Scripture is not of private interpretation but … there is one sure interpretation particularly of those passages in which dogmas or articles of faith are treated as established on their own foundation, when Scripture explains itself by clear interpretation either in that particular passage or in other passages in which the same dogma is repeated. (M. Chemnitz, ‘The Lord’s Supper’ (CPH, 1979), 91)

So much for the Protestant ‘insight’ that allowed every man to interpret the Scriptures for himself (à la e.g. A.G. Dickens), or that the true magisterium is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (à la [allegedly] Calvin).

“It often happens that if the Scriptures prescribe something which is contary to the practice of those who hear it, they treat is as a figurative expression. Likewise, if some erroneous notion has gotten into our minds first, regardless of what Scripture has asserted, men will think it is figurative.”

St. Augustine, De doctrina Christiana 3.10, quoted in Martin Chemnitz, The Lord’s Supper (CPH, 1979), p. 76.


A double calamity has befallen our age in the form of an overabundance of literary production. In the first place, the frightful maliciousness of the writing wears out most readers, and the pens of many are so contentious that they scarcely understand their own writing—and yet for them to know something is to write about it. And then add to this evil a second pest, the love of novelty. For the zeal for something new has so blinded the eyes of many that they show their loathing for the writings of great men by simply referring to them as old-fashioned, and they seek out those emerging authors who must be read not on the basis of how well they haver written but how recently.

Foreword to M. Chemnitz, The Lord’s Supper (1590 edn.).