Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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for my part, 'Eya^ u^ 6 xofAtxhg if% &ypoix6; iifit^ t^p tfxafijy, cxdffiv X^flur,
as he said in Lucian; — " I live in the country where they call a spade
a spada" And if you can give any one instance where I have charged
you with any feilure, where there is the least probability that I had
in my heart other thoughts concerning what you said, I will give up
my whole interest in this cause imto you: " Mala mens, malus ani-
mus," Ter. And. L 1, 137. You have manifested your conscience to
be no just measure of other men's, who reckon upon their giving an
account of what they do or say: so that you have but little advanced
yom* charge by these undue insinuationa

Neither have you any better success in that which, in the next
place, you inost upon; which yet, were it not, like the most of the
rest, destitute of truth, would give more countenance unto your re7
flection than them all. It is, that I ''give you sharp and frequent
menaces, that if you write or speak again, you shall hear more, find
more, feel more, more to yoiur smart, more than you imagine, more
than you would; which relish much of that insulting humour which

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the land groaned under/' I suppose no man reads this representa-
tion of my words, with the addition of your own, which makes up
the greatest part of them, but must needs think that you have been
sorely threatened with some personal inconveniences which I would
cause to befaU you did you not surcease from writing, or that I would
obtain some course to be taken with you to your prejudice. Now,
this must needs savour of the spirit of our late days of trouble and
mischief or at least of the former days of the prevalency of Popery
amongst us, when men were not wont, in such cases, to take up at
bare threats and menaces. If this be so, all men that know the
author of the " Animadverdons,'' and his condition, must needs con-
clude him to be very foolish and wicked: foolish, for threatening
any with that which is as £Etr from his power to execute as the person
threatened can possibly desire it to be; — wicked, for designing that
evil unto any individual person which he abhors " in hypothesi'' to be
inflicted on any upon the like account But what if there be nothing
of all this in the pretended menaces? what if the worst that is in
them be only part of a desire that you would abstain from insisting
on the personal miscarriages of some that profess the Protestant reli-
gion, lest he should be necessitated to make a diversion of your charge,
or to show the insuflSciency of it to your purpose, by recounting the
more notorious failings of the guides, heads, and leaders of your church?
If this be so, — ^as it is, in truth, the whole intendment of any of those
expressions that are used by me (for the most part of them are your
own figments), wherever they occur, — what condusion can any ra-
tional man make from them? Do they not rather intimate a desire
of the use of moderation in these our contests, and an abstinence fron^
things personal (for which cause also, fruitlessly, as I now perceive,
by this your new kind of ingenuity and moderation, I prefixed not
my name to the " Animadversions," which you also take notice of),
than any evil intention or design? This was my threatening you;
to which now I shall add, that though I may not say of these papers
what Catullus did of his verses on Rufus, —

"YemmidnonimpimefereB: nam te omnia seda
Noeoent, et» q[ni sifl, fama loquetnr anus;" Gat IzxriiL 9.

yet I shall say, that as many as take notice of this discourse will do
no less of your disingenuity and manifold falsehood, in your vain
attempt to relieve your dying cause, by casting odium upon him with
whom you have to do ; like the bonassus that Aristotle informs us of
Hist Animal, lib. ix. cap. 24; which, being as big as a bull, but
having horns turned inward and unuseful for fight, when he is pur-
sued, casts out his excrements to defile his pursuers, and to stay them
in their passage.

But what now is the end in all this heap of things, which you would

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have mistaken for Teasons, that you aim at? It is all to show how
unfit I am to defaad the protestant religion, and that " I am not
such a Protestant as I would be thought to be.'" Bat why so? I
embrace the doetrine of the church of England, as declared in the
Thirty-oiine Articles, and other approved public writings of the most
&mous bishops and other divines thereof I avow her rejection of
tiie pretended authority and real errors of your church to be her duty,
and justifiable. The same is my judgment in reference unto all othet
protestant churches in the world, in all things wherein they agree
among themselves; which is in all things necessary that God may b^
accep^bly worshipped and themselves saved. And why may I not
plead the cause of Protestancy agiunst that imputation of demerit
which you heap upon it ? Neither would I be thought to be any
thing in religion but wl^at I am; neither have I any sentimente
therein but what I profesa But it may be you will say, in some
things I differ from other Protestants. Wisely observed ! and if from
thence you can conclude a man unqualified for the defence of Pro-
testancy, you have secured yoiu^elf from opposition, seeing every
Protestant doth so, and must do so whilst there are differences among^
Protestants; but they are in things wherein their Protestancy is not
concerned. And may I be so bold as to saA. you how the case in this
instance stands with yourself, who certainly would have your com-
petency for the defence of your church unquestionable? Differences
there are amongst you ; and that, as in and about other things, so also
about the pope himself, the head and spring of the religion you pro-
fidss. Some of you maintsun his personal infallibility, and that not
only in matters of faith, but in matters of fact also; others disclaim
the former as highly erroneous, and the latter as grossly blasphemoua
Ptay, what is your judgment in this matter? for I suppose you are
not of both these opinions at once, and I am sure they are irrecon-
cilable. Some of you mount his supremacy above a geneml council,
some would bring him into a co-ordination with it, and some subject
him unto it; though he hath almost carried the cause, by having
store of bishoprics to bestow, whereas a council has none; which was
the reason givien of old for his prevalency in this contest May we
know what you think in this case? Some of you assert him to be,
" de jure," lord of the whole world in spirituals and temporals abso-
lutely; some in spirituals directly, and in temporals only "in ordine
iftd spiritualia," — an abyss from whence you may draw out what you
please; and some of you in temporals not at all: and you have not
as yet given us your thoughts as to this difference amongst you.
Some of you assert in him a power of deposing kings, disposing of
kingdoms, transferring titles unto dominion and rule, for and upon
such mkcarriages as he shall judge to contain disobedience imto the

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see apostolic; others love not to talk at this haughty rate: neither
do I know what is your judgment in this matter. This, as I said
before, I am sure of, you cannot be of all these various contradictory
judgments at once. Not to trouUe you with instances that might
be multiplied of the like differences amongst you; i^ notwithstand-
ing your adherence unto one part of the contradiction in them, you
judge yourself a competent advocate for your church in genjeral, and
do busily employ yourself to win over proselytes unto her commu-
nion, have the patience to think that o^e who in some few things
differs fix)m some oUier Protestants, is not wholly incapacitated
thereby to r^pel an unju^ charge against Protestancy in general

I have done with the two general heads of your prefatory discourse^
and shall now only mark one or two incident particulars that belong
not unto them, and then proceed to see if we can meet with any
thing of more importance ihan what you have been pleased as yet to
communicate unto us.

Page 5. Upon occasion of a passage in my discourse, wherein, upon
misinformation, I expressed som^e trouble that any young men should
be entangled with the rhetoric and sophistry of your '^ Fiat Lux,"
you &U into an harangue, not inferior unto some others in your epistle
for that candour and ingenuity you give yourself imto.

First, you make a plea for *' gentlemen'" (not once named in my
discourse), *^ that they must be allowed a sense of religion as well as
ministers; that they have the body though not the doak of religion,
and are masters of their own reason." But do you consider with
yourself who it is that speaks these words, and to whom you speak
them ? Do you indeed desire that '^ gentlemen" should have such
a sense of religion, and make use ofHheir reason in the choice of that
which therein they adhere unto, as you pretends Is this pretence
consistent with yoiu: plea in your " Fiat Lux," wherein you labour to
reduce them to a naked fanatical '^ credo ?" or is it your interest to
court them with fine words, though your intention be £Eur otherwise ?
But we in England like not such proceedings: —

*E}^ffif ymf fit »%79§t ifivt &ti»» wvXi^^if,

*0f X ^^f*^ f^* Ktvht U) ^ftelff &XX§ }i\ fiaZu,

Nothing dislikes us more than dissimulation. And to whom do you
speak ? Did I, doth any Protestant, deny that gentlemen may have, —
do we not say they ought to have?— their sense in religion, and their
senses exercised therein? Do we deny they ought to improve their
reason, in being conversant about it? Are these the principles of the
church of Rome or of that of England? Do we not press them unto
these things, as their principal duty in this world? Do we disallow
or forbid them any means that may tend to their furtherance in the

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knowledge and profession of religion? Where is it that, if they do
but look upon a Bible, —

— ** Furiamm mftrimtt. juxta
Accubst, et manibus prohibet oontmgere menaas ;** Viig. Mil tL 606.

— the inquisitor lays hold upon them, and bids them be contented
with a rosary f or our Lady's psalter ? Do we hinder or dissuade them
from any studies, or the use of books that may increase their know-
ledge and improve their reason? And hath not the Papacy felt the
fruits and effects of these principles in the writings of kings, princes,
noblemen, and gentlemen, of ail sorts? And do not you yourself
know all this to be true? And is it ingenuous to insist on contrary
insinuations? or do you think that truly generous spirits will stoop
to so poor a lure? But you proceed : " This is one difference between
Catholic countries and ours, — that there the clergyman is only re-
garded for his virtue and the power he hath received, or is at least
believed to have received, from God, in the great ministry of our re-
conciliation; and if he have any addition of learning besides, it is
looked upon as a good accidental ornament, but not as any essential
complement of his profession: so that it often happens, without any
wonderment at all, that the gentleman-patron is the learned man,
and the priest, his chaplain, of little or no science in comparison.
But here in England, our gentlemen are disparaged by their own
* black-coats,' and not suffered to use their judgment in any kind of
learning, without a gibe from them. The gentleman is reasonless,
and the scribbling cassock is the only scholar; he alone must speak
all, know all, and only understand." Sir, if your clergy were re-
spected only for their virtue, they would not be overburdened with
their honour, unless they have much mended their manners since all
the world publicly complained of their lewdness; and which in many
places the most would do so still, did they not judge the evil reme-
diless. And if the state of things be, in your Catholic countries, be-
tween the gentry and clergy, as you inform us, I fear it is not from <
the learning of the one, but the ignorance of the other. And this
you seem to intimate, by rejecting learning fit)m being any essential
complement of their profession : wherein you do wisely, and what you
are necessitated to do ; for those who are acquainted with them tell us
that if it were, you would have a very thin clergy left you, very many
of them not understanding the very mass-book, which they daily
chant; and therefore almost every word in your " Missale Romanum"
is accented, that they may know how aright to pronounce them;
which yet will not deliver them from that mistake of him who, in-
stead of " Introibo ad altare Dei," read constantly, " Introibo ad
tartara Del" Herein we envy not the condition of your Catholic
countries; and though we desire our gentry were more learned than

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they are, yet neither we nor they could be contented to have our
ministers ignorant, so that they might be in veneration for that oflBce's
sake which they are no way able to discharge. And as to what you
affirm concerning England, and our usage here, in the dose of your
discourse, it is so utterly devoid of truth and honesty, that I can-
not but wonder at your open regardlessness of them. Should you
have written these things in Spain or Italy (where you have made
pictures of Catholics put in bears' skins and torn with dogs in Eng-
land, Ecdes. Ang. Troph.) concerning England, and the manners of
the inhabitants thereof, you might have hoped to have met with
some so partially addicted unto your feiction and interest as to sup-
pose there were some colour of truth in what you aver; but to write
these things here amongst us, in the face of the sun, where every one
that casts an eye upon them will detest your confidence, and laugh
at your folly, is a course of proceeding not easy to be paralleled.

I shall not insist on the particulars, there being not one word of
truth in the whole, but leave you to the discipline of your o¥m

thought^ —

« Ooooltom qvatiente animo tortore flageUum."— Jot. ziiL 196.

And so I have done with your prefatory discourse, wherein you have
made it appear with what reverence of Gkxi and love to the truth
you are conversant in the great concernments of the souls of men.
What^ in particular, you exc^t against in the '^ Animadversions,'" I
shall now proceed to the consideration o£


Vindication of the first chapter of the «* Animadversions"— The method of
** Fiat Lux" — ^Romanists' doctrine of the merit of good works.

In your exceptions to the first chapter of the " Animadversions,'^
p. 20, 1 wish I could find any thing agreeable unto truth, according
unto your own principles. It was ever granted that roXXA -^Motrai
Aotdoi' but always to fidl and feign at pleasure was never allowed so
much as to poets. Men may oftentimes utter many things untrue,
wherein yet some principles, which they are persuaded to be agree-
able unto truth, or some more general mistakes, from whence their
particular assertions proceed, may countenance their consciences from
a sense of guilt, and some way shield their reputation from the sharp-
ness of censure; but willingly and often for a man practically to
offend in this kind, when his mind and understanding is not imposed

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upon by aay previous mktakefi^ is a miBcarriage whieh I do not yet
perceive that the subtilest of your casuists have found out an excuse
for. Two exoeptions you lay against this chapter, — ^in the fiist
whereof^ by not qaeaking the whole truth, you render tlie whole -un-
truth; an^ in the latter, you plainly affirm that which, your eyes told
you to be otherwise. Firat, you say, I proposed a dilenuna unto you
for saying you had concealed your method; when what I spake unto
you was upon your saying, first that you had t(«««2 no Tn^tAod, and after-
ward that you had concealed your m$thod; as you also in your next
words here confess. Now, hoiti these beix^ impossible, and severally
spoken by you, Only to serve a present turn, your sony m^ximent
about the 8ch(dar and his eggs will not free yourself from being very
ridiculoua Certainly this using no method, and 3ret at the same
time concealing your method, is part of that civil logic you have
learned, no man knows where. Tou had fur better hide your weak-
nesses under a universal silence, as you do to the most of them, than
expose them afresh unto publio contempt^ trimmed up with froth and
triflea But this is but one of the least of your escapes. You proceed
to downright work m your following words: " Going on, you deny"
(say you) '^ that Protestants ever exposed the merit of good works:
which at first I wond^ed at, seeing the sound of it hath rung so often
in my own ears, and so many hundred books written in this last age
so apparently witness it in all places^ till I found afterward, in my
thorough perusal of your bpok, that you neither heed what you say
nor how much you deny; at last, giving a distinction of the intrinsic
acceptability of our works, the easier to silence me, you say as I say."
Could any man, not acquainted with you, ever imagine but that I had
denied that ever Protestants opposed the merit of good works? You
positively affirm I did so; you pretend to transcribe my own words;
you wonder why I should say so; you produce testimony to disprove
what I say : and yet all this while you know well enough that I never
said so. Have a little more care, if not of your conscience, yet of
your reputation; for, serioudy, if you proceed in this manner, you
will lose the common privilege of being believed when you speak
truth. Your words in your "Fiat Lux," p. 15, second edition, are, that
" Our ministers cull out various texts" (out of the Epistle of Paul to
the Bomans) " against the Christian doctrine of good works and their
merit:" wherein you plainly distinguish between the Christian doc-
trine of good works and their merit; as well you may. I tell you,
pp. 26, 26,' that no Protestant ever opposed the Christian doctrine of
good works. Here you rq)eat my words, as you pretend, and say
that I deny " that any Protestant ever opposed the merit of good
works;" and fell into a feigned wonderment at me for saying that
which you knew weU enough I never said : for merit is not the Chris-
* Sm ppk 18y U of (be present Tolume.

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Hjm^ but lather, as by you explained, the anti-christian, doctrine of
good works^ as being p^eetly anti-evaagelical What merit you will
esteem this good work of yours to have I know not, aikl have in part
intimated what truly it doth deserva But you add, that, " making a
distinction of the intrinsic acceptability of works, you say as I say/'
What is that, I pray? Do I say that Protestants oppose the Chris-
tian doctrine of good works, as you say in your " Fiat?" or do I say
that they never opposed the merit of good works, as you feign me to
say in your epistle? Neither the one nor the other; but I say that
Protestants teach the Christian doctrine of good works as revealed
in the gospel, and oppose the merit of good works by you invented,
and as by you explamed, and now avowed And whilst you talk at
this rate, as if you were perfectly innocent, you begin your story as
if you had nothing to do but to accuse another of fraud, like him that

— << Nee, ai ndBenim fbiimia Sinonem
Finzit, Tannm etiam mendaoemqiie Impvote fingot;" Virg. Msl ii 79.

when you know what his business wa& But the truth is, when you
talk of the merit of good works you stand in a slippery place, and
know not well what you would have, nor what it is that you would
have me believe. Your Tridentme convention hath indeed provided a
limber " cothurnus," to fit, if it were possible, your several statures and
postures. But general words are nothing but the proportion of a
cirque or arena for dogmatists to contend within the limits o£ The
ancient ecclesiastical importance of the word " merit," wherein, as it
may be proved by numberless instances, it denoted no more than to
" obtain," you have the most of you rejected ; and do urge it in a
strict legal sense, denoting workirg " for a reward," and performing
that which is proportionable unto it, as the labour of the hireling is
to his wages, according unto the strict rules of justice. See your
Rhemish Annotations,^ 1 Cor. iii, Heb. vL 10. So is the judgment,
I think, of your church explained by Suarez, tom. i in Thorn. 3,
d. 41. "A supernatural work," saith he, " proceeding from grace, in

' In 1682, an English New Testament was printed at Rheims, for the nse of the
Boman Catholics in &itain, irhen, from the ratdtiplication of Protestant Tendons, it iras
impossible any longer to irithbold the Scriptnres from the common people. It is a
servile translation from the Vulgate. The annotations, to which Dr Owen refers, are
most objectionable. On the worcls, Lnke zIy. 28, " Compel them to come in," a note is
appended plainlj yindioating peraeontion. *« St Ai]giistine»" it is said, ** refierreth this
compelling to the penal laws, which Catholic princes do justly use against heretics and
Schismatics; " and at the dose it is added, '< Such are invited as the church of Qod hath
power over, because they promised in baptism, and therefore are to be revoked not only
by gentle means, but by just punishment also." The marginal title to the note is,
" Heretics may by penal laws be compelled to the Catholic faith.'* Expressions occur in
the notes referred to above, to the following effect : — " The reward of heaven is the rcoom-
fense of justioe;" ** Good woHls be meritorious^ and the very cause of salvation." — En. >

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itself, and in its own nature, bath a proportion unto and condigniiy of
the reward, and is of sufficient value to be worth the same." And
you seem to be of the same opinion, in owning that description of
merit which Protestants reject, which I gave in my "Animadversions,'*
— ^namely, *' an intrinsical worth and value in works, arising from the
exact answerableness unto the law and proportion unto the reward,
so as on the rules of justice to deserve it" Of the same mind are
most of you (see Andrad. Orthodox. Explic. lib. vi., Bagus de Merit
Op., lib. I cap. 9), though I can assure you Paul was not, Rom.
vi 23, viiL 18 : so that you must not take it ill if Protestants oppose
this doctrine with testimonies out of his Epistle to the Romans, as
well as out of many other portions of the holy writ; for they look
upon it as an opinion perfectly destructive of the covenant of grace.
Nay, I must tell you that some of your own church and way love
not to talk at this high and lofty rate. Ferus speaks plain unto you
on Matt XX.: " If you desire to hold the grace and &vour of God,
make no mention of your own merit&^ Durand sticks not to call
the opinion which you seem to espouse, " temerarious," yea, " blas-
phemous," quest 2, d. 27. In the explication of your distinction of
" congruity " and " condiguity," how wofully are you divided ! as also
in the application of it There is no end of yom: altercations about it,
the terms of it being horrid, uncouth, strangers to Scripture and the
ancient church, of an arbitrary signification, about which men may
with probabilities contend to the world's end ; and yet the very soul
and life of yom: doctrine of merit Ues in it Some ascribe merit of
congruity to works before grace, and of condignity to them done in a
state of grace; — some, merit of congruity to them done by grace, and
merit of condignity they utterly exclude: some give grace and the
promise a place in merit; — some so explain it, that they can have no
place at all therein. Generally, in your books of devotion, when you
have to do with God, you begin to bethink yourselves, and speak
much more humbly and modesUy than you do when you endeavovur to
dispute subtilely, and quell your adversariea And I am not without
hope that many of you do personally believe, as to your own particu-
lar concernments, for better than when you doctrinally express your-
selves when you contend with us; as when that famous emperor,
Charles V., after all his bustles in and about religion, came to die,
in his retirement he expressly renounced all merit of works, as a

Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 25 of 67)