Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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Sometimes you spesk as if both these were one and the same; and



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282 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LTJX.

sometimes you seem to distmguish them. Some of you lay most
weight upon the papal succession and infallibility; and some on the
church's jurisdiction and authority, I shall crave leave to take
your pleas asunder, and first to consider what force they have in
them, as imto the end whereunto they are applied, severally and apart;
and then see what, in their joint concurrence, they can contribute
thereunto. And whatever you think of it, I suppose this course of
proceeding will please ingenuous persons and lovers of truth, because
it enables them to take a distinct view of the things whereon they are
to give judgment; whereas in your handling of them, something you
suppose, something you insinuate, something you openly aver, yet so
confound them with other heterogeneous discourses, that it can hardly
be discerned what grounds you build upon; — a way of proceeding
which, as it argues a secret guilt and fear of bringing forth your prin-
ciples to light, so a gross kind of sophistry exploded by all masters of
reason whatsoever. They would not have us " fiunum ex fulgore,
sed ex fumo dare lucem," — " darken things dear and perspicuous in
themselves^ but to make things dark and confused perspicuoua"
And the orator tells us that Epicurus's discourse was ambiguous, be-
cause his " sententia" was " inhonesta,'' — " his opinion shameful"
And to what purpose should any one contend with you about such
general ambiguous expressions, diifvtp iv vuxrofi,ax*<f'{ I shall, then^
begin with the pope and his infaUxbilityy because you seem to lay
most weight thereon, and tell us plainly, p. 379 of your " Fiat,"
second edition, '^ That if the pope be not an unerring guide in a£GEkiiB
of religion, all is lost ;" and that " a man once rid of his authority may
as easily deride and as solidly confute the incarnation as the sprinkling
of holy water : " so resolving our faith of the incarnation of Christ into
his authority or testimony. Yea^ and in the same page, '* That if it
had not been for the pope, Christ himself had not been taken in the
world for any such person as he is beUeved this day;" and p. 378,
to the same purpose, " The first great fundamental of Christian reli-
gion, which is the truth and divinity of Christ, had it not been for
him, had failed long ago in the world ;" with much more to the same
purpose. Hence it is evident that, in your judgment, all truth and
certainty in religion depends on the pope's authority and infallibility;
or, as you express it, " his unerring guidanca" This is your prin-
ciple, this you propose as the only medium to bring us unto that
settlement in religion which you suppose the Scripture is not able to
do. What course should we now take? would you have us believe
you at the first word, without &rther trial or examination? would
you have a man to do so who never before heard of pope or church?
We are commanded to " try all things, and to hold fast that which
is good ;" to try pretending spirita And the Bereans are commended
for examining by the Scripture what Paul himself preached unto



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PBlKdPLES OF PAPISTS ON THE UNITT OF FAITH. 283

them. An implicit credulity given up to such dictates is the height
of fanaticism. Have we not reason, then, to call you and your co-
partners in this design to an account how you prove that which you
so strenuously assert and suppose, and to examine the principles of
that authority whereunto you resolve all your fsdth and religion? If,
upon mature consideration, these prove solid, and the inferences you
make from them cogent, it is good reason that you should be attended
unto. If they prove otherwise, if the first be false and the latter
sophistical, you cannot justly take it ill of him that shall advise you
to take heed that, whilst you are gloriously displaying your colours,
the ground that you stand upon do not sink under your feet And
here you are forced to go many a step backward to fix your first foot-
ing (until you leave your pope quite out of sight), fix>m whence you
advance towards him by several d^rees, and so arrive at his supre-
macy and in£9Jlibility; and so we cdlaU have " reditum Diomedis ab
interitu Meleagrl"^

I. Your first principle to this purpose is, ^^ That Peter was the
prince of the apostles, and that in him the Lord Jesus founded a
monarchy in his church." So, p. 360, you call him ^' The head and
prince of the whole congr^ation.'^ Now, this we think no meet
principle for any one to b^in withal, in asserting the foundation of
faith and religion ; nor do we think that if it were meet so to be used,
that it is any way subservient unto your design and purpose. .

1. A principle, funda/mental, or first entrance into any way of
settlement in faith or religion, it cannot possibly be, because it pre-
supposeth the knowledge of^ and assent imto, many other great fun-
damental articles of Christian religion, yea, upon the matter, all that
are so: for before you can rationally talk with a man about Peters
principality, and the monarchical state of the church hereon depend-
^g) you must suppose that he believes the Scripture to be the word
of Qod, and all things that are taught therein concerning Jesus
Christ, his person, nature, offices, work, and gospel, to be certainly
and infallibly true; for they are all supposed in your assertion, which
without the knowledge of them is uncouth, horrid, insignificant, and
foreign to all notions that a man can rationally entertain of Qod or
religion; nay, no attempt of proof or confirmation can be given unto
it but by and fi*om Scripture, whereby you fiJl directly into the
principle which you seek so carefully to avoid, — namely, that the
Scripture is the only way and means of settling us in the truth, since
you cannot settle any man in the very first proposition which you
make to lead him into another way but by the Scriptiuu So powerful
is truth, that those who will not follow it wiUingly, it will lead them
captive in triumph, whether they will or no.

2. It is unmeet for any purpose, because it is not true. No one

* Hor. id PisoDM, 146.



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281 A VIKDIOATIOK OF THE ANDCABYIBSIONS OK FIAT tlTX.

word from ihe Scripture con you produce in its confirmation ; where
yet if it be not reveled, itjmust pasB as a very uncertain and frivolous
conjecture. Tou can produce no sufiGrage g[ the ancient church unto
your purpose; which yet if you could, would not presentiy render
any ajssertion so confirmed in&llibly certain, much less fundamental
Some, indeed, of the fourth century call Peter ^' Principem aposto^
lorum;'' but explam themsdves to intend thereby rh irpSirov, " the
first," or leader, not rh¥ dpx^vra, " the prince," or ruler. And when
the ambiguity of that word b^an to be abused unto pretensions of
pre-eminence, the council of Carthage expressly condemned it, allow**
ing none to be termed " Princeps sacerdotum." Many in those days
thought Peter to be among the apostles like the ^' Princeps senatus^"
or ^* Princeps civitatis," the chief in their assemblies, or principal in
dignity, how truly I know not: but that he should be amongst them
and over them a prince in office, a monarch as to rule and power, is
a thing that they never ouce dreamed of; and the asseveration of it
is an open untruth. The apostles were equal in their call, office,
place, dignity, employments: all the difference between them was in
their labours, sufferings, and sucoess, wherein Paul seems to have had
the pre-eminence ; who, as Peter and all the rest of the apostles, every
one singly and for himself, had the care of all the churches committed
unto him, though it may be, for the better discharge of their duty
ordinarily they divided their work, as they found it necessary for
them to apply themselves unto it in particular. See 2 Cor. xi And
this equality between the apostles is more than once insinuated by
Paul, and that with q)e<aal reference unto Peter, 1 Cor. i ; GaL i
18, 19, il 9. And is it not wonderful, that if this assertion should
not only be true, but such a truth as on which the whole fidth of the
church was to be built, that the Scripture should be utterly silent of
it, that it should give us no niles about it, no directions to use and
improve it, afford us no one instance of the exercise of the power and
authority intimated, no, not one; but that, on the contrary, it ^ould
lay down principles exclusive of it? Matt xx. 25, 2i5 ; Luke xxiL 25, 26 ;
and when it comes to make an enumeration of all the <^ces appointed
by Christ in his church, Eph. iv. 11, should pass over the prince and
his office in silence, on which all the rest were to depend? You see
what a foundation ^ou begin to build upon, — a mere imagination and
groundless presumption, which hath not the least countenance given
unto it by Scripture or antiquity. What a perplexed condition must
you needs cast men into, if they Aall attend unto your persuasions
to rest on the pope's unerring guidance for all their certainty in re-
!i^on, when the first motive you pr<q)ose unto them, to gain thw
assent, is a proposition so far destitute of any cogent evidence of its
truth or innate credibility, that it is apparently fodse^ and easily
manifested so to be !



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PRINCIPLES OP PAPISTS ON THE UNITY OP FAITa 285

3. Were it never so true) as it is notoriously false, yet it wotUd not
one jot promote your dssign. It is about Peter the apostle, and not
the pope of Rome, that we are diacoursing. Do you think a man can
easily commence, ^ per saltum," from the imaginary principality of
Peter, unto the infiJlifaility of the present pope of lUmie ? " Quid
papas cum Petro?'' what relation is there between the one and other ?
Suppose a man have so good a mind unto your company as to be
willing to set out with you in this ominous stumbling at the threshold^
what will you next lead him into ? You say, —

II. ^ That St Peter, besides hk apostolical power and office
; (wherein, setting aside the prerogative of his princedom before men-
tioned, the rest of the apostles were partakeis with him), had also an
oecumenical episcopal power invested in him, which was to be trans-
mitted unto others after him.'' His office purely iq)08tolical you
have no mind to lay claim unta It may be you despair of b^ng
able to prove that your pope is immediately called and sent by
Christ; that he is fiirmshed with a power of working miracles, and
such other things as concurred to the constitution of the office apos-
tolical And perhaps himself hath but little mind to be exercised in
the discharge of that office, by travelling up and down, poor, despised,
persecuted, to preach the gospel Monarchy^ rtUe^ eupremctcy, au-
thortty, jurisdiction, infoUW)U%tyy are words that better please him;
and therefore have you mounted this notion of Peter's episcopacy,
whereunto you would have us think that all the fine things you so
love and dote upon are annexed Poor, labouring, persecuted Peter
the apostle, may die and be forgotten; but Peter the bishop, harnessed
with power, principality, sovereignty, and vicarship of Christ, this is
the man you inquire after: but you will have very hard work to find
him in the Soipture, or antiquity, yea, the least footstep of him.
And do you think, indeed, that this epiacoipacj of Peter, distinct from
his apostleship, is a meet stone to be laid in the foundation of faith ?
It is a thing that plainly ovothrows his apostleship: for if he were a
bishop, px)perly and distinctly, he was no apostle, — ^if an apostle, not
such a bishop; that is, if his care were confined unto any one diurch,
and his residence required therein, as the case is with a proper bishop,
how could the care of all liie cfaurdies be upon himi how could he
be obliged to pass up and down the world in pursuit, of his commis-
sion of preaching the gospel unto all nations, or to travel up and
down as the necessity of the churches did require ? But you will say
that he was not biBh<^ of this or that particular, but of the church
universal; but I supp(wed you had thought him birfiop of the church
of Rome, and thi^ you will plead him afterward so to have been. And I
must assure you that he that thinks the church of Rome, in the days of
Peter and Paul, was the same with the church catholic, and not looked
on [as being] as particular a church as that of Jerusalem, or Ephesus^



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286 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

or Corinth, is a person with whom I will have as little to do as I can
in this matter. For to what purpose should any one spend time to
debate things with men absurd and unreasonable, and who will
afiSrm that it is midnight at noon-day ? I know the apostoUcal office
did include in it the power of all other offices in the church whatever,
as the less are included in the greater; but that he who was an
apostle should formally also be a bishop, though an apostle might
exercise the whole power and office of a bishop, is U rm d^wdrm, —
somewhat allied unto impossibilitiea Do you see what a quagmire
you are building upon ? I know if a man will let you alone, you
will raise a structure, which, after you have painted and gilded, you
may prevail with many harbourless creatures to accept of an habita-
tion therein: for when you have laid your foundation out of sight,
you will pretend that all your building is on a rock; whereas, indeed,
you have nothing but the rotten posts of such suppositions as these
to support it withal. But suppose that Peter was thus a prince,
monarch, apostle, bishop, — ^that is, a catholic, particular officer, — what
is that to you ? Why, —

III. " This Peter came and preached the gospel at Rome." Though
you can by no means prove this assertion so as to make it " de fide,''
or necessarily to be believed of any one man in the world, much less
to become meet to enjoy a place among those fundamentals that are
tendered unto us to bring us unto settlement in religion, yet, being
a matter veiy uncertain and of little importance, I shall not much
contend with you about it Witnesses merely human and fallible
you have for it a great many; and exceptions almost without number
may be put in against your testimonies^ and those of great weight
and moment. Now, although that which you affirm might be granted
you without any real advantage imto your cause, or the enabling of
you to draw any lawful inferences to uphold your papal claim by,
yet, to let you see on what sorry, uncertain presumptions you build
your faith and profession, and that in and about things which you
make of indispensable necessity unto salvation, I shall in our passage
remind you of some few of them, which, I profess seriously unto you,
make it not only questionable unto me whether or no, but also some-
what improbable, that ever Peter came to Rome.^ 1. Though those

* It may be useftil to the general reader if we indicate briefly the present state of
the controTersy in r^^ard to Peter's residence in Borne. The opimont in regard to
Ma connection with it may be reduced under three dirisions. Some ascribe to him a
lengthened residence in Home, during which he acted not merely as bishop of the
church in that city, but exercised a species of primacy OTer the rest of the apostles.
This view, which the church of Rome generally is disposed to uphold, is exhibited by
the following writers: — Baronius, in his ** Annalee," a.d. 44-46, 56, 69; BeUarmine,
" Do Kom. Pontif.," lib. iL ; and Cortesius, ^ De Bomano itinere gestisque Pzincipis Apos-
tolorum."

There are authorities, again, who deny that Peter eyer was at Rome. It would
appear that the Waldenses held this yicw, and that they have been followed in it by
Mat. Flacius, Claude Salmasius, Fred. Spanheim (*<De Fict& Profectione Petri Apostoli



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PRINCIPLES OF PAPISTS ON THE UNITY OP FAITH. 287

that follow and give their assents unto this stoiy are many, yet it
was taken up upon the credit and report of one or tmo persons; as
Eusebius manifests, lib. iL cap. 25. Whether Dionysius Corinthius
or Papias first bepm the story I know not; but I know certainly
that both of them manifested themselves, in other things, to be a
little too creduloua 2. That which many of them built their credu-
lity upon is very uncertain, if not certainly false, — namely, that Peter
vrrote his first epistle from Rome, which he calls Babylon in the
subscription of it But wherefore he should then so call it, no man
can telL The Apocalypse of John, who prophesied what Rome
should be in after ages, and thereon what name should be accom-
modated unto it for its false worship and persecution, was not yet
writteiu Nor was there any thing yet spoken of or known among
the disciples, whence they might conjecture Rome to be intended by
that appellation. So that, according unto this supposition, St Peter^
intending to acquamt them imto whom he wrote where he was
when he wrote unto them, and to present them with the respects of

in Urbem Bomam," 1679), Eichhom ^ his ** Introduction to the New Testament"), De
Wette (in his "Introduction to the New Testament"), and Baur (in a work entitled
««Der Apostel Pauhis").

The middle opinion, — ^which rejects the traditions about Peter having been the founder
of the church at Borne, and having presided as bishop oyer it for the space of twent j-fiye
years, but admits the fact that he yisited it shortly b^ore his death, and suffered martyr-
d(Hn in it» — has been entertained eyen by some Boman Catholic authors, such as Hug (in
his " Introduction to the New Testament"). Seyeral Protestant writers have yielded this
modified credence to the old tradition:— -Salom. Van Til ("De Petro Bomsd Martyre,
non Pontifioe," 1710), Barrow (in his "Treatise on the Pope's Supremacy"), Credner
("Introduction," L 628), Gieeeler ("Ecdes. Hist.," i. 78), Olshausen ("Introduction to
the Epistle to the Bomans"), Guerike(" Introduction"), and Wieseler (" On the Chrono-
logy of the Qospel and the Apostolic Age")* A translation of Wieseier's discussion of
this question appeared in yol y. of Dr Kitto's " Journal of Sacred Literature," and we
refer to^it as containing in detail several facts and references at which we can only hint
in the compass of a note.

The subeianoe of the ancient testimony may bebriefly £^ven : — CLDfKNsBoMANus (Epist. L
eap. 5) affirms that Peter suffered martyrdom, but does not specifythe place ; and it is only
by inference we learn from Clemens that the martyrdom of the apostle took place at Bome.
In the Pn^fiDiOATio Patili, the conclusion of a work entitled " Pr»dicatio Petri," and
referred, on good evidence, to the beginning of the second century, it was affirmed that
Peter and Paul, " having come to an arrangement as to the method of conducting their
labours, at laaty as if then for the first time, became acquainted in the City" (Bome).
That such a statement was contained in the " Prsedicatio," appears from a treatise, "De
Bebaptismate," printed commonly among the works of Cyprian. The author of the
treatise, however, alludes to the tradition of such a meeting between Paul and Peter as
among "quasdam alia hujuscemodi absurde ac turpiter coufecta" in the " Prsedicatio."
The testimonies of three writers have been preserved by Eusebius (" Hist. Eccles.," ii.
1 6 and 26) : — Papias, who is represented as affirming that Peter composed his first Epis-
tle at Bome ; Diontsius of Corinth (a.d. 170), who midces Peter and Paul to have preached
in Italy together, and to have suffered martyrdom about the same time; and Caius
BoMANiJS (A.D. 200), who declares that the graves of these two apostles were pointed out at
the Vatican and on the Ostian road. Ignatius ("Epist. ad Bom.," cap. iv.) merely says, " I
do not, like Peter and Paul, give you directions ; " which words are understood to imply
that Peter and Paul, in the belief of Ignatius, had at one time instructed and governed the
ehuich at Bome. Iren^scs ("Adv. Haer.," iii. 1) speaks of Peter and Paul having
preachedandfounded the church in Bome." Tertuluan (" De Prees. Haer.," cap. joLxvi.)



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288 A VINDICATIOK OF THE AlSaMADVEBSIOKS ON FIAT LUX.

the chorch in that place, had, by an enigmatical expression, rather
amused than informed them. Besides, he had before this agreed
with and solemnly engaged himself unto Paul to take care of the
Circumcision ; unto whom, afiber he had preached a while in Palestine,
it is more than probable that he betook himself unto Babylon in
Assyria, — ^the principal seat of their residence in their first and most
populous diq)ersion, — fix>m whence he wrote unto all their colonies
scattered abroad in the neighbouring nations. So that although I
will not, because of the consent of many of the ancients, deny that
Peter went to Rome and preadied there, yet I am fully satisfied
that this foundation of the story told by them is a perfect mistake,
consisting in an unwarrantable, causeless wresting of a plain expres-
sion unto a mystical sense and meaning. 3. Your witnesses agree
not at all in their story; neither as to the time of his going to Bome
nor as to the occasion of it, nor as to the season of his abode thera
Many of them assign unto him twenty-five years for his residence
there, which is evidently false, and easUy disproved. This computa-

apeotfi«8 tlie nftbnne of their deftth at Bome: — ** Ubi PetruB peeaiam Dominion adnquaturt
viA Paulufl Johaonii /BaptiataB) ezitu ooronatur." These quotatioas and referenoee
embody the amount of information conyeyed to us by the original and andent testimiony»
on whioh Buooeeding writers have relied in affirming that Peter yiated Boine» and suf-
iiored there. Amobiua {" Ady. Geates^" lib. ii) and Cyril of Jemsalem (" De HBorea,"
oaf), xy.) also oonour in stating that Petar was in Bome; b«t these aothora beloeg to the
fourth oentoiy.

The authority of Scripture in this qneRtion ounee in to detennine when it is moat
likely that Peter arriyed ai Bome; uid this point is ftdly disousaed by our author.
AooMding to the "Chronioon" of Busebius, he reached it about a.d. 42, uid was put to
death about twenty-fiye years aiterwards, or ▲.!>. 67. But, by a referenee to Aots xy.,
GaL ii. 1, 9, 1 1, it will be found that Peter was at Jerusalem and Antiooh, and had
been chiefly labouring among the Ciroumciflion, up to ▲.!>. 64; facts which make it im-
poesible that he could haye been residing eon»kmti^ at Bome, and yery improbable that
up to that period he oyer had seen Bome at all. There is, fiirther, no allusion to Peter
in the £pistle to the Romans, a.d. 58 ; and this circumstance is the more remarkable,
when the oondusion of it is filled wi^ affectionate salutations to seyend memben of
the Boman church. Paul is understood to haye been brought to Bomeabout the apring
of Mn. 61 ; and while Luke reoords no interriew with Peter, he also uses language as i^
almost for the first time, the goi^ had been unfolded to the Jews in Bome throuj^ the
instrumentality of Paul, Aots xxyiiL 17^1. If Peter was at Bome during the impri-
sonment of Paul, how are we to account for the absence of any allusion to him in all the
epistles written by Paul at Bome the Bpistles to the ColosaiaAB, Philippians, Philemon,
and Timothy ? 1^ the Second E^ustle to Timothy, — the last which Paul wrote, — there
is nothing which indicates the prosenoe of Petw at Bome; or, if he were at Bome, he
must haye been in the number of those who deserted Paul in his exbwmity, 2 Tim.
iy. 16 ; an inference, howeyer, which must be rejected on other grounds than the discre-
dit it reflects on one who, according to the Bosush church, was the first of the p(qpe&
By the Second Epistle to Timo^y we are brought to ajx 63; and if he suffored in
▲.D. 67, this allows but four years for his residence in Bonok Andent tradition makes
the martyrdom of Paul and Peter simultaneous, and the date of Paul's martyrdom yaries,
according to different authorities, fhm aj>. 64 to ^.b. 68. If the former date be as-
sumed as correct, the time during which Peter was in Bome fell short of a year; if vhe
latter be correct, he might haye been there for four or fiye yeara But it cannot be ascer-
tained when he reached Bome; and the length of the int^'ysl between his arrival in it
and his martyrdom inyoWes a question for the detemination of which bo materials in
the shsjpe of authentic history remain to u& — Ebl



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Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 35 of 67)