Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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tart sarcasms, pleasant diversions, pretty stories of himself and others, flourished
over with a smooth and handsome strain of rhetoric, do apparently make up the
bulk of our author's discourse. Nor is the romance of his conversion, much in-
fluenced by the tinkling of bdls and sweeping ofchurohes^ suited unto any other
principles : a matter, I confess, so much the more admirable, because, as I suppose
it, in the way mentioned, to have been his singular lot and good hap, so it was
utterly impossible that for ^y^ hundred, I may say a thousand years after Christ,
any man should on these motives be turned to any religion, most of them bemg
not in those days ^ in rerum natura." A way of handling religion he hath fixed
on which, as I suppose, he will himself acknowledge that the first planters of it
were ignorant of; so I will promise him, that if he can, for a thousand years
after they began their work, instance in any one book of an approved CaUiolio
1 Goojectnn], skllAiI in framiag ooi^Jectarei.— En.



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FHEFA.CEL 7

axtthor, written with the same deagn that this is, he shall hare one proselyte to his
profession; which b more, I suppose, than otherwise he will obtain by his learned
labour. That this is no other but to persuade men that they can find no certainty
or establishment for thdr ftith in Scripture, but must for it devolve themselves
solely on the authority of the pope, will afterward be made to appear; nor will
himsdf deny it. Bu^ it may be, it is unreasonable that when men are eagerly
engaged in the pursuit of their interest, we should think, from former precedents,
or general rules of sobriety, with that reverence which is due to the things of the
great and holy (jk)d, to impose upon them the way and manner of their progress.
The event and end aimed at is that which we are to respect ; the management of
thdr business in reference to this world and that which is to come is their own
concernment. No man, I suppose, who hath any acquaintance with the things he
treats about, can abstain from smiling, to observe how dexterously he turns and
winds himself in his cloak (which is not every one's work to dance in) ; how he
gilds over the more comely parts of his Amasia with brave suppositions, presump-
tions, and stories of things pAst and present, where he has been in his days; cover-
ing her deformities with a perpetual silence; ever and anon bespattering the first
Reformation and reformers in his passage ; — ^yea, their contentment must needs
proceed to a high degree of compUu^ce, in whom compassion for the woful state
of them whom so able a man judgeth like to be inveigled by such flourishes and
pretences doth not excite to other affections. The truth is, if ever there blew a
wind of doctrine on unwary souls, — ^*£9 r^ »i/fft/f tSp kfifm^it, U wmfwfyii^ wfU rnt
ftni§^Mf r«f itxAnii^ (Eph. iv. 14), — we haire an instance of it in this discourse.
Such a disposition of cogging sleights,* various crafts in enticing words, is rarely
met with. Many, I think, are not able to take this course in handling the sacred
things of God, and eternal concernments of men ; and more, I hope, dare not. But
our author is another man's servant ; I shall not judge him ; he ** stands or falls to
his own master." That which the importunity of some noble friends hath com-
pelled me unto is, to offer somewhat to the judgment of impartial men that may
serve to unmask him of his gilded pretences, and to lay open the emptiness of those
prgudices and presumptions wherewith he makes such a tinkling noise in the ears
of unlearned and unstable persons. Occasion of serious debate is very little ad-
ministered by him ; that which is the task assigned me I shall as fully discharge
as the few hours allotted to its performance wiU allow.

In my dealing with him, I shall not make it my business to defend the several
parties whereinto the men of his contest are distributed by our author as such ;
not all, not any of them. It is the common Protestant cause which, in and by all
of them, he seeks to oppose. So far as they are interested and concerned therein,
they fall all of them within the bounds of our present defensative. Wherein they
differ one from another, or any or all of them do or may swerve from the prin-
dples of the Protestant religion, I have nothing to do wiUi them in this business ;
and if any be so far addicted to theur parties, wherein, it may be, they are in the
wrong, as to choose rather not to be vindicated and pleaded for in that wherein
with others I know they are in the right than to be joined in the same plea with
them from whom in part they differ, I cannot help it. I pretend not their com-
mission for what I do; and they may, when they please, disclaim my appearance
for them. I suppose by this course I shall please very few, and I am sure I shall
displease some, if not many. I aim at neither, but to profit all. I have sundry
reasons for not owning or avowing particnlariy any party in this discourse, so as
to judge the rest, wherewith I am not bound to acquaint the world. One of them
I siiall, and I hope it is such a one as may suffice ingenuous and impartial men ;
and thereunto some others may be added: The gentleman whose discourse I have

'Deoeitnilartlfloei.



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8 PBEFAC^

' underlAken the consideratioD of was pleased to front Mid dose it with a part of a
speech of mj Lord Chaacellor;^ and his placing of it manifests bow ha uses it.
He salutes it in his eatraaoe, and takes his leaye also of it, never regarding its in-
tendment until coming to the dose of his treatise; to his ^ salve " in the begin-
ning he adds an " •temum vale." That the mention of such an excellent discourse
(the best part in both our books) might not be lest, I have suited my plea and de*
fensative of protestantism to the spirit, aad principles, and excellent ratiocinations
of it. Behind that shield I laj the manner of mj proceeding ; where if it be not
safe, I care not what becomes of it. Besides^ it i^ not for what the men of his
title-page are differenced amongst tberosdves that our author blames them ; but
for what he thinks they agree in too well in reference to the church of Rome : nor
doth he insist on the evils of their contest to persuade them to peace amongst
themselves, or to prevail over them to centre in any one persuasion about which
they contend ; bat to lead them all over to the pop^. And if any of them with
whom our author deab and sports himself in his treatise are fallen off -^m the
fundamental denominating principles of Protestant religion, as some of them seem
to be, they come not within the compass of our plea, seeing as such they are not
dealt widi by our author. It is the Protestant religion in general, which he
charges with all irreg^ularities, uncertainties, and evils, that he expatiates about ;
and from the prindples of it doth he endeavour to vnthdraw us. As to the case,
then, under debate with him, it is enough if we manifest that that profession of
religion is not liable or obnoxious to any of the crimes or inconveniences by him
objected unto it; and that the remedy of our evils, whether real or imaginary,
which he would impose upon us, is so &r from being specified towards their cure,
that it is indeed far worse than the disease pretended, — ^to the full as undesirable
as the cutting of the throat for the cure of a sore finger. There is no reason,
therefore, in tins business, wherefore I should avow any one persuasion, about which
Protestants, that consent in generd in the same confession of faith, may have, or
actually have, difference amongst themsdves; especially if I do also evince there is no
cogency in them to cause any of them to renounce the truth wherein they all agree.
Much less shall I undertake to plead fw, excuse, or palliate the miscarriages of
any part or parties of men during our late unhappy troubles ; nor shall I make
much use of what offers itsdf in a way of recrimination. Certain it is, that, as to
this gentleman's pretensions, sundry things might be insisted on that would serve
to allay the fierceness of his spirit in his n»anagementof other men's crimes to his
own ends and purposes. The sound of our late evils, as it is known to all the
world, began in Ireland, amongst his good Roman Catholics, who were blessed
from Rome into rebellion and murder, somewhat before any drop of blood was
shed in England or Scotland,—

^ ■ OenUfl male Uppos intinetli^
0«r 1a ftinlcorum vltUg tem oenia acatam,
(^oaiaaat ▲qoiUaut jBeipenf Spidaarius?"

£Hor.8at.L^25.

Let them that are innooeiit throw stones at others: Roman Catholics are unfit to
be employed in that work. But it was never judged dther a safb or honest way
to judge of any religion by the practices of some ^at have professed it. Men by
doctrines and principles^ not doctrines by men, was the trid of old. And if this
be a rule to guide our thoughts in reference to any religion, — namely, the priaei^
pies which it avo^ps and assertSi'^I knew aone that caa vie with the Romanists' in

1 In the preCace aod in fhe oondiuion %o " Hat Lux." the author quotes largely fttxa a ipeech br tbei
Barl of Clarendon, who, harinc beoi an(K>inted liord OfcanceHor vj Charles Ii. during his exile, at
the Restoration aooompanied nun in bis return to London, and at once ottered upon the office oC
Speaker in the House e^ Lords. The speech was delivered on the atUoumment of Parliament in Sep-
temlMT 1060.-£d.



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PBEFACE. 9

laymg foundatioiis of, and making proviaon for, the disturbance of the ciyil peace
of kingdoms and nations. For the present, unto the advantage taken by our
author from our kte unnatural wars and tumults to reflect on Protestancy, I shall
only say, that if the religion of nnners be to be quitted and forsaken, I doubt that
professed by the pope must be cashiered for company.

Least of all shall I oppose myself to that moderation in the pursuit of our reli-
gious interests which he pretends to plead for. He that will plead against mutual
forbearance in religion can be no Christian, at least no good one. Much less shall
I impeach what he declaims against, — that abominable principle of disturbing the
peace of kingdoms and nations, under a pretence of defending, reforming, or pra«
pagating of our &ith and opinions. But I know that neither the commendation
of the former nor the decrying of the latter is the proper work of our author: for
as the present principles and past practices of the men of that church and religion
which he defends will not allow him to entertain such hard thoughts of the latter
as he pretends unto ; so as to the former, where he has made some progress in his
work, and either warmed his zeal beyond his first intendment for its discovery, or
has gotten some confidence that he hath obtained a better acceptance with his
reader than, at the entrance of his discourse, he could lay claim unto, laying aside
those counsels of moderation and forbearance which he had gilded over, he plainly
declares that the only way of procuring peace amongst us is by the extermination
of Protestancy ! For, having compared the Roman Catholic to Isaac, the proper
heir of the house, and Protestants to Ishmael vexing him in his own inheritance,
the only way to obtain peace, he teUs us, is, '< Projice ancillam cum filio suo;" —
** Cast out the handmaid veith her son;" that is, in the gloss of their former prac-
tices, either bum them at home or send them to starve abroad. There is not the
least reason, then, why I should trouble myself with his flourishes and stories, his
characters of us and our n^hbour nations, in reference unto moderation and for-
bearance in religion. That is not the thing by him intended, but is only used to
give a false alarm to his unwary readers, whilst he marches away with a rheto-
rical persuasive unto Popery. In this it is wherein alone I shall attend his mo-
tions; and if, in our passage through his other discourses, we meet with any thing
lying in a direct tendency unto his main end, though pretended to be used to an-
other purpose, it shall not pass without some animadversion.

Also, I shall be far from contending with our author in those things wherdn
his discourse excelleth, and that upon the two general reasons of will and ability.
Ndther could I compare vnth him in them if I would, nor would if I could.
His quaint rhetoric, biting sarcasms, fine stories, smooth expressions of his high
contempt of them with whom he has to do, with many things of that sort, ^e
repetition of whose names hath got the reputation of incivility, are things wherein,
as I cannot keep pace with him (for *' illud possumus quod jure possumns"), so I
have no mind to follow him.



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ANIMADVERSIONS
A TREATISE ENTITLED "FIAT LUX.-



CHAPTER L

Our author's preface, and his method.

It is not any disputation or rational debate about differences in
religion that our author intends; nor, until towards the close of his
treatise, doth he at all fix directly on any thing in controversy be-
tween Romanists and Protestants. In the former parts of his dis-
course his design is sometimes covered, always carried on in the way
of a rhetorical declamation; so that it is not possible, and is altogether
needless, to trace all the particular passages and expressions, as they
lie scattered up and down in his discourse, which he judgeth of ad-
vantage imto him in the management of the work he has undertaken.
Some suppositions there are which lie at the bottom of his whole
superstructure, quickening the oratory and rhetorical part of it (un-
doubtedly its best), which he chose rather to take for granted than to
take upon himself the trouble to prove. These being drawn forth
and removed, whatever he hath built upon them, with all that paint
and flourish wherewith it is adorned, will of itself fell to the ground
I shall, then, first briefly discuss what he offers as to the method of
his procedure, and then take this for my own, — ^namely, I shall draw
out and examine the fundamental principles of his oration, upon
whose trial the whole must stand or fall, and then pass through the
severals of the whole treatise, with such animadversions as what
remaineth of it may seem to requira

His method he speaks imto, p. 13. " My method," saith he, " I do
purposely conceal, to keep therein a more handsome decorum; for
he that goes about to part a fighting fray cannot observe a method,
but must turn himself this way and that, as occasion offers, be it a
corporeal or mental duel So did good St Paul, in his Epistle to the



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12 ANDCABYEBSIONS ON A TREATISE

Bomans; which, of all his other epistles, as it hath most of solidity,
60 it hath least of method in the context: the reason is,'' eta These
are handsome words of a man that seems to have good thoughts of
himself and his skill in parting frays. But yet I see not how they
hang well together as to any congruity of their sense and meaning.
Surely, he that useth no method, nor can use any, cannot conceal his
method, — no, though he purpose so to do. No man's purpose to hide
will enable him to hide that which is not. If he hath concealed his
method, he hath used one: if he hath used none, he hath not con-
cealed it; for "that which is wanting cannot be numbered." Nor hath
he by this or any other means kept any " handsome decorum," not
having once spoken the sense, or according to the principles of him
whom he imd^takes to personate; which is such an observance of a
decorum as a man shall not lightly meet with. Nor hath he disco-
vered any mind so to part a fray as that the contenders might here-
after live quietly one by another; his business being avowedly to
persuade as many as he can to a conjunction in one party for the
destruction of all the rest And whatever he saith of " not using a
method," that method of his discourse, with the good words it is set
oflf withal, is the whole of his interest in it. He pretends, indeed,
to pass through " loca nullius ante Trita solo;" yet, setting aside his
management of the advantages given him by the late miserable
tumults in these nations, and the provision he has made for the enter-
tainment of his reader is worts boiled a hundred times over; as he
knows well enough. And for the method which he woidd have us
believe not to be, and yet to be concealed, it is rather /&wM«/a than
piMoi, — rather a crafty, various distribution of enticing words and
plausible pretences, to inveigle and delude men unlearned and un-
stable, than any decent contexture o^ or &ir progress in, a rational
discourse or regular disposition of nervous topics, to convince or per-
suade the minds of men who have their eyes in their heads. I shall,
therefore, little trouble myself fearther about it, but only discover it
as occasion shall require; for the discovery of sophistry is its proper
oonftU^on.

However, the oourse he steers is the same tibat ** good St Paul "
used in his Epistle to the Bomans; which hath, as he tells us, " most
of solidity and least of method of all his epistlea" I confiBss I knew
not before that his church had determined which of St Paul's epistles
had " most of solidity," which least; for I have such good thoughts
of him, that I suppose he would not do it of his own head: nor do
I know that he is appointed umpire to determine upon the writings
that came all of them by inspiration from Qod, which is most solid.
This, therefore, must needs be the sense of his church, which he may
be acquainted with twenty ways that I know not o£ And here his



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ENTlHiED FIAT LUX, 13

Protestant visor, which by^and-by he will Titteriy cast CfS, Ml off from
hiixi, I presume, at mtawares. That he be no more so emtrapped, I
wish he would take notice, against the next time he hath occasion to
peiwMiate a Protestant^ that although, for method purdy adventiti-
ous, and belon^ng to the external manner of writing, Protestants
may affirm that one epistle is more methodical thian another, accord-
ing to those rules of method which ourselves, or oUier worms of the
earth like to, ourselves, have invented; yet, for their solidity, which
oonoems the matter of them, and efficacy for omviotion, they affirm
them all equal Nor is he more happy in whadt, he i&timates of the
immethodicabess of thait epistle to the Bomans; foe, as it is admow-
lodged by all good expositors, that the apostle nsetlx a most dear,
distinct, and exact method in that epistle (^^ence most theological
systems are composed by the rule of it), so oar author himself assign-
eth such a design imto him, and the use of such ways and means in
the prosecution of it, as azgue a diligent observanoe of a method. I
confess he is deceived in the occasion and intention of the epistle, by
following some few late Boman expositors, neglecting the analysis
given of it by the ancienta But we may pass that by ; because I find
his aim in mentioning a &lse scope and tlesigp was not to acquaint
us with his mistake, but to take an advantage to &11 upon our minis-
tezs, and I think a little too early for one so carefiil to keepa^^hand^
some decorum,'' for ^^ culling out of this epistle texts against the
Christian doctrine of good works done hi Christ, by his fipedal grace,
out of obedience to his command, with a promise of everlasting re-
ward and intrinsic acceptability thence accruing/' Thus we see still, —

** Bioeptis graTibvs plemmqBe et magna prof^sna
PurpvrefQS, late qui splesideat, qjitib et alter

AaBuitur pazuraa ;

Sed nunc non erat his loooa" — [Hor. ad Pi& 15.]

Use of disputing has oast him^ at the very entiranee of his discom^
upon, as he supposeth, a particular controversy between Protestants
and Boman Catholics, quite besides his design and purpose; but,
instead of obtaining any advantage by this traaisgreBBi0n of his own
rule, he is fiedlen upon a new misadventure, and that so much the
greater, because it evidently discovers somewhat in him besides mis-
take I am sure I have h^otl as many of our ministers preach as he,
and read as many of their books as he, yet I can testify that I never
heard or read them opposmg " the Christian doctrine of good worka"
Oflen I have heard and found them pressing a universal obedience
to the whole law of God; teadung saien to abeuad in good works;
pressing the indispensable necessity of them fiKoa the eommands (^
law and gospel ; encouragiug men unto them by the Uessed promises
of acceptance and reward in Christ; declaring them to be the way of



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li JLNIMADYEBSIONS ON A TREATISE

men's coming to the kingdom of heaven; affirming that all that be*
lieve are created in Christ Jesus mito good works, and for men to
neglect^ to despise them, is wilfully to neglect their own salvation.
But ^^ opposing the Christian doctrine of good works,'^ and that with
" sayings culled out of St Paul's Epistle to the Romans," I never
heard, I never read, any Protestant minister. There is but one ex-
pression in that declaration of the doctrine of good works which, he
saith, Protestants oppose, used by himself, that they do not own, and
that is their " intrinsic acceptability;" which, I fear, he doth not very
well understand. If he mean by it that there is in good works
an intrinsical worth and value, from their exact answerableness to
the law and proportion to the reward, so as on rules of justice to
deserve and merit it, he speaks daggers, and doth not himself believe
what he says, it being contradictious; for he lajrs their acceptability
on the account of the promisa If he intend that, God having gra-
ciously promised to accept and receive them in Christ, they become
thereupon acceptable and rewardable, — ^this, Protestant ministers teach
daily. Against the former explication of their acceptability, in refer-
ence to the justice of God, on their own accoimt, and the justification
of their persons that perform them, — for them, I have often heard
them speaking, but never with any authority or force of argument
comparable to that used by St Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans,
to the same purpose. But this tale of Protestants opposing the Chris-
tian doctrine of good works hath been so often told by the Romanists,
that I am persuaded some of them begin to believe it, however it
be not only false, but, from all circumstances, very incredible. And
'finding our author hugely addicted to approve any thing that passeth
for ciurent in his party, I will not charge him with a studied fraud ;
in the finding it so advantageous to his cause, he took hold of a very
remote occasion to work an early prejudice in the minds of his read-
ers against them and their doctrine whom he designeth to oppose.
When he writes next, I hope he will mind the account we have all
to make of what we do write and say, and be better advised than to
give countenance to such groundless slander&



CHAPTER 11.

Heathen pleas — General Principles.

We have done with his method or manner of proceeding; our next
view shall be of those general principles and suppositions which ani-
mate the parenetical part of his work, and whereon it is solely
founded. And here I would entreat him not to be offended i^ in the



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. iS

entrance of this discourse, I make bold to mind him that the most, if
not all, of his pleas have been long since insisted on by a very learned
man, in a case not much unlike this which we have in hand; and
were also long since answered by one as learned as he, or as any the
world saw in the age wherein he lived, or it may be since to this day,
though he died now fourteen hundred years ago. The person I in-
tend is Celsus* the philosopher, who objected the very same things,
upon the same general grounds, and ordered his objections in the
same manner against the Christians of old as our author doth against
the Protestanta And the answer of Origen to his eight books will
save any man the labour of answering this one, who knows how to
make application of general rules and principles unto particular cases
that may be regulated by them. DoUi our author lay the cause of
all the troubles, disorders, tumults, wars, wherewith the nations of
Europe have be^n for some season, and are still, in some places, in-
fested, on the Protestants? — so doth Celsus charge all the evils, com-
motions, plagues, and famines, wherewith mankind in those days was
much wasted, upon the Christiana Doth our author charge the
Protestants that, by their breaking oflF fh)m Rome with schisms and



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 2 of 67)