Owen, A Vindication... File 4
    (... continued from File 3)

         If the reader will be at the pains to look on the
    discourse whence these passages are taken, I shall desire
    no more of his favour but that he profess himself to be a
    Christian, and then let him freely pronounce whether he
    find any thing in it obnoxious to censure. Or, I desire
    that any man, who has not forfeited all reason and
    ingenuity unto faction and party, if he differ from me,
    truly to state wherein, and oppose what I have said with
    an answer unto the testimonies wherewith it is confirmed,
    referred unto in the margin of my discourse. But the way
    of this author's proceeding, if there be no plea to be
    made for it from his ignorance and unacquaintedness not
    only with the person of Christ, but with most of the
    other things he undertakes to write about, is altogether
    inexcusable. The way whereby I have expressed the consent
    of the soul in the receiving of Jesus Christ, to be
    justified, sanctified, saved by him, I still avow, as
    suited unto the mind of the Holy Ghost, and the
    experience of them that really believe. And whereas I
    added, that before believing, the soul did seek for
    salvation by the works of the law, as it is natural unto
    all, and as the Holy Ghost affirms of some (whose words
    alone I used, and expressly quoted that place from whence
    I took them, - namely, Rom. 9: 31, this man adds, as an
    exposition of that expression, "That is, by obeying the
    laws of the gospel." But he knew that these were the
    words of the apostle, or he did not; if he did not, nor
    would take notice of them so to be, although directed to
    the place from whence they are taken, it is evident how
    meet he is to debate matters of this nature and
    concernment, and how far he is yet from being in danger
    to "pore out his eyes" in reading the Scripture, as he
    pretends. If he did know them to be his words, why does
    he put such a sense upon them as, in his own
    apprehension, is derogatory to gospel obedience? Whatever
    he thought of beforehand, it is likely he will now say
    that it is my sense, and not the apostle's, which he
    intends. But how will he prove that I intended any other
    sense than that of the apostle? how should this appear?
    Let him, if he can, produce any word in my whole
    discourse intimating any other sense. Nay, it is evident
    that I had no other intention but only to refer unto that
    place of the apostle, and the proper sense of it; which
    is to express the mind and acting of those who, being
    ignorant of the righteousness of God, go about to
    establish their own righteousness; as he farther explains
    himself, Rom. 10: 3, 4. That I could not intend obedience
    unto the laws of the gospel is so evident, that nothing
    but abominable prejudice or ignorance could hinder any
    man from discerning it. For that faith which I expressed
    by the soul's consent to take Christ as a saviour and a
    ruler, is the very first act of obedience unto the
    gospel: so that therein or thereon to exclude obedience
    unto the gospel, is to deny what I assert; which, under
    the favour of this author, I understand myself better
    than to do. And as to all other acts of obedience unto
    the laws of the gospel, following and proceeding from
    sincere believing, it is openly evident that I could not
    understand them when I spake only of what was antecedent
    unto them. And if this man knows not what transactions
    are in the minds of many before they do come unto the
    acceptance of Christ on his own terms, or believe in him
    according to the tenor of the gospel, there is reason to
    pity the people that are committed unto his care and
    instruction, what regard soever ought to be had unto
    himself. And his pitiful trifling in the exposition he
    adds of this passage, "To be saved without doing any
    thing, without obeying thee, and the law," does but
    increase the guilt of his prevarications; for the words
    immediately added in my discourse are, - "And although I
    have walked according unto mine own mind, yet now I
    wholly give up myself to be ruled by thy Spirit;" which,
    unto the understanding of all men who understand any
    thing in these matters, signify no less than an
    engagement unto the universal relinquishment of sin, and
    entire obedience unto Jesus Christ in all things. "But
    this," saith he, "is a pretty compliment that the soul
    makes to Christ after all." But why is this to be
    esteemed only a "pretty compliment?" It is spoken at the
    same time, and, as it were, with the same breath, there
    being in the discourse no period between this passage and
    that before; and why must it be esteemed quite of another
    nature, so that herein the soul should only compliment,
    and be real in what is before expressed? What if one
    should say, it was real only in this latter expression
    and engagement, that the former was only a "pretty
    compliment?" May it not, with respect unto my sense and
    intention (from any thing in my words, or that can be
    gathered from them, or any circumstances of the place),
    be spoken with as much regard unto truth and honesty?
    What religion these men are of I know not. If it be such
    as teacheth them these practices, and countenanceth them
    in them, I openly declare that I am not of it, nor would
    be so for all that this world can afford. I shall have
    done, when I have desired him to take notice, that I not
    only believe and maintain the necessity of obedience unto
    all the laws, precepts, commands, and institutions of the
    gospel, - of universal holiness, the mortification of all
    sin, fruitfulness in good works, in all that intend or
    design salvation by Jesus Christ; but also have proved
    and confirmed my persuasion and assertions by better and
    more cogent arguments than any which, by his writings, he
    seems as yet to be acquainted withal. And unless he can
    prove that I have spoken or written any thing to the
    contrary, or he can disprove the arguments whereby I have
    confirmed it, I do here declare him a person altogether
    unfit to be dealt withal about things of this nature, his
    ignorance or malice being invincible; nor shall I, on any
    provocation, ever hereafter take notice of him until he
    has mended his manners. 
         His third section, p. 76, consists of three parts: -
    First, "That some" (wherein it is apparent that I am
    chiefly, if not only, intended) "do found a religion upon
    a pretended acquaintance with Christ's person, without
    and besides the gospel;" whereunto he opposeth his
    running title of "No acquaintance with Christ but by
    revelation." Secondly, A supposition of a scheme of
    religion drawn from the knowledge of Christ's person;
    whereunto he opposeth another, which he judgeth better.
    Thirdly, An essay to draw up the whole plot and design of
    Christianity, with the method of the recovery of sinners
    unto God. In the first of these, I suppose that I am, if
    not solely, yet principally, intended; especially
    considering what he affirms, pp. 98, 99, namely, that "I
    plainly confess our religion is wholly owing unto
    acquaintance with the person of Christ, and could never
    have been clearly and savingly learned from the gospel,
    had we not first grown acquainted with his person." Now,
    herein there is an especial instance of that truth and
    honesty wherewith my writings are entertained by this
    sort of men. It is true, I have asserted that it is
    necessary for Christians to know Jesus Christ, - to be
    acquainted with his person that is (as I have fully and
    largely declared it in the discourse excepted against),
    the glory of his divine nature, the purity of his human,
    the infinite condescension of his person in the
    assumption of our nature, his love and grace, etc., as is
    at large there declared: and now I add, that he by whom
    this is denied is no Christian. Secondly, I have taught,
    that by this knowledge of the person of Christ, or an
    understanding of the great mystery of godliness, God
    manifested in the flesh, which we ought to pray for and
    labour after, we come more fully and clearly to
    understand sundry other important mysteries of heavenly
    truth; which without the knowledge of Christ we cannot
    attain unto. And how impertinent this man's exceptions
    are against this assertion, we have seen already. But,
    thirdly, that this knowledge of Christ, or acquaintance
    with him, is to be attained before we come to know the
    gospel, or by any other means than the gospel, or is any
    other but the declaration that is made thereof in and by
    the gospel, was never thought, spoken, or written by me,
    and is here falsely supposed by this author, as elsewhere
    falsely charged on me. And I again challenge him to
    produce any one letter or tittle out of any of my
    writings to give countenance unto this frostless calumny.
    And therefore, although I do not like his expression, p.
    77, "Whoever would understand the religion of our
    Saviour, must learn it from his doctrine, and not from
    his person," for many reasons I could give; yet I believe
    no less than he, that the efficacy of Christ's mediation
    depending on God's appointment can be known only by
    revelation, and that no man can draw any one conclusion
    from the person of Christ which the gospel has not
    expressly taught; because we can know no more of its
    excellency, worth, and works, than what is there
    revealed: whereby he may see how miserably ill-will,
    malice, or ignorance has betrayed him into the futilous
    pains of writing this section upon a contrary supposition
    falsely imputed unto me. And as for his drawing schemes
    of religion, I must tell him, and let him disprove it if
    he be able, I own no religion, no article of faith, but
    what is taught expressly in the Scripture, mostly
    confirmed by the ancient general councils of the
    primitive church, and the writings of the most learned
    fathers, against all sorts of heretics, especially the
    Gnostics, Photinians, and Pelagians, consonant to the
    articles of the church of England, and the doctrine of
    all the reformed churches of Europe. And if in the
    exposition of any place of Scripture I dissent from any
    that, for the substance of it, own the religion I do, I
    do it not without cogent reasons from the Scripture
    itself; and where, in any opinions which learned men have
    (and, it may be, always had) different apprehensions
    about, which has not been thought to prejudice the unity
    of faith amongst them, I hope I do endeavour to manage
    that dissent with that modesty and sobriety which
    becometh me. And as for the schemes, plots, or designs of
    religion or Christianity, given us by this author and
    owned by him (it being taken pretendedly from the person
    of Christ, when it is hoped that he may have a better to
    give us from the gospel, seeing he has told us we must
    learn our religion from his doctrine and not from his
    person); besides that it is liable unto innumerable
    exceptions in particular, which may easily be given in
    against it by such as have nothing else to do, whereas it
    makes no mention of the effectual grace of Christ and the
    gospel for the conversion and sanctification of sinners,
    and the necessity thereof unto all acts of holy
    obedience, - it is merely Pelagianism, and stands
    anathematised by sundry councils of the ancient church. I
    shall not, therefore, concern myself farther in any
    passages of this section, most of them wherein it
    reflects on others standing in competition for truth and
    ingenuity with the foundation and design of the whole;
    only I shall say, that the passage of pp. 88, 89, - "This
    made the divine goodness so restlessly zealous and
    concerned for the recovery of mankind; various ways he
    attempted in former ages, but with little success, as I
    observed before; but at last God sent his Son, our Lord
    Jesus Christ, into the world," without a very cautious
    explanation and charitable construction, is false,
    scandalous, and blasphemous. For allow this author, who
    contends so severely for propriety of expressions,
    against allusions and metaphors, to say that the divine
    goodness was "restlessly zealous and concerned" (for,
    indeed, such is our weakness, that, whether we will or
    no, we must sometimes learn and teach divine things in
    such words as are suited to convey an apprehension of
    them unto our minds, though, in their application unto
    the divine nature, they are incapable of being understood
    in the propriety of their signification, though this be
    as untowardly expressed as any thing I have of late met
    withal); yet what colour can be put upon, what excuse can
    be made for, this doctrine, that "God in former ages, by
    various ways, attempted the recovery of mankind, but with
    little success," I know not. Various attempts in God for
    any end without success, do not lead the mind into right
    notions of his infinite wisdom and omnipotence; and that
    God, by any way, at any time, attempted the recovery of
    mankind distinctly and separately from the sending of his
    Son, is lewdly false. 
         In the greatest part of his fourth section,
    entitled, "How men pervert the Scripture to make it
    comply with their fancy," I am not much concerned; save
    that the foundation of the whole, and that which animates
    his discourse from first to last, is laid in an impudent
    calumny, - namely, that I declare that "our 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 we not first grown
    acquainted with his person." This shameless falsehood is
    that alone whence he takes occasion and confidence, to
    reproach myself and others, to condemn the doctrine of
    all the reformed churches and openly to traduce and
    vilify the Scripture itself. I shall only briefly touch
    on some of the impotent dictates of this great corrector
    of divinity and religion. His discourse of accommodating
    Scripture expressions to men's own dreams, pp. 99-101,
    being such as any man may use concerning any other men on
    the like occasion, if they have a mind unto it, and
    intend to have no more regard to their consciences than
    some others seem to have, may be passed by. P. 102, he
    falls upon the ways of expounding Scripture among those
    whom he sets himself against, and positively affirms,
    "that there are two ways of it in great vogue among them:
    - First, By the sound and clink of the words and phrases;
    which, as he says, is all some men understand by keeping
    a form of sound words. Secondly, When this will not do,
    they reason about the sense of them from their own
    preconceived notions and opinions, and prove that this
    must be the meaning of Scripture, because otherwise it is
    not reconcilable to their dreams; which is called
    expounding Scripture by the analogy of faith." 
         Thus far he; and yet we shall have the same man not
    long hence pleading for the necessity of holiness. But I
    wish, for my part, he would take notice that I despise
    that holiness, and the principles of it, which will allow
    men to coin, invent, and publish such notorious untruths
    against any sort of men whatever. And whereas, by what
    immediately follows, I seem to be principally intended in
    this charge, as I know the untruth of it, so I have
    published some expositions on some parts of the Scripture
    to the judgement of the Christian world; to which I
    appeal from the censures of this man and his companions,
    as also for those which, if I live and God will, I shall
    yet publish; and do declare, that, for reasons very
    satisfactory to my mind, I will not come to him nor them
    to learn how to expound the Scripture. 
         But he will justify his charge by particular
    instances, telling us, p. 102, "Thus when men are
    possessed with a fancy of an acquaintance with Christ's
    person, then to know Christ can signify nothing else but
    to know his person and all his personal excellencies, and
    beauties, fulness, and preciousness, etc. And when Christ
    is said to be made wisdom to us, this is a plain proof
    that we must learn all our spiritual wisdom from an
    acquaintance with his person; though some duller men can
    understand no more by it than the wisdom of those
    revelations Christ has made of God's will to the world."
    I would beg of this man, that if he has any regard unto
    the honour of Christian religion, or care of his own
    soul, he would be tender in this matter, and not reflect
    with his usual disdain upon the knowledge of the person
    of Christ. I must tell him again, what all Christians
    believe, - Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son
    of God incarnate. The person of Christ is Christ himself,
    and nothing else; his personal excellencies are the
    properties of his person, as his two natures are united
    therein, and as he was thereby made meet to be the
    mediator between God and man. To know Christ in the
    language of the Scripture, [of] the whole church of God
    ancient and present, in common sense and understanding,
    is to know the person of Christ as revealed and declared
    in the gospel, with respect unto the ends for which he is
    proposed and made known therein. And this knowledge of
    him, as it is accompanied with, and cannot be without,
    the knowledge of his mind and will, declared in his
    precepts, promises, and institutions, is effectual to
    work and produce, in the souls of them who so know him,
    that faith in him, and obedience unto him, which he does
    require. And what would this man have? He who is
    otherwise minded has renounced his Christianity, if ever
    he had any; and if he be thus persuaded, to what purpose
    is it to set up and combat the mormos and chimeras of his
    own imagination? Well, then, I do maintain, that to know
    Christ according to the gospel, is to know the person of
    Christ; for Christ and his person are the same. Would he
    now have me to prove this by testimonies or arguments, or
    the consent of the ancient church? I must beg his excuse
    at present; and so for the future, unless I have occasion
    to deal with Gnostics, Familists, or Quakers. And as for
    the latter clause, wherein Christ is said to be made
    wisdom unto us, he says, "Some duller men can understand
    no more by it than the wisdom of those revelations Christ
    has made of God's will to the world," - who are dull men
    indeed, and so let them pass. 
         His ensuing discourses, in pp. 103-105, contain the
    boldest reflections on, and openest derisions of, the
    expressions and way of teaching spiritual things
    warranted in and by the Scripture, that to my knowledge I
    ever read in a book licensed to be printed by public
    authority: as, in particular, the expressions of faith in
    Christ, by "coming unto him," and "receiving of him," -
    which are the words of the Holy Ghost, and used by him in
    his wisdom to instruct us in the nature of this duty, -
    are, amongst others, the subjects of his scorn. The first
    part of it, though I remember not to have given any
    occasion to be particularly concerned in it, I shall
    briefly consider. P. 103, "Thus when men have first
    learned, from an acquaintance with Christ, to place all
    their hopes of salvation in a personal union with Christ,
    from whom they receive the free communications of pardon
    and grace, righteousness and salvation, what more plain
    proof can any man who is resolved to believe this, desire
    of it, than 1 John 5: 12, 'He that has the Son has life,
    and he that has not the Son has not life?' And what can
    having the Son signify, but having an interest in him,
    being made one with him? though some will be so perverse
    as to understand it of believing, and having his gospel.
    But the phrase of 'having the Son,' confutes that dull
    and moral interpretation, especially when we remember it
    is called, 'being in Christ, and abiding in him;' which
    must signify a very near union between Christ's person
    and us." 
         I suppose that expression of "personal union" sprung
    out of design, and not out of ignorance; for, if I
    mistake not, he does somewhere in his book take notice
    that it is disclaimed, and only a union of believers with
    or unto the person of Christ asserted; or, if it be his
    mistake, all comes to the same issue. Personal, or
    hypostatical union, is that of different natures in the
    same person, giving them the same singular subsistence.
    This none pretend unto with Jesus Christ. But it is the
    union of believers unto the person of Christ which is
    spiritual and mystical, whereby they are in him and he in
    them, and so are one with him, their head, as members of
    his mystical body, which is pleaded for herein, with the
    free communications of grace, righteousness, and
    salvation, in the several and distinct ways whereby we
    are capable to receive them from him, or be made
    partakers of them; [in this] we place all hopes of
    salvation. And we do judge, moreover, that he who is
    otherwise minded must retake himself unto another gospel;
    for he completely renounceth that in our Bibles. Is this
    our crime, - that which we are thus charged with, and
    traduced for? Is the contrary hereunto the doctrine that
    the present church of England approveth and instructs her
    children in? Or does any man think that we will be scared
    from our faith and hope by such weak and frivolous
    attempts against them? Yea, but it may be it is not so
    much the thing itself, as the miserable proof which we
    produce from the Scripture in the confirmation of it; for
    we do it from that of the apostle, 1 John 5: 12. If he
    think that we prove these things only by this testimony,
    he is mistaken at his wonted rate. Our faith herein is
    built upon innumerable express testimonies of the
    Scripture, - indeed the whole revelation of the will of
    God and the way of salvation by Jesus Christ in the
    gospel. Those who prove it, also, from this text, have
    sufficient ground and reason for what they plead. And,
    notwithstanding the pleasant scoffing humour of this
    author, we yet say that it is perverse folly for any one
    to say that the having of the Son or Christ expressed in
    the text, does intend either the having an interest in
    him and union with him, or the obeying of his gospel,
    exclusively to the other, - these being inseparable, and
    included in the same expression. And as to what he adds
    about being in Christ, and abiding in him, - which are
    the greatest privileges of believers, and that as
    expressed in words taught by the Holy Ghost, - it is of
    the same strain of profaneness with much of what ensues;
    which I shall not farther inquire into. 
         I find not myself concerned in his ensuing talk, but
    only in one reflection on the words of the Scripture, and
    the repetition of his old, putid, and shameless calumny,
    p. 108, until we come to p. 126, where he arraigns an
    occasional discourse of mine about the necessity of
    holiness and good works; wherein he has only filched out
    of the whole what he thought he could wrest unto his end,
    and scoffingly descant upon. I shall, therefore, for
    once, transcribe the whole passage as it lies in my book,
    and refer it to the judgement of the reader, p, 206: - 
         "2. The second objection is, "That if the
    righteousness and obedience of Christ to the law be
    imputed unto us, then what need we yield obedience
    ourselves?" To this, also, I shall return answer as
    briefly as I can in the ensuing observations: - 
         "(1.) The placing of our gospel obedience on the
    right foot of account (that it may neither be exalted
    into a state, condition, use, or end, not given it of
    God; nor any reason, cause, motive, end, necessity of it,
    on the other hand, taken away, weakened, or impaired), is
    a matter of great importance. Some make our obedience,
    the works of faith, our works, the matter or cause of our
    justification; some, the condition of the imputation of
    the righteousness of Christ; some, the qualification of
    the person justified, on the one hand; some exclude all
    the necessity of them, and turn the grace of God into
    lasciviousness, on the other. To debate these differences
    is not my present business; only, I say, on this and
    other accounts, the right stating of our obedience is of
    great importance as to our walking with God. 
         "(2.) We do by no means assign the same place,
    condition, state, and use to the obedience of Christ
    imputed to us, and our obedience performed to God. If we
    did, they were really inconsistent. And therefore those
    who affirm that our obedience is the condition or cause
    of our justification, do all of them deny the imputation
    of the obedience of Christ unto us. The righteousness of
    Christ is imputed to us, as that on the account whereof
    we are accepted and esteemed righteous before God, and
    are really so, though not inherently. We are as truly
    righteous with the obedience of Christ imputed to us as
    Adam was, or could have been, by a complete righteousness
    of his own performance. So Rom. 5: 18, by his obedience
    we are made righteous, - made so truly, and so accepted;
    as by the disobedience of Adam we are truly made
    trespassers, and so accounted. And this is that which the
    apostle desires to be found in, in opposition to his own
    righteousness, Phil 3: 9. But our own obedience is not
    the righteousness whereupon we are accepted and justified
    before God; although it be acceptable to God that we
    should abound therein. And this distinction the apostle
    does evidently deliver and confirm, so as nothing can be
    more clearly revealed: Eph. 2: 8-10, "For by grace are ye
    saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is
    the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto
    good works, which God has prepared that we should walk in
    them." We are saved, or justified (for that it is whereof
    the apostle treats), "by grace through faith," which
    receives Jesus Christ and his obedience; "not of works,
    lest any man should boast." "But what works are they that
    the apostle intends?" The works of believers, as in the
    very beginning of the next words is manifest: "'For we
    are,' we believers, with our obedience and our works, of
    whom I speak." "Yea; but what need, then, of works?" Need
    still there is: "We are his workmanship," etc. 
         "Two things the apostle intimates in these words: - 
         "[1.] A reason why we cannot be saved by works, -
    namely, because we do them not in or by our own strength;
    which is necessary we should do, if we will be saved by
    them, or justified by them. "But this is not so," saith
    the apostle; "for we are the workmanship of God," etc.; -
    all our works are wrought in us, by full and effectual
    undeserved grace. 
         "[2.] An assertion of the necessity of good works,
    notwithstanding that we are not saved by them; and that
    is, that God has ordained that we shall walk in them:
    which is a sufficient ground of our obedience, whatever
    be the use of it. 
         "If you will say then, "What are the true and proper
    gospel grounds, reasons, uses, and motives of our
    obedience; whence the necessity thereof may be
    demonstrated, and our souls be stirred up to abound and
    be fruitful therein?" I say, they are so many, and lie so
    deep in the mystery of the gospel and dispensation of
    grace, spread themselves so throughout the whole
    revelation of the will of God unto us, that to handle
    them fully and distinctly, and to give them their due
    weight, is a thing that I cannot engage in, lest I should
    be turned aside from what I principally intend. I shall
    only give you some brief heads of what might at large be
    insisted on: - 
         "1st. Our universal obedience and good works are
    indispensably necessary, from the sovereign appointment
    and will of God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

    Owen, A Vindication...
    (continued in File 5...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-04.txt