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Random Selections: Suppressed Opinions (John Owen)

While sitting at my desk today, just for fun, I turned my head to the right and blindly chose a random book from the shelf on my left. With my eyes closed, I opened the book, having decided to select the last paragraph on the even-numbered page. This is what I got:


Let me add to this observation only this, that the attempt to suppress any opinions whatsoever by force hath been for the most part fruitless. For either some few particular persons are proceeded against, or else greater multitudes; if some particulars only, the ashes of one hath always proved the seed of many opinionatists. Examples are innumerable; take one, which is boasted of as a pattern of severity, taken from antiquity. About the year 890, Priscillianus, a Manichee, and a Gnostic, by the procurement of Ithacius and Idacius, two bishops, was put to death by Maximus, an usurping emperor, who ruled for a season, having slain Gratianus; as that kind of men would always close with any authority that might serve their own ends. Now, what was the issue thereof? Martinus, a Catholic bishop, renounces their communion who did it; the historian that reports it giving this censure of the whole, “Sic pessuno exemplo sublati sunt hommes luce indignissimi;”—though the men (Priscilhanus and his companions) were most unworthy to live, yet their sentence of death was most unjust. But no matter for this, was not the heresy suppressed thereby? See what the same historian, who wrote not long after, and was able to testify the event, says of it: “Non solum non repressa est hæseresis, sed confirmata, et latius propagata est,” &c.;—“The heresy was so far from being suppressed hereby, that it was confirmed and propagated.” His followers, who before honoured him as a saint, now adore him as a martyr. The like in all ages hath been the issue of the like endeavours.

—John owen, The Works of John Owen, Of Toleration; and the Duty of the Magistrate about Religion (Banner of Truth, 1967), 8:181

Pretty good, I think, for a random selection, and as relevant for our time as it was then.

Posted 2019·02·26 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John Owen · Random Selections · Works of John Owen

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