Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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commend and approve of what is so done, because it is a kind of
relinquishment of things grievous and tyrannical At the first pro-
posal few will judge these things to be sufficient, but will encourage j
themselves in an expectation of farther condescensions, and will be ;
ready to assure others that they will ensue; but yet, when they find
themselves defeated herein, they will take up the management of the
cause, and contend that this is enough at present for sober men, see-
ing no more can be attained But, in reality, this reconciliation will
prove a total defection from the protestant religion; for the churdi
of Rome neither will nor can part with any thing that shall change



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THE PBOTESTAin RELIGION. 551

its antichristiaa state and idolatrous worship. The whole of their
pretenfflon is but a decoy to get us into their power; where we shall
be made to understand both where we are and where we have been
also. And those which shall be most inclinable unto such a recon-
ciliation as i3 designed, unless they also become flagitious persecutors
of those whom they have left, as is the manner of most apostates,
will find their former fetults called over to the purpose, and such base
acknowledgments required of them as ingenuous persons would rather
choose to die than be brought unto. But although universal expe-
rience confirms this to be the certain and undoubted issue of a return
unto their power, fix)m which men are judged to have broken away
unjustly, whatever salvos seem to be provided against it; yet those
concerned cannot think it shall be so with them, but rather that they
shall be dearly embraced and highly promoted, if not for their return,
yet for their being early and sedulous therein. But if they find this
entertainment with them, who have every thing which they think
good, as conscience and religion, and every thing that is really evil,
as pride, ambition, and revenge, to oblige them unto the contrary, I
shall not be alone in being deceived. But this one consideration is
sufficient to cast out all thoughts of any reconciliation with the
church of Rome; for although they should never so earnestly desire
it, as that which would bring dominion, profit, advantage, and repu-
tation unto them, yet is it not in their power, continuing what they
are, to make any such concessions as shall alter their state, or once
touch the reasons of the Protestants' departure fix>m them. And
seeing what they suppose they may grant will not be upon a con-
viction of truth that such ought to be, as if before they had been in
a mistake, but only to comply with a present exigence for their ad-
vantage, it will be recalled whenever they judge it meet to take it
away again.

Upon the whole matter, the reconciliation, designed on the most
plausible terms that have ever yet been proposed, is nothing but a
hoodwinked defection to Rome, accumulated with a charge, on the
consciences of them who shall comply therewith, of the guilt of all
the miseries and blood of them by whom it will be refused.

But there are, on the other side, certain considerations that may
be laid in the balance against these dangers, or the fears of them as
unto the event; and I shall briefly mention them also. For, —

1. The honour of Christ himself seems to be engaged for the pre-
servation of the light and truth of the gospel where it hath been pro-
fessed. And so it is, undoubtedly, imless the sins and ingratitude of
the generality of them by whom it is professed do require that they
be dealt withal in his severity. In that case the glory and honour
of Christ are more engaged to remove and take away tiie blessing of



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652 THE 8TATB AND FATE OW

it from aaj place or people, than to put fiHrth his poWer for ib^ pre^
nervation and continuanoe. Now, althoi^ it muat be acknowledged
that the sins of these and oth^ protestant nations ha^e been of a
high provoking nature unto the eyes of his gloiy, yet it may be
hoped that they have not exceeded the bounds of his patience and
forbearance. And wheth^ it be so or no, there will be a speedy di»^
covery; for if, on the many intimations which he hath given theni
of his displeasure, his many calls to repentance mixed with threaten-
ings, they will now at last return unto him firom the evil of their
ways, and make their repentance evident by the fruits of it^ he wiU
undoubtedly continue his pres^ioe among them mod his care over
them.

But if, notmthstanding all that they hear, and feel, and fear at
present, notwithstanding all divine warnings and indications of his
displeasure, they will go on frowardly in their own ways, unto the
high dishonour of himself and his gospel, causing his name and ways
to be blasphemed among the idolatrous nations, the event must be
left, in the depths of infinite wisdom, with sovereign grace and mercy.

2. Notwithstanding all that profaneneas and wickedness of life
wherein multitudes are immersed who outwardly profess the protest-
ant religion, there is a remnant in the nations where it is professed
who manifest the power of it in their lives, and glorify Christ by their
profession and obedience unto all his commands, walking wortiiy of
the gospel in all holy conversation. Nor are this aoact confined to
any one party or peculiar way among them, but are found in the
whole body or community of the protestant {urofession. What in-
fluence these have, on many accounts, into the preservation of the
light of the gospel in the places, times, and nations wherein their lot
and portion is cast by divine Providence, is not here to be declared;
the Scripture will give a sufficient account of it

3. There is evidentiy at present a spirit of courage and Christian
magnanimity come upon many, whose other circumstances rend^
them considerable in the world, to do and suffer whatever they shall
lawfully be called unto for the defence of this protestant religioa
This also is from Qod ; and if his purpose were utterly to ruin that
interest, it is more suited unto former dispensations of his providence
in like cases to send .weakness, faintness, cowardice, and de^nd-
ency into the hearts of those concerned, than to give them a spirit
of courage and resolution for their duty. And hereunto, also, belongs
that revival of zeal for their religion and the concernments of it^
which hath of late been stirred up even in the body of the peofd^
taking occasion from the opposition made unto it, and the dangers
whereunto it hath been reduced. If these things are from Ckxl, as
they seem to be^ they will not be so easily run down as some imar



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THE PROTESTANT RELIGION. 553

^e; tar wliatever means he irill make use of, be they in themselves
nerer so weak and contemptible, they shall be effectual unto the end
whereunto they aire designed. And therefore there is no small in-
dication in them that it is in the counsel of the divine will as yet to
preserve the profession of the protestant religion, tliough it may be
sorely shakai.

4. The strange discoveries that have been made of the plots and
designs of the enemies of this religion, with the disappointment of
many of them, are also a pledge of the care of Ood over it Wise
and considering men knew wdl enough that they were at work,
with all diligence, craft, and industry, for the accomplishment of
what they had long designed, atkd which for some ages they had
been engaged in various contrivances to bring about; but what they
saw of the effects of their counsels they could not remove, and all
the specialties of their desgn were hid from them. The generality
of men, in the meantime, were in the highest security, — some en-
joying themselves in the advantages which they hold by the profes-
sion of religion, and others altogether regardless of these thinga But
in this state of things, the providence of Ood, making use of the un-
paralleled oonfidenoe and precipitation of the enemies themselves,
by strange and unexpected means, lays open their works of darkness,
awakens the nation unto the consideration c^ its danger, variously
disappoints their hellish plot^ and puts the minds of multitudes, it
may be millions^ into a posture of taking care about those concern-
ments of their religion which they had assuredly been surprised into
the loss of, had they continued in the security from which their ene-
mies awakened them. And it may be well supposed that nothing
but sin and the highest ingratitude can divert or stop the progress of
those streams of [novidenoe whose springs were undeserved mercy
and bounty. For ahhough the wisdom, justice, and honour of the
nation, in the actings of the king as supreme, of both houses of par-
liament, in the judges and their legal administrations, with the piety
of the church in the observation of a day of fasting and prayer with
respect hereunto, be every day exposed to scorn and contempt in the
papers and pamphlets of unknown persons, by deciying the plot and
vilifying the discoveries [discoverers?] of it (a practice never allowed,
never tolerated in any other well-ordered government, as that which
would tend to its dissolution), yet all sober men have sufficient evi-
dence of the hand of Qod in tiiese things to make them an argu-
ment of his watchful care over the protestant religion.

And unto all these things we may add the &tal miscarriages and
miserable ends of such apostates from the true religion as have not
been contented to ruin their own souls alone, but have been active
and instrumental, in their capacities, to draw or drive others into the



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£54 THE STATE AlH) FATE OF '

same perdition. Examples in this kind might be multiplied safB-
cient to stop this sort of persons in their career, if an open diaooveiy
of the pit whereinto they will precipitate themselves may have any
influence upon them.

Some few things may yet be added concerning the outward means
of the preservation of the protestant religion as unto its public pro-
fession (for the thing itself will be preserved in despite of the world),
which those concerned therein may do well to apply themselves unto ;
and I shall only name them at present

And the first is, fervent prayers to Almighty God that the princes
and potentates of the earth may have light to discern that their prin-
cipal interest in this world lies iir its preservation. And although
some reasons that may induce them hereunto may not seem of force
unto them, yet there is one that is imcontrollable; for where the pro-
testant religion is received, publicly professed, and established by law,
it cannot be changed without the extreme havoc and ruin of the
greatest and best part of their subjects in all their temporal conc^na
And this there is no doubt but that they are obliged, so &r as in
them lies, to prevent, as they will give an account mito Qod of the trust
reposed in them: for as things are stated in the world, as the designs
and interests of the parties at variance are formed, it is amadness to
suppose that any alteration can be made herein without these direM
effects; and if they should be covered for a season, they will break
forth afterwards with more rage and fiuy. But I refer this unto the
wisdom of them that are concerned.

It is also necessary heremito that all those who mncerely own this
religion, and make it the rule of their living unto God, in hopes of
the eternal enjoyment of him in another world, do depose the cona-
deration of the lesser differences amcmgst themselves, and unite in
one common design and interest to oppose the entrances and growth
of Popery among us. And it is a hsid thing to persuade rational
men that they are in earnest for its opposition and exclusion who are
not willing so to do.

But that whereon amongst ourselves the event of this contest doth
depend is the repentance and reformation of all them tbat profess
this religion, upon the divine calls and warnings which they have
received.

For a close of this discourse; if we may suppose, what we may justly
fear, namely, that the holy Qod, to punish the horrible sins and
ingratitude of the nations professing the protestant reli^on, should
suffer the profession of it by any of these means, or any other that he
shall think meet to use in his holy permission, to be extinguished for
a season, and remove the light of the gospel from these nations^ we
may yet conclude two things: —



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THE PROTESTANT RELIGION. 555

1. That it shall issue at last in the advantage of the church. Anti-
christ shall not be a final gainer in this contest; his success herein
will be the forerunner of his utter destructioa The healing of his
deadly wound will preserve his life but for a little whila Religion
shall be again restored in a more refined professioa There shall en-
sue hereon no new revelations, no new doctrines, no new Scriptures,
no new ordinances of worship; the substance of the protestant doc-
trine, religion, and worship ^lall be preserved, restored, beautified, in
themselves and in their power, in them by whom they shall be pro-
fessed; the demonstration whereof shall be given elsewhera

2. In the meantime, to suffer for it, even unto death, is the most
glorious cause wherein we can be engaged, and wherein we shall be
undoubtedly victorious. It is no less glorious in the sight of Gk>d, no
less acceptable with him, to suffer in giving testimony agtdnst the
abominations of the apostate, antichristian church-state, than to suffer
for the gospel itself in opposition to idolatrous Paganism*



END OF VOL XIV;



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