(Owen, Trinity. part 6)

long since translated into English, unto whom an entire answer may see
long be returned.
  That which at present shall suffice, is to give a general answer
unto all these cavils, with all of the same kind which the men of
these principles do usually insist upon.
  1. "The things," they say, "which we teach concerning the Trinity,
are contrary to reason;" and thereof they endeavour to give sundry
instances, wherein the sum of the opposition which they make unto this
truth does consist. But first, I ask, What reason is it that they
intend? It is their own, the carnal reason of men. By that they will
judge of these divine mysteries. The Scripture tells us, indeed, that
the "spirit of a man which is in him knows the things of a man," - a
man's spirit, by natural reason, may judge of natural things; - "but
the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God," 1 Cor. 2:
11. So that what we know of these things, we must receive upon the
revelation of the Spirit of God merely, if the apostle may be
believed. And it is given unto men to know the mysteries of the
kingdom of God, - to some, and not to others; and unless it be so
given them, they cannot know them. In particular, none can know the
Father unless the Son reveal him. Nor will, or does, or can, flesh and
blood reveal or understand Jesus Christ to be the Son of the living
God, unless the Father reveal him, and instruct us in the truth of it,
Matt. 16: 17. The way to come to the acknowledgment of these things,
is that described by the apostle, Eph. 3: 14-19, "For this cause I bow
my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole
family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you,
according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by
his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by
faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to
comprehend with all saints," etc. As also, Col. 2: 2, 3, That ye might
come "unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the
acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of
Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." It
is by faith and prayer, and through the revelation of God, that we may
come to the acknowledgment of these things, and not by the carnal
reasonings of men of corrupt minds.
  2. What reason do they intend? If reason absolutely, the reason of
things, we grant that nothing contrary unto it is to be admitted. But
reason as it is in this or that man, particularly in themselves, we
know to be weak, maimed, and imperfect; and that they are, and all
other men, extremely remote from a just and full comprehension of the
whole reason of things. Are they in such an estate as that their
apprehension shall pass for the measure of the nature of all things?
We know they are far from it. So that though we will not admit of any
thing that is contrary to reason, yet the least intimation of a truth
by divine revelation will make me embrace it, although it should be
contrary to the reason of all the Socinians in the world. Reason in
the abstract, or the just measure of the answering at one thing unto
another, is of great moment: but reason - that is, what is pretended
to be so, or appears to be so unto this or that man, especially in and
about things of divine revelation - is of very small importance (of
none at all) where it rises up against the express testimonies of
Scripture, and these multiplied, to their mutual confirmation and
  3. Many things are above reason, - that is, as considered in this or
that subject, as men, - which are not at all against it. It is an easy
thing to compel the most curious inquirers of these days to a ready
confession hereof, by multitudes of instances in things finite and
temporary; and shall any dare to deny but it may be so in things
heavenly, divine, and spiritual? Nay, there is no concernment of the
being of God, or his properties, but is absolutely above the
comprehension of our reason. We cannot by searching find out God, we
cannot find out the Almighty to perfection.
  4. The very foundation of all their objections and cavils against
this truth, is destructive of as fundamental principles of reason as
are in the world. They are all, at best, reduced to this: It cannot be
thus in things finite; the same being cannot in one respect be one, in
another three, and the like: and therefore it is so in things
infinite. All these seasonings are built upon this supposition, that
that which is finite can perfectly comprehend that which is infinite,
- an assertion absurd, foolish, and contradictory unto itself. Again;
it is the highest reason in things of pure revelation to captivate our
understandings to the authority of the Revealer; which here is
rejected. So that by a loud, specious, pretence of reason, these men,
by a little captious sophistry, endeavour not only to countenance
their unbelief, but to evert the greatest principles of reason itself.
  5. The objections these men principally insist upon, are merely
against the explanations we use of this doctrine, - not against the
primitive revelation of it, which is the principal object of our
faith; which, how preposterous and irrational a course of proceeding
it is, has been declared.
  6. It is a rule among philosophers, that if a man, on just grounds
and reasons, have embraced any opinion or persuasion, he is not to
desert it merely because he cannot answer every objection against it.
For if the objections wherewith we may be entangled be not of the same
weight and importance with the reason on which we embraced the
opinion, it is a madness to forego it on the account thereof. And much
more must this hold amongst the common sort of Christians, in things
spiritual and divine. If they will let go and part with their faith in
any truth, because they are not able to answer distinctly some
objections that may be made against it, they may quickly find
themselves disputed into atheism.
  7. There is so great an intimation made of such an expression and
resemblance of a Trinity in unity in the very works of the creation,
as learned men have manifested by various instances, that it is most
unreasonable to suppose that to be contrary to reason which many
objects of rational consideration do more or less present unto our
  8. To add no more considerations of this nature, let any of the
adversaries produce any one argument or grounds of reason, or those
pretended to be such, against that that has been asserted, that has
not already been baffled a thousand times, and it shall receive an
answer; or a public acknowledgment, that it is indissoluble.

                         Of the Person of Christ

  The next head of opposition made by the men of this conspiracy
against this sacred truth, is against the head of all truth, the
person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Socinians, indeed, would
willingly put a better face or colour upon their error about the
person of Christ than it will bear or endure to lie on it. For in
their catechism, unto this question, "Is the Lord Jesus Christ purus
homo, a mere man?" they answer, "By no means." "How then? Has he a
divine nature also?" Which is their next question. To this they say,
"By no means; for this is contrary to right reason." How, then, will
these pretended masters of reason reconcile these things? For to us it
seems, that if Christ has no other nature but that of man, he is as to
his nature purus homo, a mere man, and no more. Why, they answer, that
"he is not a mere man, because he was born of a virgin." Strange that
that should be an argument to prove him more than a man, which the
Scripture, and all men in their right wits, grant to be an invincible
reason to prove him to be a man, and, as he was born of her, no more.
Rom. 10: 3, "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made
of the seed of David according to the flesh" Rom. 9: 5, "Whose are the
fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came." Gal. 4:
4, "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." But,
say they, "He was endowed with the Spirit, wrought miracles, was
raised from the dead, had all power given [him] in heaven and earth;
for by these degrees he became to be God." But all men see that the
inquiry is about the nature of Christ, and this answer is about his
state and condition. Now this changes not his nature on the one hand,
no more than his being humbled, poor, and dying, did on the other.
This is the right reason we have to deal withal in these men! If a man
should have inquired of some of them of old, whether Melchizedek were
purus homo, a mere man, some of them would have said, "No, because he
was the Holy Ghost;" some, "No, because he was the Son of God
himself;" and some, "No, because he was an angel;" - for such foolish
opinions have men fallen into. But how Scottish soever their
conceptions were, their answer to that inquiry would have been
regular, because the question and answer respect the same subject in
the same respect; but never any was so stupid as to answer, "He was
not a mere man, (that is, by nature,) because he was a priest of the
high God," - which respects his office and condition. Yet, such is the
pretence of these men about the person of Christ, to incrustate and
give some colour unto their foul misbelief; as supposing that it would
be much to their disadvantage to own Christ only as a mere man, -
though the most part of their disputes that they have troubled the
Christian world withal have had no other design nor aim but to prove
him so to be, and nothing else. I shall briefly, according to the
method insisted on, first lay down what is the direct revelation which
is the object of our faith in this matter, then express the revelation
itself in the Scripture testimonies wherein it is recorded; and having
vindicated some one or other of them from their exceptions, manifest
how the doctrine hereof is farther explained, unto the edification of
them that believe. That there is a second person, the Son of God, in
the holy trin-unity of the Godhead, we have proved before. That this
person did, of his infinite love and grace, take upon him our nature,
- human nature, - so as that the divine and human nature should become
one person, one Christ, God and man in one, so that whatever he does
in and about our salvation, it is done by that one person, God and
man, is revealed unto us in the Scripture as the object of our faith:
and this is that which we believe concerning the person of Christ.
Whatever acts are ascribed unto him, however immediately performed, in
or by the human nature, or in and by his divine nature, they are all
the acts of that one person, in whom are both these natures. That this
Christ, God and man, is, because he is God, and on the account of what
he has done for us as man, to be believed in, worshipped with worship
religious and divine, to be trusted and obeyed, this also is asserted
in the Scripture. And these things are, as it were, the common notions
of Christian religion, - the common principles of our profession,
which the Scriptures also abundantly testify unto.
  Isa. 7: 14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and
shall call his name Emmanuel;" that is, he shall be God with us, or
God in our nature. Not that that should be his name whereby he should
be called in this world; but that this should be the condition of his
person, - he should be "God with us," God in our nature. So are the
words expounded, Matt. 1: 20-23, "That which is conceived in her is of
the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call
his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all
this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord
by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which,
being interpreted, is, God with us." his name whereby he was to be
called, was Jesus; that is, a Saviour. And thereby was accomplished
the prediction of the prophet, that he should be Emmanuel; which,
being interpreted, is, "God with us." Now, a child born to be "God
with us," is God in that child taking our nature upon him; and no
otherwise can the words be understood. 
  Isa. 9: 6, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and his
name shall be called The mighty God." The child that is born, the son
that is given, is the mighty God; and as the mighty God, and a child
born, or son given, he is the Prince of Peace, as he is there called,
or our Saviour. 
  John 1: 14, "The Word was made flesh." That the Word was God, who
made all things, he had before declared. Now, he affirms that this
Word was made flesh. How? Converted into flesh, into a man, so that he
who was Good ceased so to be, and was turned or changed into flesh, -
that is, a man? Besides that this is utterly impossible, it is not
affirmed. For the Word continued the Word still, although he was "made
flesh," or "made of a woman," as it is elsewhere expressed, - or made
of the seed of David, - or took our flesh or nature to be his own.
Himself continuing God, as he was, became man also, which before he
was not "The Word was made flesh;" This is that which we believe and
assert in this matter. 
  See John 3: 13, 31, 6: 62, 16: 28. All which places assert the
person of Christ to have descended from heaven in the assumption of
human nature, and ascended into heaven therein [in that nature] being
assumed; and to have been in heaven as to his divine nature, when he
was on the earth in the flesh that he had assumed.
  Acts 20: 28, "Feed the church of God, which he has purchased with
his own blood." The person spoken of is said to be God absolutely, -
"the church of God." And this God is said to have blood of his own; -
the blood of Jesus Christ, being the blood of him that was God, though
not the blood of him as God; for God is a spirit. And this undeniably
testifies to the unity of his person as God and man.
  Rom. 1: 3, 4, "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was
made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be
the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the
resurrection from the dead." Rom. 9: 5, "Whose are the fathers, and of
whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God
blessed for ever. Amen." This is all we desire that we may believe
without disturbance from the glamours of these men, - namely, that the
same Christ, as concerning the flesh, came of the fathers, of David,
and, in himself, is over all, God blessed for ever. This the Scripture
asserts plainly; and why we should not believe it firmly, let these
men give a reason when they are able.
  Gal. 4: 4, "God sent forth his Son made of a woman." He was his Son,
and was made of a woman, according as he expresses it, Heb. 10: 5, "A
body hast thou prepared me;" as also, Rom. 8: 3.
  Phil. 2: 5-7, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be
equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him
the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." It is the
same Christ that is spoken of. And it is here affirmed of him, that he
was "in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with
God." But is this all? Is this Jesus Christ God only? Does he subsist
only in the form or nature of God? No; says the apostle, "He took upon
him the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, and was
found in fashion as a man." That his being truly a man is expressed in
these words our adversaries deny not; and we therefore believe that
the same Jesus Christ is God also, because that is no less plainly
  1 Tim. 3: 16, "And without controversy, great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels." It is a mystery, indeed; under which name it is
despised now and reproached; nor are we allowed so to call it, but are
reflected on as flying to mysteries for our defense. But we must take
leave to speak in this matter according to His directions without whom
we cannot speak at all. A mystery it is, and that a great mystery; and
that confessedly so, by all that do believe. And this is, that "God
was manifested in the flesh." That it is the Lord Christ who is spoken
of, every one of the ensuing expressions do evince: "Justified in the
Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the
world, received up into glory." And this, also, is the substance of
what we believe in this matter, - namely, that Christ is God manifest
in the flesh; which we acknowledge, own, and believe to be true, but a
great mystery, - yet no less great and sacred a truth notwithstanding.

  Heb. 2: 14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh
and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." Verse 16,
"For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on
him the seed of Abraham." and this plainly affirms his preexistence
unto that assumption of our nature, and the unity of his person in it
being so assumed.
  1 John 3: 16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid
down his life for us." He who was Glad laid down for a season and
parted with that life which was his own, in that nature of ours which
he had assumed. And that taking of our nature is called his "coming in
the flesh;" which whose denies, is "not of God, but is the spirit of
Antichrist," chap. 4: 3.
  These are some of the places wherein the person of Christ is
revealed unto our faith, that we may believe in the Son of God, and
have eternal life.
  The method formerly proposed would require that I should take off
the general objections of the adversaries against this divine
revelation, as also vindicate some peculiar testimonies from their
exceptions; but because a particular opposition unto this truth has
not, as yet, publicly and directly been maintained and managed by any
that I know of among ourselves, though the denial of it be expressly
included in what they do affirm, I shall leave the farther
confirmation thereof unto some other occasion, if it be offered, and
it be judged necessary.
  And this is that which the faith of believers rests in, as that
which is plainly revealed unto them, - namely, that Jesus Christ is
God and man in one person; and that all his acting in their behalf are
the actings of him who is God and man; and that this Son of God, God
and man, is to be believed in by them, and obeyed, that they [may]
have eternal life.
  What is farther added unto these express testimonies, and the full
revelation of the truth contained in them in this matter, in way of
explication educed from them, and suitable unto them, to the
edification of the church, or information of the minds of believers in
the right apprehension of this great mystery of God manifested in the
flesh, may be reduced to these heads: -
  1. That the person of the Son of God did not, in his assuming human
nature to be his own, take an individual person of any one into a near
conjunction with himself, but preventing the personal subsistence of
human nature in that flesh which he assumed, he gave it its
subsistence in his own person; whence it has its individuation and
distinction from all other persons whatever. This is the personal
union. The divine and human nature in Christ have but one personal
subsistence; and so are but one Christ, one distinct personal
principle of all operations, of all that he did or does as mediator.
And this undeniably follows from what is declared in the testimonies
mentioned. For the Word could not be made flesh, nor could he take on
him the seed of Abraham, nor could the mighty God be a child born and
given unto us, nor could God shed his blood for his church, but that
the two natures so directly expressed must be united in one person;
for otherwise, as they are two natures still, they would be two
persons also.
  2. Each nature thus united in Christ is entire, and preserves unto
itself its own natural properties. For he is no less perfect God for
being made man; nor no less a true, perfect man, consisting of soul
and body, with all their essential parts, by that nature's being taken
into subsistence with the Son of God. His divine nature still
continues immense, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite in holiness, etc.;
his human nature, finite, limited, and, before its glorification,
subject to all infirmities of life and death that the same nature in
others, absolutely considered, is obnoxious unto.
  3. In each of these natures he acts suitably unto the essential
properties and principles of that nature. As God, he made all things,
upholds all things by the word of his power, fills heaven and earth,
etc.; as man, he lived, hungered, suffered, died, rose, ascended into
heaven: yet, by reason of the union of both these natures in the same
person, not only his own person is said to do all these things, but
the person expressed by the name which he has on the account of one
nature, is said to do that which he did only in the other. So God is
said to "redeem his church with his own blood," and to "lay down his
life for us," and the Son of man to be in heaven when he was on the
earth; all because of the unity of his person, as was declared. And
these things do all of them directly and undeniably flow from what is
revealed concerning his person, as before is declared.

                      Of the Satisfaction of Christ

  The last thing to be inquired into, upon occasion of the late
opposition to the great fundamental truths of the gospel, is the
satisfaction of Christ. And the doctrine hereof is such as, I
conceive, needs rather to be explained than vindicated. For it being
the centre wherein most, if not all, the lines of gospel promises and
precepts do meet, and the great medium of all our communion with God
in faith and obedience, the great distinction between the religion of
Christians and that of all others in the world, it will easily, on a
due proposal, be assented unto by all who would he esteemed disciples
of Jesus Christ. And whether a parcel of insipid cavils may be thought
sufficient to obliterate the revelation of it, men of sober minds will
judge and discern.
  For the term of satisfaction, we contend not about it. It does,
indeed, properly express and connote that great effect of the death of
Christ which, in the cause before us, we plead for. But yet, because
it belongs rather to the explanation of the truth contended for, than
is used expressly in the revelation of it, and because the right
understanding of the word itself depends on some notions of law that
as yet we need not take into consideration, I shall not, in this
entrance of our discourse, insist precisely upon it, but leave it as
the natural conclusion of what we shall find expressly declared in the
Scripture. Neither do I say this as though I did decline the word, or
the right use of it, or what is properly signified by it, but do only
cast it into its proper place, answerable unto our method and design
in the whole of this brief discourse.
  I know some have taken a new way of expressing and declaring the
doctrine concerning the mediation of Christ, with the causes and ends
of his death, which they think more rational than that usually
insisted on: but, as what I have yet heard of or seen in that kind,
has been not only unscriptural, but also very irrational, and most
remote from that accuracy whereunto they pretend who make use of it;
so, if they should publish their conceptions, it is not improbable but
that they may meet with a scholastic examination by some hand or
  Our present work, as has been often declared, is for the
establishment of the faith of them who may be attempted, if not
brought into danger, to be seducers by the sleights of some who lie in
wait to deceive, and the glamours of others who openly drive the same
design. What, therefore, the Scripture plainly and clearly reveals in
this matter, is the subject of our present inquiry. And either in so
doing, as occasion shall be offered, we shall obviate, or, in the
close of it remove, those sophisms that the sacred truth now proposed
to consideration has been attempted withal.
  The sum of what the Scripture reveals about this great truth,
commonly called the "satisfaction of Christ," may be reduced unto
these ensuing heads: -
  First. That Adam, being made upright, sinned against God; and all
mankind, all his posterity, in him: - Gen 1: 27, "So God created man
in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female
created he them." Chap. 3: 11, "And he said, Who told thee that thou
wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that
thou shouldest not eat?" Eccles. 7: 29, "Lo, this only have I found,
that God made man upright; but they have sought out manv inventions."
Rom. 5: 12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned." Verse 18, "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came
upon all men to condemnation." Verse 19, "By one man's disobedience

(continued in part 7...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: owent-06.txt