The First Pillar Of Popery - Part 5
Consisting Of Intemperate Railing, With Shameful Slanders And Untruths
Andrew Willet DD., Fellow of Christ College, Cambridge 1562-1621
And yet a little further to answer in a word to this Lovanian doctor, who chargeth, as we have seen, this godly-learned man, with four especial crimes: ignorance, folly, impudence, lying. Mr Stapleton herein sheweth himself neither so deep a clerk, nor so wise a man, or of so sober a spirit as he would be taken for. As for the first, his, which the other calleth ignorance, hath been found able, (thanks be to God), to match and overmatch his Lovanian learning, or sophistry rather. The foolishness of the Gospel, and simplicity of the truth in him hath not given place to the other’s human and serpentine wisdom. Indeed, he was too modest, too mild and humble a man to deal with so proud, and vain-glorious boasters. A wrangling sophister had been fitter to answer such intemperate and immodest railing, than so grace and reverend a divine. But as for lying, take it to yourselves, both it and the father thereof. There is more truth found in a few of his lines, than in many of the other’s leaves: and more good divinity in one page, than is in that whole book. And have you been these four years in hatching so godly a bird, and bringing forth a cockatrice egg? Surely you have spent you time well. And be these the fruits we know what the tree is; what need other arguments? Your usual and customary railing bewrayeth your malicious spirit. I will omit here to make mention of another railing Romish Rabshakeh, who hath thus poured out his venomous gall of bitter words against myself, calling me "a notable liar and falsifier, filthy doctor, shameless mate, malicious minister;" charging me often, with "abominable, palpable, shameless, notorious, malicious lies:" whereas, he is not able to convince me of one lie, or untruth. But I will be sparing in rehearsing these things, being ashamed to repeat that which they blush not to write. I have set down a catalogue of such stuff and summed them together elsewhere.* Neither will I offend the reader’s ear with such virulent terms used by another, not forbearing the sweet words of "impostor, Machivell, falsifier, insolent, dishonest, fool, goose," and such like. I will be silent herein, both because I have made my apology already, but most of all for that a second reply of like bitterness, being offered by the same author to the press, was suppressed by prudent and grave authority, and (though surreptitiously allowed before) by the discreet and friendly endeavour of some, to whom I acknowledge myself much bound, both for their piety in staying of domestical contentions, which might breed scandal, and for their love in not suffering his name to be traduced, who desireth to be peaceable.
But to return where I left: tell me, ye Popish pettifoggers, which have nothing more common in your mouths, than to call us asses, dolts, fools, how can ye escape that heavy sentence of our Saviour, which saith, "that whoso calleth his brother fool, is in danger of hell fire," Matt. V. But it is no new thing for heretics to rail and revile: it hath ever been their custom and guise. The Pelagians called Augustine, "cultorem demonum:" a worshipper of devils. August. Cont. Julian.1.3.c.18. The Donatists accused Cecilian, A Catholic bishop, of sin against the Holy Ghost: Aug. cont. Crescon.1.4.cap.17. So it is true, as one well saith: "Haeretici, cum perversitatis suae non possunt reddere rationem, ad mail-dicta convertuntur:" Heretics, when they find themselves not able to yield a reason of their wilfulness; then they fall to plain railing. Such plenty of scoffs and taunts, of cursings and revilings, is an evident sign of an evil cause, and bewrayeth a cankered stomach. We will not answer them in the same kind; for our cause is better, and our malice and hatred much less. It grieveth not us to be evil spoken of without cause. We are sorry for them; they hurt not us, but blemish their own credit before men, and make their account the more heavy before God. And as Gregory well saith: "quid aliud detrahantes faciunt, nisi quod in pulverem sufflant, atque in oculos suos terram excitant:" Lib.8.epist.45. What else do these slanderers, but as blow the dust upon their own faces: so our adversaries by reviling of us, do get a blot to themselves. I will shut up this place with that good saying of Bernard: "Bonum mihi, si me dignetur Deus uti pro Clypeo, libens excipio in me detrahentium linguas maledicas, ut non ad ipsum perveniant:" De considerat. Lib. 2. It is good for me, if God vouchsafe to use me instead of a buckler, I willingly do latch in myself the darts of slanderous tongues, that they light not upon him.
* In the preface to the Refection, printed A.D. 1603.