Owen, A Vindication... File 7
    (... continued from File 6)

    what is the meaning of these expressions? Does not the
    Scripture declare that Christ is God as well as man? Does
    it not build all our faith, obedience, and salvation on
    that consideration? Are not the properties of the divine
    nature everywhere in the Scripture declared and proposed
    unto us for the in generating and establishing faith in
    us, and to be the object of, and exercise of, all grace
    and obedience? And is it now become a crime that any
    should seek to declare and instruct others in these
    things from the Scripture, and to the same end for which
    they are therein revealed? Is this, with any evidence of
    sobriety, to be traduced as a "ransacking the boundless
    perfections of the divine nature, to dress up the person
    of the Mediator"? Is he a Christian, or does he deserve
    that name, who condemns or despiseth the consideration of
    the properties of the divine nature in the person of
    Christ (see Isa. 6: 1-4; John 12: 41; Isa. 9: 6; John 1:
    14; Phil. 2: 6, etc.), or shall think that the grace or
    excellencies of his person do not principally consist in
    them, as the human nature is united thereunto? Fifthly,
    "They consider all the glorious effects of his
    mediation." All the effects of Christ's mediation, - all
    the things that are spoken of the gospel, etc., do all of
    them declare the excellency of the person of Christ, as
    effects declare their cause, and may and ought to be
    considered unto that end, as occasion does require; and
    no otherwise are they considered by those whom he does
    oppose. Sixthly, But the end of these strange principles
    and practices, he tells us, is, "That all our hopes may
    be built, not on the gospel covenant, but on the person
    of Christ." But I say again, What is it that this man
    intends? What is become of a common regard to God and
    man? Who do so build their hopes on Christ as to reject
    or despise the gospel covenant, as he calls it? - though
    I am afraid, should he come to explain himself, he will
    be at a loss about the true nature of the gospel
    covenant, as I find him to be about the person and grace
    of Christ. He telleth us, indeed, that "Not the person of
    Christ, but the gospel, is the way." Did we ever say,
    "Not the covenant of grace, but the person of Christ is
    all we regard?" But whence comes this causeless fear and
    jealousy, - or rather, this evil surmise, that if any
    endeavour to exalt the person of Christ, immediately the
    covenant of the gospel (that is, in truth, the covenant
    which is declared in the gospel) must be discarded? Is
    there an inconsistency between Christ and the covenant? I
    never met with any who was so fearful and jealous lest
    too much should be ascribed in the matter of our
    salvation to Jesus Christ; and when there is no more so,
    but what the Scripture does expressly and in words assign
    unto him and affirm of him, instantly we have an outcry
    that the gospel and the covenant are rejected, and that a
    "dispute lies between the person of Christ and his
    gospel." But let him not trouble himself; for as he
    cannot, and as he knows he cannot, produce any one word
    or one syllable out of any writings of mine, that should
    derogate any thing from the excellency, nature,
    necessity, or use of the new covenant; so, though it may
    be he do not, and does therefore fancy and dream of
    disputes between Christ and the gospel, we do know how to
    respect both the person of Christ and the covenant, -
    both Jesus Christ and the gospel, in their proper places.
    And in particular, we do know, that as it is the person
    of Christ who is the author of the gospel, and who as
    mediator in his work of mediation gives life, and
    efficacy, and establishment unto the covenant of grace;
    so both the gospel and that covenant do declare the glory
    and design the exaltation of Jesus Christ himself.
    Speaking, therefore, comparatively, all our hopes are
    built on Jesus Christ, who alone fills all things; yet
    also we have our hopes in God, through the covenant
    declared in the gospel, as the way designing the rule of
    our obedience, securing our acceptance and reward. And to
    deal as gently as I can warrant myself to do with this
    writer, the dispute he mentions between the person of
    Christ and the gospel, which shall be the foundation of
    our hope, is only in his own fond imagination,
    distempered by disingenuity and malevolence. For, if I
    should charge what the appearance of his expressions will
    well bear, what he says seems to be out of a design,
    influenced by ignorance or heresy, to exclude Jesus
    Christ, God and man, from being the principal foundation
    of the church, and which all its hopes are built upon.
    This being the sum of his charge, I hope he will fully
    prove it in the quotations from my discourse, which he
    now sets himself to produce; assuring him that if he do
    not, but come short therein, setting aside his odious and
    foppish profane deductions, I do aver them all in plain
    terms, that he may, on his next occasion of writing, save
    his labour in searching after what he may oppose. Thus,
    therefore, he proceeds, p. 205: - 
         "To make this appear, I shall consider that account
    which Dr Owen gives us of the personal graces and
    excellencies of Christ, which in general consist in three
    things: - First, His fitness to save, from the grace of
    union, and the proper and necessary effects thereof.
    Secondly, His fulness to save, from the grace of
    communion, or the free consequences of the grace of
    union. And, thirdly, His excellency to endear, from his
    complete suitableness to all the wants of the souls of
    men. First, That he is fit to be a Saviour, from the
    grace of union. And if you will understand what this
    strange grace of union is, it is the uniting the nature
    of God and man in one person, which makes him fit to be a
    Saviour to the uttermost. He lays his hand upon God, by
    partaking of his nature; and he lays his hand on us, by
    partaking of our nature: and so becomes a days-man or
    umpire between both. Now, though this be a great truth,
    that the union of the divine and human nature in Christ
    did excellently qualify him for the office of a mediator,
    yet this is the unhappiest man in expressing and proving
    it that I have met with. For what an untoward
    representation is this of Christ's mediation, that he
    came to make peace by laying his hands on God and men, as
    if he came to part a fray or scuffle: and he might as
    well have named Gen. 1: 1, or Matt. 1: 1, or any other
    place of Scripture, for the proof of it, as those he
         To what end it is that he cites these passages out
    of my discourse is somewhat difficult to divine. Himself
    confesseth that what is asserted (at least in one of
    them) is a great truth, only, I am "the unhappiest man in
    expressing and proving it that ever he met with." It is
    evident enough to me, that he has not met with many who
    have treated of this subject, or has little understood
    those he has met withal; so that there may be yet some
    behind as unhappy as myself. And seeing he has so good a
    leisure from other occasions, as to spend his time in
    telling the world how unhappy I am in my proving and
    expressing of what himself acknowledgeth to be true, he
    may be pleased to take notice, that I am now sensible of
    my own unhappiness also, in having fallen under a
    diversion from better employments by such sad and woeful
    impertinencies. But being at once charged with both these
    misadventures, - untowardness in expression, and weakness
    in the proof of a plain truth, I shall willingly admit of
    information, to mend my way of writing for the future.
    And the first reflection he casts on my expressions, is
    my calling the union of the two natures in Christ in the
    same person, the "grace of union;" for so he says, "If
    you would understand what this strange grace of union
    is." But I crave his pardon in not complying with his
    directions, for my company's sake. No man, who has once
    consulted the writings of the ancients on this subject,
    can be a stranger unto "charis henoseos", and "gratia
    unionis," they so continually occur in the writings of
    all sorts of divines, both ancient and modern. Yea but
    there is yet worse behind; for, "What an untoward
    representation is this of Christ's mediation, that he
    came to make peace by laying his hands on God and men, as
    if he came to part a fray or scuffle." My words are, "The
    uniting of the natures of God and man in one person, made
    him fit to be a Saviour to the uttermost. He laid his
    hand upon God, by partaking of his nature, Zech. 13: 7;
    and he lays his hand upon us, by partaking of our nature,
    Heb 2: 14, 16: and so becomes a days-man or umpire
    between both." See what it is to be adventurous. I doubt
    not but that he thought that I had invented that
    expression, or at least, that I was the first who ever
    applied it unto this interposition of Christ between God
    and man; but as I took the words, and so my warranty for
    the expression from the Scripture, Job 9: 33, so it has
    commonly been applied by divines in the same manner,
    particularly by Bishop Usher (in his "Emmanuel," pp. 8,
    9, as I remember); whose unhappiness in expressing
    himself in divinity this man needs not much to bewail.
    But let my expressions be what they will, I shall not
    escape the unhappiness and weakness of my proofs; for "I
    might," he says, "as well have quoted Gen. 1: 1, and
    Matt. 1: 1, for the proof of the unity of the divine and
    human nature in the person of Christ, and his fitness
    thence to be a Saviour, as those I named," namely, Zech.
    13: 7; Heb. 2: 14, 16. Say you so? Why, then, I do here
    undertake to maintain the personal union, and the fitness
    of Christ from thence to be a Saviour, from these two
    texts, against this man and all his fraternity in design.
    And at present I cannot but wonder at his confidence,
    seeing I am sure he cannot be ignorant that one of these
    places, at least, - namely, that of Heb. 2: 16, - is as
    much, as frequently, as vehemently pleaded by all sorts
    of divines, ancient and modern, to prove the assumption
    of our human nature into personal subsistence with the
    Son of God, that so he might be "hikanos" (fit and able
    to save us), as any one testimony in the whole Scripture.
    And the same truth is as evidently contained and
    expressed in the former, seeing no man could be the
    "fellow of the LORD of hosts" but he that was partaker of
    the same nature with him; and no one could have the sword
    of God upon him to smite him, which was needful unto our
    salvation, but he that was partaker of our nature, or man
    also. And the mere recital of these testimonies was
    sufficient unto my purpose in that place, where I
    designed only to declare, and not dispute the truth. If
    he yet think that I cannot prove what I assert from these
    testimonies, let him consult my "Vindicae Evangelicae,"
    where, according as that work required, I have directly
    pleaded these scriptures to the same purpose, insisting
    at large on the vindication of one of them; and let him
    answer what I have there pleaded, if he be able. And I
    shall allow him to make his advantage unto that purpose,
    if he please, of whatever evasions the Socinians have
    found out to escape the force of that testimony. For
    there is none of them of any note but have attempted by
    various artifices to shield their opinion, in denying the
    assumption of our human nature into personal union with
    the Son of God, and wherewithal his pre-existence unto
    his nativity of the blessed Virgin, from the divine
    evidence given against it in that place of Heb. 2: 16;
    which yet, if this author may be believed, does make no
    more against them than Gen. 1: 1. Wherefore, this severe
    censure, together with the modesty of the expression,
    wherein Christ making peace between God and man is
    compared to the parting of a fray or scuffle, may pass at
    the same rate and value with those which are gone before.
         His ensuing pages are taken up, for the most part,
    with the transcription of passages out of my discourse,
    raked together from several places at his pleasure. I
    shall not impose the needless labour on the reader of a
    third perusal of them: nor shall I take the pains to
    restore the several passages to their proper place and
    coherence, which he has rent them from, to try his skill
    and strength upon them separately and apart; for I see
    not that they stand in need of using the least of their
    own circumstantial evidence in their vindication. I shall
    therefore only take notice of his exceptions against
    them. And, p. 207, whereas I had said on some occasion,
    that on such a supposition we could have supplies of
    grace only in a moral way, it falls under his derision in
    his parenthesis; and that is a very pitiful way indeed.
    But I must yet tell him, by the way, that if he allow of
    no supplies of grace but in a moral way, he is a
    Pelagian, and as such, stands condemned by the catholic
    church. And when his occasions will permit it, I desire
    he would answer what is written by myself in another
    discourse, in the refutation of this sole moral operation
    of grace, and the assertion of another way of the
    communication of it unto us. Leave fooling, and "the
    unhappiest man in expressing himself that ever I met
    with" will not do it; he must retake himself to another
    course, if he intend to engage into the handling of
    things of this nature. He adds, whereas I had said, "'The
    grace of the promises' (of the person of Christ you
    mean):" I know well enough what I mean; but the truth is,
    I know not well what he means; nor whether it be out of
    ignorance that he does indeed fancy an opposition between
    Christ and the promises, that what is ascribed unto the
    one must needs be derogated from the other, when the
    promise is but the means and instrument of conveying the
    grace of Christ unto us; or whether it proceeds from a
    real dislike that the person of Christ - that is, Jesus
    Christ himself - should be esteemed of any use or
    consideration in religion, that he talks at this rate.
    But from whence ever it proceeds, this cavilling humour
    is unworthy of any man of ingenuity or learning. By his
    following parenthesis ("a world of sin is something") I
    suppose I have somewhere used that expression, whence it
    is reflected on; but he quotes not the place, and I
    cannot find it. I shall therefore only at present tell
    him, as (if I remember alight) I have done already, that
    I will not come to him nor any of his companions to learn
    to express myself in these things; and, moreover, that I
    despise their censures. The discourses he is carping at
    in particular in this place are neither doctrinal nor
    argumentative, but consist in the application of truths
    before proved unto the minds and affections of men. And,
    as I said, I will not come to him nor his fraternity to
    learn how to manage such a subject, much less a logical
    and argumentative way of reasoning; nor have I any
    inducement whereunto from any thing that as yet I have
    seen in their writings. It also troubles him, p. 208,
    that whereas I know how unsuited the best and most
    accurate of our expressions are unto the true nature and
    being of divine things, as they are in themselves, and
    what need we have to make use of allusions, and sometimes
    less proper expressions, to convey a sense of them unto
    the minds and affections of men, I had once or twice used
    that "epanortosis", "if I may so say;" which yet if he
    had not known used in other good authors, treating of
    things of the same nature, he knew I could take
    protection against his severity under the example of the
    apostle, using words to the same purpose upon an alike
    occasion, Heb. 7. But at length he intends to be serious,
    and from those words of mine, "Here is mercy enough for
    the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest transgressor;"
    he adds, "Enough, in all reason, this: what a comfort is
    it to sinners to have such a God for their Saviour, whose
    grace is boundless and bottomless, and exceeds the
    largest dimensions of their sins, though there be a world
    of sin in them. But what, now, if the divine nature
    itself have not such an endless, boundless, bottomless
    grace and compassion as the doctor now talks of? For at
    other times, when it serves his turn better, we can hear
    nothing from him but the 'naturalness of God's vindictive
    justice.' Though God be rich in mercy, he never told us
    that his mercy was so boundless and bottomless; he had
    given a great many demonstrations of the severity of his
    anger against sinners, who could not be much worse than
    the 'greatest, the oldest, and the stubbornest
         Let the reader take notice, that I propose no grace
    in Christ unto or for such sinners, but only that which
    may invite all sorts of them, though under the most
    discouraging qualifications, to come unto him for grace
    and mercy by faith and repentance. And on supposition
    that this was my sense, as he cannot deny it to be, I add
    only, in answer, that this his profane scoffing at it, is
    that which reflects on Christ and his gospel, and God
    himself and his word; which must be accounted for. See
    Isa 55: 7. Secondly, For the opposition which he
    childishly frames between God's vindictive justice and
    his mercy and grace, it is answered already. Thirdly, It
    is false that God has not told us that his grace is
    boundless and bottomless, in the sense wherein I use
    those words, sufficient to pardon the greatest, the
    oldest, the stubbornest of sinners, - namely, that turn
    unto him by faith and repentance; and he who knows not
    how this consists with severity and anger against
    impenitent sinners, is yet to learn his catechism. But
    yet he adds farther, pp. 208, 209, "Supposing the divine
    nature were such a bottomless fountain of grace, how
    comes this to be a personal grace of the Mediator? For a
    mediator, as mediator, ought not to be considered as the
    fountain, but as the minister of grace. God the Father
    certainly ought to come in for a share, at least, in
    being the fountain of grace, though the doctor is pleased
    to take no notice of him. But how excellent is the grace
    of Christ's person above the grace of the gospel; for
    that is a bounded and limited thing, a strait gate and
    narrow way, that leadeth unto life. There is no such
    boundless mercy as all the sins in the world cannot equal
    its dimensions, as will save the greatest, the oldest,
    and the stubbornest transgressors." 
         I beg the reader to believe that I am now so utterly
    weary with the repetition of these impertinencies, that I
    can hardly prevail with myself to fill my pen once more
    with ink about them; and I see no reason now to go on,
    but only that I have begun; and, on all accounts, I shall
    be as brief as possible. I say, then, first, I did not
    consider this boundless grace in Christ as mediator, but
    considered it as in him who is mediator; and so the
    divine nature, with all its properties, are greatly to be
    considered in him, if the gospel be true. But, secondly,
    It is untrue that Christ, as mediator, is only the
    minister of grace, and not the fountain of it; for he is
    mediator as God and man in one person. Thirdly, To
    suppose an exemption of the person of the Father from
    being the fountain of grace absolutely, in the order of
    the divine subsistence of the persons in the Trinity, and
    of their operations suited thereunto, upon the ascription
    of it unto the Son, is a fond imagination, which could
    befall no man who understands any thing of things of this
    nature. It does as well follow, that if the Son created
    the world, the Father did not; if the Son uphold all
    things by the word of his power, the Father does not; -
    that is, that the Son is not in the Father, nor the
    Father in the Son. The acts, indeed, of Christ's
    mediation respect the ministration of grace, being the
    procuring and communicating causes thereof; but the
    person of Christ the mediator is the fountain of grace.
    So they thought who beheld his glory, - "The glory as of
    the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and
    truth". But the especial relation of grace unto the
    Father, as sending the Son; unto the Son, as sent by him
    and incarnate; and unto the Holy Spirit, as proceeding
    from and sent by them both, I have elsewhere fully
    declared, and shall not in this place (which, indeed,
    will scarce give admittance unto any thing of so serious
    a nature) again insist thereon. Fourthly, The opposition
    which he would again set between Christ and the gospel is
    impious in itself; and, if he thinks to charge it on me,
    openly false. I challenge him and all his accomplices to
    produce any one word out of any writing of mine that,
    from a plea or pretence of grace in Christ, should give
    countenance unto any in the neglect of the least precept
    given or duty required in the gospel. And notwithstanding
    all that I have said or taught concerning the boundless,
    bottomless grace and mercy of Christ towards believing,
    humble, penitent sinners, I do believe the way of gospel
    obedience, indispensably required to be walked in by all
    that will come to the enjoyment of God, to be so narrow,
    that no revilers, nor false accusers, nor scoffers, nor
    despisers of gospel mysteries, continuing so to be, can
    walk therein; - but that there is not grace and mercy
    declared and tendered in the gospel also unto all sorts
    of sinners, under any qualifications whatever, who upon
    its invitation, will come to God through Jesus Christ by
    faith and repentance, is an impious imagination. 
         A discourse much of the same nature follows,
    concerning the love of Christ, after he has treated his
    person and grace at his pleasure. And this he takes
    occasion for from some passages in my book (as formerly),
    scraped together from several places, so as he thought
    fit and convenient unto his purpose. P. 209, "Thus the
    love of Christ is an eternal love, because his divine
    nature is eternal; and it is an unchangeable love,
    because his divine nature is unchangeable; and his love
    is fruitful, for it being the love of God, it must be
    effectual and fruitful in producing all the things which
    he willeth unto his beloved. He loves life, grace,
    holiness into us, loves us into covenant, loves us into
    heaven. This is an excellent love, indeed, which does all
    for us, and leaves nothing for us to do. We owe this
    discovery to an acquaintance with Christ's person, or
    rather with his divine nature; for the gospel is very
    silent in this matter. All that the gospel tells us is,
    that Christ loveth sinners, so as to die for them; that
    he loves good men, who believe and obey his gospel, so as
    to save them; that he continues to love them while they
    continue to be good, but hates them when they return to
    their old vices: and therefore, I say, there is great
    reason for sinners to fetch their comforts not from the
    gospel, but from the person of Christ, which as far
    excels the gospel as the gospel excels the law." 
         I do suppose the expressions mentioned are, for the
    substance of them, in my book; and shall, therefore, only
    inquire what it is in them which he excepteth against,
    and for which I am reproached, as one that has an
    acquaintance with Christ's person; which is now grown so
    common and trite an expression, that were it not condited
    unto some men's palates by its profaneness, it would
    argue a great barrenness in this author's invention, that
    can vary no more in the topic of reviling. It had been
    well if his licenser had accommodated him with some part
    of his talent herein. But what is it that is excepted
    against? Is it that the love of Christ, as he is God, is
    eternal? or is it that it is unchangeable? or is it that
    it is fruitful or effective of good things unto the
    persons beloved? The philosopher tells us, that to [have]
    love for any one, is, "Boulestai tini ha oietai agata,
    kai to kata dunamin praktikon einai touton". It is this
    efficacy of the love of Christ which must bear all the
    present charge. The meaning of my words, therefore, is,
    that the love of Christ is unto us the cause of life,
    grace, holiness, and the reward of heaven. And because it
    is in the nature of love to be effective, according unto
    the ability of the person loving, of the good which it
    wills unto the object beloved, I expressed it as I
    thought meet, by loving these things to us. And I am so
    far on this occasion, and [on account of] the severe
    reflection on me for an acquaintance with Christ, from
    altering my thoughts, that I say still with confidence,
    he who is otherwise minded is no Christian. And if this
    man knows not how the love of Christ is the cause of
    grace and glory, how it is effective of them, and that in
    a perfect consistency with all other causes and means of
    them, and the necessity of our obedience, he may do well
    to abstain a little from writing, until he is better
    informed. But saith he, "This is an excellent love,
    indeed, which does all for us, and leaves us nothing to
    do." But who told him so? who ever said so? Does he think
    that if our life, grace, holiness, glory, be from the
    love of Christ originally causally, by virtue of his
    divine, gracious operations in us and towards us, that
    there is no duty incumbent on them who would be made
    partakers of them, or use or improve them unto their
    proper ends? Shall we, then, to please him, say that we
    have neither life, nor grace, nor holiness, nor glory,
    from the love of Christ; but whereas most of them are our
    own duties, we have them wholly from ourselves? Let them
    do so who have a mind to renounce Christ and his gospel;
    I shall come into no partnership with them. [As] for what
    he adds "All that the gospel teaches us," etc., he should
    have done well to have said, as far as he knows; which is
    a limitation with a witness. If this be all the gospel
    which the man knows and preaches, I pity them whom he has
    taken under his instruction. Does Christ in his love do
    nothing unto the quickening and conversion of men?
    nothing to the purification and sanctification of
    believers? nothing as to their consolation and
    establishment? nothing as to the administration of
    strength against temptations? nothing as to supplies of
    grace, in the increase of faith, love, and obedience,
    etc.? This ignorance or profaneness is greatly to be
    bewailed, as his ensuing scoff, repeated now usque ad
    nauseam, about an opposition between Christ and his
    gospel, is to be despised. And if the Lord Christ has no
    other love but what this man will allow, the state of the
    church in this world depends on every slender thread. But
    attempts of this nature will fall short enough of
    prevailing with sober Christians to forego their faith
    and persuasion, - that it is from the love of Christ that
    believers are preserved in that condition wherein he does
    and will approve of them. Yea, to suppose that this is
    all the grace of the gospel, that whilst men are good
    Christ loves them, and when they are bad he hates them
    (both which are true); and farther, that he does by his
    grace neither make them good, nor preserve them that are
    so made, - is to renounce all that is properly so called.
         He yet proceeds, first to evert this love which I
    asserted, and then to declare his own apprehensions
    concerning the love of Christ. The first in the ensuing
    words, p. 210, "But, methinks this is a very odd way of
    arguing from the divine nature; for if the love of Christ
    as God be so infinite, eternal, unchangeable, fruitful, I
    would willingly understand how sin, death, and misery
    came into the world. For if this love be so eternal and
    unchangeable, because the divine nature is so, then it
    was always so; for God always was what he is, and that
    which is eternal could never be other than it is now: and
    why could not this eternal, and unchangeable, and
    fruitful love, as well preserve us from falling into sin,
    and misery, and death, as love life and holiness into us?
    For it is a little odd, first to love us into sin and
    death, that then he may love us into life and holiness:
    which, indeed, could not be, if this love of God were
    always so unchangeable and fruitful as this author
    persuades us it is now; for if this love had always loved
    life and holiness into us, I cannot conceive how it
    should happen that we should sin and die."

    Owen, A Vindication...
    (continued in File 8...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-07.txt