Owen, A Vindication... File 5 (... continued from File 4) "In general "This is the will of God, even your sanctification," or holiness, 1 Thess. 4: 3. This is that which God wills, which he requires of us, - that we be holy, that we be obedient, that we do his will as the angels do in heaven. The equity, necessity, profit, and advantage of this ground of our obedience might at large be insisted on; and, were there no more, this might suffice alone, - if it be the will of God, it is our duty: - "(1st.) The Father has ordained or appointed it. It is the will of the Father, Eph 2: 10. The Father is spoken of personally, Christ being mentioned as mediator. "(2dly.) The Son has ordained and appointed it as mediator. John 15: 16, "'I have ordained you, that ye should bring forth fruit' of obedience, and that it should remain." And, - "(3dly.) The holy Ghost appoints and ordains believers to works of obedience and holiness, and to work holiness in others. So, in particular, Acts 13: 2, he appoints and designs men to the great work of obedience in preaching the gospel. And in sinning, men sin against him. "2dly. Our holiness, our obedience, work of righteousness, is one eminent and especial end of the peculiar dispensation of Father, Son, and Spirit, in the business of exalting the glory of God in our salvation, - of the electing love of the Father, the purchasing love of the Son, and the operative love of the Spirit: - "(1st.) It is a peculiar end of the electing love of the Father, Eph 1: 4, "He has chosen us, that we should be holy and without blame." So Isa. 4: 3, 4. His aim and design in choosing of us was, that we should be holy and unblamable before him in love. This he is to accomplish, and will bring about in them that are his. "He chooses us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. 2: 13. This the Father designed as the first and immediate end of electing love; and proposes the consideration of that love as a motive to holiness, 1 John 4: 8-10. "(2dly.) It is so also of the exceeding love of the Son; whereof the testimonies are innumerable. I shall give but one or two: - Tit. 2: 14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This was his aim, his design, in giving himself for us; as Eph. 5: 25-27, "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish" 2 Cor. 5: 15; Rom. 6: 11. "(3dly.) It is the very work of the love of the Holy Ghost. His whole work upon us, in us, for us, consists in preparing of us for obedience; enabling of us thereunto, and bringing forth the fruits of it in us. And this he does in opposition to a righteousness of our own, either before it or to be made up by it, Tit. 3: 5. I need not insist on this. The fruits of the Spirit in us are known, Gal. 5: 22, 23. "And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our obedience and personal holiness: - God has appointed it, he requires it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the distinct dispensation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the work of our salvation. If God's sovereignty over us is to be owned, if his love towards us be to be regarded, if the whole work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for us, in us, be of any moment, our obedience is necessary. "3dly. It is necessary in respect of the end thereof; and that whether you consider God, ourselves, or the world: - "(1st.) The end of our obedience, in respect of God, is, his glory and honour, Mal. 1: 6. This is God's honour, - all that we give him. It is true, he will take his honour from the stoutest and proudest rebel in the world; but all we give him is in our obedience. The glorifying of God by our obedience is all that we are or can be. Particularly, - "[1st.] It is the glory of the Father. Matt. 5: 16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." By our walking in the light of faith does glory arise to the Father. The fruits of his love, of his grace, of his kindness, are seen upon us; and God is glorified in our behalf. And, - "[2dly.] The Son is gloried thereby. It is the will of God that as all men honour the Father, so should they honour the Son, John 5: 23. And how is this done? By believing in him, John 14: l; obeying of him. Hence, John 17: 10, he says he is glorified in believers; and prays for an increase of grace and union for them, that he may yet be more glorified, and all might know that, as mediator, he was sent of God. "[3dly.] The Spirit is gloried also by it. He is grieved by our disobedience, Eph. 4: 30; and therefore his glory is in our bringing forth fruit. He dwells in us, as in his temple; which is not to be defiled. Holiness becometh his habitation for ever. "Now, if this that has been said be not sufficient to evince a necessity of our obedience, we must suppose ourselves to speak with a sort of men who regard neither the sovereignty, nor love, nor glory of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. Let men say what they please, though our obedience should be all lost, and never regarded (which is impossible, for God is not unjust, to forget our labour of love), yet here is a sufficient bottom, ground, and reason of yielding more obedience unto God than ever we shall do whilst we live in this world. I speak also only of gospel grounds of obedience, and not of those that are natural and legal, which are indispensable to all mankind. "(2dly.) The end in respect of ourselves immediately is threefold: - [1st.] Honour. [2dly.] Peace. [3dly.] Usefulness. "[1st.] Honour. It is by holiness that we are made like unto God, and his image is renewed again in us. This was our honour at our creation, this exalted us above all our fellow-creatures here below, - we were made in the image of God. This we lost by sin, and became like the beasts that perish. To this honour, of conformity to God, of bearing his image, are we exalted again by holiness alone. "Be ye holy," says God, "for I am holy," 1 Pet. 1: 16; and, "Be ye perfect" (that is, in doing good), "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," Matt. 5: 48, - in a likeness and conformity to him. And herein is the image of God renewed; Eph. 4: 23, 24, therein we "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth." This was that which originally was attended with power and dominion; - is still all that is beautiful or comely in the world. How it makes men honourable and precious in the sight of God, of angels, of men; how alone it is that which is not despised, which is of price before the Lord; what contempt and scorn he has of them in whom it is not, - in what abomination he has them and all their ways, - might easily be evinced. "[2dly.] Peace. By it we have communion with God, wherein peace alone is to be enjoyed. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest;" and, "There is no peace" to them, "saith my God," Isa. 57: 20; 2]. There is no peace, rest, or quietness, in a distance, separation, or alienation from God. He is the rest of our souls. In the light of his countenance is life and peace. Now, "if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another," 1 John 1: 7; "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," verse 3. He that walks in the light of new obedience, he has communion with God, and in his presence is fulness of joy for ever; without it, there is nothing but darkness, and wandering, and confusion. "[3dly.] Usefulness. A man without holiness is good for nothing. "Ephraim," says the prophet, "is an empty vine, that brings forth fruit to itself" And what is such a vine good for? Nothing. Saith another prophet, "A man cannot make so much as a pin of it, to hang a vessel on." A barren tree is good for nothing, but to be cut down for the fire. Notwithstanding the seeming usefulness of men who serve the providence of God in their generations, I could easily manifest that the world and the church might want them, and that, indeed, in themselves they are good for nothing. Only the holy man is commune bonum. "(3dly.) The end of it in respect of others in the world is manifold: - "[1st.] It serves to the conviction and stopping the mouths of some of the enemies of God, both here and hereafter: - 1. Here. 1 Pet. 3: 16, "Having a good conscience; that, wherein they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." By our keeping of a good conscience men will be made ashamed of their false accusations; that whereas their malice and hatred of the ways of God has provoked them to speak all manner of evil of the profession of them, by the holiness and righteousness of the saints, they are convinced and made ashamed, as a thief is when he is taken, and be driven to acknowledge that God is amongst them, and that they are wicked themselves, John 17: 23. 2. Hereafter. It is said that the saints shall judge the world. It is on this, as well as upon other considerations: their good works, their righteousness, their holiness, shall be brought forth, and manifested to all the world; and the righteousness of God's judgements against wicked men be thence evinced. "See," says Christ, "these are they that I own, whom you so despised and abhorred; and see their works following them: this and that they have done, when you wallowed in your abominations," Matt. 25: 42, 43. "[2dly.] The conversion of others. 1 Pet. 2: 12, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation," Matt. 5: 16. Even revilers, persecutors, evil-speakers, have been overcome by the constant holy walking of professors; and when their day of visitation has come, have glorified God on that account, 1 Pet. 3: 1, 2. "[3dly.] The benefit of all; partly in keeping off judgements from the residue of men, as ten good men would have preserved Sodom: partly by their real communication of good to them with whom they have to do in their generation. Holiness makes a man a good man, useful to all; and others eat of the fruits of the Spirit that he brings forth continually. "[4thly.] It is necessary in respect of the state and condition of justified persons; and that whether you consider their relative state of acceptation, or their state of sanctification: - "First. They are accepted and received into friendship with a holy God, - a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, - who hates every unclean thing. And is it not necessary that they should be holy who are admitted into his presence, walk in his sight, - yea, lie in his bosom? Should they not with all diligence cleanse themselves from all pollution of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord? "Secondly. In respect of sanctification. We have in us a new creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed, cherished, nourished, kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end has God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should kill them? stifle the creature that is found in us in the womb? that we should give him to the old man to be devoured? "[5thly.] It is necessary in respect of the proper place of holiness in the new covenant; and that is twofold: - "First. Of the means unto the end. God has appointed that holiness shall be the means, the way to that eternal life, which, as in itself and originally [it] is his gift by Jesus Christ, so, with regard to his constitution of our obedience, as the means of attaining it, [it] is a reward, and God in bestowing of it a rewarder. Though it be neither the cause, matter, nor condition of our justification, yet it is the way appointed of God for us to walk in for the obtaining of salvation. And therefore, he that has hope of eternal life purifies himself, as he is pure: and none shall ever come to that end who walketh not in that way; for without holiness it is impossible to see God. "Secondly. It is a testimony and pledge of adoption, - a sign and evidence of grace; that is, of acceptation with God. And, - "Thirdly. The whole expression of our thankfulness. "Now, there is not one of all these causes and reasons of the necessity, the indispensable necessity of our obedience, good works, and personal righteousness, but would require a more large discourse to unfold and explain than I have allotted to the proposal of them all; and innumerable others there are of the same import, that I cannot name. He that upon these accounts does not think universal holiness and obedience to be of indispensable necessity, unless also it be exalted into the room of the obedience and righteousness of Christ, let him be filthy still." I confess this whole discourse proceedeth on the supposition of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us for our justification. And herein I have as good company as the prelacy and whole church of England can afford; sundry from among them having written large discourses in its confirmation, and the rest having, till of late, approved of it in others. I wish this man, or any of his companions in design, would undertake the answering of Bishop Downham on this subject. No man ever carried this matter higher than Luther; nor did he, in all his writings, more positively and plainly contend for it than in his comment on the Epistle to the Galatians; - yet was that book translated into English by the approbation of the then bishop of London, who also prefixed himself a commendatory epistle unto it. The judgement of Hooker we have heard before. But what need I mention in particular any of the rest of those great and learned names who have made famous the profession of the church of England by their writings throughout the world? Had this man, in their days, treated this doctrine with his present scoffing petulancy, he had scarce been rector of St George, Botolph Lane, much less filled with such hopes and expectations of future advancements, as it is not impossible that he is now possessed with, upon his memorable achievements. But, on this supposition, I do, first, appeal to the judgement of the church of England itself as to the truth of the doctrine delivered in my discourse, and the principles which this man proceedeth on in his exceptions against it. 2. Though it be but a part of a popular discourse, and never intended for scholastic accuracy, yet, as to the assertions contained in it, I challenge this author to take and allow the ordinary, usual sense of the words, with the open design of them, and to answer them when he can. And, 3. In the meantime I appeal unto every indifferent reader whether the mere perusal of this whole passage do not cast this man's futilous cavils out of all consideration? So that I shall only content myself with very few remarks upon them: - 1. Upon my asserting the necessity of good works, he adds, "A very suspicious word; which, methinks, these men should be afraid to name." And why so? We do acknowledge that we do not seek for righteousness by the works of the law; we design not our personal justification by them, nor to merit life or salvation; but retake ourselves unto what even Bellarmine himself came to at last as the safest retreat, - namely, the merits and righteousness of Christ: but for attendance unto them, performance of them, and fruitfulness in them, we are not afraid nor ashamed at any time to enter into judgement with them by whom we are traduced. And as I have nothing to say unto this author, who is known unto me only by that portraiture and character which he has given of himself in this book; which I could have wished, for his own sake, had been drawn with a mixture of more lines of truth and modesty: so I know there are not a few who, in the course of a vain, worldly conversation, whilst there is scarce a back or belly of a disciple of Christ that blesseth God upon the account of their bounty or charity (the footsteps of levity, vanity, scurrility, and profaneness, being, moreover, left upon all the paths of their haunt), are wont to declaim about holiness, good works, and justification by them; which is a ready way to instruct men to atheism, or the scorn of every thing that is professed in religion. But yet, 2. He shows how impotent and impertinent our arguments are for the proof of the necessity of holiness. And as to the first of them, from the commands of God, he saith, "That if, after all these commands, God has left it indifferent whether we obey him or no, I hope such commands cannot make obedience necessary." Wonderful divinity! A man must needs be well acquainted with God and himself who can suppose that any of his commands shall leave it indifferent, whether we will obey them or no. Yea, "But will he damn men if they do not obey his commands for holiness?" Yes, yes; no doubt he will do so. Yea, "But we may be, notwithstanding this command, justified and saved without this holiness." False and impertinent: we are neither justified nor saved without them, though we are not justified by them, nor saved for them. Unto my enforcement of the necessity of holiness from the ends of God in election and redemption, he replies, p. 127, "The Father has elected us to be holy, and the Son redeemed us to be holy; but will the Father elect and the Son redeem none but those who are holy, and reject and reprobate all others? Does this election and redemption suppose holiness in us, or is it without any regard to it? For if we be elected and redeemed without any regard unto our own being holy, our election and redemption is secure, whether we be holy or not." Wonderful divinity again! Election and redemption suppose holiness in us! We are elected and redeemed with regard unto our own holiness that is, antecedently unto our election and redemption; for holiness being the effect and fruit of them, is that which he opposeth. Not many pages after this, he falls into a great admiration of the catechism of the church of England, which none blamed that I know of, as to what is contained in it. But it were to be wished that he had been well instructed in some others, that he might not have divulged and obtruded on the world such crude and palpable mistakes. For this respect of redemption, at least, unto an antecedent holiness in us (that is, antecedent unto it), is such a piece of foppery in religion, as a man would wonder how any one could be guilty of, who has almost "pored out his eyes" in reading the Scripture. All the remaining cavils of this chapter are but the effects of the like fulsome ignorance; for out of some passages, scraped together from several parts of my discourse (and those not only cut off from their proper scope and end, which is not mentioned by him at all, but also mangled in their representation), he would frame the appearance of a contradiction between what I say on the one hand, that there is no peace with God to be obtained by and for sinners but by the atonement that is made for them in the blood of Jesus Christ, with the remission of sin and justification by faith which ensue thereon (which I hope I shall not live to hear denied by the church of England), and the necessity of holiness and fruitfulness in obedience, to maintain in our own souls a sense of that peace with God which we have, being justified by faith. And he who understands not the consistency of those things, has little reason to despise good catechisms, whatever thoughts he has had of his own sufficiency. The whole design of what remains of this section, is to insinuate that there can be no necessity of holiness or obedience unto God, unless we are justified and saved thereby; which I knew not before to have been, nor indeed do yet know it to be, the doctrine of the church of England. But be it whose it will, I am sure it is not that of the Scripture, and I have so disproved it in other discourses, which this man may now see if he please, as that I shall not here again reassume the same argument; and although I am weary of consulting this woeful mixture of disingenuity and ignorance, yet I shall remark somewhat on one or two passages more, and leave him, if he please, unto a due apprehension, that what remains is unanswerable scoffing. The first is that of p. 131. "But, however, holiness is necessary with respect to sanctification: 'We have in us a new creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed, cherished, nourished, and kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end has God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should kill them, stifle the creature that is found in us in the womb? that we should give him to the old man to be devoured?' The phrase of this is admirable, and the reasoning unanswerable; for if men be new creatures, they will certainly live new lives, and this makes holiness absolutely necessary, by the same reason that every thing necessarily is what it is: but still we inquire after a necessary obligation to the practice of holiness, and that we cannot yet discover." The reader will see easily how this is picked out of the whole discourse, as that which he imagined would yield some advantage to reflect upon; for, let him pretend what he please to the contrary, he has laid this end too open to be denied; and I am no way solicitous what will be his success therein. Had he aimed at the discovery of truth, he ought to have examined the whole of the discourse, and not thus have rent one piece of it from the other. As to the phrase of speech which I use, it is, I acknowledge, metaphorical; but yet, being used only in a popular way of instruction, is sufficiently warranted from the Scripture, which administers occasion and gives countenance unto every expression in it, the whole being full well understood by those who are exercised in the life of God. And for the reasoning of it, it is such as I know this man cannot answer: for the new creature, however he may fancy, is not a new conversation, nor a living homily; but it is the principle, and spiritual ability, produced in believers by the power and grace of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to walk in newness of life and holiness of conversation. And this principle being bestowed on us, wrought in us, for that very end, it is necessary for us, unless we will neglect and despise the grace which we have received, that we walk in holiness, and abound in the fruits of righteousness, whereunto it leads and tends. Let him answer this if he can, and when he has done so, answer the apostle in like manner; or scoff not only at me, but at him also. The last passage I shall remark upon in this section is what he gives us as the sum of the whole. P. 135, "The sum of all is, that to know Christ is not to be thus acquainted with his person, but to understand his gospel in its full latitude and extent; it is not the person, but the gospel of Christ which is the way, the truth, and the life, which directs us in the way to life and happiness. And again, this acquaintance with Christ's person, which these men pretend to, is only a work of fancy, and teaches men the arts of hypocrisy," etc. I do not know that ever I met with any thing thus crudely asserted among the Quakers, in contempt of the person of Christ; for whereas he says of himself expressly, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," to say he is not so (for Jesus Christ is his person, and nothing else), carries in it a bold contradiction, both parts of which cannot be true. When the subject of a proposition is owned, there may be great controversy about the sense of the predicate; as when Christ says he is the vine: there may be so also about the subject of a proposition, when the expression is of a third thing, and dubious; as where Christ says, "This is my body:" but when the person speaking is the subject, and speaks of himself, to deny what he says, is to give him the lie. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," saith Christ; - "He is not," saith our author, "but the gospel is so." If he had allowed our Lord Jesus Christ to have spoken the truth, but only to have added, "Though he was so, yet he was so no otherwise but by the gospel," there had been somewhat of modesty in the expression; but this saying, that the "person of Christ is not, - the gospel is so," is intolerable. It is so, however, that this young man, without consulting or despising the exposition of all divines, ancient or modern, and the common sense of all Christians, should dare to obtrude his crude and undigested conceptions upon so great a word of Christ himself, countenanced only by the corrupt and false glosses of some obscure Socinians: which some or other may possibly in due time mind him of; I have other work to do. But according to his exposition of this heavenly oracle, what shall any one imagine to be the sense of the context, where "I," and "me," spoken of Christ, do so often occur? Suppose that the words of that whole verse, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me," have this sense, - not Christ himself is the way, the truth, and the life, but the gospel; "No man comes to the Father but by me;" that is, not by me, but by "the gospel," must not all the expressions of the same nature in the context have the same exposition? as namely, verse 1, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me;" that is, not in me but in "the gospel;" - "I go to prepare a place for you;" that is, not I do so, but "the gospel;" verse 3, "I will come again and receive you to myself;" that is, not I, but "the gospel" will do so; and so of all other things which Christ in that place seems to speak of himself. If this be his way of interpreting Scripture, I wonder not that he blames others for their defect and miscarriages therein. Owen, A Vindication... (continued in File 6...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-05.txt .