John Owen, A Vindication of some Passages in a 
    Discourse concerning Communion with God 
    A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning 
    Communion with God, from the Exceptions of William 
    Sherlock, rector of St. George, Botolph Lane 
    Prefatory Note. 
         William Sherlock, father of Dr Thomas Sherlock, an
    eminent bishop of London, was himself distinguished as an
    author, and mingled deeply in the controversies of his
    day. His strictures on Owen's work on Communion with God
    appeared in 1674, after that work had been seventeen
    years before the public. It seems to have been Sherlock's
    first appearance in authorship; and some of his
    subsequent treatises such as those on Providence and on
    Death afford a better specimen of his abilities. They are
    destitute of evangelical principle and feeling, and
    imbued throughout with a freezing rationalism of tone;
    but, nevertheless, contain some views of the Divine
    administration, acutely conceived and ably stated. He
    became rector of St George, Botolph Lane, received a
    prebend in St Paul's, and was appointed Master of the
    Temple about 1684. His conduct at the Revolution was not
    straightforward, and laid him open to the reproaches of
    the Jacobites, who blamed him for deserting their party.
    There was a controversy. of some importance between him
    and Dr South. The latter, on the ground of some
    expressions in the work by the former on the Trinity
    (1690), accused him of Tritheism. Sherlock retorted by
    accusing his critic of Sabellianism. He died in 1707, at
    the acre of sixty-six. 
         Sherlock's work against Owen was entitled, "A
    Discourse concerning the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, and
    on Union and Communion with Him," etc. Owen confines
    himself, in his reply, to an exposure of the
    misrepresentations in which Sherlock had indulged. The
    latter, for example, sought to fix on the Puritan divine
    the doctrine, that the knowledge of divine things was to
    be obtained from the person of Christ, apart from the
    truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Our author
    successfully vindicates himself from this charge, and
    repudiates other sentiments equally mystical, and
    ascribed to him with equal injustice. The views of
    Sherlock, on the points at issue, have been termed, "a
    confused mass of Socinianized Arminianism." Owen evinces
    a strength of feeling, in some parts of his
    "Vindication," which may be accounted for on the ground
    that he resented the attack as part of a systematic
    effort made at this time to destroy his standing and
    reputation as an author. In the main, there is a dignity
    in his statements which contrasts well with the wayward
    petulance of his antagonist; and occasionally the reader
    will find a vein of quiet and skilful irony, in the way
    in which he disposes of the crude views of Sherlock. 
         Such was the beginning of the Communion Controversy,
    which soon embraced a wider range of topics, and points
    of more importance, than the merits of Owen's book.
    Besides the original disputants, others entered the
    field. Robert Ferguson in 1675, wrote against Sherlock a
    volume entitled, "The Interest of Reason in Religion,"
    etc. Edward Polhill followed, in "An Answer to the
    Discourse of Mr William Sherlock," etc. Vincent Alsop
    first displayed in this controversy his powers of wit and
    acumen as an author, in his "Antisozzo, or Sherlocismus
    Enervatus." Henry Hickman, a man of considerable gifts,
    and pastor of an English congregation at Leaden, wrote
    the "Speculum Sherlockianum," etc. Samuel Rolle, a
    nonconformist, wrote the "Prodromus, or the Character of
    Mr Sherlock's Books" and also, in the same controversy,
    "Justification Justified." Thomas Danson, who had been
    ejected from Sibton, and author of several works against
    the Quakers, wrote "The Friendly Debate between Satan and
    Sherlock" and afterwards he published again in defence of
    it. Sherlock, in 1675, replied to Owen and Ferguson in
    his "Defence and Continuation of the Discourse concerning
    the Knowledge of Jesus Christ." He was supported by
    Thomas Hotchkis, Rector of Staunton, in a "Discourse
    concerning the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness,"
    etc. The singular diligence of Mr Orme has compiled this
    full list of the works published in this controversy; but
    he is not quite correct in affirming that it was closed
    by the replies of Sherlock and Hotchkis in 1675. A second
    part of the work by Hotchkis appeared in 1678, and
    Sherlock was the author of two other works, "An Answer to
    Thomas Danson's scandalous pamphlet, entitled 'A Friendly
    Conference,'" etc., which appeared in 1677, and was
    followed by a "Vindication of Mr Sherlock against the
    Cavils of Mr Danson." - ED.       A Vindication of some
    Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God.   
         It is now near twenty years since I wrote and
    published a Discourse concerning Communion with God. Of
    what use and advantage it has been to any, as to their
    furtherance in the design aimed at therein, is left unto
    them to judge by whom it has been perused with any candid
    diligence; and I do know that multitudes of persons
    fearing God, and desiring to walk before him in
    sincerity, are ready, if occasion require, to give
    testimony unto the benefit which they have received
    thereby; - as I can also at any time produce the
    testimonies of [as] learned and holy persons, it may be,
    as any I know living, both in England and out of it, who,
    owning the truth contained in it, have highly avowed its
    usefulness, and are ready yet so to do. With all other
    persons, so far as ever I heard, it passed at the rate of
    a tolerable acceptation with discourses of the same kind
    and nature. And however any thing or passage in it might
    not, possibly, suit the apprehensions of some, yet, being
    wholly practical, designed for popular edification,
    without any direct engagement into things controversial,
    I looked for no opposition unto it or exception against
    it; but that it would at least be suffered to pass at
    that rate of allowance which is universally granted unto
    that sort of writings, both of ancient and modern
    authors. Accordingly it so fell out, and continued for
    many years; until some persons began to judge it their
    interest, and to make it their business, to cavil at my
    writings, and to load my person with reproaches. With
    what little success, as to their avowed designs, they
    have laboured therein, - how openly their endeavours are
    sunk into contempt with all sorts of persons pretending
    unto the least sobriety or modesty, - I suppose they are
    not themselves altogether insensible. Among the things
    which this sort of men sought to make an advantage of
    against me, I found that two or three of them began to
    reflect on that discourse; though it appeared they had
    not satisfied themselves what as yet to fix upon, their
    nibbling cavils being exceedingly ridiculous. 
         But yet, from those intimations of some men's
    good-will towards it, - sufficient to provoke the
    industry of such as either needed their assistance or
    valued their favour, - I was in expectation that one or
    other would possess that province, and attempt the whole
    discourse or some parts of it. Nor was I dissatisfied in
    my apprehensions of that design; for, being earnestly
    solicited to suffer it to be reprinted, I was very
    willing to see what either could or would be objected
    against it before it received another impression. For
    whereas it was written now near twenty years ago, when
    there was the deepest peace in the minds of all men about
    the things treated of therein, and when I had no
    apprehension of any dissent from the principal design,
    scope, and parts of it by any called Christians in the
    world, the Socinians only excepted (whom I had therein no
    regard unto), I thought it highly probable that some
    things might have been so expressed as to render a review
    and amendment to them more than ordinarily necessary. And
    I reckoned it not improbable, but that from one
    malevolent adversary I might receive a more instructive
    information of such escapes of diligence than I could do
    in so long a time from all the more impartial readers of
    it; for as unto the substance of the doctrine declared in
    it, I was sufficiently secure, not only of its truth, but
    that it would immovably endure the rudest assaults of
    such oppositions as I did expect. I was therefore very
    well satisfied when I heard of the publishing of this
    treatise of Mr Sherlock's, - which, as I was informed,
    and since have found true, was principally intended
    against myself, and that discourse (that is, that book),
    because I was the author of it, which will at last prove
    it to be its only guilt and crime; - for I thought I
    should be at once now satisfied, both what it was which
    was so long contriving against it (whereof I could give
    no conjecture), as also be directed unto any such
    mistakes as might have befallen me in matter or manner of
    expression, which I would or might rectify before the
    book received another edition. But, upon a view and
    perusal of this discourse, I found myself under a double
    surprisal. For, first, in reference to my own, I could
    not find any thing, any doctrine, any expressions, any
    words reflected on, which the exceptions of this man do
    give me the least occasion to alter, or to desire that
    they had been otherwise either expressed or delivered; -
    not any thing which now, after near twenty years, I do
    not still equally approve of, and which I am not yet
    ready to justify. The other part of my surprisal was
    somewhat particular, though, in truth, it ought to have
    been none at all; and this was with respect unto those
    doctrinal principles which he manageth his oppositions
    upon. A surprisal they were unto me, because wild,
    uncouth, extravagant, and contrary to the common faith of
    Christians, - being all of them traduced, and some of
    them transcribed, from the writings of the Socinians;
    [while] yet [they] ought not to have been so, because I
    was assured that an opposition unto that discourse could
    be managed on no other [ground]. But, however, the
    doctrine maintained by this man, and those opposed or
    scorned by him, are not my special concernment; for what
    is it to me what the Rector of etc., preacheth or
    publisheth, beyond my common interest in the truths of
    the gospel, with other men as great strangers unto him as
    myself, who to my knowledge never saw him, nor heard of
    his name till infamed by his book? Only, I shall take
    leave to say, that the doctrine here published, and
    licensed so to be, is either the doctrine of the present
    church of England, or it is not. If it be so, I shall be
    forced to declare that I neither have, nor will have, any
    communion therein; and that, as for other reasons, so in
    particular, because I will not renounce or depart from
    that which I know to be the true, ancient, and catholic
    doctrine of this church. If it be not so, - as I am
    assured, with respect unto many bishops and other learned
    men, that it is not, - it is certainly the concernment of
    them who preside therein to take care that such kind of
    discourses be not countenanced with the stamp of their
    public authority, lest they and the church be represented
    unto a great disadvantage with many. 
         It was some months after the publishing of this
    discourse, before I entertained any thoughts of taking
    the least notice of it, - yea, I was resolved to the
    contrary, and declared those resolutions as I had
    occasion; neither was it until very lately that my second
    thoughts came to a compliance with the desires of some
    others, to consider my own peculiar concernment therein.
    And this is all which I now design; for the examination
    of the opinions which this author has vented under the
    countenance of public license, whatever they may think, I
    know to be more the concernment of other men than mine.
    Nor yet do I enter into the consideration of what is
    written by this author with the least respect unto
    myself, or my own reputation, which I have the
    satisfaction to conceive not to be prejudiced by such
    pitiful attempts; nor have I the least desire to preserve
    it in the minds of such persons as wherein it can suffer
    on this occasion. But the vindication of some sacred
    truths, petulantly traduced by this author, seems to be
    cast on me in an especial manner; because he has opposed
    them, and endeavoured to expose them to scorn, as
    declared in my book; whence others, more meet for this
    work, might think themselves discharged from taking
    notice of them. Setting aside this consideration, I can
    freely give this sort of men leave to go on with their
    revilings and scoffings until they are weary or ashamed;
    which, as far as I can discern, upon consideration of
    their ability for such a work, and their confidence
    therein, is not like to be in haste; - at least, they can
    change their course, and when they are out of breath in
    pursuit of one sort of calumnies, retake themselves unto
    another. Witness the late malicious, and yet withal
    ridiculous, reports that they have divulged concerning
    me, even with respect unto civil affairs, and their
    industry therein; for although they were such as had not
    any thing of the least probability or likelihood to give
    them countenance, yet were they so impetuously divulged,
    and so readily entertained by many, as made me think
    there was more than the common artifices of calumny
    employed in their raising and improvement, especially
    considering what persons I can justly charge those
    reports upon. But in this course they may proceed whilst
    they please and think convenient: I find myself no more
    concerned in what they write or say of this nature than
    if it were no more but, - 
         epei ete kakoi out' afroni foti eoikas. 
         Oule te, kai mega chaire, Theoi de toi 
         oltia doien. 
         It is the doctrine traduced only that I am concerned
    about, and that as it has been the doctrine of the church
    of England. 
         It may be it will be said (for there is no security
    against confidence and immodesty, backed with secular
    advantages), that the doctrinal principles asserted in
    this book are agreeable with the doctrine of the church
    in former times; and therefore those opposed in it, such
    as are condemned thereby. Hereabout I shall make no long
    contest with them who once discover that their minds are
    by any means emboldened to undertake the defence of such
    shameless untruths; nor shall I multiply testimonies to
    prove the contrary, which others are more concerned to
    do, if they intend not to betray the religion of that
    church with whose preservation and defence they are
    intrusted. Only, because there are ancient divines of
    this church, who, I am persuaded, will be allowed with
    the most to have known as well the doctrine of it, and as
    firmly to have adhered thereunto, as this author, who
    have particularly spoken unto most of the things which he
    has opposed, or rather reproached, I shall transcribe the
    words of one of them, whereby he, and those who employ
    him, may be minded with whom they have to do in those
    things. For, as to the writers of the ancient church,
    there is herein no regard had unto them. He whom I shall
    name is Mr. Hooker, and that in his famous book of
    "Ecclesiastical Polity;" who, in the fifth book thereof,
    and 56th paragraph, thus discourseth: - 
         "We have hitherto spoken of the person and of the
    presence of Christ. Participation is that mutual inward
    hold which Christ has of us, and we of him, in such sort
    that each possesses other by way of special interest,
    property, and inherent copulation." And after the
    interposition of some things conceding the mutual
    in-being and love of the Father and the Son, he thus
    proceedeth: - "We are by nature the sons of Adam. When
    God created Adam, he created us; and as many as are
    descended from Adam have in themselves the root out of
    which they spring. The sons of God we neither are all nor
    any one of us, otherwise than only by grace and favour.
    The sons of God have God's own natural Son as a second
    Adam from heaven; whose race and progeny they are by
    spiritual and heavenly birth. God therefore loving
    eternally his Son, he must needs eternally in him have
    loved, and preferred before all others, them which are
    spiritually since descended and sprung out of him. These
    were in God as in their Saviour, and not as in their
    Creator only. It was the purpose of his saving goodness,
    his saving wisdom, and his saving power, which inclined
    itself towards them. They which thus were in God
    eternally by their intended admission to life, have, by
    vocation or adoption, God actually now in them, as the
    artifices is in the work which his hand does presently
    frame. Life, as all other gifts and benefits, grows
    originally from the Father, and comes not to us but by
    the Son, nor by the Son to any of us in particular, but
    through the Spirit. For this cause the apostle wisheth to
    the church of Corinth, 'the grace of our Lord Jesus
    Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the
    holy Ghost;' which three St Peter comprehendeth in one, -
    the participation of the divine nature. We are,
    therefore, in God through Christ eternally, according to
    that intent and purpose whereby we are chosen to be made
    his in this present world before the world itself was
    made. We are in God through the knowledge which is had of
    us, and the love which is borne towards us from
    everlasting; but in God we actually are no longer than
    only from the time of our actual adoption into the body
    of his true church, into the fellowship of his children.
    For his church he knoweth and loveth; so that they which
    are in the church are thereby known to be in him. Our
    being in Christ by eternal foreknowledge saveth us not,
    without our actual and real adoption into the fellowship
    of his saints in this present world. For in him we
    actually are by our actual incorporation into that
    society which has him for their head, and does make
    together with him one body (he and they in that respect
    having one name); for which cause, by virtue of this
    mystical conjunction, we are of him, and in him, even as
    though our very flesh and bones should be made continuate
    with his. We are in Christ, because he knoweth and loveth
    us, even as parts of himself. No man is actually in him
    but they in whom he actually is; for he which has not the
    Son of God has not life. 'I am the vine, ye are the
    branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
    bringeth forth much fruit;' but the branch severed from
    the vine withereth. We are, therefore, adopted sons of
    God to eternal life by participation of the only begotten
    Son of God, whose life is the well-spring and cause of
    ours. It is too cold an interpretation, whereby some men
    expound our being in Christ to import nothing else but
    only that the self-same nature which maketh us to be men
    is in him, and maketh him man as we are. For what man in
    the world is there which has not so far forth communion
    with Jesus Christ? It is not this that can sustain the
    weight of such sentences as speak of the mystery of our
    coherence with Jesus Christ. The church is in Christ, as
    Eve was in Adam. Yea, by grace we are every [one] of us
    in Christ and in his church, as by nature we were in
    those, our first parents. God made Eve of the rib of
    Adam; and his church he frameth out of the very flesh,
    the very wounded and bleeding side, of the Son of man.
    His body crucified, and his blood shed for the life of
    the world, are the true elements of that heavenly being
    which maketh us such as himself is of whom we come. For
    which cause the words of Adam may be fitly the words of
    Christ concerning his church, 'Flesh of my flesh, and
    bone of my bones;' - 'A true nature, extract out of mine
    own body.' So that in him, even according to his manhood,
    we, according to our heavenly being, are as branches in
    that root out of which they grow. To all things he is
    life, and to men light, as the Son of God; to the church,
    both life and light eternal, by being made the Son of man
    for us, and by being in us a Saviour, whether we respect
    him as God or as man. Adam is in us as an original cause
    of our nature, and of that corruption of nature which
    causeth death; Christ as the cause original of
    restoration to life. The person of Adam is not in us, but
    his nature, and the corruption of his nature, derived
    into all men by propagation. Christ having Adam's nature,
    as we have, but incorrupt, deriveth not nature but
    incorruption, and that immediately from his own person,
    into all that belong unto him. As, therefore, we are
    really partakers of the body of sin and death received
    from Adam; so, except we be truly partakers of Christ,
    and as really possessed of his Spirit, all we speak of
    eternal life is but a dream. That which quickeneth us is
    the Spirit of the second Adam, and his flesh that
    wherewith he quickeneth. That which in him made our
    nature incorrupt was the union of his Deity with our
    nature. And in that respect the sentence of death and
    condemnation, which only taketh hold upon sinful flesh,
    could no way possibly extend unto him. This caused his
    voluntary death for others to prevail with God, and to
    have the force of an expiatory sacrifice. The blood of
    Christ, as the apostle witnesseth, does, therefore, take
    away sin; because, 'Through the eternal Spirit he offered
    himself unto God without spot.' That which sanctified our
    nature in Christ, - that which made it a sacrifice
    available to take away sin, is the same which quickened
    it, raised it out of the grave after death, and exalted
    it unto glory. Seeing, therefore, that Christ is in us a
    quickening Spirit, the first degree of communion with
    Christ must needs consist in the participation of his
    Spirit, which Cyprian in that respect terms
    'germanissimam societatem,' - the highest and truest
    society that can be between man and him, which is both
    God and man in one. These things St Cyril duly
    considering, reproveth their speeches which taught that
    only the Deity of Christ is the vine whereupon we by
    faith do depend as branches, and that neither his flesh
    nor our bodies are comprised in this resemblance. For
    does any man doubt but that even from the flesh of Christ
    our very bodies do receive that life which shall make
    them glorious at the latter day; and for which they are
    already accounted parts of his blessed body? Our
    corruptible bodies could never live the life they shall
    live, were it not that here they are joined with his
    body, which is incorruptible; and that his is in ours as
    a cause of immortality, - a cause, by removing, through
    the death and merit of his own flesh, that which hindered
    the life of ours. Christ is, therefore, both as God and
    as man, that true vine whereof we both spiritually and
    corporally are branches. The mixture of his bodily
    substance with ours is a thing which the ancient fathers
    disclaim. Yet the mixture of his flesh with ours they
    speak of, to signify what our very bodies, through
    mystical conjunction, receive from that vital efficacy
    which we know to be in his; and from bodily mixtures they
    borrow divers similitudes, rather to declare the truth
    than the manner of coherence between his sacred [body]
    and the sanctified bodies of saints. Thus much no
    Christian man will deny, that when Christ sanctified his
    own flesh, giving as God, and taking as man, the Holy
    Ghost, he did not this for himself only, but for our
    sakes, that the grace of sanctification and life, which
    was first received in him, might pass from him to his
    whole race, as malediction came from Adam into all
    mankind. Howbeit, because the work of his Spirit to those
    effects is in us prevented by sin and death possessing us
    before, it is of necessity that as well our present
    sanctification into newness of life, as the future
    restoration of our bodies, should presuppose a
    participation of the grace, efficacy, merit, or virtue of
    his body and blood; - without which foundation first
    laid, there is no place for those other operations of the
    Spirit of Christ to ensue. So that Christ imparteth
    plainly himself by degrees. It pleaseth him, in mercy, to
    account himself incomplete and maimed without us. But
    most assured we are, that we all receive of his fulness,
    because he is in us as a moving and working cause; from
    which many blessed effects are really found to ensue, and
    that in sundry both kinds and degrees, all tending to
    eternal happiness. It must be confessed, that of Christ
    working as a creator and a governor of the world, by
    providence all are partakers; - not all partakers of that
    grace whereby he inhabiteth whom he saveth. Again: as he
    dwelleth not by grace in all, so neither does he equally
    work in all them in whom he dwelleth. 'Whence is it,'
    saith St Augustine, 'that some be holier than others are,
    but because God does dwell in some more plentifully than
    in others?' And because the divine substance of Christ is
    equally in all, his human substance equally distant from
    all, it appeareth that the participation of Christ,
    wherein there are many degrees and differences, must
    needs consist in such effects as, being derived from both
    natures of Christ really into us, are made our own: and
    we, by having them in us, are truly said to have him from
    whom they come; Christ also, more or less, to inhabit and
    impart himself, as the graces are fewer or more, greater
    or smaller, which really flow into us from Christ. Christ
    is whole with the whole church, and whole with every part
    of the church, as touching his person, which can no way
    divide itself, or be possessed by degrees and portions.
    But the participation of Christ importeth, besides the
    presence of Christ's person, and besides the mystical
    copulation thereof with the parts and members of his
    whole church, a true actual influence of grace, whereby
    the life which we live according to godliness is his; and
    from him we receive those perfections wherein our eternal
    happiness consisteth. Thus we participate Christ: -
    partly by imputation; as when those things which he did
    and suffered for us are imputed unto us for
    righteousness; partly by habitual and real infusion; as
    when grace is inwardly bestowed while we are on earth; -
    and afterward more fully, both our souls and bodies made
    like unto his in glory. The first thing of his so infused
    into our hearts in this life is the Spirit of Christ;
    whereupon, because the rest, of what kind soever, do all
    both necessarily depend and infallibly also ensue,
    therefore the apostles term it sometimes the seed of God,
    sometimes the pledge of our heavenly inheritance,
    sometimes the hansel or earnest of that which is to come.
    From whence it is that they which belong to the mystical
    body of our Saviour Christ, and be in number as the stars
    of heaven, - divided successively, by reason of their
    mortal condition, into many generations, - are,
    notwithstanding, coupled every one to Christ their head,
    and all unto every particular person amongst themselves;
    inasmuch as the same Spirit which anointed the blessed
    soul of our Saviour Christ does so formalise, unite, and
    actuate his whole race, as if both he and they were so
    many limbs compacted into one body, by being quickened
    all with one and the same soul. That wherein we are
    partakers of Jesus Christ by imputation, agreeth aqua]ly
    unto all what have it; for it consisteth in such acts and
    deeds of his as could not have longer continuance than
    while they were in doings nor at that very time belong
    unto any other but to him from whom they come: and
    therefore, how men, either then, or before, or since,
    should be made partakers of them, there can be no way
    imagined but only by imputation. Again: a deed must
    either not be imputed to any, but rest altogether in him
    whose it is; or, if at all it be imputed, they which have
    it by imputation must have it such as it is, - whole. So
    that degrees being neither in the personal presence of
    Christ, nor in the participation of those effects which
    are ours by imputation only, it resteth that we wholly
    apply them to the participation of Christ's infused
    grace; although, even in this kind also, the first
    beginning of life, the seed of God, the first-fruits of
    Christ's Spirit, be without latitude. For we have hereby
    only the being of the sons of God: in which number, how
    far soever one may seem to excel another, yet touching
    this, that all are sons, they are all equals; some,
    happily, better sons than the rest are, but none any more
    a son than another. Thus, therefore, we see how the
    Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father; how they
    both are in all things, and all things in them: what
    communion Christ has with his church; how his church, and
    every member thereof, is in him by original derivation,
    and he personal]y in them, by way of mystical
    association, wrought through the gift of the holy Ghost;
    which they that are his receive from him, and, together
    with the same, what benefit soever the vital force of his
    body and blood may yield; - yea, by steps and degrees
    they receive the complete measure of all such divine
    grace as does sanctify and save throughout, till the day
    of their final exaltation to a state of fellowship in
    glory with him, whose partakers they are now in those
    things that tend to glory."

    Owen, A Vindication...
    (continued in File 2...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-01.txt