Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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of Christ? Did Elijah deride the temple at Jerusalem when he op-
posed the priests of Baal? or must every one presently be judged to
deride the church of Christ, who opposeth the corruptions that the
Roman faction have endeavoured to bring into that part of it wherein
for some ages they have prevailed ? What plausibility you have found
out in the Jews' derision of Christ, I know not I know some that
are as conversant in their writings, at least, as you seem to have been,
who affirm that your aiguings and revilings are utteriy destitute of
all plausibility and tolerable pretence. But men must have leave to
say what they please, when they will be talking of they know not
what; as is tiie case with you when by any chance you stumble on
the Jews or their concemmenta This is that which, for the present,
you would persuade men unto, — ^that the arguments of the Jews
against Christ are as good as those of Protestants against your church.
*' Credat Apella." Of the same nature with these is the remainder of
your instances and queries. Tou suppose that a man may have as
good reasons for the denial of hell as purgatory; of God's providence
and the soul's immortality as of any piece of Popery; and then may
not want appearing incongruities, tautologies, improbabilities, to dis-
enable all holy writ at once! This is the condition of the man who
disbelieves any thing proposed by your church ; nor in that state is he
capable of any relief, — ^fluctuate he must in all uncertainties^ Truth
and error are all one unto him; and he hath as good grounds for the
one as the other. But, sir, pray what serves the Scripture for all this
while? will it afiford* a man no light, no guidance, no direction?
Was this quite out of your mind? or did you presume your reader
would not once cast his Noughts towards it for his relief in that maze
of uncertainties which you endeavour to cast him into? or dare you
manage such an impeachment of the wisdom and goodness of Ood,
as to affirm that that revelation of himself whidi he hath graciously
afforded unto men to teach them the knowledge of himself, and to
bring them to settlement and assurance therein, is of no use or vali-
dity to any such purpose? The Holy Ghost tells us that '^ the Scrip-
ture is profitable for doctrine and instruction, able to make the man
of God perfect, and us all wise unto salvation;" that the " sure word of
prophecy," whereunto he commands us to attend, is " a light shining
in a dark place;" directs us to search into it, that we may come to the



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S4S A VINDICATlOir OF THE JUinCABTCBSIOKg ON FIAT LUX.

acknowledgmeint of tbe troth, taidhig til tdito it for our setttentvnt;^
affinmnrg that tbey who speak not " acoordiiig to the law oitd the
testhnoftj hov^ no light in tfaent" H« assuretf ns that ikm wof d ot
Gbd " k a light unto ouf feet; toad his law porfeei^ coDTertiiig tfae
soul;" that it is '* aUe to build j» up, and to gire ma an inberitancv
atnoDg all them that are sanctified;" tbat the things in it arft ** writt^i
that we mig^t believe that Jesus ie the Christ, the 9on of Ood, and
that believing we nay have life thratigk hid nama'' See also Luk«
xvi29,dl; P8.xix 7,8r SPetild; Johtiv.39; Boni.xv.4; Hebu
iv. 12. Is ^beare ma truth in aU this, asd much more that is B&rmeA
to the same purpose? or aver jon surprised witk tUe mention of it, aa
Csssar Boigia was wttb bis sickness at the deatk of his fether Pope
Alexander, which spoiled all his designs, and nnde him cry that be
hadnevertkon^tof it,and sobad not psevided agaiTOttit? Doyois
fiot know that a volume might be fiUed witb testimonisB ef ancient
fathers, bearing witness to the sufficiency and effiioaey of the Scrips
ture far the settlement of the minds of men in tbe knowledge of Ood
and his worship? Doth not tbe expenence of adll ages^ of aU pkeee
in the work}^ itendetf yeiur sophistry eoixtemptiUe? Ate thoe not^
w^e there noty miltions of OhristiMaB always^ who either knew not^ or
r^arded not^ or op^Uy r^eoCe^ tbe authority ef your cittirdb^ and
disbelieved many of ber present proposahs ^^ y^^ "^^^ >Bid ar^
steadfast and immovable k tbe faith of Christ, and wiUit^y seal
the truth of it with their dearest Uood? Bat if neither the teatknony
of God bittkself in the Scriptures, nor the cotKiunrent suffrage of tbe
ancient church, nor the experience of so many thousands of the dis^
ciples of Christ) is of aii^ motnent with jTim, I hope you will not take
it amies if I lode upon you as ome giving in youx^df ae signal an inr'
0tanO6 of the power of prejudksey and p«tiai addiction to a paiiy and
interest; as a man can wen meet withal in the world This disooutsa
ydu tdl me in yout dose^ you bate bestowed upon me in a way of
supererogcUion; wherein you deal with us as yaa do with. Ood hinw
sel£ Tbe duties he expressly, by bis eommaadsy requiietb at your
hands, you pcufs hy without so much as taking no6ioe of some of
them; and others, aS those of the second eommandy jan op^y re*'
ject, offering him somewhat of your own that be dotb not require, by
the way, ae you barbarously cell it,^ of supereragastian i and so here
you have passed over in silence that whidk was incumbent on you to
have replied unto, if yott had not a nrind " vadimonium deserere/'
to give over the defence of that cause you bad undertaken^ and in
the room thereof substitute tUe needless and uselesiB diversion, by t^
way, as you sayyOf supererogation. But yet, becadseyou wete so free
of your charity, before you had paid your debts, ae to bestdw it upon
me, I was not unwilling to requite your kindness^ and have tbeirefora



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7AIT9 JUn> CUASITW OF BOMilN CXTBOUCa. 849

fent it you Imk ag^, with tb^ ad^pawtodgm^t of youx favour
wherewilJ^ it m sow joti^^dad.



CHAPTER Xin.

Pai& and diAritj of Roman Oadiolics.

Tour Allowing diecourae, pp. 44, 4$, k spent pardy m tbe pom-^
mendation of your '' Fitfb Iaix," aiuI the metapbysu^l, ahetracted
discourses of it; pftctljr in a lepetitioo, in atha words, of what you
had before insisted on. The former I shall no farther endeavour to
disturb your contentment in. It is a common error, —

— — r- ^ Neqne est qniaqfoam
Q«an non In allqva rt fSdeve tefoMm

Toem." Catull. xxii 19,

I am not your rival in the admimtion pf it, and shcdl therefcM^ leave
you quietly in the embracements of ^our dailing. And for the latter,
we h^ve had enough of it abeady ; and so, by this time, I hope you
think ako. The close only of your disoourse is oonsidarable, and there-
fore I diall transciibe it for your second thou^ts; and it is this:—*

" But, sir, what you say here, iMid so often tip and down your
book, of Papists' contempt of the Scripture, I beseech you will please
to abstain fixMn it for the time to coma I have conversed with the
Bcmian Catholics of France, Flanders, and Germany; I have read
more cf dieir books, b(^h histories, oontempiative and schphstical
jdivines, than I belieFve yon have ever seen or heard of; I have seen
the colleges of sacred priests, and religious houses ; I have communed
with ail sort of people, an4 perused their counsels;^ — and after all
this I te]l you, and out of my love I tell you, that their respect to
Scriplanre is real, absekite, and oordial, even to admiration. Othere
may talk of it, but they aet it, and would be ready to stone that man
that should diminish holy writ Let us not wrong the mnocent
The Bcrtpture is theirs, and Jesus Chri^ is t^ira^ who also wiU
plead their cause when he eees time.''

Whsi you mention of your own diligence and achievemaits, what

you have done, where you have bsen, what you have seen and disi-

coursed, I shall not triple you about It may be, as to your soul'^

health,

-1— " Tutior, poteras eese diww."

But yet, for all the report that you are pleased to make of yourself,
it is not hard to discern that you and I

•* Nee pondera renmi

J^ec moaenta suuiiis."



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350 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

And notwithstanding yonr writings, it would have been very difficult
for any man to have guessed at your great reading, had you not satis-
fied us by this your own information of it It may be, if you had
spared some of the time which you have spent in the reading of your
Catholic books unto the study of the Scripture, it had not been unto
your disadvantaga In the meantime, there is an hyperbole in your
confidence a little too evident; for it is possible that I may, and true
that % have seen more of your authors in half an hour than you can
read, I think, in a hundred years; unless you intend always to give
no other account of your reading than you have done in your " Fiat"
and " Epistola.'' But we are weary of this «f /avroXoy/a, —

M Qoin ta aliam qnswas quoi oentones fiiroia&" — ^Plaut Epist iiL 4, 18.

But to pass by this boasting ; there are two parts of your discourse, —
the one concerning the faithy the other expressing the charity of the
Boman Catholics The first contains what respect you would be
thought to have for the Scripture; the latter, what you really have
for all other Christians besides yourselves. As to the former, you
tell me that I speak of the ^ Papbts" contempt of the Scripture," and
desire me to abstain from it for the lime to coma Whether I have
used that expression anywhere of contempt of the Scripture, well I
know not But whereas I look upon you as mj friend, — at least, for
the good advice I have frequently given you, I have deserved that
you should be so, — and therefore shall not deny you any thing that
I can reasonably grant; and whereas I cannot readily comply with
you in your present request, as to the alteration of my mind in refer-
ence unto the respect that Papists bear unto the Scriptures, I esteem
myself obliged to give you some account of the reasons why I per-
sist in my former thoughts: which I hope, as is usual in such cases,
you will be pleased to take in Iiiendly part For besides, sir, that
you back your request with nothing but some over-confident asseve-
rations, subscribed with " Teste meipso," I have many reasons, taken
from the practice and doctrine of your church, that strongly induce
me to abide in my former persuasion; as, — 1. Tou know that in
these and the neighbouring nations, Papists have pvblidy burned the
Scriptures, and destroyed more copies of them than ever Antiochus
Epiphanes did of the Jewish law. And if you should go about to
prove unto me that Protestants have no great regard to the sacred
images that have been worshipped, because in these and the neigh-
bouring nations they brake and burned a great number of them, I
should not readily know what to answer you; nor can I entertain
any such confidence of your abilities as to expect from you a satis-
factory answer unto my instance of the very same nature, manifesting
what respect Papists bear unto the Scriptures. 2. You know that



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FAITH AND CHABITT OF BOMAK CATHOLICS. 361

they have imprisoned and burned sundry persons for keeping the
Scnptnres in their houses, or some parts of them, and reading them
for their instruction and comfort Nor is this any great sign of re-
spect unto them; no more than it is of men's respect to treason or
murder, because they hang them up who are guilty of them. And,
3. Tour church prohUnteth the reading of them unto laymen, unless,
in some special cases, some few of them be licensed by you so to
do; and you study and sweat for arguments to prove the reading of
them needless and dangerous, putting them, as trandated, into the
catalogue of books prohibited. Now, this is the very mark and stamp
that your church sets upon those books which she disapproves, and
discountenanceth as pernicious to the faithfiiL 4 Tour council of
Trent hath decreed that your unwritten traditions are to be received
with the same faith and veneration as the Scriptures, constituting
them to be one part of the word of Qod, and the Scriptures another:
than which nothing could be spoken more in contempt of it or in
reproach unto it; for I must assure you Protestants think you can-
not possibly contract a greater guilt, by any contempt of the Scripture,
than you do by reducing it into order with your unwritten traditions.

6. Tou have ctdded books, not only written with a human and fallible
spirit, but farced with acttud mistaJces and fedsehoods, unto the canon
of the Scripture, giving just occasion unto them who receive it from
you only to question the authority of the whole. And, 6. Tou
teach the authority of the Scripture, at least in respect of us (which
is all it hath, for authority is i% rw ^^hg ri, and must regard some in
relation unto whom it doth consist), depends on the authority of your
church; — the readiest way in the world to bring it into contempt with
them that know what your church is, and what it hath been. And,

7. Tou plead that it is very obscure and unintelligible of itself,
and that in things of the greatest moment and of most indispensable
necessity unto stdvation; whereby you render it perfectly useless, ac-
cording to the old rule, " Quod non potest intelligi, debet negUgi,''
— it is fit " that should be neglected which cannot be understood.""
And, 8. There is a book lately written by one of your party, after
yon have been frequently warned and told of these things, entitled
'' Fiat Lux,'" giving countenance unto many other hard reflections
upon it; as hath been ihauifested in the " Animadversions" written
on that book 9. Tour grea>t masters in their writings have spoken
very contemptuously of it; whereof I shall give you a few instancea
The cov/ndl of Trent, which is properly yours, determines, as I told
you, that their traditions are to be received and venerated, '' pari
pietatis affectu et reverentia," — " with an equal affection of piety and
reverence," — as the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; which
18 a setting up of the altar of Damascus with that of God himself in



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352 A YIND^AinOV OF WM AmU:&^rfSmOH9 OV fitf LUX.

tbe 9ame temp4e, 9aHL 4, 40& 1. And Andradiue, no smaU put
of that ooiMr^tuNa^iabif (jafini^oftiiaidj^^ ^Oum

C]^i0tus fragUil»t» momow ^^VAogebo florqpto noonrreiiduiii f«Uvit^
ita hr^vQ covipaedimB UImm tndi v^kdt, «t }Ba maiima, tanqnam
magni precii tb^iaauiva, troditJaftUMis intaBQia eod^skid i^Bombns tnfixia^
i:0licta fioerit;''-^' M our JUird CbrisI thoogfat maet to lelieve tb«
fraijty of memory by ij^e written goopei^M 1m wmM have aflliort oon^
p^udiom or abridgment eomiiwiited unto books, that the greatest pait^
a8a0io6t|»m(>ustr8afini|]e,migbt beloftimto ti^^ intiM

v^iyinwa^bovelflc^tiief^ltf^/' Thisiathat^oari^JiaZaiid obsohii*
xeefeci,eiv^KiW^U>admr^i0n^'^ tiu^ yourGailkolioB bearunte t^ Sorip*
tur€^^r.*-«j»d br9 ^^ doth notadmw itaeeiDttoiiie to be veiy atnpid,
^t 4»fitam some imiU pari of the myateriee of Christiaa ral^ion,
tbepTfMtf trea#t«f)e(Qf tbeni Ijuagin your tradkioiisl And thereupon
}ia conchdm, *^CmuH^m aen r^ulam fidei ^Eaotiflpunam non ease
Slpripturam, sed eoeleaM^ jndiaium i"-^'* That the canon or moat eouet
rule of faith U not the ggc^piure, but the judgment of the obwdi;'*
muob to th^ (seine piui»Ofle aa you plead in your ** Fiat'''' and ^Epb-
tola^'' P^AftM,^ttotberiihainfnonofyourchundi(Eoele8iaBtHiei:^^
Ub^ I <3ap. 4), after be baUi giv»n tnany reasons to ptore ike obeeurity
^ tlie Script««i9e^ m^ its flexibility to every man's eense, as you kaow
who aieo hatiii done and rafecred all things to be determined l^ the
^urchf condudes, '^ Si hiyus doctrinsB memores fiiissemBS, bsBreUoes
9C^$e»% non esse infonnandos vel convinoendoe «x jScripturis, meiioie
fiane LoieoeaseRtffcsn'QStEBe; sod dum ostentandt ingenii ot ^niditionia
gnstia cum Lutbero in oertamen deseendttur Sci^)tiiranim, OKckatum
fiet hoc quod, proh dolori nunc videmus incendium;" — ^' Had we been
jnindful ^ this doctrine, that heiaeties are not to be instmoted nor
Oon¥ineed ofit^tihe fieriptures, our eJSSpixu had been in a better cobt
dition than now they am; but whilst aome, to show their wit uid
learning, would needs contend with Luther out of the Scriptures, die
€re which we now with giief behold was kindled and sUrred up.^
And it OM^r be yon remember who it was that called the Scripture
^ Jgyangelipm nigrum" and ^ Dieologiam atramentariam/' seeing he
was one of the most &mous champions of your <^urch and causa
But befooe we quite leavsa your eoundl of Trent, we may do well to
DNnember the advice which the fathers of it, who upon the etifs in
Germany itemoved unto Bononia, gave to the p<^, Julius IIL, which
one that was then amongst them afierwaixi published. ^ Denique,*'
say they in their letters to bim, *^ quod inter omnia coosilia qusB nos
hoc tempoin dare possumus omnium gravisrimum, ad extremum r&-
senravimua Oculi hie aperiendi sunt; omnibus nervis adnitendima
erit ut quam minimum evangelii poterit (prsesertim vulgari lingua)
in iis legatur civitatibus que sub tua ditione et potestate aunt, suffi-



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YATTH AND CHABITT OF ROMAN CATHOUOS. 353

ciatque tantillum illud quod in miasa 1^ solet, nee eo amplius cui-
quam mortalium legere lioeat Quamdiu enim pauculo illo homines
contenti fuerunt, tamdiu res tuse ex sententia sucoesaftre, esedemque
in contrarium labi coeperunt ex quo ulterius leg! vulgo usurpatum
est Hie ille, in summa^ est liber qui pneter cseteros hasce nobis
tempestates ac turbines conciliavit quibus prope abrepti sumus. Et
sane siquis ilium diligenter expends^ deinde qufl9 in nostris fieri ec
desiis consueverunt, singula ordine contempletur, videbit plurimum
inter se diasidere, et banc doctrinam nostram ab ilia prorsus diversam
esse, ac ssepe contrariam etiam. Quod simul atque homines inteUi-
gant, a docto scilicet aliquo adversariorum stimulati, non ante cla-
mandi finem &ciunt, quam rem plane omnem divulgaverintu nosque
invisos omnibus reddiderint Quare occultandaB paucuke illss char-
tul» sed adhibiti quadam cautione et diligentia, ne ea res majores
nobis turbas ac tumultus exdtet;'' — " Last of all, that which is the
most weighty of all the advices which at this time we shall give unto
you, we have reserved for the dose of alL Your eyes are here to be
opened; you are to endeavour, with the utmost of your power, that
as little as may be of the gospel (especially in any vulgar tongue) be
read in those cities which are under your government and authority,
but let that little suffice them which is wont to be read in the mass"'
(of which mind you also know who is) : '' neither let it be lawful for
any man to read any more of it; for as long as men were contented
with that little, your aSeiis were as prosperous as heart could desire,
and began immediately to decline upon the custom of reading any
more of it This is, in brief, that book which above all others hath
procured unto us those tempests and storms wherewith we are almost
carried away headlong. And the truth is^ if any one shall diligently
consider it, and then seriously ponder on all the things that are ac-
customed to be done in our churches, he will find them to be veiy
different the one firom the other, and our doctrine to be divose firom
the doctrine thereof, yea, and oftentimes plainly contrary unto it
Now this when men begin to understand, being stirred up by some
learned men or other amongst the adversaries, they make no end of
clamouring until they have divulged the whole matter, and rendered
us hateful unto alL Wherefore those few sheets of paper are to be
hid ; but with caution and diligence, lest their concealment should stir
us up greater troublea" This is fedr aud open, being a brief summary
of that admiration of the Scriptures which so abounds in Catholic
countries. That Hermannus, one of some account in your church,
affirmed that the Scriptures could be of no more authority than iEsop'a
Fables, were they not confirmed by the testimony of your church, we
are informed byoneBrentius; and we believethe information to be true,
because the sayiugis defended byHosius^ DeAuthoritat Script, lib. iii^
' YOL. XIV, 23



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854 A YvxmoknGK ot the AKnoDVEfisioim oh fiat lux.

who adds unto it of hi« own: '' Bevora niai nos aodioritafl ecdesUo
doceret banc Soriptutam esse canomcam, perexiguum apud nos poa-
das haberet;'"*-*'^ The troth is^ tf the authority of the church did not
teach us that this Scripture is canonical, it would be of veiy light weight
unto us.'" Such cordial respect do you bear unto it! And the fbre-
mentioned Andradius, Defena. Con. Trid. lib. ii, to the same purpose:
'' Neque enim in ipeis Hbris, quibos sacra inysteria conscripta sunt^
quicquam inert diyinitatis qufld nos ad oredendum quae in illis conti-
nentur religione aliqua oonstringat Sed ecclesifle, qu» codices illos
sacros esse docet^ et antiquomm patrutn fidem et pietatem comroen-
dat, tanta inest Tis et ampUtudo, ut illis nemo sine gfavissima impie-
tatis nota posit rq>ugnare;">^'' Neith^ is there in these books,
wherein the divine mysteries are written, any thing or any character
of divinity or divine original which should, on a religious account^
oblige us to believe the things that are contained in them. But yet
such is the force and authority of the church, which teac^eth those
books to be sacred, and commendeth the fitfth and piety of the an-
cient fathers, that no man cseu oppose them without a grievous maik
of impiety/' How, by what means, from whom, should we learn the
sense of your dmrch, if not ftom your council of Trent, and such
mighty champions of it? Do you think it equitable that we should
listen to the suggestions of eveiy obicure friar, and entertain thoughts
from them about the sense of your church contrary to the plain asser-
tion of your caunoile and gre«U; rabbis? And if this be the respect
that, in Catholic oountries, is given to the SoriptuiB, I hope you will
not find many of your countrymen rivals with them therein. It h
all but ** Hail " and " Crucify." "We respect the Scriptures, but there
is cmoiher pdrt oi Qod*s word besides them; we respect the Scrip-
tures, but tro/diiionB contain more of the doctrine of truth ; we respect
the Scriptures^ but think it not meet that Christians be suiFer^ to
read them ; we respect the Scripture, but do not think that it hath
any character in it of its own divine origmal for which we should be-
lieve it ; we respect the Scripture, but yet we would not believe it were
it not commonded unto us by our church; we respect the Scripture,
1)ut it is dark, obscure, not intelligible but by the interpretation of
•our church.'' Pray, sir, keep your respects at home ; they are despised
by the Scripture itself, which gives tertimony unto its own authority,
perfection, sufficiency to guide us to God, perspicuity, and certain!^,
without any respect unto your chureh or its authority; and we know
its testimony to be trua Aind for our part, we fear that whilst these
Joab's kisses of respect are upon your lips, you have a sword in your
'right hands to 1st out the vitab of divine truth and religion. Do
you think your general AxpresstoDs of respect, and that unto ^ admins
^n/' are a oovering long and broad Quough to hide all this contempt



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FAITH AKP CHARITY OF ROMAN CATHOLtCBL 851

•md reproach that you contbuallj pour upon the Scripturest Deal
thus with your ruler, and see whether he will accept your person.
Give him some good words in general, but let your partieular ex-
pressions of your esteem of him come short of what his state and
regal dignity do require, will it be well taken at your hands? Ex-
pressions of the same nature with these instanced in might be col*
lected of your chiefest authors su£Scient to fill a volume; and yet I
never read nor heard that aAy of them were ever "stoned " in your Ca-
tholic countries, whatever you intimate of the boiling up of your zeal
into a rage against those that should go about to dimini^ it Indeed,
whatever you pretend) this is your £edth about the Scriptuve; and
tkereSore I desire that you would accept of thiif account why I cannot
comply with your wish, and not speak any more of Papists slitting
the Scripture, seeing I know they do so in the sense adad way by me
expressed, and other ways I never said they did sa

FrcMn the account of your £edth we may proceed to your duuity^
wherewith you dose this discourse. Speaking of your Roman Ca^
tbolics, you say, " The Scripture is tJ^eirs, and Jesus Christ is their%
who wiU one day plead their cause." What do you mean, sir, hf



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 43 of 67)