Vermigli On History and Authority

The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth only insofar as it upholds the Word of God, preaches it, retains it, bears witness with it, defends it, and maintains it. Nor is the Word heard without the Church. But the Chruch is not authorized and empowered by the Word when the Church errs or falls. When it speaks according to the Word of God, it does not and cannot err; but going beyond this Word– whether by pronouncement or practice– it not only may err but is surely in error. They also (please God!) attribute infallibility to the popes in matters of faith, to use their terms. Yet it cannot be denied that John XXI erred in a most shameful way when he declared that the souls of men perished with their bodies or (as some would soften his views) sleep until they are raised with their bodies at the last day. Although the pope erred so shamefully and disgracefully, neither bishops nor cardinals, who are supposed to represent the Church, challenged him. When the University of Paris did object (1333), and informed the king of France regarding this error, he forbade any of his people to have contact with the pope until he showed penitence. This led the pope to recant…

…But they pick flowers selectively, culling only what they think will support their claim to power, honor, and domination. They strive to shake the faithful loose from their adherence to the Word of God so that instead of trusting God they believe popes and councils. How different was the attitude of Augustine to Maximus, bishop of Arians. Debating with him, he said: “You may not quote to me the council of Rimini, nor will I quote to you that of Nicaea, since I am not bound to that one nor you to this one. But we must both face up to the Scriptures, which are common ground. Let matter contend with matter, cause with cause, and reason with reason.”

~ Peter Martyr Vermigli Schism and the True Church pg. 186, 187

The Beggars of the Sea

The Dutch Reformation has a fascinating history. Here is one of my favorite scenes from their war with the Spanish in 1573:

Since their oppressors called them beggars, that was the name they [Dutch Protestants] would give themselves. The leather bag of a beggar became the banner of rebellion…

But Philip was not a king to be swayed by his subjects’ opposition. He had declared, with vehement sincerity, that he had no desire to be “lord of heretics.”

The Protestant cause was therefore desperate. Its only hope seemed to be in the beggars of the sea, while its armies were repeatedly and roundly defeated. The crisis came at the siege of Leiden, an important trading center that had declared itself for Protestantism, and which the Spanish had surrounded. An army sent by William of Orange to break the siege was defeated by the Spnaish, and in that battle two of William’s brothers were killed. All was lost when William, whose enemies called him “the Silent” or “the Sly,” suggested that the dikes be opened, thus flooding the land around Leiden. This implied the destruction of many years of hard work, and the loss of a great deal of arable land. But the citizens agreed. In spite of an incredible shortage of food, the besieged continued their resistance during the four months that it took the sea to reach Leiden. Riding the flood, the beggars of the sea also arrived, shouting that they would rather be Turkish than Popish. Lacking naval support, the Spanish were forced to abandon the seige.

~Justo Gonzalez The Story of Christianity Vol. 2 pg. 98,100