Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

. (page 56 of 67)
Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 56 of 67)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


indeed the image of a &mous or rather infamous whore that Hved
at Tanager. Had this dedication passed, I wonder how this image
could have had any relation imto libertas but by virtue of the imagi-
nation of its worshippers, when in very deed it was the image of a
Tangraean whore. And the same orator tells us of a famous painter^
who, making the picture of Venus and her companions for their
temples, still drew them by some strumpet or other that he kept
company withal. And whether you have not been so imposed upon
sometimes or no I very much question ; in which case nothing but
your imagination can free you from the worship of a quean when
you aim your devotion another way. Again: he pleads that the de-
dication of that image was not regularly religious, nor according to
that institution which they esteemed divine; whence no sacredness
in it could ensue. And want of institution which may be so esteemed
is that also which we object against your dedication of images; for,
besides a relation to this or that individual person, — which, as I have
showed, the most of yoiu: images have not, but what in your frmcy
you give unto them, which is natural or civil, — ^you fancy also a reli-
gious relation, a sacred conjunction, between the image and prototype,
so that the worship yielded to the one should redound to the other
in a religious way. And this, I say, is also the product of your own
fancy. If it be not, I pray, will you assign some other cause of it?
for, to tell you the truth, excluding divine institution, which you have
not, other I can think of none. And if you could pretend divine
institution constituting a sacred relation between images and their
prototypes, yet it would not presently follow that they were to be
worshipped, no, not supposing the prototypes themselves to be the
proper objects of religious adoration, which as to the most of them
you know we deny, unless you have also a command to warrant you:



Digitized by



Google



THE WOBSHIP OF IMAGES. 455

for there is, by the mstitution of Gkxl himself^ a sacramentai rela-
tion between die water in baptism and the blood of Christ; and yet
I do not know that you plead that the water is to be worshipped.
And thus is it as to your wooden cross: you put two sticks across^
and worship them ; you take them asunder^ and bum them. It is
the very instance of your Nioene coimcil, for so they repeat the words
of Leontius, and approve them, act 4 : 'Em; (aU hn ifufA^rtifiM'^iva rd

dirra, fcdbf dh diaifi6£ctv i^ aXkiXotv pkrrm aurcb xa/ xarxtxaiot' — '' Whilst
the two sticks of the cross are put together or compacted^ I adore
that figure for Christ's sake, who suffered thereon; but when they
are separated, I cast them away and bum them.'' A pretty course,
whereby a man may keep a sacred fire, and worship all his wood-
pile before he bums it! And all this you are beholding unto your
imagination for.

We have done with your exceptions and pleas; and I dare leave it
to the conscience and judgment of any man fearing Qod^ and not
captivated under the power of prejudices and a vain conversation
received by tradition firom his fkthers, whether your pretences are
sufficient to warrant us to break in upon those many and severe in-
terdictions of Qod, lying expressly in the letter against this usage and
practice, and so apprehended in their intention by the whole primi-
tive churcL In the command itself, we are forbidden to make to
ourselves, — that is, in reference unto the worship of God treated of in
that precept, — not only ^^, yXv^Sv, " sculptile," a "graven image,"
but also '*^^on"?3j ^p o/MtoifAa, " any kind of lik^aess'' of any thing
in heaven, earth, or sea; so as that a man should rtnriB^n^ ^pc^unT^y
** bow down," adore, or venerate them, or *ri^, douXiwi/y, "serve them"
with any sacred veneration. And the natural equity of this precept
was understood by the wisest of the heathen; for not only doth
Tacitus witness that the ancient Germans had no images of their
gods, but it is known that Numa Pompilius, the Soman Solon, ad-
mitted not the use (^ them. Seneca decries them, Epist 33; and
Macrobhis denies that antiquity made any image to the most high
God. What Silius, Persius, and Statins observed to the same pur-
pose, I have showed elsewhere. And fix)m this principle Paul pleads
with the Athenians that the rh e%hf was not to be rejHresented with
images of gold and silv^ or carved stones. Neither doth God leave
us under this interdiction as proceeding from his sovereign authority,
but frequently also shows the reasonableness of his will by asserting
the incomprehensibility of his nature, and minding us that^ in the
great manifestation of his glory unto the people, they saw no man-
ner of likeness or similitude; which should have been showed unto
them had he been by any sensible means or matter to be refurefiented.



Digitized by



Google



456 A YIKDIGATION OF THE AKDCADYEBSIOKS ON FIAT LX7Z.

And yet, sir, all thb will not deter you from making images, and
various pictures of Qod himself and the blessed Trinity. Indeed,
you say you do not do it to represent the essence and nature of the
invisible Qod^ but only some divine manifestations of his excellency
or presence; so that those images are only metaphorical. But you
venture too boldly on the commands of God with your cobweb dis-
tinctions; nor do you difference yourselves hereby from the more
sober heathen, who openly professed that in their many names and
images of Qod they had no design to teach a multiplication of the
divine essence, but only to represent the various properties and ex-
cellencies of that one Deity which they adored, as Lactantius will
. inform you. Neither, I fear, do you consider aright, or suflBdently
esteem, the scandal that by this means you cast before the Jews and
Turks, who abhor the worship of Ood amongst you upon the account
of your images; and Christians abo kept from participating in their
*' sacra'' by this means. Lampridius tells us, in the Life of Alexander
Severus, tiiat Hadrian the emperor erected temples in sundry cities
without images in them, until he was forbidden by the soothsayers,
affirming that this was the only way to make all men become Chris-
tians; as though the weight of the controversy between Christians
and Pagans had turned on this hmge, whether Qod were to be wor-
shipped in images or no ? As for other images and pictures, which
may as to a civil use be made, which you set up in your churches to
be adored and venerated, is not your doctrine and practice a mere
ihXo&pn^i/a, " a will-worship," condemned by the apostle, CoL iL 23,
'■ — a worship destitute of institution, promise, command, or any ground
of acceptance with Qod; a worship wherein you do what is right in
your own eyes, like the people in the wilderness, and not that only
which is commanded you, which Qod complains of and reproves,
Deut xiL 8, 28? And, besides, you are conversant in a will-worship
of a most dangerous importance, wherein you ascribe the honour that
is due unto Qod alone unto that which by nature is not Qod; which
is downright idolatry. I know how you turn and wind yourselves
into various forms, and multiply unintelligible distinctions to extri-
cate yourselves out of the snare that you wilfully cast yourselves into :
but you all agree well enough in this, if your Nicene and Trent
councils, your Baronius, Yasquez, Suarez, and other great masters of
your " sacra'' may be believed, that they are to be adored and wor-
shipped, — that is, with adoration religious; which, whatever you may
talk of its modes, or distinguish about its kind, is to give the honour
due to Qod alone unto stocks and stones. And the best security you
have to free you from the horrible guilt of idolatry lies in the pre-
tended conjunction and religious relation that is between the image
and its prototype; which is plainly imaginaiy $aid fictitiou& And



Digitized by



Google



THE iahn service. 457

now, sir, I hope I shall obtain your excuse for having drawn forth
this disconrse unto a length beyond my intention, yourself having
given me the occasion so to do, by pretending that you would, upon
this head of images, come wp close v/nto me; which caused me to give
you a little taste of what entertidnment you are to expect if you
shall think meet to continue in the same resolution.



CHAPTER XXIL

Of Latin service.

The 1 7th chapter of the ** Animadversions,'^ about tongues and
Latin service, is yoiu* next task. Of this you say, that " it hath some
colour of plausibility; but because I neither do nor will understand
the customs of that church which I am so eager to oppose, all my
words are but wind." Ana. No such thing as " plausibility'' was
aimed at in any part of that discourse. It was the promotion or de-
fence of truth which was designed throughout the whole, and nothing
else: for that are all things to be done, and nothing against it.
What you are able to except against in that discourse will speedily
appear. In the meantime, pray take notice that I have no eagerness
to oppose either you or your church; so you will let the truth alone,
I shall for ever let you alone, without opposition. It was the de-
fence of ihat^ and not an opposition to yoUy that I was engaged in.
In the same design do I still persist, in the vindication of what I had
formerly written, and shall assure you that you shall never be opposed
by me> but only so fer and wherein I am fully convinced that you
oppose the trutL Manifest that to be on your side, and I shall be
ready to embrace both you and it ; for I am absolutely free from
all respects unto things in this world that should or might retard me
in so doing. But that I may hereafter speak somewhat more to the
purpose in opposition unto you, or else give my consent with imder-
standing unto what you teach, pray inform me how I may come to
the knowledge of the customs of your church, which, you say, " I
neither do nor will understand.'' I have read your councils, those
that are properly yours; your mass-book and rituals; many of your
annalists or historians ; with your writers of controversies and casuists :
all of the. best note, fiune, and reputation amongst you. Can none
of them inform us what the customs of your church are? If you
have such Egyptian or Eleusinian mysteries as no man can under-
stand before he be initiated amongst you, I i^iust despair of coming



Digitized by



Google



458 A VINDICATION OF THE ANDCADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX

unto any acquaintance with them; for I shall never engage into the
belief of I know not what For the present, I shall dedare yoa
my apprehension as to that, custom of your church, as you call it^
which we have now under consideration, and desire your charity in
my direction if I understand it not aright It is your custom to
keep the Scriptures from the people in an unknown tongua Some-
what contrary to this your former custom, in this last age you have
made some tranahUiom out of a tranalaHon^ and that none of Uie
best: the use whereof you permit to very few, by virtue of special
dispensation; pleading that the use of it in the church, among the
body of its members, is useless and dangerous. Again: it is the coa-
tom of your church to celebrate all its public worship in Latin, where-
of the generality of your people understand nothing at all; and you
forbid the exercise of your church-worship in a vulgar tongue, under-
stood by the community of your church or people. These I apjHe-
hend to be the customs of your church; and, to the best of my
understanding, they are directly contrary, — 1. To the end of Gfod in
granting unto his church the inestimable benefit of his word and
worship; and, 2. To the command of Ood, given unto all, to read,
meditate, and study his word continually; and, 3. Prejudicial to
the souls of msn, in depriving them of those unspeakable q>iritual
advantages which they might attain in the discharge of their du^,
and which others, not subject unto your authority, have experience
of; and, 4. Opposite unto, yea, destructive of, that edificoHon which
is the immediate end of all things done or to be done in public as>
semblies of the church; and, 5. Forbidden expressly by the apostle,
who enforceth his prohibition with many cogent reascms, 1 Cor. xiv.;
and, 6. Contrary to the express practice of the primitive churdi,
both Judaical and Christian, all whose worship was performed in the
same language wherein the people were instructed by preaching and
exhortations, — ^which I presume you will think it necessary they should
well understand; being, 7. Brought into use gradually and occo-
sionaUy, through the stupendous n^ligenoe of some who presided in
the churches of those days, when the languages wherein the Scriptore
was first written, and wbereinto, for the use of the whole church, it
had been of old translated, — as the Old Testament into Greek, and
the whole into Latin, — ^through the tumults and wars that fell out in
the world, became corrupted, or were extirpated; and, 8. A means
of turning the worship of Christ, from a rational way of strength^i-
ing faith and increasing holiness^ into a dumb histrioniccd show, ex-
citing brutish and irregular affections; and, 9. Were the great cause
of that darkness and ignorance which spread itself in former days
over the whole face of your church, and yet continueth in a gr^
measure so to do; and, in sum, are as great an instance of the pow^



Digitized by



Google



THE LATIN SEBYICE. 459

of inveterate prejudices and carnal interests against the light of the
truth as I think was ever given in the world.

These are my apprehensions concerning the customs of your church
in this matter, with their nature and tendency. I shall now try
whether you, who blame my misunderstanding of them, can give me
any better information, or reason for the change of my thoughts con-
cerning them. But '' carbones pro thesauro/' instead of either hi-
ther clearing or vindicating your customs and practice, you fall into
encomiums of your chmx^h, a stoiy of a Greek bishop, with some
other thing as little to your piurposa

** For 60, ait Pedia Ptdins quid ? crimina rasis
librat in aatithetia Doctas poeuiaBe figima
Laadatur." Pero. L 85.

You are accused to have robbed the church of the use of the Scrip-
ture, and the means of its edification in the worship of Ood; and
when you should produce your defensative, you make a fine discourse
quite to other purposea' Such as it is, we must pass through it

First, you say, '* I have heard many grave Protestant divines in-
genuously acknowledge that divine comfort and sanctity of life requi-
site unto salvation, which religion aims at, may with more perfec-
tion and less inconvenience be attained by the customs of the Roman
church than that of ours. For religion is not to sit perching upon
the lips, but to be got by heart; it consists not in reading, but doing:
and in this^ not in that, lives the substance of it; which is soon and
easily conveyed. Christ our Lord drew a compendium of all divine
truths in two words; which our great apostle again abridged into
one."' Ans. First, I hope you will give me leave a little to suspend
my assent unto what you affirm; — ^not that I question your veracity
as to the matter of £Eu:t related by you, that some persons have told
you what you say, but I suppose you are mistaken in them; for
whereas the gospel is the doctrine of truth according unto godliness,
and the promotion of holiness and consolation (which cannot at all
be promoted but in ways and by means of Qod's appointment) is the
next end of all religion, they can be no Protestant divmes who ac-
knowledge this end to be better attainable in your way than their
own, because such an acknowledgment would be a virtiial renuncia-
tion of their Protestancy. The judgment of this church, and all the
real grave divines of it, is perfectly against you ; and, should you con-
descend unto them in other thii^ [^^j] would not embrace your
communion whilst you impose upon them a necessity of celebrating the
worship of God in a tongue unknown unto them amongst whom and
for whose sake it is publicly celebrated. The reasons you subjoin to
the concession you mention I presume are your own; they are like to
many others that you make use o£ The best sense of tlie entrance



Digitized by



Google



460 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIMADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

of your words that I can make is in that description they afford us
of the worship of your church, as to the people's concernment in it
The words of it may sit perching upon your lips, as on the tongue of
a parrot, or, it maybe, may be^o^ by heart, or as we say, without book,
when the sense of them affects not your minds nor understandiugs at
alL If in these vain, loose expressions you design any thing else, it
seems to be an opposition between reading and studjring the Scrip-
tures, or joining with understanding in the prayers of the church, — the
things under consideration, — and the getting of the power of the word
of God to dwell in the heart; which is skilfully to oppose the means
and the end, and those placed in that relation not only by their
natiural aptitude, but also by Qod's express appointment and com-
mand. So wisely, also, do you oppose reading and doing in general,
as though reading were not doing, and a part of that obedience which
Ood requires at our hands, and a blessed meaus of helping and far-
thering us in the remainder of it; for certainly that we may do the
will of God, it is required that we know it And what better way
there is to come to the knowledge of the will of God, than by read-
ing and meditating in and upon the word of truth wherein l^e hath
revealed it, with the advantage of the other means of his appointment
for the same end, in the public preaching or proposition of it, I am
not as yet informed. And I wi^ you had acquainted us with those
two words of our Saviour, and that one of the apostle, wherein they
give us a compendium of all divine truths; for if it be so, I am per-
suaded you will be to seek for your warrant in imposing your long
creeds, and almost volumes of propositions, to be believed as such.
But you cannot avoid mistakes in things that you might omit as not
at all to your purposa Our Saviour, indeed, gives us the two general
heads of those duties of obedience which are required at our hands
towards God and our neighbours, and the apostle shows the perfec-
tion of it to consist in love, with its due exercise; but where in two
or three words they give us the compendium of all divine trutiis
which we are to believe, that we may acceptably perform the obe-
dience that in general they describe, we are yet to seek, and shall be
so, for any information you are able to give u&

In your following discourse you make a flourish with what your
church hath in gospels, epistles, good books, anniversary observation^
and I know not what besidea But, sir, we discourse not about what
you have, but what you have not, nor will have, though God com-
mand you to have it, and threaten you for not having it You have
not the Scripture ordinarily in a kuaguage that they can understand
who, if they are the disciples of Christ, are bound to read, study, and
meditate in it continually; which are therefore hindered by you in
the discharge of their duty, whilst you " neither enter into tiie king-



Digitized by



Google



THE LA.TIN SERVICE. 461

dom of heaven yourselves, nor suffer them that would" Nay, you
have burned men and their Bibles together for attempting to dis-
charge that duty which God requireth of them, and wherein so much
of l^eir spiritual advantage is inwrapped. Neither have you the
entire worship of Qod in a tongue known to the people, whereby
they might join in it, and pray with tmderstanding, and be edified
by what they hear (which tiie apostle makes the end of all things
done or to be done in public assemblies) ; but are left to have their
brutish affections led up and down by dumb shows, postiu*es, and
gestures, whereunto the Scripture and antiquity are utter strangers.
These things you have not; and, which renders your condition so
much the worse, you refuse to have them, though you may, though
you are entreated by Qod and man to make use of them ; yea, where
great and populous nations under your power have humbly petitioned
you that by your leave and permission they might enjoy the Bible,
and that service of God which they could understand, you have
chosen rather to run all things into confusion, and to &11 upon them
with fire and sword, than to grant them their request

** ourvsB in terras anims, et oodestitiin inanes ! "

But you add, " Besides what you mention, what can promote your
salvation?" for say you, " What farther good may it do to read the
letter of St Paul's Epistles, to the Romans, for example, or Corin-
thians, wherein questions and cases and theological discourses are
treated, that vulgar people can neither understand nor are at all con-
cerned to know? And, I pray you, tell me ingenuously and without
heat, what more of good could accrue to any by the translated letter
of a book, whereof I will be bold to say that nine parts in ten con-
cern not my particular either to know or practise, than by the con-
ceived substance of God's will imto me, and my own duty towards
him?'' Sir, I shall deal with you without any blamable heat, yet
so as he deserves to be dealt withal who will not cease to " pervert
the right ways of the Lord" And, — 1. Who taught you to make
your apprehensions the measv/re of other men's faith and practice ?
If you know not of any thing needful to promote salvation but
what you reckon up in the usage of yom: church, hinder not them
that do. It is not so much your own practice as your imposition of
it on others that we are in the consideration of. Would it worth
suffice you to reject, as to your own interest^ the means appointed of
God for the furtherance of our salvation, and that you would not
compel others to join with you in the refusal of them ! Is it possible
that a man professing himself a divine and & priest of the Catholic
church, an instructor of the ignorant, an undertaker to persuade
whole nations to relinquish the way of religion wherein they are en-



Digitized by



Google



462 A YIKDICATION OF THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FIAT LUX.

gaged, to follow him in his ways that they have not known, should
profess that he '^ knows not of what use, unto the promotion of the
salvation of the souls of men, the use of the whole Scripture given by
inspiration of Qod is?'' Be advised not to impose these conoeptions
of your fancy and mind, as it seems unexercised in that heayenly
treasury, on those who have al^rlipta ytyufA¥a$fA$9a, '' senses exer-
dsed" therein, so as to be able to discern between good and evil If
no other reason can prevail with you, I hope experience may give
you such a despur of success as to cause you to surcease. % This
vtUgar people that you talk of (as the Pharisees did of them that were
willing to attend unto the preaching of Christy *0 ix^i oSro( o/i^
ytvuitrxoiv rhf vSjuav^ John viL 49; — '* This vulgar rout that know not
the law"), if they are Christians, they are such as to whom the epis-
tles were originally written, and for whose sakes they are presmred;
such as Christ hath redeemed and sanctified in his own blood, and
given the anointing unto, whereby they may know all things; and
are partakers of the promise that they " shall be taught of Qod.''
The gospel takes not away the outward differences and distmctions
that are, on other accounts, amongst the children of men; but in the
thmgs of the gospel itself there are none vulgar or common, nor as
such to be despised, but believers are ^' all one in Christ Jesus,"
Col. iiL 11; James iL 1~6. How it is now I know not^ but I am
sure that at the begmning of the preaching of the gospel, the poor
principally received it; and the greatest number of them that were
effectually called was of those whom you speak so contemptuously o(
as the apostle testifies, 1 Cor. L 26. And the same is made good m
all ancient eUyry. Neither are these vulgar people such ignoramuses
as you imagine, unless it be where you make and keep them such,
by detaining from them the means of knowledge, and who perish for
the want of it, as the prophet complained of old. I speak not d
them who continue willingly ignorant under the most effectual means
of light; but ot such as^ being really " bom of God," and becoming
thereby '^ a holy nation, a royal priesthood," as they are called, yea^
*' kings and priests unto Qod," do conscientiously attend unto his



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 56 of 67)