Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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you proceeded not at least unto the high hills of eighteenthly and
nineteenihly that you talk of in your " Fiat Lux," where you scoff
at the preaching of Presbyterians. It may be you will scarcely ever
obtain such another opportunity of showing the fertility of your
invention. So did he flourish who thought himself secure from ad*

versaries, —

• ^ Capat altum in pnelia tollit,

Ostenditque hnmeros latoe, altemaque jactat

Brachia protendens, et yerberat ictibus auras.** Virg. JEn. t. 875.

But you do like him, — ^you only beat the air. Do you think any man
was ever so distempered as to dream that any king whatever could
be " the absolute head of the whole catholic church of Christ?" We
no more think any king, in any sense, to be the head of the catholic
church than we think the pope so to be. The Roman empire was
at its height and glory when first Christianity set forth in the world,
and had extended its bounds beyond those of any kingdom that arose
before it, or that hath since succeeded unto it ; and yet, within a
very few years after the resurrection of Christ, the gospel had diffused
itself beyond the limits of that empire, among the Parthians and
Indians, and unto '^ Britannorum Romanis inaccessa loca," as Ter-
tullian calls them. Now, none ever supposed that any king had
power or authority of any sort in reference unto the church, or any
members of it, without or beyond the precise limits of his own domi-
niona The inquiry we have under consideration about the power of
kings, and the obedience due unto them in ecclesiastical things, is
limited absolutely unto their own kingdoms, and unto those of their
subjects which are Christians in them. And thus, —

*^ Hi motns animonun atque hsBC oertamina tanta
Pulyeris exigoi jactu compresaa quiescunt" Virg. Geoig. It. 87.

A little observation of this one known and granted principle renders
not only your six reasons altogether useless, but supersedes also a
great part of your rhetoric, which, under the ambiguity of that ex-
pression, you display in your whole discourse.

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2. You pleasantly lead about your unwary reader with the ambi-
guity of the other term, ** The head." Hence, p. 58, you fall into a
great exclamation against Protestants, '' That, acknowledging the
king to be the head of the church, they do not supplicate unto him
and acquiesce in his judgment in religious affairs ;'' — as if ever any
Protestant acknowledged any king, or any mortal man, to be such a
head of the church as you fimcy to yourselves, in whose determina-
tions in religion all men are bound spiritually, and as to their eternal
concernments, to acquiesce, and that not because they are true accord-
ing to the Scripture, but because they are hia Such a head you
make the pope; such a one on earth all Protestants deny: which eva-
cuates your whole discourse to that purpose, pp. 58, 59. It is true,
in opposition unto your papal claim of authority and jurisdiction over
the subjects of this kingdom, Protestants do assert the king to be so
head of the church within his own realms and dominions, as that he
is, by Qod's appointment, the sole fountain and spring amongst men
of ail authority and power to be exercised over the persons of his
subjects in matters of external cognizance and order; being no way
obnoxious to the direction, supervisorship, and superintendency of
any other, — in particular, not of the pope. He is not the " only
striker," as you phrase it, in his kingdoms; but the only protector
under Qod of all his subjects, and the only distributer of justice, in
rewards and pimishments, unto them, not depending in the adminis-
tration of the one or other on the determinations or orders of your
pope or church. Not that any of them do use absolutely that ex-
pression of " Head of the chimih;" but that they ascribe unto him
all authority that ought or can be exercised in his dominions over any
of his subjects, whether in thipgs civil or ecclesiastical, that are not
merely spiritual, and to be ministerially ordered in obedience unto
Christ Jesua And that you may the better see what it is that Pro-
testants ascribe imto the king, and to every king that is absolutely
supreme, as his majesty is in his own dominions, and withal how ex-
ceeding vain your unreasonable reproach is, which you cast upon them
for not giving themselves up unto an absolute acquiescency in human
determinations, as merely such, on pretence that they proceed from
the head of the church, I shall give you a brief account of their
thoughts in this whole matter: —

1. They say that the king is the supreme governor over aU 2>er-
«07i« whatever within his realms and dominions, none being exempted
on any account from subjection unto his regal authority. How well
you approve of this proposition in the great assignations you pretend
unto kingly power, we shall afterward inquire. Protestants found
their persuasion in this matter on the authority of the Scripture,
both Qld Testament and New, and the very principles constituting

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sovereign pow^ amongst men. Ton speak &ir to king% but at first
dash exempt a considerable number of their bom subjects^ owingthem
indispensable natural aUegiance, from their jurisdiction. Of this sort
are tiie clergy. But the kings of Judah of old w^re not of your
mind. Solomon certainly thought AlHathar, though high priest,
subject to his royal authority, when he denounced against him a sen-
tence of death, and actually deposed him from die priesthood. The
like course did his successors proceed in. For neither had Qod, ia
the first provision he made for a king amongst his people, Deut xviL,
nor in that prescription of die manner of the kingdom whidi he gave
them by Samuel, o^ce intimated an exemption of any persons, priests
or others, from the rule or authority of the prince which he would
set over them. In the New Testament we have the rule, as the
practice in the Old, Rom. xiii 1, " Let every soul be subject to the
higher powers," — ^the power that bears the sword, " die striker.** And
we think that your clergymen have souls (at least " pro sale"), and
so come within the circumference of this command and rule. Chry-
sostom, in his comment on that place, is of our mind, and prevents
your pretence of an exception firom the rule by q)ecial privilege, giving
us a distribution of the universality of the persons here intended
into their several kinds. As/xvu^, saith he, Zn ravra diardrrsroi jLai

fTo/3)<rsv, oiro$ Xi/o/v, Hasa '4/u;^4 s^ov^tcug iMnpt^d^trcug iHrora^^i^m^

dmrpBTnt rjif futfiCf/av aurti i h*roray% xai o5;^' &^\£g t7wt ^iBis^^
&7X xtmratntia&tit' — ^' He showeth that these things are commanded
unto all, unto priests and monks, and not to secular persons only;
which he declareth in the v^exy entrance of his discourse, saying, ' L<^
every soul be subject to the higher powers,' whether thou be an
apostle, or an evangelist, or a j^ophet, or whatever thou be; for sub-
jection overthrows not piety. And he saith not simply, * Let him
obey,' but, ' Let him be subject' " The very same instances are given
by Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophylact B^nard, Epist 42,
ad Archiepisc. Senonena, meets with your exc^>tion, which in his
days b^an to be broached in the world, and tells you expressly diat
it is a delusioa In conformity unto this rule of St Paul, Peter ex-
horts all Christians, none excepted, to ^' submit themsdves unto
die king, as supreme," 1 Epist ii. 13. And whatever we conclude
from these words in reference unto the king, I fear that if, instead of
the hing^ he had said the pope^ you would have thought us very im-
pudent if we had persisted in the denial of your monstrous imaginary
headship; but in this principle, on these and the like grounds, do all
Protestants concur. And, indeed, to frmcy a sov^^eign m(Miardi with
80 great a number of men as your clergy ccmsists of in many king-

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doms exempted from his regal authority, is to lay such an axe unto
the root of his government, as whereby yriih. one stroke you may hew
it down at your pleasura

2. Protestants affirm that " Bex in regno suo/' every king in his
own kingdom, is the supreme dispenser of justice and judgment unto
all persons, in aU causes that belong unto or are determinable '' in
foro exteriori," in any court of judicature, whether the matter which
they concern be civil or ecclesiastical No cause, no difference de-
terminable by any law of man, and to be detennined by coercive
umpirage or authority, is exempted from his cognizance. Neither
can any man, on any pretence, claim any jurisdiction over. any of his
subjects not directly and immediately derived from him. Neither
can any king who is a sovereign monarch, like the kings of this land,
yield or grant a power in any other to judge of any ecclesiastical
causes among his subjects, as arising from any other quing, or growing
on any other root but that of his own auth(»rity, wiUiout an impeach-
ment and irreparable prejudice to his crown and dignity; neither
doth any such concession, grant, or supposition, make it indeed so to
be, but is a mere fiction and mistake, all that is (k)ne up<m it being
'^ ipso facto" null, and of none effect Neither, if a king dliould make
a pretended legal grant of such power unto any, would any right
accrue unto them thereby; the making of such a grant being a matter
absolutely out of his power, as are all things whereby his regal autho-
rity, wherein the majesty of his kingdom is inwrapped, may be
diminished: for that king who hath a power to diminish his kingly
authority never was intrusted with absolute kingly power. Neither
is this power granted unto our kings by the acts of parliament^ which
you mention, made in the b^inning of the Beformati<Hi, but was
always inherent in them, and exercised in innumerable instances^ and
often vindicated with a high hand from papal encroachments, even
dining the hour and power of your darkness ; as hath been sufficiently
proved by many, both divines and lawyers. Things of mere spiritual
order, as preaching the word, administration of the sacraments, and
the like, we ascribe not unto kings, ikor the communicating of power
unto any tor their perfonnance. The sovereign power of these things
is vested in Christ alone, and by him committed unto his ministers;
but religion hath many concernments that attend it, which must be
disposed of by forensical, juridical process and determinati<His. All
these, with the persons of them that are interested in them, are sub-
ject immediately to the pow^ and authority of the king, and none
other; and to exempt them, or any of them, or any of the like nature
which may emeige amongst men in things relating unto conscience
and religion, whose catalogue may be endlessly extended, from royal
. cognizance is to make mere properties oi kings^ in things which in

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a very special manner concern the peace and welfiare of tlieir subjects,
and the distribution of rewards and punishments among them. Of
this sort are all things that concern the authoritative public conven-
tions of church officers^ and differences amongst them about their
interests, practices, and public profession of doctrines; collations of
legal dignities and benefices, by and with investitures l^gal and valid ;
all ecclesiastical revenues with their incidences; the courts and juris-
dictions of ecdesiastical persons for the reglement of the outward
man by censures and sentences of law, with the like. And as this
whole matter is sufficiently confirmed by what was spoken before of
the power of kings over the persons of all their subjects, and (for to
what end should they have such a power, if in respect of many of
them, and that in the chief concernments of their rule and govern-
ment, it may never be exerted 1) so I should tire your patience if I
should report one half of the laws, instances, and pleas, made, given,
and used by the ancient Christian kings and emperors in the pursuit
and for the confirmation of this their just power. The decrees and
edicts of Constantino the Great, commanding, niUug, and disposing
of bishops in cases ecclesiastical; the laws of Justinian, Charles the
Great, Ludovicus his son, and Lotharius his successor, with more in-
numerable to the same purpose, are extant and known unto alL So
also are the pleas, protestations, and vindications of most of the king-
doms of Europe, after once the pretensions of Papacy began to be
broached to their prejudice. And, in particular, notable instances
you might have of the exercise of this royal power in the first Chris-
tian magistrate invested with supreme authority, both in the case of
Athanasius, Socrat lib. L cap. 28, and cap. 34, Athan. ApoL 2, as
also of the Donatists, Euseb. lib. x. cap. 5, August Epist 162, 166,
and Ad vers. Crescon. lib. iii cap. 17; whereunto innumerable instances
in his successors may be added.

3. Protestants teach unanimously that it is incumbent on kings to
find out, receive, embrace, and promote the truth of the gospel, and
the worship of God appointed therein, confirming, protecting, and de-
fending of it by their regal power and authority; as also, that in
their so doing they are to use the liberty of their own judgments^
informed by the ways that God hath appointed for that end, inde-
pendently of the dictates, determinations, and orders of any other
person or persons in the world, unto whose authority they should be
obnoxious. Heathen kings made laws for God, Dan. iil vL; Jonah
iil And the great thing that we find any of the good kings of
Judah commended for is, that they commanded the worship of God
to be observed and performed according unto his own appointment.
For this end were they then bound to write out a copy of the law
with their own hands, Deut xviL 18, and to study in it continually.

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To this purpose were they warned, charged, exhorted, and excited by
the prophets; that is, that they should serve Qod as kinga And
to this purpose are there innumerable laws of the best Christian
kings and emperors still extant in the world.

In these things consists that supremacy or headship of kings which
Protestants unanimously ascribe unto them, especially those in Eng-
land to his royal majesty. And from hence you may see the frivolous-
ness of sundiy things you object imto them, —

As, firsts of the scheme or series of ecclesiastical power whidi you
ascribe to prelate Protestants and the laws of the land, from which
you say the Presbyterians dissent; which you thus express: —

r God,

«B7 the laws of <mr land,



our series of g^em*


<« The Presbyterian lane-


ment ecclesiastical


dicamoit is thus :


L People.


^ So that the minister's head, in the Presbyterian predicament,
toucheth Christ's feet immediately, and nothing intervene. You
pretend, indeed, that hereby you do exalt Christ But this is a mere
cheat, as all men may see with their eyes; for Christ is but where he
was: but the minister indeed is exalted, being now set in the king's
place, one degree higher than the bishops, who by law is under king
and bishops too."

If I mistake not in my guess, you greatly pleased yourself with
your scheme, wherein you pretend to make, forsooth, an ocular de-
monstration of what you imdertook to prove; whereas, indeed, it is
as trivial a fancy as a man can ordinarily meet withaL For, — 1.
Neither the law, nor prelates, nor Presbjrterians, ascribe any place at
all unto the king's majesty in the series of spiritual order; he is
neither, bishop, nor minister, nor deacon, or any way authorized by
Christ to convey or communicate power merely spiritual unto any
others. No such thing is claimed by our kings, or dedared in law,
or asserted by Protestants of any sort But in the series of exterior
government, both prelate Protestants and Presbyterians assign a
supremacy over all persons in his dominions, and that in all causes
that are inquirable and determinable by or in any court exercising
jurisdiction and authority, unto his majesty. All sorts assign unto
him the supreme place under Christ in external government and
jurisdiction. None assign him any place in spiritual order, and
merely spiritual power. 2. If you place bishops on the series of
exterior government, as appointed by the king and confirmed by the
law of the land, there is yet no difference with respect unto them.
3. The question, then, is solely about the series of spiritual order, and
thereabout it is confessed there are various apprehensions of Pro-

YOL. XIV. 25

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t^st^ts; wUcI^ ia all you prove, and ao do» ^ in^gi^io oqu^u riogm
agere.'' Who kfi^ws it.uot? I wish tljiere were any n^ to pi;pve it^
But, sir, this dififer§nc^ aboi^t thp si^pei^oiiity.of bishops to presbyt^r^
or their equaUty or identity, wa§ agitited in, the church luany ai^(|
xioany a hundred year befpre you or I were borxi, and w,U^ be sp pro-
bably when we are bptKdead aufjl forgot>ten; so that wh^t it makes
in this dispute is vejy hard fc^r a sobei; m^ to coiyectujce. 4. Who
they are that pretend to exfJt Christ, by a^ m^re as^ertmg minister^,
not to be l]Qr his institution s^Iiy ect to bishc^^ which you caU a/' cheat,'"
I know not^ nor shc^l b^ tl)eir adyocate. They ex^lt Christ who love
him and keep his ccmpiandmei^t^ and no oit^er.

Secondly y You may also as easily discern the friyolousness of your
exclamation against Protestants for not giving up their differences in
religicm to the vmptrage of kings, upon the aflsigmiment of that supre-
macy unto them which hath been declared. When we ifwk^ the king
such a head of the catholic church as you make the pope, we shall
seek untQ him as the fountain of cmr fjEutl^^ asypu pr^t^d to do unto
ti^ pope. For the present^ we, give that hiOQo^r to none but Christ
himself; and for w)iat we assign in psrofession untp the kii^, we answ^
it wholly in, our practiqal submission. Protestap^ neyer thought nor
said that any king was appoiptedby.Chpst to be siip)r)erne> infallible
proposer of all jtl^ng^ to be believed ai^d donei in the worship of Ood;
no king ever assumed that power unto himself It is Jesus Chiist
alone whp is Hifi Sf^preme and ah^lvi^M'mtiv^, of his church, '' the
auth(»r and fipisW c^ our faith ; " apd it is tl^ boQoujr oC kings to serve
him, in t)^e promotipn of his ini^rcjst^ by ihe ex^sc} of thajb authority
and duty which we have befpr^e declai^ WhaA> Wlo the dethroning
and dishonour as much as in. ypu li^th of Christ him^elf, and of kings,
also, you assign untp the pope, iut ma}^ing him tliesuprf^me bead and .
founts of your faith, hath be^ already considered. This is the sub-
stance of what ypu except agajn^ Plrotestaqt% eith^ as to opinion .or
practice, in this matter of deferencci unto. kingly authority in things
ecclesiastical What ia the sense of your churcb, which you prefer
unto your sentiments herein, I shall^ after I havp a little examined,
your present, pretensions, m^tnile^t unto yon (seeing you will have it
so) from those who are full well able to inform \is of it; —

*F9B milii panHfiam sftomta vesolTsre Jvra;

atque omniik ferre sab ikiir«^

Siqna tegont; teneor RomiB nee l^;ibmB nllis." Yirg. Mn. il 157.

For your own part^ you have expressed, yourself in< thia matter so
loosely, generally, and ambiguously, that it is very hard for any man.
to collect from your words what it is that you assert or what you deny.
I shall endeavour to draw out your sense by a few inquiries ; as, — 1. Do
you think the king hath any authority yested in him^ as king, in eo-

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clestastical afiaird and over ecclesiastical persons? You tell us, '' That
Catholics observe the king in all things, as well eodesiastic as civil/'
p. 59 ; " That in the line of corpc»^ power and authority the king is
immediately imder (}od/' p< 61; with other words to the same puiv
pose, if they are to any purpose at all. I desire to know whether you
grant in him an authority derived immediately ftom God in and over
ecclesiastical affiiirs, as to convene synods or councils, to reform things
amiss in the church, as to the outv^otl administration of them? or do
you think that he hath such power and authority to make, constitute,
or i4>point laws, with penal sanctions^ in and* about things ecdesias^
tical? And, 2. Do you think that iii the work which he hath to do
for the church, be it what it will, he may use the liberty of his ovm
judgmenty directed by the light of the Scripture, or that he is precisely
to follow the dedarattons and determinations of the pope? If he have
not this authority, if he may not use this liberty, the good words youf
Bjpeak of Cadiolic^ and give unto him, signify, indeed, nothing at all
I^ then> he hath and may, you openly rise up against the bulls, briefs,
and interdicts of your popes themselves, and the universal practice of
your churdi for many f^eS. And, therefore, I desire you to inform*
me, 3. Whether you do not' judge him absolutely to be subject and
a4icowntable to the pope for whatever he doth in ecclesiastical afiairs'
in his own kingdoms and dominions? If you answer suitably to the
principles, maTims, and practice of your (^urch, you must say he ist
and if so, r must tell you that whatever you ascribe unto him in
things ecclesiastioal, he acts not about them as king, but in some other
capacity; for to do a thing as a king, and to be accountable for what
he doth therein to the pope, implies a contradiction. 4. Hath not the
pope a power over his subjects, many of them at least, to convent,
censure, judge, and punish th^m, and to exempt them tn criminal
cases from his jurisdiction? And is not this a fair supremacy, that
it is meet he should be cont^ted withal, when you put it into the
power of another to exempt as many of his subjects as he pleaseth
and are willing from his r^al authority? 5< When you say, '' Thaty
in matters of faith, kings for their own esiob remit their subjects to
their papal pastor,'' p. 67, whether do you not collude with us, or,
indeed, do at all think as you speak? Do you think that kings have
real power in axKl about those things wherein you depend on the
pope, and only remit their sabjects to him for their own ease? You
cannot but loHyrr that this one concession would ruin the whole
Papacy, as being expressly destructive of all the foundations on
which it is built Nor did ever any pope proceed on this ground •
in his interposures in the world about matters of fiEdth, — that such
things, indeed, belonged imto others, and were only by them re-
mitted unto him for their ease. 6. Whether you do not include kmgs

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themselves in your general assertion, p. 66, " That they who after
papal decisions remain contumacious forfeit their Christianity?'' and
if so, whether you do not at once overthrow all your other splendid
concessions, and make kings absolute dependants on the pope for all
the privil^^es of their Christianity; and whether you account not
ftmoi^ them their very regal dignity itself? — whereby it may easily
appear how much Protestant kings and potentates are beholding unto
you, seeing it is manifest that they live and rule in a neglect of many
papal decisions and determinations. 7. Whether you do not very
fondly pretend to prove your Boman Catholics' acknowledgment of
the power of princes to make laws, in cases ecclesiastical, from the
laws of Justinian, p. 69 ; whereas they are instances of regal power, in
such cases plainly destructive of your present EUldebrandiue Mth
and authority? and whether you suppose such laws to have any force
or authority of law without the papal sanction and confirmation?
8. Whether you think, indeed, that confession wUo priests is such an
efiectual means of securing the peace and interest of kings as you pre-
tend, p. 69? and whether Queen Elizabeth, King James, Henry IIL
and lY. of France, had cause to believe it? and whether you learned
this notion from Parry, Bavaillac, Mariana, Clement, Parsons, Allen,
Garnet, Gerard, Oldcome, with their associates? 9. Whether you

Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 47 of 67)