Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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the expression I used, of doing the thing mentioned " for the love of
Christ: " but I used it not alone, as knowing how easy a thing it was
to pretend it^ and how unwarrantable a ground of any actings in



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WHENCE THE GOSPEL CAME TO ENGLAND. 339

religion such a pretence would prove; wherefore I added unto it his
" commissiony" — ^that is, his word. And so I desire to know of yon
whether the Jews, out of love to God, and by the direction of his
word, did reject the gospel or no. This you must assert if you intend
by this instance to oppose my assertion. Besides, indeed, the Jews
did scarce pretend to reject the gospel out of love to Gk>d, but to their
old church-state and traditions; on which very account yourselves at
this day reject many important truths of it But it is one thing vainly
to pretend the love of Qod ; another so to love him indeed as to keep
his commandments, and in so doing to cleave unto the truth, and to
reject that which is contrary thereunto. You add, as the issue of these
inquiries: ''Let us leave cavils; grant my supposition, which you
cannot deny; then speak to my consequence, which I deem most
strong and good, to infer a conclusion which neither you nor I can
grant" Ans. I wish you had thought before of leaving cavils, that we
might have been eased of the consideration of the forgoing queries,
which are nothing else, and those very trivial Your supposition, —
which is, ** That Papists first brought the gospel into Englsmd," — ^you
say I cannot deny; but, sir, I do deny it, and challenge you or any
man in the world to make it good, or to give any colour of truth unto
it Then your consequence you say you " deem strong and good."
I doubt not but you do so: so did Sufifenus of his poems; but another
was not of the same mind, who says of him, —

— — ** Qui modo 8ciiiTa»
Ant si qoid hfto re tritiua, Tidebator,
Idem infioeto est infioetior rare»
Simol poemata attigit; neqne idem unquMn
iEque eet beatiu^ ao poema com soribit:
Tarn gandet in te, tamqae se ipse miratur." Catull. rdL 12-17.

You may, for aught I know, have a good &culty at some other
things; but you very tmhappily please yourself in drawing of conse-
quences, which, for the most part^ are veiy infirm and naughty as, in
particular, I have abundantly manifested that to be which you now
speak o£ But you conclude: " I tell you plainly, and without ter-
giversation, before God and all his holy angels, what I should think
if I descended unto any conclusion in this affidr. And it is this, —
either the Papist, who holds at this day all these articles of £9dth
which were delivered at the first conversion of this land by St Austin,
is unjustly become odious amongst us; or else, my honest parsons,
throw off your cassocks, and resign your benefices and glebe-lands
into the hands of your neighbours, whose they were aforetima My
consequence is irrefragable." And I tell you plainly that I greatly
pity you for your discourse, and that on many accounts: — 1. That,
in the same breath wherein you so solemnly protest before Qod and



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840 A yiNI>ICA.nO!f or THK AKIlCADyBBSIDNS ^ir FKAT LUX.

liis holy angdfl, you diould so openly pmvarieate as to intimate that
you descend unto no conchteions iatimtiSair, whecem, Qotwithstanii-
mg your pretenosi^ you neaUy dogmaUsey and tbfii with as muok
eoiaftdeDoe at it is possible, I think, &r any man toxlo. And, 2. Tiiait
you x»9t '' before Qod and his ho^ angels'' ^ light froth of your
scoffing expressions^ ** My honest parsons," etc^^-^ia ogn widi what
eonscienoe you are oon^ersant in these thinga And, 3. That, under-*
taking to write and declare your mind in things of the iiature and
importanoe that these are ef, you diould ha¥e no more judgment in
tiiem or about them than so solemnly to entitle such a trifling schism
by the name of ^ Irrefragable consequenea'^ As also, 4 That, in the
solenmity of your protestation, you forgot to express your mind in
sober sense \ for, aiming to make a disjundivo oondusion, you make
ihe parts of it not at cdl dispmrate, but ooineident as to your iiiten*
tion, the one of them being the direct oonsequent of tiie other*
(S. That you 90 much make naked your doeires after benefioee and
fflebe-land$, as though they were the great matter in contest amongst
us; whii3h reflects no sm^I shame and stain on Christian religion and
all the professors of it 6. Your ^' ixrefragaUe conaequenoe " is a most
pitiful piece of sophistry, built upon J know not how many false
suppoi^Uoiis; as, — (1.) ^Tbat Papists ^re beoome odious unto us;^
whereas we only reject your Popery, love your persons, and ap»
prove of your Christiimity. (2.) '^That Papists brought us the firet
tidings of the gospel;" which hath been pufiBcipntly before disproved.
(3.) " That Papists hold all things in r^igion that th^y did, and aa
they did, who first brought us the news of Christianity; " which we
have also manifested to be otherwise, in the signal instance of the opi-
nion of Pope Grejgory about your papal power and titlea (4.) " That
we have no occasion of exception against Papists but only tiieir hold*
ing the things that 'dioee did who first preached the gospel here; "
when that k no cause at all of our ^^xosptions, but their multitude of
pretended articles of £uth, and idolatrous superstitious practices in
worship, superadded by them sinoe that time, are the things they
stand dbarged withal Now, your consequent being built on all these
aippoaitions, fit to hold a principal place in Lucian's^ Vera Historic''
must needs be irrefragable.

What you add farther on this subject is but a repetition in other
Fords of what you had said before, mitk an application of your false
and groundless supposition unto our present differenoes; but yet, lest
you should flatter yourself^ or your disciples deceive themselves with
thoughts that there is any thing of weight or moment in it» it shall
also be considered. You add, then, '^ That if any part, much more if
any parts, great substantial parts, of religion Irought into the land
with the first news of Christianity, be once rejected (as they are now



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immCE THE G0SP2L CAMS TO BNGLlinX Sit

smoogBt xui) ad BomUi oar Bcrmanioal^ and tha^i regeoiiaxi' or neforoi^
tion be p^nnitted^ then msBj oiher porta, and all part£^ if thef gap be
not i^ped, be looked upon at Icmgth m points o£ n6 better a oondi^
tion/'

I hate given jaa sondiy instaiitodd already^ WKkniably eVmciDg
tbat 86nie dpinicais of them who first bring the newe of dnrisCiaD; t6»
ligian tnto on j nnvy be aftei'ward xejected^ withoixl the k^iat impeacb^
ment of tiw irutk of thd whole or of onr £uth therein; ye% mem
may be necessitated se topq|ect them, to kec^) eiktire the trtitk of the
whole. Bdt the* lejection supposed is of mmt'a opinions thai faring
Christian religion, and not of any parts of Chrisdmi ie%ion itself;
for the fni&takeif of any men whatever, whetiier in spoeulatioii Of
praoliee about religioBy are no parts of religion, nrodi Im Substantial
parts of iL Sudi was tbe opinion of the neesieity of the ehservation
ef Mosaical rites^ taught, with a soitable piuctioc^ by many bdieveis
of the Circumcifliod, whd first prctadied the gospel in snndry plaees 'm
the worid^ and such wete the rites and opinions brougbt into Hik^
knd by Anstia that are lejeeted by ProteBtant%^^ ady sudt there
were, which as yet you have not made to appear^ There is no sndi
affinity between troth and error, however any men nmy endesvoul' to
blend theln tG^^ether^ bnt that oUaers may separate betwemx Uien^ <^
reject the one without any piqudioe unto the other: '' Mde saJia Chtitia
neqcdequam ooit/' Hor. Ep i d^9L Teay the troth and light of the gos^
pcd is of tbat nature, as that, if it be once sincerely received in the mind
and embraced, it will work out all those fisJse notions wbidi by any
Soeans tog^er with it may be instiDeily as '^ iBotnm" is " index sui
et oUkpiL'' Whilst^ thea, we know and aife persnaded that m any
system of religion which is proposed unto us it is only error winch
we ifeject, having axl m&lliUie rule for the gdidande of our judgment
therein, there k no danger of weakening our asssnt unto the tmtk
which we rotauL Truth, and falsehood can never stand upon the
same bottom, nor have the same Evidence, though they may be pny^
posed at tiae eame time unto ns^ and by the samse peratxis; so thai
there is no difficulty in apprehending how the one may be received
and the other rejeeted. Nor may it be giiEuxted (thonjj^ your con*
cemment lie not th^ein at all), that if a man reject of disbdieve any
point of truth tlimt is delivered unto him in an entke system of truUn^
that he is thereby made indiruiUe to rejest the test also^ or disei^
abled t6give a firm assent tmto them; tmlees he reject or ^sbelieve
it upon a notion that is domanon to them alL For instance, he that
rejects any truth revealed in the Ser^jture on this ground, tiiat tk
Scripture is not an in&llible revdat^on of divine and supemattrral
truth, cannot but^ in the pumdt of tbat apprebensioik of bis^ rejedl
also all other truths thearein revealed, at least so &r as they are know^



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342 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

able only by that revelation ; but he that shall disbelieve any truth
revealed in the Scripture, because it is not manifest unto him to be
so revealed, and is in a readiness to receive it when it shall be so
manifest, upon the authority of the author of the whole, is not in the
least danger to be induced by that disbelief to question any thing of
that which he is convmced so to be revealed. But, as I said, your
concernment lies not therein, who are not able to prove that Protest-
ants have rejected any one part, mudi less ^'substantial part" of reU-
gion; and your conclusion, upon a supposition of the rejection of
errors and practices of the contrary to the gospel or principles of re*
ligion, is veiy infirm. The ground of all your sophistry lies in this,
that men who receive Christian religion are bound to resolve their
&ith into the authority of them that preach it first imto^em ; where-
upon, it being impossible for them to question any thing they teach
without an impeachment of their absolute infallibility, and so far
the authority which they are to rest upon, they have no firm foun-
dation left for their assent imto the things which as yet they do not
question; and consequently, in process of time, may easily be induced
so to do. But this presumption is perfectly destructive to all the
certainty of Christian religion; for whereas it proposeth the subject-
matter of it to be believed with divine fetith and supernatural, it leaves
no formal reason or cause of any such faith, no foundation for it to
be built upon, or principle to be resolved into: for how can divine
faith arise out of human authority? For acts being specificated by
their objects, such as is the authority on which a man believes^ such
is his £9dth ; — human, if that be human ; divine, if it be divine. But
resolving, as we ought, all our faith into the authority of God reveal-
ing things to be believed, and knowing that revelation to be entirely
contained in the Scriptures, by which we are to examine and tiy
whatever is, by any man or men, proposed unto us as an object of
our faith, — ^they proposing it only upon this consideration, that it is a
part of that which is revealed by Qod in the Scriptiu^ for us to be-
lieve, without which they have no ground nor warrant to propose any
thing at all unto us in that kind, — ^we may reject any of their pro-
posals which we find and discern not to be so revealed, or not to be
agreeable to what is so revealed, without the least weakening of our
assent unto what is revealed indeed, or making way for any man so
to do. For whilst ihe formal reason of £9dth remains absolutely un-
impeached, di£ferent apprehensions about particular things to be be-
lieved have no efficacy to weaken faith itself; as we shall &rther see
in the examination of your ensuing discourse: —

*' The same way and means that lopped off some branches will do
the like to others, and the root too.'' (But the errors and mistakes of
men are not branches growing from the root of the gospel) ** A vilifi-



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WHENCE THE GOSPEL CAME TO ENGLAND. 343

cation of that church wherein they find themselves who have a mind
to prevaricate, upon pretence of Scripture and power of interpreting
it, light, Spirit, or reason, adjoined with a personal obstinacy that
will not submit, will do it roundly and to effect This first brought
off the Protestants fix>m the Roman Catholic diurch ; this lately
separated the Presbyterians fix>m the English Protestant church, the
Independent from die Presbyterian, and the Quakers frt>m the other
Independent And this left good, maint>ainfl nothing of Christian
religion but the moral part, which in deed and truth is but honest
Paganism. This speech is worthy of all serious consideration."

That which this discourse seems to amount unto is, that if a man
question or reject any thing that is tai:^ht by the church whereof he
is a member, there remains no way for him to come unto any cer-
tainty in the remaining parts of rel^on, but that he may, on as good
grounds, question and reject all things as any. As you phrase the mat-
ter, by " men's vilifying a church who have a mind to prevaricate, upon
pretence of Scripture," eta, though there is no consequence in what
you say, yet no man can be so mad as to plead in justification of
such a proceeding; for it is not much to be doubted but that he who
layeth such a foundation, and makes such a beginning of a separa-
tion from any church, will make a progress suitable thereunto. But
if you will speak unto your own purpose, and so as they may have
any concernment in what you say with whom you. deal, you must
otherwise firame your hypothesis : Suppose a man to be a member
of any church, or to find himself in any church-state with others,
and that he doth at any time, by the light and direction of the
Scripture, discover any thing or things to be taught or practised in
that church whereof he is so a member which he cannot assent unto,
unless he will contradict the revelation that God hath made of him-
self, his mind and will, in that complete rule of all that religion and
worship which are pleasing unto him, and therefore doth suspend his
assent thereunto, and therein dissent from the determination of that
church; then you are to assert, for the promotion of your design,
that all the consequents will follow which you expatiate upon. But
this supposition fixes immovably, upon the penalty of forfeiting their
interest in all saving truth, all Christians whatever, Greeks, Abys-
sines, Armenians, Protestants^ in the churches wherein they find
themselves, and so makes firustrate all the attempts for their recon-
ciliation to the church of Rome; for do you think they will attend
unto you, when you persuade them to a relinquishment of the com-
munion of that church wherein they find themselves to join with you,
when the first thing you tell them is, that if they do so they are un-
done, and that for ever? And yet this is the sum of all that you can
plead with them, if there be any sense in the argument you make



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144 AyiNDlOJrflOll4ll'Tlfi21irilU0trfiEi6f<3}r9dy fUTLITX.

Mif of ftgftteBt rat f<3llu|ilhitfiMfi€ <rf i&ei ^i{$iindfi£( ttdd priKsticM df th^
dMut^ of lUmo^ beeatt00 wg or ofor fcMfiithers w«ye al^ My timer
HMOibom ib0i%(rf; or fited itt Ms ematmtnim. But yoit woidd hav«
ttk tb« !l(>odid piiyilegid of yottr ebursb doti€i^ Atty oi&^ cb«ffch 8
tttttt ntt^ l6ii(^o, yoa, «U o«^ €AHirtf4eir beiscto: bo iasnf roli&^^nisb
fli€f ptiiic^leo iK/imm^ ho iMt bo^ in^&tK^iod: jea^ it k his dtity t«^
MfiOtdMO tb^ mtmtttaAatL Only yotir ^ttick of Bomo i» wbcrffy
iMVOd; n ittad itM hath ot&oo beoA A Hmoitet at it mMt bo so fot
Ofor*^ a^ bo thitt q«fe0tioD6 any ihiog taught «horeiitv tnay, on tho
same gfOUixd&, ^[uestiott all t&o artideo of &ith hi tho Chrktiafl te&^
giod. A&dwkagavoyottloaye to suppooerfhoocdy thing lA q«Mtioii
botwoOb ttf, atid to tMOit ail afiMdioditci oduoe yottr oouduaiott iiroiA}
I§ it yotr btisiiMi to telio eai«;

— — « Btillatig ut tibl iragi»

We know the condition of your Boman church to be no other than
that of other churches^ if it be not worse than that of any of them.
Aac(, therefore, on what terms and Reasons soever a man may relin-
quish the opinions and renounce the communion of any other churchy
upon tlie same may be renounce the communion and relinqui^ the
opinions of yours; and if there be no reasons sufScaently cogent so
to deal witt any church whatever, I pray on what grounds do you
proceed t6 persuade others to such a course, that they may join with
you?

•V— ** Dicisque fkciflqne quod ipse
l^Oft dbd! essie hdihinis non sadus jurei Qresies.'* Pen. ul ll7.

To distetangle yoa ott of tfai» faibyrintk wfaetdfito ycai bare cast
yourself I shall desii« 3^ti io obseiYe^ thai if iim Lord Christ by hia
irord be ih« sHpr'&m0 r^vnUr of ali divino troth^ and the church
(that ifl^ any cbte^ wlntor^) \m onfy the ministerial proposer ol
ky tttider aod fimn hkQ^ being to be regnlaied in all h6 propositione
by his renrektion) if it sboH ebacroo to pmpe^e that for truth which 19
dot by hdm revealody-^M it ikiay do^ aeieing it bath no security of boing
preoorved froia mA £nhires^ bot only iii> iti aMendaoeo onto that
mk, wbioh it may nogloct or otufrfupty^^a inaii is aaefa a c«e eoifflot
diacharjp^ hit duty to the ^nme teifecsler witboiit dissoBtiiig from
Ham mirmhrial proposer. Nay, if it be a troth whieb i» proposed^
itnd a ntta duMOUt firoai it beoaose he is not convince ttuit H k re^
vealedyliieieittiiadnfertolye indnoed to ^(trostioo other propoiritiOAg
which be knows to be eo rorealod, hi* fsM being btdlt upon and
Msolved "into that fe^fdatiOB alone. All that remmns of yotur dlch
! Koi with its whole Weight oh this presumption : BecMise A)mo
I may either wilftdly ptfevaricate from the truths or be miBtakoil



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WHSNCB THS GOSPEL CAME TOT mfCfLAM, Sit

in their ai^reheDskms of it, and 00 disb^tfrom W t^mndk iMt toecb^
eth tbe tnitb, and wherein she aa teadieth hy without eatigef ; therefof6
no man may or ought to retiaqliish tihe ArnM of * chterch, whleh he
is really and truly oonvinoed by Scriptora^ attd Kolid reMOfi Bidt&bld
thereunto^ so to be;->— an infermioe bo wSd and io destraetive of aD
asBurance in ev^ thing that \s kiiowabte in the^ w^otld, that I irondet
how your interest eoutd induce you to gitd any coattt^atfiee ixido it!
foF if no man can eertainly ttai iitiy£bly know ftny thmg, by ttny
way or means^ wbeKfiH flomer o» otiber ate iga^ntoAy or wHMIy mis^
taken, we must bid adiott fot efer to th# dgrtftin kli6^)edge of itny
thing in thie world. And hew ahghtify ioetref yott aim pleasEfed to
q>edk of Seriptttife, Ught^ ^pirift^ and reflBMT, they a^
of die wayi» and hedpe tha<t Qod hath gtmkfm\y gitett to^ the Bonn of
men to ooiide to tbe knowledge of Hmdi And il the B^pWfe, by
the as&istanoe of tiie SjHiit of Ood, and the Kght iti i% cofomuikicated
unto men by him^ be not sufficieai to kod thett, ki Ate use atid hn^
provemeni of tbeiv reasofi^ unto the nrriitg knowledge 6i the wiQ of
God^ and that asmirance therean which ttiay be a firm feimdatioii of
acceptaUe obedielKie mito hiHi^ tliey ttUflt be eont^nt t^ ge^ wttbofit
ity for other ways and lneai» of k tliere are iLOte, But i^iM iK yoctr
manner of deaJing with un AU other chnix^eB^ muEft be riigbted And
relinquished, the toedns appointed atid M&c^ed by God himself t6
luring us tinto the knowkd{ge of and settieiMttI kt the trttth mnst
berejected, that all men May be brought to a liliiatical, tttaeAscmahle
resignation (^ tbei^ foilh to you and yew ctoi^ If thifbenotdon^,
men may with as good readon renounee truth M error, atld after they
have rejected one error, be ioclinal to oi»t off all thckt truth for the
sake wh^^f ^at error was i^jeetdd by theft! Aud I know not
what other ineonvenienods and miBchiefe will Mow. It must needs
be weU Imp you that yon are,

*«OalliD8»f{li«8aH)eB;*'

^elng all others are^

" tilwpnlH nsti infelicibTM OTiai''

Your only misadventore is, th^t yo« am fallen into ifomewhat an
unhappy age, wherem men ire hard-be«rted, aud will not give away
their faith and reason to^ eireiy one that catt take tfad (UrtAdenc^ to
b^ them at their bandn

But yon will now prove by instMdet <hat if dr mM deny any thing
that your church im)poseth, he may with aa good rea^n deny every
truth whatever. I shall follow you through them, and consider whsrt,
in your matter or manner of proposal, fe worthy that serious perusal
of ih^tn which you s^ mti^ de^. To begin: ^ See if the QtraleiV
deny not as resohitely the r^neratiog power ot baptisni as you th«



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346 A YINDICAnOK OF THE ANDCABYfiBSIONS OK FIlT LUX.

efficacy of absolution. See if the Presbyterians do not with as much
reason evacuate the prelacy of Protestants as they the Papacy/' All
things it seems are alike, truth and error^ and may with the same
reason be opposed and rejected. And because some men renounce
errors, others may on as good grounds renounce the truth, and oppose
it with as solid and cogent reasonsi The Scripture, it seems, is of no
use to direct, guide, or settle men in these things that relate to the
worship and knowledge of Oodl What a strange dream hath the
churchof Qodbeeninfromthedaysof Moses^if thisbesol Hitherto
it hath been thought that what the Scripture teacheth in these things
turned the scales, and made the embracement of it reasonable, as the
rejection of them the contrary. As the woman said to Joab,' '' They
were wont to speak in old time^ saying. They shall surely ask counsel
at Abel; and so they ended the matter/' They said in old time con-
cerning these things, '' To the law, and to the testimony; search the
Scriptures;" and so they ended the matter. But it seems " tempera
mutantur," and that now truth and fiedsehood are equally probable,
having the same grounds, the same evidenoea '' Quis l^et hsdc ?
min' tu istud ais V Do you think to be believed in these incredible
figments, fit to bear a paort in the stories of Ulysses unto Alcinous ?
Yet you proceed: " See if the Socinian arguments against the Trinity
be not as strong as yours against the eucharist" But where did you
ever read any ai^guments of ours against the eucharist ? Have you
a dispensation to say what you please for the promotion of the Catho-
lic cause ? Are not the arguments you intend indeed rather /or the
eucharist than against it,-~arguments to vindicate the nature of
that holy eucharistical ordinance, and to preserve it from the mani-
fold abuses that you and your church do put upon it ? that is, they
are arguments against your transubstantiation and proper sacrifice
that you intend. And will you now say that the arguments of the
Socinians against the Trinity, the great fundamental article of our
profession, plainly taught in the Scripture, and constantly believed
by the church of all ages, are of equal force and validity with those
used against your transubstantiation and sacrifice of the mass, — ^things
never mentioned, no not once, in the whole Scripture, never heard of
nor believed by the church of old, and destructive in your reception
unto all that reason and sense whereby we are, and know that we
are, men and live? But suppose your prejudice and partial addiction
unto your way and £a.ction may be allowed to countenance you in
this monstrous comparing and coupling of things together, like his

who

- MoTtDft jungebat ooipovm liiiB; "

is your inference from your inquiry any other but this, that the Scrip-
ture, setting aside the authority of your diurch, is of no use to in-



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WHENCE THE GOSPEL CAME TO ENGLAND. 347

tfaract men in the truth, but that all things are alike uncertain unto
all? And this you £Eather manifest to be your meaning in your fol-
lowing inquiries. " See/' say you, " if the Jew do not with as much
plausibility deride Christ, as you his church.'' And would you could
see what it is to be a zealot in a faction, or would learn to deal can-
didly and honestly m things wherein your own and the souls of other
men are concerned. Who is it amongst us that derides the church



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 42 of 67)