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 mentions." 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 transgressors.'" 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 .