Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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tions (d his disciples wherei&to they are cast by his appointment



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372 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAl LUX.

But you proceed: " Chrfet, in their way, is immediate head not only
of subministration and influence, but of exterior derivation also and
government, to his church." Ans. He is so, — ^the supreme and only
head of the church catholic, in the one way and other, though the
means of conveyiug influences of grace and of exterior rule be varioua
" Then," say you, " is he such a head to all believers, or no?" To all;
the whole body in general, and every individual member thereof in
particular. " If he be so to all," you say, " then no man is to be
governed in affidrs of religion by any other man." But why so, I
pray? Can no man govern, in any sense or place, but he must be a
supreme head? The king is immediate head unto all his subjects;
he is king not only to the whole kingdom, but to every individual
person in his kingdom;— doth it thence foUow that they may not be
governed by oflScers subordinate, delegated under him to rule them
by his authority according to his laws? or that if they may be so,
he is not the only immediate king and supreme head unto them all?
The apostle tells us expressly that the " head of every man is Christ,"
1 Cor. xl 3; and that a head of rule, as the husband is the head of
the wife, Eph. v. 23; as well as he is a head of influence unto the
whole body, and every member of it in particular, 1 Cor. xiL 12,
Ool ii. 19. And it is a senseless thing to imagine that this should
in the least impeach his appointment of men to rule under him in
his church according to his law; who are thereupon not hedds, but
in respect of him servants^ and in respect to the particular churches
wherein they serve him rulers or guides, yea> their servants for his
sake, — not lords over the flocks, but ministers of their faith. By these
are tJie flocks of Christ governed, as by shepherds appointed by him,
the great " shepherd and bishop of their soiils," according to the rules
by him prescribed for the rule of the one and obedience of the other.
But if by " Governed by another man," you mean absolutely, sur-
premely, at his will and pleasure, then we deny that any disciple of
Christ is in the things of God so to be governed by any man ; and
affirm that to assert it is to cast down Jesus Christ from his throne.
But you say, " If he be not immediate head "unto all, but ministers
head the people, and Christ heads the ministers, this in efiect is
nothing but to make every minister a bishop. Why do you not
plainly say what it is more than manifest you would have? All
this while you heed no more the laws of the land than constitu-
tions of the gospel." Ans, I have told you how Christ is the imme-
diate head unto all, and yet how he hath appointed others to preside
in his churches under him; and that this should infer an equality in
all that are by him appointed to that work is most senseless to ima-
gine. Nor did I in the least intimate any such thing, but only that
therefore there was no need of any one supreme head of the whole



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CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. 873

catholic church, nor any place or room left for such a one, without
the deposition of Christ himsel£ Because the king is the only su-
preme head of all his people, doth it therefore follow that if he ap-
point constables to rule in every parish, with that allotment of power
which, by his laws, he gives imto them, and justices of peace to rule
over them in a whole county, that therefore every constable in eflFect
is a justice of peace, or that there is a sameness in their office ?
Christ is the head of every man that is in the church, be he bishop,
or minister, or private man ; and when the ministers are said to head
the people, or the bishops to head them, the expression is improper, —
an inferior, ministerial, subordinate rule being expressed by the name
of that which is supreme and absolute; or, they head them not abso-
lutely, but in some respect only, as eveiy one of them dischargeth
tlie authority over and towards them wherewith he is intrusted.
This assertion of Christ's sole, absolute headship, and denial of any
monarchical state in the church catholic but what ariseth from thence,
doth not, as every child may see, concern the difference that is about
the superiority of bishops to ministers or presbyters: for, notwith-
standing this, there are degrees in the ministry of the church, and
several orders of men are engaged therein ; and whatever there are,
there might have been more, had it seemed good to our Lord Christ to
appoint them. And whatever order of men may be supposed to be
instituted by him in his church, he must be supposed to be the head
of them all, and they are all to serve him in the duties and offices
that they have to discharge towards the church and one another.
This headship of Christ is the thing that you are to oppose, and its
exclusiveness to the substitution of an absolute head oyer the whole
catholic church in his place, because of his bodily absence from the
earth. But this you cast out of sight, and instead thereof fall upon
the equality of bishops and ministers, which no vray ensues thereon,
both bishops and presbyters agreeing well enough in the truth we
assert and plead for. " This," you say, " is contrary to the gospel,
and the law of the land." What is, I pray? that " Christ is the only
absolute head of the catholic church?" " No; but * that bishops and
ministers are in effect all ona' " But what is that to your purpose?
will it advantage your cause what way ever that problem be deter-
mined? Was any occasion offered you to discourse upon that ques-
tion? Nay, you perceive well enough yourself that this is nothing
at all to your design, and therefore in your following discourse you
double and sophisticate, making it evident that either you understand
not yourself what you say, or that you would not have others under-
stand you, or that you confound all things with a design to deceive:
for when you come to speak of the gospel, you attempt to prove the
appointment of one supreme pastor to the whole catholic church, and,



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37* A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

by the law of the land, the superiority of bishops over ministers, as
though these things were the same, or had any relation one to an-
other; whereas we have showed the former, in your sense, to be de-
structive to the latter. Truth never put any man upon such subter-
fuges; and I hope the difficulties that you find yourself p^lexed
withal may direct you at length to find that there is a '^ deceit in
your right hand." But let us hear your own words : —

" As for the gospel, the Lord, who had been visible governor and
pastor of his flock on earth, when he was now to depart hence, as all
the apostles expected one to be chosen to succeed him in his care, so
did he, notwithstanding his own invisible presence and providence
over his flock, publicly appoint one. And when he taught them that
he who was greatest among them should be as the least, he did not
deny but suppose one greater, and taught, in one and the same
breath, both that he was over them, and for what he was over them,
— ^namely, to feed, not to tjrrannize; not to domineer and hurt, but
to direct, comfort, and conduct his flock in all humility and tender-
ness^ as a servant of all their spiritual necessitiea And if a bishop be
otherwise affected, it is the fault of his person, not his place."

And what is it that you would prove hereby? Is it that bishops
are above ministers? which, in the words immediately foregoing,
you asserted, and in those next ensuing confirm firom the law of
the land. Is there any tendency in your discourse towards any
such purpose ? Nay, do not yourself know that what you seek to
insinuate, — namely, the institution of one supreme pastor of the
whole cathoHc church, one of the apostles to be above and ruler over
all the rest of the apostles, and the whole church besides, — ^is perfectly
destructive of the hierarchy of bishops in England as established by
law; and also at once casting down the main if not only foundation
that they plead for their station and order from the gospel? For aU
" prelate Protestants," as you call them, assert an equality in all the
apostles, and a superiority in them to the seventy disciples; whence,
ly a parity of reason, they conclude unto the superiority of bishops
over ministers to be continued in the churcL And are you not a
fair advocate for your cause, and well meet for the reproving of others
for not consenting unto them ? But, widving that which you little
care for, and are not at all concerned in, let us see how you prove
that which we know you greatly desire to give some countenance
unto; that is, a universal visible pastor over the whole catholic
church, in the place and room of Christ himseli First, you tell us
that " the apostles expected one to be chosen to succeed Christ in his
cara" But to have one succeed another in his care infers that that
other ceased to take and exercise the care which formerly he had and
exercised; which in this case is highly hlasphemous once to imagine.



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CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHUBCH. S75

I wish you would take more care of what you say in things of this
nature, and not suffer the impetuous bias of your interest to cast you
upon expressions so injurious to the honour of Christ and safety of
his church. And how do you prove that the apostles had any such
expectation as that which you mention ? Our Saviour gave them
eqtial cormnission to teach all nations; told them that as his Father
had sent him so he sent them; that he had chosen them twelve, but
that one of them was a devily — never that one of them should be
pope. Their institution, instruction, privileges, charge, calling, were
all equal How, then, should they come to have this expectation,
that one of them should be chosen to succeed Christ in his care, when
they were all chosen to serve under him in the continuance of his
care towards his chiurch ? That which you obscurely intimate from
whence this expectation of yours might arise, is the contest that was
amongst them about pre-eminence : Luke xxil 24, " There was a strife
amongst them which of them should be accounted the greatest'^ This,
you suppose, was upon their persuasion that one should be chosen in
particular to succeed the Lord Christ in his care; whereupon they fell
into difference about the place. But, — 1. Is it not somewhat strange
unto yourself how they should contest about a succession unto Christ
in his absence, who had not once thought that he wovld ever be aieent
from them, nor could bear the mention of it without great sorrow of
heart when afterward he began to acquaint them with it ? 2. How
should they come in your apprehension to quarrel about that which,
as you suppose and contend, was eome while before determined t for
this contest of yours was some while after the promise of the keys to
Peter, and the saying of Christ that he " would build his church on
the rock.'' Were the apostles, think you, as stupid as Protestants,
that they could not see the supremacy of Peter in those passages, but
must yet fall at variance who should be pope? 8. How doth it
appear that this strife of theirs who should be greatest did not arise
from their apprehension of an earthly kingdom, a hope whereof, ac-
cording to the then current persuasion of the Judaical church, to be
erected by their master, whom they believed in as the true Messiah,
they were not delivered from until after his resurrection, when they
were filled with the Spirit of the New Testament ? Acts i Certainly
irora that root sprang the ambitious desire of the sons of Zebedee
after pre-eminence in his kingdom; and the designing of the rest of
them in this place, from the manner of its management, by strife^
seems to have had no l)etter a spring. 4. The stop put by our Lord
Jesus unto the strife that was amongst them makes it manifest that
it arose from no such expectation as you imagine; or that at least if
it did, yet your expectation was irr^^ar, vain, and groundless: for,
— (L) He tells them that there should be no such greaJtnese in his



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376 A YINDIOiTION OF THE AKDCADYEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

church aa that which they contended about, being like to the sove-
reignty exercised by and in the nations of the earth: from which he
that can show a difference in your ps^)al rule, '^ erit mihi magnus
ApoUa" (2.) He tells them that his Father had equally i»x)yided a
kingdom, — that is^ heavenly and eternal, — for all them that believed ;
which was the ordy greatness that they ought to look or inquire
after. (3.) That as to their privilege in his kingdom, it should be
eqttal unto them all; for they '^ should all sit on thrones, judging the
twelve tribes of Israel:" so ascribing equal power, authority, and dig-
nity unto them all; which utterly overthrows the figment of the
supremacy of any one of them over the rest, Luke xxiL 30, Matt
xiz. 28. And, (4.) Yet farther to prevent any such conceit as that
which you suppose them to have had concerning the prelation of any
one of them, he tells them that " one was their Master, even Christ,
and that all they were brethren," Matt xxiii 8; so giving them to
understand that he had designed them to be perfectly and every way
equal among themselve& So ill have you laid the foundation of
your plea^ as that it guides us to a full determination of the contrary
to your pretence, and that given by our Savioiu* himself, with many
reasons persuading his disciples of the equity of it and unto an ac-
quiescency in it And what you add, that he presently appointed
one to the pre-eminency you imagine, is altogether inconsistent with
what you would conclude from the strife about it; for the appoint-
ment you toncy preceded this contention, and had it been, real, and
to any such purpose, would certainly have prevented it Thus you
do neither prove from the gospel what you pretend unto, namely,
that bishops are above ministers, — so well do you plead your cause I
nor what you intend, namely, that the pope is appointed over them
all. Only you wisely add a caution about what a bishop ought to be
and do " de jure," and what any one of them may do or be " de
fecto;" because it is impossible for any man to find the least differ-
ence between the domination which our Saviotur expressly condemns
and that which your pope doth exei'dse, although I know not whether
you would think meet to have him divested of that authority on the
pretence whereof he so domineers in the world.

Finding yourself destitute of any countenance from the gospel, you
proceed to the laws of the land. To what purpose ? — to prove that
Christ appointed " one amongst his apostles to preside with plenitude
of power over all the rest of them," and consequently over the whole
catholic church succeeding him in his care ? Certainly you will find
little countenance in our laws to this purpose. But let us hear your
own words again. " Aa for the laws of the land," say you, " it is
there most strongly decreed, by the consent and authority of the whole
kingdom, not only that bishops are our ministers, but that the kingV



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CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE CHT7ECH. S 77

majesty is head of the bishops also in the line of hierarchy, from
whose hand they receive both their places and jurisdiction. This was
established not only by one, but by several parliament acts, both in
the reign of King Edward and Queen ElizabetL^' What will hence
follow? — that there is one universal bishop appointed to succeed
Christ in his care over the church catholic, the thing you attempted
to prove in the words immediately foregoing ? Do not the same laws
which assert the order you mention exclude that which you would
introduce ? Or would you prove that bishops by the law of this land
have a jurisdiction superior unto ministers? Who ever went about
to deny it ? or what will the remembrance of it advance your pre-
tensions ? And yet neither is this fairly expressed by you. For as
no Protestants assert the king to be in his power and office interposed
between Christ and bishops or ministers, as to their ministerial
office, which is purely spiritual; so the power of supreme jurisdiction
which they ascribe unto him is not, as you fieJsely insinuate, granted
unto him by the laws of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth, but is an
inseparable privilege of his imperial crown, exercised by his royal
predecessors, and asserted by them against the intrusions and usurpa-
tions of the pope of Rome, only declared by those and other law&
But I perceive you have another design in hand. Tou are entering
upon a discourse wherein you compare yourselves not only with Pres-
byterians and Independents, but prelate Protestants also, in what
you ascribe unto kings in ecclesiastical afibirs, preferring yourselves
before and above them alL What just cause you have so to do, we
shall afterward consider. Your confidence in it at first view presents
itself imto u& For whereas there was not in the " Animadveraons"
any occasion of it administered tmto you, and yourself confess that
your whole discourse about it is beside your purpose, p. 66; yet,
waiving almost every thing that was incumbent upon you to have in-
sisted on, if you would not plainly have appeared ^Wadimonium
deseruisse,'' and to have given up your ^'Fiat" as indefensible, you
divert into a long harangue about it The thesis you would by
various flourishes ^ve countenance unto is this. That Papists in their
deference unto kings, even in ecclesiastical matters, and in their prin-
ciples of their obedience unto them, do excel Protestants of all sorta
That this is not to our present purpose, yourself cannot but see and
acknowledge. However, your discourse, such as it is, relating to one
special head of difference between u% shall be apart considered by
itself in our next chapter.



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378 A VINDICATION OF TEX AKDCABYEBSIONS OK FUT LUX.



CHAPTER XVL

The power assigned by Papists and Protestants unto kings in matters ecclesiastical
— ^Their several principles discussed and compared.

YoUB discourse on this head is not reducible by logic itself unto
any method or rules of argument For it is in general, — 1. So
loose, ambiguous, and metaphorically expressed; 2. So sophistical
and inconclusive; 3. So inconsistent in sundiy instances with the
principles and practices of your church, if you speak intelligibly;
4. So false and untrue in many particulars, — ^that it is scarcely, for
these excellent qualifications, to be paralleled with auy thing either
in ypur " Fiat " or your " Epistola" Firsts It is loose and ambigu-
ous: — (1.) Not stating what you intend by " the head of the chturch,"
which you discourse about (2.) Not determining whether the king
be such a head of execution in matters of religion as may use the
liberty of his own judgment as to what he puts in execution, or
whether he be not bound to execute your pope's determinations on
the penalty of the forfeiture of his Christianity; which I doubt we
shall find to be your opinion. (3.) Not declaring wherein the power
which you assign unto him is founded (whether in Chd*s immediate
institution or the concession of the pope), whereon it should solely
depend, imto whom it is in all things to be made subservient Se-
condly, Sophistical: — (1.) In playing with the ambiguity of that ex-
pression, "Head of the church," and by the advantage thereof imposing
on Protestants contradictions between their profession and practice,
as though in the one they acknowledged the king to be head of the
church, and not in the other (whereas there is a perfect consonancy
l)etween them in the sense wherein they understand that expression) ;
shrouding your own sense and opinion in the meantime under the
same ambiguity. (2.) In supposing an absolute universal head of
the whole catholic church, and theji giving reasons why no king can
be that head; when you know that the whole question is, whether
there be any such head of the catholic church on earth or no. (3.) In
supposmg the principles and practices of the primitive church to have
be^n the same with those of the present Roman, and those of the
present Roman to have been all known and allowed of old, — ^which
begs all that is in controversy between us; and sundry other instsmces
of the like nature may be observed in it Thirdly, Inconsistent with
the principles and practices of your own church, both — (1.) In what
you ascribe unto kings; and, (2.) In your stating of the power and
jurisdiction of your pope, — ^if the ambiguity of your words and expres-
sions will allow us to conclude what you intend or aim at Fourthly,



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POWER OF KINGS IN ICATTEBS ECXUSIASTICAL. 379

False: — (1.) In matter of fiact, as to what you relate of the obedience
of your church unto kings; (2.) In the principles and opinions which
you impose on your advOTsaries; (3.) In the declaration that you
make of your own; and, (4.) In many particular assertions, whose
consideration will afterward occur.

This is a business I could have been glad you had not necessitated
me to the consideration of; for it cannot be truly and distinctly
handled without some such reflections upon your church and way as
may, without extraordinary indulgence, redound unto your disadvan-
tage. You have by your own voluntary choice called me to the dis-
cussion of those principles which have created you much trouble in
these nations, and put you oftentimes upon attempting their disquiet
Now, these are things which I desire not I am but a private man,
and am veiy well contented you should enjoy all that peace and
liberty which you think not meet in other nations, where the power
is at your disposal, to grant unto them that dissent from you. *' Lex
talionis ** should be far from influencing the minds of Christians in
this matter, however the equity of it may at any time be pleaded or
ui^ed to relieve others in other places under bondage and persecu-
tion. But I am sure, if I judge your proceedings against other men
dissenting &om you in conscience to be unjustifiable by the Scripture,
or light of nature, or suffirage of the ancient church, as I do, I have
no reason to desire that they should be drawn into precedent against
yourselves, in any place in the world. And therefore, sir, had you
provided the beet colour you could for your own principles, and
palliated them to the utmost, so to hide them from the eyes of those
who it may be are ready to seek their disturbance and trouble from
an apprehension of the evil that may ensue upon them, and had not
set them up in comparison with the principles of Protestants of all
sorts, and, for the setting o£F your own with the better grace and
lustre, untruly and invidiously reported theirs, to expose them unto
those thoughts and that severity firom supreme powers which you
seek yomrselves to waive, I should have whoUy passed by this dis-
course, unto which no occasion was administered in the " Animad-
versions." But now, as you have handled the matter, unless I would
have it taken for granted that the principles of the Roman, church
are more suited unto the establishment and promotion of the interest
and sovereignty of kings and other supreme magistrates, and in
particular the kings of these nations, than those of Protestants, which
in truth I do not believe, I must of necessity make a UtUe farther
inquiry into your discoursa And I desire your pardon if in my so
doing any thing be spoken that suits not so well your interest and
designs, neither expecting nor desiring any, if aught be delivered by
me not according to trutL



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380 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

To make our way the more clear, some of the ambiguous expres-
sions which you make use of to cloud and hide your intention in your
inquiry after the head of the church, must be explained: —

1. By the church you imderstand not this or that particular church,
not the church of this or that nation, kingdom, or country, but the
whole catholic church throughout the world. And when you have
explained yourself to this purpose, you endeavour, by six arguments
no less (pp. 67, 68), to prove that no king ever was or can be head of
it He said well of old, —

« In cauflft facili ouiyis licet eeae diserto." — Ot. Trist iiL 11, 21.
I wonder you contented yourself to give us six reasons only, and that



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 46 of 67)