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
         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...
    (continued in File 4...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-03.txt