Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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church ;'' far the greatest part of it know nothing of this tongue, nor
did ever use a word of it in their church servica So that the making
of the use of one tongue necessary in the service of the church is
perfectly schismatical, and renders the avowers of that principle schis-
matics from the greatest part of the churches of Christ in the world,
which are or ever were in it, since the day of his resurrection from
the dead. And as for the conveniency of priests, — there where God
is pleased to plant churches, he will provide those who shall adminis-
ter in his name unto them, according to his mind. And those who



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ENTITLED WAT I*UX 187

have not the language of other places, aa £ur aa I know, may stay at
home, where they may he imderstood, rather than undertake a pU-
grimage to cant before strangers, who know not what they mean.

After an annumeration of these oonveniences, he mentions that
only inconvenience which, as he says, attends the solemnization of the
church's worship in a tongue unknown, — ^namely, " that the vulgar
people understand not what is said" But as this is not the only
inconvenience that attends it, so it is one,**-if it must be called an in-
convenience, and not rather ^ mischievous device to render the wor-
ship of God useless, — ^that hath a womb full of many others, more
than can easily be numbered But we must tie ourselves to what our
author pleaseth to take notice of I desire, then, to know what are
these " vulgar people" of whom he talks? Are they not such as have
souls to save? Are they not incomparably the greatest part of Chris- •
tians? Are they not such as God commands to worship him? Are
they not such for whose sakes, benefit, and advantages, all the wor-
ship of the church is ordained, and all the administration of it ap
pointed? Are they not those whose good, welfare, growth in grace,
and knowledge, and salvation, the priests in their whole offices are
bound to seek and regard? Are they not those that Christ hath pur-
chased with his blood; whose miscarriages he will require severely
at the hands of those who undertake to be their guides, if sinning
through a neglect of duty in them? Are they not the church of God,
the temple of the Holy Ghost? called to be saints? Or who or what
is it you mean by this *^ vulgar people?" If they be those described,
certainly their understanding of what is done in the public worship
of God is a matter of importance; and your driving them from it
seems to me to give a " supersedeas" to the whole work itself as to
any acceptation with God. For my part, I cannot as yet discern what
that makes in the church of God which this '* vulgar j>eople" must
not understand. *' But this," saith he, '* is of no moment" Why so,
I pray? — ^to me it seems of great weight No; it is " of no moment,
for three reasona" Which be they? — 1. " They have the scope of all
set down in their prayer-books, eta, whereby they may, if they please,
as equally conspire and go along with the priest as if he spoke in
their own tongue." But I pray, sir, tell me why, if this be good,
that they should know something and give a guess at more, is it not
better that they should distinctly know and understand it all? This
reason plainly cuts the throat, not only of some other that went be-
fore, about the venerable majesty of that which is not imderstood,
but of the whole cause itself. If to know what is spoken be good,
the clearer men imderstand it, I think, the better. This being the
tendency of this reason, we shall find the last of the three justling it,
as useless, quite out of doora Nor yet is there truth in this pre-



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138 ANIMA]>YEBSIONS ON A TBI^TISE

tence; not one of a thousand of the people do understand one word
that the priest speaks distinctly in their whole service : so that this is
but an empty flourish. He tells us, — 2. " Catholic people come
together, not for other business at the mass, but only, with fervour of
devotion, to adore Christ crucified, — ^in that rite he is there prefi-
gured as crucified before them, — and, by the mediation of that sacred
blood, to pour forth their supplications for themselves and others;
which being done, and their good purpose of serving and pleasing
that holy Lord that shed his blood for us renewed, they depart in
peace. This is the general purpose of the mass; so that eyes and
hands to lift up, knees to bow, and heart to melt, are there of more
use than ears to hear." For his Catholic people's business at mass,
I shall not much trouble myself Christ, I know, is adored by faith
and love; that faith and love, in the public worship of the church, is
exercised by prayer and thanksgiving. For the " lifting up of the
eyes and hands,'* and bowing and cringing, they are things indiffer-
ent, that may be used as they are animated by that faith and love,
and no otherwise. And I desire to know what supplications they
come to pour forth for themselves and others? Their private devo-
tions? They may do that at home; the doing of it in the diurch is
contrary to the apostle's rule. Are they the public prayers of the
church? Alas! the trumpet to them, and of them, gives an uncer-
tain soimd. They know not how to prepare themselves to the work ;
nor can they rightly say " Amen," when they understand not what
is said. So that, for my part, I understand not what is the business
of Catholics at mass, or how they can perform any part of their duty
to God in it or at it. But what if they understand of it nothing at
all? He adds, — 3. " There is no need at all for the people to hear
or understand the priest, when he speaks, or prays, and sacrifices to
God on their behalf Sermons to the people must be made in the
people's language; but prayers that are made to God for them, if
they be made in a language that God understands, it is well enough."
This reason renders the others useless, and especially shuts the first
out of doors; for certainly it is nothing to the purpose that the
people understand somewhat, if it be no matter whether they under-
stand any thing at all or no. But I desire to know what prayers of
the priest they are which it matters not whether the people hear or
understand? Are they his private devotions for them in his closet
or cell, which may be made for them as well when they are absent
as present, and in some respect better too? These, doubtless, are not
intended. Are they any prayers that concern the priest alone, which
he is to repeat, though the people be present? No, nor these neither ;
at least not only these. But they are the prayers of the church,
wherein the whole assembly ought to cry jointly unto Almighty God,



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 139

— ^part of that worship wherein all things are to be done to edification ;
which they are in this and the Quakers' silent meetings much alika
Strange! that there is no need that men should know or understand
that which is their duty to perform; and which, if they do it not, is
not that which it pretends to be, — the worship of the church. Again ;
if the people neither need hear nor understand what is spoken,
I wonder what they make thera Can our author find any tradition
(for I am sure Scripture he cannot) for the setting up of a dumb show
in the church, to edify men by signs, and gestures, and words insig-
nificant? These are gallant attempts. I suppose he doth not think
it was so of old; for sure I am, that all the sermons which >we have
of any of the ancients were preached in that very language wherein
they celebrated all divine worship; so that if the people imderstood
the sermons, as he says, " they must be made to them in a language
they understand." I am sure they both heard and understood the
worship of the church also; but " tempera mutantur." And if it be
enough that Ood understands the language used in the church, we
full well know there is no need to use any language in it at aU.

But to evidence the fertility of his invention, our author offers two
things to confirm this wild assertion: — 1. " That the Jews neither
heard nor saw when their priest went into the ' sanctum sanctorum'
to offer prayers for them; as we may learn firom the gospel, where
the people stood without, whilst Zacharias was praying at the altar."
2. " St Paul, at Corinth, desired the prayers of the Romans for him
at that distance, who also then used a language that was not used at
Corinth." These reasons, it seems, are thought of moment; let us a
little' poise them. For the first, our author is still the same in his
discovery of skill in the rites and customs of the Judaical church ;
and being so great, as I imagine it is, I shall desire him in his next
to inform us who told him that Zacharias entered into the " sanctum
sanctorum" to pray, when the people were without. But let that pass.
By the institution and appointment of Qod himself, the priests in
their courses were to bum incense on the altar of incense, in a place
separated fix)m the people, it being no part of the worship of the
people, but a typical representation of the intercession of Christ in
heaven, confined to the performance of the priests by God himself;
" ergo," imder the gospel, there is no need that the people should
either learn or understand those prayers which God requires by them
and amongst them I This is civil Ipgia Besides, I suppose our author
had forgot that the apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, doth
purposely declare how those Mosaical distances are now removed by
Christ, a firee access being granted to believers, with their worship,
to the throne of grace. But there is scarce a prettier fimcy in las
whole discourse than his application of St Paul's desiring the Bomans



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140 ANIMADVEBSIOHS OH 1. TBEATISE

to pray for him wh^ he was at Corinth,— end so, consequently, the
praying of all or any of the people of God for their absent friends, (ht
the whole church, — ^to the business in hand ; e]^)ecially as it is intended,
with the enforcement in the dose, that they used a language not
understood at CorintL But because I write not to men who care
i)Qt whether they hear or understand what is their duty in the great-
est concernments of their souls, I shall not remove it out of the way,
nor hinder the reader from partaldng in the entertainment it will
afford him.

But our author, foreseeing that even those with whom he intends
chiefly to deal might possibly remember that St Paul had long ago
stated this case in 1 Cor. xiv., he finds it necessary to cast a blind
before them, — that if they will but fix their eyes upon it, and not be
at the pains to turn to their Bibles, as it may be some will not, he
may escape that sword which he knows is in the way ready drawn
against him; — and therefore tells us that ^' if any yet will be obsti-
nate," (and which, after so many good words spent in this business, he
seems to marvel that they should,) " and object what the apostle there
writes against praying and prophesying in an unknown tongue,'' he
hath three answers in readiness for him, whereof the first is that
doughty one last mentioned, — namely, "That the prayers which the
apostle, when he was at Corinth, requested of the Romans for him,
were to be in an unknown tongue to them that lived in Corinth ;"
when the only question is, whether they were in an imknown tongue
to them that lived in Some, who were desired to join in those sup-
plications ? Surely this argument, — ^that becau3e we may pray for a
man when and where he knows not, and in a tongue which he under-
stands not, that therefore the wcnship of a church, all assembled
together in one place, all to join together in it unto the edification
of that whole society, may be performed in a language unknown to
them so assembled, — is not of such cogency as so suddenly to be called
over again. Wherefore, letting that pass, he tells us the design of
the apostle in that place is " to prevent the abuse of spiritual gifts,
which in those days men had received, and especially that of tongues;
which he lets them know was liable to greater inconveniences than
the rest there mentioned by him." But what, I pray, if this be the
design of the apostle, doth it follow that in the pursuit of this design
he teaches nothing concerning the use of an unknown tongue in the
worship of Grod? Could I promise myself that every reader did either
retain in his memory what is there deUvered by the apostle, or would
be at the pains on this occasion to read over the chapter, I should
have no need to add one word in this case more; for what aie the
words of a poor weak man to those of the Holy Ghost speakmg
directly to the same purpose? But this being not firom afl to be



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ENTTTLID FIAT LUX. 141

expected, I shall only mind them of some few things there deter^
mined by the aposde ; which, if it do btct occasion him to consider the
text itsdf, I shall obtain my piupoee^ The gift of speaking with
strange tongues being bestowed on the church of Corinth, that they
might be a sign, imto them that did not believe, of the pow^ and
presence of Qod amongst them, verse 22, divers of them, finding, it
seems, that the use (rf these tongues gave them esteem and reputation
in the church, did usually exercise that gift in the assembly, and that
with contempt and undervaluation of prophesying in a known tongue
to the edification of the whole chureL To prevent this dyuse, the
aposde lays down this for a standing rule, that ** all things are to be
done in the dmroh irnto edifying;'' and that this all men, as to gifts,
were to seek for, that they might excel to the edifying of the church,
— that is, the instructing ot others in knowledge, and the exciting of
the grace of God in them« And thereupon he shows them that
whatever is spoken in an utiknown tongue, whether it be in a way
of pmyer or prophesying, in the assemblies^ indeed tends nothing at
all to this purpose, imless it be so, that after a man hath spoken in
a tok^e unknovm, he doth interj^ret whkt he hath so spoken in that
language which they do understand For saith he, ^ Distribute the
church into two ports, he that speaks with a tongue (whether he pray
or preadiX and those that hear. He that so prays and preaches edifies
and benefits himsdtf; but he doth not benefit them that hear him:
and^tbat becaude they understand not what he says^ nor know what
he means; for," saith he, '' such words as are not imderstood are of no
more use than the indistinct noise of harps, or the confused noise of
trumpets. The words^ it is true, have a signification in th^nselves;
but what is that,'' saith he, ^' to them that hear them and understand
them not} They can never join with him in what be speaks, nor say
Amen, or give an intelligent assent to what he hath spokea'' And
therefore he tells them that for his part he had rather speak five
words tiiat, being underotood, might be for their profit, than a thou*
sand in an unknown tonguoy which, though they would manifest the
excellency of his gift;^ yet would not at all profit the church whether
he prayed or prophesied; with much more to the same purpose. It
is hence evident to any impartial reader, that the whole strength of
the apostle's discourse and reasoning in this case lies in this, — ^that
prayii^ ol: prophesying in the chtircli in a tongue unknown, not
understood by the whole church, though known and understood by
hinl that useth it, is of no use, nor any way tends to the benefit of
tike churdi, but is a mere confusion, to be oast out from among
Hiem. The daae is no other that lies heicfte 00. Hie priest says hk
prayers in a tongue that^ it may be, is known to himself— which is no
great gift; &e pec^k imderstand nothing of what he saya Thi0> if



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142 ANIMADVERSIONS ON A TREATISE

the apostle may be believed, is a thing of no use, practised to no
purpose, wherewith the people that understand not cannot join,
whereby they are not at sJl profited, nor can they say Amen, or give
a rational assent to what he speaka Now, saith our author, ''What is
all this to the service of the church?" I say, So much to that service
which he pleads for, as that it is condemned by it as altogether use*
less, unprofitable, and not to be longer insisted on: yea» and this is
so much worse than the case proposed by the apostle, inasmuch as
those who prayed and prophesied with tongues received the gifb and
ability of so doing, in a miraculous manner, from the Holy Ohost,
and therefore might with much colour of reason plead for the free
liberty of the exercise of those gifts which they had so received; but
our readers of the service do with much labour and pains get to read
it in' Latin, doing it by choice, without any intimation for such a
practice frx)m any gift that above others they have received.

If all this will not do, there is that which brings up the rear that
shall make all plain, — ^namely, " That whatever is pretended, yet
indeed Latin is no unknown tongue, being the proper language of
Christians, united to the Christian faith as a garment to a body:''
which he proves by many fine illustrations and similitudes, telling us
withal that " this one language is not spoken in a comer, but runs
quite through the earth, and is common to all, as they be ranked in
the series of Christianity; wherein they are trained up by the father
of the family; and which, in reference to religion, he only sp^ks
himself" But, — ^because I hope there is none of my coimtrymen so
stupid as not to have the wit of the cynic, who, when a crafty com-
panion would prove by syllogisms that there is no such thing as
motion, returned him no other answer but by rising up and walk-
ing; and will be able at least to say, notwithstanding all these fine
words, " I know that Latin to the most of Christians is an unknown
tongue," — I shall not much trouble myself to return any answer unto
this discourse. That there is an abstraction of Christian religion^
from the persons professing it, which hath a language peculiar unto
it; that the Latin tongue hath a special relation to religion above any
other; that it is any other way the trade-language of religion amongst
learned men, but as religion comes imder the notion of the things
about which some men communicate their minds one to another;
that it is any way understood by the thousandth part of Christians
in the world that constantly attend the worship of Qod; and so that
it is not absolutely as unknown a tongue to them, when it is used in
the service of the church, as any other in the world whatever, — ^are
such monstrous presumptions, as I wonder a rational man would
make himself guilty of by giving countenance imto them. For him
whom he calls '^ the &ther of the family" of Christians, if it be Qod



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX 143

he intends^ the only Father of the fitmily, all men know he never, to
any of the sons of men immediately, nor by any prophet by him
inspired, communicated his mind in Latin. If it be the *pope of
Home whom he ascribeth that title unto, I am sorry for the man,
not knowing how well he could make himself guilty of a higher
blasphemy.



CHAPTER XVIIL
(communion.

Sect xxvL In the next section, entitled " Table," our author seems
to have lost more of the moderation that he pretends imto, and to
have put a keener edge upon his spirit than in any of those foregoing ;
and thence it is that he falls out into some more open revilings and
flourishes of a kind of a dispute than elsewhere. In the entrance of
his discourse, speaking of the administration of the sacrament of the
Lord's supper by Protestants, wherein the laity are also made par-
takers of the blessed cup, according to the institution of our Saviour,
the practice of the apostles, and the imiversal primitive church, this
civil gentleman, who complains of '^ unhandsome and unmannerly
dealings" of others in their writings, compares it to a treatment at my
lord mayor's feast, adding, scornfully enough, " For who would not
have drink to their meat? and what reason can be given that they
should not? or that a feast with wine should not, ' cseteris paribus,' be
better than without?" If he suppose he shall be able to scoff the
institutions of Christ out of the world, and to laugh men out of their
obedience unto him, I hope he will find himself mistaken, — ^which is
all I shall at present say unto him; only I would advise him to leave
for the future such unseemly taunts, lest he should provoke some
angiy men to return expressions of the like contempt and scorn upon
the transubstantiated host; which he not only fancies but adores.

From hence he pretends to proceed imto disputing; but being
accustomed to a loose rhetorical sophistry, he is not able to take one
smooth step towards the true stating of the matter he is to speak
imto, though he says he will argue in his " plain manner," — ^that is,
a manner plainly his, loose, inconcluding, sophistical The plain
story is this, — Christ, instituting his blessed supper, appointed bread
and wine to be blessed and deUvered imto them that he invites and
admits imto it. Of the effects of the blessing of these elements of
bread and wine, — ^whether it be atransubetantiation of them into the
body and blood of Christ, to be corporeally eaten; or a consecration



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144 ANIMABVEBSIOKS OK A TREATISE

of them into such signd and symbols as in and by the use thereof
we are made partakers of the body and blood of Christ, feeding really
on him by faith,— is not at all now under dispute. Of the bread and
cup so Uessedy according to the appointment of Christ, the priests
with the Romanists onty do partake; the people of the bread only.
This exclusion of the people from a participation of the cup, Pro-
testants aver to be contrary to the institution of Christ, practice of
the apostles, nature of the sacrament, constant usage of them in the
primitive church; and so, consequently, highly injurious to the sheep
of Christ, whom he hath bought with the price of his blood, exhi-
bited in that cup unto them. Instead of arguing plainly, as he pro-
mised to do, in justification of this practice of l£e church of Home,
he tells us of the wine they give their people after they have received
the body; which he knows to be in their own esteem a little common
drink to wash their mouths, that no crumbs of their wafer should
stick by the way. What he adds, of Frqtestants not believing that
the consecrated wine is transubstantiated into the blood of Christ
(whidi is not the matter by himself proposed to debate), of the
priest's using both bread and wine in the sacrifice (though he com-
municates not both unto the people), when the priest's delivering of
the cup is no part of the sacrifice, but of the communion (besides, he
knows that he speaks to Protestants, and so should not have pleaded
his fictitious sacrifice, which, as distinct from the communion, Paul
speaks of, 1 Cor. xL, neither do they acknowledge, nor can he prove
it), — [is] very vain; yet with these empty flourishes, it is incredible
how he triumphs over Protestants for charging the Romanists with
excluding the people from the use of the cup in the sacrament, when
yet it is certain they do so, nor can he deny it " Yea, but Protest-
ants should not say so, seeing they believe not in transubstantiation.'^
They believe every word that Christ or his apostles have delivered
concerning the nature and use of the sacrament, and all that the
primitive church taught about it; if this will not enable them to say
diat the Romanists do that which all the world knows they do, and
which they will not deny but that they do, unless they believe in
transubstantiation also, they are dealt withal on more severe terms
than I think our author is authorized to put upon them. But it
seems the advantage lies so much in this matter on the Roman Ca-
tholics' side, that the Protestants may be for ever silent about it
And why so? " Why, Catholics do really partake of the ' animated
and living body of their Redeemer. This ought to be done, to the
end we may have life in us; and yet Protestants do it not'*' Who
told you so? Protestant* partake of his body and his blood too, —
which Papists do not> — and that really and trufy. Again ; " Catholics
have it continually sacrificed before their eyes, and the vety death



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ENTTHBD 7IA.T LTJZ. 146

I

and efiuBsion of their Lord's blood prefigured and aet b^bre them £or
faith to feed upon; this Protestants have not" I think the man is



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 18 of 67)