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Random Selections

(3 posts)

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.

Random Selections: Absolute Dominion (Stephen Charnock)

Another randomly selected quotation from a randomly selected book (odd page, second paragraph): This dominion [of God] is absolute. If his throne be in the heavens, there is nothing to control him. If he be independent, he must needs be absolute, since he hath no cause in conjunction with him as Creator, that can share with him in his right, or retain him in the disposal of his creature. His authority is unlimited; in this regard the title of lord becomes not any but God properly. Tiberius, thought none of the best, though one of the subtilest princes, accounted the title of lord a reproach to him, since he was not absolute. —Stephen Charnock, The Works of Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse upon God’s Dominion” (Banner of Truth, 2010), 2:415.

Random Selections: Zwingli on “the rights of every Christian church” (J. H. Merle d’Aubigne)

This is the third of these randomly selected quotations I’ve posted here, and I’m wondering how long I can do this before I land on a paragraph that makes no sense by itself. So far, so good. This one is from the even page, final paragraph. On Monday, the 26th of October [1523], more than nine hundred persons—among whom were members of the Grand Council—and no less than three hundred and fifty priests, were assembled after sermon in the large room of the Town Hall. Zwingle and Leo Juda were seated at a table on which lay the Old and New Testament in the originals. Zwingle spoke first, and first disposing of the authority of the hierarchy and its councils, he laid down the rights of every Christian Church, and claimed the liberty of the first ages, when the Church had as yet no council either œcumenical or provincial. “The Universal Church,” said he, “is diffused throughout world, wherever faith in Jesus Christ has spread: in India as well as in Zurich . . . And as to particular churches, we have them at Berne, at Schaffhausen, and even here. But the popes, with their cardinals and their councils, are neither the Universal Church nor a particular Church. The assembly whch hears me,” exclaimed he with energy, “is the Church of Zurich:—it desires to hear the word of God, and can rightfully decree whatever it shall see to be conformable to the Scriptures.” —J. H. Merle d’Aubigne, History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Switzerland, &c. (London: D. Walther, 1843), 3:314.


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