« PreviousContinue »
head-lines we have given to each chapter will enable the reader, it is hoped, to follow with greater ease the course of discussion. An exact copy of the original title-page has been prefixeù ,—the only one in our author's works worth preserving, as curious in itself, and containing his own analysis of the work to which it belongs.
Besides this work of Owen, in reply to Goodwin the following authors appeared:Dr George Kendall, rector of Blisland, near Bodmin in Cornwall, in two folio volumes, “ Theocratia, or a Vindication of the Doctrine commonly received,” etc., 1653, and “ Sancti Sanciti,” etc.; Thomas Lamb, a Baptist minister, in his “ Absolute Freedom from Sin by Christ's Death,” etc., 1656; Robert Baillie, Principal of Glasgow Uni. versity, in his “Scotch Antidote against the Engiish Infection of Arminianism,” etc., 1656; Richard Resbury, vicar of Oundle, in his “ Some Stop to the Gangrene of Armi. nianism," etc., 1651, whom Goodwin answered in his “ Confidence Dismounted,” and who again published in reply, “ The Lightless Star;" Henry Jeanes, rector of Chedsey, who published “A Vindication of Dr Twisse from the Exceptions of Mr John Good· win ;” and Mr John Pawson, in a sermon under the title of “ A Vindication of Free Grace.”
In 1658 Goodwin replied to most of these publications in a quarto of five hundred pages, entitled “Triumviri,” etc. In regard to the following treatise, “be returns,” says Owen, in an epistle dedicatory to his work on the Divine Original of the Scriptures, “a scoffing reply to so much of it as was written in a quarter of an hour.”
ANALYSIS. After a careful definition of the terms employed in the controversy, the statement by Mr Goodwin of the question at issue is objected to, and another proposed as more correct, founded upon a passage in Scripture, Isa. iv. 5. Chap. I.
Five leading arguments are adduced in proof of the perseverance of the saints :It is argued, 1. From the divine nature as immutable; under which head the following passages are considered, Mal. iii. 6; James i. 16–18; Rom. xi. 29; Isa. xl. 27-31, xliv. 1-8. 2. From the divine purposes as immutable; and here Scripture is first cited to prove the general immutability of the divine purposes, Isa. xlvi. 9-11; Ps. xxxiii. 9-11, etc. ;--and then the special purpose of God to continue his grace to true believers is proved by such passages as Rom. viii. 28; Jer. xxxi. 3; John vi. 37-40; Matt. xxiv. 24; Eph. i. 3-5; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14. 3. From the covenant of grace, the enduring character and the infallible accomplishment of which are proved by the removal of all causes of change by it, the stipulations of Christ as mediator in it, and the faithfulness of God. 4. From the promises of God, which are generally described, and, as intimating the perseverance of the saints, proved to be unconditional, the following promises to this effect receiving full elucidation: Josh. i. 5; Heb. xiii. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 22; Ps. lxxxix. 30-37; Hos. ii. 19, 20; John X. 27-29. At this point the consideration of the oath of God is deferred, under promise of entering upon it at the close of the discussion ;promise which the author omits to fulfil. Two interesting digressions follow, affording separate arguments in support of the doctrine;—on the mediation of Christ, as comprehending his oblation and intercession, and on the indwelling of the Spirit. And here the first part of the work concludes. Chap. II.-IX.
The second part consists in the improvement of the doctrine, by showing how it conduces to the obedience and consolation of the saints, chap. X., and in a refutation of the following arguments of Mr Goodwin in support of the opposite doctrine,-namely, 1. That it is more effectual in promoting godliness; 2. That it does not make God an accepter of persons; 3. That it has been the doctrine of the most pious men in all ages; 4. That it imparts greater power to the exhortations of the gospel; 5. That upon such a principle alone eternal life can be legitimately promised as the reward of perseverance; 6. That it is proved by the sins into which believers undoubtedly fall; 7. That it tends to the consolation of the saints; and, lastly, That it is affirmed in eight passages of Scripture, Ezek. xviii. 24, 25; Matt. xviii. 32–35; 1 Cor. ix, 27; Heb. vi. 4-8, X 26-29, 38, 39; Matt. xiii, 20, 21 ; 2 Pet. ü. 18-22. Chap. XI.-XVII.-Ed.
HIS HIGHNESS OLIVER,
LORD-PROTECTOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, AND IN ELAND,
WITH THE DOMINIONS THEREOF.
SIR, The wise man tells us that “no man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before him.” The great variety wherein God dispenseth outward things in the world, with the many changes and alterations which, according to the counsel of his will, he continually works in the dispensations of them, will not allow them nakedly in themselves to be evidences of the Fountain from whence they flow. Seeing, also, that the want or abundance of them may equally, by the goodness and wisdom of God, be ordered and cast into a useful subserviency to a good infinitely transcending what is or may be contained in them, there is no necessity that in the distribution of them God should walk according to any constant uniform law of procedure, all the various alterations about them answering one eternal purpose for a determinate end. Of spiritual good things there is another reason and condition; for as they are in themselves fruits, evidences, and pledges, of an eternal, unchangeable love, so the want of them in their whole kind being not capable of a tendency to a greater good than they are, the dispensation of them doth so far answer the eternal Spring and Fountain from whence it floweth as, in respect of its substance and being, not to be obnoxious to any alteration. This is that which in the ensuing treatise is contended for. In the midst of all the changes and mutations which the infinitely wise providence of God doth daily effect in the greater and lesser things of this world, as to the communication of his love in Jesus Christ, and the merciful, gracious distributions of the unsearchable riches of grace, and the hid treasures thereof purchased by his bloud, he knows no repentance. Of both these you have had full experience; and though your concernment in the former hath been as eminent as that of any person whatever in these later ages of the world, yet your interest in and acquaintance with the latter is, as of incomparable more importance in itself, so answerably of more value and esteem unto you. A sense of the excellency and sweetness of unchangeable love, emptying itself in the golden oil of distinguishing spiritual mercies, is one letter of that new name which none can read but he that hath it. The series and chain of eminent providences whereby you have been carried on and protected in all the hazardous work of your generation, which your God hath called you unto, is evident to all. Of your preservation by the power of God, through faith, in a course of gospel obedience, upon the account of the immutability of the love and infallibility of the promises of God, which are yea and amen in Jesus Christ, your own soul only is possessed with the experience. Therein is that abiding joy, that secret refreshment, which the world cannot give. That you and all the saints of God may yet enjoy that peace and consolation which is in believing that the eternal love of God is immutable, that he is faithful in his promises, that his covenant, ratified in the death of his Son, is unchangeable, that the fruits of the purchase of Christ shall be certainly bestowed on all them for whom he died, and that every one who is really interested in these things shall be kept unto salvation, is the aim of my present plea and contest. That I have taken upon me to present my weak endeavours in this cause of God to your Highness is so far forth from my persuasion of your interest in the truth contended for (and than which you have none more excellent or worthy), that without it no other considerations whatever, either of that dignity and power whereunto of God you are called, or of your peculiar regard to that society of men whereof I am an unworthy member, or any other personal respects whatever, could have prevailed with or emboldened me thereunto. “ Sancta sanctis.” The things I treat of are such as sometimes “none of the princes of this world knew," and as yet few of them are acquainted with. Blessed are they who have their portion in them! When the urgency of your high and important affairs, wherein so many nations are concerned, will lend you so much leisure as to take a view of what is here tendered, the knowledge which you have of me will deliver you from a temptation of charging any weakness you may meet withal upon the doctrine which I assert and maintain; and so that may “run and be glorified,” whatever become of the nothing that I have done in the defence thereof, I shall be abundantly satisfied. That is the shield, which being safe, I can with contentment see these papers die. Unto your Highness I have not any thing more to add, nor for you greater thing to pray, than that you may be established in the assurance and sense of that unchangeable love and free acceptance in Christ which I contend for, and that therein you may be preserved, to the glory of God, the advancement of the gospel, and the real advantage of these nations.
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFUL, HIS REVEREND, LEARNED, AND WORTHY
FRIENDS AND BRETHREN,
THE HEADS AND GOVERNORS OF THE COLLEGES AND HALLS
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
SIRS, The dedication of books to the names of men worthy and of esteem in their generation takes sanctuary in so catholic and ancient prescription, that to use any defensative about my walking in the same path cannot but forfeit the loss of somewhat more than the pains that would be spent therein. Now, although, in addresses of this kind, men usually avail themselves of the occasion to deliver their thoughts as to particulars in great variety, according as their concernments may be, yet the reasons which are generally pleaded as directions for the choice of them to whom, with their labours and writings, they so address themselves, are for the most part uniform, and in their various course transgress not the rules of certain heads from whence they flow. To express a gratitude for respects and favours received, by returning things in their kind eternal for those which are but temporal; to obtain countenance and approbation unto their endeavours, in their breaking forth into the world, from names of more esteem, or at least more known than their own; to advance in repute by a correspondency in judgment with men of such esteem, intimated thereby,—are the more ingenuous aims of men in the dedications of their writings. Though these, and sundry other pretences of the same kind, might justly be drawn into my plea for this address unto you, yet your peculiar designation and appointment, through the good hand of the providence of God, to the defence of the gospel, and your eminent furnishment with abilities from the same hand for the performance of that glorious duty, is that alone upon the account whereof I have satisfied myself, and hope that I may not dissatisfy others, as to this present application. What there is of my own peculiar concernment, wherein I am like to obtain a more favourable condescension in judgment, as to my present undertaking, from you than from other men, will in the close of my address crave leave to have mention made thereof. Brethren! the outward obligations that are upon you from the God of truth, with the advantages which he hath intrusted you withal for the defence of his truth, above the most of men in the world, are evident even to them that walk by the way, and turn little aside to the consideration of things of this nature, importance, and condition; and it is to me an evidence of no small encouragement that God will get graciously employ you in the work and labour of his gospel, by his constant giving a miscarrying womb to all them who have attempted to defraud the nation and the churches of God therein of those helps and furtherances of piety and literature with whose management for their service you are at present intrusted. Of the jewels of silver and gold whereof, by the Lord's appointment, the children of Israel, coming out from amongst them, spoiled the Egyptians, did they dedicate to the tabernacle in the wilderness, when the Lord "planted the
heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, and said unto Zion, Thou art my people.” Though some outward provisions and furnitures of literature,—now, through the good hand of God, made serviceable to you in your attendance upon the great work and employment committed to you,—were first deposited when thick darkness was over the land, yet that they may be made eminently subservient to the will of God in raising up again the tabernacle of David, that was fallen down, the experience of a few years, I no way doubt, will abundantly reveal and manifest. That in the vicissitude of all things, given them by the mysterious and dreadful wheels of providence, your good things also (as every thing else that is pleasant and desirable, or given of God unto the sons of men, hath done) have fallen into the possession and disposal of men, some enemies, other. utterly useless and unfruitful to the Lord in their generations, cannot be denied ; but what is there, in his ways or worship, in his works or word, that God hath not, at some season or other, delivered into the power of the men of the world; though they have abused and perverted them to their own destruction? Neither is there any other use of this consideration, only to inform them of the obligation they lie under to a due and zealous improvement of them to whose trust and care the Lord commits any of his mercies, when he rescues them from the captivity under which they have been detained hy ungodly men. This is now your lot and condition in reference to many who, for sundry generations, pos. sessed those places and advantages of eminent service for the house of our God which you now enjoy. What may justly be the expectation of God from you, under this signal dispensation of his goodness; what is the hope, prayer, and expectation of very many that fear him, concerning you in this nation; what are the designs, desires, aims, and endeavours, of all sorts of them who bear ill-will at whatsoever is comely or praiseworthy amongst us,—you are not ignorant. Whatever consideration, at any time or season, may seem to have had an efficacy upon the minds and wills of men under the like sacrament and designment to the service of truth with yourselves, to incite and provoke them to a singularly industrious and faithful discharge of their duty, is eminently pressing upon you also; and you are made a spectacle to men and angels as to the acquitment of yourselves. The whole of your employment, I confess,—both in the general intendment of it, for the promoting and diffusing of light, knowledge, and truth, in every kind whatever, and in the more special design thereof, for the defence, furtherance, and propagation of the ancient, inviolable, unchangeable truth of the gospel of God,—is, in the days wherein we live, exposed to a contention with as much opposition, contempt, scorn, hatred, and reproach, as ever any such undertaking was, in any place in the world wherein men pretended to love light more than darkness.
It is a hellish darkness which the light of the sun cannot expel. There is no ignorance so full of pride, folly, and stubbornness, as that which maintains itself in the midst of plentiful means of light and knowledge. He that is in the dark when the light of the sun is as seven days, hath darkness in His eye; and how great is that darkness! Such is the ignorance you have to contend withal; stubborn, affected, prejudicate, beyond expression; maintaining its darkness at noonday; expressly refusing to attend to the reason of things, as being that alone, in the thoughts of those men (if they may be so called who are possessed with it), wherewith the world is disturbed. From those who, being under the power of this inthralment, do seem to repine at God that they are not beasts, and clamorously traduce the more noble part of that kind and offspring whereof themselves are,—which attempts do heighten and improve the difference between creatures of an intellectual race and them, to whom their perishing composition gives the utmost advancement,—whose eternal seeds and principles are laid by the hand of God in their respective beings, you will not, I am sure, think it much if you