Tuesday, October 27, 2015

John Owen on Romish "Sacrifice"

The main design of this discourse is to cry up the sacrifice that the Catholics have in their churches, but not the Protestants. This sacrifice, he tells us, was " the sum of all apostolical devotion, which Protestants have abolished." Strange ! that in all the writings of the apostles, there should not one word be mentioned of that which was the sum of their devotion ! Things, surely, judged by our author of less importance, are at large handled in them. That they should not, directly nor indirectly, once intimate that which, it seems, was the sum of their devotion is, I confess, to me somewhat strange. They must make this concealment either by design or oversight. How consistent the first is with their goodness, holiness, love to the church, the latter with their wisdom and infallibility, either with their office and duty, is easy to judge. Our author tells us, " They have a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek." Paul tells us, indeed, that we have a High Priest " after the order of Melchisedec;" but, as I remember, this is the first time that ever I heard of a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek, though I have read somewhat that Roman Catholics say about Melchizedek's sacrifice. Our Priest "after the order of Melchisedec" offered a sacrifice that none ever had done before, nor can do after him, even himself. If the Romanists think to offer him, they must kill him. The species of bread and wine are but a thin sacrifice, next door to nothing, yea, somewhat wise than nothing, a figment of a thing impossible, or the shadow of a dream; nor will they say they are any. It is true, which our author pleads in justification of the sacrifice of his church, that there were sacrifices among the Jews, yea, from the beginning of the world, after the entrance of sin and promise of Christ to come made to sinners; for in the state of innocency there was no sacrifice appointed, because there was no need of an atonement. But all these sacrifices, properly so called, had no other use in religion than to prefigure and represent the great sacrifice of himself to be made by the Son of God in the fulness of time. That being once performed, all other sacrifices were to cease, I mean properly so called; for we have still sacrifices metaphorical, called so by analogy, being parts of God's worship tendered unto him, and accepted with him, as were the sacrifices of old. Nor is it at all necessary that we should have proper sacrifices, that we may have metaphorical. It is enough that such there have been, and that of God's own appointment; and we have still that only one real sacrifice which was the life and soul of all them that went before. The substance being come, the light shadowing of it that was before under the law is vanished. The apostle doth expressly place the opposition that is between the sacrifice of the Christian church and that of the Judaical in this, that they were often repeated; this was performed once for all, and is a living, abiding sacrifice, constant in the church for ever, Heb. x. 1, 2: so that, by this rule, the repetition of the same or any other sacrifice, in the Christian church, can have no other foundation but an apprehension of the imperfection of the sacrifice of Christ ; for, saith he, where the sacrifice is perfect, and makes them perfect that come to God by it, there must be no more sacrifice. This, then, seems to be the real difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics in this business of sacrifice :—Protestants believing the sacrifice of Christ to be absolutely perfect, so that there is no need of any other, and that it is "a fresh and living way," of going to God continually, with whom by it obtaining remission of sin, they know there is no more offering for sin; they content themselves with that sacrifice of his, continually, in its virtue and efficacy, residing in the church. Romanists, looking on that as imperfect, judge it necessary to institute a new sacrifice of their own, to be repeated every day, and that without any the least colour or warrant from the word of God or example of the apostles.

From Animadversion on a Treatise Entitled 'Fiat Lux.' in Volume 14 of Owen's Works

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