Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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comparisons, likening it^ as to any characters of Qod's truth and
holiness upon it, unto Liv/s story, yea> Msop's Fables, or a piece of
poetry. And when you have done so, you apply yourselves to the
canvassing of stories in the Old Testam^it, and to find out appear*
ing contradictions; and tell us of the uncertainty of the authors of
some particular books, — ^that the whole is of itself a dead letter, which
can prove nothing at all; inquiring. Who told us that the penmen
of it were divinely inspired, seeing they testify no such thing of
themsdves? and if they should, yet others may do, and have done
so, who^ notwithstandii^, ware not so inspired; and B£k us, Why we



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26« A VINMCATION OF THE ANIMADVEESIONS ON FIAT LUX.

receive the Qospel of Luke, who was not an apostle, and reject that
of Thomas, who was one? with many the hke cavilling exceptions

But, — 1. That must needs be a bad cause which stands in need of
€uch a defence. Is this the voice of Jacob, or Esau? Are these the
expressions of Christians, or Pagans? From whose quiver are these
arrows taken? Is this fair, sober, candid. Christian dealing? Have
you no way to defend the authority of your church but by question-
ing the authority of the Scripture? Did ever any of the fathers c^
old, or any in the world before yourselves, take this course to plead
their interests in any thing they professed? Is this practice Catholic,
or, like many of your principles, singular, your own, Donatistical? Is
it any great sign that you have an interest in that living chUd, when
you are so ready he should be destroyed, rather than you would be
cast in your contest with Protestants? 2. Do you think that this
course, of proclaiming to Atheists, Turks, and Pagans, that the Scrip-
ture, which all Christians maintain against them to be the word of
the living Qod, given by inspiration from him, — and on which the faith
of all the martyrs who have suffered from their opposition, rage, and
cruelty, and of all others that truly believe in Jesus Christ, was and
is founded, and whereinto it is resolved, — hath no arguments of its
divine original implanted on it, no lines of the excellencies and per-
fections of its author drawn on it, no power or efficacy towards the
consciences of men, evidencing its authority over them, no ability of
itself to comfort and support them in their trials and sufferings with
the hope of things that are not seen; — ^is this, think you, an accept-
able service imto the Lord Christ, who will one day judge the secrets
of all hearts according unto that word? or is it not really to expose
Christian religion to scorn and contempt? And do you find so much
sweetness in ''dolus, an virtus, quis in hoste requiratf ' Yirg. ^n.iL390,
as to cast off all reverence of God and his word, in the pursuit of the
supposed adversaries of your earthly interests? 3. If your arguments
and objections are effectual and prevalent unto the end for which you
intend them, will not your direct issue be the utter overthrow of the
very foundation of the whole profession of Christians in the world?
And are you, like Samson, content to pull down the house that must
£edl upon yourselves also, so that you may stifle Protestants with its
fall? It may be it were well you should do so, were it a house of
Dagon, a temple dedicated unto idols; but to deal so with that
^ wherein dwells the majesty of the living God is not so justifiabia
It is true, evert this principle and you overthrow the foimdation on
which the faith of Protestants is built ; but it is no less true that you
do the same to the foundation of the Christian faith in general,
wherein we hope your own concernment also lies. And this is the
thing that I am declaring unto you, — namely, that either you ac-



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PROTESTANT DOCTRINE ON UNITT OF FArffl. 267

knowledge the principles on which Protestants build their faith and
profession, or by denying them you open a door unto atheism, at
least to the extirpation of Christian reUgion out of the world. I con-
fess you pretend a relief against the present instance, in the author
rity of your church, sufficient, as you Mty, to give a credibility unto
the Scripture, though its own self-evidencing power and efficacy,
with the confirmation of it by Catholic tradition, exclusive to your
present suffirage, be rejected. Now, I suppose you will grant that
the prop you supply men withal, upon your casting down the founda^
tions on which they have laid the weight of their eternal salvation,
had need be firm and immovable. And remember that you have to
do with them who, though they may be otherwise inclinable imto you,

** Non tamen ignorant qnid distent sara lupinis," Hor. Ep^ L 7, 28 ;
and must use their own judgment in the consideration of what you
tender unto them. And they' ask you, — 1. What will you do if it
be as you say with them who absolutely reject the authority of your
church; which is the condition of more than a moiety of the inhabi-
tants of the world, to speak sufficiently within compass? And, — 2,
What will you advise us to say to innumerable other persons that are
pious and rational, who, upon the mere consideration of the Uves of
many, of the most, of the guides of your church, your bloody, inhu-»
man practices, your pursuit of worldly, carnal designs, your visible,
secular interest, wherein you are combined and united, cannot per-
suade themselves that the testimony of your church, in and about
things that are invisible, spiritual, heavenly, and eternal, is at all
valuable, much less that it is sufficient to bear the weight you would
lay upon it? 3. Was not this the way and method of Yaninus for
the introduction of his atheism, — first, to question, slight, and sophis-
tically except against the old approved arguments and evidences ma-
nifesting the being and existence of a divine, self-subsisting power;
substituting in their room, for the confirmation of it, his own sophisms,
which himself knew might be easily discussed and disproved? Do
you deal any better with us, in decrying the Scripture's self-evidenc-
ing efficacy, with the testimony given unto it by God himself, substi-
tuting nothing in the room thereof but the authority of your church?
A man, certainly, can take up nothing upon the sole authority of
your church, until, contrary to the pretensions, reasons, and arguments
of far a greater num1)er of Christians than yourselves, he acknowledge
you to be a true church at least, if not the only church in the world
Now, how, I pray, will you bring him into that state and condition
that he may rationally make any such judgment? How will you
prove unto him that there is any such thing as a church in the world ;
that a church hath any authority; that its testimony can make any
thing credible, or meet to be believed? You must prove these things!



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568 A VINDICATICMr OF THE AKIMADVEBfilONS OlST FIAT LUX.

to him, or whatever assent he gives unto what you saj is from fana-
tical credulity; To suppose that he duHild beUeve you upon your
word, becai;»e you are the church, is to suppose that he believes that
which you are yet but att»i^>ting to induoe him to believei If you
persist to press him, without other proo^ not only to believe what
3^ou first said unto him, but also ev^i this, that whatever you shall
say to him hereafter, that he must beUeve it because you say it, will
not any rational man nauseate at your unreasonable importunity,
and tell you that m^i who have a mind to be befooled may meet
with such aldiymistical pretenders all the world over ? Will you
persuade him that you are ths ckwrck, aiul that the church is fur-
nished with the authority mentioned, by rational airguments? I wish
you would inform me of any oob that you can make use ol that doth
not include a supposition of something unproved by you, and whidt
ean never be proved but by your own audiozity, whidi is the thing
in question ; or the immediate authority of God, which you reject A
number, indeed, of pretences, or, it may be, probabilities, you mh.y
heap together; which yet upon examination will not be foimd so
much neither, unkes a man will swallow amongst th^n that which is
destitute of all probability but what is included in the evidence given
imto it by divine reveladon, which is not yet pleaded unto him. It
^lay be, then, you will work mirade$ to confirm your assertiona Let
us see them; for although very many things are requisite to manifest
any works of wonder that may be wrought in the world to be real
miracles^ and good caution be required to judge unto what end
mirades are wrought, yet, if we may have any tolerable evidence of
your working mirades in confirmation of this assertion, that you are
the true and only church of Qod, with the other inferences depending
thereon, whidi we are in the consideration o^ you will find us very
easy to be treated withaL But herein also you foil You have, then,
no way to deal with such a man as we first supposed, but as you do
with us, and producing testimonies of Scripture to prove and confirm
the authority of your church; and then you will quickly feid wberei
you are, and what snares you have cast yourselves into. Will not a
man who hears you proving the (mthority of your dmrck by the
Scripture ask you, "And whence hath this Scripture its authority f**
yea, that is supposed to be the thing in question, which, denying
unto it an aura^t^tm, you yet im)duce to confirm the authority ol
that by whose authority alcme itself is evidenced to have any autho*
rity at all Eest in the authority of Qod, manifesting itself in the
S<nipture, witnessed unto by the catholic tradition of all ages, you
will not But you will prove the Scripture to be the word of God
by the testimony of your church; and you will prove yom- church to
be enabled suffidently to testify the Scriptures to be of God, by the



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KtOTKTANT DOCTRINE ON tTNIlT OF FAITH: 269

testimomes of the Scr]|)tQra Wcmld you know >rhere to b^m and
where to Mid? Bui you at% indeed, in a circle which hath neittier be-
ginning nor ending. I know Hot when we shall be enabled to say,— -»

KoW, do you think it reasonable that we should leare our stable and
iBUtto^able firm foundationB to run round witii you m this endless
mrde^ until, through giddiness, we ML into unbelief or atheism?
Dus is tiiat whidi I told you befbpe,^^you must esthcnr adloiowledge
our piinoq>le in this matter to be firm and certain, or open a do<nr to
atheism and the contempt of Christian Tehgion, seeing you are not
able to substitute any thmg in the room thereof that is able to bea^
the weight that must be laid upon it, if we behove. F<»r how should
you do sot Shall man be like unto Qod, or equal unto him? The
testimony we rest in is divine, fortified firom all objecti(»i8 by the
strongest human testimony possible, — namety, catholic tradition. That
"vidndi yon would supply us with is merdy human, and no more. And,
4l Tour importunity in opposing this principle is so much the nK»?e
xtiarvellous unto us, because therein you opoily oppose yourselves to
express testimonies of Scripture and the fiill sufiErage of the ancient
obiudi. I wish you would a little weigh what is affirmed, 2 Pet i
19, 20; Pa adz. 152; John v. 34-36, 3d; lThe8S.xll3; ActsxviLll;
1 John v. 6, 10, iL 20; Heb. zL; 1 Tim. i 15; Actsxxvl 22. And
will you take with you tiie eonsent (tf Ae ancients ? Clemens Alexand.
Strom. viL, speaks fviHy to our pirpotfe; as he doth also, lib. iv., where
he plainly affirms that UbB church proved the ScrHptwe by itself;
and o^Aer ^ingn^ as the unity of the Deity, by the Scripture, But
Im own words in the former place «re wcnrth the recital:— ''£;^«^»,
satth he, tiv Af%i)y iHc vtmtot^ th Khpnvy M r$ rtSv ^ofrirStv, htA rf roi/
tttmyY^mty %m) iid raii> fianapim dit6€rS>M¥ ^r^XurficrMC Mii roXu/tif w^ i^
dfj^ Ug tiXag iiyo{ffii999 1% /nuVfuif. T^y dfX^v tf i7 rig Mfxt bCt^kti httt*
>MMy %\auT dv hrmi Af'x^ fii^x^t — '' For the b^inning of iaith, or
principle of what we teach, we hove the Lord ; who in sundry man«
nttn, and by divers parts, by the prophets, goq)d, and holy apostles,
leads us to knowledge. And if anyT)ne BUi^K)se that a principle
stands in need of anotiier" (to ptove it), ''he destroys the nature of a
prittcq)le/' or '^ it is no longer preserved a prinoipW This is that we
say, - ^-the S(Sripture, the Old »id New Testament, is the principle of
ourfedth. This is prowciiyc^s^ to be of the Lord, who is its author;
and if we cauae it to depend on anything else, it is no longer the
principle of our fisith and professioiL Aiid a litde after, where he
batti showed that a principle ought not to be disputed, nor to be the
fi n^fdfMm of any debate, he adds, 'B/x^ok ^^^9^^ mtnTu «f^iX«C^m;

t aiWmia^ tt ectttfone Oztmiebsi, ajd. 1715.->-Sd.



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270 A VINDICATION OP THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAt LUX.

— " It is meet, then, that receiving by faith the most absolute prin^
ciple without other demonstration, and taking demonstrations of the
principle from the principle itself, we be instructed by the voice
of the Lord unto the knowledge of the truth;" that is, we believe
the Scripture for its own sake, and the testimony that God gives unto
it, in it and by it, and do prove every thing else by it; and so are
confirmed in the ffdth or knowledge of the truth. So he farther ex-
plains himself. Oh y^p &^Xus Arfaivofitvotg Mpu^otg «'^oaf;^o^f v, cU xo/
&vTa7rofahis6ai W hng i^tsrtr — " For we do not simply or absolutely:
attend or give heed unto men determining or defining ; against whom
it is equal that we may define or declare our judgments." So it is;
whilst the authority of man, or men, any society of men in the world,
is pleaded, the authority of others may by as good reason be objected
against it; as, whilst you plead your church and its definitions, others
may on as good grounds oppose theirs unto you therein. And there-
fore Clemens proceeds: £/ d* oux dpxtTfiSm a^rXSii i/ts^ rh bS^m, dXKSt
nCTUi^a^Qou hit rh Xfp^^fv, ou Hv Jg dv6putTU9 dvafMvofJiiv fiaprvpiaf^ aXXc^
rji roD Kvpiov ^mp riffrovfii^a rh ^jjro^^ivov, i\ racw dTodst^iu¥ iy(§yy\)uripa^
/LoXkov d* ri fi6¥fi d'r6htil^ig oZaa rvy^dvts' xolS t^ intrr^fifiv os dTvytutd/i/tHt
fjkSvov ruv TpapSfv, ri^roi' — " For if it be not sufficient merely to declare
or assert that which appears to be truth, but also to make that credi-*
ble or fit to be believed which is spoken, we seek not after the testi-
mony that is given by men, but we confirm that which is proposed
or inquired about with the voice of the Lord; which is more full than
any demonstration, or rather is itself the only demonstration ; accord-
ing to the knowledge whereof they that have tasted of the Scriptures
are believers." Into the voice, the word of God alone, the church
then resolved their fwth; this only they built upon, acknowledging
aU human testimony to be too weak and infirm to be made a foun-
dation for it; and this voice of God, in the Scripture evidwidng itself
so to be, is the only demonstration of faith -which they rested in:
whereupon, a little after, he adds, Oirottg oZv xai ifith dr abrw rw
Tpa^m rtKtiug (&Todt/xvuN-f(, ix Tf&rwg irttUfLida dx^btixrixtitg' — '' So we,
having perfect demonstrations out of the Scriptures, are by faith
demonstratively assured or persuaded of the truth of the things pro-
posed." This was the profession of the church of old; this the reso-
lution of their fiEtith ; this is that which Protestants in this case adhere
unto. They proved the Scripture to be from God, — ^as he elsewhere,
speaks, ig ah6%yrtiag ravroxparopixiig, — ^as we also do; Strom, iv. To
this purpose speaks Salvianus de Gub., lib. iiL, *^ Alia omnia (id est,
humana dicta) aigumentis et testibus ^nt; Dei autem serma ipsa
sibi testis est, quia neoesse est ut quicquid incorrupta Veritas loquitur^
incorruptum sit testimonum veritatis;" — " All other si^dngs stand in



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PROTESTANT DOCTBIKE ON UNTTT OF FAITH. 271

need of argumeDts and witnesses to confirm them: the word of Qod
is witness to itself; for whatever the truth incomipted speaks, must of
necessity be an incomipted testimony of truth." And although some
of them allowed the testimony of the church as a motive unto believ-
ing the gospel, or things preached from it, yet as to the belief of the
Scripture, with faith divine and supernatural, to be the word of Qod,
they required but these two things: — 1. That self-evidence in the
Scripture itself which is needful for an indemonstrable principle,
from which and by which all other things are to be demonstrated
And that self-evidence Clemens puts in the place of all demonstra-
tiona 2. The efficacy of the Spirit in the heart, to enable it to give
a saving assent unto the truth proposed unto it Thus Austin, in
his Confessions, lib. vi cap. 6, *^ Fersuasisti mihi, o Domine Deus,
non qui crederent Ubris tuis, quos tantd in omnibus fere gentibus
authoritate fundasti, sed qui non crederent esse culpandos; neo
audiendos esse, siqui mihi forte dicerent, 'Unde sds illos libros
unius [veri et] veracissimi Dei Spiritu esse, hiunano generi xninis-
tratos?' id ipsum enim maxime credendum erat;" — " O Lord Qod,
thou hast persuaded me, that not they who believe thy books, which
with so great authority thou hast settled almost in all nations, were
to be blamed, but those who believe them not; and that I should not
hearken unto any of them who might chance say unto me, ' Whence
dost thou know those books to be given out unto mankind from the
Spirit of the true Qod f for that is the thing which principally was to
be believed." In which words the holy man hath given us full
direction what to say, when you come upon us with that question,
which some used, it seems, in his days; — a gieat testimony of the
antiquity of your principles Add hereunto what he writes in the
11th book and 3d chapter of the same treatise, and we have the
sum of the resolution and principle of his fidth. '' Audiam," saith
he, " et intelligam quomodo fecisti coelum et terram. Scripsit hoo
Moses; scripsit et abiit, transivit hinc ad te; neque enim nunc
ante me est Nam si esset, tenerem eum, et rogarem eiun, et per te
obsecrarem ut mihi ista panderet; et prseberem aures corporis mei
Bonis erumpentibus ex ore eju& At si Hebrse^ voce loqueretur,
frustra pulsisuret sensum meum, nee inde mentem meam quidquam
tangeret: si autem Latine, scirem quid diceret Sed undo sdrem an.
verum diceret ? quod si et hoc scirem, num et ab illo scirem ? Intus
utique mihi, intus in domicilio cogitationis, nee Hebrsea, nee Qraeca^
necLatina, nee barbara, Veritas, sine oris et linguse oi^ganis, sine strepita
syllabarum, diceret, 'Verum dicit ;' et ego statim certus oonfidenter illi
homini tuo diceiem, * Yerum dicia' Cum ergo ilium interrogare non
possim, te, quo plenus vera dixit, Veritas, rogo te, Deus mens, rogo
parce peccatis meis; et qui illi servo tuo dedisti hsec dicere, da et mihi



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272 A YINDICASlOir OF THE AKIiCiJiVSRSlOKS OK FUT LUX

haec iotelHgere;*^ — ^ I would hear and ondetstand, O Lord, how thou
hast made the heavens and the earth. Moeee wrote this; he wrote it
and is gone, and he is gone to thee; for now he is not fnresent with
me. If he were, I wouM lay hold on hki, a&d ask him, and beseech
him, for diy sake^ that he would nnfold these things unto me; and I
would cause the eais of my body to attend wo^ the words of his
moutL Bat if he should speak m the Hebrew iKHigue, he would
only in Tabl strike itpoft my outward sense, and my mind within
would not be affidcted with it. If he speak in Latin, I diould know
what be said. But whence should I know that he spake the truth!
diould I know this also from him t The truth, that is neith w He^
hcew, Qreek, Latin, nor expressed in any barbarous language^ would
say unto me inwardly, in the dweDing-plaoe of my thoughts, without
the organs of mouth or tongue, or noise of syllables, ^He iq)eaks the
truth;' and I with confidence should say unto Um, thy servant, 'Thou
q)eake8t the truth.' Seeing, therefore, I cannot inquire of him, I
beseeoh thee, that art truth, with whom he being filled spake the
truth, I besee<)h thee, O my God, paidom my nns; and thou who
gavest unto him, thy servant to speak these things, grant unto me to
understand them.'' Thaa this holy man ascribes his assent unto the
tmquestionabla prindple of the Scripture, as to the effecting of it in
himself, to the work of Gbd's Spirit in his heart. As Basil also doth
on Ps. cxv. : TUar$^ n uvip r^g Xo^ix^; fAi^mif ri¥ '4/v;^v «^ mtyxntdZtMiff

bufythug iyyiu/Mi9n''^**V$itk, whidi draws the sold unto cotisent above
the e£Bcacy of all ways or methods of persuasion ; fiiith, that k wrought
and begotten in us, not by geometrical enforcements or demonstra^
tions, but by the efibctual operations of the Spiaril" And both these^
principles are exoeUemtiy expressed by one amongst yourselves^ even
Baptista Mantuanus, Lib. de Patientia, cap. 32, 88. ^ SdBpenumero,"
saith he, '' mecum oogitavi, undo tarn suadibiHs esset ista Scriptura,
ut torn potenter influat in a&haos auditotum; unde tantum habeat
eneigisB, ut non ad opinandum, sed ad sc^de credendum, omnes in-
flectat;" — ** I have often thought with mysrf^ whence the Scripture
is so persuasive; whence it doch so paw^:ftdly 'mflu^ice the minds of
the hearers; whence it hath so much efficacy, that it should inctUne
and bow all men, not to think as probable, but solidly to believe, the
things it proposeth.'* ^ Non," saitfa he, ^ est hoc im^tandum
lotionum evidentise quas non adduoit; non artis industrisB et verbis
soavibuB et ad persuackaidum aceommodaitiii, quibus non utitur ;" — ''It
is not to be aseribed xnito the evidence of reasons, which it bringeth
not ; neither to the cncceileBcy of art, sweet words, and accommodated
unto peisuafflon, which it makes no use o£" " Sed vide an id in
tait, qi^od persuaa 4mmu8 earn a Prima Veritatefluxisse;" — '' But



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PBOTESTAin' iKKnwjf B ON XTNiry OF FAJtra 273,

see if this be not the cause of it» tba4^ we are persuaded that it pro*
eeeds from the Prime Verity." He proceeds, " Sed uude sumus ita
persuasi nisi ab ipsa? quasi ad ei credendum non sua ipsus trahat
authoritaa Sed unde quseso banc sibi authoritotem, vindicavit?
Neque enim vidimus not Deum conaciQnajitem, ecribentem, doo^tem ;
tamen ac si vidissemus, credimus et tenemus a Spiritu Sancto fluxisse
quod legimus. Forsitan fuerit b»c ratio firmiter adhserendi, quod in
ea Veritas sit solidior, quamvis non clarior. Habet anim omnis Veritas
vim indinativam; et mn^or majorem, maxima maximajn. Sed cur
ergo omnes nou oredunt evangelic ? Be^ndeo, Quod non omnes
teahuntur a Dea" And again, " Inest ergo Scripturis sacris negcio
quid natuia sublimius ; id est, in^imtio &cta divinitus et divinse. irrsr
diatonis influxus certus." '^ Btxt whence are we pexsuaded that it is
from the First Verity but inm itself? its own authority draws us to
believe it But whence obtains it this authority ? We see not Qod
preaching, writing, teaching; but yet, as if we bad seen him, we
believe and firmly hold that which we read to have come from the
Holy Ghost It may be that this is a reason of our firm adhering
unto it, that the truth in it is more solid, though not more clear "
(than in any other way of proposal) '^ And all truth hath apower to
incline unto belief; the greater ihe truth, the greater its pow^, and
the greatest truth must have the greatest power so to incline us.
But why, then, do not all believe the gospel ? I answer, Because all
are not drawn of God." " There is, then, in the holy Scripture some-
what more sublime than nature; that is, the divme in^iration from
whence it is, and the divine irradiation wherewith it is accompanied''
This is the principle of Protestants. The sacred Scripture is credible,
as proceeding from the First Verity; this it manifests by its own light
aaid efficacy; and we are enabled to believe it by the effectual work*
ing of the Spirit of God in our heada. Whence our Saviour asks the
Jews, John v. 47, " If ye believe not the writings of Moses, how shall
ye believe my words?" They who will not bdieve the written
word of the Scripture upon the auiJiority that it hath in itself, would
not believe if Christ should personally q)eak unto tibem. S9 saith
Theophylact on the place: Oh ri^ttUri rosg /i^po^/u^^^ »<^ ^^i

III. Protestants believe and pro&ss that the end wherefore Oodgam



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 33 of 67)