Owen, A Vindication... File 8 (... continued from File 7) It is well if he know what it is that he aims at in these words; I am sure what he says does not in the least impeach the truth which he designs to oppose. The name and nature of God are everywhere in the Scripture proposed unto us as the object of, and encouragement unto, our faith, and his love in particular is therein represented unchangeable, because he himself is so; but it does not hence follow that God loveth any one naturally, or necessarily. His love is a free act of his will; and therefore, though it be like himself, such as becomes his nature, yet it is not necessarily determined on any object, nor limited as unto the nature, degrees, and effects of it. He loves whom he pleaseth, and as unto what end he pleaseth. Jacob he loved, and Esau he hated; and those effects which, from his love or out of it, he will communicate unto them, are various, according to the counsel of his will. Some he loves only as to temporal and common mercies, some as to spiritual grace and glory; for he has mercy on whom he will have mercy. Wherefore it is no way contrary unto, and inconsistent with, the eternity, the immutability, and fruitfulness of the love of God, that he suffered sin to enter into the world, or that he does dispense more grace in Jesus Christ under the New Testament than he did under the Old. God is always the same that he was; love in God is always of the same nature that it was; but the objects, acts, and effects of this love, with the measures and degrees of them, are the issues of the counsel or free purposes of his will. Want of the understanding hereof makes this man imagine, that if God's love in Christ, wherewith he loveth us, be eternal and fruitful, then must God necessarily always - in or out of Christ, under the old or new covenant - love all persons, elect or not elect, with the same love as to the effects and fruits of it; which is a wondrous profound apprehension. The reader, therefore, if he please, may take notice, that the love which I intend, and whereunto I ascribe those properties, is the especial love of God in Christ unto the elect. Concerning this himself says, that he loves them with an everlasting love, and therefore "draws them with loving-kindness," Jer. 31: 3; which love, I shall be bold to say, is eternal and fruitful. And hence, as he changeth not, whereon the sons of Jacob are not consumed, Mal. 3: 6, there being with him "neither variableness, nor shadow of turning," James 1: 17; so accordingly he has in this matter, by his promise and oath, declared the immutability of his counsel, Heb. 6: 17, 18, - which seems to intimate that his love is unchangeable. And whereas this eternal love is in Christ Jesus as the way and means of making it certain in all its effects, and with respect unto its whole design, it is fruitful in all grace and glory, Eph. 1: 3-5. And if he cannot understand how, notwithstanding all this, sin so entered into the world under the law of creation and the first covenant as to defeat in us all the benefits thereof, at present I cannot help him; for, as I am sure enough he would scorn to learn any thing of me, so I am not at leisure to put it to the trial. His own account of the love of God succeeds. P. 211, "Not that I deny that the love of God is eternal, unchangeable, fruitful; that is, that God was always good, and always continues good, and manifesteth his love and goodness in such ways as are suitable to his nature, which is the fruitfulness of it: but then, the unchangeableness of God's love does not consist in being always determined to the same object, but that he always loves for the same reason; that is, that he always loves true virtue and goodness, wherever he sees it, and never ceases to love any person till he ceases to be good: and then the immutability of his love is the reason why he loves no longer; for should he love a wicked man, the reason and nature of his love would change. And the fruitfulness of God's love, with respect to the methods of his grace and providence, does not consist in procuring what he loves by an omnipotent and irresistible power; for then sin and death could never have entered into the world: but he governs and does good to his creatures, in such ways as are most suitable to their natures. He governs reasonable creatures by principles of reason, as he does the material world by the necessary laws of matter, and brute creatures by the instincts and propensities of nature." This may pass for a system of his divinity, which how he will reconcile unto the doctrine of the church of England in her articles, she and he may do well to consider. But, whatever he means by the love of God always determined unto the same object, it were an easy thing to prove, beyond the reach of his contradiction, that persons are the objects of God's eternal love, as well as things and qualifications are of his approbation; or, that he loves some persons with an everlasting and unchangeable love, so as to preserve them from all ruining evils, and so as they may be always meet objects of his approving love, unto his glory: and whereas these things have been debated and disputed on all hands with much learning and diligence, our author is a very happy man if, with a few such loose expressions as these repeated, he thinks to determine all the controversies about election and effectual grace, with perseverance, on the Pelagian side. The hypothesis here maintained, that because God always and unchangeably approves of what is good in any, or of the obedience of his creatures, and disapproves or hates sin, condemning it in his law, [and] that therefore he may love the same person one day and hate him another, notwithstanding his pretences that he is constant unto the reason of his love, will inevitably fall into one of these conclusions: - either, that God indeed never loveth any man, be he who he will; or, that he is changeable in his love, upon outward, external reasons, as we are: and let him choose which he will own. In the meantime, such a love of God towards believers as shall always effectually preserve them meet objects of his love and approbation, is not to be baffled by such trifling impertinencies. His next reflection is on the manner of God's operations in the communication of grace and holiness; which, he says, is "not by omnipotent and irresistible power," - confirming his assertion by that consideration, that then sin and death could never have entered into the world; which is resolved into another sweet supposition, that God must needs act the same power of grace towards all men, at all times, under each covenant, whether he will or no. But this it is to be a happy disputant, - all things succeed well with such persons which they undertake. And as to the manner of the operation of grace, how far grace itself may be said to he omnipotent, and in its operations irresistible, I have fully declared there; where he may oppose and refute it, if he have any mind thereunto. His present attempt against it in those words, that God "governs reasonable creatures by principles of reason," is so weak in this case, and impertinent, that it deserves no consideration; for all the operations of divine grace are suited unto the rational constitution of our beings, neither was ever man so wild as to fancy any of them such as are inconsistent with, or do offer force unto, the faculties of our souls in their operations. Yea, that which elevates, aids, and assists our rational faculties in their operations on and towards their proper objects, which is the work of efficacious grace, is the principal preservative of their power and liberty, and can be no way to their prejudice. And we do, moreover, acknowledge that those proposals which are made in the gospel unto our reason, are eminently suited to excite and prevail with it unto its proper use and exercise in compliance with them. Hence, although the habit of faith, or power of believing, be wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, yet the word of the gospel is the cause and means of all its acts, and the whole obedience which it produceth. But if by "governing reasonable creatures by principles of reason," he intends that God deals no otherwise by his grace with the souls of men, but only by proposing objective arguments and motives unto a compliance with his will, without internal aids and assistance of grace, it is a gross piece of Pelagianism, destructive of the gospel, sufficiently confuted elsewhere; and he may explain himself as he pleaseth. His proceed is, to transcribe some other passages, taken out of my book here and there, in whose repetition he inserts some impertinent exceptions; but the design of the whole is to "state a controversy," as he calls it, between us and them, or those whom he calleth "they" and "we," whoever they be. And this, upon the occasion of my mentioning the fulness of grace, life, and righteousness that is in Christ, he does in these words: - P. 215, "They say that these are the personal graces of Christ as mediator, which are inherent in him, and must be derived from his person; we say, they signify the perfection and excellency of his religion, as being the most perfect and complete declaration of the will of God, and the most powerful method of the divine wisdom for the reforming of the world, as it prescribes the only righteousness which is acceptable to God, and directs us in the only way to life and immortality." I shall not absolutely accept of the terms of this controversy, as to the state of it on our part, proposed by him; and yet I shall not much vary from them. We say, therefore, that "Jesus Christ being full of all grace, excellencies, and perfections, he communicates them unto us in that degree as is necessary for us, and in proportion unto his abundant charity and goodness towards us; and we Christians, as his body, or fellow-members of his human nature, receive grace and mercy, flowing from him to us." This state of the controversy on our side I suppose he will not refuse, nor the terms of it; but will own them to be ours, though he will not, it may be, allow some of them to be proper or convenient. And that he may know who his "they" are, who are at this end of the difference, he may be p]eased to take notice that these words are the whole and entire paraphrase of Dr Hammond on John 1: 16; the first testimony he undertakes to answer. And when this author has replied to Mr Hooker, Dr Jackson, and him, and such other pillars of the church of England as concur with them, it will be time enough for me to consider how I shall defend myself against him. Or, if he will take the controversy on our part in terms more directly expressive of my mind, it is the person of Christ is the fountain of all grace to the church (as he well observes my judgement to be), and that from him all grace and mercy is derived unto us; and then I do maintain, that the "they" whom he opposeth, are not only the church of England, but the whole catholic church in all ages. Who the "we" are, on the other hand, who reject this assertion, and believe that all the testimonies concerning the fulness of grace in Christ, and the communication thereof unto us, do only declare the excellency of his religion, is not easy to be conjectured; - for unless it be the people of Racow, I know not who are his associates. And let him but name three divines of any reputation in the church of England since the Reformation, who have given the least countenance unto his assertions, negative or positive, and I will acknowledge that he has better associates in his profession than as yet I believe he has. But that Jesus Christ himself, God and man in one person, the mediator between God and man, is not a fountain of grace and mercy to his church; that there is no real internal grace communicated by him, or derived from him unto his mystical body; that the fulness which is in him, or said to be in him, of grace and truth, of unsearchable riches of grace, etc., is nothing but the doctrine which he taught, as the most complete and perfect declaration of the will of God, - are opinions that cannot be divulged, under pretence of authority, without the most pernicious scandal to the present church of England. And if this be the man's religion, that this is all the fulness we receive from Christ, - "a perfect revelation of the divine will concerning the salvation of mankind; which contains so many excellent promises that it may well be called 'grace;' and prescribes such a plain and simple religion, so agreeable to the natural notions of good and evil, that it may well be called 'truth;'" - and complying with its doctrine, or yielding obedience unto its precepts and believing the promises which it gives, in our own strength, without any real aid, assistance, or communication of internal saving grace from the person of Jesus Christ, is our righteousness before God, whereon and for which we are justified, - I know as well as he whence it came, and perhaps better than he whither it will go. The remaining discourse of this chapter consisteth of two parts: - First, An attempt to disprove any communication of real internal grace from the Lord Christ unto believers for their sanctification; Secondly, An endeavour to refute the imputation of his righteousness unto us for our justification. In the first he contends that all the fulness of grace and truth said to be in Christ consists either in the doctrine of the gospel or in the largeness of his church. In the latter, that faith in Christ is nothing but believing the gospel, and the authority of Christ who revealed it; and by yielding obedience thereunto, we are justified before God, on the account of an internal inherent righteousness in ourselves. Now, these are no small undertakings; the first of them being expressly contrary to the sense of the catholic church in all ages (for the Pelagians and the Socinians are by common agreement excluded from an interest therein); and the latter of them, contrary to the plain confessions of all the reformed churches, with the constant doctrine of this church of England: and therefore we may justly expect that they should be managed with much strength of argument, and evident demonstration. But the unhappiness of it is (I will not say his, but ours), that these are not things which our author as yet has accustomed himself unto; and I cannot but say, that to my knowledge I never read a more weak, loose, and impertinent discourse, upon so weighty subjects, in my whole life before: he must have little to do, who can afford to spend his time in a particular examination of it, unless it be in the exposition of those places which are almost verbatim transcribed out of Schlichtingius. Besides, for the first truth which he opposeth, I have confirmed it in a discourse which I suppose may be made public before this come to view, beyond what I expect any sober reply unto from him. Some texts of Scripture that mention a fulness in Christ he chooseth out, to manifest (to speak a word by the way) that indeed they do not intend any such fulness in Christ himself. And the first is John 1: 16; the exposition whereof which he gives is that of Schlichtingius, who yet extends the import of the words beyond what he will allow. The enforcement which he gives unto his exposition, by comparing the 14th and 17th verses with the 16th, is both weak and contradictory of itself; for the words of the 14th verse are, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." It is evident beyond contradiction, that the expression, "full of grace and truth," is exegetical of his glory as the only begotten of the Father, which was the glory of his person, and not the doctrine of the gospel. And for the opposition that is made between the law given by Moses, and the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ, I shall yet rather adhere to the sense of the ancient church, and the most eminent doctors of it, which, if he knows not it to be concerning the effectual communication of real, renewing, sanctifying grace by Jesus Christ, there are snow who can inform him; rather than that woeful gloss upon them, - "His doctrine is called 'grace,' because accompanied with such excellent promises; and may well be called 'truth,' because so agreeable to the natural notions of good and evil," which is the confession of the Pelagian unbelief: but these things are not my present concernment. For the latter part of his discourse, in his opposition unto the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as he does not go about once to state or declare the sense wherein it is pleaded for, nor produceth any one of the arguments wherewith it is confirmed, and omitteth the mention of most of the particular testimonies which declare and establish it; so, as unto those few which he takes notice of, he expressly founds his answers unto them on that woeful subterfuge, that if they are capable of another interpretation, or having another sense given unto them, then nothing can be concluded from them to that purpose, - by which the Socinians seek to shelter themselves from all the testimonies that are given to his Deity and satisfaction. But I have no concernment, as I said, either in his opinions or his way of reasoning; and do know that those who have so, need not desire a better cause nor an easier adversary to deal withal. In his third section, p. 279, he enters upon his exceptions unto the union of believers unto Jesus Christ, and with great modesty, at the entrance of his discourse, tells us, first, "how these men," with whom he has to do, "have fitted the person of Christ unto all the wants and necessities of the sinner;" which yet, if he denies God himself to have done, he is openly injurious unto his wisdom and grace. The very first promise that was given concerning him was, that he should save sinners from all their wants, evils, and miseries, that might, did, or could befall them by the entrance of sin. But thus it falls out, when men will be talking of what they do not understand. Again, he adds how he has "explained the Scripture metaphors whereby the union between Christ and Christians is represented; but that these men, instead of explaining of those metaphors, turn all religion into an allegory." But what if one should now tell him, that his explanation of these metaphors is the most absurd and irrational, and argues the most fulsome ignorance of the mystery of the gospel, that can be imagined; and that, on the other side, those whom he traduceth do explain them unto the understanding and experience of all that believe, and that in a way suited and directed unto by the Holy Ghost himself, to farther their faith, obedience, and consolation? As far as I perceive, he would be at no small loss how to relieve himself under this censure. The first thing he begins withal, and wherein, in the first place, I fall under his displeasure, is about the conjugal relation between Christ and believers, which he treats of, p. 280. "As for example," saith he, "Christ is called a husband, the church his spouse; and now all the invitations of the gospel are Christ's wooing and making love to his spouse; - and what other men call believing the gospel of Christ, whereby we devote ourselves to his service, these men call that consent and contract, which make up the marriage betwixt Christ and believers. Christ takes us for his spouse, and we take Christ for our husband, and that with all the solemnities of marriage, except the ring, which is left out as an antichristian ceremony; Christ saying thus, 'This is that we will consent unto, that I will be for thee, and thou shalt be for me, and not for another.' Christ gives himself to the soul with all his excellencies, righteousness, preciousness, graces, and eminencies, to be its saviour, head, and husband, - to dwell with it in this holy relation; and the soul likes Christ for his excellencies, graces, suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatsoever, and accepts of Christ by the will for its husband, Lord, and saviour. And thus the marriage is completed; and this is the day of Christ's espousals, and of the gladness of his heart. And now follow all mutual conjugal affections; which, on Christ's part, consist in delight, valuation, pity, compassion, bounty; on the saints' part, in delight, valuation, chastity, duty. But I have already corrected this fooling with Scripture metaphors and phrases." It might, perhaps, not unbecome this author to be a little more sparing of his correction, unless his authority were more than it is, and his skill, also, in the management of it; for at present those whom he attempts upon are altogether insensible of any effects of his severity. But whereas he seems much at a loss how to evidence his own wisdom any other way than by calling them fools with whom he has to do, it is sufficient to plead his excuse. But what is it that he is here so displeased at, as unfit for a man of his wisdom to bear withal, and therefore calls it "fooling?" Is it that there is a conjugal relation between Christ and the church? - that he is the bridegroom and husband of the church, and that the church is his bride and spouse? - that he becomes so unto it by a voluntarily, gracious act of his love, and that the church enters into that relation with him by their acceptance of him in that relation, and voluntarily giving up themselves unto him in faith, love, and obedience, suited thereunto? Is it that he loveth his church and cherisheth it as a husband, or that the church gives up itself in chaste and holy obedience unto him as her spouse? or is it my way and manner of expressing these things wherewith he is so provoked? If it be the latter, I desire he would, for his own satisfaction, take notice that I condemn his censures, and appeal to the judgement of those who have more understanding and experience in these things than, for aught I can discern by his writings, he has yet attained unto. If it be the former, they are all of them so proved and confirmed from the Scripture in that very discourse which he excepteth against, as that he is not able to answer or reply one serious word thereunto. Indeed, to deny it, is to renounce the gospel and the catholic faith. It is, therefore, to no purpose for me here to go over again the nature of this relation between Christ and the church, - wherein really and truly it does consist; what it is the Scripture instructeth us in thereby; what is that love, care, and tenderness of Christ, which it would have us thence to learn; and what is our own duty with respect thereunto, together with the consolation thence arising: the whole of this work is already discharged in that discourse which these impertinent cavils are raised against, and that suitably to the sense of the church in all ages, and of all sound expositors of those very many places of Scripture which I have urged and insisted on to that purpose. Let him, if he please, a little lay aside the severity of his corrections and befouling of men, and answer any material passage in the whole discourse, if he be able; or discover any thing in it not agreeable to the analogy of faith, or the sense of the ancient church, if he can. And though he seem, both here and in some of his ensuing pages, to have a particular contempt of what is cited or improved out of the book of Canticles to this purpose; yet, if he either deny that that whole book does mystically express the conjugal relation that is between Christ and his church, with their mutual affections and delight in each other, or that the places particularly insisted on by me are not duly applied unto their proper intention, I can, at least, confirm them both by the authority of such persons as whose antiquity and learning will exercise the utmost of his confidence in calling them fools for their pains. From hence for sundry pages he is pleased to give me a little respite, whilst he diverts his severity unto another; unto whose will and choice what to do in it I shall leave his peculiar concern, as knowing full well how easy it is for him to vindicate what he has written on this subject from his impertinent exceptions, if he please. In the meantime, if this author supposeth to add unto the reputation of his ingenuity and modesty by assaulting with a few pitiful cavils a book written with so much learning, judgement, and moderation, as that is which he excepts against, not daring in the meantime to contend with it in any thing of the expository or the argumentative part of it, but only to discover a malevolent desire to obstruct the use which it has been of, and may yet farther be, to the church of God, - I hope he will not find many rivals in such a design. For my part, I do suppose it more becoming Christian modesty and sobriety, where men have laboured according to their ability in the explication of the mysteries of Christian religion, and that with an avowed intention to promote holiness and gospel obedience, to accept of what they have attained, wherein we can come unto a compliance with them; than, passing by whatever we cannot but approve of, or are not able to disprove, to make it our business to cavil at such expressions as either we do not like, or hope to pervert and abuse to their disadvantage. P. 296, he returns again to my discourse, and fiercely pursues it for sundry leaves, in such a manner as becomes him, and is usual with him. That part of my book which he deals withal, is from p. 176 unto p. 187; and if any person of ingenuity and judgement will be pleased but to peruse it, and to compare it with this man's exceptions, I am secure it will need no farther vindication. But as it is represented in his cavilling way, it is impossible for any man either to conceive what is the true design of my discourse, or what the arguments wherewith what I assert is confirmed; which he does most unduly pretend to give an account of: for he so chops, and changes, and alters at his pleasure, going backwards and forwards, and that from one thing to another, without any regard unto a scholastic or ingenuous debate of any thing that might be called a controversy, merely to seek out an appearance of advantage to vent his cavilling exceptions, as no judgement can rationally be made of his whole discourse, but only that he had a mind to have cast aspersions on mine, if he had known how. But such stuff as it is, we must now take the measure of it, and consider of what use it may be. And first he quotes those words from my book, "That Christ fulfilled all righteousness as he was mediator; and that whatever he did as mediator, he did it for them whose mediator he was, or in whose stead and for whose good he executed the office of a mediator before God: and hence it is that his complete and perfect obedience to the law is reckoned to us." He adds, "This is well said, if it were as well proved. And because this is a matter of great consequence, I shall first examine those reasons the doctor alleges to prove that Christ fulfilled all righteousness, as he was mediator, in their stead whose mediator he was." These assertions are gathered up from several places in my discourse, though p. 182 is cited for them all. And if any one find himself concerned in these things, I may demand of him the labour of their perusal in my book itself; and for those who shall refuse a compliance with so reasonable a request, I do not esteem myself obliged to tender them any farther satisfaction. However, I say again, that the Lord Christ fulfilled all righteousness as mediator; and that what he did as mediator, he did it for them whose mediator he was, or in whose stead and for whose good he executed the office of a mediator before God. He says, "It is well said, if it were as well proved." I say, it is all proved in the places where it is asserted, and that with such testimonies and arguments as he dares not touch upon. And although he pretends to examine the reasons that I allege to prove that Christ fulfilled all righteousness, as he was mediator, in their stead whose mediator he was, yet indeed he does not do so. For, first, I say no such thing as he here feigns me to say, - namely, that "Christ as mediator fulfilled all righteousness in our stead;" but only, that "Christ being the mediator, in our stead fulfilled all righteousness:" which is another thing, though perhaps he understands not the difference. Nor does he so much as take notice of that testimony which is immediately subjoined unto the words he cites in the confirmation of them; but he will disprove this assertion or at least manifest that it cannot be proved. And this he enters upon, p 297, "As for the first, we have some reason to require good proof of this, since the notion of a mediator includes no such thing. A mediator is one who interposeth between two differing parties, to accommodate the difference; but it was never heard of yet, that it was the office of a mediator to perform the terms and conditions himself. Moses was the mediator of the first covenant, Gal. 3: 19; and his office was to receive the law from God, to deliver it to the people, to command them to observe those rites, and sacrifices, and expiations which God had ordained: but he was not to fulfil the righteousness of the law for the whose congregation. Thus Christ is now the mediator of a better covenant; and his office required that he should preach the gospel, which contains the terms of peace and reconciliation between God and men; and since God would not enter into covenant with sinners without the intervention of a sacrifice, he dies too, as a sacrifice and propitiation for the sins of the world." Owen, A Vindication... (continued in File 9...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owvin-08.txt .