder or some fluid that causes decay, who would put up with them? Apply this.” [That is, who would tolerate ministers who corrupt doctrine?] I reply that this in no way holds because what we are the concerned with is matters that are subject to the senses. Natural people are capable of making clear judgment about these things and countering them. But where it concerns spiritual affairs, Arnold himself confesses that, as above, no judge on earth is infallible. And because Christ knew that a person is prone to judge one’s brothers and condemn them for the cause of conscience, therefore under such a pretext kill them, therefore in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:3) he distinctly ordered that they were not to be removed until the harvest, which is the end of the age. Nor did he permit his ministers to touch them, but they are to be left to be gathered by angels on the day of the Lord.
What he adds concerning Grotius I assiduously leave behind, because it has nothing to do with us, and the childish verses joined to it are not worthy of consideration.
Although mention has been made of my Apology, I have not done so as if I were referring to a more ample response to either to Arnold himself or to others since it is my opinion that by these observations I have given a sufficiently full and ample response to his disputation, which I hope will be the opinion of others as well.
Post script to the Reader
I think it not unuseful to add here the testimony of Hermas, whom Paul greeted in his Epistle to the Romans, from the Shepherd of Hermas, a book which at that time was considered as a divine vision and Scripture.*
(*Irenaeus in Book 4, chapter 37, of his Against Heresies, citing the Shepherd says, “Therefore well does Scripture say, ‘First of all, believe that God is one.’” Origen, in chapter 16 of his Commentary on Romans says, “I think that this Hermas is the writer of that little book that is called the Shepherd, which seems to me a very useful scripture and, I think, divinely inspired. Athanasius, in his book On the Incarnation of the Word, says “from that most useful book, the Pastor, first believe, etc.” In the works of Clement of Alexandria, in the book Stromata, it is held in highest regard. Jerome, in his book On Famous Men says that in his time the book was publicly read among certain churches of Greece and that it is truly beneficial, and that many of the ancient writers have made use of testimony from it. Eusebius testifies to the same in book 3 of his Church History, chapter 3. See also Gregory Nazianzen’s Oration 40, and Tertullian On Holy Baptism and On Prayer, in Robert Bellarmine’s On Ecclesiastical Writers, and David Chytraeus’ On the Divine Names.)
So that it is apparent what the early Christians thought about the three articles presently discussed, namely, that the office of minister, lacking God’s grace, is wholly useless and foolish; that the spirit of the preacher ought to be discerned before one is admitted to the ministerial function; note that it is not a matter of words or doctrine but of the Spirit by which the preacher is led, namely, whether it is true or false; that the preacher of God cannot receive a stipend and preach. These are the words of Hermas which he says he heard from Christ himself:
The spirit of all people is earthly, unstable, and has not power at all, and speaks many things.” And I said, “How therefore is it possible for anyone to know them?” “Listen,” he said, “concerning both kinds of vessels, and just as I say to you, so you will test the prophet of God and the false prophet, because the Spirit which is from above is humble and calm, and withdraws from every iniquity and vain desire of this world, and makes itself more lowly than every person, and when interrogated responds to no one, nor does the Spirit of God to a human being when he or she wishes but only when God wishes. When therefore a person who has the Spirit of God will have come to a church of the righteous that has the faith of God and prayer to the Lord is made, then a message of holy divinity fills that person through the Holy Spirit and she or he speaks to the throng as God wishes. Therefore the Spirit of divinity is thus discerned *(* Another edition has “and whatever is spoken by the spirit of divinity”) in whomever the spirit of divinity speaks. Listen now also about the earthly, empty, and foolish spirit that has no power. First, then, a person is thought to have this spirit exalts oneself and wishes to have the first seat. This person is impudent and verbose, and devoted to luxuries and to many sensual delights, and receives wages for her or his prophecies, which if he or she does not receive, she or he does not prophesy. Can the Spirit of God receive wages and prophesy thus? But it is not fitting that the prophet of God do this.” (Mandate 12)
It is abundantly clear from these words that the hireling preachers of our day are portrayed in a lifelike manner. They lack the Spirit of God because of their carnal ordination, and ambitious for the highest wages they have degenerated from the spirit of the early Christians and have utterly secluded themselves from the true ministry of Christ. Benjamin Furly Farewell.