Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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use you were able of that which you commend. It would, I suppose,
have directed you to have stated plainly and clearly what it is that
you assert, and what it is that you oppose, and to have given your
arguments oataeceua^stiical of the one, and anasoeuastical^ of the
other. But either you knew not that way of procedure, or you oon-

' Catasoeuastical and anasoeuastical are old logical terma, eqniTalent to eonttruetim
and deatruetive ; and Uie clause meana, " arguments in support of the one^ and in refuta-'
tion of the other." — Ed,



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864 A VINDICATION OP THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

sidered how little advantage unto your end you were like to obtain
thereby; and therefore you make use only of that part of logic
which teacheth the nature and kinds of sophisms, in {Mirticular that
of confounding things which ought to be distinguished. However,
your discourse, such as it is, shall be examined, and that by the rules
of that logic which yourself commend.

You say, p. 51, " The church says, * I must have a bishop,' or other-
wise she will not have such a visible head as she had at first This
that you may enervate, you tell me ' that the church hath still the
same head she had, which is Christ, who is present with his church
by his Spirit and his laws, and is man-God still as much as ever he
was, and ever the same will be; and if I would have any other visible
bishop to be head, then it seems I would not have the same head,
and so would have the same, and not the same/ "

This is but one part of my answer, and that very lamely and im-
perfectly reported. Tlie reader, if he please, may see the whole of
it, chap. ix. p. 223,^ etci, and therewithal take a specimen of your in-
genuity in iJiis controversy. It were very sufficient, to render your
following exceptions against it useless unto your purpose, merely to
repeat what you seek to oppose; but because you shall not have any
pretence that any thing you have said is passed over undiscussed, I
shall consider what you offer in way of exception to so much of my
answer as you are pleased yourself to express, and, as may be sup-
posed, thought yourself qualified to deal withaL Thus, then, you
proceed: —

'* I cannot in reason be thought to speak otherwise, if we would
use true logic, of the identity of the head, than I do of the identity
of the body, of the church. This body is not numerically the same;
for the men of the first age are long ago gone out of the world, and
another generation come, who yet are a body of Christians of the
same kind, though not numerically the same. So do I require, that
since Jesus Christ as man, the head immediate of other believing
men, is departed hence to the glory of his Father, that the church
should still have a head of the same kind, as visibly now present, as
she had in the beginning; or else, say I, she cannot be completely the
same body, or a body of the same kind visible, as she was. But this
she hath not, this she is not, except she have a visible bishop, as she
had in the beginning, present with her, guiding and ruling under
Qod. Christ our Lord is indeed still man-Qod, but his manhood is
now separate; nor is he visibly present as man, which immediately
headed his believers under Qod, on whose influence their nature de-
pended. His Godhead is still the same in all things, not only in
itself, but in order to his church also, as it was befoi^e equally invisible;,
' See pages 86, 87 of ibis Tolume.



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CHBIST THE HEAD OF THE CHUBGH. 365

and in the like manner believed ; but the nature delegate under Ood,
and once ruling visibly amongst us by words and examples^ is now
utterly withdrawn. And if a nature of the same kind be not now
delegate with a power of exterior government, as at the first there
was, then hath not the church the same head now which she had
then. ' Qui habet aures audiendi audiat' "

How you have secured your logic in this discourse shall afterward
be considered; your divinity seems, at the first view, liable unto just
exceptions. For, — 1. You suppose Christ in his human nature only
to have been the head of his church; and therefore the absence of
that to necessitate the constitution of another. Now, this suppoa-
tion is openly false, and dangerous to the whole being of Christianity.
It is the Son of Qod who is the head of the church; who as he is
man, so also is he '' over all, God blessed for ever;"' and as God and
man in one person is that head, and ever was since his incarnation,
and ever will be to the end of the world. To deny this is to over-
throw the foundation of the church's fiedth, preservation, aud conso*
lation, it being founded and built on this^ that he was '* the Son of
the living God,'' Matt xvL And yet into this supposition alone is
your imaginary necessity of the substitution of another head in his
room resolved. 2. You plainly confess that the present church hath
not the same head that the church had when our Lord Christ con*
versed with them in the days of his flesL That, you say, was his
^ human nature, delegate under Qod; which being now removed and
separate, another person so delegate under God is substituted in his
place:" whidi not only deprives the church of \\a first head, but also
deposeth the human nature of Christ from that office of headship to
his church which you confess that for a while it enjoyed, leaving him
nothing but what belongs unto him as God, wherein alone you will
allow him to be that unto his church which formerly he was. Con*
fessmg, I say, the human nature of Christ to have been the head of
the church, and now denying it so to be, you do what lies in you to
depose him firom his office and throne, aUowing his human nature,
as fisur as I can perceive, to be of little other use than to be eaten by
you in the masai 3. You make your intention yet more evident, by
intimating that the human nature of Christ is now no more head of
the church than the present church is made up of the same nume*
rical members that it was constituted of in tiie days of his flesh:
What change you suppose in the church, the body, the same you
suppose and assert in tiie head thereof; and as that change excludes
those former members from being present members, so this excludes
the former bead from bemg the present head. Of old the head of
the church was the human nature of Christ, delegate under God;
now that is removed, and another person in the same nature is so



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366 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIHABYEBSIONS OF FIAT LUX.

del^ated unto the same office. Now, tlus it &ot a head unckt
Christy but in dktfaictian from him, in the same place wh^ein he
was, and io exduaive of him; which must needs be Antichrist, one
fH?etending to be in his room and place, to his exdusion, — that is,
one Bet up againet him. And thue also what jwu seek to avoid dodl
inevitably follow upon your diaoourse, — namely, that "you would have
the church, for the fMreservadon of its oneness and sameness, to have
the same head she had;'' whidi is not the same, unless joa will say
ihat the pope is Christ These are the principles that you proceed
«pon : — First, You tell us "That the human nature of Christ, delegate
under Qod, was the visibly head of the chun^'^ Secondly, ^ That
this nature is now removed from us, and ceaseth so to be;'' that is,
not only to be vizdble, but the visible head of the churdi, a&d is ne
mcHre so than the present church is made up of the same individual
inembers as it was in the days of his flesh, which, as you weQ observe,
it is not Thirdly, " That a nature of the same kind in another p«^
son is now delegate under Qod to the same office of a visiUe head,
with that power of external government which Christ had whUet he
was that head." And is it not plain from hence that you exclude
the Lord Christ fix>m being that head of bis churdi whidi he was in
former days? And^ substituting another in his room and place, you
at once depose him, and assign another head unto the churdi; and
that in yoiff attempt to prove that her head must still be the same,
or she cannot be so. Farther: the human nature of Quist was per-
sonally united unto the Son of Ood; and if that head whi^ yott
now ftincy the church to have be not so united, it is not the same
head that tliat was; and so, whilst you seek to establish, not indeed
a sameness in the head of the churdi, but a likeness in sevarai beadA
of it as to visibiiityy you evidently assert a change in the nature of
that head of the daurch whidi we inquire after. In a word, Ctmal
and the pope are not the same; and therefore if it be necessaiy, to
maintain that the church hath the same head that she had, to ass^
tiaat in the room of Christ she hath the pope, you prove that she
hath the same head that she had, because she hath one that k nol
tile same she had ; and so^ '' Qui habet aures audiat" 4. You vamly
imagbe the whole cathdio church any otherwise visible than wilii
the eyes of faith and understanding. It was never so; no, not when
Christ conversed with it in the earth; no, not if you should suppose
only his blessed mother, his twelve apostles, and some few more, only
to belong unto it For though all the members of it might be se^,
and that at once, by the bodily eyes of men, as might also the human
nature of him who was the head of it, yet as he wca Head cfihe
churchy and in that his whole person wherein he was so and is so,
be was jiever visible unto any; '* for no man hath seen God at any



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CHB18T THB HEAD Cf THE CHITRCH. &67

tbna^ And therefore jo% sobetituting a bead in his room who in
his whole person is visible, seeing he was not so, do change the head
of the dmrch as to its visibility also (for one that is in his whole per-
son visible and another that is not so are not alike visible), wherein
•you would principallj place the identity of the church. 5. Let us
see whether your logic be any better than your divinity. The best
axgoment that can be fonned oxA of your disoourse is tiiis: ** If the
church hath not a head visibly present with her, as she had when
Ohrist, in his human nature, was aa the earth, die is net the same
thatehe was: but according to their principles she hath not a head
now so visibly present with her; therefore she is not the same, accord-
ing unto ihem.'^ I desire to know bow you fnrove your inference.
It is built on this supposition,«-MJiat the sameness of the ^chfirch de-
pends upon the visibility of its head, and not on the sameMss of the
head itself; whioh is a fond conceit^ and ccmtrary to express Scrip-
ture, "EfHi. iy« 3-7, and not capable of the least coontenanee frmi
reason. It may be you will say that though your argument do noi^
conokide that on our supposition the church is not the same abso-
lutdy as it was, y^ it doth that it is not the same as to visibility.
Whereui^ I answer, — (1.) That there is no necessity that ihe ehurdi
shonld be always the same as to visibility, or always visible in the
same manner, or always equally visible as to all ooncemmcnts of it
(2.) You mistake the whole nature of the visibility of the church, sup-
posing it to occisist in its being seen with the bodUy eyes of men;
whereas it is only an a£feciion of its public profession of the truth,
whereunto its being seen in part or in whole by the eyes of any <^
all men doth no way belong. (9.) That the church, as I said before,
was indeed never absolutely visible in its head and members, he
who was the head of it being never in his whole person visible unto
the eyes of men; and he is yet, as he was of old, visible to the eyes
of JEuth, whereby we see him that is invifdble. So that to be visible
to the bodily eyes of men, in its head and members, vnm never a pro^
.perty of the church, much lees such a one as that thereon its same-
ness in an ages should depend. 6. You ftdl also in supposing that
the numerical sameness of the church as a body depends abscdutely
on the sameness of its members; for whilst in succession it hath
all things the same that concur unto its constitution, order, and
oxistenoe, it may be BtiU the same body corporate, though it con-
sist not of the same individual persons or bodies natural, — as the
kingdom of England is the same kingdom that it was two hun-
dred years ago, though there be not now one person living that
«ihen it was made up of: for though the mcUter be the same only
^specifically^ yet the form being the same nvmericallyy that deno^
minates the body to be so. . But that I may the better tei»reseBt



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868 ▲ VINDICATION OF THE ANniADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

unto you the proper genius and design of your diBcourse^ I shall
briefly mind you of the principles which you oppose in it and seek
to evert by it; as also of those which you intend to compass your
purpose by. Of the first sort are these: — 1. " That the Lord Christy
God and man in one person^ is^ and ever continues to be, the only
absolute monarchical head of his own churcL"' I suppose it needless
for me to confirm this principle by testimonies of Scripture, whidi,
it being a matter of pure revelation, is the only way of confirmation
that it is d^ble of That he is the head of his church is so fre*
quently averred, that every one who hath but read the New Testa-
ment will assent unto it, upon the bare repetition of the w(»rds, with
the same faith whereby he assents unto Uie writing itself, whatever
it be; and we shall afterward see that the notion of a head is abso-
lutely exdusive of competition in the matter denoted by it A head,
properly, is smgly and absolutely so; and therefore the substitution of
another head unto the church in the room of Christ, or with him, is
perfectly exdusive of him fi^m bemg sa 2. " That Christ as God-
man, in his whole person, was never visible to the fleshly eyes of men;'^
and whereas as such he was head of the church, as die head of the
church he was never absolutely visibla His human nature was seen
of old, which was but something of him as he was and is the head
of the church ; otherwise than by faith no man hath seen him at any
time: and it changeth the condition of the church to suppose that
now it hath a head who, being a mere man, is in his whole person
visible, so far as a man may be seen. 3. That the visibility of the
church consisteth in its public profession of the tnlth, and not in its
being objected to the bodily eyes of men. It is a thing that fetith
may beUeve, it is a thing that reason may take notice of, consider,
and comprehend, the eyes of the body being of no use in this matter.
When a church professeth the truth, it is ** the ground and pillar''
of it, a city on a hill, — ^that is, visible, though no man see it, ye%
though no man observe or contemplate on any thing about it; its
own profession, not other men's observation, constitutes it visibla
Nor is there any thing more required to a church's visibility but its
profession of the truth, unto which all the outward advantages which
it hath, or may have, of appearing conspicuously or gloriously to the
consideration of men, are purely accidental, which may be separated
fix)m it without any prejudice imto its visibility. 4. That the same^
ness of the church in all ages doth not depend on its sameness in
respect of degrees of visibility. That the church be the same that it
was, [it] is required that it profess the same truth it did, wh^^y it
becomes absolutely visible; but the degrees of this visibility, as to
conspicuousness and notoriety, depending on things accidental unto
the being, and consequently visibility, of the church, do no way affect



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CHBIST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. 369

it as unto any changa Now, from hence it follows, — 1. That the
presence or absence of the human nature of Christ with or from his
church on earth doth not belong unto the visibility of it; so that the
absence of it doth no way infer a necessity of substituting another
visible head in his stead. Nor was the presence of his human nature
with his church any way necessary to the visibility of it, his conversa-
tion on the earth being wholly for other ends and purposes. 2. That
the presence or absence of the human nature of Christ not varying
his headship, which under both considerations is still the same, the
supposition of another head is perfectly destructive of the whole head-
ship of Christ, there being no vacancy possible to be imagined for
that supply but by the removal of Christ out of his place. For he
being the head of his church as Cod and man, in his whole person in-
visible, and the visibility of the church consisting solely in its own
profession of the truth, the absence of his human nature from the
earth neither changeth his own headship nor prejudiceth the church's
visibility, so that either the one or the other of them should induce
a necessity of the supply of another head. Consider now what it is
that you oppose unto these things. You teU us, — 1. " That Christ
was the head of the church in his human nature, delegated by and
tmder God to that purpose." You mean he was so absolutely, and
as man, exclusively to his divine nature. This your whole discourse,
with the inferences that you draw from this supposition, abimdantly
manifests. If you can niake this good, you may conclude what you
pleasa I know no man that hath any great cause to oppose himself
unto you, for you have taken away the very foundation of the being
and safety of the church in your supposition. 2. You inform us,
" That Christ by his ascension into heaven ceased to be that head
that he was, so that of necessity another must be substituted in his
place and room;" and this we must think to be the pope. He is, I
confess, absent from his church here on earth as to his bodily ap-
pearance amongst us; which, as it was not necessary as to his head-
ship, so he promised to supply the inconvenience which his disciple3
apprehended would ensue thereupon, so that they should have great
cause to rejoice at it, as that wherein their great advantage would
lie, John xvi 7. That this should be by giving us a pope at Rome
in his stead, he hath no way intimated. And unto those who know
what your pope is, and what he bath done in the world, you will
hardly make it evident that the great advantage which the Lord
Christ promised imto his disciples upon his absence is made good
unto them by his supervisorship. 3. You would have the *' visibility
of the church depend on the visibility of its head, as also its sameness
in all agea" And no one, you are secure, who is now visible, pre-
tends to be the head of the church but the pope alone, mi therefore
VOL. XIV. 24s



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370 A VIin)ICATION OP THE ANIMADVBBSIONS ON FUT LUX.

of necessity he it must be. But, sir, if the Lord Jesus Christ had
had no other nature than that wherein he was visible to the eyes of
men, he could never have been a meet head for a church dispersed
throughout the whole world, nor have been able to discharge the duty
annexed by Qod imto that offica And if so, I hope you will not
take it amiss if on that supposition I deem your pope, of whom
millions of Christians know nothing but by uncertain rumours, nor
he of th^m, to be very immeet for the discharge of it And for the
visibility of the church, I have before declared wherein it doth con-
sist Upon the whole matter, you do not only come short of proving
the identity and oneness of the church to depend upon one visible
bishop as its monarchical head, but also the principles whereby you
attempt the confirmation of that absurd position are of that nature
that they exclude the headship of Christ, and infer no less change or
alteration in the church than that which must needs ensue thereon,
and the substitution of another in his room; which destroys the very
essence and being of it

Let us now consider what you &rther reply unto that which is
offered in the " Animadversions'* unto the purpose now discoursed of.
Your ensuing words are, —

" And here, by the way, we may take notice what a fierce English
Protestant you are, who labour so stoutly to evacuate my ailment
for episcopacy, and leave none of your own behind you, nor acquaint
the world with any, though you know far better; but would make us
believe, notwithstanding those far better reasons for prelacy, that
Christ himself, as he is the immediate head of invisible influence,
80 is he likewise the only and immediate head of visible direction
and government amongst us, without the interposition of any person,
delegate in his stead, to oversee and rule imder him in his church on
earth ; which is against the tenor both of sacred gospel and St Paul's
epistles, and all antiquity, and the present ecclesiastical polity of
England, and is the doctrine not of any English Protestant, but of
the Presbjrterian, Independent, and Quaker.''

How little cause you have to attempt an impeachment of my Pro-
testancy, I hope I have in some measure evidenced unto you; and
shall yet £surther make it manifest, as you give me occasion so to do.
In the meantime, as I told you before that I would not plead the
particular concernment of any party amongst Protestants, no more
than you do that of any party among yourselves, so I am sure enough
that I have dehvered nothing prejudicial unto any of them, because
I have kept myself imto the defence of theiS: Protestancy, wherein
they all agree. Nor have I given you an answer unto any argument
that tends in the least to the confirmation of such a prelacy as by any
sort of Protestants is admitted; but only showed the emptiness and



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CHfilST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. 371

pernicious oonaequenoes of your sophism, wherewith you plead iu
pretence for prelacy, indeed for a papal supremacy, and that on such
principles as are absolutely destructive of that Protestant prelacy
whidi you would be thought to give countenance unto. And your
ensuing discourse, wherein you labour to justify your reflection on me,
is a pitiful piece of falsehood and sophistry. For, — 1. This double
head of the catholic church,— cme of inrfuence, the other of direction
and government, — ^which you fiincy some Protestants to admit of, is a
thing that they declare against as injurious to the Lord Christ, and
that which would render the church " biceps monstrum,'' — ^horrid and
deformed. It is Christ himself; who as % his Spirit he exercises the
office of a head by invisiUe influence, so by his word that of visible
direction and rule : he is, I say, the only head of visible direction to
his church, though he be not a visible head to that pmrpose; which
that he should be is to no purpose at all 2. If by the ^' interposi-
tion of any person under Christ, del^ate in his stead,^' you understand
any one single person delegated in his stead to oversee and rule the
whole catholic churchy such a one as you now plead for in your
*' Epistle," it is intoleraUe arn^ancy to intimate that he is designed
either in the gospd, or St Paul's epistles, or antiquity, whereas you
are not able to assign any place, or text, or word in them, directly ot
by £air consequence, to justify what you assert And for the present
ecdesiastical polity of the church of England, if you yet know it not,
let me inf<Hm you that the very foundations of it are laid in a direct
contrary supposition, — namely, that there is no such single person de-
l^ated undeor Christ ht the rule of the whole catholic church ; which
gives us a new evidence of your conscientious care in what you say
and write. 3. If you intend (that which is not at all to your pur-
pose) '' persons to rule under Christ in the church,^^ presiding, accord-
ing to h^ direction and institution, in and over the particular churches
whereunto they do relate, governing them in his name, by his au-
thority, and according to his word, I desire you to inform me where-
in I have said, or written, or intimated any thing that may give you
the least countenance in your affirming that by me it is denied; o€
where it was ever denied by any Protestant whatever, prelatical,
presbyterian, or independent N^her doth this concession of theirs
in the least impeach the sole sovereign monarchy of Christ, and single
headship ov^ his churdi to all ends and purposes. A monarch may
be, and is, the sole supreme governor and political head of his king-
dom, though he appmnt others to execute his laws, by virtue of au-
thority derived from him, in the several provinces, diires, and parishes
ctf it And Christ is die only head of his church, though he have
appointed others to preside and rule in his name, in those distribu-



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 45 of 67)