Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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of Christ, who are not able to pay one farthing of them) is their lying
there to eternity. And so, also, of the sins of which it is said they
" shall not be forgiven in this world, nor in the world to come," in
one gospel; it is said in another that they " shall never be forgiven,"
— that is, not really forgiven here, nor declared or manifested to be
foi^ven hereafter. Besides, methinks this should make very little
for purgatory, however the words should be interpreted ; for they are
a great aggravation of the sins spoken of, as the highest and most
mortal that men may contract the guilt of that can be pardoned, — ^if
they can be pardoned. That the remission of such sins may be looked
for in purgatory, as yet we are not taught; nay, our own author tells
us that mortal sins must be remitted before a man can be admitted
into purgatory: so that certainly there is not a more useless text
in the Bible to his present purpose than this is, though they be all
useless enough, in all conscience.

But here a matter £sdls across his thoughts that doth not a little
trouble him; and it is this, that St Paul, in his epistles, never makes
use of "purgatory, directly at least, as a topic-place, either in his
exhortations to virtue or dissuasions from vice." And, I promise you,
it is a shrewd objection. It cannot but seem strange that St Paul
should make no use of it, and his church make use almost of nothing
else. Little, surely, did St Paul think how many monasteries and
abbeys this purgatory would found, how many monks and friars it
would maintain, what revenue it would bring into the church, that
he passeth it by so slightly. But St Paul's business was to persuade
men to virtue, and dehort them from vice ; and he informs us that
there is such a contemperation of heat and cold in purgatory, such

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162 ANIMADYEBSIONS OK A TREATISE

an equal balance between pains and hopes, good and evil, that it is
not very meet to be made a topic for these ends and purposes; that
is, that indeed it is of no use in religion. The trouble and com-
fort of it are, by a due mixture, so allayed, as to their proper quali-
ties, that they can have no operation upon the minds of men, to
sway them one way or other. Had some of our forefethers been so
far illuminated, all things had not been at the state wherein they
are at this day in the Papacy; but, it may be, much more is not to
be expected from it, and therefore it may now otherwise be treated
than it was yerst-while, when it was made the sum and substance
of reli^on. However, the time will come when this Platonical signet,
— that hath no colour from Scripture, but is opposite to the clear testi-
monies of it; repugnant to the grace, truth, and mercy of Grod; de-
structive to the mediation of Christ; useless to the souls of men,
serving [not] only to beget false fears in some few, but desperate pre-
sumptions, from the thoughts of an after-reserve, and second venture
after this life is ended; in the most, abused t6 innumerable other
superstitions, utterly unknown to the first churches and the orthodox
bishops of them, having by various means and degrees crept into the
Roman church (which shall be laid open, if called for), — shall be
utterly exterminated out of the confines and limits of the church of
God. In the meantime, I heartily beg of our Romanists, that they
would no more endeavour to cast men into real, scorching, consuming
fire, for refiising to believe that which is only imaginary and fantas-
tical



CHAPTER XXL

Pope.

Sect xxix. It is not because the Pope is forgotten all this while,
that he is there placed in the rear, after images, saints, and purgatory.
It is plain that he hath been borne in mind all along; yea, and so
much mentioned, that a man would wonder how he comes to have a
special paragraph here allotted to him. The whole book seems to be
all pope from the very beginning, as to the main design of it; and
now to meet pope by himself again, in the end, is somewhat unex-
pected. But I suppose our author thinks he can n^ver say enough
of him. TherefOTe, lest any thing fit to be insisted on should have
escaped him in his former discourses, he hath designed this section to
gather up the paralipomena, or ornaments he had forgotten before to
set him forth withaL And indeed, if the pope be the man he talk$



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ENTITLED FUT LUX 163

of in this section, I must acknowledge he hath had much wrong done
him in the world. He is one, it seems, that we " are beholding unto
for aU we have that is worth any thing," particularly for the " gospel,
which was originally ifrom him; for kingly authority, and his crown-
land, with all the honour and power in the kingdom ; — one, that we
had not had any thing left us at this day either of truth or unity,
humanly speaking, had not he been set over us;-— one in whom Christ
hath no less shown his divinity and power than in himself; in whom
he is more miraculous than he was in his own person; — one that, by
the only authority of his place and person, defended Christ's bemg
Qod against all the world; without which, humanly speaking, Christ
had not been taken for any auch person as he is believed this day;"
so as not only we, but Christ himself is beholding to him, that any
body believes him to be Qod ! Now, truly, if things stand thus with
him, I think it is high time for us to leave our Protestancy, and to
betake ourselves to the Irishman's creed, " That if Christ had not
been Christ when he was Christ, St Patrick" (the pope) "would have
been Christ." Nay, as he is, having the hard fate to come into the
world so many ages after the ascension of Christ into heaven, I know
not what is left for Christ to be or do. The Scripture tells us that
the gospel is Christ's, originally from him; — ^now we are told it is the
pope's, originally from him: that informs us that by him (the Wis-
dom of God) " kings reign, and princes execute judgment;" — now we
ore taught, " that kingly authority, with his crown^and, is from the
pope:" that instructs us to expect the preservation of faith and
truth in the world from Christ alone; the establishment of his throne
and kingdom for ever and ever; his building, guidance, and protec-
tion of his church; — ^but we are now taught that for all these things
we are beholding to the pope, who, by his only authority, keeps up
the feith of the deity of Christ; who surely is much engaged to him,
that he takes it not to himself Besides what he is, for our better
information, that we may judge aright concerning him, we may con-
sider also what he doth, and hath been doing, it seems, a long time:
— " He is one that hath never been known to let fall the least word
of passion against any, nor move any engine for revenge; — one whose
whole life and study is to defend innocence," eta ; that by his
'^ general councils, all held under and by him, especially that of Nice,
hath done more good than can be expressed; carefrd, and more than
humanly happy, in all ages, in reconciling Christian princes," etc. ; —
" one who, let men talk what they will, if he be not an unerring
guide in matters of religion and faith, all is lost" But how shall
we come to know and be assured of all this? Other men, as our
author knows and complains, speak other things of him. Is it meet>
that in so doubt&J and questionable a business, and of so great imr



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164 ANIMABVEESIOKS ON A TREATISE

portance to lie known, we should believe a strdnger upon his word^
and that against the vehement affirmations at least of so many to
the contrary? The Scripture speaks never a word that we can find
of him, nor once mentions him at alL The ancient stories of the
church are utterly silent of him, as for any such person as he is here
described, speaking of the bishop of Rome as of other bishops in
those days. Many of the stories of after ages give us quite another
character of him^ both as to his personal qualifications and employ*
ment, — I mean, of the greatest part of the series of men going under
that name. Instead of peace-making and reconciliation, they tell us
of fierce and cruel wars, stirred up and managed by them, — of the
ruin of kings and kingdoms by their means; and instead of the
meekness pretended, their breathing out threatenings against men
that adore them not, persecuting them with fire and sword, to the
utter depopulation of some countries, and the defiling of the most of
Europe with bloody crueltie& What course shall we take in the
cont^ of assertions, that we may be able to make a right judgment
concerning him? I know no better than this> — a little to examine
apart the particulars of his excellency as they are given us by our
author, especially the most eminent of them, and weigh whether they
are given in according to truth or no.

The first that we mentioned was, that '^ the gospel was originally
from him, and to him we are beholding for it" This we cannot readily
receive; it ia certainly imtrue, and fearfully blasphemous to boot.
The gospel was originally firom Christ; and to him alone are we be-
holding for it, as hath been before declared. Another is, that '^ kingly
authority amongst us, and his crown-land, is from him.'' This is false
and seditious. Kingly authority, in general, is from Qod, and by his
providence was it established in this land, before the pope had any
thing to do here : nor doth it lean in the least on his warranty, but
hath been supported without the Papacy, and against all its opposi-
tions ; which Iwtve not been a few. A third is, that, " humanly speak-
ing, had not he been set over us, we had not had this day either truth
or unity." I know not well what you mean by " humanly speak-
ing;" but, I am sure, so to blaspheme the care and love of Christ to
his church, and the sufficiency of his word and promised Spirit to
preserve truth in the world without the pope, whose aid in this work
he never once thought of, requested, appointed, is, if not inhuman
and barbarous, yet bold and presumptuous That " Christ hath no
less showed his divinity in him than in his own person," is an expres-
sion of the same natiu'e, or of a more dreadful, if possible it may ba
I speak seriously; I do not thmk this is the way to make men in love
with the pope. No sooner is such a word spoken but immedSiately
the wicked bestial lives, the ignorance, atheisms, and horrid ends of



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX 165

many of tliem, present themselves to tbe thoughts of men, and a tre-
mor comes over their hearts to hear men open their mouths with such
blasphemies as to affirm that the Lord Christ did as much manifest
his divinity and power in such beasts as in his own person. Yea^
that he is '^ more miraculous in him than he was in himself/' What
proof, sir, is there of this? where is the Scripture, where the anti-
quity, where the reason for it? We tell you truly, we cannot believe
such monstrous figments upon their bare affirmation. ' Yea^ but this
is not all: " Christ is beholding to him for all the faith of his deity
that is in the world." Why so ? " Why, by the ' only authority of his
place and person he defended it' " When? " When it was opposed
by the Arians,"" and he called his Council of Nice, where he con-
demned them. Who would not be sick of such trifles? Is it pos-
sible that any man in his right wits should talk at such a rate?
Consult the writings of those days, of Alexander of Alexandria^ of
Athanasius, Qr^ory, Basil, Chiysostom, Austin, whom not? — go over
the volumes of the councils of those days: if he can once find the
authority of the pope of Rome and his person pleaded as the pillar
of the faith of Christ's deity, or as any argument for the proof of it,
let him triumph in his discovery. Vain man, that dares to make
these flourishes, when he knows how those ancient Christian heroes
of those days mightily proved the deity of Christ from the Scrip-
tures, and confounded their adversaries with their testimonies, both
in their councils, disputes, and writings, which remain to this day!
Was not the Scripture accounted and pleaded by them all as the
bulwark of this truth? And did not some of them, — ^Athanasius for
instance, — do and suffer for the maintaining of it more than all the
bishops of Rome in those days or since? And what a trifling is it to
tell us of the pope's council at Nice ! — ^as though we did not know
who called that council, who presided in it^ who bare the weight of
the business of it, of whom none were popes, nor any sent by popes;
nay, as if we did not know that there was then no such pope in the
world as he about whom we contend. Indeed, it is not candid and
ingenuous for a man to talk of these things in this manner. The
like must be said of the first six councils mentioned by him; in some
of which the power of the bishop of Rome was expressly limited, as
in that of Nice and that of Chalcedon, and in the other& Though he
was ready enough to pretend to more, yet he had no more power than
the bishops of other cities that had a mind to be called patriarch&
We do not then, as yet, see any reason to change our former thoughts
of the pope for any thing here offered by the author; and we cannot
but be fax enough from taking up his, if they be those which he hath
in this discourse expressed, they being all of them erroneous, the most
of them blasphemoua



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166 ANIMADVERSIONS ON A TRfcATISE

But yet, if we are not pleased with what he is, we may be pleased
with what he does, being so excellent a well-accomplished person as
he is; for he is one that was " never known to let fall a word of pas-
sion." That, for casting off his authority, [he] should procure thou-
sands to be slain and burned, without stirring up any "engme of
revenge," — ^these are somewhat strange stories. Our author grievously
complains of uncivil carriage toward the pope in England, in all
sorts, — men, women, and children. For my part, I justify no revil-
ing accusation in any, against any whatever; \mt yet I must tell him,
that if he thinks to reclaim men from their hard thoughts of him
(that is, not of the person of this or that pope, but of the office as by
them managed), it must not be by telling him he is a fine accom-
plished gentleman, — ^that he is " a prince, a stranger, a great way
off, whom it is imdvil and unmannerly to speak so hardly of;" — but
labour to show that it is not hi^ principle to impose upon the con-
sciences of men his apprehensions in the things of (jod; that he is
not the great proclaimer of many false opinions, heresies, and super-
stitions, and that with a pretence of an authority to make them
receive them whether they will or no; that he hath not caused many
of their forefathers to be burned to death for not submitting to his
dictates, nor would do so to them had he them once absolutely in
his power; that he hath never given away this kmgdom to strangers,
and cursed the lawful princes of it; that he pleads not a sovereignty
over them and their governors, inconsistent with the laws of Ood and
the land: "Haec cedo, ut admoveam templis, et farre litabo."* For
whilst the greatest part of men amongst us do look upon him as the
Antichrist foretold in the Scripture, guilty of the blood of innumer-
able martyrs and witnesses of the truth of Christ; others, who think
not so hardly of him, yet confess he is so like him, that, by the marks
given of Antichrist, he is the likeliest person on the earth to be ap-
prehended on suspicion ; — all of them think that if he could get them
into his power, which he endeavours continually, he would bum them
to ashes; and that, in the meantime, he is the corrupt fountain and
spring of all the false worship, superstition, and idolatry wherewith
the faces of many churches are defiled. To suppose he can persuade
them to any better respect of him than they have, by telling them
how " fine a gallant gentleman" he is, and what a great way off from
them, and the like stories, is to suppose that he is to deal with fools
and children. For my own part, I approve no man's cursing or
reviling of him; let that work be left to himself alone for me. I

1 Pers. ii. 76. The import of the quotation in the original is, that with an un-
blemished character, a man may approach the temples, and make peace with no moro
costly offering than a handful of flour. Owen intimates that if all the statements
were true, which he has supposed the Papist to make, small reason for quarrel would
be left between Protestant and Papist. — Ed,



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ENTTTLED FIAT LUX. 167

desue men would pray for him, that God would convert hhn and all
his other enemies to the truth of the gospel ; and in the meantime
to deliver all his from their policy, rage, and fury.

We may easily gather what is to be thought of the other enco-
miums given to him by our author by what hath been observed con-
cerning those we have passed through; as, that ''his whole life and
study is to defend innocency," eta It must needs be granted that
he hath taken some little time to provide for hunself in the world;
he had surely never arrived else to that degree of excellency as to
tread on the necks of emperors, to have kings hold his stimip, to
kick oflF their crowns, to exceed the rulers of the earth in worldly
pomp, state, and treasures, which came not to him by inheritance
from St Peter: and whether he hath been such a defender of inno-
cency and innocents, the day wherein God shall make inquisition
for blood will manifest The great work he hath done by his general
councils, a summary of which is given us by our author, is next pre-
tended: — "All this was done by him; yea, all that good that was
ever done by general councils in the world was done by him : for
they were all his councils, and that which was not his is nona" 1
shtdl only mind our author of what was said of old unto one talking
at that rate that he is pleased here to do: —

** Labore alleno magno partam gloriam
Verbis ssepe in se transmoTet, qui habct salem,
Qui in te est" [Ter. Eun. iil 1, 10.]

All the glory and renown of the old ancient councils, all theur
labours for the extirpation of heresies and errors, and the success
that their honest endeavours were blessed withal, with the season-
ing of one little word, " his," are turned over to the pope. They
were "his councils;" a thing they never once dreamed of, nor any
mortal man in the days wherein they were celebrated. Convened
they were in the name and upon the institution of Christ, and
80 were " His" councils; were called together, as to their solemn ex-
ternal convention, by the emperors of those days, and so were not
their councils, but councils held by their authority, as to all the ex-
ternal concernments of them. This the councils themselves did ac-
knowledge, and so did the bishops of Kome in those days, when they
joined their petitions with others unto the emperors for the convening
of them; and seldom it was that they could obtain their meetings in
any place they desired, though they were many of them wise at an
after-game, and turned their remoteness from them into their advan-
tage. As they were called by the emperors, so they were composed
of bishops and others, with equal sufl&Bgea How they come to be
the pope's councils he himself only knows^ and those to whom he is



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168 JLNDfADVEESIONS ON A TREATISE

pleased to impart this secret ; of other men not one. Indeed, some
of them may be called feis councils, if every thing is his wherein
he is any way concerned. Such was the first council of Nice, as to
his pretended jurisdiction; such that of Chalcedon, as to his primacy;
such were sundry famous conventions in Afric, wherein his pretensions
unto authority were excluded, and his unseemly frauds discovered.
Nay, there is not any thing upon the roll of antiquity of greater and
more prodigious scandal than the contests of popes, in some African
councils, for authority and jurisdiction. Their claim was such as that
the good £a.thers assembled wrote unto them that they would not
introduce secular pride and ambition into the church of Christ And
the manner of managing their pretensions was no other but down-
right forgery,- and that of no less than canons of the first memorable
Council of Nice : which to discover, the honest African bishops were
forced to send to Constantinople, Alexandria^ and Antioch, for au-
thentic copies of those canons, upon the receipt whereof they molli-
fied the forgery with much Christian sobriety and prudence unto the
bishop of Rome himself, and enacted a decree for the future, to pre-
vent his pretensions and claims. Besides, as the good bishops aver,
God himself testified against the irregular interposition of the pre-
tended power of the bishop of Rome; for whilst they, being synodi-
cally assembled, were detained and hindered in their procedure by
the Romanists' contests for superiority, Apiarius, the guilty person,
being convinced in his conscience of his many notorious evils and
crimes, from a just censure whereof the Roman interposition was
used to shelter him, of his own accord cast himself at the feet of the
assembly, confessing all his wickedness and folly. Of the six first
councils, then, there is no more reason to call them the pope's, or to
ascribe their achievements unto him, than there is to call them any
other bishop's of any city then famous in the world. In that which
he calls the " seventh general council," — ^indeed a conventicle of igno-
rant, tumultuous, superstitious iconolaters, condemned afterward by
a council held at Frankfort by the authority of Charles the Great, —
he stickled to some purpose for images, which then began to be his
darlings; and though we can afford that council to be his, for any
concernment we have in it, yet the story of it will not allow us to do
so, it being neither convened nor ruled by his authority, though the
brutish monks in it were willing to shelter themselves under the
splendour and lustre of his see. About those that follow we will not
much contend; it matters not whose they were, unless they had been
better, — especially such as laid foundations for, and stirred up princes
to shed the innocent blood of the martyrs of Christ, to some of their
perpetual ignominy, reproach, and ruin. But yet our author knows,
or may know, what long contests there have been, even in latter ages,



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX, 169

whether the council should be the pope's council, or the pope should
be the council's pope ; and how the pope carried it at last, by having
more archbishoprics and bishoprics in his disposal than the coun-
cils had. And so much for the pope's councila

Our author adds, that " he hath been more than humanly happy
in reconciling Christian princes;" but yet I will venture a wager
with him that I will give more instances of his setting princes to-
gether by the ears than he shall of reconciling them; and I will
manifest that he hath got more by the first work than the latter.
Let him b^in the vie when he pleaseth; if I live, and Qod will, I
will try this matter with him before any competent judges. '* Tu die
mecum, quo pignore?" [Virg. EcL iii. 36.] How else to end this
matter, I know not

I see not, then, any ground my countrymen have to alter their
thoughts concerning the pope, for any thing here tendered unto them
by this author; yea^ I know they have great reason to be confirmed
in their former apprehensions concerning him: for all that truly
honour the Lord Jesus Christ have reason to be moved when they
hear another^ if not preferred before him, nor set up in competition
with him, yet openly invested with many of his privil^es and pre-
rogatives, especially considering that not only the person of Christ,
but his word also, is debased to make way to his exaltation and ad-
vancement Thence it is that it is openly averred, that were it not
for his '^ infallibility, we should all this time have been at a loss for
truth and unity." Of so small esteem with some men is the wisdom
of Christ, who left his word with his church for these ends, and his
word itself 1 All is nothing without the pope. If I mistake not, in
the light and temper of my countrymen, this is not the way to gain
their good opinion of him. Had our author kept himself to the
general terms of a good prince, a universal pastor, a careful guide,
and to general stories of his wisdom, care, and circumspection for
public good, — which discourse makes up what remains of this para-



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 21 of 67)