Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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self-denial, this consideration ought to have no place. What, then,
was done by emperors and philosophers of old, or by the later school-
men on this account, we are little concerned in. Nor have I either
desire or design to vellicate any thing spoken by our author that
may have an indifferent interpretation put upon it, and be separated
from the end which he principally pursuea As there is but very
little spoken in this paragraph directly tending to the whole end
aimed at, so there are but three things that will any way serve to
leaven the mind of his reader, that he may be prepared to be moulded
■ into the form he hath fancied to cast him into; which is the work of
all these previous harangues.

The first is his insinuation that the ^ reformation of religion is a
thing pretended by emulous plebeians, not able to hope for that super-
visorship in religion which they see intrusted with others." How
unserviceable this is unto his design, as applied to the church of Eng-
land, all men know: for, setting aside the consideration of the influ-
ence of sovereign royal authority, the first reformers amongst us were
persons who, as they enjoyed the right of reputation for the excellen-
cies of learning and wisdom, so also were they fixed in those places
and conditions in the church which no reformation could possibly
advance them above; and the attempt whereof cost them not only
their dignities, but their lives also. Neither were Hezekiah, Josiah,
nor Ezra of old, "emulous plebeians," whose lasting glory and renown
arose from their reformation of rehgion. They who fancy men in all
great undertakings to be steered by desire of applause and honour,
are exceeding incompetent judges of those actions which zeal for the
glory of God, love to the truth, sense of their duty to the Lord Jesus
Christ, and compassion for the souls of others, do lead men unto, and
1 lliia numeration refers to the chapter in *< Fiat Lux," which Dr Owen is refuting.



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ENTITZ^D FIAT LITX. '49

gtiide thett in; and fiudi will the last dajr manifest 'tli^ Reffoormtttion
traduoed to have been.

The 'second is a gaUaftt commendation xxf tiie ii^Dtnity, <$haiity,
candour, and sublime soienoe of the schoolmen. I confess they have
deserved good words at his bands. These «to the men who, oat of
a mixture of philosophy, traditions, and Scripture, ^ ^somipled and
perverted, have faanmiered tiiat fidtib whicdi was afterward confirmed
under so many anathemas at Trent So that nptm tkie matter he is
beholden to th^n for Ins religion; which I find he loives, and hath
therefore reason to be thankfrd to its contriverB. Eor my part, I am
as &r from envying them their commendsttidn las I inre reason to
be; which, I am sure, is iar enough. But yet before w« admit iias
testimony, handover head, Icould wishbe would take vaccAuse to stop
the mouths of some of his own chnrGb, and those no ittuJl ones neither,
who ha^re declared tbem to the world to be)a pack of Bgrej^us 0d-
phisterS)— 4ieither good philosophers nor any divines sft^all; aoen who
seem not to have had the least reverenoe of God, nor mnoh Tegard
to the truth in any of their disputatiens, but wera wMly infloenced
hy a vain reputation of mifoti%y tlemre of oonqnedt^ of leading and
:denominating parties, and that in a barbarovs 4Rienoe, barbaroudy
^spressed, until they had driven all learning vnd divinity almost out
of the world. But I will not contend 'abont liiese fiitiiers of conten-
tion: let e^ety man esteem of them €« he seems good.

There is the same reiqiect in that hitter reflection which ke makes
ion those who Imivo thiaiMged differences in i^e9igi(A in 1^ last age;
the third thii^ observable That th^ are the writors and wiitings
that have been published against liie i^Bifwcywhich faeintends, he doth
more than intimate. Their disputes, he t^ us> ^am managed with
so much unseemly beiiaviour, sooh immannedy ^zpresMiis^ tbat dk-
creet sobnety cannot but loathe and abhor to read tiiem;'' with very
■tmch more to this purpose. I shall sot much labdor to persciade
men not to believe what be says in tins matter; bt I knew fbll well
that he believes it ttot hilMself He hath seen too many IVetestant
bookS) I suppose, to think this censure wiU suit them all This was
meet to be q)oiLen for die advantage >of the Gadicdiccaase:^ what
there hath been of real offence in tins kind amongst «b we may say,
*^ Uiacos intia xmuros peccatur et extea;"' — ^^BomaniBts aire mners as
well as <4JMrft And I suppose himself knows that the reviling and
'defamations used by some of his party are not to be pandleled in any
writings of mankind at this day extMit

AboiM; the appellations he shall tiiink meet to make wse of in re^
ference to the persons at varianoe, we will not contend widi him;
only I desire to let him know that the reproach of Galilean from the
Pagans, which he appropriates to the Papists^ was worn out of the

VOL XIV. 4



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50 ANDCADVEBSIONS ON A TREATISE

world before that Popery which he pleads (or came into it As Bo*
man Catholics never-tasted of the sufferings wherewith that reproach
was attended, so they have no special right to the honour that is in
its remembranca As to the sport he is pleased to make with his
countrymen, in the close of this paragraph, about losing their wits in
religious contests, with the evils thence ensuing, I shall no farther
reflect upon [it], but once more to mind the reader, that the many
words he is pleased to use in the exaggerating the evils of managing
diOferences in religion vdth animosities and tumults, so, seemingly, to
persuade men to moderation and peace, I shall wholly pass by, as
having discovered that that is not his business, nor, consequently, at
present mina

It is well observed by him, in his second paragraph, that most of
the great contests in the world about perishing things proceed from
the unmortified lusts of men. The Scripture abounds in testimonies
given hereunto: St James expressly, '^ From whence come wars and
fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that
war in your members? Te lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to
have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not,'' chap,
iv. 1, 2. Men's lusts put them on endless irregularities, in tmbounded
idesires, and foolish, sinful enterprises, for their satisfaction. Neither
13 Satan, the old enemy of the welfare of mankind, wanting to excite,
provoke, and stir up these lusts, by mixing himself with them in his
temptations, thrusting them on, and entangling them in their pur-
suit As to the contests about religion, — ^which, I know not with what
mind or intention, he terms an " empty, airy business, a ghostly fight,
a skirmish of shadows or horsemen in the douds," — ^he knows not what
principle, cause, or source to ascribe them unta That which he is
most inclinable unto is, " That there is something invisible, above
man, stronger and more politic than he, that doth this contumely to
mankind, that casts in these apples of contention amongst us, that
hisses us to war and battle, as waggish boys do dogs in the street"
That which is intended in these words, and simdry others of the like
quality that follow, is, that this ariseth from the enticements and
impulsions of tiie devil And none can doubt but that, in these
works of darkness, the prince of darkness hath a great hand. The
Scripture alao assures us, that as the scorpions which vexed the world
issued out of the bottomless pit, so also that these unclean spirits
ido stir up the powers of the earth to make opposition unto the
truth of tibe gospel and rdi^on of Jesus Christ. But yet neither
idoth this hinder but that even these religious feuds and miscarriages
•also proceed principally fiom the ignorance, darkness, and lusts of
mea In them lies the true cause of all dissensions in and about the
jthings of God. The best know but in part; and the most love dark-



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ENTITLED FLLT LUX. 61

ness more than ligbt, because their works are eviL A vain conver-
sation received by tradition from men's fatbers, witb inveterate pre-
judices, love of tbe world, and tbe customs tbereof, do all belp on
tbis sad work, wberein so many are employed. Tbat some preacb tbe
gospel of God iv ToXXjD ayww, — ^witb all their strength, in much con-
tention, — ''and contend earnestly for tbe faith once delivered unto tbe
saints," as it is their duty, so it is no cause, but only an accidental
occasion, of differences amongst men« That the invisible substances
our author talks of should be able to sport themselves with us as
children do with dogs in the street, and that with the like impulse
from them as dogs from these we should rush into our contentions,
might pass for a pretty notion, but only that it overthrows all religion
in the world, and the whole nature of man. There is evil enough
in corrupted nature to produce all these evils, which are declaimed
against to the end of this section, were there no demons to excite
men unto them. The adventitious impressions from them, by temp-
tations and suggestions, doubtless promote them, and make men
precipitate above their natural tempers in theu' productions; but the
principal cause of all our evils is still to be looked for at home, — »

** Neo te qunsiyeris extra." .

Sect ill p. 84. In the next section of this chapter, whereunto he
prefixes " Nullity of Title," he pursues the persuasive unto peace,
moderation, charity, and quietness in our several persuasions, with so
many reasonings and good words, that a man would almost think
that he began to be in good earnest, and that those were the things
which he intended for their own sakes to promota I presume it
cannot but at the first view seem strange to some, to find a man of
the Roman party so ingeniously arguing against the imposition of
our senses in religion magisterially, and with violence one upon the
other: it being notoriously known to all the world that they are, if
not the only, yet the greatest imposers on the minds and consciences
of men that ever lived on the earth; and which work they cease
not the prosecution of, where they have power, imtil they come to
fire and fagot I dare say there is not any strength in any of his
queries, collections, and arguings, but an indifferent man would think
it, at the first sight, to be pointed agamst the Roman interest and
practice; for what have they been doing for some ages past, but,
under a pretence of charity to the souls of men, endeavouring to per-
suade them to their opinions and worship, or to impose them on them
whether they will or no? But let old things pass; it is well if now,
at last, they begin to be otherwise minded. What, then, if we should
take this gentleman at his word and cry, " A match I let us strive
and contend no more. Keep you your religion at Rome to yourselves,



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52 ANTMADVERSIONS OK A TREATISE

aad we will do as well as we can with ouis in England: we will
trouble you no more about yours; nor, pray, do not you meddle with
us or ours. Let us pray for one another, wait on God for light and
direction, it being told us, that *if any one be otherwise minded'
(than according to the truth), ^ God shall reveal that unto him.' Let
us all strive to promote godliness, obedience to the commands of
Chri^, good woiis, and peace in the world ; but for this contending
about opinions, or endeavouring to impose our several persuasions
upon one another, let us give it quite over?" I fear he would scarcely
dose with us, and so wind up all our differences upon the bottom of
his own proposals; especiaJty if this law should extend itself to all
other nations equally concerned with England. He would quickly
tell us that this is our mistake; he intended not Boman Catholics,
«nd the differences we have with them, in this discourse. It is Protes-
tants — Presbyterians, IiidependenlB, Anabaptists, Quakers — ^that he
deals withal, and them only; and that upon this ground, that none of
them have any title or pretence of reason to impose on one another,
«Qad so ought to be quiet, and, let one another alone in matters of
religion: but for tiiie Boman CathoUcs, they are not concerned at all
in this harangue, having a sufficient title to impose upon them all.
Now, truly, if this be all, I know not what we have to thank you for,
" Tantumne est dtii tibi abs re tua, aliena ut cures, eaque quae ad te
fiihil attinent?" There are wise and learned men in England who
ore concerned in our differences, and do labour to compose them or
suppress them. That this gentleman should come and justle them
«fiide, and impose himself an umpire upon us, without our choice or
desire, in matters that belong not unto him, how charitable it may
seem to be I know not, but it is scaredy civil Would he would be
persuaded to go home and try his remedies upon the distempers of
his own family, before he confidently vend them to us. I know he
has no salves iJx)ut him to heal divensiti^ ol opinions, that he can
write " probatum est" upon, from his Roman church. If he have, he
is the most uncharitable man in the world, to leave them at home
brawling aaoid togetha: by the ears, to seek out practice where he is
neiAer desired nor welcome, when he comes without invitation. I
confess I was afraid, at the beginning of the section, that I should be
JoFced to diaAge the title before I came to the end, and write over
it, " Desinit in pisoem." The sum of this whole paragmph is, that
all sorts of Protestants, and odi€^ here in England, do ridiculously
contend about their several persuasions in religion, and put trouble
on one another on that account, whereas it is the pope only that
hath title and right to prescribe a religion unto us all; which is not,
to me, unlike the fancy of the poor man in bedlam, who smiled with
great contentment at their folly who imagined themselves either



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX 53*

Queen Elizabetib or King James^ seeisg he hiinself waB King Henry
the EightL But seeing that is the business in hand, let us see what
is this title that the pope hath, which Protestants can lay no claim
unto. It is founded on that ot the apostle to the Connthians, "* Did
the word of God come forth from you, or came it onto you only?^'
This is pretended the only rule to determine with whom the pre*
eminence in religion doth remain. ^ Now the word came not out
originally from Protestants or Puritans, nor came it to them alone;
so that they have no reason to be imposing their conceptions on (me
another, or on others that differ frx>m them."" But our author seems
here to have fallen upon a great misadventure; there is not, as I
know of, any one single text of Scripture that doth more fatally cut
the throat of penpal pret^isioos than this that he hath stumbled (m.
It is known that the pope and his adherents claim a pre-emin^xce^
in religion, to be the sole judges of all its, concemm^tSt and the
imposers of it on all the world. What men receive from them„
that ia truth; what they are any oth^wise instructed in, it is all
false and naught On this pret^ice it is that this gentleman pleads
nullity of title amongst us as to all our contests; though we know
that truth carries its title with it, in whose hands soever it be found.
Give me leave, then, to make sa bold (at least at this distance) as to-
ask the pope and his adherents, " An a vobis verbum Dei processit,
an ad vos solos perv^t?" — " Did the gospel first come from you, or
only unto you," that you thus exalt yourselves above your brethren
all the world over? Do we not know by whom it first came to you,
and from whom? Did it not come to very many parts of the world
before you? to the whole world as well as to you? Why do you thea
boast yourselves as though you had been the first revealers of the
gospel, cor that it had come unto you in a way or mcy^ner pecuHarand
distinct from that by which it came to other places? Would you
niake us believe that Christ preached at Home, or suffered or rose
from the dead there, or gave the Holy Ghost first to tiie apostles
there, or first there founded his church, or gave order for the empal-
ing it there when it was built? Would we never so fain, we cannot
believe such prodigious fobles. To what purpose, then, do you talk
of title to impose your conceits in religion upon us? Did the gospel
first come forth from yon, or came it unto you only? Will not Bome,
notwithstanding its seven hills, be laid in a level with the rest of the
world, by virtue of this rule? The truth is, as to the oral dispensj^-
tion of the gospel, it came forth from Jerusalem, by the personal
ministry of the apostles; and came equally t^ all the world. That
spring being long since dried up, it now comes forth to all from the
written word; and unto them who receive it in its power and truth
doth it come> and unto no other. What may fEurther be thought-



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6i ANIMADVERSIONS ON A TREATISE!

necessary to be discussed, as to the matter of fact, in reference to
this rule, the reader may find handled under that consideration of
the first supposition which our author builds his discourse upon.

Sect iv. p. 48. " Heats and Resolution" is the title of this sec-
tion ; in which, if our author be found blameless, his charge on others
will be the more significant: the impartial reader, that will not be
imposed on by smooth words, will easily know what to guess of his
temper. In the meantime, though we think it is good to be well
resolved in the things that we are to believe and practise in the wor*
ship of God, yet all irregular and irrational heats, in the prosecution
or maintenance of men's different conceptions and apprehensions in
religion, we desire sincerely to avoid and explode. Nor is it amiss
that, to further our moderation, we be minded of the temper of the
Pagans, who, in their opinion-wars (we are told), used no other wea-
pons but only of pen and speech; for our author seems to have for-
gotten, not only innumerable other instances to the contrary, but also
the renowned battle between Ombi and Tentyra. But this forget-
fulness was needful, to aggravate the charge on Christians that are
not Romanists, for their heat, fury, and fightings, for the promotion
of their opinions; as being in this so much the worse than Pagans,
who in religion used another manner of moderation. And who, I
pray, is it that manageth this charge? Whence comes this dove with
an olive-branch, this orator of peace? If we may guess from whence
he came by seeing whither he is going, we must say that it was from
Roma This is their plea^ this the persuasion of men of the Roman
interest, this their charge on Protestants: to this height the confi-
dence of men's ignorance, inadvertency, and fulness of present things
amounta Could ever any one rationally expect that these gentlemen
would be public decriers of fury, wars, and tumults for religion? May
not Protestants say to them, " Quae regie in terns nostri non plena
cruoris?" — " Is there any nation under the heavens, whereunto your
power extends, wherein our blood hath not given testimony to your
wrath and fiiry?" After all your cursings and attempted depositions
of kings and princes, translations of title to sovereignty and rule,
invasions of nations, secret conspiracies, prisons, racks, swords, fire
and fagot, do you now come and declaim about moderation? We
see you not yet cease trora killing of men, in the pursuit of your
fancies and groundless opinions, anywhere but either where you have
not power, or can find no more to kill; so that certainly, whatever
reproach we deserve to have cast upon us in this matter, you are the
imfittest men in the world to be managers of it But I still find my-
self in a mistake in this thing : it is only Protestants, and others
departed from the Roman church, that our author treats of: it is
they who are more fierce and disingenuous than the Pagans, in their



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SNTTTLED FIAT LUX* o5

contests amongst themselves, and against the Bomanists^ as having
the least share of reason of any upon the earth. His good church b
not concerned; which, as it is not led by such fancies and motives as
they are, so it hath right (where it hath power) to deal vdth its ad-
versaries as seems good unto it» This then, sir, is that which you
intend, — ^that we should agree amongst ourselves, and wait for your
coming vrith power to destroy us all 1 It were Well, indeed, tf we
could agree; it is our fault and misery if we do not, having so abso-
lutely perfect a rule and means of agreement as we hava But yet,
whether we agree or agree not, if there be another party distinct
from us all, pretending a right to exterminate us from the earth, it
behoves us to look after their proceedings. And this is the true state
of all our author's pleas for moderation; which are built upon such
principles as tend to the giving us up^ unarmed and naked, to the
power and will of his masters.

For the rest of this section, wherein he is pleased to sport himself
in the miscarriages of men in their coining and propagating of their
opinions, and to gild over the care and success of the church of Bomo
in stifling sudi births of pride and darkness, I shall not insist upon
i^ For as the first, as geneially tossed up and down, concerns none
in particular, though accompanied with the repetition ef such words
as ought not to be scoffed at; so the latter is nothing but what vio-
lence and ignorance may any where, and in any age, produce. There
are societies of Christians not a few in the east, wherein mere dark-
ness and ignorance of the truth hath kept men at peace in errors,
without the least disturbance by contrary opinions amongst them^
selves, for above a thousand years; and yet they have wanted the
help of outward force to secure their tranquillity. And is it any
wonder, where both these powerful engines are set at work for the
same end, if in some measure it be compassed and effected ? And
if there be such a thing among the Romanists (which I have rea^
son to be difficult in admitting the belief of) as that they can stifle
all opinions as fast as they are conceived, or destroy them as soon as
they are brought forth, I know it must be some device or artifice un-
known to the apostles and primitive churches, who, notwithstanding
all their authority and care for the truth, could not with many compass
that end.

Sect V. p. 54. The last section of this chapter contains motives to
moderation, three in number; and I suppose that no man doubts but
that many more might be added, every one in weight outdoing all
these three. The first is that alone which Protestants are concerned
to look imto; not that Protestants oppose any motive unto modera-
tion, but knowing that in this discoxu^ moderation is only the pre^
tence, Popery (if I may use the word without incivility) the design



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SSl AKIMADTSSSI0i!S O^ A TREATISE

aad aimy it eoiifiema tbom to ezaittiiie- wUek of these pretended
BQotiYeB^ thaJL aojr way legarda. theiv real principle^ doth tend wita
Now tins laotKre ia, '^ the great ignoiaBoe our state and condition i»
involved in coBcerniiig Qod, his wodk&and providence ;" a great motive
to moderation. I wish all men wouH well consider it; ferl nuistac^
knowledge that I cannot but suppose them ignorant of like state and
eonditioB of mortality^ and so conseqnei^y their own, who are read^
to destroy and extenninate their neighbours^ of the same flesh and
blood with tiie», and agreeing in the main pciaeiples of rdigion thttt
may certainly be kikown, for lesaer difierences^ and thait by such rules
as within a^fewyeam may possibly reach their nearest reliationa Our
author also lays so muck we^ht on tilus motive, that he feais an an-»
ticipation by men saying, " That the -Scripture reveals enough unto
us;" wbieh, therefore, he thinka necessary to remova For my paxt,,
I scarce think he apprehended any real danger that this would be in^
sisted on aa an objection against hi» motive ti> moderation. For to pre-
vent his tending on tomrda thaitlrlueh is indeed his propar end, Idiia
obstacle ia not unseasonably laid, that, under a pretaice of the ignop*
ance unavoidably attending- our sfcate and oooditioB, he might not
prevail upeoLuata increase and aggravate it, by enticmg us to give up
ourselves hy an implicit faith to the conduct of die BomandiurcL A
man may easily perceive the end be inteiidB,.by the ol^eetions whidt
he foresees. No man is aoma^ I lixink, as to plead tbe sufficiency ol



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 7 of 67)