Owen, A Vindication... File 3 (... continued from File 2) There is, moreover, required on our part, faith and repentance; without which we can have no advantage by it, or interest in it. But he seems to understand by that expression, "notwithstanding our sins," though we should live and die in our sins without faith, repentance, or new obedience; for he supposeth it sufficient to manifest the folly of this assertion, to mention that declaration of the mind of Christ in the gospel, that "without holiness no man shall see God." I wonder whether he thinks that those who believe the satisfaction of Christ, and the necessity thereof, wherein God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," do believe that the personal holiness of men is [not] indispensably necessary unto the pleasing and enjoyment of God. If he suppose that the satisfaction of Christ and the necessity of our personal holiness are really inconsistent, he must be treated in another manner: if he suppose that although they are consistent, yet those whom he opposeth do so trust to the satisfaction of Christ, as to judge that faith, repentance, and holiness, are not indispensably necessary to salvation, he manifests how well skilled he is in their principles and practices. I have always looked on it as a piece of the highest disingenuity among the Quakers, that when any one pleads for the satisfaction of Christ or the imputation of his righteousness, they will clamorously cry out, and hear nothing to the contrary, "Yea, you are for the saving of polluted, defiled sinners; let men live in their sins and be all foul within, it is no matter, so long as they have a righteousness and a Christ without them." I have, I say, always looked upon it as a most disingenuous procedure in them, seeing no one is catechised amongst us, who knoweth not that we press a necessity of sanctification and holiness, equal with that of justification and righteousness. And yet this very course is here steered by this author, contrary to the constant declaration of the judgements of them with whom he has to do, - contrary to the common evidence of their writings, preaching, praying, disputing unto another purpose; and that without relieving or countenancing himself by any one word or expression used or uttered by them. He chargeth [them] as though they made holiness a very indifferent thing, and such as it does not much concern any man whether he have an interest in or no; and I know not whether is more marvellous unto me, that some men can so far concoct all principles of conscience and modesty as to publish such slanderous untruths, or that others can take contentment and satisfaction therein, who cannot but understand their disingenuity and falsehood. His proceed in the same page is to except against that revelation of the wisdom of God which I affirm to have been made in the person and sufferings of Christ, which I thought I might have asserted without offence. But this man will have it, that "there is no wisdom therein, if justice be so natural to God, that nothing could satisfy him but the death of his own Son." That any thing else could satisfy divine justice but the sufferings and death of the Son of God, so far as I know, he is the first that found out or discovered, if he has yet found it out. Some have imagined that God will pardon sin, and does so, without any satisfaction at all; and some have thought that other ways of the reparation of lost mankind were possible, without this satisfaction of divine justice, which yet God in his wisdom determined on; but that satisfaction could be any otherwise made to divine justice, but by the death of the Son of God incarnate, none have used to say who know what they say in these things. "But wisdom," he saith, "consists in the choice of the best and fittest means to attain an end, when there were more ways than one of doing it; but it requires no great wisdom to choose when there is but one possible way." Yea, this it is to measure God, - things infinite and divine, by ourselves. Does this man think that God's ends, as ours, have an existence in themselves out of him, antecedent unto any acts of his divine wisdom? Does he imagine that he balanceth probable means for the attaining of an end, choosing some and rejecting others? Does he surmise that the acts of divine wisdom with respect unto the end and means are so really distinct, as the one to have a priority in time before the others? Alas, that men should have the confidence to publish such slight and crude imaginations! Again: the Scripture, which so often expresseth the incarnation of the Son of God, and the whole work of his mediation thereon, as the effect of the infinite wisdom of God, - as that wherein the stores, riches, and treasures of it are laid forth, - does nowhere so speak of it in comparison with other means not so suited unto the same end, but absolutely, and as it is in its own nature; unless it be when it is compared with those typical institutions which, being appointed to resemble it, some did rest in. And lastly, whereas there was but this one way for the redemption of mankind, and the restoration of the honour of God's justice and holiness, as he is the supreme lawgiver and governor of the universe; and whereas this one way was not in the least pervious unto any created understanding, angelical or human, nor could the least of its concerns have ever entered into the hearts of any (nor, it may be, shall they ever know or be able to find it out unto perfection, but it will be left the object of their admiration unto eternity); - if this author can see no wisdom, or no great wisdom, in the finding out and appointing of this way, who can help it? I wish he would more diligently attend unto their teachings who are able to instruct him better; and from whom, as having no prejudice against them, he may be willing to learn. But this is the least part of what this worthy censurer of theological discourses rebukes and corrects. For whereas I had said, that we "might learn our disability to answer the mind and will of God in all or any part of the obedience he requireth," that is, without Christ or out of him; he adds, "That is, that it is impossible for us to do any thing that is good, but we must be acted, like machines, by an external force, - by the irresistible power of the grace and Spirit of God. This, I am sure, is a new discovery; we learn no such thing from the gospel, and I do not see how he proves it from an acquaintance with Christ." But if he intends what he speaks, "we can do no good, but must be acted, like machines, by an external force," and chargeth this on me, it is a false accusation, proceeding from malice or ignorance, or a mixture of both. If he intend, that we can of ourselves do any thing that is spiritually good and acceptable before God, without the efficacious work of the Spirit and grace of God in us, which I only deny, he is a Pelagian, and stands anathematised by many councils of the ancient church. And [as] for what is my judgement about the impotency that is in us by nature unto any spiritual good, - the necessity of the effectual operation of the Spirit of God in and to our conversion, with his aids and assistance of actual grace in our whole course of obedience, which is no other but that of the ancient church, the most learned fathers, and the church of England itself in former days, - I have now sufficiently declared and confirmed it in another discourse; whither this author is remitted, either to learn to speak honestly of what he opposeth, or to understand it better, or answer it if he can. He adds, "But still there is a more glorious discovery than this behind; and that is, the glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained (I suppose he means by God) is discovered in Christ, - namely, for the demonstration of God's vindictive justice, in measuring out to it a meet recompense of reward, and for the praise of God's glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; - that is, that it could not be known how just and severe God is, but by punishing sin, nor how good and gracious God is, but by pardoning of it; and, therefore, lest his justice and mercy should never be known to the world, he appoints and ordains sin to this end, - that is, decrees that men shall sin that he may make some of them the vessels of his wrath, and the examples of his fierce vengeance and displeasure, and others the vessels of his mercy, to the praise and glory of his free grace in Christ. This, indeed, is such a discovery as nature and revelation could not make," p. 51; which, in the next page, he calls God's "trickling and bartering with sin and the devil for his glory." Although there is nothing in the words here reported as mine which is not capable of a fair defence, seeing it is expressly affirmed that "God set forth his Son to be a propitiation to declare his righteousness," yet I know not how it came to pass that I had a mind to turn unto the passage itself in my discourse, which I had not done before on any occasion, as not supposing that he would falsify my words, with whom it was so easy to pervert my meaning at any time, and to reproach what he could not confute. But, that I may give a specimen of this man's honesty and ingenuity, I shall transcribe the passage which he excepts against, because I confess it gave me some surprisal upon its first perusal. My words are these: "There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted withal. Sin, in its own nature, tends merely to the dishonour of God, the debasement of his majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it is. Hell itself is but the filling of wretched creatures with the fruit of their own devices. The combinations and threats of God in the law do manifest one other end of it, - even the demonstration of the vindicative justice of God in measuring out unto it a meet recompense of reward. But here the law stays, and with it all other light, and discovers no other use or end of it at all. In the Lord Jesus Christ there is the manifestation of another and more glorious end, to wit, the praise of God's glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; - God having taken order in Christ, that that thing which tended merely to his dishonour should be managed to his infinite glory, and that which of all things he desired to exalt, - even that he may be known and believed to be a God pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sin." Such was my ignorance, that I did not think that any Christian, unless he were a professed Socinian, would ever have made exceptions against any thing in this discourse; the whole of it being openly proclaimed in the gospel, and confirmed in the particulars by sundry texts of Scripture, quoted in the margin of my book, which this man took no notice of. For the advantage he would make from the expression about the end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained, it is childish and ridiculous; for every one who is not wilfully blind must see, that, by "ordained," I intended, not any ordination as to the futurition of sin, but to the disposal of sin to its proper end being committed, or to ordain it unto its end upon a supposition of its being; which quite spoils this author's ensuing harangue. But my judgement in this matter is better expressed by another than I am able to do it myself, and, therefore, in his words I shall represent it. It is Augustine: saith he, "Saluberrime confitemur quod rectissime credimus, Deum Dominumque rerum omnium qui creavit omnia bona valde, et mala ex bonis exortura esse praescivit, et scivit magis ad suam omnipotentissimam bonitaten pertinere, etiam de malis benefacere, quam mala esse non sinere; sic ordinasse angelorum et hominum vitam, ut in ea prius ostenderet quid posset eorum liberum arbitrium, deinde quid posset quae gratiae beneficium, justitiaeque judicium." This, our author would have to be God's "bartering with sin and the devil for his glory;" the bold impiety of which expression, among many others, for whose necessary repetition I crave pardon, manifests with what frame of spirit, with what reverence of God himself and all holy things, this discourse is managed. But it seems I add, that "the demonstration of God's justice in measuring out unto sin a meet recompense of reward is discovered in Christ, as this author says." Let him read again, "The combinations and threatening of God in the law," etc. If this man were acquainted with Christ, he could not but learn somewhat more of truth and modesty, unless he be wilfully stupid. But what is the crime of this paragraph? That which it teacheth is, that sin, in its own nature, has no end but the dishonour of God and the eternal ruin of the sinner; that, by the sentence and curse of the law, God has manifested that he will glorify his justice in the punishing of it; as also, that, in and through Jesus Christ, he will glorify grace and mercy in its pardon, on the terms of the gospel. What would he be at? If he have a mind to quarrel with the Bible, and to conflict the fundamental principles of Christianity, to what purpose does he cavil at my obscure discourses, when the proper object of his displeasure lies plainly before him? Let us proceed yet a little farther with our author, although I confess myself to be already utterly wearied with the perusal of such vain and frivolous imaginations. Yet thus he goes on, p. 53, "Thus much for the knowledge of ourselves with respect to sin, which is hid only in the Lord Christ. But then we learn what our righteousness is, wherewith we must appear before God, from an acquaintance with Christ. We have already learned how unable we are to make atonement for our sins, without which they can never be forgiven, and how unable we are to do any thing that is good; - and yet nothing can deliver us from the justice and wrath of God, but a full satisfaction for our sins; and nothing can give us a title to a reward, but a perfect and unsinning righteousness. What should we do in this case? How shall we escape hell, or get to heaven, when we can neither expiate for our past sins, nor do any good for the time to come? Why, here we are relieved again by an acquaintance with Christ. His death expiates former iniquities, and removes the whole guilt of sin. But this is not enough, that we are not guilty, we must also be actually righteous; not only all sin is to be answered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled. Now, this righteousness we find only in Christ; we are reconciled to God by his death, and saved by his life. That actual obedience he yielded to the whole law of God, is that righteousness whereby we are saved; we are innocent by virtue of his sacrifice and expiation, and righteous with his righteousness." What is here interposed, - that we cannot do any good for the time to come, - must be interpreted of ourselves, without the aid or assistance of the grace of God. And the things here reported by this author, are so expressed and represented, to expose them to reproach and scorn, to have them esteemed not only false, but ridiculous. But whether he be in his wits or no, or what he intends, so to traduce and scoff at the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, I profess I know not. What is it he would deny? what is it he would assert? Are we able to make an atonement for our sins? Can we be forgiven without an atonement? Can we of ourselves do any good without the aid and assistance of grace? Can any thing we do be a full satisfaction for our sins, or deliver us from the wrath of God; that is, the punishment due to our sins? Does not the death of Christ expiate former iniquities, and remove the whole guilt of sin? Is the contrary to these things the doctrine of the church of England? Is this the religion which is authorised to be preached? and are these the opinions that are licensed to be published unto all the world? But, as I observed before, these things are other men's concernment more than mine, and with them I leave them. But I have said, as he quotes the place, "that we are reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and saved by his life, that actual obedience which he yielded to the whole law of God." As the former part of these words are expressly the apostle's, Rom. 5: 10, and so produced by me; so the next words I add are these of the same apostle, "If so be we are found in him, not having on our own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith;" which he may do well to consider, and answer when he can. Once more, and I shall be beholden to this author for a little respite of severity, whilst he diverts to the magisterial reproof of some other persons. Thus, then, he proceeds, p. 55: - "The third part of our wisdom is, to walk with God: and to that is required agreement, acquaintance, a way, strength, boldness, and aiming at the same end; and all these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in Jesus Christ." So far are my words, to which he adds: "The sum of which, in short, is this: - that Christ having expiated our sins, and fulfilled all righteousness for us, though we have no personal righteousness of our own, but are as contrary unto God as darkness is to light, and death to life, and a universal pollution and defilement to a universal and glorious holiness, and hatred to love; yet the righteousness of Christ is a sufficient, nay, the only foundation of our agreement, and, upon that, of our walking with God: though St John tells us, 'If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,' 1 John 1: 6, 7. And our only acquaintance with God and knowledge of him is hid in Christ, which his word and works could not discover, as you heard above. And he is the only way wherein we must walk with God; and we receive all our strength from him; and he makes us bold and confident too, having removed the guilt of sin, so that now we may look justice in the face, and whet our knife at the counter door, all our debts being discharged by Christ, as these bold acquaintances and familiars of Christ use to speak. And in Christ we design the same end that God does, which is the advancement of his own glory; that is, I suppose, by trusting unto the expiation and righteousness of Christ for salvation, without doing any thing ourselves, we take care that God shall not be wronged of the glory of his free grace, by a competition of any merits and deserts of our own." What the author affirms to be the sum of my discourse in that place, which, indeed, he does not transcribe, is, as to his affirmation of it, as contrary to God as darkness is to light, or death to life, or falsehood to the truth; that is, it is flagitiously false. That there is any agreement with God, or walking with God, for any men who have no personal righteousness of their own, but are contrary to God, etc., I never thought, I never wrote, nor any thing that should give the least countenance unto a suspicion to that purpose. The necessity of an habitual and actual personal, inherent righteousness, of sanctification and holiness, of gospel obedience, of fruitfulness in good works, unto all who intend to walk with God, or come to the enjoyment of him, I have asserted and proved, with other manner of arguments than this author is acquainted withal. The remainder of his discourse in this place is composed of immorality and profaneness. To the first I must refer his charge, that "our only acquaintance with God and knowledge of him is hid in Christ, which his word could not discover," as he again expresseth it, pp. 98, 99, "But that the reverend doctor confessed the plain truth, that their religion is wholly owing to an acquaintance with the person of Christ, and could never have been clearly and savingly learned from his gospel had they not first grown acquainted with his person;" which is plainly false. I own no knowledge of God, nor of Christ, but what is revealed in the word, as was before declared. And unto the other head belongs the most of what ensues; for what is the intendment of those reproaches which are cast on my supposed assertions? Christ is the only way wherein or whereby we must walk with God. Yes, so he says, "I am the way;" "There is no coming to God but by me;" he having consecrated for us in himself "a new and living way" of drawing nigh to God. We receive all our strength from him; yes, for he says, "Without me ye can do nothing." He makes us bold and confident also, having removed the guilt of sin. So the apostle tells us, Heb. 10: 19-22. What then what follows upon these plain, positive, divine assertions of the Scriptures. Why, then "we may look justice in the face, and whet our knife at the counter door." Goodly son of the church of England! Not that I impute these profane scoffings unto the church itself, - which I shall never do until it be discovered that the rulers of it do give approbation to such abominations; but I would mind the man of his relation to that church, which, to my knowledge, teacheth better learning and manners. From p. 57 to the end of his second section, p. 75, he giveth us a scheme of religion, which, in his scoffing language, he says, "men learn from an acquaintance with the person of Christ; and affirms, "that there needs no more to expose it to scorn with considering men than his proposal of it;" which therein he owns to be his design. I know not any peculiar concernment of mine therein, until he comes towards the close of it; which I shall particularly consider. But the substance of the religion which he thus avowedly attempts to expose to scorn, is the doctrine of God's eternal election; - of his infinite wisdom in sending his Son to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of sins, or in satisfying his justice, that sin might be pardoned, to the praise of the glory of his grace; - of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto them that do believe; - of a sense of sin, humiliation for it, looking unto Christ for life and salvation, as the Israelites looked up to the brazen serpent in the wilderness; - of going to Christ by faith for healing our natures and cleansing our sins; with some other doctrines of the same importance. These are the principles which, according to his ability, he sarcastically traduceth and endeavoureth to reflect scorn upon, by the false representation of some of them, and debasing others with an intermixture of vile and profane expressions. It is not impossible but that some or other may judge it their duty to rebuke this horrible (and yet were it not for the ignorance and profaneness of some men's minds, every way contemptible) petulancy. For my part I have other things to do, and shall only add, that I know no other Christian state in the world wherein such discourses would be allowed to pass under the signature of public authority. Only I wish the author more modesty and sobriety than to attempt, or suppose he shall succeed, in exposing to scorn the avowed doctrine in general of the church wherein he lives; and which has in the parts of it been asserted and defended by the greatest and most learned prelates thereof in the foregoing ages, such as Jewell, Whitgift, Abbot, Morton, Usher, Hall, Davenant, Prideaux, etc., with the most learned persons of its communion, as Reynolds, Whitaker, Hooker, Sutcliffe, etc., and others innumerable; testified unto in the name of this church by the divines, sent by public authority to the synod of Dort; - taught by the principal practical divines of this nation; and maintained by the most learned at the dignified clergy at this day. He is no doubt at liberty to dissent from the doctrine of the church, and of all the learned men thereof; but for a young man to suppose that, with a few loose, idle words, he shall expose to scorn that doctrine which the persons mentioned, and others innumerable, have not only explained, confirmed, and defended, with pains indefatigable, all kind of learning and skill, ecclesiastical, philosophical, and theological, in books and volumes, which the Christian world as yet knoweth, peruseth, and priseth, but also lived long in fervent prayers to God for the revelation of his mind and truth unto them, and in the holy practice of obedience suited unto the doctrines they professed, - is somewhat remote from that Christian humility which he ought not only to exercise in himself, but to give an example of unto others. But if this be the fruit of despising the knowledge of the person of Christ, - of the necessity of his satisfaction, of the imputation of his righteousness, of union unto his person as our head, - of a sense of the displeasure of God due to sin, - of the spirit of bondage and adoption, - of the corruption of nature, and one disability to do any thing that is spiritually good without the effectual aids of grace; - if these, I say, and the like issues of appearing pride and elation of mind, be the fruit and consequent of rejecting these principles of the doctrine of the gospel, it manifests that there is, and will be, a proportion between the errors of men's minds and the depravation of their affections. It were a most easy task to go over all the particulars mentioned by him, and to manifest how foully he has prevaricated in their representation, - how he has cast contempt on some duties of religion indispensably necessary unto salvation; and brought in the very words of the Scripture, - and that in the true proper sense and intendment of them, according to the judgement of all Christians, ancient and modern (as that of looking to Christ, as the Israelites looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness), - to bear a share and part in his scorn and contempt: as also, to defend and vindicate, not his odious, disingenuous expressions, but what he invidiously designeth to expose, beyond his ability to gainsay, or with any pretence of sober learning to reply unto. But I give it up into the hands of those who are more concerned in the chastisement of such imaginations. Only, I cannot but tell this author what I have learned by long observation, - namely, that those who, in opposing others, make it their design to [publish] and place their confidence in false representations, and invidious expressions of their judgements and opinions, waiving a true stating of the things in difference, and weighing of the arguments wherewith they are confirmed, - whatever pretence they may make of confidence, and contempt of them with whom they have to do, yet this way of writing proceeds from a secret sense of their disability to maintain their own opinions, or to reply to the seasonings of their adversaries in a fair and lawful disputation; or from such depraved affections as are sufficient to deter any sober person from the least communication in those principles which are so pleaded for. And the same I must say of that kind of writing (which in some late authors fills up almost every page in their books which, beyond a design to load the persons of men with reproaches and calumnies, consists only in the collecting of passages here and there, up and down, out of the writings of others; which, as cut off from the body of their discourses, and design of the places which they belong unto, may, with a little artifice, either of addition or detraction, with some false glosses, whereof we shall have an immediate instance, be represented weak, or untrue, or improper, or some way or other obnoxious to censure. When diligence, modesty, love of truth, sobriety, true use of learning, shall again visit the world in a more plentiful manner; though differences should continue amongst us, yet men will be enabled to manage them honestly, without contracting so much guilt on themselves, or giving such fearful offence and scandal unto others. But I return. That wherein I am particularly concerned, is the close wherewith he winds up this candid, ingenious discourse, p. 74. He quotes my words, "That 'the soul consents to take Christ on his own terms, to save him in his own way; and saith, Lord, I would have had thee and salvation in my way, that it might have been partly of mine endeavours, and as it were by the works of the law' (that is, by obeying the laws of the gospel); 'but I am now willing to receive thee, and to be saved in thy way, merely by grace' (that is, without doing any thing, without obeying thee). The most contented spouse, certainly, that ever was in the world, to submit to such hard conditions as to be saved for nothing. But what a pretty compliment does the soul make to Christ after all this, when she adds, 'And though I would have walked according to my own mind, yet now I wholly give up myself to be ruled by thy Spirit.'" Owen, A Vindication... 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