Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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brought into Engknd by Romans, and yet not by Papists; for I
cannot find, nor can this gentieman diow, that the Roinans St Pool
wrote unto were any one of them, in any <me point, P^pista But
neither was it brou^t hither by Romans, but came immediately out
of the east; from whence also, about the same time, it came to Rome.
Nor is it any jot truer that ^ we no sooner heard news of Christianity
than Popery, with its crucifixes, monastics, relics, sacrifice" (that is,



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ENTITLBD FfAT LUX. 65

the mass), ''and the lika" ^^ Apage nugast" What! do we talk of
t'otber-day things, when we q)eak of the first news of Christianity?
The first planting and watering of these things was in after ages,
and their growing np to that consistency wherein they may justly
be called Popery, a work of many centuries. And yet I shsdl grant
that most of them got the start in the world of that pi^)al sovereignty
whence Popery is peculiarly denominated. But the first news we hear
of Christianity is in the goq[)el, where there is not the least tidings of
these trifles; nor was there in s(Hne ages that next succeeded the pub-
lication of it If this gentleman give any farther occasion, the par-
ticulars shall be evinced to him. For my part, I know not how nor
to whom a '' Papist is become odious," which nextly he complains o£
I can and do love their persons, pity them in their mistakes, — hate
only their vices. But yet^ certain it is a Pt^ist may be odious; that
is, men may not love those parts of his religion from whence he is so
denominated, without the least impeachment of that fidth that extir-
pated Gentilism in the world. It is for that faith which ruined Oen-
tilism ihai we contend against Papists. Let us h^e that and no
more, and there is an end of all our contests. The things we strive
about q>rang up since Qentilism was buried ; the most of them out of
its grave, — some from a deeper place, if there be a deeper place. For
the " practical truths of the Papists,'^ whidi he com|dains to foe abo-
lished, I was in good hope be would not have mentioned them. Their
speculations axe better than their practices, whether be intends th^
moral divinity or their " agenda" in worship. I would desire tiiis
gentleman to mention them no more, lest he hear that of them which
I know he is not willing to da As lor the practical truths of the
gospel, they are maintained and asserted in the church of England,
and by all Protestants; and about others we are ^t solioitoua What
tendency, then, the regeotion of Popery, which had no hand in sup-
planting Gentilism, and which is no part of the religicoi of Christ,
hath to the leading of men into atheism, is as haid to discover as the
quadrature of a circle, or a subterranean passage into the Indiea
But he gives his reasons: ^ If one truth be denied, a fair way is made
to question another which came by the same hand ; and this, aUiird;
till the very authority of the first reveakr be at etake, wfiich can ne
moce defied himself than he can his law." This ^irat reveals I take
to be the Lord Christ He that grants a thing or <loctrine to be
taught and delivered by him, yet denies it to be true, doth indeed
deny his authority; however, he will defend himself and his law, let
men do what they pleasa But he that denies such a thing to be
truth, because it is not revealed by him, jkor oonE^elt&oit with what is
revealed by him, doing this out of subjection of soul and oonedence
to his authority, is in ;m> dai^er of questioning or closing that autho-
YOL. XIV. 6



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66 ANIMADVEBSIONS ON k TREATISE

rity. Nay, be it that it be indeed a truth which he denies, — ^being
only denied by him because he is persuaded that it is not of Christ,
the first revealer, and therefore not true, — ^there is no fear of the dan-
ger threatened. But the matter is, that all that is brought from
Christ by the same hand must be equally received. It is true, if it
be brought from Christ by the same hand, it must be so; not because
by the same hand, but because from Christ They that preached
Christ, and 'withal that men must be circumcised, had put men into
a sad condition if, in good sooth, they had been necessitated to em-
brace all that they taught, — ^the same men teaching- Christ to be the
Messiah, and circumcision to be necessary to life eternal Amongst
those that were converted to the gospel by the Jews that were zeal-
ous of the law, how easy had it been for their teachers to have utterly
frustrated St Paul's doctrine of Christian liberty, by telling them
that they could not forego circumcision but they must forego Christ
also; for all those things they received by the same hand I If, in-
deed, a man comes and delivers a system of religion upon his own
authority and reputation only, he that denies any one point of what
he delivers is in a fair way of everting all that he asserta But if
he come as sent from another, and aflBrm that this other commanded
him to declare that which he delivers for truth in his name, and
produce for that end his commission, wherein all the truths that he
is to deliver are written ; [aud] if he deliver what he hath not re-
ceived in commission, that may honestly be rejected, without the
least impeachment of any one truth that was really committed unto
him by him that sent him. And this was the way, this the condi-
tion of them who planted the gospel in the name of Christ, not being
themselves divinely inspired. So that if, in the second edition of
Christianity in some parts of this nation, by Austin and his associates,
any thing was taught or practised that was not according to the rule
and commission given by Christ, it may be rejected without the least
impeachment to the authority of the first revealer; nay, his autho-
rity, being once received, cannot be preserved entire without such
rejection. I confess I do almost mistrust that by this revealer of
Christianity, and his authority, which he discourses about, our author
intends the pope; which, if so, what we have discoursed of Christ is,
I confess, to little pmpose: and it were easy to turn our reply that
way; but because I have not clear evi4ence for it, I will not charge
him with so horrid a presumptuous insinuation. When he declares
his mind, he shall hear more of ours.

But he farther specifies his meaning in an enumeration of doctrines
that were preached by the first planters of the gospel, in and unto
the extirpation of Gentilism. "If," saith he, "the institution of
monasteries, to the praise and service of God, day and night, be



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX. 67

thought, as it hath been now these many years, a superstitious folly;
if Christian priests and sacrifices be things of high idolatry; if the
seven sacraments be deemed vain, most of them; if it suffice to sal-
vation only to believe, whatever life we lead; if there be no value or
merit in good works; if God's laws be impossible to be kept; if Christ
be not our law-maker and director of doing well, as well as Redeemer
from iU; if there, be no sacramental tribimal for our reconciliation
ordained for us by Christ on the earth ; if the real body of our Lord
be not bequeathed unto his spouse in his last will and testament; if
there be not imder Christ a general head ot the church, who is chief
priest and pastor of all Christians upon earth, imder God, whose
vicegerent he is in spiritual affairs, — all which things are now held
forth by us, manifestly against the doctrine of the first preachers
of Christianity in this land ; — then, I say. Paganism was unjustly dis-
placed by these doctrines, and atheism must needs succeed; for if
Christ deceived us, upon whom shall we rely? and if they that
brought us the first news of Christ, brought along with it so many
grand lies, why may not the very story of Christ be thought a ro-
mance V*

I could wish there had been a little more clearness and ingenuity
in this enumeration; the mixing of what he takes to be truths with
some negatives that he condemns in the same series, breeds some
confusion in the discourse: and I am also compelled to complain of
want of candour and ingenuity in his representation of the Protestant
doctrine, in every particular wherein he takes occasion to mention it
Let us, then, separate the things that have no place of their own in
this argument, tlien what is ambiguously proposed; after which, what
remains may be distinctly considered: —

1. What makes that inquiry in our way at this time, ^^ If it suffice
to salvation to believe, whatever life we lead V Who ever said so,
taught so, wrote so, in England ? Is this the doctrine of the church
of England ? or of the Presbyterians or Independents ? or whose is
it ? or what makes it in this place ? If this be the way of gaining
Catholics, let them that please make use of it Protestants dislike
the way as much as the end.

2. What is the meaning of that which follows, " If there be no
value or merit in good works?'' Who ever taught that there is no
value in good works? that they are not commanded of God? that they
are not accepted with him? that they are not our duty, to be carefiil
in the performance of? that God is not honoured, the gospel adorned,
the church and the world advantaged by them ? Do all these things
put " no value " on them ? For their " merit," the expression bemg
ambiguous, imscriptural, and, as commonly interpreted, derogatory
to the glory of Christ and the grace of God, we shall let it pass as



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6d ANIMADYSEdlONS ON A TB£ATISE

proper to Ms puipoee; ami much good ma^ it do him with ail that
he gains by it

8. " If," saidi he, *" God s law« be knpofiedble to be kept ; " — but who
aaid 80 ? Protestants teadi, iiKJeed, that OEkeu in their own atrength
cannot ke^ the laws of €k>d; that the grace received in this life
extezids not to an absohite sinless perfection in their observatk^i,
which is incon^tent witn the covenant of grace, and men's walking
with Qod therein: bat, that the laws of God were in their own nature
** impossible " to be observed b j them to whom ihej were first given,
or that they are yet impossible to be kept in that way of Aeir ednoere
observation which is required in the goq>el, Fn^testants teach not,
that I know of. He proceeds: —

4. ** K Chiwt be not ouor law-maker and director of doing well, as
well as our Redeemer from SL'* This is a little too open and plain.
l)oth he think any man wUl bdieve him, that Protestants or Pres-
byterians teach that ^* Christ is not our law-maker and director of
doing weU," eta? I dare say he believes not one word of it himself,
what confidence soever he hath taken upon him of imposLng on the
minds of weak and unstable men.

Other thmgs menticoied by him are ambiguous; as, '* If the seven
sacraments be deemed vain, most of them,'' eta Of the things them-
selves, which ihey term " sacraments," there is scarce any of them by
Protestiffits esteemed vain; tiiat one of Unction, which they judge
now useless, they only say is an unwairantable imitation of that
which was useful Of the rest whidi they reject, they reject not the
things, but those things from being sacraments; and a practice in re-
ligion is not presently condemxied as vain whidi is not ^teemed a
sacrament There is no less ambiguity in tiiat other supposition,
** If the real body of our iiord be not bequeathed to his spouse in his
last will and testament;" which no Protestant ever questioned, though'
there be great contests about the manner of the sacramental partici-
pation of that real body. The 43ame may be said of some oth^ of
his supposak But I need not go over them in particular; I shall
only say in g^eral, Uiat take from amongst them what is acknow-
ledged to be the doctrine of the Papists^ and as such is qiposed by
liie diurch of England or by Presbyterians (as papal sapremacy,
sacrifice of the mass, monasteries of votaries under special and peculiar
vows and rules, necessity of auricular confession, tcansubstantiation,
which are the things gilded over by our author), and prove that they
were the cloctrines, all or any of tiiem, whereby and wherewith the
first preachers of Christicmity in this nation, oc any where else in the
old known world, displaced Paganism, and, for my part, I will im-
mediately become his proselyte. What, then, can be bound with this
Tope of sand ? — ^^ lite first preachers of Christianity preached the



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ENTITLED FIAT LUX 69

pope^s sapremaejy the msm, eic.; by these doctrines Paganism was
displaced: if these doctrines now be decried as lies^ why may not
Chikt faimsdf be esteemed a lomanoe V — for n^dther did the first
preachas of Christianity preach these doctrines, nor was Paganism
displaced by them : nor is there any ground to question the authority
and truth of Christ, in case those that do first preach him do there-
withal preach somewhat that is not true, when they bring along with
them an authentic conviction of their own mistakes, as was manifested
before, and might be made good by innumerable other rnstaikces.

I shall not need to follow him in his declamation to the end of
this paragraph; the whole foundation of his many flourishes and pre-
tences being totally taken out of the way. •



CHAPTER VI.

Scripture vkidicatecl.

With his three following paragraphs, fix)m p. 82 unto 108, —
which have only a very remote and almost imperceptible tendency
unto his purpose in hand, though they take up so long a portion ^
Ins discourse (seeming to be inserted either to manifest hia skill and
proficiency in philosophical scepticism, or to entertain his readers
with such a delightful diversion, as that, having taken in it a taste of
his ing^auity, they may have an edge given their appetite unto that
which is more diredJy prepared for them), — I shall not trouble my-
self nor detain my reader about If any one, a little skilled in the
discourses of these days, have a mind to vi^ conjectures and notions
with him, to vellicate commonly received maxims and vulgar opi«
nions, to expatiate on the events of providenoe in all ages, he may
quickly compose as many learned leaves : only, if he would be pleased
to. take my advice with him, I should wish him not to flomrish and
gild over things uncertain and unknown, to the disadvantage of
things known and certain ; nor to vent conjectures about other worlds
and the nature of the heavenly bodies, derogatory to the love of God
in sending his Son to be incarnate and to die for sinners that live on
this earthly globe. Neither do I think it well done to mix St Paul
and his writings in thia scepticism, mentioning in one place his fancy^
in another his conceit, which he seems to oppose, — such is the reve^
rence these men bear to the Scripture and holy penmen thereof; so
also that whole scorn, which he calls " man's dominion over the crea^
tures,'' reflects principally on the beginning of Genesis and the eighth
P$alm.



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70 ANIMABYEBSIONS OK A T&EATISE

An unsearchable abyss in many of God s providential dispensa-
tions, wherein the infinite sovereignty, wisdom, and righteousness of
him who giveth no accoimt of his matters are to be adored, we readily
acknowledge; and yet I dare freely say, that most of the things in-
stanced in by our author are capable of a clear resolution, according
to known rules and principles of truth revealed in the Scripture:
such are, God's sufifenng the Gentiles to wander so long in the dark,
not calling them to repentance; with the necessity of Christian reli-
gion, and yet the punishment of many of the professors of it by the
power of idolaters and pagans, as the church of the Jews was handled
of old by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and others. Of this sort, also,
is hw newly-inserted story of the Oirubrians; which, it may be, was
added to give us a cast of his skill in the investigation of the original
of nations, out of Camden; for if that which himself aflSrms of them
were true, namely, " That they were devout, adoring the crucifix," —
which men usually are when they cease to worship aright him who
was crucified (the sin mentioned, Rom. L 25), — ^we nee^ not much
admire that Qod gave them up to be scourged by their pagan adver-
saries. But, not to mention that which is not only uncertain whether
it be true, but is most probably false, il our author had ever read the
stories of those times, and the lamentations made for the sins of them
by Gildas, Salvianus, and others, he would have found enough to
justify God in his proceedings and dealing with his Cirubrians, ac-
cording to the known rules of his word. The like may be affirmed
concerning the Irish, whose decay, like a true Englishman, he dates
fix)m the interest of our kings there, and makes the progress of it
commensurate to the prevalency of their authority; when it is known
to all the world that by that means alone they were reclaimed from
barbarism, and brought into a most flourishing condition, imtil, by
their rebellion and unparalleled cruelties, they precipitated themselves
into confusion and ruin. As for that which is insinuated as the con-
clusion fit to be made out of all these premises, concerning the obscu-
rity of God's nature and the works of providence, — namely, that we
betake ourselves to the infallible determination of the Roman church,
— I shall only say, that as I know not that as yet the pope hath under-
taken pontifically to interpose his definite sentence in reference to
these philosophi(»l digladiations he glanceth on in the most part of
his discoiirse, so I have but Uttle reason, on the resignation required,
to expect an illumination from that obscurity about the Deity which
he insists on ; finding the children, indeed the fathers of that church,
of all men on the earth, most to abound in contradictory disputes and
endless quarrels about the very nature and properties of God himself
•But his direct improvement of this long oration that he enters
on, p. 122, may be farther considered. It is, in short, this: ^'That



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ENTITLED FUT LUX. 71

by the Scripture no man can come to the knowledge of, and settle-
ment in, an assurance of the truth; nor is there any hope of relief
for us in this sad condition but that living papal oracle, which, if we
are wise, we will acquiesce in," pp. 125, 126. To this purpose men
are furnished with many exceptions against the authority of the
Scripture, from " the uncertainty of the rise and spring of it, — how it
came to us, — how it was authorized, and by whom; the doubtfulness
of its sense and meaning ; the contemptible condition of the first pen-
men of it, seeming a company of men imposing their own fancies as
oraculous visions upon us, — of whom how can we know that they were
inspired, seeing they say no such thing of themselves, not those
especially of the New Testament? besides the many appearing con-
tradictions, with other himian infirmities, seeming unto critics ever
and anon to occur in them; and why may not illiterate men feil as
well as," etc.? — with nfuch more of the same nature and importance :
unto all of which I shall need to say nothing but that of Job, " Vain
man would be wise, but is like to the wild ass's colt" Never is the
folly of men more eminently displayed, than when confidence of their
wisdom makes them bold and daring. I doubt not but our author
thought that he had so acquitted himself in this passage, as that his
readers must need resolve to quit the Scripture and turn Papists;
but there is an evident gulf between these reasonings and Popery,
whereimto they will certainly carry any that shall give way to their
force and efficacy. This is no other but downright atheism ; this the
supplying of men with cavils agamst the Scripture, its power and
authority, does directly lead unto. Our author would have men to
believe these suggestions, at least so fsur as not to seek for rest and
satisfaction in the Scriptures, or he would not: if he would not, to
what end doth he mention them, and sport himself in showing the
luxuriancy of his wit and fancy in cavilling at the word of God? Is
not this a ready way to make men atheists, if only by inducing them
to an imitation of that which by his example he commends unto
them? But it will be said, he only shows the imcertainties that are
about Scripture, that men may not expect by or from them deliver-
ance from the darkness and ignorance before spoken of? Suppose,
then, they come to be persuaded of such an uncertainty, what course
shall they take? "Apply themselves to the Roman church, and they
are safe." But seeing the being of a church (much less the Roman
church) hath no foundation in the light of nature, and men can never
know any thing of it, especially of its prerogative, but by and from
the Scripture, whose authority you have taught them to question, and
made doubtful to them, what remains for rational men but to re-
nounce both Scripture and church, and betake themselves to your
commendable piece of witty atheism? This is the old lurry, — ^the



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7t ANIMADYEBSIONS OV A TREATISE

Scripture catmot be known, believed, understood, but by the church ;
the church cannot be proved to have being, oonstitution, or autho-
rity but by the Scripture : and then, if you doubt of the authority of
ihai proof of the church, you must return to the church again ; and
BO on, till all faith and reason vanish, or men make shipwreck of their
&ith, and become brutish in their understanding, pretending to be-
lieve they know neither what nor why. And this employment of
raising surmises and stirring up jealousies about the word of (Jod, its
penmen and their authority, do men put themselves upon, I will not
say to gtatify the Roman court, but I will say in obedience to their
prejudices, lusts, and darkness, — the saddest drudgery that any of the
sons of men can be exercised withaL And, if he would be believed)
he professeth himself an anti-scripturist, and in that profession, which
he puts upon himself, an athe^ For my part, I am amazed to
think how men are able to hold theu: pens in their hands, — ^that a
horror of the work they have before them doth not make them shake
them out, when they are thus traducing the holy word of Christ, and
exciting evil surmises about it Should they d^ with a man of any
power and authority, they might not expect to escape his indignation ;
even to publish to all the world that he is indeed an honourable per-
son, but yet, if men will question his honour, truth, honesty, autho-
rity, and affirm him to be a cheat, thief, murderer, adulterer, they
cannot see how they can be disproved, — at least, he would have a
difficult task in hand that should endeavour to free him from objec-
tions of that nature. Yet thus men dare to deal with the Scripture,
that word which Qod hath magnified above all his name. If this be
the spirit that breathed in the apostles, the holy army of martyrs of
old, and all the iJsithers of the primitive church, I am much mistaken ;
nay, I am greatly so, if with one consent they would not denoimce
an anathema against such a defence of any religion whatever. But
you will say, the same person defends also the Scripture, just as he
in the poet did PeliUus: —

''Me CapitoUntiB convictore luitxs amiooqae
A paero est, oauaaqne mea permulta rogattil
Fecit; et incolumis Isdtor quod yiTit in urbe;
Sed tamen admiror quo pacto judidum illud
Fugerit." [Hor. Sat i 4, 96.]

A defence worse and more bitter than a downright accusation. I am
not now to observe what prejudice this excuse brings to the cause of
our author with all intelligent persons, having noted it once and
again betore; nor what contentment Protestants take, to see that the
truth they profess cannot be shaken without inducing men to ques-
tion the fundamental principles of Christian religion, and if this
course be persisted in, for aught that I can understand, the whole



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BNTITLED FIAT LUX. 73

oontroveny between us and the Bomaniste must needs be at last
reduced unto this head, Whether the Scripture of the Old and New
Testament was given by divine inspiration? For the present, having,
in the consideration of the general suppositions of this treatise, spokai
before to this head, I shall not need to answer particular exceptions
given in against its authority; nor do I think it incumbent on me so
to do, unless our author own them for his sense : which if he be
pleased to do, I promise him, if God give me life, to give him a dis-
tinct answer to every one of them, and all that is contained in them.



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 9 of 67)