THE DEATH OF DEATH IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST
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A TREATISE OF THE REDEMPTION AND RECONCILIATION THAT IS IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST; THE MERIT THEREOF, AND THE SATISFACTION WROUGHT THEREBY: WHEREIN THE PROPER END OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS ASSERTED; THE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS AND FRUITS THEREOF ASSIGNED, WITH THEIR EXTENT IN RESPECT OF ITS OBJECT; And The Whole Controversy About Universal Redemption Fully Discussed.
IN FOUR PARTS. 1. Declaring The Eternal Counsel And Distinct Actual Concurrence Of The Holy Trinity Unto The Work Of Redemption In The Blood Of Christ; With The Covenanted Intendment And Accomplished End Of God Therein. 2. Removing False And Supposed Ends Of The Death Of Christ, With The Distinctions Invented To Solve The Manifold Contradictions Of The Pretended Universal Atonement; Rightly Stating The Controversy . 3. Containing Arguments Against Universal Redemption From The Word Of God; With An Assertion Of The Satisfaction And Merit Of Christ. 4. Answering All Considerable Objections As Yet Brought To Light, Either By The Arminians Or Others (Their Late Followers As To This Point), In The Behalf Of Universal Redemption; With A Large Unfolding Of All The Texts Of Scripture By Any Produced And Wrested To That Purpose. The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. — Matthew 20:28.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. — EPHESIANS 1:7.
Imprimatur, Jan. 22, 16-17. JOHN CRANFORD.
IN the testimonies from the ancient fathers, which Owen appends to the following treatise, he quotes Augustine and Prosper as authorities in support of his own view of a definite and effectual atonement. Though these fathers, in opposition to the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians of their day, held this view, the point did not emerge into commanding prominence in the controversy with which their names are chiefly and honorably associated. It was by no means a subject of special controversy, or the key of their position in the field on which their polemical laurels were won. It was otherwise in the dispute which prevailed between Hincmar and Gottschalc, exactly four centuries later. The discussion on the extent of the atonement then assumed a distinct and positive shape. The decisions of the different councils which sat in judgment upon their conflicting principles will be found in the appendix to this treatise. The same controversy was renewed in Holland between the Gomarists and the Arminians, when the Synod of Dort, in one of its articles, condemned the Remonstrant doctrine of a universal atonement. Cameron, the accomplished professor of divinity at Saumur, originated the last important discussion on this point before Owen wrote his treatise on it.
The views of Cameron were adopted and urged with great ability by two of his scholars, Amyraut and Testard; and in the year 1634 a controversy arose, which agitated the French Church for many years. Amyraut had the support of Daille and Blondell. He was ably opposed by Rivet, Spanheim, and Des Marets.
In the last two instances in which discussion on the extent of the atonement revived in the Reformed Churches, there was an essential distinction, very commonly overlooked, between the special points upon which the controversies respectively turned. The object of the article on the death of Christ, emitted by the Synod of Dort, was to counteract the tenet that Christ by the atonement only acquired for the Father a plenary right and freedom to institute a new procedure with all men, by which, on condition of their own obedience, they might be saved. The divines of Saumur would not have accepted this tenet as a correct representation of their sentiments. Admitting that, by the purpose of God, and through the death of Christ, the elect are infallibly secured in the enjoyment of salvation, they contended for an antecedent decree, by which God is free to give salvation to all men through Christ, on the condition that they believe on him. Hence their system was termed hyothetic universalism.
The vital difference between it and the strict Arminian theory lies in the absolute security asserted in the former for the spiritual recovery of the elect. They agree, however, in attributing some kind of universality to the atonement, and in maintaining that, on a certain condition, within the reach of fulfillment by all men, — obedience generally, according to the Arminians, and faith, according to the divines of Saumur, — all men have access to the benefits of Christ’s death. To impart consistency to the theory of Amyraut, faith must, in some sense, be competent to all men; and he held, accordingly, the doctrine of universal grace: in which respect his theory differs essentially from the doctrine of universal atonement, as embraced by eminent Calvinistic divines, who held the necessity of the special operation of grace in order to the exercise of faith. The readers of Owen will understand, from this cursory explanation, why he dwells with peculiar keenness and reiteration of statement upon a refutation of the conditional system, or the system of universal grace, according to the name it bore in subsequent discussions. It was plausible; it had many learned men for its advocates; it had obtained currency in the foreign churches; and it seems to have been embraced by More, or Moore, to whose work on “The Universality of God’s Free Grace,” our author replies at great length.
Thomas Moore is described by Edwards, in his “Gangraena.” part 2. p. 86, as “a great sectary, that did much hurt in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire; who was famous also in Boston, Lynn, and even in Holland, and was followed from place to place by many.” His work, in a quarto volume, was published in 1643; and in the same year a reply to it appeared from the pen of Thomas Whitefield,” Minister of the Gospel at Great Yarmouth.” Mr. Orme remarks, “He takes care to inform us on the title-page that ‘Thomas Moore was late a weaver at Wills, near Wisbitch.’ “ And he adds, in regard to Moore’s production, “Without approving of the argument of the work, I have no hesitation in saying that it is creditable to the talents of the weaver, and not discreditable to his piety.” The weaver, it should be added, was the author of some other works: “Discovery of Seducers that Creep into Houses,” “On Baptism,” “A Discourse about the Precious Blood and Sacrifice of Christ,” etc.
In 1650, Mr. Home, minister at Lynn in Norfolk, a man, according to Palmer (Nonconf. Mem., 3. pp. 6, 7), “of exemplary and primitive piety,” and author of several works, published a reply to Owen’s work, under the title, “The Open Door for Mall’s Approach to God; or, a vindication of the record of God concerning the extent of the death of Christ, in answer to a treatise on that subject by Mr John Owen.” Horne had considerable reputation for skill in the oriental languages, and “some of his remarks and interpretations of Scripture,” in the judgment of Mr. Orme, “were not unworthy of Owen’s attention.” Owen, however, in his epistle prefixed to his “Vindiciae Evangelicae,” expresses his opinion that the work of Horne did not deserve a reply.
Two years after the following work had been published, its author had to defend some of the views he had maintained in it against a more formidable and celebrated adversary. Richard Baxter, in an appendix to his “Aphorisms on Justification,” took exception to some of the views of Owen on redemption. Owen answered him in a treatise which may be regarded as an appendix to his “Death of Death.” In the discussions between them, so much of scholastic subtilty appears on both sides that little interest is likely to be felt in that department of the general question on which they were at variance.
It may be necessary to state precisely what opinion Owen really held on the subject of the extent of the atonement. All opinions on this point may, in general terms, be reduced to four. There are a few who hold that Christ died so as ultimately to secure the salvation of all men. There are others who maintain the view condemned by the Synod of Dort, that by the death of Christ God is enabled to save all or any, on condition of their obedience. There is a third party, who, while they believe that Christ died so as infallibly to secure the salvation of the elect, hold that inasmuch as Christ, in his obedience and sufferings, did what all men were under obligation to do, and suffered what all men deserved to suffer, his atonement has a general as well as a special aspect and reference, in virtue of which the offer of the gospel may be freely tendered to them. Lastly, there are those, and Owen amongst the number, who advocate a limited or definite atonement, such an atonement as implies a necessary connection between the death of Christ and the salvation of those for whom he died, while the actual bearing of the atonement on the lost is left among the things unrevealed, save only that their guilt and punishment are enhanced by the rejection of that mercy offered in the gospel. Hagenbach, in his “History of Doctrines,” vol. 2. p. 255, strangely asserts, that “as regards the extent of the atonement, all denominations, with the exception of the Calvinists, hold that salvation was offered to all.” It would be difficult to specify any Calvinists worthy of the name who hold that salvation should not be offered to all; and it seems needful to state that Owen at least, a very Calvinist of Calvinists, held no such view. On the contrary, among Calvinists that adhere to the doctrine of a definite atonement, it has been matter of debate, not whether the gospel should be universally offered, but on what basis, — the simple command and warrant of the Word, or the intrinsic and infinite sufficiency of the atonement, — the universal offer of the gospel proceeds. Perhaps this point was never formally before the mind of our author, but he intimates that the “innate sufficiency of the death of Christ is the foundation of its promiscuous proposal to the elect and reprobate.”
Among the editions of this valuable work, that printed in Edinburgh, 1755, under the superintendence of the Revelation Adam Gib, deserves honorable mention. It is printed with some care; considerable attention is paid to the numeration; and a valuable analysis of the whole work is prefixed to it. We have not felt at liberty to adopt the numeration in all respects, as rather more of freedom is used with the original than is consistent with the principles on which this edition of Owen’s works has been issued. We acknowledge our obligations to it in the preparation of the subjoined analysis, which is mostly taken from it.
BOOK 1. declares the eternal counsel and distinct actual concurrence of the holy Trinity unto the work of redemption in the blood of Christ; with the covenanted intendment and accomplished end of God therein.
Chapter 1. treats in general of the end of the death of Christ, as it is in the Scripture proposed: — 1. What his Father and himself intended in it. 2. What was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it: — 1. Reconciliation; 2. Justification; 3. Sanctification; 4. Adoption; 5. Glorification. 3. A general view of the opposite doctrine.
Chapter 2. Of the nature of an end in general, and some distinctions about it: — 1. The general distinction of end and means. 2. Their mutual relation: — 1. In a moral sense; 2 . In a natural sense. 3. A twofold end noticed, viz.: — 1 . Of the work; 2. Of the worker. 4. The end of every free agent is either that which he effects, or that for the sake of which it is effected. 5. The means of two sorts, viz.: — 1. Such as have a goodness in themselves; 2. Such as have no goodness, but as conducing to the end. 6. An application of these distinctions to the business in hand.
Chapter 3. considers, — 1. TheFATHER as the chief author of the work of our redemption; 2. The acts ascribed to the person of the Father: — 1. The Father sending his Son into the world for the work of redemption: — (1.) By an authoritative imposition of the office of mediator upon him: [1.] The purposed imposition of his counsel [2.] The actual inauguration of Christ as mediator. (2.) By furnishing him with a fullness of all gifts and graces: — [1.] Christ had a natural all-sufficient perfection of his deity; [2.] He had a communicated fullness. (3.) By entering into covenant with him about his work: — [1.] With a promise of assistance; [2.] With a promise of success. 2. The Father laying upon him the punishment of sin.
Chapter 4. Of those things which, in the work of redemption, are peculiarly ascribed to the person of the Son: — 1. His incarnation; 2. His oblation; 3. His intercession.
Chapter 5. The peculiar actings of theHOLY SPIRIT in this business: — 1. As to the incarnation of Christ; 2. As to the oblation or passion of Christ; 3. As to the resurrection of Christ.
II. His oblation not a mean good in itself, but only as conducing to its end, and inseparable from his intercession; as, — 1. Both intended for the same end; 2. Both of the same extent, as respecting the same objects; 3. His oblation the foundation of his intercession.
Chapter 7. contains reasons to prove the oblation and intercession of Christ to be one entire mean respecting the accomplishment of the same proposed end, and to have the same personal object: — 1. From their conjunction in Scripture; 2. From their being both acts of the same priestly office; 3. From the nature of his intercession; 4. From the identity of what he procured in his oblation with what results from his intercession; 5. From their being conjoined by himself, John 17.; 6. From the sad consequence of separating them, as cutting off all consolation by his death.
Chapter 8. Objections are answered, being a consideration of Thomas More’s reply to the former arguments for the inseparable conjunction of Christ’s oblation and intercession, viz.: — 1. As to Christ being a double mediator, both general and special, alleged from 1 Timothy 2:5, 4:10; Hebrews 9:15. 2. As to the tenor of Christ’s intercession, according to Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34; John 17:21-23; Matthew 5:14-16; John 1:9. 3. As to Christ being a priest for all in respect of one end, and for some only in respect of all ends, alleged from Hebrews 2:9, 9:14, 15, 26; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; Matthew 26:28.
BOOK 2. removes false and supposed ends of the death of Christ, with the distinctions invented to salve the manifold contradictions of the pretended universal atonement, rightly stating the controversy.
Chapter 1. Some previous considerations to a more particular inquiry after the proper end and effect of the death of Christ: — 1. The supreme end of Christ’s death in respect of God; 2. The subordinate end of his death in respect of us.
Chapter 2. removes some mistaken ends assigned to the death of Christ: — 1. It was not his own good. 2 . It was not his Father’s good, to secure for him a right to save sinners.
Chapter 3. More particularly of the immediate end of the death of Christ, with the several ways whereby it is designed. The immediate end of the death of Christ particularly asserted from the Scriptures, viz.: — 1. From those scriptures which hold out the intention and counsel of God with our Savior’s own mind in this work, Matthew 18:11, etc. 2. From those scriptures which state the actual accomplishment or effect of his oblation, Hebrews 9:12,14,26, etc. 3. From those scriptures that point out the persons for whom Christ died, viz., Matthew 26:28; Isaiah 53:11, etc. The force of the word “many” in several of these texts, and the argument taken from them, in comparison with other texts, vindicated from the exceptions of Thomas More. Who are meant by Christ’s sheep, and who not, John 10:15; and his objections answered.
Chapter 4. Of the distinction between impetration and application: — 1. The sense wherein this distinction is used by the adversaries, and their various expressions about it. 2. The distinction itself handled: — 1. The true nature, meaning, and use thereof: — (1.) It has no place in the intention of Christ; (2.) The will of God in this business is not at all conditional; (3.) All the things obtained by Christ are not bestowed upon condition, and the condition on which some things are bestowed is absolutely purchased; (4.) Impetration and application have the same persons for their objects. 2. The meaning of those who seek to maintain universal redemption by that distinction; with a discovery of their various opinions on this head. 3. The main question rightly stated.
Chapter 5. Farther of application and impetration: — 1. That these, though they may admit of a distinction, cannot admit of a separation, as to the objects thereof, is proved by sundry arguments. 2. The defense made by the Arminians on this head (alleging that Christ purchased all good things for all, to be bestowed upon condition; which condition not being performed, these good things are not bestowed), overthrown by sundry arguments.
BOOK 3. contains arguments against universal redemption from the word of God; with an assertion of the satisfaction and merit of Christ.
Chapter 1. Arguments against the universality of redemption. The first two from the nature of the new covenant, and the dispensation thereof: — Arg. 1. From the nature of the covenant of grace, as being made in Christ, not with all, but only some.
Arg. 2. From the dispensation of the covenant of grace, as not extended to all, but only some.
Arg. 4. From the distinction of men into two sorts by God’s eternal purpose.
Arg. 5 . From the Scripture nowhere saying that Christ died for all men.
Chapter 3. Two other arguments, from the person which Christ sustained in this business:- Arg. 6 . From Christ having died as a sponsor.
Arg. 7. From Christ being a mediator.
Chapter 4. Of sanctification, and of the cause of faith, and the procurement thereof by the death of Christ: — Arg. 8. From the efficacy of Christ’s death for sanctification.
Arg. 9. From the procurement of faith by the death of Christ.
Arg. 10. From the antitype of the people of Israel.
Chapter 6. Of the nature of reconciliation, and the argument taken from thence: — 2. Arg. 12. From reconciliation by the death of Christ, Chapter 7. Of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, with arguments from thence: — 3. Arg. 13. From satisfaction by the death of Christ: — 1. What satisfaction is: — (1.) Christ made satisfaction, and how; against Grotius. (2.) Acts exercised by God in this business: — [1.] Of severe justice, as a creditor; against Grotius. [2.] Of supreme sovereignty and dominion. Consequences of these acts as to those for whom Christ satisfied. 2. Inconsistency of all this with universal redemption.
Chapter 8 . A digression, containing the substance of an occasional conference concerning the satisfaction of Christ: — 1. Its consistency with God’s eternal love to his elect. 2. Necessity of it for executing the purposes of that love?
Chapter 9. Being a second part of the former digression, containing arguments to prove the satisfaction of Christ: — Arg. 1. From Christ bearing sin, and the punishment thereof.
Arg. 2 . From his paying a ransom for sinners.
Arg. 3. From his making atonement and reconciliation.
Arg. 5. From the necessity thereof unto faith and consolation.
Chapter 10. Of the merit of Christ, with arguments from thence: — 4. Arg. 14 . From the merit ascribed to the death of Christ. 5. Arg. 15. From the phrases “dying for us,” “bearing our sins,” being our “surety,” etc.
BOOK 4. — All considerable objections are answered as yet brought to light, either by the Arminians or others, in the behalf of universal redemption, with a large unfolding of all the texts of Scripture by any produced and wrested to that purpose.
Chapter 1. Things to be considered previously to the solution of objections: — 1. The infinite value of the blood of Christ. 2. The administration of the new covenant under the gospel. 3. The distinction between man’s duty and God’s purpose. 4. The error of the Jews about the extent of redemption. 5. The nature and signification of general terms used: — 1. The word “world” of various significations. 2. The word “all” of various extent. 6. Persons and things often spoken of according to their appearance. 7. Difference between the judgment of charity and verity. 8. The infallible connection of faith and salvation. 9. The mixture of elect and reprobates in the world. 10. The different acts and degrees of faith.
Chapter 2. An entrance to the answer unto particular objections. Answer to objections from Scripture, viz.: — 1. From the word “world” in several scriptures: — 1. John 3:16 largely opened and vindicated.
Chapter 3. An unfolding of the remaining texts of Scripture produced for the confirmation of the first general objection or argument for universal redemption. 2. 1 John 2:l, 2, largely opened and vindicated. 3. John 6:51 explained. 4. A vindication of other texts produced by Thomas More, viz.: — (1.) 2 Corinthians 5:19. (2.) John 1:9. (3.) John 1:29. (4.) John 3:17. (5.) John 4:42; 1 John 4:14; John 6:51.
Chapter 4. Answer to the second general objection or argument for the universality of redemption. 2. From the word “all” in several scriptures, viz.: — 1. 1 Timothy 2:4,6. 2. 2 Peter 3:9. 3. Hebrews 2:9. 4. 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. 5. 1 Corinthians 15:22. 6. Romans 5:18.
Chapter 5. The last objection or argument from Scripture answered. 3. From texts which seem to hold out a perishing of some for whom Christ died, viz.: — 1. Romans 14:15. 2. 1 Corinthians 8:11. 3 . 2 Peter 2:1. 4. Hebrews 10:29.
Chapter 6. An answer to the twentieth chapter of the book entitled “The Universality of God’s Free Grace,” etc., being a collection of all the arguments used by the author (Thomas More) throughout the whole book, to prove the universality of redemption: — Answers to Arg. 1. From the absolute literal sense of Scripture.
Arg. 2. From an alleged unlimitedness of Scripture phrases.
Arg. 3. From Christ’s exaltation to be Lord and Judge of all, Romans 14:9,11,12.
Arg. 4. From the proposal of Christ’s death to all by the gospel.
Arg. 5. From the confession to be made of Christ by all.
Arg. 6. From Scripture assertions and consequences. Answers to the proofs of this sixth argument: — 1. From 1 John 4:14; John 1:4,7; 1 Timothy 2:4. 2. From some texts before vindicated. 3. From Psalm 19:4; Romans 10:18; Acts 14:17, etc. 4. From John 16:7-11, etc. 5. From Ezekiel 18:23,32, 33:11, etc. 6. From Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15; Isaiah 45:22, etc. 7. From Acts 2:38,39, etc. 8. From 1 Corinthians 15:21,22, 45-47; Romans 3:22-25, etc. 9. From Matthew 28:19,20; 2 Corinthians 5:19, etc. 10. From Matthew 5:44,48; 1 Timothy 2:1-4, etc. 11. From 1 Timothy 2:3,8, etc. 12. From 1 Corinthians 6:10,11, etc. 13. From Titus 2:11,13, 3:4, 5, etc. 14. From John 3:19, etc. 15. From Scripture expostulations with men. 16. From Jude 4, 12, 13, etc. 17. From Romans 14:9-12, etc. 18. From Jude 3-5.
Chapter 7. Other objections from reason are removed: — Answers to Objection 1 . From men being bound to believe that Christ died for them.
Obj. 2. Alleging that the doctrine of particular redemption fills the minds of sinners with doubts and scruples whether they ought to believe or not; the objection retorted.
Obj. 3. That this doctrine disparages the freedom of grace; the objection retorted.
Obj. 4. That this doctrine disparages the merit of Christ; the objection retorted.
Obj. 5. That this doctrine mars gospel consolation; in answer whereto it is proved that, — 1. The doctrine of universal redemption affords no ground of consolation; 2. That it quite overthrows the true ground of consolation; 3. That the doctrine of particular redemption is not liable to any just exception as to this matter; 4. That this doctrine is the true, solid foundation of all durable consolation. — ED.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE ROBERT, EARL OF WARWICK, F232 ETC. MY LORD, IT is not for the benefit of any protection to the ensuing treatise, — let it stand or fall as it shall be found in the judgments of men; nor that I might take advantage to set forth any of that worth and honor which, being personal, have truly ennobled your lordship, and made a way for the delivering over of your family unto posterity with an eminent luster added to the roll of your worthy progenitors, — which, if by myself desired, my unfitness to perform must needs render unacceptable in the performance; neither yet have I the least desire to attempt a farther advancement of myself into your lordship’s favor, being much beneath what I have already received, and fully resolved to own no other esteem among the sons of men but what shall be accounted due (be it more or less) to the discharge of my duty to my master, Jesus Christ, whose wholly I would be, — it is not all, nor one of these, nor any such as these, the usual subjects and ends of dedications, real or pretended, that prevailed upon me unto this boldness of prefixing your honored name to this ensuing treatise (which yet, for the matter’s sake contained in it, I cannot judge unworthy of any Christian eye); but only that I might take the advantage to testify (as I do) to all the world the answering of my heart unto that obligation which your lordship was pleased to put upon me, in the undeserved, undesired favor of opening that door wherewith you are intrusted, to give me an entrance to that place for the preaching of the gospel whither I was directed by the providence of the Most High, and where I was sought by his people. In which place this I dare say, by the grace of God, that such a stock of prayers and thankfulness as your heart, which hath learned to value the least of Christ, in whomsoever it be, will not despise, is tendered to and for your lordship, even on his behalf who is less than the least of all the saints of God, and unworthy the name which yet he is bold to subscribe himself by, — Your honor’s most obliged servant in the service of Jesus Christ, JOHN OWEN.
TWO ATTESTATIONS TOUCHING THE ENSUING TREATISE. READER, THERE are two rotten pillars on which the fabric of late Arminianism (an egg of the old Pelagianism, which we had well hoped had been long since chilled, but is sit upon and brooded by the wanton wits of our degenerate and apostate spirits) doth principally stand.
The other is, That God giveth (nay is bound, “ex debito,” so to do) both Christ, the great gift of his eternal love, for all alike to work out their redemption, and “vires credendi,” power to believe in Christ to all alike to whom he gives the gospel; whereby that redemption may effectually be applied for their salvation, if they please to make right use of that which is so put into their power.
The former destroys the free and special grace of God, by making it universal; the latter gives cause to man of glorying in himself rather than in God, — God concurring no farther to the salvation of a believer than a reprobate. Christ died for both alike; — God giving power of accepting Christ to both alike, men themselves determining the whole matter by their free-will; Christ making both savable, themselves make them to be saved.
This cursed doctrine of theirs crosseth the main drift of the holy Scripture; which is to abase and pull down the pride of man, to make him even to despair of himself, and to advance and set up the glory of God’s free grace from the beginning to the end of man’s salvation. His hand hath laid the foundation of his spiritual house; his hand shall also finish it.
The reverend and learned author of this book hath received strength from God (like another Samson) to pull down this rotten house upon the head of those Philistines who would uphold it. Read it diligently, and I doubt not but you will say with me, there is such variety of choice matter running through every vein of each discourse here handled, and carried along with such strength of sound and deep judgment, and with such life and power of a heavenly spirit, and all expressed in such pithy and pregnant words of wisdom, that you will both delight in the reading and praise God for the writer. That both he and it may be more and more profitable shall be my hearty prayers. — The unworthiest of the ministers of the gospel, STANLEY GOWER . f233 CHRISTIAN READER, UNTO such alone are these directed. If all and everyone in the world in this gospel-day did bear this precious name of Christian, or if the name of Christ were known to all, then were this compellation very improper, because it is distinguishing. But if God distinguish men and men, choose we or refuse we, so it is, and so it will be; there is a difference, — a difference which God and Christ doth make of mere good pleasure.
This book contends earnestly for this truth against the error of universal redemption. With thy leave I cannot but call it an error; unless it had been, it were, and while the world continueth it should be, found indeed that Adam and all that come of him, in a natural way of generation, are first set by Christ, the second Adam, in an estate of redeemed ones and made Christians, and then they fall, whole nations of them, and forfeit that estate also, and lose their Christendom, and thereby it is come to pass that they are become atheists, without God in the world, and heathen, Jews, and Turks, as we see they are at this day.
The author of this book I know not so much as by name; it is of the book itself that I take upon me the boldness to write these few lines. It being delivered unto me to peruse, I did read it with delight and profit: — with delight, in the keenness of argument, clearness and fullness of answers, and candor in language; — with profit, in the vindication of abused Scriptures, the opening of obscure places, and chiefly in disclosing the hid mystery of God and the Father and of Christ, in the glorious and gracious work of redemption. The like pleasure and profit this tractate promiseth to all diligent readers thereof, for the present controversy is so managed that the doctrine of faith, which we ought to believe, is with dexterity plentifully taught; yea, the glory of each person in the unity of the Godhead about the work of redemption is distinctly held forth with shining splendor, and the error of the Arminians smitten in the jaw-bone, and the broachers of it bridled with bit and curb.
When, on earth, the blood can be without the water and the Spirit, — can witness alone, or can witness there where the water and the Spirit agree not to the record; when, in heaven, the Word shall witness without the Father and the Holy Ghost, — when the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost shall not be one, as in essence, so in willing, working, witnessing the redemption of sinners; — then shall universal redemption of all and every sinner by Christ be found a truth, though the Father elect them not, nor the Spirit of grace neither sanctify nor seal them. The glory of God’s free and severing grace, and the salvation of the elect through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ (which is external, or none at all), are the unfeigned desires and utmost aims of all that are truly Christian. In pursuit of which desire and aims, I profess myself to be forever to serve thee. — Thine in Christ Jesus, RICHARD BYFIELD. f234 TO THE READER.
READER, IF thou intendest to go any farther, I would entreat thee to stay here a little. If thou art, as many in this pretending age, a sign or title gazer, and comest into hooks as Cato into the theater, to go out again, — thou hast had thy entertainment; farewell! With him that resolves a serious view of the following discourse, and really desireth satisfaction from the word and Christian reason, about the great things contained therein, I desire a few words in the portal. Divers things there are of no small consideration to the business we have in hand, which I am persuaded thou canst not be unacquainted with; and therefore I will not trouble thee with a needless repetition of them.
I shall only crave thy leave to preface a little to the point in hand, and my present undertaking therein, with the result of some of my thoughts concerning the whole, after a more than seven-years’ serious inquiry (bottomed, I hope, upon the strength of Christ, and guided by his Spirit) into the mind of God about these things, with a serious perusal of all which I could attain that the wit of man, in former or latter days, hath published in opposition to the truth; which I desire, according to the measure of the gift received, here to assert. Some things, then, as to the chief point in hand I would desire the reader to observe; First, That the assertion of universal redemption, or the general ransom, so as to make it in the least measure beneficial for the end intended, goes not alone. Election of free grace, as the fountain of all following dispensations, all discriminating purposes of the Almighty, depending on his own good pleasure and will, must be removed out of the way. Hence, those who would for the present (“populo ut placerent, quas fecere fabulas,”) desirously retain some show of asserting the liberty of eternally distinguishing free grace, do themselves utterly raze, in respect of any fruit or profitable issue, the whole imaginary fabric of general redemption, which they had before erected. Some of these make the decree of election to be “antecedaneous to the death of Christ” (as themselves absurdly speak), or the decree of the death of Christ: then frame a twofold election; — one, of some to be the sons; the other, of the rest to be servants.
But this election of some to be servants the Scripture calls reprobation, and speaks of it as the issue of hatred, or a purpose of rejection, Romans 9:11-13. To be a servant, in opposition to children and their liberty, is as high a curse as can be expressed, Genesis 9:25. Is this Scripture election? Besides, if Christ died to bring those he died for unto the adoption and inheritance of children, what good could possibly redound to them thereby who were predestinated before to be only servants? Others make a general conditionate decree of redemption to be antecedaneous to election; which they assert to be the first discriminating purpose concerning the sons of men, and to depend on the alone good pleasure of God. That any others shall partake of the death of Christ or the fruits thereof, either unto grace or glory, but only those persons so elected, that they deny. “Cui bono” now? To what purpose serves the general ransom, but only to assert that Almighty God would have the precious blood of his dear Son poured out for innumerable souls whom he will not have to share in any drop thereof, and so, in respect of them, to be spilt in vain, or else to be shed for them only that they might be the deeper damned? This fountain, then, of free grace, this foundation of the new covenant, this bottom of all gospel dispensations, this fruitful womb of all eternally distinguishing mercies, the purpose of God according to election, must be opposed, slighted, blasphemed, that the figment of the sons of men may not appear to be “truncus ficulnus, inutile lignum,” — an unprofitable stock; and all the thoughts of the Most High, differencing between man and man, must be made to take “occasion,” say some, to be “caused,” say others, by their holy, self-spiritual endeavors. “Gratum opus agricolis,” — a savory sacrifice to the Roman Belus, a sacred orgie to the long-bewailed manes of St. Pelaglus.
And here, secondly, free-will, “amor et deliciae humani generis,” corrupted nature’s deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds, finds open hearts and arms for its adulterous embraces; yea, the die being cast, and Rubicon passed over, “eo devenere rata ecclesiae,” that having opposed the free distinguishing grace of God as the sole sworn enemy thereof, it advanceth itself, or an inbred native ability in everyone to embrace a portion of generally exposed mercy, under the name of free grace. “Tantane nos tenuit generis fiducia vestri?” This, this is Universalists’ free grace, which in the Scripture phrase is cursed, corrupted nature. Neither can it otherwise be. A general ransom without free-will is but “phantasiae inutile pontius,” — “a burdensome fancy;” the merit of the death of Christ being to them as an ointment in a box, that hath neither virtue nor power to act or reach out its own application unto particulars, being only set out in the gospel to the view of all, that those who will, by their own strength, lay hold on it and apply it to themselves may be healed. Hence the dear esteem and high valuation which this old idol free-will hath attained in these days, being so useful to the general ransom that it cannot live a day without it. Should it pass for true what the Scripture affirms, namely, that we are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins,” etc., there would not be left of the general ransom a shred to take fire from the hearth. Like the wood of the vine, it would not yield a pin to hang a garment upon: all which you shall find fully declared in the ensuing treatise. But here, as though all the undertakings and Babylonish attempts of the old Pelagians, with their varnished offspring, the late Arminians, were slight and easy, I shall show you greater abominations than these, and farther discoveries of the imagery of the hearts of the sons of men. In pursuance of this persuasion of universal redemption, not a few have arrived (whither it naturally leads them) to deny the satisfaction and merit of Christ. Witness P — H — , who, not being able to untie, ventured boldly to cut this Gordian knot, but so as to make both ends of the chain useless. To the question, Whether Christ died for all men or no? he answers, “That he died neither for all nor any, so as to purchase life and salvation for them.” W ta~n poi~on se e]pov fu>gen e[rkov oJdo>ntwn ; Shall cursed Socinianism be worded into a glorious discovery of free grace? Ask now for proofs of this assertion, as you might justly expect Achillean arguments from those who delight ajki>nhta kinei~n , and throw down such foundations (as shall put all the righteous in the world to a loss thereby), “Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba,” uJpe\\.rogka mataio>thtov , great swelling words of vanity, drummy expressions, a noise from emptiness, the usual language of men who know not what they speak, nor whereof they do affirm, is all that is produced. Such contemptible products have our tympanous mountains! Poor creatures, whose souls are merchandised by the painted faces of novelty and vanity, whilst these Joabs salute you with the kisses of free grace, you see not the sword that is in their hands, whereby they smite you under the fifth rib, in the very heartblood of faith and all Christian consolation. It seems our blessed Redeemer’s deep humiliation, in bearing the chastisement of our peace and the punishment of our transgressions, being made a curse and sin, deserted under wrath and the power of death, procuring redemption and the remission of sins through the effusion of his blood, offering himself up a sacrifice to God, to make reconciliation and purchase an atonement, his pursuing this undertaking with continued intercession in the holy of holies, with all the benefits of his mediatorship, do no way procure either life and salvation or remission of sins, but only serve to declare that we are not indeed what his word affirms we are, — namely, cursed, guilty, defiled, and only not actually cast into hell. “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” See this at large confuted, lib. 3. Now, this last assertion, thoroughly fancied, hath opened a door and given an inlet to all those pretended heights and new-named glorious attainments which have metamorphosed the person and mediation of Christ into an imaginary diffused goodness and love, communicated from the Creator unto the new creation; than which familistical fables Cerdon’s two principles were not more absurd; the Platonic numbers nor the Valentinian AEones, f237 flowing from the teeming wombs of Plh>rwma Aijw>n Te>leiov Buqo>v Sigh> , and the rest, vented for high glorious attainments in Christian religion, near fifteen hundred years ago, were not less intelligible. Neither did the corroding of Scriptures by that Pontic vermin Marcion equalize the contempt and scorn cast upon them by these impotent impostors, exempting their whispered discoveries from their trial, and exalting their revelations above their authority. Neither do some stay here; but “his gradibus itur in coelum,” heaven itself is broke open for all. From universal redemption, through universal justification, in a general covenant, they have arrived (“haud ignota loquor”) at universal salvation; neither can any forfeiture be made of the purchased inheritance. “Quare agite, o juvenes, tantarum in munere laudum, Cingite fronde comas, et pocula porgite dextris, Communemque vocate Deum, et date vina volentes.” f238 “March on, brave youths, i’ th’ praise of such free grace, Surround your locks with bays; and full cups place In your right hands: drink freely on, then call O’ th’ common hope, the ransom general.” These and the like persuasions I no way dislike, because wholly new to the men of this generation; that I may add this by the way: — Every age hath its employment in the discovery of truth. We are not come to the bottom of vice or virtue. The whole world hath been employed in the practice of iniquity five thousand years and upwards, and yet “aspice hoc novum” may be set on many villainies. Behold daily new inventions! No wonder, then, if all truth be not yet discovered. Something may be revealed to them who as yet sit by. Admire not if Saul also be among the prophets, for who is their father? Is he not free in his dispensations? Are all the depths of Scripture, where the elephants may swim, just fathomed to the bottom? Let any man observe the progress of the last century in unfolding the truths of God, and he will scarce be obstinate that no more is left as yet undiscovered. Only the itching of corrupted fancies, the boldness of darkened minds and lascivious wanton wits, in venting new-created nothings, insignificant vanities, with an intermixed dash of blasphemy, is that which I desire to oppose; and that especially considering the genius (if I may so speak) of the days wherein we live; in which, what by one means, what by another, there is almost a general deflection after novelty grown amongst us. “Some are credulous, some negligent, some fall into errors, some seek them.” A great suspicion also everyday grows upon me, which I would thank anyone upon solid grounds to free me from, that pride of spirit, with an Herostratus-like design to grow big in the mouths of men, hath acted many in the conception and publication of some easilyinvented false opinions. Is it not to be thought, also, that it is from the same humor possessing many, that everyone of them almost strives to put on beyond his companions in framing some singular artifice? To be a follower of others, though in desperate engagements, is too mean an undertaking. “Aude aliquod brevibus Gyaris, et carcere dignum, Si vis esse aliquis: probitas laudatur et alget.” f241 And let it be no small peccadillo, no underling opinion, friends, if in these busy times you would have it taken notice of. Of ordinary errors you may cry, — “Quis leget haec? — nemo hercule nemo, Vel duo, vel nemo.” f242 They must be glorious attainments, beyond the understanding of men, and above the wisdom of the word, which attract the eyes of poor deluded souls. The great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, recover his poor wanderers to his own fold! But to return thither from whence we have digressed: — This is that fatal Helena, a useless, barren, fruitless fancy, for whose enthroning such irksome, tedious contentions have been caused to the churches of God; a mere Rome, a desolate, dirty place of cottages, until all the world be robbed and spoiled to adorn it. Suppose Christ died for all, yet if God in his free purpose hath chosen some to obtain life and salvation, passing by others, will it be profitable only to the former, or unto all? Surely the purpose of God must stand, and he will do all his pleasure. Wherefore, election either, with Huberus, by a wild contradiction, must be made universal, or the thoughts of the Most High suspended on the free-will of man. Add this borrowed feather to the general ransom, that at least it may have some color of pompous ostentation. Yet if the free grace of God work effectually in some, not in others, can those others, passed by in its powerful operation, have any benefit by universal redemption? No more than the Egyptians had in the angel’s passing over those houses whose doors were not sprinkled with blood, leaving some dead behind him. Almighty, powerful, free grace, then, must strike its sail, that free-will, like the Alexandrian ships to the Roman havens, may come in with top and top-gallant; for without it the whole territory of universal redemption will certainly be famished. But let these doctrines of God’s eternal election, the free grace of conversion, perseverance, and their necessary consequents, be asserted, “movet cornicula risum, furtivis nudata coloribus;” it hath not the least appearance of profit or consolation but what it robs from the sovereignty and grace of God. But of these things more afterward.
Some flourishing pretences are usually held out by the abettors of the general ransom; which by thy patience, courteous reader, we will a little view in the entrance, to remove some prejudice that may lie in the way of truth: — First, The glory of God, they say, is exceedingly exalted by it; his goodwill and kindness towards men abundantly manifested in this enlargement of its extent; and his free grace, by others restrained, set out with a powerful endearment. This they say; which is, in effect, “All things will be well when God is contented with that portion of glory which is of our assigning.” The princes of the earth account it their greatest wisdom to varnish over their favors, and to set out with a full mouth what they have done with half a hand; but will it be acceptable to lie for God, by extending his bounty beyond the marks and eternal bounds fixed to it in his word?
Change first a hair of your own heads, or add a cubit to your own statures, before you come in with an addition of glory, not owned by him, to the Almighty. But so, for the most part, is it with corrupted nature in all such mysterious things; discovering the baseness and vileness thereof. If God be apprehended to be as large in grace as that is in offense (I mean in respect of particular offenders, for in respect of his he is larger), though it be free, and he hath proclaimed to all that he may do what he will with his own, giving no account of his matters, all shall be well, — he is gracious, merciful, etc; but if once the Scripture is conceived to hold out his sovereignty and free distinguishing grace, suited in its dispensation to his own purpose according to election, he is “immanis, truculentus, diabolo, Tiberio tetrior (horresco referens).” The learned know well where to find this language, and I will not be instrumental to propagate their blasphemies to others. “Si deus homini non placuerit, deus non erit,” said Tertullian of the heathen deities; and shall it be so with us? God forbid! This pride is inbred; it is a part of our corruption to defend it. If we maintain, then, the glory of God, let us speak in his own language, or be forever silent.
That is glorious in him which he ascribes unto himself. Our inventions, though never so splendid in our own eyes, are unto him an abomination, a striving to pull him down from his eternal excellency, to make him altogether like unto us. God would never allow that the will of the creature should be the measure of his honor. The obedience of paradise was to have been regulated. God’s prescription hath been the bottom of his acceptation of any duty ever since he had a creature to worship him. The very heathen knew that that service alone was welcome to God which himself required, and that glory owned which himself had revealed that he would appear glorious in it. Hence, as Epimenides advised the Athenians in a time of danger to sacrifice Qew~| prosh>konti , “to him to whom it was meet and due,” — which gave occasion to the altar which Paul saw bearing the superscription of Agnw>stw| Qew~| , “To the unknown God,” — so Socrates tells us in Plato, that every god will be worshipped tw~| ma>lista aujtw~| ajre>skonti tro>pw| , “in that way which pleaseth best his own mind;” and in Christianity, Hierome sets it down for a rule, that “honos praeter mandatum est dedecus,” God is dishonored by that honor which is ascribed to him beyond his own prescription: and one wittily on the second commandment, “Non imago, non simulachrum damnatur, sed non facies tibi.” Assigning to God anything by him not assumed is a making to ourselves, a deifying of our own imaginations. Let all men, then, cease squaring the glory of God by their own corrupted principles and more corrupted persuasions. The word alone is to be arbitrator in the things of God; which also I hope will appear, by the following treatise, to hold out nothing in the matter in hand contrary to those natural notions of God and his goodness which in the sad ruins of innocency have been retained. On these grounds we affirm, that all that glory of God which is pretended to be asserted by the general ransom, however it may seem glorious to purblind nature, is indeed a sinful flourish, for the obscuring of that glory wherein God is delighted.
Secondly, It is strongly pretended that the worth and value of the satisfaction of Christ, by the opposite opinion limited to a few, are exceedingly magnified in this extending of them to all; when, besides what was said before unto human extending of the things of God beyond the bounds by himself fixed unto them, the merit of the death of Christ, consisting in its own internal worth and sufficiency, with that obligation which, by his obedience unto death, was put upon the justice of God for its application unto them for whom he died, is quite enervated and overthrown by it, made of no account, and such as never produced of itself absolutely the least good to any particular soul: which is so fully manifested in the following treatise, as I cannot but desire the reader’s sincere consideration of it, it being a matter of no small importance.
Thirdly, A seeming smile cast upon the opinion of universal redemption by many texts of Scripture, with the ambiguity of some words, which though in themselves either figurative or indefinite, yet seem to be of a universal extent, maketh the abettors of it exceedingly rejoice. Now, concerning this I shall only desire the reader not to be startled at the multitude of places of Scripture which he may find heaped up by some of late about this business (especially by Thomas More, in his “Universality of Free Grace”), as though they proved and confirmed that for which they are produced, but rather prepare himself to admire at the confidence of men, particularly of him now named, to make such a flourish with colors and drums, having indeed no soldiers at all; for, notwithstanding all their pretences, it will appear that they hang the whole weight of their building on three or four texts of Scripture, — namely, 1 Timothy 2:5,6; John 3:16,17; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2, with some few others, — and the ambiguity of two or three words, which themselves cannot deny to be of exceeding various acceptations. All which are at large discussed in the ensuing treatise, no one place that hath with the least show or color been brought forth by any of our adversaries, in their own defense, or for the opposing of the effectual redemption of the elect only, being omitted, the book of Thomas More being in all the strength thereof fully met withal and enervated.
Fourthly, Some men have, by I know not what misprision, entertained a persuasion that the opinion of the Universalists serves exceedingly to set forth the love and free grace of God; yea, they make free grace, that glorious expression, to be that alone which is couched in their persuasion, — namely, that “God loves all alike, gave Christ to die for all, and is ready to save all if they will lay hold on him;” — under which notion how greedily the hook as well as the bait is swallowed by many we have daily experience, when the truth is, it is utterly destructive to the free distinguishing grace of God in all the dispensations and workings thereof.
It evidently opposeth God’s free grace of election, as hath been declared, and therein that very love from which God sent his Son. His free distinguishing grace, also, of effectual calling must be made by it to give place to nature’s darling, freewill; yea, and the whole covenant of grace made void, by holding it out no otherwise but as a general removing of the wrath which was due to the breach of the covenant of works: for what else can be imagined (though this certainly the), have not, John 3:36) to be granted to the most of those “all” with whom they affirm this covenant to be made? Yea, notwithstanding their flourish of free grace, as themselves are forced to grant, that after all that was effected by the death of Christ, it was possible that none should be saved, so I hope I have clearly proved that if he accomplished by his death no more than they ascribe unto it, it is utterly impossible that anyone should be saved. “Quid dignum tanto?”
Fifthly, The opinion of universal redemption is not a little advantaged by presenting to convinced men a seeming ready way to extricate themselves out of all their doubts and perplexities, and to give them all the comfort the death of Christ can afford before they feel any power of that death working within them, or find any efficacy of free grace drawing their hearts to the embracing of Christ in the promise, or obtaining a particular interest in him; which are tedious things to flesh and blood to attend unto and wait upon. Some boast that, by this persuasion, that hath been effected in an hour which they waited for before seven years without success. To dispel this poor empty flourish, I shall show, in the progress, that it is very ready and apt to deceive multitudes with a plausible delusion, but really undermines the very foundations of that strong unfailing consolation which God hath showed himself abundantly willing that the heirs of promise should receive.
These and the like are the general pretences wherewith the abettors of a general ransom do seek to commend themselves and opinion to the affections of credulous souls; through them making an open and easy passage into their belief, for the swallowing and digesting of that bitter potion which lurks in the bottom of their cup. Of these I thought meet to give the reader a brief view in the entrance, to take off his mind from empty generals, that he might be the better prepared to weigh all things carefully in an equal balance, when he shall come to consider those particulars afterward insisted on, wherein the great strength of our adversaries lies. It remaineth only that I give the Christian reader a brief account of my call unto, and undertaking in, this work, and so close this preface. First, then, I will assure thee it is not the least thirst in my affections to be drinking of the waters of Meribah, nor the least desire to have a share in Ishmael’s portion, to have my hand against others, and theirs against me, that put me upon this task. I never like myself worse than when faced with a vizard of disputing in controversies. The complexion of my soul is much more pleasant unto me in the waters of Shiloah: — “ — Nuper me in littore vidi, Cum placidum ventis starer mare.” f247 What invitation there can be in itself for anyone to lodge, much less abide, in this quarrelsome, scrambling territory, where, as Tertullian says of Pontus, “omne quod fiat Aquilo est,” no wind blows but what is sharp and keen, I know not. Small pleasure in those walks which are attended with dangerous precipices and unpleasing difficulties on every side: — “Utque viam teneas, nulloque errore traharis; Per tamen adversi gradieris cornua Tauri, Haemoniosque arcus, violentique ora Leonis.” f249 NO quiet nor peace in these things and ways, but continual brawls and dissensions: — “ — Non hospes ab hospite tutus, Non socer a genero fratrum quoque gratia rara est.” f250 The strongest bonds of nearest relations are too commonly broken by them. Were it not for that precept, Jude 3, and the like, of “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints,” with the sounding of my bowels for the loss of poor seduced souls, I could willingly engage myself into an unchangeable resolution to fly all wordy battles and paper combats for the residue of my few and evil days.
It is not, then (that I may return), any salamandrian complexion that was the motive to this undertaking. Neither, secondly, was it any conceit of my own abilities for this work, as though I were the fittest among many to undertake it. I know that as in all things I am “less than the least of all saints,” so in these I am — ou]te tri>tov ou]te te>tartov Ou]te duwde>katov oujd ejn lo>gw| oujd ejn ajriqmw~| Abler pens have had, within these few years, the discussing and ventilating of some of these questions in our own language. Some have come to my hands, but none of weight, before I had well-nigh finished this heap of mine own, which was some twelve months since and upwards. In some of these, at least, in all of them, I had rested fully satisfied, but that I observed they had all tied up themselves to some certain parts of the controversy, especially the removing of objections, neither compassing nor methodizing the whole; whereby I discerned that the nature of the things under debate, — namely, satisfaction, reconciliation, redemption, and the like, — was left exceedingly in the dark, and the strong foundation of the whole building not so much as once discovered. It was always upon my desires that someone would undertake the main, and unfold out of the word, from the bottom, the whole dispensation of the love of God to his elect in Jesus Christ, with the conveyance of it through the promises of the gospel, being in all the fruits thereof purchased and procured by the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ; by which it could not but be made apparent what was the great design of the blessed Trinity in this great work of redemption, with how vain an attempt and fruitless endeavor it must needs be to extend it beyond the bounds and limits assigned unto it by the principal agents therein. That arguments also might be produced for the confirmation of the truth we assert, in opposition to the error opposed, and so the weak established and dissenters convinced, was much in my wishes. The doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ, his merit, and the reconciliation wrought thereby, understood aright by few, and of late oppugned by some, being so nearly related to the point of redemption, I desired also to have seen cleared, unfolded, vindicated, by some able pen. But now, after long waiting, finding none to answer my expectation, although of myself I can truly say, with him in the Comedian, “Ego me neque tam astutum esse, neque ita perspicacem id scio,” that I should be fit for such an undertaking, the counsel of the poet also running much in my mind, — “Sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, sequam Viribus; et versate diu, quid ferre recusent, Quid valeant humeri.” f252 Yet, at the last, laying aside all such thoughts, by looking up to Him who supplieth seed to the sower, and doth all our works for us, I suffered myself to be overcome unto the work with that of another, “Ab alio quovis hoc fieri mallem quam a me; sed a me tamen potius quam a nemine;” — “I had rather it should have been done by any than myself, of myself only rather than of none;” especially considering the industrious diligence of the opposers of truth in these days: — “Scribimus indocti doctique, — Ut jugulent homines, surgunt de nocte latrones; Ut teipsum serves non expergisceria?” f253 Add unto the former desire a consideration of the frequent conferences I had been invited unto about these things, the daily spreading of the opinions here opposed about the parts where I live, and a greater noise concerning their prevailing in other places, with the advantage they had obtained by some military abettors, with the stirring up of divers eminent and learned friends, and you have the sum of what I desire to hold forth as the cause of my undertaking this task. What the Lord hath enabled me to perform therein must be left to the judgment of others. Altogether hopeless of success I am not; but fully resolved that I shall not live to see a solid answer given unto it. If any shall undertake to vellicate and pluck some of the branches, rent from the roots and principles of the whole discourse, I shall freely give them leave to enjoy their own wisdom and imaginary conquest. If any shall seriously undertake to debate the whole cause, if I live to see it effected, I shall engage myself, by the Lord’s assistance, to be their humble convert or fair antagonist. In that which is already accomplished by the good hand of the Lord, I hope the learned may find something for their contentment, and the weak for their strengthening and satisfaction; that in all some glory may redound to Him whose it is, and whose truth is here unfolded by the unworthiest laborer in his vineyard, J.O.