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discovered their self-contradictions,-- will scarce be moved once to question their judgments by the excerpta of Mr Goodwin, chap. xv. of his treatise; so that of this discourse this is the issue.
There remains only that I give a brief account of some concernments of the ensuing treatise, and dismiss the reader from
farther attendance in the porch or entrance thereof.
The title of the book speaks of the aim and method of it. The confutation of Mr Goodwin was but secondarily in my eye; and the best way for that I judged to consist in a full scriptural confirmation of the truth he opposed. That I chiefly intended; and therein I hope the pious reader may, through the grace of God, meet with satisfaction. In my undertaking to affirm the truth of what I assert, the thing itself first, and then the manifestation of it, were in my consideration. For the thing itself, my arguing hath been to discover the nature of it, its principles and causes, its relation to the good-will of the Father, the mediation of the Son, and dispensation of the Holy Ghost to the saints thereupon; and its use and tendency in and unto that fellowship with the Father and the Son whereunto we are called and admitted.
As to the manner of its revelation, the proper seats of it in the book of God, the occasion of the delivery thereof in several seasons, the significant expressions wherein it is set forth, and the receiving of it by them to whom it was revealed, have been diligently remarked.
In those parts of the discourse which tend to the vindication of the arguments from Scripture whereby the truth pleaded for is confirmed, of the usefulness of the thing itself contended about, etc., I have been, I hope, careful to keep my discourse from degenerating into jangling and strife of words (the usual issue of polemical writings), being not altogether ignorant of the devices of Satan, and the usual carnal attendancies of such proceedings. The weight of the truth in hand, the common interest of all the saints in their walking with God therein, sense of my own duty, and the near approach of the account which I must make of the ministration to me committed, have given bounds and limits to my whole discourse, as to the manner of handling the truth therein asserted. Writing in the common language of the nation about the common possession of the saints, the meanest and weakest as well as the wisest and the most learned, labouring in the work of Christ and his gospel, I durst not hide the understanding of what I aimed at by mingling the plain doctrine of the Scripture with metaphysical notions, expressions of art, or any pretended ornaments of wit or fancy; because I fear God. For the more sublime consideration of things, and such a way of their delivery as, depending upon the acknowledged reception of sundry arts and sciences, which the generality of Christians neither are nor need to be acquainted withal, scholars may communicate their thoughts and apprehensions unto and among themselves, and that upon the stage of the world, in that language whereunto they have consented for and to that end and purpose. That I have carefully abstained from personal reflections, scotts, undervaluations, applications of stories and old sayings, to the provocation of the spirit of them with whom I have to do, I think not at all praiseworthy, because, upon a review of some passages in the treatise (now irrecoverable), I fear I have scarce been so careful as I am sure it was my duty to liave been.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
See page 27.
To remove from the preceding preface the appearance of confusion which it presents, it is enough to remark, that in the course of citing testimonies in proof that his views on the subject of the perseverance of the saints had the sanction of antiquity, Owen, after a passing blow at the Clementine Constitutions, proceeds not only to impugn the integrity of the Ignatian Epistles, but to assail the reasonings of Dr Hammond in sup. port of Episcopacy. On the former point, admitting generally that the documents known by the name of the Epistles of Ignatius might contain much that was the production of that early martyr, Owen represents them as so adulterated that no valid inference can be drawn from their contents. His reasons are, that high authorities, such as Vedelius, who brought out the Genevan edition of them, Calvin, De Saumaise, Blondel, the Magdeburg Centuriators, and Whitaker, hau pronounced much of them to be spurious; that they contained passages from the Clementine Constitutions, a forgery, and of a date subsequent to the age of Ignatius; that the passages quoted from them by Theodoret and Jerome do not accord with, or rather do not exist in, the version of them extant; that the style of them is replete with turgid expressions, inconsistent with the simplicity of the early Christian writers; that Latin words occur in them, not likely to be employed by a Syrian like Ignatius; and that they contain expressions of overweening deference to the hierarchy, a species of government not in existence in the time of Ignatius. On such grounds, our author holds that these epistles resemble those children of the Jews by their strange wives, who “spake part the language of Ashdod, and part the language of the Jews."
No doubt exists that Ignatius was the author of some epistles warning the church of his day against heretical opinions, which bad begun to disturb its unity and peace; and early fathers of the church, Polycarp, Irenæus, Theophilus of Antioch, Origen, and Eusebius, make specific allusion to these epistles. The question is, What epistles are to be regarded as the genuine writings of Ignatius among three different collections pur. porting to be such; first, tuelve epistles in Greek and Latin, with a long and expanded text; secondly, eleven epistles in Greek and Latin, of which seven are in a shorter text; and lastly, the three epistles in Syriac published by Mr Cureton, of which the text is shorter even than that of the last-mentioned collection?
From the strong support which many expressions in the first and second of these recensions lend to the hierarchical element in church-government, these documents were of importance in the controversy between Presbyterians and Episcopalians. While the text was yet unsettled, and different editions were issuing from the press,-one by Vedelius in 1623, giving seven Greek epistles, corresponding in name to those mentioned by Eusebius; another by Usher in 1644; another by Vossius in 1646, giving eight epistles, with part of a ninth, founded on a manuscript discovered at Florence, and hence designated the Medicean Greek text,-certain writers, such as Claude de Saumaise (1641) and Blondel (1616), laboured to prove that these epistles bore traces of an age posterior to Ignatius. Dr Hammond (1651), in four dissertations, replied to them, defending the genuineness of the epistles, and episcopal government. It is in answer to this last work that Owen wrote the animadversions which form the digression in his preface to his work on the Perseverance of the Saints. Hammond published a rejoinder, in his “Answer to Animadversions on the Dissertations touching Ignatius' Epistles," etc.
The most important contributions to this controversy followed, and with them for a time it ceased. Daillé, in 1666, published a learned work, designed, according to the title-page, to prove three things,-that the epistles were spurious, that they were written after the time of Ignatius, and that they were of no higher authority than "The Cardinal Works of Christ," a production commonly inserted among the remains of Cyprian. In 1672, Pearson, afterwards bishop of Chester, published his “Vindiciæ Epistolarum S. Ignatii,"—long deemed conclusive by those who were in favour of the genuineness of the epistles, in spite of an able anonymous reply by Larroque in 1674, and the doubts that continued to be felt by many scholars who had made the epistles the subject of keen and critical investigation.
From this point no advance was made in the discussion, some authors contending for the long recension and some for the shorter, till the conjecture of Usher respecting the
probability of a Syriac manuscript was verified, by the discovery of a Syriac version of the Epistle to Polycarp among some ancient manuscripts, procured by Archdeacon Tat. tam, in 1838 or 1839, from a monastery in the Desert of Nitria. Mr Cureton, who dis. covered the epistle among these manuscripts, set on foot a new search for other manu. scripts. The result was, that the archdeacon, by a second expedition to Egypt, brought home in 1843 three entire epistles in Syriac, to Polycarp, to the Ephesians, and to the Romans. M. Pacho secured possession of another copy in 1847, which afterwards came under the examination of Mr Cureton.
It is the opinion of Mr Cureton and Chevalier Bunsen that these three Syriac epistles are the only genuine writings of Ignatius ;-because the Syriac manuscript, transcribed most probably before a D. 550, is of greater antiquity than any existing Greek manuscripts;- the epistles in Syriac are shorter than the same epistles as published by Usher in the Medicean text, while the sense comes out more clearly, from the omission of the parts found only in the Greek manuscripts ; --passages in the latter, to which objectiors have been urged, as containing allusions to heresies (Valentinianism, for example) subsequent to the time of Ignatius, and sentences insisting on a superstitious deference to the hierarchy, do not appear in the Syriac; from which it would follow, either that these passages are spurious, and inserted since the time of the Syriac translator, or that he anticipated the objections of modern criticism, and confirmed them as just by deleting these passages ;-there is perfect uniformity in the style of so much of these epistles in Greek as corresponds with the three Syriac epistles, while the discrepancy of style existing in the Greek recensions between the Epistle to Polycarp and the rest, the difference of matter in the Epistle to the Romans (in the Greek six times longer than in the Syriac), and the peculiar complexion of two chapters in the Epistle to the Trallians, transferred, as it now appears, from the Epistle to the Romans, had all been noticed previous to the discovery of the Syriac manuscripts, and had thrown an air of suspicion over all the epistles;-and the three epistles in the Syriac collection are the only epistles for which the evidence of antiquity, in the shape of testimonies and allusions in the writings of the early fathers, can be cited for upwards of two centuries after the death of Ignatius.
On the other hand, it has been argued that the Syriac version is probably an epitome of the Greek epistles; that such abridgments were common in ancient times; that the scope and sense is more clear in the Greek than in the Syriac; that a manuscript printed by Mr Cureton is a Syriac abridgment of these epistles, differing from that of the three considered by him to be genuine; that the events and opinions which seem to indicate a later age than that of the martyr may be explained by reference to his age; that in the third century quotations are found from all the epistles; and that Eusebius expressly names and describes seven epistles, a testimony repeated by Jerome.
At present the amount of evidence seems in favour of the three Syriac epistles, as all the genuine remains of Ignatius we possess. It is possible that Syriac manuscripts of the other cpistles may be discovered, although the claim of the former to be not only paramount but exclusive has been argued with great force, on the ground that had the fatter existed, they would certainly have been the subject of appeal in many controversies by many fathers who utterly ignore them, as well as from the closing words of the recently discovered manuscripts “ Here end the three epistles of Ignatius, bishop ånd martyr.” Meanwhile it is satisfactory to know that the Syriac version leaves the argument for the authenticity and genuineness of the Scriptures very nearly where it stood. It contains references to two of the Gospels, to the Acts of the Apostles, and to five of Paul's Epistles. Both the Epistles of Ignatius to the Ephesians and to the Romans, in the Syriac version, assert distinctly the Godhead of Christ.
But how fares the question of ecclesiastical polity,-the point which brought these epistles into dispute between Owen and Hammond, -by the discovery of the Syriac manuscript ? All the passages in favour of the hierarchy disappear in it, except the following from the Epistle to Polycarp, “Look to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be instead of the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the deacons." Are we to say here, like Neander in reference to all the Greek epistles, with the exception of the one to the Romans, which he admitted to possess greater marks of originality than the others, “ a hierarchical purpose is not to be mistaken," to pronounce it an interpolation, or challenge the authenticity of the Syriac document ? or are we to admit its genuineness, and accept it as evidence that Episcopacy dates so early as the time of Ignatius? or are we to question the import of the term “bishop," so as to make it quadrate with Congregational or Presbyterian views ? But these questions, while they illustrate the present state of the controversy, are bcyond our province. - LD.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE SAINTS' PERSEVERANCE
EXPLAINED AND CONFIRMED.
THE STATE OF THE CONTROVERSY.
The various thoughts of men concerning the doctrine proposed to consideration
The great concernment of it, however stated, on all hands confessed—Some special causes pressing to the present handling of it – The fearful backsliding of many in these days— The great offence given and taken thereby, with the provision made for its removal—The nature of that offence and temptation thence arising considered—Answer to some arguings of Mr G., chap. ix., from thence against the truth proposed— The use of trials and shakings_Grounds of believers' assurance that they are so- - The same farther argued and debated -Of the testimony of a man's un conscience concerning his uprightness, and what is required thereunto-1 John iii. 7 considered—Of the rule of self-judging, with principles of settlement for true believers, notwithstanding the apostasies of eminent professors—Corrupt teachings rendering the handling of this doctrine necessary—Its enemies of old and of late—The particular undertaking of Mr G. proposed to consideration—An entrance into the stating of the question—The terms of the question explained— Of holiness in its several acceptations—Created holiness, original or adventitious, complete or inchoate Typical by dedication, real by purification—Holiness evangelical, either so indeed or by estimation-Real holiness partial or universal— The partakers of the first, or temporary believers, not true believers, maintained against Mr G.–Ground of judging professors to be true believers—Matt. vii. 20 considered—What is the rule of judging men therein given—What knowledge of the faith of others is to be obtained—What is meant by perseverance: how in Scripture it is expressed— The grounds of it pointed atWhat is intended by falling away-Whether it be possible the Spirit of grace may be lost, or the habit of it, and how—The state of the controversy as laid down by Mr G.–The vanity thereof discovered—His judgment about believers' falling away examined—What principles and means of perseverance he grants to them—The enemies of our perseverance—Indwelling sin in particular considered—No possibility of preservation upon Mr G.'s grounds demonstrated— The means and ways of the saints' preservation in faith, as asserted by Mr G., at large examined, weighed, and found light—The doctrine of the saints' perseverance, and way of teaching it, cleared from Isa. iv.—That chapter opened—The 5th verse particularly insisted on and discussed— The whole state and method of the controversy thence educed.
The truth which I have proposed to handle, and whose defence I have undertaken in the ensuing discourse, is commonly called The • PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS; a doctrine whereof nothing ordinary, low,
or common, is spoken by any that have engaged into the consideration of it. To some it is the very salt of the covenant of
the most distinguishing mercy communicated in the blood of Christ, so interwoven into, and lying at the bottom of, all that consolation which “God is abundantly willing that all the heirs of the promise should receive,” that it is utterly impossible it should be safe-guarded one moment without a persuasion of this truth, which seals up all the mercy and grace of the new covenant with the unchangeableness and faithfulness of God.' To others it is no grace of God, no part of the purchase of Christ, no doctrine of the gospel, no foundation of consolation; but an invention of men, a delusion of Satan, an occasion of dishonour to God, disconsolation and perplexity to believers, a powerful temptation unto sin and wickedness in all that do receive it."
A doctrine it is, also, whose right apprehension is on all hands confessed to be of great importance, upon the account of that effectual influence which it hath, and will have, into our walking with God;which, say some, is to love humility, thankfulness, fear, fruitfulness;8 to folly, stubbornness, rebellion, dissoluteness, negligence, say others. The great confidence expressed by men concerning the evidence and certainty of their several persuasions, whether defending or opposing the doctrine under consideration,--the one part professing the truth thereof to be of equal stability with the promises of God, and most plentifully delivered in the Scripture; others (at least one, who is thought to be pars magna of his companions), that if it be asserted in any place of the Scripture, it were enough to make wise and impartial men to call the authority thereof into question,-must needs invite men to turn aside to see about what this earnest contest is. And quis is est tam potens, who dares thus undertake to remove not only ancient landmarks and boundaries of doctrines among the saints, but "mountains of brass" and the “hills about Jerusalem," which we hoped would stand fast for ever? The concernment, then, of the glory of God, and the honour of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the interest of the souls of the saints, being so wrapped up, and that confessedly on all hands, in the doctrine proposed, I am not out of hope that the plain discoursing of it from the word of truth may be as “a word in season,” like “apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Moreover, besides the general importance of that doctrine in all times and seasons, the wretched practices of many in the days wherein we live, and the industrious attempts of others in their teachings, for
Jude 1; 2 Cor. xiii. 8; Isa. iv. 5, 6; Jer. xxxi. 31-34, xxxii. 39, 40; Isa. lix. 21; Heb. viii. 10-12; 1 Cor. i. 9; Phil. i. 6; Rom. viii. 32-35.
· Pelag. Armin. Socin. Papist. Thomson de Intercis. Justif. Diatrib. Bertius Apost. Sanct. Remonst. Coll. Hag. Scripta Synod.
3 Gen. xvii. 1; Ps. xxiii. 6; Phil. ii. 12, 13; Heb. z. 19-22; 2 Cor. vii. 1; 2 Pet. L B-7, etc.