Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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*^ theirs?" Do you intend it exdusively to all others? so theirs as
not to be the right and portion of any other? It is evident that this
IS your s^ise, not only because, unless it be so, the words have neithw
sense nor emphasis in them; but also because^ suitably unto this sense,
you elsewhere declare that the Roman aLd the catholic church ara
with you GB^ and the sama This is your charity, fit to accompany
and to be the firuit of the iaith before discoursed o£ This is youv
catholidsm, — ^the empaling of Christ, Scripture^ the churdi, and con*^
sequently aJl acceptable religion, to the Roman party and faction;-—
downright Donatism, the wr^ichedest schism that ever rent the chiuch
q£ Qod; which makes the wounds of Christendom incurable^ and all
hope of coalition in love desperate.

St Paul, directing one of his epistles unto "Allthatin every plaoa
call upon the name o[ Jesus Christ our Lcurd," that no countenance
fiK>m that expression of '^ Jesus Christ our Lord" might be given unto
any surmise of his appropriating unto himseU^ and those with him a.
peculiar interest in Jesus Christ, he adds immediately, '' Both their
Lord and ours," — ^the Lord of all that in every place call upon hia
name, 1 Oor. L 2. This was the old catholioism, which the new hath
as much affinity onto as darkness hath to light, and not one jot more;,.
'^ The Scripture is ours, and Christ is ours, and what have any else to
do with them ? What though in other places you call on the name
of Jesus Christ, yet he is our Lord^ not yours." This, I say, is that
wretched schism which« dothed with the name of CathoUdon (whieh^
after it had shun, it robbed of its name and garmentfi)» the world fiit'



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356 i. VINDICATION OF THE ANDCADVEBSIOKS ON FIAT LUX.

some ages hath groaned under, and is like to do so whilst it is sap-
ported by so many secular advantages and interests as are subservient
unto it at ibis day.



CHAPTER XIV.
Of reason — Je W objecdoDB against Christ

Page 47. You proceed to vindicate your unreasonahle paragraph
about reason, or rather against it What reason we are to expect in
a dispute against the use of reason in and about the things which are
the highest and most proper object of it, is easy for any one to ima-
gine; for by reason in religion we understand not merely the ratio-
cination of a man, upon and according to the inbred principles of hia
nature, but every acting of the understanding of a man about the
things of Qod, proceeding from such principles, or guided by any
such rule, as no way impeach its rationality. To vindicate your
discourse in your " Fiat" upon this subject, you make use of two
mediums: — 1. Ton pretend that to be the whole subject of your dis-
course about reason which is but a part of it; and, 2. You deny that
to be the design and aim of your book which you yourself know, and
all other men acknowledge, so to be.

On the first head you tell me that your discourse concerned " rea^
son to be excluded from the employment of framing articles of reli-
gion." It is true you talk somewhat to that purpose; and you were
told that Protestants were no way concerned in that discoursa And
it is no less true that you dispute against the use and exercise of
reason in our choice of, or adhering unto, any religion, or any way
or practice in religion; that is, the liberty of a man's rational judg-
ment in determining what is right and what is wrong, what true, what
&lse, in the things that are proposed unto him as belonging unto reli-
gion, guided, bounded, and determined by the only rule, measure,
and last umpire in and about such things. This you oppose and that
directly, and that to this end, — to show unto Protestants that they
can come unto no certainty in religion by this exercise of their rea-
son in and about the things of God. That men should, by the use
of reason, endeavour to find out and frame a religion, is fond to
imagine. They who ever attempted any such thing knew it was not
reli^on, but a pretence to some otheT end, that they were coining.
To make the reason of a man, proceeding and acting upon its own
light and inbred principles, the absolute and sovereign judge of the
things that are proposed to be believed or practised in religion, so as



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OF REASON, AND THE OBJECTIONS OF JEWS TO CHBIST. 86?

that it should be free for him to receive or reject them, according as
they answer and are suited thereunto, is no less absurd and foolish:
and whoever will assert it must build his assertion on this supposi-
tion, that a man is capable of comprehending fully and clearly what-
soever God can reveid of himself; which is contrary to the prime
dictates of reason, in reference unto the simplicity and infiniteness of
Gbd's being, and so would imply a contradiction in its first admission.
It is no less untrue that a man, in the lapsed, depraved condition of
nature, can, by the light thereof and the utmost improvement of his
reason, come to a saving, sanctifying perception of the things them-
selves that God hath revealed concerning himself his will, and wor-
ship; which is the peculiar effect of the Spirit and grace of Christ
But to say that a man is not to use his reason in finding out the
sense and meaning of the propositions wherein the truths of religion
are represented unto him, and in judging of their truth and fedse-
hood by the rule of them, which is the Scripture, is to deny that
indeed we are men, and to put a reproach upon our mortality, by
intimating that men do not, cannot, nor ought to do, that which
they not only know they do, but also that they cannot but do: for
they do but vainly deceive themselves who suppose, or rather dream,
that they make any determination of what is true or false in religion'
without the use and exercise of their reason; it is to say they do it
as beasts, and not as men, — than which nothing can be spoken more
to the dishonour of religion, nor more effectual to deter men from
the entertainment of it For our part we rejoice in this, that we
dare avow the religion which we profess to be highly rational^ and
that the most mystericms articles of it are proposed unto our belief
on grounds of the most unquestionable reason, and such as cannot
be rejected without a contradiction to the most sovereign dictates of
that intellectual nature wherewith of God we are endued. And it
is not a few trifling instances of some men's abuse of their reason, in
its prejudicate exercise about the things of God, that shall make us
ungrateful to God that he hath made us men, or to neglect the lay-
ing out of the best that he hath intnisted us with by nature in his
service in the work of grace. And what course do you yourself pro-
ceed in? When any thing is proposed unto you concerning religion,
do you not think upon it? doth not your mind exercise about it those
first acts of reason or understanding which prepare and dispose you
to discourse and compute it with yourself? do you not consider
whether the thing itself be good or evil, and whether the proposi-
tions wherein it is made unto you are true or false? do you not call
to mind the rule and measure whereby you are to make a judgment
whether they be so or no? We talk not now what that rule is, but
only whether you do not make a judgment of the propositions that



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855 A YINDIOATIOK OF THB ANIHABYBBSiOKS ON FIAT LUX

are made unto you by some rule or other; and whether, with that
judgment, your mind do not assent unto them or dissent from th^n.
Yea^ is not your judgment^ which you so make^ the asaeiU or disgent
o[ your mind? or what course do you take? I wish you would in^
form us of your excellent expedient to teacdi a man to cry " Credo,"
without the use or exercifie of his reason to bring him thereunta
But when you have done so, I know it is no otheff wi^ but that by
which you may teach a parrot at starling to say as much, or thecrow
that cried of old, "Eifrw wdvra xa,>Mg. But you would evade all ooi^-
cemment in this discourse, by denying that your '' Fiat Lux" ''was
written unto any such concernment against Proteatanto." I know
not weJl what you mean by your '* Unto any such concernment against
Protestanta" That the main design of your discourse is to bring
Protestants unto an uncertamty in their profession^ by everting the
principles which you apprehend Uiem to build upon, and th^^on to
persuade them unto Popery, I was in hope you would have no mote^
d^ed. It hath been evidenced imto you, with as needless a labour
as ever any man was put unto; but it id done because you wo^
needs have it so, and shall not now be done agaiiv

Your ensuing discourse, wherein you attempt to say something
unto the ninth chapter of the '* Animadversions)" is not unlike the
preceding; and therefore I shall cast them under one head. Your
business in it is to cast a fresh dishonour upon ChristiaD religicmt by
questioning the defensibility of its principles against Jewish objeo<>
lions any olJierwise than by an irrational ^' creda" Let us hear you
q)eak in your own language. "Your vaunting flourishes," ypu say,
"about Scripture, whid^ you love to talk on, will not, without the
help of your 'credo' and humble resignation, solve the alignment;
which, that you may the easilier be quit of, you never e^^amine, but
only run on in your usual flourishes about the use and excellency of
Qod's word. I told you in ' Fiat Lux' what the Jew will reply tp
all such reasonings; but you have the pregnant wit not to heed any
thing that may hinder yomr flourishes. But if you were kept up in a
chamber with a learned Jew, without bread, water, and fire^ till you
had satisfied him in that objection, I am still well enough assured,
for all your vaunts, that if you do not make use of your * credo,' which
here you contemn, you might there stay till himger and cold have
made an end of you." The meaning of this discourse is, that the
Jews' pretence of rejecting Christ upon the authority and tradition
of their church, was not, nor is to be, satisfied by testimonies giv^
in the Scripture unto the person, dodrine, and work of the MessiaL
The sum of the objection laid down in your ** Fiat Lux" is that which
I have now mentioned. It was the plea of the Jews against Christ
and his doctrine, managed from the authority and tradition of their



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OF BEASOV, AND THE OBJSCnONS Of JBW8 TO OHBIST. 359.

church. That Christ asjuA his aposdes gave the aoawer unto thifl ob-»
jectioQ which I have now intimated^-«*Bamelyy the testimony of Qod
himself in the Scripture to the truth of that which they objected
against, which was to be preferred unto the authority and testimony
of their churchy — I have undeniably proved unto you in the " Aninn
adversiom;" and it is manifest to eveiy one that hath but read the
New Testam^t with any consideration or undentaading. The same
way was persisted in by the anoieiit liathers] as all their writings
agaiost the Jews do testify. And I must now tell you^ that your
calling th$ validUif iff thd$ amafver into question is highly injurious
unto the honour of Christianity, and blasph^aious against Christ
himself. The best interpretation thai I can give unto your words is,
that you are a penon wholly ignorant of the controversies that are
between the Jews and Christians, and the way that is to be taken
for their satisfaction or confiitation. You tdl u% indeed, in your
*' Yialy'* that the Jews will r^y to those testimonies of Scripture
which are alleged as giving witness to our Lord Jesus Christ and his
doctrme, and contend about the interpretation of them ; and this yoa
tell me "Ihave thewittotakenonotioeof;''«^which,by theway, is
unduly averred by you, and oontrary to your own aoienos and con-
8(nenc$f seeii^ you profess that you have read over my ^'Animad-
versions;" and probably the very place wherein I do td(e notice of
what you said to that purpose, and rq[died unto it^ was not far from
your eye when you wrote the contrary. And as I showed you what
was the opinion of the anoienis of that reply of Uie Jews which you
mention, so I AM now add that nothing but gross ignorance in
these things can give countenance to an imagination that there is
any thing but folly and madness in the rablHnical evasions of the
te^imonies of the Old Testament given unto our Ix)rd Christ and his
gospel. And your substitution of a naked fanatical *^ credo," not
resolved into the testimony of the holy writ, in the room of that ea>
press witness which is given in holy Scripture unto the person and
doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, to ofqpose therewith the Judaical
plea from their churchy state, power, and authority, is an engine fit
to undermine the very root of Christianity, and to render the whole
gospd highly questionable. Besides, it is so absurd as to the oonvic*
tion of the Jews, such a mere " petitio principii," or begging of what
is in controversy between Christians and them, that I challenge you
to produce any one learned man that hath made use of it to that
purposa To think that your ** credo," built on prindples which he
despiseth, which you cannot prove unto him, will convince another
man of the truth of what you believe, can have no other ground but
a magical fency that the fixing of your imagination diall affect his,
and conform it unto your apprehension of things. Such is your



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360 A VIKDICATIOK OF THE ANTMABVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

course in telling the Jews of the authority of your church, and your
^' credo " thereupon ; which cannot be supposed to have any existence
'' in rerum natura,'' unless it be first supposed that their church was
£edled, which supposal that it was not is the sole foundation of their
objection. What end you can propose herein, but to expose yourself
and your profession unto their scorn and contempt, I know not. Sir,
the Lord Christ confirmed himself to be the Son of God and Saviour
of the world by the miracles which he wrought; and the doctrine
which he taught was testified to be divine by signs and express words
from heaven. He proved it also by the testimonies out of the law
and prophets; all which was confirmed by his resurrection from the
dead. This coming of the promised Messiah, the work that he was
to perform, and the characteristical r$x/t,if>ia of him, in application
unto the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the apostles and evangelists
proved out of the Scripture, to the conviction and conversion of
thousands of the Jews, and the confusion of the rest And if you
know not that the ancient Others, and learned men of succeeding
ages, have undeniably proved against the Jews, out of the Scripture
of the Old Testament, and by the testimony thereof, that the promised
Messiah was to be Qod and man in one person; that he was to come
at the time of the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh;
that the work which be was to perform was the very same and no
other than what was wrought and accomplished by him, with all the
other important concernments of his person and office, — so that they
have nothing left to countenance them in their obstinacy but mere
senseless trifles; — ^you are exceedingly unmeet to make use of their
objections^ or the condition of the controversy between them and
Christians. For what you add in reference unto myself, I shall need
only to mind you that the question is not about any personal ability
of mine to satisfy a Jew, — which, whatever it be, when I have a mind
to increase it, for somewhat that I know of, and which I have learned
out of their writings, I will not come unto you for assistance, — ^but
concerning the sufficiency of that principle for the confronting of
Judaical objections, taken from the authority of their church ; which
I have formerly proved unto you that our Lord Jesus Christ and his
apostles made use of unto that purposa And I will not say that it
was from the pregnancy of your vdt, that, whatever heed you took
unto the stating of the case between you and Protestants in the
*' Animadversions," parallel unto that between the Jews and the
apostles (seeing a very little wit will suffice to direct a man to let
that alone which he finds too heavy for him to remove out of his way),
you speak not one word unto it: yet I will say that it is a thing of that
kind whereof there are frequent instanceb in your whole discourse; and
for Y(hB,t reason is not very difficult for any man to conjecture.



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J



CHBIST THE HEAD OF THE CHUBGH. S61



CHAPTER XV.

Pleas of Prelate Protestants— Christ the onlj supreme and absolute head of the

church.

Page 49. Tou take a view of the 10th chapter of the ** Anim-
adversions," opposed unto the 13th and 14th paragraphs of your
" Fiat Lux,'' wherein you pretend to set forth the various pleas
of those that are at difference amongst us in matters of religion.
These you there distribute into Independents, Presbyterians, and
Protestanta Here, omitting the consideration of the two former, you
apply yourself unto what was spoken about " Prelate Protestants," as
you call them. " You endeavour," say you, " to disable both what I
have set down to make against the prelate Protestant, and also what
I have said for him. I said in ' Fiat Lux,' that it made not a little
against our Protestants, that after the prdate Protestancy was settled
in England, they were forced, for theur own preservation against the
Puritans, to take up some of those principles again which former
Protestants had cast down for popisli; as is the authority of the
visible churdi, efficacy of ordination, difference between clergy and
laity. Here, first, you deny that these principles are popish ; but, sir,
there are some Jews, even at this day, who will deny any such man
as Pontius Pilate to have ever been in Jewry. I have other things
to do than to fill volumes with useless texts, which here I might
easily do out of the books both of the first reformers, and Catholic
divines and counciLs."

What acquaintance you have with the Jews we have in part seen
already, and shall have occasion hereafter to examine a little fiuther.
In the meantime, you may be pleased to take notice that men who
know what they sity are not easily affrighted firom it by a show
of such mormoes, as he in the comedian was firom his own house
by his servant's pretence that it was haunted by sprites, when there
were none in it but his own debauched companions. I denied those
opinions to be popish, and should do so still, were I accused for so
doing before a Roman judge as corrupt and wicked as Pontius Pilate ;
for I can prove them to be more ancient than any part of Popery,
in the sense explained in the " Animadversions," and admitted ge-
nerally by Protestanta We never esteem every thing popish that
Papists hold or believe. Some things in your profession belong unto
your Christianity; some things to your Popery. And I am per-
suaded you do not think this proposition, " Jesus Christ is the Son
of God," to be heretical, because those whom you account heretics do
profess and believe it Prove the principles you mention to be in-



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362 A VINDICATIOK OF THE AmhUXTTEBSlOlSm ON JIAT LUX.

vented by yourselves, without any foundation in the Scripture or
constant suffirage of the ancient churches, and you prove them to be
popish, to be your own. If you cannot do so, though Papists profess
them, yet they may be Christian. This is spoken as to the principles
themselves, not unto your explanation of them, which in sundry par-
ticulars is popish, which was never owned by prelate ProtestantsL
You proceed : ** You challenge me to ppove that these principles were
ever denied by our prelate Protestants; and this you do wittily and
like ycmrself You theref<»:e bid me prove that those principles were
ever denied by our prelate Protestants^ because I say that our prelate
Protestants here in England, as soon as they became such, toc^ up
again those forenamed principles, which Protestants^ their forefatheov
both here in England and beyond aea% before our prelacy was set up»
had still rejected. When I say, then, that our prelate Protestants
affirmed and asserted those prindples which former Protestants
daiied, you bid me prove that our prelate Protestants ever denied
them." But whatever you can pfove or cannot 'iNrove, you have made
it very easy for any man to prove Uiat you have very little regard
unto truUi and sobriety in what you aver, so that you may acquit
yourself fix>m that whidi presseth you, and which, according to the
lilies of themi, you cannot stand before. You tell us, in the entrance
of this discourse, that you said '' that prelate Protestants, for their
own presarvation, took up some of those principles again which for>
mer Prote(ri4ints had cast down for popish;" and here expressly, that
you " said not that they took up the principles which themselves had
cast down, but only those which other b^ore them had so dealt withaL"
Now, pray take a view of your own words, whereby you express your-
self in this matter, chap. iiL sect H, p. 189, second edition. Are
they not these: '' The prelate Protestant, to defend himself against
them" (the Presbyteriai^ and Independents), " is forced to make use
of those very principles which himself aforetime" (not other Protest*
ants but himself), '' wh^i he" (not others) '^ first contended against
Pop^y, destroyed. So that upon him falls most heavily, even like
thunder and lightning from heaven, utteriy to kill and cut hini
asunder, that great oracle delivered by St Paul, ^ If I build up again
the things I'" (not another) " * formerly destroyed, I make myself a
prevaricator, an imppstor, a reprobate?' " What think you of these
words? Do you charge the prelate Protestant with building up what
others had pulled down, or what be had destroyed himself? Is your
rule out <^ St Paul applicable unto him upon any other account but
that he himself was both the builder and destroyer t Sir, such mis*
carriages as these Protestants know to be mortal sins; and if, without
contrition for them, you have celebrated any sacrament of your church,
it cannot be avoided but that you have brought a great inconvenience



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CHBIfiT THE HXID OF THE CBJJBJOBi S6S

on some of your disciplea. Bendes, su][^06e jou had spoken as you
now feign yourself to have done, I deaire to know who they aire whom
you intend when you say^ '' Our i»date Protestants^ so soon as they
became such ;" as though they were first Protestants at laige, and de^
stroyed those principles which afterward they built up when they
became prelate Protestants; seeing all men know that our rdbrma^
tion was begun by prelates thems^ves^ and such as never disclaimed
the principles 1^ you instanced in.

But you tell me, *' I do not only reject what you olgect againsl
prelate Frotestauts, but also what you allege in their bdialf/' I do
so indeed, — though I laugh not at you ch: it^ as you pretend, — and so
must any man do, who, pleading for Protestancy, hath not a mind
openly to prevaricate; for your plea for them is such as, if admitted,
would not only overthrow your prelacy, whidi you pretend to assert,
but also destroy your Protestanqr, which you will not deny but that
you seek to opposa Nay, it is no other but what was contradicted
in the very council of Trent by the Spanish prelates, as that which
they conceived to have been an ^igine contrived for the ruin of epis-
copacy under a pretence of establishing it, and which, instead of
asserting them to be bishops in the church, would have rendered
th^n all curates to the pope. You would have us believe that Christ
hath appointed one episcopal monarch in his churdi, with plenitude
of power, to represent his own person, which is the pope; and from
him all other bishops to derive their power, being substituted by him,,
and unto him, unto their work And must not this needs be an a^.
oeptabls defensative (x plea unto {Nrelate Protestants; whidi, if it be
admitted, they can be no longer supposed to be made overseers of
their flocks by the Holy Ohost, but by the pope, which forfeits their
prelacy; and, besides, asserts his supremacy, which destroys their
Protestanoy f

Upon this occasion you proceed to touch upon somewhat of great
importance concerning the head of the church, wh&rein you know a
great part of the difference between yourself and those whom you
oppose to consist In your passage you mention the use of tru&
logic; but I fear we shall find that in your discourse " laudatur et
alget" I should have been glad to have found you making what



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 44 of 67)