Baptista Mantuanus on Scripture’s Self-Attesting Authority

Baptista Mantuanus (17 April 1447 – 20 March 1516), lib. de Patientia, cap. 32, 33 (as found in the Works of John Own, Volume 18, in A Vindication of Animadversions on Fiat Lux, Chapter VII).

Saepenumero,’ saith he, ‘mecum cogitavi, unde tam suadibilis esset ista Scriptura, ut tam potenter influat in animos auditorum; unde tantum habeat energiae, ut non ad opinandum sed ad solide credendum omnes inflectat.’

‘I have often thought with myself whence the Scripture is so persuasive, whence it doth so powerfully influence the minds of the hearers; whence it hath so much efficacy, that it should incline and bow all men, not to think as probable, but solidly to believe, the things it proposeth.’

Non,’ saith he, ‘est hoc imputandum rationum evidentiae quas non adducit, non artis industriae et verbis suavibus et ad persuadendum accommodatis quibus non utitur.’

‘It is not to be ascribed unto the evidence of reasons, which it bringeth not, neither to the excellency of art, sweet words, and accommodated unto persuasion, which it makes no use of.’

Sed vide an id in causa sit quod persuasi sumus earn a prima veritate fluxisse.’

‘But see if this be not the cause of it, that we are persuaded that it proceeds from the prime verity.’

He proceeds, ‘Sed unde sumus ita persuasi nisi ab ipsa, quasi ad ei credendum non sua ipsim trahat authoritas. Sed unde quaeso hanc sibi authoritatem, vindicavit? Neque enim vidimus nos Deum conscionantem, scribentem, docentem; tamen ac si vidissemus, credimus et tenemus a Spiritu Sancto fluxisse quod legimus: Forsitan fuerit haec ratio firmiter adhaerendi, quod in ea veritas sit solidior quamvis non clarior. Habet enim omnis veritas vim inclinativam, et major majorem, maxima maximam. Sed cur ergo omnes non credunt Evangelio? Respondeo quod non omnes trahuutur a Deo.’ And again, ‘Inest ergo Scripturis sacris nescio quid natura sublimius, ‘id est inspiratio facta divinitus et divinae irradiationis influxus certus.’

‘But whence are we persuaded, that it is from the first verity, but from itself? its own authority draws us to believe it. But whence obtains it this authority? we see not God preaching, writing, teaching; but yet, as if we had seen him, we believe and firmly hold that which we read to have come from the Holy Ghost. It may be that this is a reason of our firm adhering unto it, that the truth in it is more solid, though not more clear’ (than in any other way of proposal),’ and all truth hath a power to incline unto belief; the greater the truth the greater its power, and the greatest truth must have the greatest power so to incline us. But, why then do not all believe the gospel? I answer, Because all are not drawn of God. There is then in the holy Scripture somewhat more sublime than nature, that is, the divine inspiration from whence it is, and the divine irradiation wherewith it is accompanied.’

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One Response to “Baptista Mantuanus on Scripture’s Self-Attesting Authority”

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