Owen, A Vindication... File 6 (... continued from File 5) When I first considered these two last sections, I did not suspect but that he had at least truly represented my words, which he thought meet to reflect upon and scoff at; as knowing how easy it was for any one whose conscience would give him a dispensation for such an undertaking, to pick out sayings and expressions from the most innocent discourse, and odiously to propose them, as cut off from their proper coherence, and under a concealment of the end and the principal sense designed in them. Wherefore I did not so much as read over the discourse excepted against; only, once or twice observing my words, as quoted by him, not directly to comply with what I knew to be my sense and intention, I turned unto the particular places to discover his prevarication. But having gone through this ungrateful task, I took the pains to read over the whole digression in my book, which his exceptions are levelled against; and, upon my review of it, my admiration of his dealing was not a little increased. I cannot, therefore, but desire of the most partial adherers unto this censurer of other men's labours, judgements, and expressions, but once to read over that discourse, and if they own themselves to be Christians, I shall submit the whole of it, with the consideration of his reflections upon it, unto their judgements. If they refuse so to do, I let them know I despise their censures, and do look on the satisfaction they take in this man's scoffing reflections as the laughter of fools, or the crackling of thorns under a pot. For those who will be at so much pains to undeceive themselves, they will find that that expression of the "person of Christ" is but once or twice used in all that long discourse, and that occasionally; which, by the outcries here made against it, any one would suppose to have filled up almost all the pages of it. He will find, also, that I have owned and declared the revelation that God has made of himself, the properties of his nature, and his will, in his works of creation and providence, in its full extent and efficacy; and that by the knowledge of God in Christ, which I so much insist upon, I openly, plainly, and declaredly, intend nothing but the declaration that God has made of himself in Jesus Christ by the gospel: whereof the knowledge of his person, the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, with what he did and suffered as the mediator between God and man, is the chiefest instance; in which knowledge consisteth all our wisdom of living unto God. Hereon I have no more to add, but that he by whom these things are denied or derided, does openly renounce his Christianity. And that I do not lay this unto the charge of this doughty writer, is because I am satisfied that he has not done it out of any such design, but partly out of ignorance of the things which he undertakes to write about, and partly to satisfy the malevolence of himself and some others against my person: which sort of depraved affections, where men give up themselves unto their prevalence, will blind the eyes and pervert the judgements of persons as wise as he. In the first section of his fourth chapter I am not particularly concerned; and whilst he only vents his own conceits, be they never so idle or atheological, I shall never trouble myself, either with their examination or confutation. So many as he can persuade to be of his mind, - that we have no union with Christ but by virtue of union with the church (the contrary whereof is absolutely true); that Christ is so a head of rule and government unto the church, as that he is not a head of influence and supplies of spiritual life (contrary to the faith of the catholic church in all ages); that these assertions of his have any countenance from antiquity, or the least from the passages quoted out of Chrysostom by himself; that his glosses upon many texts of Scripture (which have an admirable coincidence with those of two other persons whom I shall name when occasion requires it) are sufficient to affix upon them the sense which he pleads for, will many other things of an equal falsehood and impertinency wherewith this section is stuffed, - shall, without any farther trouble from me, be left to follow their own inclinations. But yet, not withstanding all the great pains he has taken to instruct us in the nature of the union between Christ and believers, I shall take leave to prefer that given by Mr Hooker before it, not only as more true and agreeable unto the Scripture, but also as better expressing the doctrine of the church of England in this matter. And if these things please the present rulers of the church, - wherein upon the matter Christ is shuffled off, and the whole of our spiritual union is resolved into the doctrine of the gospel, and the rule of the church by bishops and pastors, let it imply what contradiction it will, as it does the highest, seeing it is by the doctrine of the gospel that we are taught our union will Christ, and his rule of the church by his laws and Spirit, - I have only the advantage to know somewhat more than I did formerly, though not much to my satisfaction. But he that shall consider what reflections are cast in this discourse on the necessity of satisfaction to be made unto divine justice, and from whom they are borrowed; the miserable, weak attempt that is made therein to reduce all Christ's mediatory acting unto his kingly office, and, in particular, his intercession; the faint mention that is made of the satisfaction of Christ, clogged with the addition of ignorance of the philosophy of it, as it is called, well enough complying with them who grant that the Lord Christ did what God was satisfied withal, with sundry other things of the like nature; will not be to seek whence these things come, nor whither they are going, nor to whom our author is beholden for most of his rare notions; which it is an easy thing at any time to acquaint him withal. The second section of this chapter is filled principally with exceptions against my discourse about the personal excellencies of Christ as mediator; if I may not rather say, with the reflections on the glory of Christ himself. [As] for my own discourse upon it, I acknowledge it to be weak, and not only inconceivably beneath the dignity and merit of the subject, but also far short of what is taught and delivered by many ancient writers of the church unto that purpose; and [as] for his exceptions, they are such a composition of ignorance and spite as is hardly to be paralleled. His entrance upon his work is (p. 200) as followeth: - "Secondly, Let us inquire what they mean by the person of Christ, to which believers must be united. And here they have outdone all the metaphysical subtilties of Suarez, and have found out a person for Christ distinct from his Godhead and manhood; for there can he no other sense made of what Dr Owen tells us, - that by the 'graces of his person' he does not mean the 'glorious excellencies of his Deity considered in itself, abstracting from the office which for us, as God and man, he undertook; nor the outward appearance of his human nature, when he conversed here on earth, nor yet as now exalted in glory: but the graces of the person of Christ, as he is vested with the office of mediation, - his spiritual eminency, comeliness, beauty, as appointed and anointed by the Father unto that great work of bringing home all his elect into his bosom.' Now, unless the person of Christ as mediator be distinct from his person as God-man, all this is idle talk; for what personal graces are there in Christ as mediator which do not belong to him either as God or man? There are some things, indeed, which our Saviour did and suffered, which he was not obliged to, either as God or man, but as mediator; but surely he will not call the peculiar duties and actions of an office personal graces." I have now learned not to trust unto the honesty and ingenuity of our author, as to his quotations out of my book; which I find that he has here mangled and altered, as in other places, and shall therefore transcribe the whole passage in my own words, p. 51: "It is Christ as mediator of whom we speak; and therefore, by the 'grace of his person,' I understand not, first, The glorious excellencies of his Deity considered in itself, abstracting from the office which for us, as God and man, he undertook; nor, secondly, The outward appearance of his human nature, neither when he conversed here on earth, bearing our infirmities (whereof, by reason of the charge that was laid upon him, the prophet gives quite another character, Isa. 52: 14), concerning which some of the ancients are very poetical in their expressions; nor yet as now exalted in glory; - a vain imagination whereof makes many bear a false, a corrupted respect unto Christ, even upon carnal apprehensions of the mighty exaltation of the human nature; which is but to 'know Christ after the flesh,' - a mischief much improved by the abomination of foolish imagery. But this is that which I intend, - the graces of the person of Christ as he is vested with the office of mediation, his spiritual eminency, comeliness, and beauty, etc. Now, in this respect the Scripture describes him as exceeding excellent, comely, and desirable, - far above comparison with the chiefest, choicest created good, or any endearment imaginable;" which I prove at large from Ps. 45: 2; Isa. 4: 2; Cant. 5: 9, adding an explanation of the whole. In the digression, some passages whereof he carps at in this section, my design was to declare, as was said, somewhat of the glory of the person of Christ. To this end I considered both the glory of his divine and the many excellencies of his human nature; but that which I principally insisted on was the excellency of his person as God and man in one, whereby he was meet and able to be the mediator between God and man, and to effect all the great and blessed ends of his mediation. That our Lord Jesus Christ was God, and that there were, on that account, in his person the essential excellencies and properties of the divine nature, I suppose he will not deny; nor will he do so that he was truly man, and that his human nature was endowed with many glorious graces and excellencies which are peculiar thereunto. That there is a distinct consideration of his person as both these natures are united therein, is that which he seems to have a mind to except against. And is it meet that any one who has aught else to do should spend any moments of that time which he knows how better to improve, in the pursuit of a man's impertinencies, who is so bewildered in his own ignorance and confidence, that he knows neither where he is nor what he says? Did not the Son of God, by assuming our human nature, continuing what he was, become what he was not? Was not the person of Christ, by the communication of the properties of each nature in it and to it, a principle of such operations as he could not have wrought either as God or mere, separately considered? How else did God "redeem his church with his own blood?" or how is that true which he says, John 3: 13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven?" Was not the union of the two natures in the same person (which was a property neither of the divine nor human nature, but a distinct ineffable effect of divine condescension, wisdom, and grace, which the ancients unanimously call the "grace of union," whose subject is the person of Christ) that whereby he was fit, meet, and able, for all the works of his mediation? Does not the Scripture, moreover, propose unto our faith and consolation the glory, power, and grace of the person of Christ as he is "God over all, blessed for ever;" and his love, sympathy, care and compassion as man; yet all acting themselves in the one and self same person of the Son of God? Let him read the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and see what account he can give thereof. And are not these such principles of Christian religion as no man ought to be ignorant of, or can deny, without the guilt of the heresies condemned in the first general councils? And they are no other principles which my whole discourse excepted against does proceed upon. But saith our author, "Unless the person of Christ as mediator be distinct from his person as God-man, all this is idle talk." Very good! and why so? Why, "What personal graces are there in Christ as mediator, which do not belong unto him either as God or man?" But is he not ashamed of this ignorance? Is it not a personal grace and excellency that he is God and man in one person? which belongs not to him either as God or man. And are there not personal operations innumerable depending hereon, which could not have been wrought by him either as God or man; as raising himself from the dead by his own power, and redeeming the church with his blood? Are not most of the descriptions that are given us of Christ in the Scripture, most of the operations which are assigned unto him, such as neither belong unto nor proceed from the divine or human nature, separately considered, but from the person of Christ, as both these natures are united in it? That which seems to have led him into the maze wherein he is bewildered in his ensuing discourse, is, that considering there are but two natures in Christ, the divine and the human, - and nature is the principle of all operations, - he supposed that nothing could be said of Christ, nothing ascribed to his person, but what was directly, formally predicated of one of his natures, distinctly considered. But he might have easily inquired of himself, - that seeing all the properties and acts of the divine nature are absolutely divine, and all those of the human nature absolutely human, whence it came to pass that all the operations and works of Christ, as mediator, are theandrical? Although there be nothing in the person of Christ but his divine and human nature, yet the person of Christ is neither his divine nature nor his human; for the human nature is, and ever was, of itself, "anupostatos"; and the divine, to the complete constitution of the person of the Mediator, in and unto its own hypostasis assumed the human: so that, although every energy or operation be "drastike tes fuseos kinesis", and so the distinct natures are distinct principles of Christ's operations, yet his person is the principal or only agent; which being God-man, all the actions thereof, by virtue of the communication of the properties of both natures therein, are theandrical. And the excellency of this person of Christ, wherein he was every way fitted for the work of mediation, I call sometimes his personal grace, and will not go to him to learn to speak and express myself in these things. And it is most false which he affirms, p. 203, "That I distinguish the graces of Christ's person as mediator from the graces of his person as God and man." Neither could any man have run into such an imagination who had competently understood the things which he speaks about; and the bare proposal of these things is enough to defeat the design of all his ensuing cavils and exceptions. And as to what he closets withal, that "Surely I will not call the peculiar duties and actions of an office personal graces;" I suppose that he knoweth not well what he intends thereby. Whatever he has fancied about Christ being the name of an office, Jesus Christ, of whom we speak, is a person, and not an office; and there are no such things in rerum natura as the actions of an office. And if by them he intends the actions of a person in the discharge of an office, whatever he calls them, I will call the habits in Christ, from whence all his actions in the performance of his office do proceed, "personal graces," and that whether he will or no. So he is a "merciful, faithful, and compassionate high priest," Heb. 2: 17, 4: 15, 5: 2. And all his actions, in the discharge of his office of priesthood, being principled and regulated by those qualifications, I do call them his personal graces, and do hope that, for the future, I may obtain his leave so to do. The like may be said of his other offices. The discourse which he thus raves against is didactical, and accommodated unto a popular way of instruction; and it has been hitherto the common ingenuity of all learned men to give an allowance unto such discourses, so as not to exact from them an accuracy and propriety in expressions, such as is required in those that are scholastical or polemical. It is that which, by common consent, is allowed to the tractates of the ancients of that nature, - especially where nothing is taught but what, for the substance of it, is consonant unto the truth. But this man attempts not only a severity in nibbling at all expressions which he fancieth liable unto his censures, but, with a disingenuous artifice, waiving the tenor and process of the discourse, which I presume he found not himself able to oppose, he takes out, sometimes here, sometimes there, up and down, backward and forward, at his pleasure, what he will, to put, if it be possible, an ill sense upon the whole. And, if he have not hereby given a sufficient discovery of his good-will towards the doing of somewhat to my disadvantage, he has failed in his whole endeavour; for there is no expression which he has fixed on as the subject of his reflections, which is truly mine, but that as it is used by me, and with respect unto its end, I will defend it against him and all his co-partners, whilst the Scripture may be allowed to be the rule and measure of our conceptions and expressions about sacred things. And although at present I am utterly wearied with the consideration of such sad trifling, I shall accept from him the kindness of an obligation to so much patience as is necessary unto the perusal of the ensuing leaves, wherein I am concerned. First, p. 202, he would pick something, if he knew what, out of my quotations of Cant. 5: 9, to express or illustrate the excellency of Christ; which first he calls an "excellent proof," by way of scorn. But as it is far from being the only proof produced in the confirmation of the same truth, and is applied rather to illustrate what was spoken, than to prove it, yet, by his favour, I shall make bold to continue my apprehensions of the occasional exposition of the words which I have given in that place, until he is pleased to acquaint me with a better; which, I suppose, will be long enough. For what he adds, - "But, however, white and ruddy belong to his divine and human nature, and that without regard to his mediatory office; for he had been white in the glory of his Deity, and ruddy with the red earth of his humanity, whether he had been considered as mediator or not," - it comes from the same spring of skill and benevolence with those store. For what wise talk is it, of Christ's being God and man, without the consideration of his being mediator! as though he were ever, or ever should have been, God and man, but with respect unto his mediation? His scoff at the red earth of Christ's humanity, represented as my words, is grounded upon a palpable falsification; for my words are, "He was also ruddy in the beauty of his humanity. Man was called Adam, from the red earth whereof he was made. The word here used points him out as the second Adam, partaker of flesh and blood, because the children also partook of the same." And if he be displeased with these expressions, let him take his own time to be pleased again; it is that wherein I am not concerned. But my fault, which so highly deserved his correction, is, that I apply that to the person of Christ which belongs unto his natures. But what if I say no such thing, or had no such design in that place? For although I do maintain a distinct consideration of the excellency of Christ's person, as comprising both his natures united, - though every real thing in his person belongs forma]ly and radically unto one [or other] of the natures (those other excellencies being the exurgency of their union), whereby his person was fitted and suited unto his mediatory operations, which in neither nature, singly considered, he could have performed, - and shall continue to maintain it against whosoever dares directly to oppose it; yet in this place I intended it not, which this man knew well enough, - the very next words unto what he pretends to prove it [by], being, "The beauty and comeliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the union of both these in one person, shall afterward be declared." And so we have an equality in judgement and ingenuity throughout this censure. Hence he leaps to p. 64 of my book, thence backwards to p. 53, and then up and down, I know not how nor whither. He begins with p. 64 - "And in his first digression concerning the excellency of Christ Jesus, to invite us to communion with him in a conjugal relation, he tells us that Christ is exceeding excellent and desirable in his Deity, and the glory thereof; he is desirable and worthy our acceptation as considered in his humanity, in his freedom from sin, fulness of grace, etc. Now, though this looks very like a contradiction, that by the graces of his person, he meant neither the excellencies of his divine nor human nature; yet he has a salvo which will deliver him both from contradiction and from nonsense, - that he does not consider these excellencies of his Deity or humanity as abstracted from his office of mediator, though he might if he pleased: for he considers those excellencies which are not peculiar to the office of mediation, but which would have belonged unto him as God and man, whether he had been mediator or not. But what becomes of his distinction of the graces of Christ's person as mediator from the graces of his person as God and man, when there are no personal graces in Christ but what belong to his Deity or his humanity?" I am sufficiently satisfied that he neither knows where he is nor what he does, or has no due comprehension of the things he treats about. That which he opposeth, if he intend to oppose any thing by me asserted, is, that whereas Christ is God, the essential properties of his divine nature are to be considered as the formal motive unto, and object of, faith, love, and obedience; and whereas he is man also, his excellencies, in the glorious endowment of his human nature, with his alliance unto us therein, and his furniture of grace for the discharge of his office, are proposed unto our faith and love in the Scripture. And of these things we ought to take a distinct consideration; our faith concerning them being not only taught in the Scripture, but fully confirmed in the confessions and determinations of the primitive church. But the person of Christ, wherein these two natures are united, is of another distinct consideration; and such things are spoken thereof as cannot, under any single enunciation, be ascribed unto either nature, though nothing be so but what formally belongs unto one of them, or is the necessary consequent and exurgency of their union. See Isa. 9: 6; 1 Tim. 3: 16; John 1: 14. It is of the "glory of the Word of God made flesh" that I discourse. But this man talks of what would have belonged to Christ as God-man, whether he had been mediator or not; as though the Son of God either was, or was ever designed to be, or can be, considered as God-man, and not as mediator. And thence he would relieve himself by the calumny of assigning a distinction unto me between the graces of Christ's person as mediator, and the graces of his person as God and man (that is, one person); which is a mere figment of his own misunderstanding. Upon the whole, he comes to that accurate thesis of his own, - that there are no personal graces in Christ but what belong to his Deity or humanity. Personal graces belonging unto the humanity, or human nature of Christ, - that nature being "anupostatos", or such as has no personal subsistence of its own, - is a notion that those may thank him for who have a mind to do it. And he may do well to consider what his thoughts are of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, mentioned Phil. 2: 6-11. But he will now discover the design of all these things, and afterward make it good by quotations out of my book. The first he does, p. 203, and onwards: "But whatever becomes of the sense of the distinction, there is a very deep fetch in it, the observing of which will discover the whole mystery of the person of Christ and our union to him. For these men consider that Christ saves us as he is our mediator, and not merely considered as God or man; and they imagine that we receive grace and salvation from Christ's person just as we do water out of a conduit, or a gift and largess from a prince, - that it flows to us from our union to his person; and therefore they dress up the person of the Mediator with all those personal excellencies and graces which may make him a fit Saviour, that those who are thus united to his person (of which more in the next section) need not fear missing of salvation. Hence they ransack all the boundless perfections of the Deity, and whatever they can find or fancy speaks any comfort to sinners, this is presently a personal grace of the Mediator; - they consider all the glorious effects of his mediation; and whatever great things are spoken of his gospel, or religion, or intercession for us, these serve as personal graces: so that all our hopes may be built, not on the gospel covenant, but on the person of Christ. So that the dispute now lies between the person of Christ and his gospel, - which must be the foundation of our hope, - which is the way to life and happiness" First, We do consider and believe that Christ saves as a mediator; that is, as God and man in one person, exercising the office of a mediator, and not merely as God or man. This we believe with all the catholic church of Christ, and can with boldness say, He that does not so, let him be anathema maran-atha. Secondly, We do not imagine, but believe from the Scripture, and with the whole church of God, that we receive grace and salvation from the person of Christ in those distinct ways wherein they are capable of being received; and let him be anathema who believes otherwise. Only, whether his putting of grace and salvation into the same way of reception belong unto his accuracy in expressing his own sentiments, or his ingenuity in the representation of other men's words, I leave undetermined. The similitudes he useth to express our faith in these things, show his good-will towards scoffing and profaneness. We say, there is real communication of grace from the person of Christ, as the head of the church, unto all the members of his mystical body by his Spirit, whereby they are quickened, sanctified, and enabled unto all holy obedience: and, if it be denied by him, he stands anathematised by sundry councils of the ancient church. We say not, that we receive it as "water out of a conduit," which is of a limited, determined capacity; whereas we say, the person of Christ, by reason of his Deity, is an immense, eternal, living spring or fountain of all grace. And when God calls himself a "fountain of living water;" and the Lord Christ calls his Spirit communicated to believers "living water" (under which appellation he was frequently promised in the Old Testament); as also the grace and mercy of the gospel, the "water of life," inviting us to receive them, and to drink of them, this author may be advised to take heed of profane scoffing at these things. Whether any have said, that we receive grace and salvation from Christ, as "a gift or largess from a prince," I know not; if they have, the sole defect therein is, that the allusion does no way sufficiently set forth the freedom and bounty of Christ in the communication of them unto sinners; and wherein else it offends, let him soberly declare, if he can. This is the charge upon us in point of faith and judgement; which, in one word, amounts to no more but this, - that we are Christians: and so, by the grace of God, we intend to continue, let this man deride us whilst he pleaseth. Thirdly, His next charge concerns our practice in the pursuit of these dreadful principles, which, by their repetition, he has exposed to scorn: "And therefore they dress up," etc. What does this poor man intend? what is the design of all this profaneness? The declaration of the natures and person of Christ, - of his grace and work, - the ascribing unto him what is directly and expressly in terms ascribed unto him in the Scripture, or relating, as we are able, the description it gives of him, - is here called, "Dressing up the person of the Mediator with all those personal graces that may make him a fit Saviour." The preparation of the person of Christ to be a fit and meet Saviour for sinners, which he profanely compares to the dressing up of -, is the greatest, most glorious, and admirable effect that ever infinite wisdom, goodness, power, and love wrought and produced, or will do so unto eternity. And those on whom he reflects design nothing, do nothing in this matter, but only endeavour, according to the measure of the gift of Christ which they have received, to declare and explain what is revealed and taught in the Scripture thereof; and those who exceed the bounds of Scripture revelation herein (if any do so) we do abhor. And as for those who are united unto Christ, although we say not that they need not fear missing of salvation, seeing they are to be brought unto it, not only through the exercise of all graces, whereof fear is one, but also through such trials and temptations as will always give them a fear of heed and diligence, and sometimes such a fear of the event of things as shall combat their faith, and shake its firmest resolves; yet we fear not to say, that those who are really united unto Jesus Christ shall be assuredly saved; which I have proved elsewhere beyond the fear of any opposition from this author, or others like minded. Fourthly, He adds "Hence they ransack," etc. But Owen, A Vindication... (continued in File 7...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-06.txt .