Argument and force

These are some words of John Owen taken from “The Golden Book of John Owen” (published in 1903 and edited by James Moffatt). I’m compelled to include Moffatt’s outstanding footnote because he always add some interesting insight or background to Owen’s own thoughts.

John Owen:

The course of opposing errors and false spirits by praying, preaching, and writing, is despised by them in whose furious and haughty minds ure, seca, occide, ‘burn, cut, and kill,’ are alone of any signification–that think, ‘Arise, Peter, kill and eat,’ to be a precept of more use and advantage unto them than all the commands of Jesus Christ besides – (From A Discourse on the Holy Spirit, Bk. I. ch. i.)

Moffatt’s Footnote:

‘Is there no way,’ asks Andrew Fuller, ‘to bring home a wandering sheep but by worrying him to death?’ Owen’s greater Anglican contemporary writes to the same effect in his Liberty of Prophesying. ‘Any zeal,’ he observes, ‘is proper for religion, but the zeal of the sword and the zeal of anger,’ since no secure basis for a reasonable religion can be won ‘if the sword turns preacher, and dictates propositions by empire instead of arguments, and engraves them in men’s hearts with a poniard.’ One wonders if the Puritan was thinking of the anecdote which narrates how Michelangelo, who was engaged in designing a statue of Julius II., asked that eminently meek and saintly representative of Christ if he would care to hold a volume in his hand. ‘What volume?’ cried the indignant Pope; ‘a sword! I know nothing of letters, not I.’