Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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would call us unto, but in the express direction and command of
God. Him we can follow and trust unto, without the least fear of
miacarriaga Whither you would lead us we know not, and are not
willing to make despenvte experiments in things of so high concern-
ment But since you have been pleased to overlook what hath been
discoursed unto this purpose in the "Animadversions," and, with
your usual confidence, to affirm " that I nowhere at all speak one
word to the case that you proposed," I shall, for your fiurther satis-
faction, give you a little enlargement of my thoughts as to the prin-
ciples on which Protestants and Bomanists proceed in these matters,
and compare them together, that it may be seen whether of us builds
on the most stable and adequate foundation as to the superstruction
aimed at by us both.

Two things you profess, if I mistake not, to aim at in your "Fiat;"
at least you pretend so to do: — 1. Moderation in and about our
differences whilst they continue; 2. The redtiction of all dissenters
unto a unity in faith and profession; — things, no doubt, great and
excellent He can be no Christian that aims not at them, that doth
not earnestly desire them. You profess to make them your design ;
Protestants do so also. Now, let us consider whether of the two,
you or they, are fitted with principles, according imto the diversity
of professions wherein you are engaged, for the r^ular aocomplish-



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250 A VINDICATIOK OF THE ANIMADVERSIOKS' ON FIAT LUX

ment and effecting of these ends. And in the oonfiideration of the
latter of them, you will find your present case fiiUy and clearly
resolved.

1. For the firsts — (rf moderation, — ^I intend by it, and I think so do
you also, the mutual forbearance of <»ie another as to any effecbs of
hatred, enmity, or animosities of any kind, attended with offices of
love, dbarity, kindness, and compassion, proceeding from a frame oi
heart or gracious habit of mind naturally producing such effects, with
a quiet, peaceable deportment towards one another, during our pre-
sent diffarences in or about any thing in religion. Oertainly, this
moderation is a blessed thing; eamesdy commended unto us by our
Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles; and as necessary to preserve peace
among Christians as the sun in the firmament is io give light unto
the world. The very heathen could say, Udvrm ijArpof dpttrrw, —
'^ Moderation is the hie of all things;" and nothing is durable but
from the influence which it receives fix)m it Now, in {uressing after
moderation, Protestants proceed chiefly on two principles, which,
being once admitted, make it a duty indispensabla And I can
assure you that no man will long follow after moderation but only
he that looks upon it as his duty so to do; inddent provocations will
quickly divert them in their course who pursue it for any other ends
or on any other accounts.

The first principle of the Protestants disposing them to modera-
tion, and indispensably exacting it of them as ^eir duty, is, that
amongst all the professors of the name of Christ, who are known by
their relation unto any chmx^h, or way of note or m*ark in the world,
not actually condemned in the primitive or apostolical times, there
is so much saving truth owned and taught, as^ being received with
faith and submitted unto with ancere obedience, is sv^fftcient to give
them that profess it an interest in Christ and in the covenant of
grace and love of God, and to seciire their salvation. This principle
hath been openly defended by them, and I profess it to be mina
It is true, there are ways whereby the truth mentioned may be ren-
dered ineffectual; but that hinders not but that the principle is true,
and that the truth so received is sufficient for the pix)ducing of those
effects in its kind and place. And let men pretend what they please,
the last day will discover that that faith which " purifieth the heart,"
and renders the person in whom it is accepted with Grod by Jesus
Christ, may have ite objective truths confin^ in a very narrow com-
pass; yet it must emlo^ all timt is indispensably necessary to salvar
tion. And it is an unsufferable tyranny over the souls and consciences
of men, to introduce and assert a necessity of behoving whatever this
or that church, any, or indeed all churches, shall please to propose;
for the proposal of all the churches in the world cannot make any



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SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE. 251

thing to he necessary to be believed that was not so antecedently
unto that proposal Churches may help the faith of believers; they
cannot burden it, or exercise any dominion over it He that be-
lieveth that whatever God reveals is true, and that the holy Scrip-
ture is a perfect revelation of his mind tuid will (wherein almost all
Christians agree), need not fear that he shall be burdened with mul-
titudes of particular articles of faith, provided he do his duty in sin-
cerity, to come to an acquaintance with what God hatli so revealed.
Now, if men's coimnon interest in Christ their head, and their parti-
cipation of the same Spirit from him, with their imion in the bond
of the covenant o£ grace, and an equal sharing in the love of God the
Father, be the principles, and, upon the matter, the only grounds
and reasons of that special love, without dissimulation, which Chris-
tians ought to bear one towards another, — ^from whence the modera-
tion pleaded for must proceed, or it is a thing of no use in our pre-
sent case, at least no way generally belonging to the gospel of Jesus
Christy — ^and if all these things may be obtained by virtue of that
truth which is professed in common among all known societies of
Christians, doth it not unavoidably follow that we ought to exercise
moderation towards one another, however differing in or about things
which destroy not the principles of love and union? Certainly we
ought, unless we will resolvedly stifle the actings of that love which
is implanted in all the disciples of Christ, and, besides, live in an open
disobedience imto his commands. This, then, indispensably exacts
moderation in Protestants towards them that differ from them; and
that not only within the lines of Protestancy, because they believe
that, notwithstanding tliat dissent, they have, or may have, for aught
they know, an interest in those things which are the only reasons of
that love which is required in them towards the disciples of Christ
There is a moderation^prooeeding from the principles of reason in
general, and requiate imto our common interest in humanity, which
is good, and an eq)ecial ornament imto th^n in whom it is, espe-
ciaUy if they are persons exalted above others in place of rule and
government Men fierce, implacable, revengeful, impatient, tread-
ing down all that they dislike imder their feet, are the greatest de-
bceis of the image of God in the world, and, upon the matter, the
only troublers of human society. But the moderation whidi the
gospel requireth ariseth and proceedeth from the principles of union
with Christ before mentioned ; which is that that proves us disciples
of Christ indeed, and will confirm the mind in suitable actings against
all the provocations to the contrary which, from the infirmities and
miscarriages of m^, we are sure to meet withaL Neither doth this at
all hinder but that we may contend earnestly for the truth delivered
unto us^ and labour, by the ways of Christ's appointment, to reclaim



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252 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

otiiers from such opinions, ways, and practices, in and about the
things of religion and worship of Gbd, as are injurious unto his glory,
and may be destructive and pernicious to their own souls. Neither
doth it, in the least, put any discouragement upon endeavours to op-
pose the impiety and profaneness of men in their corruption in life
and conversation ; which certainly and unquestionably are inconsistent
with and destructive of the profession of the gospel, let them on
whom they are found be of what party, church, or way of religion
they please. And if those in whose hearts are the ways of God,
however diversified among themselves by various apprehensions of
some doctrines and practices, would sincerely, according to their duty,
set themselves to appose that profaneness, wickedness of life, or open
viciousness of conversation, which is breaking in like a flood upon
the world, — and which, as it hath already almost drowned the whole
glory of Christian religion, so it will imdoubtedly, if not prevented,
end in the wofiil calamity and final ruin of Christendom, — ^they would
have less mind and leisure to wrangle fiercely among themselves, and
breathe out destruction against one another for their mistakes and
diflferences about things which, by their own experience, they find
not to take off from their love to Christ, nor weaken the obedience
he requires at their handa But whilst the whole power of Christi-
anity is despised, conversion to God and separation from the ways
of the perishing world are set at nought, and men think they have
nothing to do in religion but to be zealously addicted to this or that
party amongst them that profess it, it is no wonder if they think
their chiefest duty to consist in destroying one another. But for
men that profess to be leaders and guides of others in Christian reli-
gion, openly to pursue carnal and worldly interests, greatness, wealth,
outward splendour and pomp, to live in luxury and pride, to labour
to strengthen and support themselves by the adherence of persons of
profane and wicked lives, that so they may destroy all that in any
opinion differ from themselves, is vigoroudy to endeavour to drive
out of the world that religion which they profess, and, in the mean-
time, to render it so uncomely and imdesirable that others must
needs be discouraged from its embracement But these things can-
not spring from the principles of Protestants, which, as I have mani*-
fested, lead them unto other manner of actings. And it is to no
purpose to ask, why then they are not all affected accordingly? for
they that are not so do live in an open contradiction to their own
avowed principles; which, that it is no news in the world, the vicious
lives of many, in all places professing Christianity, will not suffer us
to doubt For though that religion which they profess teacheth them
to " deny all tmgodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, and
righteously, and godly, in this present world/' if they intend the least



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SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTUBE. 253

benefit by it, yet they hold the profession of it on a contrary prac-
tice. And for this self-deceiving, attended with eternal ruin, many
men are beholding unto such notions as yours about your church,
securing salvation within the pale of its external communion, laying
little weight on the things which, at the last day, will only stand
them in stead. But for Protestants, setting aside their occasional
exasperations, when they b^^ to bethink themselves, they cannot
satisfy their own consciences in a resolution not to love them, be-
cause of some differences, whom they believe that Ood loves or may
love J notwithstanding those differences from them; or to renounce all
union with them who, they are persuaded, are united imto Christ;
or not to be moderate towards them in this world with whom they
expect to live for ever in another. I speak only of them, on all sides,
who have received into their hearts, and do express in their lives, the
scriptural power and energy of the gospel, who are begotten unto
Christ by the word of truth, and have received of his Spirit, pro-
mised in the covenant of grace unto all them that believe on him;
for, not to dissemble with you, I believe all others, as to their pre-
sent state, to be in the same condition before God, be they of what
church or way they will, though they are not all in the same condi-
tion in respect of the means of their spiritual advantage which they
enjoy or may do so, they being much more excellent in some societies
of Christians than other& This then, to return, is the principle of
Protestants, derived down unto them from Christ and his apostles;
and hereby are they eminently furnished for the exercise of that
moderation which you so much and so deservedly commend. And
more fully to tell you my private judgment, which whether it be
my own only I do not much concern myself to inquire, but this it
is: — ^Any man in the world who receiveth the Scriptmre of the Old
and New Testament as the word of Qod, and on that accoimt assents
in general to the whole truth revealed in them, worshipping God in
CImst, and yielding obedience unto him answerable imto his light
and conviction, — ^not contradicting his profession by any practice in-
consistent with true piety, nor owning of any opinion or persuasion
destructive to the known fundamentals of Christianity, — though he
should have the unhappiness to dissent, in some things, from all the
churches that are at this day in the world, mav yet have an internal,
supernatural, saving principle of his faith and obedience, and be un-
doubtedly saved. And I am sure it is my duty to exercise modera-
tion towards every man concerning whom I have, or ought to have,
that persuasion.

2. Some Protestants are of that judgment that external force
ought to have no place at all in matters of faith, however laws may
be constituted with penalties for the preservation of public outward '



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254 A VINDICATION OF THE ANMADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

order in a nati(Hi; most of them, that " hflereticidium," or putting
men to death for their misapprehensions in the things of God, is ab-
solutely unlawful; and all of them, that faith is the gift of Gbd, for
the communication whereof unto men he hath appointed certain
means, whereof external force is none; — unto which two last posi-
tions, not only the greatest Protestant but the greatest potentate in
Europe hath lately, in his own words, expressive of a heavenly be-
nignity towards mankind in their infirmities, declared his royal assent^
And I shall somewhat question the Protestaocy of them whom his
authority, example, and reason doth not conclude in these things.
For my part, I desire no better, I can give no greater warrant to assert
them as the principles of Protestants than what I have now acquainted
you with. And it is no small satisfaction unto me to contemplate
on the heavenly principle of gospel peace planted in the noble soil
of royai ingenuity and goodness; whence fruit may be expected to
the great profit and advantage of the whole world. Nor is it easy to
discover the natural and genuine tendency of these principles.towards
moderation. Indeed, in acting according unto them, and in a regu-
lar consistency with them, consists the moderation which we treat
about Wherever, then, Protestants use not that moderation towards
those that dissent from them, if otherwise peaceable, which the Lord
Jesus requires his disciples to exercise towards all them that profess
the same common hope with them, the fault is solely in the persons
so offending, and is not countenanced from any principles which they
avow. Whether it be so with those of your church shall now be con-
sidered.

1. You have no one principle that you more pertinaciously adhere
unto, nor which yields you greater advantage with weak, unstable
souls, than that whereby you confine all Christicmity within the
botmds of your oum eommunion. The Roman church and the ca-
tholic are with you one and the same. No privilege of the gospel,
you suppose, bekmgs tmto any soul in the world who lives not in your
communion, and in professed subjection imto the popa Union with
Christ, saving faith here, with salvation hereafter, belongs to no other,
— ^o, not one. Tins is the moderation of your church, whereimto
your outward actn^ have, for the most part, been suited. Indeed,
by this one principle, you are utterly incapacitated to exercise any of
that moderation towards those that dissent from you which the gospel

I In December 1662, Charles IL, with the ulterior Tiew of ahetting the Papists, and
aaserting, at the oime time, the rojal prerogatiTe entitled **^ the dinpenimig power/'
issued a declaration, in which, says Burnet, " the king expressed his aversion to all seve-
rities on the account of religion, but more particularly to aU sanguinaiy laws, and gave
hopes both to Pa^nsts and Nonoonibmists that he would find out such ways for temper-
ing the sererities of the liaws; that all his subjects would be easy under them." —
<* History of His Own Timea^" i 194. Probably it is to this diedaration our author
refers. — I&sk



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8UFF1CLENCT OF SCBIFTITBE. . 255

requires. You cannot love them as the disciples of Christ, nor act to-
wards them from an; such prindples. It is possible for you to ^ow
moderation towards iJiem as men ; but to show any moderation towards
them as those [who are] partakers of the same precious faith with you,
that is impossible for you to do. Yet this is that which we are inquir-
ing after, — ^not the moderation that may be amongst men as men, but
that which ought to be among Christians as Christiana This is gos-
pel moderation^ the other is common unto us with Turks, Jews^ and
Pagans, and not at all of our present disquisitioa And I wish that
this were foimd amongst you, as proceeding from the principles of
reason, with ingenuity and goodness of nature, more than it is; for
that which proceedeth from, and is regulated by, interest, is hypo-
critical, and not thankworthy. As occasion offers itself, it will turn
and change; as we have found it to do in most kingdoms of Europe.
Apparent, then, it is, that this ftmdamental principle of your profes-
sion, " Subesse Romano pontifici," eta, — that it is of " indispensable
necessity unto salvation unto every soul to be subject unto die pope
of Home," — doth utterly incapacitate you for that moderation towards
any that are not of you which Christ requires in his disciples towards
one another; seeing you judge none to be so but yourselvea Yet I
assure you withal that I hope, yea, I am verily persuaded, that there
are many, very many amongst you, whose minds and affections are
so influenced by common ingrafted notions of Qod and his goodness,
with a sense of the frailties of mankind, and weakness of the evidence
that is rendered unto them for the eviction of that indiq)ensable
necessity of subjection to the pope which their masters urge, as also
with the beams of truth shining forth in general in the Scriptures, and
what they know or have heard of the practices of primitive times, as
that, being seasoned with Christian charity and candour, they are not
so leavened with the sour prejudice of this principle as to be rendered
\mmeet for the due exercise of moderation. But for this they are not
beholding to your chuidi, nor this great principle of your profession.
2. It is the {»inciple of your church, whereunto your practice hath
been suited, that Uiose who disserU from you in things determined
by your churdi, being heretics, if they eontiime so to do after the ap-
plication of the means for their reclaiming which you think meet to
use, ought to be imprisoned, bvmedy or one way or other piU to
death. This yon cannot deny to be your principle, in being the very
foundation of your Inquisition, — the chief comer-stone in yoin* eccle-
siastical &bric, that couples and holds up the whole building together.
And it hath been asserted in your practice for sundry ages, in most
nations of Europe. Your councils, as that of Constatnce, have deter-
mined it^ and practised accordingly with John Huss and Jerome;
your doctors dispute for it ; your diurch lims upon it That you are



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256 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

destitute of any colour from antiquity in this your way, I have showed
before. Belkmnine, De Laia, cap. xxii, could find no other instance
of it but that of Prisdllianus, which what entertainment it found in
the church of Qod, I have declared ; with that of one Basilius, out
of Gregory's Dialogues, lib. L cap. 4, whom he confesseth to have
been a magician; and of Bogomilus, in the days of Alexius Comne-
nus, 1100 years after CHirist, whose putting to death notwithstanding
was afterward censured and condemned in a synod of more sober
persons than those who procured it Instances of your avowing this
principle in your dealing with the Albigenaes of old, the inhabitants
of Merindol and Cabrieres in prance, with tiie Waldenses in the val-
leys of Piedmont, formerly and of late; of your judiciary proceedings
against multitudes of persons of all sorts, conditions, ages, and sexes,
in this and most other nations of Europe, you are not pleased with
the mention of; I shall therefore pass them by: only, I desire you
would not question whether this be the principle of your church or
no, seeing you have given the world too great assurance that so it is;
and yourself, in your " Fiat^" commend the wisdom of Philip, king of
Spain, in his rigour in the pursuit of it, p. 243. These things being
so, I desire to know what foundation you have to stand upon in
pressing for moderation amongst dissenters in religion. I confess it
is a huge argument of your good nature that you are so inclinable
unto it; but when you should come to the real exercise of it, I am
afraid you would find your hands tied up by these principles of your
church, and your endeavours thereupon become very faint and
evanid. Men in such cases may make great pretences, —

** At Telut in somnis oculos ubi langaida preasit
Noote quies, nequicquam avidos eztendere corsos
Velle Yidemor, et in mediis oonatibus legri
Succidimns." Viig. ^n. zii 908.

Being destitute of any real foundation, your attempts are but like
the fruitless endeavours of men in their sleep, wherein great work-
ings of spirits and fancy produce no effects. I confess, notwithstand-
ing all this, others may be moderate towards you; I judge it their
duty so to be, I desire they may be so; but how you should exercise
moderation towards others, I cannot so well discern. Only as unto
the former, so much more am I relieved as imto this principle, from
the persuasion I have of the candour and ingenuity of many indivi-
dual persons of your profession, which will not suffer them to be capti-
vated under the power of such corrupt prejudices as these. And for my
part, if I could approve of external force in any case in matters of re-
ligion, it would be against the promoters of the principle mentioned.

** Ck)genda8"

M In mores hominemqne Creon.'* Statins, Theb. ziL 165.



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PBOTKSTAKT DOCHUirB OK UNITT OF VkHlSL 257

VfhetL men, tuider pretence of iteat for religiony depose all sense of
the laws €f nature and humanity, some eamestnese may be justified
in nnteaching them their nntowavd ootechisms, which & mdeed not
oikLy against the design, tpixH, prinoipleB^ and latter of the gospel,
but '* terrarum leges et mnndl fOBdera,'' — ^the very foondations of rea*
son on wbich meti ooalesoe into civil society. But^ as we observed
before, out of one of the ancients, " Force hath no place in or abont
the law of Christ,*' one way or other.

That whidi gave occasion imto thia diseucne was your msinuation
of the Sariptnre's insnfficienoTibrtheBettlomentof men in the unity
^fidth, the contrary whereof being the great pmdple of Protestancy,
I was willing a little to enlaige myself vnto the eonsideistion of your
prindples and oinrs,— <not cmly with reference tinta the unity of fidth,
bat idso as unto tiiat lAodeiation whidi you pretend to plead for,
and the want whereof ye« chaige on Protestants, preminng it unto
the ensukig discourse, wherein yon will n^eoi^ with a full and a direct
answer unto yoiXr quesUon^



CHAPTER Vlt

Unity of fta£b^ wherein it conBists-^^rinciples of Protestaato as to the settlii^
men In religion and upltj oi faith, proposed and confirmed.

T)SB next thing proposed a& a good to. be aimed at^ is wnity in
fixity and settlement or infallible ftssuBsnce therein. This is a good
de8i]tej)le foi^ itself; whes^eas the moderation treated of is only a me*
didmi of relief against other evils tmtil ibis may be attained And
ihetefbre^ though it be, upon supposition of our differences, earnestly
to be endeavoured a{let> yet A is^npt to be rested in^ aa though the
Btmost'of om duty oon^sted in it,.^and we- had no prospect beyond
it It ii9sa ca/OtoHc mtity in faith« which all Christiana ajc^ to aim at;



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 31 of 67)