John Owen, Christologia Christologia: or a Declaration of the glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ--God and Man: with the infinite Wisdom, Love, and Power of God in the Contrivance and Constitution thereof; as also, of the Grounds and Reasons of His Incarnation; the Nature of His Ministry in Heaven; the Present State of the Church above thereon; and the Use of His Person in Religion: with an Account and Vindication of the Honour, Worship, Faith, Love, and Obedience due unto Him, in and from the Church. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ."--Philippians 3:8. Table of Contents Prefatory Note The Preface Chapter I. Peter's Confession; Matt.16:16--Conceits of the Papists thereon--The Substance and Excellency of that Confession Chapter II. Opposition made unto the Church as built upon the Person of Christ Chapter III. The Person cf Christ the most ineffable Effect of Divine Wisdom and Goodness--Thence the next Cause of all True Religion--In what sense it is so Chapter IV. To Person of Christ the Foundation of all the Counsels of God Chapter V. The Person of Christ the great Representative of God and his Will Chapter VI. The Person of Christ the great Repository of Sacred Truth- -Its Relation thereunto. Chapter VII. Power and Efficacy Communicated unto the Office of Christ, for the Salvation of the Church, from his Person Chapter VIII. The Faith of the Church under the Old Testament in and concerning the Person of Christ Chapter IX. Honour due to the Person of Christ--The nature and Causes of it Chapter X. The Principle of the Assignation of Divine Honour unto the Person of Christ, in both the Branches of it; with is Faith in Him Chapter XI. Obedience unto Christ--The Nature and Causes of it Chapter XII. The especial Principle of Obedience unto the Person of Christ; which is Love--Its Truth and Reality Vindicated. Chapter XIII. The Nature, Operations, and Causes of Divine Love, as it respects the Person of Christ Chapter XIV Motives unto the Love of Christ Chapter XV. Conformity unto Christ, and Following his Example Chapter XVI. An humble Inquiry into, and Prospect of, the infinite Wisdom of God, in the Constitution of the Person of Christ, and the Way of Salvation thereby Chapter XVII Other Evidences of Divine Wisdom in the Contrivance of the Work of Redemption in and by the Person of Christ, in Effects Evidencing a Condecency thereunto Chapter XVIII. The Nature of the Person of Christ, and the Hypostatical Union of his Natures Declared Chapter XIX. The Exaltation of Christ, with his Present state and Condition in Glory during the Continuance of his Mediatory Office. Chapter XX. The Exercise of the Mediatory Office of Christ in Heaven Prefatory Note To object of Dr Owen in this treatise is to illustrate the mystery of divine grace in the person of Christ. It bears the title, "Christologia;" but it differs considerably from modern works of the same title or character. It is not occupied with a formal induction from Scripture in proof of the supreme Godhead of the Saviour. Owen assumes the truth of this doctrine, and applies all his powers and resources to expound its relations in the Christian system, and its bearings on Christian duty and experience. Chapter 1 of the work is devoted to an exposition of Matt.16:16, as a warrant and basis for his inquiry respecting the person of Christ. Chapter 2 contains some historical references to the opposition encountered by this doctrine in past ages. From Chapter 3 to 7 inclusive, the person of Christ is exhibited as the origin of all true religion, the foundation of the divine counsel, the representation of the divine nature and will, the embodiment and sum of divine truth, and the source of divine and gracious efficacy for the salvation of the church. The faith of the Old Testament Church respecting it is illustrated in Chapter 8. Then follows the second leading division of the treatise, in which the divine honours and obedience due to Christ, and our obligation to seek conformity to him, are urged at some length, from Chapter 9 to 15. It is followed in Chapters 16 and 17 with an inquire into the divine wisdom as manifested in the person of Christ. The hypostatical union is explained, Chapter 18. Two more Chapters, 19 and 20, close the work, with a dissertation on the exaltation of Christ, and the mode in which he discharges his mediatorial functions in heaven. The treatise was first published in 1679. We are not informed under what particular circumstances Owen was led to prepare it. There is internal evidence in the work itself that he laboured under a strong impression of the peril in which evangelical religion would be involved, if views of the person of Christ, either positively unsound or simple vague and defective, obtained currency in the British churches. His acquaintance with the early history of the church taught him that against this doctrine the persevering assaults of Satan had been directed; and, with sagacious foresight, he anticipated the rise of heresy on this point in England. He speaks of "woeful contests" respecting it,--increasing rather than abating "unto this very day;" and intimates his conviction, in language which elucidates his main design in this work, that the only way by which they could be terminated was to enthrone Christ anew in the hearts and consciences of men. Events ensued which justified these apprehensions of Own. A prolonged controversy on the subject of the Trinity arose, which drew forth the works of Bull (1686), Sherlock (1690), and South (1695). In 1710, Whiston was expelled from Oxford for his Arianism. Dr S Clarke, in 1712, published Arian views, for which he was summoned before the Convocation. Among the Presbyterian Dissenters Pierce and Hallet (1717) became openly committed to Arianism. Dr Isaac Watts who succeeded (1702) to the charge of the same congregation in London which had been under the care of Owen, broached the "Indwelling Schema"; according to which the Father is so united to the man Christ Jesus, whose human soul preexisted his coming in the flesh, that, through this indwelling of the Godhead, he became properly God. The Christology of Owes has always been highly valued, and will be of use to all ages of the church:--"A work," says the late Dr M'Crie, "which, together with its continuation, the 'Meditations on the Glory of Christ,' of all the theological works published by individuals since the Reformation, next to 'Calvin's Institutions', we would have deemed it our highest honour to have produced."--Ed. The Preface It is a great promise concerning the person of Christ, as he was to be given unto the church, (for he was a child born, a son given unto us, Isa.9:6,) that God would "lay him in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation," whereon "he that believeth shall not make haste:" Isa.28:16. Yet was it also foretold concerning him, that this precious foundation should be "for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense, to both the houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;" so as that "many among them should stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken:" Isa.8:14,15. According unto this promise and prediction it has fallen out in all ages of the church; as the apostle Peter declares concerning the first of them. "Wherefore also," saith he, "it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto ye therefore which believe, he is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed:" 1 Pet.2:6-8. Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always has been, precious--the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls--every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with--which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him. For in him "shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory;" (Isa.45:25;) for "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;" they "shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end:" verse 17. On these and the like accounts, the principal design of their whole lives unto whom he is thus precious, is to acquaint themselves with him--the mystery of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, in his person and mediation, as revealed unto us in the Scripture, which is "life eternal;" (John 17:3;)--to trust in him, and unto him, as to all the everlasting concernments of their souls--to love and honour him with all their hearts--to endeavour after conformity to him, in all those characters of divine goodness and holiness which are represented unto them in him. In these things consist the soul, life, power, beauty, and efficacy of the Christian religion; without which, whatever outward ornaments may be put upon its exercise, it is but a useless, lifeless carcass. The whole of this design is expressed in these heavenly words of the apostle: (Phil.3:8-12:) "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." This is a divine expression of that frame of heart of that design--which is predominant and efficacious in them unto whom Christ is precious But, on the other hand, (according unto the fore-mentioned prediction,) as he has been a sure foundation unto all that believe, so he has in like manner been "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense unto them that stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." There is nothing in him--nothing wherein he is concerned--nothing of him, his person, his natures, his office, his grace, his love, his power, his authority, his relation unto the church--but it has been unto many a stone of stumbling and rock of offense. Concerning these things have been all the woeful contests which have fallen out and been managed among those that outwardly have made profession of the Christian religion. And the contentions about them do rather increase than abate, unto this very day; the dismal fruits whereof the world groaneth under, and is no longer able to bear. For, as the opposition unto the Lord Christ in these things, by men of perverse minds, has ruined their own souls--as having dashed themselves in pieces against this everlasting rock--so in conjunction with other lusts and interests of the carnal minds of men, it has filled the world itself with blood and confusion. The re-enthroning of the Person, Spirit, Grace, and authority of Christ, in the hearts and consciences of men, is the only way whereby an end may be put unto these woeful conflicts. But this is not to be expected in any degree of perfection amongst them who stumble at this stone of offense, whereunto they were appointed; though in the issue he will herein also send forth judgment unto victory, and all the meek of the earth shall follow after it. In the meantime, as those unto whom he is thus a rock of offence--in his person, his spirit, his grace, his office, and authority--are diligent and restless (in their various ways and forms, in lesser or higher degrees, in secret artifices, or open contradictions unto any or all of them, under various pretences, and for divers ends, even secular advantages some of them, which the craft of Satan has prepared for the ensnaring of them) in all ways of opposition unto his glory; so it is the highest duty of them unto whom he is precious, whose principal design is to be found built on him as the sure foundation, as to hold the truth concerning him, this person, spirit, grace, office, and authority,) and to abound in all duties of faith, love, trust, honour, and delight in him--so also to declare his excellency, to plead the cause of his glory, to vindicate his honour, and to witness him the only rest and reward of the souls of men, as they are called and have opportunity. This, and no other, is the design of the ensuing treatise; wherein, as all things fall unspeakably short of the glory, excellency, and sublimity of the subject treated of, (for no mind can conceive, no tongue can express, the real substantial glory of them,) so there is no doubt but that in all the parts of it there is a reflection of failings and imperfections, from the weakness of its author. But yet I must say with confidence, that in the whole, that eternal truth of God concerning the mystery of his wisdom, love, grace, and power, in the person and mediation of Christ, with our duties towards himself therein, even the Father, Son, and eternal Spirit, is pleaded and vindicated, which shall never be shaken by the utmost endeavours and oppositions of the gates of hell. And in the acknowledgment of the truth concerning these things consists, in an especial manner, that faith which was the life and glory of the primitive church, which they earnestly contended for, wherein and whereby they were victorious against all the troops of stumbling adversaries by whom it was assaulted. In giving testimony hereunto, they loved not their lives unto the death, but poured out their blood like water, under all the pagan persecutions, which had no other design but to cast them down and separate them from this impregnable rock, this precious foundation. In the defence of these truths did they conflict, in prayers, studies, travels, and writings, against the swarms of seduces by whom they were opposed. And, for this cause, I thought to have confirmed the principal passages of the ensuing discourse with some testimonies from the most ancient writes of the first ages of the church; but I omitted that cause, as fearing that the interposition of such passages might obstruct instead of promoting the edification of the common sort of readers, which I principally intended. Yet, withal, I thought not good utterly to neglect that design, but to give at least a specimen of their sentiments about the principal truths pleaded for, in this preface to the whole. But herein, also, I met with a disappointment; for the bookseller having, unexpectedly unto me, finished the printing of the discourse itself, I must be contented to make use of what lieth already collected under my hand, not having leisure or time to make any farther inquiry. I shall do something of this nature, the rather because I shall have occasion thereby to give a summary account of some of the principal parts of the discourse itself, and to clear some passages in it, which by some may be apprehended obscure. Chap. I. The foundation of the whole is laid in the indication of those words of our blessed Saviour, wherein he declares himself to be the rock whereon the church is built: (Matt.16:18:) "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The pretended ambiguity of these words has been wrested by the secular interests of men, to give occasion unto that prodigious controversy among Christian, with, whether Jesus Christ or the Pope of Rome be the rock whereon the church is built. Those holy men of old unto whom Christ was precious, being untainted with the desires of secular grandeur and power, knew nothing hereof. Testimonies may be--they have been--multiplied by other unto this purpose. I shall mention some few of them. "Houtos estin he pros ton Patera agousa hosos, he petra, he kleis, he poimen", &c, saith Ignatius: Epist. ad Philadelph.--"He" (that is, Christ) "is the way leading unto the Father, the rock, the key, the shepherd"--wherein he has respect unto this testimony. And Origin expressly denies the words to be spoken of Peter, in Matt.16: (Tract. 1:) "Quod si super unum illum Petrum tantum existimees totam eclesiam aedificar, quid dicturus es de Johanne, et apostolorum unoquoque? Num audebimus dicere quod adversus Petrum unum non prevaliturae sunt portae inferorum?"--"If you shall think that the whole church was built on Peter alone, what shall we say of John, and each of the apostles? What! shall we dare to say that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Peter only?" So he [held,] according unto the common opinion of the ancients, that there was nothing peculiar in the confession of Peter, and the answer made thereunto as unto himself, but that he spake and was spoken unto in the name of all the rest of the apostles. Euseb. Preparat. Evang., lib. 1 cap. 3: "Ete onomasti prothespistheisa ekklesia autou hesteke kata bathous erridzoomene, kai mechris ouranioon hapsidoon euchais hosioon ka theofiloon anoroon meteooridzomene--dia mian ekeinen, hen autos apefenato lexin, eipoon, Epi ten petran oikodomesoo mou ten ekklesian, kan pulai haidou ou katischusousin autes". He proves the verity of divine predictions from the glorious accomplishment of that word, and the promise of our Saviour, that he would build his church on the rock, (that is, himself,) so as that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. For "Unum hoc est immobile fundamentum, una haec est felix fidei Petra, Petri ore confessa, Tu es filius Dei vivi," says Hilary de Trin., lib. 2--"This is the only immovable foundation, this is the blessed rock of faith confessed by Peter, Thou art the Son of the living God". And Epiphanius, Haer.29: "Epi tei petri tautei tes asfalous pisteoos oikodomesoo mou ten ekklesian".--"Upon this rock" of assured faith "I will build my church". For many thought that faith itself was metonymically called the Rock, because of its object, or the person of Christ, which is so. One or two more out of Augustine shall close these testimonies: "Super hanc Petram, quam confessus es, super meipsum filium Dei vivi, aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Super me aedificabo te, non me super te:" De Verbis Dom., Serm. 13.--"Upon this rock which thou hast confessed-- upon myself, the God of the living God--I will build my church I will build thee upon myself, and not myself on thee." And he more fully declareth his mind: (Tract. 124, in Johan.:) "Universam significabat ecclesiam, quae in hoc seculo diversis tentationibus, velut imbribus, fluminibus, tempestatibusque quatitur, et non cadit; quoniam fundata est supra Petram; unde et Petrus nomen accepit. Non enim a Petro Petra, sed Petrus a Petra; sicut non Christus a Christiano, sed Christianus a Christo vocatur. Ideo quippe ait Dominus, 'Super hanc Petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam', quia dixerat Petrus, 'Tu es Christus filius Dei vivi'. 'Super hanc ergo' (inquit) 'Petram quam confessus es, aedificabo eccleaism meam'. Petra enim erat Christus, super quod fundamentum etiam ipse aedificatus est Petrus. Fundamentum quippe aliud nemo potest ponere, praeter id quod positum est, quod est Jesus Christus".--"He (Christ) meant the universal church, which in this world is shaken with divers temptations, as with showers, floods, and tempests, yet falleth not, because it is built on the rock (Petra) from whence Peter took his name. For the rock is not called Petra from Peter, but Peter is so called from Petra the rock; as Christ is not so called from Christian, but Christian from Christ. Therefore, said the Lord, 'Upon this rock will I build my church;' because Peter said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Upon this rock, which thou hast confessed, will I build my church. For Christ himself was the rock on which foundation Peter himself was built. For other foundation can no man lay, save that which is laid which is Jesus Christ. Chap. II. Against this rock, this foundation of the church--the person of Christ, and the faith of the church concerning it--great opposition has been made by the gates of hell. Not to mention the rage of the pagan world, endeavouring by all effects of violence and cruelty to cast the church from this foundation; all the heresies wherewith from the beginning, and for some centuries of years ensuing, it was pestered, consisted in direct and immediate oppositions unto the eternal truth concerning the person of Christ. Some that are so esteemed, indeed, never pretended unto any sobriety, but were mere effects of delirant [raving] imaginations; yet did even they also, one way or other, derive from an hatred unto the person of Christ, and centred therein. Their beginning was early in the church, even before the writing of the gospel by John, or of his Revelation, and indeed before some of Paul's epistles. And although their beginning was but small, and seemingly contemptible, yet, being full of the poison of the old serpent, they diffused themselves in various shapes and forms, until there was nothing left of Christ--nothing that related unto him, not his natures, divine or human, not their properties nor acting, not his person, nor the union of his natures therein--that was not opposed and assaulted by them. Especially so soon as the gospel had subdued the Roman empire unto Christ, and was owned by the rulers of it, the whole world was for some ages filled with uproars, confusion, and scandalous disorders about the person of Christ, through the cursed oppositions made thereunto by the gates of hell. Neither had the church any rest from these convicts for about five hundred year. But near that period of time, the power of truth and religion beginning universally to decay among the outward professors of them, Satan took advantage to make that havoc and destruction of the church--by superstition, false worship, and profaneness of life which he failed of in his attempt against the person of Christ, or the doctrine of truth concerning it. It would be a tedious work, and, it may be, not of much profit unto them who are utterly unacquainted with things so long past and gone, wherein they seem to have no concernment, to give a specimen of the several heresies whereby attempts were made against this rock and foundation of the church. Unto those who have inquired into the records of antiquity, it would be altogether useless. For almost every page of them, at first view, presents the reader with an account of some one or more of them. Yet do I esteem it useful, that the very ordinary sort of Christians should, at least in general, be acquainted with what has passed in this great contest about the person of Christ, from the beginning. For there are two things relating thereunto wherein their faith is greatly concerned. First, There is evidence given therein unto the truth of those predictions of the Scripture, wherein this fatal apostasy from the truth, and opposition unto the Lord Christ, are foretold: and, secondly, An eminent instance of his power and faithfulness, in the appointment and conquest of the gates of hell in the management of this opposition. But they have been all reckoned up, and digested into methods of time and matter, by many learned men, (of old and of late,) so that I shall not in this occasional discourse represent them unto the reader again. Only I shall give a brief account of the ways and means whereby they who retained the profession of the truth contended for it, unto a conquest over the pernicious heresies wherewith it was opposed. The defense of the truth, from the beginning, was left in charge unto, and managed by, the guides and rulers of the church in their several capacities. And by the Scripture it was that they discharged their duty confirmed with apostolical tradition consonant thereunto. This was left in charge unto them by the great apostle, (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim.6:13,14; 2 Tim.2:1,2,15,23,24; 4:1-5,) and wherein any of them failed in this duty, they were reproved by Christ himself: Rev.2:14,15,20. Nor were private believers (in their places and capacities) either unable for this duty or exempt from it, but discharged themselves faithfully therein, according unto commandment given unto them: 1 John 2:20,27; 4:1-3; 2 John 8,9. All true believers, in their several stations--by mutual watchfulness, preaching, or writing, according unto their calls and abilities-- effectually used the outward means for the preservation and propagation of the faith of the church. And the same means are still sufficient unto the same ends, were they attended unto with conscience and diligence. The pretended defense of truth with arts and arms of another kind has been the bane of religion, and lost the peace of Christians beyond recovery. And it may be observed, that whilst this way alone for the preservation of the truth was insisted on and pursued, although innumerable heresies arose one after another, and sometimes many together, yet they never made any great progress, nor arrived unto any such consistency as to make a stated opposition unto the truth; but the errors themselves and their authors, were as vagrant meteors, which appeared for a little while, and vanished away. Afterwards it was not so, when other ways and means for the suppression of heresies were judged convenient and needful. For in process of time, when the power of the Roman empire gave countenance and protection unto the Christian religion, another way was fixed on for this end, viz., the use of such assemblies of bishops and others as they called General Councils, armed with a mixed power, partly civil and partly ecclesiastical--with respect unto the authority of the emperors and that jurisdiction in the church which began then to be first talked of. This way was begun in the Council of Nice, wherein, although there was a determination of the doctrine concerning the person of Christ--then in agitation, and opposed, as unto his divine nature therein--according unto the truth, yet sundry evils and inconveniences ensued thereon. For thenceforth the faith of Christians began greatly to be resolved into the authority of men, and as much, if not more weight to be laid on what was decreed by the fathers there assembled, than on what was clearly taught in the Scriptures. Besides, being necessitated, as they thought, to explain their conceptions of the divine nature of Christ in words either not used in the Scripture, or whose signification unto that purpose was not determined therein, occasion was given unto endless contentions about them. The Grecians themselves could not for a long season agree among themselves whether "ousia" and "hupostatis" were of the same signification or no, (both of them denoting essence and substance,) or whether they differed in their signification, or if they did, wherein that difference lay. Athanasiu6 at first affirmed them to be the same: Orat. 5 con. Arian., and Epist. ad African. Basil denied them so to be, or that they were used unto the same purpose in the Council of Nice: Epist. 78. The like difference immediately fell out between the Grecians and Latins about "hypostasis" and "persona". For the Latins rendered "hypostasis" by "substantia," and "prosoopon" by "persona." Hereof Jerome complains, in his Epistle to Damasus, that they required of him in the East to confess "tres hypostases," and he would only acknowledge "tree personas:" Epist. 71. And Augustine gives an account of the same difference: De Trinitate, lib 5 cap. 8, 9. Athanasius endeavoured the composing of this difference, and in a good measure effected it, as Gregory Nazianzen affirms in his oration concerning his praise. It was done by him in a synod at Alexandria, in the first year of Julian'6 reign. On this occasion many contests arose even among them who all pleaded their adherence unto the doctrine of the Council of Nice. And as the subtle Asians made incredible advantage hereof at first, pretending that they opposed not the deity of Christ, but only the expression of it by of "homo-ousios", so afterwards they countenanced themselves in coining words and terms, to express their minds with, which utterly reacted it. Hence were their "homoousios, heterousios, ex ouk ontoon", and the like names of blasphemy, about which the contests were fierce and endless. And there were yet farther evils that ensued hereon. For the curious and serpentine wits of men, finding themselves by this means set at liberty to think and discourse of those mysteries of the blessed Trinity, and the person of Christ, without much regard unto plain divine testimonies, (in such ways wherein cunning and sophistry did much bear sway,) began to multiply such near, curious, and false notions about them, especially about the latter, as caused new disturbances, and those of large extent and long continuance. For their suppression, councils were called on the neck of one another, whereon commonly new occasions of differences did arise, and most of them managed with great scandal unto the Christian religion. For men began much to forego the primitive ways of opposing errors and extinguishing heresies; retaking themselves unto their interest, the number of their party, and their prevalence with the present emperors. And although it so fell out--as in that at Constantinople, the first at Ephesus, and that at Chalcedon--that the truth (for the substance of it) did prevail, (for in many others it happened quite otherwise,) yet did they always give occasions unto new divisions, animosities, and even mutual hatreds, among the principal leaders of the Christian people. And great contests there were among some of those who pretended to believe the same truth, whether such or such a council should be received--that is, plainly, whether the church should resolve its faith into their authority. The strifes of this nature about the first Ephesian Council, and that at Chalcedon, not to mention those wherein the Asians prevailed, take up a good part of the ecclesiastical story of those days. And it cannot be denied, but that some of the principal persons and assemblies who adhered unto the truth did, in the heat of opposition unto the heresies of other men, fall into unjustifiable excess themselves. We may take an instance hereof with respect unto the Nestorian heresy, condemned in the first Ephesian Council, and afterwards in that at Chalcedon. Cyril of Alexandria, a man learned and vehement, designed by all means to be unto it what his predecessor Athanasius had been to the Arian; but he fell into such excesses in his undertakings, as gave great occasion unto farther tumults. For it is evident that he distinguisheth not between "hupostatis" and "fusis", and therefore affirms, that the divine Word and humanity had "mian fusin", one nature only. So he does plainly in Epist. ad Successum: "They are ignorant," saith he, "hoti kath' aletheian esti mia fusis tou logou sesarkoomene". Hence Eutyches the Archimandrite took occasion to run into a contrary extreme, being a no less fierce enemy to Nestorius than Cyril was. For to oppose him who divided the person of Christ into two, he confounded his natures into one--his delirant folly being confirmed by that goodly assembly, the second at Ephesus. Besides, it is confessed that Cyril--through the vehemency of his spirit, hatred unto Nestorius, and following the conduct of his own mind in nice and subtle expressions of the great mystery of the person of Christ--did utter many things exceeding the bounds of sobriety prescribed unto us by the apostle, (Rom.12:3,) if not those of truth itself. Hence it is come to passe that many learned men begin to think and write that Cyril was in the wrong, and Nestorius by his means condemned undeservedly. However, it is certain to me, that the doctrine condemned at Ephesus and Chalcedony as the doctrine of Nestorius, was destructive of the true person of Christ; and that Cyril, though he missed it in sundry expressions, yet aimed at the declaration and confirmation of the truth; as he was long since vindicated by Theorianus: Dialog. con. Armenios. However, such was the watchful care of Christ over the church, as unto the preservation of this sacred, fundamental truth, concerning his divine person, and the union of his natures therein, retaining their distinct properties and operations, that--notwithstanding all the faction and disorder that were in those primitive councils, and the scandalous contests of many of the members of them; notwithstanding the determination contrary unto it in great and numerous councils--the faith of it was preserved entire in the hearts of all that truly believed, and triumphed over the gates of hell. I have mentioned these few things, which belong unto the promise and prediction of our blessed Saviour in Matt.16:18, (the place insisted on,) to show that the church, without any disadvantage to the truth, may be preserved without such general assemblies, which, in the following ages, proved the most pernicious engines for the corruption of the faith, worship, and manners of it. Yea, from the beginning, they were so far from being the only way of preserving truth, that it was almost constantly prejudiced by the addition of their authority unto the confirmation of it. Nor was there any one of them wherein "the mystery of iniquity" did not work, unto the laying of some rubbish in the foundation of that fatal apostasy which afterwards openly ensued. The Lord Christ himself has taken it upon him to build his church on this rock of his person, by true faith of it and in it. He sends his Holy Spirit to bear testimony unto him, in all the blessed effects of his power and grace. He continueth his Word, with the faithful ministry of it, to reveal, declare, make known, and vindicate his sacred truth, unto the conviction of gainsayers. He keeps up that faith in him, that love unto him, in the hearts of all his elect, as shall not be prevailed against. Wherefore, although the oppositions unto this sacred truth, this fundamental article of the church and the Christian religion--concerning his divine person, its constitution, and use, as the human nature conjoined substantially unto it, and subsisting in it--are in this Last age increased; although they are managed under so great a variety of forms, as that they are not reducible unto any heads of order; although they are promoted with more subtlety and specious pretences than in former ages; yet, if we are not wanting unto our duty, with the aids of grace proposed unto us, we shall finally triumph in this cause, and transmit this sacred truth inviolate unto them that succeed us in the profession of it. Chap. III. This person of Christ, which is the foundation whereon the church is built, whereunto all sorts of oppositions are endeavoured and designed, is the most ineffable effect of divine goodness and wisdom--whereof we treat in the next place. But herein, when I speak of the constitution of the person of Christ, I intend not his person absolutely, as he is the eternal Son of God. He was truly, really, completely, a divine person from eternity, which is included in the notion of his being the Son, and so distinct from the Father, which is his complete personality. His being so was not a voluntary contrivance or effect of divine wisdom and goodness, his eternal generation being a necessary internal act of the divine nature in the person of the Father. John Owen, Christologia (continued in part b (prefactory)...) --------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-05: owlog-a.txt .