Owen, A Vindication... File 2 (... continued from File 1) This one testimony ought to be enough unto this sort of men, whilst they are at any consistency with their own reputation: for it is evident that there is nothing concerning personal election, effectual vocation, justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, participation of him, union of believers unto and with his person, derivation of grace from him, etc., which are so reproached by our present author, but they are asserted by this great champion of the church of England, who undoubtedly knew the doctrine which it owned, and in his days approved, and that in such words and expressions, as remote from the sentiments, or at least as unsavoury to the palates, of these men, as any they except against in others. And what themselves so severely charge on us in point of discipline, that nothing be spoken about it until all is answered that is written by Mr Hooker in its defence, may, I hope, not immodestly be so far returned, as to desire them that in point of doctrine they will grant us truce, until they have moved out of the way what is written to the same purpose by Mr Hooker. Why do not they speak to him to leave fooling, and to speak sense, as they do to others? But let these things be as they are; I have no especial concernment in them, nor shall take any farther notice of them, but only as they influence the exceptions which this author makes unto some passages in that book of mine. And in what I shall do herein, I shall take as little notice as may be of those scurrilous and reproachful expressions, which either his inclination or his circumstances induced him to make use of. If he be pleased with such a course of procedure, I can only assure him, that as to my concernment, I am not displeased; and so he is left unto his full liberty for the future. The first thing he quarrels about, is my asserting the necessity of acquaintance with the person of Christ; which expression he frequently makes use of afterward in a way of reproach. The use of the word "acquaintance," in this matter, is warranted by our translation of the Scripture, and that properly, where it is required of us to acquaint ourselves with God. And that I intended nothing thereby but the knowledge of Jesus Christ, is evident beyond any pretence to the contrary to be suggested by the most subtle or inventive malice. The crime, therefore, wherewith I am here charged, is my assertion that it is necessary that Christians should know Jesus Christ; which I have afterward increased, by affirming also that they ought to love him: for by Jesus Christ all the world of Christians intend the person of Christ; and the most of them, all of them, - the Socinians only excepted, - by his person, "the Word made flesh," or the Son of God incarnate, the mediator between God and man. For because the name Christ is sometimes used metonymically, to conclude thence that Jesus Christ is not Jesus Christ, or that it is not the person of Christ that is firstly and properly intended by that name in the gospel, is a lewd and impious imagination; and we may as well make Christ to be only a light within us, as to be the doctrine of the gospel without us. This knowledge of Jesus Christ I aver to be the only fountain of all saving knowledge: which is farther reflected on by this author; and he adds (no doubt out of respect unto me), "that he will not envy the glory of this discovery unto its author;" and therefore honestly confesseth that he met with it in my book. But what does he intend? Whither will prejudice and corrupt designs carry and transport the minds of men? Is it possible that he should be ignorant that it is the duty of all Christians to know Jesus Christ, to be acquainted with the person of Christ, and that this is the fountain of all saving knowledge, until he met with it in my book about communion with God; which I dare say he looked not into, but only to find what he might except against? It is the Holy Ghost himself that is the author of this discovery; and it is the great fundamental principle of the gospel. Wherefore, surely, this cannot be the man's intention; and therefore we must look a little farther, to see what it is that he aimeth at. After, then, the repetition of some words of mine, he adds, as his sense upon them, p. 39, "So that it seems the gospel of Christ makes a very imperfect and obscure discovery of the nature, attributes, and the will of God, and the methods of our recovery. We may thoroughly understand whatever is revealed in the gospel, and yet not have a clear and saving knowledge of these things, until we get a more intimate acquaintance with the person of Christ." And again, p. 40: "I shall show you what additions these men make to the gospel of Christ by an acquaintance with his person; and I confess I am very much beholden to this author, for acknowledging whence they fetch all their orthodox and gospel mysteries, for I had almost pored my eyes out with seeking for them in the gospel, but could never find them; but I learn now, that indeed they are not to be found there, unless we be first acquainted with the person of Christ." So far as I can gather up the sense of these loose expressions, it is, that I assert a knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ which is not revealed in the gospel, which is not taught us in the writings of Moses, the prophets, or apostles, but must be had some other way. He tells me afterward, p. 41, that I put in a word fallaciously, which expresseth the contrary; as though I intended another knowledge of Christ than what is declared in the gospel. Now, he either thought that this was not my design or intention, but would make use of a pretence of it for his advantage unto an end aimed at (which what it was I know well enough); or he thought, indeed, that I did assert and maintain such a knowledge of the person of Christ as was not received by Scripture revelation. If it was the first, we have an instance of that new morality which these new doctrines are accompanied withal; if the latter, he discovers how meet a person he is to treat of things of this nature. Wherefore, to prevent such scandalous miscarriages, or futilous imaginations for the future, I here tell him, that if he can find in that book, or any other of my writings, any expression, or word, or syllable, intimating any knowledge of Christ, or any acquaintance with the person of Christ, but what is revealed and declared in the gospel, in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and apostles, and as it is so revealed and declared, and learned from thence, I will publicly burn that book with my own hands, to give him and all the world satisfaction. Nay, I say more: if an angel from heaven pretend to give any other knowledge of the person of Christ, but what is revealed in the gospel, let him be accursed. And here I leave this author to consider with himself, what was the true occasion why he should first thus represent himself unto the world in print, by the avowing of so unworthy and notorious a calumny. Whereas, therefore, by an acquaintance with the person of Christ, it is undeniably evident that I intended nothing but that knowledge of Christ which it is the duty of every Christian to labour after, - no other but what is revealed, declared, and delivered in the Scripture, as almost every page of my book does manifest where I treat of these things; I do here again, with the good leave of this author, assert, that this knowledge of Christ is very necessary unto Christians, and the fountain of all saving knowledge whatever. And as he may, if he please, review the honesty and truth of that passage, p. 38, "So that our acquaintance with Christ's person, in this man's divinity, signifies such a knowledge of what Christ is, has done, and suffered for us, from whence we may learn those greater, deeper, and more saving mysteries of the gospel, which Christ has not expressly revealed to us;" so I will not so far suspect the Christianity of them with whom we have to do, as to think it necessary to confirm by texts of Scripture either of these assertions; which whoever denies is an open apostate from the gospel. Having laid this foundation in an equal mixture of that truth and sobriety wherewith sundry late writings of this nature and to the same purpose have been stuffed, he proceeds to declare what desperate consequences ensue upon the necessity of that knowledge of Jesus Christ which I have asserted, addressing himself thereunto, p. 40. Many instances of such dealings will make me apt to think that some men, whatever they pretend to the contrary, have but little knowledge of Jesus Christ indeed. But whatever this man thinks of him, an account must one day be given before and unto him of such false calumnies as his lines are stuffed withal. Those who will believe him, that he has almost "pored out his eyes" in reading the gospel, with a design to find out mysteries that are not in it, are left by me to their liberty; only I cannot but say, that his way of expressing the study of the Scripture, is [not?] such as becometh a man of his wisdom, gravity, and principles. He will, I hope, one day be better acquainted with what belongs unto the due investigation of sacred truth in the Scripture, than to suppose it represented by such childish expressions. What he has learned from me I know not; but that I have anywhere taught that there are mysteries of religion that are not to be found in the gospel, unless we are first acquainted with the person of Christ, is a frontless and impudent falsehood. I own no other, never taught other knowledge of Christ, or acquaintance with his person, but what is revealed and declared in the gospel; and therefore, no mysteries of religion can be thence known and received, before we are acquainted with the gospel itself. Yet I will mind this author of that, whereof if he be ignorant, he is unfit to be a teacher of others, and which if he deny, he is unworthy the name of a Christian, - namely, that by the knowledge of the person of Christ, the great mystery of God manifest in the flesh, as revealed and declared in the gospel, we are led into a clear and full understanding of many other mysteries of grace and truth; which are all centred in his person, and without which we can have no true nor sound understanding of them. I shall speak it yet again, that this author, if it be possible, may understand it; or, however, that he and his co-partners in design may know that I neither am nor ever will be ashamed of it: - that without the knowledge of the person of Christ, which is our acquaintance with him (as we are commanded to acquaint ourselves with God) as he is the eternal Son of God incarnate, the mediator between God and man, with the mystery of the love, grace, and truth of God therein, as revealed and declared in the Scripture, there is no true, useful, saving knowledge of any other mysteries or truths of the gospel to be attained. This being the substance of what is asserted in my discourse, I challenge this man, or any to whose pleasure and favour his endeavours in this kind are sacrificed, to assert and maintain the contrary, if so be they are indeed armed with such a confidence as to impugn the foundations of Christianity. But to evince his intention, he transcribeth the ensuing passages out of my discourse: - P. 41, "The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads: - 1. The knowledge of God; his nature and properties. 2. The knowledge of ourselves with reference to the will of God concerning us. 3. Skill to walk in communion with God. In these three is summed up all true wisdom and knowledge, and not any of them is to any purpose to be obtained, or is manifested, but only in and by the Lord Christ." This whole passage I am far from disliking, upon this representation of it, or any expression in it. Those who are not pleased with this distribution of spiritual wisdom, may make use of any such of their own wherewith they are better satisfied. This of mine was sufficient unto my purpose. Hereon this censure is passed by him: - "Where by is fallaciously added to include the revelations Christ has made; whereas his first undertaking was, to show how impossible it is to understand these things savingly and clearly, notwithstanding all those revelations God has made of himself and his will by Moses and the prophets, and by Christ himself, without an acquaintance with his person." The fallacy pretended is merely of his own coining; my words are plain, and suited unto my own purpose, and to declare my mind in what I intend; which he openly corrupting, or not at all understanding, frames an end never thought of by me, and then feigns fallacious means of attaining it. The knowledge I mean is to be learned by Christ; neither is any thing to be learned in him but what is learned by him. I do say, indeed, now, whatever I have said before, that it is impossible to understand any sacred truth savingly and clearly, without the knowledge of the person of Christ; and shall say so still, let this man and his companions say what they will to the contrary: but that in my so saying I exclude the consideration of the revelations which Christ has made, or that God has made of himself by Moses and the prophets, and Christ himself, the principal whereof concern his person, and whence alone we come to know him, is an assertion becoming the modesty and ingenuity of this author. But hereon he proceeds, and says, that as to the first head he will take notice of those peculiar discoveries of the nature of God of which the world was ignorant before, and of which revelation is wholly silent, but are now clearly and savingly learned from an acquaintance with Christ's person. But what, in the meantime, is become of modesty, truth, and honesty? Do men reckon that there is no account to be given of such falsifications? Is there any one word or little in my discourse of any such knowledge of the nature or properties of God as whereof revelation is wholly silent? What does this man intend? Does he either not at all understand what I say; or does he not care what he says himself? What have I done to him? wherein have I injured him? how have I provoked him, that he should sacrifice his conscience and reputation unto such a revenge? Must he yet hear it again? I never thought, I never owned, I never wrote, that there was any acquaintance to be obtained with any property of the nature of God by the knowledge of the person of Christ, but what is taught and revealed in the gospel; from whence alone all knowledge of Christ, his person, and his doctrine, is to be learned. And yet I will say again, if we learn not thence to know the Lord Christ, - that is, his person, - we shall never know any thing of God, ourselves, or our duty, clearly and savingly (I use the words again, notwithstanding the reflections on them, as more proper in this matter than any used by our author in his eloquent discourse), and as we ought to do. From hence he proceeds unto weak and confused discourses about the knowledge of God and his properties without any knowledge of Christ; for he not only tells us "what reason we had to believe such and such things of God, if Christ had never appeared in the world," (take care, I pray, that we be thought as little beholden to him as may be), "but that God's readiness to pardon, and the like, are plainly revealed in the Scripture, without any farther acquaintance with the person of Christ," p. 43. What this farther acquaintance with the person of Christ should mean, I do not well understand: it may be, any more acquaintance with respect unto some that is necessary; - it may be, without any more ado as to an acquaintance with him. And if this be his intention, - as it must be, if there be sense in his words, - that God's readiness to pardon sinners is revealed in the Scripture without respect unto the person of Jesus Christ, it is a piece of dull Socinianism; which, because I have sufficiently confuted else where, I shall not here farther discover the folly of. [As] for a knowledge of God's essential properties by the light of nature, it was never denied by me; yea, I have written and contended for it in another way than can be impeached by such trifling declamations. But yet, with his good leave, I do believe that there is no saving knowledge of, or acquaintance with God or his properties, to be attained, but in and through Jesus Christ, as revealed unto us in the gospel. And this I can confirm with testimonies of the Scripture, fathers, schoolmen, and divines of all sorts, with reasons and arguments, such as I know this author cannot answer. And whatever great apprehensions he may have of his skill and abilities to know God and his properties by the light of nature, now that he neither knows nor is able to distinguish what he learns from thence, and what he has imbibed in his education from an emanation of divine revelation; yet I believe there were as wise men as himself amongst those ancient philosophers, concerning whom and their inquiries into the nature of God our apostle pronounces those censures, Rom. 1; 1 Cor. 1. But on this goodly foundation he proceeds unto a particular inference, p. 44, saying, "And is not this a confident man, to tell us that the love of God to sinners, and his pardoning mercy, could never have entered into the heart of man but by Christ, when the experience of the whole world confutes him? For, whatever becomes of his new theories, both Jews and heathens, who understood nothing at all of what Christ was to do in order to our recovery, did believe God to be gracious and merciful to sinners, and had reason to do so; because God himself had assured the Jews that he was a gracious and merciful God, pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sins. And those natural notions heathens had of God, and all those discoveries God had made of himself in the works of creation and providence, did assure them that God is very good: and it is not possible to understand what goodness is, without pardoning grace." I beg his excuse: truth and good company will give a modest man a little confidence sometimes; and against his experience of the whole world, falsely pretended, I can oppose the testimonies of the Scripture, and all the ancient writers of the church, very few excepted. We can know of God only what he has, one way or other, revealed of himself, and nothing else; and I say again, that God has not revealed his love unto sinners, and his pardoning mercy, any other way but in and by Jesus Christ. For what he adds as to the knowledge which the Jews had of these things by God's revelation in the Scripture, when he can prove that all those revelations, or any of them, had not respect unto the promised seed, - the Son of God, - to be exhibited in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil, he will speak somewhat unto his purpose. In the meantime, this insertion of the consideration of them who enjoyed that revelation of Christ which God was pleased to build his church upon under the Old Testament, is weak and impertinent. Their apprehensions, I acknowledge, concerning the person of Christ, and the speciality of the work of his mediation, were dark and obscure; but so, also, proportionally was their knowledge of all other sacred truths, which yet with all diligence they inquired into. That which I intended is expressed by the apostle, 1 Cor. 2: 9,10, "It is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit." What a confident man was this apostle, as to affirm that the things of the grace and mercy of God did never enter into the heart of man to conceive, nor would so have done, had they not been revealed by the Spirit of God in the gospel through Jesus Christ! But this is only a transient charge. There ensues that which is much more severe, p. 45; as, for instance, "He tells us, 'that in Christ' (that is, in his death and sufferings for our sins) 'God has manifested the naturalness of this righteousness' (that is, vindictive justice in punishing sin), 'that it was impossible that it should be diverted from sinners without the interposing of a propitiation; that is, that God is so just and righteous, that he cannot pardon sin without satisfaction to his justice.' Now, this indeed is such a notion of justice as is perfectly new, which neither Scripture nor nature acquaints us with; for all mankind have accounted it an act of goodness, without the least suspicion of injustice in it, to remit injuries and offences without exacting any punishment, - that he is so far from being just, that he is cruel and savage, who will remit no offence till he has satisfied his revenge." The reader who is in any measure or degree acquainted with these things, knows full well what is intended by that which I have asserted. It is no more but this, - that such is the essential holiness and righteousness of the nature of God, that, considering him as the supreme governor and ruler of all mankind, it was inconsistent with the holiness and rectitude of his rule, and the glory of his government, to pass by sin absolutely, or to pardon it without satisfaction, propitiation, or atonement. This, I said, was made evident in the death and sufferings of Christ, wherein God made all our iniquities to meet upon him, and spared him not, that we might obtain mercy and grace. This is here now called out by our author as a very dangerous or foolish passage in my discourse, which he thought he might highly advantage his reputation by reflecting upon. But as the orator said to his adversary, "Equidem vehementer laetor sum esse me, in quem to cum cuperes, nullam contumeliam jacere potueris, quae non ad maximam partem civium convenerit," - so it is here fallen out. If this man knows not that this is the judgement of the generality of the most learned divines of Europe upon the matter, of all who have engaged with any success against the Socinians, one or two only excepted, I can pity him, but not relieve him in his unhappiness, unless he will be pleased to take more pains in reading good books than as yet he appeareth to have done. But for the thing itself, and his reflections upon it, I shall observe yet some few things, and so pass on; - as first, the opposition that he makes unto my position is nothing but a crude assertion of one of the meanest and most absurd sophisms which the Socinians use in this cause, - namely, that everyone may remit injuries and offences as he pleaseth, without exacting any punishment: which, as it is true in most cases of injuries and offences against private persons, wherein no others are concerned but themselves, nor are they obliged by any law of the community to pursue their own right; so, with respect unto public rulers of the community, and unto such injuries and offences as are done against supreme rule, tending directly unto the dissolution of the society centring in it, to suppose that such rulers are not obliged to inflict those punishments which justice and the preservation of the community does require, is a fond and ridiculous imagination, - destructive, if pursued, unto all human society, and rendering government a useless thing in the world. Therefore, what this author (who seems to understand very little of these things) adds, "that governors may spare or punish as they see reason for it;" if the rule of that reason and judgement be not that justice which respects the good and benefit of the society or community, they do amiss, and sin, in sparing and punishing: which I suppose he will not ascribe unto the government of God. But I have fully debated these things in sundry writings against the Socinians; so that I will not again enlarge upon them without a more important occasion. It is not improbable but he knows where to find those discourses; and he may, when he please, exercise his skill upon them. Again: I cannot but remark upon the consequences that he chargeth this position withal; and yet I cannot do it without begging pardon for repeating such horrid and desperate blasphemies. P. 46, "The account," saith he, "of this is very plain; because the justice of God has glutted itself with revenge on sin in the death of Christ, and so hence forward we may be sure he will be very kind, as a revengeful man is when his passion is over." P. 47, "The sum of which is, that God is all love and patience when he has taken his fill of revenge; as others use to say that the devil is very good when he is pleased." P. 59, "The justice and vengeance of God, having their acting assigned them to the full, being glutted and satiated with the blood of Christ, God may," etc. I desire the reader to remember that the supposition whereon all these inferences are built, is only that of the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ with respect unto the holiness and righteousness of God as the author of the law, and the supreme governor of mankind. And is this language becoming a son of the church of England? Might it not be more justly expected from a Jew or a Mohammedan, - from Servetus or Socinus, from whom it is borrowed, - than from a son of this church, in a book published by license and authority? But it is to no purpose to complain: those who are pleased with these things, let them be so. But what if, after all, these impious, blasphemous consequences do follow as much upon this author's opinion as upon mine, and that with a greater show of probability? and what if, forgetting himself, within a few leaves he says the very same thing that I do, and casts himself under his own severest condemnation? For the first: I presume he owns the satisfaction of Christ, and I will suppose it until he directly denies it; therefore, also, he owns and grants that God would not pardon any sin, but upon a supposition of a previous satisfaction made by Jesus Christ. Here, then, lies all the difference between us; - that I say God could not, with respect unto his holiness and justice, as the author of the law and governor of the world, pardon sin absolutely without satisfaction: he says, that although he might have done so without the least diminution of his glory, yet he would not, but would have his Son by his death and suffering to make satisfaction for sin. I leave it now, not only to every learned and impartial reader, but to every man in his wits who understands common sense, whether the blasphemous consequences, which I will not again defile ink and paper with the expression of, do not seem to follow more directly upon his opinion than mine. For whereas I say not that God requireth any thing unto the exercise of grace and mercy, but what he grants that he does so also; - only I say he does it because requisite unto his justice; he, because he chose it by a free act of his will and wisdom, when he might have done otherwise, without the least disadvantage unto his righteousness or rule, or the least impeachment to the glory of his holiness. The odious blasphemies mentioned do apparently seem to make a nearer approach unto his assertion than unto mine. I cannot proceed unto a farther declaration of it, because I abhor the rehearsal of such horrid profaneness. The truth is, they follow not in the least (if there be any thing in them but odious satanical exprobrations of the truth of the satisfaction of Christ) on either opinion; though I say this author knows not well how to discharge himself of them. But what if he be all this while only roving in his discourse about the things that he has no due comprehension of, merely out of a transporting desire to gratify himself and others, in traducing and making exceptions against my writings? What if, when he comes a little to himself, and expresseth the notions that have been instilled into him, be saith expressly as much as I do, or have done in any place of my writings? It is plain he does so, p. 49, in these words: - "As for sin, the gospel assures us that God is an irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness, it being so contrary to his own most holy nature, that if he have any love for himself, and any esteem for his own perfections and works, he must hate sin, which is so unlike himself, and which destroys the beauty and perfection of his workmanship. For this end he sent his Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil," etc. Here is the substance of what at any time on this subject I have pleaded for: - "God is an irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness," that it "is contrary to his holy nature, so that he must hate it; and therefore sends his Son," etc. If sin be contrary to God's holy nature, - if he must hate it, unless he will not love himself, nor value his own perfections, and therefore sent his Son to make satisfaction, we are absolutely agreed in this matter, and our author has lost "operam et oleum" in his attempt. But for the matter itself, if he be able to come unto any consistency in his thoughts, or to know what is his own mind therein, I do hereby acquaint him that I have written one entire discourse on that subject, and have lately reinforced the same argument in my Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews, wherein my judgement on this point is declared and maintained. Let him attempt an answer, if he please, unto them, or do it if he can. What he farther discourseth on this subject, pp. 46, 47, consisteth only in odious representations and vile reflections on the principal doctrines of the gospel, not to be mentioned without offence and horror. But as to me, he proceeds to except, after his scoffing manner, against another passage, pp. 47, 48, - "But, however, sinners have great reasons to rejoice in it, when they consider the nature and end of God's patience and forbearance towards them, - viz., That it is God's taking a course, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, that we should not be destroyed notwithstanding our sins; that as before, the least sin could not escape without punishment, justice being so natural to God that he cannot forgive without punishing; so the justice of God being now satisfied by the death of Christ, the greatest sins can do us no hurt, but we shall escape with a 'notwithstanding our sins.' This, it seems, we learn from an acquaintance with Christ's person, though his gospel instructs us otherwise, that 'without holiness no man shall see God."' But he is here again at a loss, and understands not what he is about. That whereof he was discoursing is the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ, and that must be it which he maketh his inference from, but the passage he insists on, he lays down as expressive of the end of God's patience and forbearance towards sinners, which here is of no place nor consideration. But so it falls out, that he is seldom at any agreement with himself in any parts of his discourse; the reason whereof I do somewhat more than guess at. However, for the passage which he cites out of my discourse, I like it so well, as that I shall not trouble myself to inquire whether it be there or no, or on what occasion it is introduced. The words are, - "That God has, in his justice, wisdom, and goodness, taken a course that we should not be destroyed, notwithstanding our sins" (that is, to save sinners); "for he that believeth, although he be a sinner, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned," as one has assured us, whom I desire to believe and trust unto. If this be not so, what will become of this man and myself, with all our writings? for I know that we are both simmers; and if God will not save us, or deliver us from destruction, notwithstanding our sins, - that is, pardon them through the bloodshedding of Jesus Christ, wherein we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, - it had been better for us that we had never been born. And I do yet again say, that God does not, that he will not, pardon the least sin, without respect unto the satisfaction of Christ, according as the apostle declares, 2 Cor. 5: 18-21; and the expression which must be set on the other side, on the supposition whereof the greatest sin can do us no harm, is this man's addition, which his usual respect unto truth has produced. But, withal, I never said, I never wrote, that the only supposition of the satisfaction of Christ is sufficient of itself to free us from destruction by sin. Owen, A Vindication... (continued in File 3...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-02.txt .