Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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Pagana 1. For the Jews, *^ tiiat they accused the Christians before
the Roman emperofs for three things: — ^that they had dianged the
Sabbath; that t^ywor8hiiq)ed images of the saints; ijiat they brought
in astrange God named Jesus- Christ^ What if they did so? was
all true that the Jews accused the Christians of? Besides, what il
here about the invocation of saints? Somewhat, indeed, we have
about pictures and images, which, it seems, are contraiyto die Judai-*
cal law; not a wiml do we meet with about their invocation of saints.
But indeed this is a pretty midnight story to be told to bring dnld-*
ren asleep; as tiion^ the Jews durst accuse the Christians before
Pagans for *^ having images and pictures,^' when the Pagans were
ready every day to destroy those Jews beeaaise they would have nona
A likely matter, they would admit of their complaint against them
that had them, or diat the Jews had no more wit than to disadvai^
tage themselves in their contest by such a complaint ! Besides, the
whole insinuation is false. Neither did the Jews so accuse them, nor
had the Christians admitted any religious use of jnctures or images in
those dajm. And this their defence to the accusation of the Pagans,
^'tiiat they rejected all images,'' makes as evident as if it were
written by the sunbeams to this day. Being charged by the Pagans
with an imageless religion, they everjnvhere acknowledged it, giving
their reason why they neither did nor oould admit ^ a religious
use of any image at all I presume our author knows this to be so ;
and I know if he do not, he is a very unfit person to talk of antiquity.

2. Of the like nature is the story which he tells us of the things the
Pagans laughed at the CSiristians for. Amoi^st these was ''the
worship of an ass's head: which shows/' saith he, "the use and re-
q>ect they had ft^ images; for the Jews had defamed Jesus Christ
our Lord, whose head and half*portrait Christians used upon their
altars, even as they do at this day, — amongst other things of his great
simplicity and ignorance."* Bo use rtiffa to talk, who either know
iwt or care not what to say. I would gladly impute this story of

' The last danse is literaUj quoted from ** Fiat Lux," bat In sooh a way as to oaose
vome misooBoeptioiL It is there ooimected with the conduct of the Pagan who,
**anioiig8t other <kfaig8 of his great simplieHy and ignoranoe,^ is said to haw laughed
at the Chrii^ians for their wor^ip of the objects to whioh refesenoe is made in the rest
of the quotation. The danse, therefore, is quite irreleTant, and might have been
oinitted.~£D.



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154 AKIMADVEHSIONS ON A TREATISE

the afis's head^ and the Jews' accusation, to our author's simplicity
and ignorance, because if I do not so, I shall be compelled to do it
unto somewhat in him of a worse name; and yet that by-insmuation
of the use of " the head and half-portrait of our Saviour upon altars
by the old Christians," before Constantine's days, of whom he speaks,
will not allow me to lay all the misadventure of this tale upon ignor^
anca Surely he cannot but know that what he suggests is most
notoriously feJse, and that he cannot produce one authentic testimony,
no not one, of any such thing; whereas innumerable lie expressly
against it, almost in all the preserved writings of those day& For
the story of the ass's head : seeing, it seems, he knows not what I
thought every puny scholar to be acquainted with, I hope he will
give me leave to inform him that it was an imputation laid upon the
Jews, not the Christians, and that the Christians were no otherwise
concerned in the fable but as they were at any time mistaken to be
Jewa The figment was invented long before the name of Christians
was known in the world, and divulged before and after by as great
wits as any were in the world, as Apion, Tacitus, Trogus, and others;
the whole rumour arising from their worshipping a golden calf in
the wilderness, and afterward his imitation progeny at Dan and
Bethel The confutation of the lie by Josephus is known to all
learned men, who tells Apion that *' if he had not had the head of
an ass, and the £&ce of a dog, he would never have given credit unto
or divulged so loud a lia" littie countenance, therefore, is our
author like to obtain frx)m this loud lie, invented agidnst the Jews, to
prove the worshipping of pictures and images among Christians; nor
is that his business in hand, if he be pleased to remember himself^
but the invocation of saints, which now at length he is resolved (but
I see unwillingly) to speak unto.

Had he intended plain dealing, and to persuade men by reason
and arguments, he should nakedly and openly have laid down the
doctrine aud practice of his church in this matter, and have attempted
to justify the one and the other. This had been done like a man
who hked and approved what his interest forced him to defend, and
upon honest principles sought to draw others to share with him in
their worth and excellency. But he takes quite another course, and
bends his design to cover his ware, and to hoodwink his chapmen,
so to strike up a blind bargain between them.

Two things he knows that, in the doctrine of his church about the
veneration of saints, Protestants are offended at: —

1. " That we ought religiously to invocate and call upon them,
prajr unto them, flying unto them for help and assistance;" which
are the very words of the Trent Council, the avowed doctrine of his
church, which whosoever believes not is cursed.



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 155

2. " That we may plead for acceptance, grace, and mercy with
God, for their merits and works;'' which our author gilds over, but
cannot deny.

If he will plainly undertake the defence of either of these, and
endeavour to vindicate the first from stiperstition, and the latter
from being highly derogatory to the mediation of Christ, both, or
either, to have been known or practised in the first churches, he
shall be attended unta To tell us fine stories, and to compare their
invocation of Bsinia to the psalmist's apostrophes unto the works of^
the creation to set forth the praise of the Lord, which they do in
what they are, without doing more, and to deny direct praying unto
them, is but to abuse himself, his church, his reader, and the truth;
and to proclaim to all that he is indeed ashamed of the doctrine
which he owns, because it is not good or honest, as the orator charged
Epicurus. In the practice of his church, very many are the things
which the Protestants are offended with : — Their canonization, framed
perfectly after the manner of the old heathen apotheosis; their exalt-
ing men into the throne of religious worship, some of a dubious
existence, others of a more dubious saintship; their dedication of
churches, altars, shrines, days to them ; their composing multitudes
of prayers for their people, to be repeated by them; their divulging
feigned, ludicrous, ridiculous legends of their lives, to the dishonour
of God, the gospel, the saints themselves; with innumerable other
things of the like nature, which our author knoweth full well to be
commonly practised and allowed in his churcL These are the things
that he ought to defend, and make good their station,^ if he would
invite others to a fellowship and communion with him. Instead of
this, he tells us that his Catholics do not invocate saints directly;
when I shall undertake (what he knows can be performed) to give
him a book, bigger than this of his, of prayers allowed by his church,
and practised by his Catholics, made unto saints directly, for help,
assistance, yea, grace, mercy, and heaven, or desiring these things
for their merit, and upon their account: which, as I showed, are the
two main parts of their doctrine condemned by Protestants. I can
quickly send him Bonaventure's Psalter; Prayers out of the Course
of Hours of the Blessed Virgin; Our Lady's Antiphonies of her Sor-
rows, her Seven Corporeal Joys, her Seven Heavenly Joys, out of
her Rosary; Prayers to St Paul, St James, Thomas, Pancratius,
George, Blase, Christopher, whom not? — ^all made directly to them,
and that for mercies spiritual and temporal; and tell him how many
years of indulgences, yea, thousands of years, his popes have granted
to the saying of some of the like stamp: and all these, not out of
musty legends, and the devotion of private monks and friars^ but the
authentic instruments of his church's worship and prayers. Let our
author try whether he can justify any of these opinions or practices



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f 5^ AKIMADVEBSIOlfS OV A TB&iLTISE

from the words of the Lord in Jeremiah, '' Though Moses and S&nfiiel
should stand before me, yet is not n^ soul unto this people,''-*^eclar«
ing his determinate coimsel for their destruction, not to be averted
by Moses or Samuel, vrere they aliFO again, who in their days had
stood in the gap said tum^ away his wrath, that his whole displea*
sure should not arise ;^ — or from the words of Moses, pnLyii)g the Lord
to '' remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob his sevrants;'' which he
immediately expounds, as they are also in a hundred other plaoes,
Ijiy remembering his ** coveniudt made with them, and the oath he
ilware unto them.'' These are pitiful, poor pillars to support so vast
and tottering a superstruction; and yet they are all that our author
can get to give any countenance to him in his worky-^^^ieh indeed
is none at alL

Neither do we charge the Romams^ with the particular &ndes of
their doctors, their '^ speculum trinitatis,'' and the like; no, nor yet
with the grosser pert of the people's practice in constituting their
saintA in spedal pre8identships,-^one over hogs, another over d^eep,
another over cows and cocks, like the ruder sort of the ancient hea*
then, — which we know our audior would soon disavow : but the known
doctrine and approved practice of his whole church he must openly
defend, or be silent in this ca^se hereafter. This mincing of the
matter by praying saints, not praying to them ; prajring to them indi-r
rectly, not directly; praying them, as David calls on eon, moon, and
stars to praise the Lord; so praying to tJiem as it is to no purpoee
whether they hear us or no,-<~is inconsistent with the doctrine and
pitctice of his own church, to which he seemeth to draw men, and
not to any private opinion of his own. And a wise piece of business
it is indeed, that our author would persuade us that we may as wdl
pray to saints in the Boman mode, as Pa^l dedred the saints that
were then alive to pray for him! We know it is the duty of living
saints to pray for one another; we know a certain way to excite them
to the performance of that duty in reference unto us; we have rule,
precedent, and command in the Scripture to do so; the requests we
make to them are no illicit acts of religion; we pray to them neither
directly nor indirectly, but desire them, by virtue of our communion
with them, to assist us in their f»uyers, as we m^ht ask an alms of
any other good turn at thek handa. I wonder wise men are not
eshamed thus to dally with their own and others' eternal ooncemi-
ments. After all this, at one Inreath he blows away all the Protest^'
ants as childish (just as Pyigopolynices did the legions of his enemies) i
^ They ' are all ehildiaL'" liet him show himself a man, and take up
any one of them as they are managed by any one learned man of the
church of England, and answa: it if he can. If he cannot, this boast-
ing will little avail him with oonsid^ing men. I cannot dose this
paragraph without, marking one passage toward the dose of it Lajr



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^fXraiED FIAT LUX. 157

ing io\m three prindjdes of the saints' inyocatioiiy Wher^ the first
itself is ttue, but Hoiking to bit purpote; the second is true in the
substanee of it» but itlse^ in an additi<»i of merit to the good works
of the saintB^ and not one jot more to his purpose than the other; the
third isy that '' God cannot dialikethe reflectione of his divine nature
diffiised in the saints^ out of the fulness of hk beloved Son, when any
makes use of thetn ^e easier to find mmfcy in his sight"' These are
good words, and olake a veiy handsome sound Wilt thou> reader,
know the meaning of them, and withaL discern how thy pretended
teadrar hath colluded with thee in this whole discourse? The plain
English of them is thk : ^' Qod cannot but approve our pleading the
merits of the saints for our obtaining m^rcy with himf' a proposi-
tion as destructive to the whole ten(»r of the gospel and mediation of
Jesus Christ a^ in so few wofdft, oould well be stamped and divulged



CHAPTER XX.

PUrgatofy.

Sect zxviiL Wb are tA, length eOme to Purgatory, which is the
pope^s Indies, hie subterranean treasure-bouse, on the revenues
whereof he maintains a hundred thousuid fighting men, so that it is
not probable he will ever be easily dispossessed of ii This is the
only root oiDirgeB, tibough our auUK>r flourishes ae though it woiild
grow on other stocka It is their prayer tox the dead which he so
entitles; and in tibe excellenqy of their devotion in this particular he
is so c<»fitdent^ that he deals with ua as the orator told Q. Cfiecilius^
Hortensiub would with him> in the case of Verresy — bid him take his
option and make his choice of what he pleased, and it should all turn
to his (iKsadvantege Hortensiue^ by his eloquence, would make any
ttuoig that he should fix on turn to his own exkd. He bids us, on the
matter, choose whether to think the souls they pray for to be in hea*
ven, hell, or puigatcary. All is one; he will prove praying for them
to be good and lawful Suppose tiiey be in heaven^ what then?
'^ What then! may we not as well pray for them as tot sanctifying
the name of God» which wiU bo done whether we pray or no?" Sup-
pose th^ are in hell? " Yet we know it not^ and so may show our
diarity towards ih&sA." But suppose they be in purgatcwry ? " It is
the only courae we can take to hdp them." (Of purgatory we shall
speak anon.) If there be no other receptacle for saints departed but
heaven and hell, it is but a flourish of our author, to persuade us that
prayers for them in the Roman mode would be either useful or ac-
ceptable to God Suppose them you pray for to be in bell, the best



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1 58 ANIHABV^BSIONS ON A TREATISE

you can make of your prayers is but a vain babbliDg against the wilt
and righteousness of God, — an unreasonable troubling of the Judge
after he hath pronounced his sentenca " Yea, but you do not know
them to be in helL'' Then neither do you suppose them to be there ;
which yet is the case you undertake to make good, " Suppose they
be in hell, yet it is well done to pray for them f and to say they may
not be there is to suppose they are not in hell, — not to suppose they
are ; unless you will say, suppose they are not in hell, you may pray
for them, suppose they are in helL Hereunto doth this subtilty bring
u& But it is not the will of God that you should pray for any in
hell, no, not for any in heaven, unless it be the will of God that you
should oppose his will in the one, and exercise yourselves in things
needless and unprofitable in the other; both which are far enough
from his mind, and that word which, I believe, at last will be found
the only true and infallible rule of worship and devotion. When we
pray for the sanctifying of God's name, the coming of his kingdom,
the doing of his will, we still pray for the continuance of that which
is, as to outward manifestation, in an alterable condition, — for the
name of God may be more or less sanctified in the world, — and for
that which is future. But to pray for them that are in heaven is to
pray for that for them which they are in the unalterable enjoyment
of; and besides, to do and practise that in the worship of God which
we have no precept, no precedent, no rule, no encouragement for in
the Scripture, nor the approved examples of any holy men firom the
foundation of the world. Whatever charity there can be in such
prayers, I am sure faith there can be none, seeing there is neither
precept for them nor promise of hearing them.

But it is Purgatory that must bear the weight of this duty. " This,"
saith our author, '' need not to be so condemned, being taught by
Pagans and ancient rabbis, and so came down from Adam by a
popular tradition through all nations;" a great many of whose names
are reckoned up by him, declaring, by the way, which of them
came from Shem, which from Ham, which irom Japheth, to whom
the Hebrews are most learnedly assigned. For the Pagans, Vii^
Cicero, and Lucretius are quoted as giving testimony to them. This
testimony is true; in the first especially lies the whole doctrine of
purgatory. Some Platonic philosophers, whom he followed, have
been the inventors of it That some of the Pagans invented a pur-
gatory, and that Roman Catholics have borrowed their seat for their
own turn, is granted. What our author can prove more by this
argument, I know not The names of the old Hebrew rabbins that
had taught, or did believe it, he was pleased to spare; and I know
his reason well enough, though he is not pleased to tell us, — and it
is only this, that there are no such old rabbins, nor ever were in the
world: nor was purgatory ever in the creed of the Judaical church,



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 159

nor of any of the ancient rablnn& Indeed, here and there one of
them seemed to have dreamed with Origen about an end of the
pains of gehenna; and some of the latter masters, the cabalists espe-
cially, have espoused the Pythagorean metempsychosis: but for the
purgatory of the Pagans and Papists^ they know nothing of it

0^ these testimonies he tells us^ *^ that this opinion of the soul's
immortality, and its detention after death in some place * citra
ccelum/ is not any new thing freshly taught, either by our Saviour
or his apostles, as any peculiar doctrine of his own, but taken up as
granted by the tradition of the Hebrews, and supposed and admitted
by all sides as true; upon which our Lord built much of his institu*
tiona'" Gallantly ventured, however ! I confess, a man shall seldom
meet with prettier shuffling.

Purgatory, it seems, is the doctrine of the soul's immortality, and
detention in some place "citra codtmi/' Who would ever have
once dreamed of this^ had not our author informed him? This it is
to be learned in the Roman mystery: the doctrine of purgatory is
the doctrine of the soul s immortality I Never was doctrine so foully
mistaken as that hath been; but if it be not^ yet it is of the " deten-
tion of the soids in some place ' citra coelunL''' It is indeed; but
yet our author knows, that in these words as bad, if not a worse
fraud than under the other is couched. It was the opinion of many
of the ancients that the souls of the saints that departed under the
Old Testament enjoyed not the blessed presence of God, but were
kept in a place of r^ until the ascension of Christ And this our
author would have us to think is the doctrine of purgatory; he him-
self, I hope, enjoys the contentment of believing the contrary. But
he tells us " that our blessed Saviour and his apostles were not the
first that taught this doctrine,'' — that is, of purgatory; as though
they had taught it at all, or had not taught that which is inconsistent
with it, and destructive of it, which is notorious that they hava
And for the traditions of the Hebrew church; as that was none
of them, so I believe our author knows but little what wera But
he takes a great deal of pains to prove, though very unsuccessfully,
that " the Jews did believe that the souls of those that departed be-
fore the resurrection of the Messiah did not enter heaven;" as though
that was any thing to his purpose in hand. But he is, as I said, mar-
vellous unsuccessful in that attempt also. The parable of Lazarus
and the rich man prove only that Lazarus' soul was in Abraham's
bosom; that Abraham's bosom was not in heaven, it doth not prova
Peter, in the second of the Acts, proves no more than that the whole .
person of David, body and soul, was not ascended into heaven; the
not ascending of his soul alone being nothing to his purpose. But
what he cannot evince by testimonies, he will win by dint of aigu-



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IGO ANiMAiyvEBSioira ov jl treatise

menta. ^ The Jews^" saith he, ** ooiild not beUeve what Ood had
nev^ promised; but heavenly bOss was none of the promkes of MoW
law, nor were they ever pot in hope of it for any good work that they
should do.'' It seems, then, that which was pron^sed tiiem in Moaes'
law was eternal life in some place ^ dtra oc^um,'' or " citra colom^"
tmtil the coming of the Messiah; for this he would &m prove that
they believed; and that rightly. This I ocmfess is a rare notion, and
I Imow not whether it be ^^ de fide'' or no; but this I am sure, that
it is the first tame that ever I heard of it^ though I have been a little
conversant with some of his great masten. But the truth is, our
author hath very ill success for the most part when he talks of the
Jews; m most men have when they talk of what th^ do not under*
stand. Eternal life and everlasting reward, tdie enjoyment of Qod
in bliss, was promised no less truly in the (^d Testament than under
the New, though less clearly: and our author grants it, by confessing
that the estate of the saints in rest ^ extra coelum,^ to be admitted
thither upon the entrance made into it by the Mesnah, was promised
to them, and believed by them; though, any such promise made to
them, or any such belief of them, as should give us the specification
of the reward they expected, he is not able to produoa

^ The promise of heaven is made dear under the New Testament;
3ret not so," he tells us, '^ but that, in iiie execution of this promise,
it is sufifciently insinuated that if any spirit issue out of his body
not absolutely purified, himself may indeed, by the use of sudi means
of grace as our Lord instituted, 'be saved, yet so as by fire,'" 1 Cor. ill
I think I know well enough what he aims at^ but the sense of his
words I do not so well understand. Suppose a s^Hrit so to issue for&
as he talks, — seeing we must not believe that the blood of Jesus pmges
us from all our sins, — who or what is it then that he means by "him-
self ?" Is it the spint after it is departed, or is it the person bef(»e
its departuie? If the latter, to what end is the issuing forth of the
Bpint mentioned? And what is h^ie for purgatoiy, seeing the persosa
is to be saved by the m^ms of grace appointed by Christ? If the
former, as the expression is uncouth, so I desire to know whether
purgatory be an instituted means of grace or no? and whether it was
believed so by Virgil, or is by any of the more learned Romanists?
I think it my duty a little to retain my reader in lins stumbling
passage. Our author having a mind to beg some countenance for
purgatory from 1 Cor. iii, and knowing fiili well that there is not
one word spoken ihete about the q>irits of men dqaarted, but of their
trials in this Ufe, was forced to confound that living and dead means
of graoe and punishmait^ things present and to come, that somewhat
might seem to look towards puigatory, though he knew not what
Nor doth he find any better ^elt^ for his poor purgatory, — ^turned



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 161

naked out of doors, throughout the whole Scripture, as injurious to
the grace of Qod, the mediation of Christ, the tenor of the covenant
of grace, and contrary to express testimonies, — ^in those words of our
Savioiur, Matt v. ; who, speaking of sinners dying in an unreconciled
condition, having made no peace or agreement with God, says that,
being '' delivered into prison, they should not go forth until they had
paid the utmost farthing." For as the persons whom he paraboli-
cally sets forth are such as die in an absolute estate of enmity with
Qod, — ^which kind of persons, as I take it, Boman Catholics do not
believe to go to purgatory, — so I think it is certain that those enemies
of Grod who are or shall be cast into hell shall not depart until they
have paid the uttermost &rthing; and that the expression '* until''
doth in Scripture always denote a limitation of time to expire, and
the accomplishment afterward of what is denied before, I suppose,
nay, I know, he will not say: so that their lying in prison until
they pay the uttermost ferthing of their debts (which is not (Jod's
way of dealing with them whom he washes and pardons in the blood



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 20 of 67)