True and False Religion: Works of John Owen- Volume XIVTrue and False Religion: Works of John Owen- Volume XIV
John Owen
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Despite his other achievements, John Owen is best famed for his writings. These cover the range of doctrinal, ecclesiastical and practical subjects. They are characterized by profundity, thoroughness and, consequently, authority. Andrew Thomson said that Owen 'makes you feel when he has reached the end of his subject, that he has also exhausted it.' Although many of his works were called forth by the particular needs of his own day they all have a uniform quality of timelessness. Owen's works were republished in full in the nineteenth century. Owen is surely the Prince of the Puritans. 'To master his works,' says Spurgeon, 'is to be a profound theologian.'

This volume includes two treatises, Animadversions on a Treatise Entitled "Fiat Lux" and A Vindication of the Animadversions on "Fiat Lux," as welll three shorter ones on the same subject.


     

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         The title of this third chapter is, that “No religion, or sect, or way, hath any advantage over another, nor all of them over Popery.”  To this we excepted before, in general that that way which hath the truth with it, hath in that wherein it hath the truth the advantage against all others.  Truth turns the scales in this business, wherever and with whomsoever it be found; and if it lie in any way distant from Popery, it gives all the advantage against it that need be desired.  And with this only inquiry, “With whom the truth abides?” to be resolved.  But this course and procedure, for some reasons which he knows, and we may easily guess at, our author liked not; and it is now too late for us to walk in any path but what he has trodden before us, though it seem rather a maze than a way for travelers to walk in that would all pass on in their journey.

     His first section is entitled, “Light and Spirit,” the pretence whereof he treats after his manner, and cashiers from giving any such advantage as is inquired after.  But neither yet are we arrived to any concernment of Protestants.  That which they plead as their advantage is not the empty names of light and spirit, but the truth of Christ revealed in Scripture.  I know there are not a few who have impertinently used these good words and Scripture expressions, which yet ought no more to be scoffed at by others than abused by them; but that any have made the plea here pretended as to their settlement in religion, I know not.  The truth is, if they have, it is no other upon the matter but what our author calls them unto.  To a naked “credo” he would reduce them; and that differs only from what seems to be the mind of them that plead light and spirit [in this], that he would have them resolve their faith irrationally into the authority of the church; they pretend to do it into the Scripture.


 
     But what he aims to bring men unto, he justifies from the examples of Christians in ancient times, “who had to deal with Jews and Pagans, whose disputes were rational and weighty, and puzzled the wisest of the clergy to answer.  So that after all their ratiocinaltion ended, whether it sufficed or no, they still concluded with this one word, ‘Credo’;  which in logic and philosophy was a weak answer, but in religion the best and only one to be made.”  What could be spoken more untruly, more contumeliously, or more to the reproach of Christian religion, I cannot imagine.  It is true, indeed, that as to the resolution, satisfaction, and settlement of their souls, Christians always built their faith, and resolved it into the authority of God in his word; but that they opposed their naked “Credo” to the disputes of Jews or Pagans or rested in that for a solution of their objections, is heavenly-wide—as far from truth, I wonder any man who hath ever seen, or almost heard, of the disputes and discourses of Justin Martyr, Clemes Alexandrinus, Origen, Theophilus Atiochenus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Lactantius, Chrysostom, Austin, Theodoret, and innumerable others, proving the fiather of the Christian religion against the Jews from Scripture, and the reasonableness of it against the Pagans, with the folly and foppery of theirs, could on any accound be induced to cast out such a reproach against them.