Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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with him, all Christians in all ages did believe and expect that it
should come, until its real coming, in a way and maimer unexpected,
confounded their apprehensions about it

2. Their second principle as Protestants was, that this ddectmi
imd antichristian church-state, so plainly foretold by the Holy Qhoat
in the Scriptures, was openly and visibly accomplished in the dnnvk
of Home, with the nations that had sutgected themselves unto the
yoke thereol Therein th^ found and saw all tisat tyranny and
oppression, all that pride and self-exaltation above every thing that
hath the name of God upon it, all that idolatry and fijse worsiBp, all
that departure from the faith of the gospel, all diat contonrpt of
evangelical obedience, which were foretold to come in under and
constitute the fatal apostasy.

3. Hereon their third principle was, that as they valued the glory
of Qod, the honour of Christ and the gospel, their own salvation, and
the good of the souls of others, they were obliged to forsake and re-
nounce all communion with that apostate church, though tliey saw
that their so doing would cost many of them their dearedt Uood or

4 They were convinced, hereon, that it was their duly publicly to
protest against all those abominations, to reform themselves, as unto
faith, worship, and conversation, according unto the rules before laid
down^ as those that are fundamental unto Christian religion.


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These were the principles whereon' Christalai religiob, as It ispro-
tedtioit, was re-introduced into the itrorld, after it had been not ooly
ebecared, bnt almoet ezldaded out of i% as unto its public profession.
And these principles are aivoweid by all tnte Protestants as "those
whereon they are ready at all times to put their cause and professibn
on the trial

The way whereby the 'profession of tiiis protestant religion was
introduced on these principles, and made public in the world, under
the antichristian apostasy, was the same whereby Christian religi<m
entered the world under Paganism, — ^namely, by the prayers, preach*^
ing, writings, sufferings, and hoUness of life of them who embraced
it, and were called to promote it And herein their sufferings, for
the number of them that suffered, and variety of all cruel prepara^
tions of death, are inexpressibla It is capable of a full demonstra-
tion, that those who were slain by the ^ord and otherwise destroyed
foT their testimony unto Christ and the gospel, in opposition unto the
papal apostasy and idolatry, did far exceed the number of them that
suffered for the Christian religion in all the pagan persecutions of old
A plant so soaked and wsitered with the blood of the martyrs will not
be so easily plucked up as some imagine. Nay, it is probable it will
not go out without more blood (of sUfiferers, I mean) than it was in-
troduced by; which yet no man knows how to conceive or express.

But it had no sodner fixed its profesdon in some nations, but it ivns
loaden with all manner of reproaches, diarged with all the evils diat
fell out in the world after its entrance, and, by all sorts of arts and
pretences, rendered suspected and hateM imto princes and potentatea
Whatever is evil in ot unto mankind, eq)eoiaIly unto the interest of
great men, was with great noise and clamour diarged on it; for so
it was in the first entrance of ihe Christian religion under Paganism.
There was neither plague, nor famine, nor earthquake, nor inundation
of water, nor war, nor iuvasicni by enemies, but all was charged on
that new religion. And the reason hereof was, not only the hatred
of the truth through the love of sin and unrighteousness, and an in-
grafted power of superstition through blind devotion, but prindpally
because, for a long tract of time, the whole of the profession of reli-
gion had been suited unto the secular interests of men, supplying
them, under various pretences, with power, domination, territcMies,
titles, revenues, wealth, ease, grandeur, and honour, with an insinua*>
tion into and power over the consciences of all sorts of persons; — a
thing very desirable to men of corrupt minds, and easily turned into
an engine unto very bad and pernicious enda That the whole com-
plex and all its parts, in their various motious and operations, of the
Christian religion in the Papacy, is framed and fitted unto these
ends, so as to ^'ve satisfieu^tion tmto aU corrupt and ambitious desires.

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in men, k palpable unto all that are not wilfully blind. Bat this
protestant religion, so introduced, stated the interest of Christian re-
ligion in a way and design utterly inconsistent herewith, and destmo-
tive of it; and this was to give all gloiy and honour to Qod and
Christ alone, and to teach the guides of the church to be humUe,
holy, zealous, ensamples of the flock, utterly renouncing all secular
power and domination, with territories, titles, and great revalues on
the account of their office and the dischaige of it And was it any
wcmder that those who were in possession of three parts of the power
and a third part of the revenue of most nations in Europe, ^ould
look on iina principle as the worst of devilsy and so represent it as to
frighten above half the monaichs of these nations from (Mice looking
steadily upon it^ whereby they might have easily discovered the cheat
that was put up<Hi them? And thus was it with the first plautexB (rf
Christian religion with respect unto the Pagans^ Acts six. 2Z

But herein many labour to make a difference between the intro-
duction of religion under Paganism, and the reformation of it under
Antichristianism: for they say that the first professors of Christian
religion for three hundred years endured their persecutions with all
patience, nev^ once stirring up either wars or commotions in the
defence of their profession; — ^but since, upon and after the introduc-
tion of protestant religion, there have been many tumults and dis-
orders, many popular commotions and wars, which have been caused
thereby. For if all the professors of it had quietly suffered themselves
to have been killed witli the sword, ot hanged, or burned, ortcMrtured
to death in the Inquisition, or starved in dungeons (and more was
not required of them), there would have been no sudi wars about
religion in the world; for thek enemies intended nothing but to de-
stroy them in peace and quietness, without the least disturbaiM^e unto
the dvil rule among men.

I say, this difference did not arise from any difference in the leli-
gion of the one and the other, nor of the principles of those by whom
they were professed; but it hath proceeded from external causes
and circumstances that were greatly different between the i^imitive
Christians and the Protestants in some places and nationa Fcht the
primitive Christians, whose story we have, were all of them placed
in and subject unto one empire. In that whole empire, and all the
provinces of it^ there was not one law, custom, or usage, giving the
least countenance unto right of protection of liberty. There was
not one prince, ruler, senate, governor, that bad the least pretence
of l^al right to protect or defend them in their profession against
the will and law of the emperor or empire. The outward ri^ts of
religion were no way aUied in any thing unto the civil rights of men.
However numerous^ therefore, tiie Christians were in those days^

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tKey were all absolutely private persons, without pretence of law or
right to defend themselves: in which state of things it is the un-
doubted principle of all Protestants^ that where men are persecuted
merely on the account of religion, without relation unto the civil
rights and liberties of mankind, their duty is patiently to suffer with-
out the least resistanca But it hath been otherwise upon the Re-
formation and since; for the protection and preservation of religion
was taken up by sundry potentates, free princes, and cities, who
had a legal right and power to protect themselves and their subjects
in the profession of it It hath been, and is at this day, incorporated
into the laws, rights^ and interests of sundry nations; which ought to
be defended. And no instance can be given of any people defend-
ing themselves in the profession of the protestant religion by arms,
but where, together with their religion, their enemies did design and
endeavour to destroy those rightSy liberties, and privileges, which not
only the light of nature, but the laws and customs of their several
countries, did secure unto them as a part of their birth-right inheri-
tance. And in some places, though the name of religion hath been
much used on the one side and the other, yet it hath been neither
the cause nor occasion of the wars and troubles that have been in
them; and this makes their case utterly different from that of the
primitive Christians.

This religion being thus re-instated in many nations^ it brought
forth fruit in them; even as the gospel did at its first preaching in
the places whereinto it came, CoL i 6.

It brought forth fruit in them by whom it was received, such as is
the proper fruit of religion, — ^namely, it did so in light, knowledge,
truth, in holiness, in the real conversion of multitudes unto Qod, in
good works, in the spiritual comfort of believers in life and death,
with all other fruits of righteousness which are to the praise of God.
Thereby, also, was the worship of God vindicated from idolatry and
superstition, and restored in many places unto its primitive simplicity
and purity.

It brought, also, no small advantage even unto those nations, both
princes and their subjects^ by whom the profession thereof was never
received, as Christian religion also did of old imto the pagan world ; for
hereby it is that the kings and potentates of Christendom, even those
of the Boman profession^ have much eased themselves of that intole-
rable yoke ci bondage that was on them unto the pope's pretended
power and his impositiona For whilst all nations were in subjection
to him, it was at their utmost hazard that any one king or state
should contend with him about any of his demands or assumptions:
for he could stir up what nation he pleased, and give them sufficient
encouragement to avenge hi^ quarrels on rebellious princes; which he

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also did in instilBuioes iimumeraUe. BUt since to' many natioiis fell
off from all dependence on him and sabjection ix> him, by the ligfat
and profession of ihe protestaalt rdigi(m, thfere is a balance of ])ower
against him, and an awe upon him in his piBsutnptioDS, lest he dKwld
be dealt "withal by others in the like maimer. Had these w^tem
parts of the wozld ooAtinued mider a superstitbos sense of a fealty
and obedience in all things due to the pope, «8 diey were before ti^
Beformation, the king of France hhnself should not so eaoly have
rqected his personal infallibility and jmisdiction' as he seems to bore
done. But he hath now no way left to avenge himself bat assasaoA^
tions; whiich at this, time may prove of "very evil ocmsequence unto
himseE Wherefore, the princes of Europe, as well those by whosi
the protestant religion is not eknbraced, yea^ is opposed and pene-
Cttt^, as those by whom it is received, seem not ^ sensible of the
benefit and adTantage which doth accrue' unto them all thereby; for
from thence alone it is, with tiie interest and power which it haft
obtained in the world, that they are &eed in their minds and inibek
rule fix>m as base a servitude and bondage as ^fver persons und^
their denomination were subject imto.

The common people, also, who yet continue in Ihe communion of
the papal church have received no small advantage by that e^
tual light which shines in the world from the principles of tUfiidi*
gion, even where it is not reiceived; for, from the fear of the dis-
coveries to be made by it, hath a curb been put upcm the "flagitioos
lives of the priests and friars, wherewith all places were defiled;
shame, also, with necessity, having stirred ihdm up to deliver thon-
selves in some measure from their old stupid ignorance. Many T^
trenchments have been made, also, in some of the most gross parts of

> Louis XIY. bad sereral disputw with tbe pt>|»l oourt The main ground of qaunl
at this time was the determination of Innocent XL to in^st upon bis rights in tbe
matter of the Begale. This was a rojal priyHege, according to which, on the demis (^
a bishop in certain French sees, the king of France iras entitled to collect waAaj^
the rcTenues, and to act in some req)ect3 as bishop, till a new bishop was t^qpoistod.
It was the aim of Louis to extend this right to all sees in his dominions, but Insooent
would sufier no abatement on the ancient prerogatite of the dinrdL A fierce coDtert
ensued, in which pontifical epistles were met with royal miandates. Louis prooeeded
to induct into office bishops whose nomination the pope had refiised to sanction, and,
when the thunders of the Vatican had been put in requisition to oyerawe him, Aim-
mened a conTentlon of bishops in 1682, at which four proportions were adopted,-4)ie
first limiting the supremapy of the pope to spiritual matters ; the second representing
according to the council of Constance, the authority of the pope to be subordinate to a
general council ; the third affirming the validity of the canons and usages of the Gal-
ilean church ; and the last maintaining the assent of the church to Iw requisite befon
the decision of the pope, eyen on matters of faith, could be receiyed as yalid. These
propositions were registered in the Parliament of Paris, and ordained to be read tnm
year to year in the schools, and to be subscribed by all professors in unirei^tlA
Kew disputes arose in regard to certain immunities poseesscd by the French amba»d»
at Rome, and the pontificate of Innocent closed without any reconciliation being effi!ct«d
between the Boman see and the French oourt. — ^Sd.

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idolatiy, that were for many ages in general practice nmong thetn.
And tliey are beieby, also, in some gooa measm^, freed from the
terror of evil Bjiirits wherewith they were oontinnsdly lumnted; for
before the Reformation, possefisions, af^ioritions, sprites, ghosts, fiends,
with silly miracles about them, filled all places, and were a great
amnoyancetuito die common peopla S(»newhat there was, no doubt,
of the juggling of priests in these things, and somewhat of the agency
of the devil; each of them making use of the other to fbrther their own
designs. But upon the first preaching of the goq>el there was an
abatement made of these things in all places; which hath gone on
until they are everywhere grown the matter of scorn and contempt '

This religion being thus planted, and producing these effects, the
house of Austria^ in both the brandies of it, the imperial and the
regal, espoused the antidiristian interest and quarrel against it; and
for eighty years or thereabouts endeavoured, by all wajrs of force and
cruelty, its utter extirpation. What immense treasures of wealth
they have spent and wasted, what an ocean of blood they have shed,
both of their own subjects and others^ in the pursuit of this design,
cannot be well conceived But what hath be^ tiie issueof all their
undertakings to this end? They have so &r broken themselves and
their power in their obstinate pursuit of them, that those who not
long since thought of nothing less than a unrversal monarchy, are
forced to seek unto protestant states and nations to preserve them
firom immediate ruin. So vain, foolish, and fiiiitless, for the most part^
are the deep coimsels and projections of men, so destructive and ruin-
ous unto themselves in the issue, when their desires and designs are
enlarged beyond the bounds which right and equity have fixed unto
them ; especially will they be so when they are found fighting against
Gkxl and his interest in the world. And if the same design be now
pursued by another, it will in time come unto the same catastrophe.

I shall not Bpeak any thing of the present state of this protestant
religion as unto its political interests in the world. It is in general
known to most, and hath been particularly inquired into by many.
I shall only briefly consider something of its weakness, its danger,
and what is like to be the issue of it, as unto its public profession, in
the world; which are the subjects of many men's daily converse.

The political weakness of the protestant religion ariseth solely
from the divisions that are among them by whom it is professed:
and these are of two sorts; — ^first, Such as are of a civil nature,
amongst princes and states; and, secondly, Such as are religious,
among divines and churches. As unto the first of these, some good
men, who value religion above all their earthly concerns, measuring
other men, even princes, who profess religion, by themselves, have
been ahnost astonkhed that thaie is not such a thing as ekprotestant

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interest so prevalent amongst them as to subordinate all pariictilaf
contests and designings wito itsel£ But whereas there was formedj
an appearance of some sudi thing, which had no small influence on
public coimsels, and produced some good, useful effects, at pres^it it
seems to be beyond hopes of a revival, and is- of little consideration
in the world. Could such a thing be expected,, that the nations and
the powers of them which publicly profess the protestant religioii
should avow the preservation and protection of it to be their prin-
cipal interest, and regulate their counsels accordingly, giving this
the pre-eminence in all things, their adversaries would be content to
dwell quietly at home, without offering much at their disturbance.
But these Uunga are not of my present consideration. Nor do I think
that any sort of men shall have the gloiy of preserving the int^^est
of Christ in the world; he will do it himself.

Again: tiie rdigious differences that are amongst them as churches
do weaken the political interest of Protestants. They have done so
fix>m the very b^inning of the Beformation. And when the first
differences among them were in some measure digested and brought
unto some tolerable composure, about sixty years ago,, there was an
inroad made on the doctrine that had been received among the re-
formed churches by novel opinions, which hath grown unto this day,
to the great weakening of the whole interest; and, as far as I can
see, it is in vain to dissuade men from contending about thar small
allotments in the house, or, it may be, but some supposed appurten*
ances of them, whilst others are visibly digging at the foundation^
to oppress them all with the fsdl of the whole feibria In these things
lies the sole outward political weakness of the protestant interest in
the world, whose direfril effects Cod alone can prevent

We may hereon inquire, what at present is like to be the issue
and event of this protestant religion, as* unto its public profession in
the world; for the adversaries of it do every day discover, noi<»Jy
their desires and endeavours for its extirpation, but their expecta*
tions also of its speedy ruin. They suppose the time is come when
that heresy, as they caJl it, which hath so long infested the northern
nations, shall, by thdr arts, contrivances, and power, be utterly
rooted out And it is known that those discoveries of their minds
and hopes herein, which have occasionally come unto light amongst
us, are but indications of those counsels and combinations, in other
places and among other persons, whereby their hopes, are to be ac-
complished. And if it were unto our present purpose, much might
be offered to manifest that those consultations and contrivances^
which are coostant in the managers of the papal interest, both at
Borne and elsewhere, for the utter extirpation of the protestant re-
ligion, have been ordered, disposed, and cast into such methods, as

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not only to stir up all means of expedition, but also with respect
xmto a speedy, immediate execution.

We shall, therefore, briefly inquire by what way and means this
may be effected, or what is like to give this design an accomplish-
ment, giving eveiy thii^ its due weight and consideration; for what
the event will be, God only knows.

The ruin of the protestant religion, as unto its public profession,
must be either by a general defection from it, or by a force upon it,
or by a reconciliation and coalescency with the Roman church.

1. This DEFECTION must be either of the princes, or of the dergy^
or of the people, or of them all in conjunction.

(L) Of the first, or the defection of princes unto the Papacy, we have
had some instances in the last age, but scarce of any who have been
absolutely sovereign or supreme; unless it be of one who, together
with her religion, wisely and honestly left her crown. But I suppose
there Heth here no great danger or fear as to kings, or such as on
whose authority the profession of religion in their dominions doth
much depend; for they are too wise to be weary of their present
station and liberty. Who can suppose that any of them would be
willing to stand at the gates of the pope's palace barefoot, for a night
imd a day, and be disciplined to boot, as it was with one of the
greatest kmgs of England ? or to hold the pope's stirrup whilst he
mounted his horse, and be rebuked for want of breeding in holding
it on the wrong side ? or would they lie on the groimd, and have their
necks trod upon by the pope, whidi a courageous emperor was forced
to submit unto ? or have their crowns kicked from their heads by the
foot of a legate ? or be assassinated for not promoting the papal in-
terest in the way and mode of them concerned^ as it was with two a
kings of France ?

It will be said that these things are past and gone; the popes have
now no such power as formerly; and the kings that are of the Boman
church do live as free from impositions on them by the pretendons
of papal power as any kings on the earth. But supposing such a
change, and that the king of France, as great as he is, do find in the
issue that there is such a change, yet if we do not know the reasons
of it, they da Is it because the maintainors of the Papacy have
changed their principles and opinions in this matter ? Is it that they
have disclaimed the power and authority which they exercised in
former ages ? Is it from any abatement of the papal omnipotency
in their judgment ? Do they think that the popes had not right to
do what they did in those days, or that they have not yet right to do
the liko again ? It is none of these, nor any reason of this sort, that
is the cause of the pretended change. The true and only reason of
jt is the balancing of their power by the protestant interest So

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54t XHB fftAm AND FAX! QK

maoy kiiig% panoet^ potentate^ atatee^ and nabioDa^ bong xMb 00%
fidlen off fix^m that blind obedienoe and sulgeotuuLwlieraa thej w«bi
miivenaUy inthralled onto them ia tboae daya^ but ready to opfood
them in aU. their attempts to.exeoote their: poetendad powar^ they am
fbroed lor aaeaaoa to lowac their 8ail% and to pludk, in thoee honit
wherewith formerly they pushed kings and pnnoes. unto/ their ruia
Should, tbere be a msUnatioaof their, power and inteaoestin the mindB
of meo^ which would ensue oathe extirpation of the proAeBtant Ttt
ligi(»V the greatest kings of Europe should quickly find themaelTsi
yoked and ovennatohed both in their own dominjops^and: by such as
will be ready to execute their designa And.Qnthissuiqpodtion,thagr
will CDDsa all ezperienfie of former, ages iC h&ying weathered their
difficulties and conquered their opposem».they he not mcore haaghftj
and seomie m theexecution of their power and pt^bsoBMledi offioe than
ever they woie b^ra^

Whatever delusion^ thenefiMfi, may befiall sovereign pnnoes in tfaeir
personal capacities^ none of them can be so foisalb^ oC common m^
derstanding as not to.see that by a defection unto the Fapaoy, thej
bring a bondage on themselves and their subjects^ from which Giod
by his providence, thxough the light and troth of the protestanixcir
ligion, had set them free. And. it is certain enough, that, there, ia at
this day so much rational light the world, thai even those
who, on various inducements^ may comply withi any of them in the

Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 65 of 67)