Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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with the pope, or such as acted for him, or were stirred up by him.
The face, in the meantime, of Christianity was sad and deplorable.
The body of the people being grown dark and profane, or else super-
stitious; the generality of the priests and votaries ignorant and vicious
in their conversations; the oppressions of the Hildebrandine faction
intolerable; religion dethroned, from a free, generous obedience, ac-
cording to the rule of the gospel, and thrust into cells, orders, self-
invented devotions and forms of worship superstitious and imknown
to Scripture and antiquity, — ^the whole world groaned under the apos-
tasy it was fallen into, when it was almost too late, the yoke was so
fastened to their necks, and prejudices so fixed in the mmds of the
multitude. Kings b^an to repine, princes to remonstrate their
grievances, whole nations to murmur, some learned men to write and
preach against the superstitions and oppressions of the church of
Rome ; against all which complaints and attempts, what means the
popes used for the safe-guarding their authority and opinions, sub-
servient to their carnal, worldly interests,— deposing some, causing
others to be murdered that were in supreme power, bandying princes
and great men one against another, exterminating others with fire
and sword, — ^is also known unto all who take any care to know such
things, whatever our author pretends to the contrary. This was the
state, this the peace, this the condition of most nations in Europe,
and these in particular where we live; when occasion was adminisr



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104 ANIMADVCBSIOKS OK k TBSITISE

tered^ in the ptovidence of God^ unto that reformfttion whicfa^ in the
next place^ he gives tus the stoiy o£ Little cause had he to mind us
of this stoiy; little to boast of the primitive catholic faith; little to
pretend the Romish religion to hare been that which was first planted
in these nations. His concernments lie not in these things, but only
in that tyrannical usurpation of the popes, and irregular devotions of
tome votaries, which latter ages produced.



CHAPTER XII.

Reformation.

The story of the reformation of religion he distributes into three
parts, and allots to each a particular paragraph. The first is of its
occasion and rise in general; the second, of its entrance into Eng^
land; the third, of its progress amongst us. Of the first he pves us
this account : — " The pastor of Christianity, upon some solicitation of
Christian priiices for a general compliance to their design, sent forth
in the year 1617 a plenary indulgence in favour of the cruciata*
against the Turk. Albertus, the archbishop of Mentz, being dele-
gated by the pope to see it executed, committed the promulgation of
it to the Dominican friars; which the hermits of St Augustine in the
same {>laoe took ill, especially Martin Luther, etc., who, vexed that
he was neglected and undervalued, fell a writing and preaching first
agamst indulgences, then against the pope," etc. He that had no
other acquaintance with Christian religion but what the Scriptures and
ancient fathers will afford him, could not but be amazed at the canting
language of this story ; it being impossible for him to understand any
thing of it aright He would admire who this " pastor of Christian-
ity" should be, what this " plenary indulgence " should mean, what
was the "preaching of plenary indulgence by Dominicans," and what
all this would avail " against the Turk." I cannot but pity such a poor
man, to think what a loss he would be at, — ^like one taken trom home
and carried blindfold into the midst of a wilderness, where, when he
opens his eyes, eveiy thing scares him, nothing pves him guidance
or direction. Let him turn again to his Bible, and the Fatheis of the
first four or five hundred years, and I will undertake he shall come
off fi*om them as wise as to the true understanding of this story as he
went unto them. The scene in religion is plainly changed, and this
appearance of a " universal pastor, plenary indulgences, Dominicans,
and cruciatas," all marching against the Turk, must needs affiight

* The expression In Aill is " expeditio cniciata " and is now oommonlj rendered cm-



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XKTITLED PIAT LUX. 105

a tnan accastomed cmly to the Scripture notions of religion^ and those
embraced bj the prhnitive church. And I do know that if such a
man could get together two or three of the wisest Bomanists in the
world,— which were the likeliest way £ar him to be resolved in the sig-
nification of these hard names, — they would never well agree to tell
him what this ^ plenary indulgence"^ is. But for the present, as to
our concermnent, let us take these things according to the best un*
derstanding which their firamers and founders have been pleased to
give us of them. The story intended to be told was indeed neither
80, nor so. There was no sudi sohoitation of the pope by Christian
princes at that time as is pretended; no cnuaata^ against the Turk
imdertaken; no attempt of that nature ensued; not a penny of indul^
gence money laid out to any such purpose. But the dbort of the
matter is, that the church of Ment2, being not able to pay for the
archiepiscopal pall of Albertus from Borne, having been much ex-
hausted by the purchase of one or two for other bishops that died
suddenly before, the pope grants to Albert a numb^ of pardons, of,
to say the truth, I know not what, to be sold in Germany, agreeing
with him that one-half of the gain he would have in his own right,
and the other for the palL Now, the pope's merchants, that used to
sell pardons for him in former days, were the preaching friara, who,
upon holidays and festivals, were wont to let out their ware to the
people, and, in plain terms, to cheat them of their money; and well
bad it been if that had been all What share in the dividend came
to the venders, well I know not: probably they had a proportion
according to the commodity that they put off; which stirred up their
zeal to be earnest and diligent in their work. Among the rei^, one
friar Tetzel was so warm in his employment, and so intent upon the
main end that they had all in their eye, that, preaching in or about
Wittenberg, it sufficed him not in general to make an offer of the
pardon of all sins that any had committed, but, to take all scruples
from their consciences, coming to particular instances, carried them

^ The pretext for which a oommission to sell indulgences ir{U3 given to Tetzel was not
a erosade against the Tnrks, bat the completion of the church of St Peter at Rome.
As for the allegation that Luther took offonee at the ecmmiission being given to a mem-
ber of the Dominican order, in preference to the Augustinian friars^ to whom he belonged,
it has been proved, that, with a single unimportant exception, no Augustinian fHar was.
ever em{^ed in the sale of indiUgences from 1450 to 1617, when Luther made the
assault on indulgences, and that thej can hardly, therefore^ be supposed to have taken
umbrage fh)m the motives imputed to them ; that the business of prosecuting the sale
had been offered to the Franciscans, and spumed by them ; that the bitterest opponents
of Lutli«r,~-€i^|etan, Hochstrat, Emeer, and even Tetael, — ^never ascribe any such sinister
motive to Luther; that Boman Catholic authors, sudi as De Prierio, Pallavicini, and
Graveaon, have oonAited this charge against him; and that Cochlseus, who originally
mooted it, never ventured on the fabrication till Luther was in his grave, and has never
been esteemed of any authority by popish writers of respectable character. See an
able and conclusive note appended to ** Yillcrs' Essay on the Spirit and Influence of the
Beformation." — ^Ed.



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106 ANIMADVERSIONS ON A TREATISE

up to a cursed, blasphemous supposition of ravishing the blessed
Virgin; so cocksure he made of the forgiveness of any thing beneath
it, provided the price were paid that was set upon the pardon. Sober
men being much amazed and grieved at these horrible impieties, one
Martin Luther, a professor of divinity at Wittenberg, an honest,
warm, zealous soul, set himself to oppose the friar's blasphemies ;
wherein his zeal was commended by ail, his discretion by few, it be-
ing the joint opinion of most that the pope would quickly have
stopped his mouth by breaking his neck. But Qod, as it afterward
appeared, had another work to bring about^ and the time of entering
upon it was now fiilly come. At the same time that Luther set him-
self to oppose the pardons in Germany, Zuinglius did the same in
Switzerland. And both of them taking occasion, from the work they
first engaged in, to search the Scriptures, so to find out the truth of
religion, which they discovered to be horribly abused by the pope and
his agents, proceeded ferther in their discovery than at first they were
aware o£ Many nations, princes, and people, multitudes of learned
and pious men, up and down the world, that had long groaned un-
der tiie bondage of the papal yoke, and grieved for the horrible abuse
of the worship of God which they were forced to see and endure,
hearing that God had stirred up some learned men seriously to oppose
those corruptions in religion which they saw and mourned imder,
speedily either countenanced them or joined themselves with them.
It fell out, indeed, as it was morally impossible it should be other-
wise, that multitudes of learned men, undertaking, without advising
or consulting one with another, in several far distant nations, the dis-
covery of the papal errors and the reformation of religion, some of
them had different apprehensions and persuasions in and about some
points of doctrine and parts of worship, of no great weight and im-
portance. And he that shall seriously consider what was the state of
things when they began their work, who they were, how educated,
what prejudices they had to wrestle with, and remember withal that
they were all men, will have ten thousand times more cause to admire
at their agreement in all fundamentals than at their difference about
some lesser things. However, whatever were their personal failings
and infirmities, God was pleased to give testimony to the uprightness
and integrity of their hearts; and to bless their endeavours with
such success as answered, in some measure, the primitive work of
planting and propagating the gospel The small sallies of our author
upon them, in some legends about what Luther should say or do, de-
serve not the least notice from men who will seriously contemplate
the hand, power, and wisdom of God in the work accomplished by
them.
The next thing undertaken by our author is the ingress of Protest-



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 107

ancy into England, and its progress thera The old story of the love
of King Henry the Eighth to Anne Bullen, with the divorce of
Queen Katharine, told over and over long ago by men of the same
principle and design with himself, is that which he chooseth to flourish
withaL I shaU say no more to the stoiy, but that Englishmen were
not wont to believe the whispers of an unknown friar or two, before
the open redoubled protestation of one of the most famous kings
that ever swayed the sceptre of this land, before the union of the
crowns of England and Scotland. These men, whatever they pretend,
show what reverence they have to our present sovereign, by their
unworthy defamation of his royal predecessors. But let men suppose
the worst they please of that great heroic person, what are his mis-
carriages imto Protestant religion? for neither was he the head, leader,
or author of that religion, nor did he ever receive it, profess it, or
embrace it; but caused men to be burned to death for its profession.
Should I, by way of retaliation, return unto our author the lives and
practices of some, of many, not of the great or leading men of his
church, but of the popes themselves, the head, sum, and, in a manner,
whole of their religion, at least so fisur that without him they will
not acknowledge any, he knows well enough what double measure,
" shaken together, pressed down, and running over,'" may be returned
unto him. A work this would be, I confess, no way pleasing imto
myself; for who can delight in raking into such a sink of filth as the
lives of many of them have been ? Yet, because he seems to talk
with a confidence of willingness to revive the memory of such ulcers
of Christianity, if he proceed in the course he hath begim, it will be
necessary to mind him of not boxing up his eyes when he looks
towards his own home. That poisonings, adulteries, incests, conjura-
tions, perjuries, atheism, have been no strangers to that see, if he
knows not, he shall be acquainted from stories that he hath no colour
to except against For tiie present, I shall only mind him and his
friends of the comedian's advice: —

*<Dehmo ut qaiescant, porro moneo, et dednimt
Maledioere^ malefiiota ne noeoant sua." — [Ter. And. Prol, 22.]

The declaration made in the days of that king, that he was the
head of the church of England, intended no more but that there was
no other person in the world from whom any jurisdiction to be exer-
cised in this church over his subjects might be derived, the supreme
authority for all exterior government being vested in him alone. That
this should be so, the word of God, the nature of the kingly oflBce,
and the ancient laws of this realm, do require. And I challenge our
author to produce any one testimony of Scripture, or any one word
out of any general council, or any one catholic father or writer, to
give the least coimtenaace to his assertion of two heads of the church



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in his sense: ^ a head of influence, which is Jesus himself; and a head
of government^ whidi is the pope^ in whom all the sacred hienurchy
enda"' This taking of one half (^ Christ's rule and headship out of
his hand, and giving it to the pope, will not be salved by that expres-
^on, thrust inby the way, ^ Under him:'' forthe headsh^ of influence
is distinctly ascribed unto Christ, and that of government to the
pope; which evidently asserts that he is not, in the same manner,
h^ unto his churdi in both these senses^ but he in one, and the
pope in another.

But whatever was the cause or occasion of the dissension between
King Heniy and the pope, it is certain Protestancy came into £ng*
land by the same way and means that Christianity came into the
world: the painful, pious professors and teachers of it sealed its truth
with their blood; and what more honourable entrance it could make,
I neither know, nor can it be dedared. Nor did England reoeive
this doctrine from others; in the days of King Henry it did but
revive that light which sprung up amongst us long before, and, by
the fury of the pope and his adherents, had been a while suppressed.
And it was with the blood of Englishmen, dying patiently and glori*
ously in the flames, that the truth was sealed in the days <^ that
king, who lived and died himself, as was said, in the profession of the
Roman faitk The truth flourished yet more in the days of his pious
and hopeful son. Some stop, our author tells us^ was put to it in the
days oi Queen Mary. But what stop ? of what kind ? Of no oUier
than that put to Christianity by Tnyan, Diocletian, Julian: a stop by
fire and sword, and all exquisite cruelties: which was broken dut)ugh
by the constant death and invincible patience and prayers of bii^ops,
ministers, and people numberless; a stop that Rome hath cause to
blush in the remembrance of, and all Protestants to rejoice, having
their faith tried in the fire, and coming forth more precious than
gold. Nor did Queen Elizabeth, as is falsely pretended, endeavour
to continue that stop, but cordially, from the beginning of her reign,
embraced that faith wherein she had before been instructed. And
in the maintenance of it did Qod preserve her fixmi all the plots, con-
spiracies, and rebellions of the Papists, curses and depositions of the
popes, with invasion of her kingdoms by his instigation; as also her
renowned successor, with his whole regal posterity, firom their .con*
trivance for their martyrdom and ruin. During the reign of those
royal and magnificent princes, had the power and polity of the papal
world been able to accomplish what the men of this innocent and quiet
religion professedly designed, they had not had the advantage of the
late miscarriages of some professing the Protestant religi(m, in refer-
ence to our late king, of glorious memory, to triumph in ; though they
had obtained that which would have been very deidrable to them, and



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XNTJTLEX) FUT LUX. 109

whidi we have but aorzy evidence that tliey do not yet aim at and
hope for. As for what he declares in the end of his 19th para-
gjnptk^ about the Beformation here, that it followed wholly neither
Luther nor Calm> — ^whidi he interauzes with many unseemly taunts
and reflections on our laws^ government^ and govemors, — [it] is,
as far as it is true^ the glory of it It was not Luther nor Cahdn^ but
the word of God, and the practice of the primitive church, that Eng-
land proposed for her rule and pattern in her reformation ; and where
any of the reformers forsook them, she counted it her duty, without
reflections on them or their ways, to walk in that safe one she had
chosen out for herself

Nor shall I insist on his next paragraph, destined to the advance-
ment of his interest, by a proclamation of the late tumults, seditions^
and rebellions in these nations; which he ascribes to the Puritans.
He hath got an advantage, and it is not equal we diould persuade
him to fi^^ego it; only I de^e prudent men to consider what the
importance of it is^ as to this case in hand: for as to other considerar
tions of the same things, they £eJ1 not within the compass of our
present discoursa* It is not of professions^ but of persans^ that he
treata The crimes that he insists on attend not any avowed princi-
ples^ but the men that have professed them. Andif a rule of choosing
or leaving religion may from thence be gathered, I know not any in
the world that any can embrace; much less can th^ rest in none at
alL Frofeasois of all religions have, in their seasons, sinfully mis-
carried themselves, and troubled the world with their lusts; and those
who have possessed none, most of alL And of all that is called re-
ligion, that of the Bomanists might by this rule be first cashiered.
The abominaUe, bestial lives of very many of their chief guides in
whom ihey believe; the tumults, seditions, rebellions, they have raised
in the world; the treasons, murders, con^iiacies, they have counte-
nanced, encouraged, and commended, would take up, not a single
paragraph of a Uttle treatise, but innumerable volumes, should they
be but briefly reported. They do so already; and, — which renders
them abominable, whilst there is any in the world that see reason
not to submit themselves imto the papal sovereignty, — ^their professed
principles lead them to the same courses. And wh^ men are brought
to all the bestial subjection aimed at^ yet pretences will not be want^
ing to set on foot such practices; they were not in former days^
when they had obtained an uncontrollable omnipotency. If our
author supposeth this a rational way for the handling of difierences
in religion, that, leaving the consideration of the doctrines and princi-
ples, we should insist on the vices and crimes, of those who have prc^
fessed them, I can assure him he must expect the least advantage by
it to his party of any in the world; nor need we choose any other



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110 ANDfADVEBSIONS OK A TREATIBB

scene than England to try out onr contests by this rula I bope,
when he writes next, he will have better considered this matter, and
not flatter himself that the crimes of any Protestants do enable him
to conclude, as he doth, that the only way for peace is the extermina-
tion of Protestancy. And so bis tale about religion is ended He
next brings himself on the stage.



CHAPTER XIII

Popish contradictions.

This is our last task. Our author's own stoiy of himself, and rare
observations in the Roman religion, make up the close of his dis-
course, and merit, in his thoughts, the title of discovery. The design
of the whole is to manifest his Catholic religion to be absolutely un-
blamable, by wiping off some spots and blemishes that are cast upon
it; indeed by gilding over, with fair and plausible words, some parts
of their profession and worship which he knew to be most liable
to the exceptions of them with whom he intends to deal His way
of managing this design, that he may seem to do something new, is
by telling a fidr tale of himself and his observations, with the effects
they had upon him; which is but the puttmg of a new tune to an
old song, that hath been chanted at our doors these hundred years:
and some, he hopes, are so simple as to like the new tune, though
they were sick of the old song. His entrance is a blessing of the
world with some knowledge of himself, his parentage, birth, and
education, and proficiency in his studies; as not doubting but that
great inquiry must needs be made after the meanest concernments of
such a hero as, by his achievements and travels, he hath manifested
himself to be. And, indeed, he hath so handsomely and delightfiilly
given us the romance of himself and Popery, that it was pity he
should so unhappily stumble at the threshold as he hath done, and
fall upon a misadventure that to some men will render the design of
his discourse suspected; for whereas he doth elsewhere most confi-
dently aver that no trouble ever was raised amongst us by the Ro-
manists, here, at unawares, he informs us that his own grand&ther
lost both his life and his estate, in a rebellion raised in the north, on
the account of that religion! — -just as before, attempting to prove
that we received Christianity originally firom Rome, he teUs us that
the first planters of it came directly fi*om Palestina! It is in vain for
him to persuade us that what hath been can never be again, unless



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. Ill

he manifest the principles which formeriy gave it life and being to
be vanished out of the worid; which, as to those of the Bomanists,
tending to the disturbance of these kingdoms, I fear he is not able
to do.

There is not any thing else which Protestants are universally bound
to observe in the course of his life before he went beyond the seas,
but only the offence he took at men's preaching at London against
Popery; not that he was then troubled, if we may believe him, that
Popeiy was ill reported of, but the miscarriage of the preachers in
bringing in the papal church hand over head in their sermons, speak-
ing all evil and no good of it, and charging it with contradictions,
was that which gave him distaste. He knows himself best what it
was that troubled him, nor shall I set up conjectures against his
assertion& The triple evil mentioned, so far as it is evil, I hope he
finds now remedied For my part, I never liked of men's importune
diversions from their texts to deal with or confute Papists; which is
the first part of the evil complained o£ I know a far more effectual
way to preserve men from Popery, — ^namely, a solid instruction of
them in the prindples of truth, with an endeavoiu: to plant in their
hearts the power of those prindples, that they may have experience
of their worth and usefiilnesa That nothing but evil was spoken of
Popery by Protestants, when they spake of it, I cannot wonder:
they account nothing evil in the religion of the Bomanists but
Popery; which is the name of the evil of that religion. No Pro-
testants ever denied but that the Bomanists retained many good
things in the religion which they profess; but those good things, they
say, are no part of Popery: so that our author should not by right
have been so offended that men spake no good of that which is the
expression of the evil of that which in itself is good, as Popeiy is of
the Papist's Christianity. The last parcel of that which was the
matter of his trouble and offence, he displays by sundry of the con-
tradictions which Protestants charged Popeiy withaL To Uttle pur-
pose; for either the things he mentions are not by any charged on
Popeiy, or not in that manner he expresseth, or the contradiction
betwe^i them consists not in the assertions themselves, but in some
additional terms supplied by himself, to make them appear contra-



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 14 of 67)